Monday, December 7, 2015

I Had a Scary Thought

Friday evening, we busted out the newly purchased fake Christmas tree (relinquishing my elitist fake trees are not Christmas trees stance... but thoughts for a different blog post...) and decorated it with all my childhood ornaments, plus a few recent additions.

Ben doesn't have childhood ornaments... this is the only ornament of many that has his name on it.
Even Bernoulli makes an appearance on two ornaments...
The remainder of the tree is basically the "Elizabeth Tree"
Saturday morning, I got up before Ben and relocated to the couch to let him catch up on sleep without my constant wiggling.  I made a hot cup of tea and brought it to the couch.  I turned the lights on the tree and cuddled up under a warm, woven blanket.  And then I thought (here comes the scary part...) "This would be so beautiful and peaceful with a blanket of snow on the ground".

I don't even know who I am anymore.  I'm an Arizona girl unhappily transplanted in Illinois and I'm complaining about sunny, mid-40 degree days during December?  What is this witchery?  And, more importantly, will it be a white Christmas?  I do not know anymore, but I do know that the Midwest has ruined me for all future Christmases...

Here's to dreaming of a white (yet sunny and 70 degree...?) Christmas!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Confession: I Am a Blog Stalker

I blog stalk an old friend from high school.
One of these lovely ladies...
PS - This was my last night in AZ before college, there were lots of hugs
Although, really, can you call it stalking when all you do is read their blog?  Isn't that the whole point of the blog, to share your life with the internet?  It feels like stalking though, since I know her, I knew her 8th grade hopes and fears, her high school crushes.  It feels like stalking  cause I peek in, read my fill and then leave again without a trace.  No comment, no thumbs up.  In and out, like I was never there, wanting just to see her life now.  See, I can make it sound creepy enough.

Anyways, back to the subject, I thoroughly enjoy blog stalking her.  I'm sure there are several contributing factors as to why I take such joy in it (again, doing my part to sound the creeper here), but there is one main reason.  I like to wonder if, had we had made it through those hard years, between the distance and different experiences that going to colleges a country apart bring, would we be good friends now?

I go back and forth on this, but the fact that I have actually spent so much time thinking about it (and breaking my blogging hiatus to write about it!) goes to show that I am disappointed.  Disappointed that this friendship didn't last, disappointed to not know if grown-up her and grown-up me could have been grown-up friends, disappointed in myself for my part in letting the friendship fade.  There was no real juicy blow up, just high school girls that turned into college girls, phone calls that were not returned, time-zone differences and misunderstood ideas of what constituted a relationship.  But had we pushed through like we did in our other relationships (we both still maintain good friends from high school (a fact I know from the stalking...), just no longer mutual good friends from high school), I like to imagine we would be even stronger now.  I don't know if that would be true though.

I could reach out, see if her cell phone number is still the same.  I could poke her on Facebook, as we are still Facebook friends.  I could actually leave a comment on her blog one of these days, instead of just doing the stalker bit.  But I don't know if I will.  There's the fear of rejection, the fear that maybe she wouldn't welcome the foray from her past, the fear that the friendship faded for a reason.


On the odd chance that she also blog stalks me back (I definitely give much less content to stalk), this is my open ended olive branch offering, complete with a bowl of cookie dough and 2 spoons, just the way high school her and high school me would have wanted it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

P.S. My Sugar-Free Life

I cannot wait to eat this...
I won’t lie, part of the no-added sugar declaration was the intention that it would make me blog once or twice about the experience, and forcing myself to write is a good thing.  But, I don’t really have much to say about it.  Today is Wednesday, and I have two more days or avoiding the sweet stuff and it’s been, dare I say it, not terrible?

Yes, I miss it.  And it hasn't been incredibly helpful that Ben hasn't been shy about consuming sugar in front of me.  When he deemed the oatmeal I made not sweet enough on Monday morning (I used an apple sauted in butter, and topped it with chopped, dried apricots), he topped it off with some maple syrup.  As we were lounging after dinner on the couch last night, he grabbed a handful of dark chocolate covered almonds to satisfy his sweet tooth.  Obviously, I wanted some, but I made do without.  And again, it was not terrible.

I will be the first to admit that I have not been super fastidious about avoiding sugar.  When it's under my control, I have not touched a thing with added sugar.  But, I have kept the cream in my coffee and the butter on my bread (the bread was homemade and was sugar-free).  And when I ate the Cuban sandwich I got from the cafeteria at work yesterday, the relish most definitely had extra, non-natural sweetness.  But I figured when the sweet in your life comes in the form of relish, there are definitely worse things.

Am I excited for the chocolate I will be awarding myself with on Friday night?  Absolutely.  Are those peanut butter covered pretzels staring me down every time I open the cupboard?  Hell yes.  But I have also discovered something: apparently I have will power.  Who would have guessed it?  On a somewhat more serious note, I have learned that I use sugary snacks as rewards, and maybe that isn't the best system.  Finish washing the dishes?  Eat some chocolate.  Took the dog for a walk?  Slather toast with some yummy jelly.  Didn't verbally assault that annoying coworker?  You've earned some Twizzlers!

