Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

1. I had two good friends get married in the last two weeks. I was a bridesmaid in one wedding and a guest at another. The highlight of both experiences was seeing my friends so happy. These are two lovely and completely badass women who I genuinely adore and respect and who married dudes who have made them both amplified versions of their very best selves. Good job, you two. Anyway, also on my list of highlights from these two beautiful events was my (far more shallow) first experience with something that has really changed my life: the gel manicure.

Holy shit. I was hesitant for years to get one. It sounded weird to me that something could stay on my nails for weeks at a time and not chip. But I had two weekends of weddings and time for only one manicure, so I tried it. Where have you been all my life, gel? I'm sure you're terrible for me. But I don't care. I didn't realize I needed you. My friend Katie had given our mutual manicurist, Tom a heads up that I was coming in for my first gel manicure. When I arrived he looked thrilled. "FIRST GEL!" He was right to be that excited. I couldn't believe how shiny and perfect my nails looked when he was done. But the best part was the effect the no-chipping had on me. Not that I typically spend all my time worrying about my nails, they usually look pretty blah, but it was SO nice to have some part of my appearance look reliably nice for two whole weeks. It made me feel better about myself. Even if my hair looked sad and I'd forgotten to use the lint brush before leaving the apartment, my nails looked good and that meant I was a grown-up woman with her act together. If you haven't tried it, you should. Miniluxe will even remove it for FREE when you get tired of it.

2. Fall makes me want to cook. The blogs have been teeming with awesome recipes lately. I'm planning to make thisthisthis again, and ESPECIALLY this in the next couple of weeks.

3. I rolled the dice with my fitness teaching this fall and decided to take on more classes. Being busy with teaching keeps me on track and out of trouble, and (best part) I get to eat more. Last night I added my final class. I think I've ended up with the best five days of teaching I could have imagined. Sunday, you are the hardest working group of human beings in the city. Monday, you are my lobster. Tuesday, you are the biggest and most wonderful surprise of my year. I didn't know I could smile quite that hard while sucking wind. Wednesday, you fill the most enormous studio at The HW to the brim with your energy, and I want to hug each one of you at the end of class. And Thursday, I can already see your wheels turning and it amazes me how quickly you put my words into action. I can't believe I get to do this work five days in a row. I really can't. I laughed out loud walking through the Prudential last night thinking about the fact that people actually pay me to teach fitness classes. I feel like I should pay them. I don't know what I'd do without it.  

4. "He's fearless. And always had a chip on his shoulder."   I enjoyed this.

5. I feel so sad for a friend of mine who lost his beloved dog this week. I saw the news on Facebook and my heart broke a little. I had to go to the ladies room and have a quick cry. I think there's something really special about having a pet. I have a cat. He's an old man and he has diabetes and a thyroid condition. I have to give him insulin injections and thyroid medicine twice a day everyday, exactly 12 hours apart. (Minus the two nights each week when I don't have time to come home between work and my classes and my wonderful father comes over to shoot and medicate the little big man. Thanks, Dad.) I don't LOVE that Buster is as sick as he is, but in a weird way it makes me feel good to become even more responsible for his well-being as he ages since over the years he's been so responsible for mine. I really think our four-legged family members take care of us just as much as we take care of them. I'm glad I'm a pet person. I'm glad I prioritize my little big dude. If that makes me a "crazy cat lady" I'm 500% fine with it. I think people who love animals are the best people, and the friend I mentioned above is one of the most loving pet owners I've ever met. I'm sending a ton of love his way this weekend, you should too.

Happy Friday, all.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lick-Your-Bowl Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I got an INTENSE craving for roasted red peppers on my way home tonight, so I threw this together and crossed my fingers and it came out AMAZING. Blew my entire face off. I don't have a face anymore. I also don't have a photo of my dinner because I devoured it immediately and literally licked the bowl. Everyone go make this.

