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Filed under DD (aka My Man), family values, rambling nature, Wedding

Super Girl v. Sugar

Every three months, I see my nephrologist (read: kidney doctor). It’s just a usual check-up, and after seven years of living with a kidney transplant, my health care is pretty low-maintenance.

The one thing that does continue to be an issue – more for me than the doctors – is my blood sugar. For the last few years, it’s been hovering just under the level that would qualify me as diabetic. So, in theory, I don’t need to worry just yet. My doctor explained that developing diabetes is normal in some kidney transplant patients. If it ever does become a reality for me, it will probably be as simple as taking a pill every day.

But still. Diabetes kind of freaks me the f*ck out, for two reasons:

  1. I feel as though God has given me my limit of health issues and there’s no need for him to offer any more.
  2. The idea of cutting sugar from my diet makes me incredibly depressed, to the point that I feel I need a piece of tiramisu to feel better.

I don’t do well with self-control, especially when it comes to food. Dieting has never been a part of my repertoire, and I’m lucky that I inherited genes that have never made weight an issue.

Yet, clearly I shouldn’t be drowning my feelings in dessert.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been making a semi-conscious effort to cut out sweets by refusing to keep them in my house. I do make special exceptions for holiday leftovers and the occasional pint of Ben & Jerry’s. But overall, I’m pretty good about avoiding the sugar aisles at the grocery store.

But just because I don’t keep dessert items at my house doesn’t mean I’m not overindulging nearly daily. I’ll never turn down a baked good and I happen to work in a place that places high value on muffins, pastries, and other tasty treats. Many weekdays I’ve got a sugar high going before 10 a.m. and then another one at 3 p.m. when I dip into the office candy drawer.

My other downfall is carbs. I rarely eat meat, so pasta has become my mainstay. I’ve tried to take the carbs down a notch by occasionally using spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti. I’m also conscious when meal planning to limit my pasta dishes to one or two over a 2 week time frame, which, with leftovers, means I’m still eating it a few days a week. However, that doesn’t take into account the “off nights” – which occur at least once a week – where I don’t feel like cooking the planned meal and instead make an easy and comforting helping of mac & cheese.

After today’s check-up, I thought the prescription was to keep trying to lower my sugar intake. But my doctor said that may not help. When I keep track of my food, I’m usually within the daily allotment of carbs and because of my small size, there’s not much room for me to cut nutrients out of my diet. Diabetes may be less about my diet and more about my kidney transplant and family history.

So, I’ve decided that I’m not going to beat myself up over my love of pasta and dessert. But, my inner control freak is still going to make a conscious effort to diversify my diet and just say no to the office baked goods. One of these days the control freak has to beat the genes, right?

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Filed under foodie, rambling nature, transplant

After “that” happened

It’s just like me to announce an engagement and then disappear for weeks, isn’t it? For all the inquiring minds, here’s an update. For those who couldn’t give a shit, I do promise that this won’t become a total wedding blog. Notice the word “total”…I can’t promise it won’t come up again.

Basics
We’ve got the church and we’ve got the “hall”, which means we’ve also got the date next April. I really hate that word, hall. I wanted to do something different from the typical hotel ballroom or neighborhood hall, and I think we found it in one of the local yacht clubs. Their ballroom is lovely, their costs aren’t outrageous – though between all the liquor and snack upgrades DD wants, it’s definitely a bit more than I’d hoped to spend. Thank goodness we have parents who are helping and who loved the venue as well.

We looked at three places and there’s a small part of me that thinks we should have expanded the search to find something even more cost effective, but that would have meant looking at even more non-traditional locales that would have required us to bring in our own food, liquor, linens, etc. As much as I wanted to be different, I also didn’t want the hassle. Though I have experience planning events and my day job is as a project manager, I didn’t want my wedding to get so detailed that it becomes that heinous project I don’t want to manage.

The Budget
Though the wedding is 12 months out, I’m already having dreams and mild panic attacks. At first, it was about the location. Was I looking everywhere? Had I exhausted my options? Was I making the right decision?

Now, it’s about the budget. First, our current budget is much more than I thought I’d be spending on my wedding. The expense frustrates me, and the majority of it isn’t even my money! Second, there will be lots of hands in the pot; DD and I, his aunt, and my parents – who are picking up most of the tab. I’m trying to walk a fine line between involving our families and also making it clear that we (read: I) have certain ideas about our wedding. Thus far, they’ve been great. Fingers crossed. 

