A New Look And New Workouts

Aaah, Tuesday: the roughest part of the week is over!

As you can tell, I spent some time last night updating the look of this here blog. (Omigod, blog templates are about to become the new way I take out my urge to redecorate! I used to re-arrange and redecorate my room every few months when I was growing up, and something tells me that blog aesthetics are becoming the new room rearranging. This could be dangerous. Or fun. Or both.)

I also added a recipe page, so between that and the new look, I’m quite happy with the way my little renovation panned out. I’m a satisfied cowgirl blogger!

(Side note: I am, however, totally flummoxed by the SEO plugin I’m trying to use. If any of y’all have experience with the Yoast SEO plugin, I’d greatly appreciate any insight/helpful hints you might have about how to make this thing work. I can’t even download or install it properly — argh!)

Anyways, because it’s been raining/drizzling for over 24 hours now, I’ve had a brief respite from the soaring pollen counts. While rain can be gross, the fact that it washes out the pollen is a serious silver lining. I’m going to take advantage of this rare moment and go running this afternoon, so we’ll see how my lungs hold out.

Springtime Allergies

And, speaking of getting the ol’ heart rate up, I’ve been excitedly doing some new workouts over the last week. I’ve been getting bored — woefully, painfully bored — at the gym lately; watching rom coms while on the elliptical has been a huge help, but then I got all panicky when I saw that I was running low on movies I hadn’t watched yet. Eeeep!

In the interest of preserving my short supply of unwatched movies, I started reverting to my old habit of listening to music while chugging away on the machines — and not surprisingly, time draaaaaaaaaggged on. Even with my favorite workout tunes pumping in my ears, time felt like it was moving as fast as a herd of arthritic turtles through a flood of molasses.

Bored Breaking Bad

Have I mentioned that I never exaggerate?

Anyways, I knew I needed to mix things up a bit. And what’s a nerdy gal to do in such a situation? Research.

Now, I have a confession: I love research. When I was in grad school, I used to love getting up early, filling my preposterously big travel mug with coffee, and hitting the library so I could do research. I’d sit there for hours, listening to Miles Davis on my iPod, sipping java, and looking up articles…it was heaven, folks. However, I know that, for the vast majority of the population, this would basically be the seventh ring of hell. This is why I’m incredibly weird. But I digress.

Nerd Girl Problems

Anyways, I’ve found that I really like the content of various group fitness classes, but I don’t like a) having to leave home, deal with traffic/public transportation, and factor in travel time in order to schlep out to a class, and b) I always feel like a total buffoon in group fitness classes. (Ergo why I loved this cartoon.) When a gal is both a total spaz (*raises hand*) and pressed for time (*raises other hand*), group classes are often a no-go.

Upon being confronted with this workout conundrum, I hopped on teh interweb to see if there are any good free fitness videos that I could use instead of going to a group fitness class — and I was thrilled to find two awesome fitness resources: Fitness Blender’s channel on YouTube and YogaDownload.

I’ve sampled a few of both their offerings, and suffice it to say: I looooooooove them.

I tried Fitness Blender’s Cardio Kickboxing and Beginner Kettlebell workouts, and they’re fantastic. First, I appreciate the voice-overs — they’re calm, clear, and they generally sound a lot better than an instructor breathlessly saying annoyingly peppy things like “You’re doing AWESOME!”

Annoyed GIF

I also really like that they demonstrate the next set of moves before transitioning into them. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve had to rewind workout DVDs because I miss half a section while trying to figure out what in God’s name the instructor is doing. For a spaz like myself, this is a huge help!

I Love Lucy Confused
This is what I usually look like during workout videos.

As for YogaDownload, this is a huge boon for me: I love yoga, but I’ve gone through about 10 different DVDs in an attempt to find one that I like. YogaDownload, however, provides the ultimate resource. Not only do they have every imaginable kind of yoga, but they allow you to sample a class before buying it — so if the instructor drives you batty, you figure it out long before you hit the download button. I also appreciate that they have different time length options for each class. I start getting irritated with classes longer than 30 minutes, so the 20 and 30 minute options are, IMHO, absolutely awesome.

 I’ve tried their Yoga for Back Pain and Evening Wind-Down classes, and they’re both fantastic. The back pain class worked wonders when my back was achy last week, and the wind-down class was just what I needed after a long day at work. I’ve got Yoga Sculpt and Yoga for Strength on deck, and I’m all kinds of excited to try them.

So, all that is to say: if you’re looking for a fun way to mix up your fitness routine without leaving the comfort of your own home, I highly recommend both Fitness Blender and YogaDownload. (And, to quote Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, I love technology. Ten years ago, neither one of these would have been even remotely possible. Huzzah for progress!)

