Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Summer Playlist

Happy Fourth of July Everybody!!!

Looking back, I realized that the 4th of July is actually a pretty significant holiday in my adult life.  I mean, in my head I think it should be a lazy holiday filled with just barbecues and fireworks, but there's been a lot of stuff that has happened around this holiday.  This includes: attending the wedding of my ex-boyfriend's dad (yeah - I am that girl who the family will always go "whatever happened to her?" when they dig out the wedding photos); multiple summers face-painting at the local Independence Day festival; my late boyfriend helped me move me into my current apartment (and I actually got prove to him my ability to problem solve by getting my futon in the door through one piece instead of taking it apart like he wanted to do); bonding with my mom on the Issac H. Evans windjammer cruise (best vacation EVAH!!!  Seriously, if you like boats you gotta check out the Evans); and to top it all off I spent last year on painkillers for my broken ankle.

So as I mentioned in a previous post, I started jogging after the broken ankle in order to make it stronger.  One thing that I have found out is that I am someone who really needs music out on my runs.  I know a lot of people discourage it due to safety concerns, but you just have to compensate by being more vigilant visually.  I just think that the music helps me set a pace both with my feet and with my breath.  This is especially important with my breathing seeing as I am an asthmatic (this is also why I don't like running in groups because while some people want you to tell your whole life story while you are trying your best just to breath).  I try to rotate my song lists every once in awhile so I thought I would post what my current summer running playlist includes.  Here we go...

The Sassy Strutter's Summer Running Playlist (no particular order):
  1. I Love It by Icona Pop (although I am using the Glee version...yes, I watch Glee)
  2. Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (don't care about the naughtiness, it has a sick beat)
  3. 212 by Azealia Banks (This is actually x2 because I have both the original and the version they used at the beginning of Pitch Perfect...cause that is Acca-awesome)
  4. Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO (fell in love with it during Madonna's Super Bowl)
  5. Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO (but I am using Spanglish version from when Ricky Martin sang's Hot!)
  6. Hot Girls In Good Moods by Butch Walker (Rob Thomas of Veronica Mars fame posted it as his jam one day and it clicked with me)
  7. Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars (Closest anyone is going to get to capturing the genius of the Police)
  8. Remix (I like the) by New Kids on The Block (Their new stuff is actually pretty good and sounds current)
  9. Home by Edward Sharpe & the Magentic Zeros (Pure California fun)
  10. Get Up Get On Down (Tonight) by Turbo Fruits (discovered them in the movie Whip It)
  11. I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift (Great song to listen to when digging into last reserves)
  12. 22 by Taylor Swift (Total guilty pleasure)
  13. High Times by Landon Pigg and featuring Turbo Fruits (Another song from the uber fun Whip It soundtrack, seriously one of my fave soundtracks of all time)
  14. Clarity by Zedd (but I have the Michelle Chamuel version from the Voice.  Go Team Usher!!)
  15. One More Night by Maroon 5 (one of the best beats for setting your pace)
  16. Payphone by Maroon 5 (I just kinda love them)
  17. Run (I'm a Natural Disaster) by Gnarls Barkley (Slightly retro sounding tune that makes for a fun run)
  18. Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Fun)
  19. A Little Party Never Killed Nobody by Fergie, Q-Tip,& Goon Rock (This and the next three are from the Great Gatsby Soundtrack which did a great job mashing current music with the 1920's music together)
  20. Bang Bang by Will.I.Am (just love the Bang Bang's)
  21. Crazy in Love by Emeli Sandé & Brian Setzer Orchestra (yes, this is the Beyoncé song)
  22. Where the Wind Blows by Coco O. (I end up singing this to myself a lot)
  23. Gangnam Style by Psy (but once again using the Glee Version)
  24. Twisted by Usher (fell in love with it when he performed it on the Voice)
  25. I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas (this went on after I heard the Durham Ukulele Orchestra do a bluegrass version of it. If you are in the Triangle area [NC] you have to check them out)
I'll post some of my other playlists later, but until then enjoy the day!  I gotta run (like literally I have to go out jogging now, just as soon as I put my shoes on)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Weekend Reviews

(The Heat image courtesy of, The Sweet Life image courtesy of, Much Ado About Nothing image courtesy of

So this weekend was kind of media heavy as you can see.  I saw "The Heat" with my mom, Read "Sweet Valley Confidential: The Sweet Life", and saw "Much Ado About Nothing" by myself.  So let's get on with these reviews!

