Adama (3) appetizers (5) beauty (7) beef (6) birthday (2) books and writing (14) busy body home life (140) chicken (29) crappy crafting (10) current events (1) dessert (2) drinks (9) fitness (62) food (127) holidays (11) lamb (1) life hacks (1) lists (12) me (39) med (1) media (33) oh baby (117) one-dish (26) paleo (7) pasta (9) pets (38) phone (2) pork (11) randoms (8) raves and reviews (55) salad (4) seafood (19) sick (3) side (1) sides (14) snacks (4) sorrow (3) soup (9) todd (3) travel (7) veggie (23) weather (16)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Workout!

Lets do this!

30 Pushups
30 Mountain Climbers
30 Leg Lifts on Back. Lie on your back, legs stretched out with ankles crossed. Engage your core and lift legs as one til they are perpendicular to the floor. Then, using momentum, rise up completely on your shoulders, legs still straight, as if you wanted to touch the ceiling/sky with your toes. Lower back onto your back, then lower legs to the floor. Repeat.
30 Bouncing Lunges. Lunge with right leg forward. Jump up, switch feet so left leg is forward, and after landing, lunge down. 30 total, 15 each side.
30 Curls and Halos. This is easiest with a kettlebell. Take a 15lb weight or more with both hands, holding it in front of your body, arms down. Lift up to your chest, then up above your head, circling your head (like a halo! hurrr) and returning to center. Lower back down, and repeat.
60 Punches w/Weights. It might seem noble to use a heavy weight, but you'll tire out and ruin your form. I did mine today with a 7lb weight in each hand. When you punch, extend the arm fully, but don't do the sideways gangster-gunshot punch, because that will hurt your shoulder. Keep knuckle lines parallel to the ground. Oh, and yes, that says 60.
30 Dips. Sit in a chair, hands gripping the sides of the chair. Straighten your arms, lifting your butt out of the chair, and slide body forward. Dip down, lowering your butt to the ground, and lift up. Do not return butt to chair.
30 Seconds' Single Leg Plank, each side. Have fun! No breaks between sides, either. Once your stopwatch hits 30, switch legs.
30 Kicks Out of Horse Stance. Lower into horse stance and without rising completely up out of it, kick out and to the side with the right, then the left leg. 30 total, 15 each side.

Enjoy and get stronger!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Epic Salad Awesomeness.

It's not super fancy, it's not overly indulgent and the ingredient list does include crap like tamarind paste or edible flower petals. But I swear, this salad is my new all time favorite lunch.

Remember my pork marsala post, how it was a recipe taken from Cook's Country 30 Minute Suppers? This is an adaptation from another one of those 30 Minute Supper cards.

Salad with Mustard Dressing and Egg
serves one

1 - 1.5 cups chopped or torn romaine
1 - 1.5 cups baby spinach
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp mustard
Garlic powder (or 21 Seasoning Salute), to taste
Shredded carrot
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Thinly sliced onion
2 slices avocado
Sprinkle of shredded parmesan
1 egg
salt and pepper

Rinse and spin your greens and plate up in a large bowl. Mix the oil, vinegar, mustard and garlic (or 21SS) in a small bowl and drizzle over your greens, tossing to coat. Top with the veggies and cheese. I add the dressing to the greens before the extras so the toppings don't hog all the dressing.

Heat a small egg skillet over medium high and coat with cooking spray. Add your egg, being careful not to break the yolk. Cover with a lid and cook until sunny-side-up. Remove from heat and add right on top of your salad. Add salt and pepper to taste, and dive right in.

This salad is super delicious. The egg mingling with all the flavors is just divine. The only trick is getting the egg in that salad, and eating it, before the yolk cooks any more. A nice runny yolk is ideal, unless you're not into that sort of thing.

Monday, February 27, 2012


I'm not really a big fan of the Oscars. Mostly because we never see movies in theatre and therefore have no idea what's current, and also because I think most people in Hollywood are batshit crazy. So today I will give awards (aka my praise) to a few random favorites. Some of these categories are feeling a little fifth grade to me, but still, it's fun and I'm going with it.

So here goes! The Awards go to the following favorite...


There are loads of gorgeous flowers out there. Calla lillies, roses, peonies, amaryllis, hydrangeas. But there is something about the stark simplicity and elegance of a white tulip that gets to me. French tulips are lovely too but are so fragile. I really prefer the standard tulips shown in the picture above. Something about that vivid green with that dainty white. It settles my soul in a happy place, and to me they look very chic in an unassuming, frank sort of way, in a clear vase on a dark wood table. Plus, there's a heavy dose of Spring in their countenance that tickles my fancy and makes me want to sit in an open bay window to feel cool breezes and warm sun on my face.


The high school Jil would have thrown up all over herself to find out that the 32 year old Jil would finally get the courage to admit it. I'll be honest, I love all colors. They all have so many wonderful qualities. But when Todd pulled Alexandra out of my body and I knew I had a girl, some part of me squealed with joy because I saw a lot of pink in my future. A favorite nail polish I have from OPI is called Inka-dinka-pink. Almost all shades of pink look good on me, it makes me happy and serene, it's a fun word to say, and thanks to Sophia Ford Coppola who recently stated in Vanity Fair that her favorite color was hot pink, I now have the courage to open up about my love for pink.


