Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Playlist

I've had AlunaGeorge (Aluna Francis and George Reid)'s You Know You Like It in heavy rotation for weeks now. It finally pushed me to go check out more of their music. I usually go for a bit of a different sound but I'm really digging their music. It's got a good vibe and I think it will be blasting in my car throughout the summer.

To read more about this electronic dance duo, read here and here.

And with that, friends, cheers! Happy Friday. I'm off to celebrate my husband's b-day and our anniversary. Have an AWESOME weekend! 

Love List

1. Women are making inroads everywhere but there are miles and miles to go as shown by this great wonderful and eye opening video, "What Does a Veteran Look Like?" Check it out. Pass it on. (Refinery 29)

2. Is there anything bad about a floating ping pong table? (Brookstone)

3. I thought this article about the relationship between college, marriage and weight gain was pretty interesting. (The Atlantic)

4. It's wedding season. As I prepare to celebrate our wedding anniversary, I can't help but look back at wedding trends. This article on the rules of the non-traditional wedding was interesting (though I'm not sure non-traditional and rules belong in the same sentence). (The Coveteur)

5. I'm loving Wayward Pines and am pleasantly surprised by such a great show in the TV off season. (Fox/IMDb)

6. One World Observatory opens this week and represents a full circle moment for many of us. I plan on visiting in the next week while family is in town. You should absolutely visit when you can.  (One World Observatory)

7. I am new to Rush49 but have found such great deals on non-traditional adventure dates. First up, Brooklyn Boulders. (Rush49)

8. Where There's Smoke is new on my list of podcasts I'm obsessed with. It kind of reminds me of Invisibilia, which I highlighted on a previous Love List. The show is hosted by Brett Gajda and produced by Nick Jaworski. (Full confession: Brett tweeted me about the show). I decided to give it a chance and ended up doing a Netflix style binge. Why? Because it feeds my pop culture appetite in small bites (30 minute episodes) in an educated voice and more importantly explores self development in a creative way. I love the spliced in sound bites from movies and TV shows. Start anywhere, but I highly recommend episode 14: "Know Fear (Courage)." It's spot on if you're thinking of making a big change in your life but are feeling blocked by fear. Ok, that's enough. This spotlight is making the other things on the list jealous. (Where There's Smoke)

9. The Angelica Doll was created by Angelica Sweeting, a mother who wanted to provide her daughter with a doll who looked like her and had hair like her. Angelica is the first doll in what she hopes will be a line of naturally beautiful dolls reflecting all cultures. The dolls will also have careers in journalism, public relations, software development and engineering. I'm loving this campaign and the important message behind it. Dolls should reflect the diversity in society. All kids should be able to see their beauty reflected on the shelves. The Kickstarter campaign is open until June 18. She's exceeded the initial goal but I'm excited to see how much this can expand. You can support the project here and read more about the company here. (Kickstarter/Naturally Beautiful/Facebook)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Book Club: June Book Club Selection

It’s time to announce the June Book Club selection. I hope you’ve enjoyed the books I picked do far. I’m trying to pick good human stories from all types of genres. Last month, we were in a European city outside London overrun with hungries (zombies). This month, we’re on a plantation in Charleston with Sarah Grimke and Hetty “Handful” Grimke (her handmaid) in Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings.  The story follows these two girls and their very different struggles against slavery over the course of thirty-five years.  The story is loosely inspired in part by the real Sarah Grimke who was an abolitionist and suffragist.

I’ve loved Sue Monk Kidd’s writing since the first chapter of The Secret Life of Bees and so far, The Invention of Wings does not disappoint. I am fully wrapped up in the story and know it will only get better as it goes. I hope you’ll join me in reading The Invention of Wings if you haven’t already read it (I know this was an Oprah 2.0 Book Club selection about a year ago). As an aside, this is another one we may see on the screen. HARPO Productions purchased the screen rights and the project is in development.  Happy reading!   