The Heat

This female buddy-cop movie combines Writer/Director Paul Feig and Actress Melissa McCarthy of last summer's big hit "Bridesmaids" with "Miss Congeniality" Sandra Bullock.  My mom was the person who suggested we see it (I wanted Much Ado), but I had seen the ads and it looked funny so I readily agreed.  Once again Feig has really done a great job with creating a comedy movie anchored by women.  There are a bunch of funny men in this movie (Marlon Wayans, Michael Rappaport, Taran Killam, Nathan Corrdry) but the comedy firmly rests with the ladies.  He's also done a great job not just repeating what he did with Bridesmaid.  While both movies have a physical comedy element, the sense of humor is just very different (fowl mouthed fish out of water vs. women potty humor).  If anything was weak about the movie it was the main mystery.  There were a bit too many beats to the mystery and I kinda figured out the mystery villian before we got to the end).  McCarthy and Bullock were excellent and show why they are some of the best comedic actors out there, male or female.  One last note, I think this movie is going to do really well - however I do think it is skewing to a much older audience than Bridesmaid did.  There were a lot more people my mom's age in the theater than mine.  Definitely see this movie, but I will say that it may be ok saving it for video release.

The Sweet Life

So I wrote up a long review on Goodreads for this book, but I will try to do something shorter for here.  This book was extremely frustrating.  I picked it up for nostalgic purposes and quickly realized why I abandoned the Wakefield Twins and Sweet Valley for Elizabeth Bennet and Dagny Taggert (from Pride & Prejudice/Atlas Shrugged respectively).  While it's kind of expected to make really dumb, self-destructive decisions in high school, the amount of insane decisions made by characters in this book (set a good 15-20 years after the high school series) was crazy.  I think I was most disappointed with Elizabeth Wakefield who I thought made the worst decisions out of anybody and was totally surprised when things didn't turn out as she expected.  I wanted to hit her on the backside of the head and say "Duh!" This book is really left best on the shelf.

Much Ado About Nothing

I can still remember when my tenth grade English teacher showed us the Kenneth Branaugh version of this Shakespeare play. We were the first class she showed it too and she was caught unawares by that initial scene where all the men returning from war strip down to nothing and jump into the outdoor public baths.  Here mouth fell wide open and she tried to block the screen with her body (which was kinda hard because it was on one of those really tall tv carts where the television was setting higher than her head).  Why am I telling you this?  Because it was a pretty damn funny moment, and also to let you know that movie left a lasting impression upon me (overall, not just that scene). 

Much Ado About Nothing was really the first piece of Shakespeare that I could understand, and for that reason the play has a special place in my heart (I was that girl who used "Hey Nonny Nonny" as her Senior yearbook quote).  I also really love Joss Whedon.  I will follow that man most places (I wasn't the biggest fan of Dollhouse).  Anyways - it was clear in his Buffy days that Joss had as fantastic grasp on Shakespeare as do most Shakespearean actors.  I mean look at Buffy - most of her comedies had a tragic twist and her tragedies had a comedic edge to them.  If anyone could do a modern day adaptation of Much Ado justice, it would be Joss.

While Branaugh's version stays in the light (most scenes are shot in the delicious Italian sun, women frolic in white linen dresses and the men ham it up), Joss's version has a very film noir (or at the very least tawdry) edge to it that really highlights the seediness of the play.  For example, when the Prince informs Claudio that he has indeed wooed fair Hero in Claudio's name,  Joss has set the scene in the kitchen the morning after the party - with empty and half filled liquour bottles scattered across the kitchen island and Leonato hungover and half-way to passed out.  That scene in Branaugh's play felt like everybody went home, got 8 hours of sleep, and then went out for brunch.  There is a gritty and sexy realness to this version of the play.  I'm not sure I could have appreciated it back in tenth grade.  I highly recommend it.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

So I have recently started writing reviews on Goodreads for the books I read.  After showing my mom one of my reviews her comment was "That's a freaking book report".  This made me realize that I am writing these reviews a lot like a blog entry - so I've decided that I'm going to start posting my book reviews up on the blog here.  Here's the first one.


(Image courtesy of

The Beekeeper's Apprentice is the first book in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell detective series. I had never heard of this series before someone selected it for their book club choice, but when I mentioned it to my mom (an avid mystery reader) she gushed about how good it was. That set the expectations pretty high for me, which I am happy to say they delivered.

