Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekly Winners 3/30/08

Yay! Weekly Winners time! Thanks Lotus! I didn't take nearly as many pictures this week, which just means that I need to get out more, like maybe someplace tropical.

Click for larger images (because they do look better full-sized) or take a peek at the entire album at once and/or watch as a slideshow at this link.

Warming Up to Yummy
One of my favorite snacks, edamame. Who knew that a favorite pub snack from my Japan days could be so fabulously delicious, easy and healthy? If you haven't tried edamame, just buy frozen, boil a few minutes, drain, add as much salt as you'd like, and enjoy. They are also fun to pop out of the pods and give you something to do with your hands.

Breakfast Habit
Peanut butter and banana on whole wheat tortilla. Breakfast. Yah. Me. Attempting to make it a daily thing. Even I have time to roll one of these together while running out the door, and it makes me look forward to actually eating breakfast.

Skinny Cow Convert
I never bother buying "diet food," even when I'm trying to eat better, but these intrigued me because they were on sale and surprisingly enough actually manage to each contain 4g of fiber. I'm not even a huge ice cream fan, but these were wonderful - The Skinny Cow Fudge Bars.

Cookwear for Grownups

Preparing to Grab My Ankles
When your boss is headed out of town for a few weeks and gives you these in advance, you know it's going to be a bumpy ride through hell under fluorescent lighting. Still, I really do love tulips, and I look forward to seeing them open throughout the week (so that I can share more pictures next week, if I live through it).

She Don't Know She's Beautiful
(she just knows I sing Sammy Kershaw's song at her)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Haiku Friday 3/28/08

Haiku Friday


New Honey Latte
at a Starbucks with drive-thru,
weak moment, gave in...

...O M G Yum EE!!
Replicating at home fails.
Starbucks bastards win.


If we stopped to think
about the whole big ass scope
we would pee our pants.

Gah, "the apartness"
Four months? Ten months? More? or Less?
Much uncertainty.

We are this far in,
now in two different places,
decisions looming.

Thankfully for us
we've tabled the decisions
until we have facts.

Overall, mostly
I'm actually doing fine,
just doing my thing.

Sometimes we freak out
but then we just remember:
We will be OK.


is just a four letter word.
(OK... it's fifteen.)

Would *love* to say more
right about here, but, you know,
unsaid is better.


Haven't stopped counting,
today is day two-eight-five (285)*
no stinky smoking.

*more bad math. again. recounted. changed.

In honor of that
I think it's high time for some
Honey Latte joy!


And Happy Friday.
The week has effing ended.
At very long last.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen 3/27/08

Lots of languages probably have fun onomatopoeia, but Japanese rocks it like no other, especially words repeated twice, which is super common, and sounding kind of fun said quickly together.

My Favorite 13 Japanese Onomatopoeia

1. Doki doki - heart beating fast in fear, anticipation, excitement (like when you are about to go on stage in front of the entire school, all your students, fellow teachers, who knows who else to sing Mr. Children's Dakishimetai ... while wearing a school uniform - can you tell which one is me?).

2. Gucha gucha - messy. One of my favorite Japanese expressions that I still use because the meaning comes across the language barrier in the right situations. Say it like GooCHAgoocha, almost like one word instead of two.

3. Peko peko - hungry. Like the wolf. Say it like "pay-co pay-co " kind of, with a little less "ay" sound.

4. Wan wan, like you'd expect any dog to say, right? Say it like the wan in "pale and wan."

5. Giri Giri - by the skin of your teeth just barely on time, like me pulling up to the school where I worked on my granny bike. I'd love to explain how to say it, but this one is tough - think something like ghee-ree ghee-ree, but super fast, and the "r" is kind of like an "l" (true for all of those below with an "r" as well).

6. Iro iro - various. And sundry, probably, too. The "I" sounds like "ee," so go from there.

7. Kira kira, like all glittery and sparkly and shiny and bright and happy. The "Ki" sounds like "key."

8. Pera pera - fluent, as in what people love to say as a polite compliment if you can say two words of Japanese, even if fluent is the furthest thing from the truth. The "Pe" sounds kind of like "pay" but shorter.

