Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful 2012

It's that time of year again. Time to gorge myself on turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and pumpkin. Oh yeah. And reflect on what I'm thankful for. As I sit here waiting for Steve to get ready to head over to my sister's house, I think about the long, tough year it's been and all that I have to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for the return of Excedrin Migraine.

I'm thankful for a healthy family.

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I'm thankful for internet cats. Especially Grumpy Cat.

I'm thankful for coworkers who embrace and encourage my Internet cat addiction.

I'm thankful for stretchy pants which allow me to ignore the fact that changes in my meds have caused me to gain ungodly amounts of weight in the last few months.

I'm thankful for best friends who still take me on lunchtime shopping trips with them, despite the fact that we no longer physically take lunch together.

I'm thankful that I will not be alone this holiday season, for the third time in a row.

I'm thankful for the man who is keeping me sane and happy this holiday season.

I'm thankful that said man understands my quirks and loves me in spite of them.

I'm thankful for my fluffy cat who kept me warm through the 11 days I was without power or heat after Hurricane Sandy.

I'm thankful for new books.

I'm thankful for headache-free days.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Miss me?

Hey y’all. It’s been a while. I've been a bit busy these last few months, for a change. Haven’t had much time to write.

I’ll catch you up:

I got a job! I’m working as a legal writer/editor. It’s been taking up most of my time.

The rest of my time has been taken up by the massive revamp of my apartment, which (if you know me in person) used to be pretty abysmal. Not terrifying, just chaotic. Well now it’s been Stevified. And it’s pretty awesome. We’re almost done. We just have the bedroom to do and the transformation shall be complete! Details on the renovations to come.

I guess that’s all. The ouchies are still upon me, as usual.

Oh! I had pneumonia! That was fun. I may still have it. I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without wheezing, and now I have an inhaler. Super sexy, I know.

So look for updates soon. I have TONS to talk about. And it’s my favorite time of the year!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The crunchies

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I got a JOB!!! WOOOOO!!! When I'm not at work, I'm asleep or wearing my ouchies helmet. The ouchies are back for reals. More on that later.

I want to tell you what happened this weekend. On Saturday night, Maya was going crazy at the window because the crunchies were parading back and forth.

The crunchies are the night time creatures of my back yard, like raccoons, cats, possums, sqwrls, and other nocturnal animals that like to stalk by on the fence outside Maya's window and freak her out. They also freak me out if I have to go to my car when it's dark outside.

This is how I picture them.
Anyway, the crunchies seemed to be having a rave outside the window, because they were stomping around for hours. Maya kept vigil at the window all night.

Fast forward to the next day. Steve and I were going out and I was driving so I got in the drivers side of my car. Steve walked around to the passenger side and was about to get in the car when he paused, ducked his head down to look at me, and said "did you see that?" I said no. He told me to look away.

There was a dead bird on my car. A dead bird. On my car. And that's not the worst part. The bird wasn't whole. It was MISSING ITS HEAD!

I'm pretty sure the crunchies were trying to send me a message.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An overload of cute

I have a new show obsession which almost killed me. I was at Steve's house flipping channels and saw on Animal Planet the new show Too Cute. I thought I was going to have a seizure. Fricken, KITTENS!!! And PUPPIES!!! Just parading around! All floppy-like and helpless! Holy frick, you guys! The first episode I saw featured three sets of kittens. The second episode I saw featured three sets of puppies, the first of which were PUGS OMG!!! I believe many of you know how much I adore pugs. All smoosh face dogs, really. But pugs especially, thanks to my darling God Pug, Dave.
I luff his face. 
My almost death happened at my parents' house. My dad has a television that is high def and literally bigger than me. I was waiting for my nieces to come over and flipping channels when Too Cute came on.

Kittens. Kittens three feet tall. In HIGH DEFINITION. It was too much. I couldn't breathe. Cuteness was overwhelming my system. Then my Hannah ran in and saw what I was watching and GASPED and reaffirmed how much I love that kid.

