Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 22, 2010

Don't know how often bloggers update their blog, but once every few weeks is good for me or I'll bore myself and my teeny tiny following of 10 :).  Here is my resolution update:
Resolution One: Try something every month that scares me a little bit
Working at coming up with my scary thing for February.....don't think indoor mountain bike park is the right kind of scary.....I want it to be things I will actually enjoy - although jumping into 26 degree lake wasn't "enjoyable", the entire event (tv camera's, friends on shore w/ blankets and hot chocolate, etc.) surrounding it was)....and since I'm not a mountain bike kind of girl, think I'll pass on that idea.

One kind of scary thing (in a good way) is that Amo and I booked 2 plane tickets to Italy for 10 days in May! Scary because a European vacation always costs $5,000 minimum and I just don't know what kind of year this will be for my company. But we're stepping out on a limb and being optimistic and going for it. Fly into Rome and have day to see Vatican, Parthenon, Coliseum, etc. before we take the train up to Tuscany for a week in a 3 bedroom apartment in a gorgeous hillside town called Cortona (made famous by the book & movie "Under the Tuscan Sun". Two other couples from Washington DC are joining us and sharing an apt. is WAY cheaper than booking individual hotel rooms! Cooking classes in Italy, I can't wait! Here's a picture of the town:

Resolution Two: Laugh More
Kind of hard to laugh a lot this week while watching the news reports from Haiti. Love how Red Cross has made it so easy to give, just text from your phone and they get $10. Isn't technology cool?
Also reading the funnies doesn't help. Only funny I find funny is Dilbert, so reading them every day just turned into one more thing on my to do list.  Thanks Sheri for suggesting downloading comedians to ipod. I do love to listen to fun story tellers like Ira Glass and David Sedaris. Now I need to download a travelogue about Italy to get excited

Resolution Three: Build A Healthier Body
so hard to get excited about outdoor winter sports as I am a freeze baby....loved sledding, not a big cross country skiier, seems WAY more fun to downhill ski. But today is 50 degrees and raining (spring in January!). But, Cleve newspaper just listed all the indoor water parks close to us and I think spending a day in a bathing suit going down water slides on an innertube sounds like my kind of indoor sport. Think I might try that next!

Also I have to come up with more interesting ways to use my gym, because it just seems like one more item on my to do list and it stresses me out on weekends when I want NO structured schedule vs. my 7 am - 9 pm weekdays....any ideas on how to view gym differently?

Resolution Four: De-Stress
I know everyone is working 2 jobs right now and thankful they have a paycheck, but doesn't it seem like EVERYONE has less time for fun and is stressed out these days? I'm no exception and will spend 1/2 of every weekend working to make up for letting my secretary go in '09. But trust me, this ONE little thing works magic. Make it a point to try to arrive at every appointment 15 minutes early. I'm no longer racing in the door, out of breath when I walk into places. I don't have a knot in my stomach as I glance at the clock in my car and think mean thoughts about the tiny little old lady driving 20 mph in front of me on a 35 mph street.....because I have time to spare I feel more relaxed. This may be the biggest improvement on my life of all my resolutions and it's such a little thing!

Resolution Five: Build a Healthier Mind
I do watch less tv now. I just refuse to sit like a vegtable for 4-5 hours a night watching someone ELSE have a life. I TIVO the shows I like the most and watch them when I want. At night, even if I have low energy, I'll think of a project around the house, pick up a book or have dinner with friends instead.

Still working on not being a complainer. Sometimes I just like to problem solve out loud (PS, men hate that, they immediately try to solve the problem for you). Have to re-word things so it sounds like problem solving, not bitching. AND to stop actually complaining unless I am going to do something about it and have the control to actually do it.

Resolution Six: Be a Tourist in my own town  - 
Thanks to seats from friends Charlie & Erica Miller, we did the ultimate tourist thing last night. Watched the Cav's and LeBron beat the Thunder in a nail biting 100-99 game that we won with 8 seconds to spare. So cool to see downtown so alive....20,000+ sold out Q and the crowd was wild!  I may just have to get the Convention & Visitor's Guide to Cleveland and slowly check off every item this year.

