Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Angry Birds Will Make You Happy

We will make you very happy.
Have you heard of this tasty little phone app? (Future Self:  A 'phone app' is an application that you can add to your phone that will allow you to waste countless hours reading the news, celebrity gossip and playing awesome video games spanning the 80's and into the 21st century)  Kevin was the first one to tell me about it and it was brand new information but since then everyone I ask is like Um yeah, of course I've heard of it.  Who hasn't?  So now I'm feeling very current and better for it because honestly, this has happily passed the last 30 hours for me.  In my current sickly state, sniff, reading is not an option but apparently video games on hand held devices are.  It's a battery gobbler so keep the phone plugged in while you play boys and girls, but really, it's quite brilliant.

I mean the birds really are angry and all they want to do is off the little piggies who are hiding out in bunkers laced with TNT and wearing protective gear.  They're smarter than they look and there's a certain level of satisfaction that can be attained when you master the strengths and weaknesses of the different angry birds and then you can strategize accordingly.  30 hours later I've only made it to the 21st round of level 3 on the first of 5 tiers - I'm Poached Eggs  apparently.  Clearly it's time for more cold meds.

PS - I'm starting to think this game is also good for stress relief.  Suddenly I've become obsessed with blowing shit up and I hear myself saying things like take that muther fugger to the little piggies as I send an angry bird flying into the TNT pile.  Like I said, satisfaction.

**  Update - Angry Birds also has an 'Angry Birds Season'  app where there's snow and ice castles!  Very exciting.  Thanks Jake!

I Blew My Nose and Passed Out

About a year and a half ago we went on a highly anticipated family vacation with my mom and Terry and all 4 'kids' and spouses and grandkids for the first time ever and we were very excited.  How awesome that I got to be with all 4 nieces and nephew for a whole week with the Washington Coastline as our backyard?  Needless to say it was absolute Heaven - for like the first 2 days.  Then all hell broke loose and we started dropping like flies.  Me, I work in a children's museum 385 days a year and am exposed to like a gazillion germs on a daily basis and I get nothing.  But 2 days with these guys and I come down with Sinusitis, Strep, and Bronchitis.
We will infest you.
Fast-forward 18 months and we journey to another family vacation - This time with the Schoville clan and it. was. awesome.  Bob & Nancy found a house just in time for Christmas - like they literally moved in on the 14th - and by the time we arrived the house was totally decked out in all things holidayee.  Once again, nephews and brand new little niece and nephew plus all the 'kids' and spouses together for 6 fun-filled and later snot-filled days.  This time my immune system faired a little better as it took me 5 days to come down with the crud.  I'd been doing pretty well since that last Washinton Niece-Nephew strain which apparently must have been the mother of all strains since really, that was the last time I was sick.  So once again, the niece and nephews are no match for me and my museum germs as it hit me full force the morning that we left. A little something to remember them by I guess.  Thank you.
We're cute but contagious.
 I admit, I totally let my guard down and I should have known better.  I wiped runny noses and wiped away drool with the back of my hand.  I hugged and kissed their chubby little slobbery cheeks and even wiped a bottom or 2.  Ok, just 1.  Kev got to do all the driving home while I tossed and turned in the front seat and now I have officially been either on the couch or in bed for the last 25 hours exactly.  Every time I look down I feel like my face is going to detach from my head and my teeth are throbbing and I imagine that the only relief at this point is to reach into my mouth and pull them out like dentures.  I think that would feel amazing.  Wanna hear more?  Every time I blow my nose the fluid in my ear canal squeals and a little bit ago I got light headed when I blew my nose and fell over onto my pillow.  How sad is that?
We're wearing iron for a reason.
Next time I will be better prepared and I might even look into an Iron Man ensemble for myself.  At first I was a little annoyed at these Christmas gifts for the 4 and 2 year old nephews.  They were noisy, complicated to put together and hurt like hell when they landed on your foot.  But as soon as Magnus started wearing his, his virus cleared right freaking up.  Inneresting.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Christmas Doncha Know

A very Christmas view.
From the white hills of Wisconsin it's Christmas at the Schoville's ya'll and it's a good place to be, you should try it sometime they will totally feed you.  The in-law's new small-town woodsy pad sports crazy tall snow-covered trees that can be viewed from floor-to-ceiling windows, tons of deer and wild turkey (the actual birds, not the whiskey although I'm pretty sure I could probably find that here too if I dug around enough), more cheese than any 20 people should consume in one year - maybe 5 - and 12 stockings hung from the chimney with care.  With 8 adults and 4 little people it's fun to be around those who still believe.  Santa induced behavior transformations are amazing and just might be my favorite thing about this holiday season, other than family of course.

