Friday, April 18, 2014

Crock Pot Adventures

I want to try to take this in a different direction for the time being; since I'm either not creative enough or my life isn't interesting enough to write about day-to-day thing, I'm going to try keeping track of my journey to fitness here instead. Perhaps it will cause me to get a little more serious about getting in shape, because nothing else really seems to be working.

However, I couldn't start right away, as I have just moved (again) and didn't have a computer or internet for over a week. I know that doesn't sound like a very long time, but I probably would have gone crazy if I hadn't had my smart phone. I wouldn't have known where to get my car washed or where to go shopping or how to make dinner or what the number was for the cable company or the electric company or Best Buy or when I had to be at work or how to get there.

But now I have a computer, and wifi, and some groceries, and a plan.

First, quickly, some back-story: for the entirety of 2013 I was living in the Cleveland area working in food service as a manager. It was difficult, stressful, thankless, and generally just a massive headache. I met some great people, but the environment was unproductive and the atmosphere was mostly negative. By the end of the year, I was done, and some of the administration was done with me as well. So I quit my job, broke my lease, and moved back home (again). A couple months later, a job opportunity came up with the same company, in the same area, doing kind of the same thing in a totally different department: IT instead of managing front-line employees. They offered me a sign-on bonus, a raise, and a different work group. How could I refuse? This time, though, when I went apartment shopping, I exclusively looked for places that were within cycling distance from my new office. The place I chose is 3.2 miles away, and that's not all: it has a walking path, a gym, an indoor pool, two outdoor pools, and tennis courts, and it's close to a couple big parks. Perfect for the aspiring exerciser.

More key back-story: I have a crock pot. It was kind of an accident: I was re-packing and re-scouring the kitchen for anything I thought I couldn't live without when my mother mentioned that she had a cookbook that was comprised of only slow-cooker recipes -- perfect for someone with a busy schedule living on their own. Throw the food in, turn it on, go do stuff, and in a few hours you have meals for the rest of the week. What could go wrong? So I dug out our ancient crock pot, full of nostalgia and beginning to rust on the outside, and scoured our bookshelves for the slow-cooker book.

My plan involves using all of the above to my advantage: biking to work, eating better, maybe menu planning. Self-motivation (which is always a struggle).

I want to catch up with where I am so far, my challenges and successes, and where I want to go from here. There's not too much to tell; I've only been in my new place for two weeks. I can't imagine that it's gone so quickly and I'm not sure what I've done for the past couple weeks, but it seems like most of it has been work and a lot of it has been unpacking and going to Wal-Mart. For the record, I despise the convenience of Wal-Mart. Why should I be able to pick up office supplies, bath towels, a new dress for work, a dish drain, and groceries all at the same place? And then, because I can buy groceries there, I do, forgetting entirely that their fresh produce is cringe-worthy and inedible.

But the first week was good. Busy. I made myself walk around my little lake a few times; it's .4 miles around, so not very convenient for nice round numbers, but it's a beautiful walk. I spent lots of money on things like a rice cooker and furniture and sticky non-damaging wall hooks, and spent lots of time driving back and forth to a site where we did a go-live in the middle of last week. On the up-side, my apartment looks beautiful!

I love flowers.

So I moved in, walked around the lake, went shopping. Decided to try my hand at one of the crock pot recipes! I made the chicken and dumplings because I buy/eat a lot of chicken, and wanted something quick and easy that had some vegetables in it. Worked like a charm.

It doesn't look as delicious as it tasted, and I managed to make it last -- eating it for 70% of my lunches and dinners -- for nearly a week. I also made baked apples with peaches, stuffed with raisins and cranberries, with a bit of a banana bread-y kind of bottom.

I'm still working through that one; it's good but I think I made too much, and I often have a sweet tooth for things other than fruit.

I'm trying to be better with food, but I still get horrible cravings that completely defeat what little self-control I possess. Like the night I made angel food cupcakes with chocolate frosting and ate the whole pan. Or the day I ate nothing but pierogies and buttered toast. But most days are ok; this week I tried out Refrigerator Oatmeal; there's a lot about it floating around on the net right now, but I used this website and it's working out fairly well. Better than expected, actually; I'm not usually a fan of what chia seeds do to the texture of my food, but I don't seem to mind it with the oats. The Apple Cinnamon and Mango Almond flavours are my favourite so far (Peanut Butter Banana is yummy too!).

So, Refrigerator Oatmeal for breakfast, a lot of chicken for lunch and dinner, and a walk or bike ride if it's not raining. I'm taking monthly pictures of myself to gauge my progress because I don't own a scale and don't put a lot of stock in numbers anyway. My first ones weren't too impressive:

Actually quite embarrassing (I kind of look like an elephant on two legs) -- but this was before I started anything; you can see I wasn't even completely unpacked yet. The next monthly picture isn't for over two weeks from now, so I have plenty of time to hopefully make even an iota of visible progress.