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Club (What I'm Reading)

I finally finished (and loved) this month's book club selection, The Girl With All the Gifts. A few discussion questions and my responses are below. If you haven't finished, stop here. There are tons of spoilers in my responses. If you finished, please let me know how you liked the book and if you have suggestions for the July selection (June is already covered).   

1) How did you like the book overall? What rating would you give it out of 5? 

I'd rate the book a 5. I agree with some reviewers that the book starts slowly and takes a bit to get to the action. Before choosing the book, I hadn't heard anything about it so I went in without bias. I read a bit of a blurb on the book, saw that it was highly rated and decided to get into it. I didn't expect zombies/monsters/hungries but that didn't turn me off.  I'm glad I stuck with the book and got a fresh take on what has become a saturated genre. 

2) How would you compare this book to other zombie stories that you may have read?

I haven't really read other zombie stories. I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead but that's about the extent of my zombie love...and even that is more about the humans involved in the story. This was the first time I found myself alternating between cheering and feeling heartbroken for the zombie protagonist, Melanie. I fell in love with this little girl and cheered her and Miss Justineau throughout the book. 

3) What did you think of Doctor Caldwell's theory about Melanie and the other children being born hungry, as opposed to turned? 

I think her theory is pretty spot on. It is the only thing that can explain why the children don't lose their ability to think rationally despite the craving for human flesh. If that isn't the reason, the only other theory I could see is that the virus spreads slower in children so they keep their mental function for a lot longer. There is never a point where the kids mature to adulthood so there's no way to test that. 

4) What is your opinion of Melanie's actions at the end of the novel? Do you have any theories about the future of Melanie's world?

I think Melanie is looking to create the world she dreams about in the beginning of the novel. She wanted to save Miss Justineau and protect her. In the end, that ends up being necessary given the gang of young hungries out for vengeance, the loss of the humans' home base and the death of Parks and Gallager. While Melanie gets the other children under control, I am not sure they will ever love Miss Justineau the way Melanie does. As fierce as she is, I am not sure she could keep them from attacking and revolting a second time--even if they are learning everything she knows from Miss Justineau. I am not sure the two of them can create a peaceful new generation of half hungry half human race and a new future where humans don't have to worry about being eaten. Even Melanie acknowledges that the hunger is powerful even in the face of her love for Miss Justineau. 

5) What do you think will happen to Miss Justineau?

Sadly, I think she will be attached by the other child hungries and will die. I don't think Melanie will be able to protect her forever. 

9) Who were your favorite and least favorite characters and why?

It's tough to choose because at points, I liked all of them except Dr. Caldwell who is my least favorite. If the gang of child hungries can be considered a character, I'd like them just as little as I like Caldwell. That said, they strike more fear in me than hate. Parks was a tough character to like in the beginning but when his walls drop, he is kind and protective. Gallager is just an innocent guy with a broken childhood. He wasn't a favorite but I liked and understood him. Of course I love Melanie and Miss Justineau. Both come from a pure place and genuinely want to help each other. 

The book is being made into a movie, which is scheduled to come out next year. I can't wait and hope the people working on the film do the book justice! Happy reading and if you'd rather not read, let's chat in 2016 wen you can see the film. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Food Tuesday-Restaurant Tour

And so the food tour begins..

When the weather heats up, I come out of hiding and spend more days exploring restaurants than I do in my own kitchen. This weekend was the kickoff of my Summer dining tour, which I'll be sharing in Food Tuesday all season. Most will be in NYC but as I travel, so will the series. I'm kicking things off with Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar. 

Location: Brookfield Place, 200 Vesey St. (Battery Park City). They also have a location in Hell's Kitchen (308 W. 58th, btwn 8th and 9th Ave)

Atmosphere: You can sit at any table or high top marble counter but there is more energy at the bar in front of the Itamae preparing everyone's food. Our experience was made more entertaining by sitting there. 

Service: I found the staff very attentive. The ordering and checkout process were simple. The wait staff handled everything on a tablet and the food preparation begins. We never felt ignored or sat too long without someone clearing a platter or refilling a drink They were excellent.  

