lifestyle

I Got My Wisdom Teeth Out (Again)

Fun fact about me: I have wonky teeth.

I wore braces throughout most of high school, and then after getting them off, I had one tooth go so rogue that I had to put them back on for a year in college.

When I was about 15 years old, I went in to get my wisdom teeth removed. While I had four, the dentist decided it was best to only remove the bottom two, because they were drilling a hole in the roof of my mouth to pull one of my teeth down from somewhere I can only describe as oblivion. (That’s another story.)

At the time, I can imagine they thought they were saving me from total mouth trauma, but I kind of wish they would have just gone for it. If they had, maybe I wouldn’t have found myself back at the dentist, almost 15 years later, hearing that my top two wisdom teeth were coming in (sideways, I might add) and that I needed to get them removed as soon as possible.

Sitting in the chair before the surgery this past Tuesday, I was nervous, but trying my best to look calm. I clutched onto my sweatshirt, which I’d been required to take off so they could put a blood pressure monitor on one arm and an IV in the other. The nurse told me I could keep the sweatshirt on my lap, so that after I woke up I could slip it right back on.

“Okay,” I said, trying my best to sound nonchalant. She seemed convinced, that is until she put a heart rate monitor on my pointer finger and it alerted the entire room that my pulse was over 100. Still, I took some deep breaths and tried to smile.

WHAT IF I DIE IN THIS CHAIR? my darkest fears wondered.

“Yes, I had a good holiday,” I said aloud to the nurse.

The doctor then told me he was going to give me the medicine that would put me to sleep, and that I would probably feel lightheaded and a little groggy. I nodded, blinked a few times at the bright light above me, and then looked down at my watch, curious how close we were to the 1:30 p.m. start time, so I could see how long the surgery took to finish. My fingers fumbled with my watch a few times, but when I was finally able to read it, I saw the time said 2:20 p.m.

I also noticed I was now in a wheelchair.

And my sweatshirt was back on.

And my mom was there.

Oh, so…I guess we’re done?

Speaking to her the day after my appointment, my mom said I looked calm, peaceful even. She said I wasn’t pale, and aside from the swollen cheeks and mounds of gauze in my mouth, my coloring and overall demeanor suggested that I was doing remarkably well.

On the drive home, we stopped at McDonald’s to get me a vanilla shake (and a spoon) so I could put something in my stomach before I started taking my medication. Going through the drive thru, I widely praised my mother’s sense of direction for choosing a McDonald’s so close to the pharmacy. I also gave her a recap of what had happened, most of which surrounded the mystery of how my sweatshirt was put back on without my noticing.

“Also,” I said, disappointed and full of sass, “I can’t believe the nurse didn’t go over the post-op instructions with me.” Because even high on laughing gas and pain medication, my priorities were rules.

“She did,” my mom said, “I think you were just distracted and you didn’t hear her.”

When we pulled into the parking lot at the pharmacy, I was holding my vanilla shake.

“I’ll be right back,” my mom said, and then I nodded, watched her walk inside, and then sat there, staring forward for about 10 minutes.

Now, I don’t remember seeing anyone else in that parking lot, but I can tell you that if someone saw me, sitting stiffly and staring unflinchingly, all while holding a vanilla shake in her left hand like a prisoner, I can imagine they probably kept walking, quickly.

While sitting there, I texted my sister: “I am out and alive and everything is moving in slow motion. Also I have a vanilla shake.” 

A summary in its purest form.

Shortly after, I arrived home, where my sister was waiting with ice packs, water, and Top Ramen. After a few hours, I asked if I looked swollen.

“Only a little,” she said, maybe truthfully, maybe kindly, but then she added, “When you first got home you were very swollen.” Which only brought new life to my vanilla clad serial killer persona in the pharmacy parking lot.

As of now, I am still a little swollen, and still eat a little bit like the squirrel I appear to be, but I am on the mend. I am spending my days mostly on the couch, watching murder documentaries and a series on YouTube where celebrities get interviewed while eating hot wings, and I spend my nights dreaming about crunchy foods and the ability to open my mouth past the halfway point. By this time next week, I imagine I will be back to nearly tip top shape, though I can’t say if I’ll ever figure out who put my sweatshirt back on.

A Passive Aggressive List of All the Bad Driving Habits We Should Leave in 2019 (List-cember #4)

We are nearing the end of a decade.

