Kicking the Habit- Part 2

It’s splendid to have normal looking nails because you’re not afraid to paint them wild colors and draw attention to them for once.  I’m wearing, “Plum Seduction” thanks for asking.  This color looks like red but it’s really, “Forestfire.”  See that brown on my fingers? Smell it.  It’s scented enamel, you Sick-o.  “Chocolate Truffle” to be exact.  I’m saving up to know what a “Pink Pineapple” smells like.  What a wonderful money waste, I’m so proud of myself.

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This looks like a killer sandwich but the real star of the show is that thumbnail.  You can’t tell from the picture but he’s a thick bastard. Named him, “Big Wig” or “BW” for short.  And that background nail has an underbelly.  Good gravy!  No wonder I stopped eating, mid-sandwich.  I forgot to pray.  “God is good.  God is great. Let us thank him for these nails.”

As you can see, I’m getting better at painting them and preparing to paint them.  It takes experience to know what materials are necessary during a manicure at arm’s length.  Nothing is worse than remembering that your Quick Dry Drops may or may or may not be at the bottom of your bag but they’re probably rolling around under the passenger seat of your car.  That’s going to leave a mark and you’ll have to start over.  What a time suck.  What a wonderfully expensive, obsessively compulsive, so-totally-worth-it replacement addiction.  Send help… and polish remover.  I’m fresh out.

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Kicking the Habit- Part 1

It’s been a while.  Thanks for stopping by.  If you want, come again tomorrow for, “Kicking the Habit- Part 2.”

To an outsider, it seems easy.  “What’s the big deal?  Just don’t do it.  Just stop.  Stop biting your nails.”6eefd65bf53d4fccf9f4ec47a3ffab6d

As an insider, an ex-nail-biter, it’s wasn’t easy.  It’s incredibly hard for a person to quit biting fingernails after doing so almost their whole life.  But if you’re able to stop for long enough to see the light, to see the white…oh man, what a cool thing.  A crazy thing happens. Addiction to growing them longer and longer happens.  Addiction to painting them over and over happens.  Addiction to buying top coats, base coats and cuticle oil happens.  Now we’ve got real problems.

I have spent more time looking at manicure products in drug stores in the past month, week, day than I have during my entire life put together.  It’s marvelous, being camped out in the nail care aisle for hours on end like some kind of weirdo.  The same store clerk has gone and come back from lunch, asked numerous times if everything is okay and vacuumed the area, twice.  Sally Hansen is such a good read.

I’ve always tried to kick the habit, so I feel like it’s only natural to experiment with products that I’ve never had a need for in the past.  It’s a new experience, settling on one shade and hardly getting to the car before brushing it on.  Then drive until it’s dry, pull over and put on another coat.  “No, I’m fine officer.  Thanks for asking.  Just putting another layer on my nails… I thought the hazard lights were on.  Have a nice day!”

 

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Where I Get My Writing

I woke up to a text from my Mom last Saturday morning.

“[...] [a friend] and I read your LifesLemons posts all night. She wanted me to tell you,      she had goosebumps several times and thinks you’re an excellent writer. :)”

How sweet and admittedly, ironic. Did you tell her where I get it?  Or tell her at least about those times, Mom, when I wasn’t remotely good, let alone, “excellent” at writing?
In middle and high school, I was downright bad at putting my thoughts to words and being assigned a 3-page paper was like being incarcerated- for the both1976_1061835076005_9664_n of us.  I would write as much as I could (which was usually about a paragraph and a half) before graveling at your feet, Mom, begging for help at approximately 8:45 the night before it was due.

Then, we’d spend the next four hours double-teaming (and tag-teaming) my paper, collaborating back and forth, thinking of things to say and exactly how to say them.   It was agony, Mom, on that kitchen chair beside you and I’d complain that I could never be the writer that you are.  Still you ignored, patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) showing me how to weave my choppy ideas into beautiful complete sentences.

Everything that I know about the flow and complexity of writing came from working beside you, Mom, during those priceless late night collaboration sessions.  Now, the act is no longer a chore- but a solace and a hobby.  I am truly lucky that you took the time to share your gift with me.  You are where and the reason why, when it comes to writing, “I get it.”

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Easter Eggs & Cake

lllOne of the only Easter-related childhood memories that I have is at Grandma Cella’s house.  After we decked her Easter tree with little pastel ornaments, Mason, a few cousins and I sat at the newspaper covered kitchen table and dyed Easter eggs.  We used those little wire holders in attempt to keep our hands clean.  We were using her mugs with a globe design on the outside surface.  I think that she “sent away” for them and they’re my favorites, because they’re also our graham cracker dunking cups.  We were thSOICRH2Ppsharing just a couple dozen eggs, because I think the store was out.  We were eating jelly beans.  We were eating Gram’s homemade Oreo cookies. Cousin Whitney filled an ice cream cone up with leftover frosting and jelly beans and ate it. I thought that was gross.  Eventually, we were down to one egg, so we mixed every color and made the ugly brown, “goose egg.”  In my Easter basket that year, I got a big beautiful plush rabbit and a new Barbie.

Another Easter memory that I have is at Aunt Sue and Uncle Dale’s house.  Two big round white cakes were baked and once they had cooled, cousin Drew was allowed to use a butter knife to cut one of the cakes into a bow tie and two rabbit ears.  It was amazing to see the rabbit take shape before my very eyes.  I happily helped to frost and decorate the cake with white icing and jelly beans.  I watched in horror as Drew sprinkled shredded white coconut onto the frosting to be rabbit fur and shredded green coconut onto the surrounding pan to be grass.  Ick!

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Happy Birthday LifesLemons, I Folded In Stiff Peaks for You!!

295918_10150263590951404_364376416403_7682864_7493842_n1Happy Birthday LifesLemons! Did you think I’d forgotten?  You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?  I don’t blame you, it’s 10:38 PM.  But, I didn’t forget your 3rd birthday.  How could I? Growing Lemons is in my top favorite past times, didn’t you know?  It’s just that, well, you know… I’m either driving or working or eating or working or driving or eating.  Usually in that order.  It’s just too bad that blogging is farther down the free-time totem pole.  It’s right behind swimming and running.  Honest.

And since we’re being honest, LifesLemons, there’s something else that you should know. I’ve been meaning to tell you this for quite some time and I hope that you don’t take offence.

I’m cheating on you, LifesLemons.  I blog for another, weekly…but it’s part of my job, you see.  I author, “New Things Thursday” to promote the selling of college surplus- desks, chairs, odds and ends. You might even like it if you gave it a chance.  Posting steady reminds me of the way you and I used to be.  But it’s nothing serious, LifesLemons, the content is super goofy and you’re still my number one.  Honest.  But hey, if you want to check it out sometime, by all means, go to w, w, w, dot….What a rotten thing to bring up on your birthday.  Let’s change the subject.

I baked you a cake, LifesLemons, like I do every year.  Well, sort of.  I made it in advance and technically they’re birthday waffles again.  We enjoyed them so much last year and they freeze so nicely.  This year though, unlike last, they were completely homemade- pumpkin waffles with white chocolate chips.  That’s love. aksk

What else?  I’ll tell you what else.  I followed the recipe step-by-step, even though the egg whites had to be beaten separately.  Do you know what that’s like, LifesLemons?  Do you even know the extra steps involved?  Shell cracking with care, dividing the yolk, dirtying an extra bowl, not to mention finding both beaters (when I usually use a spoon.) This was all to form stiff peaks, to fold into the waffle batter, so they’d be extra light and extra fluffy.  Though it’s a huge pain, I did it for you, LifesLemons, for your birthday.  You know that I would never bake for another blog, but especially fold in stiff peaks.  I’d just throw everything in one bowl, all at once, and hope for the best.

Favorite posts of the year.

The Soap Box Chronicles Present: Carrot Peelers

Abracadabra Apricots

The One Who Runs

Since We’ve No Place To Go

In This Perfect Moment

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In This Perfect Moment

My legs are bent slightly as I dangle, catching my breath, on the edge of the deep end. Chin’s on forearms, eyes are closed, heart rate slows, in- then exhale.  

