|December 11, 2013||Filled under Living the Dream|
During the year, I am always seeing things that I think would make perfect gifts. I really need to learn to make lists because come the holidays, my mind goes blank. There are a ton of gift guides popping up on blogs right now, so here’s another to help you on your quest to find the perfect gift for the reader or writer in your life. Personally, I’ve got my eye on those teacups. Ha!
1. “Go away, I’m reading” Mug. $16
2. Grammar Teacups. $42
3. Vintage Typewriter Scarf. $56
4. Moleskine Notebook. $12
5. An awesome set of bookends. $19
6. “Ideal Bookshelf” Print. $34
7. Quotable Chocolate Bar. $8
8. Poets & Writers magazine subscription. $16/yr
9. Writer’s Digest magazine subscription. $20/yr
10. McSweeny’s Quarterly Concern subscription. $55/yr
11. Magnetic Poetry Kit. $15
What are you getting your reader/writer?
|December 10, 2013||Filled under Top Tuesday|
It’s a big girl snow day today! My organization follows the federal policy for inclement weather and it’s snowing, so I’ve got the day off! And thank goodness, too, because a commute in this weather would be both a headache and seriously dangerous. Oh, and the red line on the metro is delayed again. All in all, I’m seriously glad to be bundled up at home today. Plus, so pretty!
So today I thought I would put my Top Tuesday list together with things I am currently loving. So here we go!
1. FitSnap. If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you’ll have seen me use this app. It’s awesome. It’s for the iPhone and is pretty much my new favorite thing. Basically, FitSnap lets you snap a picture from your workout (as us bloggers are apt to do) and then add your workout information on top of the photo, so your miles run, time spent, etc. You can add filters and rearrange the location of the information, and for small in-app purchases, grab a few more layouts. It’s seriously cool. I have a feeling this is totally going to catch on soon. And you heard it here first!
2. EcoTrek Fitness bars. You’ll be hearing more about these soon from me (be on the lookout for a giveaway!) But I wanted to include them today because I am in love with them. Protein bars are pretty hit and miss for the most part, especially for me, but these are legitimately delicious. And, iceing on the cake, good for you too! Mmm.
3. Saltine Toffee. Okay, a little less healthy for you, but it’s probably my favorite holiday treat. I made a batch this past weekend and took them into work. They were a BIG HIT! (Almost as popular as the White Chocolate Cranberry cookies.) I’ll definitely be putting up the recipe and step-by-step soon since I’ve already had a request for more.
4. Fish Eye Wine. I adore red wine, but it can be a pricy habit. But Fish Eye is perfect. Affordable and delicious. Specifically, the Cabernet Sauvignon. I practically drink this stuff like water. It’s becoming a problem. But at $4.99/bottle, it’s almost too good a deal. Honestly, I should probably just start buying the boxes.
5. Running in the snow! I love winter running and my favorite is running in the snow. As long as you avoid the ice, you just can’t beat the scenery and experience. Check out my FitSnap pic from my workout on Sunday!
What are you loving right now?
Do you run in the snow?
|December 6, 2013||Filled under Living the Dream|
The number one thing I have struggled with over the past few months is the fact that I am not where I want to be in my life.
A year ago, I was in a wonderful relationship, surrounded by friends, living on my own and starting a brand new job. I felt on top of the world.
Now, only a year later, I’m single, far away from friends and living at home. I’m starting a new job again, so I’ve got that going for me, and yet, I’m not as happy as I could be.
I’m ready to be in a very different place in my life than I am right now. And it sucks.
And the thing I’m still struggling to realize is that I can’t force it. I can’t force a comfortable, serious relationship. I can’t force having friends to hang out with. I can’t force my life to work out the way I want it to. I have to accept where I am and allow myself the time to get where I want to go.
Once again, it totally, completely sucks.
So many things in life seem to be about acceptance. We are taught to accept our imperfections and our flaws, but to take the time to improve ourselves and accept that it will take time to happen.
Patience is not my strong suit. In fact, I am very impatient. I am all about the instant gratification. I want it all and I want it now.
But life doesn’t care about what you want. Life doesn’t care about your plans or take your timeline into account. Life just sort of happens and you’re supposed to deal with that.
And how am I dealing with it? Well, the truth is, I’m not. I don’t feel like I have it in me. I feel defeated. I feel low.
I took a giant step forward after graduation and have been taking tiny steps back ever since.
How do you get over it? You keep going. That’s it. That’s all. You just keep going.
