advice

Everything in Moderation

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” – Oscar Wilde

 

I heard this quote for the first time recently and it really hit home.

While balance is often preached as the secret to life, sometimes it’s the balance that leaves me so worn out. Day in and day out I’m trying to make sure I find time for goal setting, self care, loving others, eating right, being productive, etc. I try to achieve that balance, but by the time I’m getting into bed each night I’m feeling more overwhelmed than I did that morning.

I end up lying there wondering what I could have done better, what I shouldn’t have done at all, and how I can improve the next day. I promise to pursue that balance, but I’m also wondering how I’ll ever be able to do it.

So maybe, that’s not the answer.

As this quote suggests, maybe it’s not about finding and maintaining that balance every. single. day. But striving for a balance—whatever that means for you. That means knowing when you need more or less of something. It means giving yourself a break when you can’t find time to do much of anything at all.

Moderation is healthy. And it’s a good standard for living, but it shouldn’t be your only standard. Be wild sometimes. Break the rules. Change the rules. Know when you need to be disciplined. Know when you need a nap or a snack—or two snacks. Respect when you need to be quiet and when you need to scream. Find your balance, and don’t be ashamed if it doesn’t look like everyone else’s.

BAWAGA: A New Mindset

I talk a lot about inspiration on this blog. Whether it be my own ideas, lessons I’ve learned from others, or words and phrases I’ve picked up anywhere and everywhere else. I’ve talked about mantras and mottos that carry me through rougher days (i.e. It’s Not Time to Worry Yet and Just Live the Day) and I’ve talked about mindsets that motivate me to push myself forward (i.e. Shout Your Strong and Opening the BIFC Door)

Today, I bring you yet another mindset, that comes straight from the first baseline of Dodger Stadium.

It was a hot afternoon in May and a small group of us were there to see the Dodgers play the Mets. Seated in field level seats right next to the foul pole, we were very close to Dodgers’ right fielder, Cody Bellinger, who, in case you haven’t heard, is having the season of his life.

“He’s such a badass,” my sister said as he warmed up after hitting another homerun.

“You might even say he’s…a badass with a great ass.

Badass with a great ass. (BAWAGA, if you will)

Obvious thirst aside, this stuck with me. Not necessarily as a quality we should give to others (sorry, Cody), but as a mindset we should take on for ourselves.

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to like—let alone love—ourselves all at once. For me personally, I have moments of love, sparks of that hey, I dig that about myself, but very rarely (if ever) am I walking around thinking, “man I love my brain and my spirit and my body, I am just the total package.”

But what if I did? What if we did?

What if we pursued that total self-acceptance on a daily basis? What if we woke up thinking and believing, I am a badass with a great ass, I can do anything and then went about our day? How would that change the way we viewed our world? How would it change the way we treated others? How would it change the way we approached obstacles?

For athletes like Cody Bellinger, they need to take the field with a BAWAGA mindset, even on days when they don’t feel like it. If they don’t, they leave room for both doubt and the confidence of all of the other players to stand in front of them. And when all of that is blurring your vision, it’s impossible to play to the best of your ability because you don’t believe it exists.

The same goes for us regular (non-professional baseball playing, MLB record breaking) humans. We all have the ability to “play” at our best ability, but first we need to believe that our best exists. We need to go into each day with positivity and motivation and we need to look in the mirror with love and admiration. We need to appreciate all sides of ourselves—including the backside ayyyy—and remind ourselves that we can do anything. Why? Because we’re badasses. And not only that, we’re badasses with great asses.

Is it corny? Yes.

Is it cringy?  A little.

But does it secretly motivate me to go out there and kick some ass? Sure does.

10 Easy Ways to Learn Something New Every Day

If you are like me, you love learning. You love dropping fun facts and (as subtly as possible) saying look what I can do! And while 12 years of grade school might have given us somewhat of a distaste for the long winded, multiple choice kind of learning, these days it doesn’t take much for us to learn something new. Oftentimes it will just find us in the middle of an average day and that little light will go on in our heads saying, hey, I didn’t know that!

