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

[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.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Heirloom tomatoes? What's so special about them?

So... as I mentioned on my 100 things you eat before you die posting, I've never had heirloom tomatoes. I LOVE tomatoes so I figured that would be a pretty easy thing to mark off the list. I picked on up when I was at Whole Foods tonight getting my stuff for the Millet Skillet.

According to Wikipedia there are a few different ways people define "heirloom". One school of thought bases it on the age of the seed, stating that the seed must be over 100 or 50 years old. Another way of defining heirloom is that an heirloom is a "cultivar that has been nurtured, selected, and handed down from one family member to another for many generations."....hmmm I'm not sure what the means. Another category of "heirlooms" are commercial heirlooms which were introduced a long time ago and the seed company dropped the line of tomato or went out of business...

I think my tomato fit the last definition because it was bland as hell! If I were a tomato producer I would have dropped that line too! The flesh of the tomato was quite dense and chewy... kind of like chewing raw zucchini, and it didn't have the vibrant taste of a beefsteak or vine tomato. Also the skin and the flesh right around the skin tasted kind of like the white part of a wedge of watermelon (is that the rind?). All in all it was bland and chewy and rindy. I can't say I "hated" it... I don't know if I could actually form the sentence "I hate a tomato", but I definitely wouldn't buy it to snack on.

I could possibly see how it could be good in a salad that needed a milder background flavor to showcase more intense flavors... I think they would be good in salads with mint or feta... but unfortunatly it was not good in my mouth this evening so I'll give the heirloom tomato a C.

Skillet Millet! Delicious, Nutritious AND Catchy!

What up everyone....

I made the 2nd of my 100 new recipes tonight- Chicken-Millet Skillet! I was having a serious craving for kale this afternoon, but I didn't want to just braise it like I usually do.... so I did a quick search of epicurious.com to see if I could find a some sort of recipe with kale. I couldn't find anything on epicurious that I hadn't made before and didn't contain sausage (apparently pork is the yin to kale's yang..), so I kind of gave up on the kale idea and decided to look at Whole Food's website to see if they had any type of in-store specials and the picture of the Chicken-Millet came up. EUREKA! I had some millet that I had bought a few years ago when I was on a grain kick (quinoa, amaranth, millet.. all that good stuff) and I had never used it AND the dish had greens in it. So I could mark the millet off of my list of foods I've never tried AND I could mark another new recipe off. YAY!

Millet, for those of you who haven't heard of it before, is a grain that is similar to wheat... before it's cooked it looks kind of like cous cous, but there are little holes in the center (like little cous cous donuts :-p). You cook it similar to cooking rice or other grains (I think it's 1 part millet to 2 parts liquid) and when it cooks it gets to a porrigey consistency. Actually I think I originally bought the millet for breakfast food on the advice of my sis. Millet is fairly high in protein (11% protein by weight), but it's not nearly as high in protein as my favorite grain, quinoa (which can have up to 18% protein by weight).

Anyway.... the dish was basically prepared by browning some chicken thighs, toasting the millet with onions, mushrooms and garlic and then cooking simmering everything in chicken broth, white wine, rosemary and thyme.

I have to say it was hella tasty! The millet aquired a bit of a creamy consistency (kind of like polenta) and really took on the flavor of the chicken broth and spices. I added some fresh corn, just because I thought it would be tasty, but other than that I made the recipe exactly as it was written. The only minor issues I had with the dish is that it could have been spiced a little more heavily... maybe some parsely and definintely more salt, and it could have used a little more color. The green from the wilted kale was nice (although the color wouldn't have been nearly as vibrant if I'd cooked it the 10 minutes the recipe suggested), but everythingn else was pretty beige. I think carrots or perhaps red pepper would be nice in the dish. Also I think it would have been better to use cut up chicken breast or boneless chicken thighs instead of the thighs with bones as suggested in the recipe. Anywhoo this is what the dish looked like.... I need to figure out how food photographers make everything look so tasty... I promise this tasted WAY better than it looked :-p

Overall I give this dish a solid A- It was healthy, really tasty and I will definintely make it again!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Ish* Fo Yo Ears (September)

What up folks!
Here's the first installment of New *ish for your ears in which I will be sharing the songs the 2 or more new songs that I acquired during the month (Goal #4)

The September edition consists of songs from Little Dragon, Magic System and Beyonce's little sister.

Little Dragon- Little Dragon's music is kind of hard to explain... The group is from Sweden and the music is usually labeled as "electronic" or "electronic pop". I first heard the song "After the Rain" on ProjectVibe, which is the online radio station I listen to at work. I thought the song was really odd the first few times I heard it, but then it started growing on me and I decided I liked it and wanted to see what the rest of the CD was like. I really like the CD. It's good ambient type music to listen to when you're in a chill mood and reading or writing, etc. Here's a few selections
After The Rain - Little Dragon
No Love - Little Dragon

The second piece of "new" music I acquired this month was from the group Magic System, a music group from Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. I'm pretty sure this song is really old... I've heard it numerous times before and really liked it. I was at my apartment watching BET Jazz (I think?) with a friend and it came on so I asked him what it was and downloaded it on the spot. Apparently the style of music is called Zouglou and it's popular throughout Africa, the West Indies and France.
Magic System ~ Premier Gaou - Magic System

The last song I downloaded this month is STRAIGHT pop, but I'm not ashamed because I like it. It's the new song by Beyonce's little sister called, "I Decided". I like some pop music (as many of you know), it's great for working out or improving your mood. I hadn't really heard much about Beyonce's little sister up until a few weeks ago when this song came out. I really liked it! I listened to the rest of her CD... not so much. I wasn't sure why I liked this song so much, but I did some research and found that it was (written?) and produced by the Pharell... I like the majority of things that little ferret produces so I wasn't shocked that I liked this as well... Plus I sing about as well as this chick does so it's a GREAT karaoke song for me!
I Decided - Solange

So that's it for September.... Look out for next month's post!