Price Point: $$$ 

Deals: During Happy Hour, you can get $5 handrolls and two for one sake. They have a weekend Happy Hour, which is pretty rare. 

Our Meal; We shared 2 California rolls, 2 yellowtail and avocado hand rolls, 2 Ebi Tempura rolls and an order of Usuzukuri (Binnaga) (albacore with sesame mayo). We drank Mutsu Otokoyama sake.

Any cons? The only drawback I can think of is the restaurant doesn't have outdoor dining but it is encased in wall to wall windows on two sides (the rest is open to the shopping center) so you can feel and enjoy the sun. You can also order your sushi to go and head downstairs where there are plenty of tables with a great view of the Hudson.

Bonus: While you're at Brookfield Place, make sure to visit Le District. It's a little culinary heaven with everything from a bar to a confectionary. We opted for coffee and a coffee eclair. It was the perfect sweet bite to end our day.  

Lupus Awareness Month

May is lupus awareness month. I know the month is almost over. Normally, I blog about little known facts or studies on new medication and treatment options over on my Lupus blog but I didn't do that this year. I feel like I've fact drowned you in the last seven years and I was going to skip the "Lupus" post this year. Then, I was out at dinner last night and the subject of our upcoming 7th anniversary came up. That inevitable led to questions about our plans to start a family. I never mind sharing information about our journey but Lupus and other illnesses it led to are a huge part of that journey so that is where the conversation went. 

The friend I was talking to wanted to know more about my plight and Lupus in I felt when I first got sick, what the medication does to mange my symptoms, etc. I told my story, which you can read more about here if you're interested. 

It had been so long since I raised any kind of awareness because these days, everyone I know knows someone (besides me) with Lupus. After that conversation, I decided to raise a little more awareness on NCL. If you know all about it or suffer from one of its many forms, please feel free to share your story or link your blog in the comments section. 

If you don't know anything about Lupus, the Lupus Foundation of America site is a great resource. In the meantime, here are some facts: 

Lupus is an unpredictable, chronic autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to produce antibodies that cause inflammation. This inflammation ravages different parts of the body. 

The disease affects women more than men (90% of all lupus sufferers are women) and diagnosis usually occurs between 15 and 44. The disease also affects people of color at a higher rate. 

Lupus can affect any organ system of the body, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, blood, joints and skin. 

You can get more facts, find support groups, and read about current research here.

I know for a fact that as much as Lupus has taken away from me, I am one of the lucky ones. With God, family, friends and the right medication, I feel like I've finally found a sense of balance. It has taken my life in a different direction in terms of where I thought I'd be at this age. That said, I'm blessed and I know big things are in store for my future. 

If you have questions about my experience with Lupus, my doctors, my medication, etc., feel free to e-mail or ask in the comments section. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday Quotable

I hope you've enjoyed  your holiday weekend as much as I have. I almost just took today as a rest from the NCL but I would be remiss if I missed an opportunity to praise the service of the men and women of our military on this holiday dedicated to those we've lost to war. Today, let's salute those who've given their lives to serve and protect the way of life we hold so dear. Let's also thank the military members who are still here serving. No matter your politics, know that they are brave enough to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect your right to support their role or not. Salute! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Playlist

The official trailer for Amy was released this week after the documentary premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The documentary by Asif Kapadia features unseen footage and unreleased/unheard music recorded by Amy Winehouse before her passing in 2011. The film is already getting a lot of buzz and as you could probably imagine, the release is not without controversy. Her family feels the portrayal of her rise to fame and subsequent fall is unbalanced. The film hits select theaters on July 3 and wide release is on July 10. You can read Variety's review here.

Despite the controversy, I will be in theaters watching Amy with what I suspect will be millions of other fans who loved (and still love) her music. I can remember the first time I heard Amy sing. I was in my car coming home from a bad date, listening to Pandora and this voice I'd never heard blared through the radio berating a man for being weak (Stronger Than Me). It made me laugh and more importantly, it made me want to hear more. I went home, hopped online and found Frank. I also realized I was late to the Amy game. There were tons of great songs on Frank but they didn't get much play in the U.S. I told all my friends about her music and tortured my neighbors by blasting it after long, stressful days at work (basically every day back then). Then Rehab dropped and suddenly, I heard her on the radio all the time. I got Back to Black as soon as it was released and it is still one of my favorite albums.

