Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The reveal

About 8 weeks ago I was a bit bored and randomly started wondering if any tattoo artists are capable of making a tattoo look like Indian-inspired henna --- only permanent. I did a few google image searches and was brought to the image of an absolutely fabulous tattoo that looked like it could be henna. I looked around the flickr site that was associated with the image and one thing led to another…. I was soon at the website of The Tattoo Factory in Chicago where the tattoo artist who made the amazing design works. Strange that she would be in Chicago… Then I read a bit about her and found out that she was voted #1 in Chicago for 2008… Even better. So then I thought about it for a day or so and decided that it could be the perfect time to get inked! I’m turning 30 soon and all that jazz. Plus, I had some henna done while I was in India and I didn’t want it to disappear. There was a particular peacock segment that struck my fancy and I kept staring at it, not wanting it to fade.


I emailed the parlor and within 10 minutes, had an email from Dawn, the tattoo artist. As she’s #1 in all of Chicago, she books far in advance so I made an appointment for June 28th. I knew that I could always change my mind, but honestly, in those 8 weeks, the only issue I had was trying to talk myself out of where I wanted the tattoo placed – the foot. I was thinking that I should pick somewhere less conspicuous… But what would that be? Basically my lower back or my stomach. As I don’t show off either of those areas very much, I was not too thrilled. Plus I couldn’t picture a henna design in either place. I read and read and read all that I could about foot tattoos – healing times, difficulties, pain. It’s a place on the body that some artists refuse to tattoo because of the discomfort as well as getting it “just right.” I knew that Dawn could do it, though, as I had seen some of her other amazing works. Plus, I decided that if I’m going to sit through the pain, I want it where people can see it and also, it was my vision and getting it somewhere else would be quite disappointing in the end.


I committed. I also managed to get Ken to decide to get a tat as well.


And then I waited. And waited. I ordered Topless Sandals and canceled my gym membership for the month of July.


The weekend finally got here and I was kept occupied with numerous parties and times with friends. We managed to score a place to stay for the weekend and I chatted with some friends who have foot tattoos to see about the logistics. One of the parties we attended was literally sharing a wall with the tattoo parlor (ironic). We chatted with a guy named Hank outside at 10 p.m. on the night before the big day. He really put things into perspective and calmed our fears. He said that human nature is to shirk from pain, not to push yourself to do something that inflicts pain, which is why it can be altering and so important (and addictive).


On Sunday morning, we ate a large breakfast at Kitsch’n and I stored up energy with chocolate chip/banana pancakes. We got to the parlor supremely early and despite being in Uptown, there was nothing to do except visit Aldi or open a cash account.


In the days leading up to going to get the work done, I started getting nervous more about the pain than anything. I have seriously bony feet! But also a very large canvas to work on….


Ken went first at the parlor and was quickly in the chair and getting a permanent quote on his shoulder blade – “i tramp a perpetual journey”… He was very honest with me as I started to settle into my chair that it does hurt. That it does not feel pleasant. And I think he was a bit worried about the outcome of my decision.


Meanwhile, Dawn began to prep the area and had printed out a couple of photos from the internet that I had passed on to her. And then she started drawing. I soon had a lovely, lovely, lovely paisley peacock on my foot. Larger than I had originally planned on, but I told her I wanted detail and not a big black blob on my foot. I fell in love with the design immediately and told her to go ahead with it without any changes. While she started, I began to get really nervous about the pain factor as just drawing with the pen was hurting a bit! But we proceeded and after the first few minutes where my foot kept twitching involuntarily, I got my hip in the right placement and we rolled on through. One hour later and numerous visits from Ken to check my well-being, I stepped out of the chair with the most perfect tattoo that I could have ever imagined!


Dawn is truly talented. And although she probably wasn’t too thrilled with my nervous chatter she gave me a sucker at the end for being a “good girl” on my first tattoo.


And did it hurt? Heck yes. It did not feel good, especially at certain bony points. But was it going to make me cry or meltdown? No. Could I sit through it for a 4 hour piece? Probably not.


I’m so pleased! And those Topless Sandals stuck to my feet from 3 p.m. – 2 a.m. without budging. In fact, I’m wearing them now. I show people my ink and they say, “Awesome! But, what is the deal with those SHOES?! Those are crazy!!!!”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Barter time?

