Saturday, March 29, 2014

Day 10 - Meet Jonas

This is Jonas Jansson, a courageous young fellow who has agreed to follow the Book's injunctions to the letter. In this, his first week, he has already been arrested once and lost his girlfriend. Go Jonas!

The book suggests checking your progress following the book with Jonas's by going to his website:

Don't bother - here is where it takes you:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Day 9 - Do Something Before Breakfast

As any peasant worth his salt will tell you, the early morning is the best part of the day, so set the alarm for 5 o'clock and rise and shine.

Well, since I don't read the pages in advance I didn't know to set an alarm. I woke around 7 and all I wanted was my coffee (aka breakfast) since I skipped having it for yesterday's challenge. That led me to have a half-hearted gossip session with my garbage about the neighbors and I threw in 100 crunches for good measure.

On a side note - I really thought more people would try some of these and post there comments/pictures?!?!?! Maybe people really aren't as weird as us Ash.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day 8 - Addiction-Free Day

Your body is your temple. Cut out addictive substances for the day and see how much purer you feel.

Special tip for any book owners addicted to crack cocaine: You may not feel purer immediately. Stick at this one for at least a couple of months to see the full lifestyle benefits.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day 7 - I am too embarrased to post on a public forum

Given that at this point in my life I am looking for gainful employment (and to protect my mother's sanity), I will not post the day 7 challenge publicly. If you are so inclined you can do some research on your own to figure out what the task is :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day 6 - Your Debut Novel

My favorite example listed on today's page reads: "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." The Go-Between, L.P. Hartley 

Instructions: Today write the opening sentence of your debut novel:

Here is my sentence for today: "This is going to take some thought..."

This is the first sentence of the novella I wrote in 2004: "After returning from the hospital, I walked to the kitchen for a Coke, stopping at the glass sofa table in my parent’s foyer to pick up one of the silver-plated picture frames.  

This is the first sentence of my attempt at poetry: "I am from steel mills, church festivals, annual garage sales, bowling alley bars, and a traditional neighborhood complete with bike parades and block parties." 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Day 5 Mass Social Experiment

Cut out and stick this sign on any item of public infrastructure you might encounter today, including, but not limited to: elevators, garbage trucks, cranes, phone booths, toilets, ventilation units, escalators, entrances to subway stations. The aim is to achieve comprehensive social breakdown across the US.

Notes: Okay I might have to skip this one as all I can think about is a sweet old lady in a wheelchair trying to use the library elevator to watch her grandchild perform in the basement and missing it simply due to the fact that my life that needs changin' :) My other thought is that security cameras will catch my delinquency and I will be hit with some fine I can't afford right now. A better option right now might be taping this sign to myself.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 4 - Plan your next trip

I included a blank map for anyone who wants to print out, color, and share :) and then the one I filled out!

Instructions: Today, work out your globetrotting plans for the rest of your time on earth, and get on the phone to an accredited travel agent. NB: the State Dept. currently discourages travel to the following countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Zimbabwe, North Yemen. Fill in county by country: Green = Been there done that; Blue=Intend to do go there this year; Yellow=Intend to go there sometime before I die; Red=Happy never to set foot there in my whole life.

Notes: Leaving for FL  Monday - Finalized plans today although didn't need a travel agent to do so
Planned trip to New Jersey this June and will be contacting my friend Gabby Sheridan about something special :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Day 3 - Today throw something away that you like

Yikes. This is going to be a hard one for me. I will post a picture of whatever I decide on in a bit, but wanted to get the challenge out there for anyone else who wants to participate :)
My beautiful kitchen! I finally got the white cabinets I wanted and now I think it is time to leave them as I contacted our realtor yesterday about listing our house - I'm doing a lot of simplifying in my life.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Today's Challenge - Everyone/Anyone can be the love of your life

Day 2: The Love of Your Life

Today, gaze at everyone wondering whether they might be the one true love of your life, the one destined for you and you alone, and wehter you might be passing them by forever...Act in consequence.

