best friends

Friends

Did you ever feel like you lost your best friend? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. 

I just came back from a whirlwind trip to Milan with a good friend.  Three days with a compatible companion in one of the greatest cities in the world was so much fun. Now we’re back to the normal routine, where she and I get together about every 6 weeks or so.  I guess you could say I’m going through withdrawal.

best friends

Another good friend just moved out of the area. I thought she had trained me to not miss her by getting together infrequently before she left.  I was wrong. Knowing that she’s not a short drive away anymore really makes me sad.

I was lucky enough to get together with my childhood and onward BFF last month.  We celebrated her birthday with other childhood friends and it was so much fun!  Texting, emails and phone calls just cannot replace spending time together in person.  We always manage to have some kind of adventure, or misadventure, that keeps us laughing and this time together was no different!

best friends

…and LD moved to the other side of the country after her college graduation.  It’s slowly occurring to me that she doesn’t live here anymore.

Here’s a toast to all the lovely friends in my life!  I love my friends…I just wish we could be together more often.

Gluten – Love it or Leave it – or both?

I ate entirely too much gluten this weekend.  Of course I feel much better when I eat no gluten at all. I have not been diagnosed as celiac nor as gluten intolerant. However, I do notice that I become extremely bloated, tired, lethargic, and feel as though my lungs are congested after I eat it.

So why on earth did I consume a sausage roll after playing golf on Saturday? (For those not in the Northeast, a sausage roll is similar to a calzone – sausage, peppers, onions and cheese baked in a pizza dough, served with a marinara dipping sauce.)  I was starving, and it seemed like it would be filling.  It was delicious.   But the after-effects reminded me why I do not eat that kind of food.

Imagine my surprise to realize that I am now finding myself absolutely addicted to The Great British Baking Show! This is a British baking competition where each week, the recurring contestants referred to as “the bakers” face a 3-round challenge, and at the end of the episode one is named The Star Baker and another is sent home.

Gluten

It is fascinating how these amateur bakers create wonders!  The judges and the tasks are extremely intimidating and the hosts are enjoyable.  Ready, Set, Bake!

Gluten

The funny thing is that I try not to eat gluten, and all the recipes contain it. Yet, that doesn’t make it lose any appeal.  It’s still wondrous seeing these bakers make these creations.

Typically, with most TV shows and movies, I am trying to catch up to see what everyone’s talking about.  I found out tonight that I’m actually watching the current season (at least current in the US – it may have aired already in England).  That’s why I thought of sharing it with you!

The first season is on Netflix. The third season is currently airing.  I’m catching up on the first season. I’m up to date on the third season.  Soon, I’ll have to find the second season.

But I’ll save my own creativity to knitting and beading (and avoid gluten consumption)!

4 month reading report

4 Month Reading Report

Egads! A 4 month reading report? My heavy workload really took away my capacity to read, and then when it was over I felt like I had PTSD to struggle back to normalcy.

Now, it’s mid-August and I am able to focus again. I did a major Kindle-library trip earlier this week and have already finished one book! Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what I did manage to read these past 4 months.

Books Read April through July 2016

TitleAuthorRating
The Japanese Lover
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Isabel AllendeGood
The Stranger
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Harlan CobenGood
The Rent Collector
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Camron WrightLOVED
Housekeeping
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Marilynne RobinsonDid not get far
The Boys in the BoatDaniel James BrownCould not get into it
Bead Royale: Elegance in Bead WeavingCristie PrinceGood designs
Beading with Shaped Beads (video)Melinda BartaHelpful
How to Create Professional Finishes for Jewelry (video)Chloe ChateneverBasic
Totally Twisted: Innovative Wirework & Art Glass JewelryKerry BogertGood ideas
The Life We BuryAllen EskensBelievable, held my interest
The SelloutPaul BeattyUGH

My all-time favorite was The Rent Collector.

4 Month Reading Report

The description does NOT do it any justice at all.

Sang Ly struggles to survive by picking through garbage in Cambodia’s largest municipal dump. Under threat of eviction by an embittered old drunk who is charged with collecting rents from the poor of Stung Meanchey, Sang Ly embarks on a desperate journey to save her ailing son from a life of ignorance and poverty.

The story starts out as a simple premise of a poor family reliant upon the task of picking and selling garbage but then expands its horizons. It examines relationships, circumstances, healthcare, literature, intuition, friendship, marriage, and more. It is totally captivating and enchanting.

I also enjoyed two bestseller mysteries: The Stranger by Harlan Coben and The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens. I often sneer at the bestseller lists – because who says that the people buying the books share my taste in books? But I really wanted to see what Harlan Coben’s writing was like after I read a book review where he was quoted on how he puts together his stories.  All the pieces were presented in a timely manner before the mystery was solved, the relationships and characters’ behavior were believable. I would definitely read another of his books after reading The Stranger.