OK, will work harder at all my resolutions this week!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 10, 2010

Resolution #5 - Explore my city like an out of town tourist 
Decided to slowly work our way though the ethnic restaurants in Cleveland and on Friday night we tried Sterle's Slovenian Country Home on E. 55th Street in Cleveland. Mike & Debbie came with us and we all tried to imagine what this place looked like in the 1960's when it opened and Cleveland was a booming city and post-WWII prosperity had the steel mills going 3 full shifts a day and eastern European immigrants packed this neighborhood. But this night, with 25 degree cold and about 6" of snow today, there are only 2 other tables in this 300 seat restaurant. There was a lone musician on stage with an electric accordian and we thought it would be hilarious to eat weiner schnietzel and then polka, but 1 hour into our dinner, all the power went out at the restaurant and the emergency lights came on. The waitresses, all with heavy accents and traditional Slovenian dress brought out candles to the 2 remaining candles, but with NO music and no lights (and at this point, no people) it was almost erie. Thank goodness Kate told me about Pandora a week ago and I had it as an app on my Blackberry. I just typed in Frankie Yankovich and put my phone in the middle of the table and internet radio brought the music back to the restaurant. Our waitress thought that was pretty hilarious.  Family style meals were HUGE and we opted not to take home any of the left overs as we had had enough heavy food and Slovenian beer (Lasko - yummy and slightly sweet). Try it before it disappears from the Cleveland landscape and all we have are chain restaurants like Applebees.

Resolution #2 - Build a healthier body

Find an outdoor activity every month that is fun AND exercise - and what better way to do this than to go sledding with 4 kids? Kate stayed in nice toasty house while Amanda, Dan, Mike & neighbor Jared and I took sleds, snowboards and the always popular saucer (popular because you have NO control and you spin around like a crazy person) out into the back fields behind their house in Jeromesville. The kids had built a jump out of snow and if you aimed the sled just right, you could get airborne for about 2 seconds. FUN to wipe out in a pile of kids.

Resolution #1 have more fun! - hanging out with people who are fun....Friday night Amo and I went to the VIP opening of Tremont's newest restaurant, Dante's. Formerly the Third Federal Savings & Loan branch in Tremont, it has all the old beautiful architecture you would expect from a 75 yr old building with crown molding and marble floors. They spent a year transforming into a cool new restaurant. Here is Amo standing in the vault that is now a private dining area that can seat a 4-top. Place was filled with neighbors and friends, most of whom were invited because they are Facebook friends of Dante Bocuzzi....the power of social had to be on Facebook to know about this cool party happening!

Asked my sister, niece and nephews what my next "do something every month that scares me a bit" and they suggested eating bugs and skydiving. I said "no, this isn't a bad reality show!" Kate said "try to get something - anything - published. Hmmmm....ok, I'll try!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January 5, 2010

Wow, I have 5 followers and one of them is NOT related to me. How cool is that?  Today I did something that made me scared - in a good way. I was the guest speaker for a group of entrepreneurs who meet monthly called The Gorilla Group. About 30 people in the room and I had to share the story about how I bought my business from the founder after working for her for 12 years. I HATE public speaking and would prefer to never be in the limelight. I like to ask the questions, not answer them, but I know that I will never grow my business unless I feel comfortable speaking to groups so despite the fact that I was so nervous I thought I might yak, I did it anyway. And you know what, it wasn't that bad. People aren't out to get you, they just want to hear your story. Imagine that. I must listen to too much 60 Minutes kind of media where the whole point is sneak up and attack.  I hardly listen to news at all anymore because they just interview each other and pretend that that is news. YAWN.

I know that blogs are only interesting if you put a lot of graphics or photos in them, but unless I pull out my Blackberry and snap my own photo at places (kind of weird), what else can I put in here to make it feel less like a report?

So, today, I ate a great breakfast, a small lunch and an even tinier dinner. Feel great and actually weigh less than 1/1 because I'm skipping the one glass of red wine I usually drink with dinner. I want to believe the French who say it is actually good for you to do that, but not if it's just extra calories.