In summary, (although not quite summary because I still have two more days) it hasn't been much of a challenge, but I do think I accomplished my goal of resetting my system to not crave the sweet stuff at every possible moment.  And I recognized that I do not need to celebrate every good deed with a sweet treat, nor end every night with dessert.  So, that's something.  Granted, as a pat on the back for completing this week without sugar, I will congratulate myself on Saturday by buying a brownie batter donut and then eat it slowly, happily, and guilt free.  I may still need some time to internalize what I've learned... but that's some other week.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Girl with All the Gifts

I had two New Year's Resolutions this year, and despite recent musings about resetting and body weight, they didn't have much to do with restriction or loss.  Instead, I was focused on increasing this year.  In one way, by forcing myself to try new things (Resolution #1: Try 1 new recipe a week).  And secondly, by doing my best to avoid atrophy (Resolution #2: Read 20 novels by the end of the year).  Neither of these are particularly hard, but that wasn't my aim.  Rather, what they are, in their simplicity, is a reminder to try new things, to be adventurous and to learn.  And all of this is just to say, I just finished reading a really good book.  Or rather, listened to one (I love a good book on tape).  And you totally should too.

The Girl with All the Gifts
The Girl with All the Gifts is a post-apocalyptic novel (I mean, what isn't, nowadays?) set in England a few decades after zombies (again, are we really surprised?) are the downfall for the majority of human civilization.  The survives try to find the cure.  You think it's your run of the mill zombie apocalypse story, but it isn't.

When Ben and I were honeymooning in Hawaii, we headed out one morning and drove to the other side of the island to see the Volcano National Park.  With a few hours of driving ahead of us, we compromised on World War Z as the book on tape we would listen to (Ben likes historical non-fiction, I like fiction with a good story.  A zombie book told in the style of a documentary seemed like a good compromise).  We stayed past dark at the volcano (to see it emit beautiful red light at night) and drove home afterwards.  Here's the thing about the interstate of Hawaii: there are many, many long stretches with NO LIGHTS.  And no population.  So, besides the light from a million beautiful stars, it is PITCH BLACK.  We were usually the only car on the road.  And with World War Z playing on the car stereo, with it's haunting "dboom dboom" between each chapter and haunting depictions of zombie attacks, we were past the point of logically scared.  Every creak or unexpected bump in the road gave us both pounding hearts and nervous jitters.  We were scared more than we would ever admit to each other.  We had to turn off the book, and even then were on edge.  World War Z is a scary zombie book.  I won't even see the movie now.

The Girl with All the Gifts is not that kind of zombie novel.

Your normal zombie assumptions apply: they want to eat humans, you become a zombie if you are bitten by one, etc.  What ends up being different is that there are 2 classes of zombies: (1) Your typical, brainless, non-human brain muncher and (2) the a-typical zombie: they can think and speak, feel happy and feel fear, but even just a whiff of human pheromones will send them spiraling into a type (1) zombie feeding rage.

And... and... that's all I can really tell you without ruining the book.  Which I really don't want to do, because it is such a good book.   I downloaded it on Thursday.  I finished it today.  It accompanied me pretty much non-stop during Saturday and Sunday (it's a long book...)  I was hooked.  And one of the reasons I was is that the book is a true work of science fiction.  In other words, there is real science in the book (what makes the zombies isn't a passable virus.  It's a fungus.  A real fungus, that exists today.  In ants: Ophiocordyceps unilateralis.  And it mutates to infect humans.  And that seems almost real, which I suppose is a whole different kind of scary).  But you don't need a degree in organic biochemistry to understand when they speak about the science.  You understand how things happened, and it makes sense.  Although it does uses phrases like "Brownian cascades", which makes my little chemical engineering heart smile with happiness.  But that is the extent of nerdiness, and you will still understand everything, even if you don't understand Brownian motion.

Plus, the post-apocalyptic world the author has imagined seems genuine.  Events make sense and you have an intuit understanding that it is likely what the world would be like, should 98% of the world's population become zombies (unlike, say, the strangely safe and navigable world of Station Eleven, which managed to have a traveling Shakespeare company just a few years after their world fell apart).  There aren't very many stretches.  People have motives and emotions, they love and fear, and you understand why the whole time.

And then, many hours later, the ending comes.  And it smacks you that there was no other way for the book to end.  It had been leading up to that moment the entire time, even if you didn't realize it until the very last chapter.  And you don't know whether to cheer, or be sad, or just nod in understanding and... and... I've probably said to much already, so I will stop.  In summary: read The Girl with All the Gifts.  And then please, please come back here and tell me how you feel.  Because I'll probably still be unsure.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Week Without Sugar

I was a bit of a glut over the Christmas holiday.  Truth be told, glut is probably an understatement.  I was the cookie monster reincarnated.  I was the person who had thirds on dessert.  I toured a chocolate factory and sampled almost every single one of their chocolates (including their fig, fennel and almond bar, which was fantastic).