So this should be an interesting challenge given my interview today!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Nervous - Want to post like a million of those emoticons of the smiley face biting his/her nails

So it's the first day of spring and I made a commitment to try to follow the suggestions in "This Book Will Change Your Life," but now I'm scared to do it - second guessing having ever touted my attempt on this blog. I am even more anxious as I couldn't convince even one other 'free spirit' to take the journey with me. I'm still hoping I can count on my sidekick in everything - +Ashley Keene,  but she never did give me a definitive answer. So here it goes - opening to page one to see what my task for the day is - Phew! Day 1 starts out "As this is your first day, you should warm up with an easy task....".  Here is a shot of the first page:

For all my writer friends I did bookmark a new site I learned about (thanks for the recommendation Matt): Ready to Write a Novel

I'm also thinking I will try the one minute hunger strike later today - I'm waiting until I'm actually really hungry to make it more

Boy, I guess I am an overachiever!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Flour Restaurant

So I'm happy to say I already can't wait to plan my next visit to Flour in spite of the shared booth style seating of which I am not a fan!

See how the booths are one long seating bench you have to share with other parties
Four of us dined and here is what we ordered:

PEI Mussels $12 - My only complaint regarding the food concerned the 'fishiness' of the mussels. I got a bite of the slimy mucus part and it ruined me for the rest. I am really picky about where I eat mussels and any hint of 'ocean' in my mouth is an immediate turnoff.
Calamari $12.50 - Good. Very lightly breaded. Would have liked a larger portion.

Our waiter let us order as much white bread as we wanted...which was a lot! This always gains points in my book.

I ordered the ricotta agnolotti ($15 for the half order). I had to google image  what exactl that was, but I am so glad I did because after seeing the picture, I was sold! Well, due to that and the deal my sister struck with me: she would share her lobster strozzapreti with me if I chose the agnolotti and went halfsies. Here is a picture of my actual dish:
I have to say that very rarely has it happened that I can actually feel a mix of distinct flavors in my mouth. With this dish I did and I loved what I tasted! My sister and I thought the addition of some thin slivers of prosciutto would be a nice addition, but over all I would highly recommend this delectable dish!

As I mentioned my sister +Ashley Keene went with the lobster strozzapreti ($19 for the half order). Her's tasted equally as delicious. I hate when a pasta is swimming in sauce. This dish had what I would consider the perfect amount. I loved the generous amount of what we call 'shakey cheese' in my family on top! Even with the half portion she still needed a take home box.
My husband ordered the miso glazed salmon ($24) and for someone who doesn't normally order fish (I think he was feeling guilty due to the 4 loaves of bread we consumed and trying to be weight watcher conscious lol), he was more than pleased with the entree. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the glaze complimented the fish perfectly. I thought the risotto was a bit watery, but he disagreed.
My brother-in-law ordered the porchetta alla romana ($25). I only had a bite and while good, it tasted salty to me but from what I gathered this is how it is supposed to taste? In any case, my brother-in-law had nothing but praise for his food as well.

Our service was excellent and a super friendly gent (who I am assuming was a manager) came over to make sure we were happy with everything. I LOVE when places send someone over to make sure customers are pleased, but can I ask why this NEVER happens when I am fuming mad over service or food?!

To top off our visit our waiter brought out a birthday dessert free of charge (yes, I do celebrate my birthday the whole month we were able to use the cards from our Cleveland Independent Restaurant Deck. I have no idea what the dessert was - if I had to guess from the menu I just found on google perhaps a chocolate budino.
I'm already looking forward to my next visit back. I will be trying the gulf shrimp!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Waxing Poetic

So today is a sort of down day and I need some uplifting words! When I was in college my hall mate +Amy Madigan showed me a quote book she kept. The quotes were compiled from everywhere: movies, songs, novels, billboards, wherever. I loved the idea of starting one of my own. I am now up to three.

 It is something I have since shared with many of my undergrad friends and family. My aunt subsequently started one of her own. We have often discussed how easily you can track one's life - the ups and downs of it - by the words on those pages. You gravitate toward what you are experiencing at the time. Since the inception of Pinterest I do a lot more pinning of quotes than actual writing of them these days, but something about being able to read and reread those words in times of both desperation and great joy brings me immense comfort.

I would love to hear people's faves! If there is a passage or poem you particularly like you might be interested in this gem my aunt found and gifted to her son! Ohhh how I love words, technology, pinterest, and etsy!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Happy Bach. Maggie Moo

So my last trip to the blue ridge mountains when Joe and I visited Asheville for my babymoon was a complete disaster. The whole idea to plan a trip there started when I was watching a dateline special about the happiest place to live in America. Artsy Asheville came up and so of course I had to add it to my bucket list. Since it was marketed as a city of b&b's, coffee shops, art galleries, and music and since being 7 months pregnant meant that any all-inclusive drink fests were out, it seemed like a good choice. I could become one with nature, watch the beautiful sunsets along the mountains, take a leisurely hike, you get the idea.

