Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buckeye Buddy

When I came out to KSC for my interview almost 7 years ago, the first person the people who were touring me introduced me to was Wil, a former Ohio State alum (he played football for Woody Hayes!!!), who upon learning I was also a Buckeye jokingly declared "You're Hired!".  He's been my only ally around here with the vicious Gators snapping from most corners and we've bonded over it.  Today, however, was his last day here as he is retiring.  I'm happy that he'll have more free time for his family and golfing now, but I'm super bummed to see him go.  As a parting gift to me, he gave me an old Ohio State ball cap from his office that he's had since his school days (over 50 years old!)  It was so incredibly sweet and a wonderful memento to remember him by.  Have fun in retirement Wil, you'll be missed!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Detox Update

My detox diet has been going extremely well so far.  I immediately started feeling less of my digestion issues, my headaches have been minimal, I feel more energized throughout the day, and even though I got a horrible splotchy sunburn this weekend at the beach, my skin has almost completely repaired most areas in only 3 days!  Amazingly enough, I'm not left feeling hungry either (although smelling everyone around me eating PapaJohns pizza while I was watching the Nadal match at the Sony Ericsson Open was pretty much torture of the worst form). This week starts the second phase of the diet in which I eat mostly liquid meals for breakfast and dinner, and I can't wait to see how my body responds.
Here's how I've been making it work: I've been drinking smoothies for breakfast made with fresh and/or frozen fruit (peaches, raspberries, mango, and blueberries have been my go to fruits), a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder, a dash of fiber, a little bit of ground flax seed, and then topped of with sugar free almond milk and blended.  I sometimes add a squirt of agave nectar to sweeten it up too.  Lunches have been dinner left overs, salads, and sandwiches made with roasted chicken breast, organic dijon mustard, and greens of some sort on brown rice bread (which when lightly toasted tastes much better than it sounds).  During the day I snack on almonds, cashews, apple slices, or veges with hummus.  And dinners have been truly fantastic.  I made the lemon chicken recipe I posted in my first Detox post and it was delicious.  We've also had pan seared mahi mahi, roasted salmon, salads topped with carrots, avocado, green onions, toasted pumpkin seeds, and vinaigrette, an incredible spiced quinoa dish with onion and zucchini, spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs and pesto, brown rice pilaf, and quinoa pasta with fresh steamed broccoli, chicken, and a garlic-olive oil sauce. I even succeeded in making a desert despite the no wheat, dairy, or sugar stipulations of the diet: a modified rosemary plum crisp with brown rice flour, chopped nuts, canola oil, and agave nectar.
For my dinners in the second phase of the diet, I plan on relying on soups and freshly juiced beverages chock full or nutrients.  Last night I had a leek and butternut squash soup modified from a recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Cannelle et Vanille (no potato, extra squash) topped with some fresh arugula and with a beet, apple, carrot, celery and spinach juice.  Tonight I'm planning to try my hand at a mushroom miso soup...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I spent this past weekend down in South Florida with my parents and had a truly wonderful time.  We did some jewelry shopping, hung out at the beach, went to a bbq with the rest of the family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc), and I got to see my first ever professional tennis match!  My brother is a professional tennis instructor up in Jersey, and he also happens to be a master racket stringer.  He was asked to string rackets on the Wilson team for the Sony Ericsson Open down in Miami over the past couple of weeks, which is huge for him!  So my parents and I bought tickets to go watch the matches on Saturday evening and we met up with him for dinner when he had a break from stringing.  He got to string rackets for some of the top names in professional tennis and he's already been asked out to participate on the stringing team for the US Open too!  I'm so proud of him!
Seeing him was great and then after we ate my parents and I sat in on a match between Tipsarevic and Cilic.  Tipsarevic, or "Tipsy" as the annoying teenagers behind us kept yelling, is unranked and beat Cilic, who is ranked number 18, in a tie breaker in the second set - quite exciting.  And then we headed over to the main stadium to watch the evening match between Rafael Nadal, ranked #1 in the world, versus Ken Nishikori, who is unranked but put up one heck of a fight!  It was an excellent match to watch and I had a great night!

