I Draw Naked People

When I was 16 years old, I was accepted into a summer art program at the Cooper Union in NYC. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Cooper Union is a prestigious arts and engineering college and the chances of my acceptance were actually pretty slim considering the competition and being an out of state student (the program was geared for NYC kids). In any case, by some miracle I got in and this is where I was first exposed to “artists.” Before this, my only exposure to artists was my high school art teacher, but he didn’t seem to count. The instructors at the Cooper Union wore black jeans decorated with safety pins, had unkempt tie dyed hair, and just had something a bit “off” to their personality. They lived and breathed and died for their art. Me? I just came to draw pretty pictures.The curriculum of the program covered a variety of mediums: sculpture, graphic design, contemporary art appreciation, and my favorite, drawing. While the other mediums were new to me, I knew I could draw better than your above-average bear. My portfolio was full of portraits, landscapes, and other high school-safe topics. So imagine my surprise when on the first day of drawing class, I walked into the room to find not one, but two naked models. Completely. Naked. The rest of the class didn’t seem fazed by the day’s subjects, so I assumed they had experience drawing from live nude models. I tried not to gawk, but this was my first time seeing a living, breathing, adult-sized penis. That’s what they really look like?? Gross…

The instructor had us set up in a semi circle around the models. Were they going to pose frozen in lewd acts?? What the hell was going on here?! I scanned my fellow classmates again to see if anyone was as horrified as I was. They all looked like calm little cucumbers setting up their easels and newsprint pads. I tried harder to control my eyebrows.

The instructor explained that we would be working on gestures – drawing a series of poses done by the models in a short amount of time. Every minute a timer would set off, the models would change their pose, and we would have to start a new drawing. Gesture drawing is particularly useful for artists studying the human body since models can hold complex and strenuous poses (which express movement and emphasize the muscles) if it’s only for a short period of time.

While we were drawing, the instructor came around to each student, standing while giving his critique. When he got to me, he pulled up a chair. I guess he had a lot to say.

“Her legs are too stiff, and you gave her a pregnant belly. She’s not fat. And the proportion of his torso to his legs is off, see here? Focus on the line of the spine first, that will help you place the rest of the body. ”

Phew – at least he didn’t mention that I castrated my male model and just gave him a scribble of pubic hair.

By the end of the morning session, though, I was really starting to enjoy the gesture drawing. It was surprising how much information I could capture in just one minute and the more practice I got, the easier it was to render the shape and proportion of the models. I started to see the man and woman as a series of familiar shapes and lines, not just limbs and genitalia. My improvement was noticeable and my instructor praised my work. “Good job, you started out a little rough, but these last few ones are very good.”

Today, live nude models are my favorite subject to draw. There is certain fluidity and rhythm to drawing the human body that just doesn’t happen when drawing inanimate objects. My favorite studio in NYC is the Spring Street Studio, where you can draw or paint naked people three times a day, seven days a week. I’d still rather draw women than men – women have softer lines and make for prettier finished products. I mean, who wants to hang up a giant drawing of a dude’s wang on their wall? Although, I must say, I have gotten much better at capturing the male figure. (It took me a while to figure out that while a woman is shaped like an hour glass, a man is shaped like an upside down triangle.) I once showed Mr. S my drawing of a nude male model that I was particularly proud of, and his observation was, “Looks like you spent too much time on that penis…” I have to admit, it was a very good penis.

I ran into a pole this morning #tbt

Welcome to my two part throwback Thursday series (that’s what #tbt stands for Mom). I’m reviving some stories from years past that I shared with friends via e-mail. Actually, these e-mails are the ancestors to my blog. When I blog now, I pretend that I’m still writing e-mails to my good friends, updating them on my life and hopefully getting a few laughs along the way. I’m also reviving these stories because I have nothing new to talk about.

From: urban rice ball
Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2008 9:20 AM
To: my good friends
Subject: i ran into a pole this morning

what a way to start the day…

when we pulled up to the train station this morning, the train was already there so i had to make a run for it. i was wearing a trench coat and as i was running the belt was dragging behind me. so in my efforts to try to pick up my belt and make the train, i failed to see the pole coming at me. it wasn’t coming at me — i was coming at it. mind you, i didn’t merely walk gently into it. i was running fast — had to make that train — so i hit it hard, bounced off, a little stunned, but nevertheless unscathed. i looked behind me to see if anyone saw…of course they did, everyone was running to the train too. the train was 5 minutes early — that never happens! so anyway, i saw the pole out of the corner of my eye, and i knew i didn’t have a enough time to slow down so i put up my arms to protect myself. my hand and arm hurt now, but there was no blood.

good news: i made the train.
bad news: my dad saw and called to laugh at me. he said the “no parking” sign on the pole was shaking after i hit it.

happy thursday.

