Random

A month and a half ago I wrote a post titled Random.  I’ve decided to turn that into a series of “Random” posts, similar to my “Adventures” posts – but instead of writing about my latest Adventures, I’ll write about whatever random things I’ve been into lately.  Enjoy the randomness!

Serial Update
I talked about Serial in my first Random post.  If you’re still not listening to this outstanding podcast, I ask you – what the hell are you waiting for?!  I’m proud to say I’m a part of the fraction of listeners who have been tuning into serial since the very first episode.  Week by week, I waited eagerly for each episode to be released on Thursday mornings – no binge listening here (not going to lie, kind of jealous of those people). And now, ten episodes in, everyone is doing it!  With 1.26 million downloads per week, you can be assured that bringing it up at your next holiday social engagement is a sure-fire way to stir up conversation.  So get listening!
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And for those of you who are smart and have been listening – check out this awesome Serial People Map I found on the Serial Facebook page.  It’s hard to keep everyone straight, especially if you’ve been listening to the podcast for two months like I have.  There are tons of other timelines and maps – check em out and tell me what I should check out!

Columbus: #1 City for Single Women?!?!
You C-busers have likely already heard about the articles published last week stating that Columbus, Ohio is the #1 city in the US for single women, according to the website datingadvice.com.

Yes, you read that right – the #1 city for single women!  Say what?!  This was based on the number of available men, and that’s not per capita.. it’s the actual hard numbers.  I find it very hard to believe that there are not more than 137,281 single men in New York City or LA or Chicago.

As a single woman (well…until very recently…plus, maybe they mean single vs. married?) who has been dating in Columbus for years and years….all I can say is, if we’re #1, that paints a really dire picture of the rest of the US.  Now, I know that the “grass is always greener”, and that dating is challenging no matter where you live.  But I have a very hard time believing that this is really the best city for single women.  Really?!  The Midwest, where people get married at the ripe old age of 25?!  The city with one of the largest gay populations in the country?  Of course, the article doesn’t mention that probably half of those single men play for the other team.  Or are secretly married.

But O-HI-30 is all about viewing the glass as half full – so if you’re single in Columbus and you haven’t tried online dating, what are you waiting for?!  #1!

Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea / POM Wonderful
Couple shout-outs to some recent grocery finds!  Well, the first one isn’t so recent, but I’ve been drinking Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea like crazy now that it’s the season.  It’s like peppermint tea meets a York peppermint patty – actually, it’s like a candy cane!  Goes really well with all those cookies you’ll be enjoying in the office this month.
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Second, at the grocery store yesterday I picked up this awesome container of pomegranate Arils.  What the heck are those, you ask?  They’re the little tiny seed-like goodies that make up a pomegranate.  I usually buy whole pomegranates this time of year and shell them myself, but it’s such a pain in the butt that I haven’t this year.  So when I saw this container on sale yesterday for just $2.50 – the same price as the whole fruit itself – I thought it was too good to be true!  Turns out, I think it was – it rang up as $4-something – but I asked the cashier about the discrepancy and she ended up giving it to me for free!  #youonlygetwhatyouaskfor  #score.
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I enjoy them in salads or in my morning yogurt / oatmeal.  Try it!

The Best Tights
This one’s for the ladies – sorry gentlemen, please keep reading!  Now ladies, if you’re like most women, you’ve searched far and wide for the perfect pair of tights.  How many pairs do you have that are too tight, or too short, or itch, or fall down?  For me, the perfect pair of tights is easy to get on (not a lot of careful pulling and tugging), sits extra high on my waist (easily to the the belly-button), is smoothing but not suffocating, and is just the slightest bit sheer.  Enter these  Xhilaration Tights from Target!  At just $6 a pair ($5 last year), they are cheap enough that you won’t feel bad if they snag….but they rarely do!  I have lots of black pairs as well as a plain grey, charcoal gray, and two shades of purple.  The key to buying tights it to buy them a size up…or at least go big – I buy mine in Med/Tall (I think height goes up to 6’o” for that size) so that there is lots of extra room.  I also see that Target sells extra-long ones online – if you’re tall, maybe check those out too!
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What are you randomly into these days?

 

Leftovers

I know Thanksgiving was a week ago and any leftovers you had are long gone, but this leftover creation is just too good not to share!  By Sunday, my Mom – who is the queen of not wasting food – had had enough of Thanksgiving leftovers and was about to toss out some plain cooked sweet potatoes.  Good thing I intervened!  I had been planning on making a sweet potato chili of sorts that night, so figured I could re-purpose them somehow.  My mom also gave me her immersion blender the night before when I mentioned wanting one for Christmas – score!  So on my drive home, I had a bright idea – since the sweet potatoes were cooked (read: almost mushy) and I was the proud new owner of an immersion blender, why not make a coconut curry sweet potato bisque of sorts instead?

On my way into town, I stopped at the grocery store, googled my vision, and quickly settled on this recipe: Curried Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk.  Of course, I modified it, but I needed a base from which to build.

I doubled the recipe and baked a few more sweet potatoes while I was cleaning that late afternoon.  I also had an acorn squash that had been sitting on my counter for longer than I’d like to admit, so I decided to throw that into the oven too.  By the time I was ready to make the soup, the sweet potatoes and squash were cooked through and cooled slightly.