Friday, March 25, 2011


In direct competition with my penchant for simple French chic is my undying love of quirky.  I love vintage kitsch and unique frills and details.  And since the weather here has reached the point at which I can no longer wear long sleeve tops without breaking a sweat (my determination of when "spring in Florida" has arrived), I've been enjoying a few days of perfect warm weather before the humidity kicks up and the mosquitos return.  In honor of the weather and in homage to quirk, here are some of my favorite new warm weather pieces that have hit the stores recently:
 Breezy white summer skirts with fun colorful detail are perfect for the warm weather.  I love the color combo on the skirt on the left, it's just off enough to qualify as quirky.  And the wonderful mish mash of brightly random shapes on the other skirt is so fun!
Maxi dresses are making a come back this year along with the 70's trend and the dress on the right is a funky mix of 70's floaty top with a prairie skirt bottom and an 80's-ish pattern that still works with the trend.  And when the weather gets muggy, nothing feels better than a light breeze, which this floaty dress on the left with the weird crane pattern will take full advantage of.
And what better way to escape the drab browns, greys, and blacks of winter than with brightly colored flats for spring?  I love these bright pink and turquoise versions, which both have a little bit of neutral to ground them

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To the Stars

This week Endeavour's payload was delivered to the launch pad.  During this time in the processing flow is one of the few times that the rotating service structure at the pad is rolled back so that the entire shuttle stack is visible (the orbiter is usually completely covered for protection from weather, etc. while at the pad).  One industrious KSC worker took the opportunity to catch a photo of Endeavour on this clear night with stars and galaxies lighting the background.  It's absolutely beautiful...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


These beautiful photos were created by illustrator/ graphic designer Alberto Seveso using ink in water.  I think they are just stunning.  You can download a picture to use as wallpaper here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tres Chic

Lately I've been crushing on French inspired fashion.  It's a look that's laid back and yet put together at the same time.  And though I know I can't pull off the ever so cool French girl attitude (it's a certain confidence they have), it doesn't mean I can't admire and attempt to emulate the look.  Here are a few pieces I'm loving:
Breton stripes with a twist.  I love the switch up of the pattern along the neckline to give the shirt just a little something different.  The best part?  It's on sale!
French girls are known for rocking awesome scarves. Although I find they trend more toward solid colors, I'm just a little bit in love with the stars dotting this gauzy white version.
Talbots has an entire collection this season that they are dedicating to the French aesthetic, modeled by incredible actress Julianne Moore.  This is my favorite look: cozy boatneck sweater with a full, feminine skirt.  When the next sale hits, I'll be all over this one!
The company that makes this barrette is called France Luxe, which may have influenced my decision on this being French influenced.  Regardless, I love it.
I've never been a big blazer fan.  I didn't think they looked quite right on my body (short torso).  However I just recently purchased a suit due to the upcoming demise of my job and I found that I actually really love the suit jacket.  I'm now willing to branch out and give blazers a try and this slightly slouchy, casual denim version has the perfect amount of French girl casual meets chic.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Lately I've been feeling constantly tired and lethargic, my headaches are acting up, and my digestion has been off for a number of months now.  I hit a point last week where I realized I needed to clean my body up and try to adjust my life style to fix these constant ailments I have.  I always complain that my "body hates me", but after reading part of Alejandro Junger, M.D.'s book "Clean" about the body's ability to restore itself through detoxification, a lot of his comments about how our body works to energize us really struck home (good book - I highly recommend it).  The book is a bit preachy, but the overall ideas of it are truly fantastic and I have therefore decided to use them as the guidelines for an elimination and detoxification diet over the next 3 weeks to try to "realign" my body. 
I've done an elimination diet before when I was trying to determine what foods may have been causing my migraines (turned out to be egg yolks) and the results of that diet were immensely useful.  That diet lasted for 2 months and included a hodge podge of foods that I was "sensitive" to, thereby making it a huge imposition on my daily life.  The new diet I am embarking on is only 3 weeks long and the point of it is to reset my body, so I'm hoping it will fit in easily with my lifestyle.  Making it even easier, J has decided to embark on this dietary journey with me, which will reduce the presence of other food temptations in the house.