Thus, when the ball drops this New Years Eve, that feeling of potential and newness will undoubtedly be a little magnified. We might be inspired to try new things, make big changes, and find exciting ways to kickstart 2020.

In that spirit, I thought I would mention something we should leave in 2019. It’s something that I think has scarred this decade (and many before it), and something I believe we can only benefit from eradicating, both from our year, our decade, and ultimately, our world.

I am of course referring to bad driving.

I personally do a lot of driving, so it could be argued that I’m hyper-sensitive/completely fed up/a borderline road rage-aholic, but I also think there are things that simply need to stop.

Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll feel personally attacked, I don’t know. Regardless, let us all take a deep, cleansing breath and DO BETTER.

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1) When changing lanes or making a turn, turn on your damn blinkers.

2) When you’ve completed said turn or lane change, turn OFF your damn blinkers.

3) Also, in regards to said turn—JUST TURN. You can do it. Just crank that wheel and step on that gas. Go!

4) Stop texting and driving. Seriously. It’s dumb, you’re not “better” at it than other people, and there is absolutely nothing important enough to put every single driver, including yourself, at risk.

5) When the light turns green, GO. As in NOW.

6) ESPECIALLY on green arrows. If you are the first car in a line of cars waiting to turn on a green arrow, the moment that light turns green I need you to drive as if the car behind you is on fire.

7) Stop at stop signs. This one seems pretty obvious but, you know, APPARENTLY IT’S NOT.

8) Merge like a gentleman. I get it. Merging sucks. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk. Just wait your turn, take your turn, and then we can all move on.

9) Drive faster. I understand there is a speed limit. I respect the speed limit. I don’t always obey it, but I respect it. You should too. And by that I mean, at least drive the speed limit. I’ve got things to do, I’m sure you’ve got things to do, so why not drive faster than the powerwalking senior who just passed us?

10) Drive slower. I get it, time is money and traffic is awful. But weaving in and out, speeding down the shoulder or a bike lane, or just driving 30 or 40 miles an hour over the speed limit does not make you cool, or in any way make me feel like you are more important than me. Again, just respect the speed limit, and maybe the lives of your fellow drivers (and peds!)

11) Do not slam on your breaks unless it is absolutely necessary. Examples of things that are not absolutely necessary: being nosy about an accident on the side of the road, realizing you just passed a cop, seeing a billboard, trying to wake up your friend in the passenger’s seat, dropping a french fry.

12) Get over for service vehicles. When an ambulance, firetruck or police car has their sirens on, pull over. As in alllll the way over.

13) Park in between the lines. They are not suggestions, they are requirements, y’all.

14) Turn your lights on. The sun is down, you are now a ghost death machine, take a second and turn your lights on, please.

15) This might be specific to Southern California drivers, but rain is NOT a sign of the apocalypse. So while caution is recommended, a complete and total forfeit of all driving abilities is not.

16) Don’t litter. Or, written another way, stop throwing shit out the window of your car.

17) Say thank you. A wave, a nod, a grateful burst of eye contact is all I ask. Something that says, “hey, I noticed you were a decent human who let me make the driving maneuver I was hoping to make, may we both live out the rest of our day peacefully!”

18) Approach the limit line. Hey, it’s me, behind you. This light is never going to change unless you pull forward and activate the sensor. So please, for the love of everything, pull up.

19) Speaking of pulling up, if you are making a left hand turn, PULL OUT INTO THE INTERSECTION. DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT WAIT BEHIND THE LINE UNTIL THE LIGHT TURNS RED AND THEN TURN, LEAVING THE REST OF US STUCK AT THE LIGHT.

20) Speaking of speaking of pulling up, when parallel parking, PULL. THE. HELL. UP. There is no reason for there to be half a car length in front and/or behind you. Pull up close to that car and leave room for, I don’t know, EVERYONE ELSE, who might want to park on this street.

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Wow. That felt good.

I think I just added a year or two to my life (and saved money on therapy) by getting that off my chest.


 

Check out more List-cember posts here.

Trust Me, it Works

When I was six years old, my parents gave me a Nintendo 64 for Christmas. And for many many weekend mornings after that, I would wake up early, sneak into the living room, and play Zelda: Ocarina of Time alongside my brother and sister for as long as our parents would let us hog the television.

