Monday, January 26, 2015

Music Monday: Meghan Trainor unplugged

I'm kind of enamored with Meghan Trainor's new album right now.  I've enjoyed the first two singles -- "All About That Bass" and "Lips Are Movin.'" A few weeks ago, I caught a video of her singing the latter on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon."  She performed it unplugged.  While I couldn't find that exact video, this one will do just fine.

Love it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reading Recap: January

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of reading 70 books.  Within that total, I wanted to expand my reading horizons a little by including one memoir/biography, one classic, and one blog reader recommendation each month.

Here's what I read in January:


by Neil Patrick Harris

Like I do with most books I pick up, I skimmed the reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. Some people seemed really put-off by the "choose your own adventure" style. While it does make reading the book a little different, I like to think it absolutely matches Neil's character and humor.  And there's plenty of his humor in this book.  I enjoyed reading about his pretty normal childhood and how he started acting.  My favorite chapters were the ones about HIMYM, how he came out, how he met his husband (appropriate, I think), and the stuff about becoming and being a father.  Also, I feel like I need to note I did not jump around at the "choose your own adventure" cues.  Instead, I read it straight through.  This meant I encountered some weird chapters that seemed out of place, but I figured it out. I enjoyed this book and love NPH even more now than I did before (which was a lot).


by Lois Lowry

I'm not sure how I got this far in life without reading this book.  I kept seeing/hearing friends talk about it, but had never actually consumed the story myself.  As I read it earlier this month, I was struck by the ways in which is was similar to other dystopian YA novels that have come out in recent years.  The premise really reminded me of "Matched" and "Divergent." There were also aspects that were similar to "The Hunger Games."  But "The Giver" came out years before any of those.  Some might say the newer authors copied, but I think I would prefer to see it as a nod of respect.  They didn't blatantly rip off the story.  They just adopted the concept and took it in their own direction.  I didn't like the way the book ended.  Such a cliffhanger.  I suppose I'll need to get the rest of the series now to see what happens with Jonas.

Blog Reader Rec

by Gabrielle Zevin

Heather recommended this one. It started out a little slow, but the concept was certainly intriguing.  As you might guess from the title, it's about a teenage girl, named Naomi, who experiences memory loss after a fall. The last four years of her life have been completely wiped out.  As she starts to uncover things about her life and how it's changed in those four years, she has to decide how she feels about all of it -- friendships, relationships, family events, and even her interests and priorities.  It definitely made me think about my own life.  How would I feel if I woke up tomorrow without most of my recent memories?  Would I like my current life or would I be disappointed in choices I've made?  Would I change them?  How would I choose to live if I could have that "reset" button?  Great read.  I want to read more by this author now.

Bonus Reads

by Marti Olsen Laney

I started this audiobook in December, but listened to most of it in January. I would argue it's more useful than Quiet, another book written for/about introverts.  Whereas Quiet assured me it was OK to be an introvert and explained how it affected me, The Introvert Adavantage told me why introverts are necessary in society. More than that, it gave me insights into how to adapt my introvert tendencies for dating (whether in a relationship with an introvert or extrovert), social situations, parenting, the workplace, etc.  It even talks about coping skills for when extroverting is required. There was a very small part that talked about the brain and was a bit over my head (no pun intended), but overall, it was very relatable and enjoyable to listen to during my commutes.

by Sophie Kinsella

This is only the second Sophie Kinsella book I've read in my life.  The British voice and references took me some time to get into, but once I latched on, I was fine.  I hated Lottie at the beginning.  I just found her rather whiny and entitled. It was hard to keep going with a character who was so unlikeable.  Fliss, on the other hand, was relatable at the start.  But as the story went on, I started to like her less as well.  Both lead characters are incredibly flawed, but it ultimately works for the story.  I understood them both in the end, and I quite liked the ending. I know Kinsella's niche is these outlandish situations, and she does them well. I'm just not sure I enjoy them.


