Saturday, February 27, 2010

So Black and Blue...For Youuu

I heard this in my gym's locker room yesterday morning and it's been stuck in my head since. Yes, it's the one from the iPod Nano commercial a while back and no, I had no clue who sang it (Chairlift) until I whipped out my cool new My Touch phone and put that Shazam app to work!

I also think it's funny the song is called "Bruises" considering I'm totally feeling the effects of the Dance Sculpt and Stretch class now...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chocolate Bliss and Caramel Bonbons

Don't you sometimes love chocolate so much you could practically soak in it? Well enter Chocolate Bliss: Sensuous recipes, Spa Treatments, and other Divine Indulgences. This sweet little book not only teaches you how to host a chocolate tasting while dishing out great recipes along the way, but how to make skin care products as well. Chocolate massage oil, anyone?

The book is small but mighty, packed with cool facts about "the third largest commodity on the global exchange" (behind sugar and coffee) and everything else you ever wanted to know about chocolate. For example, did you know that white chocolate is not really chocolate at all? It's made with cocoa butter, sugar, milk powder and a few flavorings, but because the butter comes from cocoa beans, it has that slight taste of chocolate. Go on, tell your friends. I guarantee* you'll be a hit at the next party. (*No, not really.)

Now, if you're salivating over those yummy delights featured on the cover, here's how to make them:

Artisan Caramel Bonbons

Handmade caramel is sophisticated and soothingly sweet, especially when combined with the bold flavors of artisan chocolate. You can also dip these bonbons in tempered chocolate before you dust them to create chocolate caramel truffles. Makes about 30 truffles.

Chocolate Choices: Green & Black's or Michel Cluizel dark chocolate, Scharffen Berger milk chocolate

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher), finely chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside. Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a heavy pan. Stir gently until all the sugar is wet and make sure no sugar crystals are on the sides of the pan. Place over medium heat - no stirring - and allow the mixture to boil for about 10 minutes. You can cover the pan for a few minutes as it boils, which will wash away any unwanted sugar crystals on the sides. You'll start to see a light amber color form around the edges of the sugar. Continue boiling until the mixture is the color of honey or maple syrup. This is now caramel, so be careful because it is very hot!

Turn off the heat and plunge the saucepan into the ice water to "shock" the sugar and stop it from cooking. Place the pot on a heatproof surface, add the butter, then the cream, vanilla and salt. It will steam and bubble up. Stir it together and once the mixture has cooled off (about 10 minutes), add the dark and milk chocolates and stir until mixed. If the caramel sticks to the bottom of the pan, return the pot to the burner and stir over very low heat.

Transfer this mixture to a bowl and allow it to cool and firm up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. With a melon baller or sturdy spoon, scoop out as many balls as you need (any unused portion can be reheated and used as a sauce over ice cream). Roll them between your palms to achieve a round shape. Refrigerate them for about 30 minutes, then dust them with cocoa powder and serve.

Reprinted with permission from Chocolate Bliss: Sensuous Recipes, Spa Treatments, and other Diving Indulgences. Copyright © 2009 by Susie Norris, Celestial Arts, an imprint of Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: Jennifer Martiné.

Olympic-Inspired Workouts

The 2010 Winter Olympics might be drawing to a close, but that doesn't mean they can't live your fitness routines. "The Olympics draw a lot of attention, emotion and passion so it's a perfect time to use that momentum to encourage yourself to get moving and to take care of yourself," says John Rowley, director of fitness and wellness at the American Institute of Healthcare and Fitness. And don't get discouraged by how fit those competitors are! "All Olympians started somewhere," he points out. "It didn't happen overnight, but everyone there trained consistently and followed their dream. The same is true for anyone who wants to get into shape. Consistent, deliberate action is key." Do you have an Olympian you look up to? "Then use that inspiration to motivate you to get healthy, fit and vibrant!" Rowley adds. Here, he offers a few tips on how to use the great games to get ready for the summer months ahead.

Speed Skater Lunges

Place your hands on your hips and take a comfortable stance with feet shoulder-width apart, head up and torso erect. Step with your right leg out to your side as deep as you can go without moving your left foot. Plant your right foot and bend your knee to 90 degrees. Then, flexing the muscles of your thigh, push yourself back up to standing position and repeat with your left leg. Alternate from side to side. Do 10 reps per leg.

