cacao.

I decided to bite the bullet and invest in some better workout clothing.  I won’t mention that it was randomly hailing in Maine, in April, or that the cobblestone streets in the Old Port are a pain in the ass on my tires, but I will mention how awkward the experience was for me.  First, this was what greeted me as I stood in said hail:

i don't believe your use of "namaste" in this instance.
i don’t believe your use of “namaste” in this instance.

I waited 20 minutes for the damn store to open.  Side note: They are only open from 11-5pm.  How the hell do they get a lunch break too?? The work ethic here is outstanding.  After spending the quickest $90 of my life on a shirt and sports bra, and being treated like an outsider by the lemmings in the lululemon, I was on my way.  When I told Brad how the ladies treated me in the store, he suggested I should not have purchased anything at all.  We would return, all dressed up, the next day with shopping bags, circa 1990.  “You guys work on commission right? Big mistake, huge.”  I don’t know what it is about a really attractive man quoting Pretty Woman, but damn that was hot. 

I found a local studio that has the class I have been curious to take.  It’s called barre. (I stole this next sentence off the website I cited a moment ago) “The barre method is influenced by classical ballet barre technique, Pilates, yoga, and orthopedic exercises.”  I took it Saturday and loved it.  Aside from the fact I need a LOT of work on my flexibility, upper arm strength and abs, I think I did pretty good for my first time.  I’ll return- as my abs are killing me right now. I’ve been told that’s a good thing- by people with stomach muscles.  I will note that I was happy to be acquainted with the instructor, Kristy.  She is sweet and friendly and attends the Catapult events.  She is all those qualities, that is, until she starts class. She turned into a drill instructor in about two seconds!  I’m not knocking her though, trust me, she makes you work your butt off, as you’re too scared to let her down!  🙂

After class I was feeling extra “health conscious” (and obviously I looked it with my new duds and “I totally just worked out” hair) and took a trip to the local health food store.  The staff was very friendly and helpful, alas, they could tell I was a rookie.  I guess I didn’t fool them.

It is expensive to be healthy! Total bill: $64 for the following ingredients: cacao powder, organic natural honey (this item the sales girl laughed at because how can honey NOT be organic?), raw ground almonds, raw unsweetened coconut flakes, Celtic sea salt and a Kombucha.

I was having my brakes replaced, so I had my mother’s car for the morning.  I could either go home and wait for Brad to follow me to return the car, or I could make my mother smile by watching her choir practice- then make her take me home.  I decided to watch mom sing.  I was excited to see she took my advice and bought a new pair of jeans.  She looked great, actually.  And she informed me that a family friend, Cathy, advised her never to leave the house without a pair of “bling” on (mom went with a multi colored necklace).  So, she had bling, new jeans and a smile.  She’d never looked better to me.  When we got home, of course, I locked myself out.  Times like these I love NH (I lived on the 20th floor of a highrise in Chicago), as I left a window unlocked. Problem solved. 

Getting back to my day of health, I decided to make these.  It’s a little expensive and messy, but worth it in the end.  Ingredients listed above, aside from the drink.

#organic.
#organic.

 You basically mix everything together, except for the coconut, getting your hands a wonderful shade of dark brown.  You put them into little balls (hehe) and then roll them into the coconut, covering them.  It suggests to put them in the freezer, but I think they were fine as they were.  You can do what you like. 

End result:

brad liked them. success! :)
brad liked them. success! 🙂

 Cool thing about these truffles is that you look like you’re a gourmet cook, while you actually only need the skills of a 2 year old with play-doh. 

So, I will give this healthy thing a try for a little while.  Who’s with me?  #healthyliving

a little trick for an amazing treat.

I understand the title of this post would be better fit around October, but I was thinking about something this morning and it sparked my brain into motion: compartmentalizing.  What does that have to do with tricks and treats?  I’ll explain, ramble on a bit, and then I will provide a really good recipe.

