Hello, favorites. It's Sunday, and everyone in our house is feeling pretty cozy and tired. There's baked oatmeal in the oven (recipe coming soon) it's dark as midnight (except it's only 7:30...and we're only losing daylight from here!) We're settling into fall and getting ready for winter and all is well.
I had big plans for some blogs this week, and they entirely escaped me. The last few weeks at work have been uncharacteristically hectic, and while I think we're finally coming out of that (knock on all of the wood) it's kept me pretty occupied. On Friday afternoon I flew to Chicago for a Saturday work meeting, and got to spend the night with one of my best friends, her husband, and their two dogs and a cat. It was lovely to see her, and lovely to get home to Dan and Chewy last night. And TODAY, I accomplished a task that has been irking me for MONTHS--the backsplash in our kitchen! The rest of our home renovation was finished in about February, but the backsplash has been a thorn in my side ever since then. Originally we planned to do the tiling ourselves, but we never really got around to it, and then we planned to hire someone, but we hadn't gotten that done, and knew it would be expensive...and THEN. Then. My momma sent me a pin of a laundry room wall covered in tiles that look like old tin ceilings, and I realized I should just give that a try. So today, I did. And I love it SO much.
This entire project cost me less than $200 and took about three hours to finish, all by myself. It's really just a matter of measuring the space you need, cutting the tile sheets down to the right size, squeezing some adhesive on the back (I used loctite) and pressing them on to the wall. The tiles are plastic but look like metal, and they can be cut with a regular scissors. Seriously, anyone could do it. And it took our kitchen from this:
I can't even tell you how much better I feel about our kitchen now. I think most people wouldn't have noticed that our backsplash was missing (or assumed the weird faux-wood veneer was intentional and finished) but it always bothered me and made me feel like our house wasn't "done" yet. I wish I would have thought of this solution six months ago, but I'm so glad that I did it today! Thanks, Mom :)
Here's a progress shot:
So now our kitchen is finally, officially finished. I really love the kitchen--the original cabinets and the tall ceilings make the small space feel much bigger and more usable, and I appreciate our new countertops, sink, and appliances every day. I also love this little touch: I mounted plants above the kitchen window on a rod and some enamel pails from Ikea. Because I have a black thumb some of the plants need to be periodically replaced, but I love them nonetheless.
Looking forward to sharing some new recipes from you, from this VERY KITCHEN, very soon. Wishing you all cozy and wonderful Sundays.
I've gotta be honest, friends, because that's what I do here: this week has sucked. I really haven't been feeling fueled up, I've been feeling like if I get through the day without telling anyone to fuck off, then I deserve many pretty things and glasses of pinot. But bad weeks pass. And even in bad weeks, there are good things. The good things I want to talk about this week are scarves, deep breathing, and the book You are a Badass. We're covering a wide spectrum here. Buckle up.
Fall has arrived, so scarves can officially be worn, and I LOVE scarves. All fall fashion, really--give me scarves and boots or give me death. Plus they can be wrapped around me like a blanket when the oppressive climate control at work is gettin' me down.
Chewy is a fickle little pickle--if I try to take a photo of him he will NOT have it (he can be laying on me for an hour, but the second I try to take a selfie he's like, "I'm out.") But if I'm trying to take photos without him, he's like, "Hey! Mom! Give me some attention!" That poor dog really needs some grooming, we've let him develop so many dreadlocks he's starting to look homeless. Plus he's taken to chewing off patches of his fur (not the dreadlocked parts, annoyingly) so that's really not helping the aesthetic. But, I digress. Moving on.
II. Deep Breathing
At the risk of this blog becoming little more than live coverage of The Living Experiment podcast, I'm going to tell you that this idea came from The Living Experiment. Dallas and Pilar were talking about the fact that you can reduce stress hormones and slow your heart rate, essentially stopping a stress response, if you breathe in for a few beats, hold that breath for a few beats, and then breathe out for longer than you breathed in. So, something like: breathe in for four counts, hold for six counts, breathe out for eight counts. I've been using this a lot lately, either when I feel myself tensing up or when I just want to consciously set a calm vibe for myself, like on my morning commute. Just two or three breaths will do it. I also used this technique when my flight home from Boston last week hit severe turbulence, dropped unexpectedly, and everyone on the plane screamed. I'm not having a panic attack, you're having a panic attack. I'm breathing. And gripping my seat and listening to Justin Bieber. It's fine. Everyone's fine.
