Fabulous Fridays: Labor Day Weekend!!!

30 August 2013
Hey, TGIF everybody! This Friday is extra fabulous because it is the Friday before a three-day weekend!

Let's get this party started with some fabulous things that happened this week!

Went to the farmer's market and had a tropical monkey crepe for breakfast!

Babysat this boy, and he read to himself. If this isn't cute, then I'm a purple dinosaur.

It's no secret, I love ice cream, and Ruby Jewel is the tops- especially cookies n cream soft serve!

Dinner with my dad at Fireside- delicious marinated olives, potatoes and broccoli with raclette, and s'mores! I'm in Heaven!
There were plenty more fabulous moments this week- Indian street food with a friend, dinner and a movie with another friend, and lots of toddler kisses and doggie cuddles. 

What made your week fabulous, dear readers? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

5 Things

29 August 2013
A few weeks ago, Jess tagged me in her 5 things post, so today I am finally jumping on board and doing my five things post!

5 Things I'm Passionate About

1. Food. I love food- eating it, learning about it, talking about it, sharing it, not sharing it, looking at it, thinking about it, reading about it. You get the idea.

2. Feminism. See yesterday's post.

3. Dancing. Not only do I love belly dancing, but I love other forms of dance as well. I've taken anything from tap to ballroom to Cajun/Zydeco, and I've loved it all. Except maybe modern dance- I sucked at that.

4. Yoga. I've gotten really into yoga this past year, and one of my life goals is to go through teacher training. Yoga has helped me feel more control over my body and my mind, and I think everybody could reap the same benefits.

5. France. I love France. I loved living there. I love the language, the people, the food, the history, the architecture, the countryside, the wine. I miss it. Can I go back now?

5 Things I Want to Do Before I Die

1. Write a book.
2. See the pyramids in Egypt.
3. Get married.
4. Inspire women to love their bodies.
5. Do a heasdstand without the help of a wall.

5 Reads I Love

2. Anne of Green Gables (the whole series)
3. Persuasion
4. The Thursday Next series
5. Currently, I'm loving The Paris Wife

5 Places I Want to Travel (and haven't been to)

1. Egypt
2. Turkey
3. Brazil
4. Bali
5. Charleston, S.C.

5 Movies I'll Never Get Tired Of

1. Midnight in Paris
2. Amelie
3. Hitch
4. Bridget Jones' Diary
5. Love Actually

Instead of tagging anyone on this post, I will leave it up to you, dear reader, if you would like to join in the fun! Create your own post, or simply answer some of the questions in the comments below!

My Feminist Take On Miley and Robin

28 August 2013
Warning: I am about to get real in here. Some of you may not like me after this, and I am okay with that.

I'm sure that by this point, you have all seen/heard of what Miley did at the VMA's this past Sunday. Everyone and their neighbor knows all about it, and has some sort of opinion. I hate to speak up about something that is clearly a desperate grab for publicity, but I think it is a good time to talk about something that is really important to me.


Yup, I just came out and said I'm a feminist. You shouldn't be surprised, I'm clearly pro-female here. I'm all about equality and empowerment.

But here's the thing. I think the word empowerment has been misused and abused so many times by women in pop culture that it has become an oxymoron.

Take Miley and her very sad and desperate attempts to stay in the spotlight. Sure, she used to be portrayed as a sweet girl on the Disney Channel and now she feels the need to express herself as a woman.


Since when does self-expression/empowerment mean demeaning yourself, and women in general, on stage in front of millions of viewers?

We live in a society where 1 in 4 women are still being raped. Did you know that many of these rapes are committed by a man the woman trusts? How is this possible?

Blurred lines, that's how.

Yep, I'm referencing Robin Thicke and his trashy song that strongly suggests that no means yes. I'm sorry, but there is nothing catchy about that. In fact, it is rather dis-empowering.

So on the one hand, we have a grown man suggesting that all women "want it" and on the other hand, a not-quite-grown woman (come on, she has a lot of growing up to do, clearly) prancing around in flesh-colored plastic underwear, sticking out her tongue between every lyric, gyrating, and rubbing her crotch on stage for the world to see. And of course, this was all on a channel whose programming is entirely aimed at teenagers, the (god help us) future of our society.