With all that in mind, tell me: What’s your favorite at-home workout routine? Do you ever get bored while you’re doing cardio at the gym? If so, what’s your boredom remedy?

Have an awesome day, y’all!

MIMM: Scenes From a Relaxing Weekend

G’morning, everyone — it’s a gloomy and rainy Monday morning here, which I think calls for an extra cup of coffee. (Or three. But hey, whatevs.)

Once I wash down a few mugs of delicious java, I  have a new workout on tap for this morning — and because little things make me inordinately happy, I’m really excited about it. (Things like a new bottle of body wash have been known to make me bound out of bed, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, in excitement.) I’ll let y’all know how it goes!

In the meantime, thanks as always to Katie for hosting Marvelous In My Monday, a much-loved weekly blogging ritual that helps mitigate the Monday blahs.

Anyways, we had an awesomely relaxing weekend, and it was just what I needed.

Brandon and I had many long chats about life, our jobs, etc., which was phenomenal. I love the times when we’re able to just hang out and talk. Apologies for the impending schmaltz here, but I must say: back in the days of my generally disastrous dating misadventures (and oh, there were many disasters), I never thought I’d find a man whose company I enjoy as much as that of my closest, dearest friends. On our first official date, Brandon and I talked for something like six hours before actually going out to dinner — and that was when I knew this guy was different. I love spending time chatting and generally being goofy with him, which is something I would’ve never thought possible four years ago. Life works in amazing ways sometimes, y’all.

Marriage = Friendship
To quote the Princess Bride: Mawwiage!

I was also able to do a lot of reading, which was freakin’ phenomenal. I love reading — when I was growing up I used to spend hours each day with my nose stuck in a book, and given the opportunity to do the same thing now, I’d gladly go for it. Many thanks to Meghan for mentioning the existence of HGTV magazine; I love me some design mags, and this was the first issue of my new subscription. (*Does happy dance*) Let’s not forget the Sunday Times, which has been a staple of my weekend for many years.

Sunday NY Times and HGTV Magazine
Gettin’ my weekend leisure reading on.

The weather was gorgeous this weekend, so we decided to walk to one of our favorite restaurants. After a delicious lunch, we strolled home in the sun — and I took pictures (albeit camera phone pics, but hey, that works too) of some gorgeous azaleas. I lurve azaleas, and it makes me happy each spring when I see them bloom.

Azaleas
They’re so purdy!

I also tried out a new breakfast concoction, thanks to a brilliant idea from Caitlin: peanut butter cereal with chocolate almond milk. Now, few things make my taste buds as happy as the chocolate-PB combination, but really, a girl can’t exactly go nuts (pun intended) on Reese’s without her teeth and estomago rebelling against the deluge of sugar. So when I saw Caitlin mention her favorite cereal combination, I swear I could hear bells ringing and see lights flashing (à la someone who’s just hit the jackpot at a casino slot machine). I had to try it, and hoooooly crap, y’all, it’s effing delicious.

Gluten-Free Cereal With Almond Milk
Best. Combination. Ever.

The panda is cheering because he knows he’s about to be united with his culinary BFF. Obvi.

Gluten-Free Cereal with Chocolate Almond Milk
Behold, the bowl full of deliciousness!

This concoction is filled with so much win, I can’t even tell you. I have no idea why it took me so long to get on the chocolate almond milk bandwagon, but I’m officially a convert. I’m going to add chocolate almond milk to all manner of things now, so this should be fun.

I also did a wee bit of blog maintenance: I added a new page for the Inspirational Women Interview Series, and I’m thinking of categories that would be worth breaking out into separate pages. Right now the only thing I can think of is a recipe page, but I’ll gladly take suggestions — let me know if y’all have any ideas! 🙂

I hope everyone has a lovely Monday — what was your favorite part of the weekend? Have you tried chocolate almond milk? What’s your favorite weekend reading material?

And now, some nerd humor:

Galileo Meme
#nerdhumor. It’s how I roll.

Article Round-Up: April 21-27

Good morning, everyone, and happy Saturday!

I slept in until 8:15 this morning, which is basically unheard of for me — true to my grandma status ways, I usually wake up on my own at 7. I get this trait from my dad, who’s also an “early to bed, early to rise” sort of dude; I’m pretty sure my own tendency towards such things is hard-wired and inherited from mi padre.