III. You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
This book was recommended to me as personal development by my Beachbody crew, and I just started it last night. It's awesome. She writes in exactly the way I love (true, striking, and also funny). The book is pretty well-described by its cover: it's about believing in yourself and living your best life. It's definitely self-helpy, but not cheesy, so I love it. Here's one of my favorite passages so far:
"I have a friend who's a professional speaker. She's the kind of person who is so articulate, so powerful and bright and naturally captivating, that she could be standing at the counter, ordering a burrito and I'd get all teary-eyed: 'That's right! No refried beans! You heard the woman!' So imagine my surprise when, after one of her talks, she plunked herself down next to me and demanded to know how boring it was. I have gorgeous friends who think they're hideous looking, brilliant clients who one moment think they're God's gift to mankind and the next need to be talked off the ledge of self-proclaimed ineptitude, and an entrepeneurial neighbor who can't decide if she's a financial powerhouse or if she's about to cause her family to start living underneath a bridge. Self-perception is a zoo."
She goes on to talk about how we're never surprised when our phenomenal friends go out and do something phenomenal, but for some reason we don't give ourselves the same credit. We don't get any benefit of the doubt. She suggests to try seeing yourself through the eyes of someone who admires and believes in you, to try to stop wasting so much time and energy picking yourself apart. Ok, is that not great?? And it's funny, and quick to read. Buy this one.
That's all I've got for you this week, but you never know what next week may hold! OH! Also. Last week I posted about the concept of managing your energy, and energizing vs. depleting tasks, and I decided I wanted to share that concept more deeply and connect with some of my friends and internet stranger-friends about it. So, I'm running a little online workshop next week, Monday-Friday, to do exactly that. It's going to happen through a private Facebook group, I'll share a little bit of content every day and then there will be some interaction with the group, but it can all be done on your own time and won't take more than 15 minutes a day. And it's totally free! If you're interested, you can head on over to Cocoa and Cotton's page on Facebook and comment on that post or send me a message. And actually, if you like the blog and aren't already following the Facebook page, I post a lot more content there and on Instagram (@happy_healthy_hannaloraine) that you may like. Alright, that's really it.
Ok, we need to talk about short weeks. They are harder than full weeks. I don't know why, but it's true. And here we are at Thursday already and I sat down to blog and I have so many feelings and so many things to write about. So we're going straight to Fueled Up Friday, because it's basically Friday and that's the only format that will accommodate all of these different topics. And next week, there will be more blog posts because I'll be back on my game. Let's just start with the weekend and work our way forward.
I. Visiting Friends
We spent one of the three days in last weekend in Rochester, visiting a friend from college and her husband. Dan and I are lucky to have a lot of close friends, and catching up with them for dinner and drinks always recharges our batteries. Especially when we go to lovely restaurants that serve things like this board. The pear jam was so freaking good (with/on/in-and-around all of the meats and cheeses) that I'm going to have to figure out how to make it and post the recipe this fall (you should be excited for that, because it is YUM.) Plus, our friends have a new puppy so Chewy had a playmate and came home exhausted, which is such a cherry on top.
II. Wild Alaskan Salmon
It's the time of year where you can buy wild Alaskan salmon in your local grocery stores, and everyone should be doing that. I made two beautiful, huge fillets this week and ate the leftovers for lunch. The salmon was melt-in-your-mouth tender, which I sometimes have trouble achieving, but I think I've finally figured out the right temperature and time combo.
Here's what worked: Preheat your oven to 425. Rinse salmon,* pat dry, and set on cookie sheet skin-side down (I like to use tin foil for easy cleanup). Our favorite glaze is one part mustard to one part maple syrup with a splash of rice wine vinegar (about 1/4 cup each maple and mustard, whatever mustard you like) spread that over the salmon and sprinkle with fresh rosemary. The other filet just has avocado oil and salt. Bake for 20 minutes and put your broiler on for the last three-ish. Let it rest for a few minutes and then use a spatula to separate the skin from the bottom.
