Thursday, January 31, 2013

Books, Books, Books: PART I

 I have been reading a LOT lately and am very behind on my reviews. This may be a several part series to catch up on things but wanted to share some thoughts anyway. Let me know if you have read any of these and have some opinions!

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed

This was a compilation of a bunch of reader submissions to the Dear Sugar advice column and then some reflection from the author. It was well written, however after the first few, I skimmed the rest to see if they were relevant to my life or especially interesting and then finished.

Wild, Cheryl Strayed
 This is a very, very popular book. Most people have read or heard about it at least and I absolutely can understand why. The book itself takes place in California and Oregon, very near and dear to my heart, and details the struggles and success of Strayed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, solo. I felt like this is something I would do if I had the financial means to take a significant amount of time off from life and also if I was in better physical condition. This is a book I would read again and again, to revisit the rich characters, to understand the amazing amount of determination and will power that Strayed exhibited, and to immerse myself in something that is so far from our daily lives. There was actually one part of the book that Strayed talks about her issues in relationships and where they stem from and there was one sentence in that book that struck me so deeply that I quite literally had to put the book down, cry it out, and then picked the book back up and kept reading. I'll keep the details to myself but to say that I recommend this book is really an understatement.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette,Maria Semple
Another popular book, this character is a wife and mother in Seattle who then mysteriously goes missing. I think it is a great story although I did get a little bogged down at times but the odd characters definitely pull you in.

Ali in Wonderland, Ali Wentworth
Ali Wentworth is a comedian, actress, and also married to the politician, George Stephanopoulos. She grew up in the political world of Washington D.C. and tells stories of her childhood, adventures growing up, and being a wife and mom. A great read.

Why Mr. Right Can't Find You, J.M. Kearns
In attempts (if you call them that) to get back in the dating world, I wanted to hear perspectives on dating. I take most dating books with a grain of salt because they are ridiculous and tell people to not act like themselves because people won't like them. This book is totally different! It is a male perspective on women dating and gives real insights on how to find men of quality for you and that everything is subjective. Also, you can't keep doing what you have been to find good men if all you've ever dated were bastards and assholes.

NW, Zadie Smith
Sadly, I just couldn't get into this book. It has some pretty positive reviews but it may have just been timing on my part.

The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brene Brown
I really enjoyed this book. It takes a look at things that we consider imperfections and actually uses them to our advantage. It restructures how we feel about ourselves and others, which can be incredibly difficult to do. I didn't complete the entire book but wrote down a lot of the things that I want to think about before picking this up again and re-reading a few of the chapters. 

31 Things to Complete Before 32

Inspired by Caitlin's post about 29 things she wants to accomplish before her 29th birthday, I made myself a little list of 32 things I want to accomplish before I turn the big 3-2. I feel like I have hit the big milestone birthdays for right now (18, 21, 30) and now it is just about getting to 40 and then 50 and then 60. Each year brings reflection and on the precipice of each new year, I think about the fact that I made it through the prior one!

This is my list of 32 things...

1. Finish Dexter.

2. Bake french macroons. Well, with my oven, that just isn't going to happen HOWEVER I did buy one. Pistachio. Delicious. 

3. Eat indian food.

4. Visit Charleston. 03/15/13

5. Buy someone else's coffee.

6. Take a yoga class.

7. Eat kale.

8. Take the car through the car wash and vacuum interior.

9. Order prescription sunglasses.

10. Donate to ASPCA.

11. In lieu of birthday gifts, ask for donations to ASPCA, Best Friends, or

12. Have kitchen clean of meat products including soups, broth, etc.

13. Take at least two boxes of stuff over to Goodwill. Done...5 boxes! And more to come.

14. Get a warm Krispy Kreme donut. and it was delicious

15. Go to a museum. Charleston Museum!

16. Make significant progress on Project X. Some progress has been made, still working...

17. Buy flowers for myself. Technically, I bought my mom flowers and she bought me flowers so really, that works out even better than I had planned.

18. Get my free birthday drink from Starbucks VENTI Iced Chai Latte

19. Put and keep at least $300 in my savings at all times. Knock on wood....

20. Order cake pops from Sarah (my co-worker/graduate assistant). Orange Creamsicle. SO GOOD.

21. Give a presentation at a professional conference. Orlando, First Year Experience Conference, Boom.

22. Reconnect with O-Team 2011. I missed them

23. Submit a postcard to PostSecret.

24. Get rid of either Hulu or Netflix.

25. Join NACADA.

26. Take an entire weekend away from the computer.

27. Get frozen yogurt.

28. Bake bread. Made some delicious honey beer bread. 

29. Get a hair trim. Happened twice.

30. Get my hair professionally colored (pending funds).

31. Finally pick-up my new glasses!

32. Get the oil changed and car looked over.  My wallet hurts a little.

So...2.5 months to get this all done? Totally doable.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Quotes of the Day: Totally Random

Seriously...totally random! I have a big list notes, quotes, recipes to Google, ideas for blog posts, etc. and I am just now getting back to them. I suppose when you have a lot on your mind, anything can be a nice distraction!

