Halloween Sugar Horror
In a few hours, Halloween trick-or-treaters will dominate the streets and knock on every door in their path, eagerly collecting their candy. Many of us who wait for the trick-or-treaters to show off their costumes and ask for treats, can’t keep their hands out of the candy bowl.
This evening, America’s glucose levels will reach scary numbers.
Let’s admit it, everyone eats sweets on Halloween. We give treats away, but also eat them as well. We continuously look for candy. We even expect our employers to treat us on Halloween. And let’s not forget the day after—when everyone brings their leftover candy into the office. In a few hours, Halloween trick-or-treaters will dominate the streets and knock on every door in their path, eagerly collecting their candy. Many of us who wait for the trick-or-treaters to show off their costumes and ask for treats, can’t keep their hands out of the candy bowl.
I came across a handful of blogs giving advice on how to survive Halloween without breaking your diet: buy only sweets that you don’t like, give away all the leftovers, avoid trick-or-treating this year, allow yourself one (but only one) treat at the end of the evening…and the list goes on and on.
If you are one of many who loves sweets and enjoys Halloween candy but are also dieting, or just don’t know how to deal with this temptation, then you probably need to read this entire blog.
Temptations are little demons—period! I can’t find any better description for these evils. As I wrote in one of my previous blogs, Temptation, it’s hard not to fall victim to these. They are everywhere.
There are numerous reasons why we fail to say no to food. Psychologists and psychiatrists are talking, researching, and writing about this topic daily. I don’t have enough information about this subject…and honestly, I don’t have much interest in it. And why should I?
You probably think that I’m going to let my weakness take over tonight, that I will allow myself to indulge in all different sweets—letting these demons control me and dictate my diet.
The answer is no! Tonight I’m not giving these demons power. I’m also not going to use any of the advice from the blogs I read online. How come? Because tonight I’m going to change my behavior—I’m going to be in control. The power is in my hands. Watch me! I already bought bags of treats, many that I love…and shortly, I will prepare individual bags of treats and arrange them in an appealing Halloween tray. Trick-or-treaters that knock on my door will be greeted with a BOO and will get their treat. And…I will not eat sweets tonight! I will look at them and smile… I will laugh at them, telling them I don’t need them—I have a better treat waiting for me.
And when it’s all over, after the last trick-or-treater leaves, I’ll relax on my sofa with my real treat, the winning trophy: the feeling of not touching one piece of candy. I bet it will be a moment of joy—a sweet night, but sugar-free—something I can be proud of.
I can’t wait!
Who is out there to take this challenge with me?
Shake It Up
Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet others have a different opinion. Personally, I don’t care for breakfast. When it comes to breakfast, no one is going to make me put food in my mouth that early in the morning—I need a few hours to wake up before I can eat. Also, over the years, I’ve noticed that the earlier in the day I eat, the hungrier I am throughout the day and the more food I’ll consume. I have my breakfast later in the day—many people would probably consider it as an early lunch.
Usually, I try to eat something that will satisfy me enough so that I won’t need to eat again until dinner. I have several delicious recipes compiled that could fulfill my early lunch—or, as many would call it, brunch. Among these recipes, one of my favorites is a banana shake—I even had one earlier today.
This recipe is easy, has many health benefits, and takes less than ten minutes to prepare. I thought you might be interested in trying it and hope that you might even add it to your favorites list.
Michelle’s Blazing Banana Shake
Ingredients: 1 banana, 1 cup fresh coconut milk (I use my homemade recipe that I always have fresh in my refrigerator), 4-6 ice cubes, 1-2 Stevia packets (optional), 1-2 teaspoons Chia seeds (optional)
Directions: Place all ingredients into a blender, and run for 30–45 seconds. If you wish to add the Chia seeds, now is the time. Then, run the blender for another 10 seconds. And that’s all…it’s ready. Easy! Pour the shake into a tall glass and enjoy.
A few things to know about Chia seeds: They will boost your energy, they can reduce the resistance of the body to insulin, they will lower bad cholesterol, and they help bone health, as they are high in calcium, phosphorus, protein, and magnesium. They can also contribute to weight loss since they expand in the stomach, dulling your appetite and making you feel full. They are extremely low in calories, and lastly, they will enhance your bowel movement—so don’t eat too much of it or you may soil your day—don’t say I didn’t warn you.