Let me break it down for you: the message these performers are sending to young people is that women are sexual objects.

I am not down with that. Hell to the no.

The message that we need to send is that a grown woman is more that her sexuality. A grown woman is intelligent and gets ahead by using her intellect and her talent. Anyone can gyrate half-naked on stage. But it takes real work to deliver a motivating speech, to save a life, or to build something useful.

So what I would like to say to Miley is this: listen to Ashton Kutcher's speech. You might learn from it.

For another interesting take on this whole fiasco, see this article.

I think it's time we start thinking about the media we consume instead of mindlessly swallowing whatever the Hollywood factory churns out. 

What are your thoughts on this topic? Should I step off my soapbox now? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Aiming True: On Yoga and Life

27 August 2013


When you hear the phrase "aim true," what comes to mind?

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending two of Kathryn Budig's yoga workshops here in Portland. The first workshop was called Aim True, and the second was all about backbends.

In the Aim True workshop, Kathryn started out with a lecture, telling her students about her philosophy behind her yoga. She takes inspiration from the Greek goddess, Artemis, goddess of the moon and the hunt. Kathryn shared with us about a difficult time in her life, and how she came across the prayer of Artemis, which goes as follows:
Artemis, huntress of the moon, make my aim true. Give me goals to seek and the constant determination to achieve them.
Grant me communion with nature, allow me to live surrounded by plants and animals that I can grow, protect and nurture.
Allow me the strength and wisdom to be my own mistress, not defined by the expectations of others.
And sustain my sexuality to be as yours — wild and free as nature itself.
 We were advised to bring notebooks to the workshop, and we certainly used them during the lecture. After discussing this idea of aiming true, Kathryn asked us to write in our journals about what aiming true means to us. For me, to aim true is to have clarity of intention, to be authentic, and to be focused. 

Upon further thought, I find that aiming true is rather difficult in practice. I am easily distracted, especially when I start comparing where I am at in my life with where other people are at in their lives. This holds especially true when it comes to this blog. I see other blogs growing and growing, seemingly overnight, while mine moves at a slower pace. It is easy for me to get jealous or frustrated.

But I did not get into blogging to be like other bloggers. I got into it in order to write and to inspire. If just one person is inspired by something I have written, then I have hit my mark. This I must remember.

Kathryn then asked us to write down some of our amazing qualities. I admit that I struggled greatly with this one. I have been questioning my talents of late, wondering what it is that I am really good at. Part of this is because I am wondering what my marketable skills are when it comes to my career. I feel like my greatest assets are not exactly the kinds of things you put on a resume: I am an honest writer, I am authentic, I am incredibly sharp, I love deeply, I am very sensitive, I am compassionate, I face my fears. All great qualities to have, but what value do they hold to others, especially when it comes to being paid?

And perhaps that is where my aim is off. Perhaps viewing my assets through the lens of how valuable they are to an employer is making me miss my mark. Instead, my focus should be how I can use these qualities to help others. Let me tell you, this is a hard truth, and I am still uncertain as to what is right.

Finally, Kathryn asked us to consider where we choose fear in life, and she tied this into yoga- asking us which pose we fear the most. Lately, I have been choosing fear when it comes to believing in myself. This morning I woke up with the meanie on my shoulder filling my head with nasty thoughts.

Let me pause here and talk about the meanie on my shoulder. The way I see it, it is a lot like the cartoons- we each have a devil on one shoulder, and an angel on the other. In my case, I like to think of it as the meanie and the cheerleader. The meanie fills me up with nasty thoughts, making me doubt everything about myself. The cheerleader reminds me that I am courageous, smart, beautiful, and that I can have anything I put my mind to. When I listen to the meanie on my shoulder, I am choosing fear.

Back to this morning, the meanie was already filling my head with nasty thoughts when I was approached at work about a mistake that it turns out I have been making for quite a while. It all boils down to not knowing how urgent a particular task was, and I felt absolutely awful when my boss told me. The meanie on my shoulder began telling me that I would be fired, that this was a huge mistake, that I am incompetent, and that I am a complete failure. I was choosing fear.