I have always been a “the more the merrier” type of girl.  I am always the first to extend the invite to the quiet girl or boy in the back of the room to the party, as I truly believe that mixing different types of people could make for an interesting adventure- and that everyone deserves an invitation.   I’m not going to quote Rodney King, but you know what I am saying.

I have never had an issue combining high school, college, work colleagues and random friends I make along the way in the same room.  I had always thought this was the way everyone thought until a few years ago.  I learned that people are placed into “compartments” within ones mind of how they are associated.  Apparently, this idea of compartmentalizing is more common than I would have ever imagined.  How is that fun?  If you get along with each person in your “network,” then wouldn’t the people at least have one thing in common?  I’m not talking about forcing friendships, I just think it’s good to keep an open mind.  I asked one of my friends who practices this method and she  explained to me that “certain people know certain things, and others know other things. So, I keep them separate. It’s less messy.”  Side thought: her closet is much more organized than mine, so maybe she has a point.  Is it better to keep work at work and home at home? Who would come to the BBQ? Is it possible to be too friendly and open? What if people feel left out? 

seems more complicated than organized. lots of lives to keep straight!
seems more complicated than organized. lots of lives to keep straight!

The same thing could be said for baking that I said above:  Mixing fun and different things like cayenne pepper, butterscotch chips, peanut butter, or cinnamon into a brownie batter adds a little spice, texture or intrigue to what would normally be a typical boring baked good.  The beauty of my recipes is that I actually use box batter for the majority of my treats- I just doctor them so far from the original recipe that, aside from the powder, it isn’t at ALL what the box intended.  End result: seconds, thirds, and sadness when you realize they are all gone.

Okay, I got that out.  Now for the treat I promised.

Lately, Brad and Gunnar have been devouring my homemade ice cream sandwiches.  It’s simple, easy and quick.  Enjoy.

  • First, at your grocery store, purchase a bag of Betty Crocker Cookie Mix.  I like these.
  • The recipe calls for one egg and one stick of butter.  You could sub the butter with coconut oil, which is actually amazing for your body- and tastes great!  I bought some last night and I was not disappointed.
  • I always add 1-2 tsp of vanilla extra extra and 5-10 dashes of cinnamon for a little kick.
  • Put into 1″ balls about 2 inches apart on a lightly greased (with the coconut oil) baking sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes on 350′.  Remove from rack and let cool completely.
  • Pick your filler (gelato, sorbet, Ben & Jerry’s, etc).
  • After the cookies are cooled, scoop an appropriate portion of filler between two cookies. (to keep them neat, I always wrap each sandwich immediately in tin foil and put in freezer)
  • Wait.

    combination can be a fantastic thing
    “it’s quite nice to see that I didn’t have to change who I was to reach two very different types of people.”      -marc jacobs.

I’m going to bet that if my friend ate one of these bad boys she might agree that not all mixing is a bad thing.

35.

I recently celebrated a birthday (3.21). I officially jumped out of the 25-34 age box, into the next group.  Yep, I’m 35.  I don’t feel older.  No older than I did a day before anyway- when I was still technically 34.  I know I am older though because I have already started to get the “Did you just turn 21?” comments.  I know those are meant to be sweet, but it isn’t sweet because anyone knows you know that they are just trying to be sweet… that was a long, run-on sentence, but you know what I am saying.  My uncle Bernie doesn’t sugar coat anything, so I knew it was a reality when I got a (imagine the quote in a Kennedy-esque Boston accent) “You’re an old girl now, huh?” Sigh.  Yes, Bernie I am.

how funny, that is exactly how I spent that evening!
how funny, that is exactly how I spent that evening!

Fun facts that I learned about my birthday: This Blog.  I guess I am clear-sighted and drawn to people born 11/21-12/23.  (My boyfriend’s birthday is 11/25)

Habit I will not give up ESPECIALLY now that I am 35: My monthly facial  appointment. Not going to give this one up, ever. Why you ask?  Because I don’t really look 35!  Well, that and the fact I don’t sun bathe or smoke.

