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Last May, I decided to enroll in a CSA, in an effort to diversify my vegetable intake. Before I joined the Chow Locally program, I cooked and ate a decent amount of vegetables, but it was always the same few. Participating in a CSA has forced me to step outside my comfort zone (there are other vegetables besides asparagus and mushrooms!) and surprisingly resulted in a lot of wins for me.

Each week, I get a box of local-grown fruits and vegetables – roughly 7-9 different kinds, with at least two of each. As you can imagine, this is A LOT of food for one person, especially during the weeks when I don’t have a lot of time to prepare meals. And I always feel guilty when I let any of it go to waste. 

This week’s goal – to utilize all of the vegetables in my Chow Share box.

Here’s what I’m working with:

  • winterbor kale (currently hanging out in a bowl in my fridge)
  • three black Spanish radishes
  • lacinato kale (more kale … allegedly a different kind. Stored in my handy Martha Stewart produce keeper)
  • three purple top turnips 
  • rapini (filling a giant bowl and taking over the top shelf of my fridge)
  • five grapefruits
  • spicy arugula (living in in the salad spinner in the fridge)
  • green onions (in a mason jar on my countertop)

Thankfully, Chow Locally provides a handout each week, with photos/descriptions of the vegetables (super handy) and information how to store them. Online, they provide a recipe for each item and archive those, as well. Since I have food allergies, these recipes can be hit or miss, but I’ve definitely made some amazing meals with their suggestions.

Today, I Googled each item and found a corresponding recipe I’d like to try. Hopefully next weekend, I will have used all (or most!) of my vegetables and will share any recipes I find tasty.

Stay tuned (and let me know if you have any favorite recipes which use the ingredients mentioned above!)


While my name is not quite as common as, say, “Mary Smith,” it’s certainly more common than I originally thought. How did I determine this? By realizing how many people e-mail me, believing that they are messaging someone else who has the same name as me. Years ago, when I signed up for my Gmail account, I was ecstatic to get my name as my e-mail address. First name last name at No numbers, initials or strange combinations – simply my name. However, it seems many people who share my name, and consequently not my e-mail address, seem to think that they do.

Generally, when I get an e-mail addressed to me and I am not the intended recipient, I’ll send back a quick note indicating that I’m not the right person. Most of the time, people get the message. Unfortunately, I still get subscribed to countless e-mail lists and some people refuse to remove my e-mail from their address book. Case in point, the Mormon woman who believes I am part of her family. I receive an update every few months about Elder Parsons (nope, not related to me) and the family’s not-so-interesting news. Finally, I stopped replying because I think she just doesn’t care who gets her updates. I only wish she could make them a bit more salacious.

This morning, I got an e-mail from a woman named Rachel who is planning a tennis event for tomorrow. I was one of seven ladies (ladies who lunch, apparently) on this e-mail and a man named John was CCed. (John’s the mastermind of the operation.) She wrote a pretty lengthy message about her proposed plans, including food and drinks suggestions.

Finally, in bold, it says:

1.  Get back to me to confirm that yes you are playing tomorrow
2.  Who do you want to partner with
3.  Food choice
4.  A cell phone number that you can be reached on.

Perhaps I was feeling a little punchy this morning when I replied to Rachel, “Hi Rachel, Although tennis sounds great and the food sounds delicious, I don’t think you intended to invite me. Please double-check with the ‘Jen Parsons’ you know to verify her e-mail address.”

Her first response came about 10 minutes later – “I’m so sorry.  John (name redacted)  gave me this email address.” (John, of course, being the CCed mastermind of the tennis extravaganza.) In my head I thought, “I don’t know who he is either!” About a minute later, she followed up with, “Or maybe my computer changed it…sure you don’t want to play? Have a good day.” I replied and let her know that I appreciated the invite, but doubted she was hosting this event in Phoenix.

After that, the reply-all e-mails started to roll in. Debee replied, “I’ll bring muffins – thanks for organizing Rachel!” After that, Alison indicated that she would bring a fruit tray. All I could think while reading these messages was that NO ONE was answering the very specific four questions that Rachel asked! I was annoyed on her behalf! It’s nice that both of you are bringing food, but (1) are you playing, (2) who do you want to partner with and (3) what cell phone number can you be reached on? I see now why she wrote a bold recap – these ladies do not read their e-mails!

Needless to say, if I was Rachel, I’d never plan another tennis outing. I’d leave it to John or host a potluck. Clearly these ladies are all about their food – and not their tennis. Or e-mail reading.


Guilty as charged – I missed five days of my blog challenge (in addition to the ones I missed by starting late).

