The chief enemy of creativity... is "good" sense. ~Pablo Picasso

Kona bound...

It may sound glamorous. Hawaii for work. But it is the Big Island... not quite the tropical tranquility that most people think of. Think... black lava fields and black top. It's beautiful in it's own way... and I can't complain about the athletes that show up ripped and rearing to race. It's not a surprise why they call the beach where everyone swims the first leg of the Ironman World Championships, "Digme" beach. The people who don swimwear the week leading up to the big race... are specimens...

The downfall is of course the packing. For me, packing is like pulling teeth. Not just because I don't have anything "new" to pack this year, but because I just hate packing. I don't know what it is. Why is it so painful for me to pick out clothes. It's a daily grind for me...

Well, the good news is that last year we found and fell in love with a little "hut" in Kona that sells the most amazing acai bowls we've ever had (it's called Basik Acai).  And... conveniently enough we also scored rooms at the hotel next door which is also next door to where we shoot TriCenter all week!

                              And we all know the deal with food this year... it's totally legal.

I mean really... if you HAD to... wouldn't you eat one of these everyday??

Now we won't be feeling our shoes melt on the blacktop during the marathon, or fighting the winds on the bike... but we need good nourishment too... :)

And don't forget Ponchoman! He's our Hawaiian native Ukelele player. Here's a preview... things get kinda crazy around ponchoman...

and i suppose it won't totally suck to wake up to this everyday...

But just so we're all clear, no new bathing suits, no new dresses, no souvenirs... just good food, great company and a race that I guarantee won't disappoint. 

I guess packing for this trip means... I get to go on a trip... not so bad :)

And dad... don't worry I'm packing a bunch of your shampoo/conditioner packets. I use half the shampoo on my hair, the other half as body wash, and all the conditioner! You done good :)

"Destruction therapy"

Remember this....

 Well that only got me so far... and times they are a changing.

 I've found myself having to utilize a lot of self control these days. For example... we have one of our friends staying with us. In the bathroom stands a very full and new flavor of toothpaste that promises everything under the sun.

It's his. Not mine. But do you know how badly I want to squeeze a pea size amount onto my toothbrush?

Not only because I yearn for a new flavor (that's the other trouble with buying in bulk all the time... there's no variety!) But also because a few peas out of his toothpaste would buy me a few more days from my own stash! ha. It's this almost humorous, "instinctual" notion. I mean seriously...
(don't worry I'm laughing at myself right now just thinking about how ridiculous it would be to "steal" someones toothpaste... right?)

Ok. So the point is that maybe I'm reaching a point... not so much of despair... or desperation... but frustration.

Some people take part in what they call "retail therapy".
I take part in something more like "destruction therapy". Albeit on a very small and necessary scale.

Look how much more was in there!! And to think I had to take a HAMMER and bust this thing apart... doesn't it seem a little overkill... On THEIR end?? 

Does a product I paid for... really need to be on this much lockdown?

I really do like you Bare Minerals... but for this one... you just might go on the "list"....

Confession #1

I've numbered this... because I anticipate having to do it again. We are human.

So two days before I was supposed to fly out to Washington to do my ironman distance race, I was concerned. I've had some running injuries over the last few years. First it was shin splints, then compartment syndrome... the worst. I had to take a year off - as in 12 full months of no running. Zero. Not that it was a huge stretch... there were days I could barely walk to class... Luckily, taking the time off and some rehab and I was back on the right track. Not only did I find compression tubes and socks (helps alleviate a little of the pain), but I was also outfitted with orthotics - not cheap. It took a few weeks wearing them a little every day to get used to them, but it seemed to do the trick. But it's never that easy is it...

This May I was 2/3 of the way through the 70.3 at Wildflower and it was time for the run... the damn run. A quarter mile in, shins are feeling good, even at half a mile I wasn't feeling any tinge of pain but about a quarter mile later... my knee hurt. My knee???? What the ...?