This week's playlist is a celebration of Amy's life and her music, I hope you enjoy it. Happy Friday and if you're here in the states, Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Love List

1. An adult version of The Muppet Show? Nostalgia + Adult humor. What's not to love? (ABC/YouTube)

2. I hate scrubbing my stove top and inevitably something spills whenever I'm whipping up a masterpiece in the kitchen. These Fancy Gas Hob Protectors are an awesome time (and manicure) saver. (Fancy)

3. I flipped through images from this year's Met Gala with a sense of nostalgia for a beautiful custom cheongsam (similar here) I wore to a black tie event several years back. These days I go for that feel in accessories because there's nowhere for me to pull of these looks in everyday life. (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Modern Qipao/Vogue)

4. I'm working my way through this squat challenge. Beach body, here I come. (Refinery 29)

5. I tried to make sushi at home a while back. It was yummy but ugly as hell. Enter the Sushi Roller by SushiQuik. I can't wait to try again! (Grommet)

6. Do you know the best positions for sleeping? This post was helpful in understanding why I don't sleep as well some nights. (Greatist)

7. The balmy weather of late Spring/early Summer is here and I am outside as much as possible, Unfortunately, the lonely light on the back of my house isn't optimal for chilling or entertaining late into the night. This video gives great tips for lighting your outdoor space. Next stop, a great set (or three) of Edison bulb string lights. (Martha Stewart/YouTube/Do It Best)

8. I'm constantly on the hunt for healthy snacks. Crispy Green's Crispy Fruit is just dehydrated fruit and is the perfect sweet bite to kill cravings. Bonus: It's only 40 calories a bag. My favorites are the apples and pineapples. I'll confess the tangerines are a bit of an adjustment because of the level of tartness. (Crispy Green)

9. Spring cleaning is done and it's visitor season. In addition to the basic cleaning, I'm all about getting the forgotten areas on this list spic and span. (PureWow)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Food Tuesday

Happy Tuesday (doesn't have quite the same ring as Happy Friday does it? Sorry folks.).  For this week's Food Tuesday post, I decided to post a curated list of salads instead of posting something I cooked. First, I've posted versions of my last few dinners previously (quinoa, kale and veggies everywhere). Second, I'm super into salads right now. There are so many great produce options and there couldn't be a quicker meal. Here are a few I plan to make summer staples. Don't worry, I've included some carnivorous options for those who eat meat.

1. Bonkers Awesome Avocado Grapefruit Edamame Salad (Refinery 29)

2. Mason Jar Zucchini Noodle Salad (Inspiralized)

3. Southwestern Chicken Fajita Mason Jar Salad (Food Network)

4. Raw Vegan Antipasto Salad (Feed Your Skull)

5. Roasted Cauliflower Salad (Everyday Rachel Ray)

6. Roasted Pear and Potato Salad (Everyday Rachel Ray)

7. Peach Salad (The Forest Feast)

8. Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples, Pecans and Manchego (Everyday Rachel Ray)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Quotable

This year has been an exercise in growth. I’m working to come out of my shell and step towards my dreams. I’m working to care less about being judged and more about being happy. It has been process fraught with emotions. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not doing enough and sometimes, I feel like I’m doing too much. In the “too much” times, I tend to fold back into my “nest” and hide. Luckily, I have a lot of people in my life who aren’t content to let me rest on my laurels—or wings as it were. We’re made to fly and this month, I’m trying to remember that and push myself to greater heights in my personal and professional life.

Since growth is the theme, let’s push through the monthly goal update. If I’m being honest, I considered skipping it this month. I mean, we are in the third week of the month so really, what’s the point?? At least that’s what I told myself. But, since this blog is about working towards a life well lived and accountability is a big part of that, I decided to throw up my report card regardless of the goals I didn’t reach.