Stockings hung with care.

Between my birthday and Christmas, I typically rake in a pretty good haul and this year Kev/Santa et all were especially kind.  Topping the list were these 2 things:

- A new Android Global phone (a note to my future self:  this a super-cool cell phone that is really hot this season) that is way smarted than me and I have yet to sync my contact list so I was able to recognize only about 5% of the b-day/Xmas greetings that were sent to me but I was still very good to respond to each one with enthusiastic thanks.  I'm slowly working towards reconciling the contacts.  What's crazy is that although I wasn't able to sync contacts from my old Blackberry (Future Self that was super-cool like 2, maybe 3 years ago), but I somehow managed to sync all my Facebook contacts so people who I haven't spoken to in TWENTY YEARS are now in my phone list.  Note to current self:  Delete those asap before nostalgic drunk dialing ensues.
 - An Amazon Kindle was an unexpected surprise considering I'd been on the shelf since they'd come out a couple of years ago.  Me, a book snob, I love to surround myself in books, lots of em.  Some I read once or get to eventually, others I will read one million times.  I like the sound and smell of the books, flipping the pages, even reading the covers, jackets, and ok, I've been known to check out a back page a time or 2.  A Kindle happens to negate all these things.  However, a Kindle majorly trumps all that by simply being light as paper and housing 14,000 books at one time.  Does anyone else get butterflies with that last part?  It even comes with some free-bee classics so thus far I'm carrying around Dracula, Pride & Prejudice, Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Frankenstein and The Onion.  What can I say it's growing on me and I will finally say:  Yes Kandis, you are right.  Kindle's are awesome and PS you still need to update your blog.

Cooler than he looks.
Other items to note:  A Boz Scaggs Greatest Hits CD from my mom.  Honestly I thought it was a mistake but then she was like No Nicole, you listened to him throughout your entire childhood and I was like No Mom, I'm pretty sure I didn't but I'll give it a try anyways so I did.  And she was right.  I had goosebumps from track 1 'Lowdown'.  If you had any kind of childhood/state of being in the 70's and 80's then you will appreciate this gift as well.  Otherewise it will be lost on you.

I also got a kick ass baseball book light which is as cool as it sounds, a wine rack (finally!) and house slippers that go all the way up my legs - trust me they're hot - and a host of other awesome stuff that is just too much to type.  I've also put on about 10 more pounds (not really but that's how I feel) and I can only imagine what Dr. Doom would have to say about it the bastard.  Ah well.

Hope Santa was as good to you as he was to me kids.  Looking forward to a couple more Schoville-filled days before heading back to Naptown.

Cau for now and goodnight ya'll.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

So You Wanna Be the Most Popular Person at Christmas This Year?

  • Thanks to my fellow yogi Laura, I am so gonna be the most popular Schoville this Christmas!  And in the spirit of this holiday season and giving and stuff, I give to thee an early Christmas present.  And better yet, there's still time left to go out and purchase the ingredients that will secure your spot at the adults' table this year.  
  • So without further ado, I offer up the world's easiest and tastiest...
  • The Pomegranate-Avocado Salsa!
  • Blood Orange and Avocado Salsa with Pomegranate Seeds
  • 1 1/3  cups  diced peeled avocado (about 2 avocados)
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  • 2  cups  clementine sections (about 6 clementines)
  • 1  cup  pomegranate seeds (Trader Joe's has these already seeded for you!)
  • 1/2  cup  thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2  cup  minced fresh cilantro
  • 2  tablespoons  honey
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • (do NOT mince the jalapeño .  I tried that and it literally busted through my metal mincer - Dear Santa please add a new mincer to my list.   And for the love of all things holy, do not forget to seed it either because hours later I'm still downing the soy milk by the gallon.  A little jalapeño goes a long way kids).

You are welcome friends and happy holidays!

Review: The Tourist

Forget Your Passport and Stay Home Ya'll.

