Friday, April 30, 2010

About those goals...

It is 1 hr from the end of April. I set myself plenty of goals for the month and I can't believe how the time flew by. My organization has not improved one ounce. One step. One goal. I just can't get started. Here is the irony of it though - on my "to do" list for April was to read the organization book I bought. It is called "Organize Yourself" and has been around for quite some time. I did not start it until last night. The first chapter is about Procrastination. It asks, within the first few lines, 'do you put off tasks until the night before the deadline?" I almost laughed out loud. It also talks about a lot of reasons people procrastinate and states you need to figure out your own reason. Some proposed reasons that struck a chord: its just easier to let it go, I over-estimate the time or effort the task will take "inflating" the difficulty to an insurmountable height (this tends to happen especially with making phone calls, filling out forms, etc). I also have a tendency to get overwhelmed if there is too many tasks or too large of a task - I just don't have that organization bug that my sister possesses. If I am going to make any progress towards my New Years Resolution, I am going to need to prioritize it more, and change the way I think about going about it. Organization certainly is one of my dragons at the moment - that and puppy obedience!!

In the spirit of focusing on the positive, I will say things I did do this month: I did go to see LEKT and had a wonderful time. I went hiking. I read a large chunk of Ulysses, though I am not quite finished. I took the dogs to the dog park about once a week, and squeezed in some longer walks as well. I cooked slightly more than in the previous month, and planned more meals. I got my garden bed ready for vegatable planting, and, of course, I made Springtime Dessert!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Nice Weekend

OK. Back to the weekend after that short interlude.

Friday was the second and third round of the NFL draft. We watched the first part of it, then DH got annoyed with the coverage and we played video games instead (Me Rock Band, DH Defense of the Ancients). I got my first perfect on expert on guitar in Rock Band. It was on a song called Pretend We Are Dead. I proceeded to immediately do it again on We've Got the Beat. Is it sad that I am proud? Anyways, then we reconvened and watched some Red Wings hockey.

Saturday I headed up towards Burton in NE Ohio to visit my sister and her friend who was visiting from Chicago, 0. It was a lot of fun. We ate lunch at a Amish general store, I tried Maple Cream Soda, which was delicious at first and then by the end you could not notice the difference between it and regular cream soda (just sweet). We went to a farm so my sister could knock up a horse (artificial insemination). After that fun was over (0 and I stayed outside and took pictures of the already-present foal) we meandered up to Lake Erie via random back roads (OK, nearly everything in that Area is random backroads) and found a small city park w/beach access. It was cloudy and had been raining, but that did not stop us from roaming the beach, and me from wading in the very cold water. It was nice to be by a great lake again! Also, from the beach we could see the nuclear power plant, which I found fascinating. When my feet got cold we turned back, and stopping for a brief ride on the sliding ring in the playground, made our way back to the car and headed to Mentor, OH. In Mentor we went book shopping, first at B&N and then at Half Price Books, where I could not resist purchasing a copy of "Moore's Poetical Works". It is a very old copy with colered engraving boarders on each page, very beautiful. I have researched it a bit now and it was published in 1884. I have not read it yet, but I plan to. Its fascinating to think I am holding something that may have been in someone's library that long ago - thinking about them reading it. I could eassily become a collector of antique books if I had the space and money. As it is, I will probably just pick up inexpensive ones here and there!

Anyways, we eventually headed to dinner at Red Robin (yum), then after determining DQ had closed everywhere, went back to LEKTs house and hung out until we all fell asleep, quite exhausted. In the morning LEKT and I went out to breakfast (0 is not a morning person), then I helped LEKT treat a Llama's goopy eye, then I headed home.

Despite the random weather (intermittent beautiful sunshine, drizzle, and heavy downpours), back in Columbus I met my friend R and we headed out to hike. We drove back up to Mt Gilead State Park and had a nice time walking the trails. It was nice catching up with her, with both of us working full time it feels like we never get to talk. After we finished hiking we headed back to Columbus and went to Aladdin's for cake and tea.

That was my whirlwind of a weekend! I spent the evening trying to adjust to the idea that I had to return to work on Monday morning. This process was somewhat unsuccesful, and therefore contributed to my bad mood on Monday.

That is all. Perhaps pictures to follow?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hindsight is 20/20

To say shortly what will later be said in some length: Great Weekend, hard return to work. I am in a bad mood today, which is why I will not blog about my nice weekend just now. However, I did read this quote in Dracula which has cheered me up a bit:

"We have been blind somewhat, blind after the manner of men, since when we can look back we see what we might have seen looking forward if ew hae been able to see what we might have seen."

