Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Comfort Foods

Does anyone else, on the brink of the fall and winter seasons, find themselves craving, almost to the point of obsession, the warm embraces of carb-laden comfort foods? I swear it’s got to be human instinct, because the minute cold weather starts to present itself, I am tempted to stuff my face with as much pasta, pancakes, creamy soup, pizza, and big meaty hot sandwiches I can get my hands on. With the end of summer it’s “so long!” to the light salads, delicious fruits, and bagel sandwiches that have been my staple for more than three months. No way, I want steamy chili, melted cheese, and hot breakfasts drenched in syrup! Bring on the starch! I’m talking baked potatoes, garlic toast, lasagna, and warm apple pie… mmm I want pie.

See what I mean?! Please tell me I’m not the only one battling the indulgence demons currently doing a number on my state of mind.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Ovaries Only

This morning I sat in traffic for more than an hour during my what-usually-would-be-30-minute commute. So I strolled into work at a quarter after 8:00, which means that even if I don’t take a lunch break, I will be here until f-ing 5:15… what a fabulous way to start out your week. Let this be a warning, that what may follow will probably be some really annoying bitching and ranting, due to my quite sour mood.

I’d like to take some time today to discuss the drain on society I like to call the “Ovaries-Only Product Stumping Parties”. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, I’m talking about those home-parties where women get together and listen to another chick talk about how life-changing her particular over-priced product line is, leaving them feel pressured into spending ridiculous sums of money on a bunch of crap that they don’t need.

Please Kate, don’t be offended by any of this, because I love you and your lovely candles, and have never felt pressured to buy anything from you. I am just a bitch who needs to bitch and you certainly shouldn’t think any of this is directed at you. :)

I have been to all of those damn parties… Mary Kay (make-up), Party-Lite (candles), Premier Design (jewelry), Southern Living (home décor), Longeberger (baskets), and of course Pampered Chef… I could go on, I kid you not. I go to these parties because I have no spine. I purchase countless products from these parties because I am very easily hooked by any form of advertising and direct marketing. I went to my aunt’s Longeberger party with a firm belief that those stupid baskets were so outlandishly over-priced and pointless, and there was no way I was buying a thing. I don’t really even like baskets and they most certainly don’t go with the décor of my home. However, sure enough, as I was watching that lady create cute little displays using a bunch of her products in different ways and listening to her talk about the new holiday line, I started to get sucked in. Horrible thoughts started to weasel themselves into my stupid little mind…

“Wow, that little 3in by 4in basket may be $49, but it is such good quality! Think of how cute it would be if I put post-its in there… or hair pins… or crackers!”

Seriously, that doesn’t even make sense! Fifty bucks for a tiny basket with no actual practical use? You’d think that an educated woman such as myself wouldn’t be so easily influenced, but I swear to god those ladies use some sort of voo doo or something that makes us poor souls think that we HAVE to buy something. I did end up buying something at that party actually, but it was a gift for Dan’s aunt (I drew her name for Christmas). This would be ok, but the limit set for Christmas gifts was $20, and the basket, with shipping and handling and tax, set me back $45 (it was really tiny, the cheapest one they sold). I think I ended up getting like 4 tea-lites as my gift from my secret santa.

Ok, I’m starting to get really off-topic.

One fateful evening late in July, there was a knock at the door. I was very busy flipping channels between an old re-run of Friends and an episode of the Real World that I had seen 4 and a half times already, so I couldn’t be bothered to answer it. Dan however, my other (less lazy) half, was kind enough to go see who it was. I heard the question, “Is your wife home?” and a feeling of dread passed over me… I would have to get off the couch.

It was the lady who lived behind us off the alley, and she was very nervous, and very awkward, and she told me about her new foray into the world of Pampered Chef. Oh. God. I told her that August was going to be a very busy month for me, and that I would MAYBE be willing to host a party in the fall sometime, and that she could call me then. Stupid, stupid, stupid Alicia, I can’t believe I actually thought that it would be easier for me to say no over the phone..

The end of August comes, and she starts calling me. I see her name on the caller ID and I avoid the call, but she leaves a message. My clever husband points out that she knows that we’re home, both our cars are in the driveway and all the lights are on. I of course feel terrible, but not terrible enough to call her back. Its two days later, Saturday night, and my friend Angela and my mom are over and we’re just sitting down to watch a movie. The phone rings and I see that it’s her, but since it’s a bad time, I guiltily don’t answer the phone again, and she leaves ANOTHER message! I couldn’t believe it. So I finally call her back a few days later, and there’s no way I can say no, the guilt is just eating me up inside. It looks like I’m having a Pampered Chef party.