Where was this coming from? The outside of my right knee had this shooting pain when I ran... but not when I walked. You gotta be kidding me... right? But what are you going to do... I've been told I'm a fast walker, but trust me... if you CAN run 13 miles... you'd rather. It's over so much faster that way! Ugggh.
Luckily I found a young man who apparently really isn't all that interested in triathlons, but his friends are, and he doesn't feel like sitting at the campground. We walked together for a good 6 or 7 miles before he was antsy to get moving again... lucky. Long story short my half marathon time was a very drawn out 2 hours and 55 minutes...

Well... my new "knee" pain was diagnosed as an IT band issue. The way to fix it is to roll the muscle on the outside of your leg on this big foam roller. It's not a particularly enjoyable exercise... Let me rephrase that, it's not enjoyable in the least... at least when you're IT band is really tight, like mine was. Well I suffered through a lot of rolling and knew I could go about 6 miles before the pain would kick in.

That wouldn't get me very far in the 26.2 miles I was looking at 2 days from then... after the 112 mile bike... which is most likely the reason I have an IT band issue... cycling.

OK so...2 days before I was leaving for the 140.6... I was worried because I had switched shoes recently, and although I loved how everything was feeling in terms of mileage... they seemed tight! Obviously I hadn't been able to do a lot of running in preparation for this so I was concerned they were ok for the 6-7 mile runs I had been doing, but might not work for the long haul. I broke down. I admit it!

I went into RoadRunner sports... I looked at the guy and said, "these shoes are great, but they feel a little tight... could I just try a bigger size?" He obliged and when I took the shoes off, he saw I had my orthotics in and pulled one of them out for me to put in the new shoe....

He looked at me, looked at Peter, Peter looked at him and they both rolled their eyes....

They were too tight because I had the original insole PLUS my orthotics... I'm an idiot :)

Good news though... when we took the other insole out... they fit great! ha.

I think the saying goes "God watches out for fools and children" - good thing I'm both!

Needless to say, I was feeling very guilty about buying a pair of shoes, but I was desperate. I walked out of there without buying anything new. whew.

happy birthday... for free!

Not buying anything for a year was originally designed to use stuff up, but I certainly can't complain that I've almost forgotten my debit card number on a few occasions because it's used that infrequently... :)

With my bank account thanking me, it dawned on me, perhaps my friends bank accounts are thanking me too...

My birthday was a few days ago and aside from being "homemade" many people surprised me with their creations of my favorite things.

In Grand Coulee Washington two of my best friends surprised me with date bars and banana bread (made with recipes I gave them as a "nothing new" gifts earlier this year).

One friend created these cool flowers out of of the cardboard toilet paper rolls and tissue paper saved from previous gifts.

This was a cute decoupaged box filled with magazine articles about making handbags from old newspapers, or jewelry boxes from cigar cases!

Some just can't help but shop! ha but even they sought out gifts like this one...

Earrings made from "repurposed fabric" not to mention it has "cupcake" and "cartwheels" in the name... it's like they know me! (do you remember the movie "Elf"... )

Some just sent me heartfelt messages saying they knew it would mean more to me than a tangible purchase... I do love a good cry :)

I hope they all took those few extra dollars they may have saved and bought themselves a real nice bottle of lotion or conditioner... so I can use a squirt next time I visit! ha

it's rubbing off...

Even though I'm pretty sure Peter rolled his eyes when I told him I wasn't going to buy anything new for a year... and he certainly hasn't "entirely" jumped on board... I think it's rubbing off, even if only a little. 

I awoke this morning to this beautiful arrangement. I say arrangement because I'm not exactly sure what the sprigs in the back are, and he doesn't know either, but that's kind of the point... You see, I love fresh flowers, but man, talk about a waste of money. Especially when you're leaving... today. 

In the middle of the night he snuck out and raided our neighborhood. No joke. I can just see him out there scaling fences, wearing all black, carrying a walkie talkie (just for show of course, since there wasn't anyone awake to talk to... I wouldn't be surprised if he held his finger up to his ear and pretended he was on some big bank heist... )

There were remnants in the trash of a few flowers that just didn't make the cut!  ha. We all know about the Bougainvilla's but I had no idea about the Sunflowers... I'll probably never know, because they're behind someones 8 ft fence in an attempt to avoid burglars :) 

and then... a big beautiful acai bowl the size of my head was laid in front of me...
raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, nectarines from Grand Coulee, strawberries, granola, bee pollen... a little slice of Heaven. Just some old favorites that couldn't begin to beat out new finds. 

