I remember being a kid and thinking it took SO LONG for certain days to arrive. My mother always cautioned me that the older I got, the faster time would seem to go, but it didn't seem possible when I was impatiently waiting for my next birthday or Christmas or summer vacation.
Now I know exactly what she meant. Weeks are over practically as soon as they begin. The little things that mark each month—fresh pairs of contact lenses, new furnace filters, etc.—recur unimaginably quickly.
Even the span between holiday seasons seems so short that I can now almost understand those people who throw up their hands and just leave their Christmas decorations up year 'round. (This year my Halloween decorations were up for less than 24 hours. I got home that evening and put up just enough stuff to signify that we had candy, then quietly removed it all in the morning.)
This year I sent my first Christmas planning email to my sister in mid-October. The following week I started discussing Thanksgiving options with A Librarian, who joined forces with me for last year's dinner. Heck, I've made dinner reservations for Christmas Eve already because I decided that would be best for this year's circumstances.
That might sound like jumping the gun, but I know what my schedule is like. Between work every weekday, gigs most Saturdays (lately) and just the tiniest amount of breathing room on Sundays, I need to think these things through as early as possible.
For Thanksgiving, I'm actively searching for a humanely raised turkey to prepare. This year's Christmas Day food offerings are going to be chock-full of vegan and gluten-free options, which takes extra planning. That doesn't even count shopping for gifts, which will be part of this year's celebration after several years without.
Oh, and did I mention I'm planning both an anniversary party and a cookie exchange party in December? The cookie exchange party pretty much takes care of itself, but I'm tempted to make my husband do all the planning for our anniversary party.
Don't think I'm complaining. I love all this stuff or I wouldn't do it. I just know that I need to have plenty of time to get my plans in place so it all works out smoothly. Then it'll be time to start planning for 2014.
I went to the doctor the other day and she fine-tuned my nutritional supplement list and added a post-dinnertime dose of niacin to my daily routine. Some of you already see where this is going, but for those of you who don't know, the side-effect of niacin is "flushing," which sounds more innocuous than it is.
I knew about niacin's flushing effect and I thought I had experienced it when my face got kind of pink after I'd taken a multivitamin that contained niacin. Turns out, not so much.
What happened with a true, all-out niacin flush is that I suddenly noticed that my face and ears felt warm. Really warm. Really, really warm. I started wondering if perhaps I was going to spontaneously combust like the people given Extremis in Iron Man 3.
I took my attention away from my possibly exploding head and noticed that my hands were bright pink. And whew! Time to take off my robe because I was hot all over! Now my legs were itchy and bright pink, too.
Yes, itchy. Everything was now itchy! I thought some lotion would be nice. Surely I was burning off every ounce of moisture in my body because HEAT!
While I was seeking out lotion, I took a look in the mirror and it was pretty amazing to see myself with the skintone of a My Little Pony.
The good news is two-fold: the effect only lasts about 15 to 20 minutes and it's supposed to get better with each dose as your body gets used to the supplement. The bad news is that I'm supposed to up my dosage every 30 days until I get to 1500mg. There are blood tests involved to make sure I'm metabolizing it correctly, so obviously it's nothing to mess around with.
It may be my imagination, but it seems to me that after the workout my capillary system got yesterday, I'm not as cold as I usually am. Maybe my blood liked hanging out in my extremities and decided to stick around.
I'm not going to lie, I'm feeling some trepidation about tonight's dose. Here's hoping I acclimate quickly!
I've been eating a largely vegetarian, dairy-free diet since I started overhauling things last spring. You'd think that Kansas City, with its reputation as a big barbecue town, would be a difficult place to find vegetarian and vegan restaurant meals. Actually, quite the contrary.
Here's are some of my favorite places to go for veggie food when I'm not in the mood to cook:
Cafe Gratitude - Yes, the names of the menu items are silly and they're kind of pricey, but their food is always good. They're completely vegan, so anything that sounds like cheese on the menu is probably made from nuts. They have a drink made from ginger and lemon that is delicious and charges me up more than any energy drink I've ever tried.