Call me a nerd but that is a rush.

I love that feeling so much that I actively try to learn something new every day—as many times a day as possible. Any little tidbit of new information I can find, I grab it and hold on tight, and then wait for the perfect opportunity to say, “did you know…” to my friends and family.

So, if you can relate to any of that, or if you’re just curious what kind of information I’m consuming on a daily basis in an attempt to turn my brain into its own Mary Poppins’ bag, here are 10 easy ways to learn something new every day:

 

1) Subscribe to a podcast

I went on my podcast app and counted, I am subscribed to 32 podcasts. THIRTY-TWO. Is this extreme? Am I an addict? Don’t answer that. I love all of my podcasts and I listen to (not all of) them every day. They cover just about every topic in the book, making it easy and fun to learn about a little bit of everything. Some of my favorites include: Ear Hustle, Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet, and Heavyweight

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2) Click on the Google logo

You know how Google often has those decorative versions of their logo on their homepage? Did you know that if you click on those you can learn about the historical icon or event they are honoring? Talk about easy access to fun facts.

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3) Subscribe to an e-newsletter

There is so much information on the Internet, both good and bad, so it’s nice to have someone else wade through it and give you the highlights. I’ve bounced around between newsletters, trying to find one that best fits what I’m looking for and right now my favorite is Next Draft. An email is sent every weekday after lunch and it is organized into ten bullet points of both important current information and interesting articles you might not have read otherwise.

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4) Watch a documentary (on Netflix, Hulu, or even YouTube)

I know, I know, we all have good intentions when we scroll through and add documentaries to our queues, and we all promise to watch them next time because we’re just not in the mood right now. But I encourage you to take a chance on one when you’re looking for something to watch. There is so much good stuff out there! Some of my favorites include: Evil Genius on Netflix, Three Identical Strangers on Hulu, and You’re Not Allowed to Die Here on YouTube.

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5) Go outside

I know this sounds obvious, but there’s no denying it. Our houses and apartments and dorms are wonderful and cozy and safe but there is so much to see and learn when we get outside! Just the other day a group of friends and I walked out to look at the moon and someone held their hand up and said, “did you know that if you can cup the moon in your right hand it’s a waxing moon and if you can cup it with your left it’s a waning moon.” No, I did not know that. But will I now drop it in any conversation about the moon? You’re damn right I will.

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6) Look up a new recipe

One of my favorite things to do is cook, and I love looking up recipes that I can put together with things I find in my fridge. Lucky for us, the Internet is CHOCK-FULL of recipes thanks to all of the wonderful food bloggers of the world. From breakfasts to desserts to gluten free tea party recipes, there is something for every occasion, just waiting for you to dive in.

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7) Download a language learning app

Learning a new language, or at the very least becoming familiar with key words in another language can be so valuable, both in every day life and when you travel. There are tons of apps out there that can teach you practically any language you can think of. My favorite is Duolingo, because it’s free, easy, and fun to use. Plus, an adorable owl named Duo sends me cute reminders to do my daily Spanish homework and it excites me.

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8) Take a different way home

If you do a lot of driving for work, either as part of your job or just in commuting to and from, try a new route. Turn one street early, or get off on a different exit. Expand that mental map and see where different roads lead, you never know what you’ll find along the way!

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9) Ask questions

Whenever you think to yourself, “I wonder how…” or “what is that?” or “when was..” pursue those answers. I can’t tell you how often I ask a question out loud and then immediately Google it. Even if they are little, seemingly meaningless answers they are something and you never know when you might need that something in the future.

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10) Listen

This doesn’t just call for putting on your listening ears, as my mom would say. This calls for using all of your senses. Put your phone down. Pick your head up. Look around, listen up and interact with the environment around you.