My reading progress to date:

By the way, I could still use some blog reader recommendations.  Tell me your all-time favorite book, and if I haven't read it, I'll add it to my list.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekly Reads, Vol. 15

Just like Jana at Life Could Be a Dream, I love creamy soups, especially potato.  But I really don't need all those carbs in my life. Want them? yes. Need them? No.  So I'm eager to try her cauliflower soup recipe to see if it hits that craving.

Kari at La Bella Vita's post about body image and self-love.  I just love it.  It's honest, it's real, and it's completely inspiring.

Running can be an expensive passion.  Monica at Run, Eat, Repeat has offered some cheaper running gear suggestions.

Holly at My Own Kind of Beautiful beautifully explained why morning workouts are awesome. Seriously, I've been thinking about doing one of those posts, but she nailed it, so now I don't need to.

The Other Juliette talked about mistakes she makes in her relationship.  She's definitely not the only one.  I'm guilty of a few of those things in some of my own friendships.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Motivation board update

For a long time, I've used a cork board to organize and display my necklaces. In December, a friend gave me a jewelry organizer she was no longer using.  So this  cork board has hung on my wall empty for several weeks.  I decided it was the perfect canvas for a motivation board I mentioned last month.

I found this one on Pinterest:

And Holly sent me this picture of hers:

And here's mine:

About the board:
- Medal = It's from my first half-marathon from this past fall. I was so proud of myself for finishing it.  It'll never not make me feel good about how far I've come.
- Quotes = I like both of them.  They aren't shaming, but they remind me of why I need to stay on course.
- Card = That's a card Holly sent me right before my half-marathon.  It reminds me that there's someone else out there who believes in me.
- Photo = That's me a little more than two years ago.  I was at a weight and size where I felt really comfortable in my skin.  I want to get back to that.
- Pounds to lose/lost = I know I said I wasn't going to set a scale goal, but I do have one.  Or at least a range I want to achieve.  Moving those pins will feel good.

I plan on adding some things and changing out the quotes as I go along. 

And I'm already considering changing that last component to "pounds/inches lost," because I know I could stay the same weight but tone up considerably.  Thoughts?

What would you put on your motivation board?


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: 30 minutes of yoga at home <--- this might become a weekly thing.
Monday: Spinning
Tuesday: 1 mile on the treadmill + circuit workout
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: 10-minute warm-up on the treadmill + Dirty Thirty (30 reps of lots of exercises) with Savannah

I have a hard time talking myself into workouts on the weekends.  But I really miss Zumba and need to start making time for BodyPump. Any advice for getting moving on those off-days? (And, yes, if I could get to the gym on the weekends, I would take other days off during the week.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stuff & Things 1/22

I've been re-watching "Friends" a few episodes at a time whenever I get a chance. 
It's kind of interesting to observe Chandler and Monica in the early seasons ... 
... long before they ever get together.

People are either cranky or acting strange.

I don't know how, but I've read five books so far this month.
Even with everything else going on.
I'll share my thoughts on my reads on Sunday.

At nights when I get home, if I sit down I'm completely toast.
Even though I know there are dishes to put away and a gym bag to pack.
It's still so hard to get up and get moving.

Remember last week when I said I was getting wanderlust?
Well, I've solidified some plans to go to Texas this summer.
Rangers baseball game, beer, barbecue, and best friend time, here I come!

What's on your mind this week?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Loving life without looking for love

The other night, I was talking to a co-worker at one of my jobs telling her about the new part-time job I was taking on.  If you're keeping track at home, I now have a full-time gig plus two part-time hustles.  She was amazed at my schedule and asked, "How will you have time for a love life?"  I just sort of laughed and said, "You're assuming I even want one." She had no response for that.

Her question really wasn't irritating. At least not from her.  I think it's natural for people to assume anyone who's single must be actively looking for love.  Especially coupled people.  They're always wanting you to join the couple club as if they get some kind of reward for recruiting.