So....this weekend I'm determined to explore a part of the city I don't know well. Was thinking I would find a cool locally owned restaurant, independent shop and a maybe a pretty park or attraction/museum that that area is known for and go visit them all on a Saturday afternoon for exploring & lunch. Using a couple of local books to help (Ethnic Eats and 52 Romantic Outings in Cleveland).....I'll pick a part of the city tomorrow and begin planning and share pictures from there to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone.

One thing I'd LOVE to do is a flashmob....but they don't seem to have them in Cleveland. Just think it would be hilarious to be one of several hundred people who are all in on a big joke and the audience is one of my favorites: places that organizes these - love these people that just make folks laugh every day!

Monday, January 4, 2010

January 4, 2010

To darn cold to brush off car and go to gym today (even though my husband went) so I got out the Wii Fit and did 35 minutes of aerobics and strengthening exercises.  Which only made me realize how dirty my house is. I mean when you are doing push ups on your living room rug and you find 1/2 a cracker right in the middle of the floor from a party you had on Dec 23rd, it means you really don't vacuum that much :). But I will this afternoon.  My lil' sis called at 7:20 am to see if she could sleep on our couch all day after 12 hour shift in ER because snow is too bad to drive 75 minutes home (in perfect weather), so I let her in, turned on fireplace and gave her 2 comforters and a pillow before I went to work. Wow, goes to show you how tight the economy is when people are willing to drive that far for a job....because there are no other jobs closer to her!

Tonight I tried 2 new lighter versions of recipies I love, Julia Childs potato & leek soup and salad lyonnaise. I used the Cooking Light version of the soup and although it is very satisfying and only 130 calories a serving, without cream it has the look and consistence of apple sauce (after I used an immersion blender in there to chop up the potato chunks just a bit). I would try this receipe again but not something I'd serve company (except if your name is Kate and you are my little sister, then technically you are not "company"). Also had salad lyonnaise - used this yummy receipe.

My suite mate at the office, Dawn, walked into office this morning and said "Margy, I tell you this is going to be a year of abundance!" Love her contagious optimism. And maybe it's just the good luck of the first Monday of January, but both of us got calls for new business from people we haven't heard from in a year or so. YAHOO. I think this year is going to be different.

Well, we are starting off with abundant snow. Lots of Cleveland suburbs got over a foot today and more is coming down right now. least I don't live in Minnesota or Maine, they have it worse! (have 2 siblings in Maine!).

Anyone have any suggestions for other things to add to my life that either de-stress or bring happiness? I'm trying to be a more courteous driver, but let's face it. there are so many MORONS on the road, it really is hard not to want to tailgate a few of them ...I'm trying!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 3, 2010

OK, menu for this week (I cook one week and Amo cooks the next, even though I've been trying to convince him for 8 years to be the fulltime chef in our house, he likes every other week off). Most of these are from Cooking Light's January 2010 magazine as we try to eat healthier

Sunday: we always order Chinese on Sundays! Love the Mei Fun with shrimp
Monday: leek & potato soup and salad lyonnaise - simple comfort food 
Tuesday: left over Chinese food 
Wednesday: halibut with citrusy tomatoes & capers
Thursday: whole wheat penned pasta with brie, mushrooms & arugla
Friday: Dijon Croque Monsier sandwiches with haricot verts & red pepper salad
Saturday: go out with friends

1. Anyone have any good ideas for my NEXT week's menu?
2. My co-hort in the Polar Bear swim and I agree to our next "push ourselves" outing.....Ray's Mountain Bike Park on the near west side in February! It's a cool place check it out:

Ready for whatever 2010 throws at me!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

January 2, 2010

I've already screwed the Metro section of the paper before I read the funnies and my husband called me on it. Old habits are hard to break! Getting on my gym clothes to go down to CSU to work off the rich food and drink I have ingested in the past month! OK....made it to the gym and my hubbie and I worked out for 45 minutes...just trying to get back into the swing of things. Tons of people at gym, of course, they'll all be gone by February 1st! Bunch of guys playing basketball get into such a heated argument I think CSU staff about to call security. Geez guys, it's just a game, chill! Dinner tonight at ABC Tavern on W. 25th to explore a brand new spot. Same people that turned the Westside Market Cafe into the best diner in Cleveland for breakfast & lunch have taken over this spot and we need to try it out.

