Do These Pants Make Me Look Fat?

Like a lot of people, I have insecurities about my physical appearance.. like my underbite.. and my lack of a butt.. and my weight. I can’t really do much about the first two on that list, but at least I could follow my cyclic ritual of getting into shape..

Spring = Jogging -> Summer = Jogging-> Autumn = Jogging (maybe) -> Winter = Binge myself into hibernation

This summer, however, I’ve been incredibly frustrated. Thanks to my herniated disc, I haven’t been able to go running since April. Although my back has been getting better, working out has been confined to physical therapy exercises that are absent of any kind of cardio high. Without being able to go jogging, or walking everywhere, or even tackling housework other than sweeping and washing dishes, I was convinced I had been gaining weight.

So I was pretty surprised to notice that my shorts seemed looser, and I was having to tug them up a lot. I didn’t think too much of it until I started having to pull up my underwear too.

YES! In spite of missing out on the cardio and upping my burger intake (thanks, grilling season) I’m losing weight! A follow-up visit to my doctor confirmed that I’d lost a few pounds.

I went through my closet and found a dress I wore 2 summers ago, wondering if it just might fit this season.

Do These Pants Make Me Look Fat

YAY!!! That’s also a new haircut =)

Actually.. that totally didn’t happen.. at all. It went like this instead:stickdress2

No, that’s not me pregnant. It’s me – hello, summer, I didn’t lose any weight and that scale at the doctor’s office was lying.

That’s when I realized though…

Do These Pants Make Me Look Fat

And…Do These Pants Make Me Look FatI’d lost weight all right. All of it from my butt!.. that thing I’ve had to sit on for most of the summer while participating in marathons… of Investigation Discovery. I had lost weight in the one place I really needed to gain it! =(

If the above model wasn’t helpful in explaining, maybe this simple line drawing will help:Do These Pants Make Me Look Fat

That would be me on the right.. without the butt. Not that I ever really had one.. but at least I had just enough of one to keep my underwear up. I think Graham just bought some duct tape on a Home Depot run.. I also found this website:

34 Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival

And if you click on the link and checkout the domain name, I’ll tell you this.. No, the irony did not escape me. And I’ve just created usage 35.


Afraid Of My Own Backyard

WARNING: This post contains photos that may trigger those with trypophobia.

When I was a kid, I loved Reading Rainbow. Even now, whenever Graham and I work together to solve a problem, I burst into the chorus of “Teamwork.” For some reason though, when I watched the episode when LeVar Burton visits the New England Aquarium and reads “Louis the Fish,” I was horrified during the “Sea Living” song interlude because of THIS fish:

Sorry about the poor quality of the image. It’s a screen cap of an episode that is as old as my husband.

I couldn’t figure out just why this fish evoked a queasy response from me. I thought maybe it had something to do with the similarities the fish’s pattern had to a hideous dress my grandmother owned.

Fast forward to 2014, and a podcast from Stuff To Blow Your Mind solved the mystery for me.. I’m trypophobic.. for those of you unfamiliar with the term:trypophobiadefinitionWhen Graham and I bought our house this past winter, the last thing I suspected was that it would grow goosebump inducing… things. I don’t mean the centipedes, worms, slugs, or snails that have I’ve unearthed while weeding in the garden, stifling my startled screams so the neighbors don’t snicker about the former Center City girl who’s afraid of nature. No, I’m talking about things like the fern leaves with the patterned undersides that make me squeamish.

See?20160712_004519At least they’re not in obvious view unlike some other offending plants…

When I first discovered we had asiatic lilies growing the backyard, I took great care cultivating them and guarding them every time Graham went outside with the weed whacker. “Mind the lilies!” I’d yell, pointing them out. I’d never grown lilies before, and was determined that we’d see these bloom. One day, I suddenly noticed something about the lilies that had grown past my waist..20160710_235746WTF? No, I mean… WTF?! No, no, no, no. I panicked under my trypophobia for a moment, then sought a quick Google education which taught me that these were actually asiatic lily seeds.. and scattering them around would give me new lilies for next season. I braved the goosebumps the mere appearance of these things had given me and began plucking them off the stem and tossing them all over the yard while an amused Graham watched. I was going to see these babies through to bloom!20160710_235604ARGH! Just typing about these things is giving me gooseflesh again.

