Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In the summer, summer, summertime of 2010 or, a Happy List Plus Five.


Summer's flying by so damn fast - how is it July already?
{But I'm not really complaining.}
So far, this has been one of the best summers I can remember - full of love, full of friends and full of transitions.

Here's just a few things that are making me smile in this "summer, summer, summertime."

- Quoting the only Will Smith song I like (see above line, and the title of this blog).
- Air conditioning.
- Boneyard on Sirius.
- Fantastic daytrips.
- Deck parties with friends.
- Walking after the sun goes down.
- Blasting my newly declared summer soundtrack, The New Pornographer's "Together" nonstop.
- Ice cream. Often.
- Hot dogs. Often.
- Concerts, concerts, concerts.
- Endless sunshine.
- Going over to the dark side as an iPod user.
- Happy days.
- Happy nights.
- And of course my favorite footwear:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Phlog from Jim Thorpe

One of my favorite nooks in Northeastern Pa. is Jim Thorpe.
I've written about "America's Little Switzerland" before , and every time I go back it seems as if there's something new to discover.

This trip, which I made last Friday as part of my Birthday Extravaganza, I seemed to discover a penchant for taking pictures of flowers and trying on vintage hats.

Without further ado ...
{Aside from the hat pics, I think this one's my favorite. I just love the colors and textures.}
{This was such a Dorothy Parker hat - I loved it!}
{A view of the gorgeous Packer Mansion from Molly Maguires.}
{View of the Packer Mansion and Jim Thorpe from Flagstaff.}

Learn more about Jim Thorpe for yourself by clicking here


For cake's sake - my interview with Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss

Cake is one of my favorite things in the world.
What's not to love about a perfect slice of cake smothered in a creamy butter cream?

It was with great pleasure I recently interviewed Buddy Valastro from TLC's hit show "Cake Boss" for this week's Weekender. I love the show so much, partly because Buddy and his family remind me so much of my Italian family, but also because I'm always fascinated how he can make such amazing cakes out of, well, cake. My favorite one by far is his Leaning Tower of Pisa cake he made for a wedding. It was absolutely stunning.

Read the interview here, and enjoy these three pictures of cake. Glorious, locally made cakes I recently had for my 33rd birthday.

{The fish-shaped cupcake cake from my coworkers.}

{The cake from my parents, it's a marble-cake purse with a red velvet hatbox, red velvet, of course, being my most favorite cake in the world. The "flowers" on the left are actually cupcakes, and there was a cake slicer in the shape of a shoe!}

{Side view, it's precious, yes?}

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I am no longer this person ...


Nope - I FINALLY got high speed!!
I'm completely enthralled by it - and am going around saying "Do you know what you can do on the Internet?" in complete fascination.

Never mind that the reply is usually "Welcome to 2004, Nikki."
Oh well, better late than never, right?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Books of 2010: "When You Are Engulfed In Flames"

A few days back, I was perusing the fella's bookshelf and came across David Sedaris' "When You Are Engulfed In Flames."

I picked it up, briefly leafed through it and immediately fell in love.
There are so many things to love about Sedaris:
- His wit.
- How utterly ridiculously brilliant he is.
- How honest - and neurotic - he is.

I have never laughed out loud to any book like I did reading this one.
From his catheter-like Stadium Pal, to his fascination with a spider he named April to - unbeknownst to her - racing an overweight woman with Down syndrome in his community pool, Sedaris is all sorts of wrong, which really means he's all sorts of fabulous and all sorts of fun.

I was so disappointed when I read the last page, but luckily, a friend is letting me borrow "Barrel Fever," which I immediately started reading.

While not as funny yet as "When You Are Engulfed In Flames," it's still brilliant.
I can't believe it took me this long to discover this author!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Big weekend looms!

It's gorgeous here in Northeastern Pa.
Summer's looming.
Flowers are blooming.
And I've got a big big big weekend ahead of me.

The fella and I are driving out to Long Island to Meet His Parents.
We're going to eat seafood, play mini golf (or "putt-putt" as I like to say), hit the beach and a bunch of other things I am super excited about.

But the most exciting thing of all is meeting the people who shaped him into the guy I've been waiting my whole life to find.

{I just love love love this photo from findstuff22, don't you?}

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Feeling French.

