Foodie Fix: Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado Salad

You may already know that I’m a huge fan of salads.  But I’m not talking about wimpy salads with chopped greens, a smattering of grated carrot, a couple of tomato wedges and a bit of bland dressing on top.

Nope.

When I say I love salads, I mean huge salads that spill out of their plates.  I like loud, brash, badass salad parties with beans and peppers and every other vegetable I can find and homemade dressing all trying (though not trying too hard) to keep the party indoors but inevitably spilling out onto the lawn, at which point the police gets called and everyone’s got some serious explaining to do.

I like my salads THAT good.

So, when I want to eat a salad that could get the police called on it for making too much of a scene, this is the first one that comes to mind.  I started making it last year as a way of using up the humongous avocados that fall from the tree in the yard.  It won’t use up an entire bowling-ball-sized avocado (the kind I’m so lucky to get!),  but it’s a pretty snazzy way of using up more normally-sized, run-of-the-mill avocados (like Hass and such) that you can get in supermarkets in North America and elsewhere.

The whole thing is filling and cheap and, apart from the avocado and cilantro,  uses ingredients that are easy to find or easy to keep around the house.  You do, however, need a halfway decent zester–that one is non-negotiable.  Just watch your manicure.

You can also add green peppers and jicama to this.  I’d add the jicama to the mix of black beans and corn, and I’d top the finished plated salad with the green pepper, but you can do whatever your hungry little heart desires.

As usual, quantities are completely flexible and negotiable; just use what you have and what you think tastes good.  This makes enough salad for me and the man to eat twice as a big side for dinner (with a soup or something like that) or for me to eat twice as a main-dish lunch.

Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado Salad

Invite these guys to the party:

  • 1 ripe avocado (2 if they’re tiny)
  • 1 can corn, drained and well-rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • 1-2 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped (I use culantro or shadon beni, cilantro’s stinkier and more potent cousin, because that’s what I find here in Trinidad)
  • Zest of half a large lime (or zest of a whole small lime)
  • Juice of 2-3 limes
  • Small glug (1-2 tablespoons, just eyeball it) of olive oil
  • Couple of scallions, chopped
  • Lettuce (as much as you want to cover your bowl)
  • Tomato (optional, but I like it here)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Then, tell them to please mind the neighbors while they party and keep the kegstands inside, please:

  • Mix the oil, lime juice, lime zest, salt, pepper, and cilantro together.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add corn and black beans, and mix well.  This can chill in the fridge until you’re ready to eat (it gets better as it sits, so it’s worth making it ahead of time if you can).
  • When you’re good and hungry, plate up your lettuce, top with as much of this mix as you want, sprinkle with scallions, and then top with cubes of avocado (and the optional tomato, if you’re using it).
  • Eat and try to keep your enthusiasm at an acceptable decibel level.

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Rainy Soup Day

It’s finally raining!  After four long, dry, Sahara-like months, we got some rain today.  Yes, it was sprinkly and extremely light and not likely to bring my grass back to its verdant glory, but it was real rain nonetheless.  I’ll take frizz for the sake of my plants (and water supply).

I had originally planned on making a stir-fry for dinner but settled on a vegetable marinara pasta dinner after looking at the state of my vegetables and weighing which ones needed eating first.  However, give a girl some rain and a temperature below 80 F and she’ll get shivery and want soup.  It’s not so bad, being capricious like that, right?

So I made a huge vat of spicy lentil chili soup, from this Wegmans recipe, modified a la me by upping the spice quotient from the positively shy amounts listed and using regular lentils instead of pretty red ones–I’m tired of waiting for the red lentil boat to come to Trinidad to enjoy this soup.  I also can’t believe I made–and loved–a recipe from Wegmans; that supermarket was my undergrad moneymaking gig and I did not ever want to step foot in there again after one too many unfortunate incidents involving rotisserie chicken grease.

Oh well, wonders never cease.  And behold, in its muddy but delicious glory, with very sexy bruschetta toast, tonight’s soup delight:

Makes me (almost) wish it was colder more often.  Only almost, though.

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Other run of the mill happenings included the wearing of the black polka dot skirt with the combo below:

Blouse from Kohl’s, skirt from Marshalls in Puerto Rico, cardigan from New Look in the UK, shoes from Tarjay Boutique, fringe trim by my impatient hand.  My hair has grown like weeds since my December haircut and it takes plenty of self-control to stop myself from hacking at its unruliness.  I just need to breathe and repeat that it’s six weeks until I reach the wonderful Michael (and his talented scissor ways) in Buffalo–if only he could cut my hair in the airport bathroom so no one saw the mess on my head….

