Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Playlist

Happy Friday! Remember when I said the Grammy Playlist would come in installments? Well, here's part two. It's an eclectic mix of Rock, Rap, R&B and Country. Now, work. it. out. Enjoy the weekend!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Love List

1.  Game night is always fun...especially when its colder than a polar bear's toenails outside. This fun (and free!) game demonstrated by Chescaleigh and Akilah is sure to be a hit...especially when cocktails are involved.

2. Given that I am on a workout kick, I am constantly searching for things to help me make it a habit. Fitness Blender offers a variety of free workouts online. They are created by two trainers who happen to be married. More importantly, they leave me without an excuse on days when I can't make it to the gym.

3. Aerie recently debuted a new lingerie campaign proclaiming "the real you is sexy." They are not photoshopping the models. Now, the models are still traditional models. They are thin, toned, and fit the American standard of beauty. That said, it's a step in the right direction.

4. Broad City is a new show on Comedy Central and I am here for every minute of it's quirky, ridiculous humor. It's a nice diversion from all of the dark shows I normally watch.

5. I love wine (and chocolate) so this geek chic necklace shaped like the resveratrol (red wine) molecule is right up my alley.

6. The Wonder Bag is the coolest slow cooker I've ever seen. It is such a genius idea and it's helping families to boot. If you want to buy one, scoop it up from Amazon. For each one purchased, one will be sent to a family in Africa.

7. Kinda obsessing over this Eggplant and Herb Lasagna recipe from Chasing Delicious. It will be gracing my table for Sunday dinner very soon.

8. How could I not love an all in one kitchen tool that only takes up as much room as a wine bottle. This thing is genius!! Of course it's from the MOMA store.

9. I love to see natural light streaming through windows and am constantly trying to capture it in my photos. This collection of photos was curated by the NY Times from reader submissions showing "cherished beams of sunlight."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Weekly Weigh In


Welcome to week 2 of my recommitment to Weight Watchers.  I am down 1 pound this week, for a total loss of 1.8.  I was very happy with that.  EXCEPT, the cheater in me happens to weigh myself every single day and I know I am back up again.  Let’s see where we are on Saturday (my normal weigh in day).
I will admit that although I have recommitted to the diet, I have not exactly been tracking my points as habitually as I should. As a result, I realized I need to start going to meetings again. They keep me accountable. And, well, with these COLD, frigid temps, I just have not gone.  I also figure this week is a loss (not in terms of weight) – meaning – I have an event Thursday night, dinner plans Saturday and who can forget the Superbowl on Sunday.  

So, my goal this week is to get through it, keep my head high, and enjoy.  Next week, I’ll be back on track and better than before.  I also have not been to the gym.  I truly miss the ability to go run outside and, well frankly, the gym intimidates me mostly because I cannot figure out how to get the treadmills off of 20 minute intervals. Sigh.

As for today’s recipe, as I mentioned – I am really looking forward to the Superbowl.  I am a huge sports fan, and Superbowl Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year. I love the pre-game, the game and the post-game.  I also love the finger food and wine.  I have been making baked chicken wings every year for the past few years for Superbowl Sunday and they are ALMOST as delicious as the fried ones (still not healthy, but as I mentioned – it’s the Superbowl).  So bake your wings, save yourself some points….Enjoy!  Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown (Tip: Use Frank’s Hot Sauce).

Well peeps, the honeymoon is over. That didn’t take long did it? You’ll have to pardon my flair for the dramatic. Here’s what happened. I am up 0.2 pounds. I know. It’s nothing to flip out about…especially considering the barrage of culinary sins I indulged in this weekend.  It’s more about the trend I was on. Losing 2 pounds (or more) a week encouraged me and made be think my goal could be in the very near future. Part of me knew that wasn’t sustainable but boy was I excited. Anytime I can be excited about getting on a scale is, well, awesome. But, here we are in weight gain land and I’m back to my tense relationship with the scale. What’s a girl to do? I came up with a few answers to that question.
First, learn from the previous week’s mistakes: This week, I know my gain came from too much food and too little working out. I did yoga and Zumba last Monday but wasn’t able to make it back to the gym for the rest of the week. I have to do better about planning gym time when I have meetings or fun events during my normal gym time.

Second, don’t beat yourself up: The first weigh in resulting in a gain usually makes me want to have a cheat night.  The story banging around in my head goes something like this: “I worked out this week but I still gained…and I ate salads all week. If I’m going to gain, I may as well have the slice of cheesecake instead of the all natural, organic, unsweetened homemade popsicles I made.

Third, start fresh every day (or whenever you need to). It sounds cheesy but every day really does present a new start. If you mess up on...oh, I don't know....Superbowl Sunday, there is always a new start on Recovery Monday. Life happens. Live your life in the way you're comfortable and then hit the gym and make healthy eating choices. Give the body a chance to detox and recover.  