What do you think? Would you try this refreshing, delicious shake for your late breakfast or brunch?
Time to shake things up…
Hiding In The Shadows
I realize that many readers who follow my blogs and read my book, Pinnacle Lust, don’t always react or comment on my work. Out of the thousands who read my blog, only a few leave a comment. While comments brighten my day and keep me going, it is not often that a reader’s comment leaves me speechless. However, in the last few days, it happened twice.
The first incident was a comment that was left on my website on the Time To Go Home blog. “I love you,” he wrote. “You crack me up; I’m dying, I have [the] exact same problem. I feel the same; it’s amazing. I have no tricks up my sleeve; I am trying to learn from you. You are so funny the way you describe everything. I pray for a safe and easy flight for you. May God be with you my friend.”
This comment touched my heart and left a big smile on my face. I was flattered how open the reader was, sharing his own experience with the phobia of flying. Also, I was happy to read that he was planning to try my travel tips for his personal use.
The second incident left me stunned. It was from my husband. I didn’t know he’s been reading my daily blogs. If not for the delicious recipe I shared in my Creativity Keeps It Fun blog, I probably would never have known he reads my work.
Don’t think that my other half gives compliments easily. My husband is not the type of guy to read my blogs. My husband is very selective; he usually reads professional literature, best sellers, and world history—categories my writing doesn’t fall into. So when he approached me and mentioned my blog, my jaw dropped.
“That shrimp recipe you gave away looks delicious,” my husband said.
“What recipe are you talking about?” I asked.
“The one in your blog.”
“Huh?” I asked.
“Last week, I think it was Wednesday,” he said.
“Oh, yeah…what about it?”
“It looks good. Can you make it for dinner? I think I would like it.”
Wow, I thought. If that’s not a compliment, then I don’t know what is. I never expected this to come from my husband.
I guess you never know what fans are hiding in the shadows.
Time to get cooking…my husband is waiting.
Halloween And The City
Whether or not you celebrate Halloween, it’s an unavoidable night. Someone will knock on your door and ask for treats.
Halloween takes on a different vibe depending on its location. I spent last week in New York and wondered what a Yankee Halloween looks like.
I didn’t have to search far; I got my answer while having lunch with my step-daughter, Ashley, who lives in Manhattan, above East Village and adjacent to Gramercy—an area called Stuy Town, a large community dominated by families and small children. Consequently, in that area, Halloween decorations are elaborate and abundant. Displays of spiderwebs, scarecrows and bales of hay are commonplace, contributing to the festive spirit of the season.
Yet, some trendy New Yorkers in their 30s, like Ashley, do different things than what families and small children do.
For Ashley, October is her favorite time of year in New York City, as it’s a month filled with costume parties, spooky décor, and this year, relatively warm temperatures. While other holidays are obviously meaningful and delightful—consumed with family gatherings, hometown visits, and traditions of all kinds—Halloween holds a special place in her heart.
She describes Halloween as a holiday where creativity meets glamour meets ingenuity. She feels it’s an opportunity to dress incognito in a city where anonymity is already easy enough to come by—but still, Halloween is an excuse to go all out.
This year, she’ll be going with a friend to one of her favorite venues in the city, the Dream Hotel—a boutique hotel located in New York City’s Meatpacking District. This year is their 6th annual Halloween celebration.
Ashley raves about the views from the PhD Rooftop Lounge, offering some of the most impressive views she’s seen in the city. The celebration also extends to the Gallery, a spacious ballroom, as well as the Electric Room—an intimate, smaller, and usually more exclusive club at the lower level of the hotel.
She couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming celebration. Now she just has to figure out what she’s going to wear…and whether she takes me with her.
What do you think? Will I be lucky enough to celebrate Halloween in New York City with Ashley?
Living Preservative Free
Developments in food technology have come a long way, significantly contributing to the food supply…and consequently changing our world.
Food technology can extend the shelf life of any food, allowing today’s food chain to get longer and longer.
We can all agree, the longer the shelf life, the more convenient life becomes. Obviously, if items have a long shelf life, there is no need to go to the grocery store every few days. Wow! Who wouldn’t appreciate that? Food technology knows how valuable our time is; it’s continuously working on ways to extend shelf life.