Allen Esken’s book, The Life We Bury, was also believable and drew me in. It was one of those books that I had to put down at certain times because I just knew that the main character was going to do something stupid. Believable, especially given his age, but still stupid.

I could not omit talking about The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.  My journey started as a library book, but I ended up buying it when it was unavailable for renewal.  It’s only rated as Good because it did not draw me back anxious to know what happens to the characters. It was good enough to read to the end, though (somewhat Spoiler Alert) the end was extremely disappointing to me.  I would still recommend it because I flew through some of the chapters, while others…not so much.

Books Bought April through July 2016

TitleAuthor
The Japanese Lover
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Isabel Allende
Blood Defense
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Marcia Clark
The Stranger
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Harlan Coben
The Rent Collector
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Camron Wright
Housekeeping
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Marilynne Robinson
The Boys in the BoatDaniel James Brown
Bead Royale: Elegance in Bead WeavingCristie Prince
Beading with Shaped Beads (video)Melinda Barta
How to Create Professional Finishes for Jewelry (video)Chloe Chatenever
Totally Twisted: Innovative Wirework & Art Glass JewelryKerry Bogert
Beadweaving Beyond the BasicsKassie Shaw
Bead MetamorphosisLisa Kan
The Life We BuryAllen Eskens
The SelloutPaul Beatty

So this “month” or time period, I bought more books than I read.  I was taken in by two sales at the Interweave Store and took full advantage of the low prices!  I just noticed that Cristie Prince delivers designs like royalty would wear in Bead Royale, which is only fitting!  Although you’d think she’d change her name to Princess to really make it simpatico.

I’ve enjoyed most of the beading books and videos I’ve perused thus far.  What I’m really getting from all this reference material is that (1) anything goes, (2) I’m more knowledgeable than I give myself credit, and (3) anyone can be an expert.  Also, I like to see what people have to say or what they’ve done and then just mull over their ideas and subconsciously incorporate them into my work.  As Norah Gaughan said at one of the Vogue Knitting Live lectures,  there is nothing truly original anymore.

4 Month Reading Report

There may be new ideas or ways of doing things, but they originate from prior knowledge or experiences.

There! Now I’ve done it! I’ve transformed my Reading Report to include the other ways I’ve spent my time (except for golfing) – knitting and beading. Funny how well that worked out!

Blowing Kisses to My Bed

Imagine my surprise when I found myself blowing kisses to my bed.  I have been missing my bed, spending very little time in it (sleeping or otherwise), and find that I can’t wait to get back into it.

blowing kisses

Let me explain. I have been away for business working really long hours for almost a complete month now. I come home for about 20 hours each weekend which enables me to have one night in my own bed each week.

Not thinking about the lack of time to do anything personal, it’s surprising what I miss in terms of having access to, leaving out the obvious of family and friends….

  • My bed
  • My sheets
  • My bathroom
  • The towel warmer in my bathroom
  • Getting the NY Times from the driveway
  • Reading the paper version of the Times
  • Being able to binge watch what I’ve DVR’ed
  • My Ninja coffeemaker
  • Reading in my own bed
  • My golf lessons

But the bed. Every time I leave to go back to the hotel, I say a fond farewell and look forward to the next time we are together.

more reading

More Reading

I had this nagging feeling that I had done more reading in the past two months and that I was forgetting some books when I wrote my February/March recap.  It only took an afternoon of diverted thinking to remember where I put the receipts so that I would remember to include them in the post!

more reading

  • The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester was published in 2001 but seems like it is much older. I really thought I would like this book of a man’s autobiography through his experiences with food – it sounded somewhat similar to Muriel Barbery’s Gourmet Rhapsody (which I did not finish – it was not as good as The Elegance of the Hedgehog) and I had high hopes.  Alas, I could not make it very far.  I never got to the part about “murder and art” that was supposed to make it even more intriguing than food.
  • Beaded Chains & Ropes by Karin Van Voorhees looks rather simplistic from its cover, but it has a lot of interesting patterns and ideas.
  • Bead Play Every Day by Beth Stone, on the other hand, has a very compelling cover, but I like the ideas in Beaded Chains & Ropes better!  (You really can’t tell a book by its cover!)
book

Book Report – February & March 2016

The procrastination period is over.  Here is my book report for the last two months!

Books Bought February & March 2016

TitleAuthor
Maggie Meister's Classical Elegance: 20 Beaded Jewelry DesignsMaggie Meister
What Knot?Geoffrey Budworth, Richard Hopkins
One Big Beautiful BeadSarah McConnell
Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded Ropes: 300 Quick & Easy DesignsJill Wiseman
Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch WomenDonna Gray
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCharles Duhigg
Home to ItalyPeter Pezzelli
The Girl in the GlassJeffrey Ford
Every Day is a HolidayGeorge Mahood
The Sound of LanguageAmulya Malladi

The book worth noting here is the Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch Women.  These are collected oral histories of women who moved to Montana in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.  It’s better than any historical novel.