And that is the story of how I almost died of acute cuteness.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

May the odds be ever in your favor

I bought the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy a few months ago on a whim at Marshalls. When I got home, I settled down on the couch and started reading. I didn't sleep that night because I couldn't put it down. I read it cover to cover in one night and needed more. I went to three different Marshalls stores the next day in search of the last two books but only found one so I paid FULL PRICE for the last book in hardcover (which is unheard of, for me).

I finished the series in record time. The story was engrossing, original, and thoroughly enjoyable. I loved and felt for the characters. I needed to know more about them. And when I heard that there was going to be a movie made based on the books, I was so excited to see it!

On Monday (almost a week ago!) I was talking to Anne and realized we both wanted to go see the Hunger Games, so why not double date at the Dine In theater? (Check out Anne's blog! She wrote a great review of the Dine In experience! :) We went online and saw that the showing we wanted to go to was already half filled. We decided instantly to buy tickets and STILL couldn't get four seats together.

Fast forward almost a week to today. Excitement levels have peaked. I did my nails for the occasion.
Ring finger on FIRE!!!
I was so excited, and the movie did not disappoint. It satisfied those who loved the books and was still accessible to movie goers who hadn't read them. I loved it. It's rare that a movie lives up to its literary counterpart, and I believe that this movie succeeded in that. The last time I was this excited about a movie/book franchise was when I read the Harry Potter books.

I can't wait for the next two movies. Now I have to go re-read the books!

Monday, February 27, 2012

High Tea at Ana Beall's Tea Room

I've recently become obsessed with Downton Abbey. I've always been obsessed with aristocratic English life. Formal dress. Butlers, footmen, and lady maids. Beautiful sprawling manors. But mostly tea time. I LOVE tea time. Even as a kid, I loved tea time. There used to be a tea shop near the Liberty Village outlet shops and whenever we went, I would BEG my mom to take me there for tea and scones.

This weekend, my mom gave me a Groupon for High Tea for Two at Ana Beall's Tea Room. I made a reservation for Steve and me for 2:30 on Sunday. The tea shop is located in Westfield across from the train street in a little house. It feels like you're going to someone's home for tea. We were seated on the second floor in cushy seats and given our tea options. I chose English Breakfast and Steve chose Pomegranate Hibiscus. With High Tea, we had the option for soup or salad before our finger sandwiches and scones. We both chose the salad over the spinach vegetable soup.
I loved that the sugar was natural unbleached brown sugar cubes. And Ana Beall's is serious about their tea. It's all loose leaf tea in long sleeve tea bags (that's what's peeking out of the back of the tea pot) that are easily removable after it has steeped long enough.

Our scones and sweets arrived moments after our salad plates were cleared away.
Tower of noms
The top tier held two scones, white chocolate cranberry and cinnamon sugar, with strawberry jam and cream. The middle tier had finger sandwiches: two each of egg salad, chicken salad, red pepper humus, and cucumber goat cheese. The bottom tier had various desserts including crumb cake, a shortbread cookie, some kind of rainbow almond cake thing, and two other things I couldn't identify but were yummy.
We enjoyed the tower of noms. 
Overall, it was a lovely experience. It made for a great Sunday afternoon date with Steve. The environment was bright and cheery and conductive to conversation. There was a back room on the second floor where a large party was celebrating something. (I couldn't tell what.) And when we got there, a baby shower was just wrapping up. I could definitely see having a bridal/baby shower there.

I will definitely go there again!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My cat has body image issues

Maya is a recovering bulimic*. Around age 4, she used to throw up constantly after she ate. Like, constantly. CONSTANTLY. Poor thing could barely keep her dinner down. She would binge and purge, usually onto or very near my favorite shoes. It was very sad. Her belly was very sensitive, but she was otherwise very healthy. She weighed around 7.4 lbs two years ago at age 4.

