Category Archives: A to Z Blogging Challenge

A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections

So I guess I did the A to Z Challenge wrong.

I mean, I got the A to Z stuff down. I even used a real word for X. But I didn’t understand how anyone was supposed to see my post or I was supposed to be next in line? I tweeted my posts twice a day; once using the #atozchallenge hashtag and once using the @AprilA2Z handle but never was retweeted so I was stumped.

Until this morning when I opened up the reflections post and actually clicked through to the blog and saw the Linky tool. Doh!

I actually did have two people from the challenge post comments on my blog. One that I already knew and one that I didn’t. I can’t imagine how she found me since I was doing it wrong. 😉 But I’m glad she did.

Oh well. I was happy just to be writing something again. I didn’t miss a day and on one day I had two posts and I posted on a Sunday as well since I had books to review.  

I will add this post on the Linky tool. Do it right, just once. Next year it’ll be better. 😀

Z is for Za’atar

I learned about, and fell in love with, Za’atar when we lived in Saudi Arabia back in the early 90s.I first had it as Za’atar Bread.

Doesn’t that look amazing? It is.

So what is za’atar? It’s a  is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas. To make the bread, it’s mixed with olive oil and spread on the bread. 

A couple of years ago, I also found that you can get a za’atar bagle at Bagle Country in Skokie, IL which is now, according to Yelp, closed. 🙁 ::sobs::

I recently found za’atar bread here in San Jose. I stumbled upon the Sultan Bakery one day, which I will review one day soon. I entered the bakery and was met with all of the wonderful bakery items I experienced while living in Saudi and Bahrain. In an effort to maintain some composure (and respect to my pre-pageant diet) I decided that I’d just get one piece of za’atar bread. 

I hadn’t had za’atar in a long time. It’s like I forget it’s in my cabinet and then I get a craving for it and pull it out. I need to stop forgetting about it. When I pulled it out the other day, I decided to look at the lable and noticed that it’s seriously expired. Oops! 😉


Now I really want to taste some za’atar and I planned to find an international grocery store today but David took my gps yesterday and I have no idea how to get there so I’ll have to save it for another day. But I will get it soon!

I think that it might add a nice flavor to the base of an Israeli Salad. And I’m going to try it. Just as soon as I get some fresh za’atar.

So this is what I’m craving on this last day of the A to Z blogging challenge. How great that it begins with Z! 😀

Y is for Yelp

I love Yelp I’ve been yelping since September of 2011. My first review was for Sara, the gal in Bartlesville who did my facials and pedicures. After that, was John the Locksmith who saved my life by getting me in when I got locked out and getting me out when I got locked in. LOL!


And I was off and running. If you know me, you’ll know I’m pretty positive and I love, love, love to give five star reviews. I think a lot of people will only comment when they are upset about something so I like to point out the good. 

Not that I won’t give a bad review. I will. I noticed as I was going through my reviews before writing this blog that two of the really awful hotels we’ve stayed at are now closed.


Also, the 18 Wheeler Diner is closed. ::sobs::

But over the years, I’ve come to find Yelp to be an invaluable tool. Traveling as much as we do, I use it to find restaurants and attractions. I even used it in Warsaw, Poland recently and left reviews. 🙂 Since we recently moved, I use it all the time to find just about anything I want or need.

Do you know you can type “Baba Ghanouj” or “pageant earrings” into Yelp and it will bring you to the nearest place to find them? Awesome. 

Every once in a while I hear back from a business owner and I love that. I’ve noticed that more businesses have Yelp signs in their windows so clearly they are seeing that Yelp is something that a lot of people are using. 


If you’re not using Yelp, yet, give it a shot. It’s really helpful! 😀

X is for Xanadu

Xanadu. Cheesy 70s movie involving Olivia Newton John and roller skates…

…or color you’ve never heard of?

On twitter the other morning, my friend Corina tweeted an article about 11 colors you’ve probably never heard of. I love color so I was interested to read the article. 

Not only hadn’t I heard most of the color names, I wasn’t completely sure how to pronounce them with the exception of Xanadu, Amaranth, and Mikado, all words I’d heard before in reference to other things. The names just didn’t trip off my tongue but it was an interesting read. with Xanadu being the only color name I remembered after reading the article. Probably because it connected with the cheese 70’s Olivia Newton John movie.

