OT, NT, and That Damn Plank

I like to think of myself as one of the least judgmental people I know. I’m willing to talk to, and, in most cases, befriend just about anybody. Sure, I think it’s funny when my friends and I joke about OT days, when the Old Testament way of thinking rules the roost, full of judging and the old eye-for-an-eye mentality. Then there are NT (New Testament) days where love and forgiveness are the guiding force. But that’s all in good fun.

Today, I was browsing through my Facebook feed and I stumbled across a comment by an acquaintance concerning the Texas woman who was taken off of life support as part of her husband’s (and, presumably, her own) wishes, despite the fact that she was pregnant. [You can read the story here]. I am not going to say what I would have done because I feel that it’s a very personal and private situation that no one wants to experience. However, I was shocked at my physical response to the Facebook post. Without going into too much detail, in her opinion, the husband was morally, if not criminally, wrong for his decision.

I was about to lash out in a comment. Who in the hell does she think she is – judging that man when he was making one of the most difficult decisions in his life?

Then, I caught myself. Who in the hell do I think I am? I know it’s important for people to speak out when they feel strongly about a topic, but I was guilty of doing the exact same thing she was doing – making snap judgments based on immediate emotions. I think in this world of internet anonymity and the “comment culture”, people can weigh in on all sorts of topics, which is great when it opens the floor to legitimate, respectful discussion. It’s the name-calling, hurtful and bashing comments that don’t lead to anything but ignorance, stubbornness, and hatred. The world is very gray. You are entitled to your opinion, but it is just that - your opinion. Judging others is dangerous, and we have all fallen victim to it’s lure, whether it’s to fit in with a group, show how smart/worldly we are, or to just hear ourselves speak. Let’s make sure we remember that the glass we peer through to the world is clear, and someone is looking right back at us – judging.

 

My So-Called Addictions

My So-Called Addictions

So many things fight for my attention. Sleep, food, and the multiple TV shows I follow all vie for my attention every night of the week. These days, however, i have other things that take up my life.

1. Reading: I am in the middle of at least 5 different books, plus (at least) 4 different series I’m waiting to finish. Reading has always been one of my favorite pastimes. I am now reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Unhitched by E. L. Sarnoff, The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett, and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I also have mountains of books that I have started, but not finished, which are languishing next to the books that I might never get around to reading.

2. Free Magazines: This falls into a totally different category. I love getting a great deal on magazines. Some of my favorites are SHAPE, Women’s Health, Food & Wine, AFAR, Runner’s World, and Real Simple. Every once in a while, you can find a great deal and get them for FREE!!! I have some of them sent to my dad’s house so my step-mom and sister can enjoy them and I take advantage of the fee iPad version with subscriptions. When I’m done with the magazines that come to my house, I drop them off at the local train station’s waiting room for all the commuters to enjoy!

3. Rehearsals: No only am I on the church choir, but I am heavily involved with a local community theatre. Since 2007, I have been in at least 10 productions, the latest being Les Misérables and the annual Christmas show. I’ve even been on a Broadway stage and auditioned for Motown On Broadway. The theatre is an important part of my life and I don’t know where I’d be without it. I’m addicted to the stage, the art of performing, the audiences’ reaction to the work the cast has put into the productions. 

4. Baking and DIY: I love Pinterest, but it has been my downfall. All I do is pin awesome food and homemade projects. Then I get all crazy in the kitchen. I’ve made numerous varieties of cupcakes, pies, and cookies. Then I decided to make my own body butter. BEST IDEA EVER. The only real problem is that I am not particularly motivated when it comes to cleaning. I pray for a dishwasher. And maybe a housekeeper.

5. The Sims™: Heaven help me. I’ve been playing this game in almost all of its incarnations for almost 14 years. Having my first twins, Mittens the cat eating my goldfish, building my dream home, becoming a celebrity, seeing my 11 children grow up and have children of their own – all of these things happening within my computer. It’s a great way for me to de-stress at the end of a long day. I find that when I have something new and mentally-challenging to learn, I lean on The Sims to let my brain wonder aimlessly through the gaming world to relax.

