Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from Cincy!

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

I'm sending you all greetings from beautiful Cincinnati Ohio where my brother and sister-in-law reside. This year the Mensah Jr's. hosted my parents, Marie's parents, my brother Kelly, Leroy and myself for a lovely Christmas celebration... Here are the highlights...

First off...Never... NEVER fly Delta out of JFK during the holidays. Delta SUCKS. Leroy and I waited in line for 2 hours to check in. I had to check in in person b/c I was traveling with a pet. They literally had 1 agent working the check in line for all domestic and international flights... and then that check in person left and ALL hell broke loose. People were yelling, fools were cutting in the line. It was nuts. My flight kept on being pushed back, so I didn't mind too too much, but yo... I really though someone was gonna get the ho ho ho beat out of them.. it was quite humerous all around. Unfortunately the BRILLIANT folks at Delta just forgot to pack half of the plane's luggage (about 10 people... the plane was tiny) and then I didn't get my luggage until Wednesday... oh well

Our holiday celebration started off with a trip to the Ballet to see the Cincinatti Ballet's presentation of the nutcracker. It was really cute. Little kids LOVE the Nutcracker and there were tons of little cuties in the audience. The play was good... but my favorite part was after the ballet they, for some reason, had a big ass statue of Bob's Big Boy (those of you from the Midwest know what I'm talking about) in the lobby of the ballet... so we took a picture with Bob... I think this would be the perfect picture for "Caption it" challenge :-p




Christmas Morning! Tons of presents and Leroy's by the tree! I got lots of good stuff for Christmas this year... actually most of the stuff I got was really for Leroy, but whatever. So... My brother and sis-in-law got me a Pug Snuggly for Leroy. Pug Snuggly's are special coats made for to fit pug's big chest. Leroy LOVES IT! And he looks so freaking cute... Don't mind that sad look on his face... just focus on the happy look on mine... heh heh...











They also got us an Outward Hound Dog sling so I can carry Leroy around all the time.... because that is exactly what needs to happen :-p He seemed a little dubious at first... but then I think he started to really enjoy himself and DOVE right in to the experience!








My brother seemed to enjoy his stocking stuffer.... I thought he would enjoy it since I get daily text message reports on his poop activities....











My father seemed very pleased with his Vietnam War Video... We saw it on TV back in October and I remembered he said he wanted it... So WA-LA Now everybody thinks I'm a great, listening, daughter :-p






My mom and I were ENTIRELY TOO pleased to receive Princess Tyra Chapter 3. For those of you who are not up on Ghanaian Cinema, Princess Tyra is the scintillating story of a caring maid by the name of Maafia who worked for the evil Princess Tyra, until Princess Tyra's fiance Kay knocked her up, causing her to leave her home in the Ilugbo Kingdom for the big city where she got slapped a LOT by a lot of people and found out her man decided to impregnate a chick who, other than her bad African weave, looked exactly like her... I don't want to give it all away, but Princess Tyra chapter 3 was JUST as great as Chapters 1 and 2.... You can see the excitement on our faces! Leroy watched Princess Tyra chapters 1 and 2 when he was only 3 months old! I think he totally remembers it. You can just see the excitement on his face when he sees what's in the box!






It was a FABULOUS Christmas morning! Thanks Ekow and Marie for your hospitality! You can see WAY more pictures of the whole Mensah/Robinson plan including pics of everyone enjoying the gift opening and my brother Kelly trying to look suave for the camera on my facebook page :-p

Merry Christmas All....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Butternut Squash, Leeks and Apples... a story in pictures

I spent a lot (entirely too much) time photographically documenting the process of making my butternut squash and leeks last month, so I feel obligated to share the process with all of you. I am on a plane and I don’t really feel like typing, so this will be a description in pictures…. Here we go....


... and for those of you who are more word inclined...
1. Take a lovely butternut squash and strip it of its modesty and chop it up into bits
2. Take 4-5 big leeks, clean and decapitate
3. Soften up the mixture in a skillet with some olive oil…
4. Get a Granny smith Apple. Chop granny up and add her to the pot.
5. Get out some sweet wine. I used a lovely cranberry wine… Pour some wine… into a glass and drink it. Pour some more wine into the glass and drink it too. Pour some wine into the Buttnut squash mixture.
6. Let it all stew and simmer and whatnot until the buttnutt is nice and tender.
7. Bake up a piece of tilapia with some salt, pepper, and thyme.
8. Put it all on the plate and bring the plate to the couch
9. Ignore the sad, begging look on Leroy’s face
10. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Braising pork at 7:00am...

Hey Ya'll...

Next new recipe... I bought about a pound of boneless country style pork ribs a couple weekends ago.... just because they were there.... I have never made ribs, boneless or otherwise, so I thought it would be something fun to try.

Braising basically means cooking something in a little bit of liquid in a covered pot. I just checked with Wiki and it said that Braising is actually a 2 part method including dry and wet.... that I did not know. You always learn something new when you're braising country style pork at 7 in the morning.... Next time I will have to sear the pork before throwing it in the oven.

Anywhoo, basically all I did was throw the slab'o'pork in a little roaster pan, with about 2 cups of chicken broth and salt and pepper and seasoning. The recipe called for bay leaf, but I left my bay leaves at Juan's house on Thanksgiving so I threw some allspice and thyme in there.... we'll see...

The meat is supposed to be paired with a Cuban influenced sauced called Mojo sauce. It's basically a sauce of orange, lime, garlic, cilantro and some other stuff. I'll make that when I get home today.

It's been in the oven for about 40 min and it smells great! I'll keep ya'll posted on the Mojo sauce

N

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

AAAAAAAH KELLLY CLARKSON!!!!