My sleep habits used to really irritate me when I was in high school (“Why can’t I be a normal teenager who sleeps in until 10 or 11 on the weekends? What am I, a teenage mutant ninja turtle honors student?”), but now I really like it. It gives me quiet time to myself in the mornings, and I use that time to get stuff done. By the time other people are waking up, I’ve checked things off my to-do list and thus feel no guilt about getting some R&R and spending quality time with the people I love. Win!

Anywho, on to this week’s article round-up — grab yourself a beverage, sit back, and read away.

country
There, now doesn’t that make you feel all relaxed and filled with Saturday morning serenity?

Health & Fitness:

NYT: Do We Have to Cool Down After Exercise?

NPR: Recalls of Diet Supplements Highlight Mystery Ingredients

Mind, Body, Green: The 6 Best Fruits and Veggies to Buy for Spring

NYT: Long Runs or Sprints?

HuffPost: Vitamin P: The Secret to Health and Longevity

 

Stress Relief & Life Management:

Huffington Post: Easy Stress Relief: 5 Ways to Decompress in 5 Minutes

Mind, Body, Green: My All-Time Favorite Tips for Dealing With Stress

Huffington Post: Want Less Stress and More Happiness? Get ‘FAT’

 

Gender Issues:

Fast Company Infographic: How Barbie Stacks Up Against An Average, Real Woman 

Atlantic: ‘Messages of Shame Are Organized Around Gender

Slate: How Not To Be an Overt Sexist

Atlantic: Even Candy Land Isn’t Safe from Sexy

NoGym: We All Have Body Dysmorphic Disorder 

 

Humor & Warm Fuzzies:

Buzzfeed: 21 Photos That Will Turn Your Heart Into Goo

Funny or Die: The Childhood Drawings of Kim Jong Un

 NPR: Masterpiece in a Mug: Japanese Latte Art Will Perk You Up

Buzzfeed: Can You Make It Through This Video Without Happy-Crying?

Buzzfeed: 29 Ways Your Life Could Be A Million Times Worse

 

 

If I Was a Rich (Wo)man: Adventures in Domestic Daydreaming

In recent years, I’ve started to come to terms with a part of me that I’ve spent a lot of time and energy burying or otherwise ignoring: I really like being domestic.

Home — in the sense that home is both as a physical place and a feeling of comfort — is incredibly important to me. We moved around a lot when I was little, and we finally settled in Colorado until I was 16. Then, the summer before my junior year in high school, we moved across the country to a small town in Pennsylvania. We only lived there for a few years, though, and I spent the next decade never being anywhere long enough to really put down roots.

I spent a long time feeling uprooted and unmoored, and I found that I consistently longed for a place I could call home.

I remember driving back from dinner one winter night during college and taking a route that happened to go through a neighborhood, only to feel incredibly envious of all the occupants of the houses I drove by. Their homes looked so cozy, so comforting, so soothing. I imagined them being filled with happy, loving families who’d sit together on an over-stuffed couch while sharing popcorn and watching a movie.

And I really, really, really wanted that for myself.

As a consequence of this, my nesting instincts have always resembled those of a pregnant lady on speed. I’m acutely attuned to my environment, and as I’ve realized lately, damned if I don’t really enjoy it.

So, here’s my confession: I love being domestic. I love making a house a home. I love decorating, I love feeling rooted, and I love simply spending time at home.

I’ve spent years denying that I actually enjoy all this, but I’ve recently decided to embrace that side of my personality. My attempts to repress it into an oblivion didn’t work (obviously…as if they ever do, right?), so my new policy has been to just roll with it. Ain’t no shame in that, y’all.

With all that in mind, I’m going to brazenly steal a post format from the lovely Sarah from Nourish and Flourish (side note: her blog is freakin’ awesome, and I hiiiiiiiiiighly recommend that you go check it out). In the spirit of her Totally Unnecessary Wish List post, I decided to do my own totally unnecessary wish list, but to focus it on embracing my love of all things domestic. Soooo…

If I had an outrageous amount of money, I’d build my ultimate dream house. (Side note: all the pictures below come from Pinterest. I once heard someone describe Pinterest as Fantasy Football for women, and I’m pretty sure that’s the most accurate possible description.) It’d be amazing, y’all. I’d rather go for quality over size — I wouldn’t want it to be some gargantuan monstrosity that eats up half a city block — but it’d have some pretty awesome stuff.

To wit:

Because I love cooking (and, since I’d have an outrageous amount of money in this scenario, I presumably would be able to work from home doing something I really love — and would thus have time to cook more elaborate dinners), my kitchen would look like this:

Kitchens Kitchens Kitchens!!!