After a short and sweet (and speedy) swim, I attacked a very snazzy redo of yesterday’s salad (lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, cucumber, green onion), this time with a spicy dressing of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, tahini, and harissa:

Which was followed by more Bailey’s than a person should drink while at work at a coworker’s farewell. It’s a pretty odd choice for a workplace drink, isn’t it?  I’m not complaining.

I’m now going to Zen myself into a state of relaxed anticipation (is there such a thing?) for tomorrow’s planned four-mile run, to which I’d ideally add a half mile to make up for Wednesday’s dodgy run.  Wise?  Probably not.  That’s why the Zen session is necessary.

The Ten Pool Commandments: What Not To Do at the Swimming Pool

Some days are pool heaven.  The sun is shining  (ok, it shines every day from January to June, but still), the water is debris-free, the palm trees are gently swaying, the smell of toast is in the air. I might even have the pool all to myself.

And then there are days when you wonder what exactly takes hold of people when they take to the water in stretchy fabrics.

Today was a fine example of the latter, but rather than give you the splash by splash, let’s go straight to how NOT to deport yourself in communal water:

  1. Do not do laps on the pool width-ways.  The lines are there for a reason, Mr. Splashing With Your Face Up In The Sun.  Maybe, if no one else is in the pool, you can go the short way and feel like a hot shot for doing more laps that you can brag to your friends about.  And I know that, if you’re a new swimmer, you might not be able to go the entire length of the pool, or you might be pretty scared of the water, period.  That’s fine.  But trust me,  my heart almost busted out through my ears the first few times I hit the pool with my board last year.  I just got a board and a spot by the edge until I was convinced I wasn’t going to drown.
  2. Don’t swim directly next to people when there are a million open lanes or, worse yet, no one else in the pool.  You creep me out.
  3. It goes without saying, but please shower before dipping yourself in.  If I can smell your disgusting sneeze-inducing smell-coverup cologne when you hit the water, you haven’t showered enough.  You need a sponge and elbow grease–get to it.
  4. I’m usually not in the water to chat, so please leave me to my laps.  However, if you stop me mid-push-off to ask me an inane question like “where are you from,” I might bite you (and hope that you showered appropriately beforehand).
  5. It goes without saying, but pretty please don’t sqroak into the water.  If you need to expectorate, you need to turn your ass around and come back another (phlegm-free) day.

And, just like there are rules of deportment to be observed in the water, there are a few that should be observed in the dressing room.

  1. Ladies, please flush the toilet.  Why is it that the pool toilet is always unflushed?  I’ve tested the flushing many times, and it works just fine.  Humidity plus unflushed toilets equal unholy stink.  Surely we are better than that.
  2. I know that it can be awkward to change in front of other people, but don’t sigh and harrumph and carry on and give me the side eye for being in there when you want to get changed.  Don’t sigh because the family shower is in use.  Don’t shoot me evils because you “need” to change in the toilet stall because I’m there.  I know there are body image issues and cultural issues that create discomfort for people, but goodness, my back is turned to you.  And I KNOW you have no problem flashing your goodies (the same ones we share) to all and sundry for carnival.
  3. Do not spend ten minutes grunting in the family changing room.  Swimming can be hard, but unless you’ve just broken a Michael Phelps record there is no need to alert the world of your physical exhaustion.  That, and I have no idea what you’re up to in there, and it’s just a bit gross.
  4. Put a towel down if you’re going to be sitting butt-nekkid on the bench.  Or, better yet, don’t sit butt-nekkid on the bench.  Sheesh, you wouldn’t share water with me so what makes you think I want to share THAT with you?
  5. Gauge carefully who you want to talk to while in a state of butt-nekkidness. I’m not a prude in the changing room, but I also don’t start face-to-face conversations with fully naked folks, so I expect the same.  Wait till I have at least two undergarments to stand in front of me and expect a response.

I can safely say that I saw Pool No-No’s 1,2, and 3 today (and averted what was clearly a No-No Number 4), and that I saw Dressing Room No-No’s 1,2,3, and 4 today.  And it’s not like the pool was that busy.  Oy vey.