Bruno goes to the vet

So Bruno had a visit to the vet bright and early this morning. We went to the vet with another PPRA volunteer who also had to get her new foster pug (a very cute, svelte 3-4 year old black boy pug) vetted due to the large ulcer on his eye. The newly surrendered pug was adorable! He was really playful/happy, but he had a big cone on his head to protect his eye, and he kept banging it into everyone. Bruno is not very keen on other dogs... he isn't aggressive towards them, he just seems to not care about them one way or the other.

So we packed the dogs into the back seat car and were off to the vet. Bruno was sitting calmly for a while, but then started to get a bit anxious (and a bit irritated at the hyper cone-head he was sitting next to) so he came up and sat on my lap. He did really well in the car from that point on... calmly looking out the window, or at me, and trying to crawl over the glovebox into the lap of the driver when we hit a red light. :-p

The visit to the vet was pretty anti-climactic. The vet assistants weighed him. He still weighs 23 pounds damnit! The vet told me that I should start mixing his food with Trader Joe's High Fiber O's instead of giving him a full serving of kibble. So, from now on I will give him 1/8 cup kibble and 1/8 cup Fiber O's twice a day. I was told that it takes 2-3 months for a dog to lose even 3 pounds so I might not be able to see the fruits of my labor before he's gone, but I want to try and get him started on the right path. I also think I'm going to have to find more nutritious treats for him. I'm going to try the carrots tomorrow. He wasn't that interested in them last week, but I'll try steaming them a bit and dunking them in low fat/sodium chicken broth to see if that helps.

The other main issue that I wanted the vet to look at were his eyes. Since the very first night he's been with me I've had a feeling he had vision issues. He looks up "at" you when you speak to him, but never directly in your eyes and when he gets tired he has a tendency to bump into things, and run into curbs and miss steps. The vet looked at his eyes and concluded that he has exposure keratitis and he was 90% blind. Apparently breeds of dogs with the big protruding eyes are prone to this problem. Because of the protrusion of the eyeball, often times they are not able to close their eyes completely which causes the eye to get very dry and eventually the corneas will get irritate which oftentimes leads to scaring of the cornea and changes in the pigment of the eye.... all this leads to decreased vision. So apparently that's the cause of Bruno's vision issues... The vet gave me 2 ointments to put in his eye. One is an immunosuppresant and the other is just to lubricate his eyes. He will have to have them put in his eyes (the immunosuppresant 1x/day and the lubricant 2x/day) for the rest of his life. I've been putting antibiotics in his eye every day until this point and he's really good about letting me do it.

So Bruno was given a, pretty much, clean bill of health! YAY BRUNO!

The other PPRA pug's eye prognosis wasn't quite as good. He had a huge ulcer on one of his eyes. The young woman surrendering the dog was told that the ulcer was probably due to a infected scratch that he got at some time. Pugs stick their noses in everything and since their eyes protrude so much it is easy for them to get scratched/injured. Turns out one side of the pup's face was actually partially paralyzed and most likely the ulcer formed as a result of the paralysis and not an injury. Because that part of his face had no feeling he no longer had any need for the cone. He was much happier when he left the vet without the cone, but unfortunately he will have to be back soon to have the eye removed, and be neutered. He was a really sweet dog. I might be interested in taking him once I have an idea about his personali
ty post snipping.

So that was our day at the vet. I have a feeling Bruno is going to be ready to go pretty soon. It makes me sad b/c I know he's growing attached to me (and vice versa). :-( ... but I guess I'll cross that bridge when it comes...

Over all it was a great day for both of us and Bruno is back to doing what Bruno does best...

Friday, September 19, 2008

What do congealed pig blood, head cheese and sea urchin gonads have in common?

They are all "foods" that I've never eaten before. I just came across this list of 100 foods you should eat before you die... I consider myself a food connoisseur, and thought I'd have a hard time finding 50 new foods to try (goal 13)... but it seems I am not as food adventurous as I thought. I haven't tried 43 out of the 100 foods on this list... Looks like I got some eating to do... (the foods I haven't tried are in red)

