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Got Cookin’… Or At Least Tried To

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I’ve been working on goal # 14 of my Bucket List, which is basically aimed at my feeling more comfortable with my cooking skills.  I have conquered a handful of dishes, although I surely tried many more.  Just in case my friends (who know I am not a kitchen queen) don’t believe me, here’s proof.  Below are some of my tryouts accompanied by a very brief outcome report. You will notice that some of the dishes are very simple; my aim is not to become a gourmet cook, but to be able to create family meals by mastering certain dishes and being able to recreate them time and again with the same quality and flavoring.   Since I am being very picky as to accept any dish into my mastered list,  I am also  giving myself credit for every single dish I conquer, no matter how simple 🙂

    

 

HOW ABOUT YOU; WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN COOKING? 

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What You May Find at Your Local Laundromat After 12 Midnight

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The other night, after going out with my friend Vanessa to a local bar, and trying a Mojito for the first time; which is item # 42 on my bucket list, I headed to a 24hr laundromat near my place.  Why, you might ask, would I go to a laundromat after midnight, on my own, and wearing uncomfortable high heels?  Here’s the reasoning I used that night to convince myself that this was a good idea:

Due to a recent back-to-back run of viruses in my household that prevented me from keeping up with the laundry we had loads upon loads of clothes needing a wash.

Since I also wanted to clean all the winter coats and comforters, there were about 10 huge bags of washables.  My old washer at home can’t handle such a load in a few hours.  It would have taken me the whole week to get through it all at home.

I had plans to take care of this mess the next morning so I had already loaded the 10 bags plus an assortment of laundry detergents into the trunk of my van; how convenient!

My friend Magalis had stayed overnight and was taking care of the children.  Her kids and mine had a sleepover at my place and she volunteered (after I begged, pouted, and reminded her how many times I had kept all the kids overnight) to keep an eye on them so that I could go out that night. 

Since I was not sleepy or tired, but rather wired and cheery after the Mojitos, and I had an all night babysitter; it would be such a waste of time to go to bed; plus, think of all the things I could do with my free time the next day. I was sold!

I was surprised to find a decent amount of dedicated laundry goers washing away their belongings at around 1am.  My first mishap occurred as I retrieved the bags of laundry from the trunk of my van.  Let me just give you a hint.  DO NOT EVER go do your laundry while wearing fashionable high heels! I grabbed a couple of bags and dragged them inside.  They were heavy and my feet were not as stable in those shoes.  Once inside I found a chair to park the bags, then I grabbed one of the carts that are meant to help transport the laundry from your vehicle.  Well, those carts only held 2-3 loads at a time so it took a few trips forth and back before all of my stuff was inside the laundry facility.  My tortured feet were very angry at me.

Once I was settled and had started to sort my belongings into several machines I was approached by the attendant.  He asked if I needed any help and I told him no thanks, I was all set.  Less than 5 minutes later he returns and hands me a little piece of paper with his number and asked if he could have mine.  Are you kidding me??!  NOOO.  He wanted to know if he should expect a call from me. NOOOOO.  Apparently this is not a word he comprehended very well, as he proceeded to follow me around and tell me his life story and misfortunes while I sorted my stuff.  He even told me all about his mother’s theories of why he had not yet been able to find his Dulcinea.  I gave him the “I am not interested look” but he did not get that one either.

Luckily I had packed a book to read.  I plopped my behind on a chair (my feet were so happy about this) and started to read the book. ” This should keep this guy away for sure” I thought.  That didn’t work for long.  He kept coming back to let me know how beautiful I looked, what a pleasant person I was (regardless of the fact that he’d never seen me before in his life and my conversation with him consisted of about 5 words, 2 of which I’m sure were no and never), he went on and on with a list of virtuous adjectives directed towards me, apparently not minding the fact that my face was buried in the book.

Finally, I was saved by the bell – the tone of my cell phone that is.  My dear friend Alejandro could not sleep and had gone for a walk.  I had texted him recently so he decided to call me.  Great!  We talked for a couple of hours while I got each of the washed loads through the drying cycle, a few times each.  This kept the weirdo away.

