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Do They Speak “Awesome” in Costa Rica?

Well, it’s official: I’m a spoiled brat. You all may have known this before, and my parents have been well aware of this for years – but it has reached a whole new level with this latest development: I just received an all-expenses-paid, 8-day, 7-night trip to Costa Rica from their Tourism Board.
It’s called The Million Dollar Gift of Happiness, and they’ve gifted lucky bloggers and social media people like yours truly with an opportunity to experience Costa Rica in all its beauty. And they don’t just send you there and say hasta luego – they pack each day with incredible adventures: an aerial tram tour over the rainforest, tours of small towns and organic cocoa + banana plantations; Caribbean cooking with the locals, rides down the Yorkin River in a dug-out canoe; and visits to an exotic animal rescue center (where you get to play with MONKEYS!!!1!!!) . And don’t forget beach lounging and spa-going at the 4-star resorts.

So…see the sloth guy up in that picture? He’s my new best friend. We’ll be bunking together. I’ll make him little hats out of scraps of my clothing, and I will see how long it takes for him to rip it off his head and gauge out my eyes with his sickle-like hands.

Thank you to the wonderful Alana Brooks for making this happen, and, of course to Visit Costa Rica (@Visit_CostaRica) for this insane opportunity.

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Healthy/Geeky: My Epic Health Adventure!

Last year, I was the most fit I’ve ever been (besides that one sweet year in elementary school when I aced the Presidential Fitness test for the first – and last – time). I ate an almost perfectly clean, vegetarian diet; joined the bootcamps with  A Healthy Balance  normally twice a week; cardio 3-4 times a week plus kickboxing and yoga, and started to enjoy some serious weight training.

Then: my knee gave out, no reason given. It started to hurt when I drove, going up stairs, even standing for long periods of time. And being the stubborn idiot I am, I thought it would just go away if I stopped working out on it for a little while – especially so as not to exacerbate something potentially serious. That “little while” turned into an epic ten-month black hole of self-pity, eating terribly, and erasing all the hard work I’d done the year prior. When I finally realized last month that not one piece of my clothing fit  and that I was spending more than one night a week weeping into a pizza or pint of B&J’s about, ironically, how unhappy I was with my body, I finally went to the doctor to get my knee checked out. Then, I went to TJ Maxx and bought some ponchos…

Read the rest of my epic health adventure here on the A Healthy Balance blog, where I’ll be posting weekly!

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What I’m Reading Now: “The Book of Human Insects” by Osamu Tezuka

When the lovely Laura Shatzkin at Vertical, Inc. offered me a copy of The Book of Human Insects by the “grandfather” of Japanese comics, Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), I nearly soiled my ill-fitting pants in anticipation. Then, I took some deep breaths, cleaned myself up, and asked her to send it to me. I sat staring at the mailbox for a full two days.

And now, I have it in my clutches – as you may know, I’m a huge Tezuka fan, specifically for his work on Buddha. Can’t WAIT to break it open!

The book description:

Osamu Tezuka’s The Book of Human Insects is a dark and haunting story of a young woman who has plagiarized, blackmailed, stolen, and replicated the works of others in her quest for success and public adoration. As she climbs higher and higher – from acclaimed stage actress, to award-winning architect, and, finally, to the recipient of the Akutagawa Prize for Japan’s best new writer — Toshiko Tomura will stop at nothing, not even murder, to get what she wants.

The Book of Human Insects was originally serialized in the 1970s. But Tezuka’s disturbing, seductive vision of a world where only those willing to sell their souls to the masses can achieve their dreams, will resonate today more than ever. Contemporary culture is shaped by reality shows, tabloids, and gossip blogs. We have become obsessed with celebrity, and readily accept it as a substitute for true talent and any semblance of artistic integrity.

With his unerring skill at understanding the psychological and emotional underpinnings of behavior, Osamu Tezuka anticipated this cult of fame by forty years. In his wickedly entertaining tale – now available in English for the first time – he uses his sharpest scalpel to peel back the layers and reveal the essence of our humanity.

Healthy/Geeky: The Astonishing Super-Powered Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa, as in, “It was really keen-wa when Johnny took me to the soda shoppe. I think he’s going to give me his Varsity jacket!”) is any superhero’s best friend – it’s a complete protein, and considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, cultivated by Incan tribes in the Andes Mountains of South America. I’m pretty sure Hoth or Caprica doesn’t have anything comparable (duh, look at the climate on Hoth, you idiot!). I’m also pretty sure there was an Indiana Jones movie about the quest for the ancient Quinoa grain of the dark Incan mountain.

And so, my secret recipe – for this nearly perfect, completely vegetarian meal (great to bring to cookouts!), with tons of protein, healthy veggies and fats, and a little cheese thrown in there for good measure. Enjoy, healthy geekies!
 

The Astonishing Super-Powered, Protein-Packed Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

(adapted from a recipe by Coulter)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or stock
  • 1 tbs garlic salt/powder (or to taste)
  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Grain Quinoa)
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, diced
  • 1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper, diced (mix up the colors! you can also use jarred roasted red peppers if you prefer)
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh or dried chives
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil*

*a salad dressing will also work for this instead of the vinegar and oil – balsamic vinaigrette or a red wine and vinegar dressing is best, and you’ll only need a few tablespoons – the flavor goes a long way!

Directions

  1. Start by sauteeing the onions and garlic salt/powder in some light olive oil in the large saucepan you’ll use to cook the quinoa. Once pleasantly browned, pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. You won’t need to stir it, but keep an eye on it that it doesn’t get too dry.
  2. Once the quinoa is finished cooking, dump it into a large mixing bowl, where you’ll want to immediately, gently, stir in the crumbled feta cheese (so it gets a little melty over the grains – nomnomnom!), balsamic vinegar, olive oil. De-seed the lemon and squeeze the juice over the quinoa mixture – stir everything, then let sit for 5-10 minutes, depending on how patient you are!
  3. Once a bit cooler, the fresh veggies go in – stir in the bell pepper, cucumber, olives, chives, until evenly mixed. Serve warm or, I prefer letting it sit in the fridge overnight to get cool and flavorful.

Geekspeak for Dating

As a perpetually single nerd girl, I sometimes, albeit rarely, find myself on dates with men who aren’t geeks. I know, I know, it’s breaking the code – but I try to keep an open mind, an open heart, open gams. I mean…open…path to the soul? What?

Thankfully, I’m currently dating someone who understands what it means when something like, “in heat, am I” or “teehee! it’s just like playing Atari!” comes out of my mouth…but some of you ladies may not be so lucky. Here are a few scenarios where you can use your geekspeak knowledge to your advantage. Listen and learn, nerf herders.
 
Use Your Geekspeak to: Have a Private Laugh at Your Date’s Expense

Example:

Him: “So yeah, my job covers a lot of turf in toxicity lawuits; scoping out land, discussing fracking (hydraulic fracturing) issues…”

Me *spits out drink*: “Did you just say frakking issues?”
 
Use Your Geekspeak for: Rejection

Example:

Me: Thanks so much for the date…I would kiss you goodbye, but I have the same mutant powers as Rogue and I wouldn’t want to kill you!

Him: *blank stare*

Me: *walks away*
 
Use Your Geekspeak for: Talking Dirty

*pointing at ladyparts* Here’s the Death Star…you be Han Solo. Like the pew pew pew! Get it??
 
Use Your Geekspeak for: Picking Up Someone at the Bar

I really like those pants you’re wearing (then, include a spoken hashtag aside: #theywouldlookbetteronmyfaceimeanmyfloor).
 
Now I want to hear from YOU – post your Dating Geekspeak scenarios in the comments section below!