Newsletter VII: 4.30.18 I Scream From the Top of my Lungs

What’s Going On!

Newsletter VII:

Monday, April 30, 2018
We All Know What This Means

 

Now that we have gotten the obligatory Justin meme out of the way, how are you doing today?
I feel like this last week so much happened.  Is it me or did the world has become a far stranger place.  Maybe I just spent too much time on Twitter.  Kanye West is still tweeting absolute madness every hour of the day, and now President Trump is retweeting him.   I am just left wondering how we can get the good people at Twitter to suspend accounts.

To completely change the subject (you’re welcome) Time released it’s list of it’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018, and each person had an introduction written by someone who knows them or has had an encounter with them.  For example Jennifer Lopez’s was written by Kerry Washington, Prince Harry by Elton John, and Roger Federer by Bill Gates. Each story that I have ready so far has been personal and moving.  Click the image to go the beautifully done site and check out the list for yourself.

It will easily kill an hour of this Monday for you.  But go after you finish the rest of the newsletter OBVIOUSLY!

xx
Cristina

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and get them sit ups right and…

As Justin just told us, it’s going to be May.  Which means summer is on the horizon.  Time to get back to those work out plans to try and pretend we didn’t just eat ourselves into oblivion over the cold winter months (especially those living up north where Spring just never sprung).  I’m happy to announce a new section to the blog to cover Health &  Fitness, where I am bringing you some experts to help motivate us to work out, cook healthier, and be more mindful, Namaste! Check out the first article here where I tell you how Kanye West and Tich Nath Hahn Collided to Change My Life.

Thinking about using Ancestry or 23 & Me

Well be prepared to find out something much crazier than being 1/5 Native American.  Thanks to Ancestry, police in California were able to finally close a 40 year old cold case involving a serial killer. Read more about what happened HERE. This man was responsible for 12 deaths ,over 40 rapes, and countless burglaries.  He is the actual reason America started locking their doors. You can read even more about him HERE.

A true crime blogger, Michelle McNamara, inspired officers to re-open the case in 2013 when she wrote an article in Los Angeles Magazine.  She began writing a book about the Golden State Killer (a name she coined), but unfortunately died in her sleep before she was able to finish.

The book was posthumously updated and finalized by true crime writer Paul Haynes and her widower Patton Oswalt.  The book, released this past February (almost two years after her death), reached number 2 on The New York Times Best Seller List. Here is her widower, Patton discussing his wife, the capture of the Golden State Killer and her book last week on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Bill Cosby

I could not go this entire newsletter and pretend this man wasn’t found guilty this week.  He was.  Praise be.  This is about all the time he deserves.

Double Dare

Off the heels of my 90’s article, which if you didn’t read you can catch that HERE, we have some thing pretty exciting things happening. Double Dare is getting a reboot and coming back to Nickelodeon.  While there hasn’t been confirmation that Marc Summers will be the host, they have alluded to him making some sort of appearance.  Read the article here.

“you can say anything as long as you put the right emoji next to it.”
Currently obsessing over this new Calvin Harris feat Dua Lipa song “One Kiss”
I haven’t seen the new Avengers movie, but I’m a sucker for a remake
Fried Cauliflower Rice
Courtesy of @mysexyveggies
Hopefully this gives us abs
I thought for a second I was over how terrible this guy is, but nope.

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Kanye West and Tich Nhat Hanh Collided and Changed My Life

Right now I want you to click this link and have our favorite egotistical semi-maniacal rapper guide you through this blog post.  

I would be lying if I said fitness was something that just started becoming important to me.  I come from a family of athletes, and have always kept pretty active.   I know that it’s obvious from my stature and smooth moves, but I was one hell of a basketball player in my time. Ok so I wasn’t the best basketball player, but I played basketball, on a team, and the team was good.

The life of a first year law student sent me running (literally)  to the gym.  Cue Kanye West and his New Workout Plan, always the first song on my playlist.  I started going 4-5 times a week to help manage my stress, and probably just to take a break from all the reading.  In fact, to all the people who feel I watch too much TV it should be known that I have read enough for an entire lifetime, maybe even 3 people’s lifetimes.  

Fast forward through being a lawyer and three pregnancies and let’s say I was on and off about my gym habit.  I would go when I could squeeze it in.   I’m a big believer in that everything tastes as good as skinny feels, so going to the gym has always been a necessary evil.  I was highly motivated to workout by my jeans.  Jeans are expensive, and when they stop fitting you because you ate too many Oreos, it’s really annoying.  Then you have to buy your “fat jeans” but you don’t want to spend a lot of money on those because they’re going to be “temporary” and you see the dark rabbit hole I’m falling into here. 

About  six months ago I was starting to feel really bad.  My head slowly started to hurt and I was at migraine level pain for almost two weeks.  Obviously this coincided with my children’s winter break. I was having to entertain three tiny circus monkeys all while fighting off a headache that could not be cured with any over the counter, or even prescription medicine.  Things got worse when I realized that I was slowly putting on weight, and my ankles were so swollen they barely fit into my sneakers. I was so miserable, and it reflected on my face and definitely in my parenting.

Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore, and went to the ER for something to take this headache away, and we found out my blood pressure was 150/100.  This is well above normal, and especially for a young thriving lady such as myself.