If only the kind pool men could wake from their worktime slumber to put up a Miss Manners-type sign and make all naughty rule-breakers do a Walk of Shame (or two minutes in the outdoor shower for all to see), pool time would be much happier indeed.

____________

Of course, I always dress like a lady after ending a great four mile run with every joyful expletive in the book and when I am preparing to dispense etiquette tips for all and sundry:

Working my skulking creeper pose

Skirt made by moi and revived a week ago by some nip and tuck action, t-shirt from Charlotte Russe (can I admit that this was $3 now?), white cardigan from Britain days (New Look, I think) and the same old Target pointy shoes I love so much, this time in pewter.  Surely grown women don’t own three pairs of the same shoes.  I have never claimed to be a grown woman.

Speaking of etiquette, I had to dispense with most strictures of etiquette (and the white cardigan) to eat my lunch, which was a gorgeous–and very staining–combination of the weekend’s chipotle chicken (the last bits!) and leftover Tibetan salsa (tomatoes, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, scallions, pinch of sugar) over green salad:

Followed by the absolute last bit of the lemon bars that I will eat (I mean it this time):

As for dinner, the day called for something fast and relatively hands-off, so I made a batch of Little A’s peanut sauce and tossed it with thin spaghetti, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and green onion:

Cue happiness at having finished the day’s second shift before the hands-off dinner, after which cue delight at having the time to devise a new 3-mile playlist to dominate tomorrow’s run, after which cue realization that I can watch TWO episodes of Dexter tonight if I stop cueing everything off–and now cue goodnight.

Big Race Announcement (Times Two)!

After the excitement of last Friday’s post (where I announced that I will be quitting my office job at the end of the month and finally confessed to having been working two jobs since January), I can finally start to look forward to life post-office work–and, now that notice has been given and I’ve come clean about work, I can finally make yet another exciting announcement:

In June, I will be participating in the Susan Komen Race for the Cure 5K Run and the 20 mile Ride for Roswell Park Cancer Institute Bike Ride!!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your new Cancer Research Fundraising Queen.

Needless to say I’m beyond exited for both races.  The Susan Komen Race for the Cure will be my first summer race ever in Buffalo.  It goes through beautiful Delaware Park–the best place to be on a June morning in Buffalo–and, of course, it benefits breast cancer research.  My grandmother is a feisty, fabulous, and sweet breast cancer survivor and I ran my first 5K race (for breast cancer research as well) for her, so I’ll be doing it again with extra pizzazz in my step–AND a 30 minute 5k race time to smack down.

As for the 20-mile ride… Oooh, cue chills and nerves and giddiness.  I will be riding as part of Team Papa’s Pedallers with my sisters and a bunch of friends, all of whom have been affected by cancer in some way.  So we are racing for those we’ve lost (my dad, Linz’s dad, John’s grandpa) and for those who’ve given the disease ten shades of what-all and are here to tell the tale (my fabulous Linz, my ridiculously funny and kind uncle Lali, and Alli’s dad, among others).  AND I don’t own a bike.  AND I haven’t been on one since last year.  AND I can’t ride in a straight line.  But I’m sure between now and then, I’ll figure it all out.  Or just lose my fear of scabs and scrapes.

Once I hit the register button, though, I had a bit of a shock that had nothing to do with the actual race training I’ll need to do.

I realized that I would have to raise money for TWO races–eeeek!  Though they are both for excellent causes and I can honestly say that both causes are equally important to me, I’m still conscious of the fact that I’ll be hitting up all my nearest, dearest and known for some fundraising love, and doing it twice.

But I’m making myself a Cancer Research Fundraising Queen crown (from leftover red carnival feathers, because I need to use them up) and, over the next few weeks, I’ll be working on some very devious schemes interesting ideas for fund-raising for both races.  Hint:  there may be giveaways…. and more.

_____________

Now that I’ve given my notice, I feel I have an extra spring in my step–quite literally.  So, despite sleeping terribly last night (word to the wise:  maybe getting engrossed in a drama about a serial killer before I go to sleep isn’t such a great idea–hello, Dexter nightmares) I still hit the pavement this morning with a special zing to my booty.