So…the podcast is launching this week. We banked one back in April but underestimated the planning that was necessary to keep the conversation going. We didn’t like it so we scrapped it and started over. Ash is editing this week and it will be on SoundCloud by Friday. I feel like we have some growing to do BUT it’s time to get out of the next. I’m not stopping progress for perfection. We managed to work in a long weekend. It was a trip to see family but it was awesome and much needed. I’m counting it. I also researched and found an acupuncturist I want to work with. I haven’t scheduled the appointment but we’ve been e-mailing back and forth to find an appointment time that works. She doesn’t do weekends and weekdays are tough because of my ridiculous commute. I’m committed to find a time that works. I also completed a good part of the minimalism challenge. The best part? Cleaning up my e-mails! I have a few accounts and they were all in disarray. I have a filing system and have kept up with putting everything in its place. I managed to give up sugar for a portion of a week. By the weekend, I caved to enjoy a delicious brunch with Ash—a brunch that HE cooked. Totally worth it.

The novel writing is lagging because of my writer’s block. I’m trying some exercises to remedy that. I also joined a writer’s group. I know I went that route before and ended up at a group that no one showed up for. This time, however, I helped start the group. It’s kinda hard not to attend when it’s at your house. As for disconnecting after 10:30, I am giving that one up. It’s damn near impossible since I work on the blog at night and need to be on the internet to do it. I also realize that Ash and I are constantly Googling to do research towards projects that are on our goal list for the year. We are rarely checked out and scrolling blindly through Instagram and ignoring each other. I can’t say we don’t ever do it but we try not to do it all the time. We also put our phones away during dinner (after photographing our food—but even that is for the blog or Ash’s Instagram fitness account) and of course, during date night. In other words, I am happy with my level of disconnect and am taking that goal off of the list.

The final thing on the list is to finish working on projects around the house and to sell/donate everything we don't need. We still have quite a bit of work to do in that regard. We’ll get there by the end of the month because we have guests visiting. That stuff is small potatoes. We do at least have some things lined up to donate to a friend with a new apartment and a need for everything. Woo-hoo!

During the rest of May and in June, I want accomplish the goals below. It’s largely focused on the podcast.

Have the first 3 meetings of the writing club
Record a new podcast episode each week
Work with designer on podcast logo
Launch the podcast website
Take two new training courses
Take rapelling class
Start 6-week fitness program with friends (more to come on that)
Work on new plan for Nicole’s Curated Life site (more to come on that as well)

What are your goals for May and June? Share them and your accountability strategy in the comments! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Playlist

Today's playlist is a tribute to a great singer/songwriter. You haven't heard the blues until you've heard B.B. King. He passed away today at 89 and left behind a musical legacy that will live on in perpetuity.

His most popular song for recent generations is probably The Thrill Is Gone but there is so much more to hear. Today, take some time to read more about his life (here) and listen to his music (here). Mr. King, you will be missed.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Club

It's time for a new Book Club selection. Sorry I'm so late!! This month, I'm choosing a book that's outside of my norm: M.R. Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts. To be honest, when I first read the description, I didn't expect what the story turned into. I thought it would be a  good story set in a dystopian society in the not too distant future but I didn't expect one big element that was left out of the description. I won't say what it is at this point because I don't want to spoil it. Based on reviews, some people saw this as a drawback. I didn't at all.

I'm loving the book and can't wait for you to read along. It is a total page turner and even though I wouldn't have chosen it normally, I am happy I did. Let's get reading! Book Club questions and my responses will be out at the end of the month.

As a bonus, the book is being made into a movie scheduled to come out next year!! I'm excited to see how it comes to life. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What I'm Reading/Book Club

I know I'm late but I finally got my Book Club questions and answers together for last month's second Book Club selection. Let's get into Amy Poehler's Yes Please

How did you relate to Poehler’s anxiety about the writing process—whether as a writer or as a person who’s had to share something with a large group of people?