Saying Goodbye to the 2’s

One of my very best friends is turning the big 3-0 in a few weeks.  No matter which way we try to slice it, turning 30 is a big deal.  The 3 somehow automatically makes people expect you to be a responsible adult.  It’s not like you’ll ever say “Oh, those 30-somethings, they’re so crazy, hahaha!!”  
In the 2’s you can still get away with “20-something.”  In the 3’s, you’re hanging onto every. single. year.  
“I’m not in my mid-30’s…I’m 33.  Get it right!”  Or at least that’s what I’ll be saying.  
I’m 28 at the writing of this post, soon to turn 29 in a few months myself.  The milestone birthday of my BFF has prompted me to reflect on my own feelings about turning 30.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:
  • Children.  Children happen in your 30s.  Supposedly it’s better to have them in our 20s, but there’s really nothing we can do about that now.  I actually think having children in one’s 30s is preferable.  I got to spend my 20s as a selfish girl living in the big city.  It’s nice to have gotten that out of my system before bringing babies into the world.
  • Travel.  As in, now I have the money to do so, but I better hurry up before those children come along.  I need to get to Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, and all other exotic destinations where strollers are more difficult to navigate.
  • Settling down.  This could mean settling down with a person, but really Mr. S and I have been settled for years now.  It’s more like, settling into a routine that is, well, pretty lame.  It’s already started to happen to me.  My weekdays are completely predictable…gym schedule, tv schedule, they’re all set in stone.  Will my life be as spontaneous as it was when I get to the 3?  
  • Having nice things.  Ooh this is probably the best part about getting older.  The NICE THINGS.  Nice clothes, accessories, vacations, etc.  This also goes hand in hand with…
  • Money, money, money.  Not that there is an infinite amount of it, but there is definitely more than when I was in my early 20s.  However, I can see my superfluous spending dwindling in my 30s…see again “children,” and add “mortgage.”
So that’s what I have so far.  And honestly, it really is about turning 30.  For some reason 40 doesn’t seem as scary as 30.  50 might be scarier…I’ll let you know when I get there.

Pound Puppies

I’ve mentioned before that I want a dog.  Mr. S wants a dog too, even more so than me.  On most Saturdays, Mr. S and I will get breakfast then walk over to Carl Schurz Park and watch the dogs in the Big Dog park (we don’t waste our time with that crappy Little Dog park).  We aren’t allowed inside the dog park because we don’t actually have a dog, so we hang on the fence and watch from outside, discussing which one we would like to steal and take home for ourselves.  Mr. S also does great color commentary on the dogs, which is my favorite part of this whole ritual. 
One Sunday, I was looking through PetFinder.com, just for fun, and found a cute little pitbull.  His description noted that he had escaped Death Row once and was desperately looking for his Forever Home.  Ugh, he was so cute.  I showed him to Mr. S and he found out that he was only 20 blocks away from us. 

“Let’s go see him!”
“OK!!!”

On the way, we discussed what we would do if we fell in love with this dog and had to take him home.

Mr. S: We can hide him in the apartment.  Other people have asshole dogs.  Why can’t we have a kickass dog?
Me: Our neighbor will tell on us.  We can tell the landlord that we need to break the lease because I lost my job.
Mr. S: Yeah, yeah let’s do that!!

Nevermind that we might become homeless for an unknown amount of time, or that our rent would certainly increase, or that I am allergic to dogs.  We were determined to save him. 
Midway through our walk, my subconscious must have come to her senses.

Me (stopped walking and hiding behind a bus shed): I don’t think I’m ready.
Mr. S (like I knocked the wind out of his sails): It’s ok.  We don’t have to get him.  We can just go look and decide later.