But at the moment, I'm on dating hiatus.  Mostly it's by choice.  I'm honestly not really interested in falling in love. Also, it's not like I've had a lot of men throwing themselves at me either.  (That's a hilarious visual, by the way. I just picture bodies flying through the air randomly.) Again, people have a hard time accepting that I'm not out manhunting every chance I get. (Another hilarious visual.)

Here are a few reasons why ...

No time or energy.
Let's face it -- relationships are work. They are investment of time, affection, and energy.  I just don't really have it.As I mentioned above, I have a lot on my plate. All those jobs plus a committee that's just gearing up for a year of monthly events. And then there are my workouts, which happen at least four times a week.  There are a lot of days I'm out of the house and on the go for 14 or more hours.  And on the days I'm not, I want to relax and get things done at home.  When would I even have time to date?

I am terrible at small talk.
Meeting people is pretty much synonymous with lots of chatter. And first dates?  All small talk. I am just not talented in that arena.  I'm getting better, thanks to my two part-time jobs, but I still need to flex those skills a little more before I will make a good first date.

I'm just a little jaded.
In my little corner of the world, there are lots of people around me with relationships in turmoil. They're either breaking up or going through a really rough time.  As an empath, I tend to take on the feelings of others easily.  So it's safe to say that I have a lot of baggage from my friends' experiences. I'm currently of the mindset that guys bring a lot more pain, heartbreak, and frustration than happiness.

Now, I'm not saying I'm done with dating forever.  That's a long time.  And I reserve the right to change my mind at any turn.  I mean, if I met someone interesting tomorrow and he asked me out, sure I'd probably go out with him. 
I'll willingly make time in my busy schedule when the right time and person come along. Until then, my life is full and fabulous as is. I'm pretty busy falling in love with myself and my life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Do you fit the mold?

Last week, a friend posted this graphic on Facebook:

The person who posted this is an only child and she commented that it described her very accurately.

I am a "first" according to this chart.  I'm not so sure it fits me at all.

Natural leader? Nope.  I hate making decisions.
High achiever?  Um. I've failed in so many aspects of life, so ... no.
Organized?  Ha ha ha ha.  Not at all.
On-time?  YES.
Know-it-all?  I like to think I know a lot, but I'll admit when I don't know something.
Bossy?  My brother probably thinks I am.
Responsible?  YES.
Adult-pleaser?  Yeah, this is probably true.
Obeys the rules?  Yes.  My friends even make fun of how I drive because I follow the laws.

Do you fit the mold for your column?  
How about your kids (if you have them)?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Music Monday: Ernie Halter - "Brave Enough to Love"

There have been a lot of bad stories in the news lately.  I'm not going to name them explicitly.  You know which ones I'm talking about.  Racial tensions are out of control.  Regardless of your view of the events, I think we can all agree that it's not the way we want our country to continue to live.

Ernie Halter sums up those sentiments very well in this song, "Brave Enough to Love."  And on the album, it starts with a portion of MLK Jr.'s speech, and since today is MLK Day, I decided it was an appropriate day to share it.

P.S. This is the best version I could find of the song.  Most of the other ones have too much talking in the background.  One of my huge concert pet peeves is people who talk through the performances.  Grrr.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Weekly Reads, Vol. 14

"The Bachelor" is one of my favorite guilty pleasure TV shows.  I don't think much about it is real, but I like it anyway.  Helene in Between kind of summed up what you can learn from watching this show.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been good with my fitness efforts, but my eating habits still need work.  Danielle at Butler, Party of 3 has some good tips for meal planning. Maybe this will help me!

As soon as the full run of "Friends" was added to Netflix, I spent a weekend binge watching the series again.  I plan to continue when I find some time.  Am I the only one?  Apparently not.  Claire at Fashion + Feathers shared her thoughts about what she's learned from the show.

If one of your goals in the year is to do some more reading, be sure to check out the Blog Book Club hosted by The Life of Bon.  There are some great titles on the list for the year.