Now, if you’ve ever played Nintendo 64, you’ll know that it takes a very delicate touch to get a game to work. Unlike many video games today that don’t even require discs, N64 games were thick, plastic bricks that you had to blow into the bottom of before you pushed them into the top of the console at just the right pressure. If it didn’t work the first time, you would pull the game back out, blow on the bottom again, this time in a harmonica like fashion, and then place the game back into the console, perhaps with only two fingers or with a series of delicate taps. Even at age 6, I quickly learned the series of techniques that worked for my particular console, and will utilize them in exact order, even to this day, without fail.

It’s funny how we can become inadvertently trained to operate things in a specific way without ever realizing that it’s peculiar, ridiculous or borderline ritualistic.

For example, my back door has a tricky doorknob. In order to lock both the knob and the pad lock, you have to shut the door, then pull and twist the knob, not so much that it reopens the door, but enough to engage whatever didn’t engage when you initially shut it.

To get my phone to play music in my car, I plug the auxiliary cord into the bottom, unlock my phone, then press play, pause and then play again.

I once had a hairdryer that only worked if you held it at a certain angle, so I would rotate my head in accordance with the limits of the hairdryer, which was great for stretching my neck, but terrible for giving me any kind of acceptable hair style.

To put on my favorite pair of jeans, I squat down into a catcher-like stance, and then jump up, repeating until they wiggle their way up into place. If I choose these jeans when I’m getting ready in a hurry, this process could almost be considered a round of cardio.

We all have a part of our house or our work that we’ll walk towards or lean against in order to get the best Wi-Fi signal, we’ve all had that phone or television that still worked if you banged the side of it, and we’ve all had a window that you have to prop open with a cup, aptly named the “window cup”, when you’re looking to let in a cool fall breeze.

Okay, that last one might just be my roommates and I. But you know what I mean.

Somehow, some way, we fall into these routines and methods that we only realize are strange when we have to explain them out loud to somebody else. And even then, even after we hear it back and think maybe we should, I don’t know, get a new hairdryer, we just shrug it off and move on, because starting a new routine, even if it might be easier, sounds way more complicated than just keeping with what’s familiar.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to turn my ceiling fan on level two, because on level one it clicks, and then I’m going to tip toe my way to the bathroom, using precise footing across the floor so it doesn’t creak, because it’s late and I don’t wake up my roommates.

It’s not weird, it’s polite.

Say it & Keep it

It’s not always easy to say what’s on your mind.

Personally, I thrive at having entire conversations in my head. I can work things out, make plans for later, overthink something from 10 years ago, and make myself laugh—sometimes accidentally out loud.

There are times however, when I’ll be with a person or group of people, and I’ll find myself walking away from a conversation or situation where I wish I would have said something. Maybe it was a compliment I wanted to give, a joke I wanted tell, a story I wished I had the courage to share, or simply a hello, how are you?  But for whatever reason, it just sits there on the end of my tongue and doesn’t budge.

So, I’ve been trying to do better.

The way I see it, if you have good intentions, and especially good jokes, you should do your best to share them with other people. You should share you with other people. Even though sometimes it’s scary, and sometimes your friend just went to the bathroom and left you at this table with a bunch of random people you don’t know and you wish you could hide under your chair until they get back.

I’m not saying you have to make awkward, miserable small talk, or say things you don’t mean, but if you find a compliment forming or a relatable story coming to mind, go for it.

Say it.

Make your mark on a conversation, or on that stranger whose ______ you really like.

Say what you’re thinking, even if it’s just hello. You never know what kind of internal dialogue someone else is having, and you never know how much you can put their mind at ease. Maybe you can make them laugh or tell them something they’ve never heard before or simply make them feel noticed. Maybe you can inspire them to try something new or be inspired yourself. Maybe you’ll make a new friend who might feel just as uncomfortable as you are in a certain situation, and who might even offer you contraband snacks. You never know.

On the opposite side of this whole situation, it’s also not always easy to receive compliments.

Personally, I thrive at deflecting, rejecting and passing them along so I don’t have to bear the weight for even a second. Compliments make me uncomfortable, and sometimes overwhelmed. My toes curl up inside my shoes and I usually change the subject as fast as I can.

But again, I’m trying to do better.