I’m thinking of quitting the gym.


Shocker, I know. It’s $62 a month which I find to be ridiculous considering that I only use it for spinning classes. I usually go to 2 - 3 spinning classes  a week, so 8 - 12 a month. It’s over $5 per class on a good month when I’m actually available to go to the gyms on weekends. I have Jillian at home. I can run outside until about November. But I really like spinning. Has anyone had any success with bartering with gyms? I have suspended my membership for the month of July but still have to pay $15 to keep it active. For that $15, I am getting 3 visits that I can use. What if I offer the gym a deal? I’m willing to spend $35 a month for just spinning capabilities. Obviously they have a way of tracking a certain amount of visits per month since they are doing it for me for July. Can’t I just spin for 8 – 10 times a month for $35? If they think they are going to lose the full $62 as an alternative, maybe they’ll consider my deal. I can see desperation in their eyes during this touch economic crunch. They are doing all sorts of contests, painting rooms, adding lockers, and throwing up posters with new upcoming events. Ever since they lost their top instructor and classes dropped from totally full to about 8 people showing up, things are looking a bit down for the gym. I could threaten to join her gym instead…


The reason that I’m suspending my gym membership for July? Still a secret.


And the reason I might also be suspending my gym membership for August? A potential work-related journey to China (and maybe Thailand)!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hilarious. And sad.

Hilarious. And sad.

Wow. That's all you can say to that. (Click link above)

Friday, June 19, 2009

A little mood booster.

Why my job is worth the stress ----

Students are returning from their semesters overseas and this morning I got an email from one of my favorite students who simply stated, "Hell of a semester, Rach."


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Who knew?

I’m a big fan of reading recipes online and then storing them away to be made at a later time. Unfortunately, I’m the ultimate kitchen klutz and generally anything I touch while cooking turns inedible. So, if I think there is actual potential, I forward it on to Ken to get him involved in the process. This week I was inspired by a “french fries” recipe that involved butternut squash. Essentially you peel and deseed the squash, cut it into little “fries,” salt and pepper to your heart’s content, and bake in the oven. With ketchup, it was supposed to turn out like actual french fries, but a healthy version. Ken was quite keen to try this recipe and we decided to give it a go yesterday. Unfortunately, it’s not really squash season and the store only had acorn squash. I pretty much though that by buying the wrong type, I had already cursed the recipe from the beginning. After 40 minutes of baking, though, some lovely little fries emerged from the oven. With a dab of high fructose corn syrup-infused ketchup, deliciousness ensued!


Ken affirmed that this was one of our greatest successes of all time in the kitchen and the recipe will be repeated on a regular basis. In the words of that other Rachel/Rachael, “YUMMO!”

How does she do that?!

I’m still on my “I heart Jillian Michaels phase” and finally opened up the third DVD that I purchased online. It’s called “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism” and I was a bit skeptical of how good a cardio-only workout can truly be in a living room. Despite the 5 star reviews, I had put this one off. I cracked it open on Monday and did the full 7 cycles that are included in the workout. The first cycle left me wondering if I was actually going to get a good workout. It was okay, but nothing that left me “gurgling my heart” like Jillian goes for in her other DVDs. Then as the second cycle began, I realized I was sweating and by the 4th cycle, I had turned a lovely beet red and was cursing Jillian’s existence as I contorted myself upside down, inside out, topsy turvy during her “core” circuit. After three more cycles, which thankfully allow a bit of time to catch one’s breath, I went back to tell Ken I was done with the living room. One look at me and he said, “What happened to you?!” Yes, once again, Jillian beat me up. And I loved it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A taste of summer.

