Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Eyes Have It

There are times in life when being "strong and independent" can pretty much be a bitch.

Or at least very, very stupid.

Case in point: Me.

I don't know where this fierce strong will and sense of independence comes from, but it has gotten me in a few scrapes with the medical community....One such time was exactly ten years ago, when I walked around for two days with a severe case of appendicitis. (In my defense, I thought it was just a really, really, really bad case of gas). Because I was too stubborn to go see a doctor ("I can take care of it MYSELF!"), I just about died.

And then there was last week...when I was finally forced to go to the eye doctor by some friends, after I had walked around for weeks with increasingly blurry vision and painful eyes. My first visit was last Wednesday, when the eye doctor did a very thorough exam, and then said, "Excuse me a moment," as he walked out and brought back two more colleagues. Uh oh. That's NEVER a good sign - when they bring in the troops.

Initially, the diagnosis they gave me was severe corneal ulcers, but they later amended that diagnosis to a "flesh-eating" virus that was eating away at the tissue in the cornea of my right eye...which could lead to blindness.

{faints from shock}

I'll be honest. I love my eyes. I'm rather vain about them. That picture at the top of my blog - of the eye? That looks exactly like my own eyes..."Rainbow eyes" is what a lot of people say when they see my eyes, and I don't really want to see them damaged. Ack.

The cornea specialist was out of town until Monday, so I was monitored daily until her which point, she greatly reduced my fears by revising the initial diagnosis...that had only been a "pseudo" virus, and when I heard her say "pseudo", I immediately asked, "Pseudo is good, right?" She replied, "Yes...pseudo is good. But you're not out of the woods."

To make a long story short, I DID have some dead tissue on my cornea, but not from a virus (but we're not sure from where, actually.) After she scraped off the dead tissue, we're now in the process of trying to re-generate "good" cell growth, as well as to prevent scar tissue from building up on the cornea. I'm on a medicine regime that is crazy - but my vision should come out okay when this is all over.

The specialist slapped me around a bit (deservedly) when she said, "If you'd come in MONTHS ago - when this first started - you would have saved yourself a heck of a lot of time, money and treatment."

"But I thought it was allergies," I said, in my defense..."...and who goes to the eye doctor for allergies??!!"

Apparently, I will need to...because of the damage to the cornea, I will ALWAYS have to go in now when I notice anything slightly out of order with either eye...period. I guess I learned my lesson the hard in, don't be so doggone stubborn and independent that you avoid medical care.

Speaking of medical care - I do want to insert here that I am now exactly three weeks in on my gluten-free diet...and here's the findings, so far:

1. I have had NO STOMACH PAIN AT ALL IN THREE WEEKS!!!! This is huge, folks...HUGE. Before my GF diet, I was to the point that EVERY SINGLE MEAL would have me curled up in a little ball on the bathroom floor, clutching my gut in a pure state of agony and intense pain. Gah. It has been unbelievable to be pain-free, and it's been such a turnaround that I don't even have ANY desire to eat the things that are off-limits now - such as cakes, cookies or breads. I've been finding recipes for GF brownies & such, so I'll still get my taste, if I need it.

2. My energy levels are WAY UP. Seriously...I can wake up now at 6:00 am, and go, go, go until 11:00 pm at night...and no more feeling like a slug. I truly love this new, energetic person, as I hate being a slug - and I can't believe all of the stuff I'm getting done each day!

3. I've lost some weight...not a lot...but every pound lost is a good thing. The weight wasn't the main reason to go on the GF diet, but it's been a nice bonus. I've decided to not focus on the scale - but to focus on eating healthy. I've been back in exercise mode, especially with all of my newfound energy, so I'm sure more pounds will drop off - woot!

4. I'm so enamored of my new GF diet that I'll be starting Hubby & Daughter on it next week...I think Daughter has a gluten-sensitivity, as she sure shows a lot of the symptoms. I'm curious to see if this will help her, as well....It can't hurt, because it's really a vegan-based diet that incorporates a lot of fruits and vegetables, which are nutritious.

So - enough rambling.

I'm now off to to have some delicious gluten-free crackers with some hummus for an afternoon snack - YUM!