For as uncomfortable as compliments might be in the moment, they’re not going to hurt in the long run. Like on those days when you feel like a troll who doesn’t dare leave the house looking like such a disaster, or when you feel rejected or sad or alone. It’s times like these when we could use a compliment or two, some motivation and encouragement that we are more than we are making ourselves out to be, and deserve more than we’ve led ourselves to believe.

So, when someone tells you look nice, or when they compliment a project you’re working on or a blog you posted or a meal you made, keep it. When someone thanks you for being a good friend or for a good gift or for a great day, keep it. Keep those compliments and tuck them away for later. For when you need them most.

Say the good things and keep the good things. You deserve them, someone else might need them, and sometimes there might be snacks. It’s a win win win as far as I’m concerned.

You Already Know What You’re Going to Do

I was watching a television show the other day and at one point in the episode one of the characters went to therapy. During the session, the therapist looked at the character and said, “You already know what you’re going to do. You’ve already made up your mind and you know what you’re going to do.”

This stuck with me—even after I binged a few more episodes.

It made me think of those mornings you wake up in a bad mood or with a bad outlook, and you more or less decide that you’re going to have a bad day.

Or when you are obligated to go somewhere but you’d rather stay home because you won’t know anyone or will know too many people, etc., and so you decide that it’s going to be awful.

Or, on the other side of things, when you are so excited about something and are so determined for it to be as wonderful as you hope, that you can look past almost anything in order for it to live up to your expectations.

There are many days and even moments when we decide how the future will play out far before it ever happens. I think we do it as both a defense mechanism, to protect us from being disappointed, or sometimes just because we don’t have the energy to change our way of thinking. It’s hard to wake up in a bad mood and then convince yourself that your day will turn around and be great. It’s way easier to settle into that grouchiness and ride it out until tomorrow (or beyond.)

The same goes with taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. I think with most things that scare us, especially things we’ve never done before, we have a tendency to believe that the end result is going to be bad or humiliating or irredeemable, and so we talk ourselves out of the risk all together. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, we set goals that we know we are going to quit, either because they’re too big, too hard or too scary.

But then, sometimes we find something that makes us keep going. We find something inside us that gives us an extra push, an extra burst of courage and suddenly we are farther than we thought we could be.

This is why I think the therapist’s words stuck with me. Because on the one hand, I agree. I have seen firsthand my half-hearted attempts to try something new that I never actually wanted to try, or to do something brave that I’ve already decided I’m too scared to achieve, or to set a goal that I know I’m not motivated enough to complete. I’ve gone into situations, desperate for them to work out, and all but convinced they are the end all be all try for me to move forward with my life, all the while knowing that I don’t have the passion, motivation, or courage to carry them through to the end.

BUT.

I have also gone into situations with the same fears, obstacles and doubts, and I have found the will to overcome them. Even on days I woke up feeling foolish for even trying, even on nights I lie awake wondering how I could ever achieve what I’d set out to do, even when it would seem that I already made up my mind and I already knew what I was going to do. Somehow I did the exact opposite. And you have to.

We are a resilient bunch, us humans. And while our minds our powerful tools, they aren’t fortune tellers. Our fears can’t predict the future. Our doubts can’t predict the future. But our hope and determination can change it. So, when we are able, let’s not settle into autopilot, let’s dare to work against our assumptions. Let’s reach down deep and find that extra something and go places we never thought we could.

From One to Ninety (And Beyond)

It was 12:30 p.m. and I was sitting at a table, breaking a cookie into a bite-sized pieces as I sang happy birthday to the man of the hour. With big eyes, he looked out at all of us, not sure what to think or what to do. His mom held a candle in her hand, the small flame flickering in the afternoon breeze, and she and his dad stood in front of him, encouraging him with puffed cheeks to blow. Instead he reached for the candle, noticing when we laughed, and again when his mom blew out the candle for him and we clapped. Then his eyes shifted to the cake before him and he dug in.

At 4:30 p.m. I was sitting on a couch, spooning my way through a hot fudge sundae as I talked baseball with the man of the hour. He donned a Dodger hat, and the rest of us wore jerseys, shirts, and hats to match as we all watched our favorite team play their final game of the regular season. A cool breeze snuck in the back door, making it easy for us to sit close to one another as we whispered stories or shared them with the whole room, the light and easy conversation the kind that Sunday dreams are made of. Then, with timers set and everyone in their place, we took a group picture to commemorate the day.