Finally, don't rely solely on the scale: Weight distributes itself all over the body. Sometimes scales are off or your water retention levels are high. You need another neutral way to check your progress. Invest a small amount of money into a soft measuring tape (the kind that's used to measure you for clothes fittings). Take your measurements each week to see where you are. You'll be surprised what you're shedding even when the scale stubbornly stays the same. 

When making a lifestyle change (read: dieting), you have to resign yourself to the fact that there will be some frustrating weigh-ins. There will be times when you work your tush off and see little to no change on the scale. There are times when you cheat and you lose weight. You can never predict with certainty what the weigh in will be like each week. Be encouraged. At the end of the day, you are doing something positive for your body and despite little anomalies here and there, you will generally see positive results when you work hard. 

For those joining us on this weight loss journey, what have you learned from less than stellar weigh-ins? What tips do you use to stay on track? 

My recipe this week is a simple pasta I made out of desperation. I needed to use up my daily points but I wanted to be healthy in doing it...and be full at the end of it. I came up with what I call a pantry dump pasta. It basically means I looked through my pantry and grabbed a bunch of stuff added a few staples from the fridge and voila! Dinner time. The recipe is here. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Quotable

Photo Source
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know my path to motherhood is longer and more complicated than I ever could have expected. At the moment, we're a little stuck in limbo but we do have a least part one of a plan. Non-native pregnancy options are really expensive, so unless we win the lottery or experience a miracle, everything can't happen at once.

In the meantime, we move forward smiling when people ask why we don't have children yet and what we're waiting for. It stings every time but I don't blame them. They don't know the back story. You see a stable married couple in love who've been married for 5+ years and it's natural to wonder why they don't have kids. (FYI, you still shouldn't ask because it may be a painful subject and more importantly, it's not really your business).

Anyway, before I download all of my medical history and depress myself in the process, let me just get to the point of this post. I came across a beautiful (albeit long) video today. Both the subject matter and the quote at the end struck me. I had to share. Just know that giving is the key to a beautiful life. Whether you give small or give huge (like the woman in the video), know you are making the world a better place through love. And if we need nothing else, we certainly need more love. Happy Monday!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Playlist

This week's playlist is all about the music that you loved all year long. The Grammy Awards are this Sunday. It is one of my favorite award shows and I am looking forward to them...especially the opening act if all the rumors are true. This playlist will come in installments because there are so many nominees. I don't think you will be starving for more since this one is 40 songs. Enjoy and HAPPY FRIDAY!!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why So Serious?


“You look really serious.”

That is what my yoga instructor said to me (with a concerned face) after my most recent yoga class. I told her I was just concentrating and trying to get through the vinyāsa without hurting myself. I looked around at my fellow classmates and most of us were struggling. None of us—even the ones who were flowing through the vinyāsa with ease—were smiling. So why did I stand out as the serious looking one as she walked around? I wrote it off initially but it kept bubbling up into my thoughts.

When I couldn't shake it, I asked Ash who knows me better and sees me more than most people. He said I have the “evil eyebrows” when I concentrate. The evil eyebrows are a running joke between us. It refers to the furrow in my brow that appears when I am annoyed, angry or hyper-focused. I didn't think I had my evil eyebrows in full swing during yoga. We looked in the mirror at my natural expression. Yeah....I have bitchy resting face. 

I’ve heard some version of the yogi's comment all my life. People at work say, “What’s wrong?” or “At least I got you to smile” if I happen to laugh at a rare joke (not much humor in corporate land). Men attempting to flirt ask “Why are you so mad?/Who made you mad?/Can I get a smile?”

I’m so used to it at this point that I just smile and continue about my business. The thing is, I’m not sad. Sure, there are off days and there are things I still want for my life that I haven’t been blessed with yet (read: children) but I’m actually in a good place in my life. So why won’t my face follow suit?  

I kinda obsessed about it for a couple of days and then I let it go to ask myself a deeper question: Why do I care so much?

I did a lot of work a few years back to free myself of caring about what people (read: strangers) think of me. I’m happy to receive accolades/compliments but I don’t need them to be whole. At the same time, if someone criticizes me, I’m not falling apart. Bending and changing with what people think will eventually break a person. It’s exhausting and in the end, you still can’t please everyone. That kind of life locks you up in a mental prison and blocks creativity, change, and growth…my late teens/early twenties are a testament to that.

Perhaps, it spoke to something deeper. As happy as I may feel, I’m not afraid to acknowledge that life feels a little stuck as of late. It’s like I’m continuing on life’s journey…walking forward but portions feel like the walk is on a treadmill. I can see the dream (working in passion, motherhood, good health) right in front of me but they’re just out of reach no matter how fast I’m walking. Maybe its deeper rooted than I thought and is showing on my face. Or maybe, it has been a long week and I need to let loose and laugh a little more.

Sorry for the one sided therapy session. I just thought I’d share in case some of you suffer through the same “why are you so mad?” madness. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Resolution Revolution

We have three and a half weeks under our belt and the year is moving full steam ahead. Time for a resolution self-check. Sorry to hit you over the head with the accountability hammer but I had to after seeing this gem on SNL over the weekend.