I failed as a blogger and didn’t take photos of the process, but did manage to take one of the final product:
sweet potato soup

The soup came together very easily and with minimal effort.  Wyatt was my sous-chef and helped me decide what spices and how much we needed (lots of taste-testing in this one).  I also learned that he’s an excellent veggie-chopper – the salad that we served the soup with had some teeny-tiny red peppers and green onions, which I love but am always too lazy to chop so fine!  These are clearly traits one looks for in a partner.  We ate the soup with some crusty bread and the salad while sitting on the couch – three remotes is the making of a romantic ambiance.
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Made with leftovers or not, this soup is definitely worth whipping up this weekend!  It’s one of those soups that gets better with age – I’ve been eating leftovers all week and the flavors really melded.  Enjoy!

Coconut Curry Sweet Potato Soup
Adapted from About.com
Makes ~8 servings (freezes well)

5 medium sweet potatoes, baked or roasted
1 acorn squash, roasted
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Olive Oil
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
~1 32 oz container veggie or chicken broth
2 14 oz cans light coconut milk
plain greek yogurt, sriracha hot sauce, and crusty bread (for serving)

1.  Saute onion and garlic in some olive oil for ~ 5 min, until translucent
2.  Add spices and stir constantly for ~30 seconds.  Remove from heat.
3.  Scoop the sweet potatoes and squash from their flesh into the pot and coat with the onion and spice mixture.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for ~15-30 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.
4.  Using a food processor or immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.
5.  Add coconut milk and stir well.  Simmer for ~5-10 mins.  Taste and adjust spices as needed.
6.  Serve with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and some sriracha hot sauce as desired. Enjoy with crusty bread!

How did you use your Thanksgiving leftovers?

Thanksgiving

Happy December, everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend filled with family, food, and relaxation.  We always do Thanksgiving with my Dad’s side of the family, who traveled from Massachusetts, North Carolina, and that state up north to my parent’s house in Cleveland for the long weekend (and my brother flew in from NYC!  We missed you, Atlee – she’s in Israel!).  It was a loud, fun, loving weekend together.  Some highlights:

1.   All. The. Food.  aka, “Ode to Laurie Chait”

Thanksgiving Dinner!

Thanksgiving Dinner!

I could (and probably should) write an entire blog post dedicated to my Mom, the hostess.  Words cannot begin to describe the amount of preparation and work that goes into welcoming ~10 people for 4 days straight.  I know there are plenty of families with larger Thanksgiving Dinners than mine, but most people don’t start the feast the day before and end it three days after!  Over the course of Wed – Sat, my mom fed everyone multiple meals, just one of which was Thanksgiving dinner, and all of which were homemade: three types of soup and grilled cheese, a Mediterranean feast, and chili (along with many many leftovers). We only “ate out” once – pizza Saturday night (served with salad, of course)!  She ran the dishwasher three times PER DAY – which means she unloaded the dishwasher three times PER DAY.  Now, of course my brother, Dad, and I pitched in, but as only the woman of the household can understand, when it’s your house…things are just different.

My Plate

My Plate – Round One

Mom, you’re the best.  I can only hope to be as gracious and warm a hostess as you one day!

2.  Cards Against Humanity
A couple of weeks ago I bought Cards Against Humanity – “A party game for horrible people”.  If you’ve never played the game, I insist you buy yourself an early Christmas present and gather a group of your most raunchy friends (or in my case at Wyatt’s Friendsgiving, total strangers) for hours of hysterical laughter.  My brother and I were just about to start a rip-roaring game of Scrabble when he said to me, “You know what we should do sometime?  Play Cards Against Humanity with this group.”  I stared at him and said, “I have it upstairs!”.  Siblings thinking alike.  So we gathered up the crew minus the little girls (sorry, Devon and Dylan – soon enough you’ll be old enough for highly inappropriate humor!), sat around the fireplace, and spent the next two hours laughing uncontrollably and being surprisingly (and somewhat strangely) comfortable with the amount of dirty things being said by our parents and other more “mature” relatives.  We played until there were no cards left.  I’d call that a win!  #newtradition.

Just some of the family

“How Does Obama Unwind?”

3.  “The StairMaster Incident”
On Saturday morning before “The Game”, my Dad took me, my brother, and my cousins Debbie and Talya to his gym to work off one bite of pecan pie.  After taking Debbie and Talya through this workout, Talya and I hopped on side-by-side StairMasters for a little calorie-burn, 80’s style.  I’ve been using the StairMaster at my trainer’s gym, and the one there has the user input “steps per minute”, which are typically between 80-100 for me.  So, I entered in “90”, but this StairMaster was programmed by level and not steps per minute….meaning my entry of “90” took the machine up to its max level of speed, 20.  Which was probably the equivalent of 180 steps per minute!  It started racing, and before I could figure out how to stop it I had crashed to the ground.  Aside from a banged up ankle I was totally fine, and highly amused  – especially when the old man running the front desk rushed over to ask me if he should call “9-11”. So, yeah…that happened.

4.  OSU vs. M*ch*gan
OSU: 42.  M*ch*gan: 28.  Need I say more?  Never mind how we got there (with great difficulty) and the fact that our star second-string QB is now hurt (poor JT…).  The right team won!

Buckeyes!

Buckeyes!

5.  Family
Despite all the craziness that comes with this weekend every year, I’m so so so grateful that everyone makes the effort to travel far and wide to be together.  I’m very lucky to have such a fun, lively, supportive family where anything goes and everyone can be themselves.  I love you all, and look forward to seeing you again in 360ish days!

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From Left to Right: Debbie, Cliff, Talya, Dad, Me, Dylan, Devon, D, Jake Mom. Not Pictured: Aunt Neva, Uncle Yossi, Cousin Atlee

What were the highlights of your Thanksgiving weekend?