I could absolutely relate to her anxiety. You know how you have to list hobbies on resumes, social media profiles, etc.? I’m always the girl who writes down “Writing.” I love to write and have always wanted to do it professionally. Lately, however, I’ve found myself with less and less time to write. Actually, it’s not just about time. It’s about lacking inspiration. Ideas come to me all the time but when I start to write, I can’t get my thoughts to flow for longer than a few chapters. Then, I’m worrying whether it’s good and I am going back to re-write before I even get into a good, creative space. The wall enters and my anxiety just sort of sits there like a paperweight on top of my creative process. I ignore it until I have a miserable day and remember that writing for pay is supposed to be a big part of my ultimate exit from corporate life. Tick, tock.  

How did you feel about the use of guest narrators/writers to tell the story?

I loved it. I think readers were given even more insight into who Amy is. Often, memoirs portray one side of a person’s slice of life story. I think the addition of other people was refreshing and I enjoyed the other points of view.  Everyone featured in Amy’s fancy personal sound booth (audio version) was fantastic  but my favorites were Seth Myers and Amy’s parents.

Amy talks a lot about her days as part of an improv troop. ..THE improv troop, if you will. Have you ever taken an improv class? Why?

Yes (which I’m sure you know since I wrote these questions)!  I didn’t take the class because of acting or comedic inclinations. I actually think I might suck at comedy BUT I loved it in spite of myself.  I took the class to break out of my shell and I learned so much. I can do ice breakers without blinking and I think the whole “Yes, Please” mentality transfers so well in all walks of life. It is an attitude with a lot of power.

Explain the significance of “You don’t always have to be the one to get the pudding” in your own life.

I agree with Amy that you don’t always have to get the pudding to be happy. Sometimes, missing out on the pudding can lead to better things. “When one door closes” and all that.  I think what’s important is to continue pursuing the pudding if it drives you. In plain terms, if you have dreams (pudding), don’t give up just because you couldn’t get a taste on the first go round. Keep pushing but do it for the love and not for the accolades (also pudding).

One of the quotes highlighted in the book is “Everybody is scared most of the time.” Do you agree?

Absolutely. I’ll even go a step forward and say if you’re not scared sometimes, you’re living a stagnant life. To be clear, I don’t mean you need go pick a fight or jump out of a plane for an adrenalin rush. What I mean is if you’re challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone, you should be scared. Then you should strap on your courage and keep moving forward. On a deeper level, you should also know that if you are scared, you’re not alone. You can also know that haters and people who lash out, etc. are scared too. You don’t have to take their shit, but you should take some time to understand that their reaction to you may have absolutely nothing to do with you.

One of the larger lessons in the book is about recognizing you inner demon and silencing it.  How do you silence the inner demons in your life?

It depends on the day. I try to remind myself daily that I am a good person and can achieve my dreams…that there is enough for all of us and that stepping out on faith is enough. Some days that works and I’m like “Of course, girl. Go conquer the world.” Other days, let’s just say I need much more convincing.  I feel like that mean, destructive inner voice gets beat into submission more and more as I grow and develop confidence but I know it’s a lifelong process. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Food Tuesday

I am sticking with entertaining for this week's Food Tuesday post. This past weekend, I ventured back home to Atlanta and threw the taco party I talked about in last week's post. It was a lot of fun but not without its issues--including my sister's microwave being on the fritz. There are perils in long distance party planning but the food was eaten, the drinks were consumed responsibly and the guacamole recipe was requested multiple times. I'll take it.

Then, on Sunday, I hosted a small brunch for my mom. Here are the details.

Location: Mom's House

Decoration: Tulips, bud and mason jar vases, typographic wood block art, galvanized letters and potted plants. I started with flowers and went for my mom's favorite: TULIPS! Those acted as the center of the food spread and were displayed in a painted mason jar base. Everything else was coordinated yellow and gray update we did in my mom's bedroom. I popped tulips in 2 yellow and white bud vases. Then, I added the wood blocks, plants and galvanized letters. Once everything was laid out, I added the food.

