Sick and Tired

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I confess and repent: It’s been several weeks since my last post. I’m sorry readers, I truly am. But you’ll have to understand, I’ve been a bit laid up. Sick. Tired. Worthless. In the past few weeks, I’ve been paradoxically plagued with bouts of narcoleptic insomnia. I fall asleep without a moment’s notice when it’s least expected (or accepted) – like in the middle of the kids’ swim lessons, I’m drawn to lay down on the bleachers and doze for 20 minutes, or in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, I’m inclined to rest my head on my steering wheel for a quick nap before venturing in to collect my groceries. Then when I need to sleep, like at 1 in the morning, I can’t help but toss and turn and wake up my husband for middle of the night company.

You see, my friends, the sleep disorder(s) notwithstanding, I haven’t had the strength or the mental wherewithal to sit my ass down and write a post. It’s near tragic. By this time, I should have at least three quarters of my goals completed – I barely have half checked off the list. And at the very least, by this time, I planned to have all of my goals announced – I have 4 more to present to you. The plan was to get all my goals on the list and, of course, save goal 40 for last. But it’s not going to work out that way …

I’m bursting to share Goal 40 with you. I just can’t wait. Goals 37-39 are going to have to take a back seat and make their debut out of order. I expect a lot for Goal 40. And I just cannot contain myself any longer.

I’ve been harboring a fugitive. Smuggling pumpkins. There’s a bun in the oven, a pea in the pod. I got knocked up. Preggers, prego, pg. Yes, it’s tin roof rusted over here at the love shack. This is 40. Set in motion. Completion date anticipated October 18th.

And now to finish my goals. With child. Now that’s a goal.

So Knotty!

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I like them steamy. I like them fresh. I like the way they feel – so giant and soft in my hand – with their twists and bendiness. I like the way they taste – buttery, salty. Sometimes I bite all around the outside and save the doughy knottiness in the middle for last. Now I can have my way with these dandies in my very own kitchen! I love this basic soft pretzels recipe so much I want to tie the knot with it! (I nabbed it from the Brown Eyed Baker - it really knows its knots.)

I served mine with spicy mustard – Porter and Spicy Brown Mustard by Sierra Nevada. Yes, my favorite beer makers also make my favorite condiment. Heaven sent.

Note: My first batch suffered a few casualties due to sticking to the parchment paper. I recommend liberally coating the parchment paper with oil before placing the pretzels OR skip the parchment paper all together and lube up the baking sheet without the paper.

Simple Soft Pretzels

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

10 cups water

2/3 cups baking soda

1 egg yolk + 1 Tablespoon water, whisked together (for egg wash)

Coarse salt, for sprinkling

Directions: 

Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam.

Add the flour and melted butter. Mix – either with the dough hook attachment on your mixer (on low) or by hand – until all ingredients are combined. Knead (with mixer on medium or by hand) until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush liberally with vegetable oil; set aside. (Or use the baking sheets without parchment paper, but nonetheless oiled well.)

Combine the water and baking soda in a large, wide pot. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Form into pretzel shapes. Place onto the baking sheet.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 2 or 3 at a time (without crowding), for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large, flat spatula. Place the boiled pretzels back onto the baking sheet, brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, about 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tattoo Taboo

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I have a low threshold for pain, and suffer obsessive anxiety with the thought of needles and blood. I faint when I get my finger pricked (god forbid they have to go for a vein). I can’t even have my blood pressure taken, because the thought of that sticky red liquid surging through those tiny vessels makes my head swim in woozy. I’ve always considered myself an unlikely candidate for a tattoo.

Despite the gore, I’m obsessed with (other people’s) ink. I’m a tattoo gawker. I’ve been known to ogle over a stranger’s sleeve or the massive art form that engulfs his shoulder. When my son innocently asks, “mom, why is that girl’s arm all colored up?” I am drawn to that girl as I explain, “ohhh it’s a tattoo …”  And I trail off in wonderment as I become the starer who can’t get enoughWhat is the significance of the design? Did she choose it to commemorate something? Is it for a special person in her life? How long has she had it? Does she regret it? Oh man, that would suck … Then inevitably, my sadistic self chimes in, How much did that son of a bitch hurt? The agony! How much tequila must she have downed before she sat down for that one? And the blood. SweetJesus, there must have been a shit ton of blood! For me, it always comes back to the blood. And the needle. And just like that, I’m content with my pricked-free skin.