I love these berries so much I even wrote a poem about them that came out only somewhat unintentionally semi-erotic.  Now, I can eat a carton of any berry in one sitting; hell, less than one sitting since I like to sit around a lot and I can wolf down 6oz of berries in like five minutes. But blackberries... I don't know what it is about them. Raspberries are more titillating; strawberries are sweeter; blueberries, the good ones, are tart and addictive. But blackberries... Mmm. Even with that slightly bitter finish, they will always reign supreme in my heart and my belly. And considering how quickly Alexandra hoovered the blackberries at my parents' house yesterday, I'd say that preference has been passed down.


I hate coffee. Let me rephrase that: I love the smell of coffee but the taste leaves me sorely disappointed and not just a little suspicious of mankind and the world in general. The difference between smell and taste is so shockingly great that I honestly feel as if someone has played a practical joke on me, every time I take a sip. But mama's got to get her caffeine somewhere, and since soda is as hard on the liver as an alcoholic drink, and is also gross in the morning unless you're hung over, in steps tea. I don't mean to make tea sound third best, because I absolutely adore tea. And Earl Grey is, as you probably gathered by now, my all time favorite. I've talked about tea before and I think I might have shared this story before, but until Todd and I were in Venice on our honeymoon, Earl Grey was always a little too bitterly perfumey to me. But in Venice, room service set our breakfast, and my tea, up to us with honey and milk. I added them to my cuppa and behold, a new love and addiction was born. God bless you, Earl Grey.


Humina humina humina, drooooooool, pant-pant-pant, arooooooooo! That is how much I love pasta. In fact yesterday morning, which was my time for my cheat breakfast (instead of yogurt or a smoothie) I was legitimately torn between a breakfast burrito and a double serving size of pasta with butter and parmesan. It took several seconds to reluctantly choose what is typically considered to be my second favorite food, the breakfast burrito. I think it was mildly affronted. I have loved pasta since I can remember. But not just any pasta. For it to be absolutely perfect, it requires butter or olive oil (NO SAUCE), garlic powder and a dash of oregano and a grotesque amount of cheese. Don't get me wrong, pasta with sauce is great. But I am talking about the ultimate bowl of comfort and delight, here. If you want to get really orgasmic though, after you boil and drain your noodles, heat some butter or oil in a skillet and then saute your pasta until it gets crunchy. This works best with leftover spaghetti that you reheat in the skillet. Oh my word. THAT is heaven.


I don't know, man. I guess it's because the number five, to me, seems like a great building block.  Also, and this comes across as weird but if you think about it, it makes sense: Five feels both even and odd. When you look at a die, and see the little dots, three on the bottom and two on top, perfectly spaced, it just feels so even but it's also odd. There's more to how five comes across to me as both even and odd. I think it's because when you double it, it's 10, that magical roundness, that ethereal unit of numbers. I've never been good with numbers though, and if you showed me four pencils in one box and five pencils in another, it would take me a couple of seconds to tell you the exact amount in each group. But still. Five is a great number, man.


Foxes were always pretty cool to me as a child; cute and totes adorbs, but also wily, fiercely protective of family and clearly possessive of a sense of humor. Foxes always seem to garner the sympathy too when one thinks of a British fox hunt. But that might be due to the fact that the hunters didn't saddle their horses, put their own boots on, or even flush out the fox themselves. I could be sensitive due to the fact that we watched the first episode of Downton Abbey last night, though. Anyways, one night over the phone my dear long distance friend Susane pulled my American Indian Spirit Animal card (hahahah, we were seventeen), and it happened to be a fox. I was a horse lover then, moreso than I am now, and so at first I was confused, but as she read the meaning, I appreciated it even more. And then I meet, fall in love with and marry Todd, whose name is Middle English for Fox. Well! That drove it home, right there Foxes seem to represent a lot for me: cleverness, humor, family, love and loyalty. There's nothing wrong with any of that.

Gemstone: A tie!

Pearls! This is another one that sort of came out of left field and then slowly grew on me over time. I owe most of it to my first anniversary present from Todd, which I am wearing as I type: A gorgeous strand of freshwater pearls, each a slightly different shade, ranging from white, to pink and peach to a dusky purple. It's absolutely exquisite and it completely surprised me. I'd never considered pearls before, but holding that necklace in my hands for the first time, I fell a little bit in love. A few years later, I scored four pairs of freshwater pearl earrings, again in different colors: White, peach, pink and black. Heaven!

Amber! I've always loved amber, ever since my father bought me a pendant in Mexico. It's warm, earthy, ancient and a little mysterious.  I have just a few other pieces, including one that could be synthetic, but I don't care, because it has a bug in it and it is super cool. I've got a pair of little dangly earrings too, with tiny pieces ranging from almost clear to a ruddy black. It's almost as if amber represents regular old me, and pearls represent dressed up me. In fact, I was going to go with pearls until I realized my other love, that of amber, and I couldn't move on without giving amber a little love, too.