Eventually our conversation ended and I got to folding.  By then, there were 2 sets of couples also folding their clothes, and 2 girls of about 18-20 still drying theirs, and planning their “after we get out of here” fun.  The creep reappeared with the same cheesy lines he had used before.  I kept folding away and avoiding him.  One of the young girls suddenly got a call from another friend advising her that someone, apparently someone she liked very very much, was in town and that she needed to go see him right away.  Both girls started a giggly and disorganized chat, the result of which was them grabbing their clothes from the dryers, stuffing them in bags and rushing out of there still giggling away. 

You would not believe how many foldable items can be packed into 10 huge trash bags!  I thought I was going to be there ’till the sun came out.  There was a point when I looked up and guess what; I was the only customer left there – with the weird attendant.  This is when I panicked.  He was doing some of his laundry attendant tasks but never missed the opportunity to come around asking for a date, my number, a chance… you get the idea.  He had cuckoo eyes too.  Every time he went near the doors I thought to myself “He’s going to lock the doors, rape me and then kill me!!!”  Yes, I planned many escapes routes; the last 30 minutes in there seemed endless.  I finally got all my stuff packed.  As I headed out the door creepy guy takes my cart and insists on helping me load my stuff into the trunk.  Luckily outside was a very well-lit and busy street.  Once the last of my bags was inside the trunk I jumped in my car and shut the door; as I drove away, the cuckoo attendant was still yelling out for me to call him.  I vowed never again to accumulate that much dirty laundry.  So far I am right on task.

Have you ever had a similar creepy incident?

Of Childhood Dreams and the Midlife Crisis…

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Below is a piece submitted by a very good friend who has agreed to post on carolasbucket.com as a guest contributor.  Enjoy

Post By Guest Contributor Alejandro

Have you achieved your childhood dreams?  Have you considered that your dreams need to be adjusted to adult reality?  Mines were: 1) Cool fast car with awesome music (check), 2) Beautiful, healthy, smart children (check), 3) Good paying job that I love where I were a suit (check), 4) A home in an awesome neighborhood (check), 5) Friends that I love and they love me back (check).  Happiness level = 6 out of 10.  Why are so many of us unhappy and depressed when we have so many things to be happy about?

Well, this blog post will not answer that question, as I am no genius on life and love matters, but I will lay out my thought process for how I want to live the rest of my life and achieve true, and long-lasting happiness.  Is that even possible say you?  I say it is.  I see it every day, it’s a state of mind, a journey, not a destination.  This is something that is easier for some to achieve and harder for others depending on your background, personality, life skills and social upbringing.

 To start, you must know yourself, you must know your personality… for men, here is a start:

http://manofthehouse.com/relationships/communication/dr-helen-fisher-4-personality-types-men

For women, here is a start:

http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/meeting-women-six-personality-types

These profiles are not designed to match you exactly, but they will give you the basics, so you understand why you like to do certain things and why you behave in certain ways in certain situations.  We can have any behavior that we want and desire, but it takes practice and effort, if it is not your God-given natural gift.

 After learning more about you, decide on what is most important to you.  If your own happiness is not number 1 on your list of priorities, think again.  If you are not truly happy, you cannot make your partner, children, friends and others truly happy.  If someone really knows you, they KNOW that you are not truly happy, even if they don’t tell you.  Once you have the realization and understand who in your daily life is happy and who is not, it is extremely easy to see.  We all know that really cheery person that doesn’t need six cups of coffee to get through life, and that is usually in a good mood.  I ask her why so happy, she says: “I have a husband that loves me and the best children in the world, what is there not to be happy about.”  If in doubt, just ask, those “happy people” are usually more than willing to tell you how happy they are, why and how they achieved it.

 Here are important questions in key areas of your life that you should consider:

  • Relationships.  Which ones are important?  Are you spending time on the right ones?
  • Spirituality.  Do you meditate, pray or contemplate life?  What motivates you?
  • Financial.  Are you managing your money correctly?  Prioritizing your expenses?
  • Professional.  Is your job rewarding?  Are you doing what you like to do?
  • Health.  Are you taking care of yourself?  Are you exercising enough?
  • Lifestyle.  Are you living and doing the things that matter and fulfill you?
  • Knowledge.  Are you learning the right things?