The basic premise: Fifteen year-old Mary Russell is sent to live with her wicked Aunt after a car accident orphans here. One day she encounters the now retired Sherlock Holmes, who after immediately noticing her intelligence, instinct, tenacity, and spunkiness, decides that he will train her in detecting. This book takes the reader through the first 4-5 years of their relationship, culminating in a big mystery that could destroy them. (Cue ominous music here)

So what is so great about this book you may ask...Well, to start with - King has done an awesome job writing Sherlock Holmes. It had to be hard because I think most people already have a preconceived notion of who Sherlock Holmes is - a pompous, smart-ass, eccentric who just always gets it right. But King has really figured out what makes Holmes tick and brings those characteristics out while also acknowledging that Holmes has probably evolved since the end of Sir Conan Doyle's stories. There is a vulnerability and (dare I say) sexiness to Holmes (in a Rupert Giles kind of way)that I didn't expect, but feels right.

Of course this book is really about Mary Russell, and I dare say that Russell easily falls into my favorite spunky heroines (along with Buffy Summers and Veronica Mars). She's very smart and intuitive, but she has her flaws as well (can we say she is just a wee bit stubborn - a must for spunky heroines). Most importantly, her relationship with Holmes is totally natural. The dialog (as well as non-speaking dialog) between them really sparkles. It's easy to see how their relationship evolves throughout the book. King has done an excellent job of creating this new character of Mary Russell and fitting her in the world of Sherlock Holmes alongside its other iconic characters including Watson, Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson, and even sinister Moriarty.

The other thing I really admired about this book was the structure. As I mentioned, this book covered several years. Because it covers so much time, there are several small mysteries or plots woven throughout the book, but in the end they all tie together. In many ways it reminded me (once again) of the show Veronica Mars. Everything has a place and you may not see how it all connects when you first see it, but you will in the end.

So to wrap this up - I very easily give this book 5 stars. More importantly I'm looking forward to reading the other books in this series.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Just a crack

So of the things I want to share with you that happened last year, the most significant thing that happened to me was that I broke my ankle.

 That picture you are looking at is the x-ray of my ankle. I think I took this picture at one of my final visits so it was mostly healed at that point, but you can see where it was.  It's that straight line toward the bottom tip of the right leg bone.

It was a really tiny crack, but for a tiny crack it hurt like hell.  But the most irritating thing about that wasn't the pain, but the knowledge that after 34 years I could no longer say I've never had a broken bone.

Altogether, it took about 6 weeks to heal wearing one of those huge black boots.  That was 6 weeks of just lumbering around everywhere, barely making it across crosswalks before the lights changed.  I was so glad when I finally got to stop wearing it.

The one thing that I didn't anticipate was that my ankle was going to continue to hurt after it healed.  In fact, it hurt more than when I broke it.  For a couple of weeks I just let it hurt, taking pain reliever when the pain got real bad, and in general just limped around.  Then one day I just thought to myself that maybe the ankle is just weak and maybe what I need to do is to strengthen it up.  I didn't really know how to do that other than using it, so I started to go walking.

Quick back track - just prior to breaking my ankle, I had kinda started jogging.  I say kinda because 1) it was a combination of walking and jogging and 2) my jogging was slower than some people's fast walking.   Obviously that had to stop when I broke my ankle.

Back to healed ankle - after about two weeks of walking, my ankle began to feel better.  I no longer had to limp, and as I continued my walks I found that I started going faster.  I eventually began to incorporate small intervals of jogging.  It felt really good.

I could write a lot more about jogging and how I'm doing with it now, but I will save that for other blog posts.  I will leave you with this picture though.

Photo courtesey of Potomac River Running
Taken by Dustin Whitlow at Lucky Leprechaun 5K on March 16, 2013

A new beginning

It's been a while since I last wrote here.  The last entries were about the DC earthquake and Hurricane Irene - events that occurred in the summer of 2011.  That's one and a half years ago, although it feels like a lifetime ago.

So why did I stop blogging?  To be honest - I don't exactly remember.  Reading back on my entries I have a couple of theories: 1) I was in a really dark place but really didn't want to share that really dark place  2) Not a lot of  "significant" events were happening and I felt like life was too boring to blog about.