And, because I’m a sucker for things like built-in bookshelves and quirky architectural details, I’d have cool and unexpected stuff like this breakfast nook:

LOVE the round nook, with interior windows!! Kitchen - living room - nook

Since a woman’s work is never done, I might as well experience some spa-ish, Zen-like calm and tranquility while slaving over the laundry. Woo-sah, y’all:

I would do laundry every day in this laundryroom!

I’m a serious nerd, which means I have more books than I know what to do with. (Thank God for my Kindle, which is the world’s greatest space-saver.) If I were obscenely wealthy, though, I’d make room for all my beloved books with some seriously innovative built-in shelves (replete with cozy spaces for reading):

Hawthorne House

Hall library

Because I’m a girl — and let’s call it like it is, I’m pretty girly in my love of clothes, shoes, and accessories — (read this part in the snobbiest possible way; think Anna Wintour meets the singing candelabra dude from Beauty and the Beast) adequate closet space would be crucial. Behold.

Closet Design, Pictures, Remodel, Decor and Ideas

Let’s not forget about the bathroom, either. As someone who currently does the hygiene dance (“You’re in the way of the sink, dude, and I need to wash my hands.” “Dude, I need to get to my toothbrush.” “Dude, I can’t reach my towels when the door is open and you’re standing in front of it brushing your teeth!”) with her husband, a big bathroom is key. I figure this should suffice (a walk-in shower? I suppose I could live with that):

Shower behind the sinks...... Its kinda like a cave...... you dont have to worry about cleaning shower door. So neat!!

The only difference would be that mine would be more Middle East-inspired; for example, I’d go with Moroccan-shaped arches instead of the Medieval European style arches. They’d look kind of like this:

Moroccan inspired massage room complete with Jacuzzi tub.

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of bathrooms, I love me a good bath. A dedicated bathtub — better yet, a sunken-in bathtub that closely resembles a Turkish hammam — would be amazeballs.

a bathtub that is sunk into the floor! It's like a pool in your bathroom!

I’m also pretty sure Brandon would love a dedicated space for movie watching and sports spectating from afar (aka: watching the Spurs on TBS), so I figure he wouldn’t object to a media room. Who needs a man cave when you can have a theater?

home theatre

Since, in this scenario, I’d be obnoxiously wealthy and money would be no object, I’d also get myself a house in the desert. As you may have gathered from my bajillon posts about how homesick I am, I really miss the West. For lack of ability to live there full-time, I’d get us a vacation home in the desert that we could visit in order to calm the overwhelming pull Westward:

desert home

This house would have a garden of succulents and cacti, which are among my favorite plants:

from Bohemian homes - bohemian gardens

It’d have a pool where I could relax and read to my nerdy little heart’s content:

I could deal with this...

And, perhaps most importantly, it’d have a huge skylight in the bedroom:

Skylight above bed. Too cool!

One of my favorite childhood memories was created on a fall evening a few months after we’d moved to Colorado, when my dad and I sat outside and looked at the stars. As we sat on lawn chairs in the back yard, he pointed out the different constellations that I’d been learning about in school. I’d never seen so many stars in my life, and I was awe-struck. The night was clear, there was no light pollution — a relic of old-timey Colorado that has since gone the way of the velociraptor — and I was able to see the Milky Way. I was amazed, and to this day, I get incredibly excited at the thought of being able to see the Milky Way. In this magical desert house, I’d be able to see this each night:

A look into the center of the Milky Way Galaxy from the Moab Desert- Bret Webster Photography

Now, if only I could win the lottery! 🙂

So tell me, lovely readers: if you could live anywhere, where would you go? What do you think is the most important feature in a house? What would you do if you won the lottery? What’s your favorite childhood memory?

Inspirational Woman: Samantha

Good morning, everyone! It’s been a while since our last Inspirational Woman interview, so I’m proud and excited to introduce y’all to Samantha (AKA: Sam, Samoo, Muumuu) — one of my former roommates, a dear friend, and a major source of inspiration.

After five years of working in her comfortable but decidedly not gratifying career of graphic design, Sam found herself feeling unfulfilled and unhappy. After some soul-searching, she decided to make a huuuuuuuge change of course and pursue a career as a Physician’s Assistant.

I still remember the phone call where she told me she’d finally figured out what she wanted to do, and my gut reaction was “That makes perfect sense — she’d be damn good at that.” Sure enough, she dove into doing all the things she needed to do (and believe me, there were a lot!) in order to take her life in a totally different direction. Fast forward six years, and she’s busy kicking butt as a PA and is in a much happier place.

Here’s her story.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat inspired you to take action towards your goal/dream?