I shared my resolutions in my first post of the year. I am doing well with putting myself higher on the list. I’m exercising, getting my eating under control (read more about that in the Weekly Weigh In) and starting some new routines, which I’ll share more about in a later post. So I’m good there. I also did some surprise gifting. I can’t say I haven’t procrastinated at all but I am doing much better. As for everything else, I’m falling down on the job.

I have one raw recipe to try so far (of course it’s a dessert) but I’m researching. The goal is to try (and post) one raw recipe a week.

I haven’t done a thing towards expanding my writing portfolio outside of maintaining the blog. I’m thinking of registering for an online course to force myself to get beyond my current writer’s block.
I have my January book but I am so far behind I am not sure I will be able to finish by the end of next week. Sigh.

I found coding classes online but haven’t completed a lesson. I looked at the lessons and it seems so hard. I feel like I can conquer code but right now, it’s looming over me from my ever growing “To Do” list.  

I’ve researched trips to Australia and Thailand. After looking at the costs for everything we want to do this year, we realized these dream trips may have to be put on hold until 2015. Damned priorities. I’m not foreclosing it totally…we’ll just have to see what the year brings.

How are your resolutions/goals for the year going?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Weekly Weigh In


So here we go.  Week 1 down.  And I am down .8.  I will take that as a loss – or a victory.  I said “small steps” and for me, .8 is a small step in the right direction.  I really cant’ complain.  I was out with friends one night, had wine with others another night and did not exercise at all.  This week, my goal is to go to the gym just once. As I said, small steps!!  Last time I did weight watchers, I lost about 13 pounds.  For me, that is rather significant.  I am only 5’2” on a  good day…so 13 pounds is quite noticeable.

My goal is to lose 15 pounds this time around.  Once I go down one size, I am treating myself to $100 shopping spree at Banana Republic (I have an unused gift card).  I figure that may be spring time so good to buy some new stuff then.

Let’s see how this week goes.  I will be out less (and thus, drinking less.)  I will still have some wine at home…lol.  but, I wont give up the things I love!!!!  This week I do not have a recipe (mostly because I have not made anything new). However, I will share an excellent snack choice – Trader Joe’s spinach and kale bites. Delicious, warm and definitely satisfies a crave!  You can find them in the frozen section.


I’m in the honeymoon phase of this whole weight loss thing. I’m down 2.2 pounds this week. I’ve never been so happy standing on a scale. Ironically, I approached the scale with trepidation this week because I wasn’t exactly “good” over the weekend. I gave myself a cheat day on Saturday (on top of Friday’s date night) and when I tracked my points, I realized I’d consumed 83 putting my extra weekly allowance at -18. I know! Crazy right? So why the loss? Well, I think its a few things.

Exercise: I mean, it’s not exactly a mystery. Diet plus exercise equals weight loss. It’s science, not magic. Yet, I wasn’t losing weight consistently when I was training for the HoBOOken 5K.  This time, I think it’s the variety of exercise. I am doing yoga and Zumba as well as machine driven cardio (stationary bike, stair climber, elliptical). I’m also doing light weight training. Using my body in so many different ways keeps me interested and having someone push me—at least for yoga and Zumba—keeps me going. Now if I can just get my downward dog to look like an upside down V rather than crouching woman, hidden flexibility. 

Tracking Points: This is a key part of Weight Watchers. Now, with SparkPeople, I had to track my food too but for some reason, this is clicking more for me. It’s giving me a better picture of where I’ve sabotaged myself over the last few years. Wine is a big culprit. When I was doing SparkPeople, I didn’t realize that. It was 100 calories a glass. No fat. What could be terrible about a glass or three? On Weight Watchers, a glass of wine is 4 points. Three glasses over the course of date night is over a third of my daily points…then you add dinner, maybe dessert…and, let’s be honest, another glass of wine. Now, I’m not willing to eliminate the fun from my life (and Weight Watchers builds in points for that) but it is nice to know where I need to be a little more balanced…or go run for an hour at the gym.

Support: I am doing Weight Watchers with Robyn, my mom and my sis this time. I’ve done it alone before and was successful but it’s nice to check in with friends when I have questions or need some encouragement OR some extra accountability. It also helps that Ash is all about the gym at the moment. He works with me on the weight training and while he doesn’t push me to go to the gym, he’s goes every night so tagging along makes sense…3 times a week.  Maybe I’ll get to 5 nights. Who knows?

Incentive: I decided that I am going to reward myself with new clothes when I am down at least 3 sizes. You may ask why so long? Am I going to be safety-pinning my pants for a while? Nope. My fat girl chronicles include stories and wardrobe choices spanning 3 sizes. Skinny girl pants I couldn’t bear to part with (even after my purge project) are still hanging in my closet. I did donate my fat pants so at this point, there’s nowhere to go but down. I’m not sure how long it will take to get to my goal but when I do, there will be some cute stuff waiting for me. My fashion inspiration file is a wee bit out of control at this point.  
I know there will be plateaus and gains in my future but I feel happy to be doing something for my health. Hopefully, this time, it will keep me going.