I’m also enjoying the beading books, but will report more specifically on those in another post.

Books Read February & March 2016

TitleAuthorRating
Maggie Meister's Classical Elegance: 20 Beaded Jewelry DesignsMaggie MeisterHaven't read yet
What Knot?Geoffrey Budworth, Richard HopkinsInteresting
One Big Beautiful BeadSarah McConnellInteresting
Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded RopesJill WisemanThumbs up
Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch WomenDonna GrayEnjoying
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCharles DuhiggGood
Home to ItalyPeter PezzelliThumbs down
The Girl in the GlassJeffrey FordInteresting
Every Day is a HolidayGeorge MahoodThumbs down
The Sound of LanguageAmulya MalladiInteresting
Shopaholic to the RescueSophie KinsellaAwful
The Flood GirlsRichard FifieldThumbs down
The Good LiarNicholas SearleInteresting
The Empty HouseRosamunde PilcherGood
The GilderKathryn KayEnjoyed what I read
ManhuntingJennifer CruisieThumbs down

This looks like a long list, but everything book rated with a Thumbs Down or Awful lasted one chapter or less.  I find it very difficult to plow through a book if it doesn’t grab my interest right away.

The caveat to my selections this month is that I was lucky enough to go on sunny vacations in February and March. I was looking for lighthearted, not too deep books.  The Girl in the Glass, The Good Liar and The Sound of Language all fell into that category.  Nothing too absorbing, but managed to keep my attention throughout – and to the end – of the story.  I was enjoying The Gilder, but didn’t finish before my library checkout expired.

The Girl in the Glass is about a con man and his crew who put on fake seances for wealthy clients in Long Island during the Depression.  It reminded me a little bit of a Donald Westlake story – the characters were real characters, but believable at the same time.

The Good Liar, surprising to me as I write this, is also about a con man who uses dating sites to sponge off of women.  The backstory included in the blurb mentions that the woman in the story may also be up to something other than dating. It’s this piece of information that kept me reading to the end…and I actually was not disappointed.  (Yes, that might be construed as words of praise.)

book

The Sound of Language is about an Afghan refugee who settles in Denmark, and how she and her family adjust to their new home.  This particular woman gets an internship with a beekeeper who is adjusting to being a widower.  I have been very interested in today’s refugee situation, and this was an interesting perspective that can be applied to Europe.  It may be written as a  Young Adult book. I found the writing to be simplistic, but the overall concept was compelling to keep me interested through to the end.

My 4 Day Whole 30

My 4 day Whole 30 is ongoing! The premise of the Whole 30 is to reset your nutritional balance by cutting out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days.  When the 30 days are complete, slowly add the omitted foods to observe how each one affects you.

I am a huge proponent of the Whole 30!  During my first trial, I discovered that I have a slight allergy to strawberries in that they make my skin itch.  So now every time I am confronted with the choice to have strawberries, or a food with strawberries in it (my local sushi restaurant has a roll with miso-strawberry sauce) I can make an intelligent decision if it’s worth the discomfort.

4 day whole 30

My first attempt at the Whole30 regiment was super successful! The second attempt, not so much.  I lasted about 4 days, and not fully committed.

However…

That is only half the story.

When you finish the Whole30, you are reminded to try to live by eating cleanly, but allow yourself to enjoy life and foods with no regrets.  Just hop back on the Whole30 bandwagon as much as you can.

I learned during this go-round that I need to stop trying to do the Whole 30 completely.  I need to focus on doing it as much as I can, constantly noticing how different foods affect my body and my state of being.

I noticed that Sugar is Not My Friend.  Eating sugar makes me very unbalanced. I chew my fingernails, play with my hair, am very unfocused, and lethargic. So I cut out sugar as a general rule.  I still do not eat a lot of gluten either.  It makes me bloated, and tired.  And I eat very little cheese.  These are my guidelines now.  Not just for 30 days.  For life.  The picture below is a little extreme, but I think I do need to avoid sugar very assiduously.

4 day whole 30

Of course, I should be drinking more water.  Yeah, I may get there one day.  Not a priority!

I did not weigh or measure myself before starting the Whole30.  People keep asking me what I’ve done differently – what’s changed?  I have been losing weight!  My skin is healthier, brighter.  The Ex even noticed that my hair looks healthier.  ??? (Meaning isn’t that odd that 1- I was with the Ex and 2- that he commented on my hair???!) Bear in mind that I did not look extremely malnourished or unhealthy before.  But there are noticeable differences now.

