How Coffee Changed My Life

Of all of the organizations I am proud to be a member of (Nerinx Girls, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Junior League), my newest membership is the one that makes me smile (albeit smugly). I am a proud member of the Fancy Pants Coffee Nespresso Club!

nespresso1 How Coffee Changed My Life

So Amazing

For Christmas, my husband and I received the Nespresso Espresso Machine from some of the best couple friends one can have. It was a hugely generous gift, and we were appropriately grateful as this was a wonderful surprise.

jen fletch julia thomas How Coffee Changed My Life

We love them!

I was so excited for Thomas, because I am not a coffee drinker, and he downs pots of it by himself every morning. For years, I was Team Diet Coke in the mornings, but I switched to tea when I realized that my blood type was coming back as “aspartame” instead of the normal A or B varieties. I didn’t even like what my father has termed “recreational coffee”- flavored coffee and creamers. For years, the only way I could force coffee down was if it was equal parts coffee and Frangelico, topped with plenty of whipped cream.

However, my curiosity was peaked when I witnessed the sheer delight this magic little machine was delivering to my friends and family. Even Thomas squealed like a little girl over the Magical Goodness this machine poured from its little black spout. I decided I had to get in on the action.

I tried the coffee made from this Eighth Wonder of the World.

And my life changed.

I set up the machine under Thomas’s careful eye, him muttering something about my track record of not reading directions and using the ‘push and make it fit’ school of assembly the entire time. After the parts were connected (and he signed off on it), I nervously pushed the green ‘go’ button.

The coffee that came out of the spout looked different from the coffee Thomas makes in the Cuisinart self-grinding fancy coffee maker that he had to have when we got married. (Ask him how many times he has ground his own beans. ONCE. Apparently, it was ‘too messy’.) It was thicker, and frothier.

I might be a coffee amateur, but even I know that fancy pants coffee requires frothy milk on top. I dug around in my ‘appliance cabinet-‘the cabinet where things like waffle makers, fondue sets, and cookie presses go to die- for the handheld Cuisinart blender/mixer thing I received for our wedding (and have used as many times as Thomas has used the grinding part of the coffee maker). I hauled it down, and said a quick Hail Mary that it would work after six long years of non use, and hit the button. Success!

HailMary How Coffee Changed My Life

She totally came through!
source

Limited success, as I was about to learn as the amount of froth frothed was, well, less than impressive. Undeterred, I frothed and scooped what little foam was made, and repeated. And repeated. In the end, it was worth all of the time and effort. This coffee was amazing! LIFE CHANGING! I think angels were actually singing!

As with all things life changing, this revelation was going to make reexamine some of my Founding Principles…

Candy Canes Are So Overrated

The Candy Cane is a universal symbol for Christmas. Well, maybe not universal but definitely recognizable. I love the idea of candy canes- a refreshing, yet sweet treat that reminds us of Christmas. However, the candy cane does have one fatal flaw… they are a nightmare to eat.

Any enjoyment of this treat is destroyed by the thick slime that is created when spit collects in the plastic cellophane wrapper and smothers the candy, creating a goo that has the adhesive properties of super glue and is just as difficult to remove. This goo sticks to fingers, clothes, and stray, flyaway hairs with a fierce tenacity. And, worst of all, this goo ruins the rest of the candy cane. Once the goo attacks the virgin candy, it is ruined; un-eatable.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, the candy cane manufacturers (“elves”) believe that Bigger Is Better, and therefore produce the most massive candy canes imaginable. These beasts are truly ‘canes’ as they could double for a real cane in a pinch, like when Grandma comes to Christmas dinner. No one in the history of the world has ever finished one of these monstrosities. Frankly, I don’t think anyone actually wants to eat all of that sticky peppermint. Even if someone WANTED to attempt to conquer the ‘cane, the spit goo would eat the lower two inches of the cane anyway!  There can be too much of a good thing… Sure peppermint is great (especially with chocolate- Andes Mint anyone?).  However, Andes mints aside, there is a reason that peppermint is a limited, time-of-year treat- without its chocolate compliment, it is just not that good. Peppermint also does not lend itself well to other candy marriages. Peppermint Twix? No thanks. Peppermint SweeTarts? Not so much… I spotted some Christmas (peppermint flavored) Peeps at Target the other day… in the clearance section, marked down 90%. No takers. The take home message is that  some treats are meant to be seasonal (sweetheart conversation hearts, I’m looking at you), and some are amazing year ‘round (let’s hear it for Snickers and M&Ms!).