See, you can like pink AND bugs. Although the bug I like is basically a butterfly in winter clothes. I love moths. I think they're absolute angels. They're mysterious and a little moody depending on their outfit (the moth above is called a Luna moth, and we used to see them from time to time back in Nashville). Some of their patterns are absolutely breath-taking, even if they're not lime green and tinged with electric violet. But they're also insanely fragile. I find it hauntingly telling that a human being's fingertips is the only surface in the world that can remove the dust on a moth's wings, rendering it incapable of flight. Which is why you must be extremely careful when getting one out of the house. If you're not careful, I will come and kick your ass.

I could on and on forever, but I think I'll stop with this gorgeous creature right here. Have a happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kick Ass Romantic Comedies.

Recently on The Pioneer Woman, there was a survey done to determine the best/favorite romantic comedy of all time. I was saddened and disgusted when all of my favorites were either knocked out of the park or not even mentioned (Princess Bride where WERE you). So since it's Sunday, and may very well be movie night in some households tonight, I thought I would share my favorites that are, as a bonus, mostly very male-friendly. All of these are Todd-tested, Todd-approved.

In no particular order:

Pride and Prejudice

This wasn't even a contender over on PW's site, which left me shocked and appalled. I'd say it was perhaps due to not using literary adaptations, but another of my favorite's 10 Things I Hate About You was on the list, and that is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, so still I sit shocked and appalled.

Todd loves this movie by the way. Less for the romance, though he can appreciate a kiss after months and months of sexual tension as well as any female can, and far, far more for the celver dialogue or as he puts it, insulting the shit out of someone all while sounding very elegant. It's also why Alan Rickman's Snape is his favorite Harry Potter character.

This particular adaptation is an exquisite and very thorough companion to Austen's novel. And hello, Colin Firth! The chemistry between Firth and Jennifer Ehle is a masterpiece, and silly old Bingley is adorbs as can be. Men will enjoy Mr. Bennett's dry and witty criticisms of Mrs. Bennett, and will enjoy the fact that they are not married to Mrs. Bennett. Everyone will laugh at Lady Katherine De Berg.


I love, love, love this movie. There is not only hilarious dialogue, but beautiful, poignant dialogue.

"A bride without a head!"
"A wolf without a foot!"

"... like moonlight in a martini."

Funny AND beautiful:
"I see a wolf in everybody and I see a wolf in you."
"Yeah, well you know what I see in you?"
"The girl I married."

There are so many little storylines going on here, but the most central to the movie is of course the love blossoming between Loretta and her fiance Cosmo's brother Ronny. But what I love about this movie is that it's not two hard-bodied gym rats taking their clothes off and finding chemistry out of absolutely nowhere (Hello, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days). There is more tenderness and love and romance in the scene where two old married kids, wrinkled and grey, get a little frisky in the bedroom, and the moonlight, while they remember themselves as young lovers, than there is in many of the contemporary romantic comedies out today. It's actually giving me goosebumps, remembering that particular scene. This is not some vapid movie for women who just want the two protagonists to get together, not in my opinion anyway. This is a love story that revels in new relationships and old ones, happy unions and troubled ones. And it's also hilarious.

It Happened One Night

I knew Todd would love old black and white movies because he is an old-fashioned kind of guy, but it's taken some time. We both adored IHON, however, and for that reason it goes up on the list. Talk about witty dialogue!

"Shapely's my name, and that's how I like 'em."

Ha! Plus, this movie has Clark Gable in it! It's sort of like Roman Holiday in that there's a rich girl and a reporter here. But the hijinx of Ellie and Peter are a little more kooky, including a charmingly funny hitch hiking scene (back when that shit was still safe I guess). It's a sweet little movie, men and women alike will enjoy the old school dialogue and wit, and once you see it you can see where a lot of other movies might have gotten the idea, sort of like...

French Kiss

Now, Kate is not a rich heiress and Luc is not a reporter, but she's on her own little mission and he's there to take advantage of the situation, until... Well, you know what will likely happen. Love! Amour! Le Romance!

I love, love, love this movie, and honestly, no offense to Meg Ryan who, as we know, is a Romantic Comedy alum, but I think this movie is made by Kevin Kline as the swarthy Frenchman Luc. And of course, his and Ryan's chemistry is absoltuely wonderful to watch. But there is such funny dialogue, too. Add in a great soundtrack and the amazing backdrop of Paris and the French countryside and Riveria and you're hooked.


Here's another one that is absolutely sold on the man's performance. Based on the play Cyrano de Bergerac, this movie is a tale of a man with a huge nose who falls for the prettiest gal in town, Roxanne who also happens to be, get this, a goddamn rocket scientist. Anyways, she is played by the lovely Daryl Hannah, and she is played well, but come on, when the main man is Steve Martin? You can't hold a candle.

Anyways, he's CD, the fire chief in a small town (get it with the initials of his name?) , and he is in love with Roxanne, but is too chicken to tell her, and too self concsious of his shnoz. So when she falls for the super hunky Chris, played by I Don't Care Who, who also happens to be completely inept with women, CD decides he can pour out his love in steamy, sexy, intelligent letters that he will write on behalf of Chris. Why, yes, mayhem does ensue.