Even if it breaks your heart to see happy couples, you smile and keep going. No one to see a movie with this weekend? You suck it up and you go alone. You keep going. You keep putting yourself out there, even when it hurts, and you start to heal. The life I want won’t just fall into my lap. I need to make it happen. And being angry that I’m not where I want to be isn’t going to make it happen any faster.
It’s hard to feel this way, but everybody does as some point or another. I have to keep reminding myself: no one has their shit together. Everyone is struggling to get to where they want to be. Even if I feel like it, I’m not alone in this. None of us are.
We’re all figuring it out. We just have to keep going.
Anyone want to see Catching Fire with me this weekend?
|December 5, 2013||Filled under Fooding, Recipe|
Have you ever tried to write a post about a breakfast recipe before eating breakfast? It’s not easy. In fact, now I’m starving. If I wasn’t out the door on the way to work, I would definitely be making these because I just don’t think oatmeal is going to cut it today. (Scroll to the bottom for the recipe.)
In fact, if I had been thinking, I would have put them together last night! These simple breakfast muffins are both portable and in convenient portion sizes. My favorite part is that all you really need is eggs. These could be made with anything from chopping spinach to bacon bits to whatever you want.
This variation may not be the healthiest, but I can tell you, it was DELICIOUS. I’m seriously craving them right now.
I also got a new camera. Please enjoy these fancy images of broken eggshells. Also, how gorgeous is our new kitchen counter?
I had some leftover broccoli, so that’s how these guys ended up in there. I think I’ll definitely experiment with a few other green options, like scallions or spinach.
The sausage, of course, smelled and tasted amazing. I tried to be at least a little healthier and went with turkey sausage, but there are a lot of even healthier options out there. Next time, I think I’ll use crumpled up turkey bacon.
DO NOT FORGET to spray your tins with PAM. You will spend hours scrubbing and still end up throwing the tin out because once you’ve baked egg onto it, it will never be the same. You probably don’t need the muffin cups, but after that traumatizing first try, I felt like going for double protection.
Are you hungry yet?
When spooning the egg into the cups, try not to miss and let the eggs slip into the tins. This is not fun to clean.
But man do they come out looking and smelling gooood!
Here’s how to make your own Simple Breakfast Muffins:
1 lb Turkey Sausage
1 cup Broccoli florets
1/4 cup almond milk
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Brown sausage
2. Add broccoli
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add salt and paper to taste.
4. Spray muffin tin
5. Spoon in sausage and broccoli mixture.
6. Ladle in egg mixture.
7. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
|December 4, 2013||Filled under Living the Dream|
You know that feeling when you check the mailbox and find something other than a bill or junk? You find a birthday card or something meant to make you smile? No matter the occasion, there is just something about a proper paper card in an envelope with a stamp that feels special.
This is especially true now that we are in the digital age. When was the last time opening an email gave you the same thrill of opening and reading a letter? It may be a tradition of a non-technological generation past, but sending out cards is still something that many people place value in (and in some cases, expect). It’s knowing that someone took the time to buy or make you a card, search out your address and write down a few thoughts that makes it special.
Thus, the classic holiday card. It’s the time of year when everyone sends everyone a card updating friends and family about their lives. Sometimes these lists are heavily curated and making it “on the list” is a big deal. Other times, almost everyone gets a card. Either way, it’s a bold step into adulthood when you start sending out your own holiday cards — something others will recognize and respect.
When to send? Usually when you get your own address. But with many of us living so far from friends, it never hurts to start while still at home with the ‘rents.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make a list of people you feel are deserving of your holiday cards. Think family, college friends, high school buddies, teammates, your writing group, your soccer team, your running buddy, your professors, etc.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to send a card to everyone, but it’s good to compile a full list. That way, you can mark people off your list that you don’t think need a card rather than continuing to think of more and adding to a never-ending list.
You’ll want to narrow your list down. It’s hard to decide who gets a card and who doesn’t, but trust your gut. Send to the people who will appreciate an update on your life or smile at the holiday cheer.
Once you have your list, put together your address book and start tracking down addresses. Right now, I’m using a legal pad but it’s definitely time to upgrade to a real address book. It’s funny, as a kid I never understood why they were necessary — but now I get it! Having them all in one place and knowing where to look each year is incredibly helpful.
Expect to have plenty of address changes over the years so write your addresses in pencil. Just out of college? Tons of people are moving every. single. year. So keep tabs on when people move and get their new addresses! The last thing you want is for a holiday card you worked hard on to get sent to the wrong place.