Goodbye Paris, Hello World (Our European Adventure: Day 10&11)

June 22nd, 2019:

It would take a long time for me to ever get used to sleeping in, yawning and looking out the window of my hotel room to see Paris, but with the warm welcome it had given us over the last two days, I looked out at the already sunny city, tipped my imaginary, bed head filled hat, and said good morning.

There were no concrete plans on the agenda today, just nine people ready to see the city and their iPhones ready to help them do it. So we set off from our hotel and walked down the streets of our new temporary neighborhood to O Coffee.

Since the group of us was so large and the restaurant was so small, we were met outside by the kind, Australian owner, who offered to take our order and prepare it for takeaway. We got five avocado toasts, four banana breads, a few coffees, a couple orange juices, and an apple juice, and then the owner threw in some madeleines for us to try. Everything was absolutely delicious and I could not recommend this place more.

As we ate, we came up with a plan:

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Starting at the Arc de Triomphe, we would walk down the Ave de Champs Elysees to do some shopping and sightseeing, and then follow the Seine River all the way up to Notre Dame. It was a three mile walk that we figured would be more like five when we added in browsing steps, but we were ready and the day was beautiful and so we finished our last bites of breakfast—and I spilled most of my apple juice—and then we were off.

The Arc de Triomphe is probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Built to honor the lives lost in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, it is imposingly stunning. It is also the center of one of the scariest intersections I’ve ever seen in my life.

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The Champs Elysees reminded me of Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. Huge designer stores lined the street and they tempted you to come in and spend money you definitely didn’t have. At one point we walked into a Sephora that made me say, “I can’t believe we haven’t reached the back yet.” On top of that, the street was freckled with beautiful greenery, including this little patch that I actually volunteered to have my picture taken in.

The Grand Palais, while we didn’t go inside, was gorgeous and made me want to go to Rome, and the Petit Palais made us all laugh because the phrase “small palace” is one that both contradicts itself and doesn’t exist in our day-to-day vocabulary. If I ever make my way back to Paris, I will go inside these beautiful museums, but for this day, we fell in love just looking at them.

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The Pont des Artes, the “bridge of arts”, is most famously known for the love locks people used to clip to its chain link. In 2015, all of the locks were removed because they were too heavy for the bridge and were causing parts of it to crumble. This however, has not stopped people from clipping locks to other bridges. On our walk, we came across a bridge named the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor, which has started to collect locks of its own.

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The Louvre was something my museum loving heart was over the moon to see in person. After seeing pictures of it and hearing references to it for my entire time as an undergraduate art student, actually finding myself in front of it’s famous pyramidal structure was pretty surreal. We didn’t go inside, but only because we decided to save that for the next morning when we could buy tickets in advanced and skip the lines. But since the courtyard was so pretty and the nearby restaurant, Le Café Marly, came so highly recommended, we decided to have lunch there.

I ordered what had become a favorite of mine in French cafes, a croque-madame, which is a fried ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top. I didn’t take a picture of any that I ate, but to give you an idea of this true gift to humankind, please look at this photo from this recipe on foodnetwork.com:

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IMG_7494Sainte Chapelle was one of the only places that we took the time to stand in line and go inside to see, and I’m so glad that we did. I had heard that it was a beautiful church, but nothing really prepared me for how beautiful. We walked around on the first floor thinking it was amazing, but when we climbed the stairs to the second floor the line of us gasped in a row like dominoes. I was speechless.

Notre Dame, while tragically having been damaged in a fire not long before we arrived, was still gorgeous. Even as someone who doesn’t know nearly enough about its history and the grandeur that it has held in the city for so many years, my heart ached looking at the large pieces that were missing and the construction that was going on trying to repair it.

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As a final stop to cap off our day, we walked to Berthillon ice cream. It came recommended from a friend of my aunt’s, but it was clear when we got there that this was no well-kept secret. Multiple shops holding the same name were open mere meters from each other, and all of them had lines out the door. I got one scoop of dark chocolate and one scoop of salted caramel (because #saltedcaramelforever), and while they were delicious, I was bummed by the shop’s “no free samples” policy and I still think about the fig ice cream I left behind. #I’llneverfig-etyou

Now, I understand this next part might bring shame/judgment/open mouth gapes but I’m here to say that we did it, we don’t regret it, and we would 100% do it again.

