Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Question of Character?

Is it just me, or is Bill Cosby really starting to look like Fred Sanford these days?

I don't know if the recent accusations about Mr. Cosby are true, but if they are, it would seem Fred Sanford had better character. Just sayin'.

"You big dummy." -- Fred Sanford

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gobble Gobble!

Is it just me, or is Thanksgiving the best holiday of the year?

I think it's MY favorite holiday anyway. It's a bit like Christmas without all the pressure... just good food and (if you're lucky) good company. It really is a day to take stock, count your blessings, and be mindful of all the things in your life that you're thankful for.

Sure, cooking Thanksgiving Day dinner can be a lot of work, but I find it can be pretty festive with some good music and a little wine, plus a helping hand or two. For me, the hardest part is trying to bring all the side dishes to a finish at close to the same time. That's when it gets crazy in the kitchen.

Because my mom lives a few states away, most years we go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. This  year, because it's likely the last Thanksgiving that our beloved old dog will be around to enjoy, we wanted to have it at home. At one point, there was a possibility that we'd have nine of us total for dinner (though really only a probable seven). Mr. Remarkable Monkey insisted on a 20 lb turkey and a 10 lb bag of potatoes. That was fine by me... I love leftovers! By the time Wednesday night rolled around, due to some folks changing their plans and my in-laws bowing out due to temporary health issues, we were down to just three! No big deal... just meant a quieter day, and it was actually probably more relaxing that way. Plus my brother-in-law got a ton of leftovers to take home, and we had a ton of leftovers here to deal with.
I am thankful that this bird came to our house for dinner.
He was delicious!

I have had turkey at every meal since Thursday evening... Mr. RM is in the kitchen right now concocting a delicious-smelling turkey pot pie with most of what's left. And as much as I love turkey, I'm almost ready for something else. Mr. RM had the last two slices of Wednesday night's pizza for dinner last night, and it was smelling really good!

I forced myself not to work on Friday. Decided to take full advantage of the long holiday weekend and just relaxed, catching up on DVRd TV that I haven't had time to watch. Black Friday shopping? No. Not for me. I'm also among those who think it's ridiculous for stores to be open on Thanksgiving Day. I mean, I guess it's their right to open on whatever day they choose, but, having a friend in retail management, I also see the side of the employees who are forced to work on the holiday. (And not only work, but deal with sale-crazy crowds.) They don't get to fully enjoy the special day that I personally look forward to all year, all due to Corporate America's chase for the almighty dollar. But that's another blog post.

December starts tomorrow, bringing with it more of the commercial Christmas clamor that started even before Black Friday. Maybe by tomorrow I'll be ready to start easing into the holiday spirit. But not just yet. Right now, it's time to go have some turkey pot pie and then later, I'll savor the last slice of pumpkin pie.

Hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Monkey at the Movies: St. Vincent

I'm swamped with work (yay!) so I'll be brief.

If you haven't seen "St. Vincent" yet, go see it. Seriously. This is probably the best movie I've seen in a long time. It's as touching as it is funny. If Bill Murray doesn't get an Oscar nomination, something is wrong in Hollywood. (And the kid who plays the kid is wonderful.) Kudos also to Naomi Watts on her portrayal of a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold with a twist.

Totally worth the price of admission.

(By the way.... "Guardians of the Galaxy" was the probably the best movie of the summer, and best soundtrack album. Looking forward to the sequel in a couple years.)

Pass the popcorn, y'all!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Run, Forrest... Run!

I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but I am currently training to run a 5k. Well, actually, I know exactly how it happened.

A friend of mine saw this "fun run" advertised and decided to sign up and start a team. (It's the Color Run.) She thought it was a charity run, but turns out it isn't... although they DO partner with local charities and donate some of the proceeds. She figured it would just be a fun walk/run to help a cause. (We've done a couple Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k's in honor of my mom and another pal.)

So another friend and I signed up and joined her team for this event. For me, I figured it would be something to do with some pals, and there's supposedly a party at the finish line after. What the heck... walk and chat with a few friends, and get colored powder thrown at us, and then enjoy a couple cold brews, right? But then...

The other friend said she's going to train and run the 5k. RUN it! Seems she has a significant birthday coming up next year and running a 5k is on her bucket list. "I downloaded a Couch-to-5k app and started training," she said. WTF?? She wants to actually RUN this thing??

