Category Archives: Friends

Binging on Breaking Bad: How I Lost Two Weeks of My Life to a Television Series

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I am an addict. I am addicted to the AMC series, Breaking Bad. My husband Juan is the person responsible for hooking me up.  He is a huge fan of the show and repeatedly tried to get me to watch.  I vowed not to get sucked into another television series.  Besides I already had a few of my own must-see TV shows. I resisted Juan’s efforts but then, with mounting peer pressure from friends who were hosting a Breaking Bad finale party , I succumbed.

Two weeks ago we were at a party when the talk soon turned to our friends’ addiction to Breaking Bad. Our friend announced she was hosting a party for the finale and invited us. I was happy to be included in her plans, but I realized that I could not feel completely a part of things unless I started watching the show. If you can’t beat them, join them. I decided to give the show a chance so I started at the beginning, Season 1, Episode 1.  Netflix had all 4 seasons available. I began binge watching and soon I was hooked.

I started watching 2-3 episodes a night, getting my fix on Netflix until 1:00 in the morning.  When my alarm woke me 6:00 a.m. I cursed myself for staying up so late, only to repeat the pattern the next night. But I couldn’t help it. As the  day of the final episode and my friends finale party approached I began to panic. I was not even through Season 4. How was I going to get caught up in time for the finale party?

I began getting a fix at my lunch hour, watching on my iPhone while I caught the wifi from a nearby Starbucks. I watched the show while Juan drove us to visit family in Orange County, cursing when the dreaded words “Buffering” appeared instead of the video. I cooked dinner while Netflix streamed the show on the TV, but had to give up on that when my 9 year-old kept coming into the kitchen. With two nights to go before the finale, I realized I was never going to make it through the 12 episodes of Season 5.

On Sunday morning I woke up tired from watching an episode the night before. It was still early enough I didn’t need to get ready for church yet. I rolled over and grabbed the iPad to watch the last two episodes of Season 4. The adreneline rush from the show was both exhausting and exhilarating. I needed to keep watching.

I decided to skip church. I could hear the sound of my 15 year-old making breakfast. She surprised Juan and I by bringing us breakfast in bed. Perfect! I could watch more episodes from my bed.  At 10:00, tired from a morning of unsupervised videogames, my 9 year-old son came into my room and asked to go play next door. I said sure, barely checking to see if he changed out of his pajamas. He managed to put on shorts and a t-shirt, but no shoes.  Oh well, it’s still practically summer here. As I turned back to the show, he asked me what was for breakfast. Breakfast? How could he need breakfast now?  Didn’t he realize that Walt and Jessie had just plotted to get rid of Gus?  I suggested he find some yogurt and fruit, hoping the yogurt hadn’t had not reached its “use by” date, and the plums I bought had not turned into prunes.  As I settled into the start of Season 5  I caught Juan looking at me with a smirk on his face. He asked me if I was vying for Mother of the Year. I glared at him and turned back to the TV.

Despite my best efforts, I soon realized I was not going to be able to watch all of Season 5 before the finale.   Juan devised a plan for me and selected a ,  few episodes for me to watch, to get me current for the finale. I was anxious and didn’t like his suggestions. We bickered and I told him to let me watch the show my way! Resigned that I would not get to all Season 5‘s episodes  I decided to read the summaries on Wikipedia so at least I could know what was going on for the final episode.

We arrived at the party a little before the Finale. There was a lot of food and drink and good discussion speculating about what was going to happen. The host wore his Pollos Hermanos t-shirt and one guest wore a black hat, like Walt’s.  I told Juan we should have bought some yellow jumpsuits to wear to the party.

As the finale played and the episode came to its climatic ending, we all cheered. We all hung out long enough to watch the wrap up show and share our own thoughts and feelings. It felt like a support group as we all felt sad that the show was over.  We all wondered aloud what we were going to watch on Sunday nights. For some of us, it was encouraging to realize that a new season of  The Walking Dead premieres in two weeks. For me, I was anxious to get home to play the unwatched episodes of Breaking Bad which I had saved on my DVR.  Even though I know how the show ends and the series is over, I still wanted my fix.