Disclaimer: He just told me that he did not "steal" from anyones private garden. Everything was "within reach"... and that he does not condone stealing! ha 


I haven't thrown up since 2nd grade. But... after downing 1500 calories worth of strawberry Ensure and imagining the day I had ahead of me... that smell of 2000 flushes blue came flooding over me... thankfully my fathers upbringing overcame me as well... A four pack of Ensures runs you about $8 - way too expensive to throw up.

The janitor from the high school must have sensed some anxiety... He offered to pray over me before the race - I was hoping it wasn't a one time deal... Lord knows I was going to need a few more hours than that... Grand Columbian iron distance Tri... here i come.

I thought about my buddy Lew Hollander that morning. He was 79 years old when I found him trying to finish the Ironman 2 years ago. Struggling at 11pm with just one more hour to finish... to be considered an "ironman"

I joked and jogged with him... balling my eyes out when he crossed just 6 minutes before midnight. The next year we met up again for our "date" - this time an hour sooner (he had improved that much!) He was the reason I even considered doing this. I wanted to finish this race so that when I see him in Kona in a few weeks I can make good on our deal that I'd complete an ironman distance race too.

I told this story to the high school kids at a pep assembly in Grand Coulee the day before. Some 50 kids out of the 200 were volunteering and I wanted them to know how much we appreciated them handing out water and spending their day helping us finish this crazy race.

Headed into the water with my wave. Two loops of 1.2 miles. I love the swim. My favorite part.
200 yards in... I'm all wet and warm - and not by my own doing, if you know what I mean...

I started taking on water! wetsuit had come unzipped and I was soaking wet within seconds. Luckily we had to exit at the beach, run across a timing mat and then do the loop again. Someone would help me get zipped back up on the beach... right?

Running out of the water I said "can someone help me?" Shockingly - no one moved. Two of my girlfriends from Iowa came up for the race from Seattle and heard me yell and ran down the hill to me. They put me back together and I ran back into the water. Now I was frantic. I put my head down and tried to make up time. Eagerly awaiting the moment where I would finally see feet in front of me I just kept at it. I sensed something nearby but it wasn't feet. It was a canoe, with a man who looked at me and said, "excuse me ma'am you're going the wrong way".

My right hand is stronger than my left and it's hard enough to swim in a straight line. Damnit. In my mind it was a better strategy to angle towards the buoy I was supposed to swim around rather than make a sharp right turn and then head north again. Canoe Man was probably getting quite a kick out of this... "you're still going the wrong way"... a few minutes later "nope - you gotta go more that way" he pointed.

I finally made it back on track and to the beach where my poor camera man was probably wondering why exactly he got assigned to the rookie...

Sopping wet I conveniently forgot to put a towel into my transition bag. I told you I'd forget something...

All our bikes were lined up together. I strolled past all the nice tribikes (supposed to help your average about 2 miles faster and hour)... I just had my regular old road bike with aero bars. The guys who did the first ever Ironmans did it on old school bikes so i figured if they could do it, I could do it on the bike I already sunk a grand into... bikes aren't cheap....

The first 56 miles were pretty hilly... thankfully it was at the beginning when you still think you're invincible... But the views were absolutely incredible. Remember the song... when we walked in fields of gold? I thought i'd seen it before... but it paled in comparison to the rolling golden fields that flanked that first half. Every 20 minutes I was supposed to be eating half of a GU packet. The thought behind it being, if you get behind on intaking calories, you're screwed. It's rather important that you not ever get to a point of being hungry or thirsty because at that point it's too late. Minor detail. I don't eat until I'm hungry and I don't drink until I'm thirsty...