Friday, January 1, 2010

January 1, 2010

I'm going to make this year so different! You can help me. These are my New Year's resolutions for 2010 and I'd love your advice & comments!

1. Try something every month that scares me a little bit, in a good way - push myself to grow and try new adventures. I tackled this one first and at 12Noon today I became a proud member of the Cleveland Polar Bear Club. To gain entrance, you must be temporarily insane and jump into the frigid waters of Lake Erie on January 1st. Hundreds of people gathered on the snowy beach even though the water temp was 26 degrees, air temp was 24 degrees and it was windy & snowing. That's me in the blue bathing suit with a green Christmas tree hat. With Amo, Mike & Corrine to cheer us on, my dear friends Denise & Mary Catherine grabbed my hands and in we ran - less than 30 seconds later we were screaming back to shore. WOW was that cold. Took 30 minutes in fur lined boots to feel my toes again. But I think we're going to do it again next year! OK, what cool & different thing should I try next month to push myself?

Other 2010 Resolutions are:
1. Laugh more - I read that a kid laughs like 600 X a day and adults only about 30 (which seems more than I would have imagined, but maybe that's just because 2009 was such a crappy year all around for lots of people. This all just boils down to trying to be a happier person. Even if the economy stays in the dumps for another year, I just can't let it change my personality from the fun person I used to be. If I'm happier, my husband will be happier, my co-workers will be happier and I'll feel better about life! Thoughts on how to laugh & be happier every day include:
  • hang out more with people who are upbeat & fun, then with "the right people"
  • play with kids more often
  • include comedy shows in our social life once a quarter
  • watch more Jon Stewart and less local news that is all about death, fire, crime & poverty
  • read the funnies before I read the Metro section
  • pick more comedies on Netflix than indies (aka cool, but often depressing)
  • see live music once every 2 months
  • don't be so serious at work, even though I'm the "boss" - enjoy my job and my co-workers!
  • what else can I do here? what makes you laugh/happy?

2. Build a healthier body - even for just the vain reason that it will make my 2011 Polar Bear plunge photo easier to look at! At age 46 I feel age creeping up on me and aches and pains stick around longer than they used to. I have to take better care of my body if I want it to last another 45 years! Ways to do this:
  • no eating after 8 pm
  • make healthier food choices every day
  • log onto every day to measure my goals
  • Save rich foods & alcohol for special occasions
  • go to my gym a minimum of 3 days a week
  • find one outdoor activity every quarter that is fun AND excercise (this quarter will be the Metroparks toboggan chutes, hopefully with my little sister Kate and her 3 kids!
  • buy a pedometer in January and start walking more every day
  • what else would you suggest, c'mon there are hundreds of things you can teach me here!
3. Learn to lead a less stressful daily life
  • be 15 minutes early to everything so I'm not dashing around like a crazy person
  • learn to say no graciously more often so I'm not over committed
  • create weekly menus so when I get home at 6:30 PM I know what's for dinner
  • track expenses more closely to get a better handle on our household budget
  • talk to my parents & siblings on a more regular basis to remember what's important
  • use Friday afternoons to strategize and plan my next week at work
  • what else would you suggest to take stress out of the day to day?
4. Build a healthier mind open to all possibilities
  • watch less tv and read more books
  • cook a new dish at least once a month
  • be kinder & less judgmental
  • listen more than I talk when I'm with my husband - he's the world's best listener and I tend to take advantage of it that too often
  • complain less and focus on the glass half full
  • make it a point to add new friends to my circle constantly to keep it growing & alive
  • what else can I do to expand my mind?
5. Explore my city like an out of town tourist would - when I plan a trip, I buy maps, explore websites, ask friends for suggestions for how to spend my time. What am I missing out on in my own town because I tend to stay close to home & the familiar? Ways to do this include:
  • try out an inexpensive, locally owned restaurant in a different neighborhood every month
  • one weekend a month go visit another Cleveland or suburban neighborhood to explore shops, parks and attractions
  • what else would you do as a tourist in your own town?
OK, that's it for now, I'm exhausted but excited about all I can accomplish this year. And I don't quite know how to use blogs, but I'll learn!