Four miles were on the agenda and four miles I did.  I felt light and speedy, and I must have been, too–I actually beat my best 5k time by a minute and change, without even trying!  29:04, holla at me… And 4 miles in 40 isn’t too shabby for me, either.  I could have sworn I felt like death during that last mile, but I know now that I was being a total drama queen, as I’m wont to do when the sun is in my eyes and I smell sewery nastiness at 7:15 am on the extra mile loop.

And, since tomorrow is a national holiday here in Trinidad and Tobago (it’s Spiritual Baptist Day, or Shouter Baptist Day in more common parlance), I knew that a good swim had to happen given that the pool would be closed tomorrow and I need that swim to keep me limber between run days.  So, hair still wet from the morning’s shower, I hit the pool at lunch for 36 minutes of blinding sun and sweet whooshings before going back to work with the biggest smile on my face.

Needless to say, I can watch ALL the Dexter I want tonight–I’m going to sleep like the dead after today’s quest for bootiliciousness.  I hope the Spiritual Baptists don’t take to my street in the early am, though, or I may turn into a Shouter Laura right back at them.

_______

Today’s style snippet, brought to you once again by my fall 2008 trip to Puerto Rico:

Not so close, for full effect...

Closer...

Closest--the trim deserves admiration, no?

The skirt is Marshall’s boutique, the blouse is from Kress.  I was able to wear that blouse for about two months after I bought it, and then I couldn’t wear it without popping buttons.  It’s nice and loose now.  This realization will keep me from devouring all the remaining lemon bars in my fridge.

And, speaking of food…

Today’s lunchtime salad of chipotle and garlic chicken on green salad with tomatoes, green onion, and peppers, with salsa for dressing had its portrait deleted (a shame too, because it was most delicious), so I’ll give you a shot of the Tibetan burritos instead:

Another odd but tasty concoction, courtesy of the Moosewood Restaurant peeps–these have a soy mince, onion, carrot, and cabbage filling sauteed in soy sauce, ginger and garlic, and topped with a fresh tomato salsa of tomatoes, scallions, cilantro and mint (if you have it–I don’t).  Fusion Mexican-Tibetan food served on a Trinidad table by a Puerto Rican girl, how very fitting!

My Weekend and The Matter of Good Hair

I have two whole rest days scheduled back to back this weekend, no beach trips.  So, because I had a bit of time this morning (and the humidity has been tolerably low), I decided to do something I haven’t done since around Christmas:

I blow-dried my hair straight.

It’s not just that I’m lazy, or that my exercise schedule makes copious hair-drying time impractical, or even that I am committed to shiny un-fried hair.  Those are some of the reasons why I don’t blow-dry daily.

It’s also that I feel awkward and strange and quite freaky with straight hair.  It takes me back to middle school battles and high-school memories that, frankly, I’d rather not remember.  And, despite the fact that no one really cares anymore, it’s an assertion of being myself and of not complying with certain Puerto Rican expectations about beauty and appearance–expectations that call for all girls to have straight, smooth, preferably very long, hair.

Want to see for yourselves?  This is what baby Laura had on her head:

And this is what three-year-old Laura had on her head:

Smooth much?  Of course–not just because my curls released a bit, but because they were meticulously dried straight by my mom.  And so it went for all of my childhood.  Now, I don’t accuse my Mamalicious of trying to hide my hair’s texture or any such thing–she was just making me prettier, as far as little girl hair went.  Pretty little Puerto Rican girls did not leave the house with frizz and flyaways, and in those days every little girl whose mama (and aunts and grandmas) loved her knew what it was like to sit still for the thrice-weekly attack with the hairdryer and brushes.

Frankly, I had NO idea that my hair was anything but what you see above until I got a short bob in seventh grade, at which point my mom told me I was old enough to dry my own.  One girl inexperienced with the fine arts of hair drying + one short blunt bob = frizzy, tear-inducing disaster.  I couldn’t understand why my hair was so freaky, and I was resentful (in a sullen twelve-year-old way) at my mom for not warning me before I chopped off the necessary length to keep the newly-discovered rat’s nest under control.

Eventually, I learned to dry it tolerably straight, and I was even recruited to dry the hair of subsequent sisters with the same “problem.”  Little A had smooth hair in the back and a kinky mess in the front (which was affectionately called “pasas,” or raisins, probably because it was crinkly like said food?), Minxy had hit the genetic jackpot with pin-straight black hair…. and Baby Bel had a mass of ultra-thick, tightly-curled  hair.  The mere suggestion of having to sit the child down for half an hour to de-kink her head was enough to induce tears on a bad day–for me if I was dragged into doing it, and for her if someone DIDN’T.