*A friend pointed out to me that you don't actually need to rinse salmon, because it just spreads bacteria around your kitchen and any bacteria that's on the salmon is killed when you cook it. I laughed out loud when I read her comment, because I am ALWAYS telling Dan that exact thing about chicken, but it never occurred to me to apply that knowledge to salmon. I did sort of think you needed to pat it dry to get the crispy outside, though...I'm honestly not sure. But I did rinse and dry these guys, and they were delicious.
III. Love Warrior
Phew. Friends. You likely already know by now how much I love Glennon Doyle Melton (and her first book, Carry On, Warrior, and her facebook posts, and her blog, and her facebook live videos...) and I've been looking forward to Love Warrior's release since more than six months ago, when I ordered this signed copy WHICH ARRIVED TODAY. But the book was released Tuesday and obviously I've waited long enough, so I downloaded the audio book and binge-listened to it Tuesday and Wednesday. I had already started listening a second time through when I finally got the hard copy in my hands.
The book is excellent--it's really raw, and really heavy, and really densely packed with truth. You should read it. Probably more than once.
IV. Mantra Bands
I ordered this lovely little bracelet online and it's giving me so much joy. It's thin and pretty and it says "Have Courage and Be Kind." I actually think Mantra Bands might be the answer to preventing myself from getting more tattoos, because I want nothing more than to tattoo all the wisdom on myself but maybe I could just wear it on these pretty bangley bracelets instead. I think I'm going to order "Be Still and Know" next, but I'm debating between sticking with the silver color or adding a yellow or rose gold to the stack. Also, I'll probably still get another tattoo.
See how I snuck Chewy in there? Didn't even see him coming. I'm tricky like that.
V. 30 Days of Shakeology!
This week I hit thirty days of drinking Shakeology, and I'm a total believer. No one is more shocked about this than me. In thirty days, I've had not ONE upset stomach from the shakes (I had a few sort-of-upset-stomachs from other things, like too much cheese, but even those were few and far between). I've never been able to take a protein supplement without stomach issues before. And this one is a delicious afternoon treat that I look forward to every day. I've gained a noticeable amount of muscle between drinking the shakes and doing the 21 Day Fix Extreme workouts (I especially love the weights-focused workouts, and have been thrilled with the results) which is AWESOME. "Gain muscle" has been on my to-do list for...years. I'm truly terrible at consistent weight training. Beachbody may have solved this problem for me. Can I get a hallelujah??
Super strong flexing pictures to come, probably.
Aaaaalright, that's enough for one Friday. Does that almost make up for the fact that there were no other posts this week? Almost sort of? Love you.
Friends! I was driving to work today and it was suddenly summer. It wasn't summer earlier this week, but somehow the leaves on all the trees came out without my noticing it, and the sun is shining bright and early in the day, and it's green and gorgeous and summer. And it's Friday! All of the best things are here today. On this week's installment of Fueled Up Friday, we're talking about Thred Up and Lara Bars (specifically the coconut cream pie version that I can't stop shoving into my face).
I. Thred Up
My No New Clothes Challenge is still going strong, and I'm starting to think that I'm going to try to buy mostly secondhand clothing permanently. I'm sure there are times when I'll buy new clothes in the future, but the more I look into it the more I realize there's such a wealth of gently used clothing available that can save me money and save the planet some unnecessary waste. I decided to give Thred Up a try (if you haven't heard of it, Thred Up is an online thrift store where you can browse gently used clothing and they'll ship your purchases to you). I ordered a chunky short sleeved sweater, a silky striped skirt, and some snake-skin patterned flats that arrived this week.
The skirt is Ralph Lauren, and it's silk but it's a thicker, more substantial fabric than other silk skirts I've owned. I was also super pleasantly surprised to learn it had pockets (I'll admit that I shrieked a little bit with joy at this discovery. Dan did not understand.) It's comfy and versatile, and helps me to fulfill my dream of wearing stripes every day.