For a moment, I just pause in that familiar hazy detachment to the world I’ve come to depend on as much as sleep.   The best swims are ones like these- when everything around, sounds and surrounding splashes, but above all else- my worries, seem to be a million miles away.  Whatever weighed so heavily on my heart, just a short while ago, holds weight no longer.   Stress and doubt bear no emotional value in the perfect universe that I try to create each and every time I step into a pool.  For this is my domain, and as master of it, I can generate success and I can refuse to fail.  This is a place where hard work is rewarded with moments that feel simply perfect.

In this perfect moment, I feel balanced and I feel at peace.  In this perfect moment, I feel as if I’ve been laughing until tears or maybe it’s crying until sobs.  In this perfect moment, I feel 1077Fexhausted but also energized. How does that work?  How does the organic rejuvenation of a deep sleep come from doing the exact opposite?  I’m on the edge of
dreaming, on 
the edge of everything, thankful to feel so alive- in this perfect moment.  

I’ll stretch my limbs as far as they can go and emerge from the water taller because of it.   Later, or when I need it the most, the pool’s smell will pacify because it reminds me of how perfect a moment can be.  When I’m lying in bed to sleep, the essence will be on my forearm.  Just like before.  Eyes close, heart rate slows, in- then exhale.

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On Account of the Rain

I had the best of intentions to go swimming this morning.  Well, they weren’t my of best intentions or else I would’ve gone.  I was only halfway planning to roll out of bed, hop in my car, swim, and be to work by 8- but it’s hard to tell where your time will best be spent in the early morning- in a pool or in a bed?  You can only guess the final decision and hope for the best.  Guessing is the hardest when you’re half asleep and your bed is warm, I suppose.  wpid-img_20140220_065206

So get up and start the coffee, because making an intelligent decision about how the morning should be spent will be easier with hot caffeine in your belly.   

Then, you hear the rain. You hear the train whistle too and together, they sound so dreamy.  And that new fuzzy blanket draped casually over the couch from the night before is just so inviting.  Would it be so bad to scratch both plans, the pool and the bed, and write a blog post?  The coffee’s almost finished and you have graham crackers in the pantry.  Honestly, when was the last time you dunked graham crackers in coffee while blogging and listening to the rain, and a train, before work, on an early February morning?

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Since We’ve No Place To Go

Oh the weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful.  Since we’ve no place to go…let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

It hardly ever happens this way.  Always it seems, there is some errand to run, some job do, some place to go, but somehow… not today.  Let’s make the most of it by going all out- going no place.  We can actually take it easy and do nothing for once.  

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After we vacuum the living room and put away yesterday’s dishes, we’ll do nothing.  After we wash the windows and mirrors, we’ll reorganize the pantry and do nothing.   No, no, seriously, we’re just going to slow down today.  Go no place.  Do no things.    

After we’ve dusted everything and watered our dying plants, we’ll start a load of laundry and be done with it.  Might as well take it easy.  

We’ll just fold the couch afgans neatly and prepare to sit down.  Because we will sit down- once the living room’s rearranged and our first load of laundry is put away. After we’ve sanitized the kitchen counters and garbage cans, we’ll have some corn for popping (and notice that the microwave needs cleaned too.) Don’t show signs of stopping.

Scrub the shower.  Scrub the stove.   Scrub the linoleum floors.  We’re really going to treat ourselves today.  Strip the bed clothes and wash them too.

Go all out.  Bust out the Dunkin’ Original Blend and sip it as you clean while it snows, while it snows, while it snows.  Around eleven-thirty we’ll be begging for someplace to go.

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This Birthday

frontI had this birthday, not this birthday, a different one- my 16th birthday, and a friend of mine named Courtney decided to do something really nice in honor of it.  She decorated a shirt for me and bothered many of our peers to sign it. Thank you Courtney for organizing this loving gesture.back

I come across this arbitrary array of well-wishes from time to time, like today on this birthday, and stop whatever I’m doing to read the shirt’s simple one-liners, inside jokes, and sarcastic remarks.  They make me smile, laugh, and feel special all over again.  I muse at the different things people wrote and think of them being ambushed in the hallway between classes to write them.  They ought to know that they made that birthday and this birthday a bit brighter.  

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Happy Would’ve-Been-25-Year Anniversary

I’ll never forget what started the last fight.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, in this case, was a large and still dirty from the night before sauce pan.  The “soaking” pan had overstayed its welcome in the sink and, to one sleep deprived family member, this was unacceptable.  In all fairness the pan was not submerged so it was technically not “soaking.” This was therefore fodder for a fight that, like always, would escalate quickly and come to an obligatory halt once Dad left for work at night.  The basement was where Mason and I waited for the storm and all of these storms to pass, which was indicated by an ominous door slam, or two, or three.  Nothing suggested that this argument would be unlike all the others, but it was.  The threats, our worst nightmare, were real this time.  After fourteen years, she was really leaving him …and we were going with her.  

black headed white ibisFamily counselors suggest that children of divorced spouses may blame themselves for the differences of their parents and warn that they may not feel loved anymore.  This notion is bologna.  We never felt more loved.  In the years to come we would be told on numerous occasions to not feel responsible for their fighting or their failed marriage.  I don’t feel responsible and never did- perhaps because they made it so clear to us growing up that how they felt about each other had no bearing on how they felt about us.  I feel fortunate that they made it work for so long because looking back it is hard to imagine them living together let alone being married at all.  They are such different people.  Eleven years later I believe that the painstaking adjustment, living apart, was inevitable for our family and necessary in spite of the heartbreak.

Although our parents tried for many years they never really could “pull the wagon as a team,” but it means so much that they tried.  For so long, and up until the end, they tried for us.  Mason and I are lucky to share two parents who love us more than anything.

Happy Would’ve-Been-25-Years- Mom & Dad.  Thanks for bringing us in.

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Ninety-nine Jars of Soup on the Wall

Ninety-nine jars of soup on the wall, ninety-nine jars of soup.  Take one down, no don’t… Ninety-nine jars of soup on the wall.  58238708f3a4_a6d5ac2c-2a7b-4bb0-a31c-ad3ec7522770

The old leaf garland didn’t make the cut this year.  It looked skimpy up there all by itself, so I made the executive decision to add more. Soup in glass Mason jars look nice, just don’t eat them.  Seriously Weston, do your best not to eat the autumn cupboard decorations.  I know that Aunt Sue’s homemade vegetable soups and salsas are delicious and ideal for a quick and easy meal, but at the moment they happen to be part of my beautiful array of fallish cupboard fixtures.  Start telling yourself that anything atop these said cupboards are decorations only and not part of the pantry inventory.  Go eat something else.  In a couple of months, stale gingerbread houses won’t have the same appeal.  I promise.      

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Guess What I’m Doing Right Now (Golly Gee)

When she answered my phone call I went right into it, “Hey Grams… You’ll never guess what I’m doing right now.”   To which she replied, “Gee Moll, I don’t know, what?” Before we go any further, I should mention that it’s best if you imagine my grandma’s voice having inflections that mirror a mothers’ on any American 1950’s television sitcom:  i.e. “Gee Moll, I don’t know, what?”199073245998425275_Bc0rskHU_c

“Guess,” I returned playfully as if she didn’t already know that, like always, I would build suspense in this way.  “Just guess, Grams!” And she played along, offering a generous list of possible presumptions.

Finally I gushed, “I’m ironing!” and she, “Why that’s wonderful!” again in a genial and sincere June Cleaver.  Grams has been wanting me to get (and use) a clothing iron for decades now.  So naturally, after I bought one and when I began using it she was the first person I thought to tell.  And you my friends…are second.

On another note, I’m beginning to actually feel like a 1950’s house wife; scooting my shiny iron around the surrounding red, white and bluery.  Pretending that my “This American Life” podcast is a radio show doesn’t help.  Sporting pin curls definitely doesn’t help.   Yet here I stand, iron in hand, dismissing wrinkles to my little heart’s content with the promise of a curly-headed tomorrow.   

Happy Patriot’s Day.

 

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The Warmest of Welcomes

August 22, 2013

For the first time since moving I parked my car beside the familiar lake and walked down to its waters.  Our last encounter was a chilly one, both literally and figuratively; certainly not one that I remember with great mirth.  On that day the lake and I’s time together was cut short because of its inclemency and I had left the dreary premises feeling cold and empty inside- but also foolish for honoring these emotions.

fnd logoToday was also overcast and the cool week prior prompted me to expect a reunion that would be far from the familiar embrace of the warm summer waters that I had come to expect and seek refuge in.   On the dock I kicked off my flip flops, dropped my towel and for a few solemn seconds just stared at the empty grey-green.  I sighed and then started down to the boat ramp urging myself not to have high hopes for a great swim on such a drab day in late August.  Bearable temperatures would be asking enough.  

