Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Adventures in Flambéing

Tonight, Jonathan and I had an flambéing adventure...it was fun!

P.S. The food--Julia Child's Steak au Poivre--was sooo good. I highly recommend that you all ask one of your best friends to cook it for you.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm Freezing!

It’s only September 26th, and it’s 56 degrees outside…but as I sit here in our apartment, I am wearing a long-sleeved shirt, sweatpants, warm socks, a Snuggie, and a blanket.

And I’m cold!

How on earth am I going to survive the fall and winter this year??

I can only hope that my body will adapt. I am comforted slightly by the knowledge learned from past experience, that six months from now, 56 degrees will feel absolutely balmy to me.

Still, summer is gone, and that makes me a little sad.

But then again, the season of drinking warm red wine and cuddling up in a cozy blanket is here.

And that, my friends, makes me happy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Apple Happy

This week has been a pretty good one, other than the couple of conversations with grouchy people at work—which I blame on the full moon. Seriously, did you ever notice that so many people get cranky as hell when there’s a full moon? I work in Customer Service. I’ve noticed.

Anywho, so other than the usual working, eating, exercising, and watching t.v., this week has been pretty normal. Good normal, but still normal.

But there was one little event of the week that for some reason, made me really happy. It was such a little thing, really…

I made my first ever fruit dessert—apple crumble.

See? I told you it was just a little thing.

But to me—a girl who rarely cooks anything that doesn’t involve opening a package and popping it in the microwave—it was an accomplishment.

For some reason—even though I don’t do it very often—I really enjoy baking. Now mind you, I don’t feel the same way about cooking. I would pretty much rather have my teeth drilled than stand around in a kitchen waiting for a steak to finish grilling or rice to finish cooking. Boring!

But baking…now that’s a whole ‘nother thing to me. I think that’s because baking is not absolutely necessary in the grand scheme of things. You could never eat another cookie or cake or pie or yes, even piece of bread—for the rest of your life, and you would survive (even though it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun). Baking is decadent—it’s the icing on the (cooking) cake! I like thinking that when I bake something, I am treating myself (and my loved ones) to something slightly luxurious. To me, all the baking work is SO worth the end result.

And thus, I stood there for several minutes at the kitchen counter on Tuesday night, peeling, coring, and slicing apple after apple after apple happily, enjoying every moment of it.

And later, as I took my first bite of warm, sweet, cinnamony apple crumble topped with melty vanilla ice cream, I smiled with delight and settled back into my chair…it was sooo delicious. And it also helped that Iwanski liked it, too! I enjoyed every bite of my bowl filled with tender apples, sugary crumble, and luscious ice cream.

And the best part was that we had leftover apple crumble, for the next couple of days. Hooray!

I’m glad that I decided to bake this week. Besides the yummy result, I also felt good about the fact that I tried something new. I’m thinking that it might be a really good idea to try something new every week.

So what new thing should I try next week? Maybe skydiving? Or rock-climbing?

Nah, I think I’ll stick to baking. But this time I think I will make pie. Maybe blueberry pie.

I think I’ve discovered an important happiness secret this week. Trying something new can bring a little slice of happiness into your life. And it can also bring pie. Mmmm….pie.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


OK, it’s no secret by now that I like doing yoga. (And I’m sure you’re all probably sick of hearing about it—and that’s too bad for you, because it’s pretty much been my obsession lately.) Honestly, it’s the one exercise that doesn’t bore me silly—and pretty much the only one that I can stand doing, besides taking long, relaxing walks with Iwanski.

However, as I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been reading this book called “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”—and the one exercise that the author consistently mentions that is important to brain function is rigorous cardio exercise (i.e. not long, relaxing walks).

Rigorous cardio exercise? Ugh. I can’t run, because of my stupid plantar fasciitis foot. (It’s getting better, but not good enough to run yet.) And I don’t even really like running, anyway.

We do have a small workout room in our apartment building, with a couple of elliptical machines and exercise bikes. But for some reason, to me, using the elliptical machine feels like death. I can only handle doing that for a few minutes at a time. And biking on a stationery bike bores me to tears.

We also have a pool in our apartment building. But the whole process of having to change into a swimsuit, go swimming, and then going back up to our apartment, taking a shower, blow-drying my air, etc…etc…it just feels like too much of a hassle to me. (I know, I’m a big whiner. But seriously, people always think that if they have a pool in their building, they will use it all the time. Trust me, you don’t.)

So what is one Miss Healthypants to do, for cardio exercise? I wondered. Would I have to succumb to the big bad elliptical machine or the boring-ass stationery bike?

Well, about halfway through this morning’s “Music Yoga Flow” class, I had my answer. Yoga, my dear friends, can CERTAINLY count as rigorous cardio exercise. At least if it’s the “Music Yoga Flow” class at Exhale Spa Chicago.

First of all, when my friend and I walked into the studio, I almost immediately started sweating—and that was even before we started moving! It had to be about 85 degrees in there, at least. When we sat down on our mats, the girl next to me suggested right away that we both go get a towel.

“You’re gonna sweat a lot, trust me,” she said.

I started to get nervous. How hard was this class gonna be?

I soon had my answer. About halfway through our SEVENTY sun salutations (yes, I said seventy—for those of you who know what a sun salutation is, you know that it was hard work!), I thought, “Good Lord, what is this teacher thinking?” (I know that there are some studios that sometimes do 108 sun salutation classes, but I’ve always thought those people were insane. I still kinda do.)