Once they were able to shut down my headache, with what must have been a horse tranquilizer, the real work began.  Since December 28,2017  I have done a number of tests to try and figure out what in my body has changed and shifted to the point that my blood pressure cannot be stabilized without intervention.  There is no history of high blood pressure on either side of my family, I am only 34 and relatively good shape.  We still do not have any concrete answers, but the doctors did tell me I needed to change my diet and exercise to do what I could to keep my blood pressure from spiking.  

I felt so out of control.  My body had gone completely rogue.  So I needed to take back the power, and I had to do this through exercise.  Exercise has now taken on a new role in my life.  It is not just my stress relief but a way for me to try to keep my body in line.  A thing I can do every day to make sure I am staying healthy, not just for my jeans, but for me.  

 I had also started going to a therapist to help with my anxiety (more on this another time), and she introduced me to Tich Nhat Hanh.  

Tich is a Buddhist monk, but don’t let me lose you.  Besides being adorable, his approach to life was so simple, yet deep.  To me this simplicity was beautiful. I was really put off by the idea of meditation at first, but have become a firm believer.  I just think everyone needs to find their own way to do it.  

I am not good at the more traditional meditation where you sit down for 10 minutes and clear your mind with an app. This comes easier to my husband. What Tich showed me was that anything can be a meditation, so long as it is done with intention, mindfully.  As my therapist taught me I can just do, “lots of little things- many times.”

 My meditations include eating delicious food, taking a few deep breaths in the shower (between songs), making Chamomile Tea, exercise, and a few more things that I enjoy doing but now I do them with more thought and more gratitude.

So I am bringing you Health and Fitness ideas because I don’t think anyone should wait for something to act.  Not death, not a health scare, nothing. Humor aside, we need to take care of ourselves. The majority of you are moms, and we are most at risk.  Self-care isn’t a trend, well it is a trend right now, but it’s a must. Find the time, even if it’s just twenty minutes. Take control.

I am in no way an authority here.  So I am going to be bringing in some of the best around (in my opinion) to bring you great at home workouts, some great recipes for healthy meals, and I will share some resources that have given me wisdom to deal with the insanity of raising tiny humans and not completely lose your mind.  Namaste!

Cauliflower Fried Rice – By Sally Schimko {@mysexyveggies}

A couple years back, I was at the park with a couple of my favorite mom friends complaining (no surprise) that I needed to switch up my workout routine a bit because I was bored.  Two of these lovely ladies had been going to Barry’s Bootcamp here on Miami Beach for the last couple of weeks, and were convinced I had to come with them.  I gave every excuse I could come up with and the rebuffed each attempt:

Me: “I am not in good enough shape to do weights.”

Them: “You can go at your own pace and do lighter weights.”

Me: “I have to run on a treadmill, fast? What if I fall?”

Them: “You can go at your own pace, and we have never seen anyone fall.”

Me: “I have had three kids, what if I have to pee?”

Them: “You can just go to the bathroom, but I have peed a little in my pants during leg day or a sprint on the treadmill.”

When my amazingly beautiful friend admitted to me that she has peed herself a little on a treadmill at Barry’s, just to get me to come, I knew I had to at least try it.  Well I came to my first Barry’s class and I didn’t fall off the treadmill, did my lighter weights, can proudly say I did not pee myself, and I absolutely loved it.  I loved that you can do the workout at your own pace and work your way up to the people around you doing more advanced instruction.  It kicked my butt and gave me something to aspire to.

Enter Sally Schimko.  I ran into Sally when I had first started working out at Barry’s.  She was in incredible shape, that kind of shape that you think to yourself there is no way she’s had kids yet, but then you find out she has two and you’re like “Sigh.”  Sally was there each day with a smile, and always cheering everyone on.  So when she started her healthy lifestyle blog featuring all of her delicious veggie focused recipes, I knew she would be the perfect contributor for the Health and Fitness section.  For her this is a lifestyle, and I love learning from people who do what they love.  You can learn more about Sally, and see more of her recipes on her Instagram account @mysexyveggies 

For our first recipe we decided to do Fried Cauliflower Rice as a perfect meal, or side to your favorite protein at lunch or dinner.  Enjoy!

Also if you live in Miami Beach area and want a cooking class with Sally for yourself or a group of friends (which I highly recommend SO FUN!) you can email me cristina@survivingcristina.com or email her directly sallyterezi@me.com to arrange your day.  You can customize the menu, bring some wine, and get Sally’s personal tips for living a more healthy lifestyle.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups cauliflower rice ( I use frozen)
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1/3 cup edamame
  • 1 small onion sliced thinly
  • 1 medium carrot ( shaved)
  • 2 cups mix mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup liquid aminos
  • 3 Tbs orange marmalade
  • 2 Tbs pb2 ( peanut butter powder or just use your nut butter )
  • 1/2 cup mix chopped green herbs ( dill , cilantro, parsley)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Spicy chili flax ( optional)

Instructions:

1. In a medium high skillet sauté vegetables Starting with the onion and mushrooms until they are golden brown and add all the rest (reserve some carrots, dill, parsley and cilantro to garnish)

2. Sprinkle spices , mix and cover

3. When all the vegetables turned golden brown, simmer down

4. Add liquid amino and orange marmalade and mix well cover for 2-5 minuets and it’s ready to serve

5. Top it up with hempseed and pine nuts.

Surviving Weekly VI: 4.23.18

Your Favorite Monday Morning Quarterback is Here

I’m trying a theme out this week, hindsight.  Hindsight being 20-20 there are definitely some things that I probably shouldn’t have done in my life.  For example, order my steak medium rare at Outback Steakhouse or drank 5 whiskeys one of the first times I was having dinner with my husband’s family.  Both of these things ended the same way and it wasn’t pretty.  However at the time it seemed right.