So.... I fulfilled another one of my goals tonight! I got a Bikini Wax. I had never gotten a bikini wax before b/c honestly I didn't really see the point. When I went to the beach I would just do a little at home bikiniscaping, and go... and the rest of the time... It was just au natural... I'm an au natural gal. :-p

My friend Alex had been talking about how I need to get a bikini wax for years an that her "provider" is excellent. She goes to Bliss Spa for her bikini waxes and she said that I might as well not get a bikini wax if I didn't go to Bliss b/c it was BY FAR the best place. She said that it didn't really hurt at all... uh-huh.... and that her "provider" was very "thorough" Alex's experience with bikini wax seemed so different than my other friend's experience (ie leaving the "spa" with blood spotted undies, unsightly bumps and walking funny...). I damn sure wasn't going to go to her place after witnessing all that, so I was off to Bliss with Alex.

First of all Bliss is a really pretty spa. It's connected to the W hotel in midtown on the east side. I felt very swank going there. They had little finger foods and snackies all laid out, it was very plush. Alex had gone ahead of me and apprently told the woman all my business (being my first time and all) so she had a lot of encouraging words for me before she started.

All in all the actual experience of the wax was surprisingly painless and not nearly as embarrasing as I thought. Homegirl was VERY efficient and the special wax they use really does seem to work. They use some sort of wax that is dark blue (not the yellow wax most places use) and they put the wax on and wait for it to dry/harden before the start ripping. Apparently this wax doesn't stick to the skin and really just adheres to the hair, so it's far less painful. Yo... I gotta give it to her... that mess really didn't hurt that much. I was expecting to be tearing up, holding my breath and silently cursing Alex, but honestly I just chatted with the waxer the whole time. After the wax I walked out of the place and felt NOTHING. No irritation, no bumps, DEFINITELY no blood drawn or anything like that. It was like someone hadn't just been ripping hair out of my nether region. Good stuff!

So for all of you out there in major cities.... run, don't walk, to Bliss Spa next time you have to get a bikini wax especially those of you who are experienced in waxing. I promise you'll have a better experience.

Yay 1 more goal down!

N
p.s. the title is from "The 40 Year Old Virgin... in case ya'll were confused."

Friday, December 5, 2008

More than just Beyonce...

November was a good month for music… I discovered a new “genre” of music, a couple new artists, and am slowly working on my Beyonce annoyance issues… (Although this “scientific evidence” still cracks me up). So let’s get to the music shall we…

New discovery this month: Grime. I was scrambling to find a couple new songs to download on October 31 when I saw my friend from high school’s status update on Facebook talking about the new “Dizzee Rascal” album. I’d never heard of Dizzee Rascal, but the fact that he had an album would indicate that he’s music of some sort, so I looked him up… and discovered a whole new subset of rap/hip-hop; Grime! If you want to learn more about the “genre” then feel free to check out Wiki, but essentially it seems like electronic based underground hip-hop that also draws from reggae and other world music… the beats are “choppy” and it’s not particularly danceable… but it’s interesting which, to me, makes it great ipod walking music.

I downloaded 2 songs from artist Dizzee Rascal…. Hmm Dizzee is an interesting fella.. I don’t know what area of London he’s from, but his accent is horrendous. He sounds like he has a big wad of fish and chips stuffed in his yap… and a really big swollen tongue. I guess his delivery is part of what makes him popular, and I would agree that it’s interesting, but I’m really glad that he made it in music, because I don’t know what he could have done with his life with that accent…

Anywhoo… I downloaded 2 songs from his 2003 debut CD “Boy in Da Corner”- “

I Luv U”

“Fix Up, Look Sharp”

I likes them! Great walking music. Interesting lyrics (from what I can hear)…. Obviously not anything of substance, and I’m not sure if I’ll be downloading any more, but trying to discern Dizzee’s mushmouth definintely kept me occupied for at least a few train rides to work… and for that he gets a solid B

The other song I downloaded this month was Greenlight from John Legend… another singer who I generally don’t have positive words for…. His “crooning” just works my nerves… “Weee’re just ordinary peeepollll-raaa! We don’t know which waaay to Goooo-rra!” No Johnny. Just stop it. But I have liked a couple of the songs he’s done with other artists as of late. He has a nice duet with Estelle on her album “Shine” called “You Are”. I happened to catch the video to his new song “Green Light” on Thanksgiving (in between the 65 and 66th replay of Beyonce’s Single Ladies video) and I loved that song. I had kind of heard it a few times in passing, but I dismissed it because it was John Legend BUT the song was featuring Andre 3000 who I LOVE. And the song is pretty hot. It’s not Johnny’s usual rat pack wanna-be crooning and honestly Andre 3000 is so charismatic it’s hard not to like anything that he does. (I even loved that ridiculous Fonsworth Bentley video with him and a very uncomfortable looking Kanye West). Anywhoo great song. Great beat. Very danceable… Perfect song to put on when you’re drinking Grey Goose and getting ready to go out for the night! Take a listen- Green Light - John Legend feat Andre 3000 I give this song a solid A-

Oh I also downloaded Beyonce’s entire CD…. Yeah…. I can’t say that I love it… I do like a few of the songs, and she’s always good for up-beat gym songs.

November anyone.....

Well given that I did my October wrap up on November 20th, there’s not too much to write about for November, so this is going to be short…

I didn’t accomplish too much in November, but I’m trekking along with a couple of my easier goals.

New Recipes: I tried 2 new recipes in November: Spicy Chicken Stew with Lemongrass and Butternut squash with Apples and Leeks. I put in a lot of effort taking pictures to document my Butt nut squash preparation… I should really blog about that…..

New songs: My 2 new songs per month goal had to re-start in November, because I didn’t download my “October” songs until November 1. Oh well… 2 new songs this month and I’m back on track.
Eating new foods: I had 1 new food in November; Kobe Beef. I love Kobe beef….. and I love Tao restaurant… Shout out to Keith for opening my eyes to both, and actually sharing his Kobe beef with me. :-p

Um yeah… I’m not going to go into all of the things I didn’t do. I don’t want to dwell on the negative…

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mobile paternity tests and other ghetto nonesense..