In the spirit of being 35, I thought I would post about all things 35.  Well, things that I come across, rather.  I started with Google.  It’s completely random what pops up in a search:

i am the same age as hello kitty. sweet.
i am the same age as hello kitty. sweet.

11 things 35:

  1. By this age I should have enough money equal to my annual salary
  2. I can run for president
  3. Rules for life after 35 (by Oprah).  My favorites? 1,2,5,6,7,8,13,15,16,18,27 and 28!
  4. Under NCAA rules for men’s basketball, the offensive team has 35 seconds to attempt a shot
  5. 35 mm film is the basic film gauge most commonly used for both analog photography and motion pictures
  6. “35 c”, a song by Jagúar from the album Jagúar
  7. The designation of Interstate 35, a freeway that runs from Texas to Minnesota and the only freeway to have East–West divisions (in two places, the Twin Cities and the DFWMetroplex)
  8. Licence Plate code of Izmir/Turkey
  9. XXXV (album), the thirty-fifth anniversary album by folk rock band Fairport Convention
  10. 35 is the title of a book written by Casper Schipper
  11. This plane:
the lockheed martin f-35 lightning II
the lockheed martin f-35 lightning II

So, here’s to another year of happiness, love, health and success! Cheers!

the year to date.

It’s been quite a busy year thus far- and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down any time soon.  I’m not complaining.  It’s been wonderful, but have you ever taken a step outside your self and realized you are spreading yourself too thin?  I did that just now.

i wish.
i wish.

 

 

So, if you have read any of my blog posts before this, you’ll know I am in a healthy adult relationship with an amazing man.  He works too much and too hard, but I have never respected someone for such an amazing work ethic- and that isn’t even his best quality.  What’s also great is he is actually doing what he says he is doing…which has caused me to TRUST someone for the first time (applause).  It’s fantastic and does wonders for your stress levels.

Relationship aside, I am in grad school for my masters.  This would be fine if it weren’t for the 3 hour class every Wednesday after a full day of working 72 miles from where I live.  I know that the end result will be worth it- but for now I am going to be a little grouchy at this self-inflicted commitment.

I am the marketing chair for Catapult Seacoast– a networking group for young professionals in NH/ME/MA.  This requires many emails, meetings and the added energy to get a bunch of people motivated.  I would be lying if I wasn’t honest with the fact that our events seem to be without purpose (aside from alcohol and networking banter), but the team is working hard to change this- and I am here for the ride- and leading my part best I can.  We’ll see.  I’m moderately hopeful.

My boyfriend’s son is a freshman at my alma mater, St. Thomas Aquinas.  It’s really cool because most of the teachers from my time are still teaching there- and I’m fortunate they remember me and my “one hit wonder” musical, Guys and Dolls (I played Adelaide).   It’s exciting to be an adult and get to mingle with people who probably put you in detention every single day of high school (hey, I cannot help it if they do not make skirts that go to my knees!  I am 5’9!).  However- I refuse to call Mr. Collins, Kevin, or Mr. Holtz, Ron.  Sorry, not going to happen. That being said, I have joined the “parent” committee!  I even made the Facebook page! So far, I helped plan a parent social and am currently on the board for the upcoming fashion show.  It’s exciting, but I would be lying if the looks I get when I walk into a meeting form the other “moms” didn’t bother me.  Hey- I may not be officially a mom, but this is my school…back off.  🙂  Besides, I am a VOLUNTEER!  The coordinator, Sarah, makes it fun to be a part of it all- she’s awesome.  I have got in the habit of calling her on my ride to work to vent.  Sometimes she does the same- so all in all a friendship was formed, which is nice.

alas, the one hit wonder- me.
alas, the one hit wonder- me.