And earlier this week.. it finally happened.

From the kitchen window, while pouring my morning coffee, I could see the back of one of the lilies.. the petals had unfurled. I could make out the orange tips curled back. Excitedly, I headed out with the dog, ready to enjoy the payout of weeks of nurturing and overcoming my trypophobia.

To my horror… this is what met me…20160710_235406

THE BLACK SPOTS!! I had to look away. If the triggered trypophobia hadn’t left me feeling so disgusted, I would have found the humor in nature’s irony. That’s when the gravity of the situation hit HARD.


Graham has specific instructions for next year.

Take No Prisoners. Weed whack EVERYTHING. 

That’s how it goes. I create the problems, and Graham provides the solutions.



Why Cucumbers + Citrus = A Must

Any time a recipe calls for cucumbers, I have to squeeze a bit of citrus over them. It’s a necessity.. not in the same way I tell everyone that coffee is a necessity.. but in the way that I could otherwise go into anaphylactic shock if I don’t. It just so happens that the flavors work well together.

Let me back up.cukesandcitrusCucumbers are on my list of allergy-triggering foods. However, I’ve never been allergic to pickles because, I’m guessing, the vinegar neutralizes the proteins in cucumber that are similar to ragweed pollen. Since citrus juice has the same effect on the proteins, I’ve been able to safely consume cucumbers now for a number of years.. which has been AWESOME since I’ve always loved the crisp, refreshing flavor.

I really wish I had similar solutions for my other trigger-foods. A tiny bite won’t kill me, just some uncomfortable oral itchiness, but as I sadly discovered after eating a whole slice of blueberry-banana bread (banana was the culprit), too much of it will make my throat swell up enough to make it difficult to breathe.

Why did I eat that whole slice of blueberry-banana bread although I knew I was allergic to bananas? Because it was soo.. sooo… goooooood. And.. I like to live dangerously.. something Graham discovered on our first date at Jack’s Firehouse where they serve you small chocolate chip cookies after dinner.

Me (To Graham): Can you tell if these have walnuts in them?

Graham: No, I can’t.

Me: Oh.. It’s just that I’m allergic to walnuts.

Graham: What happens if you eat walnuts?

Me: My mouth gets itchy, then my throat closes up, and I can’t breathe (as I take a small nibble of the cookie).

Graham watched with panicked horror, wondering if he was witnessing a cry for help as I voluntarily behaved against self-preservation.

Me: Yep. Walnuts.

For the record, I didn’t go into anaphylactic shock. I once sat down and wrote out the list of foods that cause me to break out, trying to figure out what they might have in common:


When I looked the list up and down, I suddenly realized the answer.

They were all foods that made it into the category of sexual euphemisms.

I really can’t help thinking what Freud would say.freudI blame being raised a Korean Catholic.


Turkish Inspired Egg Salad Sandwich

Continuing with the sandwich theme from Monday, today I’m sharing what goes into one of my favorite brunch staples. When Graham and I were living in Queen Village, we usually frequented (the now closed *sob sob*) Cafe Fulya on Second and Monroe on lazy weekend mornings when we couldn’t be bothered to cook at home or get cleaned up for having brunch out. Instead, we’d each get one of their awesome sandwiches (made with pide!) and coffees to go. Once we moved to Graduate Hospital and didn’t have an easy 2-minute walk to the cafe, I tried replicating the taste and adding my own twist at home.20160628_105236You’ll need…