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Anti-Bucket List: 10 Things I Will NEVER Do

Another 10 on Tuesday post, and today's topic was inspired by a growing trend that I've seen on the internet: the "anti-bucket" list.

Yes...instead of the list of stuff that we aspire to, how about a list of things that will NEVER, EVER happen in my lifetime. To me. I'm not saying that YOU may enjoy some - or all - of these things, because Lord knows, we're all different....So, in no particular order, here are ten things you will not see me doing:

1. I will never, ever skydive. This is an interesting item, because even if I actually, remotely even WANTED to do this (I don't), I would probably have a heart attack the second I was pushed out of the plane. You will never, ever see "plummeting to earth" on my bucket list.

2. I will never, ever go shopping at the mall on Black Friday. Crowds? Ugh. The idea of it simply horrifies me, and I MUCH prefer sitting in my pajamas, with hot cocoa in hand, surfing the internet from the comfort of my own home.

3. I will never, ever go to a Taylor Swift concert. Because...just because. Gah.

4. I will never, ever eat liver. I CAN'T EVEN GET PAST THE SIGHT OF LIVER.

5. I will never, ever pay money to see a Jennifer Aniston movie. You probably guessed by that very statement that I'm not a big fan of Jennifer Aniston...and you guessed right.

6. I will never, ever become a quilter. My mother is a quilter...and I respect that. But I have no desire to EVER learn how to piece material together. I really don't like needles.

7. I will never, ever sing a solo - or sing in a karaoke bar, for that matter. And you're welcome.

8. I will never, ever run a marathon. Don't get me wrong - I LIKE to run. Short in 5k...or a 10k, at the very most. But 26 miles? Hell to the no.

9. I will never, ever fly to Africa. Oh, I would LOVE to see Africa. Really. But being that I hate flying, the thought of being cooped up in a little aluminum tube for like, days (or so it seems), as it flies over the ocean, and then flies over jungles where there are wild animals like lions and such - gah. Nope.

10. I will never, ever pierce anything but my ears. Simple, really - I hate pain. I hate blood. I hate holes in my skin. See above where I said I hate needles. 'Nuff said.

So...what about YOU? What are some things on YOUR anti-bucket list?


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

She Said WHAT??!!

I must warn you...if you are easily offended...or don't appreciate some juvenile, immature humor from time to time...then, stop reading.


Stop right now.

Because the story I have to relate is somewhat...juvenile. And definitely immature.

But so, so freakin' funny.

You've been warned.





Okay. For those of us left...I am COMPELLED to relate something my mother said yesterday. But to totally understand the humor in this, you must first know that my mother And oh, so proper. As in, she could probably teach the Queen some things about manners and etiquette and what is considered appropriate for conversation...and what is not. You get the picture, right? parents recently moved into a new house. And of course, because of this, they are now in the oh-so-fun process of unpacking and arranging furniture and hanging pictures and decorating and all of that fun stuff. My sister asked my mom how it was going, and the following conversation took place:

Mom, sighing: "'s going slow. We just keep running into problems."

Sister: "Really? Like what?"

Mom: "Well...we tried to install a 32-inch television on the wall in the bedroom...but the bracket was wrong. Your dad ended up taking the television back, and got a 29-inch screen, instead. He FINALLY got the TV installed...but...(insert sigh)...I guess I'll just have to be happy with only 29 inches in the bedroom."

Oh. My. God.

My sister died. Seriously - she collapsed on the floor in laughter, tears rolling down her face, as she realized what my mother has inadvertently just said. Or implied. Because, yes. My sister - and I - are both immature like that, where our minds go immediately to the gutter. My mother wouldn't know a gutter if it rolled up and slapped her.

Mom, a little perplexed by my sister's laughing fit, asks: "WHAT is so funny???!"

My sister, gasping for air at this point, says, "What you just said."

Mom, clearly confused, replies, "What, that I can be happy with 29 inches? Well, I'm used to 32 inches, but I can get by."



My sister wasted NO time in calling me to relate this, and of course, always looking for an excuse to give my mother a hard time, I called Mom immediately.