The house we live in is a 250 year old colonial.  I will not tell you how much money we have spent on heating this house- and I will not tell you how many times the oil thingy (technical term) has broken, but as of last night it is fixed.  Sigh.  I hope it is fixed.  This house drives me nuts.  The warm water is so temperamental I have not successfully taken ONE bath since we moved in (MY FAVORITE THING), and if you use the water downstairs in the morning while someone is in the shower, the water immediately goes to downstairs and you’re left with ice.  The fireplace, while romantic and very aesthetically pleasing, only seems to heat 1′ of space in front of it.  So if you want to get warm while the oil thingy isn’t working- you have to sit your ass directly in front of the fire- causing you to smell exactly like you think you would smell sitting in a fire pit.  The pipes freeze and break.  The cabinets don’t close.  Not one window was properly installed, so there is a constant breeze.  There is a train.  OMG I can’t believe that isn’t the first thing I mentioned.  The train.  This train has a wonderful schedule that goes all night long.  It shakes the house so much that when we had a mild earthquake- it had nothing on the train.  Did I mention I am a light sleeper?  We are moving to a nice, big 3 BR house on April 1st in York, Maine.  Needless to say, April cannot come soon enough for us!

Of all the tasks my schedule is filled with, of all the commitments I say “yes” to on a daily basis- it’s the phone call I just received that makes it all seem like white noise.  Nothing could possibly bother me when I hear his voice.

In case your curious: I’m picking up vegetables on the way home for dinner- and he loves me.  🙂

beauty, aside from the cold.

Winter is here! Well, it is officially 2 degrees in Maine today.  And although many people are probably very sad at this fact, and missing the summer terribly- I thought I would share a picture that might brighten your day.  It certainly made me enjoy the beauty, aside from the cold. Enjoy.

smoke on the water.  photo credit: brad von haden.
smoke on the water. photo credit: brad von haden.

thank you, mr. benson.

Sometimes in life a person provides an act of kindness so great, that words can only mildly express the gratitude the recipient feels.  “Thank you” seems small, but those two words are, in my opinion, the most meaningful one can express.  Yet, I imagine this post isn’t about just gratitude, its about respecting someone with integrity and selflessness.  Qualities so rare, that when they shows themselves- are neon bright.  I’ll explain.

Recently, our dog buddy acted his age (1 yr) and dismembered a dog treat, meant to be everlasting.   We were shocked to come home and find him covered in vomit and refusing to eat or go outside.  It was horrible.  When we took him to the vet, we found that a piece of the treat had been lodged in his esophagus.  The vet originally thought it was in his stomach (even after an X Ray that CLEARLY showed it was in his esophagus), so he unnecessarily cut open Buddy- to find (as I just told you)- nothing in his stomach.  Buddy came home and was still horribly ill- and getting worse by the day.  Buddy was losing weight by the minute, throwing up, uncontrolled bladder, restless and just plain miserable.  The bills were piling up and the end was no where in sight.

Side note: one thing I will say made me laugh is that when we sat in the “specialist’s” office, the first comment out of the vet’s mouth was, “we treat every animal as our own pet.”  Followed almost immediately by, “we cannot do a payment plan for the $2500+ surgery your dog needs to live, sorry.”

It was at that moment that I decided to let the treat company know just what they were putting us through.   So, I wrote a letter.

A letter that was answered within ten minutes of me sending it, by the president and COO of the company.  My mouth dropped.

It was at that moment that my opinion of people changed.  Well, two people in particular, Mr. Keith Benson and his wife, Emily.  They actually cared.  Mr. Benson called my home, on a Saturday morning, to express his concern for Buddy.  That call alone made my eyes water and my heart melt. He let me know that his wife received the email, and immediately called it to his attention.  They have dogs, train dogs, run a company saturated with dogs, but most of all- they love dogs.  I explained what exactly the vet said, and he explained that the treat was created to dissolve in the stomach gasses, not in the esophagus.  He was concerned for how uncomfortable Buddy must be feeling, as his own dogs have had a bone caught in their throat before.  He understood.  He insisted that I immediately take Buddy back to the vet- and that he would cover the costs.   It was an act of kindness so unbelievable that I started crying right there on the phone with him.   I felt like I was on an episode of Ellen!

