Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reality TV is the new Reality

By now, yall should know my fascination with The Biggest Loser. I may blog about it more than I do any thing else. (In a later post, perhaps I'll poll you readers in a perception vs. reality competition.) Nevertheless, this is another post about the BL. But it's slightly different.

Instead of laying in my bed, eating Hot Tamales and watching the Biggest Loser, I finally got up and out of bed and joined a real-life Biggest Loser competition. Eleven of us have been competing for 12 weeks now (since the first of the year). I broke my leg in the middle of the competition--remember that drama?!?--and thought I was out for sure; with the not being able to work out thing. Like Tim Gunn taught me however, I learned to "Make it work!"

Today was our final weigh-in. For having only frequented the gym the first 2 weeks of the competition, spending a week abroad, and 2 weeks in Portland with good family-cooking, I did pretty great. Good enough to win. I lost double the double-digit, and a few singles. Based on percentage lost, I managed to *sneak* by the competition (way to go B!) with a 0.325% greater loss. Talk about a close one! The rules stated that the if the difference in the top two competitors was closer than 0.5%, the winner's money pool would be split. (Did I fail to mention there was a buy-in?)

Here's what I bought with my winnings:

I hope the irony is not lost.

The intention here was not to toot my own horn, but rather put stock in the fact that watching TV can lead to really positive results. Here's proof! Next.... on to the Bachelor.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Flashback Friday XVI

It's been nearly three full months since my last Flashback Friday post. There are a million reasons and there are no reasons. Either way, let me take you back in time to April 2005--nearly three years ago.

My older sister Alaina and I were both set to graduate from BYU; she with her Master's in Social Work, and me with a BA in Communications.

Of course the women in our family turned this into a major Event. It's who we are and what we do. My family loves to have food gatherings, so much preparation went into the lunch and dinner celebrations. My mom crafted fun graduation announcements and we were set.

The family came down from Oregon and were such troopers--attending two commencement ceremonies in one day. Not only my immediate family, but my second family (Randy, Cheri, Erica, Rachel) and grandparents as well! I dozed off during my own, (9am on zero hours of sleep after being up all night!) I can't imagine what the family was thinking. They must love us a lot.

For graduation gifts, my parents had both Alaina and I choose a ring we liked. For various reasons, I immediately knew I wanted a sapphire. We had the grand ring presentation at lunch between the commencement ceremonies. (Please note the awesome Crest fountain drinks. A drive-through drink station three blocks from my house? I kind of miss that place.) I love love love my ring and wear it often. Alaina loved me enough to cover my fingernails with her own hand as not to mar the photo. We can read each other like that.

That's all! You were either there or you weren't; my guess is this post will only be commented by attenders to the grand festivity. Ain't no thang...

But here's a question I'll propose; does anyone look good in a cap and gown? You'd think after how many years of commencement ceremonies, someone would design a more fashionable graduation gown. I was the lucky winner of an XXXL so it'd be long enough. Sounds like Project Runway has its next challenge...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ABC, 123

I had a really amazing day. Want to hear about it? 26 ways it was amazing for the 26th day of the month.