I realized I was not happy with the chosen profession I was in at the time. I was comfortable, but I was unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and generally unhappy with both my job and my career. As I realized this, I also realized I had control over what I did with my life – and that because I had control over where my life went, I was going to take charge and find a career that would genuinely make me happy. I explored different career paths that I thought might interest me, and before long, I decided on medicine. Since my previous career was in graphic design, I started taking some pre-reqs in math and hard sciences so I could go back to school to become a Physician’s Assistant.


What have been the high points and the low points?

The high points: I am much more satisfied now. [Side note: Sam is a seriously badass PA in an ICU, which isn’t exactly a low-stress gig. She’s awesome at what she does, which involves making life-saving decisions under high pressure while dealing with a bajillion different – and often competing or conflicting – variables. If, God forbid, you ever find yourself in an ICU, you’d be one lucky guy/gal to have someone like Sam taking care of you.]  The low points: I gave up a lot of time. The time I spent in school was time that was dedicated almost solely to my pursuit of a new career. The rough part is that this seems to have been to the detriment of other areas of my life (most notably, finding love/getting married/starting a family).


What obstacles have you encountered?

Especially early on, it was hard to give up a paycheck (and the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to with one). It was also hard to give up my free time especially when that translated to maintaining friendships, dating, etc.


Do you have a support network and/or personal cheerleaders who have helped you in this process?

My parents and friends were really helpful. They listened to me when I was struggling, boosted my confidence when I was unsure I had the ‘stuff’ it took to get to the end.  It also helped to have school friends that could commiserate with tough experiences and validate feelings that popped up along the way.


What have they done to encourage you and help you move forward?

They remind me of my strengths. They remind me I am not alone. They refresh my memory as to why I set down this road in the first place, and they help me renew my desire to get to my destination!


If you could give advice to women who are either trying to find the courage to pursue their dreams or are at the beginning of their own journey, what would it be?

There are no wrong decisions, so don’t waste energy regretting what’s already done. You have control of your life – if you’re unhappy, root out why and make your best attempt to remedy it. Although it can be scary and intimidating, you can make a change. So: if you think you need one, go for it!  A good friend had a great magnet on her fridge with a motto that I subscribe to: Leap, the net will appear. This helped give me the reassurance and strength I needed to take a big risk in making a huge career change, and it has definitely paid off.

LEAP and the net will appear, Via Facebook ~ Words of Wisdom. Trust your instincts - they are there for a reason. #quotes #beinspired

WIAW: Short Weeks and GF Strawberry Pancakes

It’s Wednesday – huzzah! Seriously, four-day weeks are approximately eleventy bajillion times easier to deal with than full five-day workweeks. Mondays away from the office are the bomb diggity (well, isn’t that the understatement of the year), and starting the week on Tuesday makes life a lot easier (ok, that’s probably the runner-up for understatement of the year).

I motion to create a four-day workweek as a matter of policy! Who’s with me? Viva la revolucion!

Ok, so maybe that’s slightly (only slightly) unrealistic. Failing the ability to do that, I’ll just revel in the fact that it’s Wednesday and get my WIAW on. Thanks as always to Jenn over at Peas & Crayons for being the hostess with the mostess!

Peas and Crayons

I started the day with my usual coffee and GF toast:

dsc00679
I have to confess: I’ve been using the same photo of this for months. Why? Because I eat the same thing every morning. Lame, I know.

After the gym, I had my (also usual) smoothie with kale, mango, blueberries, protein powder, and banana — and I bottled half of it to take with me for lunch.

DSC00826
(Sing to the tune of “Message in a Bottle” by the Police): I hope that someone gets my, I hope that someone gets my smoothie in a bottle…

 But really, why am I carrying on about smoothies when breakfast on Saturday involved one of the most glorious weekend meals I’ve ever had?

Four words, y’all: GLUTEN-FREE STRAWBERRY PANCAKES.

DSC00823-001
THIS. I’m drooling just thinking about these.

To say that I chowed down on these would be another massive understatement. As you can see, I don’t usually do regular maple syrup — I’m a bit of a weirdo that way (among, um, many other ways) — but I’m all about strawberry jam. Strawberry pancakes + strawberry jam = bliss.

We used the boxed pancake batter from King Arthur Flour, and it was divine. This was, hands-down, the best GF pancake flour I’ve ever had. In the nearly five years since my Celiac discovery, I’ve tried a ton of different GF flour brands — and King Arthur is far and away the best. You could say they take the cake. (Sorry, that was awful. I can’t help myself!)