Buddy is now out of the first of three corrective surgeries.  He is eating kibble already, putting weight back on, and scheduled for his last two follow-up procedures next week.  Buddy is going to be okay.  Buddy is going to wiggle his butt, lick our faces, make noises that make us laugh, snuggle, run around and chase everything that moves because of you, Mr. Benson and your wife Emily.

Thank you, so very much, not only for your tremendously generous gift, but for having the integrity to respond, the wisdom to understand and most of all, the heart to really care about our puppy.   You forever have loyal customers, confident testimonials, and most of all respect, from a small family in Exeter, New Hampshire.

snuggle.
thank you.

the beginning, in dates.

Never before in my life have I received so many compliments of “you look so happy!” or “what have you done differently to yourself?” or “you look amazing!” than I have over the course of the past year.  What’s my secret?  Simple.  I have been officially in love, for the first time in my life, for one whole year.  You have no idea what that does for your skin.

Let me walk you through the beginning, cause it’s my favorite part.  Don’t be deceived though, for I am more in love right this very second, than I was at any of the moments I am about to describe.  Enjoy.

Dec 23rd, 2011.  the reintroduction. (This one is my favorite) One year ago on December 23, while driving non-stop from Kittery, Maine to Milwaukee, WI, a man took a detour in off I-90, in Chicago, IL at 2:30am.  While in Chicago, two people were reintroduced to each other, after only meeting in person once- about a year and a half earlier.  An awkward hour later (of sitting about 6 inches apart on the couch, pretending to watch Gladiator), the man took the girl’s hand as he got up to walk to the door.  An electric shock went through her body so intense that she is typing about it right now for all to see.

Dec 26th the first kiss.  (Okay, this is my favorite too)  The scene: cold winter early evening, her face in his hands, against a car…sigh.  Have you ever melted into someone’s hands?  Yeah, well I have too.

Dec 29th an unsuccessful museum tour.  Yeah, you try walking around a museum when you can’t keep your hands off someone. It’s not easy, at all.  But gosh is it fun to try.

Dec 31st a phone call from a balcony in a Chicago high-rise (at a NYE party): a girl told a boy she loved him.  Oh and I meant it.  It’s not the first time I have said it to someone, but it is the first time I really meant it.  It just came to me and I said it.  I didn’t care how soon it was because it was more true than anything I had ever said before that moment.

About a week later, he said it back.

One year later, and here’s to many, many more.

photo
year 1.

 

thankful.

Holidays are coming up. Makes you think about everything that happened the year leading up to it. As I reflect, it occurs to me just how much I am thankful for the good things in my life. Studies show that people respond to a list, so I thought I would simply be a good student and blog accordingly. I’ll keep it to five things, but know there are hundreds more. Unfortunately, I am long-winded, but you probably knew that already.

1. I am thankful for the times I had with my grandmother, Lois, who passed just a few weeks ago. She was southern and cheery and perverted and creative. How many people can admit that their grandmother was perverted? Oh, I can. I will not go into details, out of respect, but let’s just say I’m accurate. She was married 3 times and even after her last husband passed, was on the prowl. She was fabulous.

The story goes: Lois Rose was a beautiful woman, and when all the men went off to war- they would propose she wait for them for when they came back. “Of course” she would say to them. Well, once the war ended, one handsome Colonel by the name of Earl Schmidt came to collect on his woman. And the rest is history.

Meet the Schmidts.