Personally, I believe you only need to run if someone is chasing you, you're chasing someone, or you're trying to catch a plane, train or bus. But I also love a challenge. And I hated to think of my friend being the only one in our group trying to run this 5k. So what does THIS monkey do? Downloaded the Couch-to-5k app and started training too.

Can I just tell you that I do not enjoy running? It's stupid. Seriously... why run unless you're in one of the above described situations that require it? So training for this 5k has not been much fun. At first, I thought I was gonna die on the treadmill when I had to run 3 minutes at a time. But I kept at it. When I got to week 5 of the training, I got stuck on day 2 (jog 8 minutes, walk 5 minutes, jog 8 minutes) for a couple weeks, because week 5 day 3 required just jogging 20 minutes. Are you kidding?? How do they expect a pudgy 40-something out-of-shape women to go from struggling to jog 8 minutes at a time to jogging 20?? Outrageous!

I do the training on a treadmill, and I generally keep it at a 9 incline. Anything lower feels strange to me because I've kept it inclined while just walking to burn more calories for a few years. My brisk walk pace is 4 mph, and my jogging pace was 5.5 mph on the 8 minute jogs. I could get through the first 8 minutes okay, but was gasping for air by the end of the second 8 minutes. Seriously, I had just about decided that I should not train if I was home alone... someone else needed to be there to dial 911 when I blew a coronary artery and my heart exploded.

But then I figured something out. While doing week 5 day 2 for about the 5th time, when I got to the second 8 minute jog, I lowered the incline to 8.5 and dropped my jog pace down to 5.3 mph. I had no trouble finishing the 8 minutes, and I kept jogging through the 5 minute cooldown, and then for another 2 minutes to make it 15 minutes. I was gobsmacked! So the next training day, I moved on to week 5 day 3... the dreaded 20 minute jog. I did the lower/slower 8.5/5.3 combo, and made it through the 20 minutes, PLUS jogged through the 5 minute cooldown! Amazing!! I don't think I've run for 25 minutes at a time in my entire life!

I breezed through week six and I start week 7 of the training program tomorrow... warmup walk and then jog for 2.5 miles or 25 minutes. Now, the only way to jog 2.5 miles in 25 minutes is if you run at 6 mph. No way in hell can I do that. So I'll just stick with my 5.3 mph and run longer to complete the 2.5 miles. If my math is right, it should take me about 28 minutes. I ran for 27 minutes earlier this week, so I know I can do it. I might even run through the 5 minute cooldown again too. And once I can run a whole 5k without stopping, maybe I'll work on bringing up my speed. What the heck... the 5k event isn't for another 8 weeks. Might as well keep plugging away.

Or tacos and beer afterward!
Once a week for about a month now, Mr. Remarkable Monkey and I have been joining a friend of his and the friend's wife for the weekly "run for brews" group they run with. We mostly do a walk/run combo for that, but have been trying to run longer each time. Mr. RM says he's just in it for the tacos and beer afterward. And that DOES make it a little fun.

But I still don't like running. When I told my mom I had run 27 minutes, she asked if I got a runner's high. Nope. Just got hot, sweaty and tired. And shin splints somethin' awful! (Although they're getting better.)  And you'd think I'd be dropping pounds like crazy with all this running, but no. Still pudgy. (And no, I'm not eating more just cuz I'm running. Except for the weekly post-brew-run tacos.)

Now, I'll tell you that my friends who started this whole thing with running the 5k are WAY behind in their training. I'm a little skeptical that they'll actually run it when the time comes, but I hope they'll keep at it and run. Me? The one who didn't wanna do it in the first place? I'm in too far not to run it now! I am determined, and after my success this past week, I know I can do it!

Will I keep running after this 5k event? It's possible, but I wouldn't lay odds on it. Unless I'm trying to catch a plane. Or someone is buying me tacos and beer after.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I Might Need An Intervention

A few months ago, a new Trader Joe's opened in my part of town. I'd never been to a Trader Joe's before, but have always heard good things about it. And one of the things I always heard is that if I ever go to Trader Joe's, I have to try the cookie butter.
It was a few months before I ventured into the new Trader Joe's because the place was always packed and the parking lot is tiny, and there always seemed to be line of traffic waiting to get in. Even now, months after it opened, on weekends there's still a line of traffic waiting to get into the parking lot. I thought it was just because it's a cool new store for our area. Now I know better. Now I know it must be the cookie butter.

It started innocently enough. I went with a neighbor one weekday morning a few weeks ago around 9:15, and there was no crowd. We had a lovely time exploring the wonder that is a Trader Joe's store. Lots of beautiful fresh produce, tons of interesting food products, and amazingly reasonable prices. "Oh look," I said to my friend... "There's that cookie butter stuff. Even my mom said I have to try it." Into the basket it went.