The fella and I had a very European evening last night.
We got a nice, fresh loaf of French bread, a chilled bottle of lovely, locally made white wine, a bowl of black olives, a tasty brick of pungent, Parmesan-like cheese, some soppressata and a little cheese tortellini with meat sauce.

It was a truly lovely meal, and another great date night.
Even though I wish we were both wearing berets.
{Though that didn't stop me from saying repeatedly my few known phrases from French 101 ... }


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Return of T(N)NR?

I'm feeling pretty darn proud of myself this week, and here's why, courtesy of my workout log:

- 20 minutes on the Air Climber
- 100 crunches
- 50 side crunches.
- a 1-mile evening walk
{never you mind the latter was after the fella and I ate leftover Frog Pond pizza and wings.}

- 2.5 mile walk with one interval
{two telephone pole lengths, not impressive, but baby steps, people!}
- 100 crunches
- 50 side crunches
- 50 lunges
- 50 squats.
{All were done before 7:30 a.m., and my legs are still pissed at me!}

Did my most-hated circuit from Fit magazine:
- 20 push ups
- 20 crunches
- 20 squats
- 20 lunges
- 20 side leg lifts.
{no resting in between. Waa!}
- 6-move yoga routine from SHAPE magazine.
{it makes me feel so damn powerful afterward!}

This was the most exercise I've done in weeks, and I daresay I really missed it.
{Now I wish I could just do that move pictured above without killing myself!}

Monday, May 3, 2010

On salt and milk.

I hate milk almost as much as I love salt.
If I never had to drink milk again, I wouldn't.
If I could have a salt lick without being considered a freak, I totally would.
In fact, said salt lick would be like my beloved mint ChapStick - always within an arm's reach in every room of my house, in my purse, at work, etc etc.
I would love to go to that roadside attraction building made out of salt.
{Google it. You'll see. And you'll see you can actually lick the building!}

Milk, on the other hand, is pushed to the back of my fridge where I stare at it disdainfully save for when I have my bowl of cereal every other morning
{I alternate cereal, usually fake Cheerios, with an egg-white omelet.}

I've always hated milk, ever since I was a kid.
It bothers my stomach, and the taste and smell really make me cringe. But I force myself to put extra with my cereal and never let myself throw out what's leftover in the bowl.
{A girl needs her calcium you know.}

For the past two weeks, I've not added salt to anything I've eaten.
I just decided one day to break up with added salt.
This is a major step for me - I seriously would put salt on salt if I could.

So now that it's second nature to not reach for the white shaker, I needed another challenge for myself, and it is as follows:

Finish my half-gallon of milk.
Every week.
Every single week from here on out.
I always throw a lot of it away on the expiration date
{I am very OCD about the dates on dairy products}
but going forward, beginning with the half gallon I have now, it will be emptied by ingestion.
{I hope I can do it without retching.}

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"I want to know what love is."


The title of this blog is also the title of my favorite song from one of my favorite bands, Foreigner.
I remember hearing it as a youngster, how it swept me away, especially in its chorus:
"I wanna know what love is/ I want you to show me/ I wanna feel what love is/ I know you can show me."

and then there's this tasty stanza:
"In my life, there's been heartache and pain/ I don't know if I can face it again/ I can't stop now, I've traveled so far/ To change this lonely life."

Even during the handful of serious relationships I've had in my nearly 33 years, I still wanted to know what love is, which probably means I hadn't found the truest form of love, huh?

So what is love, exactly?
My Random House Webster's College Dictionary defines it as:
"a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, esp. when based on sexual attraction. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection. a person toward whom love is felt. a love affair. affectionate concern for the well-being of others," etc, etc

Yeah, that really clears it up - not.

I think I'm ready to start defining love - my way.
- It's the way he looks at me.
- It's the way he holds my hand as he's driving, or I reach for his when I am.
- It's being so excited to see each other - every time we see each other.
- It's the way we're there for each other: to vent, to listen, to take care of, to be a sounding board.
- It's the way we make each other laugh.
- It's the way I feel when I'm near him, when I'm laying in his arms, when I'm looking into his eyes.
- It's hearing him tell me I'm beautiful, even when I don't feel it.
- It's him telling me how cute I am when I'm in my retched "Nikki-is-cranky-because-she's-hungry" mood.
- It's the smile I can't wipe off my face when I'm near him, talking to him or thinking about him.
- It's a million things that aren't going to make this list because there's not enough time or space on the Internet.
- It's hearing him say he loves me and having my heart swell every time.
- It's saying those three words and have them mean exactly what they're supposed to mean - for the very first time in my life.