When people talk, listen completely. ---Hemingway

Be the heroine of your life, not the victim. ---Nora Ephron

A therapist once told me something that's as true now as when I first heard it: "You can only go as fast as the slowest part of you can go. ---Bonnie Raitt

She doesn't have to be tough, she has to love herself. ---Jay-Z about his daughter, Blue Ivy

What leaves you feeling bad, do less of.
What leaves you feeling good, do more of. ---Martha Beck

Your job is to maximize your own happiness, kindness, and health. ---Martha Beck

When you don't know what to say, try the truth. ---Common sense?

Stepping It Up

Lately I have been trying to put together a whole outfit rather than just pants and top, pants and top, pants get the point. I'm not a terribly fancy person but I have been taking some inspiration from my co-workers and graduate assistants for more combinations.

First outfit: Photo Day at Work
Grey pants, deep blue cardigan, Old Navy
Polka dot top, Target clearance rack, $7.48

Second Outfit: Comfy
Stretch jersey black skirt, Old Navy clearance, $7
Blue cardigan, New York & Co., ebay purchase, $5.50)
Mustard yellow tank top, Target

Third Outfit: Feeling Young
Blue skinny pant, Forever 21, $13.50
White tank top (a staple in my wardrobe) and black cardigan, Target, cardigan on clearance for $7

Fourth Outfit: Getting Caught in the Rain (like...torrential downpour)
Pleated wool skirt, United Colors of Benneton, thrift store purchase, $2
Peplum top, Forever 21, $9.50
Mustard yellow cardigan, Target

Crazy curly/frizz hair thanks to rain: 

Monday, January 28, 2013

January: Month for Improvement

I have definitely been a bit boring and quiet on the blog front here. Mostly, I am busy trying to establish some healthy habits, experimenting in the kitchen, and watching a whole lot of television series via Netflix.

Here's the low-down on a few things....

1. January "resolutions"
  • writing down something positive that happens each day, no matter how small it may seem - this has included a perfect green tea latte, an amazing episode of "Bones," and volunteering at the World Beer Fest
  • drink water - I have a really, really hard time drinking a significant amount of water so since Christmas time, I have been trying to drink as much as possible and have been pretty successful with getting at least six glasses each day
  • balancing my diet by including a lot more veggies/fruit to counter act my incredible sweet tooth
  • reading at least a few pages each night before bed
  • build a more professional, grow-up wardrobe - have been doing a whole lot of ebay-ing lately since the thrift stores around here are a little lacking
  • listening to my body about what I really need (early bed time, a nap, water, deep breaths)
These are things that I have been able to accomplish! They may not seem monumental but they have made a big impact on how I am feeling. I have also been waking up earlier to shower in the mornings rather than at night and hopefully I can start doing some small exercise in the morning as well.

2. Volunteering at the World Beer Fest was great! Yes, there were a whole lot of drunk people but it is amazing how nice people are when you have something they want--beer! I was pouring Henry Weinhard's Woodland IPA, Private Reserve Lager, and Redwood Amber (if I ever get tired of higher ed, I know a nice little profession I could fall back on...) and it was great to try some of the other, especially local, beers.

3. I have been fully addicted to these hummus quinoa cakes. Like, I made them three times in one week! They are super easy and flexible; I changed up the veggies based on what I had on hand AND serve them with a dollop of Sabra's cucumber & dill greek yogurt veggie dip and some sliced grape tomatoes. SO.GOOD.

4. Final food obsession: homemade crunchwrap supreme. I loved Taco Bell back in Michigan (well, in general) but the closest one here is a good 15-20 minute drive which never seems worth it. Once day I had some extra taco shells and thought about how delicious a crunchwrap supreme is. I looked through my fridge and came up with this little combo:

  • 1 flat-out wrap of any flavor
  • 1 crunchy taco shell, broken in half
  • shredded cheese, enough for your liking
  • some sort of protein (I used Boca crumbles the first time and then black beans the second time)
  • sliced tomatoes
  • mashed avocado
  • any other taco toppings

I folded the flat out wrap in half, filled it with protein and cheese, and then put it in a pan to get it all melty on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. After things were good, I opened it back up and put in the crunchy taco shell that had the avocado spread on top and then sprinkled the other toppings on top. Closed it on up and sliced it in half. It is definitely a meal but damn, so good!