Body-Weight Squat

Place your hands on your hips. From a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart, squat down until both knees reach 90 degrees. As you lower yourself, keep lower back slightly arched, your head up and stick your butt out as if you were going to sit on a chair. Be sure that your knees aren't out past your toes as you descend. If they are, you're not moving your glutes back far enough. Once you reach the bottom position, flex your quads, hamstrings and glutes to power yourself back up to standing position.

Cross Country Lunges

Lunge across the living room, moving your arms as if you were cross country skiing. Or climb steps two at a time with a lunging movement, moving your arms to tone your quads, hams and glutes.

Hand Stand Push-Ups

Start with regular push-ups. Put your feet up on a chair and increase the angle until you are doing push-ups from the hand stand position (like pole vaulters do). This works out your chest, shoulders and triceps.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Karaoke: Selena, "Dreaming of You"

I've loved this song since I was 14. I remember listening to it at night as I fell asleep hoping my crush would ask me to dance to it at our Junior High prom. Oh to be young and naive...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday Giveaway: Jer's Chocolates

February's turning out to be one hell of a sweet month, huh? Sorry in advance to all those currently struggling with any weight loss resolutions because this week one of you will win a half pound gift box of Jer's signature peanut butter and chocolate balls collection. The pretty blue package contains an assortment of dark, milk and white chocolate combos that will cater to your chocoholic needs. Just leave a comment below and a random winner will be chosen on Friday.

CONGRATULATIONS: Heidi is this week's winner!


The Days are Just Packed

Time: there's never enough of it when I need it and then get antsy when I have too much of it. I enjoy feeling productive and as a woman of habit, I also like lists, agendas and rituals, but since the lay off my day-to-day has been lacking in anything resembling a schedule. Other than my Thursday night Italian class, my freelance life is free to shift and change at whim. Yes, it's liberating to be able to grab my laptop and turn in my assignments from anywhere in the city; to up and go from one WiFi hotspot to the next, meeting up with friends along the way. Yeah, no. A small part of me has been craving a full-time job if only for the routine I'd regain.

So I set out to pack my weeks with more activities so I didn't feel like I was wasting my life away in front of my computer (because writing can seriously become a 24/7 job if you let it) and to get into some sort of rhythm. For starters, I started volunteering again, which is always a fulfilling experience no matter how much or little I do. For me, reading and playing with kids is a stress reliever like no other and you know what's the best part about it? In the end, the little rugrats go back home with their parents.

On Monday, I went to my first gym class at Equinox. I'm still recovering from that Body Sculpt class, but it felt great walking out of there showered and pumped (as well as famished) ready to take on the day ahead. Now I'm determined to take full advantage of my 30-day membership by adding yoga, meditation and cardio kickboxing to my week. (I'm still on the fence about swimming - especially in this weather.) It may sound like a lot, but when you realize classes are only an hour long, it's really not much and it has a positive influence on the rest of the day (not to mention its long-term benefits). Geez, I can't believe I'm all for hitting the gym now.

I'm still attending weekly writing group meetings with A. and recently met up with a new friend for an evening writing session in a wonderful coffee shop near Columbia University. I hope it also becomes a fixture in my schedule. But aside from all this I'm still trying to fit in one more important thing: my arts and crafts hobby! I haven't done any of it since I made my Christmas ornaments two months ago, so I must get back on it ASAP.

This is all sounds exhausting, I know, but I just love a busy schedule and it feels damn good to cultivate my life outside of work and dating. Hmm, maybe I should start checking out museum exhibits again... and art galleries... and photography...

Come to think of it, thank God I don't have a full-time otherwise I'd never have time for a life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dear John

Let's get one thing out of the way: I didn't enjoy The Notebook one bit. I thought it was over-hyped and I had to force myself to watch the second half of the DVD the following day. I was expecting a masterpiece and instead I got nothing but unnecessary cheese.