Just some randomness for the day... So I was walking home from the train last week... as many of you know, my walk from the train is about 10-15 min through the Bed Stuy, so there's always something interesting to see... So I'm minding my own business, slightly annoyed that my headphones broke and I was ipod-less, and what do I see? A blue van with a BIG ass picture of a white, blue eyed, blond baby on the side and 2 young black guys driving... so I had to take a closer look. On the side of the van it said "MOBILE DNA AND PATERNITY TESTING" and right by the baby was written "He's got his father's eyes.... or does he?" HAHAHA Really... really.... really Bed Stuy? We have to do better. I was so mad. I wish I would have had my camera to take a picture... So mad that there's really a market for this type of "service". Maury would be so proud.

In other ghetto news, I was WAY uptown in the Monistat capital of NYC i.e. Washington Heights (don't be mad... those chicks wear their pants hella tight...) yesterday for Thanksgiving. The Heights is just as ghetto as my neighborhood just more Daddy Yankee than Lil Wayne... anyway, Juan and i were walking down the street and we came across a car who's side mirror had been knocked off (pretty common), but WHY did these fools tape a hand mirror (yes just like this one ---------------------------> )

into the space where the side mirror should be... handle and all... Really.... really? Ya'll couldn't have at LEAST broken off the handle before doing that shit. We have to do better people! necesitamos hacer mejor!! (Thanks Steph!) Ugh... our people....

just a little nonesense for your Friday :-)



Beyonce... I can't even hate....

Beyonce.... I can't even be mad at her. I know a lot of you think that I'm a Beyonce hater. And I think that is TOTALLY UNTRUE! I have ALWAYS liked Beyonce's music. I thought her first CD Dangerously in Love was AMAZING (by far her best CD in my opinion). My main issue with Beyonce was that she always seemed so controlled in interviews and there is never any life behind her eyes in pictures.... She's an amazing performer, pretty good singer, but ugh her pictures and interviews just annoy me.... I just want to shake her! But recently I've started to think that the Beyonce Android may have come to life... I mean would Android Beyonce ever let herself be photographed like this... -------------------------------------------------->



Maybe her marriage has given her some strength to break out and be more free, maybe she's just growing up... (or maybe I'm just growing up and becoming less of a hater :-p). Whatever it is, I'm liking this Beyonce chick these days. I especially love her new single "Single Laides (put a ring on it). I decided to adopt this as my anthem for my relationship life.... "If you want it then you should(a) put a ring on it." Until then all is fair game. I loves it. In addition to that... girl is WORKING OUT in the video. I mean DAYUM! I mean...DAYUM LOL. That video is sick! My friend Juan and I decided that we would try and learn the dance yesterday... We got through about 7 seconds. heh heh... I don't care if the dark skinned person in the video is a dude, she was working it out.

I also caught a replay of Beyonce's performance at the AMA's... She's a force of nature! I mean all the other folks had sets, explosions, 50 dancers, crazy costumes, live animals, pyrotechnics... and Beyonce had 2 dancers, a leotard, a bike ramp and a horse tail weave and she worked that shit out. Best performance of the night. Hands Down. Even that crazy pose at the end... Sasha must have taken over her body or something.... I can't even hate.

But one thing I CAN hate on is the Pussycat Dolls member Melody Thorton.... She needs to take a note from the Destiny's Child handbook of what to do when you have a mistake on stage (remember when Michelle fell on her ass and Beyonce and Kelly just kept right on dancing?) ... Well watch the black chick on the on the far left when the start working on the poles.... priceless...

Ok... so for now the Beyonce hate is on hiatus.... for now... :-p

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Off to the pumpkin patch…

What up y’all…

Fall has fallen upon us… like a cold, windy, dreary brick… but never fret, what Mother Nature taketh away in terms of weather, she giveth back with a bounty of tasty fall produce! Heh heh I’m corny…

I have a few staple meals that I make a lot in the fall: butternut squash soup, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted vegetable soup, Asian yams… This fall I decided I should branch out a little bit more and try cooking with fresh pumpkin.

This fall was only my second time cooking with fresh pumpkin… much to the chagrin of my friends, and pumpkin connoisseurs, Janet and Curtis. The first time I cooked pumpkin was last year. I tried to roast some pumpkin and add it to my roasted vegetable soup…. Unfortunately I used a carving pumpkin... Carving pumpkins are not for eating... they have no taste, a really thick flesh, and are just all together nasty... The picture demonstrates how I felt about eating pumpkin after my first experience.



I think I mentioned my disdain for fresh pumpkin to Janet ‘I love pumpkins!’ Tang and she quickly schooled me on pumpkin types that were more suitable for cooking. Instead of buying the mammoth carving pumpkins, she told me to try the smaller pumpkin varieties because they have a sweeter flesh and are better for baking. I also learned that the “pumpkin” in canned pumpkin is actually not pumpkin! Canned pumpkin puree is usually made from one or more kinds of winter squash like butternut, Hubbard, or Boston Marrow, which are less stringy, sweeter and have a richer orange color…. But before anyone tries to get their money back from Libby’s for false advertising, there’s a pretty fuzzy line between what is called a pumpkin and what is called squash… so just calm down and enjoy them…

ANYWAY I digress… So I went out and picked up a little sugar pumpkin to make cookies with. Cooking with pumpkin, just like cooking with fresh butternut squash, is pretty labor intensive. You have to first roast the pumpkin, then scrape out the flesh and then puree the flesh. You use the puree the same way you would use the canned pumpkin. Janet had warned me about the pumpkin puree being more watery than the pumpkin puree you get in the can, and the excess water may affect the texture of the cookies. Fortunately I’m pretty lazy and let the roasted pumpkin sit in my fridge for a few days before I pureed it. By that time the flesh had dried out considerably and wasn’t watery at all.


One of the things that I noticed when looking up cookie recipes is that most pumpkin cookies call for oil or shortening instead of butter…. I just couldn’t write my brain around cookies made with shortening or oil, so I found this Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on the foodtv.com that used butter only. The recipe called for chocolate chips, but I liked Janet’s suggestion of using butterscotch chips, so I used those instead. The batter for the cookies was REALLY runny and more like cake batter than cookie batter. The cookies baked up to be really soft as well, but they were tasty... it was just hard to keep them from sticking together.