100. Venison
-I’m pretty sure I’ve had deer jerky before, but I’ll leave it on the “never had” list until I’m sure
99. Nettle tea-I’ve had lots of types of tea, but never Nettle…. It’s supposed to have some sort of medicinal value… I actually think I have some nettle in my medicine cabinet that I used for a hair concoction... I bet it’s nasty, but I’ll give it a try.
98. Huevos rancheros
97. Steak tartare- Raw seasoned beef…. Not sure if I’m going to be able to do this one.. it sounds hella nasty and a little dangerous.
96. Crocodile-”Crocodile meat is said to have a delicate flavor; some describe it as a cross between chicken and crab.” Sounds tasty to me! I wonder where in NYC I can get it?
95. Black pudding-Ok black pudding sounds extra nasty. How do people come up with these things? Pudding made out of congealed pig blood…. Get it together 17th Century British people. I won’t be trying this.
94. Cheese fondue
93. Carp
According to wikipedia “Carp is a common name for various freshwater fish. It is low in fat, firm in texture, and mild--though it can be muddy, especially the farm-raised variety--in flavor.” Muddy fish… that doesn’t sound too appealing, but I would be willing to try this…
92. Borscht
91. Baba ghanoush
90. Calamari
89. Pho
88. PB&J sandwich
87. Aloo gobi
86. Hot dog from a street cart
85. Epoisses- ”Epoisses de Bourgogne is a pungent unpasteurized cows-milk cheese. A washed-rind cheese (washed in marc de Bourgogne, the local pomace brandy), it is circular at around either 10cm or 18cm in diameter, with a distinctive soft red-orange colour.” I love Cheese. I’ll def try this…
84. Black truffle-Oooh truffles… I’ve never had those.. I need a truffle in my life. How can I be a true foodie/epicurious without ever having tried a truffle?
83. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
82. Steamed pork buns
81. Pistachio ice cream-I see this everywhere, but I never really eat ice cream that isn’t chocolate…. Maybe I’ll give it a try?
80. Heirloom tomatoes-Can you believe, as much as I love tomatoes, I’ve never had a Heirloom tomato?!? I will definitely be trying one of these before summer’s end..
79. Fresh wild berries
78. Foie gras
Another one of those things that my palate needs to experience before I can call myself a true foodie…. I don’t quite understand the concept though…. Liver of a force fed duck or goose? Again… who thinks of these things? Wht do you put Foie gras on? Accordint to the description it’s buttery…. Maybe it would be good on a biscuit? Popeyes perhaps?
77. Rice and beans (why is this on the list?)
76. Brawn, or head cheese-This sounds so flucking nasty… “Head cheese or brawn is in fact not a cheese, but rather a terrine of meat from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow). It may also include meat from the feet and heart. It is usually eaten cold or at room temperature as a luncheon meat. Why would someone ever eat something like this? I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to go here yet….
75. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper-The Scotch Bonnet pepper is one of the hottest peppers in the world…. I’m not sure why anyone would eat one of these raw… it wounds like something an idiot frat boy in Indiana would do… incidentally, I have a really funny (if funny=tramautizing) story that involves a Scotch Bonnet pepper, bare hands and removing contacts…. I don’t think I’ll be trying this one… I’m sure it would be as uncomfortable coming out as it is going in. :-
74. Dulce de leche
73. Oysters-I think I’ve had cooked oysters… and oyster sauce (not sure if that’s made of oyster?) but I’ve never had a raw oyster…. I’ve heard they’re an aphrodisiac though… :-p
72. Baklava
71. Bagna cauda-I’ve never heard of Bagna cauda, but apparently it “is a warm dip made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter, and in some parts of the region cream. The dish is eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially cardoon, celery, cauliflower, artichokes, peppers and onions.” Ok I don’t know about the dippers, but I think it would make a great dipping sauce option for Papa John’s breadsticks.
70. Wasabi peas
69. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
68. Salted lassi-I’ve had mango lassi, but never salted lassi… I can’t imagine I wouldn’t like it though… water, salt, pepper and ice and spices… what’s not to like?
67. Sauerkraut
66. Root beer float
65. Cognac with a fat cigar-I’ve definitely had Cognac, but never with a fat Cigar… maybe something to save for my 30th birthday in a few years?
64. Clotted cream tea- Never had clotted cream tea, but I have had scones and clotted cream at my friend Anabela’s bridal tea. It was EXTRA tasty… I’ve also had tea before… so I think I’ll mark this one off the list.
63. Vodka jelly/Jell-O shot
62. Gumbo
61. Oxtail
60. Curried goat