Holidays

The Holidays are here!  ‘Tis the season of overspending and overeating, right?  I’m not going to try and tell you otherwise – the fact is, the Holidays have a reputation of being stressful for a reason.  There are presents to buy, festive gatherings to attend, family members to see.  Talk about expectations!  Add to that the copious amounts of cookies, wine, and fancy hors d’oeuvres, and it’s no wonder many people start the new year with loosened belt buckles.
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I’m no expert, but I have read my fair share of health/fitness magazines and healthy-living blogs over the years, and I think I do a pretty good job of maintaining my weight (and sanity) throughout the stressful Holiday season.  So I thought it might be helpful to share some tips for how I stay “healthy” without sacrificing enjoyment during the Holidays.  Keep in mind, these tips are just some of what works for me – to each his/her own!

Top Five Tips for Staying Sane and Healthy During the Holiday Season

1.  Be picky:  The Holidays are full of tempting occasions:  office potlucks, cookie exchanges, cocktail parties, family dinners – the list goes on.  Each of those occasions is bound to be filled with an assortment of tempting food and drink – cheese plates, fancy appetizers, kiss cookies (a personal favorite), popcorn tins, red wine.  When you’re feeling spirited and jovial as we tend to around the Holidays, it’s easy to want to “live it up” and eat and drink everything.  But if we do that, we’re bound to consume things we don’t even like that much, or aren’t even special.
So before eating something, I like to ask myself:  do I really like xyz?  Is it something special for the Holidays?  You’d be surprised the number of times the answer to those questions is “no”.  Cheese plates are a good example – yes, they are tempting, but do I really want a boring cheddar cheese cube and cracker?  Instead, I prefer to save my calories for foods that I know really are unique to the Holidays, like my work husband’s (yes, that’s a thing) peanut butter buckeye balls.  He brings them in every year and every year they are to-die-for.  #worthit.

2.  Be mindful:  This is a tough one for me, and one that I’ve worked on over the years.  My eight-year-old self wants to eat all. the. cookies.  Why stop at three when I can eat 25 and be no worse for the wear?  Except the problem is, I’m not eight anymore.  I’m 30, and I can’t eat 25 cookies and not pop out of my pants, or at the very least feel gross.  It’s more important to me to feel good and fit in my clothes than it is to eat 25 cookies.  But of course, knowing that and actually putting it into practice are two different things.
That’s where mindfulness comes in.  Instead of eating all 25 without even registering the action, I savor each cookie.  I take small bites, I eat slowly, and I take mental note of what I’m eating and how it tastes.  If, after two or three cookies, I really really want another, then I have it.  But I am consciously making that choice rather than mindlessly consuming just because it’s there.   This, when combined with tip #1, makes for a much more satisfying experience – I’m eating something I really want and really paying attention to how much I’m enjoying it.  After all, isn’t that the key to life?

3.  Start healthy:  Throughout the month of December, cookies and treats line the spare tables in my office more than discarded sheets of paper.  It’s nearly impossible not to be tempted by them.  I love cookies, and I would hate to think of a December without enjoying some (or many) of them.  But one thing I never do is have a sweet before lunch.  I’m always amazed at the number of my co-workers who mindlessly (see #2) grab a cookie before they’ve even checked their email.  To me, that just sets the stage for a day of over-eating and sugar crashes.  Instead, I eat a healthy breakfast (future post!) and lunch before indulging in any sweets.  That way, I’ve saved my sweets for a time when I actually crave them – after lunch, not before.

4.  Make time to exercise:  This is a big one!  All the time I hear of people, even regular exercisers, who just throw in the towel during the month of December.  I’ve even read interviews with celebrities who claim to not exercise the entire month (yea, right).  I, on the other hand, believe in the exact opposite, and not for the reason you might think.  Yes, exercise might help you maintain (not lose) weight over the Holidays.  But more importantly, it helps you feel so. much. better.  I feel the same way when I travel for work – even if I eat a ton, getting in a workout helps me feel like normal.
You might be saying, “but I’m too busy to workout!”  Yes, you might have to skip a workout to attend your work Holiday Happy Hour,  but you don’t have to skip all of them.  Schedule exercise into your day the same way you schedule showering, and I guarantee you’ll find room most days.  As I tell my Spin class, “if there is one thing you do during December, make it coming to Spinning on Monday nights”.  Workout in the morning, arrive at the party an hour late (no one will care that much), squeeze in a quick two miles at lunch.  Make it work for you.  If you can find a way to exercise throughout the Holiday season, I promise you that at the very least, you’ll feel less stressed and more in control – and who doesn’t want that?

5.  Go easy on yourself:  Last, but definitely not least, go easy on yourself.  There is nothing that drives me crazier than all these health magazines and their recipes for “lightening up the Holidays” or suggestions to have “just one drink”.  Come on, people – the Holidays are meant to be enjoyed!  Of course, that doesn’t mean you should eat and drink everything in sight (see #1 and #2), but it does mean that if you have a few too many cookies or glasses of wine, the world won’t come to an end.  I try to view the next day, or even the next meal, as a fresh start.  There really is no point in obsessing about something you already consumed.  So yes, be picky and be mindful, but after that, just enjoy!  After all, isn’t this the most wonderful time of the year?!

What are your tips for staying healthy while enjoying the Holidays?

Adventures

Slightly delayed, but I thought I’d share some Adventures from this past weekend!  Enjoy!

Wine and Brunch
On Friday night, Jackie and I had a date night at Sidebar 122, a wine and tapas bar downtown.  The atmosphere was cozy, the wine toasty, the food tasty, and the company fabulous.  Jackie and I used to go on date nights all the time – don’t get me wrong, we still do, but probably not in the frequency we did when we 25 and felt the need to hit the town every Friday and Saturday night.  Another big difference is that now, when we go out to dinner, we’re home by 10:30 with a sleepy wine haze instead of hitting up Bar Louie and surveying the man scene.  #30.  We drank this fabulous bottle of cab (I had more than my fair share…hey, she drove!) and a few tapas: goat cheese and tomato “dip” with pita, the house salad, and mussels.  It was tasty!