Peter rode the bike course with me, reminding me to eat and drink. One time I got kind of mouthy and he said "Ann, you're being mean to me because you're blood sugar's low. You take a big swallow of that GU and talk to me in a couple of minutes" I hate when he's right :)

If you've ever had a GU packet you're probably very thankful for a product that can supply you with all the nutrients you need in one swallow... But 7 hours of GU (12 packets) is another story. Unfortunately, nothing else sounded good.

The side of the road looked good for my bowels on one occasion... but not for the other.

Had to detour into a small town on the route. Hartline, Wa. Population 134.  Popped into a cafe that said it was "open".  It wasn't going to be pretty and I'm not one of those hard core triathletes that was willing to sit in my own poo for the next 40 miles.They looked a little surprised when I walked in... I kind of forgot I was in day glo yellow...

I have all these nice shots because that poor camera man who got suckered into this was right alongside me riding backseat on a Harley... the whole ride. The town of Grand Coulee must have been pretty concerned with my abilities because the high school janitor who prayed over me earlier in the day also tagged along for the entire ride on his motorcycle too. God Bless 'em.

I finally turned the corner for the last 27 miles and almost lost my marbles. It was one of the most stunning views I'd ever seen. Sheer rock faces and a roaring river ran along side me and the Grand Coulee damn spanned as far as I could see. It helped that at some points I was hitting 27 miles an hour. Certainly a nice change up from the 9 mph I was averaging with a headwind a few miles back. Any sort of angst just melted away as the scenery took my breath away. I never knew this part of the country was so darn pretty.

Then it was time for the fun part, or so that's what everyone told me. My friends Mary and Margeaux came in from Seattle and planned to split the marathon with me. Well as Margeaux and I headed down by the Grand Coulee Dam (It is the largest electric power-producing facility in the United States[3] and one of the largest concrete structures in the world)  They denied her access because she didn't have a wristband.

Luckily there was a nice woman from Montana who was a fast talker like me and the next thing we knew, 13.1 miles were down and we were back at transition. She needed some ibuprofen and I needed cake.

 To celebrate Margeaux's birthday the next weekend I brought a cake and had it waiting in transition. We sang happy birthday to her and I tore a piece off... ready for a change up from all the GU. It was chocolate. They had talked someone into giving them wristbands and so loop 2 I enjoyed with some fellow Iowa Hawkeyes who filled me in on the big win earlier in the day... It was about time. It only takes one loss in college football...let's not get into that right now.

In the bottom of the canyon one aid station was making s'mores, another one had music pumping from their car. By nightfall everyone had been given flashlights or glow sticks and we looked like a bunch of ravers in the bottom of a canyon!

they always have these funny heat blankets that look like tinfoil.

For once... I actually got to be on the other side of the microphone at a finish line.

One of the tallest high school boys I'd ever seen handed me a cup full of warm chicken noodle soup and I headed over to strap up to my Pre-purchased IV. Probably the single greatest purchase of my life. $35 and 20 minutes later I was popping up off the cot and loading up my bike to go to bed. Well maybe "popping" isn't the right word, but I was moving.

Got home to the SunBanks Resort and Peter and the girls had made the post race meal I picked out the day before...

Red Baron pizza, ShockTop and Ibuprofen :) This was only because there wasn't a McDonalds in town... the next day I got the real reason I did a 140.6

A McDouble. Two patties, one slice of cheese... .99 cents.

The race director knocked on my door the next morning and said
"Ann you'd be proud, we had even more high school kids out volunteering than we originally thought."

I figured they wanted to witness the delirious blonde girl who "claimed" she could do this race.

"We thought they were getting tired around 11pm. The finish line was kind of thinning out. We saw some of them leaving with their flashlights... but then about 20 minutes later we saw all these flashlights bounding towards us... The kids had run out and started "adopting athletes, just like you told them"

I'm crying just writing this...

 That day at the pep assembly I just hoped I wouldn't be so boring that they didn't listen, didn't care. I just wanted them to know that as insignificant as it may seem to hand a person water... that may be exactly what they need, but may not be able to show their appreciation. I had no idea they would hear every single word and take it to heart... I've met some pretty incredible people in my life. But now alongside Dean Kamen and Lew Hollander are the kids from Lake Roosevelt High School.