 

 

Avocado Inspiration

Recently I was selected to participate in an Avocados from Mexico promotion. I was happy to be included in this campaign because I love avocados. It wasn’t always like this for me. I can remember being a little girl and not liking avocados, even though I had never actually tasted one. Then, one day my parents encouraged me to actually taste an avocado, and I was hooked from that day forward.

Luckily, I don’t have to force my family to eat avocados, because everyone in my family loves them. In fact, I have a hard time keeping avocados in the house. One of my co-worker’s knows this about me, so every time she has an avocado, which in her opinion is too ripe, she will give it to me. There have been many mornings when I walk into my office and see an avocado waiting for me on my desk. (Thanks Ann!)

So, you can see that blogging about avocados is not a real dilemma for me. But what is more challenging is blogging about a recipe I use with avocados. Honestly, we eat avocados very simply, with a squeeze of lime and salt. Diego is a purist though, and enjoys his avocados sans lime or salt. Even though we love avocados, as I considered what recipe to share with you all, I was stuck. I decided to look through my pantry to inspire me to come up with an avocado recipe. Nothing. Then, I opened my freezer and I came across this.

Bags and bags of tuna.

Yellow fin tuna that Juan and the boys caught on a fishing excursion while we were on our family vacation in Cabo San Lucas. The guys caught a total of 18 beautiful tuna. The fishing crew cleaned, filleted, packed and froze it for us. The day we were scheduled to leave we went to WalMart, bought a cooler, packed it all in and brought it all home. We’ve been enjoying it ever since. Last week, while at a family barbecue my brother asked to use some to add to some guacamole he was making. Hmmm….

I was inspired. Now, not only did I have the two major ingredients–avocado and tuna, as it happened, I also had an occasion to cook something. All summer my next-door neighbors had talked about getting together on our porch for a happy hour. The summer was nearly over but we finally managed it. They planned to bring the mojitos, and I would bring the appetizer. I looked on-line for some guidance on what ingredients to include in my avocado tuna ceviche dip. I was missing some ingredients, but fortunately I had found suitable substitutions. I decided to improvise and this is what I came up with:

Avocado and Tuna Ceviche Dip. 

It was a hit. So easy, so good! I was so glad I could use the tuna that the boys caught. Then next day, I had unexpected company so I whipped up another batch. It was gone in a flash, but not before Olivia tried it and raved. She asked if I could make it for her to take to school. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of recipe you make and pack for lunch. Something about taking raw fish and avocado and storing it in your school locker until lunchtime, doesn’t sound like a good idea. Still, I was happy the kids tried it and liked it too. Even Diego, the avocado purist, loved it. But, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised because the main ingredient was avocados!

Happy hour on the porch.

Here are the details:

1-2 ripe Avocados

1/2 pound raw good quality yellow fin tuna

2 tablespoons chinese chili paste

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

Chop the avocado and tuna into bite-sized pieces, equal size. Finely chop onion and cilantro. Add the onion, soy sauce and chili paste to a bowl. Squeeze in some of the lime juice. Stir to combine. Add in the avocado and tuna. Stir gently to coat with chili paste mixture. Squeeze in additional lime juice and continue to stir gently to coat. Toss in cilantro. Add additional soy sauce or salt if needed. Serve immediately with chips, or crackers. Eat and enjoy. Repeat.

Do you want to try out an avocado recipe?  Go here for recipes. Or if you’re a purist like Diego then just use the coupon on the sidebar, buy the avocados and enjoy!

50/50 Friday – Week 34

Its Friday and another week has passed since I started my list of 50 Things I want to Do Before my 50th Birthday. I am beginning to worry that I won’t be able to check off more from my list before my next birthday, in a little over four months. Yikes! I better get moving. Considering that I am a mother of 4 kids, it’s no surprise that I have to cook and I want to drink. (Numbers 19 and 20 on my list.) I guess it stands to reason then that I am not making much progress on number 18 on my list, lose and keep off 15 pounds, and number 26, drop a dress size.