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Then, on Sunday, I had a to-die-for brunch at The Crest in Clintonville.  I wrote about dinner at The Crest back in this Adventures post.  I love The Crest – what’s not to love about a gastropub?  Great drinks, great fries, cozy atmosphere.  I had been to The Crest for brunch once before and wasn’t as impressed (my breakfast tacos lacked flavor), but this visit was an entirely different story.

My “date” and I shared the Fig and Goat Cheese Waffles and the Breakfast Burrito, along with hot coffee.  As a savory breakfast person, it’s very rare that I order waffles or pancakes for brunch.  But we both thought these waffles sounded too good not to order (ok, to be fair, he wanted the strawberry and basil waffles…but I won out), and they were to-die-for.  The waffle itself was just slightly sweet – not overly figgy or goat cheesy.  That glob on top?  That’s a honey goat cheese ball – yep, a honey goat cheese ball!  And the breakfast burrito was also very tasty – the chorizo was a bit spicy and the cream sauce on top was really flavorful.  We did not eat all of this – not even close – but I may have eaten the leftover burrito a couple of hours later.  I will be back, and hopefully soon!
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Girls on the Run 5K
On Saturday morning, I braved the freezing temps to participate in the Girls on the Run 5K!  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Girls on the Run is a nationwide not-for-profit organization that conducts 24-session programs to teach girls physical, emotional, and mental well-being skills.  At the end of the 12-week program the girls participate in a celebratory 5K event.  I’ve been volunteering as an assistant coach with the group for many years and believe wholeheartedly in their message.  Future post!  But for now, I’ll leave you with a photo of the race right before it started – it’s hard to tell, but the road was packed with girls ages 8-14 – not something you see everyday.  So fun!

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Thanksgiving #1
On Saturday night, I attend my first of three Thanksgiving dinners – and I don’t even like Thanksgiving dinner that much!  Some friends of Ashley and Johnny’s invited me to their annual “Friends Thanksgiving”.  It was my first time attending such an event, and it was really enjoyable!  Chris and Sarah’s home in German Village felt like an English cottage – so quaint and festive and cozy.  The food spread was quite impressive – check out Chris at the head of the table (and this was just some of the food! Note that his wife Sarah is not pictured).
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Unfortunately, my contribution to the feast was a complete bust.  I made my Mom’s Cranberry Orange Jello, which is more salad-like and less jello-like and is super refreshing when served with turkey and mashed potatoes.  I’ve made it before with success, but this time it did not properly mold and I had to throw the entire thing away!  I know what I did wrong (not worth getting into), but suffice to say this is why I hate “baking”.  Luckily I also brought a fresh green salad for something light, so I wasn’t completely empty-handed.  Hopefully the two dishes I’m making for Thanksgiving #2 (“Friendsgiving”) this weekend – cornbread stuffing and green bean casserole – turn out better than the jello did!

Thanks, Chris and Sarah, for including me in your lovely evening!

Horses
I saved the biggest adventure for last – horses!  Up until Sunday, I had never been up close and personal with a horse.  And then that changed!  The new man in my life, Wyatt (yes, I know you’re thinking “new man?!”  yes, I’m still thinking that too!  He’s not getting a formal introduction today, but I promise that will come.  sit tight and keep reading:)), grew up riding horses thanks to his mother.  Apparently he was really good in his heyday, and continues to stay close to the sport by visiting his family’s two horses on the regular (1-2 times / week).  When he learned that I had never been around horses, let alone ride one, he just had to change that!

Pericles

Pericles

So on Sunday afternoon (after the epic brunch), I donned my most barn-appropriate clothes, some old boots, and a brave face and headed to the horse barn!  Wyatt’s family has two horses:  Pericles and Perseus (he was a Classics major…).  His mom rescued both horses – Pericles is an off-the-track Thoroughbred rescue and Perseus a Palomino Quarter Horse.  Pericles can be ridden (carefully – he’s pretty feisty apparently), but Perseus can’t be – at least not right now.  Persues is lame in his front hoof due to complications from an abscess from stepping on a nail in a world competition (yes, I may have pulled that description directly from a text…you think I can remember all of that?!).

Persues

Persues

Before you get all excited thinking that I actually rode a horse, I didn’t.  But I did touch them!  And groomed them and even picked mud out of their hooves (that’s the technical name for it).  I also watched Wyatt ride Pericles, and found that I actually kind of enjoyed being in the barn!  Imagine that.  I’m told that I was more comfortable / natural than most newbies and that horses feed off that energy – I call that a win 😉  Hopefully it won’t be my last time in the barn – maybe I’ll even ride some day!

Quite the weekend of Adventures!  Here’s to another one ahead!

Six!

O-HI-30 is six months old today!cropped-logo-white-ffffff.jpgOn May 18, 2014, my 30th birthday, I posted my first post to O-HI-30: my 30-before-30 list. It’s hard to believe that six months and 43 posts have passed since then.  This space has been more rewarding that I ever imagined. Yes, it’s provided me a creative outlet to share my experiences as a 30-something in Columbus, Ohio.  But it’s been so much more than that.  Through this space, I’ve felt connected to all of you in a way I didn’t know was possible; strangely enough, I’ve felt less lonely.  Something about putting words on the page (ahem, screen) has been cathartic in an unexpected way.

