5 Things of Interest – The Suffering with a Cold Edition

These are some necessities for me when I am sick:

1. Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea: When I have a cold as of late, it seems to like to hang out in my throat, making me sound like Fran Drescher. This tea tastes good and helps ease sore and dry throats.

2. Cute and Comfy Lounge wear: As silly as it may seem, I like to have some cute lounge wear when I’m sick. Nothing worse than feeling bad and feeling ugly too. My in-laws got me a luxurious pair of pj pants from Anthropolgie that are perfect for still feeling stylish while I hack up a lung.

3. Chicken and rice soup: Skip the noodles please. The noodles in chicken noodle soup are rarely good and after being bogged down in broth they are not improved. I recently made awesome chicken and wild rice soup. 1) dice half a yellow onion and a garlic clove or two, cook in some olive oil until tender 2) aid veggies, I like carrots and celery diced in the food processor, cook for a little bit. 3) add chicken and some chicken stock. I just bought a pre-made rotisserie chicken and stripped it and store bought stock. If you feel ambitious you could make your own. 4) Add some water and let simmer for a while so all the flavors mix.

4. Ricola: Again, my colds tend to reside in my chest/throat. Ricola isn’t super sweet or chemically tasting. Although I prefer the lemon and honey flavor.

5. Netflix: I don’t get to enjoy as much movie and tv as I once did before my son was born but if he is off at daycare or asleep, netflix is my go to for some bad tv or movie to take my mind off my suffering.

On Thirteen Years

I don’t usually like to mark anniversaries of sad events, especially deaths because it is better to celebrate a person’s life than remember their exit. But today, on my way home from work I had a sudden need to listen to Pearl Jam’s Release. Since my marriage into the Jamily, this song has been one that really touched me and reminded me of my dad’s passing. As Eddie started toward the crescendo of the song, my thoughts went to the date. Was it December 4th? Yes, it had to be because I dated a letter today with the 4th. And as Eddie’s voice ached with “Oh dear dad/Can you see me now/I am myself/Like you somehow.” I ugly cried in my car because I realized it had been 13 years since my father left this world.

I don’t really recall December 4, 2000 well. It started sometime in the middle of the night when the hospital called to tell us my father had passed away. I did not want to go into his room and “say good bye” because I had a belief that if I saw my father’s body, it would erase all my memories of his life. I don’t believe I cried that night. We returned home in the early morning hours and my uncle who had been staying with us instructed us all to try and get some sleep. Honestly, most of the following days are a blur with brief snippets of remembrance of consoling hugs, gentle reminders to “eat something” and comments about how loved my father was.

I only remember the date now as a marker. My life changed after December 4, 2000. There is the life I had when my father was alive and there is the life that has happened since my father passed. After December 4, 2000, I moved to Los Angeles. I graduated from law school. I married my husband. I had my son, who is named after my dad. I would have loved to see how my dad would have been as a grandparent. I imagine he would have handled my son much as he talked to me as child, which was the same amount of respect he spoke to adults. Taking seriously my son’s concerns even if they involve concerns about volcanos in the middle of Los Angeles.

I think I am most sad that we never got to have a chance to know each other as adults. I was only 21 when he passed away; too young to see him as anything but my dad. Too young for him to see me as a grown woman. In the last 13 years my relationship with my mom has grown and matured. We talk about parenthood now and the issues with getting anything done with a toddler under foot. I would love to compare parenthood tales with my dad and get his thoughts on my work life as an attorney. It is his fault after all that I went to law school (“What’s the worst that can happen?” he said).

Though today I feel sadness. I also feel my dad watching over me and it was him tugging at me to listen to Release (even though I am pretty sure my dad didn’t know who Pearl Jam was) letting me know he is there if I need to talk to him. “Meet me on the other side

Love you, Dad.

5 Things of Interest

Eat: Pumpkin S’more Doughnut Muffin – I am not big into baking. I love cooking but baking just requires too much attention to detail (i.e. actually measuring stuff). Will someone come make these for me? They look so amazing! 

Want: Homemade Gin Kit – Is this even legal? I am not sure but it certainly looks interesting. Sometimes I think I should start a blog called “Mmmm Gin!”

Think: Dark & Disturbing World of Thomas the Train – If you are a parent of a small child, you have probably been forced to watch at least one episode of Thomas & Friends. This show is torture for me and my husband which of course means our son is obsessed with it. In fact, we had created a game for ourselves in which we would try and guess how many seconds into an episode it would be before someone was “cross” about something. Someone is always cross on that show. This article discussed the darker aspects of the cartoon which only adults seem to see. If you are reading this and thinking “who thinks about cartoons this much?” you probably don’t have kids. 

Look: Adventure is Calling – My husband has renewed his interest in astronomy and found this excellent time lapse video of the Arizona sky. It *almost* makes me want to go camping. I said ALMOST.