The recipe called for a few spices, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, but I couldn’t really taste the spices too distinctly in the cookie. I took the cookies to my friends birthday party and people seemed to like them. Someone even asked me for the recipe. I made another batch of cookies for my friend, and fellow pumpkin lover, Curtis. He had been at my house when I was making the first batch and was mad that I only gave him one. He had mentioned that the ginger was a bit strong in the first batch so I cut the ginger down in this batch and upped the nutmeg a bit. He seemed to like them better that way, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference.

All in all I give the cookies a solid B. They were a little soft for my liking... I like my cookies to be chewy on the inside with a bit of a crisp crust. I think they would make REALLY great muffins with a little recipe tweaking... maybe with a nice crumbly struedal topping... Oh well... I honestly don't know if I'd make these again for myself but other people seemed to enjoy them. Maybe I'll try one of the ones that use oil or shortening? Maybe the stability of the shortning will produce a denser cookie? I'll keep ya'll posted b/c I KNOW you're just as interested in this as I am. :-p

October Wrap up (otherwise known as Nana is a loser)

So…. If anyone has been checking my blog within the last month you might have noticed that there has been no activity. I really don’t have any good excuse for this, other than just the simple fact that I’m a loser and let life get in the way of keeping up my blog. I’m sure the dearth of new posts has left a serious void in the lives of my readers (all 1.5 of you :-p) and I vow not to leave you hanging for this long ever again.

Since it’s already November 20th, I guess I should post a re-cap of my October goals…. This is gonna be short… heh heh.

Goals that I actually worked on in October:
Adopt a pug: - DONE! YAY for Leroy. He’s so freaking cute… I actually feel really bad that I haven’t been blogging about him… Keeping all his cuteness to myself is really selfish.

Acquire >2 songs per month for 6 months (1/6)
Ugh I was doing really well on this in September, but I just couldn’t think of any songs I wanted for October… I ended up downloading 3 new songs on November 1st, but that doesn’t count for October, so it looks like I’m starting again in November and I’m still at 1/6

Make 100 new recipes (4/100)
I tried 2 new recipes in October; pumpkin butterscotch cookies and Moroccan spiced butternut squash stew. I could have gotten 2 solid blogs out of these meals, but I’m lazy… I’m going to try and at least do one detailing both of them because I need numbers. New recipes are up to 4/100

Try 50 foods or types of cuisine I haven't tried (4/50)
Tried Gator and Amaranth. Now up to 4/50

Blog on my 101 90% of the days (27/901)
I really sucked this month… but I’m still up to 27/901… umm… Yay?

Create my wardrobe database
I did start on this one…. I started listing all of my clothing in a table…. That’s as far as I’ve gotten…

Ok… Now for the goals I’ve totally slacked on….
Watch all the movies that have won Best Picture since I’ve been alive. (13/29)
None have been watched. Still at 13/29

Read 6 non-fiction books (0/6):
None have been read. Still at 0/6

Be on time or early for everything for a month (0/30):
Still annoying my friends and disgusting myself with my habitual lateness…

Take multivitamins every day for 3 months (0/90):
Didn’t even try….

Do 15 minutes of abs 3 times a week (outside of a class) for 1 month (0/12)
Still as flabby as ever…

Complete 50 military push-ups
Please see above re: my flabbiness…

Go the gynecologist and dentist once per year (0/4)
Still totally delinquent on my medical care

Start retirement planning:
Nope… no planning… did some spending though :-p

Set a budget and stick to it for 2 months (0/2)
Not doing so well with this either…. I tried the budget challenge with Alex in October, but it kind of fell off… I tried to start another one in November, but that kind of fell off as well… December is obviously out. I guess this will re-surface in January

Drink 1.5 liters of water per day for 2 months (0/60)
Still dehydrated…

Go to the gym 400 times (0/400)
Don’t want to talk about it… still flabby…

Do 400 "no spend" days (1/400)
This will never happen. I might as well just pay myself my penalty and be done.

October sucked... at least blog wise. Life-wise October was a really great month... I spent most of it transcribing or playing with my puppy.... Now that my current transcription job is done and I'm getting into a routine with Leroy I'll, hopefully, be able to keep up better with the blogging... we'll see....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Later 'Gator.... I'll see you on the other side...

So I tried another new food last night- alligator! My good friend Juan was having a dinner celebrate his 25th birthday and we went to this Creole/Cajun place called "Creole" in east Harlem. The place is actually really nice. The space was cute, there was live music, the food was excellent, and the mixed drinks were apparently good judging by the number of drinks that my friends were downing.. I just had a glass of Pinot... I'm classy like that. :-p

Anywhoo... back to the gator meat. Like I've mentioned before, I'm a pretty adventurous eater, and alligator didn't really sound that exotic to me (not like blood pudding or head cheese or something). The others at the table seemed a bit more dubious than I. One of the main concerns people kept voicing was, "Where did they get the alligator from?". My response was, "The NYC Sewers", but I figured they probably got the gator from a gator farm. I assume all "exotic" meat (ostrich, deer, rabbit, snake) is farmed just like regular meat... It's not like people are going into the forest to trap deer and rabbits or wrestling alligators to provide wholesale meat to restaurants.... although that would be funny :-p

The alligator I ordered was prepared in an etoufee and was served with 2 sides (I chose Mac and Cheese and green beans). The etoufee itself was really tasty. Etoufee is a creole/cajun stew that usually has crawfish, shrimp and chicken. The etoufee at Creole was spiced really well, and --despite the addition of the gator--seemed to be a fairly traditional (spices, and the holy trinity of Cajun/Creole cooking- Green Peppa, Onions and Celery)... I thought that most etoufee's have tomato, but according to Wiki apparently some people think an Etoufee ceases to be an etoufee once tomatos are added... Whether the dish was authentic or not, it was really good.

The gator meat tasted pretty much like I assumed it would... I figured it would taste like turtle (sorry Steph)... which is kind of chewy and usually takes on the taste of whatever it's cooked in. That's pretty much what it tasted like.... It was a little chewy, but not in a bad way. I actually really liked the texture. It wasn't sinewy like chicken and it wasn't as solid as beef... The only meat I can think to compare it with is turtle.... or maybe calamari. It seemed like the gator meat was cut into chunks and browned prior to adding it to the stew. I can't really describe the taste of the meat as it didn't taste like much.... It wasn't gamey and it didn't have a "seafood" taste... i just took on the taste of the etoufee.