Now for those still reading, I will say that reviews are entirely subjective and easily tainted by your experiences. In my case, I watched The Notebook with The Lawyer, who became annoyed when he realized that he wasn't getting any from me that night - or any night in the near future - and then fell asleep. That was the last time we were together. So yeah, I didn't have high hopes for a second Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

But Dear John didn't come with any hype. In fact, I expected another clichéd romantic drama that had received bad reviews. I knew I wouldn't be blown away, that it wouldn't be as good as The Notebook supposedly was, but sometimes a girl just wants to watch a romantic film (with a hot actor) no matter how terrible it may be. In the movie, a soldier falls in love with a conservative college student while he's home on a two-week leave. They promise to write everything to each other in the hopes that time will quickly pass before they're together again, but in true movie style, things get really complicated, feelings are hurt and tears are shed - and I'm not just talking about the characters. I had to pass out tissues while holding back my own.

As much as I hate to admit it (for fear of losing my "street cred"), this bittersweet film moved me so much, I couldn't wait to leave the theater and give A. a huge hug. Dare I say it made me feel...cuddly. I was rooting for the couple to work it out and stick together. I wanted them to kiss and make up and all that happily ever after crap I didn't appreciate in The Notebook. And I enjoyed the feeling.

So basically, Dear John turned me into a total girl. Le sigh...

Dear John: 3.5/5 Toasties

Monday, February 22, 2010


I like how A. - who absolutely HATES talking on the phone - sends me this...and I agree
with all of the above. There go my attempts at forcing a call out of him every now and then.

A Depressing Explanation...and Apology

Depression is a beast that refuses to die long after you've killed it. Not only does it call you over from time to time offering its sick temptations, but it also lives on the ripples you both caused when you traveled through those murky waters together.

When you're depressed you may understand the science behind it, but none of it matters because you cannot grasp why and how you fell into that ditch. In your mind, you're just broken machinery. I don't know what's worse: knowing something isn't right inside without knowing how to get better or being completely off your rocker yet blissfully ignorant. I think being aware - and thus completely analytical - of the situation only perpetuated my condition. Yes, I knew to avoid certain settings, to prepare for random attacks and to keep pills out of the house because I was too afraid of trusting myself. I knew I was too smart to ever attempt such a thing, but then if I was so smart, why couldn't I overcome this? To me, one was just a hop, skip and a jump out of a window from the other.

People offer words of advice, pity, consolation and endless time, but unless they've been there themselves, how could they possibly understand what you're going through? How can they see you go from happy to sobbing mess in a matter of minutes and understand that's how triggers work - without warning or reason? You assume no one does so you decide to fight your battle alone. Plus, you feel like you're always in someone's way, imposing somehow. Every other sentence is followed by an apology. "I'm sorry I called." "I'm sorry, I just need to go home." "I'm sorry I can't celebrate with you." "I'm sorry I feel this way."

It sucks to want to be happy for someone but be incapable of showing any ounce of it. You try faking it, but ultimately the bitterness comes along much more easily. "Stop being a hater," they say. So you back off. Why cloud up their day with your dreary existence? And why torment yourself with their cruel sunshine when you're not willing or ready to bask in it?

Some friends will continue to seek you out while others simply stop trying and wondering why you can't just "snap out of it." You can't force anyone to stick around. All you can do is hope that those who supported you through the bad are still with you when you make it out on the other end - and forgive you for the hell you just put them through. Because you never do stop feeling sorry.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I've Been Featured!

Hollerations! I just found out that Karen chose me as her Blog of the Week! She said a bunch of sweet things that aren't entirely true (though I must say, if my life were a chick-lit novel, it'd totally be The Undomestic Goddess) and described it with the f-word (for fabulous), but I'm still incredibly flattered. Hope you've all been having a wonderful weekend!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Karaoke: Mariah Carey, "I'll Be There"

Because it's been a while since you'd laughed at me.

Actually, it's been so long that now I feel all sorts of weird singing by myself in front of the camera. So to calm my fears a bit I pretended to do "work" while singing and filming. Well as you'll soon see, the laptop only distracted from my ability to be a shameless ham.

Happy Friday!