In my opinion, the mini candy cane is a more desirable option, as the goo is not a factor and it is a more enjoyable size. Although these are almost always broken, I still think they are better as they are much easier to eat than the larger ones. The straight part is easy- although accidental stabbings do occur- the bendy part is a nightmare. It is impossible to fit it into ones mouth comfortably!

Candy canes have nothing to offer me, really. Emma is convinced that she loves them, but she is also convinced that pink zebra tutus are the must-have accessory of the season. You all enjoy your candy canes; I am off to find the Christmas cookies!

Six On Sunday, Version 20

1. Gum.  I love gum. I love gum the way smokers love cigarettes.  I was chewing AT LEAST a pack and half a day… which is a lot of gum. I had a Come To Jesus with myself, and I am proud to say I quit gum cold turkey on Wednesday. At 4PM.   I have been gum free for one hundred hours now. (Not that I am counting.) Seriously, while this might sound silly, it is a really big deal to me and I am very proud of myself.

 

Irons. Loyal readers will remember that last week I tried hot rollers. This week,  thought I would try the ol curling iron. I have not used a curling iron since the early 2000s when I would curl the ends of my hair under (this was also when I thought I was blonde). I am more gifted with the curling iron than the rollers, but there is still a steep learning curve. Also, does anyone know of a good hairspray that won’t make my hair a sticky, hard, nasty mess? Is there such a thing?

 

desperate housewives Six On Sunday, Version 20

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

3. Desperate Housewives. I might be 8 years late to the party, but here I am! It’s football season, so I have a lot of time to watch whatever shows I want to watch (because Thomas is watching football). I watched DH in 2004 when it first came on TV, and lost interest, or got busy, or forgot about it… I don’t really remember. Thanks to Netflix, I can watch it whenever I want to!

keepingupwiththekardashians Six On Sunday, Version 20

Old School (this is the season I am currently watching)

4. Keeping Up with the Kardashins. I know. In the history of stupid TV, this show and its manufactured drama would win.  Thanks to football season and Netflix, I can lower my IQ and watch this train wreck anytime I want to!

 

5. Grocery Shopping. Is such a pain in the you know what. Every Saturday, Emma and I head off to Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Publix.  Three separate stores. That’s six times in and out of the car seat, three different carts, three different check out lanes filled with candy. After we have finished all the shopping, I get the prize of putting it all away. Yay! All in all, it is a marathon two plus hours.  Not super fun on a Saturday, but way more fun than underwear shopping. (FYI, Victoria’s Secret is that she is a sadist.)

apple pie1 Six On Sunday, Version 20

 

6. Apple Picking. We haven’t been yet this year. Last year, we waited until the end of October, and by the time we got to the orchards no apples were left. Instead of picking apples off the trees, we picked  them out of bins in the gift shop. It wasn’t really the same.  Also, I would like to make an apple pie from scratch…

 

 

 

 

 

A Disclaimer…

blushing A Disclaimer...

Oh my gosh, everyone is so nice! All of the comments written about how wonderful I was to stay on my diet on vacation made me blush.

Everything I wrote WAS true. My friend Erika was a witness to all of it. She is still my friend today, even though I was That Girl.

I did bring my meausring cup.

measuring cup A Disclaimer...

[Read more...]

How To Cruise, Zone Diet Style

So, when I did the Zone I did it Big. I Committed. I had a measuring cup with me at all times.  I went on a cruise during the Zone Period, and I brought my measuring cup with me.

[Read more...]

It’s All Chicago’s Fault

When I moved to Chicago,  I knew two people – my high school sweetheart and my college best friend and roommate. They decided they preferred each other’s company to mine and I haven’t heard from them since.  After they hooked up (they ended up getting married), I didn’t even have a goldfish.  Out of sheer boredom, I turned to baking cookies.

chocolate chip cookies Its All Chicagos Fault

Lots and lots of cookies.  I had no one to share these cookies with, so I ate them. All of them.  I made mostly chocolate chip, but peanut butter was a close second. (I had this amazing recipe- jiffy pie crust mix, peanut butter, milk, and sugar. My mouth is watering as I type this.)

jiffy Its All Chicagos Fault

 I used Julia Math to justify this.  I reasoned that a few cookies had fewer calories than an evening full of beer drinking (and Pizza Express which is by far the most amazing pizza EVER), so I would actually LOSE weight on this plan.  FAIL.