To honor this milestone, I thought I would do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while – get organized!  You’ll see that on the menu bar at the top of the page, I created some new pages to categorize my posts in a way that might be helpful for readers both new and old to locate posts on a specific topic(s).  I also promise that I will go back and categorize all of my posts – that’s just a larger undertaking 🙂  I invite you to check out the four new pages:  food, fitness, fellas, and fun to see some of my favorite posts all in one place.  My personal favorites are perhaps the most introspective: Rejection and Expect.  But I also love Sweat and Tofu (it’s not as scary as it looks!).

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I hope that in these posts you have found something that speaks to you – whether it’s what to make for dinner tonight, how to navigate the online dating world, or that time I peed my pants during a triathlon – or some of the other 40+ posts over the past six months!

Thank you, reader, for making O-HI-30 a part of your day! Because let’s face it:  writing is enjoyable, but writing knowing that others are reading?  That’s what it’s all about!

 

 

 

Music

Recall that a few weeks ago I posted about the playlist I made for Ashley’s first marathon.  I received so many positive comments on that playlist that I thought it would be fun to continue the subject!  So let’s talk about music, shall we? (or, as one guy I Tindered with back in the day called it – “musaq”, as in “I lub me some live musaq”  yea…never went out with him).  Specifically, my favorite songs of all time.

Over my 30 years, there have been a handful of songs to which I simply cannot stop listening.  Hundreds of other songs come and go in my rotation, but these top songs remain strong.  When I find a song I like, I listen to it – over and over – and over and over.  I know you’re thinking “everyone does that”, but I’m telling you….I get obsessed.  As in, listen to the same song on repeat…for days.  And with these songs, that obsession lasts much longer than a week or two – it’s a love affair that lasts for years.  A lifetime!

Note that I’m not saying these are the best songs of all time, or the best artists.  I’m just sharing that these are just the songs that I’ve been obsessed with at various points in my life, and continue to be obsessed with to this day.  Judge all you want – I’m not ashamed!

Without further ado, here are my five favorite songs of all time:

  1. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
    My work BFF Jenny introduced me to Call Me Maybe before it was popular, back in the spring of 2012, forever changing my life for the better.  I even re-wrote the words for my Hanukkah Party invitation – “Spin Me Maybe“.   This song makes me happy in a way no other song can – when it suprises me on the radio I just know it’s going to be a good day!
    call me maybe
  2. Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding (Also the Glee Cast version!)
    My friend Cullen introduced me to the Glee version of this song first when she played it in her Spin class last fall.  I then went back and discovered the original version and fell in love.  For a long time I only listened to Ellie Goulding’s version, but then I started listening to Glee’s version and got hooked.  This song speaks to me in a way very few songs do – I just LOVE it.  I’ve probably listened to it more than any other song ever.  
    anything could happen
  3. Crash (Into Me) – Dave Matthews Band
    Ah, a classic.  Goes all the way back to high school when my crush would play this on his acoustic guitar.  I no longer pine over him when listening, but it’s still a beautiful song and gets me swaying my body no matter where I hear it. Crash_Into_Me
  4. Canon in D – Johann Pachelbel
    Before you start thinking this has anything to do with weddings, believe me – it doesn’t!  My love for this song goes WAY back, probably to the age of five, long before I knew it was associated with walking down the aisle.  My Mom discovered it when she saw the movie “Ordinary People” in the 80s, and her love of it rubbed off on me.  We both have a CD of “Pachelbel’s Greatest Hit” – 12 versions of the same song.  My favorites are #2 and #3.  Although it’s supposed to be a happy song, I find myself listening to it in times of sadness.  It’s simplistic beauty soothes me in a way that Call Me Maybe can’t.  And, yes, when I get married – you better believe I’ll be walking down the aisle to this song!  Cliche, maybe.  Beautiful, always. pachabel
  5. Feels So Good – Mase
    And here’s the wildcard – Mase!  Those of you who know me know I LOVE 90’s hip-hop!  It’s half the reason I became a spin instructor.  And this is by far my favorite hip-hop song.  I really wish I could dance, because if I could it would be to this song.  Let’s be honest – I boogie down to it anyways, just not very well.  I also can rap the lyrics fairly well – in my next lifetime, I want to be a rapper.  Feel_So_Good

Runners Up:

Of course, there are many many others.  And there will continue to be more in the future.  After all, the first two songs in the list only came into my life in the last two years!  My top five list may look a little different in 10 years – but I’m willing to bet I’ll still be rocking out to those songs on a regular basis 🙂

What makes your list?!

Allison

This past weekend I flew to DC to visit my high school BFF Allison, her husband Enrique, and their 2.5 year-old daughter Mirah!  If you recall, they came to Ohio this summer and visited my parents and me:

Friends = Family

Friends = Family

Now, before you get too excited and think “I Love DC!” (as so many people have reacted), this wasn’t that type of weekend.  Yes, Allison does live in DC proper (NW side near Takoma Park, MD), but I’ve done the DC touristy thing multiple times.  And now that she has a daughter, it gives us the excuse to do what we do best – eat, shop, and watch TV!  Allison and I have a long history of making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, hitting the racks of TJ Maxx, and watching shows like “The Practice” together.  With that, you can pretty much guess how our weekend went, but I’ll take you through the play-by-play anyway!