Laugh: People with No Kids – This is so funny IF you have kids. It’s funny because it’s true.

Sunday Song: Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys

First, I need to give a shout out to ALT 98.7. I know there are all kinds of talk about “music discovery” products nowadays but for me the main way I find new music is the old fashioned way, on the radio. Thankfully, its not like the old days where if you heard a song on the radio you then had to wait patiently for it to come back on and then hold your cassette tape next to the radio. For me, ALT 98.7 is the place I find new jams. It doesn’t replace my favorite radio station from my hometown CD102.5 but it scratches the itch. I know that is not the hip station for new music but I am just being honest here. Other stations that known in LA as tastemakers do not tend to play music I love. I preference is for great beats, loud and fast. Folk versions of AC/DC don’t usually make me want to turn the radio up. This doesn’t mean I think ALT 98.7 doesn’t get some things wrong (STOP PLAYING IMAGINE DRAGONS!) but I find a lot of great new songs on there that I probably wouldn’t “discovery” via some app.

On to the song! This song starts with a huge bass drum thump and a downtempo bass guitar that has a bit of distortion to it. I am in love with rock that sounds like real music and hasn’t been smoothed out too much. Real rock should be a little messy, in my opinion. The song never gets very fast but it builds with a chorus that is loud with lots of voice.

Its not so much a song about getting back together with someone as it is that sick feeling we have all had after a break up where we’re still hooked on the person and we can’t shake it. Trying to go back  over and over to the person, whether we should. The sound has that kind of drank too much, late night sound. The feeling when last call comes and goes and you find yourself calling your ex even though you know you shouldn’t.

These lyrics scream drunk dialing to me:

Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few?
‘Cause I always do
Maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new
Now I’ve thought it through

Official Video for Do I Wanna Know?

Sunday Song: Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine

Sometimes I hear a song and I only get about half the lyrics. And from that partial understanding, I assume the rest. I thought this was a more empowerment song based on the chorus, especially the line “It’s hard to dance with the devil on our back, so shake him off.” To me that is a great image for when I am feeling dragged down with worry and stress. I think of all that stress and such as the devil and I should just shake it off and rise above. This is how I heard the song. Another lyric that lead me to this was “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Which to me says “hang in there, its going to get better.” Combine this with the kind of fast pace of the song and the way it rises with a loud voice. It seems triumphant. It seems to say “You’re going to be okay. Just shake it off!”

In reading the lyrics, I am not sure that is really want the intention of the song is. It seems to be a tale of love gone wrong. That won’t stop me from belting out the parts I remember in the car after a bad day at work. Because this is the perfect kind of song for that. Its loud and it repeats. When you are trying to beat out a bad day, there is nothing better than a chorus that repeats the heck out of itself so even if you didn’t know the lyrics before you will by the end of of the first chorus.

The video is pretty odd. It reminded me for Annie Lennox and apparently I am not alone in that as the comparison is noted in the wikipedia article about the song.

Official Video for Shake It Out

On My Latest Obsession, Coconuts

The past two months or so I have become a bit obsessed with coconut. It’s gotten so bad when I saw something coconut at the grocery recently and wanted to buy it, my husband looked at me with a serious and slightly concerned look and asked “Are you sure you aren’t pregnant?” (I’m not! Don’t start a bump watch!)

I thought it was time to catalog some of the amazing and not so amazing things I have tried that contain coconut.

1. Watermelon Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream Frosting: I am not a huge watermelon fan as the texture always seems slightly gritty to me. However, at the time we were having a heat wave so a no-bake, cold cake sounded ideal, plus coconut whipped cream. The coconut whipped cream made this for me. Honestly, I could probably eat foam peanuts with coconut whipped cream slathered on them.

2. Nature’s Path Coconut Chia Granola: You see? It’s got chia so it’s good for me. In case you were asking yourself, “Chia? Like Chia Pet?” Yep! Apparently, it’s not just good for growing fake pets but good for you (and good at getting stuck between your teeth). This granola is addictive. I have had plenty of days when I have eaten this for breakfast AND an afternoon snack.

3. Fearless Chocolate Exploding Coconuts: Fearless Chocolate gives grants to do good, which is awesome. And the actual chocolate is tasty. Disappointingly, the coconut in this was not very strong. I was hoping for coconuts exploding in my mouth, instead it was more like someone whispering the word “coconut “while I ate chocolate. C’est la vie.