10 minutes later we arrived at the Manhattan Animal Care & Control.  When we walked in there was a man dropping off his 9 month old Schnauzer mix.  His reason: she was too hyper and he couldn’t train her. Jerk.  
The Manhattan AC&C is basically the city pound.  They cannot refuse any animal that is brought in or found as a stray.  Due to this, and their limited government funding, they are a kill shelter – which means, if an animal doesn’t get adopted, he or she will be put to sleep.  Wah!
We headed upstairs to see the dogs.  It was the saddest sight ever.  As we walked by each cage, the dogs perked up their heads, and put on their most heartbreaking “please take me with you” face.  Some of them were sad, and just stayed lying down in their cage.  Others were so happy to see people walking by that they jumped up and licked to greet us.
 
Each dog is given a series of behavioral tests to see how they interact with people, children, and other animals.  All this information is critical to ensuring the dog gets placed with the right family.  The dog we found online would not have been a good match for us since he has issues being around other dogs.  Although we have both owned dogs previously, Mr. S and I have zero experience with anti-social dogs.  Plus we really, really, really want to be part of the Big Dog park club. 
We kept looking and landed on Arkam.  He was a tan pitbull that seemed very gentle and loving in his cage.  He stood right up when we approached his cage and had a big happy smile.  When it was our turn to talk to the adoption consultant, we said that we were interested in him.  She told us that he aced all his behavioral tests and would do great in any home.  YES!  We got to take him out and play catch with him a little bit.  He walked perfectly on the leash and brought the ball back every time we threw it at him.  In short, he was the best behaved dog we’ve ever come across (even considering the ones we have previously owned).  The consultant told us that they don’t have a lot of history on any of the dogs that come into the center, but she could tell that he was owned by a family since he knew how to “sit” and “lie down” and they don’t teach that kind of stuff at the center.  
Then she asked us if our apartment allows dogs.  I lied, “Yes, but there is a 50lb weight limit.”  And then I lied again, “But we are looking to move next month anyway.”    
After playing with Arkam, we told the consultant that we needed more time to think about it.  It is, after all, a big decision that would have a big impact on our lifestyle.  Mr. S and I headed home disappointed.  We knew we could take care of him, but we didn’t want to have to hide him or live in fear of being kicked out.  Plus, 3 of us in a studio might be too crowded?  Oh and I’m allergic.  However, I should note that I showed no allergic reactions during our visit, and it definitelysmelled like dogs.   All in all, it just isn’t the right time for us to adopt.
Even with that rational realization, we vowed that if he ever got put on Death Row, we would go back to get him.  So far, he hasn’t appeared on the list.  (There is an “At Risk” list put out every night showing which 
dogs are to be put to sleep the next day.  Mr. S checks it religiously.)  If you or anyone you know might be interested in adopting a loveable, perfectly behaved pitbull, check out Arkam or any of his friends at www.nycacc.org.

Let’s pick up where we left off

Every good blogger out there knows that the key to blogging is frequency.  So, in order to keep the ball rolling and because I have nothing else interesting going on in my life, I will complete the “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” list that I started back in April.  Yeah, that Ode to Spam post last week – totally filler.  I haven’t had Spam in months.

Let’s see…where did we get to…oh yes!

12.  I have a tattoo. I got it 2 years ago, although I knew that I wanted a tattoo long before then.  It took me about 10 years to figure out what I wanted — turns out I wanted the sun and stars from the Filipino flag.  Placement was an issue since I have to be boring professional-looking at work.  So I chose the left side rib cage area which is only visible when wearing a bathing suit.  I would get more tattoos except I can’t think of another secret place to put them.  Just in case I have an epiphany, I save my tattoo ideas to Pinterest.

13.  My first job was at a hockey pro shop when I was a senior in high school.  I knew nothing about hockey, and I still don’t.  I was told that the pro shop would grow to include soccer accessories, but it never did. It grew to include swim accessories since we were located in the YMCA which had a pool.  Our best sellers were hockey tape and waterproof diapers.

14.  My favorite candy is Raisinets.  Not chocolate covered raisins — Raisinets.  And don’t try to fool me, I can always tell an impostor.

15.  My favorite color is metallic (i.e., gold, silver, bronze, copper, etc.)  Mr. S maintains that metallic is not a color.  Pshh, what does he know.

16.  If I had to participate in an “All You Can Eat” contest, I would have the greatest chance of winning with clementines.  Or maybe dill pickles.