She was great at Bridge, and played competitively. Lois (not grandma, just Lois) baked me FOUR birthday cakes my freshman year of college. Good Lord could that woman bake. For years I have tried to mimic her methods, but I can assure you I am only mildly close (and I make a damn good cake). She was very into quilting. In fact, she could sew anything. She use to make my Christmas presents (along with her checks for $5)- and at any age would insist I was an adult size extra large. That means in the 6th grade, when I was a whooping 78 pounds at 5’3″- XL. It was amusing, but I wore everything, every time. I am thankful for all the memories I had with her, good and bad. I will remember the giant trampoline in her yard that I use to get my head caught in the springs after my sister would convince me that a front flip was safe. Every grandchild was her “favorite,” to which she would say on the phone, as if on cue, “is this my favorite granddaughter?” I will miss traveling to North Carolina to visit, and I will miss her never quite knowing my name (I have 5 girl cousins and a sister, so I was any mixture of the names Caroline, Jennifer, Robyn, Jessica, Stephanie, or Erica. If I was lucky, Katie would get a shout out). Rest in peace, Lois, you lived a long life with many people who loved you very much.

my quilt. she made one for each of the granddaughters. i got pink.

Update 11/9/2012: My cousin Caroline mailed me the program from the funeral.  She wrote sweet words to speak in her honor, that she also mailed me.  She actually reminded me of the fireflies we use to catch in her yard.  I loved those little flicks of light and can remember chasing them until my mother would yell for me to come inside.  Anyway, the program was filled with many pictures of my grandmother’s life:

loved.

You will notice the above pictures are filled with smiling faces.  Except one.  One person has their tongue sticking out, inappropriately.  I will let you guess which member of the family that would be.  Okay, I will give you a little help.

yes, that is me with my tongue straight out. stylish little thing, wasn’t i?

Sweet dreams, Lois.

2. I am thankful for Brad and Gunnar. I have a boyfriend who is the most amazing man I have ever known. He has integrity and warmth and loves completely and without thought. He is one of the hardest working men I have ever known, and makes me want to be a better person every single day. His son is 14 and lives with us half the time. Gunnar is considerate, sensitive and so smart it’s crazy. I have no doubt that this young man will grow up to change the world. But hell, with a dad like that: how could he not? I love spoiling them, cooking for them and living life with them. Most of all, I love stories of them together growing up, and am thankful they have allowed me into their world.

at a BBQ festival this past summer. photo credit: brad.

3. I am thankful for my friends. Okay, I realize this is over-the-top cheesy, but I hope I have kept your attention this far. If not, I’ll just consider this self therapy. After all, it’s good to appreciate things, even better to appreciate it out loud. I love my friends for everything they are and everything they are not. I love how they stand by my side when I’m just being a girl (you know: too sensitive, emotional, analytical of everything) . I love that no matter how many times we call each other, it’s not annoying. I love that no topic is off limits. Nothing brightens my days more than a really good conversation to get something off my chest- or to help my friends with whatever they are going through. I love that 7am is not too early to chat. Most of all I love that there is no judgement on either side, ever. I would give my last dollar in the bank to any one of my friends, and they know it. I use to think that longevity was the key to a good friendship, but I now know that it’s loyalty and understanding. Just because you’ve known someone your whole life, doesn’t mean they will stand up for you or do what’s right, and it doesn’t mean they won’t use you. The people in my life who I call friends, I know I call them that with 100% accuracy.

if you saw what she looks like in person, it’s fair to say ANYONE would have encouraged her to wear it, but I was really touched by the compliment.

4. I am thankful for something so many people take for granted, health. We complain about the little things we would like to change about ourselves (breast size, wrinkles, nose shape, weight, etc), without really appreciating the fact that we are living, breathing humans on this earth. People talk about so many things that just don’t matter in the grand scheme of life, and they don’t even realize the amount of people living in pain. Appreciate your health! Take care of yourself! Eat your veggies and put that damn cigarette/cigar out! Don’t do drugs! It’s really quite simple if you think about it. I am done preaching. You will note that I didn’t comment on putting down that glass of wine, well- a little grape juice never hurt anyone, did it?