A. I drove with my windows down for the first time this year.
B. Joe came into town for a quick-quick 24-hour trip and drove me to work. Didn't have to take the bus. Woot!
C. While buying milk at Shaw's this morning, found a bag of small package Skittles in an Easter bag for half off. Will look forward to eating them on Sunday.
D. Busted through a bunch of work stuff; felt proficient at my job.
E. Got a good lead on a potential with an out-of-this-world benefit. Won't write more; ask me if you're interested.
F. Got picked up from work at 2PM. Quick work-day!
G. Had lunch at Not Your Average Joe's. My boyfriend Terrell was working there. I overheard him tell our waitress he was getting my drink because, "She's a regular, I know what she wants." He then made sure I was brought two diet cherry cokes at a time. Is that the life or what?
H. At precisely the moment I thought it, Joe (who is also not so average) vocally said, "I just feel like everything is right in the world." I literally thought the statement verbatim in my mind--he beat me to the punch.
I. The bread and oil at Joe's was particularly delicious today; my haddock was also phenomenal.
J. We mosied over to the greatest produce market imaginable. I've become rather addicted to the pre-cut and pre-seeded watermelon and the oh-so-tasty fresh pico de gallo. This is my second trip in three days to buy some of each.
K. I spent $3 on a lovely bunch of daffodills for my own room. It was a rather independent feeling to buy flowers for myself. I think I shall make a habit of it.
L. All the Easter leftovers were half off at Target. Mixed in the Easter goods is a three-tiered dessert holder that will be perfect to hold cupcakes. It was the $7 deal of the month. I feel another cupcake-a-thon coming in the future...
M. Since cupcakes are kind of trendy, I found a bunch of really great tools at Target. My shop is practically ready to go.
N. Of course I found the perfect bathing suit top (gotta start early if you want to ensure Target has your size!), a gorgeous dress, and a lovely green dress shirt all on the clearance rack.
O. I must have felt I was in the money considering I sold a set of tickets to the Celts/Suns game for a pretty decent profit margin.
P. Walking to the game, the weather was nice enough to wear only a light zip-up.
Q. I've been looking high and low for a Celtics pin and found one tonight (the item of the game!) at the Pro Shop in the Garden. It's a Celtics jersey, and I love love love it. This was the best $3 deal of the month.
R. Got handicapped seats again tonight at the Garden. Sat next to some true 50-something Bostonians. It was pretty funny to listen to these two buddies chit-chat.
S. Um hello!? The Celtics over the Suns by 20? That's what I'm talkin' bout. The best moment of the game is a toss-up between the crowd chanting "MVP" for KG in the 4th, or when Rondo smoked by Nash for an easy layup. I love that kid.
T. Had our picture taken. Again, PROOF is stamped across our faces, but I may decide to purchase this one.
U. Today is the last day with the Goldenrod hair.
V. The evening was so lovely, and enough time was available before Joe's bus that we walked to the North End. The lights on the main street were festive, the air was warm enough, and due to the late hour there were minimal people. Probably my favorite trip yet to the North End.
W. With the promise of Spring in the air, we continued to walk. And walk. And walk. We walked back to my car at the Prudential Center.
This included a walked through the Common/Public Garden for the first time this year.
X. Joe accidentally left the fruit he was importing into NY at my house, so I'm the happy recipient of some pears and oranges. Gracias Jose.
Y. Getting to bed by midnight, hap-hap-happy with my day!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

A drink with jam and bread

I'm going to try a little something new today and blog on a Sunday. Typically not my cup of tea, but I'm taking a slow, relaxing approach to this lovely Easter day. PS--Happy Easter!
  • Knowing that I was going to spend the majority of the day alone, I told myself I could eat whatever I wanted for Easter dinner. I've had a somewhat limited diet for awhile now, so this dinner was a grand event! Quick convenience is my cup of tea, so I went totally wild with half a gourmet frozen pizza, and a plastic egg filled with Skittles. Big day, I'll tell you what! The meal lived up to every lofty expectation I held. Ohhhhhhhhh sometimes it's nice not being a foodie.
  • Last week I wanted to learn to make killer cupcakes. Now I'm kind of on the baking train. I may or may not be purchasing a KitchenAid mixer and food processor with some money I may or may not be coming into in the next week.
  • I had to get some work done on my car this weekend. Who knew having wheel bearings (barrings?) fixed and two new tires would cost more than my trip to Ireland? Man it's a good thing I have a job.
  • This weekend I discovered two activities that cause some mild discomfort in my still-healing broken leg. Hip-hop dancing, which is to be expected and candlestick-bowling, which is not so much to be expected. (I did win at the latter, so was the pain worth the gain?)
  • Despite my disdain for eggs, I was convinced to dye one. One. I drew a map of the world with a sharpie and colored it pink.
  • All my blogs are lists these days. Snore bore right? Sigh. I used to be somewhat more creative than this.
  • When I was in New York last month, Melissa and I saw "Rent." It was fantastic. The show closes its 11-year run in June and I'm really glad we got to be a part of musical theater history. Of course my name was the 2nd name called in the ticket lottery. The universe is beginning to pay me back for the complicated Q1 I endured.
  • I bought an Easter dress for today. It was a toss-up between the one I wore and another. Finding steal-of-a-deals on both, I now own a Patriot's Day Sunday dress.
  • You know you aren't living in Mass. when you think I'm talking about the football team instead of the Monday the Boston Marathon is run (and most businesses and all schools are shut down). These Bostonians are patriotic people.
  • Last night, I spent about half an hour in a small space with four other people. Not terribly atypical, but I'm reporting it because for a brief 30-minute period I was flying blind. My contacts have been giving me grief of late, so I sported my glasses yesterday. It was impractical of me to wear them for a bit, and it was the strangest thing to converse normally without being able to see anyone's face. I base so much of my conversation and animation on other people's reaction and facial expressions that I was totally out of my element for a bit. Truly, it was the strangest thing. Slim to none of you are as blind as I am, I promise.
  • Today was a grrrrrrrreat day at church, and a great day all around. Nothing huge or abnormally substantial going on in my life, but a general feeling of well being. These are the days I have to remember when there are days that aren't quite so fantastic.
  • Since it is Sunday, I shall include a scripture I recently discovered and greatly enjoy. "Be strong and of courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9