Roman Holiday

Oh, this movie!! I saw this awhile back and don't remember too, too much of it, but Audrey Hepburn is a fed up princess who runs away from her duties while in Rome in order to get a chance to be a normal person. Gregory Peck plays the reporter, hot on her trail for a great story about a good girl gone MIA. Guess what happens? With these two amazing actors and a cute plot, plus the Rome of yesteryear (not BC, I mean like when they like, had black and white movies, like), it's charming, funny, and a little bittersweet.

Princess Bride

This is probably the one movie in this post that needs no introduction, explanation or justification for being billed a Kick Ass Romantic Comedy. This movie is one love story that no man complains about, because it is so fucking awesome. Enough said.

10 Things I Hate About You

"There's a difference between like and love. I like my Skecher sneakers, but I love my Prada backpack."
"But I love my Skecher sneakers."
"That's because you don't have a Prada backpack."

This movie is chock full of one liners and hilarity. It was actually difficult picking just one. I love so many members of this cast and not just because they're all so pretty. As I said before, this movie is based on Shakespeare's Taming Of The Shrew, and it's an excellent adaptation. Smart, funny and adorable, it's one of the first romantic comedies that I thrust upon Todd and he loved it enough to say, once it was over, "So, some of these chick flicks aren't so bad. What else do you have?" 

And I died.

When Harry Met Sally

I'm sorry, but this movie is king. It's the ultimate rom com. Unlike a lot of movies out there, it has a message about relationships between men and women and whether or not you agree with that message, you still have to admit that the movie does a great job of arguing the case. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are absolute perfection. The way they personify the male and female perspective is honest and realistic and you feel for each of them, sympathize with their individual struggles. They're also so incredibly funny. Watching their journeys, both together and separately, is an absolute joy. To me, this movie is the pinnacle of romantic comedies, and it achieves what they all set out to do, what so many fail to do. Well done, Rob Reiner. Well done.

Friday, February 24, 2012


The 22nd was, as many of you likely know, Ash Wednesday. We fasted all day until our vegetarian meal at 5pm. I'm sticking with my goal of not drinking Sundays through Thursdays, but since Todd is giving up cussing due to Alexandra's remarkable ability to perfectly pronounce both Shit and Fuck, I'm also giving up cussing (out loud). I'm also trying to abstain from sweets. So it's not like I haven't added anything new.

I'm also adding in a good habit, one that I've really, really wanted to do for the past couple of months, and that is eat together as a family. Todd and I work out avidly, regularly, and we do so in the evenings. There is just no way in hell I am getting up at 5am, 6am, now that my child sleeps til 8am or later, in order to work out when I can just darn well do it between 4pm and 5pm.

Anyways, because of our workout schedules, we eat rather late. Ok, I can honestly say it's more to do with Todd's schedule because he's not just working out, he's also teaching others the fine art of kung fu. And really, there's no way to get other working people out there to drop everything and punch medicine balls at each other, beat dead tree trunks with their forearms and learn how to beat down the opponent who is about to shoot you execution style at 3pm. I mean, I know they'd want to (who wouldn't) but they just can't.

Todd's classes are over at 8pm, so I don't start cooking until at least then. Sometimes not even til 8:30pm. Sorry, I can't see my computer screen anymore for I have hung my head in shame.

SO, I told Todd my good habit for Lent is adding in as many family dinners as we can muster. And since he doesn't teach Wednesdays, Fridays, or on the weekends, it's looking like we'll be eating together as a family more days than not, which makes me so, so happy.

But I don't want to stop just there. I'll be the first to admit, I tend to take advantage of Lent in a somewhat selfish way: use this as a time to finally get done what you've been meaning to do. Because come on, once you promise something to God, during this time when Christ fasted, gave up so much and suffered temptation, I mean, how much of a jerk can you be to go back on that promise?

So I do use it to a selfish end, which is probably so utterly anti-Lent that God might just tell me to go cuss my head off and get drunk on my lunch break (I wish).

But there's another side, a far more prevalent side, I'm happy to say, that really wants to use this time to get closer to God through being an all around better person. Which is closely linked to what my New Year's resolutions were, but in a far less shallow, "My goodness, I need to wear more blush" sort of way. Being a better person all around. Less cussing. No succumbing to weaknesses. Being present in life. Being there for loved ones.

Lent tends to get a bad rap for being that time you give up sweets, the television, red meat, the internet, gossiping, etc. Which really, depending on how dependent you are on those things, doing without is actually food for the soul. But Lent is also a time to align yourself with God by filling your days with good habits, ones you weren't really excelling at before. Like family dinners. Going to church more regularly. Being kind to others. Being more charitable.

I don't really like to get religious or political here, but I've become somewhat introspective and contemplative in just the past two days, and the cause is Lent. I started off feeling actually pretty blue this morning, and was confused about those feelings until I realized that Lent had me focusing on the things I wanted to change about who I am, in a negative light. I think it does that to a lot of people. "I can't do what I want to do because of Lent, but I gave it up because it's a bad part of me. But I still miss it and this sucks."