Next question: Why am I starting again?  I'm not too clear on that other than I feel like I need to be putting sometime out there.  What that something is - I don't know.  This is going to be more of a creative exercise now rather than a therapeutic one.  This means that I'm not going to even try to rehash every little thing that happened in the past year.  That's too much.  But I will probably share what is still relevant as well as talk about other things.  I think I'll leave this entry on this note, but I promise to be back soon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


So here we are, post-Irene- or at least post-Irene here in DC.

 Now I know that Irene was a beyatch of a storm.  I spent a lot of Saturday watching the weather channel, yelling at the weather man to get out of the wave of the giant waves and praying that I wasn't going to witness someone bite it from a flying hunk of debris on national television.  I have a friend who lives near the beach in Conneticut and posted on facebook that they had to evacuate further inland.  I'm praying that they and their house comes through this unscathed - the pictures from Long Beach are  terrifying (did you see the lifeguard headquarters be swept away from its base with Al Roker looking on?).  And it's really sad that 10 people have died, although I'm kinda surprised that it's not more considering the frat boys who decided to go streaking the news when the hurricane hit VA Beach.

But from where I was hunkered down, Irene wasn't really more than a big rainstorm.

Saturday morning I helped my friend secure the furniture out back because last thing I wanted was a patio table going through my window.  I actually managed to use my bike lock to attach my take to the patio.  After that I went with her family to Second Watch for breakfast.  As we headed back home, the rain started.  At that point I glued myself to the weather channel and monitored Irene's progress up the coast.  Occassionally I would go out and check to see how conditions here changed, but it stayed pretty much the same - rain and little wind.  Around dinner time, I cooked up some pasta and tossed it with garlicm, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley that I had to go outside for a pick from one of my plants (my herbs were all moved to the patio to avoid the wind).

The electricity flickered on and off a couple of times during the day, but it never stayed off longer than a few seconds.  We did end up with a longer black out period later in the evening -around 11pm, but at that point I just switched off the light switches so that if the power came back on while I slept it would not wake me.  If anything exciting actually happened around here, I missed it - and I'm pretty sure that I am ok with it.  I will confess that I was a little confused when I was woken up by the kids running upstairs and I looked at my clock and it read 2:30 am because kids shouldn't really be running around at that hour- it took me a minute to figure out to look at the time on my iPod, which said that it was actually 7:30 am.

There doesn't appear to be any damage around the house, or around many of the houses in my neighborhood.  We were just really really lucky I guess.

Ready, Set...

If you haven't heard this week, we had an earthquake this week in DC.  Well, technically it was centered something like 80 miles away from DC, but we felt it.  Everybody has their own story about it.  Every where you go you hear somebody ask someone, "Where were you?"

Well, my story is that I was caught in the bathroom after lunch.  I could say that I was caught with my pants down, except I was wearing a skirt.  I wsa just about to flush the toilet when I noticed that all the water was vibrating, and then suddenly the toilet was vibrating, and then I was vibrating.  My first thought was "Oh god, we've been attacked - but hopefully it's just an earthquake."  My second thought was "Is it safe to flush the toilet" (It's the polite thing to do).  After the shaking stopped, I quickly rinsed my hands before heading out, where I was immediately commanded to evacuate.

Now here is the thing, I realized as I was following the masses down the emergency stairs and outside that 1) I didn't have  my glasses on me [they were sitting on my desk] 2) I didn't have my wallet or commuting ticket with me to help me get home [also sitting at my desk] 3) My cell phone was at home 4) I had left a heater going at my desk [I've been super cold somedays this summer and sometimes need to use it to warm up - Tuesday was one of those days] so if the earthquake didn't destroy my building, my heater would and finally five 5) I was wearing my two inch high heels to stand around in and not my comfy flat flip flops [which I commute inand were in my cubicle closet].  Thankfully we were allowed to go in the  building to retreive personal items after a cursory check of the building's structure, but the basic gist is that I felt woefully unprepared.

So just a few days later, we are waiting for Hurricane Irene to hit.  At first I was highly skeptical that it was going to hit us, but each day as it moves closer I become less and less convinced.  So today I went to target to stock up on goods.  I grabbed batteries and a head lamp, a radio that can use batteries, canned food and other things that don't really need heating (although even if the power goes out in my house, I could still cook because we have gas appliances.)  I also got some non-essential but nice to have things like diet coke, pop tarts, and gum.  I already have a case of water, but figure that if needed to I can boil water and then send it through the brita filter if need be (we have regular plumbing and not a well - so i think flowing water won't be too much of an issue - clean water maybe, but actually flowing no).