But who was I kidding... An entire pizza, a McDouble, 140.6 miles later, and the emotional roller coaster those kids sent me on... this is what I was really doing :)

I said I just wanted to do one. Just wanted to be able to relate to all the triathletes I interview... but what if my wetsuit stayed zipped? what if I had a tri-bike and could average 2 more miles an hour... what if... I could rehab all my injuries and make up time on the run?? They warned me... Can someone get this itch...right here in the back...ha ha

Me, my Dad and Aunt Flow

Arriving home very late Sunday night I was greeted by a box. Presumably an early birthday present... I opened it only to find an entire box full of free samples. Half of them are shampoo and conditioners from Garnier. The other half... are pads. No joke. Like Kotex pads... the kicker... the box is from my DAD. No note, no happy birthday, no nothing. 

When was the last time you even thought about having a conversation with your father about "Aunt Flow"??? ha. 

Don't get me wrong, the shampoo and conditioner is great, although the point is to use up the old stuff, and now I just have more! I figure it could be good to put in the emergency kit we're all putting together after our power outage a few weeks ago, but seriously... pads??? At least he's concerned with my health I suppose :) 

Sorry, the story of the Iron distance Tri I did this weekend will be here tomorrow... I promise. 

I get by with a little help from my friends...

I don't like a lot of "stuff" - apparently I'm in the wrong sport for that...

This is what I'm told I'll need for Saturday. Not Friday, or Sunday - Just Saturday. oh... and a bike. And we'll be stopping at the grocery store for PB&J fixins... For a person with ADD - what do you think the chances are I'll forget something? ha! That's precisely why I'm going "to TRI with a little help from my friends". 

I've conned someone into joining me, if only for someone to talk to, for the entire journey... minus the first 2.4 miles. It's hard to talk while you're swimming anyway.

When I did Wildflower in May I talked to anyone within earshot. There was a guy wearing a "J" Vineyards jersey who looked at me like I was crazy when I told him that their Pinot Grigio was one of my favorites. He told me he's in their wine club and that I could get a jersey too. Then there was the poor guy on the run who was also dealing with a little knee pain. He stuck with me for 6 or 7 miles as I educated him on Dean Kamen, probably the most important inventor of our time...He confided in me that he wasn't really a big athlete, but he just liked hanging out with his friends and this is what they liked to do.
Back at camp everyone wanted to know how the race went, they were all surprised to hear me tell all these stories of other athletes (and not much about my GU consumption or recounting the hill known as the "nasty grade"... )
How do you know all this? they asked me...

Apparently... making conversation with other athletes during a triathlon is frowned upon. Well I can promise you that spending 7+ hours without talking to anyone... really doesn't do it for me. So what do you do when you're staring at a race that's going to take you twice that amount of time... you start recruiting! and you pick a race that's scenic, because I'll be spending a lot of time out there, and that let's you bring friends!

Beautiful scenery, a nice lake swim, Wholesome people, Snickers, Gatorade, and an IV waiting for me at the end. I'm in.

Grand Columbian

Nostalgia: the recipe

Just when you think you're parents aren't really listening...

I got a phone call the other day from my mom. Apparently while she was in the basement busy pedaling her 1910 sewing machine, busy stitching up some ruffly curtains for the inhabitants in the van... down by the river... she had an idea.

With this whole "nothing new for a year" thing she was envisioning my dilemma's in the future, in terms of gifts. Now I'm by no means the person who showers folks with expensive items, mainly because I can't, but more so because I like to make people cry. It's the "thought that counts"right? We've heard it a million times, but I really do believe that a gift that you can't really "buy" makes for a better, more memorable gift anyway. It does however pose another problem... Giving a one of a kind, make you tear up gift is not always easy. Hence the gift card. The "non gift" - "gift" if you will. You can't screw up with a gift card. It takes a lot of thought to really nail down a sentimental.. but not totally worthless... homemade gift.