I do often wonder had I not thrown up all over my then boyfriend’s [now husband] brand new BMW that night would we even be married today? It’s hard to say.  But that’s what hindsight is for I guess, that what if? The hope to do it right the next time the opportunity presents itself.  Thanks to hindsight, I only drink vodka now.

So today, Monday, we are going to look back at the last week and think what we could have done differently, and then probably do everything just the same.  But at least we did the thought exercise.

xx
Cristina

How Did We Survive the 90’s?!

Timeout.  Ever stop and think about all the things you used to do as a child that you would never in your life allow as a parent.  Hindsight being our theme, I took a look back at some of my mom’s mistakes for her and wrote them down.  You’re welcome, Mommy! Read my what will likely be the first of many 90’s articles now! Click HERE

I Didn’t Twerk Enough When I Was Pregnant

As we have discussed, Cardi B is everywhere. This week she was on Ellen, and they discussed everything from her real name to how she got pregnant, twerking.  Then they showed the clip of her twerking at Coachella, and it made me feel like maybe I should have done more of that when I was pregnant.  It looks like so much fun.  Who am I even kidding, I still don’t even understand what twerking is.  But catch her segment with Ellen here.

Netflix: Cuba and the Cameraman

Follow Emmy award winner Jon Alpert, who started documenting Cuba over fifty years ago at the start of the revolution in the 70’s and returned over the course of almost five decades. He follows the lives of three families, and begins a controversial friendship with Fidel Castro. As a Cuban American, this is difficult to watch.  The humanizing of Fidel Castro is difficult to swallow.  However it cannot be denied that this documentary provokes thought and gives truth behind Cuba that is definitely worth watching.  Click the image for the official trailer.

#Beychella Part Deuce

In hindsight, I definitely should have gone to Coachella.  But since even in hindsight I know my attendance to be an impossibility- I should have at the very least recorded last week’s performance and sold it, I mean streamed it, for all of my friends.  However I had no idea they wouldn’t stream her this weekend.  I will not even begin to let you know how deep and dark my outrage goes.  Moving on here’s what I know from my obsessive Instagram stalking of those who did attend:

  • Similar set and clothing, minus some color changes
  • Destiny’s Child appeared again, different arguably cooler outfits
  • Jay-Z came and did the same song
  • J. Balvin made an appearance
  • Solange came out, they danced but Bey tried to carry Solange and they both fell over.  However they somehow pulled it off.

Check it all out HERE

The Greatest Showman

After incessant nagging [I have no idea where she gets this from], my daughter got me to sit down and watch The Greatest Showman with her.  Honestly, I should have listened to her sooner! Don’t ever tell her I said that! I’m a sucker for good music and a positive message.  I loved so much about this movie, but this song was my most favorite.  It’s a great way to start a week! Click the image!

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO KANYE, ONE PHILOSOPHICAL TWEET AT A TIME​

“truth is my goal. Controversy is my gym. I’ll do a hundred reps of controversy for a 6 pack of truth”

Drake- Nice For What
Every single lady crush you may have + Lauryn Hill sampling and you have your next lady anthem
(tip courtesy of @perfectlybaked)
Arroz Con Pollo!
One of my Abuela’s staple dishes.  I have tweaked it a bit over the years and now bring you my family’s recipe and all you need is one pot!

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How Did We Survive the 90’s

Ever feel like you are just constantly messing up this whole parenting thing?   Not just because you are walking in a minefield of your child’s emotions. Seriously, some days I feel like I am actually tiptoeing through a minefield that can be set off for something as simple as peeling a banana in an undesired way.  But, it’s more than that.

As a mom of three little kids, I am constantly bombarded with so many warnings about, well, everything.  I mean, have you been on the internet lately? There is a website that can shame you for practically anything when it comes to parenting these days.  Watch your kids every moment in case they fall, no you watch your kids too much, stop hovering, you’re a helicopter parent. You say no too much, try using a more positive word.  Oh you have to start saying no to your kids, they need healthy boundaries. Feed your kids organic food, wash their hands, but not with antibacterial soap, don’t let them drink juice, and for the love of God, do not under any circumstance, use anything with MSG.  

For a while I got so caught up in all of these rules and keeping my kids as safe and as healthy as possible.  However, it does dawn on me, that with all these rules we have for our kids now, where were they when we were little.  You know this is true.  Us “xenials,” that is what they are calling our “kind.” I’m starting to suspect that science needed to define us as the generation of lab rats.  

We came of age in the time where technology was making major advances and manufacturing in the food industry was transitioning from a focus on natural ingredients to a focus on efficiency and bulk.  As a result, we were the guinea pigs, the ones that tried out all of these “advances” with hopes that we wouldn’t just drop dead.