59. Whole insects-Hmm… I heard they’re pretty good dipped in chocolate and stuck on a stick…..
58. Phaal-I thought I’d tasted, or at least heard of, all Indian dishes, but I’d never heard of Phaal… apparently it’s one of the hottest forms of curry regularly available, even hotter than the Vindaloo…. I’m down to try this one…
57. Goat’s milk
56. Single malt whisky-I’m not sure of this one…. I’ve definitely had whiskey, but I don’t know what the “malt” was…
55. Fugu-Oh lord… the infamous poisoning Japanese puffer fish…. Apparently the pufferfish is lethally poisonous if prepared wrong, and it considered a great delicacy in Japan. I wouldn’t mind trying this…. Maybe they have some at that ½ price sushi place in the east village?
54. Chicken tikka masala
53. Eel
52. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
51. Sea urchin- Hmmm I’m not sure if I’ve had sea urchin… I didn’t really know people ate urchins… unlike most sea creatures, the roe of the sea urchin isn’t what it’s harvested for… apparently people love to eat the golden gonands of the hermaphrodite sea creature. I have always been fascinated by the hermaphrodites…. But this might be too much…. Maybe….
50. Prickly pear-The fruit of prickly pears, commonly called cactus figs, Indian fig or tuna, is edible, although it has to be peeled carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin before consumption. If the outer layer is not properly removed, glochids can be ingested causing discomfort of the throat, lips, and tongue as the small spines are easily lodged in the skin.
49. Umeboshi
48. Abalone- I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of Abalone… apparently it’s a mollusk that is considered a delicacy in certain parts of Latin America (especially Chile), New Zealand, South East Asia, and East Asia (especially in China, Japan, and Korea).
47. Paneer
46. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
45. Spaetzle-This is a German egg noodle or dumpling. I don’t really see how this one differs from any other noodle (it’s made of eggs, flour and salt…. ) but I’ve never really tried German food (except for the Americanized dishes) so maybe I’ll try it out.
44. Dirty gin martini- I love liquor. Maybe I’ll make one of these next Friday when I’m at home alone. :-p
43. Beer above 8% ABV- Beer is gross… and 8% alcohol still seems really low compared to wine and other spirits… I’m not really sure what the point is of this one, but for those of you who are interested the beers that have the highest ABV are Vetter 33 (10.5% abv), and Swiss beer “Samichlaus” with an abv of 14%
42. Poutine- French fries covered in fresh cheese curd and gravy…. Why haven’t I tried this?!?!
41. Carob chips
40. S’mores
39. Sweetbreads- LOL I really thought they were talking about dessert! Apparently sweetbreads are the thymus glands of lamb, beef, or pork. According to wiki “typically sweetbreads are soaked in salt water, then poached in milk after which an outer membrane is removed. Once dry and chilled, they're often breaded and fried until crisp.” I wonder if we’re going to start seeing these at the Indiana state fair… I think everything fried is fair game.
38. Kaolin- According to wiki, this isn’t a food, but a clay product that’s used in some cosmetics and stuff… I eat a lot of my cosmetics, so I’ll just assume I’ve ingested Kaolin at some point or another.
37. Currywurst-Wow the Germans have a curry dish? I’m starting to think curry should be the national dish of the world! (yeah I know that didn’t make sense…) Do any cultures NOT use curry? But then again I guess “curry” is just a word for a mixture of spices….anywaym surrywurst is a German dish consisting of hot pork sausage cut into slices and seasoned with curry sauce (ketchup or tomato paste blended with curry)
36. Durian- Never heard of this fruit, but according to wiki “the durian, widely known and revered in Southeast Asia as the "King of Fruits", is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. Regarded by some as fragrant, others as overpowering and offensive, the smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust.” Hmmm… maybe this is the source of the strange smells in Chinatown? I will have to investigate?
35. Frogs’ legs
34. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
33. Haggis- Yuck yuck yuckity yuck…. BLEH… sheep heart, liver and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, and boiled in an animal's stomach for approximately three hours.
32. Fried plantain
31. Chitterlings, or andouillette-Never had chitterlings…. Never even smelled them being cooked… but I think I’ll pass.
30. Gazpacho
29. Caviar and blini
28. Louche absinthe-I think absinthe was just re-legalized in the U.S. I don’t have any idea what absinthe tastes like, but the preparation of the drink sounds interesting. “Traditionally, absinthe is poured into a glass over which a specially designed slotted spoon is placed. A sugar cube is then deposited in the bowl of the spoon. Ice-cold water is poured or dripped over the sugar until the drink is diluted to a ratio between 3:1 and 5:1. During this process, the components that are not soluble in water, mainly those from anise, fennel, and star anise, come out of solution and cloud the drink. The resulting milky opalescence is called the louche. The addition of water is important, causing the herbs to "blossom" and bringing out many of the flavors originally overpowered by the anise.”
27. Gjetost, or brunost- ”Brunost is a brown Norwegian whey cheese, also popular in Sweden, where it is called mesost.” Whey cheese? I really didn’t think they used whey for anything other than muscle milk…
26. Roadkill- Really…. No… really? That’s just nasty…
25. Baijiu- Another liquor to add to the list “Baijiu is a Chinese liquor that is 80 to 120 proof, or 40-60% alcohol by volume.
24. Hostess Fruit Pie
23. Snail
22. Lapsang souchong- Another tea I haven’t tried…. I swear you can get half this list in Chinatown….
21. Bellini
20. Tom yum
19. Eggs Benedict
18. Pocky
17. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant- Aw sounds like a great date activity…
16. Kobe beef-I’m not sure if I’ve ever had Kobe beef… I need to rectify that…
15. Hare
14. Goulash
13. Flowers
12. Horse- Hmmm… does gelatin count? Isn’t that made from ground horse bones? Apparently horsemeat is still exported by the United States? I hope we don’t export it to China… you know it’s going to show up in a baby toy somewhere…
11. Criollo- Peru's coast and capital city of Lima are the heart of Criollo dishes, which are a combination of African, Spanish, Andean, Asian and Pre-Colombian influences.
10. Spam
9. Soft shell crab
8. Rose harissa
7. Catfish
6. Mole poblano
5. Bagel and lox-Hmm.. I’m not sure if I’ve had lox… I’ve had a bagel and smoked salmon, but maybe not lox. Looks like a trip to the upper Westside is in order…
4. Lobster Thermidor-Sounds tasty, but never had this either…
3. Polenta
2. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
1. Snake

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hey Ya'll,

I just wanted update everyone (all 3 people who read this blog :-p) about my progress with Bruno's goals. Bruno was initially REALLY hyper/anxious, but since last Saturday he has been quite a lot calmer and a generally more chill dog. When I'm at home now he usually is sleeping (he didn't sleep that much the first week) or chewing on his bull penis stick. We've been working a lot on the little goals I laid out for him so that when he gets adopted he will be an even better pup. :-)

Ok so my major goals were
1. Put him on a workout/diet plan to lose some weight.
2. Get him to confidently sleep in his own bed.
3. Help him deal with the separation anxiety.
4. Teach him some basic commands

So far Bruno is doing FABULOUSLY with all of the goals. We have been walking 2+ times every day. We usually walk about 40 min in the morning and then 40+ min when I get home at night. I'm not sure what Bruno weighed when he came (they said 28 pounds?), but he weighed 23 pounds on Friday night when I weighed him. His breathing/snorting/ewok sounds have gotten MUCH better.