Well friends, the word "whithersoever" isn't in the Blogger dictionary, so I guess that's my cue to wrap things up. If I've wronged you in any way, or you feel slighted by any thing I do or any thing I say, I'm deeply sorry. I can't think of any offense I've committed, but that doesn't mean they're not there or haven't happened. My humblest apologies--I'm trying to be the best person I can be, and it's definitely a learning process. I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reporting the Beat

Good morning friends. It's been a few days huh? Shall I make excuses for where I've been? Nah, there aren't any good ones--I've just been out and about. Are you ready for a brain dump? Well why not, Tuesdays are as good as any other day.

  • I recognize that my hair looks shorter in the photo from last Friday's post. Contrary to Julie's comment, I have not cut my hair. Nope, it's still the horse mane it has been the last few years. It does look short though--I'll admit to that.
  • Also on Friday, I wrote that I hoped to get a photo at the Celtics/Jazz game with the court in the background. Mission accomplished. This is our view from the handicapped seating--the Celts have lost both times I've sat up there. Maybe I should take one for the team and climb the stairs.
  • Brenda and I got picked-up on in the elevator on the way down from the halo seating. Should we have so desired, our evening could have been filled with firefighters in town from LA for the St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Instead, we had McDonald's ice cream and giggled the whole way home.
  • Our experience prompted a discussion about men and women inside and outside the LDS church and the funniest quote of the week from KC re: guys who think overarchingly highly of themselves: "I mean, do you know what your actual street value is?"
  • I may not have cut my hair, but the process of lightening it has begun. Four and a half rather traumatic hours in the salon on Saturday and my hair has lightened quite a bit -- I affectionately call it "Goldenrod." No photos yet, I'm still adjusting.
  • I cut my own bangs.
  • Needing to release nervous energy, I started baking cupcakes. And kept baking. As I usually do, I went a little overboard. The hierarchy of favorites went as follows: strawberry-cheesecake filled, chocolate mint, chocolate death, white pudding filled, apple spice, grab bag.
  • If you haven't figured out yet, I'm a HUGE Celtics fan. I'm pretty sure I read every article about them on several websites and watch most of the away games while I'm cleaning my room or lounging around. I'm not going to lie, being a winning team definitely makes it easier to watch (and to the naysayers, I'm just as involved in all other NBA news. The Rockets 22-game win streak? CP3? The Wild West? But I digress.). The team is on a five-game Western roadtrip, including the Texas Triangle, right now that will really test the team. 2-0 to start with a huge game in Houston tonight. I can't wait for 8:30 tonight.
  • Can you believe the NBA this year? Loved this article about ESPN finding the NBA more exciting than March Madness.
  • The woman I can't stand was at the Celts/Spurs game last night cheering on her hubby. Had Cameron Diaz and Monica Geller seasons 2-5 been there, the who's-who of Nat's all-time annoyers would have been complete.
  • Yesterday, I almost cried while I was walking home. Why? About a half-mile from the bus stop and my house I realized I was walking at my natural pace. My foot hardly hurt, and it was a real personal triumph. I still won't be in the gym or running anytime soon, but this is as huge event. Eight weeks from the day of the break...
  • I can't stop listening to my "Country Cache" playlist. The love affair has been going on for months and months now. I keep expecting to get sick of the playlist (see "Melancholy Girl" and "Summer Movin' 2007") but it never gets old. In fact, I think I shall try to add to it today.
  • The other song I can't get enough of? The slowed-down, acoustic Brooke White version of "Love is a Battlefield." I may have purchased it from iTunes. Shoot me a line if you want me to email the mp3 to you. I love love love it.
Well that should do it. I covered my usual beat, right? Hair, Celtics, Food, and American Idol. My job is complete.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Proof of Life