I mean, really think about this.  I want to say that throughout my entire childhood I probably consumed MSG on everything.  I bet there was a bottle of MSG in my house that my mom would sprinkle on things, just so that it would taste good.  

I would say “Mom this chicken is a little bland.”

“Oh sorry honey, just grab the MSG from the cupboard. Delicious.”

McDonald’s in my house was not a special treat, it was the norm.  We had McDonald’s sometimes just because we were driving down the street and saw the golden arches and said, “oh let’s just stop and get a happy meal.”  “Why not?” People would absolutely mom shame you now if they knew how often you feed your kids McDonald’s and now it’s at least somewhat real food. When our parents were feeding us Mickey D’s, it was barely regulated, the chicken nuggets were not chicken and the burgers were sort of meat and heavy on the ammonium hydroxide  [you should be picturing this back then there was pink slime too, it just went in our food].

When this article came out recently about Yellow dye in the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, I shuddered at the thought of what our Mac n Cheese was probably made from.  That big blue box was a staple in my house, I even had a song for it “Macaroni and Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese..” that’s all I remember but you get the point, I LOVED Mac n Cheese night, which was almost every other night, when we weren’t eating McDonald’s ofcourse. If it’s still being regulated for having artificial coloring and inorganic ingredients can you just imagine what we used to shovel into our mouths back then.

When we go to birthday parties now, and my kids are like “Mommy mommy can I have apple juice?” Sometimes I answer “NO! You just had apple juice this morning.” Do you want to know why? Because that’s so much sugar and kids can’t be ingesting too much sugar.  [Who am I?]

When I was their age I was drinking Coke, Sunkist, Sprite, and Mountain Dew (honestly just thinking about Mountain Dew makes my insides hurt).  Have you seen that video where someone uses Coke to get rid of corrosion on a car, well you can see that here.  Well if that doesn’t make you sleep better at night, I’m not sure what will.  

How about safety?  Today my kids get into the car, and I will not drive a single inch without making sure seat belts are on and that they are on correctly.  Things were much more, how would you say, lax, back then. I can’t think of a single time my mom asked me to put my seatbelt on. Every car ride was like a game of roulette.  The backseat was a single bench, maybe there were seatbelts, maybe there weren’t. It didn’t matter.

We were living life on the edge.  Nowadays kids can’t sit in the front seat until they are 13.  13! I had been sitting in the front seat for 6 years at this point.  You remember when you were 7. Were you sitting in a booster? Let me answer that for you, no, no you were not.

Every time I have purchased a scooter for my kids, I have also bought a helmet.  If I am being super super honest it’s not a hard line rule in our house. However the thought is there.  I’m also pretty sure if I ever teach my kids to ride a bike (apartment living makes this hard and I get it- OK! I will show my almost 8 year old to ride soon), helmets would be mandatory.  I see so many kids at the park riding with helmets. I didn’t even own one. It wasn’t even a word that came out of my parent’s mouths. Helmet? For what? Take your bike play outside for a while and be home by dinner time.  

Remember the first day you had a computer lab in your school?  This was awesome. It was hands down one of my favorite times of the week.  We would walk into a room with about 10-15 huge beige blocks, the first Apple.  The black screen with the green cursor, and we were blown away. Skip over some years and games started to come into the picture.  Right now, I want you to think about how vigilant you are today with what your kid is watching on the iPad or what games they are playing.  

Now I want you to remember that at the age of 7-8 you were playing The Oregon Trail.  Think about this, you were playing a savage game of Oregon Trail where you had to barter and hunt and hope your entire family wouldn’t die of dysentery, typhoid fever or starvation.  Every time I had to hunt, and I kept missing those super slow buffalos and had to settle for a rabbit, my daughter inevitably died of starvation.  

It was a cruel horrible lesson to teach 7 year olds.  It’s no wonder we were so excited to play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.  Being an international super spy was way less pressure than trying to make it through the maze of death that was the Oregon Trail.  

Speaking of screening what your kid watches on the iPad, I make sure what they are watching has some sort of educational value.  We use Commonsense Media to make sure the show has some of benefit. Don’t’ get me wrong, my kids watch a shit ton of television.  I just try to monitor and make sure that it isn’t mind numbing crap, you know like we watched.

The other day I was driving on the expressway with my kids and we saw some neanderthal roll down his window and throw a paper out of his car.  I felt so much motherly pride when my kids began to shout “Hey that guy is littering! Booo!” I got so caught up in the emotion of it that we put our windows down and shamed him.  Then I realized, I was that guy.

This may be a Miami thing, and I also want you to remember how I just told you that I shamed a guy for littering recently.  But when I was a kid that was just where the trash went. Remember how we would stop for McDonald’s on the regular, well when we were done the wrappers went out the window.  No questions asked, that’s just where they went. Honestly the Captain Planet kids sort of offended me. I felt like I was being attacked. I didn’t really understand. Forgive me guys.  I’m on your side now. Littering is bad. I was a child. Get off my back.

