Author Archives: Shelly Najjar

About Shelly Najjar

MPH in Public Health Nutrition, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist // Freelance Writer, Community Builder // I have a very long Goal List (Bucket List) and I enjoy doing nail art.

Tarantulas feel like puppies: I face my spider fear at the Woodland Park Zoo

dog-1936485_1920.jpg

Puppies!! (cue the “awww….”) Aren’t you glad I chose these puppies instead of a picture of a tarantula?

We’re standing in the “Authorized Personnel Only” room in Bug World at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, surrounded by hundreds of bugs in containers big and small, waiting to see if I’ll freak out.

I’m a little afraid of spiders. Not to the point where I’m terrified to be in the same room as them (I used to be!), but I definitely get nervous when there’s one close by. I think about how creepy they feel, and how gross it is to walk into a web, and that escalates to being sure that I’ll get bitten.

It’s irrational. But that’s what fear does. It takes the smallest possibility of reality and turns it into a horrible scene from a bad sci-fi or fantasy monster movie, where the spiders are three times bigger than a car and attack people as food.

So, because of this media-induced fear, during the 31 Days of Everyday Adventure challenge, when it comes time to do the activity that says, “Make plans to do the thing you’re afraid of,” I think of spiders.

Continue reading

Summer Bucket List 2017

holiday-2026511_1280

Every year, my summer bucket list gets shorter and shorter, but this year I’m finally facing the facts: it has to be super short or not done at all. It’s obvious that I don’t do too many things on a summer bucket list.

Although I’ve had my full list since 2003, I’ve only been making summer lists the last three years.

  • 2014: the first year, with a whopping 25 things (I did 7)
  • 2015: again, 25 things (but this time I only did 3)
  • 2016: last year, trying to be realistic with “only” 15 things (I did 4, and learned a 5th was illegal, so I didn’t do that one)

I’m all for ambitious goals, but I also like to balance it with some progress, which usually comes from a solid understanding of reality.

My reality is that I’m not willing to eliminate all other summer activities just to do the things on this list (this is in line with my overall goal of having non-obsessed bucket listing life balance and allowing space for spontaneous activity).

However, I still like the idea of having a smaller subset of my existing list (plus a few special things added just for summer), because it makes summer feel special in a way that’s somewhat challenging to do, now that I’m out of school and don’t have summer break anymore.

So… my much abbreviated (and way more realistic) 2017 Summer Bucket List has all of… 7 things on it!

(This list will be updated throughout the summer using the same key as the full list: bold = completed; linked = link to the post about it; * = in progress.)

Summer Bucket List 2017

  1. Ride a motorcycle
  2. Learn to make paper flowers
  3. Look out the window of a room in the top floor of a downtown skyscraper
  4. Have a picnic
  5. Eat rabbit
  6. Write 3 posts for this blog on previously accomplished bucket list items
  7. Organize my bedroom so it’s a restful space

What do you think of choosing fewer goals in order to get more accomplished? Do you have a summer bucket list? What are some of the things you have on yours?

“Fries, eh?” – Trying poutine (Canadian fries)

Poutine, photo credit Guilhem Vellut via Flickr, used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 Attribution license

Photo credit: Guilhem Vellut via Flickr, used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

I love French fries, so I’m pretty excited about trying poutine, which people tell me is fries with gravy and cheese. Sort of like the concept of nachos, but with fries, and from Canada. That’s what I hear anyway.

We’re at a bar at a ski resort in Idaho (but not to ski, story for another time). The Winter Olympics (hosted in Canada) are playing on the TV, and we sit with it in view. The server comes by and tells us they’re having some specials in honor of the Olympics, and hands us a piece of paper with several items, including poutine.

Okay, the description doesn’t sound that great (because I prefer ketchup or Ranch on my fries, not gravy and cheese), but it’s unique and something that I haven’t tried yet. So… one order of poutine for the table, please!

When it arrives, I pull out one of the fries hanging over the edge, and it comes out with a bit of gravy and some melted cheese. That looks promising, I think, because it reminds me of other melty-cheese foods I like.

But, when I taste it, I’m not sure if I like it.

I’m not sure why it’s weirding me out so much. Mashed potatoes have gravy, and baked potatoes have cheese. I love both. But this is different somehow. Maybe the fried taste with the gravy?

The second fry has more gravy and I like it much less. This poutine adventure isn’t as great as I’d thought it would be. That’s sort of disappointing.

But with the three of us, we eat most of them, until the rest are a soggy mess at the bottom, wallowing in the gravy (actually, those aren’t that bad, they’re more like mashed potatoes, but by now I’m pretty full, and this is a very salty food).

Still, the most memorable thing about poutine is yet to come:

When we get the bill, the poutine is listed as, “Fries, eh?” 

Makes me smile every time I think of it! 🙂

So, while I’m grateful for the opportunity to try a new (to me) food, it’s probably the top way to ruin good French fries. But maybe it’s because I didn’t eat them in Canada. Either way, I’d be open to trying again, at least once. At least the receipt made it worth this first experience!

Have you eaten poutine? Do you like it?