As for what I’m eating, the question should be what I’m not eating. Remember the 83 points? Really, last week (besides my nights out) was all about veggies. Check out the vegetable tian I made here.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Quotable

Today is the national holiday commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King whose birthday was January 15. In recent years, it has become a day of service rather than just a day off from work. I am a big proponent of volunteering/serving others. It got me out of my selfish pity party when my life was uprooted back in 2009 and I've been sticking to it ever since. So, today, if you're feeling down, uninspired, inadequate or even just bored, get up and give back. It can be something as small as paying for someone's coffee or as big as helping build someone a new house (through agencies like Habitat for Humanity). No matter what you do, I guarantee it will give your spirit and the spirit of the people you help a big lift. If you're looking for a project to do, check out the MLK Day of Service site. Happy Monday!  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Playlist

Happy Friday!! Let the music move you out of work and into the weekend. If Friday doesn't kick off your break from work let the music get you through the day. Where ever you are, what ever you're doing, I hope your soul is celebrating another day of life and relishing in whatever brings you the deepest joy! Cheers!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Love List

1. I love the Hey Hair Genius videos over at Glamour. Now that my hair is so long, I am working on perfecting my fishtail braid skills.

2. So...artisanal toast. Apparently, it's a thing on the west coast--specifically in San Francisco...and the bread lover in me is here for every part of it!! If it's not a thing in NYC coffee shops by Summer, I'll be surprised.

3. I've been loving red grapefruit as a snack lately. I find it refreshing. I also use grapefruit juice in cocktails quite a bit. When I saw a recipe for grapefruit sorbet on Say Yes to Hoboken, I knew I had to try it.

4. The Beauty Department is a easy tutorial for DIY matte lipstick. I'm trying to break out of my "lip gloss over lipstick fo' life" habit. So far, I'm not hating it but I'm also not loving it. This tutorial made me reconsider. At the very least, it will save me from buying another lipstick that will end up at the bottom of my makeup bag.

5. I've been on a scarf kick lately. The problem is styling them without looking like a grandma. Leave it to Brit + Co. to give us a million (ok, 15) ways to style a scarf. Check it out here.

6. I've always been a silver and stainless steel kind of least until sometime last year. I've been on a gold kick since getting my first rose gold watch. Ok...more of an obsession than a kick. It's now pushing it's way into my home decor. Now you understand why these bowls from CB2 are right up my alley.

7. Lupita Nyong'o! Her performance in 12 Years A Slave was heart wrenchingly beautiful and she's been popping up all over since then...especially after her statement making Golden Globes gown (stunner). Whether you've heard of her or not, here's ten things about her you don't know (unless, of course, you've already read the Dazed Magazine article).

8. It's officially Oscar season. Here are this year's nominees. Now, it's time to start planning an Oscar party. Here are some cute ideas.

9. The Holderness' video Christmas card (#XMASJammies) went viral at the start of the year so you've probably seen it. I think it's brilliant (both for its fun twist on holiday greetings and for its marketing value) and this is my love list so I decided to share it anyway, just in case there's anyone who hasn't seen it. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Money Matters

At this time of year, we are bombarded with images of slim, smiling heads perched atop slim, strong bodies complete with six pack abs no matter the gender. The tagline? There’s nothing standing between your softer, couch potato body and a tight, toned physique…nothing but the perfect diet pill, the mega gym that just opened in your area, a nutrient packed protein shake a day, giant horse pill vitamin supplements, a personal trainer, the perfect piece of at home fitness equipment, pre-prepared well balanced meals from the newest “lifestyle change” (because none of it is a diet) pushing corporation, an organic plant based (or Paleo, or Mediterranean,  or Blood Type) diet, and 7 sessions of cross fit per week.  #BEASTMODE…and that, my friend, is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you’re not careful,  a little shopping in the pursuit of fitness  will leave you buh-roke. As in so broke you need an extra syllable.

So, how do you establish your new fitness habits before the end of the month when marketing will be targeted at taking your waistline in the other direction (when the Superbowl takes over with its colossal nachos, piles of wings, extra large pizza and beer) without needing to take out a line of credit?

First, do your RESEARCH! Use this process to exclude all of the stuff that seems gimmicky and unlikely to work. Read reviews, look at ingredient lists, try out the gym you want to join, determine how you can get discounts. Get smart so you can spend smart when you’re ready.

Next, be PICKY! Take every choosy cell in your body and hold on to your money like it’s your last little bit in the world. With that in mind, identify your fitness must haves and create a wish list.