That night, after getting back to our hotel and showering, napping and freshening up, we went…back to McDonalds for dinner. I know, I know, we’re in Paris, what are we doing at McDonalds two nights in a row? And to that I say: LIVING.

I will tell you right now, Parisian McDonalds is better than American McDonalds and there is absolutely no way you can change my mind. After having an iconic egg mcmuffin the night before, my sister and I both ordered the goat cheese chicken wrap and then I ordered a Kit Kat McFlurry. I mean, how dare you, Paris. How absolutely dare you.

We then walked back to Eif and took a seat on the lawn to watch him sparkle. Because what else can you do when you’ve had a wonderful day besides end it with a dose of pure magic?

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June 23rd, 2019:

For our very last day in Paris, we woke up a little early and immediately made our way back into the city.

Since we hadn’t truly experienced a Parisian sidewalk café, we took a seat at Café de la Comedie and took in the beautiful morning. My sister and I ordered the breakfast special which was the equivalent of the petit dujour we had in Epernay and I was in absolute bliss.

From breakfast we walked over to the Louvre, where I’d purchased nine tickets online the night before. NOW, listen carefully here because apparently this is a mistake that people make all the time.

In buying nine tickets, I apparently flagged us as being a “group”—as a note, this label is given to any amount of people greater than six—and as a group we were apparently required to be assigned a guide and were supposed to meet said guide in the “group reception area”. So when we got in line and our tickets didn’t work, we were sent to this area where a man behind a desk told me there were no guides and it would be impossible to get one and I should not have bought “group tickets” if I did not want a guide. Oh, and also my tickets were non-refundable and that he couldn’t do anything to help.

First of all, no.

Second of all, if this happens all the time, don’t you think that’s an issue you should deal with, Louvre?

Third of all, we’re in Paris, I paid good money for these tickets and I WILL be going inside.

Needless to say, after walking up and down the stairs a few times and talking to four or five different people, we were eventually let inside. And was it worth it? YES.

I was floored by both the art and the museum itself. Once I was in and amongst the work, my frustration with the (clearly poorly designed) website and the (not nearly as helpful or sympathetic as they could have been) staff, melted away. I also got to say hi to Mo, though she seemed a little busy with some other fans at the time.

From the Louvre we headed to lunch at an Australian café called Café Oz and it was…well, a conundrum you might say. The menu was a hodgepodge of options including burgers, risotto, and chicken parmesan—all of which we ordered by the way—and they had a picture of the All Blacks (the New Zealand national rugby team) on the wall, which is practically a sin in an Australian themed bar. Like I said, a conundrum.

For our very last night in Paris and the very last day of our trip, we decided to go out in style. We had 8:00 p.m. reservations on a Seine River Cruise and we’d paid €5 extra for front row seats—which was totally worth it! For an hour and a half we glided along the river, seeing the sights from a whole new angle, and seeing the people of Paris enjoying their evening as much as we were.

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We saw friends chatting and laughing and comforting one another. We saw couples sharing snacks and smiling and staring off into the setting sun. We saw people walking and running and biking and salsa dancing. We’d all had a different day, and yet we were all here, in Paris, watching the same sunset, so that we could wake up again tomorrow and start over.

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As sad as we were for our trip to be over, we were happy to be going home. It was going to feel good to be back in our own world, in our own homes, in our own beds and get back on our own schedules. But as we watched the Eiffel Tower light up for the final time that night, I took note of all of the people around me. Maybe some of them would be leaving tomorrow too. Maybe others had only just got here. Maybe others just moved here and others still had lived here their whole lives.