Also, the rain is helping with my mood. Not helping with my mood would be the two hours of training this morning.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Somewhat Green Post

Now that I have gotten that rant out of the way (sorry if it offended anyone), how about an update on my life?

DH has spent the last two days home sick, poor guy. I don't know if he has the same thing I did or not, but I doubt it since that would indicate an incredible long incubation period that just seems ridiculous. Besides that, even though he was home sick, he spent part of today (a small part, don't worry) fertiziling a small section of the lawn. Our lawn looks HORRIBLE. We are very bad at taking care of it. This is the first place I lived that there were neighbors to worry about in terms of lawn care. DH is a bit mad at the next door neighbors because the first summer we were here there was no dandelions in our yard and tons in theres, last summer there was a few in our yard, and now ours is as bad as theirs. DH does not want to pass on the disease to others, lol, so he wants to do some lawn treatments. We have even considered hiring a company to come do it, but I am worried about the chemicals and the dogs. I don't like the idea of toxic grass. For now we are putting down some simple fertilizer, if that does not help we will research other pet safe options.

In work news, my building is finally starting a recycling program for cans/bottles etc. I know I have only been there a few months, but seriously, this is 2010, they should have had recycling for five years at least!! I went to the kick off and got some free green pepper seeds, signed up for the raffles, and volunteered to help empty the recylcing container from my area into the dumpster. I hope they got a lot of volunteers or I will get stuck doing it all the time (I was the first to sign up for my area). In general, work is going well. I am very caught up, I am closing a lot of cases. Last week for the first time I closed as many cases as I got, which is the ultimate production goal (to do this consistently). It was 13 cases. This past week I only closed 8 again (which is about what I was averaging before the 13).

DH and I spent the last two nights watching the NFL draft. We are very interested in the outcome, and very disapointed by the coverage. DH is disapointed because they don't show many clips of the players getting drafted, have poor timing in the announcements, and are a running commercial for verizon. I am disapointed because they keep staying stupid things that contradict things they said earlier. For example, spending 20 minutes talking about how its so surprising Tim Tebow went in the first round, and then asking 30 seconds later if people think the Bronco's got the best value of the night by drafting him (value meaning he should have been drafted earlier than he was). Another case of logic not being the most valued commodity around... Anyways, I stayed up watching last night to see the Vikings pick, and then they went and traded it away. Tonight they drafted a couple of players I am less than certain about, and I am completely at a loss as to why they would draft a RB when they have the best in the league (Adrian Peterson), and there are other positions they could use.

Puppy's behavior has been getting more and more out of hand (more hyperness, inability to calm down, etc). I did some reading online tonight about being the Alpha, and putting it into practice. She certainly seems to respond to at least some of it (such as working on the sit/stay command to calm her down and assert dominance gently). We decided its time to start obedience school and we signed up for a class starting Monday, May 3rd. Wish us luck!!

Sounds like its raining outside. That makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

(Ir)rational Fears

Put this as pet peeve #423 of mine (on second thought, maybe I should actually count these and give them real numbers.... not just made up high numbers) - anyways - pet peeve = irrational fears, or more specifically, the culture of fear.

Everyone has fears, fear is entirely natural. Its evolutionary purpose is to protect us - keep us from doing things that may hurt us and keep us on our toes in dangerous situations. Heights, spiders, snakes, tightly closed spaces - these common fears today are all things that would have supposed a risk to an early primitive human. We are wired to be afraid of certain things. At some point, these fears become irrational and prevent us from living rather than protecting us from dying.

In present day, we are unindated constantly with things we should be afraid of. Industries take advantage of this evolutionary trait to make profit - in money and power- for themselves. The biggest culprits: politics (of course), the home security industry, the gun industry. They have us thinking that the terrorists are coming tomorrow, the economy will never recover if the opposite party wins, house guests return after leaving to smash in windows, and we are safer if we have a gun. Ignore the fact that the probability of ANY of these things happening is less likely than the probability of tripping over my own feet and knocking my front teeth out (OK, this probability might be slightly higher for me than many).

This post was meant to be much more eloquent when I was planning it in my head, but an angry rant will have to do.

Announcement to the world!!