Then, create a BUDGET.  If you are going to spend towards your fitness goals, you need to know how much you have to spare. Be real with yourself. You know yourself better than anyone. If you buy a Bowflex, will you use it or will it be the most expensive coat rack you’ve ever purchased? Will you really do more than stare at the screen when the P90X instructor is yelling at you from beyond the screen? No matter what, look at your overall budget and see where you can sacrifice some dough. You don’t want to dip into your savings and you don’t want to be cash strapped between paychecks (though I know that can be hard to avoid). If you don’t have money readily available, see what you can cut. For example, can you shave some money off of your dining out fund to join the gym or upgrade to organic produce?*

At the end of the day, the fitness industry is one of the most lucrative industries in the world because it appeals to our need for perfection. PERFECTION. DOES.  NOT. EXIST. So tune out the voices and images telling you weight loss miracles can happen in 30 days for just $99.99. Go after what’s going to work for you. 

If you’re ready, make it your year to get healthy—whatever that may mean for you. Just know you don’t have to go broke (or buh-roke) to do it. How do you budget for fitness? 

* There may need to be an entire post on ways to save on organic produce. I mean really, why is a carton of organic strawberries almost $8 when the regular (chemical covered) variety are 2 cartons for $5??? I mean, I know why...factory farming and what not but good grief. Let's not punish a girl that much for not wanting to eat pesticides. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Weekly Weigh In


Well, I am back and NOT better than before.  Last time I posted, I'd just achieved a 5K, was down about 5 pounds and ready to go down under! Well, all of that was a great success…..I will not bore anyone with the details of Australia – but it is a MUST see AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Great experience.  Although I did not diet while down unda (yes, that is how it really is pronounced in Australia), I was quite active between all of the sightseeing, climbing Syndey Bridge (shown below), hiking, etc.  I am happy to report I gained very little over my two week journey.

Then I came home.  Next was Thanksgiving.  Then Chanukah (which, overlapped with Thanksgiving so YES I did partake in turkey and latkes in one meal).  Then X-mas parties, X-Mas and a New Years Eve.  And everything in between – meaning more excuses to partake in wine and … well…fattening food.  So, I am back up the 5 pounds I lost and then some…..

So, I just recommitted to Weight Watchers yesterday.  Luckily, Nicole is joining me on this mission this time.  And yes, I still want to do a 10K in the spring.  Maybe next week I can drag myself back to the gym and start with Couch to 5K all over again.  Baby steps.

Photo courtesy of
My recipe of the week is one I intended to make this weekend from Skinnytaste: Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken. I still haven't made it but it looks delish!!

Let’s hope next week I can report a loss in weight (even if it is small). Again, baby steps.



Last week, I told you I was back with Weight Watchers (WW). I faithfully tracked my points everyday (if you’re unfamiliar with the WW PointsPlus system, read more here)—even on date night. I’m happy I did it because I learned I’ve regularly been eating like a cow. I may as well be shoveling cookie dough down my throat. 

There I was at the bar with my phone in hand. The WW app was open and I was dutifully searching foods and entering my dinner points. The thin crust margherita flatbread I regularly order (and planned to order that night) finally popped up on screen. People, I had to do a double take. There it was smacking me in the face…or perhaps in my pinching my muffin top…the meal is 40 points. Yes, I said 40. FOR.TY.  I’ve had that flatbread with wine many times as a date night dinner.  I’ve even split an appetizer with Ash before having it.

NO WONDER MY ASS (among other things) IS SO BIG!

Seriously, no diet ever stood a chance. The crazy thing is I’ve looked up the nutrition information before. It does have a lot of calories but I always rationalized it because I’d usually have a banana for breakfast and a salad for lunch on date night. I was able to stay within my 1600 calories a day but I wasn’t losing anything. This has taught me why. Forty points is 8 points over my total daily allowance. I always eat breakfast and lunch so there is no way in hell I can have a whole flatbread for dinner. I can have a portion and add a side salad or I can find another favorite on the menu. I can also plan ahead so I’m not stuck sitting at our bar on date night, jaw on the floor as I stare at the point values of my favorite foods.

So, I opted for veggie fajitas for dinner that night and they were yummy and filling. AND, my dedication to the tracker—and the program itself—paid off.  I lost 2 pounds and I’m motivated to keep pushing.

As for this week’s activities, I opted for Zumba (I’m getting the hang of it) and light circuit training with weights. I also discovered a rope climbing machine. It's a killer but I kinda want to conquer it. Crazy arm workout! I had every intention of getting up to make a spin class at 8:00 Saturday morning but…let’s just say Friday night was a very late night. I only vaguely remember shutting off my alarm and I slept until noon. This week, there will be more Zumba and I’ve added in yoga (which is MUCH tougher than I remember). My goal is to be able to do a plank for a minute (without my weak arms shaking violently) in 30 days. I’ll keep you posted.