I make fun of my mom all the time for unknowingly trying to kill me growing up.  Even with the MSG, no seat belts and helmets, and lack of supervision I still look back at my childhood and smile and laugh at all the amazing things we had.  Like playing neighborhood games of hide and seek, riding my bike pretty much anywhere I needed to go, and slip and sliding in my underwear in front of my Abuela’s house.  Plus the music, TV and movies were simply epic 

[we will dive into this another day].

It was a simpler time, which is maybe why our parents were so much more lax than we are now.   I hope one day my kids look back at this time, and besides pointing out all the ways we are maybe trying to kill them feel the same warm nostalgia I feel towards the 90’s.  Hey, if we can survive the 90’s and turn out just fine, then I think we can take it a little easier on ourselves and know that our kids are going to turn out alright.

Mom, if you read this all the way through, I love you. I know my kids are going to think the same thing about me when they grow up.

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Arroz Con Pollo! Arroz Con Pollo!

I’ve mentioned my grandmother, Yaya, had 9 kids, but did I mention she had 30 grand children.  This lady would cook for the entire family every Sunday almost without fail. Everything she made was incredible, however she did have her occasional critics.  While I love my family, we are a bunch of sarcastic hooligans, and this worsens with hunger. Hanger and sarcasm are hereditary, trust me.

A typical Sunday in a house filled with 50 hungry Cubans looked exactly as you would imagine.  You walked into the house and were greeted with the wave of loud conversation and laughter, plus the smell of whatever she had cooked that day and the lingering smell of whatever delicious dinner she made for my grandfather, Abuelo, the night before.  

There were people everywhere.  Some were already eating at the dining table, some had set up shop in front of the TV (definitely if it was football season), some at the bar in the kitchen, and everyone gossiping.  As you pile in you had to find Abuela and give her a huge hug (mandatory) and then find our plates and serve our food on a first come first serve basis. She always had more than enough, but liked us to have that fear of not getting food if we didn’t show up early.  

If you were a betting man, you would definitely guess that Yaya was likely going to make Arroz Con Pollo for lunch on Sunday.  I didn’t appreciate it back then as much as I do now. I took it for granted and always complained asking why she didn’t make Vaca Frita or Garbanzos.  In hindsight, I would give anything to have a plate of her Arroz Con Pollo just one more time. It’s the dish I miss the most, by far.

As a mom of three now, I totally see why she made this so often.  Besides being delicious and universally liked, it’s a one pot dish.  What mom doesn’t love hearing one pot! She was cooking for an army, so she had this cartoonishly big cast iron pot that would somehow feed us all. But for the sake of this recipe you can use a regular sized one.  

There aren’t any millennial modifications here.  Not just because this recipe makes me nostalgic, but it’s more about comfort than calories here.  

This recipe makes for 8 (probably a little more because Cubans always go overboard)

  • 1 tablespoon salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ cup Mojo Sauce
  • 6 chicken thighs bone in, skin still on
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cups valencia rice
  • 1 teaspoon Bijol
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 beer (any works lately I use Modelo because it’s what I have)
  • ½ cup of dry white wine

Directions

Combine half the salt, half garlic powder, black pepper in a plastic gallon bag along with the ½ cup of Mojo. Shake until the mixture is well combined.

Pat the chicken dry and place in the bag with the spice mixture. Shake the bag, making sure the chicken is well coated.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch high-sided skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate, using tongs. Use wine to break up the brown bits from the bottom.

Add the onions, green peppers, red peppers and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Cook the vegetables over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and garlic and mix together.  Add the chicken back in and bring the heat down to a simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

Meanwhile rinse the rice in a strainer or bowl and add the bijol to get the right yellow color mix with your hands or a spoon.   Remove the chicken from the pot to shred it (optional you can leave it whole and leave it in the pot) Add the rice and cook until the rice begins to turn in color and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, bring the heat back to medium high.  Start adding the liquids. I do the beer first so that we can be sure it cooks out.  Then add the 4 cups of stock making sure the rice and chicken are covered. Bring the rice to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. If you shredded the chicken cook until the rice is tender.  I like it a little soupy, but this is your preference to keep it covered until the rice absorbs more of the liquid. It takes anywhere from 20 to about 35 minutes. Let the skillet stand covered, about 10 minutes before serving.

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Unwritten Rules that Someone Needed to Write Down

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone did something that defies all common sense.  This action was so beyond common sense that it prompted you to say “How could you do that?” and they blankly stare back at you as if they didn’t know there was an unwritten rule about this action.  “What do you mean you didn’t know?” I feel there are a handful of these rules that absolutely offend me. Therefore, in order to rid these offenders of the excuse that “they didn’t know” because it’s an “unwritten rule” I am going to go ahead and just write them down, right now and give some clear examples:

Rule I

If I tell you that I am watching a TV show or about to watch a movie, do not under any circumstance tell me how it ends or what is going to happen.  Scenario:

Me: “Hi Chris.  Thanks for recommending Sons of Anarchy to watch.  I just finished season 2 and I’m hooked.

Chris: “Oh that’s great Cristina, let me know when you get to the part when &%$#@&! Dies.  That was a crazy scene.