17.  I am 4’11” and three-quarters.  I was going to throw myself a party when I reached 5′, but it never happened.  I looked into getting a handicap sticker for my car but found out that I had to be under 5′ and have a disproportionate build.  Darn…but wait!

18.  I have freakishly small hands.  I have not met another adult with hands smaller than mine.  I avoid having my hands in pictures because the camera makes them look smaller.

Ok , let’s stop there because I may need some blog fodder later this month…

Behind the Lens

This past Monday I bought myself my first big girl camera.  I had made the decision to upgrade before our trip to Portugal, but never actually pulled the trigger for 2 reasons:
  1. DSLR cameras are big and heavy.  I wasn’t keen on the idea of lugging around a brick of a camera while traveling.
  2. DSLR cameras are expensive.  I knew this would be an investment piece but the TJ Maxxinista inside of me resisted spending more than $400.  That’s a fairly lowball price for a high quality camera, but that was my budget and I was sticking to it.
I asked my photog friends to keep an eye out for any gently used (aka cheap) DSLR cameras, but no bites.  One day at work I struck up a convo with a colleague who is into photography and mentioned I was in the market for an upgrade from my point and shoot.  He introduced me to his little camera – The Fuji X100.  My first thought was, “How friggin’ cute!!”  (Form over function, always)  His camera is a mirrorless system, also known as the compact camera system.  It essentially functions like a DSLR (high quality pictures, interchangeable lens, completely customizable settings, and manual controls) but without the bulk, making it perfect for carrying along while traveling or just around the city.
Fuji X100
And with that, my focus was immediately shifted.  I don’t research, I obsess.  I obsess about anything and everything, especially big purchases I want to make.  I can process 4 different websites/articles at once — it’s quite impressive.  So after a few weeks of relentless reading of every review/blog/message board out there on the best mirrorless cameras for beginners, best mirrorless cameras for your buck, best retro looking mirrorless cameras, etc. I decided on the Olympus PEN E-P3.
Throughout my obsessive reading, first time serious camera buyers kept questioning veterans on what camera they should buy.  The responses on what make and model varied, but most people answered “The best camera to buy is the one you will use.”  Makes sense to me.  So #1 deciding factor: the retro design.  It almost reminds me of Papa Rice Ball’s old Nikon, the one with real film and manual crank (somewhere out there, a person between the ages of 16-21 doesn’t know what I’m talking about…ugh).  Holding something so nostalgic makes taking pictures that much more fun and therefore more likely that I will take it everywhere with me.  The #2 deciding factor: this baby was marked down 72%!!!  What?!?  I should have bought 3…
Olympus PEN E-P3
Granted my Oly (that’s what people in the biz call it) isn’t as precious looking as the Fuji X100, but it’s also a quarter of the price.  Bargains like this make me feel like such a champion.  If bargain shopping was a sport, I’d be in the Olympics.  And those crazy coupon cutting people can’t qualify for the Bargain Olympics because they are buying crap that nobody wants – who wants 300 deodorants even if they are 50 cents each?
My obsession usually leads to prompt purchasing action since once I know what I’m buying I won’t can’t rest until it is in my possession. Turns out the retailer that I was going to order from online was located here in NYC — instant gratification was only 28 blocks away!  After 1 hour and less than $400 later, I was the proud owner of a new big girl camera.  I’m currently obsessing on how to use it…

Bem-vindo a Portugal!

Ok, ok, so I have been lagging in the blogging department.  Mr. S teased me that I have probably lost my legions of followers by now since it has been so long since my last post.  I assured him that my legions of followers are comprised of my mother and her friends, and they are fiercely loyal. 
There have been a few exciting happenings so far this summer.  Top of the list is that la familia Rice Ball recently vacationed to Lisbon, Portugal!  Our 6 day trip gave us plenty of time to explore Lisbon and its surrounding sites (Sintra, Cascais, and Fatima).  My cousin visited last year and raved about it saying, “If Madrid is like Midtown, Lisbon is like Soho.”  She described it perfectly.  Here are a few highlights of Lisbon (in no particular order):

Graffiti – Graffiti is everywhere in Lisbon, some of it good, but most of it just random writing on the walls.  Even though in most places it’s unwelcome, the graffiti seemed to be right at home on the 18th century architecture, giving it a little edge and excitement. 
Graffiti on the bakery