Friday
I arrived at Reagan National around 5, and all three of them picked me up – what a lovely welcome!  And because it was dark and Mirah is young, we headed straight to dinner at their local Friday night spot – an El Salvadorian “deli” of sorts that I’m guessing doesn’t have a website!  Much to my disappointment, it also didn’t have bowls of chips and salsa or a liquor license, but I got over both 🙂  I let Allison order for me – a bean and cheese pupusa and a chicken taco, along with a fresh juice.  We also shared these fried plantains for a little sweetness.  I enjoyed experiencing their Friday night family tradition!

dinner 1-3

dinner 1

dinner1
We arrived home before 7 – yep, you read that right – before 7!  In my effort to bribe Mirah into becoming her favorite “Aunt”, I showered her with some gifts – stickers galore!  Apparently she is in a sticker phase (awesome), and they made their way onto my sweater the next day.
mirah present

stickers on sweater

Once Mirah was asleep, and Allison and I did some major catching up (exciting times in both our lives!) we decided that we were either going to go to bed at 8:30 (not a problem for me!) or make her mother’s famous oatmeal chocolate chip walnut cookies.  Guess what we decided?! Despite the fact that we were already in our PJs (leggings, not printed flannel pants), we tossed on our boots and headed to the local Safeway.  Turns out, Allison not only didn’t have the chocolate chips, but was missing critical ingredients:

grocery

Crisis averted.

Back home, we whipped up a batch using her amazing Kitchen Aid mixer!  I make these cookies once a year in my apartment kitchen, and I always get so frustrated with my hand mixer (and the fact that my brown sugar is never soft).  I wish I had counter space / a desire to bake more than once a  year / a wedding registry so I could get a Kitchen Aid!  We ate about half the batter before baking, obviously.  (and I took this photo after the first batch went in the oven).

cookie dough

cookies

Yep – the taste as good as they look.  I ate about 1000 over the course of the weekend.  (In actuality, I exerted an impressive amount of self-control, only having about 10 all weekend.  Which is saying something given the fact that one year, I ate an entire batch myself in one visit).  I tried to watch an episode of The Good Wife with Allison and Enrique, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open – so off to bed at 10:30 it was!

Saturday
Saturday morning started off like the best ones do – with a chilly but beautiful run!  Allison and Mirah had to drop Enrique off at Judo, so I laced up my sneaks and ran 4.5 miles around a loop near the house.  Followed by coffee and breakfast.  An ideal morning.  Around 10:30 we headed out for our shopping extravaganza – starting with a brand-new and giant TJ Maxx!  Mirah was easily entertained by looking at pictures of Susan on my phone – smart girl.  Check out this giant dressing room shot – girls trying on sweater dresses!

dressing room

clothes

After Allison tried on (and bought) the entire store (I bought a white down coat – casual), we headed for some much needed nourishment at Cosi.  After a quick bite it was onwards – to DSW and Marshall’s!  Again, Allison bought a lot and I bought very little – just a black long-sleeve shirt.  I heart shopping with Allison!  By that point it was after 3 and Mirah had had enough with Mommy taking out her credit card, so we headed home.  Enrique followed a short time later, freeing up Allison and I to get pedicures!  For some reason, this pedicure felt exceptionally good – the chairs were like a religious experience (as Allison described it), and for just $23 we got pretty feet.

The rest of the evening was spent at home, making this lovely dinner of homemade mac & cheese, roasted kale, and roasted cauliflower (with pine nuts and lemon).  It hit the spot, as did this amazing bottle of red.  At first, they didn’t think they had any red wine – but a trip to the basement produced a fantastic cab that made me very happy!  And ps, I had about 3 times that amount of mac & cheese.  Tasty, especially with some sriracha (which Mirah also insisted on putting on her plate).

dinner

dinner plate

Sadly, I was not able to watch the Buckeyes beat Michigan State as the only games on local TV were lame schools (no cable), but I got plenty of detailed text updates (you know who you are!).  That was, until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer (again!) and hit the sheets at 10:30 (again!).  I was very happy to find the winning text when I woke up in the middle of the night.  Go Bucks!

Sunday
Sunday started off the same way Saturday did – with some cuddle time with Mirah in my guest bed, followed by another run!  This time, a walk/run with Allison and Mirah in the jogging stroller:

run

And then we ate our weight in greasy diner food, and it was amazing.  Chocolate malt included!

breakfast

After brunch and zipping my overflowing suitcase (it was a team effort), Allison drove me to the airport – but not after one last shopping trip!  This time, a different Marshall’s and Nordstrom Rack.  I bought a super cute sweater dress at Marshall’s.  And somehow managed to shove it in my already overflowing suitcase.  #win.

And with that, I was on my way back to Ohio.  I had such a nice time and I’m so glad I made the effort (and paid the cash) to visit.  Just like I wrote about in this post, friendship takes effort.  It doesn’t maintain itself.  Allison and I have not lived in the same city for over 13 years now, and yet we remain the best of friends.  Actually, she feels more like the sister I never had.  And that’s because we both make effort – we talk on the phone at least once a month, email on occasion, and see each other in the flesh as often as possible.  Sometimes a year passes in between those visits, other times just a few months (like this trip!), but I know we’ll always be in eachother’s lives – like sisters.  Allison is planning to visit Columbus early next year – sans Husband and Child!  I’ll miss seeing Enrique and Mirah, but it will be fun to relive the old days.  Don’t worry – there will still be plenty of shopping and TV involved – just more eating out and less baking (no Kitchen Aid!).

Another reason to visit?  I want Mirah to think I’m her cool “Aunt”!  And when Allison sends me a photo like this, saying that Mirah announced she wanted to “go for a run” after I left – I know I’m making an impact 🙂  She’s even wearing a Garmin watch!

mirah run

So.  Cute.  Can’t.  Stand.  It!

Thanks, Allison, Enrique, and Mirah for hosting me!  Til next time.  xoxo.

Adventures

Time for another Adventures post!