There will be terrorist attacks or acts of war in the future no matter what we do. That is just the way of the world. Barring the downfall of the entire world order, the American economy will recover. Having the other party in power for a while is not the ruin of the country, even if it feels like that when you are all worked up. The probability of you being a victim of a violent crime is miniscule, and having a gun around does not really change this probability - might even increase it depending on what statistics you read. Having a home security system is irrational and a waste of money - both yours and tax payers when cops show up for false alarms. Strangers will not sneak into your garage when your husband pulls his car out to come up and attack you. The chances of your kid being kidnapped by a stranger are so ridiculously small, they are more likely to die by you crashing your car or a household accident.

So, be rational, argue your political points without panic, own a gun for sport if you want, but not protection, put your energy and money and efforts into having a safe car and a safe house and maintaining a healthy lifestyle rather than worrying about what random strangers are going to do. If you are afraid of strangers, establish relationships in all your realms - your neighborhood, the area you work in, these people will be a much better security system for you than any electronic gadget. Most importantly, STOP being scared of everything!

Of course I have irrational fears too, we all do. I am terrified that a tornado will kill me. But, there is nothing I can do about it, so I try not to freak out and just pay more attention when there is a storm warning. Most the time when I get on a plane I am convinced we will crash, but I know that its irrational to feel that its no more dangerous than a car, so I fly anyways. I think that if I ride in a car without a seatbelt I will die in a preventable way. I think if I ride a bike without a helmet I will die in a preventable way (thanks mom and dad for these particular fears...). I am convinced everyone who rides a motorcycle sooner or later crashes and dies (also thanks Mom I think). I guess everyone has fears. I just wish people would stop wasting energy and money, stop giving power to crazies, just because they are told to be afraid.

Uh.. Rant over. LOL.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just Breathe

I have not posted much because not much has happened. My main activities: get up, cough a lot, go to work, come home, relax or maybe do something social, then spend the night trying to breathe.

Last night wasn't so bad. I could breathe a bit better at night, and I slept better, less coughing, so thats good. Also, last night DH and I finally went to see Alice in Wonderland 3D. It was quite good. I was expecting to like it and to have DH hate it, but he actually liked it OK. It has much more of a plot than the original (for those of you unaware, it is a sequel, an adult Alice ends up back in a changed Wonderland). I have to say that Johnny Depp was brilliant, but then again, when isn't he?

Other things this week - Classics and Cocktails book club, which was nice. Season premiere of Deadliest Catch, which totally hooked me (pardon the pun, lol), fun at Trivia, and that about sums it up.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bad Movies, Good Friends

Still sick, but getting better? Maybe?
Friday night we watched baseball, I watched a bad movie called Tran-Siberian. I thought it was highly acclaimed. If I am right about that, the people who reviewed it and acclaimed it need to be fired. It was an unrealistic, poorly acted, improbable story that slowly devolved into a torture flick, not something I particularly enjoy.

Saturday I alternately laid around and worked on getting the house clean. Tylenol Severe Cold syrup is my friend. I did not really feel that bad, just tired and like I couldn't breath, same old story, isn't it? In the evening I had Girl's Night. We ate delicious food, grilled kebobs, chatted a lot, played some rockband, and then sat around a fire and made smores. The weather was perfect for it and I could not have asked for a more relaxing night, except perhaps being able to breath.

Today I had two goals: do the dishes from last night and relax. I accomplished the latter, though not enough for my taste, and have yet to do the former. Right now, as I blog, DH and I are watching another atrocious movie - Law Abiding Citizen. In the adds for this movie, it was hard to tell whether it was a detective/lawyer movie or a vigilante movie. Well, turns out there is a reason for that - even an hour and forty minutes in I am not sure if we are cheering for the lawyer or the guy in jail. Its not that I approve of what the guy in jail is doing, but the lawyer is so incredibly unlikeable, and I have no emotional attachments to anyone except the guy in prison who is killing people left and right. And, instead of getting more clever as it goes on, the movie becomes less probable until ultimately it is ridiculous.

I did get four other movies this weekend, from the library, which I pln to watch over the coming days. Hopefully they don't suck this much. Maybe I will now put on Shrek the Third and wash those dishes... if I can stay on my feet that long. LOL.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Different Kind of Sick

I spent yesterday home, sick. But it was a different kind of sick than normal. I had been tired for the past several days, but I thought it was either just general stress or maybe a side effect of a medication I was one. Anyways, on Wednesday I was just getting more and more tired with every passing moment. I went over to a friends house to bead (I really should post the results, it is fabulous IMO), and I hardly could stay awake, it was a bit ridiculous. By the time I got home it was all I could do to let the Dog out to pee and get changed and into bed (DH was at Trivia). Thursday morning I woke up and had a temperature. I got up and took a shower anyways to gage how I was doing, because I did not have any obvious symptoms besides being tired - a bit of a sore throat, but no cough or plugged nose. When I was showering I just felt SO tired and sometimes a bit wheezy, but as I said, no cough. I decided to stay home and I slept an extra 7 hrs through out the day, and then went to bed again at 9:30 PM (2 hrs earlier than normal). This morning I had a very slight fever, and again, virtually no symptoms except an occasional sense of wheeziness/SOB. I went to work early as I had a Drs appt to get to at lunch time, and I could not believe how tired I felt at work. Especially talking. Being on the phone with clmts I could just feel how weak my voice was and how much I did not want to speak another word.