The directions call for 2 eggs and melted butter or vegetable oil, but in the interest of making them low-fat, we omitted the oil/butter and used 1 whole egg + two egg whites. We tossed in about a cup of diced fresh strawberries in honor of springtime, and omigodyouguys, they were delicious.

Truth be told, there’s a very good chance that I’ll make another batch this weekend and take them to work with me throughout the week. Pancakes at work would be awesome.

Aaaaaaanyways, on to my other meals. Snacks are identical to last week’s (what can I say? I’m a creature of habit!): Greek yogurt with GF granola, celery, apples, Pamela’s bars (which, BTW, are freakin’ delicious — I highly recommend them), and Mary’s Gone Crackers with Alouette garlic and herb cheese.

DSC00812
I’m alarmingly predictable.

Lunch this week has been brought to you by the good folks at Progresso. I know canned soups are a serious faux pas in the healthy living world, but they’re my go-to staple when I’m pressed for time. Nobody’s perfect, amirite?

Lentil soup
Memo to the marketing people at Progresso: y’all should probably go ahead and make “Time is of the essence” your new motto.

It hasn’t been a cooking-from-scratch week here, um, at all. Dinner was brought to you by the good folks at Trader Joe’s: I baked some tomato-basil chicken tenders with a chopped onion and a wee bit of white wine, garlic powder, oregano, and Parmesan, and served them with steamed veggies. For a meal that took almost no effort whatsoever, it was darn good. (Thank you, Trader Joe’s, for being freakin’ awesome.)

Confession: I love cooking, but right now I’m a huge fan of meals that require very little time or effort. Some might call that lazy, but I prefer to think of it as being highly efficient. One of the side effects of having a full time job, an awesome husband who I want to spend time with and talk to, a gym addiction, and a love of writing is that I don’t have much of any free time on my hands during the week. So, if I can find ways to save time while not sacrificing much in the way of health/nutrition, I’m all about it.

DSC00831
(Read in the Homer Simpson voice) Mmmmm. Chicken and veggies. Gaaaaahhhh.

My other great food love this week? Berry Berry Kix. They’re GF, preservative free, and effing delicious.

A quote from Brandon: “My wife loves Berry Berry Kix berry berry much.” My God, I love that I found a man who busts out puns as prolifically as I do.

Fact: I have a cereal addiction. I effing love it, and I might have a bowl (or two…or three) every night for dessert.

I hope everyone has an awesome Wednesday! So, my lovely fellow bloggers, tell me:

How do you save time during the workweek? What’s your favorite cereal? What do you like to put on your pancakes – are you a maple syrup person, or do you have alternative toppings?

hahaha
A little bit of mid-week humor because, y’know, Wednesday.

Getting My Nesting On

Good morning, y’all — this morning is dawning cool and cloudy here in DC, which (apologies for the impending mope) kind of matches my mood since my mom returned to Colorado yesterday. After I dropped her off at the airport, I was all:

The good thing was that the security line at the airport was actually ridiculously short, so she and I got to hang out at the DCA Starbucks and chat. The short line was a pleasant surprise, since we were expecting the airport to be a hot mess — and, of course, getting to spend even an extra hour with my mama was a huge bonus.

Granted, we still both got all choked up when we said goodbye outside the security line. I’ve only cried at the airport a few times, but in each of these instances, the TSA agents have given me serious side-eye. They get all suspicious, and amidst my tears, I get all flummoxed and annoyed. I mean, come on — I’m crying because I miss my mom, not because we’re weepy terrorists.

image

After leaving the airport, I decided it was high time to indulge in a bit of retail therapy. My tote bag has started falling apart, so I hit up Target (but of course) and found that this lovely tote — which I’ve been eyeballing for months — was on clearance. Epic win!

Merona® Mega Tote Handbag - Multicolor

When I came home, I then indulged in my other great coping mechanism: cleaning. I recognize that being all OCD about cleanliness and organization is, at its core, just something that gives me a sense of control (especially when I’m upset). While for some people this can be a bad thing, for me it really helps ease the sting of whatever is upsetting me.

First, it gives me something to do (as opposed to crumpling into a mopey heap o’ sadness on the couch). Second, a clean home makes me happy — and especially when I’m bummed out, I’m a big fan of things that make me happy.

Perhaps most importantly, it contributes to my overall response to a problem. I’m a big proponent of the theory that while in many cases you can’t control what happens, you can control how you respond to it. I can’t control where we live or how far I am from my family, but I can choose to cope with that situation in a productive way.