Let’s just say this woman ended up being the most annoying person I’ve ever met. She left countless messages on my machine, reminding me to send out the invites, asking if people had RSVP’d yet, requesting that I call those that hadn’t RSVP’d (yea right), letting me know which recipes I had to choose from for her to make during the party, it was just one thing after another, always really rambling and uneasy, her voice cutting in and out as she’d get super quiet after a really long sentence. I was so happy when last Tuesday finally came, the day of the party. I couldn’t wait for it to all be over. I cleaned my ass off, did the shopping for the recipe she was making, and put together some snacks for my guests. It went just fine, despite the fact that the lady is extremely socially awkward and was visibly nervous the entire time. Last night we finally closed up the party and I ordered all my free crap, and I think it’s finally over. Through everything, I believe I have finally found the courage and strength deep in side of me that will help me to say “no” the next time I am put in a similar situation. I will never get guilted into doing it again, by anyone… EVER!

So the moral of the story is… don’t answer the door? No, that’s not it. I suppose what I’ve learned from throwing my very own party is that I shouldn’t complain about going to those parties anymore, because throwing them is way worse. I got a lot of free shit, yes, but it was free shit that I really didn’t need, or even want, and it certainly had its price. Nothing is ever really free in this world, is it?

Monday, September 19, 2005

All work, very little play

What an exhausting weekend. We finally got going on the project that we have been putting off for more than a year, which would be the painting of all the outside trim on our house. For some reason the previous owners (or possibly the ones before them) went through and painted only the trim on the front and sides of the house (in a color that we dislike by the way), leaving the back of the house a completely different color. So, on the back of the house we’ve got a bunch of rotting window frames, exposed wood, and a whole lot of other stuff going on that I can’t really explain because I tend to zone out when Dan is explaining it all to me. (Hey, conversations involving manual labor and tools whose uses are completely foreign to me don’t exactly capture my full attention.) Anyways, so we had set aside this weekend strictly for this project, we enlisted some family members who agreed to help out, and we got going already on Friday night with the scraping of wood trim, in preparation for priming. To be honest, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about things on Friday; I was tired from a long week at work and the last thing I wanted to do was get all dirty and sweaty outside. So I stalled a little at the beginning, I did some dishes inside, swept the kitchen floor, wandered around the house, offered the boys water and Diet Coke, but there was no fooling that crafty husband of mine, he saw right through my lazy crap and ordered me outside. Thus began my foray into doing work around the house that requires me to be outdoors and leaves me bearing a somewhat repugnant stench.

Saturday and Sunday were much of the same. We got up at 6:30 AM and were out working by 7:00 both mornings. So much for sleeping in on the weekend, huh? I’m so glad we worked as hard as we did though, because it’s considerably easier to keep it up when you are seeing actual progress being made. Dan and I are taking off work tomorrow to get another full day in, and my wonderful parents also offered to help. Our goal is to finish the whole house with two coats before winter, and knowing Minnesota weather, that doesn’t give us much time, so we have to take these beautiful days when we can get them!

If you can believe it, amidst all of the damn work we were doing on our house this weekend, we were also able to fit in drinks and a bite to eat with some friends on Friday night (mmm… spinach artichoke dip and cheap beer), about 7 episodes of Lost (I am 100% without-a-doubt obsessed with that show now, I really hope we can finish season 1 before the season 2 premier on Wednesday), dinner with my parents on Saturday night (mmm… grilled salmon), and our much anticipated belly dancing performance on Sunday evening. The belly dancing thing (called a “Hafla”) went great, by the way, and Bets and I had so many friends and family members there, I felt very humbled by their kindness and support, (even though I suspect a few of them secretly think our new little hobby is a bit crazy). I fear the next step will be our purchase of full on belly dancing costumes, at which point we will have officially crossed over from the “I do it because it’s a fun and different form of exercise” mindset into the “Let’s choreograph our own duet dance for the next Hafla” frame of mind. ;)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Finding Motivation

I’ve signed my mom and I up for a fitness class through our city’s community ed program called “Bellies, Buns, and Conditioning”. It sounds a little dorky, but I’m really excited about it! Taking classes like that is the best way to get me motivated to exercise, which is something I’ve seriously been lacking this entire summer. I don’t feel all that guilty about it though, because we’ve been so crazy busy I’ve hardly had time to think about the treadmill in our basement that has been accumulating dust. Honestly, I never even notice the thing. Like when I go down to change a load of laundry, I most definitely DO NOT feel the shame of Judas from just catching a glimpse of our beautiful piece of exercise equipment, sitting lonely and unused in the corner of the family room. I recall a specific Friday in July when I was off work for the day; I most certainly DID NOT make a deal with myself which stipulated that if the scale spit out a number lower than a certain number, I would be exempt from working out, despite the fact that I was doing absolutely nothing else that day. I TOTALLY didn’t do that, and I totally didn’t lie on the couch all morning instead, watching old Buffy reruns and eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Oh, and on a related note, I absolutely DO NOT feel even a twinge of guilt when I am writing out a check every month for our 0% interest for one year loan on the treadmill.