Though, I don’t think I will ever full get over the awkwardness that is the money. My parents and I have never really discussed money and in their minds I’m still their little girl so they shouldn’t discuss money. When I sat down with them to try to get a handle on how they were interested in helping (read: how much they were willing to give), it was nothing less than awkward. At almost 30, it’s hard for me to ask my parents to just shell out tens of thousands of dollars, but it’s also hard for me to drain my own savings account that could go toward the future for DD and me.

I think we’ve finally come to an understanding on who will be pitching in and with how much. I hope we have. Frankly, that’s the other thing about the budget that has me stressed. While we have a general idea of how much we have available to spend on each thing, I really have no idea if those estimates are doable in today’s Wedding Business. Yes, that deserves capital letters.

In addition, DD and I have very different ideas on where we want to spend money and where we don’t. For instance, I could give a shit about the late night snack, but I really want to rent fancier chairs. He’s the opposite – oh, and throw in the premium liquor, too!

Perhaps that’s why God made weddings in the first place. To offer the happy couple a little test on compromise and financial planning.

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Filed under DD (aka My Man), Detroit, family values, relationships, Wedding

So that happened

Last Saturday, after a nice little date night, DD and I walked home and stopped in Campus Martius Park. To my shock and awe, he got down on one knee, and showed me this:

Obviously (since it’s on my finger), I said yes.

For now, that’s about all I can muster up for a blog post. It’s been a long week, and has only been made longer by my sudden and immediate interest in planning a wedding. I’ve gone into full-on project manager mode and much to my friends’ surprise, already have a guest list and several potential venue choices, even though we’re not looking at getting married until April 2012.I keep telling DD that I’ll calm down once we’ve got the location and date locked in, but somehow I doubt that will be the case.

But, with all of that planning, there hasn’t been much time to sit and write a blog post. So, I’ll be back. In the meantime, gaze at the pretty bling. It’s what I like to do in my spare time. That, and think about how adult I suddenly feel.

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Filed under DD (aka My Man), Detroit, glass half full, relationships, Wedding

A lasagna that might change your life

A few posts back, I mentioned a spectacular lasagna recipe. It’s my go-to meal when I have folks over for dinner because I’ve finally perfected it and can guarantee that it will turn out fab. Now that I’ve gotten it just right, I want to share it with you!

A sidenote — my camera died just as I went to take photos, and the iPhone photos did not turn out as expected. I promise to do better next time.

White Lasagna with Spinach, Artichokes, and Mushrooms
Adapted from a yoga magazine I picked up in 2006.

TO 

The ingredients
Lasagna Noodles
4 Cloves Garlic
1 T. Butter
2 to 3 C. Ricotta
16 oz. Mushrooms (white or cremini)
1 can (14 oz.) Artichoke Hearts
10 oz. Frozen Spinach (you can use fresh if you roll like that)
3/4 C. dry white wine
1 Bag Shredded Mozarella
Parmesan

The utensils
Pasta pot
baking dish — 9×13 works, but I use one that’s a little smaller because I’m just one person!
Non-stick skillet or pan
Chopping knife, regular knife, spatula, stirring device
Garlic mincer (optional, but AMAZING)