9. Kero Kero - frog sounds. If you've ever heard of Hello Kitty's friend the frog, Kerokeroppi, that's why. If not, um, never mind. The "Ke" sounds kind of like "cay" but shorter.

10. Goro goro - purring, like my orange kitty always showing up in pictures on my blog. I brought him back with me from Japan, and he still purrs.

11. Pyon pyon - the sound of hopping, like a bunny. I learned this one while in college, and it's still a favorite. Say it so that it rhymes with "own."

12. Niko niko - smiling. Say it like "nee coe, nee coe."

13. Uro uro - loitering, wandering. Say it like "ooh-ro, ooh-ro" - fun, huh? I learned this one from Ulfuls' Banzai, a song I once sang at a wedding in Japan because people loved watching me think I could sing if only in another language. True. Even if the song also has the word for pervert in it. Just once, and not like a pervert in a bad way. Anyway, you know you are dying to hear the song (I found one written in romaji and with somewhat rough translation - you're welcome!):

Yep, still keeping score: today is smoke-free day 284.

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Balls. Balance. Rings. Patience.

Today is smoke-free day 283, and I'm willing to participate in my health beyond just not doing what I shouldn't have been doing anyway. Balls. Dammit.

You know the balance ball I bought with good intentions (since I don't do the gym and have gained roughly 20 pounds since quitting smoking)? That ball has been sitting in my living room since I bought it a couple weeks back. I did blow it up that night (well, with the pump - my lungs aren't quite *that* good), and I have been looking at it from the couch when I avert my eyes momentarily from my ER marathon (I'm pacing myself since I only own up to Season Four with still some time before my birthday. Hint. Hint. Wait, never mind, I'd prefer the ring, if, you know, I get to pick and choose).

(I admit. I've sat and bounced on the ball just to do it partly for fun, partly out of guilt, then just rolled the bitch back to its lonely corner.)

Anyway. Over the weekend I did what I could remember from that Pilates class I took a lifetime ago for a few months, and I've been eating healthy stuff in reasonable amounts, so in that spirit last night I walked down to the fitness center at our apartment complex after months of thinking about it. I was ready. After trying every imaginable key on my keyring, I couldn't get in. So I walked back, scrounged up some additional random keys from drawers in my apartment, drove back over there (yah, drove). Same results. Maybe my key is expired on account of neglect or lack of use or something.

Not to be discouraged, I went shopping. Something about needing new walking shoes (all that walking with the ladies, still 1 to 2 miles daily, which amazes me because it's effortless now). But I bought nothing, came home, broke out one of the DVDs that came with my new friend, "The Ball" and spent 40 minutes actually following along as best I could. It wasn't too bad, but I was thankful I had no audience because while I know a lot about balls, I'm still working on the whole balance aspect. It's odd to say that torture was enjoyable, but it was enjoyable. Something about a huge purple ball makes it all fun.

Overall, I've been feeling great about this whole making an effort to not keep growing my ass and to be healthier in general. Except that I'm still actually gaining weight. And that's kind of annoying. You all know that I'm being anal and tracking every bit of all of this, so I'll give it some time (as in longer than just these few days), and I'll adjust as needed. I have so very little patience, so to me the idea that I'm even considering any of this should make 10 pounds instantly disappear because I'm 3 years old like that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Today is smoke-free day 282, and I'm very pleasantly surprised by how infrequently smoking even occurs to me anymore.

It's a Heads or Tails (hosted from its new home) Tuesday.

This week: HEADS - Surprise

I love surprises of the good kind (not so much the bad kind). Planning surprises just tickles me to no end. Poor unsuspecting Tom is often the (hopefully happy) victim of my madness.