  • 1-2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • feta
  • sliced cucumbers
  • lemon juice (enough to flavor cucumber slices)
  • diced green onions
  • chopped fresh parsley leaves (I usually use a handful, but I’m a parsley junkie. You can also substitute with dill, but I find that parsley makes the flavor brighter, complementing the lemon)
  • mayo (you can substitute plain yogurt with drizzled olive oil, but I’m an American with crude preferences)
  • bread (ideally, pide, but if you don’t have any on hand, this is awesome on bagels, pitas, roti [pictured below] or naan)
  • salt & pepper
  1. Squeeze lemon juice over cucumber slices.
  2. Spread mayo (or plain yogurt) on both slices of bread. If using yogurt, drizzle olive oil on top.
  3. Add egg layers to one slice.
  4. Crumble a layer of feta on top of eggs.
  5. Sprinkle chopped green onion over feta.
  6. Add the lemon-flavored cucumber slices.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Add chopped parsley over cucumbers as desired.
  9. Top off sandwich with remaining slice.
On multigrain bread

Turkish Inspired Egg Salad Sandwich

When I first started making this at home, Graham would often opt out in favor of his own breakfast sandwich (ie. egg and cheese deep-fried in butter – “It’s French cooking, Honey!”). I gave him a bite of mine one day, and now, surprisingly, he always requests one of his own.Turkish Inspired Egg Salad SandwichHaving these for breakfast or lunch always take me back to our early stages of dating.. before he became aware of all my tics and idiosyncrasies. Luckily, when he threatened to return me to my parents a month after we got married, my mom told him his warranty on me has expired. At least he gets egg salad sandwiches out of it.


Subversive Design – How To Win The Battle of Home Decor Against Your Significant Other

Subversive Design - How To Win The Battle of Home Decor Against Your Signficant Other“Relationships are all about compromise.” In most aspects of our relationship, Graham and I have had it easy when it comes to living the adage.. except when it comes to decorating.. well.. decorating and music, but I’m going to focus on decorating in this post.

When home ownership happened in January, after a lot of vetoing and eye-rolling, we finally decided on combining mid-century modern elements with bohemian accents. Just because we agreed on a theme, doesn’t mean that all details falling in the two categories are automatically approved. Graham set some guidelines for me regarding what’s NOT permissible. For instance, this Gemma Correll print is the extent of word art that’s allowed in the house:gemmacorrell1The rules are as follows..

  1. No dreamcatchers
  2. No antlers / mounted deer heads
  3. No Starburst / Sunburst decor
  4. No Sputnik-inspired lighting fixtures
  5. No more painting post-move
  6. No macrame
  7. No woven wall hangings

With the exception of the dreamcatchers (I’ve just never been a fan), this list KILLS me. But you know what? That’s okay. Because I’ve managed to get away with strategically breaking six out of seven of these “rules” through covert operations.

Antlers? Check.SAM_3233Oh look, antlers! This is in a corner of the living room. I was able to pick this up after begging Graham for a mounted jackalope head. He caved on the antlers. The lesson? Pick something incredibly awful so your actual choice in decor seems like a compromise.

Starburst / Sunburst Decor? Check. I dislike our bedroom because of 2 annoying flaws – the warm cream walls and the hideous light fixture that every morning makes me think I’m staring up at a gigantic saline breast implant. I really wanted to add a set of sunburst mirrors in the room to help distract me from the flaws. Graham had already said no to sunburst and starburst decor in general. I waited for him to leave on his business trip to D.C, ordered them from Amazon, hung them up, and waited for him to notice once he got home. He didn’t notice.SAM_3229More Painting? Check. The aforementioned offending cream wall? I complained almost every day for two months until Graham caved so he wouldn’t have to hear me say “I hate these walls” every morning and every night.. with the condition that he doesn’t have to help. So.. that’s kinda like a draw, right?

Macrame? Check.SAM_3249I negotiated that I would keep the macrame planter I got from etsy.. (which I’d *ahem* forgot to tell him about) confined to the studio. Once I hung it, he was surprised that he didn’t really mind it. Soooo.. I’m taking that to basically mean that it’s ok to hang another one… on the 3rd floor.. right outside his office.