Pasteis de Nata – My description won’t do it justice, but it’s a flaky pastry cup filled with egg yolky custard made with tender loving care by nuns of the Jeronimos monastery.  I imagine the nuns sprinkling magic dust on each one, saying a little prayer for it, and blowing it a kiss goodbye before sending it off to the bakery…I think that’s how they get them to taste so good.
Faux pasteis de nata, the real thing is in Belem

Cobblestone sidewalks– Running alongside all the charming architecture were these delightfully patterned cobblestone sidewalks.  I tried to get pictures of the more intricate ones since every side walk was done in cobblestone.  It might make for some treacherous walks on rainy days, but I’m all for beauty over function.
Rua Augusta, main shopping throughfare

Bacalhau – Seems to be that this is the national dish of Portugal, so I was aghast to find out that all the Bacalhau in Portugal is imported from Iceland!    Is nothing sacred?!  In any case, wherever it came from, we had bacalhau at every dinner – grilled, flaked and mixed with egg, smothered with béchamel sauce, minced and rolled into fried balls, etc – and it was all delicious.
Stacks of salted bacalhau for sale

Shhh – So we thought we might be ok with the Portuguese language since Papa Rice Ball is fluent in Spanish and Mama Rice Ball and I can at least order food and ask “where is the bathroom?” in Spanish.  You would think that since Portugal is so close to Spain, the languages would be similar.  And they are – in print.  In pronunciation, Portuguese is very different, with the obvious one being the pronunciation of the letter “S.”  Not “ess” like Spanish or English, but “shhh” like, “Be Quiet.”  After we figured out that our Spanish was getting us nowhere, we reverted back to good old English. 
Restauradores = Chreshturadoorsh

Tiles – From the influence of the Moors who occasionally occupied Portugal back in the day, older buildings in Lisbon are decorated with colorful tile work.  It’s very different from anything I’ve seen in Europe or otherwise, and we were instantly enamored with them.  Unfortunately, there seemed to be a continuing theme in Lisbon of not restoring/preserving these buildings.  Tiled buildings were usually abandoned and falling apart.  All I could think of was, “Transport one of these puppies to NYC and we’d be millionaires!”
Tiles on a building in Alfama

El Corte Ingles – So technically this is Spanish and not Portuguese, but it’s so amazing I don’t care.  El Corte Ingles is a department store + more (and by more I mean a super market and cafe).  It was the perfect place to do some air conditioned shopping and pick up some gifts* to take home.  In general, shopping when traveling is far superior to shopping domestically, mostly because the logic that sometimes prevails when shopping at home seems to be on vacation too. Do I really need that dress?  Is it worth the 50 euro?  It doesn’t matter, because:
  1. I’m in a foreign land that I may never visit again, so I have to buy it now. 
  2. I’m in a store we don’t have in America, so I have to buy it now.
  3. It’s so Euro and therefore cooler than anything I could buy in America, so I have to buy it now.
The only pic that isn’t personal, because really who takes pictures when there is shopping to do
So there you go, I think that’s a pretty good list — don’t want to give away all the juicy details.  I would highly recommend a trip to Lisbon.  In our 6 days there, we got to feel like we were exploring the city, not racing from landmark to landmark.  This was the first time I have traveled out of the country and felt that I really got a vacation (i.e. I wasn’t completely pooped when I arrived home in NYC).  
* Mr. S was not enthralled with the gifts that I brought back for him.  Since the vibe of Lisbon is so laid back and reminiscent of a beach town, I thought that a pair of shorts and a bathing suit would be perfect mementos for Mr. S.  Although grateful, he felt they were too scandalously revealing in comparison to the American shorts he is used to.  I have to admit, it was very odd seeing all of his kneecaps.  

Let the Hunger Games begin!

Juice cleanses have intrigued me for a while, mostly because celebrities do it and they are fabulous and I want to be fabulous too.  I have been hesitant to try one though because (a) they are expensive and I don’t want to plunk down big bucks for something I may vomit up later and (b) I have the willpower of a sloth.  Enter cousin KCool1.  KCool1 has done the BluePrint cleanse before and just bought 2 GiltCity vouchers for the 3 day cleanse.  She intended to use both of them herself but when she found out I was interested, she so graciously offered to sell one voucher to me.  This seemed like a great idea!  I would get the cleanse at a discount (score!) and I would have a juicing buddy to encourage me through the process. 