Time to get your cards! You can pick up a pile of matching holiday cards pretty much anywhere: grocery stores, dollar stores, craft stores, etc. And they are all pretty affordable. But avoid bookstores and stationary shops! They are super expensive and you don’t get nearly enough cards.
Go for generic and simple. Pick a pretty picture since that’s what people will display. But remember, it’s what goes inside that makes it special.
Now you need a solid, non-smudging pen. Oh, and if you have any return address stickers from nonprofits lying around, they are perfect for this!
Writing your holiday cards can seem like a massive task, but there are ways to simplify the process. First, consider a fairly standard opening for your cards. I always open mine with “Merry Christmas!” because that’s what I’m celebrating, after all. But you can start however you’d like. Getting your opening out of the way makes writing the rest of the cards much easier. Starting is always the hardest part!
Next, add your personal touches. Tell people a memory to show them you’re thinking of them. Share some personal news you haven’t had a chance to update them on yet. Or tell them something funny that happened recently. Or gush about your cat. Whatever is the most you! These are your cards and your loved ones. Have fun with it! Remember, the point is to make them smile.
Like I said before, the hardest part is getting started. After that, just word vomit a bit, sign it with love, and you’re good
An alternative for those with lots of updates is to type up a letter and slip it in the card. This is perfect for new parents who want to send out details and pictures of their infant, but don’t want to write it out each time. Just remember to still write a personal note in the card! It’s fine to just send the generic letter, but really, it’s that little extra hand written note that makes it special.
There is a good chance you’re going to have a lot of cards to send out. And even if you only have a few, it can get real messy real quick. So staying organized is key. You already have your list, but you’ll also want some kind of box to keep the letters in. Or maybe a table or desk set aside from the daily traffic of the house. Separate cards by which ones have addresses and which ones don’t yet. Or by stamps. Or by completed card. However you do it, keep organized so you won’t mail cards to the wrong people or send out blank cards. Now that would be embarrassing!
And a key component here is stamps. I suggest buying your stamps at the grocery store right at the checkout line, or at the post office a few days before you’re ready to send. Or wherever stamps are sold! You can stamp them all when you mail at the post office…but the post office will hate you, and so will everyone in line. Please don’t do this. It’s always good to have extra stamps on hand, so purchase them ahead of time and only head to the post office when you’re all set to send.
But the most important step in all of this…..Start sooner rather than later. The longer you put it off, the less likely it is to get done. Depending on how many letters you’re sending, this shouldn’t take you longer than a few hours, a weekend tops. But you can spread it out longer if you want to. But remember, buckle down and get it done! And you’ll be one step closer to being a real human adult; )
Plus, the more cards you send, the more you are likely to receive! Use the cards you get each year to update your address list, and send to those who send to you! And don’t forget to display them! We have a holiday card wreath at my house, and as we move closer to the holidays, the more it fills with beautiful cards — I love it. So festive!
The environmentalist in me may not find this process very green, but sometimes getting a card in the mail and finding that someone has been thinking of you is what makes this season fantastic.
What’s makes your winter season feel festive?
|December 3, 2013||Filled under Series, Top Tuesday, Working|
I’ve mentioned before that a significant part of my commute every day is spent on the DC Metro. This is the rail system we all love to hate, but really, it gets us where we need to be (maybe not always on time, but you get there…eventually.) And like any public transit system, there are ways to make sure you have a positive experience.
So here is my list of 10 Ways to Survive the Metro.
1. Always have enough money for the next day’s commute loaded on your card when you leave the metro the night before. The last thing you want to do is get caught in line to load money on your card and end up missing your train. Or, even worse, getting to the end of your trip and realizing you don’t have enough exit fare and having no cash on you because exit fare machines only take cash. You do not want that.
2. Have a paper metro card handy just in case something goes wrong with your SmartCard (You should already have a SmartCard.) As an added tip, always keep an extra $20 at the office in case you lose your wallet and still want to get home that night.
3. Wear comfy shoes in case you get stuck standing and keep your fancy shoes in your bag, preferably in a plastic bag if they are stinky.
4. Bring a distraction — a book, music, magazines, work – anything to keep you busy. This makes the trip go by much faster and helps you to zone out if anyone is being particularly annoying on the train. Just try to avoid being on your phone. It is becoming more and more common for people to snatch them out of people’s hands and run off the train as the doors close. This is my worst fear, right after the random stabbings on the red line or the gunshots on the orange line. Sigh.