Perhaps it's because the sacrifices I wanted to make were markers of some of my weaknesses; caloric indulgence and the good old fashioned swear word; even the good habit I want to add is a mark that there's been something missing in our lives: family time.  But I think it's always a good thing to remember the other side of every coin we come across in life, especially if it's the lighter side. There's good in all of us, and these 40 days can and should be used to let that good flag fly a little higher. There's a joy and freedom to living life a little more selflessly, and there's nothing deprivative about that.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pre-Spring Loveliness

Today was my non-chore day off during the week. Wednesdays are all about laundry and cleaning house. Not all, of course Alexandra is the main player, but I'm grateful that she now loves to help (get in the way of) me doing the vacuuming and, yesterday as a first, pretend to polish the leather couches with me.

Thursdays, though, are fun days. Todd and I switch off days we get to sleep in when I don't work. So I sleep in Wednesdays and Saturdays. Thursdays I get up early so we can hit up Story Time at the downtown library, where we listen to stories, sing songs and dance, and at the end there's craft time and then playing with toys. I am in love with story time and am truly bummed when we can't make it (which is why I always sleep in Wednesdays and not Thursdays).

After story time today, and seeing how absolutely gorgeous it was outside, and knowing that Alex and spend entirely too much time indoors at home, I knew we had to go to the zoo.

For the first time in her life, Alexandra showed serious interest in the animals. She loved the tiger and the peacocks, the giraffes, otters and the elephants.

Me: Alex, what does a tiger say?
Alex, staring in awe, whispering: Rraahhh.

 I was so happy we went. It was a little warm, but Alex and had such fun. She loved watching the kiddos as much as the monkeys, too. I think it was a slight surprise too, to see the animals up close and in real life instead of small cartoonish figures in a book. But boy, could she pick out which animal was which. "Tuh-tle!" "Buhd! Twee-twee!"

After the zoo, we swung by Home Depot for some plants and so Alexandra could flirt with even more grown ups, and then it was home for nap time and planting time. All the sunshine, mama-daughter time and observing and working with nature was just what this restless Spring Fever girl needed. I think Alex enjoyed it too, although by the time our plants were in their new pots, she was snoozing away.

I had such a lovely time, in my apron with my happy hands in the dirt, and now for my tiny trouble I have three new pals for our once barren back patio:

I can't wait for the inevitable cold snap to come and go so I can dig my nails into spring and hopefully never let her go. Even the sunlight streaming in through my horrible kitchen's window is just so sublime when it's warming up and wonderful.

I've been full of complaints about Tucson's heat this past year. Last summer, it wasn't even actual summer yet before I was fed up and talking about living in Montana or on the Oregon coast in some cabin somewhere. But now I'm giddy with the upcoming heat and balmy summer nights. I want to replant our weed-choked garden and let Alex play in her kiddie pool and under the sprinklers. It's going to be a lovely spring and summer, I just know it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Workout!

Hey-o! Since today is Ash Wednesday and I'm currently in the midst of a fast, I shall not be doing this with you today but I'll definitely be doing it tomorrow.

This was the first workout Todd created for me while I was on maternity leave, so it was designed for you to do just 20 reps of each exercise. If you're feeling froggy, however, then do 30, which is what the rest of them will require from here on out.

Jilly Pup Workout #1

(20) Pearl Throws - a pearl is basically a medicine ball. Throw your medicine ball as hard and as high as you can against an outside wall or tree, catch it, squat down and bounce it hard against the ground. Stand up and repeat.
(20) Push Ups, or if you can't do push ups, do a 30lb Weight Press. Lie on your back with a 30lb dumbbell, kettlebell or medicine ball gripped in both hands, resting on your chest. Raise straight up. Repeat.
(20) Walking Lunges and Press with weights. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Do a lunge with the right leg forward. When you step out of the lunge, lift your left knee high and lift the weights over your head. Repeat with left leg forward, lifting right knee high when you step out of the lunge.
(20) Russian Twists with at least a 15lb weight
(20) Upward Kettlebell Press. Use anything you have that is at least over 15lbs. Take weight in your right hand, holding it at shoulder height at your side. Lift straight up and slowly return to shoulder height. Do 10 each side.
(20) Sit Ups. 
(20) Prison Squats
(20) Side Pulls. With a kettlebell in your right hand, stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Both arms are at your side. Engage your obliques and abs and lean your body to the left (think "I'm a Little Teapot"), causing the kettlebell to rise slightly. Do 20 each side.
(20) Double Bicep Curls. Hold a kettlebell or at least a 20lb weight in both hands, chest height in front of your body. Lower all the way down slowly, and bring back to chest height. As with all resistance moves, it's most important that the lowering action is as slow as you can make it. It doesn't much matter how fast you pull it up.
(20) Drop Downs with Weights. Stand with feet together, holding a heavy weight in your right hand. Slowly lower your torso and lift your left leg until both torso and left leg are parallel to the floor. Use your core to pull your body back to standing. Do 20 on each side.

There you have it! Do each move back to back, stopping only for water halfway through. It should take you less than 15 minutes and you should be sore all week long. Do on nonconsecutive days for one week and by the time you do it the final third time, it won't rock you as badly as it will the first.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: The Walking Dead

Wow, a review on a show that isn't super old! Well, I did review Once Upon A Time, but my media reviews are typically reserved for movies that have been on my Netflix queue for a month, premiered over a year ago and aren't even in theatres anymore. But as far as I know The Walking Dead is in its second season and has been greenlighted for a third. We're currently using Netflix streaming to check out the first season.