"So, Mom...I understand you'll be happy with 29 inches in the bedroom, but you prefer 32 inches. I have to say, I'm impressed. With both you AND Dad."

Needless to say, Mom's not talking to me OR my sister right now.



Professions I'd Like to Try

It's another Top 10 on Tuesday!!!

Maybe you're already doing your dream job. Or maybe you HATE what you're doing, and would change it, if you could. With that in mind, today's question is...what would be the Top 10 professions you'd like to try?

1. I've said it before...I'll say it again. All I EVER wanted to do as a kid was play baseball. If talent were no object, and dreams could come true - I'd be playing professional baseball right now for the Kansas City Royals. I wouldn't even need a huge salary - I'd do it for the love of the game. I'd be playing first base while on defense, and I'd be batting about 6th in the lineup...sigh. Why, oh why, couldn't I have been born a boy??!! And with talent??!!

2. I'd love to be an author. Of a New York Times bestseller. Maybe that dream is possible - if I'd just find the time to sit still for awhile and write a book...but who has time to sit and write, when there's so much living yet to be done??!!

3. I briefly went to graduate school, where I worked on getting my master's degree in counseling. So...I'd love to be a counselor...I kinda' do it anyway, whether I'm counseling my kids, or my family, or my friends....

4. Loving animals like I do, wouldn't it be rewarding to be a veterinarian? Although...that would be tough, to see sick or injured animals and knowing that I most likely wouldn't be able to save every single one of them....

5. Taking my love of food, and my love of writing, and my love of criticizing - I think being a food critic would be the IDEAL job for me. To be PAID to go out and eat and write about it??!!

6. By the same token, a travel agent would be right up my alley - what with my love of traveling and my skills at organizing and planning....

7. I *wish* I could be a fitness trainer...only because I'd be more disciplined at hitting the gym - AND, I'd be making money for exercising! Win-win!

8. Culinary school was something that intrigued me, so the thought of being a professional chef sounds like a lot of fun! (Although - from what I've seen - it carries a lot of stress...hmmm...may have to rethink this one!) I'd work in some high falutin' restaurant in New York City, and I'd use fresh, organic ingredients that turn into works of art when presented on the plate.

9. A tour guide. Don't laugh. I don't even care where I'm giving tours - but I love, love, love to show people around and explain what they're seeing. I kinda' do this anyway when I travel, so I could TOTALLY see myself waving a little flag and leading a group of barbarians..."CHARGE!!!!"

10. I love kids...and since I can't list "teaching" on my list - because technically, I've already *tried* it - I'm going to list being a school bus driver. Yep. The thought of being able to be able to set the tone for the day with the kids, as they get on my bus - and then to help them decompress after school - that sounds rewarding! I'd be the type of bus driver that is totally, way cool - that tells corny jokes every day, that has sing-alongs, and lets the kids sit anywhere they want to.

So...what professions would YOU like to try??!!



Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: "How 2 B A New Yorker"

...the one in which we learn how to be disdainful and rude...


I used to think that meant anything that wasn't on the street/road/avenue/concrete slab they call "Broadway" in Manhattan. Makes sense, right?


I have learned that when a show is considered "off-Broadway", it means that the seating capacity is between 100 and 499 people. In doesn't mean where the show is located physically - but is totally based on the number of people they can seat.

For our Friday night entertainment in NYC, we attended a show that was I'd heard that these shows can sometimes be more fun than the big Broadway productions. The show was called, "How 2 B A New Yorker."

Their website promises, "You too can experience the privilege, respect and air of superiority enjoyed by millions who call themselves New Yorkers. But it requires training, even if you were born here. Let us show you how to develop the instincts for disdainful glances, peevish muttering and innate rudeness that distinguish true New Yorkers. Under the direction of OBIE Award winner Robert Ross Parker,the hilarious new comedy HOW 2 B A NEW YORKER shows audiences everything they ever needed to know about what it takes to be a real New Yorker, or at least not stand out as a tourist."

Well. After spending all this time in Manhattan, what better show to see? Because by this time, we considered ourselves NYC transplants, and this sounded like a lot of fun.