Fresh pasta of any shape. Maybe not spaghetti, I feel like spaghetti wouldn't be the best here

12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers - mine were just Trader Joe's and had been in the cabinet for at least four months

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 giant or 3 medium garlic cloves minced

salt + pepper + sprinkle of dried basil

Throw some olive oil in a little frying pan, turn the heat to medium, and cook your minced garlic until it's sizzling a bit. Drain the roasted red peppers and throw them into the pan on top of the garlic. Just leave them whole and stir them around with the garlic. Let them cook about five minutes. Dump all of that garlicky deliciousness into a blender or food processor and puree it. Throw it back into the pan. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and stir slowly. Let it all hang out over low heat until it's good and warm. Add a little salt, pepper, and dried basil to taste. Cook your fresh pasta and mix it with an obscene amount of the sauce in a bowl. Top with some freshly grated parmesan if you have it. Which you should. Everyone should always have a wedge of good parmesan in the house. Eat. Lick your bowl. Happy sigh. You're welcome.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Cash. Try it.
1. Do you all meditate? I'm starting to feel like I'm the only person on the planet who doesn't do it regularly. I'm an anxious person and so I've always thought meditation would be good for me, but also impossible. I have to relax and clear my mind so I can relax and clear my mind? Sounds... great... Anyway last week I was VERY stressed out and feeling like crap, when I came across this video that explained meditation in a way that really worked for me. The key message is that your mind absolutely will wander, it will go nuts, but every time you bring it back into focus it's like a bicep curl for your brain. You will get stronger/better at it over time. I tried it. After I got my giggles under control, I made it through 5 minutes and I did feel a little better afterwards. I might do this more often. (I haven't done it since.) (Sigh.)

2. So there's this new thing I'm super into. It's called cash. Have you heard of cash? When you go to pay for something in a store or restaurant or coffee shop, the cashier tells you the total and you hand them this little slip of paper called cash. It has a dollar value attached to it. The cashier then immediately hands you back the difference and you leave. You don't have to stand there for an eternity and wait for the chip reader to function, you don't need to hold your phone in the exact right position for the LevelUp scanner to read it. It's amazing. You should try it. Like really, try it. It shouldn't take 10 minutes to pay for two items in CVS. Let's go.

3. Gluten free friends. I want you all to come to the North End and go to Bricco Salumeria and Pasta Shop because guess what? They just started carrying gluten free fresh pasta that will blow. Your. Face off. $10 for a huge bag. It doesn't turn to mush when you cook it. It doesn't fall apart when you mix it with sauce. Pasta dignity. Here is what you should do with it: sweet Italian sausage in a little frying pan, brown it. Add one clove of minced garlic. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. Shut the heat off. Pour in 1/4 cup of heavy cream and then throw a handful of spinach or arugula in on top of that. Stir, and it will wilt. Boil your baller pasta for 4 mins, throw that in on top of the greens and sausage, sprinkle some pecorino in so the sauce will stick, mix, cook it all on low heat for a few, eat. Happiness explosion.

4. I turned 37 yesterday and it was such a relief. I think I do better with odd years. Even years always kick the shit out of me. 24 was a rough ride. 30 was a disaster. 36 was brutal. On Wednesday night I sat on my couch and stared at the clock at 11:59PM waiting for 36 to be over. As I sat there and reflected on the year, I realized that at least a third of what went wrong wouldn't have happened if I'd listened to my gut. Two-thirds I had no control over, but one third was on me. WHY do I not listen to myself? Ugh. Anyway, when the clock finally hit midnight, I ate a cupcake (thanks, Little Ally!) and decided that 37 is not going to be perfect, but it will be 33.3333333% better than 36. That I can manage.

5. I just got this sweatshirt and I wish I could wear it every single day. Old Navy really just nails it in the fall.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Reindeer Games

When I was in the 7th grade I was cast as a reindeer in The Nutcracker. I was NOT happy about it. Prior to this I'd been cast twice as a child party scene guest and once as a polichinelle—two roles that were WAY higher on the Nutcracker food chain. Reindeers tended to be on the taller side, and were too old for the cute young kid roles but not yet experienced enough for the big kid roles. Reindeers were Nutcracker Jan Brady. They didn't even dance. They wore white antlers and pulled a sleigh onto the stage during the snow scene, dropped the Snow Queen and King off in "the forest" and exited stage left. A little while later they pulled the sleigh across the stage to the wings on the other side. I can't remember why? Probably so their parents wouldn't complain that they weren't onstage long enough. At the end of the snow scene they pulled the sleigh back onto the stage, picked up Clara and the Prince, made a U-turn, and peaced out. My mother tried to make me feel better about all of this by saying, "Joyce Kulkawik says she likes the snow scene the best almost every year!" I was, at that time, (and still am) a HUGE Joyce Kulhawik fan, but no. Not having it.