This is how I had it figured. Christmastime is approaching... as is the gift giving tradition. This Saturday I'll spend at least one hour with my head down swimming in circles...Then I've got 7, if not closer to 8 hours pedaling my bike, and, let's be serious, after all that I can't imagine I won't finish 26.2 miles in less than 5 hours. Worse case, that's 17 hours of my Saturday that I won't be distracted by Facebook, or text messages, or those darn Kardashians, no Today show, no funny YouTube videos, and certainly no aimless staring into the refrigerator, so I thought I'd brainstorm on gifts for people.

I guess my mom was a few steps ahead of me.

I got this box in the mail a few days ago.

It's a box of  her old recipes. She's never put them into a book or really had them organized. As a kid, we spent as much time looking for the recipe as it took to make it the dish. What's funny, is that she always could describe to me what it looked like. 
"it's on a piece of paper that has a 7-Up logo on the bottom, and it's written the long ways"
"I spilled oil on it one time when you ran into me trying to show me your "triple lutz" and so you can't really read the last few things, but I'll remember"

Well... here they are. 

She probably doesn't even need the recipe for half of these... she remembers most of it, and if she doesn't remember or doesn't have some of the ingredients she makes it up anyway! Do your moms do this? I recall being annoyed as a kid that she didn't "follow the rules" so to say when I would help her, but now I find myself doing the same thing... ha! It's probably also the reason it's a total crap shoot whether dinner turns out good or not... whaddya gonna do?

She's asked me to re-write these for her and organize them... That gift card is sounding better and better all the time huh? :) Aside from trying to decipher the hieroglyphics on each sheet, I'm making copies for myself, and recounting a lot of memories. I distinctly remember making this recipe card for her when I was a kid. It was the first recipe I made by myself and after more than a few rounds of digging for it, I made it nice and bright so it would stand out.

And this one... I must have gotten to with that infamous red pen I also took to the white leather backseat of our old Cadillac... oops

This "gift" is supposed to be for my mom, but I gotta tell ya ma, I'm keeping a copy of all these for myself and the memories too :) 

Sorting through these recipes and taking the time to write them down is something I would have never done, if I hadn't decided to make this year about making the best of what I already have. 

P.S. I haven't stumbled across one "dish". They're all baked goods :) I am my mothers daughter!

pulling straws...

The power went out yesterday in Southern California. It was creepy for a little while, until all the neighbors started coming home early from work... we all inventoried what we needed to eat up, who had enough propane in their grills, whose stoves were gas so we could boil water, we even strapped on the headlamps and made snickerdoodles in our gas oven! The next thing you know, everyone is noticing how bright the moon is, and we're having conversation... that isn't distracted. A few glasses of wine in we took a walk around the neighborhood. 

 People were out on their porches, grilling as well, outdoor table sets that probably hadn't been used since the first day they came home were lit with candles. Even random conversation was taking place. We were swapping pieces of information we'd all gathered from here and there and confiding in each other that this was actually kind of fun. 

Aside from making a list of all the things we were going to pull from the fridge when we risked opening the door for 10 seconds, it was actually very calming. 

In our group at least, cell phones were on their last bars... and word was spreading we wouldn't have power until late the next day. At first, it was almost uncomfortable, innate to reach for that phone every few minutes only to stop yourself, realizing you really shouldn't waste that last bit of battery just to check the news feed on Facebook. 

It was a sad reminder for me, that I've become too engrossed with all that. I like to keep up on exciting events in my friends lives, but sometimes I find myself so involved with everyone elses... I forget to experience the ones in my own. 

A really great guy I went to high school with committed suicide a few days ago. On the outside, he was one of the happiest guys you'd ever met... and everyone agreed... according to the hundreds of wall posts that have popped up over the last few days. But "liking" someones status isn't the same as a smile or a pat on the back in person. A comment on a picture isn't the same as re-telling the story behind the picture... and getting a genuine reaction. Changing a status from "engaged" to "married" isn't quite the same as witnessing the vows in person. 

My friend Mike was well loved - but I'm afraid the words on the screen on his Facebook page aren't enough. It's more important to now. 

I found myself distraught this morning that I pulled the last straw from the box to put in my Xenergy. Until I realized, I hadn't drawn the last straw at all....