This chunky sweater is basically all I'm going to be wearing this summer. It's soft and chunky and drapey in my favorite sort of way, but sleeveless and perfect for layering over summer clothes when the evenings get a little crisp (or wearing to the office to deal with the constantly overdone air conditioning). Lucky Brand made this beautiful thing. Well done, Lucky. I hate your jeans but I love your sweaters.
These flats are also definitely going to be a summer staple. They have separate toe and heel pieces so they're open on the arch part of your foot and don't get too hot, and they're comfy and easy to throw on with anything. Plus, the pattern is a little more interesting than my standard black/gray/tan flats. They are made by Breckelle's.
I bought all three items for $60, and all three are in excellent like-new condition. I didn't order a bag for selling items to Thred Up, but I think I'm going to try that next with some clothes I've been meaning to drive over to the consignment store (but likely never will, at this rate).
II. Lara Bars
I know that Lara Bars are not a well-kept secret, but they deserve a shout-out anyway. And, if you haven't tried their Coconut Cream Pie flavor...you should do that. Probably now.
For those of you who aren't already addicted, Lara Bars are snack bars that are made out of real, simple ingredients. They all use dates as a base so they're sweet, and they also usually include a nut, maybe some spices, maybe another dried fruit, and that's about it. You could make these at home, and I have before (my mom does all the time now) but at this point in my life I prefer to just buy them. Convenience, you know? These are one of the few easy, pre-packaged treats that are Whole 30 compliant and paleo, and while you do have to be careful not to go crazy and eat then of them (you could, and they're still definitely a treat) they're a healthy treat that I feel good about throwing in my bag for those low blood sugar moments. And they're SO. GOOD. You can order this flavor on Thrive Market, but Lara Bars are available at lots of grocery stores (usually by the Power Bars/Clif Bars, etc.) Go grab yourself some, and eat them, and fall in love, and then we can talk about how great they are together. I'm always up for joint adoration of delicious foods.
Have a wonderful weekend!
There's a really lovely Matt Nathanson song that played in my head over and over again in my early college years called Little Victories. I love this song because it's just the reminder I need when I feel like I'm drowning in life: hold on to the little victories. Adulting getting you down? Little victories, my friend. My little victories to start off this week are tiny spots of beauty around my home: I finally got around to hanging a mirror that I really love in our bedroom, and some potted plants in these sweet little enameled buckets above our kitchen window, and the cutest teensy orchid added the perfect touch to our bathroom, which desperately needed something green. And today is a rainy Monday, which is the perfect kind for getting things done, even if the to-do list is a mile long. And Chewy's soft, wet dog nose is perpetually in my face/on my lap/wiggling around my kneecaps as I walk in the door, no matter what else is happening. Little victories.
This time, I'll be sailing
No more bailing boats for me
I'll be out there on the sea
Just my confidence and me
And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
But I'll learn to get by
On little victories
This time, I'll have no fear
I'll be standing strong and tall
Turn my back towards them all
And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
And I'll learn to get by
On the little victories
And if the world decides to catch up with me
Still little victories
Alllllllright, it’s time to talk about Casa de Cocoa & Cotton. House stuff has been dominating my life for the last few months so I’m excited to share some more details and photos of what we’ve been doing—I’ve held off because my plan was to reveal each room one at a time as they were really finished, but as everyone knows a new house doesn’t really get to “finished” in the way you want it to very quickly. So we’re just going to jump right in—more pictures will be shared as we get closer and closer to the true “after” stage.
Before we bought and moved into our new house, we lived in a duplex not far from where we live now—our move was less than a mile altogether. We loved our old house, but didn’t love the block that it was on (mostly apartment buildings, some not very well cared for) and the immediate area was just sort of high shenanigans. We moved from the outskirts of uptown into more of the heart of uptown, and now we’re in a neighborhood we love, very close to Lake Calhoun, and our favorite restaurants, and parks, and general Minneapolis loveliness. Our house is also a duplex, so we rent out the upper apartment and live on the main floor. Eventually, our plan is to convert the house into a single-family home, so this is the house we’re planning to stay in for the foreseeable future. I LOVE living in a home that we don’t plan to move out of, and making it our own has been exhausting and wonderful.