The How-To

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cook lasagna according to package directions
  3. While that’s going, mince your garlic and chop your artichokes and ‘shrooms. A rough chop is fine, and don’t forget to drain the artichokes. No need for all that extra liquid.
  4. Throw a tab of butter and the minced garlic into a nonstick pan on medium heat. Let the butter melt and the garlic cook — but don’t let it burn!
  5. Throw in the artichokes and ‘shrooms. Let the concoction cook down a bit (maybe 3 minutes), allowing the mushrooms to darken/soften.
  6. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cook 1-2 minutes more so the liquid reduces slightly.
  7. Add the frozen spinach. If you’ve thawed the spinach, or you’re using fresh spinach, you can also wait and layer it in when you’re building the lasagna. I don’t do this for two reasons: I’m too lazy to actually thaw the spinach, so cooking it with everything else allows it to thaw a bit, and I make sure I don’t forget it, which I’ve been known to do when I add it on its own.
  8. Buy this point, it’s time to drain the pasta. Here is where the wheels usually fall off the wagon. If you’re not careful, the noodles will rip apart. So, I’d suggest draining them and then running cold water over them so you can pick them up by hand instead of using tongs.
  9. Now, fill your baking dish with a bottom layer of noodles and spread ricotta on top. I still haven’t found a good way to spread ricotta, so I just kind of glop it on the noodles. Then, add half of your spinach, mushroom, artichoke mixture. Don’t worry if a little of the cooking liquid makes it into the dish, it’ll just maximize the taste! Finally, top the layer with some Mozzarella and Parmesan.
  10. Layer another set of lasagna noodles and the rest of your Ricotta, veggie, Mozzarella mixture.
  11. Add the final layer of lasagna noodles and top with the remaining mozarella.
  12. Cover with foil and put in oven for 20ish minutes. Since you’ve already cooked the lasagna noodles, you’re really just melting the cheese and melding all the good parts into one fabulous dish.

While it’s getting all bubbly and ooey-gooey, go ahead and clean up the kitchen, throw together a quick spinach salad, and open a great Cabernet. You’ve got the time.

When the cheese is nice and bubbly, remove from oven and serve immediately, but not before adding a bit more Parmesan. After all, you’ve got so much cheesy goodness going on already, why not add a bit more?!

When I make a pan, I can typically eat it for several days (again, I’m just one person and it makes a lot). I’m also a notorious bring-my-lunch employee, so a pan of this ensures I’ll have lunch for at least part of the week.

Enjoy!

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Filed under foodie, Recipes!

The one with diamonds…and smarm

A couple weeks ago, I made dinner for DD and I. As he was dishing up his pulled pork, he casually said

You know what we need to do next weekend?

I assumed he was talking about the massage gift certificates we needed to use, or the family we needed to see, or some other trivial task. Instead, he said:

We need to go ring shopping.

Without missing a beat (though, to be sure, my heart missed at least one), I replied that we could easily do that this weekend since we’d be out in the suburbs and could just stop at a jewelry store in the mall. See, while we’ve talked about marriage, it’s always been a “someday” conversation. In fact, just recently we’d had a rather massive miscommunication about the timeline I thought we were working against. So for him to be ready to look at rings…well…it was surprising.

That Saturday, after his nephew’s basketball game and before we went to dinner at my parents, we stopped by the mall and moseyed into a certain chain jewelry store that shall remain nameless. While I’m not a fan of buying engagement rings from chain jewelers, I figured it would be a good place to start browsing.

Apparently, we walked in the same day they were having THE BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR OMG!

Maybe it won’t be such a casual experience after all?

I explained that we were just looking to get an idea of what I liked. That we weren’t buying.

I began trying on rings and we began talking the 4Cs. I mentioned to her that I’m a princess cut, solitaire kinda girl, and would probably prefer a Tiffany Setting, or perhaps a Compass Setting. You know, something like this:

 

Or this:

 

I asked the saleswoman if she had either of these settings to try on. She didn’t. But of course, she said they could “do anything” so my setting of choice wouldn’t be a problem – and that if I didn’t like it, they had a 60 day, money-back guarantee. Which is great and all, but why would I buy something that I wasn’t totally sure about – money-back guarantee or not.

As we continued trying things on, another saleswoman joined us. It wouldn’t be until later that we’d realize we were moving up the chain of command. Even so, I felt like we were keeping things casual and were avoiding the hard sell. I mean, who buys an engagement ring in front of their bride-to-be anyway?

Then DD pointed to a ring off in the corner. The saleswoman took it out and quietly said “this one’s $17,000.” Until now, she hadn’t said the price of one.single.ring. I tried it on, politely ooooed and ahhhed and gave it back, just as the District Manager walked up.

Ding ding ding. Apparently, we’d hit the jackpot. I like to think that ring was attached to some secret alarm that, when picked up, tells the District Manager that there’s a live one on the hook.  

District Manager dismissed my notions of being surprised and gave the hard sell. TODAY ONLY! BEST PRICE! Blah. Blah. Finally, he just pulled DD off to the side to “give him some pricing”. As they talked, the saleswoman sized my finger, “just so I’d know it”.

And here’s why I’ve told you this very long story. For the sole purpose of what happened next.