For those of you who don't know what cookie butter is, it's like peanut butter, only made with crushed up spice cookies. While chatting with the cashier at the checkout, I mentioned that I'd never had it before. He immediately sent another associate to fetch me a taste. (I'm guessing this is how they hook you, like pushers.... they give you a taste and send you down that rabbit hole.) I took the sample the associate handed me (topped with the new cookie butter ice cream, no less) and tasted it. I think my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I'm pretty sure I swooned.

When I got home, I thought I'd try it again, to see what just the pure unadulterated cookie butter was like without the interference of the cookie butter ice cream. I should have known better. One spoonful led to another. And then a few minutes later, I had to have one again. Within hours, I had developed a full-blown cookie butter addiction. I could barely walk by the kitchen without stopping to stick a spoon in the jar! Pure evil in its addictiveness!

Beware the evil that is Speculoos Cookie Butter!
The jar was empty a few days later, and I happened to see another brand of cookie butter at my regular grocery store. How had I not noticed this stuff before? So I got a jar of the other brand, and I have to say it didn't do it for me. Don't get me wrong... if you're out of Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter and can't get to Trader Joe's, the other brand will do in a pinch. But I imagine it's like making do with a valium when you really want heroin or crack. It'll calm you down, but it won't satisfy your cookie butter craving like the TJ brand does. (Or maybe it's just me.)

Back to Trader Joe's I went a couple weeks later. This time, I got the crunchy variety of their cookie butter. Biggest mistake yet. I'm a lost cause now. Hopelessly addicted and doomed to weigh 600 pounds in no time. I have never in my life had a food that I thought "I can't keep this in my house" until now. And to all those people that urged me to try the cookie butter, thanks a lot! What kind of malicious trick was that? You're all monsters! And how can Trader Joe's be allowed to legally produce and sell such an addictive substance? It's dangerous, I tell ya! There's not even a warning label on the jars.

Hello, my name is Remarkable Monkey, and I'm a cookie-butterholic.

Is there twelve step program for this? Anybody wanna go to a meeting with me?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Suck it up!

Is it just me, or do all vacuum cleaners smell the same after you use 'em a couple times?

We recently got a new vacuum cleaner, and after we used it two or three times, it had the same smell as the old one. You know... that "vacuum cleaner" smell. I can't think of anything to compare it to, but if it's not just me, you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Every vacuum cleaner I've ever had my whole entire life has had that smell. And no, I don't mean the actual machine itself. I mean the smell that emanates when you're running it. Kind of a stale dusty smell. I guess that makes sense, since it's sucking up all the dust and dirt and dander from the carpets and floors. Kinda gross now that I think about it.

Does your vacuum cleaner have that specific smell? Or maybe it's just if you have dogs? I don't know. I just wondered.

Oh... and hell to the no on those perfumed powder carpet sprinkle-on products. They make my eyes burn and my face itch. I'd rather deal with the regular vacuum cleaner smell. That really might be just me though.

(See.... less then a month between blog posts [barely]. Not much of a post, I know... but it was on my mind. I told ya things might get loosey goosey around here! LOL!)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Absenteeism to the Extreme

Is it just me, or has it been WAY too long since there was a new post on this dang blog? Yeah, yeah... I know... it's not as if hordes of anxious readers have been waiting breathlessly (hi, Mom). Still, I figure since I started this thing as a way to exercise my writing noodle, and also a place to express my bemused pondering, I should probably check in every now and then, eh?

I've composed dozens of posts in my head, but somehow I haven't gotten around to posting them here. One of my goals this year is to try and manage my time better, and so I'm going to make an effort to be here more often. It won't be daily, and may not even be once a week, but I think I can manage a post more often than every eight or nine months.

Part of my strategy is to log on and at least START typing a post when I have an idea, instead of thinking "Oooh... I gotta remember to do a blog post about that", and then never getting around to posting it because I don't have time to flesh it out completely. Things might get a little loosey goosey around here, but at least there will be SOMETHING new more often. Maybe. Hey... one of my other goals for this year was to get back into the habit of regularly exercising, and I've been doing pretty well with that, so.... maybe I can keep up with this too.

I have lots of random crap floating around in my head that's just beggin' for an outlet, whether anyone out in the great void (that would be you, friend) actually reads it here.

So.... see ya soon?