All in all I really enjoyed my gator experience. I liked how well it took on the taste of the dish really well and it had a very appetizing consistency. I don't know if I would seek it out specifically because it didn't really have a distinct taste, but I definitely would not reject a dish because there was alligator in it. .

All in all I give alligator an A

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wow, so much has happened

Hey Ya'll..

so much has happened in the last week!

First of all I want to thank everyone who sent their well-wishes, prayers, positive thoughts and energy for my mom's surgery last week. The surgery was long and arduous, but she came though it like a champ! Exactly like I thought she would. The morning after her surgery she was sitting at the hospital vanity table putting on make-up and apparently she's walking up to half a mile now... less than a week after her surgery! (Yeah I told her to slow down on that... I know they said walking was good... but I think they meant walking around the house, not power-walking around the 'hood...) I love my mom. She's been such an inspiration throughout this entire ordeal. MMMMMMMMMMMMM! That was a cyber hug for my momma :-)

Secondly, I got a puppy!! I decided I'd had enough with pug rescues telling me that I would be an unfit mother for a puppy and decided just to purchase one. I had been looking for a breeder in Indiana for a while, and I decided to go with a hobby breeder named Marci at Farnsworth Farms. Marci breeds boxers and pugs and she had 4 puppies currently available. All the puppies were SOOOOO CUTE! I had been reading up on puppy temperment testing, and I selected the puppy that fell in the middle... not too shy and not too boisterous. Thinking back on it, I think I got fooled. I think Leroy was just REALLY tired when I administered my test, so he seemed a lot more laid back than he is.... He's really completely nuts.... but I love him! I named him Leroy, of course, and he's 3 months and 5.9 pounds of crazy. He spends most of his time currently chewing on everything, sleeping and humping his bed. I got a dog walker for him, who is going to come in 2x a week and walk him/play with him for 30 min during the day. I also walk him/play with him outside for 30 minutes in the morning and evening. Hopefully that will help him expend a good amount of energy so he can spend most of the day peacefully chewing his toys or sleeping. So far so good.... It's been SO hard to get pictures of him b/c he's always in motion. I'll try to take and post some video.... but for now GOAL 1 IS COMPLETE BIATCHES!!!!!

Whew! Other than that all my other goals have fallen by the wayside.... I'll have to ramp up again this weekend.

Peace folks!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hot off the presses.....

I might buy a puppy today.... Everybody keep their fingers crossed for me!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Awww Bruno I'll miss you!

So... Bruno, my first foster pug, Bruno has gone off to his "forever home"... His adoption happened really quickly. As many of you know I had to go home to Indiana for a week to be with my mom/family for my mother's surgery. My plan was to drop Bruno off at a PPRA foster's house and then pick him up again when I got back to NYC. He had a few people interested in him last week, but they fell through, and because it seemed like Bruno wasn't going to get adopted too quickly, I thought I'd have a least a week to think about what I wanted to do... I guess the universe had other plans.

As many of you know, I agonized about the decision of whether to keep Bruno or allow him to be adopted out. Here were the pro's and cons that I came up with...

Pro (keeping Bruno):
1.) He is SUPER sweet! He's never growled at me or showed any aggression towards me or anyone else (except an annoying Yorkie... but I don't blame him). He was always happy to be petted or picked up and he always wanted to be next to you.

2.) He was a VERY mellow pug. For the most part when I was at home he was asleep. He got very excited when I got home and was happy to go on our walks, but after he was fed and he would generally chew a little of his bully stick and then jump up on the couch with me or just go to his bed and go to sleep. This was good for me because other than feeding and walking him, he really didn't impact my life too much. I was able to work (transcribe), or play on the net or blog, etc etc without feeling like he needed me to play with him or needed a ton of attention.

3.) He had a lot of personality. Although he was mellow, he still made me laugh and had a defined personality. He was stubborn and smart and funny. During the 3 weeks he was with me, he learned 2 commands, "sit" and "down" and got VERY good at them. I always made him sit for me before I put his collar on for a walk or fed him and after a while he would just sit down for me without me having to say anything. Or he would sit and look at me expectantly.. .and then he would lay down and look at me expectantly.. and if I still didn't give him what he wanted he would sit back up like, "Damn! What you want woman!" heh heh... Another funny thing he always did was that he would throw little tantrums sometimes when I would tell him to sit... especially right before a walk. I would say sit, then he's start whining and walk around me in circles and finally he would sit down, usually behind me, with an audible "plop" and make a noise that sounded very much like he was saying "HUMPH". Heh heh..he was so cute.

4.) He was generally a good dog... I didn't have any issues with him marking or trying to show dominance. He liked everyone who came over. He didn't bark. He walked like a DREAM and people really liked seeing him waddling down the street. All in all just a super calm, chill dog.

Cons (reasons to have Bruno adopted out)
1.) The main thing that bothered me about keeping Bruno was that he had severe separation anxiety. Every time I would leave, or even start getting ready to leave he would get really upset, barking and howling to the point where it sounded like he couldn't catch his breath. That broke my heart. It made me really sad. I know I'm always talking about how I hate rescues because they don't adopt dogs to working people because the dog will get lonely, I have to say that I really would have prefered that Bruno go to a home with elderly people maybe, or another older/calm dog to play with.

2.) Bruno didn't really care for/about other dogs. Bruno was DEFINITELY a people pug. When we would encounter dogs on the street he would just ignore them. He wasn't agreessive or scared.... he just walked right passed them like they weren't there. He would let them sniff him, and check him over, but he just wasn't interested in playing. One of my plans for keeping my pug happy and occupied was to have a pug of my own and then foster pugs that he'd be able to play with. The fact that he had really bad separation anxiety AND he didn't really like to play with dogs made me worry about how his health while I wasn't home.