District Manager (clad in a full business suit) and DD walked back toward us. As I watched them out of the corner of my eye, I saw District Manager spray something in the general direction of his face and then slide the offending item back in his pocket, all smooth-like

Dude. He totally sprayed Binaca in his mouth. BINACA!

Hey, I totally get wanting to be fresh and minty. But I thought breathe spray went out of style sometime in 1995. Aren’t there enough mints and gums on the market these days that you can keep your breathe fresh without looking like a completely smarmy salesman? Or at least could you wait until we leave the premises?

Somehow, we successfully made it out of their alive, with DD’s credit card untouched, and with only a little slime left on our clothes.

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Filed under DD (aka My Man), glass half full, rambling nature, relationships

Snobbery

A week or so ago, a “friend” called me a snob because I’d posted a tiny rant on Facebook about newbies at my yoga studio. I don’t really consider myself a snob, but I suppose there are a few things that do force my nose into a slightly upward position.

Yoga
I know, it’s something that should be least likely to bring out the snobbery. But, because I’m shelling out some cash to take a yoga class, I expect a certain environment. I expect it to be hot. I expect it to be 60-75 minutes of a mix of meditation and sweating it out. I expect the instructor to work my body to the max. I expect it to be quiet, save the for instructor’s encouraging voice and the music. And yes, I do like to be around other people. If I didn’t need these things to feel like I’d gotten the most out of my practice, I’d stay home and do it myself.

What I don’t want? Fellow students who can’t stop talking and giggling during the entire class. Instructors who make too many jokes. One or two quips is just fine, but an entire class of stand-up comedy? Not so much.

Jeans
I don’t typically spend a lot of money on clothes. I wear clothes until they die and when they do die, I’d like to spend as little as possible on replacements. The one exception to this is jeans. I’m a pretty petite gal. Small waist, non-existent hips, and relatively long legs. In magazines, I tend to look at the tips for “boyish figure”.

Unfortunately, most women have these things called hips and therefore, most pants are made to fit women who possess them. While I seem to have decent luck with dress pants, well-fitting jeans have always eluded me. I’d have a big gap in the waist, or they’d be too short or too baggy or some combination of the three.

Then, I found The Buckle. Most brands they carry measure by waist and inseam instead of the vague 2s and 6s and 10s of female sizing. The downside is that their brands are on the pricey side. Last week, I decided I needed some new jeans for work and wanted to avoid spending an insane amount of money. I also felt like maybe I was getting a bit too old for The Buckle. So, I tried Express and The Limited. Express’s jeans looked like shit on me and frankly, felt cheaply made. They were this strange mix of stretchy denim. I’m sorry folks, denim should not feel like spandex. (Obviously, I’m also a snob about my denim.)

After several attempts, I ended up back at The Buckle with a pair that not only looks my age, but is well made and will (hopefully) last me for years. Worth the extra cash in my world.

Restaurant Weeks
Metro Detroit has several restaurant weeks. My favorite is Detroit Restaurant Week, because there are some really amazing fine dining establishments in the city. Several suburbs have their own as well, and there’s one coming up in March. As a friend and I were planning our attack, I noticed that the majority of the restaurants were chains. Upscale chains, but chains nonetheless. I made a comment that I wanted to nix the chains — after all, why would I spend upwards of $35 to eat at a chain when there are so many locally-owned places? Why would I make a point of going to a chain when I can go to a chain anytime? To me, there’s something about a chain — upscale or not — that makes it less appealing. I made my case, but my friend still thought I was crazy.

Now that I’ve admitted to my snobby tendencies, I feel the need to share a few things I’m not a snob about:

Shoes
I really hate shoe-shopping. The shoes I love and subsequently buy will inevitably leave me in a world of pain. I hate shelling out money for shoes unless it’s under $40. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Manolo and a Choo. If I could live in my tennis shoes all the time, I probably would. My favorite pair of shoes is a $20 pair of red peep toe pumps that I bought at  Payless. And I’m more than OK with that.

Makeup
The last eyeshadow I bought cost me a whopping $35 for 9 shades and I thought that was insane. Had I not had a free makeover that left me feeling extra fabulous, I would never have bought it. The rest of my make-up is from CVS and most of it doesn’t get worn on a daily — or weekly — basis.

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