When I was looking for this article, I came across several others of the same type. 19 colors, 8, colors, etc. In looking at them, I noticed that there truly were some colors I hadn’t ever heard of but a few that I had and that the lists didn’t contain all of the same colors, in fact they didn’t overlap much at all.

So that was a fun thing to check out. And the answer to the above question? Cheesy 70s movie or color you’ve never heard of? The answer is both. 😀

W is for Wrists

I’m really mad at my wrists. It’s not even their fault but, nonetheless, I’m mad at them anyway. You see, it’s my wrists that are keeping me from riding my bike and forcing me to get my miles in on the Lifecycle in the gym.


I’m really grateful to have the Lifecyle, though. This way, I won’t lose any of my cycling gains. But the experience in the gym is nothing like the experience of riding on the trail. 

I miss the freedom of being on the trail. I miss the wind in my face and saying hi to the planes as I pass the airport. I even miss saying hi to the other runners/walkers/cyclists on the trail and them looking through me as if I’m not there or ignoring me altogether. 

Once my rides went over an hour, it felt like my hands were starting to fall asleep. A quick search of the internet told me that I was experiencing Handlebar Palsy. Nice. 

This overuse injury comes from compressing the ulnar nerve with the handlebars. So after reading this, I started to remember my gloves, which gives me extra padding. I also started making sure that changed my grip position frequently. I thought it was working and didn’t seem to have tingly fingers until last Friday. And then it was one step past just tingly fingers on my left hand.

I could barely grip anything. I couldn’t write with a pen (I’m left handed) and I had a hard time doing much of anything with that hand. Well, this woke me right up. I need my left hand! 

Over the course of the day, it worked itself out but it was scary enough to me that I’ve decided to forgo my real bike in favor of the Lifecyle until I can get a new bike. Or get this one fitted to me so it doesn’t cause this problem. It’s possible the handlebars are too low for me. I’ve wondered if the bike is tall enough. 

So I’ll be visiting the bike shop here very soon and getting fit for a bike that will ft me right. Because I sincerely love cycling. It’s the best! 🙂

V is for Vero’s Coffee Bar

Today we wandered down to SoFA (South First Area District) to have coffee at Vero’s Coffee Bar.


 Vero’s is located in the SoFA Market. Accoriding to the folks at Vero’s, the SoFA Market is going to be similar to San Pedro Square, offering many of the same vendors.

They have a nice selection of coffees to chose from and several ways to have it made. They also have coffee you can purchase to make at home. 


It was a tasty cup of coffee! They have a small variety of treats but we decided to take a pass on that, today.


We’ll definitely wander down this way again. The coffee was delish, the folks at Vero’s were super nice and it will be interesting to see how the SoFA Market progresses! 🙂

U is for US Post Office

I love architecture. Buildings of all sorts. Two of my favorite buildings are the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City which is new, 

and the Petronis Towers in Kuala Lumpur which are relatively new (opened in 1996)

compared to the Downtown San Jose Post Office. 


This beautiful building was built to be the main post office for San Jose in 1933 by Ralph Wykoff. It’s a gorgeous example of Depression Era federal construction. The main post office has since been moved but the building still serves as the Downtown Branch.


Older buildings are charming in a way that newer ones simply can’t be. The level of detail on both the interior and exterior of the building is remarkable.


Although I’ve been in the post office several times to mail packages, I never looked up until I was there earlier this week. As in all old post offices, there are the banks of brass post office boxes and teller windows that look like something out of an old western. I love those things. But when I was asking permission to take photos, I told him I wanted to take photos of the marble, the lights, the ceiling. 

Oh the lights!


Oh the ceiling!


Aren’t they awesome?

This is inside the lobby and brings to mind the song You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon. 


I look around, around, I see angels in the architecture. – Paul Simon

The outside is spectacular. The entrances are castle-like.