So these are my vices. What occupied your time? Feel free to post below some ways you wind yourself up, unwind, or just wind yourself into a tizzy.

Confessions of a Slacker

I started this blog for a few different reasons. I wanted to share my adventures and stories. I wanted to introduce people to new places, great food, crafty things, products I love, and the occasional good book. I wanted to publicly announce my intentions to live a richer, fuller, healthier life.

But I have a confession to make. I’ve been slacking. I haven’t been anywhere or done anything noteworthy. If I did manage to get off the couch to do something exciting, I was too damn lazy to write about it. I haven’t been tracking my food; I haven’t been spending time with my Zombies, Run! 5k app. And I’m sorry.

The only thing I have been consistent with is my 30 Day Easy Push-up Challenge. But even that’s marred because I can only do modified push-ups.

Starting tomorrow, you will see a new and improved Life. I will do my best to make this blog worth your time.

Send me some feedback. Maybe I’m just feeling lonely in my blogging world.

Good Morning, Baltimore! – Day 1

Baltimore!

Baltimore had the right idea.

A Baltimore trip has become a summer tradition in the last few years. Conventions have been the main driving force of the trip in years past. This time – purely pleasure.

After leaving work early (Woo Hoo!), we got the gang together and jumped on the road.

After arriving and freshening up from a long drive, we headed to Baltimore’s Canton-Highlandtown neighborhood to the new Fork & Wrench, located at 2322 Boston St.. Our Baltimore buddy, Chuck, was our server and his recommendations were on point.
  • Appetizers
    • Scallop Crudo
    • Charcuterie Plate - Duck Pastrami + House Pate + Veal Rillettes + Chicken Liver Mousse (my favorite appetizer)
    • Oil Poached Calamari
  • Main Courses
    • Soft Shell Crabs
    • Crispy Skinned Duck (I love duck, and this was outrageous)
    • Grilled Lamb Chops

When I tell you that the food was amazing, it’s an understatement. Dinner was so good, I forgot to take photos. That tells you something.

After dinner, we headed to the Mount Vernon section. Club Hippo, the premier LGBT club, has karaoke on Friday nights, and I can’t pass up karaoke. It’s free to get into the bar area. For karaoke, it’s $3 to get in, but you get $3 worth of chips to go towards drinks at the bar. I was amazed by the caliber of singers! What I did not enjoy was the MC’s attitude towards new singers. There was a contest happening, and we were told to submit our song choices after the contest. We rifled through the horribly disheveled books to make our selections. After the contest ended, we submitted our songs, only to be told that there was no room in the lineup for more singers.
Note: If you’re not into karaoke, you probably won’t understand why I’m so upset.
Some people give Baltimore a bad rap, with some of the blame shouldered by the critically-acclaimed HBO® drama The Wire. Don’t get me wrong; there are some parts of Baltimore that aren’t tourist-friendly. But there are also parts where we felt perfectly safe walking as a group at night. So, after we left Club Hippo, we walked back to our hotel, the Hampton Inn Inner Harbor.
The hotel was in a great location. We were only a few blocks form the Galleria and the Inner Harbor. The room comfortably sleeps 6 with 2 queen beds and a pullout couch. It also came with complimentary breakfast with hot options (eggs, sausage, french toast sticks), waffle station, pastries, yogurt and cereal.
If you’re excited about our next leg of the trip, stay tuned for Day 2!

 

Noodle Arms

I took on the #30day Easy Pushup Challenge. I didn’t realize that my arms would never be able to support my weight. If I did one of the three pushups correctly, it would be a miracle. When did I get so out of shape? When did I stop caring about myself so much that I let all my muscles waste away and become soft and useless? The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

My name is Artemia, and I have Noodle Arms.

Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

30 Day Challenge

20130730-153336.jpgI always go whole hog into a new project, then quickly get overwhelmed. I’m a big-picture person and can see all the great things that need to happen in order to make something work. However, the big picture can be very daunting and I lose focus and motivation because it all seems like too much to handle. I am going to try my best to stick to one major component of my fitness life.