This week has been pretty low-key. Healthy food, eight hours of sleep a night... I'm loving it. I am, however, ready for winter to be over so we can all start feeling motivated to leave our houses. The cold has been eternal.

Today is Friday (yay!) and I don't even really remember what happened this week--it's been that eventful. I'm still working the stiffness in my foot out, thanks to everyone who continues to check in with me and see how I'm doing. It still swells and hurts with every step, but I'm a definite improvement!

Wednesday night I went to my tenth Celtics game this season with Brenda. We're attending the Jazz game tonight, and I couldn't be happier. Want to hear the strangest thing? After the game, there's a Natasha Beddingfield concert. Right there, on the court, free for anyone who was at the game. Don't get me wrong, I'm kind of excited; but what the Boston Celtics and a fempop singer have in common is beyond me...

It's really classy to post photos with a giant "PROOF" blazoned across the faces, right? If the background were of the actual court, I would have purchased the photo. Good thing I have another chance tonight...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For Certain

  1. Without fail, "Torn" by Natalie Imbrulia is always on the radio. Somewhere.
  2. Quarterly isn't often enough to eat at the Texas Roadhouse with my Tuesday night crew.
  3. American Idol will never lose its appeal. I know this cements my status as a sell-out, but it feels soooooooooooo good.
  4. The patient of the week on "House" will always, and I mean always, either cough up blood or have some kind of rectal bleed. It makes me squeemy every, and I mean every time.

  5. Every one should run their writing by someone who knows what they're doing. Especially when mass production is involved.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Ta Leftovers

Julie is harassing me to finish the trip so she can email the recap to her world. This is the LAST trip recap post... no one can be more excited about that than I. Herein lies the remainder of our trip. If this post had a headstone, its epitaph would read "Here lies the leftovers."

Ta Driving
I know I use "the wrong side" phrase a hundred times. I also know using the phrase "the wrong side" could clearly generalize me as a pompous American who feels their way is the right and only way. However, as you surely know by now, I'm just a dunce who thinks too fast and clearly says whatever comes to mind first. And I'm trying not to kill anyone.

Because I was the one to book the trip and all the paperwork blah-blah was in my name, I was the legal driver of the car. Tron peer-pressured me into being a lead-footed driver and braker. Three days later, I told him to jump off a cliff. The girls were good sports in helping me pay attention to the roads, the signs, the oncoming traffic, the roundabouts, and did a good job telling me about all the scenery I was missing while I was a consta-stressball on the inside.

Ta fifth (and sixth) member of our party
I'm thinking you're sick of hearing about the crutches by now. I would be! But they were handy little guys, and some days I still wish I had them (true story!). I had to document these international travelers as they were verrrrrry happy about the stamps in their passports.


