Zumba Anyone?

I've been on leave of absence from roller derby since the beginning of October. I was experiencing foot pain and on the verge of derby burn out and needed the time off. It's been really, really nice to reclaim two weeknights per week. I've been able to read more, write more, and spend more time with family and friends.

On the downside, I've given up five hours of scheduled exercise time per week. I thought I would easily pick up the slack by trying some new classes at the gym, hiking more, and skating out-of-doors at Liberty Park on nice days. But in reality, I've just been a big slug (see above about more reading, writing and socializing). I'm embarrassed to admit it but it's true.

So, two months of leave finds me with pain-free feet but all my clothes fitting a bit more snug than I'd like. This week I hit the breaking point and decided that I need to get my butt in gear. I'm glad to report that I worked out all four days of the long weekend. This morning I met up with a friend for a spinning class. I haven't been to a spin class in weeks, maybe a month, yikes! The class was great and some new offerings at my gym have me inspired.

I think I'm going to try a Zumba class this week. Have you ever tried Zumba? Here is a youtube clip if you are unsure what Zumba class is. I think it looks ridiculously fun. Let me know if you want to join me!

Quinoa, Leek, & Cherry Stuffed Turkey Breast


Ban made a sensational stuffed turkey breast for dinner yesterday. There were only going to be five of us for Thanksgiving dinner this year so we didn't want to cook an entire turkey. He found the recipe on Dani Spies website. Here is a link to the quinoa, leek, and cherry stuffing.

We bought a turkey breast and for some reason, we were surprised when we got it home and found that it was basically a turkey with no legs or wings. I'm not sure what we were expecting, but nonetheless, we had to figure out how to debone the damn thing. Thank God, Ban is fearless and you can find instructional videos on how to do pretty much anything on youtube. I've included a link to the youtube video that we used if you are interested.

The process of deboning is a little gruesome if you are a meat-a-phobe like me, but as usual, Ban did an amazing job. After he skinned and deboned the turkey breast, he pounded it out flat. Then, he spread a layer of thinly sliced black forest ham over the breast. Next, he placed the quinoa, leek, and cherry stuffing over the ham.


Then, he rolled and trussed the bird. The deboned turkey breast cooks much more quickly than a whole bird so we were ready to roll after an hour and half in the oven.


The end product looked gorgeous and tasted delicious. The turkey was tender and juicy and the stuffing was light and flavorful. We'll definitely add this recipe into the holiday meal rotation.

Nothing Like a Finger Wag to Make Your Point

video

This part of Delta's safety video cracks me up each time that I see it.

Tenement Museum in NYC


Next time you are in Manhattan's lower east side, be sure to plan enough time for a visit to the Tenement Museum. The museum has purchased an 1860s tenement building which had been condemned in the 1940s when the landlord decided to boot the residential tenants rather than make improvements to the building to meet new building codes.

The museum researched the building and through census records was able to identify over 7,000 people who'd lived in the building between 1860 and 1940. They were able to contact descendents of many of the tenants and piece together what the apartments looked like at various points in time.

My cousin and I toured two of the apartments last weekend. One had been re-created to look like it had when German-Jewish immigrant family moved in around 1870. At that time, the building would not have had electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. Families would have provided their own coal burning stove. Ideally, they would have purchased it from the previous tenants. If not, they would have had to schlep it up to which ever of the five floors they lived on. They also would have needed to haul up the coal necessary for cooking and heating their space.

Four outhouses behind the building provided relief for the twenty families in the building, as well as, the patrons of the saloon and garment shop on the first floor.

The second apartment that we toured had been inhabited by Italian-Catholic immigrants in the 1930s. By this time the building had been upgraded with electricity and indoor plumbing had been introduced. Each floor had two toilets in the hallway. The museum was able to connect with a woman who'd lived in the tenement as a child. Audio recordings of her recollections add a intimate glimpse into the challenges of raising a family in 325 square feet of space.

The museum offers tours of other apartments and I hope to make it back there on a subsequent trip to New York. There is also a gift store which offered many interesting and unique gifts . You can visit the Tenement Museum's website here.