And the corners are equally beautiful. 

usps_sanjose_cornerI truly love this building. I marvel at it’s beauty and detail every time I go in or even walk by. It’s my favorite building in San Jose. 😀

T is for Tea

So you know I’m a coffee achiever but sometimes I actually like to have tea. Mostly because of their health benefits, not because I prefer them, ever, to coffee. 

Right now there are three teas I have nearly every day. The first is green tea. Now, I don’t like the way green tea tastes, brewed, in a cup. I do, however, like the way it tastes in my morning smoothie. I think it’s strange, myself, but it works! The benefits of green tea are numerous and I willing to accept the health benefits of the tea in addiction to the benefits of my green smoothie each morning. 😀

The next tea I have each day is Oolong Tea. Somewhere between a black tea and a green tea, this tea is also beneficial for healthy skin, healthy bones, and combating the signs of aging. I drink a couple of cups a day because it peps me up without spinning me out. It’s also said to help with weight loss and, if that’s true, I won’t say no. 😀

Finally, we love to have a cup of chamomile tea before we go to bed at night. I see it sometimes as a  tea choice in restaurants and wonder how the person who drinks it during the day manages to make it through the afternoon or even get to their car. Chamomile lulls me quickly and soundly to sleep without any chemicals and I love it. I love the way it tastes, too. 

So there you have it. I do like to drink iced tea when it’s really hot. But I almost like it too much and will drink it instead of water. So I make sure I drink a gallon of water first. Then, if I have any desire for more to drink, I’ll let myself have iced tea. 

What kinds of teas do you like? Do you use tea bags or loose leaf tea? I’ll be listening because I do like trying to tea! 😀

S is for Steak

As I eluded to in yesterday’s post, we celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary with dinner at Morton’s The Steakhouse last night. 

I was excited when I made the reservation a few weeks ago because I’ve been excited about our anniversary. 36 years just seems so much longer than 35 years for some reason and it seemed like such a huge accomplishment. But more than that, I’m looking for 36 more and, after that? Another 36. David and I have so much fun! 😀

Earlier in the day, Heather called from Morton’s to confirm our reservation. She also wanted to know David’s name so they could personalize our menu. I thought that was a nice extra touch and I loved seeing it when they gave us the menus. Of course, you know how I can get, going on and on, Heather knew it was our 36th anniversary and she included that as well. Nice!


We were greeted with Happy Anniversary when we approached the host to be seated which was awesome. He took us to our table and told us our server, April, would be right with us. April arrived and also wished us happy anniversary. Then she said she always likes to ask couples what their advice would be to a newly married couple.

I told her that I would tell the bride she should always put her husband first. It can get hard, when kids come. They need so much and pull you in so many different directions. But if you put your husband first, you will have an ally and helper when it comes time to going in all those directions and it makes everything easier and the marriage stronger. 

David, man of few words, said, “Laugh.” 

Well alrighty then! And here I thought he found me utterly entertaining all these years. 😉

We ordered our appetizers and it wasn’t until she took the wine list and cocktail menu that I noticed there was anniversary confetti on the table! 


We had a cocktail to start. David had an Amstel Light and I had a martini. I was so excited to learn that Morton’s has Beefeater Gin, which is my favorite. So many places don’t have it anymore. 


April brought us onion bread and soft butter. Mmmm. Yum!


Then, a gal came by and asked if we wanted to have a photo to mark the occasion and we said yes. So nice! 


I got the Broiled Sea Scallops for my appetizer. They were wrapped in bacon and came with apricot chutney and the whole dish was amazing! David got the short rib tacos which he said were good but he ate them before I got a chance to take a photo. Gotta be quick with that guy. 😉


We ordered steaks for dinner because, well, it seems like the thing to do at a steakhouse. I got the 8 oz. filet .


David got the center prime ribeye.


We decided on Brussels sprouts and 


Au Gratin potatoes to share. 


It was all so delicious!