But you know what? That meanie was wrong. My boss sent me an email letting me know that she thinks I do an amazing job, and wanting to understand how I came by this mistake, whether it was just a misunderstanding in priorities, and if I needed to ask for help with my workload. I was incredibly relieved. Had I chosen to listen to my cheerleader, I could have avoided the anguish of this morning entirely. It was a thought process that did not serve me at all.

After the lecture, Kathryn led us through a great yoga practice, and into some poses I had never tried before. In particular, she led us into firefly pose, which is a bit tricky to get into, and I thought for sure there was no way I'd come anywhere close to doing it. Yep, the meanie on my shoulder was giving me ideas. But you know what? I made it to balancing on my hands in this pose. No, I didn't come into the full realization of the pose, but I was incredibly happy that I made it to my hands. I was stronger than I thought, more balanced than I imagined. 

My experiences these past few days have reminded me the importance of aiming true. To stay focused, and remind myself of what my intent is. But above all, I must remain true to myself. As the goddess says, I shall not allow myself to be defined by the expectations of others.

What does aiming true mean to you? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Weekly Wishes for Confidence: Hair and Dancing

26 August 2013

Happy Monday, my friends! It is that time again- linking up for Weekly Wishes with Melyssa at The Nectar Collective.

If you recall, last week my wish was to style my hair differently every day, and to not throw it into a ponytail or messy bun. How did I do?

Check out this picture recap and see for yourself:

I do not have a picture of Sunday's hair, mostly for symmetry's sake, but also because it was a simple double French braid, since the only time I left my house was for a yoga workshop. Braids are perfect for yoga.

I followed tutorials for hairstyles #2 & #3, which can be found here and here. Hairstyle #4 is simply a double French braid, braids tied together, and then the ends are tucked and pinned. I had a lot of fun trying out new styles, and I'm inspired to try more.

As for this week's weekly wish, I am scheduled to belly dance on Wednesday night, and it will be my first time performing at this particular place. So, my wish is to project confidence when I dance. I tend to get really nervous when I perform, and despite having fun, I always panic and do the same two moves over and over again. So, this week, it is chest up, chin up, put on a smile, and dazzle the crowd!

How about you? Do you have any wishes for this week? What are your tips for being confident in front of a crowd? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Fabulous Fridays: August 23

23 August 2013
Happy Friday, party people! I am so ready for the weekend, and it is shaping up to be a great one! I have two yoga workshops with Kathryn Budig, and I hope to learn a lot from her! There is also talk of Indian food, so we shall see! That's a lot of exclamation points!

Anyway, it has been a good week, and here are just a few of the things that made this week fabulous:

Enjoying a stroll through my home town with my sister and nephew, and finding these beauties.
During said stroll, I received a lot of compliments on my dress, a compliment on my bangs, and a compliment on my sunglasses. I felt like a rock star.

I tried out a new-to-me yoga studio and it was divine.

I went to the zoo with a friend after work and found Rafiki.
 During a post-dinner stroll, a little girl biked past me and told me she liked my dress!

Caramel ice cream with a cinnamon-sugar donut at new restaurant, Ataula. Delish!
So many fabulous things this week, I can't even keep track! I'm sure I'm leaving a few out.

How about you all? What made your week fabulous? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Greek Crostini for Tapas

22 August 2013
Hey all! This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending an event for Portland Food Bloggers held in the Whole Foods Market's tasting room in the Pearl District in Portland. Along with some Spanish wine tasting, we were encouraged to bring a tapas dish to share as part of a little competition.

Given that I had been sick and exhausted the week prior, I wanted to slow down and not put to much pressure on myself when it came to preparing a dish. Naturally, I scoured my Pinterest boards for something quick and easy. Greek Crostini came to my rescue.

This dish was so easy to prepare, and the results were delicious. I love Greek anything, and I don't care if tapas is Spanish. Give me some bread, cheese, and olives and I am good to go!

The viuara.