Ta Church
We were lucky to have found an LDS branch less than thirty minutes from our townhouse. Believing the time posted online was the time church started, we were a wee bit surprised to find out the time was incorrect. Only an hour, but we were already too early. 3-hour church turned into a near 5-hour marathon. But the people were lovely and diverse, and we were all glad to have included it in our travel plans.

In a failed attempt at humor, I told one of the sister couple missionaries that Mary and Julie have beautiful singing voices and would be happy to sing. Wrong move Wms. Before I knew it, I was playing the opening, Sacrament, rest, and closing hymns on a piano that's seen better days. Took my boot off for that too. Haven't played in public in eight years, and I'm playing across the pond. Stressball moment #2959u2. (Please note: this coming Sunday will be the first time in two months I won't have to wear knee-high socks to church. I am beyond thrilled.)

Ta Shopping
So you know I went to Ireland without a credit card. I don't think I've mentioned the debacle that was my debit card. In a nutshell, the rental car company ran a preauthorization of FOURTEEN-HUNDRED DOLLARS on my poor checking account the Friday morning we arrived in town. Typically, this kind of "charge" will clear the next day, but because it was a weekend, followed by the President's Day holiday back in the States, I was in the negative dollar amounts for the majority of our trip. That's right, I had not a dollar to my name--I never touched local currency. Stressball moment #53039. The other girls were fantastic in making sure I was taken care of, but drama rama, right?

Our last day in Ireland (the day after we got back from London), everyone kind of did their own thing. ("Own thing" ranged from never getting out of bed due to aviary influenza, taking walks, writing emails, etc.) Julie and I dragged ourselves to a mall, found some amazing deals, and I put my now-credited debit card into action. Not having bought a single souvineer in London, we went out with a bang! in Ireland. Lest I spoil any surprises for family members/friends who haven't received their token of Irish enjoyment, I'll just say we got some pretty amazing deals on stuff. I couldn't resist buying this for my sister Mallory. The bags aren't as full as they look (well, some of them). My favorite purchase were a few Euro-style coats. I had to emulate the London look, I just had to. **Not all those bags are Ju's. I was just lazy and unhelpful when it came to carrying things.

Ta Rest
There are a couple hundred other photos and random stories that aren't fit or interesting enough to share through this here medium. So let us close with the fried pork breakfast (my gag reflex flared up in the worst way when I decided to try the white pudding; aka "breakfast meatloaf"), the view of the world's smallest TV from my bed (we watched old Cary Grant movies a few nights when we were too ill to move), and one of my hands during Phase 10 (I was maybe trying to help someone cheat.)

DONE. Moral of the story? Take less photos or go on shorter vacations.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lucky in London

People! We're nearing the home stretch. I need to get all these photos posted so I can go back to writing wordy blogs that people only skim because I don't know how to trim the fat. Thanks for hanging in there.

Our "Ireland Adventure" turned into a "UK Extravaganza" when we decided to hop a hundred dollar flight down to London for a day. That's right, just a day. We were lucky enough (with the way the flights were scheduled) to spend 35 hours exploring (and surviving) the city. Again, the good-weather followed our itinerary, and we had some sunny and blue skies for a portion of our trip.

A good chunk of the photos we took were of buildings and things we only kinda sorta knew what they were. Well, maybe that was just me. But I was blown away by how old and gorgeous all the stonework was--and how well preserved it is. Boston is a tiny throwaway town compared to the size and age of the London area. Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, House of Parliament, etc... incredible. Like I stated before, photos don't do it justice.

Here's a photo of something I was 100 percent sure I knew what it was: IMG_4659

Sunset at the end of a looooooong walk back to the hostel, chocolates in the famous Harrod's Department Store, the travelers in front of something old.
We spent one night in a hostel in South Kensington right near Hyde Park. Exhausted from the two-thousand stairs the day before and stressed from traveling by car, plane, train, tube, and crutch to get to the hostel, I may have been a little teary when Julie and I checked in. It might have been the tears, it might have been Tron, or it might have been divine intervention that nudged the checker-in desk man to give the four of us a private room. I'm just sayin'... second time Tron helped us out.