 Concentrating in just one area is not the path to happiness, neither is trying to balance them all.  Each of us must pick what is important, set goals, find the resources needed to succeed and start to change our lives to what we want it to be, only then can we start the journey to happiness.

 Here are some resources that I have found useful in my quest:

 Good luck… See you soon.

Is Not Only for the Perks – I Promise

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Is Not Only for the Perks – I Promise
 

Being that Thanksgiving is so close, I am taking the opportunity to be thankful for what I consider to be a privilege in my life: my job.   Unfortunately, in the United States too many are suffering the absence or loss of a job , or the uncertainty of maintaining their current jobs in the near future. I was searching for current information on the state of national unemployment and I stumbled upon this data on the site for The National Conference of State Legislation: 

The unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, to 9.0%, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on November 4, 2011. Unemployment has hovered between 9.0 and 9.2 percent since April 2011. 

Approximately 13.9 million workers are unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed, those without a job for 27 weeks or more, dropped slightly to 5.9 million workers.

I have been working at my present job for 6 years now, and I have much to be thankful for in this respect:

  • The coolest supervisor ever
  • Some flexibility in my hours
  • Summers off
  • A decent benefit package
  • A beautiful and pleasant environment
  • Nice co-workers
  • And the best, I get to take classes towards my Bachelors degree for free, yes FREE

An added perk is all the great speakers and performers that come to campus every year; in addition to some very cool, fun, and family friendly events that I can bring my kids to.  Here are some of the speakers, performers, and events I have been so fortunate to witness:
President Clinton, Harvard Professor Tim McCarthy, Money Guru Jean Chatzky, Musician and Performer Freddy Cole (Nat’s brother), Annual Easter Egg Hunt as well as Annual Kids Field Day, Actress Mary McDonnell, Journalist Joan Lunden,  among many others.  Why,  just this week I ran into…

How cool is to pet a baby Kangaroo right at work? Courtesy of Southwick's Zoo

 
 
A blood drive right at work – how convenient! Free pizza for all donors included.

International sensation Svet, Mr. Hip-Hop Violinist casually performing for students and staff right at the student center

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

Svet Promo Video , Svet Bio

Thank you Dear Lord for my wonderful job!

What are you thankful for?

 
 
 
 

What Was I Thinking???

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What Was I Thinking???

 I am Sorry, sorry, sorry; I truly apologize to those of you who have been wondering where I was.  Thanks for letting me know that you missed my posts; I’ve missed you too.  Unfortunately, my internet connection has been acting funny, and most importantly, at home we are going through round #3 of a seriously annoying cold virus.  Ohh, the joys of fall season…

Which brings me to the title question: What was I thinking????  Seriously, what was I thinking when I set my goals for the fall? obviously I was not thinking about all the added responsibilities/demands of this season, just to name some:

  • The kids go back to school
  • They need help with their homework
  • I go back to work
  • I go back to school
  • I have to complete many readings and compose papers for class
  • The kids gather many viruses at school and bring them home
  • We all get sick, very sick; many times
  • Karla’s asthma and allergies kick in
  • There’s tons of doctor appointments to keep
  • There’s also after school classes, practices, games, plays and presentations to attend
  • Both of my kid’s birthdays fall in the fall 🙂
  • After the time change, days get shorter and nights get longer, which pretty much dwindles my motivation to be out and about – winter blues kind of thing I gotta deal with every year.
  • You get the point I’m sure.

Here’s a link to the original list of fall goals I had committed to.  Apparently I was high on summer, and motivated by other life-listers’ achievements, when I created this list.  I’m sure for some fellow life-listers this list would be a breeze to complete.  Thing is I have to be realistic about how much I can do with my time, demands, and resources.  So here’s my updated, Carola-friendly, list of goals for this season.

It’s Impossible to Get a Magic Wand These Days

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It’s Impossible to Get a Magic Wand These Days

Progress Report:

 On # 23 Leading and Organized Life
It is no secret that I am organizationally challenged (That is the politically correct way of saying I am messy, unorganized, and pretty much a space cadet.)  As I have posted before, I know this is the number one obstacle that keeps me from obtaining many other goals, thus I put it on my list and I have been giving it special attention for the past few months.