Re: the bed... Bruno has been sleeping in his own bed since last Thursday. HOORAY!!!! the first night was a little rough. He woke up every few hours crying and trying to jump on my bed. It was actually a little funny... I have a high bed, so his little head would pop up on one side... then he would scurry over to the other side and his little head would pop up there, and then he'd scurry back.. heh he... ok it's not funny. But every night has been consistently better and as of last night his little head popped up once and I told him "off" and he took his little paws down and went to his bed without a sound... ok he sighed really loudly, but no crying or whimpering! YAY Bruno

The separation anxiety stuff is coming along too, but slowly. This morning I think we had a bit of a breakthrough. Usually when I leave for work Bruno howls and cries and scratches and the door and paces and yelps... I've been doing the technique of ignoring him for 10+ min before I leave and 10+ min when I return so that the act of me leaving will seem more normal and not so jarring (ie if you pick your dog up and hug him and say, Ooh snookie wookums Momma be back soon, then you're exciting your dog just to turn around and leave him). This morning I quietly walked out of the door and down the stairs. I waited at the bottom of the stair to see what would happen..... silence.... a few whimpers.... scurrying feet... 1 or 2 Roow-Rooooooow's.. and then silence. No scratching, no more howling.. YAY Bruno! Also when I'm in the house there are times when he's NOT right beside me. Yesterday he was laying on the floor in the living room chewing his bull penis stick and I decided to go lay down on my bed... no Bruno... He didn't even notice I was gone! This may seem silly to some people but I was really proud of him and his new found independence.

The last goal was to teach him a couple commands. He's gotten the hand of sit and down... Stay is going to be a bit tricky since he hates to be more than 2 feet from me at any time (unless he's asleep), but I'll see what I can do and post a videog.

Ciao for Niao!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Recipe 1- Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes, Basil and Feta

Hey Ya'll...

Falls here! Yay! I can start cooking again. My summertime "cooking" is usually relegated to salads, sandwiches and other cold things... Now I can get back to making some more fun stuff.

My first "new" recipe is actually a recipe that I've eaten before, but never made. I had this really tasty shrimp dish last Easter when I was visiting my brother Ekow and sister-in-law Marie Mensah in Cincinatti. Marie served this shrimp dish for dinner with a simple salad and some tasty "take and bake" bread. To make the dish you basically roast fresh tomatoes and then add shrimp, parsely, lemon juice and feta. I didn't have parsely so I used basil. The freshness of the lemon with the sweetness of the shrimp and saltiness of the feta mesh really well and it's a REALLY easy dish to prepare. I asked Marie for the recipe a while back, but never had a chance to make it.

I treated myself to some "take and bake" bread from Whole foods to go with it tonight, but from now on I think I'll probably have it with whole wheat pasta, or just skip the starch all together.

Here are some pics of my entree numero uno.... i am not a food photographer... but I promise it tasted MUCH better than these pictures make it look. :-)

Here's an extreme close up of the tender shrimp swimming in the garlicy, lemony, basily sauce... MMMMM

Blacks and dark videos....

Hey ya'll... sorry about the super dark videos. For some reason when I upload them they come out much darker than they do in their original files... I guess we (Bruno and I) are just too darn black for our own good... kind of like Michelle Obama...

Anywhoo sorry for the dark vids.. hopefully you can see better on your computer.

Bruno and the Bully Stick...

Hey everyone....

I learned something quite disturbing yesterday.... When the woman from the pug rescue brought Bruno to me she gave me a few supplies, food, a leash/harness, treats and a bully stick. Well I've talked about this bully stick in a previous post, but to reiterate, Bruno is OBSESSED with it. he can sit and chew that thing for hours and hours. He pretty much chewed through the stick that came with him so I emailed the rescue lady to ask her where I can get another one. She told me they are called "Bully Sticks" and I can get them at any pet store. Me being me, I decided to look online and see what everyone else was saying about bully sticks. I came across a wikipedia article with this ADORABLE picture of a pug chewing a bully stick and the following words "A bully stick, also known as a "beef stick" or pizzle, is a dog treat made from the large tendon of a bull's penis and dried. They can be braided, smoked, or formed into a ring, as well as shaved to form thin strips for smaller dogs."

. . . . .

Really? No... really? Who thinks of these things? Was someone really sitting on their farm in Texas pondering over the issue of surplus Bull penis? How they hell did they figure out dogs would like it? There are lots of really distrubing pictures going on in my head about dead dried up bull penis and ranch dogs.... but I will spare you my musings on that and present to you a cute little video of Bruno chewing on his own Bull penis piece. Watch the end to see how annoyed he gets when I distract him. :-)

"Sit and Down" featuring Bruno the pug

Hey Ya'll..... This is my first videolog... yes videolog... that's a combination of video + blog... for those of you who.... well for those of you who aren't too bright... Just kidding! Now honestly what isn't too bright is my lighting for this videolog, but that's ok.... the way I'm looking tonight it's probably better for all involved if you don't see my face too well...

**Edited to add: I took out the part with me talking.... you could only see my eyes, I was ashy, and seemed to have a lisp.... **

anyway, without futher ado here is Bruno doing "Sit and Down"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back to the grind...

Ok it’s been a little over 2 weeks since I started this project and the only thing I’ve really blogged on are my adventures (or misadventures) in pug-land… So I’m back to the grind. Bruno and I are settling into a nice routine so hopefully I’ll be able to re-focus my energy this week on the few easy goals I wanted to start with. These were the goals that I wanted to start in September

Ongoing Goals:

1. Adopt a pug

    1. I won’t bore you with anymore pug posts… right now. :-p I will probably take this off of the ongoing list until the spring, because I decided that I really would like to adopt a puppy and I can’t really do that until it gets warm again.

2. Make 100 new recipes (0/100)

    1. It’s still pretty hot here…. Which means I haven’t been doing much cooking. I just did the math and it seems that I have to average about 3 new recipes a month to stay on track with this…. But so far my count is still zero. If anyone has any tasty recipes (or recipes that you're not sure about and want someone to try first) please let me know.