It was a one-year-old birthday party and a 90-year-old birthday party, back to back. My sister and I attended both, with a minor costume change in between.

As we celebrated Berkley, we watched as he pointed at balloons and curiously poked his bare feet into the grass in the backyard. We told him all the reasons there were to celebrate and looked into his beautiful eyes, excited for all that they were destined to see.

As we celebrated our grandpa, we barbequed Dodger dogs and passed around Cracker Jacks, recreating one home inside another. We glanced from cousin to aunt to sister to parent, thankful for all that my grandma and grandpa have built, and hopeful that it will only continue to grow. We hugged my grandpa, knowing 90 is not nearly as easy as one or 20 or 40 or even 89, and we looked into his beautiful eyes knowing that they’d seen so much.

I myself have had 29 birthday parties. Some have been small, some have been slightly bigger than small. Some years I feel pressure to do something special, something exciting, while other years I’m perfectly content doing absolutely nothing. All that I hope for, all that we can ever hope for, is exactly what I found at both of these birthday parties: love.

For birthdays mark both an end and a beginning, and we want that transition to be shared with people, in places, surrounded by all that we love. Over time, those people, places and things may change, but if we’re lucky, we’ll always have that love. From the time we’re only one year old and we aren’t even sure what love is, to when we’re 90 years old and we know that love is all there is.

So, to you on your birthday (whenever that may be) I wish you love. For your first birthday, Berkley, I offer you love. And for your 90th birthday, grandpa, I thank you for love. For you’ve given it to me, to all of us, and each and every year, we watch it grow.

5 Habits I Want to Implement into My Life

Last year around the end of September I had just finished reading Rachel Hollis’ book Girl, Wash Your Face and I was doing my usual round of Internet stalking. I wanted to learn all about the woman who got me so inspired and see if there was anything else I could immediately learn in order to jump start my way into badass-ery. In the process, I came across her “Last 90 Days Challenge” which encourages you to bring grit and determination to the last three months of the year so that when the New Year comes, you’re already in that motivated mindset. (You can check it out here.)

Personally, with my schedule, I couldn’t maintain the requirements of the challenge, but embraced the mindset as a whole. I am someone who, in looking at the last three months of the year, might want to just get them over with so I can get to that inspiring fresh start in January. So after reading about this challenge, I started last year and will continue this year to look at these last three months as equal opportunity months, that have as much potential as the first three months of a new year after that strike of midnight.

On top of that, I’ve made a list of five habits I’d like to implement into my routine for these last three months and thus carry with me into 2020. These are things that I’ve thrown around in my mind for a while as something I want to do, maybe that I finally want to put aside the time to finally, actually do.

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1) Drink 60-70 ounces of water per day

One of the cornerstones of the Last 90 Days Challenge is to drink half your body weight (in ounces) of water every day. I already do a pretty good job at drinking water, but I want to make it a habit to hit a goal every day (or as many days as possible). I usually carry around a 32 ounce Hydroflask with me, so I’m going to try and make it a habit to fill it up twice each day.

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2) Put lotion on every day

I keep a small bottle of hand lotion in my purse, but I have never been good at remembering to put on body lotion after a shower or before bed, or, you know, ever. I buy the lotion, and it sits on my bathroom counter like I’m some sort of consistent moisturizer, but I’m not. So, I’m trying to make a better effort. What can I say, I want to be smooth, y’all.

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3) Read before bed

This is something I’ve desperately been wanting to do in place of scrolling through my phone. Not only do I think it will help me fall asleep easier, but it will also help me fall asleep earlier. As hard as it is to admit, it’s way easier to close a book than it is to put down my phone. And since I’m trying to distance myself from my phone, I think this is a good place to start.

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4) DIY Projects

I probably have at least ten projects sitting around my room that I’m “going to get to eventually.” During the week, I’m too tired after work, and then on the weekends, I’m either busy or not wanting to do anything at all. So, I’m going to try and work my way through them one by one. I’m going to set one up on my desk, and maybe even pick one day a week to set aside time to work on it. This goal/habit is pretty vague, but I’m putting it on this list mostly as a commitment to finally start these bad boys. I know full well that I feel my best when I am being creative, so I want make more time to do that.

