Thursday, September 29, 2011

An Unwelcome Bug

This past weekend I got some sort of stomach bug that forced me to stay in bed all weekend.  Huge bummer.  I missed out on going to see my friend and her new baby in New York.  On Saturday, I literally ate 4 crackers and drank some Sprite and that was it.  I stayed in bed ALL day.  By Sunday evening I definitely started feeling better in that I could sit on the couch for more than 20 minutes without having to then get back in bed to rest.  I'm feeling better but I'm still not able to return to normal foods yet and feel nauseous sometimes.  I've basically been eating bread and baked potatoes with a little bit of butter.  So needless to say, I haven't been doing any cooking and looking at food kind of turns my stomach.  Hope this goes away soon!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Acupuncture Update

So I've gone to acupuncture 4 or 5 times now and shockingly, I've actually somewhat habituated to the needles!  The first 2 or 3 sessions I was still so nervous when she was putting the needles in that I would have to focus and breathe with every one.  And then lying there with the needles in was still really tortuous.  I couldn't stop thinking "there are needles in the side of my neck." 

I went again this last Friday and when she was putting the needles in, I was calm enough to the point where I wasn't even really paying attention.  I was just listening to my music and she was talking to me about different things.  I was able to relax more while I had to sit there with the needles in, though I must admit the thought "there are needles in the side of my neck" still occurs every now and then and still creeps me out. 

Overall, the acupuncture has been helping.  I always get it done on a Friday and notice I feel pretty good over the weekend (not pain-free, but definitely less pain) and then as the work week starts I notice more pain as the week progresses.  My acupuncturist discussed the importance of stretching throughout the week so I'm going to try to do that more.

In our discussion, my acupuncturist brought up this idea about how life is about balancing the damage we do to our bodies (through work, stress, diet, overexerting ourselves, sitting in one position too long, etc) with undoing the damage (through methods such as massage, meditation, stretching, yoga, acupuncture etc.), which I thought was a really interesting idea I never gave much thought to before.  I mean, it's kind of common sense, I just never really thought of it in that way--almost like a yin yang balance.  I've been trying to keep this in mind in having more balance in life and "not sweating the small stuff"--it's a work in progress.  One of my first steps is trying to listen to my body more and spend more time undoing the damage and less time creating damage.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Case of the Mondays

Mark and I have had a really fun month of September, which was preceded by a really fun summer where we got to hang out with friends in NYC, see some sporting events, concerts, and go on some weekend trips.  We have such a good time on weekends balancing going out with just chilling at home that I have been finding Mondays even more difficult.

To explain, I must digress to my favorite part of the weekend.  Mark usually wakes up early and I usually sleep until around 10 AM.  I am not an early bird, don't judge me.  I've always liked the phrase "the early bird gets the worm, but what does the early worm get?"  Eaten!  I will not be the early worm.  In any case, one of my favorite parts of the weekend is waking up and stumbling out to the couch in the living room where Mark is chilling and either watching TV or playing a video game.  I usually get comfortable on the couch and once I am more awake, we usually watch the show The Soup (on E!) together and maybe have some breakfast.  This has become our Saturday morning routine.  From there, the day varies depending on if we have plans for that weekend or not, but I just enjoy spending this time together.

On weekdays, Mark wakes up way before I do and leaves for work before I'm awake, or even contemplating an alert state.  On Mondays, I wake up and come out to the living room, and no one is's just quiet.  I mean, I'm not expecting anyone to be here, but part of me is always slightly disappointed and sad that the apartment is so quiet.  Makes me want to go back in time to the weekend.  I usually habituate to it as the week progresses, but it's just another reason Mondays stink.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

We were engaged for about a year and a half before we got married so I had plenty of time for wedding planning.  I knew I wanted to grow my hair out in that year so that I would have more options for hairdos on the big day.  Shortly after our wedding, which was in May 2009, I cut my hair and donated it to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths hair donation program.  It wasn't a big deal since I was growing it out for the wedding, so being able to donate it was a nice byproduct of something I was already planning to do.

A little over a year ago, I made a conscious decision to grow out my hair again to donate it.  I think I was thinking it's a little longer than I want it anyway, I'm probably about a quarter or a third of the way to the minimum length requirement for donation, it's not that much of a sacrifice to make compared to someone going through cancer treatment, and if I had cancer, I'd hope that I could get a free wig due to someone's generous donation.  So I began another quest to grow out my hair.

And let me tell you, for the past few months, I have been annoyed by it.  It was a pretty hot summer here in Jersey and the air conditioner doesn't work in my car, making it really freakin' hot quite unpleasant.  I ended up wearing it in a ponytail just about everyday this summer mostly because it was so hot, but also I think it looks unkempt and overshadows my face when it's down.  Maybe I just don't have a good haircut but it always ends up looking messy when it's down or I literally have to brush it every 10 minutes.  Sort of a dilemma though because I don't think a ponytail is the most "professional" look for work, but oh well, I do it anyway.  Other drawbacks of long hair is that it takes forever to dry, it's always getting in the way, and I'm always shedding.

I was beginning to think that I just couldn't tolerate it anymore and though I made a good effort, I was going to have to cop out early and cut it.  Sorry cancer patients, maybe I'll be able to help in some other way.  I went to Pantene's website today to see what the minimum length requirement was.  I was thinking it was about 9 inches but couldn't remember exactly.  I found out today that the minimum requirement is 6 inches!  I just put my hair in a low ponytail and had Mark measure from the base of the rubberband to the tip of my hair and it is 9 inches!  W00t!  I think I might wait another month before I get it cut though, because last time when I cut my hair to donate it, it was the shortest it's ever been since the first grade.  Once they cut it at the base of the ponytail, you lose about an additional two inches when they actually cut and style your hair.  I'm OK waiting another month though because at least I know the end is in sight.  It might not be exactly ideal for me to cut my hair short (about shoulder length) with winter impending, but I'm going to do it anyway.