The absence of organization effects and extends to many areas of my life:

  • Lack of an established household routine – We have been working on, and improving, this one
  • No financial spending plan or budget – Have given a couple of baby steps towards this
  • Punctuality is definitely not one of my strengths – Making progress in this are as well
  • Clutter, clutter, and more clutter – This one particularly overwhelms me and robs me of a much desired peaceful and balanced home environment

We are usually a messy bunch, and the past few weeks we had been extra messy since all of us were sick and in low spirits.  Let me tell you, our apartment was not a happy sight. Since there was no magic wand in sight to make it all go away, this past weekend I dedicated the better part of Saturday and Sunday to decluttering our home.

     Pretty much all over the apartment was a disaster zone.  The worst of it all was the Play Room / TV Room; it was overflowing with toys, tapes, DVDs, and things that did not belong in that room such as kitchen utensils.  Also, the closet inside that room serves as depository for our family’s dirty laundry; opening that closet was literally like a scene taken out of a sitcom, where piles of clothes and stuff just come tumbling down…

Giveaways

Happily, I had a few wonderful friends and family members come to the rescue during both days.  Saturday my stepmom and stepbrother helped me clean – a lot!  Since my daughter is highly allergic to dust and cannot be present during the cleaning; my mom took the kids to her place for the day.  On Sunday my adult nephews and nieces took the kids for a hay ride, and pumpkin picking. My good friend Vanessa came over and helped me wipe clean every single toy in order to put it back in its place.  She also helped me sort out things that we don’t need any longer, in order to give them out; there were also several bags of trash to take out.    After two days of hard work; everyone was pleased with the results. 

Play Room/TV Room

Play Room / TV Room

Closet
 
It was a long cleaning session, but it was also therapeutic, and so worth it.  Sunday night, my kids’ paternal grandma stayed overnight and I  step foot outside,  for the first time in two days, to go have some fun.  Thank God for friends and family.
 
 

Happiness in a Bowl: Meet Fred

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It appears to be an unwritten rule at our home that every fall, as my kids return to school,  they graciously pick up every germ and virus they can gather in order to kindly bring it back home and share with their mother.  Thus, the past few weeks at our home have been full of coughs, sneezes, sore throats, and generalized body aches; courtesy of which I got to spend a couple of days out of work, lounging in my pjs and sorting loads of laundry.  This is also the reason why I had neglected my bucket, as well as following my favorite fellow bloggers.

We are slowly getting back into our normal usual routine.  I must admit, I did find an unexpected source of joy during my “sick as a dog” days.  See, my kids have been begging for a pet since forever. My daughter is allergic to furry animals, which limits the kind of pet we can get.  I personally do not like having caged birds,  lizards and snakes creep me out, frogs may leap onto me – no way; we looked into buying a couple of turtles but they require more upkeep than I am ready to handle, thought of getting a tortoise instead, and planned to save up to buy it, and all the trinkets it requires.

Meet Fred

I’ve always dismissed fish as pets because they just seemed so “cold” and indifferent.  What kind of interaction could the kids and I get from a fish really?  They just swim around minding their own, and oblivious to us humans, unless you attempt to scoop them up; then they just try to avoid you at all costs.  Well, someone recently gave my son a Betta fish as a belated birthday gift.  You must know I was not happy at first, not really.  Then I came to realize this was just darn perfect.  The kids have an animal of their own now; no more hearing them beg for a pet.  This wonderful bluish Betta requires minimal upkeep and very little investment on my part, my kind of pet indeed! 

Fred Coming up to Look at Me

And guess what, I found myself delighting in observing him, I’ve even started to make all sorts of foolish sounds at him every time I pass by his bowl. Don’t tell anyone but I even call out his name the way one might call out a baby’s name; yes I talk baby to the fish.  It makes me very happy when Fred responds to my voice by swimming up close and making a display of his moves.  Now, I realize that this might just be his way of letting me know to back off, perhaps mistaking my reflection for another Betta, as they are very confrontational towards each other.  However, I prefer to take it as a sign that Fred is happy to see me 🙂  You see, sometimes what you don’t want is exactly what you need.