Woven Wall Hanging? Check. If you decide to make one yourself, what is he going to do? Tell you that you can’t display your hard work?wallhangingThat was 5 rules broken. Here’s the 6th..

Dreamcatcher? Check.dreamcatcherI know I said I’m not a fan of dreamcatchers, but since Graham said, “No,” I just kinda HAVE to do it. It came as a surprise thank you gift from an etsy seller, so Graham can blame fate.. or maybe poor judgement in wife selection.

When asked if he minded terribly the reminders of violation against his list, Graham replied, “No, if they make you happy, I’m happy. Plus, I realized it’s much less painful to agree with you.”


Lessons In Conditional Behavior (or, Marriage, The Psych Experiment)

A lot of people would say that marriage is about a partnership.. ours is no exception, but it’s a partnership where it’s based on psychological experiments. Actually.. maybe that’s what ALL marriages are in general.

Anyhow, you’re probably familiar with this sort of behavior conditioning, right? The stuff about positive reinforcement and punishments… like this:psychart1Or at least something like this. My last psychology class was about 18 years ago. Holy cow.. babies have been born and have graduated high school between now and when I took that course in college. Moving on..

Interactions between Graham look something like this:psychart2This has been going well for a few years now. So I wasn’t very happy the other night when Graham decided to modify his reaction.

He was playing video games (yes, again) on the first floor, and I was digging through craft boxes in the studio (yes, again) on the second floor when I came upon the still unopened glider we got from the boardwalk in Cape May after cashing in our arcade tickets.

Lessons In Conditional Behavior (or, Marriage, The Psych Experiment)
The actual toy plane

Of course I HAD to use it RIGHT NOW. I slid the squeaky styrofoam pieces together and crept out into the hallway to the top of the stairs. This is how the scene played out downstairs from Graham’s viewpoint:surpriseplaneThere was whining involved… by me.. while trudging down the stairs to rescue the toy plane from the dog. Not a flinch, or “WTF, Honey?!” as Graham tried instituting this model in our relationship instead:psychart3Joke’s on him though. What he doesn’t realize though is that that’s a false assumption. Because in reality, this is what ends up happening:psychart4That part that got cut off reads “reinforcement,” but I’ve never been very good at spatial awareness (one reason everyone should be grateful that I won’t drive).


PS. I’d like to thank my mother-in-law for providing me with the markers for the diagrams.

UPDATE: After reading this post, Graham yelled, “YOU WEAPONIZED MY MOTHER’S MARKERS?!” Yes, that was a direct quote.

The Sweet Spot

I’m taking a big risk with this post, but I feel like I owe it to all of you who’ve faced a similar problem with a roommate or significant other. Normally, I have my husband proofread my writings before they go live to not only check for grammatical errors, but also to approve content that may be potentially embarrassing. Luckily, he’s good-natured and thick-skinned enough that it’s been a breeze to get his ok, but I can’t this time. Because once he discovers my secret, I’ll have to figure out a new defensive plan for the dilemma regarding..


The phrase, “Do you realize I only had ONE?!” has been heard often enough by Graham that he’s joked it should become my trademarked catchphrase (battle cry may be more accurate) and has been applied towards cases of ginger ale, ice cream bars, bags of gummi bears, etc. Can you tell my husband has a sweet tooth? Of course, I’ve never had to use the rhetorical question regarding foods that contain “organic,” “natural,” “whole-grain,” “gluten-free,” or “vegan” in the label. I’m betting I’ll never have to yell, “You ate all the Organic Kashi Cereal!” No. There’s been a box of Kashi Organic Promise Sweet Potato Sunshine (a double-Graham deterrent since it’s organic AND contains sweet potato) sitting in the cupboard for almost 3 months.