So, I am glad that with the New Year, came new eating resolutions. I have done this before. “This year I will lose 10/15/20 pounds.” But, this year I have taken a different approach to losing weight. In the past, I have weighed myself on a weekly basis. I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, which means that at one time I reached my goal weight with their program. You notice I said, “at one time?” That was about 20 years ago, when my metabolism was burning fuel like a furnace. Now, that furnace can barely keep me warm on a cold California winter’s night. Recently, I went to my doctor for a physical. When I complained about the hard time I was having losing weight, she told me that it was normal for a woman my age. Ahem. She said that after 40 a woman typically gains about 5 pounds a year. Glad to know that I am right on target. But I digress. As I was saying, in an effort to lose the dress size, and not obsess about the number on the scale, I have decided not to weigh myself. Instead, I am writing down my food using the Lose It App on my iPhone, and I am exercising. I feel better. My clothes are less snug and my energy level has increased. I will weigh myself when I go back for a follow-up doctor’s visit, but at home I won’t step on the scale so as not to get discouraged seeing the number on the scale.

Another item I did some work on was number 21, visit a local landmark once a month. In December I celebrated my friend Julie’s own milestone birthday. She wanted a low key celebration so we went to the spa, had a nice dinner together and stayed overnight at the Hotel Shangri-La, a renovated art deco hotel in Santa Monica.

Cool bathroom in the art deco style.

I love Santa Monica, but I live on the other side of Los Angeles, closer to the foothills, so crossing two freeways to get to this part of town, makes it feel like a foreign place to me. Consequently, I don’t get out here too often, and when I do, I wonder why I don’t visit this Southern California gem more often.  After our night of celebration, where we were in bed by 10:00 p.m., Juan joined us for breakfast. He brought Diego, and Julie’s daughter Ty with him. We had a great time walking around the 3rd Street Promenade, playing on the beach with the kids, and taking in the Southern California sunshine in December.

Beach Babies

Santa Monica wasn’t the only local landmark I visited lately. I have been able to check off more landmarks from my list. Since I participated in the Amazing Los Angeles Race, I got to visit Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I also made a little progress on cleaning out my attic, number 2 on my list. A couple of weeks ago we had an estate sale at my grandmother’s house. We had quite a few items for sale, and I decided to add a few items from my attic. But it was like two steps forward, and one step backwards, because I brought home two pieces of furniture from my grandmother’s house, and stored them in my attic. Sigh.

Estate Sale

Now that the holidays are all wrapped up and I am settling into the New Year, I hope to make more steps forward and knock out some more items on my bucket list.

What’s on your bucket list? How’s your progress?

 

 

 

Outward Bound – Making 2012 a Better Year

I was going to write another 50/50 Friday post to update you on what I’ve accomplished since I last posted about my list of 50 Things I Want to Do Before my 50th Birthday, except that apart from a lot of cooking and wine drinking (numbers 19 and 20 on my list), I really haven’t done much. Besides, the cooking and wine drinking part has more to do with the holidays than anything really intentional on my part.

So instead of posting about my 50/50 list I thought I would share how my approach to the new year is going. I mentioned before that 2011 was not a very good year for me. I decided that this year was going to be better. I looked at what might have contributed to making 2011 such a bad year and I think  the fact that I focused so much more  inwardly, made me feel isolated and sometimes hopeless. Duh. 

I had begun 2011 managing a personal crisis so I felt like I needed to circle the wagons. Consequently, I didn’t nurture the connections I had with anyone. Rather than reaching out to community for support, I dwelt with life in kind of a crisis mode. 

This year I am purposefully extending myself beyond my comfort zone, reaching outward and trying to do things a bit differently. It’s only the second week of the new year and already I have a lot on my plate as a result. It’s a little intimidating but already I am finding 2012 to be a lot more promising.

One thing I have done recently is get together with more friends. Last week Juan and I took up a friend’s invitation to cook us dinner. It was a midweek invitation and something we normally wouldn’t have done. But, we did and we had a great time.  I have also made plans to go to a work out class with a couple of friends, and I am getting together with my besties this weekend. That’s a lot of socializing for me, but I need it.   I have also committed to be on my church Vestry. When I was approached to take this on, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to stretch myself this way, but I prayed about it and found myself committing to it. I don’t know how I am going to manage it all, but it’s another way to face the new year with an openness and outwardness.