4. So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage: Since actual coconut milk is super thick (see recipe above for making coconut whipped cream) so for drinkable coconut milk, you have to get something designated “beverage.” It is a tasty drink, cold. My first taste was a small glass cold with an Uncle Eddie’s Trail Mix Cookie. I started to consider making a resolution that I only eat vegan desserts. It was that tasty (plus I thought it would be a good weight reducing strategy since it would limit my dessert options a little.) Then I either pulled the worse shot of espresso (totally possible) or I made a huge mistake in steaming coconut milk. I thought it would be an ideal latte milk but my latte tasted like I licked the outside of a coconut. I couldn’t even finish it.

So there you go. It really doesn’t seem that bad in black and white. Except this list doesn’t include the Whole Food doughnuts and cookies I have bought out of the pastry case because they were coconut something or rather. Then you’d probably be giving me the side-eye too. But when I was pregnant with my son my only craving was sparkling water so, I think we’re safe.

5 Things of Interest

Eat: Swedish Egg Coffee –  Not sure I have any reason to use an egg to make coffee but it is pretty innovative.

Want: Brocade Wall File – Why do office supplies and organization have to be ugly? They don’t!

Think: The Perfect Nap – Sleep is more important than a lot of us give us credit.

Look: Peacock Print – Love this print, it looks like it should a concert poster

Laugh:Back to School Pinterest Bitches – My child is not yet in school but I laughed all the way through this because I realized a while back I am decidedly not a Pinterest mom.


On Conflicted Feelings

My parents originally met when they both lived in Chicago. By the time I was two, they lived in the suburbs in Ohio. They would tell stories about their lives in Chicago, taking trains to work and watching the building of the Sears Tower from skyscrapers. The manicured lawns of suburbia seemed dull in comparison. I often daydreamed what my life would have been like had my parents decided to stay in Chicago instead of where they ended up. Even though they had told me the schools were dangerous and there was nowhere for kids to play, I imagined walking past interesting stores and learning to hail cabs.

As I got older, the more I longed for the life I never had. I wanted to go somewhere urban. I wanted to go to a big city. I wanted to get the heck out of Ohio. I looked at college brochures for out of state colleges but the reality was my family couldn’t afford for me to go out of state so I settled for going two hours away. I loved my undergrad and was happy with my choice. But I still hoped to one day escape the borders of Ohio.

After college I managed to break free of the gravity of Ohio. Off I went to Los Angeles. At the time I did not know how long I would be in LA. I didn’t know if I could “make it.” 12 years later, I don’t think about “making it” My life is my life and it takes place on the backdrop of Los Angeles. It is hard to imagine it being any other way than it is today.

Except recently I traveled back to Ohio to visit family and friends with my husband and son. It was a little like the movie Sliding Doors. We hung out with friends on the lawn enjoying the unseasonably cool evening while the kids frolicked as I once had done. And I saw the life I might have lived had I remained. I noticed my husband, also a Midwestern ex-pat, looking wistful. We both love living in Los Angeles but that doesn’t mean we are blind the advantages of our Midwestern roots (pronounced ruts). We likely could have a comfortable multi-bedroom home with basement in the Midwest for what we pay for our two-bedroom apartment. We could be closer to our family, which would mean help with child rearing.

It’s a conflict in my mind that I just have to live with. LA is home now. When we landed back at LAX, I felt that release of tension that arriving at your heart’s home brings. Today, our first full day back in Los Angeles was wonderful and restful. We had fun on vacation but there is just something about home, right? My feelings about LA don’t stop the “What ifs?” though.

Some of us spend so much of our life trying to get away from where we grew up; only to wonder what would have been had we never left.

On My Month As a Vegetarian

Prior my husband moving in with me a few thousand years ago (or 10 but who’s counting) I had become a vegetarian; except when I went out to eat. This was for two reasons 1) handling raw meat kind of gives me the icks (also known as the heebie jeebies) 2) I was pretty broke.

When he moved in he demanded three things change 1) we have a TV 2) we have furniture over three feet tall* 3) we have meat available to eat. As the ever accommodating partner that I am (or stubborn strong willed. You say potato…) I only grudgingly gave into these things including having meat on the regular.

I continued to be kind of indifferent to meat. Yes, I have my days when I crave a hamburger or other meaty option but just as often I have a hankering for a veggie burger. As any good couple, my husband and I rubbed off on each other.  I got him to eat more vegetarian meals and he got me to eat meat more often.

Now we fast-forward to June of this year. My husband and I tried not to eat meat for every single meal. We would do vegetarian Indian dishes one night and hamburgers the next. We had discussed the vegetarian diet numerous times but my husband felt he liked meat too much to give it up. Still it intrigued both us. We kept saying “sometime we should just try being vegetarian for a month.” Toward the end of June, we volunteered to bring food to our good friends who were having their second child and the woman is vegetarian. I was pulling up all my favorite vegetarian recipes trying to choose what I wanted to make. I causally said we should pick July to try to be vegetarian for a month and my husband agreed. And so it began.