To be fair, it’s not his fault. Growing up in a house of males, he’s been conditioned to take the “You snooze, you lose” philosophy to heart. It’s really hard for me to keep up since I hoard in order to savor. For instance, it takes me months to finish a pint of ice cream, if I ever end up finishing it at all. Luckily, with ice cream, he hates all the flavors I love (rum raisin, green tea, all frozen yogurt) so they sit unmolested by him in the freezer until I forget their existence and have to throw out their freezer-burned remains. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.It’s not a big deal when replenishing the plundered sweets involve a quick trip to the store.. but I draw the line when it comes to Girl Scout cookies. YOU DO NOT PILLAGE GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!!! THESE ONLY COME ONCE A YEAR!!! DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO FIND DEALERS CONNECTIONS FOR GIRL SCOUT COOKIES?! When you don’t have kids or a regular job where your co-workers taunt you with their daughters’ order forms, it’s near impossible to have a stable supply chain. Ooh suuuure, you can stock up when you see a table set up in front of your local grocery store and hyperventilate from happy delight, but that excitement is quickly superseded by disappointment when two inevitable things happen:

  1. You don’t have enough cash to load your arms with all your favorites (seriously, who carries cash these days?).
  2. They are ALWAYS sold out of Samoas/Caramel deLites, Thin Mints, or Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties or have limited boxes on hand.

Anyhow, I discovered this defensive maneuver after my most successful hiding place of 2 years was discovered.. that being a carry-on roller travel bag layered with winter clothes stored in the basement. The bag in the basement provided me with the ability to enjoy cookies all-year-round, conservatively rationing them out to my husband. Unfortunately, it was found out while we were getting ready for our move from Graduate Hospital to Mount Airy. I winced when, as I was packing up the dining room, I heard Graham gleefully call from the basement, “Hooooon-neeeeyyyy…. I found the Girl Scout Cookies!”

Face palm.

That’s ok. Changes in environment and predatory behavior just means you learn to adapt.

Predatory behavior.

That’s when I began thinking.. where would Graham never, ever look..?

The answer was simple:Secret StashWith only one box of Girl Scout Cookies left, it only solves the problem for now, but that’s okay. I have a plan for hiding next year’s reserves.20160601_134502And if I can’t manage to chug all that coconut water in time, there’s always my other back-up plan. I found these on Amazon.

Happy hoarding!


A PSA About The Color Conspiracy

My husband accuses me of making things up at least twice a week. It usually goes something like:

Me: While you’re out, can you pick up a bouquet of peonies? Preferably in coral.. melon or blush would be all right too.. but I like coral best.

Graham: What are you talking about? None of those are colors!

Me: Orange then. Just find the closest you can to ORANGE.

Things got ridiculous when we went over paint colors for the house. I’d hold up a paint swatch against the wall to ask his opinion for comparison.

Me: Ultra Pure White.

Graham: Ok.

Me: Bit of Sugar.

Graham: Ok..

Me: Nightblooming Jasmine

Graham: Ok

Me: Bakery Box.

Graham: You do realize these are all white?I’m sure you’ve been there before with someone… when they can see the differences between shades, tints, and tones, but don’t see the point in descriptive differentiation. Graham’s given me a hard time about this over the years we’ve been together. However, the other night, I managed to get him to see color from my point of view.

Disclaimer: This logic usually works best with programmers.

I waited one night about five minutes after Graham fell asleep and then promptly woke him up (when he’s too tired to debate me).

Me: Hey!

Graham: Silence.

Me: Hey!

Graham: What?

Me: You know how you think it’s stupid that some of us like to differentiate between small differences in color?

Graham: Yeah.

Me: Well, what the hell do you think is the point of hex notation for colors?!??

Graham: (long silence)

Me: Well?!?

Graham: Go to sleep.*

He no longer complains. In fact, while picking out dining room chairs, I hovered over “orange” as a choice. He replied, “Okay.. as long as it isn’t traffic cone orange.”

We went with “White”.. as in #FFFFFF.


* My editor insisted that I change this from “Shut up” because he insists what actually was said was “Go to sleep.”**

** My editor is Graham so take it with a grain of salt.