I blame Kevin.  We were supposed to go and see 'Black Swan', a sure crowd pleaser.  No need to look up the reviews on that one, it's already got the nominations and Facebook buzz to back-up it's greatness.  The Tourist however, does not and I am so not surprised.  So Kevin comes down with a bug of some sort which leaves Kate and I to our own devices and like any practical women at a theater sans male counterparts, we're gonna go straight for the Johnny Depp movie.  Who needs a review when it's Johnny Depp?

Sometimes(all the time) it drives me a wee bit crazy when Kev just has to read the reviews before going to see a movie.  Like every. single. time.  Anything less than a B and we wait for it to come out on cable.  Oh wait, I mean Netflix.  In doing so we end up almost always getting our money's worth (except for Inception - that was bad).  So I get it, there's method to the kid's madness and after last night's train wreck of a movie I will never mock him again.  I mean seriously, I wish the train in the first 5 minutes of the movie had actually wrecked and ended the movie but that didn't happen and I was left wasting the next 138 minutes of my life thinking for the love of god, please end.

I'd say that I don't want to spoil anything for you just in case you decide to waste 143 minutes of your precious existence watching this flick, but really, I do want to spoil it just so you won't go see it.  Consider this an early Christmas present from me to you.  You're welcome.  

Jolie plays the ridiculously beautiful undercover agent/woman in love who is being followed by British intelligence and some mafioso gangster guys with really bad Russian accents.  Their following tactics had me reeling as they drove 5 paces behind her in a van as she walked the narrow streets of Venice.  Like they drove 5 mph, right freaking behind her.  They all want to find this Alex Pierce dude who has been eluding them all for 2 years, owing a gazillion dollars in taxes to the British government, a couple billion in stolen geeds to the mafioso and who has promised a love-lorn Jolie that he will find her.  Ugh.  

Enter Johnny Depp, a somewhat bumbling math teacher from the Midwest who is chosen 'at random' on a train to act as a decoy for the Brits and apes. And of course, in a few days time, the cat and mouse has him running across tiled roof tops in his pj's and being handcuffed to a boat in a canal which is towed at moderate speed by Jolie as they attempt to outrun them all.  Hands down 2 of the most painful chase scenes ever.  I can't even really do any of it real justice with words because it was just that bad.  And if you go expecting any sort of chemistry between the lead roles then you will be severely disappointed in that as well.  I was absolutely shocked at the glaring lack of chemistry between Jolie and Depp.  It was like Brad Pitt had willed the chemistry to not exist - kind of like the supposed hot love scene that he demanded be left on the editing room floor.  Inneresting.  And somehow we were still supposed to believe that in those few days (and honestly very little dialog between the two) they fell in love.  Awww.  The constipated longing glances and a stiff-lipped kiss had me giggling uncomfortably.  It was so so bad.  But in the end after an incredibly anticlimactic showdown with all our old friends, it was the the sparkless duo that outsmarted them all as they sailed off into the sunset of the Italian Riviera.  And by the way, Depp ended up being the ever-elusive Mr. Pierce with a 20 million dollar new face.  Shocker.

So there you go boys and girls.  This flick registered a whopping C- on my moviedar.  A little generous perhaps but the scenery was killer, except for when they showed Jolie and Depp on the speed boat from the front, and the scenery and water around the boat were superimposed and stupid looking.  I could swear I saw a corner of the fan that was blowing on their faces, making us believe that they were in a high-speed water chase.  That deserved an F.  

PS - We did go and see '127 Hours' last weekend and that is a great movie.  It rated an A- on the ol' moviedar and Santa if you're listening I must have that soundtrack.  But be fore-warned, do not go to that flick if you are prone to motion sickness, seizures, sleep, nausea, or have an aversion to decapitating body parts and plucking exposed nerves like violin strings.  And I'm not giving anything away by saying that because it's based on a true story.  But seriously, one dude passed right the frack out unconscious during the amputation scene and minutes later some other dude passed out and began to snore loudly.  Go figure.  I think I'll stick to my Netflix for a while.

Cau for now.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What's Up Doc?