Some things I did this week rather than blogging:
– dismantled my vacuum cleaner and had to Google how to reassemble it
– put up a slightly crooked curtain rod that may very well fall out of the wall and attack me in my sleep
– read AND watched “Silver Linings Playbook”
– started packing for my upcoming trip home
– claimed my first Chow Share (awesome local produce service I enrolled in)
– cooked dinners for my friends (including fish tacos with carrot fennel slaw, for the first time) using some of said Chow Share
– saw the Arizona Ballet perform at the Desert Botanical Garden
– went to a friend’s housewarming party
– cheered on my coworkers in a Corporate Regatta (they came in 2nd!) and got a really ridiculous sunburn

In an effort to get back on track, I chose one of the topics that I thought could make up for my missed posts.

Today’s Topic: Most embarrassing moment (s). Spill.

Ask anyone to describe an embarrassing moment and there’s a fairly good chance it involves a clothing malfunction. My most embarrassing moment is still one of my favorite stories (when I want to laugh at myself) and it involves a significant clothing malfunction.

August, 1996 – I was flying to Georgia for college orientation, having traveled solo just a few times in my life. As you may remember, the Summer Olympics had just concluded (I believe the day before my adventure) and the Centennial Olympic Park Bombing had recently occurred. Although I grew up in the suburbs, my trips into New York City made me weary of strangers; I rarely made eye contact with people I didn’t know and never spoke to people I didn’t know in public places. (This may seem excessive, but more than one homeless person tried to “adopt” me when I was younger – just ask my parents.)

I debarked the plane, determined to make it clear across ATL without interacting with another human, wearing a sundress and my backpack. The airport was a sea of people – jam-packed with foreign tourists who had attended the Olympics. I race-walked across the terminal, attempting to ignore more than a few people who were trying to talk to me. It’s not like I could have given anyone directions and assumed it was in my best interest to keep moving.

Finally, someone seemed determined to stop me and get my attention.

“Miss?” asked a man

I kept walking.

“MISS!” he repeated, more emphatically.

I could not deny he was trying to talk to me.

“What?!” I retorted. (Again, barely 17 years old, not in favor of strangers and generally trying to avoid talking to people.)

He gestured at me, “Your backpack is pulling your dress up in the back. I thought you’d like to know.”

I must have turned 30 shades of red as I realized that, indeed, my backpack had snagged the back of my sundress and I had shown the majority of Olympic tourists in Atlanta my ass that day.



So it’s 9 p.m. and I can barely see straight – that’s what happens after far too many hours of staring at a computer screen. Nonetheless, a challenge is a challenge and I will blog every day in May. 😉

Today’s Topic: The thing(s) you’re most afraid of

I knew this post was coming and I considered skipping it, solely because I had way too many ideas and most of them seemed too personal for this space. While I’ve certainly been open and honest on my blog, I try not to make it a dumping ground for my bad days or a personal journal … and that’s where I could see this post going.

After giving it (too) much thought, I realized there is one overarching thread throughout my life: the fear that I’m always making the wrong decision. Far too much of my time is spent reflecting on choices I’ve made and second-guessing myself. Whether it is what I said to someone, my career path, my relationships, how I spend my spare time – I can always convince myself that the other option would probably have been the better one.

I’m afraid to trust myself.

While I don’t think I’ve necessarily made bad decisions along the way, I can’t help but wonder if my life could have turned out differently. What I need to remind myself is that different is not always better.



Happy Mother’s Day! Days like this it’s hard to be across the country from my family – but I feel better knowing that soon, I’ll be headed home for almost a week.

Today’s Topic: If you couldn’t answer with your job, how would you answer the question, ‘what do you do’?

I’m a daughter, a sister and an aunt. I hope one day to be a mom, but until then, doing the best I can at my other familial roles brings happiness and purpose to my life.

I’m a volunteer and philanthropic contributor who believes that every person has the ability to make the world a better place. You don’t need a ton of time or money to help someone who has less than you do.

I’m a friend and supporter to many people I care about tremendously. I’m thankful every day for the amazing friendships I have made and kept throughout my lifetime, and hope that I provide the same support and comfort in exchange.

I’m a runner/walker/hiker who’s not quite there yet, but really trying. (Also, an amateur chef who is determined to make balanced meals.) I read, write and create whenever possible.

I constantly try to improve myself and my day-to-day life, whether it’s revamping my budget, making new to-do lists or remember to throw away leftovers. Again, I’m quite the work in progress but I believe that every step counts.

I make people smile; I make people laugh. I listen when someone is having a tough day. I remind everyone when Starbucks is offering a special deal (last day for frappuccino happy hour!). I try (sometimes in vain) to get everyone to love technology as much as I do.

And in May, I blog every day. 😉



Happy weekend! I feel like I spend all week looking forward to the weekend and then it’s over as soon as it began. (In other words, it’s too nice to be inside writing today. Let’s do this.)