As I was meditating on what the new year was going to hold for me, I found that I didn’t have a concrete plan how to implement this “open and outward” approach. This is very unsettling to me. Those who know me, know that I like some predictability. Despite my Gemini tendencies, I am a control freak  planner.  So, the idea that I did not have a plan to make 2012 more “outward and open” got me thinking. Before I knew it my meditative state was disrupted by my mind, making lists, checking off ways to improve my life in 2012. Then I stopped. I realized that, most of all I just needed to open myself up to the universe. In the midst of my meditation, my direction came to me with these words, “Have and open mind, an accepting heart, and ready hands.”  So, that is what I am going to do. I am going to keep my mind open to new things, allow myself to accept things that I may not be completely comfortable with, and prepare myself for the tasks that are ahead of me in 2012.

Let’s do this.

Everything Old is New Again

The first day of 2012 was a bit like many nights in 2011 and yet, it was different from many days in 2011.  It was different in the sense that Juan and I hosted an open house for the New Year, something we haven’t done before.  In previous years, we entertained a lot, hosting  a big Christmas open house, and several dinner parties throughout the year.   2011 came and went, and except for a family dinner in September and Thanksgiving, we did not have anyone over for dinner, or drinks, not even a sandwich.  I realized that I needed to change that so, at the last minute, we sent out E-vites and invited people to come over. It was a really good time. Even though we did not have as big a turnout as we would have liked (I think something went wrong with the emailed invitations), we had a nice mix of people from our church, our work, and even our neighbors.  I made black-eyed peas for New Year’s luck and we had a good spread of appetizers and drinks.

January 1, 2012 was also a bit like many of the nights we had in 2011. In 2011 we spent a lot of time at doctor visits, and waiting rooms in hospitals and urgent care centers.  About halfway through our open house, Erica started feeling really bad, with symptoms she had experienced before.  She toughed it out for a couple of hours, and as soon as I was able, I left our party and took her to the ER. Luckily, all the guests that were still at our party, were very understanding and gave me the excellent advice to go to a different hospital, away from the craziness of Pasadena on the night before the Rose Parade. Erica was treated quickly and we got out of the ER in about 3 hours. Unfortunately, by the time I returned to my party, it was over. Ah well. I heard from all the guests, and Juan who stayed behind to continue hosting, that the party was a lot of fun. I just hope that we can get through 2012 with more parties, and fewer hospital visits!

During our party, one of our guests invited Juan to go to the Rose Bowl.  Juan accepted, but after the last guest left and the party clean up was over, he felt tired enough that he began to regret that he committed himself to getting up early and going to an all day event.  I told him that expanding our social circle was one of our goals for 2012 so he had to go, and he had to have a good time. When he came home from the game, his voice was hoarse and his face sunburned, but he had a fantastic time. Even though he didn’t have a favorite team to cheer for, the friends he went with were Oregon fans, so Juan ended up sitting with the Duck fans, and cheering right along with them.

Juan and friend in a sea of Ducks.

While Juan was enjoying his first ever Rose Bowl game, I stayed home and tried to get some house projects done. I was feeling the anxiousness that I usually experience when I have to return to work after a long weekend, or the end of a vacation, and I realize I haven’t accomplished what I planned on getting done.  I spent most of my morning packing up Christmas, grateful that we had pared down on the decorations this year. It only took 6 plastic bins to contain all my Christmas decorations.  Despite the fact that it was a gorgeous day, with temperatures in the mid 80′s, I stayed indoors, packing up decorations, doing laundry and cleaning. Then, Diego asked if I could do something special with him.  He wanted to take a ride on his scooter.  I thought to myself, it’s a new year, and there was laundry and cleaning to do in 2011 and there will be laundry and cleaning to do in 2013–I need to do something different, now. So, he got on his scooter, I got on my bike, and we took a ride around our neighborhood with our neighbors.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

We ended up a our local gourmet ice cream shop, Carmelas. The place has all kinds of interesting flavors, Salted Caramel, Spicy Strawberry Sorbet. I had the Meyer Lemon, and Diego had a cup of Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean. At $3.50 a scoop, it isn’t cheap, but it’s not everyday, that you break out of the old habits, and get a fresh start on a New Year.

Diego at Carmelas.

 Two days into 2012. How’s your New Year going?

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