Love isn't something that can be defined in a big old dictionary.
Love is a definition you come up with on your own - and it only took me 33 years to figure that out.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Books of 2010: "I Am Ozzy."

You may know Ozzy Osbourne for being Black Sabbath’s original vocalist, or maybe you know him from his successful solo career. Or perhaps your first thought is of him as one of the stars of the massively popular MTV reality show “The Osbournes.” But now people can know Osbourne as an author, thanks to his New York Times bestselling autobiography “I Am Ozzy.”

Co-written with Chris Ayres, “I Am Ozzy” recounts Osbourne’s life from his humble beginnings in Aston, England, to rock superstardom with and without Black Sabbath — and everything in between.

It was while working in a factory in Aston, and hating it, that Osbourne first heard The Beatles, and “a light went on in my head.” If those working-class kids could be in a band, “then maybe I could, too.”

Osbourne soon put up an ad in a record shop which led him to his Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. The foursome eventually went on to become one of the most significant heavy metal bands ever, selling more than 15 million records in the United States alone until Osbourne’s firing in 1979 for his drinking, drug use and “slagging off the band in the press.”

“I’m a lunatic by nature,” Osbourne writes, and readers get to see just how true that statement is. The singer has done just about every drug under the sun — including when he drugged himself with Rohypnol, the date-rape drug, while on tour in Germany: “F--k me, this stuff is real! … Then I was trapped between the bed and the wall, unable to move or talk, for about five hours. So I can’t say I recommend it.”

Anyone who’s watched “The Osbournes” knows Osbourne was often incoherent and indecipherable, but that’s only added to the Prince of Darkness’ charm, a charm that’s carried over into the book full of rambling storytelling. It’s also chockablock of delicious British words and phrases, like “bee up his arse” to describe someone who’s upset.

Obviously, it’s easy to wonder just how much of his life the perpetual alcoholic/addict actually does remember, but a disclaimer in the beginning of the book sums it up best: “Other people’s memories of the stuff in this book might not be the same as mine. … What you read here is what dribbled out of the jelly I call my brain when I asked it for my life story. Nothing more, nothing less.” The tone is distinctly “Ozzy” and oftentimes laugh-out-loud funny — and oftentimes shocking. Forget Osbourne biting the head off a bat and a dove or relieving himself on The Alamo; they’re just the half of it. There’s the tragic plane crash that killed his guitarist Randy Rhoads, Osbourne’s attempted murder of his wife Sharon, scaring his children with drunken/doped-up antics, killing a whole flock of chickens, and so on.

While not as riveting a read as other rockers’ tomes, like Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries,” “I Am Ozzy” is an amusing tale of the singer’s life of debauchery that he somehow miraculously survived, how Sharon ultimately saved his career — and saved him from himself, or tried to at least — and how he became a household name again to become “no longer famous for being a singer. I was famous for being that swearing bloke on the telly.”

Rating: W W W 1/2 (of 5 Ws)

* This review originally appeared in the Wednesday, March 17 issue of the Weekender with the headline "The madman writes"*

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let's play catch up, shall we?

OK, it's not that I've been all slacker with blogging.

Yes, life has been full and rich and fantastic (knock wood) the past month and a half since I last wrote, but most of it is because I still have not called for high speed Internet, and my computer is a persnickety little bitch sometimes that just refuses to let me onto to Blogger.

And I hate it and curse at it and come thisclose to hitting it with a hammer, but then, there are times like tonight when I actually had a rare burst of patience and it loads up just fine because I give it the time it needs to load because I'm doing Other Things Around the House.

It's win-win for both of us methinks.

Now let's bring Ramblings On up to speed:
- I'm still working two jobs, and while I enjoy the extra stipend, it's a pretty exhausting life I'm living, but I'm making it work. Or at least trying to.
{Pray that my dad wins the lotto one of these weeks, OK? Thanks.}

- I'm still struggling with the diet and exercise. It's hard dating a fellow foodie, but I'm happy, incandescently, stupidly happy with the boyfriend, so I take that, too, as a win-win. I just have to find that balancing act between the good eats together and the me doing Healthy Things in between. I'm getting there. Slowly but surely.