No matter our stories, no matter our backgrounds or our likes or dislikes, we were together in that moment and we were sharing the awe of the Eiffel Tower. And even if none us would ever see each other again, there was still something special about that moment. It was our own little piece of history that we’d always share. Just like our trip will be something that the nine of us will always share. In the grand scheme of things, these 11 days will be a blip, but to us they will mean the world. And at the end of the day, it’s about remembering those moments because those moments are the world.

 

 

May/June Favorites

I just want everyone to know that as I typed this I was eating popcorn. But not just any popcorn. Microwave popcorn. But not just any microwave popcorn. A bag of PERFECTLY POPPED microwave popcorn.

That’s right folks. I have achieved perfection. I did not burn a single kernel, nor leave a single one unpopped. I have officially peaked.

So…yeah.

Anyway.

Here are some of my favorite things from May and June:

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Podcasts

I have always loved Lauren Conrad, all the way back to her days on The OC. So when I heard she was starting her own podcast, I was pretty much immediately sold, especially if it was going to include helpful tips from people she admires, because then maybe I could take those tips and use them to turn into Lauren Conrad. Not really. But kind of, you know? (find it here)

The Wild is one of the more unique podcasts I’ve found. It follows the adventures of ecologist Chris Morgan as he tracks animals and explores nature in the Pacific Northwest. It’s cool to listen to each episode and visualize the landscapes he describes all while sitting at my desk or making my morning commute. (find it here)

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Books

I want to say I was completely shocked by how much I loved Uncommon Type, Tom Hanks’ book of short stories, but, like, it’s Tom Hanks, so of course it was going to be wonderful and charming. I listened to the audiobook and it was honestly like hearing Woody tell me bedtime stories…during the day…that didn’t make me sleepy. All I’m saying is it was great. (find it here)

I’m not all that great at reading suspenseful books because I don’t have the patience to wait for the big reveal at the end. But somehow Kate M. McManus makes the surprise ending in both this book and One of Us is Lying tolerable to wait for because the characters are interesting and relatable and I can never figure out which way the twist is going to, well, twist. (find it here)

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Movies

Unicorn Store is the story of a failed artist who moves back in with her parents and takes an office job before being contacted by a man who claims to work for the “unicorn store” and offers to give her a unicorn. My summary makes it sound vaguely creepy but it’s not. I actually LOVED this movie and already know I’ll add it to my shuffle of movies I like to watch on lazy days. (find it on Netflix)

Booksmart is Olive Wilde’s directorial debut that was getting so much hype when it first hit theaters. People were calling it the new, female version of Superbad, which, after seeing it, I can understand why. I recently watched it on Netflix and not only laughed through the entire thing, but danced. This movie has a badass soundtrack, y’all! I highly recommend it for any and all of these reasons. (find it on Netflix)

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TV Shows

I have pretty much recommended The Society to anyone who will listen—mostly for selfish reasons, because I just want to have people to talk about it with. It’s an apocalyptic, Lord of the Flies-esque show that follows a group of teens who have to figure out what to do after their entire town disappears. (find it on Netflix)

Dead to Me was recommended by my roommate and though I was slow to start it, once I got going I couldn’t stop. It follows a woman whose husband is killed in a hit and run accident, and her friendship with a woman she meets in a grief support group afterwards. I laughed and gasped through the whole thing and already can’t wait until season two. (find it on Netflix)

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Music

I haven’t really been listening to specific albums over the last two months but I have been finding a lot of songs that just make me want to JAM. So, in case you’re in the market for some bops, pull these guys up on Spotify, stretch a little, and then dance your heart out.