Juice for one day
The 3 day juice cleanse does not mean just 3 days of juice.  It entails 3 days of pre-cleanse and 3 days of post-cleanse, which basically means going vegan for these 6 days so as not to shock your system into and out of the juice.  I cheated a little since Chipotle’s salad dressing is a honey vinaigrette…but really it was only a small amount and come on, honey?!  What could ever be wrong with honey??
Day 1
9:36 Juice 1 – “Green Juice” Romaine, Celery, Cucumber, Apple, Spinach, Kale, Parsley, Lemon.  It is really green, but not as bad as I thought.  Smells worse than it tastes.  Tastes very clean, like a salad with fruit in it.  It actually is quite refreshing after spending 30 minutes in the sweaty, humid subway.  Everyone at work is eager to see me suffermy progress. 
11:27 Juice 2 – Pineapple, Apple, Mint.  THIS IS AWESOME!!  Throw some vodka in here and I could drink this everyday!  I am feeling hungry though and I don’t know if this juice is gonna do the trick.  Also everything is moving in semi-slow motion, like I just don’t have my normal spring in my step. 
1:02 Juice 3 – “Green Juice” Romaine, Celery, Cucumber, Apple, Spinach, Kale, Parsley, Lemon.  I am starving.  Couldn’t hold off until 1:30 when I planned to have Juice 3.  Not as refreshing now that I’m not a soggy, sweaty subway rat.  Just bearable now.  Still hungry after drinking all of it. 
3:37 Juice 4 – Spicy Lemonade.   More sweet, not at all spicy.  This is pretty delicious but not the flavor profile I was craving at the time.  I really wanted something salty and crunchy – Cheetos would have been perfect.  My stomach was rumbling pretty loudly before I had this juice, but 20oz of water managed to confuse it into thinking it was a little fuller.  I’m starting to notice the high level of acidity in all these juices…should I counteract with a proactive TUMS?  Is that allowed?  I just read that canker sores or cold sores can develop as that’s a sign of the toxins exiting your body.  So my juices might make me look like I have herpes…great.
6:14 Juice 5 – Apple, Celery, Beet, Lemon, Ginger.  I started Juice 5 only to stay on schedule, not because I was hungry.  Not my favorite one in the bunch, but way better than the Green Juice.  I drank half of it before my Zumba class, and half after.  I felt great during Zumba, my energy level was up and I didn’t get lightheaded or feel weak.
9:37 Juice 6 – Cashew Milk.  Now I know what everyone was raving about when they talked about this “juice.”  It tastes like watered down leftover milk from a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  I felt fullest and most satisfied after drinking this one.  
I was pretty tuckered out by 11:30 (my usual bedtime is more like 12:30) and fell asleep right when my head hit the pillow.  I woke up feeling super peppy at 8:00.  Usually I am dragging myself out of bed at 8:20, but on Day 2 I was ready to cartwheel across our studio to the bathroom.  Results of Day 1 — 3lbs lost!  Whhaaaattt?!?!?  Let’s get Day 2 started!!!
Epilogue
I won’t go into as much detail for Days 2 and 3.  I’ll just note that these days weren’t much easier like the reviews claim.  I started to grow an immunity to the Green Juice, but the hunger pangs and cravings for Cheetos never went away.  I would describe it as being in a constant state of un-satisfaction for 3 days.  I also really missed warm food.  I got into the habit of smelling hot foods, as if inhaling them was almost like really eating them.  I even made Mr. S let me smell his breath after he had some pizza for dinner.  He didn’t think it was that weird.  True love.
I didn’t make it through the 3 day post-cleanse since it only took 8 hours for me to succumb to a bowl of spaghetti and meat sauce made by Mama Rice Ball.  For those of you who have had her spaghetti before, you know I stood no chance of winning that one.  It wasn’t without consequence though because I woke up in the middle of the night with stomach pains.

Probably the hardest part about the cleanse was living a normal social life.  I had to decline 2 dinner invitations, pass on tickets to a Mets game, and force Mr. S to eat dinner before I got home – all just so I could avoid the temptation of solid food.  It helped to keep myself busy with non-food activities, so I actually enjoyed being at the gym because it meant being away from food.  Also, it helps to stay away from Instagram because food porn is tor-ture.