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5) Meditate a few times a week

I tried meditating for the very first time last year and while it was a little off-putting at first, I couldn’t deny that it was relaxing. Since then, I’ve downloaded the Headspace app to try to motivate myself to do it more, and while I don’t use it often, in the handful of times I’ve used it before bed, I slept like a baby. So I want to make it a habit a few times a week, either in the morning to start my day, or when I get home from work, or right before bed. Anytime I can just take five minutes to relax and block everything else out.

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Have any habits you’ve been wanting to add to your routine? Now’s the time to start! 🙂

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation September Challenge

Hello and Happy September!

Hopefully you are at home or on vacation or somewhere other than work right now, blissfully living out your three day weekend and pretending that it’s going to last forever. (Fingers crossed it does.)

Personally I think September is the best month of the year, not only because I was born in it, but because it marks the start of fall—or, in Southern California, the beginning of summer part 2.

In the past, I’ve done of a few things to commemorate my birthday, and this year I’ve found something really fun. I recently came across a charity called Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. It was started by a little girl named Alex who was diagnosed with childhood cancer just after her first birthday. When she was four, she setup a lemonade stand with the mission to raise money to find a cure. Now, her legacy lives on with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation or ALSF.

For the month of September the ALSF is holding a fundraiser called the Million Mile Challenge where they are encouraging people to run, walk or bike as many miles as they can throughout the month while raising money and awareness for the charity.

I, along with some family and friends have put together a team and will be participating in the challenge. I think it will be such a fun and inspiring way to motivate us to get out and exercise while bringing awareness to such a great cause.

If you are interested in joining the challenge, you can register here.

Or, if you feel inspired to donate to our team, that would be amazing and you can do that here.

With all that being said, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your (hopefully) long weekend, pour yourself a glass of lemonade and take a nap. You’ve earned it.

As for me, I’ve got to get moving! I’ve got miles to log!

2019 Goals Check-In

Hey y’all, happy June!

I’m really at a loss for words that we’re halfway through the year already—but then again, it seems like New Year’s Day was approximately 600 years ago.

So.

That’s where I’m at with 2019.

But I set some excited goals for this year and I thought it was about time I checked in with where I’m at.

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1) Journal daily

Progress: 44% (161 days/365)

I have really loved this goal thus far. Journaling is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do but never took the time to start. Now that I have however, I wonder where I used put all those thoughts at the end of the day. If you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep at night, or who tends to bottle things up inside, I highly recommend giving journaling a try. I personally like ruled Moleskine notebooks, but if you are someone who likes prompts to get you started, I’d recommend looking up “guided journals”. There are a bunch available on Amazon.

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2) Take a cooking class

Progress: 0%

This is on my to-do list to research. Anyone have any recommendations for classes in the LA area?

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3) Cook my way through a cookbook

Progress: 19% (19 recipes/103)

I chose Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings: Hungry for More as my designated cookbook for this goal and I am SO happy I did. Every single thing I’ve made so far (which I mention here and here) has been absolutely delicious. Highly recommend! (you can grab the cookbook here)

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4) Try the best drink from every state

Progress: 2.00% (1 drink/50)

Yeah so I’ve tried a whopping ONE drink from this list, mostly because I almost always order the same drink whenever I go to a bar, but also because I’m not sure how many of these drinks are actually served in standard bars and I’m embarrassed to ask. For the most part I think I will have to buy the ingredients and make them at home, so I will have to enlist the help of my mixology experienced (or just curious and adventurous) friends.

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5) Watch a sunset and a sunrise at the beach

Progress: 0%

I’ve been waiting on the summer weather for this one and it looks like it’s finally starting to arrive! So in the next few months you can find me on the beach, I’ll be the one doused in sunscreen and wondering when it’s okay to put on my jacket.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

Progress: 60% (3/5)

I really tried to get on this one early this year because I want to actually lean in to that at least for once. As of now I’ve volunteered with Food Forward three times, both picking and gleaning fruits and vegetables from local farmer’s markets, and in doing so I’ve been a part of collecting and donating almost 4,000 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to hunger relief agencies. Isn’t that amazing?!

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7) See 3 WRLA’s

Progress: 33%

While on a recent trip to visit family in Arkansas, my mom, sister and I took a side trip to Berryville to see the World’s Largest Razorback. It’s about as epically weird and wonderful as you can imagine and I’m so happy my family supports this quest of mine.