3.) Bruno was 7 years old. Maybe this sounds bad... (don't crucify me ya'll), but I just wanted my first dog to be a younger dog who had a little play left in him. Bruno was super calm and sweet, but he had no interest in toys or playing with people. He just wanted to be pet and then left alone. I want a dog that I can play with, and watch him tear the arms and legs off of stuffed toys and play frisbee fetch with. Bruno wasn't that dog. I would be completely happy adopting an older dog later in life, but at this point I really wanted the experience of a younger dog.

So after weighing the pro's and cons I decided that Bruno might be better off going to a home where there were more people or where he had at least another pug to co-exist with. I met his adoptive on Sunday morning. His adoptive parents were a young couple that live in New York (not in the city... I don't remember where they live). They adopted a 8 year old, blind pug a little while ago and wanted a calm black pug to keep him company. Essentially they wanted the black version of their fawn pug. They saw Bruno's add and were sold. They emailed the PPRA with a complete application, pictures of their house, and all their references. All the references checked out and they seemed genuinely excited to be adopting Bruno.

The couple seemed nice. The guy seemed like a guy's guy. He kept on talking about how he plays with Nitro (their current pug) but just hitting him on the face and startling him and then he'll start to play. Uh.. I don't really think Bruno would go for that, but who knows... He just seemed like a guy who talked a lot, a really nice guy, but a guy that talked a lot. :-) The woman seemed really sweet and loving towards her current pug and Bruno. She seemed interested in hearing what we had to say about Bruno and when she just seemed SOOO excited about getting him.

The only thing that I worry about is them keeping up Bruno's exercise regime. I walked Bruno twice a day for at least 35 minutes each and during my care he's lost a pound and a half. Their pug was extremely large. They said that while he was with them he's only gained about 2 pounds. 2 pounds is a HELL OF A LOT of weight on a 15-20 pound dog. Bruno's breathing had gotten a ton better during his time with me. Because he hasn't lost a ton of weight, the breathing improvement is probably a function of him getting more exercise, not necessarily losing weight. It worried me. I have to admit. I was worried about him getting fat. I was worried about them being committee to his exercise regime.

At the end of the day I think the Bruno will be happy in his new home. It was really hard for me to give him up, because I know that he loved me and was happy with me, but it made me really happy that the adoptive parents seemed so genuinely happy about getting him. I just kept on thinking how happy I would be if a rescue org. actually responded to one of my 40+ applications and actually agreed to let me adopt a dog. I know I would be beside myself, and I was really happy that she was so excited about Bruno.

So that's it. I'll always love you Bruno.. I hope you have lots of pleasant sleep and chewing time in your new home.

I might be getting a pug puppy this week.... stay tuned...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Amaranth Cakes with creamy mushrooms

Hey Ya'll...

It's time for recipe number 3 y'all! My friend Curtis came by tonight for dinner and our monthly Scrabble game. Curtis is a vegetarian, so it's always a bit challenging to come up with creative meals that aren't just a bunch of side dishes masquerading as an actual meal.

When I'm looking for veggie meals, the first place I check is the Vegetarian Times website. They usually have some good recipes and they aren't necessarily a rigid, super health conscious vegetarian site (ie they're vegetarian, but not hippy, dippy, crunchy granola)... it's more about the taste and using interesting and innovative ingredients. So I was looking through the site and stumbled upon this recipe for Amaranth Cakes with Mushrooms.

Amaranth is another one of those grains that most people don't really know about or cook with. Amaranth Grain (according to Wiki) is a very hardy grain that was a staple food among the Incas, Aztecs and other native peoples of Mexico and is also cultivated in Guatemala, Peru, India and Nepal. Amaranth grain is becoming more popular in developing nations because it is inexpensive, easily harvested and, much like quinoa, Amaranth is complete protein , and is a good source of fiber and a variety of minerals.

Ok... that's enough with the history of amaranth. .... You make the amaranth cakes basically the same way as polenta is made. You cook the grain down into a mush in a broth of mushroom juice, shallots and some spices and then you fry into like pancake type things.

In order to make the broth, you had to soak some dried mushrooms. The mushroom water would be used as broth and the reconstituted mushrooms were chopped up to be added to the amaranth mix before cooking. I was being cheap when I bought the mushrooms, so I didn't buy the dried porcinis that were $5.99 for like 2 ounces at Whole foods... instead I bought some Nameko Mushrooms... which were like $3.99 for a big pack. I actually had never heard of a Nameko mushrooms, but on the back of the bag it listed a website like, "www.greatporcinis.com" or something like that, so I just figured they were a type of porcinis.... i think I was wrong... I don't think they were porcini's, but they were definitely nasty. Bleh. I soaked them in boiling water for about 20 minutes and just tasted the water... it tasted like musky dirt... like bitter, musky dirt.... and you were supposed to cook the amaranth in the mushroom juice so that the amaranth cakes would take on the taste of the mushroom... Being that the mushroom juice tasted like ass, I wasn't too keen on cooking the amaranth in it or chopping up the reconstituted mushroom (which also tasted like ass) to go into the amaranth mix. I thought about cooking the amaranth in some broth, but I only had chicken broth on hand, which wouldn't work with a vegetarian meal... so I went ahead and cooked the amarnth in the smelly mushroom juice... I figured I could always just add some salt... salt makes everything better!

So while the amaranth/musky dirt water mix was simmering I went about making the mushroom topping. The Veggie Times recipe included the recipe for the mushroom topping, but I decided to use the topping from an appetizer I had made for a holiday party. The mushroom topping was basically shallots, garlic, lots of mushrooms, heavy cream, fontina and parmesean cheese. MMMMMHMMM! I also added some sherry, which is always good with mushrooms.

After the mushroom mix was done it was time to fry up the cakes... I tried the amaranth/dirty water mix... it tasted a little bitter, but not as bad as I expected, so I just added some salt and lots of thyme.. and little sherry. .. i wasn't quite as nasty then. The frying didn't quite go as planned... he cakes kept on falling apart in the oil, butI got a couple nice ones... I think next time I'll use a metal spatula.