I stepped reluctantly onto the mossy concrete slope and my feet slid beneath the glassy surface.   Moments later my ankles, shins, and knees were also engulfed.  When the water reached my waist my knees softened and I sank into the impossibly mild water.  It was not piercingly cold like I had expected.  It was warm and the lake’s way of saying, “Welcome Back.”  My limbs went limp.  I let the water draw me in.  I felt my entire body surrender to its soothing embrace.  

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The One Who Runs

199073245998425275_Bc0rskHU_cOut of the corner of my eye I could see a white car inching its way towards me.  I was doubled over, beside my own ajar car door, tying my shoe.  Parked in a different spot along the usual route; I was prepared to explain my ritual to a new face.  Looking up from my laces I could see that the person driving was an old woman hardly high enough to see over the steering wheel. Popping and crackling of loose gravel slowed beneath the car’s tires.   Then, before the passenger’s window had finished its decent, the sweetest little old lady voice that you can possibly imagine chimed, “Do you need any help?”  

“Nah,” I began, “Just parking here for a bit so that…”  But before I could finish, in a voice now laced with disbelief, astonishment and sheer joy she exclaimed, “You’re the one who runs!”

I laughed, “Yea…” but again was cut off by a giddy, “I see you run by here all the time!”  She squinted her eyes then leaned forward, placing her elbow on the passenger seat to get a better look.  “Where’s your headband?!”  

Laughing again, I reached down for my apparent signature accessory, “Haven’t put one on yet.”

She looked at me, wide-eyed, as if I were a figment of her imagination- a unicorn, a mermaid, or Bob Barker.  Any minute I expected the old woman to leap from her car, snapping Polaroids of me to prove to the girls at Pinochle club that I wasn’t just some half naked mirage who occasionally ran past her house as she drank Ovaltine at the kitchen sink.  “The One Who Runs” really DOES exist.  And here I was.  In the flesh.  Standing five feet before her very eyes.  

Then, I became equally entertained (by her bewilderment) and for a long moment we just gaped at each other in utter fascination.  

Finally she interjected, “Have fun.  You made my day.” The gravel crackled as she drove away.  

Thanks lady.  You made my day too.

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Read it Here First

It’s out now.  Did you know?  My book a.k.a. twelve laminated pages of plastic coil-bound bliss.  I wrote and illustrated it in eighth grade.  Have you heard about it?  Did you even know about it?  We’re not friends anymore.  

I’m only kidding and not surprised.  “How I Won 6.3 Million Dollars,” is flying off of store shelves so I’m posting it here, online, for you to read… for free.  It’s my career’s early work so what the heck, I’ll even throw in a written commentary below.   Just another perk of being a Lemons reader.  The beach scene is page one, so wait for the pages to revolve.  Fancy schmancy.

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(Page 1 & 2) Refreshing to see main character (girl in purple bikini) practicing “safe tanning.” (See orange bottle of sunscreen beside.)  Watch out for the crab.  Aunt Bertha is an avid member of the Red Hat Society.  Although she takes care of her skin by wearing cucumber face masks her hair leaves much to be desired.  Same time on wall and alarm clocks, good.  Excellent use of zig-zag screen split during phone call.

(Page 3 & 4)  Calling Aunt Bertha from a grocery store to ask if her cookies require chopped or whole dates.  (Conflict.)  Frankly I’m a little surprised that a store that has at least 98 aisles (!!) doesn’t have more variations.  Wild haired radio dj named DJ, according to his name tag, enjoys the light of a disco ball and juggles with his lime green shoes on desk during a live radio call-in contest.  How did the cans on the grocery store shelves get closer together?

(Pages 5 & 6)  Good variety of people at baseball game:  a young person, an old person, a person who is balding, a person who may or may not be choking on a hot dog, a few topless people,  a biracial gay couple and a couple of people who are about to kiss.  Seems legit.

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(Pages 7 & 8)  Went to the Bahamas.  Drank a glass of red wine at a fancy candle-lit…lunch?  Ordered dip but server brought chips.  (Maybe he should have used that pencil behind his ear.)  Apparently the character changed seats during the meal.

(Pages 9 &  10)  Thirsty from eating the chips so went to McDonalds for a Coke (and possibly to sober up from lunch.)  Why are there 2 fish fillet sandwiches in the McDonalds hot lamp queue?  They’re not exactly a top seller.  At a glance Combo #1 and Combo #2 appear to be the same.  Look closer.  They’re not, #2 is a Big Mac Meal.  See the middle bun?  Main character experiences a colorful euphoria from winning the lottery.  Story reaches climax.  Reader shares excitement.  Reader feels pizzazz.  At this point in the story our earlier suspicions are confirmed: The main character is double jointed.

(Pages 11 & 12)    Resolution.  In the end the main character gets rich and fat.  She stores her lottery winnings in a gold plated safe and rings a bell whenever she needs something.  She starts to receive cookies from her grandma but there is no mention of dear old Aunt Bertha.  Did she go missing?  Die?  It’s a mystery I suppose.  

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We Got Our Wish

I inherited a box of greeting cards when I was little.  When I say “inherited,” I mean that I actually just found the box occupying a small corner of my closet one day and asked Mom if I could keep it and its contents.  She obliged, 199073245998425275_Bc0rskHU_cprobably because the cards inside were homeless for a reason.  Some were too specific, “Congratulations on your Wedding Anniversary” and on the inside, “41 years and still going strong.”  Some were too vague, an illustrated pastel picture of a baby napping on a bed of tulips.  And sometimes there were just too many: “You’re Invited to a Baby Shower” and on the inside, “Who:__When:__ Where:__Please RSVP before: November 1989.”   

None of this mattered because I cherished my box of  greeting cards and their mismatched envelopes.  I sent them eagerly every chance that I got.  When spring rolled around, for example, I could send Easter greetings.  “Thanks for the two dollar bill Grams, here’s a napping tulip baby for you!” It gave me a sense of independence to send official cards in the mail.

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  A lot of the inherited cards contained humor that went over my head, punchlines that didn’t make sense at the time or at least didn’t make sense coming from a fourth grader.  It’s felt like forever but over the years I’ve waited to be old enough to send certain ones. Including this one.

Happy birthday my friend.  Soon we’ll be living on our own… We do?  

Graduated college… We did?  Getting married… You are?  Shut up.  Where has the time gone?

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My “Molly”

When you’re a young girl getting something in the mail is a joyous occasion.  Getting mailed a magazine with pictures of dolls and the prospects of buying one, as a young girl, is something else.  Torture?  For some cruel reason I started receiving the American Girl Doll catalog when I was just seven years old.  I’d pore over each page of my catalog pining for the dolls, their clothing, and furniture sets until each sheet was crinkly and tattered.

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American Girl characters portray girls who live during specific periods of time in American History.  They have different ethnicities, personalities, and may identify with the young girls to whom they are marketed towards.  I loved “Kirsten,” the doll with golden locks who lived a Little House on the Prairie lifestyle.  But since there was a  doll named “Molly” it seemed disrespectful to ask for an American Girl by any other name.  By reading her six-book series I learned that we had plenty in common.  She loved school, I loved school.  She wore big round glasses, I wore big round glasses.  She had bangs, I wanted bangs. I wanted mail-order American Girl “Molly” more than anything and for at least three consecutive years she topped all of my Christmas and birthday wishlists. 

9712092_origOne Christmas morning I opened a present.  It was my “Molly” doll and she was beautiful. Wearing her signature red and blue uniform, with school books in hand, she beamed that familiar “we’re going to be best friends” smile.  Something though, and I wasn’t quite sure what, was different.  Mom explained that the company had sent me a “special” doll and that her glass face and appendages were “upgrades” not mistakes.  

My best friend Michelle visited over Christmas break and I proudly showed the doll to her.  Since she had an American Girl or two of her own Michelle looked at me like I was crazy when I insisted that, “My Mom said so!”  Looking back, I know that Michelle was wise beyond her years, knew better and probably just went along with the charade.  She knew the truth long before I did.  Although I had my suspicions.  We ended up playing Barbies instead. 