Me:

Rule II

When we are at a restaurant and the waiter puts down our food and you look over and see my plate and think “Wow, that looks delicious” do not dare touch my plate and try my food before I have tried it.  I knew it was going to be delicious, that is why I ordered it. Take a minute. Control yourself. I will offer you a bite when I’m good and ready. Scenario:

Me: Hi waiter.  I’m going to be bad today.  Give me the cheeseburger and side of french fries.

Amy: Oh.  Good for you, Cristina! You deserve it!  Waiter, I can’t eat that I’m trying a glutten free thing.  Bring me a salad please with some grilled chicken.

Me: Wow Amy! So proud of you for sticking to your diet.

Food comes, waiter puts down the food, and Amy instinctively grabs a handful of fries.

Me:

Rule III

When you need a favor from me, and we aren’t best friends or really even friends and we barely speak to each other at all.  Don’t text me with “Hey there. How are you?” We all know this is code for I need something from you. Maybe you sort of care how I am doing, but had it not been for that favor you desperately needed you wouldn’t have texted me at all.  So let’s skip the small talk. I am totally fine doing you a favor just because you are you, and I am me. We don’t need to indulge in this merry go round of polite pleasantries. Text me how I am doing randomly, when you need absolutely nothing.  That is the best.

John: [text] Hey Cristina! It’s been a while, how are you?

Me:

Rule IV

Don’t ever give me parenting advice that I did not ask you for.  There is almost no exception to this rule. Keep all parenting opinions or thoughts to yourself unless explicitly asked. There are so many scenarios I could throw out here, but let’s go with this one:

Me: Oh my god.  I am so tired! My 4 month old just won’t sleep through the night.  I am so exhausted. This is so hard.

Jane: Oh well you should try what I did because my baby has been sleeping for 12 hours since she was 8 weeks old.  They say it’s luck but I know it’s good parenting.

Me:

Rule V

Inch Up- I would like to thank John Cena and Jimmy Kimmel for doing their part in spreading awareness on this issue [if you didn’t catch that click HERE].  When you are driving and you get to a red light do not stop so far behind the car in front of you. Inch up! When you’re making a left, don’t stay behind the line you may miss the turn, Inch up! Do your part.  I get it. Some people aren’t in a hurry, but some of us are perpetually late or trying to make it somewhere in a hurry and your inches could be the difference between us making the light or not!

Do you have rules? Send them over! Let’s do our part!

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The Day I had to Breakup With Instacart

It was a sad day.  The day I realized that I could no longer use Instacart.  This cuts deep. I am the person my entire apartment building silently judges behind my back for the amount of times Instacart gets delivered.  I get the phone call from the front desk “Cristina, your groceries are here, again.”

I know what it looks like.  I just didn’t care. I’m lazy.  There you see, I took the judgment right out of your mouth.  I’m completely and utterly aware of how lazy I am. However I thought Instacart was justifiable.  

I am a mother of three, and live in an apartment building where taking groceries up is not always easy.  Yes, my kids are in school now. Yes I could go on a morning after the gym, but I just got so used to this.  

I was also doing the math correctly, so I thought.  I thought I had understood that if you calculate the Taxes and the Fees each delivery it’s only about $10-$12 and if you pay for the Membership ($120 for the year) you are only paying the fees and the tip each time.  This is not cheap, however if you factor in that it saves me about an hour and a half of shopping and the headache of getting everything up into the apartment it just seemed to equal out.

Considering how much work I could get done. I told everyone I knew, Instacart is the way to go.  I’m so in love with it. The app is so amazing. Well you know what they say…. Love hurts.

Today after receiving my groceries, I unpacked everything, and went to rate the delivery.  I gave it 4 stars because my milk carton was damaged and can’t stand up straight, but my shopper was great.  I gave my driver an $8 tip and closed it out.

Then there it was, my delivery driver left the receipt in my bag.  I found that Publix only charged Instacart $162.40, and there was an ambiguous $11.99 Grocery Non Food item charge.  When I opened the Instacart App to try and figure out what that was, I saw Instacart had charged me $193 for this transaction.  As you can imagine I was not pleased. Who am I kidding I was f%&*#@%g pissed.

I took my 8 deep breaths and called them to see what was going on.  I got the nicest customer service rep, Dylan. Who in the nicest way possible told me [I’m going to paraphrase this.  Dylan I hope I do you justice] that Instacart charges more for groceries from Publix as their cost of doing business. To which I replied, “that doesn’t make sense.”  Publix is not charging you more for the groceries, it’s just Instacart charging more. “Why” I asked.

We aren’t talking about my groceries just costing an extra $5-10 we are talking about $40.  When you do that calculation $40 x every time I’ve used instacart over the last year and it comes out to $1,920 in the last year.  This is on top of the “member fee” I paid, on top of the tips, and on top of that service fee I sometimes forget to waive. By the way if you use instacart they hit you with a 20% service fee on each transaction that if you don’t expressly waived  it gets tacked on.

Things I could do with $1920:

  • Take my family on a pretty nice beach weekend
  • Buy a designer handbag
  • Sponsor 5-10 classrooms on donorschoose.org
  • Buy a piece of furniture for my girl’s bedroom that they/I  have been needing/wanting
  • Most importantly, dDone my own damn grocery shopping an additional 6-7 times for the same price

Holy shit.  For the first time ever I am disgusted by my laziness.  I don’t like things that make me face my flaws head on.  I tell Dylan I am not blaming him, this isn’t his fault. He is convinced he is just explaining this poorly, that I should speak to the manager.  