But now, with my 40th approaching, I’ve been thinking, Hell, why not? Sure, it’ll take me great pains to get through this goal, but I’m a big girl now. (Maybe) I can handle it. I’m not looking for pegasus sprawling across my back, but I’m not interested in a polka dot above my ankle either. Between now and June I’m going to decide on a modest little gem to sum up Sarah … so far. Please (oh please oh please) if anyone else is remotely interested, may I talk you into joining me for this one? I gotta feeling there are some folks out there who’ve always wanted one, but never dared … Come on! I at least need some moral pain support!

With or without you, it’s time to say goodbye to my tattoo taboo - Goal 36: Stick a Needle in Me: I’m Done!

Gimme Some Skin

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This goal got my panties in a bunch. It terrified me, caused me stress. I felt silly, embarrassed, self-conscious, and downright dumb for even thinking it was a good idea. I was doomed!

The night before, I came up with every reason to cancel: I’m sick, my kids are sick, my dog is sick (don’t have a dog), my husband is sick (so what), my husband has been called out of town (so what), too much work to do (so what), car trouble (really?), car accident (bad karma), full moon (there wasn’t, someone might check). The day of, I was a crabby mess, two-year-old style: I stomped my feet, uttered severe profanities, and snapped at my husband for … everything … (what’s new).

But in the end, I realized I was committed. A goal’s a goal, after all. And this goal really was for my husband. I love the guy so much I’d give him the clothes off my back (and take pictures).

I entered Boudoir Divas’ establishment (after waiting in my car until the very last minute trying to psyche myself up). I was greeted with a “Welcome Sarah!” sign. (I felt special.) I climbed the stairs and one of the girl’s giant smile and reassuring hug awaited me. (Friends!) I was offered a glass of cure-all champagne, which I graciously and necessarily accepted. (How fun!)

My jitters evaporated with the bubbles, and from that point forward, it was no clothes-barred.

First up, hair and makeup, a lot of primp and circumstance. I pleaded for an au natural look. (Uh-huh.) I explained I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup. (Ok.) I told her I want to look like me in these pictures, not some make-upped clown. (Sure no problem.) Wait?! Are those fake eyelashes? (Yes, of course.) Good lawd. What the hell did I get myself into? More bubbly, please!

After hair and makeup, I talked to another lady about my outfit and the shoot. I confessed I was nervous. She guessed I couldn’t sleep the night before and thought about canceling. Go figure! I’m not the only one! When I explained my wardrobe dilemma, i.e., I did not yet know what (not) to wear, she led me to the dressing room. On the way, we walked through the set: Beds and couches and backdrops and props. There was a large screen on the side wall featuring girl-power music videos. The vibe was unshakable – I was getting really excited. (The champagne might have helped.)

With the ladies’ help, I settled on the tried and true, the safe standby skivvies (turns out, the majority of husbands like the fishnet/garter combo). My photographer (who is also the owner) walked me through every pose: smile, not too much, arch your back, stick your butt out, chin down, eyes up, and … breathe …. Afterwards another lady joined me as I perused the shots, and settled on a few to take home. Flash for flash, it was a great experience. So much fun.

For reasons inexplicable, I was shy to give my husband these pictures. But he adored them, said he’s married to super model. Awww, he knows the right thing to say. In the end, it all made me feel really special. Naked, but special.

Thanks to San Diego’s Boudoir Divas, goal 30: Done! Gimme some skin!

Derby Girls

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Goal 35: Talk Derby to Me. She’s a mean, extreme, hip-checking machine. Fast and injurious. Bad ass. So bad ass boys wanna be her. At the pivot line, she gets pumped to give a beating and take one for the team. Off the mark, she glides across the floor, rolls down the alley, and … chop! Beaver cleaver to the broad approaching from behind! As the next one gains her ass, she uses hers for a full throttle booty block, knocking the poor soul to the side wall, tumbling to the ground. Pushing the limits just enough to avoid the sin box, she stealthily rounds the track, low to the ground, skate over skate, taking a toll on her opponents … skate rape, giner shiners, a little hair-tug for good luck, and sealed with a Velcro kiss. All of this offensively defensive blocking for the sake of the jam. And the jammer: she’s a torpedo … penetrating the mess, lapping her opponent, and winning the matchup. They are derby girls. And I want to see a roller derby in action. (I predict a riot.)

Of course, this goal would be much more … hilarious … if I were actually jamming with these roller girls. But let’s not be silly. We’re talking derby here. I don’t wanna die. Heck, I can barely skate (ask Sheri). I’ll stick to the fan club. The San Diego Roller Derby has a few bouts left, about one per month, until my birthday in June. Who wants to join me to cheer on this bitches’ brawl on wheels?

Go With the Flow

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I owe it to my upkeep with Goal 14 for giving me the strength, endurance, and life force to stellarly complete my 1/2 marathon a couple weeks ago. I’m no yoga guru, although I’ve been practicing for years. I first discovered hot yoga a year ago, when I injured my knee in training for a full marathon … too hard too fast (that’s what she said). One hot yoga class, and I was embroiled in a new addiction. Not only did it nurse my knee back to running (at a record pace), but it elevated me to a new level of yoga. The heat makes me nimble and the cardio makes me quick. And utterly exhausted. In a good way. When the 1/2 marathon training ramped up around the holidays, and since the race two weeks ago, I’ve starved myself some much needed yoga love. It’s time to swan dive back in and get down with the dog again.

And so it is. I hereby announce my 21-day yoga challenge: 21 yoga sessions in 21 days. Today, February 6th, is my first day. For the next three weeks, I will meditate … rejuvenate … motivate… appreciate … liberate (… liberate … liberate …).

My beloved yoga studio, Yoga Tropics in Encinitas, hosts this challenge at different times throughout the year, but I’ve never been able to participate, due to workload, kidload, travel, etc. But no one says I can’t do this challenge on my own …

… Or with the camaraderie of my fellow yogis and yoginins! Come on! Join me! Get your asanas in gear and take the challenge! Can’t make it to class? Roll out your mat and have an in-house session. You have no excuse! Yogatta try it! Ready?! Set?! Yo(ga)!!

Namaste.

 

Edited 2/26: 21 yoga classes – in a row – completed at 6:30 this morning! Yee haw!

We Rocked It.

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On belay? Belay on! Climbing! Climb on! 

Well folks, my friend Tara joined me on my quest to conquer Goal 28 last weekend. We learned the ropes and got belayed. Actually, we belayed each other. It was … quite entertaining.

We got that harness all up in our crotches, fastened our carabiners, and figure-eighted those ropes like nobody’s business. Actually, the figure-eight tie really threw us for a loop; in fact, the pressure of tying that sucker properly made me sweat more than the actual climb. Tara admitted she was skirrred of heights before we started; I didn’t realize I was until I got up there and looked down. But it didn’t matter. We rocked it. We now possess our temporary belay certifications. One more test, and we’ll be too legit to quit.

If only my husband would have taken pictures! (A skill I wish he’d make one of his own birthday goals, because he sucks at it.) The picture above is our “before”. We have no “durings” or “afters”. But if he had taken pictures, those pictures would show Tara and my mad skills as we roped each other up and down the wall, as we cruised to the top (close enough), nary a care for those stepping stones, and as we effortlessly (she more effortlessly than me) glided back down to the base. I suppose, on the bright side, without pictures I’m saved the embarrassment of the look of sheer fear on my face when I accidentally looked down and remembered gravity, and there’s no evidence of my smacking my nose on the wall during one of my descents.

He did manage to get a few shots of my boys, also newbies to the sport. I was shocked to look over during my lesson to find my four-year-old waving from the sky, clipped into an auto belayer, those tiny little muscles bulging from his scrawny calves. I likened him to Spider Man, but he quickly reminded me that Spidey uses a web, not a rope. And then there’s my two-year-old, who was simply content just hanging around.

In all, that goal-setting experience was solid. As a rock.

Goal 28 … Done!