(By the way, I sang approximately eight different songs and filmed over 15 video clips of me singing HORRIBLY! This was one of the barely ok ones, which goes to show you how bad I was yesterday. The other one will be up next week. Yeah, I know you cannot wait!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wonka's Exceptional Debut

In other candy news, Wonka just unveiled its premium Wonka Exceptionals line with three new decadent chocolates and two fruit candies. The chocolate varieties - available now - are Scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolate (milk chocolate with bits of toffee, cookies and peanuts), Chocolate Waterfall (a swirl of white and milk chocolates) and Domed Dark Chocolate (dark chocolate topped with milk chocolate drops). I'm particular about my chocolate (read: I only like milk chocolate with crunch) so naturally my fave is Scrumdiddlyumptious. (But really, I just wanted to type it again.) They come in full-sized tablet bars and bags of individually wrapped minis. By the way, is it just me or do you also find it hard to eat a whole bar, but have no problem eating 20 bite-sized pieces?

And in true Wonka style, 10 chocolate packages nationwide will carry the infamous Golden Ticket that will give you a free trip around the world. Thousands of other packages hold Purple Tickets for instant ticket-oriented prizes such as gift cards, airline vouchers and movie tickets.

Wonka Fruit Marvels and Fruit Jellies won't be out until April (Exclusively at Wal-Mart and then Target as well starting in June), but I thought I'd tempt you anyway. I haven't been able to stop eating Red Apple Fruit Jellies since I tasted them this morning. They're just the right amount of chewy and not incredibly sweet. Both will be available in boxes and Fruit Marvels will also come in portable tins that interestingly enough make no sound when you shake them. So no one will hound you for sweets when you're out and about.
P.S. If you're in NYC, Dylan's Candy Bar is already selling Exceptionals chocolate bars and if you swing by the area today, you might snag free samples outside!

P.P.S. Just needed to add that there were Oompa Loompas at this morning's press event. How awesome is that? Though I have to admit, I was a little too freaked to look them in the eye.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Giveaway: Baby Cakes Sweet Bites

I couldn't resist. You guys just have to try these tiny chocolate-covered cake balls of yummy goodness from Baby Cakes Sweet Bites. I've been craving them myself since I wrote about them last week and now one of you will win a 9-piece sampler of their best-sellers! Just leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen on Friday.

P.S. Apologies for the light blog fare these days. I've been busy procrastinating and now actually working away on my first feature due today!

CONGRATULATIONS: Blythe is this week's winner!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sir Shadow's One Liners

I just stumbled upon Sir Shadow's art after Italian class last week and already am so fascinated by his work. He draws the entire thing without ever lifting his pen off the page! The formerly-homeless NYC artist who combines poetry with a love for art and jazz in what he calls "flowetry," now has a book, calendars, a collection of celeb fans and his pieces adorn several restaurants throughout the city.

Oh, and just as my friend, our Italian profesoressa and I were going to buy his calendar, Gil Scott-Heron - a revolutionary poet/musician/author who went on to influence future hip-hop artists - popped in and paid for them! Read more about Sir Shadow, check out the artist at work and then pop on over to the Chinatown YMCA, Houston Street Center at 273 Bowery to see his One Line Art Show through March 22nd.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What Do You Really Want for Valentine's Day?

I've been flipping back and forth with my feelings towards February 14th. Some days it's "Eh, it's just another day." Other times it's a pathetic reminder of 2008's events. Yes, I know, TWO years ago. I want to bury the past and enjoy my present happiness with the new bf, but a tiny part of me is tempted to dig up the old and bear that cross for Valentine's Day. And the fact that I know I have complete control over my feelings and am considering choosing the miserable path is admittedly ludicrous. Either way, I'd be perfectly happy staying in and treating it like any other day silently acknowledging the fact that it'd cater to my silly notion that the holiday will always be The Day We Broke Up.

But there's another reason why I don't care if Sunday quietly comes and goes - one I'd rather focus on. When you're with someone who tells you how amazing you are and how he can't get enough of you every single day, then you don't need a specific day dedicated to telling each other how much we care. You don't need roses or a fancy night out on the town. There's no real need for Hallmarks or candy because at the end of it all, gifts don't truly signify how important you are to this person. If you communicate that regularly, the lovey-dovey holiday isn't such a huge deal.