So the manager comes on the phone, and I ask him to explain to me the non-grocery item.  To paraphrase “Sometimes the driver includes someone else’s items in the checkout. That’s why we never want them to leave the receipt inside the bags. OH IS THAT WHY? I’m starting to unravel at this point.  

I say, so then what you’re saying is, since all the rest of these items were actually mine, my cost for these groceries was actually $150 and so that’s just an additional $12 that I paid to Instacart.  So really, my “upcharge” as they so lovingly called it for this transaction was $40 plus the fees and the tip and the tax.

Oh but, Cristina, we say it really clearly on the app that we have higher than in store prices.  You see that image, you see that teeny tiny little white lettered warning, I should have known. This is my fault.  I have to be honest I had noticed that before, but again figured it was a harmless upcharge. Not $40 per transaction.  

I told the manager to kindly review my account.  To note how many times I’ve used instacart this year, and then to note I will never use Instacart again in my life.  There is no convenience in stealing people’s money. People who are just trying to feed their families. People who are too busy with work or other obligations.  

I would love to tell you that all of this has inspired me to get off my ass and go to the grocery store myself going forward.  But I’m not a liar. I’m probably going to Amazon or Shipt whoever will have me.

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Dawson’s Creek: That Time My Binge Went Too Far

Last week was the 20th anniversary of Dawson’s Creek and two things immediately filled my mind during what the internet so adorably dubbed #creekweek.  The first was obviously going to be “I don’t want to wait” that Paula Cole song that we all love to hate, go ahead and CLICK HERE  so you can listen to that as you read the rest of this article.  The other less interesting, but more obvious emotion that  entered my mind was “dam I am oldAF.”  Once these two thoughts subsided, I immediately remembered a rather low point in my life. More accurately [arguably] the lowest point in my TV binging career.  

I need to lay out a little backstory before we go any further. Dawson’s Creek came of age roughly around the time I was coming of age. I was a skinny, flat chested (this has not changed), smart and [obviously] hilarious girl.  As we all know this does not bring all the boys to the yard in high school. However I was one hell of a best friend which wasn’t always as fun as it sounds.  Anyways, I digress. TV was then as it is now my escape. So Dawson’s Creek means something to me. I stopped talking to my father for a week when he filmed over the VHS recording of the finale.  Back in this time there was no Tivo, DVR, Hulu or YouTube. I couldn’t just find another copy.  This was devastating.

So in a wave of nostalgia, I decided to search for Dawson’s Creek as my retro binge.  What is a retro binge, glad you asked. It is a term I am coining right now, in this moment, to identify one of the many binges I always have circulating.  I have a system for binging, nothing here is random. Retro binge is a show I have seen before, typically from the 90’s early 2000’s that I am re-watching.  Has my TV habit offended you yet? Well hold on this story gets more offensive.  We are back to my wave of nostalgia, I wanted to watch Dawson’s Creek and scoured the internet.  It was no longer in syndication on any current channels, not on HULU or Netflix and at the time Amazon wasn’t a thing. I thought to myself, I’m just going to purchase one season. Famous.  Last.  Words. 

Guys, this hole was deep and it was dark, and it was so expensive.  That one season for $14.99 turned into 6 seasons. You know you have a problem when you know that your husband will get the Apple alert that you bought another season of Dawson’s Creek, and click confirm my purchase anyway.

Also Dawson’s Creek is from a time in TV when there were around 22 episodes per season because there was less TV shows back then and they just needed to fill time.  Are you ashamed of me yet? Please say yes, do not spare me the harsh judgment I deserve.

My only saving grace in this story, is that I stand by my assertion that this show as it was extremely flawed, is excellent.  The characters paddle their way into your heart, and despite their many annoying conversations, or poor decision making or just really boring life drama, you just love them.  Call it nostalgia or an outright refusal to admit when I’m wrong, this one is worth making your retro binge list.  And so it is with this semi-proud,  semi-shameful introduction that I bring you the fruit of my labor.  Some things I learned watching Dawson’s Creek as a full fledged adult. 

1-  The opening credit: You are thinking of that song that is still playing in the background.  Well hate to be the one to break it to you. That song is no longer the theme song for our beloved cast of misfits.  Why? Oh don’t worry I googled this immediately, back in the day the rights to theme songs were only considered for “on air” and syndication uses.  The idea of DVD sales and especially online streaming were not even a blip on the radar. Paula Cole’s fee was too high a price to pay and they settled for Janna Ardan’s “Run Like Mad”. See what this looks like here.

2- Cry Face Originated here:   James Vanderbeek’s cry face was Claire Dane’s cry face before Claire Danes and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

3- So Many Familiar Faces:  Besides the fact that basically the entire cast went on to do their fair share of major things, which proves again that this show was epic, they had some pretty interesting guest stars:

4-  The finale can still make you cry, and not just cry but UGLY cry.  SPOILER ALERT for the 5 people who probably haven’t seen this.  Jen Lindley, was so misunderstood throughout her time at the creek.  She just couldn’t find a guy to love her the way she deserved.  She had me forever when she sang “Teenage Wasteland” standing on top of a chair in college [watch that here] So watching her say goodbye to her daughter and each of her creek compadres was heart wrenching even though it was the 22nd time I had seen it.  Something about seeing that as a mother was particularly brutal.  This was such a beautiful finale, gut wrenchingly sad, and I could have lived with an ending that was much more uplifting, but beautiful nonetheless.