The event itself was awesome, and educational, especially for me, since Id on't know much at all about Spanish wines. I love wine and love going wine-tasting and learning more about different varietals and what aspects of the wine-making process affect the flavor profile. Our wine steward was very knowledgeable and gave us a great introduction to Spanish wine. We enjoyed a cava, a viuara, a tempranillo (which was more earthy and not so fruity, like most tempranillos I've tried), and sherry (which I'm not so sure I've tried before).
This is a cronut. It was awesome.

Going into the event, since it was sort of potluck style, I had a feeling that my options would be few since I am a vegetarian, and I was right. What I did try, however, was delightful. Sadly, by the time we got food, we had already tasted all the wine, so I didn't write down what I ate- I just ate it. But there was a stuffed pepper that I really loved, and a pumpkin flan, which won he prize for the event. For a better recap on the food, hop on over to Pech's blog post.

Now for recipes! I have 2 for you. One is the crostini, and the second is the pasta I made with all of my leftover crostini ingredients. Both are really easy and delicious with red wine.

Greek Crostini
recipe adapted from here

24 cherry tomatoes (12 red, 12 orange), quartered
1 tsp greek seasoning (I use Penzey's)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 French baguette
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
dried dill and feta for topping

1. Preheat broiler on low. Set the top rack one or two slots down from the top slot (unless you want blackened parchment).
2. In a bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, olive oil, greek seasoning, and garlic. Mix well and then place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Broil on low for 10 minutes, then stir gently and broil on high for 4 minutes. Remove tomatoes from the oven and let cool. 
3. Cut French baguette in 1-inch slices. Spread garlic and herb whipped feta on each slice, then top with broiled cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, and dill. Serve immediately.

Greek Pasta

All ingredients listed above
8 oz penne

1. Boil the penne according to instructions, to your liking (al dente kinda freaks me out).
2. Follow step 1 & 2 above for roasting the tomatoes.
3. After draining the pasta, toss it in a bowl with the whipped feta, making a kind of creamy sauce. Add the warm tomatoes, olives, extra feta, and dill. Serve immediately.

Note: something tells me wilted spinach would be a welcome addition to this pasta dish. Again, serve with red wine, it pairs nicely.

Why I Don't Believe in Dieting

21 August 2013
How do you feel about dieting? Have you ever tried one? If so, did it work for you?

Starting at age 10, I began having issues with my weight. As a teenager, I tried to diet, but the only thing that ever worked was eating only Cheerios for a week. I'm not kidding- I dropped a dress size and people noticed. Sadly, it took practically starving myself to get there.

In college, things changed and I managed to lose weight simply by not dieting, and I will share my tips below. But again, I ended up really losing weight when my anxiety kicked into full gear and I couldn't manage to eat much for 7 weeks while I worked at Disney World. I ended up needing to have my gall bladder removed due to the dramatic weight loss. Unfortunately, I put all of that weight back on when I went away to college and then more when I studied in France. I mostly blame the maxi pain au chocolat.

In college, I tried dieting. I tried cutting out carbs, I tried eating more vegetables, and I took so many phys ed classes, I should have lost weight. But I didn't. Nothing worked.

After college, however, things changed again, and I changed my lifestyle entirely. In roughly 3 years time, I lost 60 lbs and I have kept it off ever since. And not once did I diet. Instead, I took up running, starting out very slowly. I took up belly dance. I practiced yoga when I could. All the while, I did not deprive myself of the food I enjoy.

I will admit that I became a vegetarian in this time, and that certainly helped. I did not intend to become vegetarian long-term, I was just trying out a plant-based diet, but in the end, not eating meat really works for my body. I think that is the most important thing to understand- you need to eat what is right for your body, not what everyone else is or isn't eating.

What it all comes down to, in my opinion (note: I am not a dietitian or a doctor, I am just sharing what I have learned from experience), is choosing to be healthy. Dieting to lose weight is the silliest thing, and I feel like it is detrimental because the focus is all wrong. I have chosen to make a healthier lifestyle for myself, and it has made all the difference.