3. Try 50 foods or types of types of cuisine I haven’t tried (0/50)

    1. This is going to be a bit of a hard one… I’m a fairly adventurous eater so there’s not THAT much that I haven’t tried… I see quail and ostrich eggs all the time at whole foods… I’ve never tried either one of those, and honestly looking at them makes me a little nauseous… the throw-up spit is forming right now…. Here is a picture of a cute little girl holding an ostrich egg… apparently 1 egg can fee up to 12 people. Maybe that will be my strange food for this month? The quail eggs make me want to throw up a little bit less… apparently you can use them just like any other eggs… deviled, boiled, poached… pickled… ok the spit is coming back… moving on….

4. Blog on my 101 things blog 90% of the time

    1. I don’t think I’m doing too too badly on this. I’ve blogged 6 times in September (this will make 7). According to my calculations I have to blog about 27 times a month to make this goal… I think I’ll be able to do this. I spend all day at work on the computer and I have a lot of random thoughts to share….

5. Do 500 “no spend” days

    1. LOL I think this one may have been a bit ambitious, no? 500 no spend days means I pretty much have to not spend ANY money every other day…. I might change this one to a more manageable number and then just take the $10 “didn’t complete goal” penalty as a loss.

6. Drink 1.5 liters of water per day for 2 months

    1. Ugh… this is going to be a hard one. My water/liquid intake is HORRENDOUS. I generally drink a cup of coffee in the morning and then don’t really drink anything else until I get home from work. Sometimes I’ll have a bottle of bubbly water, but that’s about it… Water is pretty much all I drink, with the diet coke with my Subway lunch occasionally, so it’s not like I don’t like water… I just don’t like the feeling of liquid in my belly and I don’t like having to go to the bathroom more than once or twice a day. Yes I KNOW that’s not healthy… geeez! So I’m going to give it a shot. 1.5 liters really isn’t that much water. It’s only 3 of those small bottles…I went about 4 days last week and then I missed a few days… so I have to start over. But I’m in it to win it with this water thing… even if it takes me all 1001 days to make it 60 consecutive days.

7. Make the earring holder that I’ve been putting off

    1. I’ve been planning on making this cool earring holder for like 2 years. It’s really just mesh and a frame…. You attach the mesh with a staple gun. That’s it. It’s not that hard. If I don’t finish this goal this month then someone please take my staple gun and shoot me in the face.

Ok that's it... look out for more non-pug related blogs in the very near future. :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whew... this little ewok is exhausting!

Wow things sure happen in strange ways… For almost 5 years I’ve been obsessed with pugs… I’ve joined pug online groups, gone, pugless, to pug play dates in the park, wasted countless hours stalking them on the street… and suddenly there’s one snorting and grunting away in my living room!

I got my first foster pug Bruno on Tuesday and I really haven’t had a moment at home to write you all about it…. So now it’s 1:14 Saturday morning, (actually now it's 9:09 pm Sunday evening) Bruno is asleep at my feet and I have a moment to breathe and share the goings on of my week..

So…. Where to start… Bruno came in on Tuesday night. The pug rescue woman brought him to me around 8:00. He’s a 7 year old, morbidly obese, black pug (this fool is really fat!) The first thing I noticed about Bruno was that he seemed to have some vision impairments… he walked into my “coffee table” and when we were talking to him, he looked in our general direction, but really didn’t know where to focus. That didn’t surprise me too much. Pugs tend to have a lot of problems with their little bug eyes, and if their eyes get infected and are left untreated it’s pretty easy for them to lose vision. The rescue lady left him with me with some ointment that I was supposed to squeeze onto his eye (yes the ointment goes directly on his eyeball) and instructions on what to feed him, and how to clean his little face, etc etc.

As much as I love pugs, this is the first time I’ve ever been around them for a prolonged period of time. I don’t want to equate my Bruno’s behavior/personality with that of all pugs, but one that I did learn about them is that they are NOISY. LOL They pant constantly, wheeze, snort, gurgle, snore and make really strange Ewok/wookie type noises I know that Bruno is a particularly bad case because of his weight, but it was definitely interesting to find out, first hand, about pugs “special” noises.

Now on to Bruno’s personality….. He is an EXTREMELY needy and anxious dog. Pugs have the reputation of being “Velcro dogs” (ie a dog that needs to be right next to you at all times), but I think Bruno’s Velcro-ness comes more out of severe anxiety…. He CANNOT stand being left alone for even a second. When I go into the bathroom he scratches the door and cries. When I get into my bed he cries and cries and barks and howls and manically runs around the bed trying to see if he can figure out a way to get up. When I leave for work all hell breaks loose… He scratches at the door, throws his little body up against it, and barks and howls. I don’t really know how long he stays at this, but judging by how much he whines even when I’m at home in the bathroom, I’m going to assume this goes on for a while during the day.

When we’re at home alone he doesn’t know what to do with himself… he’s up and down and just restless… and he whimpers all the time. He doesn’t really know what toys are—it’s pretty obvious he’s never had any—but he knows what treats are so I got him a kong that’s you can stuff with food for him to figure out how to get out, and the rescue people gave him a chew stick (a “greenie” I think). He’s obsessed with the chew stick. He lays on the floor chewing manically for hours… he doesn’t even look like he’s enjoying the stick… he’s always crying/whining when he’s chewing and the more he chews the faster and more manic it gets… honestly it’s really strange to watch him chew the greenie… I usually end up taking it way from him because it makes ME anxious just to be in the same room with him when he’s chewing it.