For 30 days, starting August 1, I will commit to complete 30 Very Active Minutes (which will be tracked by my Fitbit®). You can follow my progress by clicking here to see my personal Fitbit profile. It’ll be fun to have some friends along for the journey.

**UPDATE**

I found an awesome website – 30 Day Fitness Challenge. They have a wide range of month-long fitness challenges that you can join. There’s also a community forum to talk about the challenges and get support from others. I’m signed up for the Easy Pushup Challenge to go along with my personal Fitbit challenge. I need to get these arms in shape. No more double-wave for me!

Decision Day – The Road to Fit Chick

The road to fit chickI can’t even begin to tell you how much time I spend online reading articles about getting fit or pinning exercise and eating plans. With each read, I hope that magically, through the absorption of information into my brain, I will be able to over the plateau and get back on track.

Before my wedding, I managed to drop 32  and rock my wedding dress at a very shapely 177 lbs. I have been stuck between 183 and 179 for the last three months. I really want to get the ball rolling again without ridiculously limiting my ability to have a social life. I had great success with Ideal Protein® through my chiropractor; I lost 20 lbs in a little over a month. I know if I stuck with it, I would lose the other 30 in no time. But I have a to learn how to eat reasonably if I’m going to keep the weight off for good. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t go back to IP if necessary, but I want to see how far I can go by myself.

Well, not completely by myself. Hopefully, I’ll have a few readers who will help me stay honest.

(Not Exactly) Roughing It

Green Space

As a lover of the outdoors (to a certain degree), I enjoy camping. This year’s first foray into the wilderness led us to the Harmony Ridge campsite in Branchville, NJ.

I had to work late (bleh), so I took a train that got me near enough to the campsite so my husband could get me. All I have to say is, “It was pitch f’ing black.” Setting up a campsite in the dark is a task like none other. The guys managed to set up the canopy, drinks, and the tarp (but only partially, as shown in a later picture). The rest of the crew arrived and them men set up the tents while the ladies got to work on the fire with the help of the campfire starters.

Camping and Baltimore

Mmmm…Toasted Marshmallow

Waking up on a campsite is always a special feeling – unless it’s to the sound of tractors at 8 am. Not cool, Harmony Ridge. Not cool. Since I was awake, I got to really enjoy the nice job the guys did with the campsite. Except for the sad tarp. He stayed that way for the entire weekend.

The Campsite

Breakfast time! One of the greatest things about camping is the outdoor cooking. The husband a great cook, especially when it comes to breakfast. Who doesn’t want pancakes and bacon in the woods? Enjoy the preparation montage below:

Camping Breakfast

 The day took us to the beautiful Delaware River. We got a deal for Reber River Trips from Amazon Local Deals. All the rain this year made for fantastic rafting and we were all ready for action on the water. We listened to music with triple-ziplocked iPhone 5 (I do not suggest this at all) and one of our new toys, an ECOXBT from ECOXGEAR. Great shound, bluetooth-enabled, waterproof, and it floats! Bonus! I took some pretty cool shots on the river, but I really wish I had a waterproof camera. Risking my phone is not my idea of fun.

Camping and Baltimore

Camping and Baltimore

Camping and Baltimore

It was a great afternoon on the river, but after only sandwiches on the raft. I was ready for some real food. Back at camp, we god ready for a super-tasty meal of campfire-roasted chicken, roasted corn on the cob, dry rubbed pork loin and sautéd mixed vegetables. Campfires and charcoal make everything taste better.

Campfire Cooking

Camping and Baltimore

Camping and Baltimore

Camping and Baltimore

The evening was filled with s’mores, music, and great conversations. The merry band of wilderness lovers broke camp the next morning. As we all went our separate ways, my husband had a surprise for me: Sunrise Mountain at Stokes State Forest.  I must admit, I’m rarely excited by impromptu side trips, especially when they include signs like this:

Sunrise mountain

Translation: This forest can kill you.