University days were straight hair times.  Grad school was a half-and-half proposition, as I was pressed for time and patience and some nice wavy hairstyles came into fashion (or whatever).  Slowly, I stopped drying my hair straight and felt incredibly liberated by not doing it.  It was ok to admit to frizz, and I didn’t want to be complicit in the kind of ideals for Puerto Rican girls that demanded hair halfway down the back, gently highlighted, and smooth.  I felt a frisson of naughtiness when I left the house with wet hair–and gained a half hour in the morning!

After that, I never looked back.  The misty English weather during my four years in Coventry kept me curly, and the heat and humidity of Trinidad have conspired to ensure that I’ve dried my hair straight exactly five times in the year and a half  that I’ve lived here–and that’s counting the time I dressed up as Sarah Palin for Halloween.

So that is why I keep myself curly/wavy/messy.  I like my hair to look as loopy as I feel.  And, once in a while, I’m pleasantly surprised at still being able to smooth things out:

Just not too often.

_________

When a girl has blow-dried hair in Trinidad, she avoids doing things that make her sweaty and bothered.  I mean, this hair is newsworthy.  So I kept all cooking low-key.  On Saturday, that meant potato, mushrooms, and egg scramble with toast:

Apple and peanut butter sandwich for lunch:

And taco salad (taco-seasoned lentils, lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, tortilla chips) for dinner:

With such straight hair, you are also more prone to wardrobe changes, going from Old Navy shorts and sister hand-me-up T-shirt on Saturday:

To a Sunday combo of Little A hand-me-up blouse (I think it’s from Charlotte Russe, but I took the label out because it scratched so I can’t be sure) and Old Navy denim shorts:

Orange juggling in action

On a Sunday of good hair, especially when said hair is attached to a head that aches from two measly pints of beer the night before, things are kept low-key in the kitchen with apple and dried cranberry oatmeal, plus strong black coffee to power me through a trip to the farmer’s market and supermarket:

And, for lunch, easy scrambled egg and salsa wraps–because stirring requires little energy expenditure and minimal risk of frizz:

And, since we’re talking about minimal expenditure of effort, I made an easy provisions soup with cassava, taro root, and carrots in an herby onion, garlic and celery broth, plus cornbread (which I’ve made so many times I could do it with my eyes closed) and a red pepper that looked pretty scrumptious:

As for the activities of the weekend…  Sewing mania, folks, sewing mania:  much buying of fabric, mad bookmarking of styles to make, putting together of patterns, cutting of test items and general mess-making.  Had I not fallen victim to my ridiculously low drink tolerance, there would have been actual sewing results, or at the very least pictures of the fabric, mais non–all I can offer up for now is this, the mess and process of Saturday’s pattern-cutting:

After which came Sunday, spent on the couch with a book, some zzz’s, and Michael C. Hall/Dexter.

But I’ll come back soon with some fabric evidence for you to savor, tomorrow, when my head stops hurting and my hair returns to its natural wavy texture.

Safe Running 2: How to Not Get Dead (Or Maimed by Dogs/Machetes)

This morning, I successfully completed my longest run ever–6 KM!!  (or 3.87 miles, according to Nike+ and its disregard for my dual measurement thang).

It went surprisingly well.  The first two miles were a piece of cake, despite my legs feeling like lead for the first five minutes or so (maybe I need a new playlist?), and by the time mile 3 hit I was beaming at the fact that I was feeling great and not ready to die at the prospect of going that ittybittylitttlebit further than usual.

So there I was, cruising along and waiting for Miz Nike+ to tell me I when I had 1 km left.  At the end of mile 3, girlfriend pipes up with “Halfway point! Three miles to go.”  Sheesh, I set it wrong, I know, but I do wish it would understand that I want to know my pace in minutes per mile, but the length of my run in kilometers.  I appreciate its idiosyncracies regarding albums and playlists and expect the same of her.  Maybe it’s because she remains unnamed…

But whatever.   I kept running and pressing the stats button every minute to do some mental math and see how much longer I had to go, probably setting myself up for a jammed menu button in the future.  In fact, I was so distracted by the mental math and the extra, short neighborhood loop that I didn’t have a chance to focus on how my non-usual socks today went from smooth to sandpaper-chafey the second I passed mile 3.1.