Moving on. There’s nothing like beautiful fall weather to get me motivated for exercise though, I love everything about the fall, the colors, the smells, the fall fashion lines…there’s just a sense of new beginnings to everything. It's the perfect time to start up with the exercising again. You know what, I just thought of something interesting. When we got our treadmill last year, I was at a serious Sex and the City point in my life. No, my boyfriend hadn’t broken up with me on a post-it, I hadn’t been cheating on my gorgeous furniture designing beau with a married man (I still think Carrie was an absolute idiot to let Aiden go, the first and the second time), and I can tell you for a fact that I wasn’t dating a politician who found urinating on one’s partner a good form of foreplay. Nothing like any of that. I was in the middle of completely devouring Seasons One through Six on DVD, and often times it was while running on our treadmill. Maybe the key is to find something that I am really excited to watch while running, and maybe it’s really good timing that we just bought the Lost Season 1 DVD set this week!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Laundry... Hangovers... Shopping

I had a very pleasant weekend I must say. I did boring things like washing ridiculous amounts of dishes (I am getting kind of sick of this “broken dishwasher” thing), folding and putting away laundry, organizing my closet by color, finally finding a way to store and display my shoes and purses, ironing every button-up shirt I own, painting the desk I bought at an antique store in April, arranging and re-arranging the furniture in our new office, going through the piles of mail that had accumulated on our dining room table last week, and finally getting out the last of the postcard invitations for my stupid Pampered Chef party which I was totally guilted into having by the socially awkward lady who lives behind us on the other side of the alley.

I also did some non-boring things as well, such as attending Betsy’s little shindig on Friday night (dubbed a “wine and batman party”, don’t ask). I had such a hilarious time, but had a few too many glasses of wine and had a not-so-fun hangover for the better part of Saturday. I swear, wine is the only alcoholic beverage that gives me all day hangovers; they’re always tolerable hangovers, not like the camping-out-in-the-bathroom-next-to-the-toilet-all-day-hard-alcohol hangovers. It’s more like I have a constant headache all day long, a headache that can only be subsided by napping and eating. Anyways, the party was so fun, and it was quite amazing that we were able to get all of us college roomies together in one place at one time. That doesn’t happen as often as I think we’d all like!

Also on the list of non-boring weekend activities, on Saturday I did the shopping and lunch thing with three of my girlfriends, and I got a couple delectable new purses for the fall that I am so excited about. Later, Dan and I went to DSW and I scored two new pairs of shoes for work, both on clearance, both fabulous! It was a good shopping day, very good. That night we took the pup on over to some friends of ours’ house to meet their new puppy, and we had a nice evening of catching up with two people who we don’t see very often due to all four of our very hectic schedules. The pups got along, although their Australian Cattle Dog was, I think, a little much for our little Bella. Their dog was just bursting with energy, and Bella was happy to oblige with some rambunctious playing, but after a few hours of it non-stop, she looked about ready to pass out, the poor thing. She ended up doing so as soon as we put her in the car for the drive home.

Last night we ordered some mushroom and pepperoni pizza from Frankie’s (…mmm…), and I found myself hooked on a Discovery Channel special about Flight 93, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. They played the recordings of phone calls from some of the passengers to their loved ones, and interviewed their family members, I was in tears for most of it, but it was absolutely riveting. It’s such a sad story, but inspirational and astounding at the same time, what a courageous group of people.

Now it’s back to the daily grind for 5 days, got to earn that money to pay for all those purses and shoes. ;)

"Look's like someone has a case of the Mondays!"

I arrived at work this morning at 7:30, and after opening up my office door, turning on the lights, and booting up my computer, I immediately headed down to the cafeteria to get some much needed coffee. On the way there I ran into a coworker from another department, and I flashed a very perky smile and greeted him with a very peppy “Good Morning!” To which he replied, “Looks like someone is in need of some coffee this morning.”