This morning I grabbed a yogurt from my refrigerator. The expiration date on the container got me thinking: Four weeks? Really? Unless this is heavily loaded with preservatives that my body doesn’t like, this yogurt died a long time ago. A few hours later, I needed a lemon. As I pulled one from the refrigerator, it hit me again. Where did this lemon come from? It’s the end of October. I doubt it was picked recently. It was probably back in the summer when it started its journey to my kitchen. I wonder how long it has been stored under refrigeration? I guess the chemicals did their job keeping it shiny and fresh looking. Am I going to put this hazard in my mouth? I don’t think so.
It appears to me that even fresh food is no longer fresh, would you agree? Otherwise, how come preservative free, fresh coconut milk will last a few weeks? If it was truly fresh, it would expire after 48-72 hours, but this isn’t enough time to deliver the product from the manufacturing site to the store. The food chain needs time, and time can be bought only with a long shelf life. If I were to buy fresh coconut milk, it would probably need to be delivered to the store via same-day air. With the cost involved, I probably wouldn’t be able to afford it.
So here’s what I do—in thirty minutes’ time, I make fresh coconut milk at home. I place 1 cup of shredded coconut in a blender and add ¾ cup of boiled water, and then let it run on high speed for two and half minutes. I then set a strainer in a bowl and line the strainer with cheesecloth. I pour the coconut mixture into the lined strainer and let it cool down for about 10 minutes.
Now comes the messy part. I twist the cheesecloth and squeeze it, almost as if I’m milking it, allowing the coconut milk to drain into the bowl.
I carefully open the cheesecloth and put the coconut back in the blender. I add another ¾ cup boiled water and repeat the steps above. Only then do I throw away the cheesecloth and coconut. What’s left in the bowl is my preservative-free and fresh coconut milk that will last in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
What do I use this coconut milk for? Everything. Shakes, Thai food recipes, coffee, etc.
I believe that a society that strives for lean greens, healthy, whole, and clean food, and of course a holistic future; it’s society’s responsibility to ask whether food technology brings us quality or just convenience.
It’s time to live longer and healthier lives!
Have you ever come across a word that you’re unsure if it’s one word or two, hyphenated or not?
Here is one for you: wellbeing, well-being, or well being. Which would you choose?
Well-being is one of those tricky words that can easily slow me down while I’m writing. So which is correct? Here, let’s go through this together.
It’s definitely not well being—you have to trust me on this one until I can explain later. Now, from the two other options that are left, I bet some of you will say that the correct spelling is wellbeing, while others will choose well-being.
What if I told you that only one is correct? Would you be surprised? Would you agree, or would you research it? I don’t take anything for granted. I usually take the time to explore a word’s spelling and etymology.
When my step-daughter. Ashley, read my blog from last week, she rushed to correct me and said that the word should be hyphenated, well-being. Hmmm, I thought and then asked my editor, who got back to me with a different opinion: “It’s one word, wellbeing,” she said.
My editor has many years of experience and she also teaches creative writing. Naturally, I should go with her advice. However, since my step-daughter, Ashley, has a B.A. in English and a double master’s, one of which is in print journalism, I couldn’t easily ignore her comment.
This morning, while on my early 45-minute walk, it hit me again. I started thinking about you, my readers, who might have this same question as well. I couldn’t just let it go; I had to search further. As soon as I returned home, I was on it.
Here is all you need to know about this word:
Well-being is a noun. The best synonyms that I can think of for it are wellness and good health. It is an old word, in use for almost five centuries. Well-being has never morphed into a single word. That covers the wellbeing option.
And why is well being wrong? Because while these two can appear next to each other in one sentence, they will not convey the same meaning as well-being. While separate, the well is an adjective and the being is a verb. To form a noun, they must be hyphenated. And like I said, well-being is a noun. So the hyphen is a must.
I know how easy it is to be a victim of the infinite loop of the Spelling & Grammar tool in Microsoft Word. It happens to me frequently. My spell check still underlines all my well-beings with an ugly green line, suggesting that I write well being or wellbeing. Still, I don’t turn this tool off. I ignore the spell check and search when necessary. Especially with this kind of outcome, it’s a wonderful feeling to be proud of your child who was the one to correct you! I guess paying graduate school tuition was worth it. LOL.
Good job, Ashley. I am proud of you!