It is strange being this kind of sick... no snot or cough, just fatigue and occasional wheezes, shortness of breath, fever. I am feeling loads better than yesterday, but I still am thinking I will go home and crash. We were supposed to finally go see Alice in Wonderland 3D, which I am so looking forward to, but alas, its not meant to be as this will be like the 12th time we have cancelled it.

On an unrelated note, during my few waking hours yesterday I finished Wuthering Heights. What a horrendous book! I have never read a book with so much spite and hate and terrible and weak characters. If there is one ounce of truth about human nature in that book we mine as well all go live in a hut in the woods and never speak to anyone again. I do not understand how anyone could think that book is remotely romantic.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Just Dessert

Happy Easter! Or, should I say Happy Spring Fertility Festival! (Hense the bunnies and eggs...). Anyways, it has been a very busy weekend. Yesterday I would have told you it was too busy and a regretted having so much scheduled, but today things seem a bit more relaxed and I am a bit more cheerful.

The weekend showcased my baking abilities and my abhorrent organization. Allow me to discuss the organization part first.

Starting yesterday morning:
9:20 AM Drive to the farmers market in worthington to meet friends (10 minute drive), then head up to Polaris and go to Target and Kroger, return home around 11:20
11:40 AM Go to Home Depot and Appliance Smart to Fridge Shop, wish I had price checked at Lowes when I was up there that morning. Return home around 1:00. Find the recipe I was going to make for easter. Promptly lose it.
2:00 PM Drive to the grocery store (half way to Worthington) to pick up things I forgot. Arrive home 2:30. Commence baking. Have people over, have a nice evening, so go bed.
9:00 AM Drive to the the grocery store to pick up things I forgot. Arrive home 9:30.

So... in other words, what should have been ONE trip, maybe two, was four. What should have been done with by early Saturday afternoon was dragged out until this morning. Now wonder I feel like things are too busy.

Onward to the nice part - the cooking. I have made three desserts for this weekend. At work on Friday we had a pot luck to celebrate making it halfway through probation. Our probation ends on Sept. 14th (the same day we started work... one full year). Hard to believe its half over, but my review went excellently. Anyways, for that pot luck I made my Mom's rhubarb crunch, and it turned out quite well. Yesterday was the trickiest dessert. It needed to be Kosher for Passover (Pesadich). I was having some people over to watch a classic movie, and one of them is Jewish. Kosher for Passover means almost no grains can be used. I found the recipe for a good crust online and then pretty much made up my own cheesecake recipe and I must say it turned out wonderfully.

Here is my new reciple, an Amanda Original:

Pesadich Strawberry Almond Cheesecake
3/4 cup sliced almond
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup maza cake meal (this is a specialty ingredient for passover, if you don't care about it being Kosher you could use cornmeal or cookie crumbs)
1 stick butter

Toast the almonds (I did 10 minutes at 350 degrees), put them in food processor w/the cake meal and mix until the almonds are finally grated. Mix in butter (either in food processor or by hand). Melt the stick of butter and add to dry mixture, mix well and then pat down into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Be generous in the ammount that pats up the sides (let it go fairly high)

2 eggs
2 pkgs cream cheese, softened
1/2 sugar
Almond Extract (I actually used imitation and it was fine)
1 lb Strawberrys, sliced

Beat sugar into softened cream cheese until well blended add eggs and almond extract, beat until there is a regular consistency. Almond extract.. I did not measure, more than a dash though. Its too taste I guess.

Spread half of the filling into the bottom of the crust. Carefully place one layer of sliced strawberries on top of the filling (so it covers it once, you still should have a lot of strawberries left!). Spread the second half of the filling ontop of the strawberries. With a fork, crumble edges of the crust over the top of the cheesecake. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the top cracks a little. It still will be a bit wobbly in the center.
Allow to cool fully. Heap remaining strawberries in the center and serve.

This seriously looks and tastes amazing!!