Most importantly, I feel better.  I have more energy, better focus, a longer attention span.  I get super excited about mundane things, like getting a lot of small tasks completed in a short period of time, or leading a very efficient meeting.

Yay.

The Whole 30 Again…or maybe The Three-Quarters 30

It’s that time of year again – jump back on the Whole 30 wagon. I do not feel I went wrong in the past year, but I have noticed it’s time to restart my wholesomeness.

My trip to Milan and Tuscany reacquainted my taste buds with fine wine and great coffee.

(Note: Coffee is allowed on the Whole30, but I like it with half and half, and dairy is not permitted.)

I came back home eschewing American coffee, and looking for a perfect, rich brew.

Before my trip I was very happy with my coffee maker.
Whole 30

When I came home, I bought an old-fashioned espresso maker.
Whole 30

And good coffee.
Whole 30

Then I graduated to the Ninja coffee maker.
Whole 30
My unsolicited feedback is that this makes great coffee. My only complaint is that the full carafe only makes about 4 (American) cups. But the quality of the coffee is superb.

But I digress. Good coffee, fine wine.

I started the Whole 30 on Monday. I re-read my last post about what I liked and didn’t like about the Whole30 before, and it all rings true:

  • I really don’t like not being inspired to eat. Life becomes eating to live instead of living to eat. I enjoy eating, and savoring good food.
  • I do like being focused, sleeping well, and having a lot of energy.
  • The interesting thing so far is that I am tired at night. I find myself nodding off at 10:30 and sleeping the whole night through. I guess that’s my body playing catch up from all the late nights from having too much caffeine or too much rich food.

My progress thus far:

  • Thursday evening was a friend’s birthday celebration. I had a nice glass of wine and some bread and butter with my meal. It was delicious!
  • I forgave myself and got back on the Whole 30 wagon.
  • Friday morning – back to the Whole 30.
  • Friday evening – sushi…and green tea ice cream!
  • I forgave myself and got back on the Whole 30 wagon.
  • Saturday morning – bagels, cream cheese and butter. Coffee with frothed cream.
    Heavenly.
  • I forgave myself and got back on the Whole 30 wagon.
  • Saturday lunch is coming. Planning on a Big A$$ salad and chicken thighs cooked in coconut oil.

Yep. It’s not the Whole 30 this time. Definitely the Three-Quarters 30.
I forgive myself and get back on the Whole 30 wagon.

I’m good with that.

What about fate

Cause and Effect – Does Fate Exist?

I was listening to a radio show, possibly Radio Lab, the other day while running errands. There was a conversation about fate with a quantum physicist who used the example of whether choosing chocolate or vanilla ice cream determines your path in life.  Of course, he denied the plausibility of this concept.

What about fate?

I made some facetious remark on my FB feed about how the discussion only made me crave ice cream.

Geez, that is so not true!

Days, even weeks, later and I am still thinking about it.

Let’s say you chose chocolate, and ended up spilling some on your shirt.  This causes you to take it to the dry cleaner the next day.

Going to the dry cleaner changes the course of your life because you end up running into someone or having a conversation that makes you inspired to look into <x>, and you end up <changing your career, meeting the next person with whom you have a relationship, or trying something new/old/xx> that changes your current direction.

Or Not.

Then again, you could have chosen vanilla, not had any mishaps and continued with your plans.  Does this change the course of your life, or are you following a pre-established script?

I don’t have the answers. Nor do I really have any beliefs around it.

I had a conversation with a co-worker who told me that she feels that “things happen for a reason.” I replied that I don’t believe that, but I do believe that “things turn out, one way or another,” which to me is realistic and non-committal.  However,  my co-worker felt we were saying the same thing.  I disagree because I think her point of view implies some kind of faith, and mine reflects reality.  I guess if faith is your reality then they could possibly be conceived as the same perspective.  But faith, especially blind faith, is not my reality.

I’ve had a week or so to ponder this, and I also realized that Fate and Fatal are similar sounding words.

Interestingly, the full definition of fate is about the end or final outcome:

Full Definition of fate

  1. 1 :  the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do :  destiny

  2. 2 a :  an inevitable and often adverse outcome, condition, or end b :  disaster; especially :  death

  3. 3 a :  final outcome b :  the expected result of normal development <prospective fate of embryonic cells> c :  the circumstances that befall someone or something <did not know the fate of her former classmates>

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post.  I’m still mulling it over.  I will admit that I believe that certain things will happen, like being in a relationship again, and I do believe in the power of intention.  I also think that once you start thinking about things, you start to notice events or occurrences that relate to your thoughts.  They would still be there otherwise, it’s just that you happen to notice them since they’re on your mind.  Then some people might call it a crazy coincidence, but it’s really just a matter of observation.

Who knows?  I just had to get these thoughts out of my mind and onto (virtual) paper.

Your thoughts?