Wrapped in a Bow
Before picking Tom up from home to treat him to the Pizza Hut lunch buffet for his birthday a few years back, I told him I needed to run inside the apartment to pick up some books to give to a co-worker. While he was on his computer, I used the bathroom ("his" bathroom, actually), grabbed the bag, tossed it in my car, and we went to gorge ourselves on pizza. Instead of dropping him back off at home, I started driving mentioning my lack of desire to to return to work, and next thing he knew, we were at our favorite spot on the coast. He thought it was such a sweet surprise that I'd taken the rest of the afternoon off work to spend the day together. While we were at our special log on the beach, I wondered allowed if the cute little hotel just up the shore had any rooms available. Luckily, they did have a room, and they showed us the way, leading us to a door wrapped up in paper like a present and a great big bow. Inside were chocolates and champagne (which I shared, after some hesitation) and even a teddy bear. Good thing I'd grabbed that bag of "books" containing all of his toiletries stuffed in at the last moment and a change of clothes. (I think the hotel people had as much fun being in on the surprise as I did planning it)

We even got a surprise seagull visit:

One more...

In the Neighborhood
A few years back, I actually already told this story when it was still raw, so this part is a repost:
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Secret Secret Finally the Surprise!

So, I mentioned awhile back that I had a surprise for Tom that I couldn't mention. I couldn't even bring myself to write much because it was all I could think about and couldn't say a thing. So here's what happened:

More than a year ago, Tom's very best friend in the whole world who is practically family had moved away. It wasn't looking like it could be years before either of them would be able to make the trip happen to visit the other. So for Tom's birthday, I flew his friend out completely as a surprise. His friend arrived on Wednesday, and when Tom walked in the door from work, there he was just hanging out in our living room. Tom about fell over. His face just showed shock and the slow recognition and processing of what was going on. For the rest of the night, we all kind of chuckled at how weird (in a happy way) it all was. He'll be here for a couple of weeks, and I'll get some girl time for a change :)

I can't begin to express the agony that it was not to be able to say one word. You know when you find the perfect present for someone and you just can't wait for them to open it? It was like that but a huge-best-ever kind of present, and I had to wait over a month. Meanwhile, Tom would talk to his friend who also had to play it cool, and he'd mention sometimes how he wished they could hang out. All I could say is "maybe someday" as I counted the days and was bursting out of my skin. Whew! Glad all that's over...
Now do you see why I was all bothered when our plans for the Yurt for Tom's birthday fell through back in late November/early December? It was getting hard to top my surprises, and with weather being kind of dicey I actually needed input on the whole yurt thing. Of course we did go eventually, planned instead of surprised, and it was still fabulous!

I'm already thinking of this coming November (assuming "the apartness" will be done by then, fingers crossed)...


Today is smoke-free day 281. Apparently I've been so busy the past several posts ranting, thinking about my birthday wishes, writing haiku, listening to silly songs and taking pictures that I haven't even stopped to do a quick mention of a milestone that is worth mentioning (worth it to me because I'm always ready to celebrate and/or break my arm patting myself on the ass back).

Do you people realize that I quit smoking just over 9 months ago? Yep. June 18, 2007. Time flies, days string together, pinker lungs fill with fresher air, and my body continues to heal (fingers still crossed that I stopped in time to dodge some long-term consequences - only time will tell). By now, in theory, I've regained 10% lung capacity. In just a few months, my risk of heart attack should be dropped by half. I used to either not care or pretend that I didn't care about any of this health "stuff." I care. I want to live to be an old woman (an old and crotchety kind of woman that tells it how it is and generally just gets my way because it's easier than arguing with me. ahhh. ).

It's been quite the ride since mid-June, some days easier, some days not as easy (peaks, valleys, un-straight lines), but overall all headed towards happier, healthier, stronger, bolder, more empowered and confident (this is almost scary - I could take on the world - heaven help us), and I'm grateful. Lots of people who were doing the Chantix thing and blogging along with me back at the start have rightfully gotten on with their lives and moved past feeling like they need to constantly talk about it, and that's excellent (different people, different paths). Someday I'll get there. I know how I am, though. I have a historic pattern of bullshitting myself and taking up smoking again when I'm not keeping it somewhere near the front of my mind and holding myself accountable and remembering to remember things like the difference in just how one deep breath feels now versus then (excellent!, if you wonder). Blogging has given me an outlet for contemplating and reminding myself of these reasons to stay quit, while also allowing me to meet lots of cool people, some of whom are also on the same used-to-be-a-smoker-now-ain't journey. To those who have ever commented on my blog or ever written one entry on your own blog that I've read about this whole not smoking thing, you have inspired me. I mean that sincerely. Thank you.

