Sunday, August 28, 2011

Funssentials for the Storm

Alright, so the weather guy says after noon today the winds will pick and the rain will increase due to Irene. So, I put together a few "funssentials" for the evening. Who wants to be stuck in an apartment with nothing to do or eat? 

Here we go (In no particular order):

  1. Spinach: Good for stir-fry. Good for salad. Good for soup. It's practically the new (old) kale. 
  2. Dr. Praegers Veggie Burgers: These are my favorite vegan veggie burgers and are good for when you really don't want to eat spinach. Easy to make, easy to like. 
  3. Water: Because you should always have a thing of water on hand in case you really need it. Not really fun, but essential none the less. 
  4. Maine Hiking Book: To figure out which mountain you're going to convince your boyfriend or best friend to hike up once this rain stops.
  5. iPhone: For emergencies and strategizing on Words with Friends. I've won tickets to the last two Harry Potter shows via WWF matches. Don't underestimate the triple word score.
  6. An "I always wanted to read that" Book: I have about 50 of these, which are perfect for a day like this. Snuggle up with a good book next to your fireplace. 
  7. Yuletide Fireplace DVD: My friends and I use to put this on during college for our Christmas parties to dress up the dorm/apartment. Classy, I know. This awesome DVD can help you feel cozy without all the actual heat (since it's kind of humid and not the middle of winter). Perfect to read by the "fire".
  8. Your Favorite Movie: Because sometimes you don't feel like reading… My favorite movie = Moulin Rouge. Flashy, fun, love, distress and lots of pop culture songs sung on the top of an elephant. It's one of those movies you either love or you hate. Other movie suggestions in my "I will always love you" category (The Bodyguard doesn't make the list, shocking, I know...): The Royal Tenenbaums, Almost Famous, Gladiator, Big Fish, Love Actually, Edward Scissorhands, Beauty and the Beast and basically any Batman movie ever created. 
  9. Matches & Flashlights: In case the power goes out you will need light. I would also recommend that you know where your candles are. Seriously, what's the point of having matches without being able to safely light something. Be careful!
  10. Maine Peeper Ale & Princess Cards: If all else fails, you might need a vegan beer and a set of Disney Princess Cards. Both things don't require power and yield large amounts of fun. 

Just promise me one thing. I know that the weather team depends on your photos to help create "visuals" for the storm, but don't go outside if it gets really bad out so that you can take a picture of your pink flamingo lawn deco flying through your backyard. Seriously, safe = smart. And smart = sweatpants, flashlights, and securing all of your lawn furniture.

Good luck!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Road Signs, Family Parties, and Life!

I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I, for one, enjoyed myself at a family party for a mini of the family. While it was filled with Portuguese meat food, I did bring a quinoa dish that me and maybe five other people tried. Tradition is tradition - try to drag a Portuguese person away from their cod fish and you might actually get hurt.

Any-who - driving to Massachusetts is always one of my favorite things when it comes to traveling to the family party. I noticed this time the traffic going into Maine was heavier than usual. Sometimes I don't think people realize that Maine is what I like to call the "Weekend" state. People from other parts of the northeast book it to Maine for a weekend because it's a drive away and the coastline is beautiful.

Get up early or leave late. It lessens your chances of being one of the suburbans with the five mini bikes hanging off the back stuck in traffic from Maine, through New Hampshire and into Massachusetts. (I'm not joking about that.)

Another thing that I just love is the driving quality going into New Hampshire. Once I cross of the Pisquata River it's seriously game time. People are crazy. Even more crazy tend to be the actual highway signs.

Massachusetts's new highway road campaign is "Think Road Safety!"I saw this and immediately started laughing. Think road safety? Do people even know what road safety is? If asked, I think a reply might be, "Uh, go 85mph instead of 100mph and maybe use my blinker?"

If they actually want people to stop and listen they need to be dramatic. My suggestion? start road campaigns that put the fear in the people driving. Maybe something like... "If you go 15mph over the speed limit, we are going to track you down and give you a ticket so high you're not going to be able to pay for your kids college tuition." or maybe something like "Text and Drive and your $50k will be mine. Do you have $50k? No? We didn't think so… because you're 18."

Even if they can't actually do that for legal reasons I think it would stop the insanity on I-95. Honestly, I don't even have kids and I would slow down for that.

Speaking of road signs, whomever stole the "Open for business" sign under the Welcome to Maine sign entering the's back. Your efforts did not go unnoticed.

Here are some highlights from the weekend in pictures. It's not a party without a mini John Deere tractor…

Howie (my fabulous old car) and I were automatically placed on balloon duty. "Check, check - we've got red and yellow and green and blue…we're good to go. Now departing iParty. Destination Tia Maria's house."

This is my face after I realized the tractor actually had some speed. 
I love finding random family pictures taped to coffee machines. Tia Maria and Tio Orlando when they were young. Awww.
Couldn't eat the cake - but still loved the decoration
You know it was a good party when the man of the day leaves his yellow car out of reach
and decides the tile floor is the place to fall asleep.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chipotle Office Challenge. Get Moving!

There's a reason why I've been getting up in the morning, lacing up my cute running shoes and breathing in the fresh Maine air at 6am.

Chips and salsa. 

I admit it's not the only reason, but it's still pretty motivating to dream of the chips as my left leg cramps rounding the second corner of my run and I know that I could be in bed snuggled up to a fluffy comforter for another hour. It's comforting to know that, one day, I too can enjoy the vegan options at Chipotle, if I just make it over the hill that is now making me sound like I've never actually run in my life.