Food: I am a sucker for a frittata. They are easier to make than omelets and allow people a second portion if they want one. They're also a lot more exciting than your typical scrambled or fried egg. The fritatta contained feta, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and turkey sausage. I also made maple and black pepper glazed thick cut turkey bacon, home fries with cheese, kale and brussels sprouts salads with strawberries and pepitas, biscuits with cinnamon butter, apple fritters and pecan sticky buns.

Cocktails: We went for the traditional and had mimosas but we used orange, peach, mango juice for a twist.

The brunch was an indulgent, filling success and I had the best time pulling it together for my family and specifically for my mom! How'd you celebrate your mom this year? If you're a mom, how'd your family celebrate you?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday Quotable

I read an interesting article about the monetization of happiness this weekend. A project is underway to understand and ultimately "sell" happiness. On one hand, its an interesting concept but on the other hand, I was sort of appalled. Companies looking into how happiness can be bought are not necessarily doing so for the true happiness of employees, but rather for better production. Near the end of the article, which you can check out here, a psychotherapist currently studying unhappiness notes that "happiness economists risk reducing human experience and the mind to the mechanical, all for reasons of political expediency." I agree. I don't like the idea of medicalizing and monetizing happiness for the profit of others. I agree that the ups and downs of life are part of human experience and the thought of selling happiness is a little disturbing. The article also notes that "the project that began as an attempt to understand how humans flourish has become...a route to sell people stuff they don't need, work harder for managers who don't respect them and conform to policy objectives over which they have no say." Ultimately, I think life is like today's quote (which ends the article). Sometimes we are so caught up in finding happiness that we forget to be present in our own lives. There are wonderful, happy moments but we miss them because our heads are somewhere else--focused on that future happiness that we are struggling to find. Most times, it's best to just look at your current state and appreciate all you have to be grateful for. Be happy about that and more happiness will come to you. I promise there is a lot of truth to the principles of the Law of Attraction.

How do you feel about the article? Do you think happiness is something that can be monetized? Sound off in the comments section! Happy Monday!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Love List

1. #GimmeFive is FLOTUS's latest challenge in her Let's Move campaign. The campaign is celebrating its fifth year and Mrs. Obama is challenging us to shout out five of the things you're doing to eat better, be more active and lead a healthier life. She's also encouraging high-fives when you see people making healthy choices. I may not literally do that but hey, homie, high-five to you if you're out there busting your butt to get to better health. (Let's Move)

2. Waze is my favorite navigation app ever. I've been using it for a while and I can't believe I haven't featured it on this list yet! Better late than never. This app routes you around traffic AND alerts you to red light cameras, hazards on the road, police officers, cars on the shoulder. It keeps you safe and on time AND it is totally free. Download it if you haven't already! (Waze)

3. The Vibrating Ring Alarm Clock is just a concept at the moment but I am hoping designer, Fandi Meng, can get it on the market soon. My husband would be super appreciative if he doesn't have to hear the 4-5 iPhone alarms that I require to wake up every morning (I'm not kidding). (Gadgetose)

4. Do you wear a hair band on your wrist every day just in case you have an emergency need for a ponytail? I certainly do and you can't imagine how thrilled I am about a product that makes my hair bands more stylish. Bittersweet's genius bracelet will absolutely be on my wrist. They range from $45-$85, which is pretty good for something you could potentially wear every day. (Bittersweet)

5. I can't get enough of my pets and I love the idea of these colorful custom pet prints by Dean Russo.  (The Grommet)

6. When my sis was a baby, she used to pull on my earrings every time I picked her up. The result is droopage (that's a technical earrings when I hear large studs or heavier earrings. I could get surgery or I could cure the problem with Levears. They come in sterling silver, white gold and yellow gold. (Levears)

7. Greatist is my current newsletter addiction. It's all about making better choices for your health and improving your life. (Greatist)

8. Film Biz Recycling is an organization that prevents pollution and creates jobs through its retail prop shop in Brooklyn. Most of what they have comes from NYC's film, television, commercial and theatre sets so you know they've got some awesome stuff. The sad news is they are closing their doors. The good news is they are having a massive sale. Get the details here. (Film Biz Recycling)