5. I became a pescatarian.

From wiki: is the practice of a diet that includes seafood but not the flesh of other animals. A     pescetarian diet shares many of its components with a vegetarian diet and includes vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains, beans, eggs, and dairy, but unlike a vegetarian diet also includes fish and shellfish

I typically don't eat that much meat, especially red meat, but my love for animals in general combined with this documentary, Vegucated, in particular, made the change necessary. I think that if I was in a financial and more accesible position to buy meat that was locally and humanely raised (going back to my Portland upbrinding) then I would go back to eating meat. Right now, I have some meat substitutes on hand for when I am lazy but fortunately, I have been so interested in the healthy blog movement that I am well-educated in getting my nutrition from fresh foods and also keeping in mind which vitamins and nutrients I need to stay healthy and strong. I am going to keep seafood in my diet for now because I rely on tuna for easy protein with lunches and salads, I rarely buy any frozen processed fish products, and I enjoy eating seafood when I go out to restaurants (occasional activity).

Every time that I have reconfigured the primary things I eat (protein, sweets, beverages), I always get a new perspective on what really factors into my food choices: emotions, hunger, boredom, ritual, etc. When I gave up chocolate for almost a year, I noticed immediately the abundance of chocolate around and the difference between quality chocolate and just regular old candy that was never worth the calories. Now, I notice the limitations of some restaurant menus but also notice that abundance of wonderful options in grocery stores. Sure, there are tons of unhealthy vegetarian and vegan products but going outside your comfort zone to explore new foods and flavors is really exciting!

So now, as February is coming (speaking of chocolate and beverages), I hope to continue these goals from the #1 slot, continue experiencing more fun events like in the #2 spot and experiment even more in the kitchen like #3 and #4 showed. Can we say vegan brownies of amazingness? Oh yes. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Quotes of the Day: Ellen DeGeneres

In celebration of Ellen DeGeneres turning 55, The Huffington Post did a big ol' list of why we love her. It reminded me not only do I adore her and the work that she does for many charities, I just love her optimism and general peace about life. In inspiration of her, here are some of the best quotes from a wonderful lady.

"My life is my journey, and mine alone. I either feel good about something, or if I don't, 
I know I made a mistake [and I] learn from it." 

"I think I read somewhere that courage isn’t about doing something you’re not scared of. 
Courage is doing something in spite of the fact that you are scared of it."

"The world is full of a lot of fear and a lot of negativity, and a lot of judgment. 
I just think people need to start shifting into joy and happiness. 
As corny as it sounds, we need to make a shift." 

 "I work really hard at trying to see the big picture and not getting stuck in ego. 
I believe we're all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose... 
When you connect with that love and that compassion, that's when everything unfolds."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Favorites

It's Friday! It's a three-day weekend! Thank goodness!

I have been keeping a mental list of some of the things I love lately. Get ready for some serious randomness.

Cherry Valentine's M&Ms 

These aren't something that I would normally buy (cause I eat them for dinner) but there was a coupon attached (which I forgot to use) and they were on sale. Oh man, these are delicious. They taste like tiny chocolate-covered cherries. I was going to save some for cookies but...well...

Nordic Ware Popcorn Popper
In my last apartment, I didn't own a microwave for around 8 months. I dearly missed popcorn (top 5 food, easy) and so I looked online to see how to make stove top popcorn instead. It took two times to get the hang of it but then I became addicted. The bonus of having a gas stove is that it heats up quickly and the con is that once you get used to it, you miss it like crazy. My current stove is a little weird so I had to come up with an awesome alternative. On, this came up with great reviews and is only $9! Basically, you measure out 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels, pop on the lid, and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes. Done!

Richland County Public Library
I am totally obsessed with finding books online, reserving them, and simply stopping by to pick them up on the way home from work (strange that I work in a library but don't pick up books from there?). The online system is easy and you get an email or text when it is ready to pick up. Love it!

Parks & Recreation/30 Rock
So, I am super behind the game on falling in love with these shows. Already adore the leading ladies but the humor and writing is so awesome! I have a special place in my heart for Kenneth and constantly feel bad for Jerry. Please, do not tell me what happens in any of these shows though! I hate spoilers.

World Beer Festival in Columbia, SC

This is a yearly event that is apparently very exciting. I decided to volunteer for the whole day tomorrow and I think it is going to be so much fun! There are three breweries from Oregon that I might try and sign up with. Basically, I am going to be a beer pouring fool for the whole day and try to remember some of the really interesting beer education I got during the volunteer workshop on Wednesday. Can't wait!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Only the 16th of January...posts coming soon!