But on I went, and I finished, and I might have screamed and yelled and jumped up and down at the end of my street when it was over.  I gave myself a good three minutes to walk my heart rate back down to normal–plus five more of walking on top of that when the garbage truck (which I’d passed and smelled thrice already) started its slow drag down my street.  Safety dictates that you don’t want to be seen going into your house by these guys, who may say hello nicely but who watch EVERYTHING, so I just walked up and down the street until they were gone and tried not to panic at how this truck/safety ridiculousness was about to make me late for work.

So, in the spirit of safety concerns and precautions, rightful or ridiculous, I thought I’d give you the rest of my safety measures (if you missed the first installment, catch it here).

Tip: Approach mother hen with caution, stopping traffic to allow her and her chicks to cross--it builds good road safety karma

  1. Slow down if you see a stray dog.  In Trinidad, they tend to be apathetic to people, despite the copious warnings of the average person; however, it’s not worth risking limbs and appendages on the assumption that that dog that is staring you down is too lazy to move his ass and come bite you on yours.  I’ve seen people walk with sticks, and have been chided by neighbors for not doing so; however, I think I’d cause myself more harm running while swinging a big stick than the dog threat merits.  If you do run into a leery dog, do not look it in the eye, and walk away briskly.  “Shoo”, said loudly and forcefully, should send it on its way if it comes any closer. ( I’ve heard that squirting a dog in the face with water also can stop it from attacking; thankfully it’s never been an issue for me, but that’s another reason for keeping a water bottle at hand.)
  2. Carry water until you get used to the distance and route.  You never know if, while observing the deliciously tacky architecture or making a fool of yourself by cawing at a neighborhood parrot, you take a wrong turn and find yourself farther from home than you thought.  93 degree heat is no joke, and until you’re used to it, you want to ensure that you don’t dehydrate.  You can get all fancy with camelbacks and belts or just take any ole bottle and grasp it while you run.  I know that it’s better not to carry extra weight or grip things while you run.  I also know that I would take hand cramp over heatstroke any day of the week.
  3. Make sure someone knows you’re out and about.  Be that friend, family, significant other, even frenemy on occasion, make sure someone knows what time you left, when you expect to be back, and where you will be running.  And please don’t feel weird asking someone to keep track of this for you—no one (except your frenemy, perhaps) would say no to such a small  favor.  I tend to text a friend right before I leave.  If she does not hear from me within an hour, she calls.  If I don’t answer, I know I can trust her to call in the national guard to search for me.
  4. Two chemicals products that are your friends:  bug repellent and sunscreen.  Sporting red dengue spots under sunburn is not cool.  I am guilty of not following this advice as regularly as I should, but I do put the goop on about 90% of the time.  It helps if the sunblock is for sporty types (non-greasy, not running into your eyes) and the repellent does not smell as flammable as we all know it is.  There is a certain product (ok, it’s Avon Skin So Soft lotion) that will do the bug repelling quite nicely for you without being formulated for this.  African shea butter also works (though I’d be hard pressed to slather on the stuff just to sweat it out, given how pricey the real thing is).
  5. Music:  I leave this for last because it’s all been said before.  I know it’s infinitely safer not to wear headphones on your runs, but I just can’t stand to hear myself panting breathing heavily, and I’d be bored to tears without tunes.  Try to keep the volume as low as you can, or run with only one earbud in.  I don’t follow my own advice at times, but I plead the “do as I say, not as I do” defense.

I’m sure I’ve missed some tips, probably obvious ones, but ten is about as much as seems right for a blog post.  What are your safety precautions?

__________

Eating today:

Breakfast:  Oatmeal, eaten at work, from tupperware, as usual (picture it:  banana, coconut, bit of pineapple juice–do you see the nondescript color?  Yep, that’s why there’s no picture of it.)

Lunch:  a most delightful salad, just like yesterday’s (black beans, grapefruit, olive oil, sniff of garlic and mini-pinch of cumin, over lettuce and tomatoes)

Dinner:  Pasta with tomatoes, white beans, tomatoes, and greens:

Wearing today:

A dress that increasingly makes me feel like a birthday present to somebody, but in a good way:

Target. Sale. US $3.74.  Good for rocking a cranberry feel and experimenting with a camera as lipstick.