By the way, have you noticed my progress? I already survived a 45-minute walk, which is 15 minutes longer than my first walk days ago. How about you? Were you able to add more minutes to your walk?
Would you agree that this falls into #hyphenhell? Hopefully, you will find this blog helpful rather than confusing.
Creativity Keeps It Fun
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know that it is a hard journey based on two main components: diet and exercise. And if you are like me and don’t like to exercise, but love to eat, it becomes really tough to achieve your goal.
Creativity can help overcome any hurdles—even when it comes to dieting and exercising.
So what do I do?
For the exercising part, I try not to walk the same route every day. Sometimes I use a treadmill or drive to a local park to break the routine. It’s not only the different views that I take in, but also the walking challenges that different topographies offer.
I also include other activities for my exercise: swimming, weights, tennis, etc. In the last few days, I even thought of starting to take salsa classes. If you think about it, the list of exercise possibilities is endless: aerobic classes, Zumba, Pilates, spin classes, hot yoga, etc.
The trick is to vary the workouts…unless you are a person that loves routine.
It’s the same trick when it comes to dieting. Creativity can go a long way here—not only by the flavor but also by the dish’s presentation. People tend to eat with their eyes first, then comes the taste. Though there are thousands of low-fat and low-calorie recipes out there, I always try to add my special touch to enhance the look and the flavor. Sometimes I don’t use a recipe, I just create something new with the ingredients I have on hand, like this one:
Ingredients: 1 lemon, 1 shallot, 1 clove of garlic finely chopped, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, ½ teaspoon sweet paprika, 1 tomato cubed, 1 zucchini, 1 carrot, cilantro (optional), 12 medium shrimp (peeled and deveined), a splash of white wine, salt, black pepper, and ½ cup water.
Mix shrimp with juice of 1 lemon and let stand for 10 minutes.
Sauté shallot and garlic in coconut oil. Add shrimp and sweet paprika, and sauté until shrimp are pink. Remove shrimp only from pan and set aside.
Add tomato to the pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes. While the tomato is cooking, julienne the zucchini and carrot. I use a simple julienne peeler; you can get them for a few dollars at Amazon, Williams-Sonoma, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.
Add zucchini and carrot to the tomato and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the water and cook on medium heat for 7-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you choose to use cilantro, now is the time to add it.
Return shrimp to the pan with the vegetables, add a splash of wine and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
And that’s it…time to eat!
If you have any divine recipes or tips for creative exercising, please send them my way.
Time To Go Home
It’s my last day in New York. My flight to Atlanta leaves early this evening. If not for my claustrophobia, I could probably enjoy my last few hours in New York, but I am already busy worrying about my return flight. Just thinking about it, I’m clenching my teeth and I have butterflies in my stomach. I should probably go ahead and take my pill.
I have learned how to manage and live with the symptoms of my claustrophobia. I’ve developed tricks and techniques that allow me to halt panic attacks before they get to the stage where I wouldn’t be able to step on the plane…and trust me, this has happened in the past.
So, what do I do?
Medication: I use some medication that helps me to avoid panic attacks. The key is the timing—when to take this medication. It makes a huge difference if I take a half-dose before any symptoms arise, which means taking the first dose before I leave for the airport and the second half when I get on the plane. I’ve found that if I split my medication in two, I’m less likely to get a panic attack. Sometimes, especially on longer flights, it’s harder to manage the phobia. During a trip like that, I need to take another half-dose after six hours.
Talk About It: If I happen to be flying by myself, I tell the passengers seated next to me about my claustrophobia and sometimes I let the flight attendant know as well. Although I share with them how serious it is, I try to infuse it with some humor, even a bit of sarcasm. By doing this, I break the ice with these strangers. I also tell them what to expect if and when an attack were to happen.
Alcohol: Okay, this one I probably should not talk about since it’s not something that is advised. But since we’re getting so close lately, I feel that I can trust my readers. I discovered that if I have one alcoholic beverage, I can totally kill my crazy phobia—plus, I’ll get a nice sleep. And if I’m being that open with you, I can tell you that my favorites are Bloody Marys or white wine. Like I said, it’s not something that I suggest doing; we all know that alcohol is not recommended in conjunction with medication.