9. Have you heard of a capsule wardrobe? When we moved a couple of months ago, I had to downsize my wardrobe. Caroline from Un-Fancy has an awesome guide. Read more here. (Un-Fancy)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Food Tuesday

It’s Food Tuesday and it's Cinco de Mayo, and whether you’re remembering the Battle of Puebla, celebrating your Mexican heritage or just grabbing some margaritas and tacos, it’s time to celebrate. I won’t be “going up on a Tuesday” but I will be grabbing a margarita and maybe even a taco. The real celebration will be this weekend at a party complete with a taco bar and multiple types of margaritas. As I plan, I thought it might be fun to share some of the recipes I’m using. Maybe you’ll find them helpful as you plan your own celebration. 

Let's start with the setup (inspiration above). You'll want a large enough space to set up your taco shells, protein/veggies taco toppings and side dishes. You can get really creative with the toppings but at a minimum, I'd recommend: 

1. pico de gallo
2. cheese
3. sour cream or Mexican crema
4. lettuce
5. avocado
6. cabbage slaw (for seafood tacos)
7. cilantro
8. jalapenos
9. black olives
10. lime wedges 

I'd also recommend labeling everything and playing with different heights for your display so everything is easily seen and featured in some way. For the cocktails, I'd go with a different table/countertop all together. I'd also put dips in different areas throughout the party so everyone isn't hovering over one lonely bowl of guac on your coffee table.

On to the main event: The Tacos!! I like to do something for everyone. This time, we're going with beef, chicken, seafood and mushrooms (not all together, of course). You can find a variety of recipes here. I'm using these: Fish, Chicken, Beef and Mushroom.

Once the tacos are all set, you'll need to work on side dishes and dips. I'm going for quesadillas, rice and beans and Mexican street corn salad. For dips, I using the go-to twins: guacamole and salsa. To mix things up a bit, I'm also doing a queso fundido...because, really, you can't go wrong with hot, melty, ooey-gooey cheese.

To finish the night, you'll need a dessert option or two. I'm going with fruit salad "tacos" and either churro cheesecake bars or margarita cupcakes.

Now, on to the bar. I'm opting for one or two signature cocktails that I'll make ahead of time and then I'll have wine and beer available. That said, the bar tends to be a free for all because people have specific things they like so I will also make sure to stock the bar for people who want to make their own cocktails. Margaritas, Sangria, Mojitos, oh my.

Whether you're planning a party or a weeknight dinner, I hope you'll have some fun in the kitchen. Happy cooking! Cheers! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday Quotable

It’s Monday…or Worldwide Collective Sigh day. Monday always seems to come with that yucky sinking feeling—unless you are working your dream job. The free feeling of the weekend fades and you joyous Happy [INSERT DAY HERE] energy goes to sit in the corner until she is needed again on Thursday night. I want to stop tolerating that in my own life. I woke up this morning in an awesome mood. I had a wonderful weekend and I was still beaming. Then I had a couple of crabby interactions and I started to feel my energy crash. Later, I walked into a griping session about something that annoys me and just as I was about to join in, someone turned to me and said, “Ugh! What a day! Are you just soooo crabby too?” I said “Nope! All love and light from this end!” I was totally joking in my “love and light” reference, which originated with one of the housewives of some such city BUT the emotion was real. I didn’t want to be dragged down by the energy. I am more productive and creative when I am happy and I wasn’t ready to relinquish my good mood for some issue that will only mildly impact my life.

My decision to back away (and the feeling I got when I was about to join the bitchfest) reminded me of this quote. I heard it years ago when I first started to be in tune with people’s energy. I don’t like to be around negativity and try to distance myself from it. Part of that is reminding people that they are responsible for the energy they bring. You can choose to bring your negativity and I can choose to close the door (both figuratively and literally). Similarly, I have to be mindful of my own energy and check myself when my attitude stinks. Next time you’re ready to slip into the muck of negativity, remind yourself of this quote. Happy (truly happy) Monday!!