Anyways, this show. THIS. SHOW. Several of our friends have told us to watch this, the majority of them telling us this while camping this past weekend. So since I had yesterday off from work (thanks to our presidents), Sunday night we stayed up a bit later than usual to watch the first episode. Well, color me addicted (despite what happened to the horse in the promo picture above).

Obviously this show is about zombies and is pretty graphic. However, I am a sunshine and unicorn kind of person (despite loving True Blood, vampires in general, ghost stories, Tommy Lee Jones and psychological thrillers) so if you too are a rainbows and puppies kind of person, don't hold off on watching this show. True, the zombies are absolutely gory, creepy and in various stages of decay, but the story line is intense and gripping. It was hard to turn off episode three last night but it was already 11:40pm, Todd had yet to shower, and I had to scramble to find another Jane Austen book so I wouldn't dream about zombies (it didn't work).

So aside from the zombie aspect, it revolves around protagonist Sheriff Rick Grimes (or as he tells one racist asshole, "Offier Friendly" while his gun was aimed at the dude's head), who thanks to a gunshot wound during a police altercation, is left in a coma in the hospital. Much like in 28 Days Later, he wakes up, completely bewildered as to what on Earth is happening. Eventually he finds other survivors but he keeps moving on because he's got a wife and son out there somewhere, hopefully in a non-zombie state.

It seems simple and straightforward but I tell you, it grabs you right off the bat. There is no moment where I think about checking my 128759 Words With Games boards, or consider touching up the nail polish on my toes, or wish I could turn off Netflix to browse Oh No They Didn't for celebrity gossip. Oh, no. When this show is on, this show has you by the short and curlies.

We're only 2.5 episodes in, but we're absolutely hooked. I'm sleep deprived but excited to watch more episodes tonight, and even though I literally dreamed of zombies all night last night, I'm neither disturbed nor dissuaded from watching more right before bed tonight. Which better happen.

Grade: A+++

Hahaha, I can't believe I said short and curlies.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pork Marsalaaaaa!

I've never made a marsala dish before and never really thought of it ever, but now I'm getting Cook's Country (an off shoot of Cook's Illustrated) in the mail. What the hell does that have to do with anything? Well, along with super rad recipes, they also have super rad 30 Minute Supper recipe cards in the middle of each issue, which you can tear out and keep. This was one of them, and I am so delighted I tried it.

Thanks Cook's!

Pork Marsala Saute
Serves 4 

1lb thin-cut boneless pork chops (about 1/2" thick), halved and cut into 1/4" strips
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp butter
8oz white mushrooms, quartered
1 small onion finely chopped
3/4 cup Marsala wine (the sweet kind, not the dry)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional, considering I totally forgot to buy some)

So here's what the pork looks like after all chopped up:

And here are my onion and mushroom:

The recipe said "dredge pork in 3 tbsp flour, shaking off excess" but I was not going to dredge all those pork bits a little at a time, so I used a ziploc bag, shook them up, and then dumped the whole mess out into a sieve to shake off the extra flour:

Melt two tbsp butter in a skillet over medium high heat and add pork.

Look how pretty! They sort of look like sour patch kids:

Sort of? Maybe not. Anyways, cook until browned, about 2 minutes a side. When it looks like this in your skillet...

Transfer to a plate:

Now, let's add the rest of the butter, melt it, and then add the veg:

Add some more salt and pepper, and cook until browned, about 7 minutes or so. In the meantime, don't forget to cook up delicious egg noodles!!

Stir in remaining flour (I never measured my flour so it's not omg rocket science, though the geniuses at Cook's would probably slap the shit out of me for saying so), and cook til the flour is golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in the Marsala and broth and simmer until slightly thickened, like 2 minutes. Add in your pork plus any juices rendered, lemon juice and parsley, and simmer another minute or two.

YUM! So, to add a bigger dose of veggies, I placed some frozen mixed veggies in the bottom of a colander, and when the pasta was done, I drained the noodles over the veggies to cook them through.

Stir that good stuff up with some delicious butter and plate it up. Or shall I say, bowl it up?

Now top with your pork-mushroom-sauce goodness from the skillet and toss to coat. It won't look super glommed up with sauce, which is how I like it. Instead, it's a nice silky texture that is a perfect balance of richness with subtlety.

I was very delightfully surprised with this dish! I enjoyed it immensely. It made a welcome change to our regularly-scheduled weeknight meals. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Friday, February 17, 2012


I'm restless right now. Even though we've experienced a dip in temperature (for any non-Tucsonans reading this, that means instead of being in the 70s it's like in the 60s), I think I know the culprit. The culprit is a frequent offender.