News flash ya'll.  According to my ex-doctor, not only am I fat and OLD, but also?  Exercise won't make me (or you) lose weight.  Thus, at the geriatric age of 33, I can kiss my aspirations for a better waist-line via running and yoga good-bye.  By the time I left that office I felt like I'd been zinged so many times that I couldn't wait to go home and burn my running shoes then crawl back into bed.  Forever. Here's how the ego crushing pep-talk went down.

Dr. Doom (Obviously not his real name but I was either going to refer to him as that or Dr. Douche Canoe and really, Dr. Doom is easier to write over and over again.):  Good morning ...(quick glance at my file) Nicole, what brings you in?
Me:  I'd like to get my thyroid checked for these reasons: blah, blah, blah, and blah.
Dr. Doom:  Ok (glance) Nicole, I should tell you though, about 97% of people who ask to get it checked, it turns out they're fine and they just need to lose weight.  zing.
Me:  Well Doc, I've been working out regularly and eating pretty well and it just hasn't been helping.  In fact, it seems to be having the opposite effect. 
Dr. Doom:  Well, I hate to tell you this, but didn't you know that exercise won't necessarily help you lose weight?
Me:  Um, no actually, that is brand-new information. 
Dr.  Doom:  Didn't you see that article in TIME last year? 
Me:  Which one, there were like 52 issues that year.  
Dr. Doom:  The one that was about how exercise won't make you lose weight because when people exercise they usually end up indulging in more calories than they actually burn as a reward for working out, and as a result cancelling out all effects of working out.
And I'm like:  I don't necessarily agree with that.  I eat well, no fast-food, no red meat, salad almost every day, blah blah blah and I'm working out regularly again for the first time in a year.  If anything my eating has gotten better as my exercise increases.

We don't need no stinking exercise!

Dr. Jerk-Ass Doom:  Well, you're old.  And when you get old your metabolism slows.  (Yeah, not old-er, just old.  This, coming from a 70 year old.  Double zing.)Here's a website you should go to, it will help you keep track of your calories and will help you lose weight.  You could stand to lose... (looking at my chart) 23 pounds at least. zing zing zing zing zing zing!! Explosions went off in my head and I felt feint.  I'm no size 4 but at the towering height of 5'4", losing 23 lbs is like losing an entire leg.

I was deflated and defeated and downright depressed.  And then tears, brimming, ready to spill:
Dr. Douche Canoe:  Nicole, have you been depressed because that can be a sign of thyroid issues.
Me:  No, but I am now.
Dr. Douche Canoe:  Well alright, let's get that checked out.

And that was it.  He led me to the little blood work waiting room, signed me in, and said We'll be in touch.  My thought:  Don't count on it.

For the record I read that article and I hate the message that it sends out to idiots like my ex-doc who will only take it for its head line and first 3 paragraphs and then share their new found knowledge with god knows how many patients, desperate for answers. I hope my students aren't disappointed tomorrow when I show up to mat class with a bowl of salad and extra forks:

Forget your ab workout tonight boys and girls, from now on we feast on salad!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weird Fishes/Arpreggi

Babička's got her eye on you.
Five years later I still miss Prague so freaking much, especially around the holidays.  Hot wine before breakfast and picking Christmas dinner out of a city street barrel, ah how I miss those days.

Hot wine - svařák, it's not just for cold winter nights.  The hot wine stands that pop up on nearly every corner all over the city were my good friends.  All of them.  Trust me, hot red wine at 7 a.m. is just the thing to get the circulation going back in the ol' toes on the way to teach classes - and between, and after.  Totally acceptable in post-Communist Czech Republic but sadly, the states have not caught on to that phenomenon but I will die trying.  

Holiday markets and Czech Christmas decor.  It didn't take long after the fall of Communism for the Czechs to embrace the Western traditions of abundant lights and ticky tack decor to celebrate the holiday season.  Among all the lights and tack are the kick ass Christmas markets that are set up throughout the entire city, all of which contain booth after booth of hand made ornaments and toys, hot roasted nuts and my beloved svařák.