Her vet prescribed Pepsid. I gave it to her for a month, but didn't really see a big difference. I ended up switching her food from a regular indoor cat formula to Eukanuba Sensitive Stomach cat food. It worked wonders. It seems she just had a very delicate belly. Her weight zoomed up from 7.2 lbs to 9 lbs at age 6. Maya was officially chunky.
So now I have a fluffy, chunky cat and her weight keeps climbing. I know that the treats I give her for her "workouts" are part of the problem now that she keeps all of her food down, so I did some research and found some natural, low fat kitty treats.

I guess I should explain her workouts.

To get my mostly sedentary kitty moving, I hold up a kitty treat, wait until she sees it, then throw it across the room. My floors are hardwood, so she runs and slides to get it. Then she comes back for more. Sometimes she tries to catch them. It's highly amusing. We play this game daily.

Back to the treats. I ordered Catswell Vitakitty chicken jerky, Wellness Pure Delights chicken and lamb jerkyThrill Natural Freeze Dried chicken cat treats, and Innova cat treats. All of these treats got excellent reviews, have high protein and low fat content, and hopefully Maya will like them. I spoil my little kitty.

I'll let you know how it goes when they arrive.

*Just to clarify, I don't take eating disorders lightly. I'm aware that bulimia is a serious medical condition. But I am also aware that I have a cat who binges and purges. So laugh, people. Laugh.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

I don't have to remind you that today is Valentine's Day. For most of my life, I have hated this day. This day was always filled with lovey dovey grossness that reminded me of what I didn't have. Before last year, I had never had someone to love on Valentine's Day. And now? Steve and I celebrated our first Valentine's Day together last year with dinner and a movie. And with that one dinner, most of my cynicism over the day vanished.

I was actually cheerful today. Seeing people with flowers and giant teddy bears actually made me smile. It seems that with the glaze of cynicism removed, I can see this day for what it should be. It's a day for showing the people you love what they mean to you.

I'm not spending today with Steve. Because Valentine's Day is Tuesday, we decided to have date night last night. We had a lovely dinner and watched a movie at home. It was a nice quiet night. This morning when I woke up, I found this on my laptop.

He got me a card!!! He's always been anti-cards, but knowing that he went to a store and chose a card was so sweet!

So I'm alone tonight. I got dinner from Trader Joe's, a salted caramel cupcake from Crumbs, and I'm having a lovely Valentine's night snuggled on the couch with Maya. I'm happy and content and loved. And today was a good day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Maya needs a Catio

Maya has the boredom. I know this because she attacks the television when I'm watching it because the attention is off of her. She's normally a very well behaved cat, but ever since the television has entered our lives, things have changed.

It all started this Christmas when Steve got me a new TV and a Wii. I always had a TV, but I barely ever used it. Now I have a Wii with streaming Netflix and a new TV stand. And Maya doesn't like this. Now I no longer sit at my desk and let her lay across my arms while I type at my laptop. I sit on the couch and the laptop is on my lap and there is no room for Maya. She does not like this. Not one bit. Maya decided that the television is her mortal enemy. And it needs to be destroyed. 

First wave of attack: kill it with cuteness. Maya thinks that by distracting me with her fluffy butt, I will forget that there is a TV behind her and give her lots of love and num nums.
She's mocking me. You can see it in her eyes. 
This did not work. I attempted to deter her from sitting directly in front of the screen and batting at the screen by setting up a complex trap consisting of a cardboard strip with double sided tape stuck to one side (sort of like a weak glue trap) and bowls with fresh lemons on each side of the screen (lemons are natural cat repellants. I'm not kidding. Look it up.)
I'm watching Blue Planet. That's a shark. 
Maya scoffed at my feeble attempts to deter her and took the high ground.
Creepy cat is creepy.
I was out of ideas, but Maya had an appointment for a checkup, so I asked the vet if he had any suggestions for me on how to stop her from attacking my television. He said he'd never heard of anything like this. Awesome.