The list of "NO" foods is numerous, including dairy, red meat, shellfish, nightshades (includes potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers), sugar, alcohol, caffeine, oranges, strawberries, grapes, bananas, wheat, corn, barley, rye, oats, soybean products, peanuts, pistachios, and chocolate.  While this sounds intimidating, I've tried to concentrate more on the list of "YES" foods, which actually still provide a large list of options: fish, poultry, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, almond milk (which I have been drinking for some time anyway), fresh fruits and vegetables excluding those in the "NO" list, legumes, nuts and seeds, cold pressed oils (like canola and olive), green and herbal teas, agave nectar (as a sugar substitute), and spices and herbs.
J and I have a fairly healthy diet already, so the main things that will affect us are the lack of red meat, tomatoes, and whole grains.  However, we're excited about the chance to extend our culinary abilities and try new things.  For example, tonight I am making spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs and pesto and we have plans to try a recipe for lemon thyme chicken this week as well.  Yum!  The diet also focuses a lot on fresh juices, and as J and I love our juicer this isn't at all a hardship for us.
After the first week on the elimination diet, I switch over to the Clean part of the detox which centers 2 meals around a liquid diet.  The fresh juices will play a big role once again as well as smoothies and soups.  The Clean book offers a bunch of liquid meal recipes and Gwyneth Paltrow covered this diet on her Goop blog a couple of years ago and she offers some great recipes there as well.  Variety is the key!
Well, here's hoping that my body starts to feel better and stops "hating me" soon.  I'll keep everyone updated!

(pictures from here and here)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Today is the Day to Stock Up!

Today only Forever 21 is donating 100% of their proceeds toward the American Red Cross's earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan!  If you were thinking of stocking up on some inexpensive spring trends today is the day! Go shop now!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Ok, I love big dogs.  The bigger and fluffier the better.  And this one is adorable!  I want one!  Price is a bit steep at $1.5 million, though....

(picture and article here)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Historical Fiction

After I finished my masters degree all I wanted to read were trashy romance novels that required no thought process what-so-ever.  I reveled in the ability to read mindlessly.  Eight months later I can't take any more of the same plot lines being constantly rehashed with a different setting and character names.  While searching for other reading options to bury my nose in, I came across the historical fiction works of Michelle Moran.

I started with Cleopatra's Daughter and absolutely loved it!  I promptly snatched up the other two books she had written at that point, Nefertiti and the Heretic Queen and both of those were fantastic as well.  Just recently her fourth book was released, Madame Tussuad, in which Michelle switches from Ancient Egypt to the French Revolution and she once again swept me into the story.  These books are truly fascinating reads, and not at all girly in their plots (my dad read Nefertiti and is anxiously looking forward to me loaning him the Heretic Queen next).  If you are looking for something new and interesting to read, I highly recommend Michelle's books!

 (Along the same vein, I read The Red Tent a number of years ago and greatly enjoyed it as well.  It is historical fiction about life of Jacob's daughter Dinah.  This one is geared more towards women, though.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Things in Perspective

Hearing all of the news coming in from Japan definitely puts all of my life complaints into perspective.  My prayers go out to them and I hope that the earthquakes will begin to subside so they may all begin rebuilding their lives.  For those of us who want to do more to help, the Red Cross is a fantastic organization that I feel best puts our donations to good use.  If you want to help, here is their site.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Best Potato Salad

Being conscious of my aversion to egg yolks, J's mom whipped up this German Potato Salad recipe a while ago while I was visiting and it is delicious!  Since then I have made the recipe multiple times myself and subsequently given the recipe out to anyone who's tried it.  Now I keep getting phone calls from all of those people telling me how much everyone raves when they make it.  It is a total crowd pleaser, not to mention it is super easy to make!