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8) Pay off 1 of my 2 remaining student loans

Progress: 90%

This month I will make my final payment on my second to last loan! That’s right baby! I will officially be down to ONE. STUDENT. LOAN. Ayyyyyyy! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, y’all.

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9) Amazon Wish List splurge

Progress: 0%

I have this one listed at 0% done, though I could probably put it at around 80% because I have an entire Amazon wish list dedicated to this cause. All I need to do now is add those bad boys to my cart and order them with that sweet sweet Prime shipping. Stay tuned.

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10) Stomp grapes and make wine

Progress: 100% (ish)

This is one of those goals that I thought sounded like a fun, quirky and unique idea at first, but now has me kind of wavering, and wondering, do I really want to do that? Until I decide, I’m marking it as complete because I did go wine tasting for the first time this past weekend and that’s in the wine goal family (which is a thing?) so….

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11) Make my family tree

Progress: 25%

I officially have an account on Ancestry.com and have begun my hunting, but I have a BAF (you know, a BIG ASS FAMILY) and so it’s going to take a little while.

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12) Hike the Narrows

Progress: 100% (ish)

Yeah so I’m just breaking all the rules this year but I’m kind of into it. I gave this one an “ish” because a few years back I made “Project Lightbulb” (which was the name I gave to a family trip to Iceland) one of my goals for the year but we weren’t able to complete it. This year however, we gathered our savings, did all the research and are taking (in literally two days) a trip to Europe. Sure, that’s still not Iceland, and sure, it’s also not the Narrows, but it’s still a family bucket list vacation and I’ll take a box check where I can get one.

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13) Do (at least one) unassisted pull-up

Progress: she’s working on it

I have no way to really track a percentage of progress on this one but I am working on it little by little. A couple weeks ago I went rock climbing with my family and it was the first time I noticed I was actually getting stronger. If I remember it correctly, I believe at one point I turned to our guide, flexed my arms and said, “I have medium guns right now, not the big ones just yet.” So I guess that’s my progress: medium guns.

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14) Get 100 rejections

Progress: 3% (3/100)

This one has been a big struggle for me actually. Blame it on the journaling or the full calendar or the final season of Game of Thrones, but my mind has been all over the place and I’ve had trouble finding the time/effort to write, meaning I’ve had almost nothing to submit, and thus nothing to get rejected. It is my goal however, to rope this in for the second half of the year.

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15) Learn Spanish

Progress: 20%

Surprise! This goal wasn’t even on my original list. (I told you I was breaking all the rules this year.) Goal #15 used to be “learn a song on my ukulele” but again, after some contemplation, I realized that maybe I don’t even want to do that. And you know what, y’all, there is no reason to pursue a goal that you don’t even want to accomplish. So I dumped it. Tossed it to the side like every single mushroom any restaurant has dared put on my plate. Then I downloaded Duolingo and I started learning Spanish, and I’m having a great time! I mean, lo estoy pasando muy bien!

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16) Finish my museum goal

Progress: 50% (10 museums/20)

For Mother’s Day my sister and I took our mom to the Huntington Library for some tea (which I highly recommend, by the way!) and a walk around the gardens. About midway through our stroll through the one of the exhibits in the library, I remembered that it was on my list of museums and I took a few seconds to jump up and down excitedly. This is the only progress I’ve made on this carry over goal from last year, but it put me at the 50% mark so I’m calling it a win.

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17) Run a Marathon done! read about it here

Progress: 100%

To be honest I’m still in shock that I can write completed next to this goal, but it gives me such a big boost of pride that I think I’ll say it louder for the people in the back: COMPLETED, BABY. You can read all about it here.

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When we add that all together, my total progress is about 40%, which I’m proud of! Not only because I’m on track (for once) but because this is the first year I’ve made adjustments to my goals when I realized my interest in accomplishing them had changed.

For the last few years I’ve felt locked into the goals I set at the beginning of the year, sometimes to the point of hating certain goals, which made accomplishing them far less exciting. It became more about getting it over with, which is not what a goal should be. So I’m proud of myself for loosening the reins a bit and remembering that the whole point of setting these goals is to try new things and explore new challenges—it’s brought the fun back into it for me, and it makes me excited for the rest of this year and the ones to come.

If you set goals this year, I hope things are going well for you, and if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start! 🙂

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?