FuD - This is the other strictly vegan place in town and their menu items range from super-healthy raw foods to what you have to admit is vegan "junk food" (nachos, mac & "cheese," etc.). Their big selling points (beyond deliciousness) are their reasonable prices and big portions. FYI - They're not open on Monday nights.
Eden Alley Cafe - This is KC's oldest vegetarian restaurant and they offer a good variety of vegetarian and vegan options. Their prices are a little high, but they have some specials like Friday Night Date Night (appetizer, two entrees and dessert for $30) that help keep things manageable.
Aladdin Cafe - There are a couple of vegan options on the menu, including a roasted cauliflower and falafel sandwich that is pretty much my favorite food ever. I also love their Greek salad (they can leave off the cheese).
Blue Koi - I've always loved Blue Koi and thanks to their generous number of vegetarian entrees, I can still eat there. We often go there just for appetizers: the Tofu with Awesome Sauce, Veggie Dumplings, Scallion Biscuit and Tofu Lettuce Wraps are all great choices. They also have a version of their Ants on a Tree entree with tofu instead of pork. Ask for the "old style" tofu to get it crumbled instead of in big chunks.
Blue Bird Bistro - In the same neighborhood as FuD, Blue Bird offers a nice selection of vegetarian and vegan options on each menu.
Aside from these, I find that I can get good vegetarian options at pretty much any Indian or Thai restaurant in town. Italian is trickier because there can be parmesan hidden in marinara sauce—always ask. Heck, I've been rather pleased and impressed at the number of vegetarian options on the menu at the bars my band plays. Bars sometimes equate "vegetarian" with "full of cheese instead of meat," but many of them are wising up and offering veggie burgers and grilled veggie sandwiches and wraps with no cheese.
So there you have it. If you come to Kansas City and want a veggie dining buddy, just let me know!
My husband and I both have such hectic schedules that we have to use shared Google Calendars to keep track of each other and figure out when we might be able to hang out together.
Thanks to our lovely TiVo, we can (and often do) save up our favorite TV shows and binge watch them on the rare evenings when we are both home at the same time.
Here is our current list of shows, in order of my desire to watch them:
Person of Interest
The Walking Dead (always followed by The Talking Dead)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland
Once Upon A Time (yes, I like the new one better)
I'm sure you can sense the thematic currents here: fairytales, sci-fi, fantasy, post-apocalypse, etc. If it's plausible, I'm not interested.
Person of Interest has been good since the beginning, and even Jim "I Whisper Every Line Like I'm Freakin' Batman" Caviezel proved to have more personality than I would have anticipated. It's also full of interesting female characters and there's even a dog, so why wouldn't I like it?
The Walking Dead has its flaws, but this season seems particularly good in that they're letting some of the characters have a little more personality.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. comes in third. I enjoy the Marvel universe, the show is entertaining, and the movie actor cameos keep me coming back for more, but I'm hoping it steps up the wow factor even more.
Next is Grimm, which is equal parts police procedural and fairytale. It's a little cheesy, but I like it anyway.
Sleepy Hollow could eventually make its way higher up the list. Despite a premise that probably has Washington Irving spinning in his grave (unless he's been placated by the fact that there's a character named Captain Irving), I'm digging the show. The fact that it features a hot British guy doesn't hurt.
Revolution makes it into the next spot. Initially I mostly just watched it because my husband liked it, but it grew on me.
Then there are the two Once Upon A Time shows. They share an over-fondness for green screen and uneven acting, but I'm a sucker for anything with a fairytale theme. Plus, the guy who plays the Knave of Hearts in Once Upon A Time in Wonderland was Tom on Being Human (BBC version - seriously, watch it on Netflix), so I liked it automatically just for that.