Tickets were approximately $55.00 per person, but this not included the show, but DINNER, as well - woot woot! How often can you get a show and dinner in New York City for practically $50 bucks??!! And an Italian dinner, no less!

So, we arrived at Sofie's Restaurant, a small little joint in the heart of Times Square, where we were led to the basement. There, we enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner of Italian offerings, in a tiny, intimate setting.


Let me say that first, as someone who does NOT have a gallbladder...eating tomato sauce is not the smartest thing I can be doing. Or things with in salads, with olive oils or oil-based salad dressing.

Second...the restaurant was very, very the point that I really couldn't even see what I was putting on my plate, let alone eating. Although the food was good, I wondered...albeit briefly...if I would pay for this later.

And let's just say that, oh yes. I paid. But that's a story to be told in an upcoming installment. Gah.

Anywho, the show soon started...the show consists of an actor and an actress - going through a gazillion costume changes, prop changes, and backdrop changes - as they frenetically and humorously poke at what makes New Think Saturday Night Live with a bit of Second City improv thrown in, and you get the gist of this show.

All of the typical stereotypes of New York are poked and explored, including subway adventures:

...the bad feelings between Brooklyn and Manhattan:

...and the ever-present construction workers that blanket the streets of New York:

There were dozens of times during the show that something the actors would say would hit close to home, and Hubby and I'd find ourselves looking at each other and nodding, saying, "Yup. That's SO true! That SO happened to us!!!" And laughing about it, because, really, there is NO other place in the world like New York City, and you can let it frustrate you - or you can laugh about it.

The show is's witty...and it's hysterically funny, especially for anyone who's spent any amount of time dealing with the idiosyncrasies of New York. It was a fun way to spend the evening, and at the end of the show, we all got a special little button that said it all:

This show was originally scheduled for a short-run only, but because of popular demand, keeps getting extended and extended. I don't know how much longer it will run, but if you get a chance, you must go see for yourself "How 2 B A New Yorker!"


American Museum of Natural History

...the one in which we are almost eaten by a T-rex...or was it swallowed by a whale???

So...after our adventure at Yankees Stadium, we headed south on the subway to the Central Park area. Our destination was the famous American Museum of Natural History - forever immortalized in the 'classic' film, "Night at the Museum", starring Ben Stiller.

The museum is gigantic...with several floors, wings, and galleys to explore. While we'd been on the subway, we'd studied a map of the museum, and each of us named 1-2 items that were a "must-see". Even doing this, our list was daunting. So...we decided to play one of our "games" - a scavenger hunt from a company called Stray Boots. We'd downloaded, via an app on my phone, a scavenger hunt designed specifically for the American Museum of Natural History...and by solving clues and puzzles, it would let us explore the gigantic museum in a different, but fun, way.

A screenprint of how the app appears on your cellphone....

The game costs $12 per person, and the description, from their website, says:

"Traverse the globe and go back through millions of years of history as you discover some of the most fascinating creatures ever to have walked the earth. Whether you love lions, tigers, or bears...OH MY...there's something for everyone at the American Museum of Natural History, and now that you're seeing it through a cell-phone based scavenger hunt, you can finally interact with all of those dead animals you've longed to befriend. So show T-Rex who's boss by grabbing your cell phone and a friend and attacking this Game Zone like a blue whale goes after plankton...(hungrily)."

We entered the museum, and paid the "suggested" entrance fee of $22 per person. Remember, technically the museum is free - but they don't really encourage that or remind you of that.

Once inside, we immediately began playing our game. It's very simple, begins with a clue, or a have to traverse through the museum to find the answer. Once you find the answer, you type it in - and if you're correct, it will first give you a bit more information about the exhibit that you're now in front of, but secondly - give you your next clue. I had initially only thought that Daughter would be into playing this game, but it soon brought out the competitive spirit in ALL of us, and it didn't take long before the three of us were eagerly anticipating the next clue, so we could solve each puzzle before moving on to the next:

Daughter, reading the next clue....

The game had approximately 20 some clues, and it ultimately had us going (in an orderly fashion, thank goodness!) into pretty much every wing and exhibit that the museum offered. Some of the highlights included:

#1 on MY list had been the was just as awesome as I had anticipated! There's an entire Hall of Dinosaurs on the 4th Floor that has the world's largest collection of dinosaur fossils....WAY cool.