- We just got back from another romantic trip to New York City, where we walked the streets, saw the Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA (and an installation that included, but is not limited to, naked men humping a mountaintop, woman dancing in the rain nude and live naked people), ate cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery and CupcakeStop, took in an independent film ("When You're Strange," about The Doors)at the Angelika, shared a Monster Pizza and grew even closer to each other. I'm crazy about this man and I don't care who knows it.

Wow, a month and a half so neatly packaged into two paragraphs? Who knew?

Hope all's been well with you, if you're still out there and can bear with someone who still has dialup. I hope you can, because I feel like I'm getting into a really cool creative place again, so I hope you'll stay along for the ride.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Starve a cold? I think not.

After having a fantastically romantic time in New York City last weekend, I have been overcome with a terrible cold.
{Yes, I'm super glad the cold didn't show up during said fantastically romantic weekend, but that doesn't mean I want it here now.}

It's derailed my diet and derailed The (New) New Regime because the very thought of Air Climbing with a chest cold and stuffy head makes me want to get back in bed even more.

I ate Chinese take out three days this week - and enjoyed every damn bite I'll have you know - but when I got on the scale this morning, I saw that the number crept up a tiny bit which makes me sick ... well, sicker.

For the first time since starting T(N)NR, I've wanted to binge eat because I just want to feed the hell out of this cold to make it go away.

Looks like I've succeeded, except the cold is still here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Phlog from Pittsburgh trip, and other news.

It's been ages since I last blogged, and for that I'm sorry.

Since I last wrote, I:
- have lost - and kept off - a total of 10 lbs. since the beginning of January
- received a dozen red roses for Valentine's Day (for the very first time in my 32.5 years!)
- took a weekend jaunt to visit friends in Pittsburgh
- was declared a girlfriend. :)

My trip to the 'burgh was my first full weekend off since Halloween, and I so desperately needed it. I'm happy to report that there was a ton of booze, food and friendship from the whirlwind Friday-night-to-Sunday-morning trip - and I maintained my weight! In fact, I ate whatever the hell I wanted, but knew when to call it quits.
{Naturally, I am quite proud of myself!}

Following are some photos from the trip. It's been a while since I've done a phlog!

Self portrait en route.

Pretty Pennsylvania landscape whizzing by.

Blue skies all the way across the Keystone State!

I was fascinated by this teeny, tiny toilet in the handicapped stall at the Altoona Sheetz!
{By "fascinated," I totally mean I wanted to use it!}

More Pa. landscape, but there's a train track up on that there mountain!

Told you!

A dilapidated Hungarian restaurant just inside city limits.

"Because you deserved better than hotel soap."

Now that's what I call a welcome basket!

First highballs of the weekend!

... and in plastic cups!

Our first brews at the amazing Church Brew Works (read all about it here:)

The absolutely fabulous ones.

Me and Tiff - who I hadn't seen since her Oct. 17 wedding!!

The most amazing fish sandwich ever! I talked about it all damn weekend!

In front of the tanks at HofbrÀuhaus Pittsburgh - they did not let us put straws in, though we did try, Lord, we tried!

Taaa daaa!

Like booze, documentation is a form of preservation!

This is where the team that won SIX Super Bowl rings plays!!

Even closer to the Steelers' field!

Frolicking among Andy Warhol's "Silver Clouds." (Learn about his museum here)

Tiff in the clouds.

Johnny in the clouds, or my "avant-garde photo."


We're always up to no good!

On the bridge outside the Grand Concourse.

Snowy tracks.

Goth of the North, Nanook's long-lost sister.

In trying to hide the fact I was eating ice cream before a photo, I tried to hide the cup inside my coat, which caused ice cream to get all over my coat and sweater.
{In case you're wondering, it was Hershey's cake batter ice cream.}

See, you can't even tell I housed ice cream directly prior to this photo!!

The PGH skyline at sunset.

Ceiling inside the Grand Concourse.

Our wares from the Warhol: Johnny's are the soup cans; I have Jackie and the Andy quote: "I wonder if it's possible to have a love affair that lasts forever."