Of course we had to have dessert. I mentioned I might have a couple of bites of cake and I did. We ordered Morton’s Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake and it was gooey and warm and came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Just the right size to share after a fabulous dinner. And I got to eat all the raspberries because David doesn’t like them. 😀


All in all, we had a wonderful night celebrating a wonderful event. Morton’s went out of their way to make us feel even more special with the little touches acknowledging our anniversary and we are so appreciative. 😀 






R is for Raw

I debated over what I should use for my R blog post. I’ve been a Rottmayer for 36 years today! Yes, indeed, 36 years ago I married the man of my dreams who remains that along with being my best friend, confidant and partner in crime. But we aren’t going to celebrate until this evening so I figured I’d go with something else that’s been pretty important to me over the past eight months: eating a low fat, high carb, RAW diet. 

bananas I began eating raw on September 1 of last year. I was going to do it at a later date but my friend, Chickee (who is the one who inspired me) challenged me to just do it that day. So I did. 

Earlier in the year, David and I had both made a 21 day trip to Banana Island and I found then that it was the absolutely, positively, easiest way to give up refined sugar. I’ve had such a sweet tooth my whole life. I never could get how, when you go on a diet they say, to replace a cookie with an apple. It just didn’t compute.

rack Fruit is a huge part of my morning and afternoon meals, though. For the first month of eating this way, I felt so sweeted out that I felt like I had a pico de gallo deficiency. 😀 I would seriously crave something unsweet by the time the dinner meal rolled around and it was usually pico de gallo for several weeks. 


I’ve come to a more balanced approach over the months and I incorporate greens into my smoothies so I’m not getting entirely fruit. I still have no cravings for sweets and my dinner meal is usually a more savory one.

So what do I eat in a day?

Breakfast is almost 100% of the time a smoothie that I make with 1/2 a bag of spinach, seven bananas, a big handful (I have big hands hee hee) of frozen strawberries and green tea for the liquid. It’s SOOOOOOO good. Even David has it every morning now that we’re living together again.


Oftentimes for lunch I will have the very same thing. Now that we’re getting into spring and there are different varieties of fresh fruits at the store, I will sometimes have a mono meal of just one fruit. Mangoes are a new love and black grapes. Holy smokes I cannot eat enough black grapes! 


I love going to the Mexican grocery and the Asian grocery because they have a lot of different produce than I’m not used to seeing. A gal that David works with is going to give me the addresses for farmers markets so we can start checking those out as well. 

My dinner is usually a huge salad with dressing made out of more veggies. The favorite at present involves a zucchini, half a red pepper, a tablespoon of tahini, some apple cider vinegar and some seasonings. It makes a LOT of dressing. I don’t konw about you but I have a hard time eating an undressed salad. Dressing just makes it more fun and I’m convinced that once you find a raw vegan dressing that you love, this way of eating becomes a whole bunch easier to stick with.


I had to teach myself to be able to eat more veggies. When I first started eating veggie meals for dinner, I’d add up the calories and, even though it seemed like I had eaten so much, it was only 200 calories. Yikes! I’m a big, active person and that’s just not enough calories to keep me going, ultimately.

Now, my salad typically has two heads of romaine in it or the equivalent. If I eat a zoodle dish, I will sometimes eat up to four zucchini not counting any that are in the sauce.

I love that I can eat as much as I want and I’ve lost a ton of weight. More importantly, my face looks different, I look younger. I have boundless energy and I rarely have aches and pains unless it’s because I’ve jacked my training up and those are the good kinds of aches to have. 😀

When I started this, I only wanted to be able to go down the slide at the park with the glambaby and not have to go to bed as soon as I dropped her off at home. But I’ve gained SO much more. I’m pretty sure I’ll eat this way forever. 

Do I eat raw 100% of the time? No. There are some instances where it’s really difficult. For instance, we went to Poland in February. Being a raw vegan in the middle of a Polish winter would have been a tough thing to do. Plus, there are so many other places I want to travel that I’m not sure I will ever get back to Poland so I loosened it up and let myself enjoy a Paczi and other cooked foods. 

As I mentioned above, it’s our 36th wedding anniversary today and we have a reservation at Morton’s Steakhouse for dinner. I do not plan to remain raw tonight and I might actually have a bite or two of chocolate cake. 

But raw living is for me, without a doubt. If you are feeling crappy and want some more energy or want to drop some weight, or sort out blood sugar issues (OMG there are SO many benefits), give a raw diet a whirl. You might like it! 😀