My efforts to productively cope involve things like exercise, teaching myself to focus on the good things (I love our apartment, our new neighborhood is great, we have awesome friends here, and my shortened commute is a Godsend), and ensuring that our apartment truly feels like a home. Cleaning is an important part of that homeyness — so for me at least, cleaning and nesting are inextricably linked.

home

And, adding to that, there’s my old pal exercise — which, as you may have gathered by now, is my numero uno way of dealing with life. When the going gets tough, this cowgirl gets to the gym. Which, as it turns out, it’s time for me to do! On tap for today: 30 minutes of elliptical and the bike (while watching the last portion of What to Expect When You’re Expecting — which, BTW, is hilarious), followed by 15 minutes of strength training. Woot!

Have a lovely Tuesday, y’all — and tell me: what are your go-to coping mechanisms when the going gets rough? Do you ever get homesick? Do you ever go on a cleaning binge as a way of dealing with life (please, please tell me I’m not alone on that)?

Grown-Up Saturday Morning Cartoons: Weekly Article Roundup for April 14-20

Good morning, lovely people, and happy Saturday!

I’d say that it’s an especially happy Saturday after last night’s capture of the remaining Boston bombing suspect. That piece of awesome news ended what was generally a week of awful news (warning: that link goes to an article which makes prolific use of the f-bomb; if you’re not a fan of such things, don’t read it) on a much-needed high note.

Also awesome? We had a huge thunderstorm last night. I love me a good thunderstorm, and this one didn’t disappoint.

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Image Source: Capital Weather Gang (Washington Post)

Yesterday my mom and I went to both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for an epic food shopping extravaganza, which means that this morning will soon be completed by GF strawberry pancakes. If you hear a strange noise right now, that’d be my stomach growling in anticipation.

In the meantime, though, here’s this week’s article round-up — grab a beverage (or some pancakes) and enjoy!

Health & Wellness

NYT: Why We’re Motivated to Exercise, Or Not

The Atlantic: Relationships Are More Important Than Ambition

NPR: Low Sodium Labels Woo and Confuse Consumers

MindBodyGreen: 10 Ways To Get Healthier at Work

 

Stress Relief

Huffington Post: Laughter Benefits: Why Humor is the Best Way to Cope

Greatist: How to Manage Workplace Stress

Huffington Post: Teach Yourself How to Relax: Here’s How

 

Gender Issues

The Atlantic: Good Daycare Was Once a Top Feminist Priority, and It Should Be Again

NYT: An Overwhelmed Mother’s Departure Memo

Cogent Comment: The Rape Culture Project

The Guardian: The Everyday Sexism Project: A Year of Shouting Back

 

Humor and Warm Fuzzies:

Tressugar: Why You Should See Girl Rising

BuzzFeed: The 15 Most Ridiculous World Leaders of All Time

Huffington Post: Baby Hedgehog Fights T-Shirt To The Death

Maurice Williamson, New Zealand Parliamentairian, Gives Speech on Gay Marriage

EOnline: Allison Brie Imitates Popular Memes

A Brief Compilation of Random Awesomeness

Good morning, everyone! Since mi madre is visiting, I’m going to keep things short and sweet so I can spend time with her. With that, here’s a brief compilation of things I’m diggin’ this week:

This ad that my mom saw in the NY Times last week — she cut it out and brought it with her, and she correctly assumed that it’d be refrigerator-grade hilarity for Brandon and me:

NYSC Kim Jong UnThe fact that I have a new article up with Girls Gone Sporty — hooray!

Getting back into my workout routine after weeks of being thrown out of whack by the Breaking Bad marathon. I’ve been cardio-ing my little heart out (pun intended), and although I hate to admit that those weeks without my daily trip to the gym left me woefully out of shape, I’m glad that I’m back at it. I think it’s safe to say that exercise is kind of addictive for me; I love the way I feel after a good workout, and it was driving me nuts that I didn’t have time to get to the gym when Walt and that evil mofo Gus were taking over our lives.

EHRMAGHERD.

My routine this week is heavily reliant on the elliptical and the bike, since the insanely high pollen count has kicked my asthma into high gear. When my asthma acts up like this, I have to forgo running — even with my inhaler as my trusty sidekick, the wheezing started after .75 miles yesterday. In the interest of not dying (y’know, a minor detail), I decided to call it quits after a measly one mile and stick with the sort of cardio that makes me sweat like mad without being quite as taxing on my lungs. I’m adding weights back into the mix today (which I’m pretty effing stoked about), with a mix of upper body and lower body strength training. Have I mentioned that I looooooooove strength training? SO. EXCITED.