Also I'm painting my nails more. It's not really relevant to my "get fit" plan, but it's just nice to be able to do something that was against the dress code for 18 months.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Post-Valentine's Day

I had a dream about your mum last night.... I don't know where we all were, or where you were, but there was a group of people, and I was upstairs in a room with her helping get something together; it was a party or some event, that's what it felt like. At one point we were both next to each other on the bed, leaning back against the pillows, and I turned my head towards her and started to say, "Rosie I have a problem. I love your son." I called her Rosie in my dream... I started to say that, but we were talking about something else. And then we were talking about something else, then something else. And then we had to get up and do something or talk to someone or deal with something, and the whole time I just kept thinking, "Rosie I have a problem; Rosie, I have a problem; Rosie... your son..." but I never said it out loud.

This morning I was drinking my orange juice and staring at my white roses; they're all dead and brown and droopy now, the leaves are shriveled, the water is low and no longer clear. But I stared right through them and back overseas, and thought of Rosie. And when I took a deep breath to see if my favorite smell still lingered, my cinnamon waffle popped and that was all I could smell, and it brought me back to now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Things the British Hate

-- Electricity. There are no convenient sockets. This goes for the Dutch too, apparently.
-- Hot water. I mean, clearly they love it for tea, but it takes a while for the water from the tap to get warm. Although, once it does, it is HOT. So maybe scratch that one.
-- Comfortable showers. Most are hardly big enough to turn around in, let alone shave your legs.
-- Normal toilets that flush all the paper down in one go and display your poos properly. Actually...just normal bathrooms in general. What is so hard about putting the toilet and the sink in the same room??
-- Chaos when they can politely queue instead. If nothing else, the Brits sure as hell know how to queue.
-- The letter Z. Not only do they call it by a different name, but they don't use it in half the words we do (realise, organise, etc.).
-- Top sheets. Self explanatory.
-- Screens in the windows and doors. They claim there aren't enough flies here to justify the screens.
-- Scotland.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Not Sure I Like This New Blogger Look

Cheers from sunny (it's actually pretty overcast and rainy here most of the time) London. That's right, London, UK. I've been here for eight days and just over 20 hours. I'm staying in a beautiful little flat that's not really that small -- not when it's just little old me living here -- facing the river Thames, and Greenwich (yes, THAT Greenwich, that of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time) right across the river. Greenwich is a lovely place, and if I look out my southeastern most window I can just see the square where the foot tunnel comes out and the touristy downtown starts. It's gorgeous when the sun sets and reflects orange from the sky and the water onto what I think is the Old Royal Naval College but actually have no idea as of yet. Pictures to follow someday, I hope.

There are fun things here, like wee little cars and a store called ASDA that's owed by WalMart (and you can tell just as soon as you step through the doors) and people who -- amusingly, at least to me -- only dress in black or grey or brown or tan paired with muted pastels, the only color in their wardrobes showing in the form of a handful of red jackets. I must stick out with my yellow and orange and green skirts and bright blue rain jacket that I wear every day because you never know when (not if) the skies will open up for a little sprinkle. There are red double decker buses and red phone boxes and red over- and under-ground trains and lush, spilling gardens wherever people can find the space; I've seen residents of some places with two or three square feet of green space on their property squeeze in half a dozen different flowers and plants, just because they can.

There are hard things here as well: living alone is the biggest one so far. I work at least 10 hour days and sometimes have dinner or drinks after work, I spend the large majority of my day surrounded by at least a handful of people; at times I've been around 20 at once. I have exactly five contacts in my little not-phone I use for the time being, and I can contact and talk to any of those five people whenever I want. I can also call back to the States whenever I want -- free on my end, probably not so much Stateside. None of that, however, changes the fact that when I do finally come back to my flat at the end of the day, I come back alone, and change my clothes and brush my teeth alone, and -- ultimately -- crawl into bed alone. I can surround myself with other people for 16 or even 20 hours out of my day, but when I come back home to sleep, as I must eventually, I come back by myself. And that, so far, is the worst and hardest part.

Of course there are the daily reminders of what I left behind: the bicyclists, the cars, the machinery at different construction sites, people walking their dogs, men in work boots and yellow vests, any man over 6ft tall, and of course -- of course -- my daily challenge: Her lookalike. Could be Her twin, I suppose, were they not born 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers, may it do ya) apart. And what did I do, what did I really do that I haven't paid for already, to have to sit across from her every day for 10 hours?