My tips for a healthy lifestyle:
  • Try not to drink your calories. By this, I mean absolutely no soda. I was addicted in high school, but when I broke that habit, my body thanked me. Now the calories are more likely to come from wine or a cocktail, but I only drink those sparingly, and it is usually as a special treat.
  • Cut out excess calories when possible. This means skipping mayo or butter when it isn't needed, or switching to nonfat milk instead of 2% or cream.
  • Eat frequent, smaller meals instead of 3 large meals. I'm a grazer, and this is by far the key to my weight loss. I eat smaller portions about 5 times a day, sometimes 6. It's important to eat when you're hungry, and it balances your metabolism.
  • Eat a piece of fruit as one of your snacks. I am a banana junkie. I will disregard any diet advice that says not to eat bananas because they make you fat. Bullshit. When I don't eat bananas, I get foot and leg cramps. Not fun. Bananas are nature's most portable snack! Eat up!
  • Eat plenty of fiber! Being regular is key to managing your weight and your health. Fiber gets things going, and it also helps fill you up!
  • Drink lots of water, all the live long day.
  • Treat yo'self! You guys, it's not secret. I love cookies. I love ice cream. I love pastries, and puddings, and cakes. When I deprive myself of things things, I am more likely to binge on them. Therefore, I treat myself on the regular. I just don't eat the whole damn cake. A small slice will usually suffice. 
  • Eat fewer processed foods. I discovered that I am allergic to corn, so a lot of processed foods are off-limits to me anyway. I don't believe in eating meat substitutes, often because soy does a number on my stomach. When it comes to treats, I prefer homemade baked goods over highly processed, chemical-laden cakes and cookies from the store. If you don't understand half the ingredients on the label, you probably shouldn't eat it. 

Remember, make it about your health, not your weight. I didn't lose weight until I stopped trying. Weird, huh? What I did do, however, was realize that I felt yucky on the inside, and there were a lot of things I wanted to be able to do that I couldn't. I wanted to run, to hike, to dance! So I did! Now I take care of myself, not to maintain my weight, but because I want to live a long, healthy life doing all kinds of wonderful things.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about diets? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

6 Things You Should Know About Me

20 August 2013
Hey everybody! Last week, Lisa of Love to Go tagged me in her 6 Things post, so today, I am taking time to answer her questions. So grab a cuppa, a cookie, and here we go.

photo by Studio Sura

  1. What is your biggest dream? Der...this is a hard one. My biggest dream used to be living in France and going to Paris to see all of the art museums, but that dream came true. I would say my current biggest dream, a dream from childhood, is to see the Pyramids in Egypt. Right now doesn't seem to be the best time to go over there, so this dream will have to wait a bit longer.
  2. Night owl or early riser (or both)? Night owl, for sure. I'm not as much of a night owl as I used to be, given that I have a job and have to rise at 7am. I need plenty of sleep (9 hours is probably ideal) and prefer to sleep in until 8-9am and linger in bed for a bit. Sadly, real life just doesn't allow for that.
  3. What are you passionate about? Yikes- this is a loaded question! I'm passionate about loads of things- cheese, wine, France, books, dancing, the Beatles, disco, dogs, children, my family, women's equality, positive body image, not-dieting, Mad Men, True Blood, Downton Abbey, I think I'll just stop there. I'm a Scorpio, so I'm passionate in general.
  4. Homemade food or going out? Both. I will not pick one. Living in Portland, there are a lot of awesome restaurants to try and I love going out and enjoying them. But, I also love a good home-cooked meal. I love getting creative in the kitchen and experimenting with food. I just love food.
  5. How do you balance work and free time? Well, my professional work is on an hourly basis, so it's really easy to draw a distinction between the two. It is very important to me to have a fulfilling private life, so my free time is incredibly valuable to me. If you consider blogging, however (despite the fact I am not paid to blog), then it is trickier to find the balance, but again, I value my free time too much to allow work to get in the way. Therefore, I have set times for working on my blog. If I didn't enjoy my real life, I wouldn't have much to blog about.
  6. Something that you really want to do before your next birthday? My birthday is at the end of October, so that is coming up real soon. I'd like to go wine tasting in Hood River, since I haven't been yet this year. It would be nice to go out and pick up some produce on the fruit loop and enjoy wine under the late Summer sun.

Now, it's your turn! I'm tagging the following ladies and asking the questions below!