The Pros of the Month:

1)   It forced us to shake up our dinners: We had kind of been in a dinner doldrums. We had a lot of go to meals we made every week because they were easy and we couldn’t think of what else to fix. When we couldn’t have hamburgers or spaghetti with meat sauce, we had to shake things up. We tried a lot of new meals which were amazing.

Carrot & Garbanzo Bean Salad (cannot find actual recipe; was similar to this one)

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

We also realized Rao’s Roasted Eggplant Spaghetti Sauce was AMAZING with tofu instead of ground beef or ground turkey.

2)   We discovered some new restaurants and food options out that we might have passed over if meat had been an option.

Doomies Home Cooking was great (though not super healthy)

True Food Kitchen was stupendous and much healthier and also had meat options.

3)   We were mindful of the things we were eating in general. If you have any kind of restriction to your options, it makes you think about what you are going eat for sure.

The Cons of this Month

1)   We discovered fast food is very geared toward meat eaters. I am not saying there aren’t fast vegetarian options but it is much easier to find fast food hamburgers.

We were running errands and ended up at the mall to pick up some contacts I had ordered at Lenscrafters and were all hungry (including our almost 2 year old. In case you don’t know toddlers do not handle hunger well!) We figured the food court had to have something. It turned out the pickings were slim! We settled on Frida Taco  My husband and I got Calabasas Tacos, which were made with zucchini. I took our son to get a table and my husband waited for the tacos. When he eventually made it to the table I asked what took so long and he said they had to make the zucchini. Apparently we were the first people to order that option ever.

2)   The Hollywood Bowl does not have a lot of vegetarian options.

My job had an event at the Hollywood Bowl, which included dinner. There were 6 meals options and only one was vegetarian.  And I am not going to lie, it sucked. It didn’t taste bad but it was a sad pasta dish with some pathetic mushrooms and wilted spinach. Meanwhile my coworkers were noshing on amazing looking roasted chicken and thick cut pork chops. The only thing that saved our meal was a huge piece of cheesecake at the end.

3)   People are very concerned when you decide to go vegetarian.

I didn’t mind the conversations it prompted but the initial reaction could be a bit off putting. “A whole month!” was something I heard often. There were definitely time that I didn’t feel like having an extended conversation about what I was eating.

4)   I did not lose any weight.

I had hoped a side benefit of this experiment would be that I would lose weight. I did not. It turns out my favorite junk foods are vegetarian so it didn’t slow me down from some between meal snacking. That is something I just need to work on.

Overall it was a great experiment. The outcome has been that my husband and I have decided to become flexiterian. Basically keep eating mostly vegetarian  and throw in meat but only very high quality meat on occasion. We both realized we don’t really need meat to get through the day and we like the idea of challenging ourselves to eat healthier and more sustainably.

As of today the challenge is over. I have an awful cold so I haven’t left the house or felt very hungry and therefore not eaten any meat yet. My husband ate sushi for lunch to break his meat fast but indicated it was not as amazing as he expected and he was happy to continue on without much meat in his diet.


* I am 5’3” so when I was living by myself, I outfitted my apartment in furniture that I could easily maintain/reach the top of. Apparently it made my 6’ tall husband feel like he had moved into Lilliput.

Sunday Songs (2 for 1): Stubborn Love – The Lumineers & Elephant – Tame Impala

Stubborn Love – The Lumineers

This is one of those songs I classify as auditory crack. When I downloaded it from iTunes, I listened it on loop a few thousand times. And still a month or so later, I find myself putting it on at least once a day to help myself through the day. I just need my hit of it.

I love the bouncy flavor, its one of those songs that I can listen to when I am having  a hard day and it reminds me to keep going both lyrically (“Keep your head up….looooove”) and also with the great guitar and rhythm.

My favorite line is “The opposite of love is indifference.” I never really thought about it before but it is such an absolute truth. If you are made or angry with something it means you care what they did. If you don’t care anymore the love and caring are gone.

Official Video for Stubborn Love

Elephant – Tame Impala

My husband’s car has this amazing function called RDS (Radio Data System) that tells you the name of a song on the radio (assuming the station has the encoding available.) One night I was out on my own driving his car and this song came on. I thought for sure it was some Beatles song I had managed to never hear on Breakfast with the Beatles. The RDS informed me it was not the Beatles (the way it scrolled I wasn’t sure if the song was Tame Elephant or Impala or…)

I love the strut in this song. It makes me feel like I should be walking with great purpose down a runway (or just down the street).

I played the song for my husband who is a huge Beatles fan and he seemed so confused. Even he thought it was the Beatles at first. Apparently John has been reincarnated as a Aussie named Kevin. My husband pointed out there is a bit of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, which I definitely hear too.

My next experiment will be to play this song for my mom and see what she thinks.

Official Video for Elephant