Today’s Topic: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don’t have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member.

Every writer is inspired by others. When it comes to bloggers, I find myself in awe of others for a number of reasons – some are extremely brave, covering difficult topics that I would not be so public about. Others are funny, possessing an uncanny talent for turning an everyday event into an entertaining story. Some, I admire for their robust audiences (I know … all of us bloggers dream that one day we could have one-tenth the audience of other bloggers.) As a blogger, I try to share fellow bloggers’ writing – I can’t imagine how much amazing writing is never seen by more than a few eyeballs.

If you asked me to recommend a blog to you, there’s a good chance I’d tell you to check out Elizabeth’s Real Estate Tangent. For more than a year, Elizabeth and I “knew” each other; we had a number of mutual friends and we followed each other on Twitter. Last year, I was able to get to know Elizabeth a little better when we both attended BlogHer in NYC.

Reading Elizabeth’s writing is like talking to Elizabeth; she’s a remarkable storyteller. She’s a thirty-something mom to three boys, a realtor, a runner and an amateur ballerina/trapeze artist. She’s bright, intelligent, kind, hilarious and slightly irreverent.

Here are a few of my favorite posts:

How Not To Act During a Tragedy

Not Terrorized

Burritos at the Pool Don’t Make Friends

Tennis Skirts vs. Running Skirts

Subscribe to Real Estate Tangent – you won’t be sorry. And then go enjoy your Saturday. It’s definitely too nice to be on your computer. (Unless you’re in N.Y. today.  In that case, it’s totally okay.)


Happy Friday! Today’s topic (looks short and sweet): Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it:

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quotes, I love them. In the quotes section of my Facebook Page, I have at least 20 – from authors, philosophers, movies, songs … even The Bible. While some are serious and thought-provoking, others are more simple and matter-of-fact. Choosing just one as a favorite was difficult to do, but this one has been with me for a long time.

No matter how good or bad your life seems to be, it’s important to remember which lens you are viewing it through. On a bad day, everything around you is going to seem a little darker, more challenging. Conversely, on a good day, everything seems better and brighter. I try to remind myself that on a tough day, there can always be something better on the other side – it just depends how you are looking at it.



As I mentioned yesterday, I’m participating in a “Blog Every Day in May” challenge.

Today’s topic: things that make you uncomfortable.

Scorpions and cockroaches: My number one fear (until last year) was cockroaches; to say they make me uncomfortable is probably somewhat of an understatement. While I am well aware that they are not particularly dangerous, I’d prefer to never see another one … especially not the winged “Palmetto bug” variety native to the south. Those took the cake in creepiness until I was introduced to scorpions in Arizona. Come to think of it, I can’t even say that scorpions make me uncomfortable. I’m pretty much deathly afraid of them.

Not understanding what someone is saying or asking me: Last year, I was getting my nails done and the manicurist had a strong Russian accent. For more than an hour, I mostly nodded, smiled and occasionally laughed while she told me a story. I think I understood about ten words she said, operating solely on context clues. If she laughed, I laughed. I still have no idea what she was telling me and am only grateful she didn’t ask me any questions. Few things are more uncomfortable than asking someone multiple times to repeat him/herself and still having no idea what you are being asked. I had entire conversations with my old landlord where neither of us had any clue what the other was saying.

Small talk: For someone who talks as much as I do, small talk makes me unfathomably uncomfortable. When I hear the word “networking,” a chill goes down my spine. Few things are more uncomfortable than standing face-to-face with someone who is essentially operating from a script and expecting you to do the same. Whenever you meet someone in Arizona, there’s a good chance he will ask you, “Are you from here?” And for some reason, that question creates so much awkwardness for me. “Well, I’m not from here but I live here.” When I’m asked about my profession, many people still have no idea what a social marketing manager does. It makes me wish that I was a doctor or a teacher – something that can be explained in one word. And having to ask awkward questions myself? Even more uncomfortable.

Confrontation: Whether it’s asking a co-worker to turn down the top 40 club hits she’s playing at her desk or telling someone that it’s not okay to box my car into a parking space, nothing makes me more uncomfortable than confrontation. I’m not certain why I’m so uncomfortable with it, especially considering that most of these people I’ll rarely, if ever, interact with again. While avoidance is not generally the best strategy, it’s the one that comes easiest to me.

What made this post challenging was defining “discomfort.” Is it something that annoys you or is it something that you truly fear? So now I turn the tables on you – what makes you uncomfortable?


My friend Kelly (otherwise known as Mrs. Toes) is participating in a “Blog Every Day in May” challenge and asked me to join her. At first, I was a bit hesitant. It’s a goal for me to write more regularly, but I tend to do better when I’m inspired to do so. I find it harder to write in response to a question or a topic and don’t always like the results. After giving it some thought, I’m going to give it a try. If the posts I write aren’t quite up to snuff, I won’t share them with you. How’s that?