The truth is… my “Molly” was a knockoff.  She was the kind that old ladies collect and put on pedestals in glass cases.  She was the kind that you get at Family Dollar for 25 bucks.  She was the kind that resemble American Girl characters and Mothers buy for their daughters so that they quit asking for one!  

I was naive then but now, I know the truth.  Because I checked.  The company doesn’t even make dolls with glass arms or legs and if they didn’t charge an arm and a leg for them, I may have gotten a real one for Christmas.  Mom Santa liked to keep the amount of Christmas presents equal between Mason and I.  Therefore if I opened an authentic Molly McIntire my other presents would likely have been gum ball machine tattoos.  It saddens me to think that I never got an American Girl doll and that I probably never will.  Mom…I know that you’re reading this and I’m still waiting for an apology… or a doll.  Why now?  The company is retiring “Molly McIntire” after 27 years and my birthday is on the 27th of November.  I did the math and the going rate for these little gems is four easy payments of $27.50, plus shipping & handlingCoincidence?  I think not.   

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A Week Ago Today

You may recall that a week ago today was also a Friday.  On that day I intended to “reconvene” my story but I didn’t.  Instead I stood you up, built suspense and by holding delicesout for exactly one week, created irony.  Will you forgive me?

One year plus one week ago today was a Thursday.  On this day I was denied entry to a cathedral because I was scantily dressed (my knees were showing.)  Two African men approached me, tied bracelets made of multicolored thread to my right wrist, and wished me, “Good Luck from Africa.”  That night, at the “American Embassy,” someone offered me a bite of their hazelnut McFlurry and I took it, much obliged. 

The following day I boarded our flight to Dusseldorf, Germany wearing the brown striped scarf that I bought on my first day in Italy.  I made myself tea at the airport and finished my journal during the long flight home.  

Today I drank a cup of coffee from a mug, not free espresso and not tea from a cardboard cup from an airport, but when I look down at my “Good Luck from Africa” bracelets I can sort of feel like I’m still there. 

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A Year Ago Today

A year ago last Thursday was a Wednesday.  On that day I sat between two German businessmen as I flew over the Atlantic Ocean.  I know they were business men because I asked them; they were flying back from Iowa.  I watched “Awesome Celebrity Weddings” on my personal television seated in First Class.  I would later discover what jet lag and four complementary glasses of champagne do to a person aalwhen they trade their usual sleeping pattern for an inverse one overseas.  I would also come to find out (especially on the flight home) that not everyone’s ticket gets upgraded for free. 

A year ago last Friday was a Thursday.  On that day I took my first bite of authentic Italian gelato (pistachio flavored) and had to wear my purple cami to bed because I forgot to pack a nightgown.  

A year ago last Saturday was a Friday.  It was supposed to rain so I dressed warm and ordered an espresso from a baristaman who brushed my money aside flirtatiously and said, “You pay tomorrow” in his thick Italian accent.  I sampled wine on a tour of an underground wine cellar and used my napkin to spit out anchovies on toast.    

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A year ago last Sunday was a Saturday.  I toured a dairy farm, ate a seven course lunch and skipped dinner to go for a run.  Later that evening I cheered on foreign half-marathon runners just two blocks from our hotel in Cuneo.

A year ago last Monday was a Sunday.  After riding a bus for 4 hours I laid eyes on 55 thousand Parma hams being smell tested individually by the factory owner and his two workers.  That night it poured down rain and after taking a hot shower I hand-washed my limited supply of cold weather clothes in anticipation of more rainy tomorrows.  

A year ago last Tuesday was a Monday.  On that day I saw a breathtaking bride and groom posing for wedding pictures along the Arno River in Florence.  I received an e-mail that said, “HIMOLLYGLADYOUAREHAVINGAGOODTIMELOVEGRANDMA.”  (She didn’t know how to use the space bar.)  That night my roommates Monica, Teju and I laughed ourselves to sleep.    

A year ago yesterday was a Tuesday.  This day drizzled rain too.  At a flea market I tried on clothes behind the curtains of peddlers’ filthy panel vans and even got a thumbs up from a bicyclist.  I also climbed tilted stairs to the top of Pisa’s leaning tower and started my love affair with hazelnuts.   

lklklA year ago today, in the middle of the night, an earthquake tremor rattled our several-story hotel in Bologna.  A 70-year old woman taught me how to fold tortellini and how to make homemade pasta without even using a bowl.   

For some reason today (and this year) I feel like embracing the rain.  I feel like drinking wine and saying “grazie” instead of “thank you.”  I feel like having…making buttery rich pasta without even using a bowl.   I just may.  Tomorrow we’ll reconvene our adventure and I’ll share with you what happened a year ago to date.           

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Abracadabra Apricots

I had an amateur magic set when I was little.  In it were all the usual gags- the wand, the scarf, the latex thumb- and after learning new tricks, I would lace up my black cape (the one with gold stars and crescent moons) and put on shows.  With Mason as my assistant we would dazzle the audience, usually Mom, Dad, 62986_336094826508689_1645581499_nor Grandma with our sleight of hand and uncanny ability to make things disappear.  

We were stealthy ones.  Even long after the show my accomplice and I had the miraculous ability to make certain foods seemingly vanish into thin air.  Namely it was apricots, plums and Fruit Roll-ups that one by one (or two by two rather) didn’t stand a chance against our sorcery.   Back then the kitchen floor was still carpeted, enabling my sticky little fifth-grade feet to slink over to the counter with astonishing inconspicuousness; i.e. “Hocus Pocus.”  Also I had mastered the art of not banging my feet against the bottom cupboard whenever I sprung onto the counter to access the goods; i.e. “Presto.”  Covering our shiny wrappers and fruit pits in the trash with a napkin was part of the charade; i.e. “Now you see them, now you don’t.”   Not covering them would’ve alerted Mom to our chain fruit-eating shenanigans which normally occurred during episodes of Arthur and the like.  Disappearing fruit and roll-ups could have been part of the magic act.  Since they left the house as quickly as they had arrived.  

Normally I’m a pretty conservative fruit buyer but I’m a damn good magician when it comes to making apricots disappear.  So tonight I bought 38 and trust me when I say, “They’ll vanish before rotting.”  Abracadabra we’re down to 36, 35, 34….   

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The Lemons Writing Process in 10 Easy Steps

62986_336094826508689_1645581499_nStep One:  Brew and drink some fresh coffee.

Step 2: Play the Pandora radio station that alternates between 90’s country & edgy techno. 

Three: Word and reword the same sentence 5 times.

Step 3 ½: Tap your toes.

3 ¾: Stare at a wall and think real hard.

Steps Four & Five:  Go off on tangents then delete most of them.

6: Shuffle to the pantry for a palmful of chocolate chips.

Seven-9: Whisper sentences to yourself.  Laugh out loud. Admit that you’re crazy.

10: Go warm up your coffee and grab more chocolate chips while you’re at it.

(Repeat steps 3-10)

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The Exhaustion That’s Not

Having executed a good variety of sprints, high knees, and exaggerated long strides between mailboxes and telephone poles the last few miles or so would consist of nothing in particular.  She would allow her mind to shut down completely, sitting back to enjoy the ride that her legs knew by heart.  For a while now her breath had been fixed to a deep and effortless rhythm.  Inhales lasted for about four strides and exhales required five. But again, no one was counting.  fnd logo

The past hour had taken an observable toll.  Her drenched hair seemed to be 3 shades darker.  Tips and entire strands clung tightly to her neck.  Her shirt and shorts had greyer greys and blacker blacks in all the likely places.  Beneath her sunglasses were redder eyes.  Like always the water-proof, sweat-proof sunscreen had somehow managed to make its way into them.  She also displayed the subtler signs of a tired runner-  softer expressions, heavily lidded eyes and hands fixed in a decrepit position. One could easily tell that just the thought of succumbing to her tired legs with a walking pace was tempting.

Her right hand made a fist.  Then, from left to right, she swiped her chin with the groove between her first and second knuckle.  This, as it always did, produced a perfect bead of sweat which would roll from the back of her fist to her wrist.  Then wind down her forearm and fall from her elbow to the pitted gravel road below.  One of many.

When she rounded the corner her strides became more pronounced and her pulse quickened accordingly.  The sight of her parked car triggered the same innate response that all finish lines did, “You’re almost there.  This is when it really counts,” and what was that phrase?- “You can do anything for one minute.”  Because that’s all it was going to take.  Going hard enough anyway.