Some women would be absolutely livid if her man dared to plan something less than spectacular or - gasp! - didn't buy anything at all. If this day holds that much meaning to you that the very foundations of your sanity rest on whether he bought the right flowers or not, then ask yourself why. Is this the only day of the year when you two express how you feel towards each other? Or is it because we've been conditioned to think that real love comes packaged and tied up in a pretty red bow? Question why material possessions hold such value for you and if you'd be content with nothing but a hug. Be honest.

This time around, I'm aiming towards simple and without expectations. Just spending the day together - even if we do the most mundane thing on Earth - would be more than enough.

Taylor Swift Is Cute and All, But...

I swear if I hear ONE MORE SONG about fairy tales and love from her,
I might have to start getting mean.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday Giveaway: TINte Cosmetics

I've always been a lip gloss girl and could never get enough of the flavored kind so here's news if you're like me: in honor of Valentine's Day, TINte Cosmetics created a new shea butter-enriched Flavored Lip Shine Kit in tasty Pink Lemonade, Mynt Kiss, Double Bubble and South Beach. Better yet, this week one of you will win this kit so you can pucker (or pout) a pair of smooth pretty lips. Just leave a comment below and a random winner will be chosen on Valentine's Day.

CONGRATULATIONS: Emma is this week's winner!

Sweet Treats

I know Valentine's Day and chocolates go hand-in-hand, but who would actually mind receiving these yummy gifts at any point in the year?

Bake Me a Wish offers the full package. Not only do you get a gourmet cake topped with a Belgian chocolate plaque, but it also comes carefully packaged in a pretty gift box with a personalized card. The company also donates 5% of your order towards their Operation: Birthday Cake, which partners up with Soldiers' Angels to send cakes to soldiers stationed overseas.

If the thought of an entire cake is a bit decadent, then how about lots of mini ones? Baby Cakes Sweet Bites are so rich, believe me when I say one will satisfy you. Just think: tiny balls of moist, buttery cake mixed with frosting, covered in chocolate and topped off with extra goodness. Salivating yet?
MarieBelle chocolate ganaches are not only fun to eat, but they're fun to look at too. Each piece is decorated with original artwork and their new Valentine line comes in a red alligator-textured box with a love story tucked inside.

What's better than gourmet fudge or handmade cookies? How about gourmet fudge WITH handmade cookies?! Multitask to your tastebuds' delight with Bella's Confection's Gourmet Fudge Infusions. If this doesn't make your sweet tooth happy, then I really don't know what will. (Perhaps you'd do best eating that entire cake.)

Jer's Handmade Chocolates not only has beautifully packaged chocolate boxes, but they sell peanut butter treats as well. With balls, bars and brittle bites in all sorts of flavor combos, you'll be hard-pressed to find one you don't like. Plus, each box contains a card with an inspirational message. As if you need to say anything more with chocolate...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tips for Sharing Your Sexual Fantasies

[Since nearly half of you said you don't feel comfortable sharing your sexual fantasies with your partner, I asked A. (who normally blogs over at Don't Feed the Animals) to share his expertise with you. Besides, aren't some things just more interesting to hear from a man?]

When it comes to sharing sexual fantasies with your partner, the name of the game is open-mindedness. I've read so many stories about couples who open up to each other and one of them ends up being thoroughly disgusted with the others' dirty mind. It's either that or they feel offended because the fantasy doesn't involve them, or it involves them doing something they don't want to do. Well, I have news for you: you're sharing personal details of your imagination! What do you expect?

Well, unless you're a complete freak like me, you may need some advice when it comes to revealing your extra credit assignments. That's why I've compiled a few tips for that special moment of lust and vulnerability.

1. Don't promise not to get mad, then proceed to get mad.

The key to any good relationship is trust, so if your lover confides in you to know their deepest, darkest desires, respect the trust that they have in you to open up. Besides, if they make you promise such a thing, they probably know it will hit your soft spot. Asking you not to get mad is their way of sending out warning flares and if you don't think you can take it, get away from the blast. It is OK to ask for more time before you hear these things. Then again, by the time they've already asked you to not be mad, the full reveal could be inevitable. Prepare yourself in any case.