Despite the risk of death, we were rewarded with some amazing views.
Sunrise mountain
Sunrise mountain

 I had a wonderful time (and liked my surprise). It’s trips like these that make me love the outdoors, minus the bugs. Ewww. Our next foray into the woods takes us to Reading, PA, so stay tuned!

(Not Exactly) Roughing It – A Preface

So Sad

I’m less than enthusiastic about camping in October with a snowstorm headed our way.

My love for the outdoors hasn’t always been there. I went fishing a few times with my father; we might have caught three fish in all our adventures combined. In high school, I worked at a day camp. We aren’t exactly “nestled in the woods”, but we did have a nicely stocked pond where I taught the boys how to snag sunnies and catfish. (Catfish, by the way, like Twizzlers™.)

As a freshman in college, I went on my first camping trip. My more hard-core outdoorsy friends call it “real camping”. Donning my pack, I hiked 15 miles over three days with some classmates and our group leaders. Being a girl from the city, it was a whole new world for me. ::cue Aladdin and Jasmine:: I managed to survive despite having to sleep outdoors without a tent, do my business in the woods, take my turn to carry the “bathroom bag”, and find drinking water that wouldn’t give people giardia.

Great article: Water purification to prevent Giardia

Camping is now a family affair. I’ve been camping with my husband and the in-laws for a few years now. I’m pretty proficient in setting up canopies, starting campfires, and outdoor cooking. It turns out a city girl can enjoy time in the wilderness.

We did start the fire! – Campfire Starters

Campfire Starters

 

Great day for preparing to go camping! My husband is getting the car ready by grabbing our stuff from storage (aka the in-laws’ house). My job is a little less labor intensive, but important nonetheless. I make campfire starter disks with things I already have laying around the house.

I found this version on Pincookie.com.

Pincookie does a great job of explaining the steps and even includes a burn test. I’m not fancy enough for a test, but I know they work from previous experience. I’ll give you the step-by-step, with pictures for guidance.

Turkey hand towel not required.

Turkey hand towel not required.

You will need:

  • A small saucepan
  • A small mixing bowl that can be heated
  • Leftover candle wax
  • 100% Cotton wipes
  • Tweezers
  • Parchment or Wax Paper (not shown)
Double boiler set-up

Double boiler set-up

1. Make yourself a nice double boiler. Here’s a great explanation from Baking Bites®.

Looks like a lox more wax than it really is.

Looks like more wax than it really is.

2. Place the wax in the mixing bowl after the water starts to simmer. I know this picture looks gross. I blame it on (a) the reflection of the wax in the bowl, and (b) my husband insisting on throwing anything flammable into our candles once the wicks are gone. Don’t worry; the debris won’t mess up the starters.

Nice and melted.

Nice and melted.

3. Wait until your wax melts completely.

Wax Bath!

Wax Bath!

4. Using your trusty tweezers. dip your cotton pads into the wax. Here are a few notes about this process:

  • I prefer the round disks to the square ones, but any version will work.
  • I use the tweezers to lightly dip the pads into the wax. They are only submerged here because it was difficult to dip and take pictures at the same time.
There's tha parchment paper!

There’s the parchment paper!

5. I set up a piece of parchment paper next me to make the transfer of the pads less messy.

They look like crackers, but don't eat them!

They look like crackers, but don’t eat them!

6. Place the dipped pads onto the wax paper to dry. It should take only a few minutes for the wax to harden, but I like to give them 15 minutes so I can clean up the boiler.

All it takes now is to burn them. Get your logs and kindling set up using whatever style you prefer, but you should have easy access to your kindling pile. Tear your starter just enough to let a little cotton show. Place the campfire starter in the kindling and light it. It should burn long enough to keep the kindling going until the logs catch.

I hope this was at least a little bit informative. I’ll make sure to update with any more tips!

~Artemia
Disclaimer: Please be EXTREMELY careful when dealing with a stove, hot water, hot wax, and open flames of any kind. All children should be under the supervision of a parent. Happy Camping!

Photos edited using Over ©2013 Potluck

 

 

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