She closed her eyes determinedly and the entire world melted away.  Concentrating on not what she had already given, but what she had left to give.  What energy had she left to give?  Strides that were once, “left…right…left…” sped up to the pace of a sprinter, “right.left.right.left.right.”  With the promise of a near end and the imagery competition at her heals, sheer adrenaline took over.  Her shoes began making contact with the ground as if each step were too painful to bear.  Her lungs felt as if they would burst.  When at last she reached the finish her fingertips tapped the hood of her car as if to say, “end time.”  Then after allowing her legs to slow down drastically she turned around without hesitation and walked the 23 steps back to her car.  Exhaling a well-deserved, “Yessss” she sunk into the driver’s seat and drove away.  Although completely exhausted, she was not.  

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Ditch Effort

We’re going green on LifesLemons this Mother’s Day.  It’s a cop out really- from buying an overpriced greeting card- but together, we can pretend to be environmentally conscious by going with the term “green” instead of “cheap.”  You in?  I digress.  You see…I’m in the habit of equating expenses with the amount of time that it takes to earn their value.  So in order for me to feel comfortable justifying four and a half dollars or 25 minutes after taxes on a greeting card, the card’s content has to be simply perfect and unparalleled.  No such luck in finding one this year and it may or may not be due to the fact that I spent all of 3 1/2 minutes searching for one before deciding that sharing a Mother’s Day story could potentially be muuuch better.  

flowerAt least better than most of my last-minute-Mother’s-Day-ditch-efforts.  Once during my pre-teen years on the eve of Mother’s Day, I searched frantically around my bedroom at Dad’s house looking for an adequate gift.  I thought, “Would she like this old picture-frame?  No, I think she bought it for me.  Can I give her my jewelry box?  Oh shoot, my name’s engraved on it!”  Makeshift or otherwise, the present just had to appear thoughtful and that I’d remembered before 10 pm the night before.  Naturally I ended up spraying a pile of Kleenex with some sample perfume before fastening them together with a sad looking green pipe cleaner.  This gift, as I’m sure you imagined, was an exceptional one.  Exceptionally lame.  Yet I’m sure that one day I’ll have a daughter who’ll present me with similar quick-and-dirty masterpieces.  Because that’s what it was.  A quick and dirty masterpiece.  It’ll be just like old times, only I’ll be on the receiving end of this sorry little scandal.  Good times.  Can’t wait.    

Having a car now enables a person to go out and buy decent gifts.  Which I did.  Yet, as mentioned before, finding cards are a different story.  Unless they’re extremely fitting, funny, or say things that I can’t express better they’re useless and quite frankly, a waste.  So here we are.   Seven minutes (Central Time) before the day after Mother’s Day 2013  confessing our card-lessness  and justifying it in a way that trumps the glitter and overpriced card-stock anyway.  A blog.  

Ah Hem….

 “Hey Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day. Love you, Molly & Mason”

Lookout Hallmark, I may be on to something.

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What’s the Deal?

When I joined the Methodist Wellness Center the winter after graduating high school I selected a membership that only allowed for usage of their lap pool.  Buying a blanket capmembership that granted passage to the machines and equipment would have been a waste.  I just wanted to swim.  For one, I prefer the treadmills with slatted rubber belts and two, I imagine that I would have felt guilty or something for exercising in front of a combination of those rehabbing from surgery, the elderly, and cardiac/ bariatric patients. It’s no secret that the Wellness Center is designed for a more advanced crowd.  Many members curl 10 pounds on a good day and usually spend time circling the circuit in the comfort of their elastic waist jeans and black loafers.  I stuck to the pool though.  A place where I could concentrate on my swim stroke and not ponder the “Chafe Factor” of a pair of Depends while I watch some feisty old geezer do some possible major damage on a recumbent bicycle.  

Kidding aside, I truly loved Methodist and all of the people there.  A sense of belonging develops at those quieter, more laid-back gyms.  I did a lot of laps and became a seasoned swimmer in their pool.  Never one to swim circles in our neighborhood facility, I swam so much during my first winter that I went all out and bought myself an official silicone swim cap to do good by my poor hair.  I wore it all of eight laps, then tossed  it into the trash because I was so frustrated that it kept slipping off.  No matter how I adjusted my hair, goggles, or the cap itself it kept sliding off my stinking head!  Why am I telling you this?  I’m so glad that you asked.   

Having recently bought another swim cap and demoting it almost instantly to a reusable pita pocket storage bag, I must ask, “What’s the deal?”  I mean really, truly, what’s the deal?  I stretch it down after every lap but other swimmers seem to have no problem.  I feel like a newbie runner or something constantly stopping to tie my shoe mid-mile.   Am I doing something wrong?  I’ve been swimming without a cap for ages by now but would like to again try using protection… for my hair’s sake.  Any swimmers out there?  Why does my cap keep slipping off and how can I get it to say on?  And don’t say to get a chin strap like the girl in the vintage ad to the upper-left.  Although stylish, a band would impede my breathing.  This is an extremely frustrating situation to me, but if I get fresh advise I may remove the cucumber, heirloom tomato pita from my said former head gear in order to give its real functionality a final go.  Thank you in advance.    

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The Soap Box Chronicles Present: Carrot Peelers

The aroma of coffee filled my nostrils as a squirt of grapefruit speckled my cheek.  Dad was sitting beside me at the kitchen table, using his special, bent, burnt orange handled, grapefruit knife to cut sections of fruit free from its thick peel.  The metal spoon clicked gently against my baby teeth whenever he’d share a bite.  My hands were full.  I was peeling carrots.  The wooden table had been covered earlier with overlapping layers of vibrant newspaper comics and now orange shreds of carrot were piled high on Snoopy’s doghouse.  Innocent voices of cartoon characters hummed in the living room.  A pain pulsed in my scrawny, bent, blond-haired pubescent leg, originating where the bones of my ankle met the hard chair.  So I shifted to the other side.  A simple fix.  The coffee maker gurgled.  My vegetable peeler jingled.

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Dad began demonstrating to me how dangerously sharp these peelers are. “It’s razor-blade sharp, and if. you. ever…”  I began daydreaming about the Magic School Bus.  “All it takes is one swipe…”  The episode where Arnold eats Seaweedies,  “one inch…” which is a fictional food, “and you’ll cut your finger…”  containing so much carotene that his skin turns orange!  “clean to the knuckle…”  Can you imagine?!? “clean to the bone!”  Your skin turning orange!?  

The next thing that I knew there was shrieking and there was blood.  Blood everywhere, soaking through each layer of The Funnies, pooling when it didn’t absorb fast enough.  The peeler dropped from a frozen hand.  Cool air and salty tears were seeping into the meaty raw muscle of thumb.  Shards of sunlight seemed to sizzle the glassy red flesh as peachy skin dangling heavily by a thread.  Loud sobs rumbled deep from within my chest. It. Was. Horrific.    

Sorry about your thumb Dad.  Lesson learned, if it’s any constellation   

Did you ever hear a story that was told to you so descriptively,  so vividly, that it actually felt like you were there, part of the action?  Have you ever heard a tale or received a warning that was so disturbing it scarred you for life?  I’m not entirely sure that the last part, the gashed thumb part in the preceding story, happened in real life.  But I am sure that I will never, ever, own a carrot/potato/vegetable peeler for the rest of my life!  Thanks to Dad and his Soapbox Chronicles.

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Self-Proclaimed “To-Do List Schedule Maker”

I like making lists.  Visual persons, such as myself, just love to write everything down that they’d like to accomplish for the day, or buy at the grocery store, or better understand from their medical nutrition therapy books.  Then, we stare at the list for a long while. Which is almost as productive as doing the tasks, buying the eggs, and learning the concepts themselves.  Just kidding…staring only listhappens for a short while.  Then, I get out a fresh sheet of paper and devise a schedule.