This is all still just a day at a time for me because, honestly? No, forever still sounds like a long ass time not to smoke. It just does. I'm being honest. Again, maybe others are different, and I applaud you. I know how I am. And this is how I am. And I'm perfectly content 112% with me and how I am. I still have moments when I'd love to smoke without consequence (though fewer and much further between and *so* much more easily dismissed), but I know that the toughest part of the battle is behind me, and that fills me with delight. This is still almost easy, and that still remains to be more than plenty.

The other milestone that I can't help but mention is that today marks one full month since the start of "the apartness," and I'd like to report that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. No, we still don't know how much longer. At least a few more months, and then probably another few more beyond those, if I had to guess. All subject to change, of course, to keep things interesting. Thankfully we live in an age of text messaging, blogging, email, unlimited long distance phone calls and flat rate mailing on heavy care packages in case I need to mail silly stuff that normal people simply wouldn't bother to mail. Being a complete silly nut keeps my mind off smoking and makes me smile (Tom, too, I hope).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekly Winners 3/23/08

Always with thanks to fabulous Lotus for hosting Weekly Winners.

Click for larger images (because they do look better full-sized) or take a peek at the entire album at once and/or watch as a slideshow at this link.

Meowy Kitten Parts




Healthy Snack: Carrots and
Stu's Hummus

Hungry Kitty

(mix of many recipes),
Frizzled Cabbage and
Cucumber Mint Salad




Hummus and Veggie Wrap
(substitute whatever veggies - so very yum)



Maggie-style. Went driving Saturday after seeing such gorgeous trees all
week long and promising myself I'd take pictures. The weather was perfectly
spring, too. Really, see larger size of the smaller ones of these. It's
worth it.









Self-Portrait Happy with My Hair Day

I never buy stuff for myself
(see holes in socks, in fitting room). Saturday I did, because this dress
gave me a couple of things I don't have and took away a few I do.
Self-Portrait: Driving in
Spring Taking Pictures on a Fabulously Leisurely and Beautiful Saturday




Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Scotsman Saved the Day!

(If you are looking for my Friday Haiku for today, it's just below, but I couldn't leave well enough alone today.)

Just stick with me. This ends happy.

So I get in the car this morning, big ass zit on my chin and tears rolling down my face scring-ing (scream-singing) to Carrie Underwood "All-American Girl" because that song strikes me right where I live and makes me wish against fate unfair to the point of utter heartbreak. I looked like a complete mess, glossy cry-eyes and whatnot, headed into work, but I didn't care. I like songs that make me feel, even if sometimes that feeling happens to be sadness. I'm human. I bleed. I feel. I cry. All this just means that I am alive and experiencing life!

But I also laugh. Heartily. With Vigor. I love to laugh.

The next song played was one that I also *always* turn way up and sing at the top of my lungs, but it's because because it's Entirely Too Much Fun! I'd bet many of you have heard this song called "The Scotsman." I wanted to both share it with y'all in case you need a boost and also put it here for safekeeping for the next time I need a boost, but nothing prepared me for the version I found on YouTube - this song, performed by... The Sims2 (me? love the Sims2! Just saw there will be a Sims3 in 2009).

Oh. Dear. God. in. Heaven. I was clearly meant to smile today, PMS emotional wacky train and big zit on my chin and all. If you haven't heard this masterpiece, do listen through to the end. If you need the lyrics for the full experience, they are here. Otherwise get someplace where it's safe to turn up the speakers, clap along and get into the whole "Ring-ding didle lidle la deo, Ring dye didley eye oh" thing that will be in your head all day (my gift to you for the day; you're welcome) and that you'll sing aloud before the day ends.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Haiku Friday 3/21/08

Haiku Friday


Two Seven Eight (278)*
still keep stringing together
those fresh smoke-free days

*yep, edited for bad basic counting skills


I love haiku*
and I also love Fridays;
it's my lucky day

*I already explained why the word haiku is technically 3 syllables
(unless I need it to be two, then it's two, completely at my whim)

Please wake me at five
I'm ready for the weekend,
unproductive bliss


Some very lucky
Canadians get three days
Easter holiday

Maybe if I were
one of those Canadians
I'd have three days off

And maple cookies.
(I love those maple cookies!)
And a maple flag.