1) Too Close by Rainsford

2) Dancing on My Own by Elle Fanning

3) Thief by Ookay

4) Walk Man by Tiny Meat Gang

5) You Need to Calm Down by Taylor Swift

6) Truth Hurts by Lizzo

7) Look What God Gave Her by Thomas Rhett

8) To Whom it May Concern by Sam Spiegel, CeeLo Green, Theophilus London, Alex Ebert

9) Imagination by Foster the People

10) Boys by Lizzo

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Birkenstocks

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After years of thinking about purchasing a pair of these, I finally pulled the trigger at the beginning of this month and BOY WAS I WASTING TIME NOT OWNING THESE. I’ve already broken them in so they officially have that comfy footprint in the sole that is like a hug for my feet every time I put them on and did I mention you are wasting time not owning these?! They are a little on the pricey side for my usual shoe purchase but they are worth every penny. (find them here)

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Double Lacrosse Ball

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After my brother starting playing lacrosse, my family discovered the wonder of rolling out our back muscles with a lacrosse ball. So when I found this on Amazon—a double lacrosse ball that does twice the work in half the time—I knew I was on to something. If you’re someone who struggles with tension in either your back or shoulders I highly recommend one of these! Plus, they’re cheap! You get a set of two for just over ten dollars. #blessed (find them here)

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See my previous favorites post here.

Just Live the Day

A little while back I read The Grapes of Wrath, and like in many of the classics, I found a great nugget of advice. It was simple, easy advice, which to me meant it would be almost impossible to follow, but it’s stuck with me over the last few months and I wanted to share it with you.

To quote it directly from the book, I believe it is Ma who says, “Jus’ live the day. Don’ worry yaself.”

Just live the day.

As in, be here now.

Live this day. Right now.

Don’t live in the regrets of yesterday. Don’t live in the fears of tomorrow. Live this day. No matter where you are.

No matter if that means you need to go out and attack it, or if it means you need to stay home and rest.

Let this day serve you. Let it show you what it’s made of. Let it inspire you, let it heal you, let it show you joy you never imagined.

Find the wonders of this day, and don’t waste them thinking about a day you can’t get back or a day you can’t even reach yet.

This day is only going to happen once, so live in it and take it for all it’s worth.

Jus’ live the day. Don’ worry yaself.

To My Fellow Tough Eggs

Often when I meet someone new, or when I see someone for the first time in a long time, or sometimes for no reason at all, I feel very shy and quiet and unable to start, continue, or enjoy a conversation.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, demanding, THIS IS ON YOU, and making myself believe that whenever a conversation goes stale, or when someone opts to sit or stand with someone else, or when the stranger I meet at the supermarket doesn’t immediately fall in love with me like the movies told me they would, it’s because I’m boring or unlikeable or pathetic—or a healthy combination of all three.

Anyone else with me on this?

Anyone else wish they had that magic they see in other people? That ability to talk about anything and everything to anyone and everyone. That something that draws people to them without even meaning to. That ease.

I do.

And while I think it’s something I’ll always strive for, and as much as I believe that you can challenge yourself and grow and acclimate and learn, there comes a point when we have to realize that we are not required to be that kind of person.

We don’t have to be the person that knows exactly what to say all the time. We don’t have to talk to anyone and everyone about anything and everything. Some of us are simply tougher eggs to crack and you have to give us a little more time.

So, to my fellow tough eggs, let me just say that I am with you. You are not alone in feeling like you should do more, be more. You are not the only one sitting there internally screaming, “SAY SOMETHING.” You are not boring or uninteresting or pathetic. You just need time. And anyone worth having in your life will give you that time. So be patient with yourself.

Strain then Stir (Episode 7): Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings Hungry for More (Part 2)

I’m not sure how many of you watch Game of Thrones, and I’m not sure how many of you watched it last night, but if you have and you did, there is obviously A LOT to talk about. I won’t be talking about it here however, because I’m not a spoiler-er and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day, so instead I’m going to talk about food.

Food is safe, right? Food is comforting. Food is our friend. Let’s talk about food.

Checking in from last time, I am currently cooking my way through Chrissy Teigen’s second cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More, and it has yet to disappoint!

Over the last couple months, I’ve really felt like I’ve not only learned new recipes, but I’ve learned new skillzz that I can take with me into many recipes to come.