I like making schedules too… just about as much as I like making lists- devising both for everything. Everything. Deadlines, what I need to clean, to buy, to mail, answers I need to know, where I need to go, when and how I need to do everything. Yes, everything.  When coping during busy times it’s how I stay in control, and actually see the things that need to get done and by when.  It’s how I stay on task.  It’s how I remember to feed my goldfish and how I remember that I do not have a goldfish. After reading Brian Tracy’s book to end procrastination, Eat That Frog, I learned the value of making lists, assigning time frames and tackling important tasks first.  The time spent jotting down and prioritizing to-dos is well worth the investment, because you’re more prone to stay on task rather than later wondering, “What should I be working on at the present time?  Hmmm, I think I’ll just go make a sandwich.”  Tracy has “consulted for more than 1,000 companies, addressed more than 5,000,000 people in 5,000 talks and seminars throughout the US, Canada and 55 other countries worldwide.  As a Keynote speaker and seminar leader, he addresses more than 250,000 people each year.”  Read his book if you like the topic of time and self management, otherwise just take my personal expert advice, which is listed below.  I’m a self-proclaimed, “To-Do List Schedule Maker” who has the potential to reach billions upon billions of people via World Wide Web on a daily basis.  

Personal experience reveals 2 easily made mistakes when making To-Do List Schedules:

schedule1.) Under/overestimating the amount of time that it will take to execute a task. For example, say… transit takes longer than the time allotted. Then it cuts into the next activity and the next and the next.  Might just as well toss your agenda out of the car window.  If transit takes less time than allotted, the new-found time alludes to a license to waste (time.)  Helllllo shopping.  

2.) Blatantly ignoring the pitfalls, snags, and distractions that are likely to happen when executing certain tasks.  In good conscious, for example, I simply can not write, “Study for MNT; 9am-3pm” because I’d be setting myself up to fail.  Try as I might, I will not stay focused (and retain) test materials when I study for several consecutive hours, but wouldn’t that be nice?  Six hours to committing concepts, vocabulary, and mechanisms to memory is split up into two, three, or four solid study sessions. Otherwise I get antsy, angry, then I act out and nothing productive gets done. Why do you think I’m blogging right now?  *Winky face.  Back to the books.  

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Happy Birthday Life’s Lemons

Happy Birthday LifesLemons…I baked you a cake!

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Okay, let’s be real.  Obviously it’s not pineapple-upside down, (although I know that’s your favorite) it’s chocolate and vanilla and eleven layers tall!

Wanna be real again?   I didn’t exactly “bake” your cake either.  Hence its resemblance to a tall stack of waffles.  Each layer was forged two by two in my little waffle iron by strategically plugging and unplugging so that the fluffy batter wouldn’t scorch.  That, my two-year-old friend, was tedious.  So was cutting up page 2 of an old multiple choice biochemistry test to make a doily.  You know that I like you when I pause to snip a doily, because then I’ve got to sweep up the snippings.  Still being real?  The cake was a boxed mix.  Who do you think I am?  Michelle Lomelino?

Let’s a start a birthday tradition Lemons.  We’ll list our favorite posts of the year.  Which is easy for me because when I scroll through, they jump out with effortless recollection.  Remember these?

A Person’s Worth a Thousand Words

You Can’t Vacuum Fuzzies at a Coffee Shop

Our Little Paradigm

To My Baby Brother On His Eighteenth Birthday

Lemons Don’t Fall Far From the Tree

When Life Hands Me Tomatoes

What posts do you favor?  The short ones probably, because the long ones are daunting.  I get that.  Because I read blogs too.  I also gravitate towards the heartfelt posts about people.  What about you?

Happy 2nd Birthday LifesLemons!  Lucky you. Lucky me!  Your cake’s going to be delicious!

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Getting Matched to a Future & What I Will Bring

Your-journey-34My program coordinator and I had a candid discussion about the unique passions, priorities, and obligations that I’ve had as an undergrad, as well as how they’re able to influence the probability that I’ll get matched to a Dietetic Internship this year.  He explained that it can be tricky to express a person’s potential during a sometimes superficial application process and remarked how he noticed on the class trip to Italy that my strengths and personality differ greatly from my peers.  The value of these strengths are at the discretion of each internship and overlooking areas with a need for improvement must follow established guidelines.  Knowing my facets of unequivocal proportion, saying that I would be a tricky applicant to evaluate was an understatement.  At the time, hearing his observation was a jagged pill to swallow.  It felt like my wherewithal was flawed, but now, I couldn’t agree more.  I’m spunky. 

It’s probable that I won’t get matched to a Dietetic Internship this year.  Keep reading Dad, it gets better.

It is also probable that no matter what, I will get matched to a future that leads me wherever I’m destined to go.  Pretty deep huh?  I’m prepared to pack up for Boston,  Little Rock, and nowhere at all.  (In no particular order.)  With me I will bring the passion and influence that no one else can bring.  I will bring enthusiasm and initiative.  I will bring ambition that’s almost naive.  Internship, temporary job, start of a career (again, in no particular order) here I come. 

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Clean Eating Does Not Mean Barely Eating

We’re subjected to pictures and examples of meals with virtuous nourishment or “clean” eats on a daily basis.  Online, on television, in magazines it’s insane.  “Clean,” as it applies to consuming food, can be described as taking in minimally processed, nutrient dense, smaller meals that contain few ingredients.  Those who eat this way also aim to eliminate processed foods, preservatives, chemicals, saturated/trans fats and sugar.  Are  the meals balanced?  Sure.  Are the meals delicious?  You bet.  Are the meals enough?  Sometimes.  Well, it’s  debatable.  Let’s explore. 

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Off the tip of my brain a sample “clean” breakfast might consist of a lean, mean, and obscenely green smoothie with a sprinkle of ground flax seed for healthy good fat measure.  A “clean” lunch might be a mashed hard-boiled egg with mustard on a whole grain tortilla, a dish of cubed melon and a scant handful of raw (and organic) almonds.  “Clean” dinner?  Try poached fish served alongside a thin smear of hummus, a lemon wedge and a green bean.  Ok, two beans (and they can be long.)  I kid.  Yet self-proclaimed nutritionists and media forums may suggest restricting more than just ultra-processed food, bad fats and sugars when sitting down to a “clean” meal.  Do you get what I’m implying?  Don’t get me wrong.  Scientific research continues to discover and document the benefits of consuming a variety of minimally processed food.  Combine these health benefits with piercing colors and a stunning presentation… “clean” meals are a true work of art.  All 250 calories worth.  I’m totally kidding again.  Mostly. 

Does anyone else catch sight of a “clean” meal and get the feeling that it’s a little stingy on the calorie front?  Not always of course but sometimes I think, “What a lovely snack, oh wait…my bad.  That’s someone’s dinner.”  Diligently consuming and feeling satisfied from three square 200-300 artfully arranged calories perplexes me.  Supporting an equally encouraged active lifestyle requires more than just Resting Energy Requirements.  So during National Nutrition Month, let’s simply distinguish “clean” from “extreme” and remember that  “clean” eating does not mean undereating or overeating for that matter.   It is our personal responsibility to feed a relevant variable that is often overlooked during the hype.  That is, our appetite.

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Go Bake a Salad

“Huh?!  Another salad post, how can she possibly go on and on about salads?  She’s a psychotic veggie loving freak I tell you!  I visit LifesLemons to escape boredom, not promote it.  I come to see pictures of cats and stuff.  I come to read about edgeless silicone spatulas and to check the length of her shiny hair.  Really Molly… go start a blog about salads already if you love them so much.” – Your Mind’s Voice, laced with disgust, after judging the title.

kjjGraduation party- soft buttery mints cast from tiny diploma molds, cookies, and making small talk with strangers. Baby/wedding shower- cupcakes with pastel frosting, chicken salad croissants, and politely sitting with your legs crossed. Thanksgiving- pies, tiny cheese-spreader knives, giving thanks (mostly to the aluminum foil Gods for easy clean up.) Birthday party- pinatas duh…and cake.  A common denominator is associated with these and many other celebratory events; baked goods.  To celebrate we tend to bake.  Would you tend to agree?  So what baked good would be associated piviggiwith National Nutrition Month?

 Baked salad of course.

It hits the spot perfectly during crummy March weather because if you’re a fair weather friend to cold salads like me, you prefer softer, warmer foods during the chilly months of winter.  Baking/roasting vegetables in the oven is an easy way to enjoy a hot salad with cold weather texture/temperature preferences.  Celebrate National Nutrition Month. Go bake a salad.

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I Made Plans for Us Saturday

Good news!  I made plans for us on Saturday.  “Saturday” as in, March 23.  “Us” as in, you and me.  We’ll be running a 5k.  It’s official.  I took off work and you’ll take off…whatever it is that you do on Saturday mornings.  Kapeesh?