It's Spring Fever. And it makes me feel restless and silly. Sort of silly like this:

Despite the fact that I'm no longer in school, Spring Fever is still overwhelmingly powerful enough to make me dope off at the slightest of every day tasks, be they work related, home related, chore related, you name it. Except of course Alexandra related, because as the shirt in the photo explains, she is sweet, too sweet to neglect, even while the pollen-stained, feather-light fingers of Spring Fever tickle and tease and try to pry me away to go lay around in the grass in some sun-dappled park while wearing a long gauzy skirt and hand crafted jewelry. I'm sure there's a band playing Satie's Gymnopedies too, but with um, the sound of wind chimes in there too.

Now I want to buy some more wind chimes.

It's times like this that make me think of impossible, whimsical projects, like planting a tree in the back yard and calling it Alexandra's Fairy Tree, and hanging lights, wind chimes, brightly colored ribbons and little fairy figurines into it. But then the soft-focus lens comes off and I realize that it's going to end up looking like a scrubby desert tree with a bunch of garbage and worthless shit tied to it.

Or I want to get a bookcase from some yard sale, something inexpensive, and I will sand it and paint it in three different colors of paint, one coat on top of another, and then I will lightly sand it in some places to look like a funky boho art piece and I will throw out Todd's ugly filing cabinet, get baskets for his files and put that in place of the ugly filing cabinet and the almost-broken wine cooler that sit side by side in our den.  Then I realize that I will never get up early enough for yard sale and it would just be cheap ass press board anyways and besides, between Alexandra and the kitten, those files would stay in those baskets for approximately 90 seconds.

So I guess I'll just sit here fantasizing about the gorgeous exotic plants I will one day put on the back patio, festooned with trinkets and tiny strands of fairy lights, until a hard freeze kills them because we never remember to cover our plants and/or take them inside.

I wish I had some more wind chimes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mocha Berry Smoothie

Yes, you read that right, and yes, it's homemade! Simple, delicious and nutritious. If it gave you an orgasm it would be perfect, but alas, I leave that up to your own devices.

I make mine using my hand-held blender stick thing, but a blender or Magic Bullet both work wonders as well.

Mocha Berry Smoothie
serves 1

4oz cranberry juice*
1 6oz container vanilla Greek yogurt (of course I use Kroger brand)
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
2 tbsp flaxseed
1 heaping tbsp Nesquik
2oz water

Place ingredients in blender. If you're using a handheld device like mine, I suggest putting it in that exact order, starting with the juice and ending with the water. Blend it up, stick a straw in that bad boy and go to town!

Calorie count: 300
Protein count: 17g
Fiber count: 8.5g

*If you prefer, omit the juice and water and use 6oz skim milk, 4oz at the bottom and 2oz at the top (calorie count with milk is the same but you get an additional 4g protein)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday Workout!

I've decided to post a workout that I've done here every Wednesday. I figure it's a good way to keep the blog's  Fitness section from dying out, and I've also been coming across really great, quick workouts online.

Do each week's workout three times before starting the next week's routine. It will help to quickly and efficiently build up muscle before you change it up to surprise your muscles. Doing the same weights/strength moves without changing it up causes your body to adapt. Your body is inherently, fabulously lazy and will always figure out how to adapt as soon as it can. Switching up your strength workout on a weekly basis will prevent this from happening, keeping your body and muscles on their toes, your metabolism up, and most importantly, your boredom from kicking in.

It's great too, because Todd has a knack for coming up with great interval strength training workouts that are quick, hard and to the point, so I'm going to be posting routines that he has come up with for me.  I will start off by saying that all of his workout routines require weights of some sort. Dumbells can suffice but a kettlebell is really the way to go. A medicine ball is another best friend, too.

However, since I swiped today's workout from (again), it doesn't require any weights, only your awesome body and the ability to count to 40-hippopotamus. Like Todd's workouts and the one I posted last week, this routine should take you less than 20 minutes to complete.

I did this yesterday after work and I'm SO glad I did. It was too chilly to go swimming but I didn't want to dive right into a calorie rich Valentine's Day dinner so I banged this puppy out beforehand to even the playing field, so to speak. Enjoy, and check out the ab pyramid below this workout; I finished up with that and today I'm delighted to report very sore muscles.

Abs Pyramid

8 scissor crunches  (pilates fan might recognize this but there's no ball to pass from feet to hands) Lying on your back, arms stretched out by your ears, simultaneously raise your feet and arms so your fingers and toes touch, then lower your limbs til they almost touch the ground. Repeat.
10 fold-out crunches Lying on your back, place hands behind your head in classic crunch fashion, shoulders off the floor. Lift your legs in a fetal position, knees close to touching your nose. Simultaneously lower your legs and shoulders to the floor. Repeat.
20 bicycle legs Instead of doing the full bicycle, keep your shoulders on the ground. Alternate bringing one leg to your chest, and extending the other out, but never resting on the floor.
30 bicycles Most people know what this is, but since I've already explained the hell out of the other moves, just click this
20 bicycle legs
10 fold-out crunches
8 scissor crunches

Before you know it, you've done over 100 crunches!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Friday afternoon, on my way home from work, I heard a radio ad for the Arizona Renaissance Faire, and I decided that turkey legs, AKA non-stop feasting, was in my cards. I've never actually been to a Ren Faire, and since Todd hasn't been since he was in high school, we all decided it was time to get our joust on.