These have been some of my favorites recently:

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Vegetable Noodles

This might have been totally obvious to everyone except me, but I had no idea you could turn veggies into noodles using a vegetable peeler. I thought you had to have one of those fancy spiralizer things or, I don’t know, some other extravagant cooking tool. So imagine my surprise and delight to find the secret to one of the most delicious and healthy things I’ve eaten lately was sitting in my cluttery utensil drawer all along!

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes

When I was training for my marathon, most of my Saturday mornings were spent logging lots of miles. I dreamed about the day when I could sleep in and make a big breakfast. This past weekend, I finally got to fulfill that dream and I spent all morning dancing around the kitchen in my sweatpants, whipping up these practically perfect in every way pancakes. Fun fact: The recipe calls for buttermilk and I forgot to buy it, so I Googled substitution options and found that if you mix 1 cup of milk (even dairy free!) with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and then let it sit for 5 minutes, you have yourself a buttermilk substitute!

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Goat Cheese Nicoise

One of the biggest surprises about this cookbook for me is how much I’ve loved the salads. I would in no way consider myself a “salad person” but there has yet to be one that I haven’t loved, and this was no exception. I even went so far as to leave the lettuce completely out of the recipe because who needs lettuce when you have green beans and potatoes and goat cheese and tuna steak.

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Spicy Honey Butter Carrot Coins

I mean, the name of these should let you know that Chrissy is not messing around. She’s making carrots taste like a damn DESSERT. I could’ve have licked the pan. (I might have licked the pan)

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So yeah, it’s safe to say that I’ll recommend this book every chance I’ll get because wow, yum, hey-o and YES.

Do you have any recipes or cookbooks you’ve been loving lately?

March/April Favorites

Y’all, my senses are overwhelmed.

I’ve found so many good things lately!

So much so that I don’t even have time for one of these strange/slightly awkward/overall pointless introductions.

Although I guess I just did one.

Tricked you.

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Podcasts

As you might suspect, My Dad Wrote a Porno is somewhat of a scandalous podcast, but it is absolutely hilarious. It follows a man—alongside his two friends—reading his dad’s erotic novel aloud. It is as funny as it is mortifying and the secondhand cringe is real, but if you are looking for something to listen to that will make you laugh out loud, I highly recommend this one. (find it here)

On an ENTIRELY different level. Homecoming is a fiction podcast that was recently made into a series on Amazon Prime. It follows the story of a woman who has lost her memory, but seems to have ties to a very private/sketchy organization known as “Homecoming”. I was hooked through both seasons and can’t wait for the next one. (find it here)

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Books

I could probably just list “Mitch Albom” as one of my favorites for the past few months because I’ve been reading his books like crazy, but The Next Person You Meet in Heaven was especially good because it continued on the story of The Five People You Meet in Heaven which I’ve loved for a long time. As with most of his books, it’s a quick but powerful read and I absolutely loved it. (find it here)

Salt to the Sea was the second book I read from Ruta Sepetys (the first being Between the Shades of Grey) and I was once again taken by her ability to make historical fiction so captivating, heartbreaking and moving. (find it here)

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Movies

Set in the 1970’s, following the movement of Martin Luther King Jr., The Best of Enemies is such a good and important story to be told, and I’m so glad it is being told now, in a time when so many people are divided.

Breakthrough is an absolutely wild story of a boy who falls through an iced over lake and is pronounced dead, only to have him spontaneously generate a pulse after his mother arrives at the hospital and prays over him. It is true account of a real life miracle and it was absolutely moving. (find it in theaters now!)

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TV Shows

Game of Thrones. OBVIOUSLY. (find it on HBO)

I feel like On My Block doesn’t get as much recognition as it should, but I’ve loved both of the first two seasons and hope it continues to generate attention and appreciation for the genuine, funny and real life stories it tells in every episode. (find it on Netflix)

Whether or not you know the story behind The Act, you need to watch it. (find it on Hulu)

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Music

As always, I’m just going to list what I’ve been listening to, but let the iTunes writers describe it to you because they have fun adjectives and big words.