What we immediately loved about our house when we saw it was the 1920s classic Minneapolis feel—it has gorgeous wood built ins and details everywhere, giant original cabinetry in the kitchens, tall ceilings (important, when your husband is 6’9”) and wood floors throughout. Most of the wood is in remarkably good shape, considering it has been a rental for so many years, but some of it does need some love (luckily, that’s a passion of mine—inherited from antique-loving parents—so we’re happy to tackle some TLC for the windowsills and door frames that need it). So, we saw this beautiful, well-preserved 100-year-old house…but we also saw that it was pretty filthy and needed some shining up. We decided to do some immediate renovations, starting with refinishing the wood floors throughout and then basically gutting the bathroom and renovating the kitchen (re-doing basically everything except the cabinets, which we love—new floor, new appliances, new countertops, new backsplash). We hired a contractor to do everything except painting—we re-painted every room in the house before we moved in, except the bathroom and kitchen, which I just painted last weekend after the renovations in those rooms were finished. Dan and I are going to tackle the backsplash ourselves, so that still isn’t done, and we’re replacing light fixtures and outlets/switch plates ourselves. Alright, that’s enough words—ready for some before pictures?
As I mentioned in a previous post, we were without a shower for a couple of weeks while our bathroom was torn apart (luckily there’s a weird bathroom in the basement with a toilet and no sink. Super cool.) And we had a lot of takeout nights between missing kitchen counters and not having new appliances installed—and, of course, when our new appliances were installed they kept tripping the kitchen fuse just by being plugged in. So some electrical work needed to be done to remedy that. Here are some “work in progress” photos (you can also see that our house was just a mess during this time--hard to keep things organized when you keep losing cabinets and counters):
We did have the contractors raise the cabinets over the refrigerator and the stove by a few inches so that we could fit a full-size refrigerator in that space. I’m really glad we ended up doing that—it makes our kitchen much more functional, and makes it much more likely that we won’t need to touch the kitchen again in the future. We ran into typical problems while the renovation was happening—turns out the sub floor in the bathroom was completely rotten, so we had to pull out the entire subfloor and ended up replacing a bathtub that we were going to leave (which is for the best, because now our tub is nice and deep and great for soaking…but the subfloor was an added expense). Aforementioned electrical issues were what you would expect for a 1920s house, and also needed some (expensive) love. Things took much longer than expected. Our house was a disaster area for quite a while. By the end, I was really sick of the contractors showing up at our house at 7am (thanks for being so prompt and eager to get started…give me a sec to put a bra on…) but I really love the choices we made in the bathroom and kitchen (and for the color of the wood floor) and I’m so happy with how everything is coming together. The never-ending “to do” list is down to basically the backsplash, hanging some shutters in Kelly’s room, hanging a mirror in our bedroom, and finding a cool chandelier to replace our bedroom light fixture (at some point). Oh, and we need to figure out what we’re doing with our bedroom closet…it needs rods, and organization systems, and….stuff. It needs some stuff. But that’s basically nothing, compared to what we’ve done!! Here are the “almost after” pictures.
I love how our furniture and décor from our last house have transitioned to the new space—our dining room table is a refurbished farmhouse table that I bought at the Junk Bonanza last year (and added those tall wheels so Dan’s long legs can fit underneath) and I swore I would never move to a house where that table wouldn’t fit, because I LOVE it. I also love the radiator covers with the punched-metal grates, and how they fit in with our artwork and lamps. Overall, I’m so happy to be in the house and to for things to be settling down so we can relax and enjoy it. Stay tuned for more detailed room reveals as we finish things up!
You know what? Mondays are hard, and being an adult is hard, and we're going to just go ahead and be adults on Monday anyway. I read a blog post recently where the author posited that you can tell if you really love your job if you wake up excited on Monday morning, and at the end of the workday you feel energized, and no disrespect to that blogger (she's obviously Superwoman, so good for her) but I just don't buy that. I regard myself as basically the luckiest lawyer on earth--I find my job both interesting and (mostly) enjoyable, it pays me well, and I feel like I'm contributing to the greater good through the work that my company does (let's call this the trifecta) but you know what I feel like on Monday mornings? I feel like I'd really love for it to be Sunday again. I feel like there isn't enough coffee in Costa Rica to tackle my inbox. I feel like I didn't get enough time to snuggle Chewy's soft face and tuck into whatever book I'm reading. Does this mean that I don't love my job? Nope. Does it mean that I love my house and my yoga pants? It does. It does mean that.