Well not so much. When the GPS announced our arrival I thought some terrible mistake had been made - we were next to a run down gas station in what felt like the middle of nowhere. A few turns later we did manage to find our bed and breakfast and I felt some sense of renewed hope.

After getting the keys to the cottage on the grounds as Joe refused to actually stay in a house with other people, we decided to go exploring and get some food. On our walk into downtown we came upon some interesting sites - toilets in the middle of yards, instruments laying haphazardly around, and a look of general unkemptness (not a word I know, but I need to use it here). Well it turns out that the whole downtown area closes pretty early. We finally found a small cafe to eat at and upon leaving noticed some commotion. It was like a mini rave right in the middle of the street. People banging bongos and a bunch of people 'dancing' around. My experiences in Ashville so far were definitely making me rethink my romanticized version of what it means to be bohemian.

 The next day we decided to drive to the top of the mountain range. OMG - my life flashed before my eyes like 800 times. The weather was shit - foggy and rainy and the road was more like a tiny footpath than an actual road. Joe white knuckled it the whole way up. I swear to god we even saw vultures circling us. I was certain we were going to die. After an eternity we finally reached the top of the mountain and the visitor's center.
The visitor center park workers and security guards were straight out of some thriller movie - totally flat affect and just creepy. We were freezing so Joe bought a way overpriced sweatshirt. We walked back outside and I said, "So let's hike". Joe was so over the whole trip by this time and thought it was crazy to chance letting a very pregnant wife try to hike down a mountain in the fog and rain. So what did we do - we got  right back in the SUV and headed back down the mountain.

Going down might have even been worse than going out and Joe used the brakes A LOT to keep us from sliding. We safely reached the bottom and Joe pulled in the first gas station we saw to get a six pack. I knew at this point to just shut up and quit planning excursions for a hot minute. I waited in the car for him to emerge from the gas station and when he did he looked pissed. He couldn't buy the beer because his wallet was missing and we immediately thought it might be at the top of the mountain. I encouraged him to just go back to the cottage first and have a look and then I started praying really really hard. In what may have been our only stroke of luck that weekend his wallet was in our room. Joe went right back out, bought alcohol, came back to the room turned the flat screen toward him, flipped to the ND game which was starting, and got in the whirl pool tub and began eating the chocolates meant for a romantic couples bath I am sure. Now, remember I'm pregnant and have gestational diabetes so I can't go in the whirlpool hot tub, can't do the choc. and can't drink. - ummm did you forget I was here Joe!

The next day I had pre-purchased tickets to the Biltmore. You are able to walk your dog on the grounds. We pack Quinn in the SUV and head off for some leisurely strolling in the manicured gardens.

We arrive at the Biltmore and stroll for around 45 minutes. We then decide we will take Quinn back to the cottage and then return to tour the actual mansion.

On our way to take Quinn back the brakes start making an awful sound. Our concern over driving a car 8 hours home the next day with bad brakes prompts us to drop Quinn off and then head to the nearest repair shop.  The news is not good -  basically the mechanic says that the repair  will take all day and cost close to a grand. Well - what choice did we have. So we agree and eventually get sick of sitting in the waiting area so peak outside to see what we can do to pass the time, and of course the only thing even remotely in walking distance and open was a Hooters. So here goes pregnant me walking up some steep incline off the highway to a freakin Hooters where a hot waitress greets huge aggravated me and offers to show us to our seats.  Awesome.

Needless to say, our weekend in Ashville is not one I would like to relive; however, thanks to one of my oldest friends bachelorette party this weekend I am hoping to redefine my view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I fly out to Mt. Welby tomm. where I hope to spend a relaxing and fun filled weekend with a bunch of girls. The estate looks incredible:

We plan on just relaxing and playing games tomm. night, Saturday morning a yoga instructor is coming to the house to give a class, in the afternoon we hit the local wineries, and then a private chef is coming to the house in the evening to cook us dinner. Wowsa! What a weekend! Can't wait to see this pretty guest of honor: