Saturday, December 22, 2012

My First Glossybox: December

Glossybox!

I'm actually pretty excited about this.

I've been hearing about Glossybox for a few months now, thanks to a few beauty gurus I'm subscribed to on YouTube. My favorite is Sarah, AKA FierceFelineChic. Go check out her channel; she's awesome!

Glossybox is a monthly subscription, kind of like a magazine, except with Glossybox, you receive samples of higher end beauty products. There are several subscription boxes out there, with a variety of product ranges. The Glossybox products are different each month, and usually there is an extra product you get for free. It's $21 a month, which for the products you get, is a fantastic price.

I haven't tried the products in the December box, except for two. I don't know how I feel about one of them yet due to the small sample size, but I'll get to that.

Before I do that, I must give a little disclaimer. I am certainly not a beauty guru. I've just recently began to use beauty products beyond shampoo and conditioner. I was never very girly, and wasn't much into makeup, fashion, hair, or anything related. I am quite new to this industry, even as a consumer. Maybe that's good, as you will be getting a review (when I use the products) from a regular person. Maybe it's not; you decide!

First, I'll show you what you get when you receive the box.

Packaging
Right away, I noticed I loved the packaging and the box. It's simple, but still pretty. The box is sturdy and can be re-used for other things like storing other makeup or products, a piggy bank, or other organization.

Holiday wrapping
I also love the holiday wrapping that came with the inside. Really cute and pretty, like it was personally made just for me.

Glossybox Mag and Product List
Next, you receive the Glossybox Magazine, which this month includes new trends for 2013, a Q&A with a celebrity hair stylist, editor's picks, and more. The card to the right is the product list for everything included in the box this month. On the reverse side is a note from the team which is included  in each box.

The samples!
Upon unwrapping, I find this month's samples. Sorry this picture is a little dark! It includes a hair protein oil, a bath and shower oil, epsom bath salts, a dry heat protectant spray, a new fragrance sample, a Zoya nail lacquer, and the extra item is a piece of jewelry from Jewelmint.

Ecru New York Cosmetic Hair Care Acacia Protein Oil
From the card: "This multi-tasking elixir provides superb conditioning and moisturization while reducing drying time, eliminating frizz and mending split ends. Protect your hair against heat damage with this restoring and smoothing hair serum."
Full size 1.07 oz., $30

Protein Oil sample
The only thing I don't like about this one is the actual sample size. It's only .03 oz., and I feel like that's not enough to get an actual sample out of it, especially if you have any length to your hair at all. I tried to use a small amount of it so I could get more than one try out of it, but being so small, there's not much you can do. I used about half for the first try of it, and I think it worked. Normally after I shower, I put in Sexy Healthy Hair's Soy Tri-Wheat Leave-in Conditioner, which I loved because it left my hair soft and smooth. Instead, I used this protein oil. For only using half of this small sample, it did leave my hair smooth and soft as well. I also noticed my hair dried faster than usual, even though it dries pretty quickly already. After I went to bed and woke up in the morning, my hair had absolutely no knots! It was still as smooth as it was the night before, and shiny. For the small amount that I used, It worked really well. I just wish I was able to see how well it fairs with more than one use.

Forest Essentials Luxurious Ayurveda Maduari Jasmine & Magra Bath & Shower Oil
From the card: "This after-bath and shower moisturizer is a seductive blend of essential and all-natural oils formulated to leave your skin smooth, with a subtle, seductive scent. Apply this oil on wet skin to seal in moisture."
Full size 6.8 oz., $22

This sample size is 3.38 oz., nearly half of the full size. I haven't used this yet, but I'm excited to. I wanted to try it the same time I tried the protein oil, but I had already dried off and I forgot it was meant for wet skin.

Heartland Fragrance Co. Epsom Bath Salts
"Indulge in healing aromatherapy with these 100% pure Epsom bath salts. Treat yourself to a full body boost with these herb-infused accents in your bathing routine. Use weekly to dramatically reduce tension and refresh your skin."
Full size 30 oz., $10

The sample is 5.5 oz. and states it can be used in a bath, or, "massage a handful of Epsom Bath Salt into your skin to exfoliate." I probably will not be using it in a bath, as I am not really a bath person and can't remember the last time I took one. I will, however, try it out as an exfoliant instead.

Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Heat Protectant Spray
"A dry spray protectant enriched with keratin proteins and paraben free, this product is your best defense against heat styling and hot tools. The unique formula strengthens and protects your precious tresses, enhances shine and ensures a firm hold - prepare for fabulous hairstyling!"
Full size 4 oz., $23

The sample is .75 oz. The only heat protectant spray I've ever used was Tresemme's, and I didn't feel like it did much of anything. I don't use heat very often at all to style my hair; I usually just wash and condition, use my leave-in conditioner I mentioned above, comb out any tangles, and I'm finished. I don't even blow dry it, unless it's too cold out to let it air dry and I need to leave for work. 

I've also recently found out hair terrible drugstore hair products are for your hair, so I will not be using Tresemme's heat protectant, or their shampoo and conditioner that I've been using, or any others. FierceFelineChic (Sarah) went to school at Paul Mitchell and just made a video about this topic. Click the link above to her channel to see; it's called "Horrifying Truth about Drugstore Hair Products." Basically, the FDA does not regulate what these brands put into their products, so you are getting horribly made products and putting them into your hair. Sarah explains more about it, and does a much better job of doing so. I know the drugstore products are cheaper and easier affordable, however, I'm going to work the professional products into my budget from now on as to not destroy my hair with awful ingredients in the drugstore brands.

Anyway, whenever I decide to not be lazy and actually style my hair using heat, I'll try out this heat protectant spray and see how it goes!

Pleats Please by Issey Miyake, Eau de Toilette
Don't you love those fancy phrases? "Eau de Toilette." Can't we just say perfume? Anyway, this is a new fragrance out by Issey Miyake -- I know, who? I have no idea either.

"Exclusive USA Online Launch Partner"
"A fashion forward fragrance inspired by worled renowned designer Issey Miyake's iconic Pleats Please ready-to-wear line. Enjoy the effervescent, sensual and addictive notes which embody the essence of joy, femininity, and elegance."
Full size 3.4 oz., $92

Holy #$@! Ninety two dollars? For 3 ounces? This better be the best damn perfume ever! The sample size is .03 oz., and taking it out of the packaging and smelling the nozzle area, it has a fairly nice scent. After spraying it once, it's really not bad at all. It's pleasant, and a slightly more mature and sophisticated scent than I expected. I will probably use the entire sample, but I don't think I love it enough to purchase the full size, mostly due to the price. If I loved the fragrance, I might save for it or ask for it for Christmas or my birthday, but I don't think it's quite worth it.

Zoya Nail Laquers in "Storm"
"These uniquely ornate nail laquers will transform your nails into jewels. The long-wearing and toxin-free formula will keep your nails sparkling all season, and looking their glossy best."
Full size .05 oz., $8

The sample size here is actually the full size amount, so that's pretty awesome. Right away I absolutely loved this color. I immediately thought it was perfect for a New Year's eve party, so I think that's when I'm going to try it out. Some people got the silver version of this, which is awesome too, but I'm glad I got this one. I opened it, and it has real color to it also, unlike some other sparkly polishes that are just all sparkle and glitter with nothing else to it. It looks very pretty, so I'm excited to try it.

And, last but not least...

Jewelmint ring
"Jewelry, as a special gift this Holiday Season...
Inspired by the runway, vintage jewelry and on-trend celebrity style, JewelMint.com offers a versatile jewelry collection each month and recommends pieces that match your personal style."
Various Styles $29.99

I thought it was pretty cool of them to add an extra piece, and have it be a jewelry item for the holidays. Normally I don't like the bigger, chunkier pieces, but I actually like this one. It's interesting and different, but not too crazy. My boyfriend doesn't like it, but that won't stop me from wearing it!

And there you have it. Those are all the items in the Decemeber Glossybox. When I try them all out, I'll do a second post reviewing the products. Hope you enjoyed, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fate

After I lost my beautiful boy Floppy, in June, I was absolutely devastated. I cried and cried and just when I was sure my tear ducts were all dried up and couldn't possibly produce any additional water, I cried some more. I felt like I lost a sibling or other close family member. I still feel the pain, I still miss him every single day, and I feel I may never love another dog like I loved him.

Poor Nikki was so sad. She sulked. She laid around the house, hid behind the couch or under my bed all day, and wouldn't even eat her favorite treats. She knew he was gone, and she didn't like it. She missed her buddy, her playmate.

We weren't planning on getting another dog any time soon. None of us were ready. We missed Floppy, and it was too much to handle. But, poor Nikki. We felt so badly for her, so we browsed around pet sites, not particularly expecting to find any dog we liked enough to take home. We felt we would be replacing Floppy, and no one could do that.

But, then...

Then, we saw this guy.


And oh, my goodness... how could we resist?

If you remember the other pictures (click on the link above at the beginning of the post), he looks like a mix of all three of our previous dogs in so many ways. His face, his fur type, his coloring (except the speckled feet). Even when we brought him home, he displayed very similar characteristics and personality traits of the other three as well.

When trying to think of a name, we wanted something fitting for him. We thought of and ruled out traditional names like Max and Jack. We liked the name Midas, but he's too sweet and gentle for that name. We looked through pet name books and online, but we couldn't agree. When one of us would like something, the others would hate it, or vice versa.

If you look at his picture, you'll see it. We noticed that he sort of looks like he's wearing black eyeliner, and that it extends out to the side of his head and looks Egyptian. So we got the idea to look up Egyptian names. Traditional names didn't work, so I searched for Egyptian gods instead. Finally... I found it.

There was one named Shai. He was the Egyptian god and concept of fate. Fate?! Was it not fate that we found him after we lost Floppy? Was it not fate that he had the looks and the personality mix of our other three dogs before him combined? Unbelievable. It was perfect. And so, there it was, clear as day. Shai.

Now, I'm not sure I even believe in the actual concept of fate. You know, life occurrences are meant to happen, everything happens for a reason, there's a greater power controlling how the world turns... I always thought of it as a cop-out for some people not to take responsibility for their own actions. Do certain decisions lead to certain situations occurring? Absolutely. But the belief that everything is pre-planned out, and our path is already laid out for us and we don't get to decide? Not a fan.

But, this... I don't know. The stars aligned for this one.

We loved Shai immediately. He is so cute, and so gentle and loving. He wants nothing more than to please us and be loved. He hates being yelled at, so he usually learns quickly -- unless he sees a bunny in the yard, then forget it, his chasing instincts take over.

He cannot replace Floppy. And he's not the same dog, we know. However... he can be part of a new family. And we will love him unconditionally just the same.

Oh, and Nikki? She's doing much better. She is much happier, and really back to her old, weird self.

Here is a quick video of Nikki and Shai playing when they first met:


Monday, September 24, 2012

What's in a Name?

That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet...

My parents deliberated over what to call me for months. Though they didn't know I was a girl until I was born, they both had their favorite names picked out for both a boy and a girl. We'll skip the boys, since clearly that is irrelevant. Though, my father's stupid self wanted to name my older brother Fresh.

My mother liked the names Chloe, Dana, and Becky or Rebecca for me, and my father refused anything that didn't sound Irish enough. They couldn't really agree on anything.

They flipped through baby books for weeks, asking each other's opinions on names they liked, still not reaching a consensus. Then, finally, one day the debate was over. My mom saw the name Kerry in a book and thought it sounded nice. I don't think my dad wanted to admit it, but he liked it. Plus, it's completely Irish -- there is even an entire county in Ireland named Kerry -- so of course he accepted.

Per all the times I googled and searched for the meaning of my name, only two similar things came up. Kerry means "dark-haired girl" or "dark-haired princess." Well, I am a girl, and I do have dark hair. I don't know about that "princess" business, though.

When I was younger I would complain about my name and say that I wish it was different. I used to like the name Cindy, but now my tastes have changed. I don't think mine is so bad anymore. It's not terribly common, and any other people with the same name usually spell it with an i at the end instead.

Now if only I could get rid of my dad's last name...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Art of Teaching

Sometimes, I really doubt myself as a teacher.

I doubt my skills to teach properly, creatively, and to make that light bulb go off in my students' minds. Sometimes I even doubt that I truly want this as my career. I notice that tends to happen when there has been a gap between jobs, and it has been a while since I was teaching. I suppose that time away from the classroom is correlated to my doubts. Possibly, the separation exacerbates my fears, which causes me to doubt what I want.

But, then... I stand in front of my students, and I teach them the language that I love. And it all clicks back into place.

I recently started a new leave replacement job teaching ASL to high school students, grades 10 - 12. I have replaced a teacher out on maternity leave until December.

I have two classes of level 1, and one class with a mix of level 2 and 3. The mixed class can be frustrating, as they are clearly at different places in learning the language, and so different lessons and activities need to be planned for one class. However, the students are very motivated, and are pleasant in class. There have been no behavioral issues, and it doesn't seem like there will be very many, if any. Plus, many of them want to continue with ASL beyond high school.

The same goes for the two level 1 classes. I only have one student in one of the classes who seems apathetic, but we'll see how that goes. Though sometimes too chatty in a class learning a visual language where it is vital to pay attention and keep voices off, they are still good, bright kids and I think we will both learn a lot from each other. I hope I'm not speaking too soon when I say that it looks like I have a great group of students for the next few months.

Back to standing in front of them center of attention. I used to hate it.

Source


Any time I had a project in school that had to be presented in front of the class, I hated it. Except for ASL.

During any other class presentation or speech, I became so nervous automatically. I felt I could barely breathe, my hands would shake, and I would forget absolutely everything I wanted to say. Except in ASL.


ASL class was the only time I felt comfortable enough to make a presentation or act out a conversation or skit in front of my peers. And I want my students to feel that same level of comfort with me. Now that I am in the opposite position, teaching others this beautiful language, I am still no longer afraid. The only thing I still fear is that my lessons are not creative enough and I will not teach effectively to make them understand, but I just chalk that up to nerves. I've learned from the best, and I therefore strive to give my students the best I can.
P.S. None of these people are me. Source
This week, after stepping back into the classroom, I realize once again that I love what I do. I want to spread this amazing language as much as I can, and the best way I know how to do that is to teach it.



This continues to be one of my favorite speeches of all time. Trust me, it's worth it to watch and listen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Crunchy Leaves!

Autumn is just about here...



Am I the only one excited about stepping on crunchy leaves?!


Monday, September 17, 2012

ASL, Meet Teaching

I never thought that I would become a teacher. I always thought that I wanted to leave school so badly, so why would I make a career out of it? I didn’t know what I wanted to be, I just knew that teaching wasn’t one of my options.

Then one teacher changed everything.

That teacher was Rachel Cerra, my high school ASL teacher. I had her for both years of ASL I took in high school, my junior and senior years. It was my favorite class of all time, and Rachel was my favorite teacher. To this day, that hasn’t changed.

First, I fell in love with American Sign Language from the very first day I started learning it. Though it had always intrigued me before this, I never knew how fascinated I would become with the language, so engrossed in Deaf Culture, and so I quickly fell head over heels. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, but I knew I had to make ASL a part of my career.

Second, Rachel made me realize that I actually did want to teach ASL. I didn’t want to interpret, and I didn’t want to be a Deaf Ed teacher. Not necessarily by process of elimination, but by realizing that because I thought everyone should learn this beautiful, visual, natural language of the Deaf, the best way I knew how to spread it and bridge the gaps between the Deaf and hearing worlds was to teach it to others.

The passion that Rachel had not only for ASL, but for teaching, impacted me to a high degree. She lit a fire in me I didn’t know I had for a career I didn’t know I wanted. If I had had a different teacher, I know I would still love ASL, but I don’t know if I would have wanted to become a teacher as well. Every single day in class I couldn’t wait to learn more, and it was never boring. My favorite days were the ones we learned something new, and those days in ASL 2 that we got to learn a new ASL idiom or phrase.

I had the pleasure and honor of working with Rachel during my student teaching, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. To have been her student, and then work with her as a colleague was such a blessing. I learned so much about the art of teaching, from curriculum to lesson planning to creative activities to time saving tricks. Though, it was difficult getting used to calling her Rachel instead of Ms. Cerra. She even yelled at me via e-mail for it numerous times after I graduated, as we kept in touch. “We’re colleagues now!” She told me. She was right.

She must have known all along…

Look what she wrote in my yearbook!



Have you had a teacher who changed your life?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Effects of Over Exercising: How Much is Too Much?

Effects of Over Exercising


Have you ever see the TV show "Obsessed"? I'm not talking about the movie starring Beyonce, I mean the TV show about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) destroying people's lives.
People joke about OCD all the time, but when it's this severe, it can disintegrate relationships and completely control a person's thoughts and life.
I just watched an episode featuring a 35 year-old woman named Cindee living in Wisconsin with her husband and five children. She was so obsessed with exercising, that with the exception of the births of her children, she did not miss one single day of exercise in fifteen years.
Fifteen years straight with no rest! And on top of that, she restricted herself of food and in the past had gone days without eating at all. She only ate one meal a day, alone, between 2 and 3 in the morning.
Her entire family was suffering the effects of over exercising. Her five children had never seen her eat, and she had never sat down to dinner with her family because she was on the treadmill. She put two of young boys on the couch next to her treadmill so they could watch TV while she exercised, and she could still keep an eye on them. Her oldest daughter expressed that she feared for her mother's life and was terrified she would lose her early.

As a Beachbody coach, I promote exercise all the time. However, let me be clear.

There is a big difference between healthy living with exercise and being so obsessed that you cause Effects of Over Exercising.

When I help people get fit, I also help them get healthy. People can become addicted to working out. However, we teach them how to live a healthy lifestyleincluding eating cleanly and working out WITH a rest period, avoiding the effects of over exercising.

How do you know if you're over doing it? Check out these Effects of Over Exercising:

  1. You can mess up your body's chemical balance, causing a gateway for other health problems and stress on your immune system
  2. You can start to look older than you are. That's right, bring on the wrinkles. Your body ups its cortisol and pro-inflammatory chemicals when you over exercise, which causes tissue damage early aging.
  3. You can get sick easier. While exercise can keep you healthy and prevent diseases, too much exercise can do the opposite. It can subdue your immune system, making you more vulnerable to contract illness.
  4. You can get tons of unpleasant physical symptoms. These include more susceptibility to to natural elements such as cold or heat, dehydration, fatigue, chronic muscle soreness, insomnia, appetite loss, pain in the upper left side of the body, headaches, prolonged recovery and/or feeling more exhausted finishing a workout than before it, increased morning heart rate, decrease in performance, coordination loss, sudden lightheadedness/dizziness and/or fainting, gastrointestinal issues, and skeletal injuries such as fractures and shin splints.
  5. You can get tons of unpleasant mental and emotional symptoms.  For example, like Cindee above, who felt she couldn't get enough exercise, her workouts robbed her of time with her family, and not working out caused her such anxiety she cried and shook with fear. You could also begin feeling depressed, have lowered self-esteem, concentration problems, and you could ignore you body's symptoms telling you it's time to stop.
  6. If you're a female, you can stop menstruating (amenorrhea)While most of us would be jumping for joy over the loss of our monthly inconvenience, the negative side is that it can affect fertility. It can also cause estrogen deficiency, leading to a whole mess of other problems, like ovarian cysts and bone density loss.
And more. As you can see, over doing it and over working your body can cause a slew of negative repercussions that you don't want for your body and your health. I'm all for being healthy, but please, please take care of yourself and beware of these effects of over exercising.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quick Vegetarian Recipes Any Veggie Hater Will Love

Quick Vegetarian Recipes

Hey there! I wanted to quickly share some easy and quick vegetarian recipes. Any veggie hater will love these -- including me. They are incredibly simple AND tasty. So if you're looking for some healthy vegetarian meals you can make without too much effort and in 30 minutes or less, you've come to the right place!
If you like what you see, please take a few moments and share your feedback and some other quick vegetarian recipes that YOU love!

Here are a few Quick Vegetarian Recipes you can't live without:

Toasted Pita & Bean Salad

Prepared with pieces of pita bread, lettuce, tomato, mint, and cucumbers, additional protein comes from beans included in this delicious fattoush salad. I normally don't even like tomatoes, and this is great!
4 servings, about 2 cups each
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 6-inch whole-wheat pita breads, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons ground toasted cumin seeds (see Tip)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans, well drained and slightly warmed (see Tip)
  • 1 cup diced plum tomatoes or 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Spread pita pieces out on a large baking sheet. Bake until crisp and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool on the pan.
  3. Mash garlic and salt with the back of a chef’s knife to form a paste. Transfer to a bowl, add lemon juice and ground cumin and whisk to blend. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking continually. Season with pepper. This dressing can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days if you need to make this portion in advance. You can also toast cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until very fragrant -- about 2 to 5 minutes. Let it cool, and grind into a powder in a spice mill or blender.
  4. Place beans, tomatoes and cucumber in a serving bowl. Add the toasted pita, lettuce, feta, parsley, mint and the dressing; toss to mix. Season with more pepper. Serve and enjoy the first of the quick vegetarian recipes!

Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Pasta

This pasta dish is awesome! In addition to the great vegetables sweet potato and red pepper, it's loaded with fresh herbs -- any you have available can replace the tarragon -- and rich goat cheese, or feta cheese if you'd like. I like to serve this dish with a garden salad as an appetizer.
4 servings, about 1 3/4 cups each
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups shredded, peeled sweet potato (about 1 medium)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup diced plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or basil, orregano, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar, or lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (or feta cheese)

PREPARATION

  1. Boil a large pot of water, and cook pasta until just tender (about 4 to 5 minutes or according to package directions).
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place 1 tablespoon oil and garlic in a large skillet and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant (2 to 5 minutes). Add sweet potato, bell pepper, tomatoes and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell pepper is tender and crisp (5 to 7 minutes). Remove from the heat; cover and keep warm.
  3. Drain the pasta when ready, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the vegetable combination, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, parsley, tarragon (or your spices), vinegar (or lemon juice), salt and cheese. Toss to mix. Add the reserved pasta water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. Serve and enjoy!
As an Italian, I love pasta, so I was psyched to find the above and the next dish to add to my quick vegetarian recipes!

This dish "takes the cake" of Quick Vegetarian Recipes!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Chickpeas

This yummy pasta dishes combines bold flavors of broccoli rabe and rosemary, coupled with chickpeas. Make sure that when you are purchasing broccoli rabe, you check the stem bottoms to see if they are mostly green and moist, but not soft or mushy. If it is beyond its glory days, or if you'd rather have a milder taste, substitute with broccolini or regular broccoli. I like to sprinkle yummy, freshly grated Parmesan cheese on this dish for added flavor.
2 servings, 2 cups each
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ounces whole-wheat orecchiette, or chiocciole (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli rabe, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup vegetarian chicken-flavored broth, (see Note)
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced (or 1/8 tsp dried) fresh rosemary
  • 1 8-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION

  1. Boil a large saucepan of water, and cook pasta for 6 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and continue cooking while stirring occasionally, until the pasta and broccoli rabe are tender, about 3 minutes more. Drain, and rinse and dry the pot.
  2. Whisk the broth and flour in a small bowl. Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat, and add garlic and rosemary and cook. Stir until fragrant (30 seconds to 1 minute). Whisk in the broth mixture, and bring to a simmer, now whisking constantly, until it thickens. Add chickpeas, vinegar, salt, pepper and the pasta mixture. Cook and stir continuously, until heated through and coated with the sauce (about 2 minutes).
There you have it! I hope you try these 3 quick vegetarian recipes, and if you like them, feel free to share them! Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Complications

It's that time of the week! Mama Kat's Writing Prompts. Hop on over to see the full list of prompts and participate!

This week, I chose prompt number 4:

Write about something that complicates your life.

Warning: This may be more of a rant than an intelligent stream of thoughts or writing.

Something that currently complicates my life and probably will for a long time is related to my career.

I've worked extremely hard to get where I am. To get through school, obtain my degrees, write my thesis, student teach, get through graduate school from Columbia with my Master's, and finally pass my last test needed for certification, the American Sign Language CST (Content Specialty Test), which took me three times to pass. Don't even get me started on that.

To teach in public schools in New York, teachers must have certification. Regardless if the principal, superintendent, and curriculum and instruction personnel want a teacher on staff, he or she cannot be hired without Board of Education approval, which without certification, cannot happen.

Before I passed the CST, I thought that was the last thing I needed for certification. I thought that once I passed, I would be certified and finally find a job -- if one was available here; a whole other issue -- and be a real teacher, in a real classroom, with real students of my own. And theoretically, that's how it works, assuming all other documentation is complete.

Those documents include a child abuse workshop, a violence workshop, completion of a teaching program from an accredited institution, an institutional recommendation, and all undergraduate transcripts. All of that of mine is finished. Except for one thing. My undergraduate transcript from my Bachelor's degree at C.W. Post.

Why, you ask? Well, here's where it gets interesting.

Before C.W. Post, I was a student at Suffolk County Community College. Luckily, my mom paid for these two years of attendance, I received my Associate's degree in ASL and Deaf Studies, and I was on my way to Post. To pay for my tuition at Post, I needed to take out student loans, which my mom co-signed. However, I guess since tuition was so high, we were maxed out on our loans, and I could not get a loan from anywhere for my last semester, and clearly I could not pay thousands of dollars myself.

The funny thing is, I was allowed to attend classes, even without payment. I attended classes, completed my work, completed all courses and all necessary requirements to graduate. But I never received my degree, because I never paid for the tuition, because I had no money, because I couldn't get a real job outside of retail yet. It eventually went to collections -- shocker -- and I paid a good chunk of change upfront, with a monthly payment of $161 immediately after. I've been paying this religiously every month, on time, without fail, for a couple years now, but I still have quite a bit left that I owe.

Due to this balance, which I have even less capabilities to pay for now than I did then, Post absolutely refuses to let me have my transcript, let alone my degree which I still have not received either. Okay, I understand that I still have a balance I owe. But this is literally the last and only thing left I need for certification as a teacher. If I could get certified, I could get a job in my field, make more money, and pay them faster. Make sense? Apparently not to them.

When I went to the school recently, in person, about a 45 minute drive, by the way, I explained to the girl at registrar what I needed. She told me that she could only print the transcript if she got permission from bursar because of the balance. She also told me that if she got permission, she could send it directly to the state or Columbia for me, since it was for certification and I needed to get a job to pay them back.

This might be a good time to mention that I also needed this transcript to get accepted into Columbia. How did I get it then? I called and begged the poor guy who answered the phone at registrar that day to do something, and he felt badly and e-mailed it to me. WHY CAN'T THEY DO SOMETHING NOW?

I then walked over to bursar, literally the opposite side of the small room, and when called up to the window, explained the situation to the woman there. She immediately told me that she could not print transcripts when I have a block on my account due to the balance. I explained what the first girl at registrar told me, that if she got permission she could send it directly to Columbia or the state, and the bursar woman even went to check with someone else, possibly a supervisor or higher-up person. After a few minutes, she came back, apologized and said there was nothing she could do, and there was no way she could print it for me with the block. I almost started crying right there in front of the window. I know it's not her fault, but why can't they just hit PRINT?

I understand I have a block on my account. I understand I owe a balance. But what I don't understand, is then why was I able to attend classes? Why was I able to complete my coursework for all credits necessary to graduate? Why, after knowing this is the only thing left I need to get certified, and that I have been making the necessary payments, at least the minimum amount required every single month, on time, with no latenesses, in succession without fault, can't they just hit PRINT for me? Why can't they just do it once in good faith, knowing that I am paying them back?

I do not have the thousands that are still left to pay. I barely make my payments as it is now, and I can't even afford my phone bill. Somehow, I find a way, because I know I must. But if I don't find a better, higher-paying job soon, I won't have anything left to give them. If I could get a job in my field, that would help. I'd have a better income, and I could pay them more, and faster. But, I can't get a job without being officially certified, and I can't get certified without this stupid transcript, and I can't get the transcript without paying the balance with money that I do not have.

To add to this slightly minor inconvenience, there are plenty of ASL jobs for teachers in states other than New York. People are moving out of here left and right, for teaching other subjects as well, because the availability of job openings here are scarce to say the least. I would try for one of those jobs and move, but wait, I don't have the money to go anywhere, because I don't make enough to save anything to be able to move any time soon. And so the vicious cycle starts again. UGH.

What's complicating your life? I hope it's less annoying than mine.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Paralyzed in Terror

It's that time again... Mama Kat's Weekly Writing Prompts. Writers pick one of the five prompts, with sometimes an option for a vlog instead, write their stories, and link up together on Thursdays. This week I chose number 5:

Tell us about one of the scariest moments of your life.


I never had any kind of near-death experience or anything like that. My scary moment may even seem a little silly to some of you, but if you've ever experienced it, you'll know why it's frightening.

It's called Sleep Paralysis, and it's happened to me three times.

Basically, what happens is that while you are sleeping, you have a feeling of being awake, but you can't move. You feel that your mind is alert, and you can think, but your body has no sensation, and physically you cannot speak or move at all, not even your eyelids.

It's terrifying.

The first time it happened, I had no idea what was going on, and I had an overwhelming feeling of complete terror. I remember it vividly. I was lying in my bed, on my back, desperately trying to move my limbs or open my eyes. Staring into the darkness of the inside of my eyelids, I felt awake, alert, and aware, but was absolutely clueless as to why I could not move. Was something wrong with me? Did I have some unknown hidden condition that decided to surface? All I knew was that no matter how hard I tried, I could not make any muscle move, even a flinch.

After I regained control over my body, I described to my best friend, Roger, what happened and how frightening it was. To my surprise, he knew exactly what it was, and explained Sleep Paralysis to me. After that first circumstance, it occurred twice more thus far. The first two times happened as I was waking up in the middle of the night, and the last time occurred as I was falling asleep. The two different types are described in the link above.

Apparently, it's pretty common, as up to four out of ten people may have sleep paralysis. Many factors may be involved, but I think the ones that pertained to me were lack of sleep, and a changing sleep schedule. I used to suffer from insomnia, and would go days without sleeping, or sleeping only minutes at a time, and that's when it occurred the first time. The last time, I was teaching 45 minutes away from where I live, plus house sitting for my uncle, waking up at 5:00 in the morning on weekdays and trying to "catch up" on weekends (you really can't).

It's difficult to illustrate the fear that overcomes you during this situation. The only way to truly know is to experience it, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis? 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Freeky Friday: Music to My Ears



Freeky Friday


As per usual, head over to Concrete Jane to see how you can participate every Friday during the summer and win some yummy treats!

This week, on Freeky Friday:
What's your favorite summer tradition of all time? It could be something from your past or something you still do to this day!

Unfortunately, I don't have a cool, silent, ASL summer tradition like Amanda at Concrete Jane up there. Mine is pretty common, I think.

Summer usually means much more free time. My favorite summer tradition is attending tons of concerts. Uproar Festival, Mayhem Festival, Warped Tour (though, in my opinion, Warped isn't the same anymore)...

I've seen Linkin Park three times:



I've also met them, and got to interview them:

Blink 182:

Travis is suspended in the air on a rotating drum set
Many people don't seem to know about them, but they are becoming more and more popular and they are one of my favorites, Dive:


And twice I've seen Disturbed:

Plus, Saving Abel, Sevendust, Hail the Villain, Metallica, Godsmack, The Vincent Black Shadow, Bullet for My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, A Day to Remember, and many more. I have a blast every single time.

But besides watching a great show, what really makes it fun is spending the day with awesome people:




The guy who is in each of these pictures is Rich, a good friend who has been my concert buddy for years. I've gone to shows with other people, including Danny, but my pictures usually consist of the people on stage.

What's your favorite summer tradition?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Happens in Vegas...


Stays in Vegas? I'm telling everyone!

Last weekend, I went to Las Vegas for Beachbody's Coach Summit 2012. That's right, we get to go to Vegas once a year to celebrate. Celebrate successes of our customers, coaches, ourselves, and how far the company has come in achieving its mission to end the trend of obesity. Plus, we get exclusive looks into upcoming products, special training workshops, and meet and greets with the trainers, like Tony Horton of P90X, Shaun T of Insanity, Chalene Johnson of Turbo Fire, and Leandro Carvalho of Brazil Butt Lift. And we can't forget about the huge parties!

We stayed at The Signature at the MGM Grand.
Lobby
We also had a great view of the Vegas skyline with the mountains in the background.



Summit was kicked off with a Birthday Bash on Thursday night. Team Beachbody is now 5 years old (Beachbody itself is much older, but the concept of customers becoming coaches and getting paid to help others is where Team Beachbody comes in). The Birthday Bash was poolside with everyone looking fantastic. I wish I took a picture that night, but of course my absent-minded self didn't think of it. At the end of the night, Beachbody surprised us with an awesome fireworks show!

Friday was filled with live trainer workouts (Hello, Shaun T and Chalene!), training workshops, and trainer signings and pictures.
Workshop with Tommy Mygrant and Barbie Decker

Me and Shaun T! The Man of Hip Hop Abs, Rockin' Body, Insanity, Asylum, and soon to be Asylum Volume 2.
Me and Leandro Carvalho of Brazil Butt Lift

Friday night was the Diamond Reception, which I could not attend -- but will be at next year! -- and the Beachbody's Got Talent show, which was pretty awesome. 


Dancing, singing, guitar playing, rapping, a jump roping gym teacher, a ventriloquist, and even people from the audience showed off their skills:

A fellow coach on my team and friend, Audrey, belting it like nobody's business!

Saturday was the most eventful. First, at 6:30am at the Tropicana parking lot across from the MGM Grand, was the Super Workout. What exactly is that, you ask? It's, well, a SUPER Workout. A 90 minute block of working out with all the coaches who attended Summit, plus the trainers. Each trainer gets 10-15 minutes on the stage, in succession. Nearly 5,000 coaches gathered in the hot early morning sun to get their sweat on.
Super Workout to my left, waiting to start
Super Workout in front of me, facing the stage, waiting to start. Look how many people!

When it was over and we were walking back to the MGM Grand to shower and change, I saw this guy in front of me:

How freaking cool is that?! This guy doesn't let anything limit him, and neither should the rest of us. He still does P90X and did the Super Workout with all of us in his wheelchair. What the heck was your excuse again? ;-)

The day was again filled with training workshops, pictures and signings, and a closing general session. Then, at night, the real party started.

The celebration began on the main stage and included awarding the Beachbody Challenge winners with their giant checks of $100,000, -- Congratulations Kathy and Richard! -- crowning Mr. Wayne Wyatt as Top Coach of the Year with his Top Coach Belt, and even our CEO, Carl Daikeler, serenaded Wayne decked out in Elvis gear with a song written just for him.


Then, it was time for the After Party.

Me in front of the Beachbody Challenge van

Some of our team dancing the night away at the party

Almost all of Team Allegiance who were able to attend Summit.

I love this picture, even though Jason, our team leader and co-founder, is the only one looking away! It shows on all of our faces how connected we are and how much fun we had at this event. 

We share a common passion not only for fitness and health, but for helping others achieve their health and financial goals as well. We are in this together, on the mission to end the trend of obesity, one person at a time. At this event, not only did we learn about upcoming products and announcements and gain knowledge on how to be better coaches to our own coaches and customers, we met our second families, deepened friendships, and had an absolute blast while doing it. Beachbody goes all out for these events, and I am so grateful to be a part of this movement. I can't wait until next year!



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