1. Who is your best friend?
2. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
3. What is the best meal you've had this year?
4. If you could dine with any historical figure, who would you choose?
5. What fictional character do you most relate to?
6. What recently made you laugh out loud?

If anyone else wants to join in, feel free! You can answer any of these questions in the comments below, or create your own blog post and be sure to share it with me!

Weekly Wishes for Confidence: Posture and Style

19 August 2013

Hey everybody and happy Monday! I am back this week to participate in the Weekly Wishes linkup!

Two weeks ago, my weekly wish was to work on my posture. How did I do? Well, this past week I have been pretty good at reminding myself to put my shoulders back, chest up, and chin up. Sure, I had plenty of times that I did not have great posture, but I was more aware of it than usual, and that's a start. Years of bad posture are not going to go away in a week, but awareness is the first step.

As for this week, my wish is to do something different with my hair every day. I get into ruts with "styling" my hair (second day hair is almost always in a messy bun), and that tends to make me feel a bit boring with my look, which takes my confidence down. So this week, I want to try out a few new styles and gain some confidence by feeling good about my hair.

Are you linking up for weekly wishes? Does your hair affect your confidence? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Fabulous Fridays: August 16

16 August 2013
Happy Friday and TGIF! First, I want to wish my grandmother Louise a happy birthday in the sky- she was one of the most positive influences in my life. I'm gonna make sure to laugh hard at something today, because when I cackle, it reminds me of her cackle.

This week was mostly spent recovering from the virus of death, but it was not without its fabulous moments. Here are just a few:

That moment when I realized I was done with having a fever. Nothing says homestretch during a virus like being back in the 97-degree range.

Ice cream to soothe a sore throat.

Tea, cookies, and a chat with one of my newer good friends.

This girl, watching out the windows as my protectress.
Having dinner with all three of my nephews. Nothing makes a girl feel more special than three boys vying for her attention.

This stuff.
What made your week fabulous? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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I Heart Podcasts

15 August 2013
Happy Thursday, folks! Today I'd like to talk about how I spend my daily commute to work. 

I love music- dancing to it, singing along to it- but given that I now have a longer commute than I ever have, I can get sick of hearing the same music all of the time. I'd also like to think that my time is not going to waste when I could use that time to be learning something. Enter: podcasts.

Podcasts are great because they can be fun and they can be educational. I am a bit picky about the podcasts I listen to- I've shut off podcasts within half a minute because the host had an annoying voice, or the intro music was too cheesy, or the quality sounded really poor. That said, here are some of my favorite podcasts, the ones that I listen to on the regular.

NPR's Ask Me Another. So, I have a disclaimer on this one: I find the host slightly annoying (I really don't like Emcee's, especially Gen-X Emcee's), and I really don't like Jonathan Coulton's singing (dude is pretty nasally and reminds me why I don't like modern Broadway singers, not that he is one, but he reminds me of one). That said, I love trivia that I can play along with. I love shouting the answers in my car. I love getting upset when someone gets something wrong (especially when it is so obvious to me). If you love trivia, then this podcast is definitely for you.

The Moth. Um, I love the Moth. Love it. I absolutely love when people tell stories, and this podcast does it so well. The premise behind this is that there are events around the country, sort of like an open-mic for storytelling. People tell true stories from their lives, and these stories are recorded and shared on the podcast. Some stories are hilarious, some heartbreaking. This week's podcast put a few tears in my eyes (if you only listen to one, it is a good one), and this podcast from a few weeks ago had me believing in hope and love. This podcast gets you thinking and feeling. 

The Dinner Party Download. This is the newest addition to my podcast playlist. It has a little bit of everything: it opens with a joke (score), there's a little history lesson, a cocktail, pop culture and current events, an interview, etiquette tips, and music. This podcast has a really good flow and at close to an hour long, is perfect for my longer commutes. I highly recommend this podcast if you want a little bit of everything and want to come away feeling like you've learned something (say, enough to keep up with dinner party conversation).