Even free health care
if I ate excess cookies,
needed stomach pump

I ain't complaining,
proud to be American
and all, just thinking...

...US holidays
have this way too big long gap,
and waiting is hard...

...waiting until May
from the New Year's holiday
is such a long stretch

OK, that's plenty,
now I'm all good and jealous
of some northern pals


A Happy Easter
to those of you who do it.
Cadbury eggs rock.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen 3/20/08

Today is smoke-free day 277, and if I continue not smoking, I'm statistically more likely to have a lot more birthdays (unless things go wrong anyway; it happens). Just in case, and since we are approaching that great day when the world remembers and rejoices in the idea that I was born, here are...

13 Things on My Amazon Wish List:


A Gallon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
. Even paying for shipping, this is a
steal (works out to $0.22/ounce, not that I have a comparison spreadsheet
pricelist or anything). I love EVOO. And good deals. (next best deal is

this one

The Complete Tightwad Gazette
by Amy Dacyczyn. This book has gotten so


on some of the money blogs I read, as well as on Amazon, and I
would like to add it to

my list of money stuff I like
. I also recently cooked this wonderfully
frugal, yummy and healthy Brown
Rice and Lentil Casserole
said to be from this book, so I'm sold.

Shall We Dance
I haven't seen the American version remake and have no
desire to do so because so much of why I just *loved* this movie was because
of the story told within the context of Japanese culture.


Season 5

Season 6

Season 7

Season 8
I own Season One through Season Four, and I've taken some time
during "the
" to start watching ER from the beginning. I'm currently
mid-Season Two, and now I remember why I loved this show so much. The first
seasons had so very much heart. At some point they lost that, but I'd like
to watch them all to see just where they went off track because I still
watch, but now just out of habit.

Spices Jigsaw Puzzle

Mixed Pasta Puzzle
I like jigsaw puzzles a lot. And spices. And pretty

The Mandoline
(say it with me with drama in the voice, accent strongly
on last syllable: Maaaahn Dough Leeaan - wasn't that fun?). Even if I linked
to a different one the other day during my

make-believe cooking show
just as an example, this is the one I think I
actually want.

I can't explain why I am so drawn to this movie, but it always
touches me profoundly somehow, and I always love when stories are well woven
together (Grand Canyon and Crash were two that did it brilliantly, but this
one is a little different). And I've developed a girl crush on super cute
Elizabeth Banks.

Eau d'Eden
I tried this once when duty-free shopping because they didn't
have Armani's Aqua di Gio (that a friend had introduced me to - I know
nothing about fancy perfumes), and this seemed similar enough that I tried
it. Then I decided I liked it even more because it was still delicate but
with a longer lasting scent. I haven't owned either in many years because I
can't justify the cost. That's why God made birthdays.

Water Purification Packets
You know? Sometimes you just never know. I am
a safety girl. I'd like these. Just in case.

Cat. Litter. Everywhere. Plus? I'm. A. Clutz.

Rapture of Canaan
I read this book years ago, and I still remember how
powerful it is. Religious cults are scary, and while I don't remember
exactly what happens in the story, I do remember that the author made it
very easy to relate to the characters and their experiences.

The Book of Kimono

Blue and White Japan
, and

The Japanese Bath
. I could sit and look at these pictures and remember
beautiful Japan all day long. I also used to take kimono lessons and would
love to remember.

Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago

Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago
because I'm
fascinated but in a sad and troubled way by this kind of thing, growing up a
stones throw away from such a different life experience. I find this kind of
thing heartbreaking, yet I find ignorance to be even worse than that.
(OK, well,
maybe there is just one more thing on my list...)

This Ring
('nuff said)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!