Too often in the blog world (and social media, in general), we get caught up in how perfect everyone's life appears to be.  That's why I love Sarah's post entitled, "I'm Not Perfect."  Absolutely love it.

I would really like to get more organized at some point in my life.  Stephanie at Not Entirely Perfect has a lot of great advice for this task.

Whew!  There was lots of good stuff in the reader this week.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Mobile motivation

I am super proud of how well I've done at getting back on track with my health the last month.  I'm working out 3-4 times each week. I haven't missed a Monday since mid-December. I still need to get back to more weights, and my eating habits could use a little more work, but ... I'm taking it step by step.

Part of my success is due to the number of apps out there that have helped make my workouts more fun and kept me motivated.  I thought I'd share a few of them.

I am not someone who can run without something to entertain me.  And sometimes music gets a bit dull.  This app, which I learned about through Meg, adds something a little extra to my runs.  I'm a runner who's on a mission during the zombie apocalypse.  As I run, a man (and sometimes a woman) are telling me about how we got where we are and what is needed to keep our camp going.  And I'm also picking up various items (a mobile phone, a news article, bottles of water, etc.) that the township needs.  All while avoiding zombies. Oh, and there's a function where you can be chased by the zombies, but I don't need that in my life just yet.  Maybe someday I'll turn it on for fun.  By the way, if you use this app with Android, you'll have to download Winamp, otherwise it will not find your music playlists.


I love making playlists, and I think my running playlists are pretty great.  But now and then, I like to shake it up.  Sometimes I wish I had someone else's playlist.  That's where Rock My Run fills in.  You can search by artist, BPM, style, etc.  I absolutely love it.  So far, my favorite mix is "Saved By the Run," which is full of 90s pop goodness.


Using Pact, I can set weekly goals and then earn money as I reach those goals.  It's not a ton of money, but ... if I fail my goal, I have to pay.  Now, THAT is motivation.  $5 per workout?  Nah, I'll get my butt moving. I'm only in my first week with this app, and I met my goal, so I'm happy.  I might need to challenge myself a bit more in the future.  Three 30-minute workouts is a snap.  I had some technical difficulties with the app yesterday.   The app didn't count my workout.  I sent a problem ticket to the developers, and I had a response within two hours.  Amazing.


I've loved my Fitbit for a few years now.  It's interesting to see the numbers, which tell me when I need to move more.  Several of my friends have jumped on this tracking device bandwagon recently.  It's fun to challenge each other.  Yesterday, I was in a daily step challenge with a handful of other ladies, and I think I killed it (see screenshot above).


Do you have some favorite apps that help you with your health and fitness goals?


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off. (Planned to go but forgot to set an alarm. Overslept. GRR!)
Saturday: 45 minutes of Zumba at home
Sunday: Off
Monday: 2 miles on the treadmill + abs and arms
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: 2.5 miles on the treadmill + circuit workout
Thursday: 3 miles on the treadmill + circuit workout

This is a little better.  I'm still mad at myself for oversleeping on Friday.  So mad!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stuff & Things 1/15

Kristin's Knook

I haven't gotten home before 8:30 p.m. any night this week.  
I'm so looking forward to some home time this weekend.


I'm still learning that not everyone can be trusted and not everyone cares about my feelings.
It's a very painful lesson. 


Last weekend, I made these blue cheese steak roll-ups for a night with friends.
So delicious!!


I'm getting antsy to travel and go visit people this year.
Some plans are already in the works.


I've registered for two races so far this year (towards my goal of ten).
One of them only cost me $1 because I got in during an early discount time. 


Speaking of races, between May 30 and June 19, I'm probably going to wear out my legs.
During that time, I'll be running a half-marathon and a 5K and doing a 40-mile bike ride.


During a busy, emotional week, kitty cuddles totally make my day.
My adoptiversary with Cleo is coming up at the end of this month.
I can't believe she's been with me for 12 years.


What's on your mind this week?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

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