It probably shouldn’t have pissed me off as much as it did, but to me, that is exactly like saying, “You look like complete shit this morning.” I just found it incredibly rude.

What makes it worse is that I was feeling very cute and attractive today! I put together a very nice outfit this morning that included my new sexy black pointy-toed pumps, and I let my hair be curly and for once it didn’t morph into a ridiculous frizzy afro by the time I got to work. Now I just feel like a tired-looking, homely, bags-under-her-eyes frump.

God, that’s really sad that a mindless comment can affect me in such a negative way, not to mention the fact that I’m sure he was just trying to make pleasant conversation early on a Monday morning.

I still think it was really rude though, and it has set a bad tone for what will surely be a sucky Monday.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Don't you wanna?

I think I am totally starting to get the baby bug, and I’ve been doing everything in my power to force those sweet cuddly baby thoughts out of my head. It’s quite eerie I tell you, everything in my life is all baby baby baby, all the time baby. First there was the baby shower I threw a few weeks ago, which involved days of preparation, shopping for baby gifts, mooning over cute little onesies and tiny booties and cribs and blankets and diaper bags, I could go on and on. Then there’s the fact that everyone and their mother is pregnant, including my sister-in-law, our friend Kate, my cousin, several bloggers, and of course Britney. I’ve been faithfully reading this lovely lady’s blog for sometime now, and I find myself in tears almost daily reading her beautiful and enchanting accounts of pregnancy and new motherhood. I just devoured Jennifer Weiner’s latest book, Little Earthquakes, about four women and their journeys through pregnancy, childbirth, and their first year of sleepless nights, emotional breakdowns, and falling hopelessly in love with their little babies. Yesterday (I’ll warn you, this is a little sick) I found myself perusing pregnancy articles for about an hour at work, reading all about the perils of caffeine, aspartame, and shellfish to an unborn child. Today I got an email from my best friend Lisa in Costa Rica announcing the birth of her roommate’s (who Dan and I met a month ago on our trip) gorgeous little boy.

Oh yea, and
this chick has got me checking out cute maternity clothes and has me starting to think about what’s in my closet that I will be able to wear when the time comes that I am pregnant.

This baby obsession has completely passed the point of ridiculous and gone right on to insane.

Don’t get all excited, I am definitely not pregnant, and not planning on getting pregnant any time in the near future. But, maybe it’s time to start thinking about thinking about trying for a little one. ;)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Raking in the dough

I got a promotion (and with it a monstrous raise that was so extremely unexpected and generous)!

I don’t like to talk about work much here, as it seems to be a very dangerous blogging subject, but I am just so happy that I had to share! I was having such a yucky day too, so it was absolutely the most perfect day for this to happen. While the money is fabulous, I think I am even more proud to know that my hard work around here is really appreciated, and that I am so valuable to them that they are taking steps to make sure I stick around.

I love my boss, I love my job, I love my new office with walls and doors and a phone with caller ID, life is indeed good!

*Beaming from ear to ear, unable to sit still, swirling around in my ergonomically correct office chair like a little girl.*

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Some things never change

Last night was belly dancing, and we have two more classes left before the big performance…. commence the freaking out.

To be honest, I am even more excited about it after last night. I’ll explain why. So if you have ever taken dance as a kid or teenager, you know how important placing is for the recital, the most coveted spots are in the front row, even better, front and center. I took dance for 8 years, and I was almost ALWAYS in the front row (except for point, I kinda sucked at point). Being in the front row means you are one of the best, you will be seen clearly by the audience, and you are there as a guide for the other girls in the back who might not have all the steps down. So the day of reckoning always came about half-way through the year, the instructor would take out her notebook and start in the front row on the left, and call each one of us to our spots. I can still remember the butterflies and anxiety right before she called my name. Not being in the front row would be the ultimate rejection and humiliation. After receiving your placement, there was the inevitable period of time when you would, of course, compare yourself to those that were closer to the center stage. “How did SHE get that spot, we’re both way better than her…”

Well anyways, last night someone finally brought up placement, and thank god because there were these two women who made it a point to stand directly in front of me whenever possible, it was getting pretty frustrating. We do a lot of moving around and traveling all over the dance floor, and people were ending up all scattered all over the place, and often very much in other dancers’ spaces. So being that it’s an adult class, the decision process for placement was a little different from back in the day. Basically it was, “you guys should probably be in the front, and how about you ladies over here, and etc. etc. etc.” So even though Betsy and I came into this class way behind everyone (Betsy wrote about it a while back), we are now both front and center, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I actually considered running home and calling my mom to tell her the good news, as I would have done back in 8th grade.