Halloween
Call me unAmerican, but Halloween is not my favorite Holiday.  As creative as I might appear at times in this space, don’t let me fool you – I’m not really creative.  At least not when it comes to things that require me to be crafty.  Words, maybe so, but don’t you dare ask me to sew or knit or make a wreath for my front door.  So, naturally, Halloween brings up all sorts of anxiety that I’d prefer to just avoid entirely.

Alas, I was invited to Halloween party this past Friday where I was told there would be “designers” present – aka, people with incredible costumes.  Blood pressure rising.   I couldn’t attend said party without a costume – who wants to be that person? – so I racked my brain.  What could I be that was a. somewhat clever b. not purchased at Party City for $50 c. somewhat meaningful and d. not slutty?  If I think about my favorite costumes from previous years, they include a massive pumpkin (hilarious) and political figures (Sarah Palin and Ann Romney – I have a thing for conservative women).  I debated re-creating my Kelly Kapowski costume from senior year of high school, but that would require multiple trips to Goodwill, and that just didn’t sound like fun.  Plus, who is Kelly without Zach?

I was lamenting about this to Matt, and he came up with a wonderful idea – “Why don’t you dress up as a crazy cat lady?!”.  I mean, I pretty much already am one – so much so, that my friend Cullen gave me a t-shirt that says “Ask me about my cat.”  With that shirt as the foundation of crazy cat lady’s costume, I set out to purchase some plush cats from Amazon, Velcro tape, and slippers – and this masterpiece was born:

cat lady

What you can’t see is that my socks have cats on them (already owned, obviously) and that I have five cats attached to me – in the hood and pockets of my robe in addition to the ones you can see on my arm and head!  I also carried some jingly cat toys (again, already owned, obviously).  The costume, while not remotely sexy, was funny – and enough of a hit that I didn’t feel completely out of place, which of course is the goal at a Halloween party.  And I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the costumes at the party where in the same range as mine – and some were even more lame!   #winning.  360 days until I have to come up with another Halloween costume!

Side note – yes, that is a beer pong table in that picture.  #college

Cleveland
On Saturday, my friend Caitlin and I drove up to Cleveland to attend a “political gathering” of sorts with my parents and some of their like-minded friends.  In effort to keep this a mostly bipartisan space (with the exception of this post), I won’t get into the details of our evening.  But suffice it to say I’m glad we made the effort to attend – it was interesting to say the least.  The following morning, we joined my parents and their friends Riana and Frank on their version of Sunday Church – a walk around Cleveland!  We walked five miles (I ran some) along the lake in Edgewater Park and into Ohio City, where we ended up at Town Hall for brunch.

run cleveland

Town Hall is on W. 25th St. in Ohio City, one of the up-and-coming areas of Cleveland.  If I were living in Cleveland, I would probably live there (or maybe Tremont).  The West Side Market is located there, as well as a bunch of new restaurants and my beloved Mithcell’s Ice Cream (future post!).  After being seated at another restaurant, we got a call that our table at Town Hall was ready (10 minute wait instead of the 45 they quoted!), so being the Chait’s we promptly left our table (no drinks yet, don’t worry) and headed over to Town Hall.  And I’m glad we did – it lived up to my parent’s hype!

town hall

The place was packed with Browns fans (the game was on at one, and we won!), and the atmosphere was lively and cozy.  Check out the brunch menu (part of it):

brunch

I opted for the Eggwich, and was not disappointed!  The English Muffin was baked in house, elevating an otherwise fairly simple egg sandwich to a whole other level.

egg sammy

I was very impressed with Town Hall – and Cleveland, in general:)  Don’t worry, though – I’m not moving back any time soon 🙂

Vote! vote

And, finally, I leave you with a picture of my voting location this morning.  I heart my polling location – it’s literally next door to my apartment building, so all I have to do is drop off my bags in the car, walk over, vote, and walk back to my parking lot to head to work.  There was no line today (suprise, suprise – although one formed behind me), so the whole experience took maybe seven minutes.  There is just something about voting in person on Election Day that I love – feels like I’m a part of something greater.  I love it even more when I have to wait an hour or two to vote for the President – Hillary 2016, baby!  (What was that I said earlier about bipartisanship?)

vote

Did you vote?!  I certainly hope that O-HI-30 readers are the voting kind 😉

‘Til next time!

Online: Part IV

It’s the moment you’re all been waiting for:  Part IV of my series on online dating!  Before I get into that, I just have to take a moment to wish all the felines out there a Happy National Cat Day!  Take a moment to pet your cat, then read this post.

OK, now back to dating.  For those of you who are new to O-HI-30, I consider myself an expert in the subject of online dating.  What makes me an expert?  Oh, just five years of on-and-off experience (mostly on) with the four different dating sites shown in the Quantity vs. Quality graph below.  In Online: Part I,  I explain how I got into online dating to begin with and provide an overview of the market as I see it. In parts II and III I provide deeper insight into Tinder and OK Cupid, respectively.  In tonight’s post, I’ll discuss a dating site that most of you are likely unfamiliar with: JDate!

Why do I say that you’re probably unfamiliar with JDate?  Because it’s for Jews!  Yes, the “J” in “JDate” stands for Jewish.  As in, a dating site for Jewish Singles.  Think Christian Mingle or Farmers Only, except for Jews (and minus the commercials – the target audience is too small!). The need for JDate is real.  Jews make up less than 2% of the US population, which means that Jewish men make up less than 1%!  Combine that statistic with the very small population of Jews in the Midwest, and you can begin to understand the need for JDate.