Random Adventures in Travel

The most random things always seem to happen when I travel. After eight days on the road, I eagerly made my way to the airport this afternoon. I arrived with plenty of time before my flight and leisurely wandered the Smithsonian Museum shop and a few other boutiques. I passed an attractively decorated wine bar that offered free wi-fi (why is it that I always find these when I'm not looking for either wine or free wi-fi and yet find them incredibly elusive when I am in need?!).

I made my way down to the gate and ran into my former boss. I haven't seen him in ages but had exchanged emails with his wife recently about getting together for dinner. It seemed pretty random to run in to him 2,000 miles from home!

As boarding time approached, the crush of humanity pressed in on the gate, as people eagerly awaited the agent to call their zone number. I'm not sure what these freaks think they are gaining by creating a dense, nearly impossible to navigate crowd for those who actually are in the zone being announced. But whatever, this happens every flight. I still don't understand it and likely never will. Traveling seems to bring out the douchebaggery in people.

But things took an interesting turn as we neared take off time. Joe Cool strolls back to the empty seat across the aisle from me on the third to LAST row of the plane with his carry on bag ten minutes before take off. Not too surprisingly, all the overhead bins are full, so Joe is bending over with his ass in my face trying to jam his carry-on bag under the seat in front of him. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up. But wait, it gets better.

The flight attendant comes up behind the guy to tell him that the bag will not fit under the seat and that he'll need to check it. The man snarls that he doesn't want the bag to be checked, the flight attendant replies that there isn't room for it and that if he'd like to carry it on he could book him on the next flight. The man scowls and says 'fine, book me on the next flight'. Now, I've been accused of cutting off my nose to spite my face many times in my life but this one may just take the cake.

Joe and the flight attendant head up the aisle to the front of the plane while those around me gaze in astonishment at one another. The story should have ended there but sadly the flight attendant found a spot for his bag near the front of the plane and the douche made his way back to his empty seat. Thank God for headphones and netbooks. In avoidance mode, I've produced a prolific amount of writing during this flight.

Did I mention that I think Jason Chaffetz is sitting in first class? Then again, I thought I saw Sean Means at the Oyster Bar last weekend so I might be full of BS. Oh, and that I could have a date with the flight attendant if I wanted. He knew my name, has already mentioned that I have a beautiful smile and that he doesn't bite, only nibbles. Random adventures in travel.

Hell Yah!


How cool is my kid? Check this out!

Sunday Dinner with the New York Fam

I spent the weekend with my New York family. I went to the city, visited the Tenement Museum, and ate at some charming (read small) cafes. I spent a few nights with cousin on Long Island and had a great time with her ridiculously adorable daughter.

But one of the highlights was having Sunday dinner with my Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle, cousins, and the cousin's babies. We so rarely have the opportunity to share a meal together which is a shame because my Aunt Jo is an excellent cook.

Tonight, we started the meal with antipasto. Besides being visually stunning it tasted like salty, creamy deliciousness. Next up was my spaghetti with my Aunt's famous meatballs and tomato sauce. Heaven!

For dessert, we had the choice of chocolate cheesecake, crumb cake (my fave!), or chocolate covered pretzels and mugs of steaming coffee.


After dinner I headed back into the city to meet up with the girl child. We're having a sleep over at her place tonight which thus far has consisted of us camped out on her bed each with a laptop on our lap. It's been way too long since we've had a girls night like this.


Continuing Adventures in Travel

While I love to travel, I also hate some parts of the process of getting there. I’ve written about it before. Making your way through airport security is consistently one of my least favorite parts of the trip. I’m only carrying-on a large handbag which contains a novel, my netbook, an empty water bottle, snacks, my iPod, and the other necessities that one typically carries in a purse. Again the bag is big but it's not outrageously large. It's the same size as the one that you see tons of women carrying around each day.

The line for security was exceptionally long but I had plenty of time until my flight so it wasn’t a big deal. Well, it wasn’t until an older woman got in line behind me. Each time the line moved a few feet forward, she would run into my bag. Each time. I don’t think she missed it ever once. Clearly personal space was an issue for this particular traveler. I know I could have turned around to glare at here or ask her to stop it but I actually turned it into a game. It seemed incredible that she could bump me each and every time. I was waiting with anticipation for the time when she miss one opportunity to make contact. She never did.