Would I do the juice cleanse again?  Most likely yes — hey, weight loss is weight loss and I got so many compliments on my glowing skin.  Next time around though I will definitely recruit more masochists participants and schedule it during the most boring, un-fun 3 days of the year.

** Poop Alert!  If you don’t like poop, stop reading now**
For those of you wondering about my #1s and #2s, there were definitely a lot more #1s than #2s.  Some people could debate that a few of those #2s should really be classified as 1.5s…

Domesticated for one night only

I don’t cook.  At least not regularly.  To me, cooking dinner is an event that requires mental and physical preparation.   When people ask me, “Do you cook?” I respond, “Sort of.”  And it’s only “sort of” because my definition of cooking includes heating up things that were previously frozen, which I know is not real cooking.  But lucky for Mr. S and me, I am excellent at ordering!  Living in NYC, there are 5 major food groups: Pizza, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Mexican – all of them equally convenient.
So it must be a very special occasion when I do try to “whip up” something in the kitchen.  And by “whip up,” I mean research the dish I will make online, go to the grocery store to buy the required ingredients (because I have none of those so-called kitchen staples), precisely measure each ingredient using measuring cups and assorted spoons, and meticulously put together my dish using no less than 3 pots and pans.  Oh, and all the while, running back and forth from the kitchen to the laptop to make sure I am correctly following the recipe’s step-by-step directions.  See why I don’t cook often?  It’s exhausting.
But last night, I must have been feeling inspired by the 20 Costco chicken breasts staring at me from our freezer.  Why do we buy bulk chicken breasts if we don’t cook?  I have no idea.  All I can say is that we got a good deal on them.  I checked out the rest of my existing supplies in the refrigerator and cabinets: garlic in a jar, Dijon mustard, breadcrumbs, and dried herbs and spices.  The only reason I have these things on hand is that they are the non-perishable leftovers from those rare occasions when I was feeling particularly domestic.  I avoid looking at the stamped expiration date on things that come out of my refrigerator and have faith that my 5 senses alone will let me know if something has gone bad. 
I thought that all those ingredients would go well with chicken, but I did a quick Google search just to make sure.  Lo and behold! – my planned concoction did exist and it was called “Easy Breaded Dijon Chicken.”  Sounds delicious.  Any recipe I attempt is marked as either “quick” or “easy.”  I can’t imagine the damage my kitchen would endure with something called “advanced.”
And so, my normal cooking pattern began: sit at laptop, run to kitchen, measure 1 1/2 tablespoons of mustard, put in bowl, run to laptop, run to kitchen…and so on and so forth.  It’s a good thing we live in a small studio.
Here’s a list of my ingredients and supplies (I also made roasted asparagus and couscous):
  • 2 chicken breast halves, skinless & boneless
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon or basil
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (who actually makes fresh breadcrumbs?!)
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley  (I didn’t have this and it was only for garnish, so I omitted it)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 box 5-minute couscous
  • 3 large dishes – 1 for defrosting chicken, 1 for soaking chicken, 1 for breading chicken
  • 1 baking sheet
  • 1 other baking vessel (I don’t know the technical term for this thing)
  • 1 small pot
  • 1 small pot lid
  • tongs
  • measuring cup
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 3 forks (used in the cooking process, not for eating)
  • 1 big knife
  • 1 small knife
  • 1 cutting board

I should mention at this point that our small studio comes equipped with a very small sink.  It quickly overfloweth. 
One thing I am pretty good at is orchestrating the various cooking times and the final reveal.  Voila!

It wasn’t as pretty as the online version, but still tasty.  When Mr. S got home from the gym I announced my good deed for the day:
Me: I made dinner!!! (cue trumpets and confetti)
Mr. S: I see.  It smells good.
Me: Hurry, hurry, try it, try it!!
Mr. S: I have to shower first.
Me: EAT IT NOWWWW!!!!!
Mr. S: Ok, ok.  Are there carbs in couscous?
Me: I don’t know.  You don’t have to eat the couscous.  (That only took 5 minutes of my time…I didn’t care about his opinion of instant couscous)
< Mr. S eats while I hover over his shoulder >
Me: So is it good?
Mr. S (mouth full):  Yup!  Good job!
Although I’m sure Mr. S knows better than to answer that question with anything but an enthusiastic affirmation of my cooking skills, I really do think my Easy Breaded Dijon Chicken was a success.  Another one for the history books!