Another fail was the Beer Diet.  A few friends took pity on me and came to visit.  We were all adjusting to life post-college, and had all gained a few pounds.  Because we are That Smart, we decided to go on The Beer Diet.  All beer, all the time. No food really, just beer. I think this diet had more long term potential, but it did make driving difficult.  FAIL.

After about a year, I moved back to St Louis, ready to socialize and have fun and actually leave my apartment for reasons outside of work. I hit a slight bump in road, however. None of my cute, social clothes fit.  I could A) buy all new clothes or B) stop stuffing my pie hole with cookies.  As much as I wanted to pick A, I didn’t have enough money to get a new wardrobe and pay rent, so I went with B.

I realized that it was not only going to take more than just laying off the cookies, I was already a regular at the gym, so I was also going to have to take a hard look at my diet.  The Zone Diet was all the rage thanks to Jennifer Aniston, and who doesn’t want to look like her? Her endorsement (according to US Weekly) and a quick internet search were all I needed to jump on the Zone bandwagon.  (“The Zone diet centers on a “40:30:30″ ratio of calories obtained daily from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, respectively. It can be tricky to work out the amounts, so food blocks are suggested that comprise the set amount of each food group you should be consuming in any given meal.”)

 jennifer aniston Its All Chicagos Fault

The food blocks are designed to make life easier, and are similar to Weight Watchers Points.  To accurately determine a “block”, the food must be measured- in a cup measure, on a scale, or counted.  This is probably a selling point for most folks- the easier something is to do, the more likely one is to do it. For someone as OCD as I am, this should have been a red flag. Remember, I Commit to diets. If Everything in Moderation are words to live by then by all accounts I shouldn’t be here, telling this story. I have no idea how to execute ‘moderation’ in my day to day life.  When I decide to do something, I do it BIG.  A recent example is the saga of our TVs.  For everyone else, new TVs might necessitate a new TV stand.  Currently, I am buying new lamps to complete the updated look of our family room.  New TVs needed new stands, which needed new shelves, which needed new accessories to go on them, which needed new lamps to showcase them.  This is how I roll… This is Julia’s Math in Action.

You Can Be Too Dedicated

Before the epic FAIL of my wedding diet, I tried my fair share of diet programs.  Some worked, and some were not so successful.  Shockingly, the ones that actually did work were based on little known facts like eating less and exercising more.  Someone should think to market that…

exercise You Can Be Too Dedicated

I like to think of myself as disciplined. (I CRAVE routine and structure. I have eaten the same breakfast for five years.  I know that makes some of you shudder, but I like it. Sure, it’s not exciting, but it is predictable, and that counts for a whole lot in my book (or blog!).) I didn’t have a problem (mostly) following the rules of whatever diet I committed to; it was my family and friends who  did. I never followed a diet that had no nutritional value. Or that was so off-the-deep-end crazy. 

cabbage soup You Can Be Too Dedicated

I have never eaten cabbage soup. 

cayenne You Can Be Too Dedicated

I have never even had cayenne maple lemonade. 

Whatever I chose, I  embraced with dedication not seen outside of cultish society.  When I say I committed, I mean I committed. I followed the rules to the letter. If the rules had said, for example, to only eat standing on my head, I would have, no questions asked.  This level of commitment was not sustainable long term according to my family and friends. They politely explained the diet was making them bat shit crazy and I had to stop lest they kill me.

chicago You Can Be Too Dedicated

After I graduated from college, I moved to Chicago.  It had been a goal of mine to live there, in the city, in a darling apartment with several girlfriends. I got the darling apartment, but due to lack of interest (no one I knew wanted to move to Chicago with me), I lived alone.  A direct result of not knowing anyone is a total lack of a social life. Yes, I had co-workers. The only problem was that they worked for me, and therefore did not want to hang out with me. I cannot say I blame them…