Half the Sky Movement Awesomeness: As y’all might know, it’s taken me a lot of soul-searching to figure out, well, what I want to do with my life. After the spectacularly painful realization that the line of work that I’d spent 10 years preparing for — and starting a career in — actually leaves me feeling unhappy and unsatisfied, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what sort of work I’d find meaningful, enjoyable, and edifying. I eventually realized that some of my long-buried passions — writing, health, and international women’s issues — are what really drive me. 

Rumi quote

Once I realized that, I became a community ambassador for the Half the Sky Movement. (Side note: if you only read one book or watch one documentary this year, make it this one. You won’t regret it!)

Through that ambassadorship, I found out that Half the Sky rolled out two awesome initiatives yesterday: the first, Rise4Women, will help raise resources and recognition for non-profits focusing on issues that affect women around the world — issues such as human trafficking and sex slavery, access to good prenatal and obstetric care, access to education, the ability to earn income, and a ton of other things we take for granted.

Through the Crowdrise challenge, the organization that earns the most money between April 24 and June 6 will receive a portion of the campaign’s $75,000 in prize money. I hiiiiiiiiighly encourage you to look through the list of organizations and see if there are any that resonate with you. Are you appalled by the fact that human trafficking and sex slavery even exist, let alone affect hundreds of thousands of girls and women? Check out the Polaris Project. Are you a mom or mom-to-be who can’t fathom giving birth without a skilled attendant on hand? Check out the Friends of Edna.

The second Half the Sky initiative that I’m really excited about is a Thunderclap campaign — started by the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) — to ensure that women and girls remain a priority for U.S. foreign policy. Under Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, issues affecting women and girls around the world were a key element of her policy planning. Now that John Kerry is at the helm of the State Department, the IWHC and Half the Sky want to make sure that women and girls are a priority for foreign policy. Imma blow up Twitter with these hashtags, y’all.

With all that being said, the last thing I’m srsly excited about is the legit arrival of spring. Yeah, the pollen count might kill me, but it’s totally worth it for stuff like this:

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My airways are closing, but I don’t caaaaaaaaare!

Hope everyone has an awesome Thursday — so tell me, what random yet awesome things are inspiring you or making you happy today?

WIAW: Moms Are The Best!

Good morning, y’all! It’s a particularly good morning around these parts because a certain mom (cough, cough — mine — cough, cough) arrived last night. YAY! (*Insert happy dance here.*)

As I’ve mentioned a time or twelve, I really miss my family, and the fact that I don’t get to see my parents or brother nearly as often as I’d like really wears on me. However, this means that when any of them come to visit, it’s cause for serious celebration.

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A wee display of my mom’s favorite foods and a welcome sign: like I said, I can’t let this visit pass without some celebratory fun times. It’s not exactly epic, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

I’m going to take Friday and part of Monday off to hang out with mi madre, and I’m incredibly excited about it. Oh, and did I mention that I live within walking distance of a Marshall’s? We’re going to get our mother-daughter shop on, people.

Before that can happen, though, I have to get through the next 36 hours. This is helped — quite tremendously, at that — by the fact that it’s time for What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by the lovely Jenn from Peas & Crayons. This is my favorite mid-week tradition, and I love seeing what y’all have cooked up.

Peas and Crayons

I’ve had a wide range of food, per the usual. There’s the daily coffee-n’-toast before hitting the gym, and the daily post-workout smoothie:

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DSC00680Lunches have ranged from leftover pad Thai to salad with leftover balsamic-herb chicken, grapes, red onions, feta, and some home-made Greek vinaigrette dressing. Snacks — which, as you might have discerned from past WIAW posts, are basically my reason for being — included Pamela’s Whenever Bars, Greek yogurt with granola, carrots and celery with dill dip, Mary’s Gone Crackers with Alouette cheese, and fruit galore (namely apples and cantaloupe).  DSC00812dsc00447Dinners have also run the gamut — and I had a ton of pictures that I’d been taking throughout the week, only to find that the memory card was in my computer the entire effing time. EPIC FAIL! How was I able to not even notice the flashing red “NO MEMORY CARD” notice in the camera’s LCD screen!? This is why I’m scared to have kids, friends: the most obvious things totally escape me. Oy vey.

Given that most epic of food photography fails, I have but one picture of dinner for y’all: salad with rotisserie chicken and some papaya-poppyseed dressing from the good folks at Annie’s Naturals (this stuff is divine, BTW).

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Now I’m off to the gym for my daily sweat session, but I want to know: Do you have a favorite type of salad dressing? Have you ever had a major photography fail?

Hope everyone has an awesome Wednesday!