The final desset of the weekend is yet to be completed or eaten. It is Springtime Dessert, another recipe of my mom's with only a few twists. We will see how it turns out later today when I head up to my Grandma's for easter dinner!

I know this post is ridiculously long but I also wanted to mention what pleasant walk I had this morning. I am all for springtime weather, but I was afraid that the weather was moving to rapidly towards summer for my taste. However, the past two days have been lovely - all the windows are open and its not to hot, just fresh air. This morning the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was nice and comfortable in my sweatshirt and jeans. It was just so wonderful.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April's Fool, Resolutions Re-tooled

It is now April 1st. We are officially 1/4 of the way through the year (by months.. not days actually). I think its a good time to pause and reflect, to look at how I am doing on my goals for this year and how I am feeling about life in general.

Here are my New Years Resolutions, and how I feel like I am doing on them:

1) Get Organized!!!

Lets face it, I have hardly touched this one. I did buy some storage containers that SLIGHTLY improved the use of our front closet and cabinet under the sink. That is pathetic though. I have not read the organization book I bought. I hardly have cut back on activities or tried to manage my time. We have slightly improved in responding to mail, but not by much. We have not fixed our filing. We are not keeping the house cleaner. We have not purged anything. I need to step up and get working on this. Clearly I need to set some smaller goals.

(2) Cook More, Eat Healthier

I have made some progress here, but there is more room for improvement. This task was LARGELY assisted by my Lent resolution to give up fast food, which took away the quick and easy option. I have been bezzling less, snacking less, and paying more attention to portions. The ammount of meals eaten at home has slightly increased. My weight has stabilized (I had been in a long gain), but is not really dropping. DH is also very into exercise/diet (on his own personal 90 day program), so I would really like to step this up another notch.

(3) Reading Goal
Finally, one I am doing decently on! The goal was to read 40K pages and to tackle some of the tomes I have been meaning to get to. I currently have read 10621 pages, meaning that I am 26.5525% done with my goal with 24.6575% of the year gone. I am just ahead of the curve, but will have to keep it up to finish this! As for the tomes, well, I am working on one. Sort of.

(4) Grimmy Grim
I have increased the ammount of walking I do with Grim, but not as much as my resolution called for. I will walk her longer if its beautiful out and I am not in a hurry. The puppy complicated this resolution significantly because she was too cold to take long walks before it started getting nice.

So... in Other Words ---
So what am I going to do about all of these resolutions? Not time to give up yet! I still have 9 months to achieve my resolutions! I think its time to break them down a little! Here are my goals for the month of April.

(1) Get Organized!!
a. Read my organization book
b. Clean out the rest of underneath the cabinet and buy appropriate organization bins to keep it clean
c. Make a list of all activities that I regularly partake in, including puppy time, and prioritize them, and act on my schedule accordingly.
d. Sit down with DH and make a list of all the little projects that are waiting to get done around the house.
e. Take Stock of My Office and figure out what exactly needs to be done to make it functional

(2) Cook More, Eat Healthier
a. Plan 2 meals for each week in advance (starting this weekend), and execute them. Ask DH to cook one meal a week.

(3) Reading
a. Finish Ulysses by the end of the month

(4) Grimmy Grim
a. Take advantage of the one day per week DH is handling dinner to take the dogs to the dog park.
b. Continue to try and walk them longer whenever the weather is decent.

Other April Goals -
(5) Clean the Garden Bed out and plant seeds inside to start
(6) Go Hiking
(7) Visit LEKT
(8) Make Springtime Dessert
(9) Visit Alum Creek Lake or another large Body of water (well, not that large)
(10) Order Pictures

Cleveland Jaunt

Tuesday I made a quick trip up to Cleveland. My little sister and mom are on a cross-country mother-daughter road trip for my sister's 16th Birthday (which was back in January), on her Spring Break. They stayed in Cleveland a few nights with my mom's family that is up there. I took the afternoon off on Tuesday and headed up. I met my Mom and sister and we went to a metro park (state road) where we walked an exercise course and my little sister showed off her athleticism, then we met the entire gang (aunts, uncles, cousins, cousin's kids), for dinner at a chinese buffet where I sampled Prawn and Frog Legs for the first time. It was a good time, always to short seeing family, but still nice. I had to leave first because I was exhausted and had the two-hour drive home to contend with.

I also returned to Trivia last night, where I was completely useless. But, that is relatively typical. We were doing well as a team until the final question, which we totally f'ed up. Put these shows in order of their premier date (oldest to newest) - Coach, Full House, Roseanne.