On the good side, he’s an AMAZING walker. He’s great on a leash… I think that’s mainly because he always needs to be right behind his human. So he always stays right with me. He pees and poo’s outside and only had 1 accident inside (his first day). Additionally he’s just a really sweet dog, that seems like he was never really given attention, so when he gets some he really doesn’t know what to do with it or himself. He reminds me of the dog I had growing up. We weren’t very good to that dog. He was by himself most of the time in the garage, or dog run or behind a gate, so when he was let out to be with the family he went nuts, if we tried to pet or play with him he went nuts with excitement, which we would see as him just being hyper and spastic and then he’d be put back in the garage/dog run… I really feel like that’s what’s going on with Bruno…

So… you all know I like a project, so the quirks with this dog don’t “really” bother me. I’m very curious to see if I can help him work on them. Right now my main goals are

1. Put him on a workout/diet plan to lose some weight. I have been walking him at least 40 min in the morning and when I get home, and he doesn’t get any table scraps. I weighed him on Friday night. He was 23 pounds. When I got him on Tuesday they said he was 28… I think they lied… so I’ll say he started at 23 pounds.

2. Get him to confidently sleep in his own bed. Bedtime was a NIGHTMARE the first few nights because he would NOT go to sleep if he wasn’t on my bed. So I put down a blanket to cover my sheets and let him sleep with me the first few nights. I knew I wasn’t going to be comfortable with that in the long run so I’m working on getting him to sleep the entire night in his own bed, without whining or carrying on.

3. Help him deal with the separation anxiety. There are lots of tips and tools that people use to help dogs deal with separation anxiety. I’ve got an action plan laid out and I’m going to start executing it this weekend.

4. Teaching him some basic commands- sit, down and stay. It’s sad that a 7 year old dog has never been taught any commands. Oh well… better late than never.

So that’s the general plan. I’ll update his progress….

Monday, September 8, 2008

Uh can I borrow a dollar... or $150,000?

So I recently made the decision that I’m probably not leaving NYC any time soon. As many of you know, I've been talking about leaving for years, but honestly I'm tired of starting over in new places. I really don’t want to have to re-build a social network and enter into a brand new scene as a single woman... that might sound petty, but I just don't. If I move somewhere it’ll be with (or possibly for) a partner or maybe an awesome career opportunity, otherwise I’m just gonna stay my ass in Brooklyn.

That being said… I need to buy a place. I haven’t really given buying property in New York because, frankly, I thought anyone who bought an apartment/building in New york was completely out of their mind. Coming from Indiana where you can get a decent house for 150,000 it just seemed completely insane to spend 300-500,000 (minimum) for a tiny 1 bedroom apartment. Even in my so-called “up and coming” area of Bedford Stuyvesant (if an area with the nick name “Do or Die Bed Stuy” can really be considered up and coming…) a 2 bedroom condo is selling for 450-500,000 and a brownstone around the corner from me is selling for more than 800,000.

So what’s a damn-near 30 year old single gal to do? She’s gonna start saving her pennies and buy an apartment, that’s what!

So a friend and I (and possibly another friend) have starting putting together a plan to purchase a brownstone in Brooklyn in the next year or so. For those of you who aren’t familiar with NYC real estate (forgive me if there are brownstones in other places. I’ve been in New York for 5 years and I think I’m suffering from a little New-York-is-the-center-of-the-universe syndrome) a brownstone is essentially a multiple family home (they used to be one-family homes back in the day). Usually one person owns the entire brownstone and rents out units. I currently live a brownstone. The owner occupies the basement and 1st floor and rents out the top 2 floors. I love brownstones. They are really the quintessential Brooklyn residence (or at least it seems so to a Non-native like me).

So….. now that that is decided, the hard part is going to be coming up with a 20% deposit on a 750,000 building (yes… that’s 150,000 for those of you that are slow)… The likelihood of us being able to save the full 20% down is… well pretty much impossible, so we’re shooting for having 10% down, which is %75,000. If all 3 of us go in on it (ie splitting up the brownstone into units and buying it like a condo of sorts) that would be about 25,000 per person down…. Still quite a lofty goal. But I guess that’s what needs to be done if I’m dedicating myself to staying in this God forsaken yet beautiful place.

Wish me luck ya’ll. If anyone has any expertise in home buying or saving, or programs… or if anyone just wants to GIVE me 20-30,000 for a down payment, please do let me know.

Breaking news... my first foster pug comes tomorrow!!!

Hey all...

So goal 1 is in full effect. I just got word from the folks at Precious Pugs Rescue and Adoption that they have a pug that came in in a rush and they need a foster ASAP. His name is "Brutus" and he's a 7 year old black male. I got the email this afternoon around 4:00 and they said that they might be bringing the pug over as early as tonight!?!

Turns out the pug has been at his first foster mom's house for about a week. She has her own pug rescue (or works with a pug rescue.. I wasn't really clear) and she saw a posting on craigslist last week about a woman who was trying to get rid of her pug. From what the PPRA person told me, the pug was in bad shape- his face folds were all dirty (you have to clean pugs face wrinkles or they get all grody), his nails had grown into his little paws, his eyes were infected (pugs also have a lot of eye issues), and he was just in generally bad shape. Poor little guy...

So she took him in and contacted PPRA to see if they could take him. They said they could, but apparently there was some miscommunication; the PPRA folks thought she would call them when she was ready and the rescuer thought PPRA was going to call her. So today she called PPRA and said she really needed someone to take the pug tonight. She has a lot of other pets and she thought that he just wasn't getting the attention that he deserved.

So around 4:00 I get an email asking if I can take a foster tonight! CRAZY! I said yes of course (because I'm crazy) and I went out to get some supplies. He was coming with a harness and a new leash. I bought him a few toys, a water/food bowl, and a little doggie bed. Turns out he won't be coming until tomorrow evening, which is great for me so I can prepare myself (mentally and my apartment).

so.... YAY! Look out tomorrow for pics and updates about Brutus


Friday, September 5, 2008

Is 8 really enough?...