A Proposed Swimming Pool Improvement Plan

I had a very invigorating, zesty swim at lunchtime today, and returned to the office starving, thirsty, and so de-stressed I barely had a pulse.  I had just enough, in fact, to think of ways to further lovelify my swim experience and that of others (because sometimes I catch myself being nice).

I don’t go around looking gift horses in the mouth:  I am really, really lucky to have outdoor pool weather year-round and a pool about 400 m from my desk.  I know this full well.  I also appreciate the quirkiness of the pool-going experience here (e.g. “lifeguards” watching a TV stuck inside a box) and recognize that the pool is fully functional.  Therefore, these little pool improvement tips would be the icing on the cake, and I’d very much like to see the cake iced, please (not that I like real icing–just the figurative kind).

So, should the pool folks care to make my experience positively heavenly, these are the key points:

“Lifeguards”/pool guardians: You are all very nice and friendly, if somewhat quiet.  It would be even better if I could experience said niceness and friendliness more often, which would necessitate you being awake during my swim.  I know I should take it as a compliment that you think I’m such an ace swimmer I don’t need an awake lifeguard–but I sometimes forget to get rid of my gum and I swim with it, so please wake up and keep an eye on me, ok?

Changing rooms: We ought to have lockers for our sundry valuables, or at least to hide our toiletries–I don’t want people seeing that I use anti-aging face wash, you know?  (And, since we’re on the privacy tip, I’d love it if the door to the changing room closed fully and were peep-proof. Same with toilet doors.)

Sunblock spray dispenser: Can we get one of these, please?  So I stop having uneven accidental tanned streaks all over me?  It could work like those awful spray-tan booths, pumping out SPF 80+ sunblock and keeping all its pool users sun damage- (and awkward tan line-) free.

Hot water in the shower: I appreciate that it’s a hot country and I don’t mind the occasional cool shower; however, cold water does not rinse shampoo and conditioner out of hair. (And, on the water tip, how about putting in a sink so we can wash our hands?  I don’t want to go there, but… the current situation is just yuck).

A Personal Toast Assistant: I would be in the pool 24 hours a day if there was a personal toast assistant who would make me toast, cut it into little fingers, and feed them to me at either end of the pool.  I always smell toast while I’m swimming, so it’s only fair.  And it would make me hustle back and forth much faster if I got fed toast, dolphin-style, at each end.

Monday and Friday Swim-Up Bar: It needn’t be a full swim-up bar, just barely functional: a man and a cooler at the ladder into the deep end will do just fine.  (The cooler can remain for the rest of the week, but for the sake of discretion the bartender has to disappear; we can’t have people thinking I only swim for drinks–or for toast, see above).

Have I missed anything?  What would your own slice of pool-going heaven entail?  Let me know and I’ll put it in the list.

I’m going to print and deliver this to the pool men tomorrow (and hopefully they’ll notice when they wake up from their intermittent slumberings).

__________

Now, onto matters non-pool, like today’s outfit:

A big snooze, even with the fact that I love that shirt (which is from Kohl’s).  You see, this skirt (from Marshall’s in Puerto Rico–I’ve gotten my US $9.99 worth) used to be a pencil skirt.  Until it stretched and I shrank.  Now it’s more dusty librarian that sexy librarian and looking at it now I see why it’s gone out of the regular rotation.  Either I tweak the fit or it’s out–that’s my promise.

For breakfast, oatmeal banana pancakes were had, topped with reheated and smushed (not Jersey Shore smushed, actually fork-flattened) strawberries:

While I was making yesterday’s lunch, the big loaf of this new fancy-schmancy whole grain/whole wheat toast kept taunting me.  So, in the interest of wasting less bread and varying the routine, I had a tuna sandwich (tuna, mayo, spicy mustard, celery, seasoning peppers) with a huge side salad (lettuce, tomato, peppers, vinaigrette, dash of hot sauce):

And, for dinner, I went to the beloved Malaysia of my Divanis (the coolest sister duo around) and made my closest approximation of hawker noodles, which may not be all that Malaysian but which sure hit the spot:

Can you believe how good noodles, egg, onions, cabbage, garlic, ketchup, soy sauce, and curry powder with lime taste in this? Me neither. (There was going to be tofu in this, but the tofu turned out to have spoiled–no big loss to the dish).

I’m off to mull over the finer points of tonight’s Law and Order SVU marathon episodes.  Night y’all!