So those are the hard things. And the fun things. All a part of making this life feel alive. Because what is life without its ups and downs?

Here is a fun fact that I didn't know before moving here: The Thames, at least parts of it, has a tide. I happen to live on one of those sections. Took me two full days to notice, but notice I eventually did, and there you go, the more you know. It doesn't look wide enough to have a tide, not really, but maybe that doesn't matter. What do I know about tides, after all?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Borrowed Time

Now I've forgotten all the Funny Stories I wanted to tell in the first place. Today was that we took the pups to the ski hill again. Yesterday was something about the new Jeep. But now that it comes down to telling someone other than you, they've all flown out of my mind.

I wanted to tell her today that she ruined my lunch, but I was afraid she would come back with, "You ruined my life." It seems like something she would say, and I guess if I were in her situation I would have thought of something similar.

It's not like I try to drive by your house and stalk you; it just happens to be on the way to a lot of places I go. But every time I drive past it (especially when her car is sitting there, as it so often is), I'm reminded of all the negative qualities about your personality. You'll never know how much I hate that: to be reminded everyday of the bad things about you. To have to exert effort, no matter how little, to remind myself of the good things, the things about you that I love.

Love. Loved? Right now I want to get over you so badly. Is that...wrong?

Now, a couple days later, I have more Funny Stories. Some I've told to you, some I've forgotten. But last night I was so excited to talk to you (when am I not?), to tell you what I learned about felt and how they make Stetson hats and all the cool things I saw on Frozen Planet. I wanted to talk about the lawn chairs in the driveway of the house on the corner, how there are still two there even though the husband died and I could have sworn I saw one of those chairs out with the garbage last week.

Why can't I just be your friend for a month? What about me (or you) is making that so impossible? I've never had a problem with this before; I've always been ok with pretending when I had to. Maybe because up until now I've been so unflinchingly honest with you; it was a hallmark of our relationship: we were always honest with each other. At least...I was always honest with you, and you were more honest with me than anyone else. I'm starting to wonder if you ever tell the complete truth to anyone.

Do something awful so that I can move on, please.

Monday, February 6, 2012


What to write about? I'm clearly in a dead spot; but a lot of that has to do with the fact that I can't talk about the biggest thing that's happening in my life right now. I think I'll try something new; telling funny stories that happen to me throughout the day. Although I'm not sure how funny they'll be to the outside observer...

For example. Today I took my two pups to a ski hill near my house that's no longer in use (even if they still used it, we don't have any snow this I still would probably take my dogs there) so they could run around, stretch their legs, and expend all that energy that causes them to eat miscellaneous items in my house (Tupperware containers, mail, stuffed animals, etc.). They ran around in circles trying to decide what to do, so I went to run up the hill to get them to follow me. Just as I took off, Brown Dog decided he wanted to run in a path that took him directly through my legs, and I tripped over him and face-planted. See, it was funny at the time, but I'm not so sure how it translates in the retelling. Maybe I should just post videos of my pups, since they're always adorable and ridiculous.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Since I Have No One Else To Tell...

...I'll tell my non-existent readers.

I think I have discovered why I have trouble being alone. Not alone as in single, but alone as in not around other people for extended periods of time. It's not that I can't ever have alone time or spend some moments by myself, but generally speaking, I'd much rather be spending my time with other people....or, one other person, specifically.

It is my belief that life is meant to be shared with others. I could delve into why I feel this way, but it would be long and drawn-out, convoluted and most likely uninteresting to the general population. It's not something I've really even completely figured out for myself. But I feel it deep down, and I have to trust that I believe it to be true. Life is meant to be shared with others. Moments that you spend alone feel wasted to me, unless you're being extremely productive or creative. There are exceptions to every rule.

Why do I have this philosophy? I have no idea. Furthermore, if I really feel this way, why don't I spend more time with friends? I don't have many, but there are a few out there. Maybe I'm just making up this world-view to justify my need to spend every waking moment know. That boy. That boy I like a lot.

That's not the only reason though. I'm not a completely dependent person, but I do have much more fun when I'm with other people. Other people like myself; let's be clear. My latest job consisted of me pouring alcohol down the throats of already far too intoxicated individuals while they danced around and stuffed their faces with cheese stix and pizza. Now there was a job where I spent a lot of time around other people. But waitressing at a bar isn't really my thing, and partying with crazy drunks isn't quite up my alley either. But spending time with people I have a lot in common with seems to make living life that much better. Experiences are better shared. Maybe it's the memories you look back on later. Maybe it's that deep-down satisfaction of connecting with another individual that validates your beliefs and points of view. Maybe it's just nice to have a friend.

Either way, this is why I'm NOT a miserable and depressing company-whore; I'm just an awesome chick who likes to share, live, and love life.