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Where: Hy-Vee, 4125 N. Sheridan, Peoria, IL

When: Saturday, March 23rd, 2013, Walkers begin at 7:45AM, Runners begin at 8:00AM.

Why: Help support the Central Illinois Dietetic Association promote optimal nutrition, health and well-being, shape food choices, and ultimately make an impact on the nutritional status of our local community.

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Tours Anyone?

Wouldn’t it be a crime to be ISU’s Food, Nutrition & Dietetics Club Public Relations Rep. and not use LifesLemons as a platform to promote a public service that me and the peeps are up to nowadays?  Wouldn’t it be a crying shame if I didn’t reach out to my millions of worldwide readers?  When I say “peeps” I actually mean fellow club members, and the term, “millions” ranges somewhere between 17 and 23 on any given day, but that’s another story.  We’re doing this really cool thing- pairing up and shuttling small groups of people around Meijer’s grocery aisles- knocking on melons, smelling peaches and stuff.  It sounds exhilarating  I know, stay tuned.supermarket blur

Our student guides will begin the journey in the produce section, scoot over to the breads, meander through the meats, and so forth, all while doing their very best to answer your pressing questions about soy lecithin and what it’s doing in your granola bar.  

nuvalThe innovative Nutritional Scoring System (NuValthat is slowly being adopted by grocery stores nationwide, will also be touched upon.  So if you’ve seen these numbers in stores like HyVee and Meijer but never known what they are, allow us to explain.  We’ve been trained by Meijer Dietitian Maribel Alchin.

Meijer has graciously agreed to host our happenings, provide coupons, handouts, and recipe cards.  Each tour is about 50 minutes long and promises to be a good time.  
When I say “good time” I mean that 
I’ll personally be having a blast offering my ever-expanding knowledge of nutrition while acting out a fantasy that I’m a real-life RD.  You, on the other hand, may be shocked since we’ll be revealing the devastatingly high sugar content of some cereals and break the news about yogurt that you may be missing out on.  It’s not greek, it contains..*gasp..fat.  Don’t worry, it’s easy to get duped by the food industry.  Dietitians (and we undergrads) are here to help.   

Oh, and each tour is tailored so that it is relevant for the group.  For example, when guiding a gaggle of girl scouts we’ll most likely be explaining that a person cannot survive on Thin Mints alone as well as what they should reach for after school.  If you or a group that you know may be interested in taking a tour of Meijer’s grocery section from ISU Food, Nutrition & Dietetics Club forward this post to them or e-mail me directly for details so that we can make it happen!  Don’t be shy, especially if you are hesitant or happen to be an incognito internship applicant evaluator with a hidden agenda coming specifically to evaluate our people skills/potentials as dietetic interns.  Have a nice day.

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“Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day”

Preferences, availability, lifestyle, health concerns, beliefs, and personal goals all impact an individual’s food choices.  So the theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month is, “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.”  Pretty deep huh?  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics challenged bloggers to write about what this expression means to them.  Alright, I’m game.

To me it means that you can totally melt mozzarella on mushrooms and call it “lunch” when need be.  And I’m sure that it’s completely normal to use kale as a vehicle for hummus while you’re studying Nutrition Therapy.  The 2013 theme means that if you want your “mac” to be beans instead of pasta, go for it.  And who’s going to stop you from eating corn on the cob for breakfast?  Nobody, that’s who.  You can easily get away with drinking yogurt on the go when you’re out of plastic spoons.  And there’s no shame in eating donuts for dinner every once in a while/inhaling a certain pasta that smells like pie crust if you’re visiting Italy.  

ozo“Your Way” loosely translated means that there is no shame in pursuing exactly what you want to eat.  In fact, just yesterday I returned a chocolate chip cookie because it was as hard as a rock.  (These ones are normally are soft.)    At restaurants ask for extra (something you like) if you really like them and forgo the (something you don’t)  if you won’t miss them anyway.  And lastly, it’s not a crime to run inside Kroger, ask for a single chicken tender at the deli counter, and eat it as you stand in line waiting to pay.  After all, it’s better than dying of hunger when you’re trying to find your “Plus” card.  

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To March…

Should I justify to you why I splurged on the overpriced pickled peppers and a few good olives from the grocer’s antipasti bar?  Rest assured that these delicacies were put to good use and not relished alone.  For they accompanied at least 17 shakes of hot sauce, every tall vegetable burrowed in the depths of my refrigerator that I could find, a splash of vodka, and a “dash” of black pepper poured through the shaker’s spoon hole.  Does busting out an old pickle jar for shaking up a pick4016Bloody Mary on a weeknight really require a reason?  Not necessarily- but I have two of them just in case.  1.) March is National Nutrition Month and 2.) We senior dietetics students, who have recently applied to internships via the centralized application system, have an entire month to anticipate our futures.  Either it will change in ways that we wish that it will… or in ways that we’d prefer it not to.

Before you go, we might as well raise our pickle jar glasses to make a toast.  Cheers to the calm before the storm.  During March, we shall lead a life of ignorant bliss.  Let us “act as if it were impossible to fail,” be prepared to pick ourselves up if we do, and know that worrying will not change the outcome.  Let us seize opportunities and flourish daily from the choices that we make.  Let us pretend like we would do nothing differently.  Because…we wouldn’t.

To March…

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Welcome to the Family Waffle Iron (aka the Latest Addition to our Cherry Pie Maker Club)

Many of us may attest to going through cooking phases, “Who wants one more cherry pie before I clean the maker for good and put it away for another year?”  After reading yesterday’s post about resisting the urge to invest in cabinet-space suckers (a technical term) you may assume that that I’m anti-small-kitchen-appliance; that I own a spatula and not much else.  There are some people, I’m sure, who would take their George Foremans to the grave with them while clutching its stupid plastic grease scraper.  But let’s be honest, there is very little that a skillet and sauce pan can not cook.  Extraneous appliances are just the cherry pie makers of the kitchen.  

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Don’t get me wrong.  I love hovering over the hole of a dehydrator to waft its moist and fruity air during banana chip production.  And who isn’t seduced by the rumble of a long serrated knife when they’re cutting that first slice of hot bread after the loaf is wiggled free from the maker?   So I caved in to my own rule about preserving kitchen cabinet space and recently adopted a waffle iron.  I’m justifying this decision because he is small, cute, and seems easy to clean.  In the three weeks that he has been living with us, I’ve got him to make cornmeal, chocolate, pumpkin, and chocolate chip cookie waffles.  Weston and I are happy with our new little bundle of joy which is the latest addition to our kitchen’s Cherry Pie Maker Club.

What “cherry pie makers” do you have (and love) in your kitchen?  Do you randomly personify your kitchen appliances mid-blogpost and talk about them as if they’re living people?

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Forgoing Cherry Pie Makers

We had a cherry pie maker when I was little.  But…don’t quote me on that since I’m not exactly sure that, “cherry pie maker” was the correct name for the device.  In fact, I know that it wasn’t; it was actually a Sunbeam sandwich maker.  Although pillows of cherry “pie”  are all that I can ever remember making in it.  We’d slather slices of bread with Country Crock and dollop canned cherry pie filling in the center.  After three minutes the two ingredients emerged as crunchy triangular pie puffs and were sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving.  In my opinion store-bought Toaster Strudels easily trump these Untitledpieangles (pie triangles) but there was some family bonding involved with devising these makeshift confections and brushing the cobwebs off of our nearly useless kitchen device to make them was practically worthwhile.  For 99.9% of the year our “cherry pie maker” was exiled to The Land of Hard-to-Reach Cupboard Space.  During the other .1% it collected dust on the counter top until someone got tired of looking at it or the abnormally large can of pie filling was gone or had spoiled in the fridge.

When I first began hoarding collecting things for my hope chest (or HCC as it was once lovingly referred to) I kept in mind that we had several special cooking appliances growing up but we were also  fortunate to have ample storage space.  So I took diligent care to select only the best, most practical, durable, and multipurpose kitchenware available.  You remember me at a garage sales, “Oh!  What a crisp snap from that secondhand Tupperware.  I must call it my own.” Or my affinity for edgeless silicone spatulas  (the kind that are a cinch to clean because they have no crevices to scrub around) that double as fly swatters.  #Those aren’t chocolate chips.  Just kidding.