Possible confessions:
"I dream about your sister."
"I touch myself during family dinner."

2. Wait until you're both really turned on.

One of the awesome things about human psychology is the difference between our "cold state" conscience and our horny conscience. The difference is so great that you will even underestimate your boundaries if you try to talk about them when you're not turned on. This is why revealing your fantasies when you're in the heat of passion is such a good idea; both of you will be so hot and bothered that things which normally skeeve you out actually sound quite reasonable and, dare I say it, sexy.

Possible confessions:
"I want something in my butt."
"Let's add a third to this mix."

3. Be sincere; don't treat your fantasies like they don't matter.

Sometimes, our sexual vices make us sound silly. These little kinks can be used as joke fodder in the locker room, but they mean a lot to you in the bedroom. You shouldn't be ashamed of what gets you off because your partner is there to help you have fun in a protected and private environment. When it comes down to it, sexual arousal, no matter how it happens, is just plain hot. While your partner may not share your soft spot, they will enjoy the opportunity to turn you on and be a part of your enjoyment.

Possible confessions:
"Let me smell your feet."
"Would you bark for me?"

4. Understand that some fantasies are impossible.

As it is often said, "Fantasies are just that: fantasies." There are some things that we think about that we would never dream of doing in real life or that are simply impossible to act on. That doesn't mean that they don't turn us on completely when we dream about them. Often, when you share fantasies with your lover, it isn't to create a wish list. Rather, you're just sharing a personal detail that lets them know a little bit more about you and creates a bonding moment. There are even simple fantasies that would be easy to act on, but many people purposely keep them in their pocket simply because they like the dream more than the potential reality.

Possible confessions:
"I like to look at anime porn."
"Sometimes I imagine myself pleasing an endless line of men."

5. Everyone has different standards for what is kinky.

Some things can simply be too shameful to share for some people. Other fantasies are so normal to them that they don't even consider them remarkable enough to mention. Consider the case of the wife who was livid to find "hot young teen" porn on her husband's computer. She was mad that he had naughty thoughts that he wasn't sharing. Maybe he wasn't talking because looking at porn was shameful. Or maybe it was because EVERY man looks at that kind of porn. Who knows? The point is to try to understand your lover's thoughts about why they choose to share or not to share. Communication will make it all better.

Possible confessions:
"I fancy me a ladyboy."
"Sorry, I just assumed you would like being spanked."

Thanks for reading, and have fun sharing!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How Was Your Weekend?


I kicked off the night with a surprise birthday outing for my former supervisor where A. met some of my former coworkers. Afterwards, he surprised me with a yummy dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar* before we headed out to Brooklyn for another 20 Something Blogger meet-up at Mug's Alehouse. Like last time, we got there and couldn't recognize anybody else so we picked a small booth in the back and just chatted. Now here was my plan: get to this thing and pretend that we hadn't seen each other since that first meeting in December. Too bad one blogger caught a glance at us while scanning the bar and apparently we looked like we were on a date. Busted :)

Anywho, because of the impending killer snowstorm (that never came), several people bailed, but we did meet Kat and Steve. They were quite the interesting duo and I got to hear wonderful stories about accidentally menstruating on a guy and what turtles sound like during sex. I bet you wish you were there, don't you?


Unfortunately, A. and I had an early start to the day - way too early. I was semi-awake at 7 AM wondering if I could hold my pee for a couple more hours when I heard stomps going up and down the building stairs, windows being smashed and fire truck sirens in the distance. When someone rang the apartment buzzer, I jumped out of bed to find out what was going on. A. muttered some annoyed comment while I opened the door to see the neighbor leaving her place and a fireman making his way upstairs. Oh, and I could smell the smoke.

Minutes later, I was freaking out, ready to run out of the building (I still didn't know where the fire was) and begging A. to please hurry. And do you think he did? Hell no. That cool-calm-collected fool wanted to take his sweet time instead, pointing out that if it were truly an emergency they would have rang the alarm and evacuated us. Once we finally got outside, we saw the street lined with fire trucks and smoke coming out of the building next to A.'s.