He suggested that I put on cartoons or nature shows or anything else very animated for her to watch when I'm not there so she can think that the TV is for her too. I didn't do this. But I did put on Blue Planet while I was there and we watched it together. 

So that brings us to the Catio. Steve and I have been watching Jackson Galaxy's show on Animal Planet and HE says that bored cats need outlets for their inner wild animal. So this weekend, we're going to Ikea and getting stuff to make a catio. That's a Patio for Cats. Or a cat friendly patio. Or something like that. Except I don't have a patio, so we'll probably just get shelves and make Maya a perch so she can look out the window and not attack my electronics. It's worth a shot. I want to keep her happy. She makes me happy. :)

Maya is good for migraines. Apply directly to affected area. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Movie tragedies. Real life.

I was on the radio today. I've never called into a talk radio show, but I did today. It was New Jersey 101.5. I was driving to my parents' house and flipping radio stations when I heard the talk radio hosts, Deminski and Doyle, talking about the new Tom Hanks movie "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." The movie is about the son of a man who died on 9/11. Apparently, the sister of someone who died on one of the planes on 9/11 believes that the filmmakers are exploiting the tragedy for commercial gain and is calling for a boycott of the movie.

I have complicated feelings about this. On one hand, I also freaked out when I saw the trailer. I don't like being reminded about that day. Whenever it is referenced and there are news clips that show the towers on fire, I cringe and have to look away. Even 10 years later. Every time I take the train into New York and I see the skyline that's missing two very important pieces, I'm reminded of that awful day.

On the other hand, it's part of our history. It happened. We can't pretend it didn't. Movies are made all the time about historical tragedies. One of the biggest movies of all time was about an tragedy. (Titanic, if you couldn't guess.) And it's not the only one. Pearl Harbor. Schindler's List. Hotel Rwanda. All about tragic events. All recent enough that people still living would remember it and be affected by a movie about it.

When I called in, (I was Aliah from Plainfield. Haydia is hard to say) I pointed out that there had already been a film made about 9/11. They had no idea what I was talking about. It was called "World Trade Center" and starred Nicolas Cage. No one remembers that movie. There was also a film called "United 93" about the people who brought down that plane in PA. So this film isn't new. It's just another in the inevitable slew of films that will come to be made about that day in September.

My advice to that lady who called for a boycott? Don't go see it. Change the channel when the trailer comes on. It's tough. It will probably always be tough. But 9/11 is a part of our cultural history. And pretending it never happened is not the way to go. Plus Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are in it. If anyone can be trusted to be gentle with that sacred material, it's those two.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


A year ago today, I was unexpectedly in the driver's seat of my dad's car, driving him, my mom, and my aunt to Long Island to see my grandmother in the hospital. It was unexpected because a) I hate driving to Long Island, b) I had been in Long Island less than a week ago, and c) my grandmother's health had declined very quickly.

We were about a half hour from the hospital and in some awful traffic when I heard a cell phone ring and my mother answered. I heard her say "Oh no. Inna lillahi Wa inna ilaihi Rajioon." My heart stopped. She has just recited the dua you say when you hear that someone has died. My grandmother had died and I had missed seeing her one last time by a half hour. And I had to keep it together because I was on the BQE in heavy traffic with a car full of people, two of whom had just lost their mother.

My father's mother, or Daddee-Ma, as I called her, was my last living grandparent. She lived in Long Island with my father's youngest sister and her two children.

I got a lot from Daddee-Ma. Physically, you could see that I am her granddaughter. I got her round arms. I got her short fingers. At the funeral, I sat next to her sister and was amazed at how similar our hands were.

I'm not sure what I wanted to say. I'm sad today. I regret not seeing her more. I miss her. I think was harder at her funeral because it felt so unexpected. With Ma (my maternal grandmother), I was there for her life, her sickness, her death. With Daddee-Ma, I missed so much. And now it's too late.