I also roasted up some carrots and made a little zucchini to go with the mushroom cakes.

All in all it came out really well! Curtis seemed to really like it! The topping was delicious and the creamy, savory mushrooms were actually a really good compliment for the nutty/dusty flavor of the amaranth cakes. The only change I would make if I were to make it again would be to grind the amaranth before cooking them so the mixture would be more polenta like and less graand zucchini made the meal look better on the plate, but it would have been nice if theiny. I would also buy the right type of mushrooms, or maybe use some dried Shitaakes from China town... Also I think the mushroom/cake could use a little more color. When the mushrooms cooked down they looked like purple/brown mushroom mush... not too appetizing. The carrots re was even a small sprinkle of color in the mushrooms.

Overall I give the dish a solid B. I'm not sure if I would make it at home for myself, but with the above changes I think it would be a viable option for another vegetarian meal.

leggings

http://foreveramber.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/11/08/fetishleggings.jpg
http://i368.photobucket.com/albums/oo126/theybf/September%2008/77dc3aa8.jpg
http://i368.photobucket.com/albums/oo126/theybf/September%2008/f2ba6a42.jpg

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Month Numero Tw-o!

So... many of my goals from September were ongoing and will stretch into October... and probably FAR beyond October. But here's a quick listing of the total things I'll be working on for October. The goals that are totally new for October are at the top

Watch all the movies that have won Best Picture since I’ve been alive. (13/29)

I know i've watched 13 of these films for sure. There are a bunch of others that I'm pretty sure I've seen (Kramer vs. Kramer, Terms of Endearment, etc), but I honestly don't remember them, so I will watch them again. If anyone feels like watching any flicks with me, let me know :-) The full list is below.


1979

Kramer vs. Kramer


1989

Driving Miss Daisy


1999

American Beauty

1980

Ordinary People

1990

Dances with Wolves

2000

Gladiator

1981

Chariots of Fire

1991

Silence of the Lambs

2001

A Beautiful Mind

1982

Ghandhi

1992

Unforgiven

2002

Chicago

1983

Terms of Endearment

1993

Schindlers List

2003

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

1984

Amadeus

1994

Forrest Gump

2004

Million Dollar Baby

1985

Out of Africa

1995

Braveheart

2005

Crash

1986

Platoon

1996

The English Patient

2006

The Departed

1987

The Last Emperor

1997

Titanic

2007

No Country for Old Men

1988

Rain Man

1998

Shakespeare in Love



Read 6 non-fiction books (0/6): I don't love non-fiction books, so I don't read them... honestly I think I have adult ADD... I oftentimes start a non-fiction book, but I honestly think the only one I've finished in recent memory is "Blink". I've got a bunch on my shelf and even more that have been recommended to me, so I'm going to have to get to reading. I think I'll start with Freakonomics. Anyone else have reccs please let me know.


Be on time or early for everything for a month (0/30): I've become one of those habitually late people that I HATE! It started when I moved to Brooklyn. At first I blamed it on having to walk 10-15min. to get to the train... then I blamed it on having to re-calibrate my time approximations from what I was used to in Harlem.... but really that's no excuse... I should be able to add 10-15 minutes onto my travel time... because I'm not an idiot. I've just gotten lazy and used to being late. I've even turned into one of those people that others EXPECT TO BE LATE. I hate it and it must stop. I'm really serious about this one... Let's see how this goes once I get back from Indy.


Take multivitamins every day for 3 months (0/90):

I need to start taking a multi-vitamin. Now that I've gotten better about swallowing pills I think I'll be able to handle it... Maybe I'll add a hair and nail vitamin too... just because. :-p


Do 15 minutes of abs 3 times a week (outside of a class) for 1 month (0/12)

This is pretty easy... I've just gotten out of the habit of doing ab exercises at home. I like to share workout tips, so I'll post some ab stuff too :-)


Complete 50 military push-ups

I just thought this would be a fun goal. I think I can probably do 15 military style (or man) push up's right now. I bet I could get to 50 by the end of the month or at least by the end of November if I tried.



Go the gynecologist and dentist once per year (0/4)

I'm pretty bad about my routine medical care... I don't even have a primary care doctor! Even though it's not on the list I think I'll work on getting a PCP as well as making sure I do the routine gyno and dental once a year.


Create my wardrobe database

I'm a dork. I'll just put it out there so I don't get 50 comments telling me that I'm a dork... but I love making databases, and I think creating a database of all my clothes will help me utilize more of my wardrobe because I'll actually KNOW what I have. I have big plans for this database... I think it could totally revolutionize dressing as we know it... Ya'll can make fun of me all you want, but I PROMISE you'll want one when I'm done. :-p


Start retirement planning:

I need to start seriously planning for retirement. The fact that the economy is going to hell is helping spur my actions along, but even before the sky started falling I've know that I need to start making a serious plan. I currently save each month, but not specifically toward retirement. This month I'd like to open a retirement account and/or start utilizing the retirement resources through my employer.


Set a budget and stick to it for 2 months (0/2)

In order to jump start my home savings and retirement savings... and just better budgeting in general I've decided I need to seriously learn how to stick to a budget. I don't think my spending is out of control now, but I have been known to impulse buy... a dollar here and a dollar there... and i really want to reign that in. So I have created a budget that I think I can live with (I created it using the information I've been summarizing with Quicken over the past few months) and I have to stick with it for 2 months. Thankfully my friends need to stick to their budgets as well, so we've started some budget challenges. In October I'm in a challenge with my friend Alex to see who can best stick to our budget... This is going to be a hard one, because Alex lives a quite posh life (just kidding Alex... kind of) and she spends lots of money on "incidentals" that I don't (nails, hair, massage, personal concierge services...:p Ok maybe I'm exagerating with the last couple :-p). I originally threw a tantrum because it's so much easier to stick to a budget when there's a lot of non-essentials in it (ie if you're over budget it's easy to cut out a manicure, but it's hard to cut out food... and utilities)... but I'm not going to be a baby about it... I'm in it to win it


The rest of the goals are things that are hold-overs from September...