5. Remember to account for walking and waiting time. This always gets me! Sure, the train ride is only 30 minutes, but then add 8 minutes standing on the platform and a 5-minute walk to my car, and it’s closer to a 45-minute trip. Always give yourself at least 10-15 minutes for waiting and walking. You never know how the metro is running.
6. First time on the metro? Have a cheat sheet with your trains and stops written out. That means which direction you’re headed, which line, where you transfer. The last thing you want to be doing is second guessing if you should have gotten off as the doors close and you’re now headed somewhere you don’t want to be.
7. Download the app! iTrans DC is good for trip planning and service alerts. They also have options for bus routes and one that will time your trips for you. Nothing quite like waking up to an alert on your phone to expected delays…but at least you’re prepared!
8. Hand sanitizer! Those poles are disgusting. The last thing you want to do is accidentally touch your face after holding onto one. Keep your hands off your face and keep your hands sanitized!
9. Don’t be in a hurry. There will be crowds and there will be delays. No one is going to hold you at fault for being stuck underground behind a disabled train with no cell service. There is nothing you can do. Take a deep breath, accept that there are things beyond your control and relax. The more you rush, the more anxiety you will have. Plan ahead and you should never have to worry.
10. Always have a backup plan. The Red Line will fail when you need it most. Have a second option, either to take a cab or find a bus route. Especially if you really need to be somewhere on time. Actually, if punctuality is important, don’t bother with the Metro at all.
And as an added bonus:
- Keep quiet! No phone conversations, no loud music, and no spirited conversations. And seriously, if I can hear your music through your headphones, TURN IT DOWN!
- Wait your turn. Let people off the train before you try to push yourself on. There will always be another train and there is no need to be rude.
- Escalators. Left = walk, right = stand. Seriously.
- Don’t stare. It’s creepy and it’s weird. You can people watch to an extent, but you have to share the train with these people and they want to be left alone just as much as you do.
- Your bag goes either on your lap or on the floor, NOT on the seat next to you.
- Have basic manners! Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, say excuse me, give up your seat to the pregnant and elderly, don’t eat or drink. Remember, this is shared space, not your bedroom.
From one Metro rider to another, thank you for taking this into consideration. Now please move, this is my stop.
Tell me your public transit horror stories!
|December 2, 2013||Filled under Monthly Recap, Series|
3 Events from November
1. A Turkey Trot! I love the idea of races on Thanksgiving morning. It’s an awesome family activity and you get to justify the crazy amounts of food you eat later that day. I only wish it hadn’t been so darn cold!
2. Thanksgiving. Mmm turkey! I just wish the leftovers lasted a little longer.
3. I finished (almost) all my Christmas shopping and holiday cards already. It was my first 4-day weekend in I can’t even remember how long, so I did my best to get as much done as possible.
Total Miles Ran
(November & December are always slow running months for me, especially right after a big race.)
Most Popular Post
Books I Read This Month
3. The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Didn’t finish this one, though…)
I know, not a lot to choose from, but seriously, this book was AMAZING.
Pictures from November
My finish photo from my Turkey Trot 5k!
The gathering of the animals for Thanksgiving scraps
3 Things I’m Looking Forward to in December
1. Winter running! I love running in the cold weather, but not so much the acclimating to it part. My first few runs in the sub-40 temperatures were brutal, but worth it. Bring on the snow!
2. Holiday baking! I already have my list of cookies I’m planning on baking. Plus, banana bread, cakes, pies — all the good stuff! Can’t wait!
3. Christmas! Duh. That means tasty winter treats, family time, wine and warm nights by the fire. It’s my favorite time of the year
1. Find a balance for reading, writing, running and blogging that allows me to do so regularly without getting overwhelmed. I keep saying this, but maybe this will be my month.
2. WRAP ALL THE GIFTS! This one speaks for itself.
3. Organize and unpack a bit more. I thought I was going to be moving away soon, but now I’m thinking I’ll probably stick around for a bit. So it’s probably time to straighten my cluster of junk I have sitting around the house.
Do you have a pack of wild begging creatures that attack you every year at Thanksgiving?
What are you goals for December?
What’s your favorite holiday cookie?
|December 1, 2013||Filled under Caffeine Roundup|
The Caffeine Roundup has a new look! What do you think?
+ From the Archive: Advice from the Published +