The Days Are Grey

Now that Top Chef is over and *darn it* cocky Hung has beaten the other two worthy contestants, I have Wednesday nights free to do all the other things I was supposed to be doing instead of TV. However, my friends and I have had a long time addiction to Grey's Anatomy, which is equally as time-sucking and just an annoying as Top Chef. So now I sit around and waste time on Thursday instead of Wednesday.

On that note, a few random facts are in order.

1) Time per day that TV is on in an average US home: 7 hours, 40 minutes
2) Amount of television that the average American watches per day: over 4 hours
3) Time spent daily with screen media for U.S. children age six and under: about 2 hours
4) Percentage of US families with children age 0-6 with at least one television: 99
5) Percentage of US households with 3 or more TVs (2003): 50
6) Percentage of parents who say that if they have something important to do, it is likely that they will use the TV to occupy their child: 45
7) Percentage of Americans who always or often watch television while eating dinner: 40
8) Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49
9) Time per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 38.5 minutes
10) Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked, would rather watch TV than spend time with their fathers: 54


There is a Top Chef in All of Us

You may not think it to look at me, but I love to cook. I sometimes flip open a cook book and make whatever it is on that page. More often than not though, I just make my own stuff up. Whatever veggies or whatever I have laying around in the house get put into a pot/oven or pan and voila! In mere minutes (or hours) you have an original dish. My favorite thing to do is to bake.

Second to that is soup making...One big pot of soup is economical and easy and it will last for days... My cooking may be slightly original, but my made up names are not so exciting. I have "green soup with carrots", "green soup with beans", "brown soup with broccoli" (that one was a mistake), "yellow soup with peas", "pea soup with carrots"...you get the point.

Oh wait I almost got carried away for a moment. Today I am not here to talk about my many interesting colors of soup; I want to talk about the fact that tomorrow is the Top Chef finale. Yes, I am addicted. Luckily they have Bravo at the gym, or I may not go to the gym as often as I should. My relationship with Top Chef first started when I was temporarily unemployed and residing with my brother and his roommates in San Francisco. They (lucky them!) have TIVO, or something along the same lines. I had absolutely no interest in most reality shows until my brother's roommate, Pam, would come home from work late at night and put on a TIVOed episode of Top Chef from time to time. And, since it was TIVOed, I, who had never seen the show before, could go back in time and catch up on the whole season at the same time (I happened to be there during the middle of the season).

It is great! There is the annoying guy you have to hate, the gay guy, the good looking guy, the tough girl, the lesbian, the fat guy, the skinny guy. Of course, just as you get to know and like the character, they get kicked off...It is torture! It is great. I am hooked for good. The ironic thing is, even though I can't taste the food, which would be a good reason to base my descision on who should get kicked off, I still have an opinion about who should leave (based on...attitude, looks, absolutely nothing concrete.)

So, here is the dirt. They are down to three people. Hung, the annoyingly cocky Vietnamese guy. Casey, the Jennifer Anniston look alike, the "I never had formal training" down home chef from Texas. And Dale, who is from Chicago and has been down on his luck and it hoping this Challenge will be the boost he needs. So, who do we want to win? For me, anyone but Hung. He is so full of himself, sure of himself and it not even close to being a team player like the others.

Who is going to win? Only time will tell.

Saving My Latte For a Rainy Day

I quit going to Starbucks a while back; perhaps you remember the "Latte Factor" article that I wrote back in June. To sum it up, some guy** on TV suggested saving your $5 per day that you would normally use on coffee (or whatever your poison happens to be) and putting it into savings instead (see here for more info).

I was already a penny pinching miser before seeing his little blurb on TV, but after that I became even more of one. I stopped going to Starbucks all together, which saved me about 5 dollars (or more) a day and I also stopped eating out for lunch (another 10 dollars a day), which all total saved my pocketbook about 100 dollars a week. This is 400 dollars a month, 4800 dollars a year that could be going towards something more productive.

Not only did this save me scads of money, but I have found it has helped me in many other ways as well. First of all, one grande non-fat mocha has 300 calories, about a hundred of which are from fat. This is crazy; it is about the same as a McDonalds quarter pounder with cheese or a medium side of fries! As I mentioned in my "Snack Attack" article, the average female (150 lbs) needs about 2000 calories per day (and that is IF she is semi-active). So, cutting out 300 useless calories per day is not a bad idea.

Second and probably more important for the long term is the fact that I now drink less coffee. I used to have...a cup or two at my hotel before going to work, a Starbucks around 8 and then...maybe another cup of gross office coffee later in the day. Now I make a pot in the morning and drink one cup from it while driving to work. And that is all.

So, thanks to the Latte Factor guy** for not only allowing me to "Retire Rich" but also for saving my stomach from the iron grip of caffine and for saving my ass (from widening)!!

**his name may or may not be...David Bach**