German Potato Salad
- 2-3 lbs potatoes - I prefer red
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 3 Tbs finely chopped onion
- 3 Tbs chopped parsley

Boil the potatoes whole until cooked through, drain and let cool.  While cooling, mix all of the remaining ingredients (including onion and parsley) into a dressing and let sit for a few minutes so the flavors meld.  Once the potatoes are cool, cut in half and then thinly slice into half moon shapes.  I like to leave the skin on.  Place sliced potatoes into a bowl, toss with the dressing and serve!  This salad is best slightly warm or room temperature, but it also refrigerates well.

Friday, March 11, 2011

On To The Next!

Endeavor rolled out of the VAB last night and reached the launch pad early this morning in preparation for it's final mission, currently scheduled for April 19.  It was gorgeous out today and I took a little trip out to the pad to catch this terrific shot of the shuttle before the rotating service structure covers it up for the next month. 

Go Endeavour!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One of Those Days

I am so exhausted today, and I'm nursing a mild but persistent headache.  I attribute it to the extreme emotional highs and lows of yesterday's final shuttle landing for Discovery, the 10 hours I worked yesterday supporting said landing, the celebratory half bottle of wine I subsequently drank last night after I got home, and today's gray, rainy, blah weather as the front moves through.  It's also a bit surreal having Discovery back in the processing facility, but not having the busy rush of people doing work to prepare for another flight. In celebration of Discovery's final mission, here are a couple of images to remember NASA's currently oldest orbiter by:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Discovery's Last Landing

Discovery landed today at Kennedy Space Center at the finale of her very last mission ever.  While it was definitely sad walking away from Discovery on the runway, the landing itself was wonderful and happy.  Gorgeous weather (albeit a bit windy) allowed us to see the vehicle in the sky before we even heard the double sonic booms.  Here's a photo montage of what I got to experience today:
My first glimpse of Discovery with drag chute deployed
In the convoy approaching the vehicle
Up close and awesome
Admiring the vehicle with the hoards of people who showed up on the runway
Taking a wind blown break from work to pose in front of the nosecap

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Very interesting clip of James Bond as portrayed by Daniel Craig and the voice of Judi Dench as M discussing the roles of women and men in society.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Adore this Coat!

Since I live in Florida, I don't get to indulge in all of the fall and winter gear that I love oh-so-much, like sweaters and boots and coats, etc.  I know all you northerners who continue to go through a cold and miserable winter don't have much sympathy for me, but I can't help it.  I occasionally cave in on a sale item that I absolutely have to have, but this latest coat I found is not within Floridian splurge range.  I will continue, however to obsess over it...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finally! A Real Friday!

Since I had to work last weekend, I haven't had a day off in 11 days!  I'm SO excited to have a real Friday this week followed by a real weekend!  The weather is supposed to be rainy down here so J and I are planning some light cleaning, heavy cooking, and LOTS of staying in, laying around, and watching movies.  Since it's been over a month since I've had a weekend to just relax, I'm definitely looking forward to it!
(Picture from here)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yes Please

As someone who could live on a diet of cheese, bread, wine, and fresh greens for the rest of my life and die happy, I'm definitely going to be adding this book to my list of required reading (and eating)!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Moroccan Wedding Blanket

Don't get excited mom, this isn't about getting married... it's about a gorgeous decorating piece that I've been craving for a while now, a Moroccan wedding blanket:
They are elaborately detailed, neutral colored blankets with embroidery, fringe, and sequins.  Now if only they were affordable.  I found a dress on a blog I frequent today that shares a very similar feel to this blanket and I was so hopeful that maybe this would be another option.

 Still gorgeous - still not affordable.  More likely to eventually go on sale, though.  Fingers crossed!