We didn't see the flames and hoped no one was hurt, but we kept away for a couple hours before returning home. After a much-needed two-hour nap and a hearty brunch at Johnny Foxes, we were good to go...right to his friend's new place so he could set up all her electronics. (Don't you just love a man who knows how to connect stuff?) Then we ate Indian food and watched one weird-as-hell movie. Needless to say, it was a long day.


Rest and relaxation. And writing out this tired, lazy weekend recap. So sleepy...

*By the way, Momofuku was good! If I had known we were headed there, I would've starved myself the entire day to make room. A. recommended the Pork Steamed Buns and the (ginormous bowl of) Momofuku Ramen that left me so stuffed I was sad I couldn't finish it all. And my Apple Cider Momofuku Soju Slushie was just sweet and delicious. I wonder if they sell it by the jug.

Puppy Bowl VI

I can't stand football so even if I had cable I wouldn't watch that torture. In fact, not even the ads could lure me to it. Instead, I might have tuned into the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet to watch those little monsters romping and tumbling around their miniature football field. This time, I'll just have to settle for this year's pre-game highlights. Oh, and for those who prefer cats, there's always the Kitty Half-time Show.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Valentine's DIYs

My thoughts on Valentine's Day will come in next week, but in the meantime here are some V-Day crafts to make for your loved ones. Hey, we're in a recession people!

How cute are these crochet hearts?

Learning from Past "Mistakes"

"I just thought that with your last failure, you'd think twice about jumping so quickly into this."

You know how sometimes you respond diplomatically and quickly brush aside an insensitive comment only to come back to it hours later and think, "Ew! What the hell was that about!?" Well that's how I felt on Wednesday after my mom threw this little dagger at me over the phone. Sometimes she can be a bit tactless and I often forget that her own experiences taint the advice she gives. For nine years she's blanketed herself with the divorce, refusing to let go of bitter feelings and move on. I forget that her world is darkened with pain and fear and no matter how much time passes, she will always have a hard time opening her heart. There's also the possibility that she wants to protect her daughter from hurting again.

But my response to her then still holds true two days later: There are some people you feel comfortable with sooner than with others. I'm not going to think about what happened or what might happen in the future. That's what went wrong the last time. I can only go by how I feel...and right now I'm just happy.

All that time I took for myself would have been for naught if I behaved the same way I did two years ago. The break-up in and of itself would've been pointless if I hadn't done what it was intended to do: force me to change, trust, smile, accept love, give it in return and perhaps find happiness with someone else. So if that "failed" experience is what's pushing me to become a little more fearless now, was it really such a failure? I don't think so.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday Giveaway: Astroglide Gift Basket

How's this for a sensual giveaway? Astroglide is offering one of you a basket full of goodies to fire up your Valentine's Day plans. It'll include:

Tea light candle and holder
"Please Do Not Disturb" Door Hanger
Astroglide Temporary Tattoos
Astroglide branded Cinnamints
Emily Chocolate Fortune Cookie
Hershey's Caramel Kisses
Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bliss
Dove Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter
Ghirardelli Squares- Dark Chocolate Collection

Something tells me your partner is going to love you for this. And because sharing is caring, consider giving some to your friends- that's a whole lot of lube! Just leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen on Friday.

CONGRATULATIONS: Shaun is this week's winner!

Makeover 2: Health

I like how as soon as I think about writing a health update, I get sick. Lame. I hope this isn't going to be an annual thing.

I blame A. You see that 34-foot rock climbing wall to your left? He invited me to his gym again on Sunday and when I woke up Monday morning my body was in Pain. (I also spent the entire weekend running from one event to another in 19-degree weather, but that's neither here nor there. He's clearly the culprit.) So I've spent the last two days exhausted, sniffling and shuffling about.

Climbing that wall is fun, but incredibly challenging. I was holding on to dear life and giving myself pep talks to try and make it to the top (I did twice out of three times.) Too bad A. could see my legs shaking all the way there. On my second try I was so tired (and scared) there was just no way I could go any farther. I did better on my final climb after putting his advice to use: Keep your arms straight and push up with your legs instead of pulling yourself up. It's such a thrill to reach the top ledge, look down and realize how far you've climbed. I'm beat and still shaking once I hit the floor, but in my mind I'm beaming and thinking, "Oh my God, I actually did it!" They should have little trophies waiting up there.