Stuff You Missed in History Class. I've always been interested in history, but not grandpa's history about wars and generals. I'm more interested in culture and people. This podcast is awesome because you learn about things from history that you knew nothing about. I've learned about the history of ice cream, about the real Robin Hood, Loving v. Virginia, and the princess who swallowed a glass piano. It is really fascinating to hear about the types of things that seem to be omitted from standard history curriculum, and if you like history (or even if you think you don't), you should give this podcast a listen!

Those are my recommendations for podcasts- do you have any for me? Do you listen to podcasts? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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My Positano Story

14 August 2013

Hi folks! Today I am guest posting over at The Nectar Collective, telling the story of one of the best days of my life, in Positano, Italy. Pop on over, check it out, and let me know what you think!
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Time Out: Lessons Learned from a Summer Virus

13 August 2013

As you may have noticed, I've been a bit silent around these parts this past week. A Summer virus crept up on me and knocked me flat this past week. Even once the fever was gone, I had zero energy for anything more than watching movies in a horizontal position. Even as I write this, I am not quite feeling 100% (maybe 75%).

While I've been sick, I've only logged into my computer long enough to delete the masses of useless emails I receive each day, and respond only to the most important of the important. I've felt bad about not blogging, not reading other blogs, not keeping up across social media platforms. But I needed the break, and this break has taught me a few things:

  1. I deserve a break. All of the pressure to perform and deliver comes from within me, and in order for my body to heal, I need to release and let go of that pressure. My world will not cave in just because I took a social media break for a week.
  2. Slow down. I've been filling my schedule to the brim all Summer long, joking about how I had the same Netflix DVD sitting by my TV for 6-8 weeks. Well, it turns out that kind of schedule can run a girl ragged, and I've taken note. Since I love schedules, I will simply have to schedule weekly down-time for watching a movie or two.
  3. Listen to your body. I'm so glad I listened to my body and left work early on Tuesday, but I almost didn't. Thankfully, I've come to know that body aches indicate a real sign of illness and I left before my fever got worse.
  4. Health first. Above all things, I have to take care of my body before I take care of anything else. If I am not well, I cannot give my full energy to my work, my hobbies, my family, or my friends. I still feel guilty for taking sick leave from work, but I know that the sooner I go back, the longer my recovery will be, and the worse my performance will be. 
  5. Sleep is underrated. Get some shut-eye, and make sure to have lights out consistently every night to allow for as close to 8 hrs of sleep as possible. My body simply cannot function without ample sleep.
Have you ever had your health give you a reminder that you need to slow down? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Fabulous Fridays: August 9

09 August 2013
Hey-oh, Happy Friday! What a weird week this has been for me. On Tuesday, I left work early with a sore throat and chills, and I've been home sick the rest of the week with a mystery virus. No sunshine for me. I haven't had the energy to keep up with blogging (reading or writing), and I've felt bad about that. But my body needs rest, so that is what I must give it.

On that note, here are a few fabulous things from this week:

Going for a 2 mile run to get ice cream, and walking the 2 miles back home.

Lucy cuddles. Always fabulous.

Blogging while drinking hot cocoas (homemade, of course).

Breakfasting with Mr. Yogurt-Face. Bonus: he's been giving extra kisses this week (yogurt-free).

And now I would like to introduce you to a lovely sponsor of mine, Sarah of Metamorphocity. Sarah is a talented writer and I felt an instant connection when I first read her blog. To help you guys get to know her a little better, here are her answers to some questions I asked:

1. Why do you blog? So that my friends and family can have a break from listening to me talk. Heh. I've loved to share stories as long as I can remember. I love to, need to write and once I found this medium where I could write and tell the stories I wanted to (as opposed to when I was working as a small-town journalist) and connect with people and find kindred spirits I never would have encountered otherwise, I was hooked. 

2. When do you feel most confident?  When I find myself in that weird, almost trance-like writing zone where words just come flying out of me and on to the page in that electric way that they can when you feel particularly passionate or inspired about a story. When I know I've expressed myself well and I know exactly how I want a piece to end. Also, when I'm laughing and goofing around, surrounded by the amazing people who know and love me best.  