  • Adopt a pug:
  • Acquire >2 songs per month for 6 months (1/6)
  • Make 100 new recipes (2/100)
  • Try 50 foods or types of cuisine I haven't tried (2/50)
  • Blog on my 101 90% of the days (19/901)
  • Drink 1.5 liters of water per day for 2 months (0/60)
  • Go to the gym 500 times (0/400) *UPDATED*
  • Do 400 "no spend" days (1/400) *UPDATED*


Wish me luck y'all!!!

One month down...September Recap

One month down...

So it's been 4 weeks since I started this little 101 goals in 1001 days.... and I think I'm doing a helluva job! So far I've fully achieved 1 goal, and I'm pretty much on target for most of the others (except for the water and the no spend days... ) Let's re-cap my goals for September

Ongoing Goals:
1. Adopt a pug:
Ok so this is still in the works... I still have Bruno, my super adorable foster dog. I'm pretty much coming to the conclusion that rescue groups will NOT adopt a young dog (<5 st="on">Indiana next week and will hopefully be taking a trip out to a breeder who lives in Alexandria, IN to look at the 4 little black boy pug puppies she has available. If I don't do that, I will probably just keep Bruno... decisions decisions..

2. Make 100 new recipes (2/100):
Two (2) down, 98 to go! This month I made a tasty Chicken Millet Skillet and some Shrimp with roasted tomatoes, basil and Feta. I've already got a few recipes on tap for next month... stay tuned...

3. Try 50 foods or types of types of cuisine I haven’t tried (2/50)
Two(2) down and 48 to go. The "new" foods for this month were pretty weak.. but whatever, I had never had them, so they were new to me. The new foods were heirloom tomatoes (which are NOT nearly as tasty as they sound) and Millet, a very tasty and versatile grain. I am next in line to pick the restaurant for the monthly/bi-monthly dinner club that I belong to. SOMEBODY (ahem Janet ahem) suggested that my foodie card be revoked after looking at my 100 foods to try before you die list, so I want to pick some sort of far out cuisine that will stretch and challenge my palate... any suggestions (a-hem, a-hem Andrea K.? :-p)

4. Blog on my 101 things blog 90% of the time (19/901):
I think I'm doing stellarly on my blogging, but not meeting the target of 27 blogs per month...

5. Do 500 “no spend” days (1/500):
Ok so I'm changing this one... I don't know what was going through my head when I created this goal, but 500 no spend days pretty much equates to not spending every other day for 2.74 years... that's not going to happen. So the new goal is 400 no spend days. This equals to about 3 no spend days a week for the entire 143 weeks of the challenge. I have some making up to do, but I think I can do it. Because I changed the goal I will have to pay the $10 (the fee for failing the goal), but I will still have the bragging rights :-p

6. Drink 1.5 liters of water per day for 2 months:
Oh Lord... it might take me the entire 2.74 years to achieve this goal. Drinking is annoying. Liquid makes you pee. I don't really see the point of ingesting liquid unless it wakes you up (coffee) or makes you happy (liquor) ... I don't drink juice or any other stuff because of the empty calories... but I also don't drink water because I don't like to walk down the hallway to the bathroom. Drinking sucks. I'm going to give it a shot again starting in October... I'll be at home in Indiana for a week where the bathrooms are MUCH more convenient.. hopefully I can build some peendurance (that's pee endurance) during this time. :-/

7. Make the earring holder that I’ve been putting off:
DONE! And very nice if I do say so myself :-p

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This one's for you Ms. Jackson...


.... and all of the others who were entirely too excited about possibly shooting me in the face with my staple gun..... I finished my earring holder biatches!!!!

This is what it looks like ------------------------------->

I got it done around 11:45 on September 30th... YAY that's one goal down.

Here's what it looks like in it's regular place in my room

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ok…. The lazy, sloth-y, flabby, ridiculousness must stop

I am a disgusting mess right now.

My stomach is all squishy…. My butt is shrinking away to nothing, and my arms have completely lost the Angela Basset (circa 1993) quality that’s I’ve grown to love.. just flabby flabby flabby…

Case in point.... Check out the guns last year's B-day.. ------------>





<----- Check out the squish from this year's B-day







This is unacceptable! I’ve been slacking off pretty much all summer…Full Discloser: I’ve been off my workout game since after my birthday in April. I tried to convince myself that it was ok because flowy summer dresses hide the bumpies and lumpies, and that I’d be back in shape by the time tight jean season rolled around (Fall/winter)… It’s fall now and the lumpies are definitely taking over… and lumpies wrapped in tight denim is NOT what’s hot in 2008.

It’s time for a serious plan of attack…. I have to get back on my game. I refuse to let myself go and gain the I-go-to-work-every-day-and-come-home weight. I just refuse. The flabbyfying of Nana will stop. Effective now!

It’s been a little bit difficult finding time to get to the gym recently because I have to walk my foster pug directly before and after work….granted I’ve only had the pug for 2 weeks, but I plan to get a dog in the near future so coming up with a workout plan that works into my schedule is of utmost importance. So it seems the best times for me to work out are lunchtime and weekends. Thankfully I work near my gym(s) and have gotten into the habit of going to the gym at least once a week (for this GREAT total body fitness class on Tuesday afternoons)…. But working out 1-2x a week isn’t enough. So here’s the plan of attack: I am going to go to the gym at least 4x per week and do an outside of the gym workout 1x per week. Here’s the plan

Sunday:
[Rest/Make Up]
Monday: [Rest/ Make Up]
Tuesday: Total Body class (lunch)
Wednesday: Circuit Training at the Park in the AM
Thursday: Legs and Abs (lunch)
Friday: Circuit training and focus on arms, chest, shoulders and back.
Saturday: Leg day

So that’s the plan. Instead of doing 3-4 long workouts during the week I’m going to try and do 5 shorter workouts during the week with each workout lasting about 45 min.

I actually really enjoy working out and sharing workout tips, so I’m going to try and post 1 or 2 “Moves of the Week” videologs. If there’s a specific body part you want me to focus on please let me know.

GOOOOOO TEAM FIT!