Apparently not, when it comes to me getting a pug. I just completed my 8th application to adopt a rescued pug. The great majority of my applications were done on pugs I found on petfinder.org. Out of the 7 applications I turned in I got 2 responses- 1 was for a pug, 'Percy' that I applied for out in Delaware (very close to Philly). He is so freaking cute! He was REALLY REALY wrinkly and when they found him he had a really bad skin condition (y'all know I'm a sucker for a sad story) but he was ok now and so freaking cute... but apparently his story wasn't sad enough for them to agree to adopt him out of state.... REJECTED!

The 2nd response I got was from another out of state rescue... I think this one was in Rhode Island. They were willing to consider me for the adoption of a very cute little pug puppy 'Ernie' but they were asking for $700 for the puppy AND a $200 deposit before the application was even reviewed... It all sounded a little fishy to me, plus I could go out and get a dog straight from a breeder in Indiana/Kentucky for $700

I saw 2 postings on Craigslist in New York for young pugs that people were trying to "re-home" because they didn't have time to spend with them. I sent impassioned pleas to both.... no response.

Today I applied for my 8th pug 'Owen'.... This pug is in Vermont and I made sure to check that they do in fact adopt out of state. They do... AND I'm supposed to be going to Vermont later this month/early October for leaf-peeking and a visit to my sis/nephew so we'll see if it all works out. I had to HAND WRITE this application and put it in the mail... yes the mail.. with a stamp.. They better at least respond to me after all that effort damnit!

Oh and for all of you who were wondering about these wack ass names that the pugs have... no worries, I will promptly be changing my pugs name to Cletis or Leroy...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I think I'd have an easier time adopting a child...

I think I’d have an easier time adopting a child…..

So anyone who’s had more than a 5 minute conversation with me knows about my ridiculous, insane love (obsession maybe?) for the pug…. I mean how can you NOT love them with their little squashed faces, floppy tongues and googly eyed, short-bus expression. I don’t care what anyone says, they are adorable and just seeing their little chunky bodies trotting down the street always makes me smile.

That being said, I have been very hesitant to get a pug because of my work schedule and all of the things I’ve read about what happens to pugs when they are left alone for long period of time… apparently they either flip out, turn into mini-rottweilers and chew up all your sh*t, or they get really really depressed and need to be put on doggie meds (true story). I love pugs and I didn’t want to make my little puggie depressed or angry so I just always figured I’d wait until I was married, engaged or at least had a long-term, serious partner who would help me take care of my pug… Well anyone who knows me knows I’m not exactly an expert at relationship maintenance, and as I stand here staring 30 in its cold, lifeless eyes I realize that I just can’t wait around anymore, because honestly, who knows when, if ever, any of that stuff will happen.

So here I am. I initially wanted to adopt a puppy, but as I read more and talked to more pug owners it seemed that adopting an older pug from a pug rescue would be a good option for me. Older pugs would have more well-developed bladders and would be physically able to hold their pee longer than a puppy. An older dog would have an already developed personality so there wouldn’t be any surprises in that department, plus saving a dog that may otherwise be put down or being able to give a dog that has been mistreated or used and abused a second chance at a good life makes me feel good about myself.

So I’m currently in the process of trying to adopt a rescued pug. Breed specific rescues are notoriously difficult to adopt from because of all the criteria you have to meet and hoops you have to jump through in order to adopt. At a bare minimum they require an extensive application, conduct a home visit, call 3 personal and 1 vet reference, and worst of all they greatly, GREATLY prefer to adopt to families or to single people who don’t work outside the home. Because of all of this, I am a really really unlikely candidate for adoption… So I’m putting operation pug into effect. The first thing I did was talk to the people who run the 1 NYC pug rescue about becoming a foster family. Most rescue organizations don’t have an actual physical shelter, the dogs they take in are place with “foster” parents who house them until a “forever home” is found. So right now I’m an official foster mom for the pug rescue in NYC… I’m just waiting on my first foster pug. In addition to that I have been scouring petfinder.org and applying for all of the pugs I can… I think I’ve applied for about 5 so far. I haven’t heard back from anyone… Now I’m onto craigslist.org. Sometimes there are pugs on there…sometimes there are not. So who knows how long this is going to take, but I’ll keep you updated on my status as I go.



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nana's 101 goals in 1001 days... day 2

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for visiting my 101 goals in 1001 days (and other musings) page. This idea started when my friend Cynthia and I were sitting on a big rock in Central Park, (after giving up on the long @ss line for the "Mad Fools in the Park" Summerstage show...who woulda thunk Madfools were so popular?!?)... anyway, we were having a really deep and substantive conversation about life and goals (ok.. we were probably talking about Boys and frozen yogurt... but moving on..) when Cynthia told me about the 101 goals in 1001 days project. Bascially what you do is create a list of 101 goals that you'd like to complete within the next 1001 days (about 2.75 years) and document your process via blog for all the world to celebrate your successes... or mock your failure. I thought this would be a great idea for a few reasons...

1- there are a TON of little things in life that I always talk about doing, or places I want to go, or changes in myself that I'd like to make, but I just haven't had the structure within myself to make them happen.

2- I love writing, but have fallen out of the habit during the past 10 years. Creating this list and this blog will create specific topics for me to write about and hopefully get myself back in the habit of writing.

3- If I don't complete ANY of the goals on this list I will have to add $1010 to my savings account. If I complete all of them I'll add$505.. so either way I'm going to save some money :-)

So here goes... hopefully ya'll will joing me as I document these 2+ years. If you look at my list you'll see that this isn't about me doing monumental, life-changing things (ending world hunger, patching up the ozone, getting Bristol Palin some NYC Condoms..) this is more about me doing little things for myself and my friends and hopefully ending up a better and more fulfilled person when I end this journey on May 30th, 2011.

So let the games begin!