Of course, the above implies that Jews actually care about meeting other Jews, which isn’t necessarily the case for everyone.  I, for one, am not at all committed to the idea of marrying a Jew, which is a darn good thing seeing as I’ve never dated one (and only kissed one, which is a very small percentage…).  Growing up on the West Side of Cleveland made me very comfortable being “the only kid in town without a Christmas tree”, and I guess that mentality has followed me into college and well after.  So needless to say, I know very few Jews.  I’d also consider myself a secular Jew – one that feels very culturally tied to the religion, but not religiously in the least.

That being said, I do care about raising my children Jewish – at least in some sense.  My parents impressed upon me how much easier it would be to raise children in a Jewish culture if I married a Jewish man.  That made sense to me, so a few years ago I set out to meet a Jew.  And what better way than JDate?  I wasn’t about to start attending synagogue, after all!

So for a small fee of just $40/month (much, much higher than other sites), join JDate I did.  Right off the bat, I knew this site was….different.  One of the very first questions they asked me – after my zip code – what whether I kept Kosher and to what extent.  Um, is “bacon-enthusiast” one of the choices?!   I was also asked what sect of Judisam I considered myself (again, is “bacon-enthusiast” an option?”), as well as my synagogue attending habits.  Looking back at my responses below, I clearly was delusional when I completed this profile – I haven’t been to Synagogue on the High Holy Days in years, and as I said before, I’m more culturally Jewish than Reform (although I was raised Reform).

Picture1On top of the above questions, JDate also asks you a number of other basic questions, like height, hair color, and oh, WEIGHT.  Yes, that’s right, I said WEIGHT.  Now, mind you, every other dating side on the planet asks you just to describe your body type – “slender”, “athletic and toned’, “about average”, “curvy”, etc.  But JDate?  No…JDate wants a NUMBER.  In my experience, most men think that all women weigh 110 pounds regardless of height or body type, so tell me, JDate – how does a number really help?  You don’t believe that my body style is “Athletic/Fit”?  You need a number?!  Also, note that I do not weigh 132 pounds – in fact, it’s more like 135, but when I told my mother this as I was filling out my profile, she said – and I quote – “Oh, Honey.  Put 130 pounds”.  Classic Jewish mother – and to think she converted!  Alas, I compromised with a nice 132.  Because I’m sure if I had put the truth, all 135 pounds who have sent men running in the other direction.

The rest of the questions are pretty standard, with the exception of “Ethnicity”.  It was a while ago, but I’m pretty sure I had to ask my Dad – are we “Sephardic or Ashkenazi?”
Picture4

Once you get past their ridiculously expensive membership rate and their desire to know your weight, JDate really is a decent dating site – if all that you care about is meeting a Jew.  After that, the rest is just as much a mystery as any other dating site.  But I will say that in my limited experience with JDate, I did meet some higher quality men.  The first time I joined, I did it for a single month with the mission of going on as many dates as I could during my break between semesters of my MBA program.  During those one or two weeks, I went on three dates with three different JDaters.  I don’t need to tell you that none of those worked out, but I can tell you that in general, I found the men to be of pretty high quality.

But here’s the kicker:  there are NO MEN on JDate!  I don’t know why this surprises me (see population comment above).  By the time I do a little bit of narrowing down the search (and I’m much wider on JDate than Match.com), the search results in a whopping 50 or so men.  And before you say, “well, 50 is a lot!”, let me tell you – it’s NOT.  My Match.com search shows me at least 250+ men, and it’s far more picky.  Not to mention the fact that at least half of those 50 men have not been active in months (meaning they probably met someone or just don’t care to date right now).  And even worse, many of those men aren’t even current members of JDate – they let their membership expire (did I mention it’s expensive?), and yet JDate still leaves their profiles up available for searching.  So really, the number of eligible Jews is very very small.  Looking at the graph I created above, JDate should actually be so far down the Y axis (Quantity) that you can’t even see it – it’s way off the chart.

On top of these frustrating search characteristics, JDate is also one of the most annoying – dare I even say, unethical – sites I’ve ever come across as far as marketing practices go.  For example, multiple times a day I receieve emails that say, “We’d love to introduce you to xxxx” – basically, just another guy who I maybe match with.  Not one that emailed me, not even one that “flirted” with me – just another Jew on the site.  They’ll also send emails with teaser subject lines like, “You’ll want to see this one” – effective, but also very immature.  Just look at my Gmail account – JDate is to thank for well over 75% of the emails in my “social” folder (thank goodness Gmail invented that feature).  Overkill.

gmail

And the worst part?  They consider a “flirt”, which is basically the equivalent of a “wink” on Match.com or a “poke” on Facebook, to be an email.  If you’ve never done online dating this likely doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but let me tell you – it is!  Earlier this month, JDate sent me their 1,000,000th email, informing me that I had “12 messages waiting for me” and that I should subscribe to read them.  Well, curiousity got the best of me, so I coughed up my $40 – only to find out that almost all of those messages were actually not messages at all – just lame “flirts” from men that live in Indiana – no message whatsoever.  I was so mad that I called the company to demand my money back, but was unsuccessful.  Needless to say, I made sure my account doesn’t automatically renew at the end of this month.

And this time around, unlike the time I joined a few years ago, I haven’t been on three dates – in fact, I’ve been on zero.  I sent three emails and heard back from zero.  I did get this one email from a real charmer, making me consider whether JDate should even be on the right side of the X-Axis (Quality):Picture3Say what?

In case you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of JDate right now.  Perhaps it’s just because Columbus is too small a market for JDate – I’m sure it’s a different story in NYC and other big metropolitan cities.  But if you live in NYC, who even needs JDate?  Half the men you meet are Jewish anyways!  It’s a good thing I don’t care much about marrying a Jew, because at this rate – I won’t be 🙂

Stay tuned for my final part in the Online series – my beloved Match.com!  Shalom, everyone!