I am not super-uber-overly conscience healthy, but I do try to keep all good things in moderation.  But then the holidays rolled around and I figured: hey, it's Christmas!  Take a break, eat the cookies!  Which, fits into the whole moderation scheme if you only let loose a day or two.  It absolutely does not fit if let loose your whole entire 17 day vacation.  Which is, more or less, what I did.  And I have been paying for it ever since.  Clothes are a little tighter, my face just a little pudgier, and I am incessantly reaching for snacks, especially of the sweet persuasion.  Weight-wise, pre-eat all the goodies in sight mode, I was at my healthy, could lose a few pounds, but in general I am happy with the number on the scale weight.  However, that weight has now creeped up a few pounds and I am flirting with the scary "DO NOT CROSS" weight line and I'm not happy about it (curiously, the range of weight between "content with my weight" and "holy moly, get off the scale now and eat nothing but broth for the next month" is about 6 pounds.  Not a ton of wiggle room there).

Anyways, all of this is to say that I need to pull back and reset my system, and get myself back to that generally healthy attitude I was before the ugly gluttony monster took over my life.  In other words - I need to get the voice in my head that has me constantly reaching for the peanut butter covered pretzels to shut the hell up.

Or, you know, I could simply stop BUYING the pretzels...
I talked with Ben.  I told him that I needed to stop making butterscotch pudding and brown buttered hazelnut cakes draped in dark chocolate ganache.  I said I wanted to try one week with no added sugar.  No maple syrup on my oatmeal in the morning, no cookies sneaked from the office communal table for dessert after lunch, no handful of dark chocolate covered almonds with my evening glass of tea (or, you know, red wine...).  Resetting my sugar intake for a whole week.  7 days, zero sugar (ending conveniently before Valentine's Day, of course).  He seemed to inherently understand that the upcoming week was likely going to be murderous for him, but he decided to support me nevertheless.  Good guy, that husband of mine.

This little experiment may kill me, or just as likely, kill my husband
 We set up a few ground rules for me, to help me keep my sanity.  It would be a no added sugar week, meaning that the Kashi bar I eat for a snack nearly every day was a no go, as well as most bread, and jam and all chocolate.  I would be allowed to compensate with "naturally occurring" sugar, aka fruit.  I personally decided, much to my own dismay, that maple syrup and honey would not fall into the naturally occurring sugar category.  Anything sweet would be entering my gullet only through grown plant matter.

And so the week without sugar starts.  On a Friday, cause that makes a whole bunch of sense.  Or at least it will make more sense when it ends on the Friday before Valentine's day - leaving my February 14th open for guilt-free (and hopefully, very moderate) consumption of chocolate goodies.

In other, somewhat related news, apparently these ads actually existed at one point in human history:

Apparently, sugar aids in your willpower.  It's science.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Fritsch Weekend Update: Snow, Superbowl and More Snow

Hint: it involved a shit-ton of snow.

Sorry about the cussing mom...
Starting Saturday night, while we were in the movies, all the way through the Superbowl on Sunday, it snowed.  And blew snow.  And then snowed some more.  According to, we got 16 inches.  I would not have guessed that much, but I know nothing about snow and usually enjoy my naivety.  The snow forced my hand (ha) and made me stay in day all of Sunday.  Ben too, except for when he was brave enough to go shovel the accumulations off the driveway.  Luckily, we had gone to mass on Saturday afternoon, not-so-luckily, the Superbowl party we had planned for the day feel through.  It ended up being an intimate party of 2, with many cheddar swirl buns enhaled and about 7 pounds of chalupa left over.

Ok, I went out once with the dog while Ben was shoveling.  That is our poor dog.  Don't feel bad, he loved it.
Side note:  what I grew up calling chalupa is more like the filling of a chalupa, since chalupa in Spanish apparently means "small boat", and refers to the shell which holds the yummy filling.  Either way, it is still delicious and what we will be eating all week as leftovers.

Saturday was a busy day for us, as we assumed we were having people over the next night for the big game.  We did a massive grocery shopping trip, as well as a good cleaning of the house.  We decided to go see American Sniper as a reward for a day of hard work.  The movie was good, sad and intense.  And I cried at the end.  It took a good several minutes for me to stop crying.  I told Ben that it wasn't a normal movie cry, but a sad cry.  Like in The Green Mile.  Where you feel the sadness all the way inside.  He agreed, although he's never seen The Green Mile (What?!?).  It was a quiet, bummed out ride home through the falling snow.  As I said, good movie, but sad and very intense.  Be ready to hide your eyes in your partner's armpit at least 2 times.

Those bushes are now unidentifiable under the mounds of snow
Sunday involved making the above mentioned 7 pounds of chalupa, cleaning and cutting veggies and making Smitten Kitchen's delectable cheddar swirl buns.  Then learning that no one could make it through the snow, putting on sweatpants and watching the game with the husband and eating more cheddar swirl buns than just two people should eat.  Got really excited about the game, and then really mad about a stupid play call.  Then miss the big fight at the end, because someone had shut off the TV before the end of the game.

In other news, don't ask Ben about the game.

Lastly, this is the only good thing about Monday morning:

12 buns, gone in less that 12 hours.  So delicious, I don't even care.