The first thing we did when we got there was get raspberry mead and some turkey legs, which is why my camera lens looks greasy; see, the thing is old and when it turns on, the lens only opens halfway and I have to use my finger to push it open completely. I did it with a turkey-leg-touching finger, as evidenced in the first two photos. Observe:

Here is Alexandra looking a little skeptical. (In her defense, there were an awful lot of ample-gutted gals running around with their shirts knotted at their ribcages thanks to the boost of confidence one receives from a dangerous combination of daytime drinking and belly dancing scarves for sale. The first ten minutes I kept going "Oh my God! Oh my GOD!")

Turkey Leggs! An extra G for extra medievalness!

This is after about an hour or so, and Alex, after having spotted a lucky scallywag with an ear of corn, kept shouting "Cohn! Cohhhhrn!!" so we got her one. And aside from a few stolen bites from mom and dad, she annihilated it, much like William the Conquerer annihilated his opponents in 1066.

How can a little Goblin Girl look so adorable devouring corn on the cob? Is it the warm embrace? The slight sneer behind the veggie? Who knows!

Ah, the Dancing Pig Pub where, ironically perhaps, there was a belly dancing show going on.

The biggest, most castley looking place was called Boss Wench. Todd originally though it said Bossy Wench and of course looked at me with a glint of mischief and triumph in his eye, until I corrected him (non-bossily) that it said BOSS Wench, and that I agreed with the sentiment. Then I made him give me five dollars for another goblet of grog.

Then, much to our delight, we saw they were giving elephant rides! Drinks were as expensive as elephant rides so naturally we just sat on the sidelines, but even cuter was Todd obviously not liking the idea of his 22 month old daughter riding a huge ferocious pachyderm. Admittedly, part of me wondered if they weren't mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, but truly they just looked sleepy and only mildly annoyed at the pirate looking guy with the hook-stick thing who was wearing far too much purple.

The elephants were at the far end of the Faire, so we doubled back and meandered about. The shop fronts were absolutely adorable, and coupling that with the extremely colorful people-watching made it non stop entertainment. The employees of course had great costumes but some of the patrons had amazingly intricate costumes. I wanted to be more vigilant in my photo taking, capturing some of the cool outfits on camera, but honestly, I was too in the moment with my family to do it.

We visited a petting zoo too, and while Alex was too young to reach most of the animals, she still got to see almost all of the illustrious creatures on her puzzles: horses, cows, sheep, geese, ducks and chickens, rabbits and a dog. There were musicians, performers, hecklers, and vagabonds, and a whimsical-looking girl dressed all in white, sitting in the middle of the fairway, playing a violin exquisitely.

I could have just wandered up and down all afternoon, gazing at the over-priced trinkets, eating a bread bowl and maybe another turkey legg and drinking my weight in Ace Pear Cider and/or wine, but thanks to sleeping late and a stupid detour in Florence, AZ, we only got there at 2pm and at 5pm there was a joust to the death.

On the left is the Master of Arms, and the right, our noble-hearted champion. I was really impressed with their horsemanship. The Master of Arms had a beautiful horse, very high spirited, and at one point I leaned over to Todd and I was like "That horse has the same expression as Bingley." and Todd said "You mean full of bursts and mischief?" and I said "Yes, exactly! Now give me that pretzel."

This little firebrand was the cheerleader, of sorts, for our section of the bleachers. She mimed swigging booze out of a bottle so you know she had our instant respect and admiration. Her outfit was extraordinary, too. Nothing over the top fancy-wise, but just absolutely charming and to my untrained eye, pretty believable.

There in the second level balcony are the king, queen and their royal party. Blah, blah, blah. Bring on the bloodshed!

Oh, ok, so the dude in purple is an ally to our champion, but since he's from France he is like the token black guy in a horror movie and we know he is going to die first. As I told Todd "Why is it ALWAYS France?!"

Ah, here's a better shot of the little lady's outfit and her bodice.

Alexandra was, needless to say, transfixed. Looking left...

Then right...

Suit up, hombres! It's time to biddy-battle! JOUST TO THE DEEEAAAAAATH. I especially like the punk-rock hair-do girl who I guess is the champion's page.

Show your fealty! Yarr! I am a medieval pirate! Me lady!

Hello, your highness.

Ready yet?

See, this is what my camera lens cover does, it only opens halfway. But in this shot, Todd and I agreed it looked it was taken from the perspective of one of the knights peering through their visors. So I kept it. If you can't tell, it's my little cheerleader girl raising her bottle in comaraderie.

Burst! By this point everyone's dead. Frenchie was first to go with a nasty throat-slicing, then the big burly guy in yellow and black, complete with a mace, was killed by the traiterous evil guy who is either from Slytherin or New Jersey, and then finally, our champion, our young, long-haired knight, saved the day at the last moment! Back on your horse, noble sir, and ride to victory!


We had such a blast. It was a long, long drive, almost two hours, but part of me would really, really like to go again, even if we did spend over $100.

P.S. Don't make fun of the travel tag; day trips are still trips.

I hope you all head out to your local (or two-hour-away) Ren Faires for the non-stop feasting, the bloodshed and all those bare bellies!