Our game asked us to do our "best" T-Rex impression, and snap a photo of it...I think they nailed it!

#1 on Hubby's list...the largest meteorite discovered in North America (6th largest in the world)....

The 94-foot suspended Blue Whale in the Hall of Ocean Life...EEP! This thing was HUGE!!!

Part of a giant sequoia tree...I think this was 90' around at its base....

"Lucy" - who lived about 3 million years ago...this was #1 on Daughter's list....

Star of 563 carats, the Star of India is the world's largest gem-quality blue star sapphire. Some 2 billion years old, it is also one of the most well-known objects in the world. EEP!

We spent hours at the museum...and I don't think there was anything we DIDN'T see. I was impressed with how well the museum was organized, as well as exhibited. We could have spent DAYS in there and not seen enough, as it was just massive. There's animals. There's rocks. There's bones. There's gemstones. Truly, something for everyone.

Most visitors enter the museum through the Central Park front entrance...but there's a "hidden" treasure at the 77th Street entrance...the original exterior of the building, which is absolutely beautiful:

Squee! Isn't it AMAZING??!!!

All in all, the museum is a DO NOT MISS while visiting New York City - for adults and children alike. It must be in your Top 10 Attractions to visit!

My best tips are:

1. Do your research ahead of time. Know what attractions you MUST visit.

2. Check out this free app that will help you navigate the museum: Explore App
3. Allow for several be well-rested, and well-fed, before visiting.

There's a subway station VERY close to the museum, so within minutes, we were back at our hotel, resting up a bit before dinner....We had something special planned this evening...a little "off," if you will.....

Stay tuned!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Yankees Stadium Tour

...the one in which I squeeeeeeee.....!!!!!

I love baseball.

I really do.

In fact, my very first dream of a future career - when I was a kid - was to be the first woman to play professional baseball in the major league.

Well...this may surprise you...but that dream obviously didn't come true. But no worries - I've still enjoyed the game to this day, and I love nothing more than going to the ballpark, or just listening to a game on the radio.

Therefore, it was a no-brainer that while visiting New York City, it was a MUST-DO for moi to visit Yankees Stadium...and although the stadium isn't the original - and therefore doesn't have the history of such famous players as Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio - it's STILL Yankees Stadium. And therefore MUST be paid homage to.

I would have loved, loved, loved to have actually gone to a game...but the Yankees home schedule didn't coincide with my schedule...which just pissed me off to no end, because really, they should have consulted with ME before deciding on a schedule, right?! If I couldn't fit in a game, the next best thing was to head up north - to The Bronx - for an actual tour of the stadium itself.

I booked a tour through, and for a "mere" $79 per person, we would get to go behind the scenes at the ballpark, as well as get to meet a former player. Yes, the price was a bit high - but trust me when I say it was a heck of a lot cheaper than going to an actual game.

So...we showed up at the Grey Line office at 9:00 to check in...apparently, we'd be provided bus transportation TO the Stadium, but NOT back to Manhattan. Confusing. There was only one other couple going on this tour - for a total of five of us - and we were driven all the way to the Bronx on a double-decker bus. All by ourselves. Yes. Five people. One bus. Weird.

Daughter and I hanging out at Grey Line...not sure what we were talking about here, but I kinda' love this picture.

Along the way, we got to experience - for the first time - the EPIC traffic jams that are a part of NYC culture. Oh. My. God. Bumper to bumper to bumper...our bus crawled and inched along, so it seemed to take an eternity to FINALLY get to Yankees Stadium. Gah. This is when I wish we would have just skipped our "included transportation" with the tour, and taken the subway instead. It would have shaved off about 45 minutes of time.

So...we arrive at Yankees Stadium, where we are greeted by several Yankee employees, who whisk us through security and then take us into the stadium. Besides our official guide who would be doing the talking, we were escorted by 2-3 other stadium employees, who were there to basically babysit us and make sure we didn't do something terrible, I guess, to the stadium. We actually had more Yankee staff in our group than we did tourists, which was a bit weird.