5-  They were the most incestuous friends of all time, yet it never did and still does not bother me.  First Dawson dated Jen, and then he realized he was in love with Joey. While Pacey had a really random fling with a teacher (the first of many times you wonder where their parents are). Joey and Dawson dated, that ended.  Joey dated Jack while Pacey dated Andy while Jen dated Scott Foley and then Henry (the love sick freshman). Jack is gay so Joey breaks up with him. Then Pacey and Joey finally get together and leave on a boat for the summer (no parents).  Somehow Dawson pulls Pacey’s hot older sister who is in college and they hang out for a while.  Jen is single and becomes a loose cannon again, which btw only meant getting drunk at prom. Joey and Dawson kiss right before leaving to college… They go to college, will they won’t they Dawson and Joey try again.  There’s a slightly interesting moment Joey might date her college professor, but back to Dawson.  Then Dawson is dating an annoying actress while Joey flings with Chad Michael Murray and then onto Oliver Hudson.  Pacey dates Audrey (Joey’s roommate). Pacey and Audrey break up, somehow Pacey and Joey are locked in a K-Mart and we remember that’s who we are rooting for. Sigh. It doesn’t happen fast forward many years and it takes Jen’s death for Joey to finally admit what we always knew… it’s Pacey.  If I saw anything as clearly as I saw that coming, I would be wildly successful and filthy rich for “something”.

PS: it should be noted that almost to the day of me finishing Dawson’s Creek in all of it’s glory,  it appeared on Hulu (yet another reason for you to go get HULU!!)

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I Blacked Out… Again.. at Target

I was sitting in my car just staring out the window, and the sound of an old Taylor Swift song snapped me out of a trance.  “What just happened”.  I looked at the time, and realized I had lost an hour of my day. The last thing I remember I was pulling into the parking lot and heading to Target to grab laundry detergent and paper towels.  The next thing I know, I am sitting in the parking lot, a little [more] disheveled, with an AMEX alert on my phone that says $225 spent at Target. “What. Just. Happened.”

I can already hear my husband “just paper towels huh, what is this banana slicer for?”  I won’t have an answer either, in the moment I just felt like I needed this tool, you know, to help slice bananas quickly.  I have three kids, I need to save time where I can. This banana slicer is revolutionary, and will save me seconds of my day.  Just peel the banana, put it in the slicer and BOOM! Sliced bananas. I had to have it. Oh my god! And it was only $4.99. What a bargain!  He will glare back at me and ask “But where are the paper towels?” I’m staring blankly as I suddenly remember, that I didn’t even get the one thing I had gone to Target looking for.  Now he is looking at me like I have lost my damn mind, and he won’t be wrong. Target has struck again.

Target, you wiley mistress.  You sly temptress. You fill me with lattes, and calming music and give me this not very large, but just large enough red cart for me to fill with endless amounts of trinkets that I can somehow justify to myself within seconds of seeing that I must have.

Target, how do you do it?  I feel like we should all call for an inspection of the air.  Is there a special chemical that you are pumping through the vents that immediately shifts my mood and causes me to spend money like I’m a newly made rapper at a club for the first time. Because when I am there I am Making. It. Rain.  Throwing money around like it don’t mean a thing. I’m a wanna-be baller, shot caller. I’m drinking champagne when I’m thirstay type of money spending.

Throw pillows, yes.  New frames, obviously.  Fake plants- throw that right in here.  Now that I’m in this aisle, my bathroom does need a freshening up.  Oh look school supplies [college savings plan be damned] they need this new pencil case and all the crayons, folders, markers, and construction paper that will fit in my cart. Which makes me wonder why Lisa Frank hasn’t made a comeback yet, but I digress.  What?!?! There’s a whole Chip and Jo section! They make plates?! I could probably use new dinner plates, and napkin holders, and these place mats! Look at these candle holders? They are gold which doesn’t currently match my decor, BUT I can fix that. I can buy these gold candle holders and coordinate it with the gold frames I saw back there, and look at these little gold decorative book-ends.  Wow I really love the way this all looks, what else here is gold? Ok that’s good. I’m checking out now. Oh wow but look at this wall of La Croix I need one of each please, except the Coconut (nobody likes the coconut).

I make my way to the checkout counter, avoiding eye contact with all other women who have also failed their Target objective.  I mean look at that lady with all the clear bins, diapers, a lamp shade, socks, a beach bag, that gold elephant and the new Nate Berkus frames.  I bet you she was here for just the diapers and probably forgot the wipes. No judgment lady. I am in the struggle.

Once the cashier finishes scanning my items, she looks right at me “Want the Red Target Card save 5% off your purchases” and each and every time I contemplate it not for the savings but to avoid the inevitable eye roll I have coming when my husband gets home.  Sigh, no just ring me up. I’ve made my bed… at least I got a new throw pillow to lay on.

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