Well hello morning sky… so we meet again.

How did this all start?

I work at a company with about 10,000 employees. While I would I love to have a fitness program in place where everyone is running laps in the lobby or where you have to complete 20 push ups before getting into the coffee line, the truth is, it's never going to happen. 

Departments will go out walking together, the health center will put out initiatives, we have a track a team..but in general if you want to get involved with your direct peers, you've got to do it on your own.

Another reason is that I noticed that my exercise patterns during the week were faltering. I would go out for runs and bike rides on the weekends, but making time for anything Monday-Friday was falling to the bottom of my priority list. 

I needed somebody to hold me accountable or offer encouragement.

And that's how the Chipotle Challenge began. It's a super official program that me and three other office mates crafted via inter-office e-mail and PowerPoint graph function. Our "check-off" sheet even has an official space in the advertising area, tucked in a corner, so random colleagues don't actually see it. 

Luckily, I work in a department that is enamored with guacamole so the selling of my initial idea wasn't too hard. Plus, the Chipotle in South Portland, Maine at lunch time is so packed you need a special occasion to actually go and make it worth while.

We plan on extending the days and workout sessions, but this is my initial blueprint. 

The Chipotle Challenge

Objective: To get moving on weekdays

What you need to do:
1.       Define what counts as an “Exercise” session for you. Is it 30 mins, walking running, yoga, Pilates, biking, weight lifting? All of the above. As long as you know what it is and will stick to it, then that’s cool.
2.       Track which days you workout
3.       Weekends do not count.
4.       Paid Time Off/Company Holidays do count.

Here are the rules:
1.       Only one session per day counts (i.e. – Biking 60 minutes and running 20 minutes on the same day only counts for one session, we’re going for consistency, not speed)
2.       After everyone completes their 8 sessions we make a Chipotle Lunch date for chips and salsa and salads/burritos.

We set-up the plan so that everyone could define what they wanted to consider exercise and put a 30 minute time minimum on the session. We have a weight-lifter, a runner, a yoga person, and a walker (that just found out about our happening program and wants to join).

Why am I telling you this?

Because it's easy to make excuses and try to skip out on the health goals. Because the people around you actually want to help you succeed. Because office competition can be friendly and enjoyable. Because regardless of company size, you can make a program that works for you. AND because chips and salsa will go down in history as one of the best foods of all time. (If chips and salsa are not your thing, then pick something that is -- and seriously contemplate why you're hating on the best snack food ever.)

Good luck with your office health goals. Today is the first day we get to have lunch, so I'm going to enjoy my time out of the office and catch up with the people that I see every day, but rarely get to really talk to. 


Monday, August 8, 2011

Image Files: Beach to Beacon, Bradbury Mountain, and My Tofu Sandwich

Ran the B2B for the first time! I felt so good that after I crossed the finish line I even gave  Oakie a handshake… I think it was a mutual respect for each other.
After the race we decided to head to Bradbury Mountain State Park to gently hike the 3mi to the summit and enjoy some fresh air.
Boys will be boys.
Local Sprouts dinner sandwich… possibly a foreshadowing of the next 180 Restaurant Review ? Yum!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

#18: The Daughter of the Regiment

There is something to be said about appreciating tradition and history in the arts.

That’s why attending an opera, musical or theater production was designated #18 on my list of 26 Things. I did it because, while I enjoy the vast majority of art created from digital and technological sources, I was craving something live and authentic.

Last weekend I was invited to go see PortOpera's production of The Daughter of the Regiment  in Portland, Maine. It was the first opera I had ever attended so I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but was excited to enjoy the ambiance of theater and great music.

Two great things that I was told to do to be able to follow the story (and that is important for all newbie opera admirers to know): 
1. Read the synopsis in the program. You'll get a better idea of what's happening in the story as it progresses 
2. There will be a translation provided to you at the top of the stage or on the back of your chair. 

As the leading lady in The Daughter of the Regiment, Ashley Emerson (who is from Bangor, Maine) and the male lead, Andrew Bidlack, took the stage for their musical debuts of the night my general appreciation for raw musical talent grew. These voices were cutting through the air and into your ears as though that was the very reason these people were put on earth. They were wonderful. The scenes themselves were modern – English was spoken and the performers actions were light and funny.


I’m happy that my introduction to opera was a script filled with folly instead of something filled with dark, dramatic “these are the days of our (opera) lives” death feel. Seriously, laughter is always a good thing and, from what I understand, can be hard to find in a well-developed and appreciated opera.

So, through the overture and the songs and the funny costumes on stage, I had a wonderful night and I’m truly grateful to those who took me as their guest.

Side note: As we were leaving it was mentioned that the song Ah! Mes Amis, with 9 high C’s, was one of the roles that made Pavarotti famous, so of course I had to look it up. And sure enough, it’s music to your ears. Here is a BBC Documentary Clip. 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Image Files: For the "Food" of It

This past weekend I crossed off my first 26 Things To Do in Year 26 item. I will be crafting a lovely synopsis of that event to post later this week. In the meantime, I thought I'd share some fun food photos, because food should most definitely be fun.  

The green squash and tomatoes were found at the Portland Farmer's Market. Yum.

Please note: Be cautious of the amount of jalapenos you add to a dish. They look pretty, but their reputation serves them well…super spicy. I realized that after the oil had seeped into all of the adjacent veggies and I was enjoying them with a fork full of couscous. Lesson learned, go easy on the peppers.