As for the music, I was really grateful to have the mix of reggae, blues, rock, and light hip-hop to keep me motivated. I really enjoyed that part of the class.

Nonetheless, as I was breathing heavily and saw sweat droplets fall from my face onto my yoga mat, I started to wonder if I could really keep moving. The teacher mentioned that it was an “intense cardiovascular workout”—and I thought, “Duh!”

And then I thought “Yay!” Yoga can be cardio. I can get everything I need in yoga.

Thank God. Because every other kind of exercise pretty much sucks ass.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Miss Sniffleypants

I have the sniffles right now, and a sore throat.

But other than that, I am a happy camper. I’m reading this fascinating book called “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” by John J. Ratey. It explores the connection between exercise and the brain—and how exercise helps with not only cognitive functions of the brain, but it can also prevent/treat anxiety, depression, ADD, addictions, aggression, and even Alzheimer's disease.

So far it is sooo interesting and very motivating to me.

I’ve exercised both in the morning and at night every day this week. I went to yoga class last night, and I’m also signed up for a yoga class tomorrow and on Saturday morning. Whoo hoo me! The Saturday class I’m signed up for is called “Music Yoga Flow.” The website says that the class is “set to great music, including rock, reggae, hip hop, blues and world beats.” That should be interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever done yoga to hip hop music before! The idea makes me giggle, but I’m really looking forward to the experience.

So hey, I’m living up to my name and acting like Miss Healthypants, after all.

Except for this damn sore throat and sniffles.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Iwanski Challenge

Last night, Iwanski and I were taking a walk in our neighborhood. As we took in the sights, smells, and sounds of a beautiful, bustling Friday night in Chi-town, Iwanski commented on overpopulation, politics, and the propensity of many people to steal if given the right opportunity. Although in many cases his words were laced with humor, I just couldn’t ignore the slightly negative tone that seemed to be part of everything he said.

I stopped and smiled at him. “I challenge you to not saying anything negative or sarcastic for the next ten minutes,” I said.

“Why?” he asked. “Hey, my being that way is just part of my schtick, part of my humor.”

“Seriously,” I replied. “I’ll bet you can’t go ten minutes without saying anything negative or sarcastic.”

“Okay, fine,” he said, giving in.

Suddenly, almost on cue, a bunch of people on a bicycle tour came riding past us. They were all wearing these really dorky matching helmets, they all had huge smiles on their faces, and many of them were ringing their little handlebar bells when they went past us. And honestly—well, with their helmets, and their bell-ringing, and their gigantic smiles, they all looked pretty geeky.

“Oh, man…are you kidding me?” Iwanski asked incredulously. “I can’t say anything here?”

I laughed. “They look like they’re having a good time,” I said, as several of them waved at us and rang their bicycle bells.

It was almost too much for Iwanski to handle. Through clenched teeth, he said, “Yes, they seem to be taking a lot of enjoyment from their activity.”

I laughed my ass off as the last of the helmeted bicyclists rode by, smiling and waving.

I looked up at the night sky and smiled broadly. “See, God has a sense of humor,” I said. “Thanks, God!”

Somehow, Iwanski made it through the next few minutes without a sarcastic blunder—except when he started to say that a passing CTA bus was “likely full of miscreants.”

And now, every time I think about those bicyclists, I start giggling. I’ll always remember my heaven-sent cavalry of dorks on bikes.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Tonight at yoga class, our teacher challenged us to try the pose called “Crow.”

Crow is a crazy-intimidating pose wherein one tries to actually balance their knees upon their upper arms. Impossible? Apparently not; I’ve seen people do it. Here’s a picture:

Anyway, my yoga buddies and I normally scoff at the very notion of doing that pose, while we make some weak-ass attempts at it, just for show. But tonight, one of us actually did it!

And it certainly wasn’t me. As my friend Rhyan balanced herself on her upper arms, she exclaimed,

“I did it! In your FACE!”

We all started cracking up. No, apparently yoga isn’t always just about peace and stress relief.

Sometimes it’s about accomplishing something with your body that you’ve never been able to do before…and then boasting about it to your friends.

And now my competitive side has been challenged. Even though I know yoga is all about knowing your body and trusting what it can or can’t do on any given day, I still want to be the next one of us to do the pose. Mark my words, one day I will do the Crow.

In Your Face!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Tiger on Your Lap

Yesterday, I was telling Iwanski about the pilates class that I had taken in Millennium Park that morning.

“When we were doing a forward fold,” I said to Iwanski, “The teacher said ‘Picture yourself sitting on the couch watching t.v., and there’s something on your lap—like a cat, a dog, or even a person…now picture that it’s a tiger sleeping on your lap. Now, suddenly a new show comes on t.v.—it’s a Barney-Care Bears crossover Christmas special, and it’s going to be on for three hours. You need to grab for that remote control on the coffee table in front of you—but you can’t disturb the tiger on your lap. So lean forward for that remote—but don’t disturb that tiger!’ ”

When I told Iwanski about this, I was thinking that it was a funny image and a brilliant method for getting us to do the forward fold correctly, so as to strengthen our abdominal muscles.

Iwanski sat there thinking for a minute, and then he said, “I would say that if you have a tiger sleeping on your lap, you have much bigger problems than just what’s on t.v.”

That made me crack up. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.

I thank God that I’m married to someone who makes me laugh all the time.