Here’s the other catch – today is May 8 … which means I am already more than a week behind. So we’ll do some abbreviated catch-up – blogging in fast-motion, if you will.

DAY ONE – The story of your life in 250 words or less

I started off on a good foot, showing up a day before I was expected for my parents and older brother. Surprisingly, I was a quiet baby, who waited until I could form sentences to speak. Both events marked the last times I’d be early or quiet.
My first 17 years were spent in New York; the next 17, I lived in five different states. I was the last kid in my district to skip a grade (first) and was always one of the smallest in my class. Growing up, I was a tomboy who hated combing her hair and wanted to do everything her brother did. I was the only girl on my little league team. You’d never find me without a book in my hand – I read at the dinner table, in the bathtub and after the lights were out at night.
By high school graduation, I was finally over five feet tall and would wear a dress without kicking and screaming. I went to school in Georgia and majored in advertising because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and it required minimal math.
Since then, I’ve lived in three more states and forged a colorful career path that only I quite understand. Almost two years ago, my nephew was born and he gives me a reason to smile every day.
Today, I’m in Arizona, missing the ocean, always wondering what’s next. Always thankful for my family, friends and the opportunities I have been given.

I’m going to skip day two (Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you’d like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic) because I honestly can’t think of something to write about. And no, this isn’t me being self-deprecating. I’m knowledgeable about plenty of things; I just don’t think any of them would come across as interesting in this space.

Stay tuned – I’m as curious as you are to see how this blogging experiment will turn out.


NOTE: I forgot this post had been living in my drafts since April, 2011. The good news is that I’m in a much quieter apartment. I still think this is one of the most entertaining exchanges I’ve ever seen.

Apartment living and nightmarish neighbors – like bacon and eggs, black and white, Uncle Joey and Uncle Jesse – those two always go hand-in-hand.

My last apartment in N.Y. was reasonably quiet, minus my across the hall neighbor’s prayer bell, which sounded multiple times per day. My beach apartment offered some of the worst neighbors that money could buy. And my current apartment complex may or may not be populated with fugitives. It simply seems suspect that everyone decides to move out after 11 p.m. Last week, when my parents were visiting, my dad jokingly asked someone if they had a body rolled up in a carpet they were loading in their truck. He said they didn’t laugh back – chances are they probably did.

In typical upstairs neighbor fashion, Stompy McStomperson cannot walk lightly on his feet. He drops everything when he walks in the door. And he had a niggling cough for about three weeks. All night long, I would hear him coughing – when it finally stopped, I suspected he dropped dead from tuberculosis.

One night, my friend Ashley texted me from N.Y. – she couldn’t sleep, due to the incessant noise caused by her upstairs neighbors. What follows, simply needed to be shared … because it’s amazing.

Bulldog looks grumpy, because Ashley and the cats aren’t getting any sleep!

Ashley left this adorable bulldog card for her upstairs neighbor.

Her card read as follows:

Dear Upstairs Neighbor(s):
I am writing you this because I am a coward and am completely terrible with in-person problem-solving.

Anyway, it’s a few minutes after midnight on a Monday … well, Tuesday now, and it kinda sounds like you’re bowling up there … here … where you are. This happens often between what I imagine are games of tag, exciting cage matches and vacuuming.

I usually get back late from work so I completely understand how tough it is to fit in all of that activity before bed. But I guess what I’m  really trying to say here is: I would super-appreciate it if you could please try to keep things down after 9 p.m. on “school nights.” If not, please at least invite me to the festivities. I love bowling! And I’m totally bad at it so you could get a huge ego boost from kicking my butt … unless you’re bad, too.

Sincere thanks,
Your downstairs neighbor

The next day, she received this card.

No, her upstairs neighbor is not Christopher Cross.

What he wrote:

Dear Neighbor:

Apologies for your disquieted home. Your note proves that my faith in the building’s soundproofing has been overly optimistic. I say my, though my wife lives here as well – I am probably the cause of most noise. One caveat – our refrigerator had been slowly and loudly dying for some months and was only replaced this week. Some bowling games, at least, were caused by its thudding. It is dead and gone.

We will be more conscientious of our noise level at night and __ ___ hope that your evening will be improved. Therefore, may I suggest 10 p.m. as a reasonable start time for Night Procedures? With two of us navigating space in this apartment, there will surely be some noise, but we will do more to mitigate it.

Unfortunately, we have no bowling lane to offer but we do love tea and coffee. You are welcome to come up and share some if you’d like to get acquainted with more than our ___ detritus.

We are sorry you were put out.

(Name detracted)

Stay tuned, as Ashley brokers peace in the Middle East using greeting cards …

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