But in this I've also learned 1) how out of shape I am and 2) how much I beat up my body on a daily basis. One little workout and my body begs for mercy. I speed walk everywhere and yet I'm constantly out of breath because I don't know how to pace myself. In my haste, I walk around as if I were stomping on the devil so my feet, ankles and my head ache. I know my poor time management skills play a role in this and I don't dedicate enough time to taking care of myself.

As always, the eating situation needs improvement. Why is a goal as simple as "eat every four hours" so hard for me to maintain? Before I know it the time has passed and I'm thinking, "Good God, it's time to eat again!? I can still taste the food I ate hours ago!" But because I'm a social eater, the dating thing has helped big time. I just need to eat that well when I'm alone and minus the costs.

Last week, I attended the kick-off event for Function: Well. 30 Tips for 30 Days which offers health habits to incorporate into your life. Granted, I think it'll take a lot more than 30 days for just one of these habits to take hold, but it's worth a try. But the great thing about the event was scoring a free 30-day membership to Equinox. I've never joined a gym for more than three days (it was also free) so I've been checking out their classes and motivating myself to sign up.

Now, should I take out my frustrations in kickboxing class or finally learn how to swim...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to Host a Giveaway on Your Blog

I keep getting asked how I manage to host such cool giveaways, so I decided to give up the details on how to score freebies for your own readers:

Where to look: Did you come across something online or at the store that you adore? Or do you already own something that you can't live without? Is there a chance your readers would like it too? Then there you go.

In my case it's a bit of research, a bit of stuff I have and a bit of things falling into my lap because of my line of work. I also have the advantage of having a lot of contacts at my fingertips.

Who to ask: Public relations people can either be your biggest ally or your worst nightmare, but you'll be surprised by how often they're willing to coordinate something with you. Find out who handles the PR for the company and then who works on that product's account. This usually pertains to bigger companies so you might be able to contact the owner directly if dealing with a smaller business. Also, if the PR rep is giving you the run around or isn't taking you seriously, cut the middle (wo)man out and contact the manager or owner of the business directly. Sometimes they have no clue that someone is trying to work with them.

What to say: Develop a good "elevator pitch" for your blog. Who are you, what is your blog about and who's your audience? Use this to explain why your blog/readers are the perfect market for this product. Remember that companies want to attract potential customers and if they don't sense any benefit from this opportunity, they'll just opt out. And like any good cover letter, you'll want to tailor each pitch to the business you're reaching out to.

Be not afraid: At the end of the day companies want free advertising and good publicity for their product so it's up to you to call the shots on your blog and be honest with your readers. Do not sacrifice the credibility of your blog under any circumstances. There will be times when the PR person will want you to review something without even trying it for yourself. Or when hosting a giveaway will come with 5,000 rules. Know what your limits are and what's important to you and don't compromise yourself or your work for anyone.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Artistic Calvin and Hobbes

I've always been the type to flip to the comics before reading the news in the paper and went so far as to dedicate a semester-long historical research paper/project on "Blondie" in grad school. But growing up "Calvin and Hobbes" was my absolute favorite so when I stumbled upon this round-up of artistic interpretations of the mischievous duo, I couldn't help but smile and share.

Did you have a favorite comic strip growing up?

P.S. My grad school friend, Nevin, recently published a book titled Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip. In it, he tells the story of the insanely-private man behind the comic strip with input from artists, writers and some of Watterson's closest friends. Want to know how reclusive Watterson is? Apparently he just gave his first interview since the strip ended 15 years ago!


Lost: The Final Season Preview

And after waiting ages for this day to arrive, the time is almost here: Lost (ABC, Tuesdays at 8 PM EST) returns tomorrow for one last season. Too bad that a) I forgot what happened last season and b) I don't even have cable anymore. Thank God for online episodes. Check out the first four minutes here!

P.S. Because I have to watch the show online, it means I won't see them til at least a day later. In other words, don't come back here and spoil it for me!