We’re on a rotation at work where each coordinator gets a ½ day on Friday every couple of weeks. Last Friday was my lucky week and I refused to just go home and watch TLC. I ran out of the office at 1:00 on the dot and headed home for a nutritious lunch with Ken before I shattered all calorie counts for the rest of the afternoon. We drove up to Michigan and the so-called “Wine Trail.” We went back to Tabor Hill winery where I tasted some of their wines and Ken helped himself to some highly addictive truffles by Norman Love. We sat outside and soaked up some sun and information from a highly-knowledgeable owner/employee. Wild peacocks, wild turkeys, goldfinches, hummingbirds. Tabor Hill is a happening place! After taking care of my thirst at the winery, we headed just down the road to Round Barn winery which has a lovely little barn. I skipped the tastings here and just settled in under a tree with a nice Riesling. I might have been getting a bit giggly and unfocused at this point, but I knew that I wanted mussels for dinner and I was going to do whatever it took to get them. Luckily, Ken doesn’t take much convincing and we bought some lovely bivalves at the grocery store, some fixing for a summery bruschetta and a sushi roll. With the help of more white wine, we feasted on amazing mussels and I could literally taste summer.


On Saturday I started my stint as a volunteer at Ten Thousand Villages. It began with a lady sprawled out on the floor after passing out from sudden pain, but then got to be more normal. It’s a really pleasant experience because, while it is retail, the people who shop at this store and the other volunteers make it a friendly and pressure-free atmosphere. I resisted buying everything in the store and settled on some fairly traded chocolate as a treat. I really enjoyed myself and signed up for my second day of volunteering in July.


Then after a wonderfully weird and tasty dinner that Ken made (sweet potato with black bean/tomato mixture on top), we headed out to eat our chocolate bars at a movie, The Hangover. OMG. Hilarious. I can’t say anything else. I might start laughing outloud and that would be embarrassing.


On Sunday, after hitting the gym, we grabbed lunch at the Uptown Kitchen and had the most delicious Soft-shell Crab Po’Boy. Wow. And we dined al fresco with a cute puppy to watch. Sitting outside inspired us to head to the apartment complex pool that afternoon and although the water was way too chilly for grown-ups, it was nice to be out in the sun.


Essentially, I ate my way through the weekend and it was fabulous. Can’t wait to do it again!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


The gym has purchased 10 spanking new spin bikes. Which means… they have to ditch some of the more rundown versions we were using before. I was thinking of purchasing a used spin bike and had actually recently spent some time gathering advice. Now all of a sudden 5 bikes are calling out to me. “Buy me! Buy me!” But they are $200. And we have one bedroom. A bike in the middle of the living room? I think not. And if I bought a bike, I’d really need to cancel my gym membership since that’s the only reason I even go to the gym any more. I have Jillian now afterall. But would I get the same benefits at home? I’m hypercompetitive and I’m not sure I could push myself as much alone. If I did spend the $200 and quit the gym, I’d have paid off the bike with 3 months of gym memberships and then I’d be free and clear.


My coworkers tell me to buy a bike because if I ever *gasp* have children, it would be good to have around the house since apparently gym-going disappears with small babies and tots. Who’d have guessed it?! Maybe I should buy the bike now, keep my gym membership and just be ready to use it later on? Or I could just wait until a gym is getting rid of a new set? And these bikes are notoriously horrible. There’s a reason they were selected to leave the gym premises. They squeak and stick and cause general misery. I could get it refurbished though.


I guess if this is my biggest dilemma in life, things must be going pretty well.


I have suspended my gym membership for July and the reason why will be revealed in due time. I may also be suspending it for August (also a bit of a secret for now). Exciting!!!

Monday, June 08, 2009


I’m not sure if it’s completely normal or not, but I go through some serious food stages. I’ll get on a kick and eat the same thing over and over and over again. Recently, it’s been peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. I went for years without having one of these and now whenever I’m trying to decide what to have for lunch on a weekend or even for dinner, my cravings come back to glorious, ooey, gooey PB&J. In fact, I ate two PB&J sandwiches yesterday alone. Although that has something to do with the fact that the Boyfriend (now known as Shugerhugger) is out of town.


For lunch the past 8 months I’ve been eating Progresso soup, carrots and an apple every single day except Fridays in which the entire office knows I’m going to “go all out” and get Subway. But it’s warm now and I’m tired of soup. Plus, Shugerhugger keeps warning me about the whole MSG thing and those “Natural” soups are absolutely foul. So since my appetite has been through the roof lately (thanks to working out with Jillian and building muscle?), I’m switching up my lunch routine. I wanted to buy some Kashi frozen meals last week, but the local grocery store doesn’t carry their frozen lunches, so I bought some of those new Lean Cuisines. They were tasty, I must admit, but the ingredient list made me ubernervous. What are those things that they put into my panini? Is that really necessary?!