This tour had promised a meeting with a former New York Yankee, and we were introduced to Jim Leyritz, a former catcher and infielder who played on the 1996 and 1999 World Series championship teams for the Yankees. Jim was very affable and friendly, and was quite eager to chime in during our tour to add pertinent and relevant information.

Jim, back in his playing days....

The first area that we visited was the museum, which was impressive in its memorabilia and displays it has in homage to the Yankees. Some of my favorite things included:

A display case featuring one of my favorite players, Mickey Mantle...

Babe Ruth and my ALL-TIME favorite, Lou Gehrig....

Hubby listens as Jim tells what it was like to play under the George Steinbrenner years....

Thurman Munson's locker has been preserved...he was killed in a plane crash during his career with the Yankees....

The centerpiece of the museum was the Ball of Walls...that was part of the Don Larsen sculpture. Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series...there is now a statue of Don, "throwing" a pitch to a statue of Yogi Berra...and the trajectory of his last pitch formes the Ball of Walls. The wall is filled with thousands of autographed balls from former players. It's WAY cool:

The museum was really extensive, and tastefully done...even if you're not a Yankees fan - or heck, a baseball fan - you'll find it interesting. There's a lot of history and trivia, and my only regret is that we didn't have HOURS to spend in it, absorbing it all! On game days, the museum is open until the 8th inning, and is free of charge. On non-game days, you must take a tour - like we did - to visit the museum.

So, after our visit to the museum, our tour of the stadium continued.

We next ventured out to centerfield, where we visited Monument Park, an open-air museum that recognizes former Yankees greats:

Check out the seats and the foam cushions...don't they look comfy??!! Jim had us sit down and try them out just so we could see how soft and cushy they are....!

Lots of cush for your tush!

We were then taken to the Yankees dugout, where we got to go inside and have a seat:

SQUEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! Look at that HUGE grin on my face!!!! I can't stop smiling!!!!!

We sat here for a bit while Jim told us more stories of his baseball playing days:

We then got to pose with Jim for a picture, which he later autographed for us:

I'd tell you about the next part of the tour - but then I'd have to kill you. Seriously - the next part was so "top-secret" - you would have thought we were going into the Oval Office for a meeting with the President and the Pope at the same time...when all we were really doing was visiting the Yankee clubhouse. However, we were told - no less than 4 times - that we were NOT to have cameras out - and we were NOT to have our cell phones in our hands. Period. Or we'd be escorted right out of the clubhouse, the stadium - heck, they'd probably have us on the first ferry to New Jersey. NO PHOTOS OF THE CLUBHOUSE.

But it was way cool. Wow. They've spared no expense for the ballplayers, in the decor, the furnishings, the was pretty amazing. An interesting bit of trivia: there's only ONE current New York Yankees ballplayer who has not one, but TWO lockers...know who it is?

If you answered Derek Jeter, give yourself a pat on the back. Derek is so popular - with both the fans and outside companies - that he has to have two lockers to keep up with the fan mail, endorsement deals, and products that he receives.

All too soon, our tour was at an end...that hour flew by quickly. I loved it 95%. I reserve 5% because I didn't like the feeling that I was being escorted by prison guards - it was just very disconcerting. I could see having that much security detail around us if we'd been a HUGE barbarian group of tourists - but there were five of us. FIVE. I teased Hubby that he must have a suspicious face or something.

Jim, the former Yankee player, was a delight. He was so eager to tell his stories...and to share everything...and entertain ANY and ALL questions that we had. He was so helpful, that after the tour was over, he volunteered to walk us to the subway station and put us on the right train, as that's how he was going home himself.

Just walkin' the streets of NYC with a former major league baseball player...looking like we do this all the time....! EEP!

Was the tour worth it? Yes. I would probably not buy my tickets through Viator, though...You can definitely do this tour much cheaper by buying tickets directly from the Yankees website...and then take the subway up to the Bronx. At the end of the tour, you're given a keychain, as well as an opportunity to purchase some fun photos....all in all, a GREAT morning, and as close to being a professional ballplayer as I'll ever be!