There was some serious thought about naming this one "cups" after one of the most hilarious YouTube videos of all time... I didn't, but you should still go watch the video... Mista Balloon Hands.

I like to drink milk. Usually... A LOT of milk. A regular glass, will be filled about 3 times during a dinner with me.... or one really big Mason Jar can get the job done. I'm not sure if being poor was more the catalyst for hanging onto Pom glasses or the fact that they're just really awesome, but I'm sure glad I did. Those Pom people up and changed it on me. Every once in a while I can find a few of them at a thrift store, but my trusty Mason jars are usually a pretty easy find.

The point of this whole story is not to try and legitimize a cupboard that makes my mother cringe every time she opens (which isn't very often mind you. She thinks having dinner parties and serving drinks out of these are tacky, but I think it's nostalgic )  Mom, you'll be happy to know this is about the newest use for all the random jars that cross my path.... in addition to being wonderful drink ware :)

Jars - are the new Tupperware! We all have the cottage cheese and sour cream containers that double as poor mans Tupperware, but you always open the wrong one assuming it's the leftovers, but it's actually the one touting to be cottage cheese... that actually IS cottage cheese. Or you assume you have Cool Whip because you have a Cool Whip container that you've seen upon the last perusal through the fridge... turns out it's the little bit of mashed potatoes you forgot about a month ago...

Well I've started upgrading... partially because there's a debate going on in our house. If you open a can of olives, or beans and you don't eat all the contents, is it safe to put the opened canned good and remaining food back in the refrigerator? If you google it, which is what I do, you'll find differing opinions. I'm sure if it would kill you, that would be posted loud and clear. It may discolor it, it may make it taste funny, some say it changes the chemical makeup, whatever. To appease the fear of the unknown... I've realized there's a fairly easy solution - that also creates complete clarity of what's inside!

At Trader Joes our artichokes come in jars... jars that are perfectly sized for those leftover olives or beans you didn't use up when you opened the can the other day... or the one on the far right has leftover pasta sauce for example. Not only does this actually not waste good food, or require a purchase of new Tupperware, the lid creates a better seal to ensure a better product anyway and they're clear! You always know what's inside... without pulling out the sharpie.

We also eat a lot of pickles... So many in fact, we buy them in very large jars, that come as a two pack at Costco. The 'zero waste' family puts their meats in big jars like this when they go to the grocery store so they don't waste the butcher paper... I've been wondering what else I could do with the big pickle jars (the one on the far left) and instinctively I googled it... I know, I have a problem :) but I came across something pretty neat... kind of along the lines of the purpose of this whole blog anyway...

The Pickle Jar

  The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor
beside the dresser in my parents' bedroom.  When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar.

As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar.  They landed with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty.  Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as the jar was filled.  I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window.
When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the
coins before taking them to the bank.   Taking the coins to the bank was
always a big production.  Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck.
Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully.  "Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son.  You're going to do better than me.  This old mill town's not going to hold you back."  Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly. "These are for my son's college fund.  He'll never work at the mill all his  life like me."

We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone.   I always got chocolate.  Dad always got vanilla.  When the clerk at the ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins nestled in his palm.  "When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again."

He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar.  As they rattled
around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. "You'll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters," he said.
"But you'll get there. I'll see to that"

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town.
Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and
noticed that the pickle jar was gone.  It had served its purpose and had been removed.  A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where the  jar had always stood.

My dad was a man of few words, and never lectured me on the values of
determination, perseverance, and faith.  The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done.

When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the lowly
pickle jar had played in my life as a boy.  In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me.
No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar.  Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar.  To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make a way out for me.  "When you finish college, Son," he told me, his eyes glistening, "You'll never have to eat beans again...unless you want to."

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the holiday with my parents.  After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild.  Jessica began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms.  "She probably needs to be changed," she said, carrying the baby into my parents' bedroom to diaper her.
When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her
eyes.  She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room.  "Look," she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins.