Maren Morris, GIRL: “Her free spirited sophomore effort continues to push the limits of contemporary country-pop, infusing it with energy and texture from hip hop, R&B and psychedelic rock.”

Billie Eilish, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO: “a melancholy investigation of all the dark and mysterious places that linger in the back of our minds.”

Gone West, Tides-EP: This country band is still kind of under the radar so they don’t have a fancy write up on iTunes, but I genuinely love this EP and highly recommend it if you are looking for an easy listen.

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Skin Food

My skin has been having a bit of a hissy fit lately and so I’ve gone into full mother-of-a-screaming-toddler-in-a-mall mode, desperately trying to find something, anything to calm it down. With some research, I came across these two products, both of which have very high reviews. As of today, I’m about a week into using both and I have definitely seen improvements. Both products promise the long lasting benefits, so it is still a wait and see type of game, but I do feel like a bit more of an adult having a more defined nightly skin routine. (find the Rosehip Oil here, and Keeva Organic Face Cream here)

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Fig Jam

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To finish us off for today, I’d like to bring up one of the more obscure loves of my life: fig jam! This elusive little guy is hard to find, so hard that I only got my hands on two jars because my aunt snagged them for me at her local health food store. But trust me when I say that it is worth it because it is delicious. (my aunt found it at Sprouts 🙂

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See my previous favorites post here.

A Lesson from Claire Wineland: Love Your Life Your Way

Last month my sister and I went to see the movie Five Feet Apart in theaters. It follows two people with cystic fibrosis, who fall in love but are forced to keep their distance from one another.

The director of the film, Justin Baldoni, recently posted a video on his Instagram (that you can find here) where he introduced his main inspiration for the film: Claire Wineland. She lived her entire life with cystic fibrosis before passing away at the age of 21. In the video (taken in 2015), Claire gives a short speech, and it’s immediately clear why she changed so many peoples’ lives, and why her legacy is sure to live on.

She said:

I’m 18 years old and I have something called cystic fibrosis. I do only have a few years left to live. I mean, that’s how the doctors see it. Let’s get the whole like death thing out on the table, right?

Like all of us could get hit by a meteorite, so let’s stop thinking about the death part of it because that doesn’t matter to me. We have no control over it. But we do have control over whether or not we are proud of our lives. I mean, that’s something we have complete say over.

I am genuinely proud of my life. I am so proud to be alive. I’m not saying I don’t feel pain. I’m not saying I don’t feel sadness and suffering, and loneliness, because that’s what it means to be a human being. But I’m saying that that pain and that loneliness and that sadness is beautiful.

We live in a society that benefits off of us continuously looking for happiness and dreams and goals out here. Right? If we say, “No. We are not going to go looking out there for a happiness. We are alive and that is all we need.” We are beating the system. Right? And we’re living lives that we’re proud of. We’re living lives that make us happy!

You have to look at all of it. All of the pain, all of the loneliness, all of the beauty, all of the friendship and the family, and the sickness and the health. You have to lay it all in front of you and you have to say, “Okay. That is what I have and it is all wonderful. What can I make with it?”

Woah, right?

It really made me stop and think.

So often I am someone that puts an immense amount of pressure on myself to live a life that other people can be proud of. Sure, I take pride in what I do, but when I’m lying awake at night stressing, it is because I’m worried I’m not doing enough, not being enough. I’m worried people are judging me or pitying me or just wondering what the hell is she doing?

When we focus on the eyes of others, it’s hard to accept “all of it”. It’s hard to see all of the pain and sadness and beauty and family and friendship and sickness and health, and consider it “wonderful”. We can see the wonder in some of it, sure, namely the parts that might impress or connect us to others, but it’s hard to see all of it as the wonderful combination that makes us, us. It’s hard to realize that our unique combination of all of those elements is what makes our lives beautiful and special and important.

So today, I am going to take a look around, and I encourage you to do the same. Look at all of it. Everything you’ve been given, and find the meaning in it. Find the wonder. Stop living your life by other peoples’ standards and start living a life that you are proud of.