I also checked with WebMD: “The French diet is often used as an example of how wine can improve heart health. The French have a fairly high-fat diet but their heart disease risk is relatively low. And some have attributed this to red wine.”

5. I am thankful for South Carolina football. This one may seem far fetched from items 1-4, but it’s honest. As a new student at USC- I was miserable. I didn’t know many people, and couldn’t stand being called “yankee” all the time. A friend of mine in my Eastern Asian Civilization class said to me one day, “wait until football starts, you’ll see it all change and you’ll love it.” This was also the same friend who taught me about Krispy Kreme donuts (jerk), and how if you go right when they make them on the belt, they will be warm, gooey, and melting on your tongue, so I took his advice with a grain of salt. Well, he could not have been more on par. South Carolina football changed everything for me. Being from NH, I didn’t know what the hell “tailgating” was, nor had I done it; Neither of my parents are into sports. I was a cheerleader in junior high, but had no idea what it meant when I was yelling “First and Ten!” What do I love about it? The lights of Williams Brice stadium in all it’s glory, the 80,000 person-filled stadium all cheering in unison, the passion of a Carolina/Clemson game, the paupers drinking moonshine with the millionaires, the crowing Gamecock and fireworks- it was magnificent. Is magnificent. I started really watching and really understanding the game. I became addicted. It’s been 11 years since I graduated, and I still watch the games every weekend during season- even if by myself. Most years, I try to make it to a game with my friends. I watch the annual draft with pride, as the players I have followed for the past 4 years go on to the NFL. Recently, one of my favorite players was seriously injured. It broke my heart- so I mailed him a card and pitched to The Ellen Show that he be featured! 15 years I have been a loyal fan of this team, and it’s only the beginning.

Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee!

So that’s five things I am thankful for, and as I said, it’s only five out of hundreds. What are you thankful for as the holiday season begins?

o.nior.

Have you ever had one of those situations you might not do again, but happy you did it in the first place? I wrote about stepping out of your comfort zone a while ago, and was put in one of those situations this past weekend.

Preface: When my boyfriend and I started “officially” dating, he learned that one of my passions (and guilty pleasures) is musical theater.  It’s true.  On my iPhone music selection you might some Taylor Swift, Eminem, Dido, Kenye West, Katy Perry, Colbie Caillat, Brittney (just being honest, you know you love her too, secretly)- and selections from Cats, Les Miserables and Wicked (to which you might find me on any given day belting out the lyrics). After learning this he suggested that we might go see Wicked, as it was one I had not seen, but always wanted to.  After doing some research, he learned that the cast would be in Montreal in August of this year.  So we planned it!

Present day: So, I wanted to book a reservation at a nice restaurant.  I had never been to Canada, so I didn’t know the surrounding area at all.  I went to my trusty friend, Yelp.  Yelp suggested a restaurant, Onior.  I saw it had a lot of stars and tons of positive comments, so I booked the reservation without actually reading any of the comments.  Dinner for 2 for at 6pm, with an 8pm show time- done and done.

martinis and an open mind recommended for this experience.

I then went back and actually read the comments.  This is what I saw:

 “The concept is simple. You’re trying to experience life as a visually impaired person, albeit only for a short few hours and in a controlled environment. The main dining room is completely dark – not dark as in “your bedroom when you turn off the lights to sleep” dark, but dark as in “your eyes never adjust, you can’t even see your fingers when you hold them up right in front of your eyes!” dark.”

I called Brad to see if he was still interested in this restaurant, given my new-found information.  He is a very open-minded person, so he thought “why not.”  I was hesitant, but concurred.  Why not?  He also found out that  95% of the staff is legally blind.  I kinda liked the concept: 70% of visually impaired are unemployed, so this gives those people training to enter the mainstream job market.  Cool.