Additionally, although she was traveling alone, she would randomly ask questions to her fellow travelers standing near her. She asked several people, including me, why some people went on a different, and much shorter line. I explained that they traveled so much that they’d accumulated enough points to have special privileges while traveling. She didn’t think much of this. A few minutes later, she wanted to know if it would be a problem for her to carryon to small cans of pineapple juice. I told her that you weren’t allowed to carry on more than three ounces of liquid anything. She didn’t like my answer and hailed a passing TSA employee who told her the same thing that I had told her. She asked him what she was supposed to do with them and said told her, ‘to drink up’.

So, she stood in line behind me, bumping my bag each time we made forward progress, pounding her pineapple juice. Finally, we approached the scanning machines and I headed to one on the left and thankfully she headed to the right. Relieved, I made my way down to the gate and only waited moments until they started boarding. Given Delta’s random zone assignments which I can’t make heads or tails of, I quickly found myself in my aisle seat at the back of the plane. The window seat was empty so I didn’t want to make myself too comfortable knowing that someone would come shortly to fill that seat. Imagine my horror as I looked up and saw the security line lady heading my way. Noooo! Gratefully, she wasn’t right next to me but one row up in the aisle seat across from me. She’s there now drinking a can of pineapple juice that the flight attendant brought her.


Wasatch Woman Magazine


As many of you know, I'm a bit of a twitter junkie and as such, I've had the opportunity to meet an amazing number of really cool people. One of the people who I've 'tweeted' with is Pam Baumiester, editor of Wasatch Woman magazine. Earlier this summer she mentioned that she'd like to do a piece on roller derby for the magazine.

Late in August, I was contacted by Rebecca Edwards, a super groovy writer for Wasatch Woman. She wanted to interview me for an article on women athletes in Utah. How cool is that? We met for lunch and basically chatted about how I got into roller derby. She was taking notes on a legal pad but it really felt more like a conversation than an interview. I thought she did a great job weaving our conversation into a funny article.

In September, we did the photo shoot for the article. They had a magician, I mean, make-up artist and hair stylist work me over. Kitty did such a great job that I've started having her do my hair in real life too. Once 'done up' the photographer, Scott kept me relaxed and laughing with his laid back demeanor. He also humored me asking a thousand questions about photography, cameras, lighting, etc.

I was so nervous about the whole thing. I felt a little vulnerable at the beginning. Who knew how they would portray me and my sport? But from start to finish, the entire experience was fantastic and I'm so pleased with the final product! You can check it out here.

The Garden



A 2008 documentary, The Garden follows the incredible story of the urban South Central Farmers (in Los Angeles) struggle against back room city hall deals and shady developers to preserve their community garden. The South Central Farmers had been farming the land and feeding their families on 14 acres encircled by warehouses, with the downtown skyline in sight. Their struggle drew the attention of celebrities and activists alike.

I love documentary films and this one was very engaging, despite the emotional rollercoaster the farmers faced within the legal system. The film was nominated for an Oscar in January 2009. This film is available here on Netflix (you can also be watched instantly on Netflix if you don't want to wait for them to mail the DVD to you).

Book Review: The Sound of Wings

The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart by Mary S. Lovell


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wanted to read this biography of Amelia Earhart before I saw the movie about her that was released this fall. She lead a very interesting life, always advocating for equality for women. She was about my age when she disappeared. Much of the book centers on her relationship with her publicist husband who the author credits with keeping Amelia in the public eye during her life and after her disappearance. Reading about the early days of aviation was enjoyable too. We take very much for granted the safety and reliability of air travel.

View all my reviews >>

Snuggie

You know that you've secretly wanted one but you've worried that by buying it you'll look like an old person. Perhaps I'm the only who thinks that but whatever. I have some awesome news for you today. There's a way more hip version of the Snuggie that won't make you sacrifice your street cred. Now you totally need it, right?

Halloween 2009 - Yip Yip



Another year of incredibly creative Halloween costumes this year. Ryan's was especially spectacular. He was a Yip Yip. Do you remember the Yip Yips from Sesame Street? Here's a little video clip in case you don't. Ryan's Dad made the costume and it turned out amazing, right?