3. What is the best thing that has happened to you recently? I started working with Mother Nature Partnership, an amazing organization that works with the Gates foundation to supply women in rural Cameroon with sustainable menstrual hygiene products and education while working to dismantle the severe and restrictive taboos around periods in that part of the world. It's so ridiculously gratifying to be part of an organization  that inspires me and seeing the tangible difference it makes in people's lives. 

To get you started with Metamorphocity, check out Sarah's post about not being defined by a 9-5 job. Read this for her thoughts on growing up, this for a lovely night at an ice rink, and this for a little reminder about small kindnesses from strangers. Lastly, check out her About page for a lovely little intro to her blog.

What made your week fabulous? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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Of History and Royalty: My First Trip to London

06 August 2013

Found Love. Now What?

Since I don't have a hike post for you today, I will be linking up with Bonnie and Belinda for Travel Tuesdays! Below is the story of my run-in with the Queen during my first trip to London, which I alluded to last week in part 2 of my Reverse Bucket List.

My first trip to London, England was a whirl-wind haphazard affair. I was studying abroad in France that year, and two weeks before Armistice Day, one of my Oregon friends asked me and a few other girls if we wanted to go to London for our upcoming four-day weekend. I jumped at the chance as the prices were good and I wanted to see as much of Europe as I could. London was one of those cities I had always dreamed of seeing, as I have always had a fascination with British culture. 

The night before my friends and I left for London, I called home and spoke with my grandmother who told me to say hello to the Queen for her. Little did I know how close I would come to that during my short trip!

Our first morning in London was Armistice Day. We strolled about the town after a meager breakfast of toast and a petroleum-like jelly. The trees were lovely shades of gold and auburn and the early-November air was crisp. Lucky for us, the sky was bright blue. It was still early so nothing was open and we walked along a red tree-lined boulevard. At the end was some fancy building- was it the Buckingham Palace? No, it couldn’t be. We didn’t go up close to it- perhaps it was the South African Embassy. But as we walked up through the neighboring park and read a map, we had indeed bypassed the Buckingham Palace. I had apparently been more interested in gas lamps than the Queen’s London residence.

We soon made our way to wait in line for the National Gallery. I had a very deep interest in art history and therefore I could not leave London without seeing some of the most important paintings in Western Europe. While waiting for the museum to open, we were chatting quite loudly and the gentleman behind us joined in. We asked him if the Brits were on holiday as we were- I don’t recall his answer, but he informed us that there was to be a service at Westminster Abbey and that the Queen was to be in attendance. My friends jumped on this bit of information and asked me if we could perhaps go to Westminster Abbey instead. I was rather adamant about seeing my art, but we compromised- we would return to the museum as soon as we were done at Westminster Abbey. 

To get to the grounds of Westminster Abbey, we had to pass through security. I was terrified that someone would find us out- just a couple of silly American girls trespassing where they were not invited. Of course it was a breeze to pass through, but we were unprepared for what came next. All along the walkways were miniature memorials to all of the fallen soldiers, each soldier given a tiny cross with a red poppy (red poppies were everywhere that day). Old servicemen stood by the memorials in uniform, in honor of their fallen comrades. It was moving to see that though these soldiers had died long ago, their memory lived on.

Eventually, someone came over the loudspeaker and asked everyone to back away from the walkways. As everyone cleared the paths, the place became very still. Trumpets signaled a moment of silence. Then the Queen entered the grounds. I was standing very near to the door of Westminster Abbey, as close to the front of the pack as I could manage. The Queen made her way around the path, paying her respects at each memorial. My heart nearly stopped with every step she took nearer to where I stood. Finally, she stopped about ten feet in front of me. Ten feet! Never in my life had I thought I would ever be within ten feet of the Queen of England! The older British women next to me could not believe it either. I felt foolish and privileged all at once. How could three silly Americans who could not recognize Buckingham Palace come so close to the Queen of England? 

The rest of our trip was filled with more walking and sight-seeing (though not as much as I’d hoped). I did see my art, and how marvelous it was. I fell in love with a John Constable and was thoroughly intrigued by a depiction of Lady Jane Grey just before her execution. It is true that in London you cannot escape history and royalty, and in that first trip I enjoyed my encounters with both.

Have you ever stumbled onto something awesome? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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