We would have changed our clothes for the theater, but decided we didn't care enough to do so... and after a twelve minute rest on the beds, we launched ourselves back into the world. We had a show to get to! I've seen Wicked before, but found uber cheap tickets and had to see it in London--and take Julie, who'd never been. Our seats were in the second to last row and not even in the same section... but Tron to the resucue again! Boom. Moved to handicapped seats in the 4th row of the balcony. The show was amazing of course--it was kind of odd to see it acted out with Briticsh accents. In fact, some of the lyrics in the songs didn't rhyme the way they *should* have based on the British pronunciation. It kind of cracked me up.
After the show we grabbed a drink and some Nyquil at a stand in the Tube station--the bird flu was begin to spread its wings. We all slept with varying degrees of difficulty (hello squeaky bunk beds!) and were ready to get up in the morning. None of us showered--some of our hair was a little worse for the wear. Too sick to do much.
Are you ready for another stroke-mouth video?
Take a bus tour in London. Especially if you're short on time. They're get-on, get-off wherever you want and circle the entire city. Our pass was ~$40 and good for two days. It was crazy how much distance we traveled and how much ground we covered. Being crippled, this was the smartest thing I ever could have done as it minimized the walking we did. Until it was too late, the busses stopped running, and we walked the few miles back to the hostel. Oh joy. It was cloudy 100% of the time we were on the bus; but we hauled ourselves off at Westminster Abby and the House of Parliament. Within 60 seconds of disembarking, the clouds parted and the sun shone. We managed some pretty amazing pictures, and chalked up another weather miracle moment.


Esther was trying to document the hold-up I created on any kind of stairs (or my first steps in England, the jury is still out), our hostel room, and me trying to work out the kink in my neck from said hostel bed.


SO there you have it. Another loooong post with too many photos and disjointed stories. Soon enough I can go back to posts with not enough photos and disjointed stories. It's a win-win. Or lose-lose. Depends which glass you're drinking from I guess.

London is awesome! One of these days I'll hope to get there when I'm not on crutches holding everyone up. In case you were wondering, London fashion is pretty sweet--most of what I can remember is a sea of amazing coats and boots. Next trip, I'll dress like the fashionista that I am, have good hair, and walk faster than anyone can keep up with. That's a promise.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Still in Ta Middle

Once upon a time we went to Ireland. You already know that. We braced ourselves for non-stop dreary skies and foggy rain. If you think about the United Kingdom in February, that's the mental image that comes to mind, is it not?

But alas, a spot of good luck in weather seemed to welcome us to the fair Emerald Isle. In fact, the sun was out in such great force, I was forced to use the Williams' Squint. I'd packed it, but like the sponge rollers I also brought--didn't actually plan on using it/them. Fate had other plans!

On the second half of a very full day, (we did the Bunratty castle in the morning) we drove ourselves westward to the Coast, and the Cliffs of Moher.

The traditional view of the Cliffs, but because of the direction of the setting sun, and a a touch of fog, photos don't quite do it justice:


The view to the North


Sunnier cliffs unearth the Williams' Squint, and proof that supermodels make the big bucks because they know how to work the wind machine:

Family photos at the Cliffs

Doing the second major climb of the day. Three-hundred and twenty-five steps to this attraction.
As you can so obviously see, the Cliffs of Moher were breath-taking. It was easy to see why they're considered Ireland's top tourist attraction. Check it off the list. Woot. It was cool and windy, but as perfect a day as you can get in Ireland, in February. A general consensus was made however; traveling in the off-season is the way to do it. We wouldn't have been able to move as freely, park as close, or take as many uninturrupted photos as we did if we'd come during warmer months. It was awesome to experience something so monumental with a limited supply of people. And the very narrow, windy, trecherous roads were much easier to drive without a gynormous tour bus bearing down on you.

Morals of the story: Travel off-season. Buy sunglasses. Bring a hair tie. Don't pack sponge curlers on an international vacation.

Definitely, maybe, probaby related posts:

If NatA! posted a photo with this blog, here it is!