Finally, this week’s recipe is one I got from A BeautifulMess: Warm Brussel Sprout Salad. It is delicious and super filling because of the bread. I will confess that it isn’t a low point food (about 12 points per serving) if you’re on WW but you can adapt it by changing the dressing (the one from the recipe uses mayo, lime juice, garlic and olive oil). Decreasing the oil and subbing in mustard for mayo will bring the points right down.  Make sure to check the food page for other dishes I'm making throughout the week and for Friday Happy Hour. I'm going for "skinny" versions of my favorites this month.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Quotable

At the start of each new year, I, like most people experience a renewed sense of desire to achieve dreams and get closer to my personal goals. As the year presses on and life gets in the way, I often find myself content to have a job, pay bills, and sleep peacefully at night. The bigger dreams fade into the background until the start of another year. Because of that cycle, I have books I started in 2009 and folders literally overflowing with ideas that never see completion. I feel like the fat, shiny acorn in today's quote. I plug away at my day job completing projects and closing deals. I've been promoted and I am well respected. I am proud of all of that but it's not my dream. The problem is I am so tired at the end of a given day that my midnight hustler mentality gives way to a mound of fluffy pillows and before you know it, I'm deep into an episode of Scandal (or the umpteen other shows I watch) and ignoring the needling in my gut telling me to do something productive...something transformative.

I'm the big shiny acorn but nothing is going to sprout until I uncap my metaphorical casing and step out on faith--faith in myself and faith that there is always something more...something better if you want it. It's time for some upward growth. Otherwise, I'm just chilling at ground level waiting for something to happen. It might be physically comfy but eventually, it will drain every bit of passion I have. And we can't have that now, can we?

What are you reaching for in 2014 (and beyond)? What are you doing to get there?

In case you can't read the quote through the tree, you can find it here.   

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Playlist

I had to start the year off with this because it's all I'm listening to lately. The album and the videos are awesome if you're a fan. Also, if you're a fan, you should have the album by now. This playlist is so you can listen online at work. LOL! If you're not a fan, move along. This playlist is not for you. Check back next week. If you're still here, click play and turn up for Friday!! Have a great weekend. Cheers!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Love List

1. The holidays provided PLENTY of time for binge watching new (to me) TV shows on Netflix. In searching for shows, I found The Killing. It is currently on season 3 and I am wondering where I've been and why no one told me about this. I really loved season 1. Moving on to season 2 as soon as the next snow storm hits.

2. I've tried to learn to knit at least 4 times. I've got the concept but all I can do is make a strip...if I went long enough, I could totally make a scarf...for Lola (that's my dog--my tiny dog-- if your're a new reader). Anyway, this DIY inspired me to knit with my arm. It looks pretty easy. I'll let you know how it turns out.

3. It's no secret I love The Read. Kid Fury (one of the hosts) has a line of tees, sweatshirts and hats. I saw this "I Am Not the One" sweatshirt and fell in love. It's an old catchphrase of mine. It's essentially short for I am not the one to deal with your bullsh*t. LOVE.

4. With the polar vortex smacking the country in its face, the need to winter proof my house--especially my windows--is more apparent to me than ever. Apartment Therapy has some tips (of course).

5. I just love this shirt. That is all.

6. Guilt free donuts. Think lemon blueberry muffin shaped like a donut...but they are yummy and low in calories to boot. Get the recipe here

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Setting the Tone

When New Year’s Eve rolls around, people all over the world strap on the pressure of making it the perfect night. Tales of epic celebrations past convince people to pay hundreds of dollars to get dolled up for the pleasure of rubbing elbows with strangers around an open bar for a few hours. Why? Because we’re told New Year’s Eve sets the tone for the year to come. Yeeeeeaaaaaah…I let go of that a long time ago. Ash and I let the wind carry us into each new year. We’ve been in Times Square to see the ball drop (and we didn’t have to line up 8 hours before thanks to a kind officer who went to school with Ash). We’ve been to house parties. We’ve been home having cocktails and a nice dinner. And we’ve gone out and found some random fun. This year fell into the random category.

I worked until 3:00 on New Years Eve. As I drove home, snow started to fall. I was nervous it would throw a wet blanket (or a snowy blanket?) on the night but it stopped by the time I got home. We met at the gym and joined. Resolution game on 10!

After, we headed to the grocery store to shop for the nice dinner we’d planned for New Year’s Day. The problem is we went without a list or an idea in our heads of what to make. After wandering the aisles for a while, the only thing in the cart was ginger beer for the Moscow Mules I’d planned to make later that evening. Leave it to me to plan the cocktail and not the meal. We eventually gave up and decided to go out on New Year’s Day.

As we were driving home, I realized it was super early (about 5:30) and we needed to eat before doing whatever we were going to do that night. So, we went to Zinburger for dinner. Yes, it was right after joining the gym. Like I said before, don’t judge. We bellied up to the bar for dinner because the place was mobbed—though we routinely sit at the bar. Better, quicker service. Plus, I find the bar to be the fun hub of all restaurants. It appeals to the people watcher in me. But I digress.

Two minutes after sitting down, the bartender had our drinks down and was talking to us about his wife being in labor. We’ve become slightly friendly during the 3 times we’ve been there since it opened back in October. Awww! A New Year’s baby. Sweet news for the part of me that wants to be a mom (that's putting it mildly but if you read regularly, you know that already).