I arrived at the Wang Theatre on Reindeer Cast D's first day of performances, and made a beeline for a folding chair in the corner of the child performer holding pen backstage. I yanked on my stupid white ballet slippers, folded my arms, and began my sulking. A girl who I recognized as a fellow reindeer arrived a few minutes later and sat down nearby. She was close enough so that we could have chatted, but far away enough so that if we didn't, it wouldn't have been too awkward. Occasionally, we'd glance at each other and look away if we made eye contact. I didn't want to talk to her because the fact that I was a reindeer meant the entire Nutcracker experience that year was going to be terrible. In my mind I was a Boston Ballet School loser. I didn't want to get to know anyone or appear to be enjoying myself for even one second, because then everyone would get the impression that I thought being a reindeer was something to celebrate, and they'd think I was pathetic.

So this other reindeer sitting nearby was making me nervous. To be honest, I was getting bored and wouldn't have minded a chat, but then I'd appear to not be miserable. I decided to stay silent and get back to having fun next year when I'd, hopefully, have a more impressive role. I looked at the party scene kids playing cards and unwrapping their Secret Santa gifts and missed being one of them. I saw a group of girls who were part of the Tea divertissement in Act 2 walk by our room with black ballet slippers and their hair into two buns and was so overwhelmed by their coolness I could have passed out. I think some of them were chewing gum. IN THE THEATER. If they saw me enjoying life as a reindeer they'd definitely laugh and I'd definitely never recover. I even saw the other members of our reindeer squad clustered together at the far end of the room talking and laughing and doing the occasional little jump or pirouette. "What for?" I thought. "We're just going to pull a sleigh around a stage and go home. You need to practice and warm up for that?" Ugh.

Now I could feel the other loner reindeer looking at me. I told myself to not engage, to stay silent, freeze, and look down at my stupid white ballet slippers. But then she abruptly uncrossed and crossed her legs and turned towards me and said "So what's new?" I can STILL hear her saying it in my mind. Lauren was her name. I was startled and relieved at the same time and I unfroze and answered her. I asked her a question. She asked me another question. We laughed. I acted like a normal person. It wasn't horrible. No one seemed to be laughing at me. We eventually wandered over to join the rest of our reindeer squad.

It ended up being a wonderful Nutcracker experience for me. Probably the best one I ever had if I'm measuring things by how happy they make me. I got to know a really nice new group of girls my age, there was no sense of competition, and I got to wear a dusting of glitter on my face. I also do think the snow scene is the best part. I'm not sure if anyone thought I was pathetic for enjoying my time as a reindeer because I forgot to look around and check. I'm going to guess they either didn't notice or didn't care. Thank you, Lauren, wherever you are.

Fast forward 25 years and oh look, I'm still me! This time I'm not avoiding making new friends and enjoying being a child performer in a ballet production, I'm avoiding writing - something I really love to do, just like I loved ballet and being onstage.

I haven't been writing because I tend to write about my life, and life hasn't been the best the past few months. I haven't been at my best. And I've been reluctant to write anything because I knew it wouldn't be the best either. I didn't want anyone to read anything I wrote and think I was pathetic for thinking it was good enough to put it out there. Dumb. No one cares. No one cared if I liked my smallish part as a reindeer in The Nutcracker. No one would care if I shared a mediocre blog post about my diabetic old man cat and how his new insulin schedule has turned me into a morning person and I kind of like it.

I appreciate that a lot of you have reached out over the past few months and asked me when I'd be posting here again. I've been at home for several days now recovering from a little procedure I had early last week - I'm 100% fine and it was more inconvenient than serious - and I've been looking at my laptop really wanting to write something. Finally, I did. Thank you for reading it. I'm going to skip apologizing for it, and I hope to be sharing more words with you soon. Happy Sunday.