So this weekend, I went to the “fancy” grocery store and grabbed up some Kashi lunches. I had the Southwestern Chicken dish just a few moments ago and it was absolutely amazing! And although the ingredient list is quite long as well, I knew what everything was! Cilantro! Lime! Wheat! Score! I’m superexcited for my selections for the rest of the week and might even have to opt out on Subway on Friday. Whoa. Going all crazy this week.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Should I do the Avon Walk again in 2010?

It's already time to start considering a potential return to walking next year. And Houston's event is in April which takes off two months from my fundraising/training time. PLUS, I just really want to post my first poll!

  • Save Second Base in 2010! (4 votes)
  • Perhaps wait until 2011 or later to hit the ground for boobies. (0 votes)
  • There's plenty of time to think it over. (1 vote)

Trekking for Ta-Tas.

This time last year I was walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It became one of the biggest accomplishments of my life so far --- raising a ton of money and walking a marathon and a half. Nothing to sneeze at. I was so inspired during that weekend and yet knew that I wasn't going to be capable of participating every year. Thankfully, plenty of others took up the challenge and Laura and I headed downtown to cheer on my old colleague and walker buddy, Patty. We found her at the cheering station at the 10.7 mile mark, and joined others with sizably bigger lungs than us in rah-rahing the walkers. It's unfortunate that the weather wasn't as amazing as last year, but I'm sure that everyone still had a fabulous time!

Laura and I also hit the Printers Row fair/sale and I had my first bite of falafel. I've never had it in New York so I'm not sure what I'm comparing it to, but it was delicious! Unfortunately (or fortunately), the rain kept us from really getting our "shop" on and we left empty-handed.

I'm contemplating doing the walk next year. Perhaps in a different city besides Chicago?! Perhaps...Houston? Perhaps with a couple of people I know down in Texas?!?!

Friday, June 05, 2009

New blog, perhaps?

I'm currently testing out the internet waters with a new blog host at: http://rahrahrachel.onsugar.com/. Come and check it out!

I think mostly chicks follow my blog anyways (if anyone does!)... This is definitely a girl-geared hosting site.

I might be back to blogger in the future, but for now...check it out at onsugar.com.

Vitalicious & Totally Not Lying!

Vitalicious & Totally Not Lying!

I'm very much addicted to Vitatops. They aren't cheap but with just 100 calories and 1/4 of my daily fiber and tons of vitamins and minerals, they're a great investment for my health. Don't tell, but they're even better heated up and with just a smidge of ice cream and warm chocolate syrup. Keep those light and it's still a healthy and chocolate-y option!

A bit of sweating, a bit of swearing

Recently I decided to fight impending workout boredom with a brilliant idea to get workout videos via Netflix. A free and easy way to try out new routines without committing to anything extraordinary. I started my experiment with Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred. It received amazing reviews and boy, oh boy, I was sweating like a freak at the end of my workout. It’s rare when you can push yourself so hard in your living room that you feel like passing out. And it’s not just the exercise. It’s the motivation that Biggest Loser’s Jillian provides. “There are no shortcuts with jumping jacks. If I can get 400 lb people jumping, you can do it too.” She's one tough cookie.


So that was the end of my Netflix experiment. I promptly ordered not only this video off of Amazon, but also two of her other videos which also got rave reviews.


Now I find myself shaking the walls of the apartment as I jump around like a lunatic and am totally loving the challenge. It’s so much fun and is keeping me motivated! I highly recommend the set to anyone (even without trying the third DVD yet… it will get cracked open this afternoon). The carpet is going to need to be cleaned because of the amount of sweat that I’ve poured onto it. Go, go Jillian and go, go Rachel!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Something fresh & new---

Why the new blog location? Why the new look? Why not?

I have found it difficult to get inspired looking at my blogspot page. I needed a new location to make myself feel more interesting. Plus, I tend to work with smaller tidbits of information these days as I don't have long sagas to write about. I think this onstar will be better for that. And polls! And quizzes! Fun!

Why the paisley theme? Hmmmm... that's going to have to remain a mystery for about 4 more weeks.