That's really about all the TV watching we have time for. Is there anything amazing I'm overlooking that I might be able to catch up on over the holidays?
My sister and I spent the past two Sundays taking part in activities that involved going from place to place by bus to sample various drinks.
Last Sunday it was a winery tour. We drove to Atchison, Kansas and enjoyed an afternoon sampling various wines at Riverwood, Jowler Creek and Pirtle wineries. Due probably to the climate and soil qualities, Missouri wines are more limited in scope than, say, California wines. In general, the best wines are the dry and semi-dry whites. The dry reds are usually pretty terrible and the sweet reds are way too sweet for my taste.
I had been to two of the three wineries in the past and I was interested to see how those two had started branching out in ways that sidestepped some of the grape "problems," mainly by making wines from other fruits. Riverwood has recently started making wine from the Asian pears they grow and I bought a bottle after my sister suggested that it would make a very nice white wine spritzer.
Pirtle's apple wine has always been one of their better varieties but they also had a very nice blueberry wine. Their mead was better than I expected as well. It was a long, but fun day and we extended it with dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant on the way home.
This Sunday was Caffeine Crawl. Last year I went by myself (and happened to run into friends), but this year my sister agreed to go with me so I bought two tickets. As the weekend drew nearer, she was ready to bow out due to a cold, but when I couldn't find someone to take the ticket she decided to come anyway.
As we had the previous week, we started off with a hearty breakfast. I could tell my sister didn't feel great, but I brought her a nice megadose of Vitamin C and a packet of tissues for the road.
Today was the day that they feed pumpkins to the zoo animals at the Kansas City Zoo, so I rounded up someone to go with me and spent the late morning and early afternoon there.
The zoo covers a lot of ground but we managed to see almost everything before our feet got tired and we got too hungry for zoo concessions.
Here are some of the photos I took.
Capybaras are my favorite.
The otters were definitely playing to the crowd and they were very cute. However, I can't appreciate their cuteness quite as much now that I know about their dark side.
After several years of penguin-themed fundraisers, there's a big new penguin habitat at the zoo. It was especially fun to watch them swim around underwater.
These birds had a very impressive double nest going. We wondered if they had built it themselves and quickly got our answer when we saw other birds of the same type gathering additional feathers and sticks to add to the pile.
Look at meeeee!
You should be glad there's a fence here, delicious-looking humans.
Naptime at the meerkat habitat.
Are you sure you don't have something tasty you might want to accidentally drop down here?
I've finally reached the age where my desire to participate in Halloween activities has certain limits. For example, I'm fine with parties but I don't want to wear a costume at work or anywhere else in public. I'll buy candy for trick or treaters at my office and in my neighborhood, but I don't want to cook anything with a Halloween theme.
This year with Halloween falling on Thursday, Saturday was the big party day. My band had a gig at a bar that was having a costume party, so we all dressed in costumes as well.
I'm kind of glad I chose the outfit I did because otherwise everyone would have been dressed completely in black. Come to think of it, that's pretty much the case for most gigs.
Big thanks to Hip Suburban White Guy for the loan of the phaser and tricorder. He also let me borrow a communicator, but it was hard to stand around holding all of the accessories at once.
Our keyboard player had the best costume, in my opinion. I know it wasn't very comfortable, but it paid off.
For actual Halloween night I bought a couple of small bags of Twix and Kit-Kat bars knowing that we wouldn't have more than a handful of trick-or-treaters. We ended up having exactly a handful: five. That's actually pretty typical for our neighborhood, although I expected more because our neighborhood party last summer gave me the impression that we had more kids in the area than we used to.
I'm not mean enough to put Toby in a costume, but I did have him wear his sweater to watch the door.
We gave up a little before eight o'clock and went out to dinner leaving the candy in a basket on the front porch. No one took any while we were gone.
So that's my 2013 Halloween. I didn't do much, but it was just enough.