I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out a
fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me,
I dropped the coins into the jar.  I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying
Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he
was feeling the same emotions I felt.  Neither one of us could speak.

sheer blonde, sheer joy

I was born the year of the dog, and apparently that has something to do with pessimism :) Well yesterday I was bitter about the crap conditioner I'm stuck with for a week or more until it runs out... but along with the bad, comes some good. Since I can barely brush through it after conditioning with the can't-be-gone-soon-enough Samy conditioner, usually I have to augment with a leave in conditioner. Seems wasteful I know. So here's the deal, the leave in spray isn't technically a "conditioner" I guess. It's a "leave-in nourishing spray". Call it whatever you want, just don't let me lose it...

I'm actually so impressed with this product I'm afraid to look more into it. You see, it has a sticker on it from Big Lots.

If you don't know much about Big Lots, it's basically an overstock place, that often times offers good deals because the food has pressing expiration dates, or in the case of toileteries, the brands have discontinued the product... You see my dilemma... There's a good chance the rest of the blondes in the world didn't get a stab at trying this one out and so it didn't sell very well, therefore forcing John Frieda to pull it from shelves. I pray this is not the case... Maybe I should start making a case for a comeback next June... you know how Dr. Pepper and Coke made throwback cans, heck even Mello Yellow is back!!!

I guess we'll see... I may not have anymore of that great blonde conditioner, but maybe this will buy me a few more weeks in the rankings with my blonde friend Bethany :)

So long Samy...

I haven't worn my hair down in days because it looks like crap... it looks like crap because one of the toiletries that had been shoved at the back of the cupboard was there for good reason. It's terrible. No wonder it never saw the light of day after one use...

And... it was part of a bonus pack...they were literally giving the stuff away. It's marketed as creating volume, but I can't even get a brush through it to see if that's the case. And maybe soft to the touch, and volume don't go hand in hand... but I'd like to think there's some product out there that can give it some oomph and not make it feel like sand paper...

I suppose it probably works for some people, or "Samy" wouldn't have made a living off of the stuff, but it sure as heck isn't for me. 

For once... I'm actually excited  to see the bottom of this sucker.

I'm taking notes... 

so cool...

I've been reminiscing a lot lately... not that I don't usually - in fact sometimes I have to remind myself to stay in the present - but the past really sucks me in :)

Smell is the strongest sense tied to memory - they say. If that's true, I'm definitely the lab rat to prove that theory. Since I've sadly set aside my favorite perfume for special occasions, I've been dabbling with the other scents I own. It's definitely given me a good whiff of some pretty entertaining memories. 

My high school years and probably half of my college days were spent spritzing on Cool Water Woman. In fact, if you ask my mom what I wear, she wouldn't know that I've switched to my beloved Lolita - but she's another story :)

The first spray the other day made me feel, childish. Isn't that funny? I mean seriously, it's not like I've "grown up" that much... please. I'd like to think that I'm eons beyond those days, but the truth is, aside from more big kid responsibilities and bills, and stress, I'm at the mercy of the world. Not a day goes by that I don't and learn something new... thankfully!

 I'd be a fool to think since high school and college I've somehow "figured it all out". In fact, I'm pretty sure everyday the world almost gets MORE confusing. When I was in high school there was far less "fear". Call it naivete, but when I hear the likes of Taylor Swift walking down music row at 11 trying to get a record deal, I find myself envying the "Fearless" attitude I had when I was 11. Or the hopeless romantic I was walking down the hall of my high school imagining what it would be like to finally catch the eye of my crush. Or what about the vision I had of wearing a power business suit, unlocking the door to my studio apartment, living in some big city... 

But the truth is... my crush and I would have never worked out anyway - he switched teams. And that power business suit, in a big city - not my bag. 

I dream of wide open spaces, spend my time picking out striped socks, baking chocolate zucchini cake for anyone who will eat it, sewing funny costumes out of swim cap... and anxiously awaiting that one runner who starts to cry just before the finish line... falling into my arms, so full of pride and overcome with emotion... that I can't help but cry too. 

Thank you Cool Water for helping me remember all those fun memories, but I owe you big time for helping remind me how great right now is... :)