The fate of the Christmas carp.  Around Christmas time, the Czech fishmongers set up their ginormous plastic tubs of carp.  Lots and lots of carp and in these modern times the Christmas Carp has 1 of 4 fates:
1.  Czech grandmas (babička's) will delicately pick out the biggest and best carp and then stand by and watch as it gets mercilessly cleaved and pummeled.  They are then ruthless about ensuring that every scale, eyeball and every last of the entrails are scooped up and put into their to go bag.  Apparently it makes for a soup that only a Czech grandma can make.
These Czech babi's show no mercy and leave no eye ball left behind.
2.  I'm totally not making this up.  The second fate of the Czech Christmas Carp is the bathtub.  From the market, the carp (the ones that survive the babičkas) are brought home to a tub of their very own.  As in the bathtub, you know, the one you you bathe in and stuff.  Here they spend their (few) days before Christmas swimming around, playing family pet - no lie.  All of this makes the next fate all the more sad...

Here fishy, fishy...
3.  Christmas dinner of fried carp and potato salad.  That's right, that pet bathtub carp that your kids become so attached to, spend hours talking to and even give names to, will perhaps wind up on your table, battered and fried along side potato salad come Christmas Eve.

4.  If your pet carp is lucky enough to live in a more liberal and modern Czech household then it will be happy to be returned to its (or a) beloved river where it will be free to swim again until next season.  As it turns out, bathtub slaughters aren't what they used to although they are still in existence.

Swim little fish!  For god's sake SWIM!

And also:  In Czech tradition, it's not Santa who delivers the gifts but it's Baby Jesus.  He resides high in the mountains and flies down on Christmas Eve to deliver all the gifts under the trees which are decorated in fruits and sweets.  I miss it.  I miss it all.  The sights, sounds, smells (for the most part) and the people.  One day, we will be back there.  With hot wine.

Veselé Vánoce!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened in the Restroom Today.

We've all been there, admit it.  A public restroom (in most cases work), you think you have the place to yourself and just begin to get comfortable when suddenly you've got company.  Tensions rise and all productivity comes to a painful halt.  I know you know what I'm talking about.  Then we start to think crazy nonsense like Maybe if I sit still and am very quiet they won't know I'm here.   Or If I sit here long enough they'll leave.  So you do just that.  You sit there.  And wait.  Then it gets awkward and when it's finally over and ends however it ends you spend the rest of the day wondering if your shoes will be recognized by your stall-neighbor.  Ugh, I hate it when that happens, and this morning?  Weirdest. Scenario. Ever.

So my work has a teeny tiny little workout room for staff to use on the Lower Level, out of public eye.  On my road to healing and breathing and all things good, I've been taking advantage of the fact that on just about any morning I can more than likely have the place to myself.  No pressure to get off the treadmill, no line for the elliptical (which is fine because I hate that thing anyways), no one changing the TV from CNN to Fox News and no wait for the one and only shower.  For the most part I feel like I have the run of the place in the wee hours of the morning - or I did until today.

This morning I had just gotten out of the shower and into the stall to change into the day's ensemble when the bathroom door opened and someone entered the stall next to me.  Not used to the company I paused for a hot second when I heard the familiar 'clink' of a ceramic mug settling on metal.  Huh.  I resumed trying to navigate my shirt when I heard the rustling of paper and paused again. Newspaper.  Inneresting.  And then, nothing.  They just sat there.  I continued to navigate my shirt, then another, and finally the rest of me, all the while my neighbor just sat in stone-cold silence.  An occasional rustle and clink.  How long can they possibly keep this up? I wondered, then smirked when I realized that I still had my make-up to apply.  And then things got weird.

When I exited the stall and reached down to grab my make-up bag, I of course took a quick gander at the feet that belonged to my neighbor (you know, so I could recognize them later when attached to a body) and was kinda weirded out to find not shoes, but socks.  Socks ya'll.  As in stocking feet in the bathroom.  And not just any bathroom but a work bathroom.  What the fug?  That's weird, right?  And I had to laugh cause they dangled off the ground just a little and the toes wiggled uncomfortably.  So I finished getting ready. For another 10 minutes.  I even turned the blow dryer on (even though I didn't really need it) for a few minutes, just to give the poor soul some relief.  I turned off the blow dryer, clink, rustle, wiggle.  That's it.  We were at a stand off.

And then I surrendered to the faceless toes.  I couldn't take it any more and somehow I was the one who felt awkward.  I felt like I was the one who was doing the intruding and I had to leave.  I quickly packed up my belongings and scurried outside before I was recognized.   So, lesson of the day boys and girls?   When faced with potentially awkward bathroom stall situations, take the shoes off.

Cau for now.