You might of heard of another, I think more popular, hair donation program called Locks of Love.  I think they are a good organization too, but they require a 10 inch minimum as opposed to 6 inches for Pantene.  So if you are willing to dedicate a year or two to growing out your hair for donation, I think these are really good organizations.  As for myself, donating two times is enough for me...for now.  I can't say that I would do it again anytime soon, but I'll probably do it again sometime in my life.             

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Visiting West Point

This past weekend, we went to West Point for the first time to see a football game: Northwestern v. Army.  West Point is only about an hour from where we live, so it was a nice day trip.

The weather was gorgeous...fall just came to NJ last Thursday night and we are enjoying it!  West Point is a beautiful campus, set on the Hudson River and the football game definitely had a different vibe to it.

Don't Usually See These at Football Games

One cool tradition that at the start of the game, they have is people jump out of a helicopter and parachute down onto the field. 
Parachuters way up in the sky

Unfortunately, Northwestern ended up losing the game, which was kind of embarrassing as they should have won.  I'm still glad we went was a great way to spend a Saturday with some friends and football!

Monday, September 19, 2011


I love Tex-Mex and I love guacamole.  I've made it so many times I basically just know the ingredients and recipe in my head, but I will try my best to document it here.

If you've never worked with avocados before, you shouldn't be afraid to try them!  Picking a good one can be a little tricky, but once you buy 2 or 3 of them, you should be an expert.  I usually try to pick one with a darker skin color (as opposed to green).  The firmness of the avocado is your best guess as to how good or ripe it is on the inside. 

If it feels hard like an apple, it's not ripe yet.  You could buy it if you don't plan on using it for a few days.  To speed up the ripening process at home, put it in a paper bag and crumple the top of the bag to fold it closed.  It should ripen in about a day.  Check on it about every 12 hours or so and squeeze it gently to test ripeness.  If you plan on using the avocado the day you buy it, you should find one that gives just a little when you hold it in your hand and apply gentle pressure with your thumb.  Whatever you do, don't buy a real mushy one (one that gives easily and alot when you apply gentle pressure to it).  It is over-ripe and you risk it being all black on the inside.  And no one likes black guacamole.  

2 ripe avocados
1/2 of a large tomato, diced
1/2 a medium onion, diced
fresh lime juice, to taste (1/2 to 1 lime)
salt, to taste
8 springs cilantro, rinsed and chopped

Slice the avocados lengthwise around the seed.  Gently hit the blade of the knife on the seed and twist to remove the seed.  Scoop the avocado out of the skin with a spoon.  Depending on how soft the avocado is, use a fork or potato masher to mash the avocado.  Add the tomato, onion, lime juice, salt, and cilantro and gently mix all the ingredients together. 

Easy and delicious!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Upper and Lower West Side Story**

Our weekend fun with TJ and Michele continues...

On Labor Day, we took TJ and Michele into New York City.  I recommend going to the city on a holiday because street parking is free and there is a good amount of it available.  Since we were planning to travel to several parts of Manhattan, we decided to park not too far outside the Lincoln Tunnel, so we made it in and out of the city pretty quickly.  We basically used the subways to travel from the far north to the far south side of Manhattan.  We pretty much stayed on the west side of town, thus the title of this post.
Mark and TJ on the Subway
 Our first stops were Times Square and then Ground Zero.  After that, we went to the High Line Park.

Mark and TJ at the High Line

This was the second time Mark and I have been to the High Line and of course, we had to visit La NewYorkina.  If you live in or close to the city, you have to try these popsicles!  They are so delicious, fresh, and refreshing.  Instead of tasting like sugar, they taste like the actual flavor you choose.  Last time I got cucumber-lime, this time I got coconut.  The vendor has this salty chili powder that you can sprinkle on your popsicle--I know it sounds weird, but it really brings out the flavor of the popsicle.  I forgot to take a picture of mine, plus I wanted to eat it right away because it was really hot outside, so the above picture is from the vendor's website. 

From the High Line, I saw this random billboard--I think it makes a good point:

We walked most of the park, had lunch at an Irish pub, then went to Central Park.  I proposed the idea of a pedicab ride because I think it's a good thing for tourists to do and an efficient way to see a large part of the park.  I've done the tour from the south part of the park twice, so I wanted to see if they had pedicab tours of the north part of the park.  We took the subway all the way to the north end of the park and found out there are no pedicab drivers there.  Boo.  Well at least now I know.  Pedicabs are only available at the South End and essentially, all the tours are the same.  So I did the tour for a third time, but it was still fun.  Not quite sure if I would do it a fourth time.

If anyone is planning on doing this, know that you should pay $20 per person.  They'll try to sell you higher prices and give you reasons why they can't do it for $20, but I've found that they'll all do it for $20 a person if you stick to your guns.  One time I tried to bargain to $15 a person but it doesn't seem like any of them will do it for that price.   

This is the last post summarizing our Labor Day weekend.  We are so grateful TJ and Michele came to visit us and it was wonderful to spend time with them!  Mark and I have been blessed with several life-long friends and we are thankful to have them in our lives!

**Mark helped me come up with the title of this post so I must give him credit for creativity.  Other options he came up with were Monday in the Park with Tony, Start Spreadin' the News, On the Town, and My Kind of Town.
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