During dinner, our bartender started offering crafted cocktails to replace the wine and beer we were sipping on. He heard me talking about my Moscow Mules and told me about his technique. A couple of food magazine descriptions later and Ash had ordered a Manhattan and I had a Moscow Mule. Both were awesome. So far, we were batting 1000.

We left Zinburger and headed home without a clue as to what was next. Once we got there, we changed and I was suddenly all about karaoke. Blame the Mule. We stopped at our date night bar to say hi to friends. After some wine (for me), we headed into the city for my karaoke adventure. As we (and by we, I mean Ash) drove into the city, I realized it was 11:58. I made Ash pull into a gas station on the highway so we wouldn’t be driving at midnight. We weren’t the only ones with that bright idea. The Mobil station was turn up central. People were out of their cars. We counted down, kissed and got all new and misty eyed, wished our fellow revelers well and continued our journey. A few blocks from Koreatown (the place for all things karaoke in NYC), we ran over something and got a flat tire.

FUN TIMES!! Ash pulled over, changed the tire in less than 10 minutes and we got right back on the road. It could have ruined the night but we weren’t willing to let it. Ultimately, karaoke didn’t work out because it was mobbed (two hour wait and a $200 bottle requirement for a private room). We opted to join friends at a club downtown instead. We skipped the line and were escorted in and we had an awesome time. The night ended kinda weirdly but I will leave that to your imagination for the protection of the not so innocent. Let’s just say we played the mediators in a Razzie worthy melodrama.

That’s all she wrote and, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If it set the tone for 2014, I see a little bit of going with the flow, staying positive, tackling issues without panic, and most importantly, making our own fun. There is a lot I want to accomplish which you know from Monday’s post but I don’t feel pressure. I feel like everything is possible and I am counting on 2014 to be a game changer. Here’s to the finding your bliss—whatever it looks like--new year! Cheers! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Weekly Weigh In: See Jane Refocus

The Weekly Weigh In is back. Well, kinda (Robyn will be back next week). Robyn and I have been “gearing up” to re-focus on our health since she visited Australia. Our intentions were good and there were some intensely focused days but with the holidays (dinners, parties), things lapsed a bit (goodbye discipline) and expanded a lot (hello, new waistline) but let’s not dwell on that. After the work I did preparing for the 5K, thinking about my muffin top just hurts my feelings…and I’m not into sadness in 2014 (how convenient for me…can you tell I’m running from the accountability gremlins)?

SO…New year, new us. We’ve both doing Weight Watchers. I decided to give up SparkPeople for the moment. I will say I did love SparkPeople for their online tools, particularly the calorie tracker, exercise routines and recipe suggestions. In fact, the site is largely the same as Weight Watchers’ online offering and it’s free. It worked really well for my uncle who lost almost 100 pounds. That said, I couldn’t stay focused. When my mom, sister and Robyn all re-upped their commitment to Weight Watchers, I hopped on the bandwagon. It worked for me back in 2005. I actually lost about 60 pounds. Then I got sick and lost another 15. I was at a good weight until about the middle of 2009 when I gained the sick weight back and then kept going (emotional lay-off eating). Fast forward to 2014 and I am 35 pounds heavier than I want to be.

Pause. That makes me sad.

Ok. (sobbing) I’m ok. (sniffles) Water under the bridge (or fat under my Spanx) and all that. I’m refocused, back in the gym and eating a balanced diet not at all reminiscent of the holidays. My only vice is my inner party girl. Mind you, at my age, my inner party girl dances at home while getting ready and then goes for wine and indulgent food. Maybe if my inner party girl was still 25, I’d be a lot skinnier from dancing my way through NYC clubs. Oh, the memories. Ok. I’m back. Let’s get into it.

I joined a new gym on New Year’s Eve (before heading to Zinburger for an early, pre-NYE festivities dinner). Healthy right? Don’t judge.  After dinner and a couple of glasses of wine, we headed into the city…oh wait, this is the weight loss post. I’ll tell you about NYE later…

So, I joined the gym. 24 Hour Fitness, to be exact. The point of the switch was to take advantage of a wide variety of cardio classes. The treadmill and elliptical were way over for me after the 5K.  After joining, it took me a full week to actually go to the gym but today, I finally went. I opted for a Zumba class.
I should let you know that I love to dance. When I dance around my house, I am channeling my inner Beyoncé. In my head, I see something like this.

Let me tell you something. I am great in the club. Choreography, however, is Not. My. Friend. I mean really. Zumba kicked my ass and I’ve taken Salsa lessons. My favorite part of the class was the killer squat sets because I was planted firmly in one place. Who cares if my legs were on fire? At least I wasn’t bopping around like a drunken muppet! 

My sister, who LOVES Zumba encouraged me and told me to hang in there. The moves will come. If they do, I’ll be doing some hybrid of Latin and Indian dance (yes, there were Bollywood moves in my unfortunate dance experience) and whittling away my waistline. If not, I’ll go back to step (which I mastered—and got bored with—back in college) or try Aqua Zumba. At least then, no one will see my feet.  