Anticipating limited shelf space was certainly a factor in forgoing use-once-a-year cookery.  Extra inches of cabinet space should be viewed as a blessing, not an emptiness that you feel  challenged to fill.  Forgoing the countless bargain panini presses, popcorn poppers, and Perfect Pancake skillets at stores and at garage sales was not an easy feat during my travels.  These items can be so shiny and enticing, indeed.  If I had a dollar for every household whom tried to sell me their Perfect Pancake skillet I’d be a rich little girl.  The first few I was tempted to buy but after each run-in with the renowned Perfect Pancake, my notion was confirmed: things like Perfect Pancake skillets and 5-piece garlic graders aren’t worth the six square inches of cupboard space that they take up; let alone much bigger things like blenders and bread makers.  Mostly because people don’t make foods that require these gadgets enough to keep them within reach.  Saving three minutes during production normally ends up costing you ten after factoring in the time spent rummaging for missing parts beforehand or giving these novelties a sponge bath afterwards.

What’s your kitchen’s “cherry pie maker?”  Do you get swept away by the promise of an awesome appliance or tool but end up only using it a few times?

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If You Could Eat One Letter for the Rest of Your Life…

I’m breaking from this to ponder this…

peach-wallpaper-1“If you could only eat foods that started with one letter for the rest of your life what is the letter but I guess more importantly…what are the foods?”

I’m going with the letter P, because several of my staples start with Ps and I’m fairly certain that I could stay reasonably satisfied.

Popcorn and pickles and pumpkin and pancakes and peas and peanut butter and pizza and palatino linotype  (not that again) and peaches and pork…

…and we can pretend like I wasn’t inspired to write this after eating an entire jar of bread & butter spears just now.

Happy Valentine’s Day if we don’t talk before then.

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B-Mod. for iPads (…and Abs)

Last night at the Rec. the sign read something like, “Could our Millionth Visitor come today? Could it be YOU?  Win a free iPad.”  As a matter of fact, I was feelin’ lucky!  As I approached the check-in station I could feel that the count was close; the abundance of “employees” hovering around the front desk, the slow and suspicious way that my card was swiped…

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Dear Millionth Visitor,

Uggg.

Yours Truly,

Molly From LifesLemons

(aka Visitor #999,998)

One elective class that I took this summer, (Principles of Behavior Modification)  I took for the fun of it, not for the credit.  What a concept.  Our major’s Didactic Program in Dietetics, in my opinion,  has many “Food” oriented classes and not enough psychology related ones.   Sure we need to know how to cook, budget, and menu plan, but since one of a Dietitian’s main objectives is to evoke healthy behavioral changes, wouldn’t it make sense to equip these young professionals with the knowledge of how to reach patients on a personal level?  Before bombarding them with “do this and not that” shouldn’t our first step be to seek their motives and find out what makes them tick?  It’s an essential piece of the puzzle in order to impart what we’ve learned in school and evoke everlasting change.  I feel very strongly about this.  B-Mod. taught me that there are four reasons a person exhibits certain behavior; 1.) To gain access to something (tangible.) 2.) To escape something. 3.) For attention. 4.) Sensory (because it feels good.)  

kiiii

Do we eat to escape hunger pangs or because it feels/tastes good?  Do we shop because we need shoes or because wearing the new shoes will get us noticed?

There are several reasons why a person might check into the college’s Student Fitness Center; whether it be to gain reinforcement or to escape punishment.  The Student Fitness Center can be a great escape from other obligations; i.e. seeking refuge on a rowing machine instead of writing a paper.  Swimming, cycling, or rock climbing may make visitors feel good, feel accomplished and proud.  Perhaps others pop in for the social attention aspect; i.e. taking part in pickup games or attending yoga classes.  Maybe they like “gaining access” to the scenery from treadmill #17.  Maybe they wish to “gain access” to more defined muscles, better aerobic stamina, or a paycheck from working there.  In rare cases, like if you’re the millionth visitor, you could “gain access” to the Ultimate Intermittent Positive Reinforcement, a free iPad!  Dang… so close.

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How Late Nights Affect My Better Judgement

I’ve been a bit of a wild child lately.  I’ve been staying up past ten.  When this happens my better judgement goes out the window and I start doing things that “Normal Molly” would not do.  Like dying my jeans with bleach.  That happened two nights ago.  I then proceeded to use the dishwasher to rinse the bleach out of my jeans.  Twice.  With Cascade Power Packs.  Since we don’t use the thing for dishes, it made perfect sense for me to spare my other clothes from the effects of bleeding bleach and wash my new “special” ones in isolation.  Then, last night I went to town!  Not in a literal sense mind you.  Figuratively.  My discernment wanes as the night grows later.  I was doubled over, head half in the toilet, holding back some of my hair with one hand, and cutting the rest with my other.  I was going to town on my hair with a pair of rusty Fiskars!

6669I’ll uh, spare you the gory details.  My cousin’s going to school to cut hair, and so did my mom.  So it’s not like I don’t have connections to affordable trims.  For some reason I grew up in a “cobbler’s children have no shoes” sort of situation and I’m used to trimming my own locks.  Mom never treated a trim like it wasn’t a chore; so I stopped asking.  Last night I went far though.  I was grabbing chunks and cutting; going from the toilet to the mirror, back to the toilet and then back to mirror until I placed the trash can on the bathroom counter so that I could cut and check twice as fast!  I was yelling, “Weston, come stop me…I’m not going to have any hair left.”  The next thing that I knew I was seriously considering giving myself bangs.  I’ve never had them before and ultimately decided that it was best to sleep on the decision.  Especially considering how these late nights are affecting my better judgement lately. I’m lucky, for my hair’s sake, that I didn’t bust out the bleach again!

So I woke up this morning with very layered hair and I have to admit, it might look halfway good.  I’d hate to put my cousin out of a job when she graduates from beauty school but if this dietetics thing don’t work out, you can hit me up for a discount due.  I’ll be standing on the street corner.  Just me and my rusty Fiskars.

 

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MVP; Salad Edition

Let’s talk about salads for a second.   More specifically, let’s talk about the Most Valuable Part of our salads.  But before we do, let’s make a promise.  I promise to tell you my favorite part of a salad, and if you’ve got a second, you promise to tell me yours in the comments below.  Deal?  I’d like to get some new ideas for my greens, and I know that you’ve got a second.  You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t.  It’s not exactly like visiting LifesLemons is at the top of your to-do list.  I’m quite sure.  Unless you’re some crazy insane LifesLemons Fan Club member visiting my site at the very last second just before jumping on a locomotive that’s traveling 60 miles per hour!  I get that.  In your case there’s no time for comments.  You LL Fan Club members are a crazy bunch, but aren’t the most talkative knives in the drawer.  You read my words and go on your merry way.  Which is cool too.  sal(But I’m still going to assume that if I have 45 views today and only 3 comments, 42 were from people that had just a minute because they were on the verge of hopping a train.)

Personally when I make salad I start with all of the toppings; corn, cheese, peas, chick peas, cottage cheese, Lima beans, green beans, black beans, kidney beans, Beanie Babies,  broccoli, broccoli slaw, regular slaw, shredded meat, Shredded Wheat, nuts, bolts, mushrooms, nutritional yeast,  cabbage, cucumber, celery, Fiber One, Fiber Two, onions, thumb tacks, tuna, oranges, seeds, sea salt, The Old Man and the Sea, pepper, bell peppers, pepperoni, cooked/chilled squash, cooked/chilled sweet potato, little green pimento-less olives plus the oily juice that they come in, sun-dried tomatoes, factory-dried fruit, dry your hair before going out in the cold, carrots, cauliflower, eggs (hard boiled or fried,) and avocado.  But NO black olives because that would be gross.  If you are lucky enough to have an assortment of these ingredients (something crunchy, something chewy, something soft, etc.) you’ll get so full and satisfied that you might as well forget the lettuce and dressing!  I do.  In fact, my salads normally don’t have lettuce or dressing.

So what IS the Most Valuable Part of a salad?  Most likely, it depends on the salad.  For me the answer is easy because there IS one essential element.  The bowl.  A great big gigantic bowl is crucial in order to stir everything around.  I’m talking about the kind of bowl that you mix cookie dough and meatloaf in.  Forget the tiny soup/cereal bowl, because tossing around salad ingredients takes space.  That way each bite is laced with flavor, texture, and satisfaction.

Still got a second?  What your MVP of salads?

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