Smaller Spaces: Smaller spaces than the airplane cabin can be helpful. If I’m feeling cramped, I go to the bathroom and stay there for a while. Then, when I step out, I get a sense of relief. The plane appears large and spacious after that tiny, confined bathroom.
Positioning: One thing that gives me immediate relief is to lower my head to my knees and hold it between my hands.
Wi-Fi: I always purchase the Gogo in-flight service, even for short flights. By having contact with the outside world, I feel less confined—it gives me a greater sense of control. Besides, knowing that I can let someone at home know what’s happening makes me feel safer. Being on social media, texting, and emailing really helps pass the time quickly.
Now, if I could just make this claustrophobia disappear forever…but I can’t.
I hope this helps at least one of you. If you have more tricks on how to manage claustrophobia, please send them my way.
Time to take a pill.
Halloween Is In the Air
Who doesn’t love their pets? Some people even love their pets more than they love their children.
I’ve heard that pet owners spend obscene amounts of money on vet bills, dog walkers, special food, dog spa days, and the list goes on.
This morning, when I was walking down Broadway, I noticed a never-ending line of people.
Lo and behold, the line led into Canine Styles, an upscale boutique catering to canines and cats.
My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it. While I already knew about the Halloween pet costumes phenomena, I never realized the effort that pet owners went to in order to outfit their loved ones.
As soon as I returned to the hotel, I start Googling, hoping to find out more about this. I couldn’t help but wonder how much New Yorkers spent on their pets. Are pets trending? Am I that out-of-touch?
I honestly had no idea that they were such a big deal here.
Indeed, New Yorkers are spending lots and lots of money on Halloween costumes for their four-legged friends and bloggers, as well as reporters, are taking the time to write about it. Like they say, “People Can't Stop Buying Halloween Costumes for their Pets.” Also, I found out that pet store sales in New York are up 20 percent this year. No wonder why there was such a line.
Later, I asked my step-daughter, Ashley, if she knows people who spend that kind of money on pets. She not only confirmed this but also told me about the annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, which CNN calls “the largest dog costume parade in the world.” The parade draws hundreds of dogs and thousands of spectators, as the dogs compete for thousands of dollars in prizes.
Hmmm...maybe it’s time for me to get a pooch.
For the past ten years, we have been staying at the same hotel. Many of the staff know us by name and even remember our personal preferences: extra towels, how we take our coffee, what paper we prefer, etc. It really brings an extra level of comfort to our stay. I’ll admit, I like it.
While hotels are nice, nothing compares to the luxury of our own home. Though I love New York and everything that comes with it, I have moments where I truly miss my bed. So using the same hotel and being welcomed by the same people each time, certainly makes the stay less stressful.
This morning, I left the room by myself, planning to take the stairs. Remember? Elevators are not for me. I shared with you about my claustrophobia a few days ago. If you missed it, you can read about it here. So as many of you may already know, if no one is with me, I will not get in an elevator.
“Good morning,” I said to the Butler.
“Good morning, Mrs. St. Pierre. How are you today?” he asked.
“I’m fine, thank you for asking.”
“Is there anything I can do for you this morning?” he asked.
“No, not really,” I said
“Let me know if there is anything you need.”
“Oh, actually, would you do me a favor? Could you please ride with me in the elevator to the lobby?” I asked.
“Of course. My pleasure,” he said.
“Thank you,” I said as we proceeded to the elevators.
“So, you really are claustrophobic, aren’t you?” he asked, out of the blue.
“How do you know?” I replied.
“Oh, I read your blog,” he smiled.
“Really?” I was stunned. I didn’t expect it.
“Yes. I love your blogs,” he added.
“Thank you. I’m flattered,” I said, trying to hide how overwhelmed I was.
It is not every day that I come across strangers who recognize my work and follow my blog. I definitely didn’t expect that the butler in the hotel would read them.
I guess staying at the same hotel over and over has its advantages. Though I must say, not every butler is as special as Christian. Though he has only been at our hotel for two years, he’s so professional and fits right in at the St. Regis. I took a moment in the elevator to get to know him better and found out that he is originally from Mexico and came to the states in order to follow his father. He quickly made New York his new home.
Though you can’t take your home with you when you travel, I’m grateful that we’ve found a special place where we truly feel welcomed. And who knows? Maybe we’ll get our own place here, in Manhattan, soon.
Muchas gracias, Christian!