Next week, I’m going to spin (which has always been a favorite of mine) and trying out the Les Mills classes (CX WORX, BodyPump and BodyCombat). That should make for an interesting post.

In terms of food, I’ve been pretty balanced this week. I’ve opted for oatmeal for breakfast, soups and salads for lunch and a veggie burger, a variety of sandwich wraps, and measured portions of pasta for dinner. Exciting right? I know. If I had to designate a recipe for this week, it would be the dessert I’ve been loving lately. I chop up about 5 strawberries and 1 banana and mix them in a bowl. I top that with 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (vanilla with honey or vanilla with salted caramel by The Greek Gods) and crumble a piece (or 2) of Sheila G’s brownie brittle on top. It hits the right spot for my sweet craving after dinner.

There you have it. I’m back at square one. Robyn wants to train for a 10K and like I said last year, I’m down—albeit a bit scared after my abysmal 5K. I’d like to do a Color Run (another 5K). It’s on my adventure list for the year. No matter what we do, we’re moving and we’ll get to our respective goals. We’ll be sharing our stories, tips and recipes along the way. We’re even starting a monthly newsletter. Look out for the launch and subscribe when you can! If you’re in it with us, woo-hoo!! Hugs! Now, get down and give me 20! Or 2…you know…whatever you can do. (Sheesh, I’d make a terrible trainer). Cheers! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Quotable

I know it's six days into the year but this is my first post of 2014 so, blast the confetti guns, throw on something sparkly and say it with me--Happy New Year! Also, Happy Monday. If you are anywhere dealing with the smackdown of winter weather, you probably needed that...well, that, a hug and a big mug of hot chocolate (or Irish Coffee--whatever floats your boat).

As you know from last year's Resolution Redux post, I try to avoid the New Year's Resolution thing. I have goals for the year. Looking back at my goals for last year, I was successful with 8 of the 12 goals I set. Not a complete flop but totally not a respectable percentage. If I were in school, I'd still have an F (67%). So this year, I got a little more regimented and a lot simpler thanks to Pinterest. You can see the guide I used here. Here's the breakdown.

1. Procrastination (argh!) continues to be a terrible habit of mine. I push things to the last minute and it is often to my detriment. I've spent more money, lost money and had some bad experiences all because I continued to put things off. It has to stop. So for another year, procrastination is in the crosshairs. Here's hoping--NO! HERE'S DECLARING that I won't miss the target this year.

2. The new skill I'd like to learn is coding. There is so much I want to do with my blog and while the platform  I use makes it easy, it can only take me so far. Look for changes as I learn more. Interested, here are some great resources.

3. There are tons of role models I could be more like and depending on the situation, I could want to be more like everyone from Jesus to my mom. So rather than being more like a particular person, I want to be discerning enough to draw on the proper inspiration for each situation. I also want to be more centered and more of my true self.

4. I'm going to continue with my current volunteer work but I'd like do a little surprise gifting to help lift a burden or brighten a day. There will be more than one but I haven't planned them out. I do know it will start with my neighbors. Here's to making someone else's life brighter.

5. We really want to go to Australia and Thailand. We have friends who've been to both recently and we have fully visualized ourselves on beaches on the other side of the world (literally). I'm already looking at travel packages. This year, Australia might win out...unless we win the lottery and can afford both in one year. Thinking big!!

6. I plan to read a book a month again this year. I successfully completed the challenge in 2013 (though I failed to review the last few books...I promise they're coming soon). My book for January is Cemetery Girl by David Bell. I'll list the rest of the list for the year in the next What I'm Reading.

7. I almost skipped the resolution requiring me to write a letter but I changed my mind. This year, I'd like to write submission letters accompanying my writing to several publications. This year, expanding my writing portfolio is up near the top of my goal list, coming second only to some personal health and family growth goals. (Does "family growth goals" scream I want a baby? Yeah? Ok. Good.)

8. I'm not really afraid to try any type of food. Being vegetarian limits me a bit but I'm game for most meals. When I got to this resolution, I tried to focus on types of food rather than one dish. I landed on trying more raw foods. It's totally based on a delicious raw lasagna I had at Candle 79 quite a while back (sadly, it is no longer on the menu). I always wanted to recreate it at home. This resolution (and--let's be real--the lack of its presence on the current Candle 79 menu) gives me the perfect opportunity.

9. Finally, I'm going to be better at putting myself higher on my list. I still struggle with leaving myself for last, which usually means I don't get to me at all. Exercise, meditation, spa appointments, hair appointments, sleep--anything that would fall into "me time" is always on my wish list. I never get to it. I've got to do better. Plain and simple.

In addition to the resolution list, I made a bucket list of sorts. Rather than disclose everything on the list, I am going to hold myself accountable by making my adventures a feature on the blog. Let's go make 2014 our biggest year yet. Ready? Set, Go!