The experience: When you walk in it’s like any other front room of a restaurant, but with heavy curtains everywhere to block out any possible light from the main room.  You order your food- 2 course or 3, and your beverage of choice, and wait for your waiter/waitress to come and get you to be seated.  We had Tim.  Tim was a very nice gentleman who seriously need to have a steak and a shower, but very sweet and gentle in demeanor.  Brad was instructed to put his hand on Tim’s shoulder and be lead into the main dining room, and I was to do the same to Brad’s shoulder (in reality I curled up behind him with my face nuzzled into his back- and walked like I was going into a haunted house).

This was what I saw (the entire time I was in the restaurant):

pitch, un-eye-adjusting, black.

We were seated at a table directly next to the wall.  I started to freak out.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: I want to leave. I don’t like it. (my heart started to race)

Brad: Baby, you’re fine.  You already had your mind made up that you weren’t going to like it.  Give it a chance. It’s just you and me, sitting in the dark.  I’m right here (he grabbed my hand and put his leg next to mine under the table).

Me: I don’t like it I want to go. (heart racing faster)

Brad: Baby, what do you think is going to happen to you? I’m here.  I’m not going anywhere and you are safe.

Me: Okay.  (heart still racing, but at this point my breath had calmed down and I was starting to accept my surroundings)

So, just as I decided to calm the thoughts of just aiming right- and running until I hit one of those curtains, our drinks arrived.  Nothing calms your nerves like a dirty martini.  You can quote me on that one.  Tim placed our drinks next to the wall and left to get our appetizers- that arrived about 2 minutes later.  Still black.  Still can’t see.  Still mildly freaking out, but it was getting better.  Funny how easily I found my drink, though. I attempted to reach for a fork and eat, but there wasn’t much food on my plate, and what was there wasn’t big enough to use a fork.  I decided to just “go for it” and use my hands.  Brad was sweet and wanted me to sample his dish, but reaching food/fork combo across the table proved not only to be really funny, but it was that exact moment I started to accept my situation.  “This isn’t so bad.” I thought to myself.  And it wasn’t.  Truth was, I was with my love, and he was putting me at ease with his natural confidence and calming nature.

Dinner arrived about 10 minutes later.   I ordered the “chicken” selection on the menu.  It came in a crepe, surrounded by cauliflower.  How did I know?  Oh, I’m totally a pro at this point.  Brad was too- as he ate his filet with no trouble at all and we were done.

5 minutes later, still done.  No Tim.

Then another 15…

Then another 10 minutes go by.

Our conversation:

Brad: Tim?

me: TIM!

Brad: Tim?  TIM!?

Me: TIM! TIM! TIM!  (nothing, no Tim in sight- literally)

remember?

It went on for about 5 minutes, and just like the butler in Mr. Deeds, Tim’s voice appeared out of nowhere.  He brought us a second martini and before we knew it, it was 7:35 and time to go.  He had forgotten to bring us dessert, but we didn’t mind as martini #2 served that role just fine.

As Tim lead us out of the dark room, my mind cleared and a smile came over my face.  I had done it.  I will 100% admit that I would not have done it, nor could I have done it without the support of my amazing boyfriend, but I did it nonetheless.  I overcame a fear of the unknown and sampled a little bit of an new open-minded perspective.

Conversation after dinner:

Brad: Are you happy you did it?

Me: Yes.

Brad: Would you do it again?

Me: Hell no.

I did as Edgar Allan Poe once said, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before,” and I’m proud of myself for it, but I think I am gonna side with Julius Caesar on this one: “I came, I saw, I conquered.” And that’s enough for me.

 

a moment of passion?

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Meet Buddy. Buddy is our 9 month old boxer. He wiggles his butt and cannot sleep past 5am. I lovingly call him “wigglebutt.”

I love him because he gives my 6 year old golden, Lucy (aka mister), a run for her money and has been the cause of her weight loss! He is snuggly and happy- and he poops in the middle of the street. It’s humbling watching my 6’5″ boyfriend pick it up (usually in a public area).

In this picture I was enjoying the sun and pool when he got me, smack-dab in the middle of my face. Enjoy.