So that's my plan.  I'll let you know how it ends.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Taking a break (not talking about the blog)

Shortly after Chris died I joined Weight Watchers.  I think 1) I was doing it as tribute to him because our plan was to try to lose weight after the new year and 2) I was too freaked that I was going to die like him if I didn't do it.  And of course looking back, I realized that there was 3) I needed something to control.  Yes, Weight Watchers for me became my focal point and for awhile I was REALLY focused on my food and what I was putting in me and not really dealing with the emotions that were going on within me.  I mean, during that first year on the program - I was the wickedest food tracker ever.  While I think it may have been a good thing to do, I'm not sure if it was the right thing to do at that time because when the emotions finally hit, they hit hard and everything else went out the window.

Anyways - I have been on WW ever since and I have had periods of minor success, but for the most part I've been at the same weight.  And things have changed in that they cancelled the meetings I used to love so I had to find a new meeting on Saturday and then I got really sick and I started needing my Saturdays for sleep.  I'm currently doing the at work program, and while it is great having the support of my colleagues, I don't like my leader and frankly I feel like I've been here, done that.  I mean how many times can I hear how to change a 10 point hot dog into a 3 point hot dog. 

The other thing I've noticed is that all this talk about substituting one thing for another has really turned me off food.  I know that the program has been revamped to get us thinking about fresh food and stuff, but the more I did the program, the easier I found it to just eat the same thing day after day because I didn't have to recalculate points or I ate processed stuff that had the points already printed on them.   I was not enjoying what I ate and so I found that I was eating more. 

So I have decided to take a break from the dieting.  I'm not going to negatize my food.  If I want to have something with butter in it - I'm going to have the butter.  I'm going to drink whole milk because I feel fuller on whole milk.  And I am going to recover my love of food and cooking.  Of course to offset this I will need to increase my activity - but that's why I have my bike  (which also gets me closer to natural things like deer and bunnies - which is good for your soul in totally different ways). 

But I will let you know, that if you want to follow my food adventures - you can go to .  In addition to more regularly blogging here, I am going to do a better job at that blog too.  However, everything at that blog will be food related. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Something New

Ok...So after a couple of people have reported to me that they haven't seen me blogging in a while, I have decided to post some tidbits for them.

My mom was in town because we were going to go on vacation.  She has a mini-van so usually if I need to do something that involves hauling stuff, I save it for when she is in town.  Anyways - so one thing that I have been moaning about is that my bike had been broken.  Now, the think about the bike is that this is the bike that my parents bought me when I was young.  In my mind I was 11, but my mom insists it was more like 8.  Either way - considering that I am now in my 30's, that bike is old.  When it was manufactured bikes  weren't made to remove tires easily or with shock absorbers or a bunch of other stuff.  Anyways, a couple of years ago Chris and I were talking about it and I said that I wanted to get it fixed up and start riding again and he mocked me saying that it was too old and I should just get a new one.  So I took that as a challenge, had my mom take me to the bike shop and got it fixed up.  Problem was that mom left before I could get it back, so Chris and I picked it up and to get it home we had to pop a tire off the bike - but like I said, this bike was not made to do that.  Chris promised to fix it but never got around to it.  I tried and got to ride it a few times, but always ended up with the tire falling off in the middle of the ride or the handle bars rotating in their socket.  It wasn't safe.  So no more riding.

Anyways - when my mom came up this trip she suggested that I buy a new bike.  I kinda hee'd and hawed, but after she told me she saw a sale at the local bike shop I agreed.  So now I have a new bike.

It's a red.  It has tires that are meant to come off if need to but stay in when riding, has tweed on its handle bars. I've named it Merry Cherry.  I've ridden it a couple of times and what I can say is 1) I am totally out of shape and 2) it is so much fun.  As the weather mellows out, I hope to take it out more.  I may even take it out tonight.  I'm hoping to build up my stamina so I can go further and further, and eventually hope to get a bike rack so I can take it to other places to ride.

The sad thing about getting a new bike is that I had to get rid of the old bike.  I kinda felt like I was betraying it as I dropped it off in the neighborhood trashbin - but it had a good life and I won't forget all the times I rode it as a kid and young adult.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I'm thinking of ending this blog.  Whenever I try to start a post, I somehow begin to think about Chris and it goes into this really dark place.  While it's nice to get those kind of things off my chest - I'm a little worried that it holds me back.

So right now I am on a holding pattern and I will let you know what I decide to do.