That is not what this post is about, but it needed to be said. This post is about a new idea that I had. I'm calling it a challenge, because isn't that clever. Challenges are fun, mais non? (That French just came out of nowhere! I googled it. It's not really what I meant, which is such a perfect representation of my French that I'm leaving it. Moving on.)
The challenge is this: I'm not going to buy any *new* clothing or accessories. If I want to add something to my wardrobe, I'm going to purchase it from thrift or consignment stores. I don't know how long the challenge is going to last (mystery is also fun, FYI) but here's why I'm doing it:
1. A lot of my impulse purchases are made online, so cutting off the option to online shop will help drastically reduce the shopping that I already didn't need to do. I'm not opposed to adding items to my wardrobe, but I want my purchases to be more thought-out, and less, "Ooooh, Banana Republic just sent me a 40% off email..."
2. Thrifting is better for the environment. Hoarding clothes is materialistic, and bad for both my bank account and the planet. Plus, lots of people have problematic shopping habits and I can benefit from their mistakes by purchasing them at thrift stores that are overflowing with gems.
3. I really don't need any more clothing, but I find that "don't buy any new clothes ever" is a resolution that doesn't stick for me. I like clothes, and if there's something that I truly want I'm fine with buying it. But, with thrifting, I might have to look a little harder for the item I want, and I see that as a good thing.
4. I will save money, which is great because buying a new house and putting things in that house are expensive endeavors.
5. Sometimes I shop because I'm in a bad mood ("retail therapy" is a saying for a reason, yes?) and this challenge actually still allows me to do that, I'm just going to drive to different stores, and (hopefully) get better deals.
One exception to this rule: I'm going to need a new pair of running shoes this season, so I'm allowed to buy those. Those cannot be purchased secondhand.
Who wants to join me in the challenge? If you sign up now, you can get the special $0 down enrollment fee and the great rate of $0 per month to participate. Let's do it.
If you came here thinking you were going to get a recap of the Hot Dash race, fear not--that's coming tomorrow. Spoiler alert: I WON. (The race with Dan. Not the whole race. Obviously.)
Hi, friends! It’s time for this week’s Fueled Up Friday. I loved hearing everyone’s reactions to last week’s post, and I think this series is a keeper. Up this week: springtime in Minneapolis, burpees, and Jeffrey Toobin's book about the OJ Simpson trial.
1. Springtime in Minneapolis
The warm weather is upon us! This week was in the sixties and felt amazing, so that in itself filled me with happiness. But what's really fun about spring in the frozen tundra is the euphoria that overtakes the entire Twin Cities. Seriously--last Sunday it was sunny and beautiful, and driving past Lake Calhoun and through Uptown to get to our house I a) almost hit like fifteen pedestrians because the place was swarming with people, and everyone was just walkin into the street willy nilly, and b) noticed that literally every single person I saw was smiling or laughing. You would have thought you had accidentally wandered into a very popular street festival, but you would have been wrong. That's just the kind of joy that overtakes this city when the warm weather comes. It's the best people watching of the year--every shape, size, color, and style of person you can imagine is just out in the world letting their light shine. Can't be grumpy on a day like that.
The warmer weather also means new outfits have become available! I do NOT like to be cold (great choice to live in Minnesota, I KNOW) so in the winter I really bundle up. All the layers, all of the exposed skin must be covered. So when outfits like this become an option again, I am a happy girl.
Also, can I just say that I like sharing outfit pictures because I like outfits, but I hate taking photos because I can’t figure out what to do with my face, and I’m considering just making this expression in every picture from here on out?
Would you still love me if I did that with my face? Maybe we'll find out.
Burpees are a move that the fitness world loves to hate. Almost every fitness expert cites the burpee as one of the best full-body moves you can do, and simultaneously all the fitness junkies are like "oh NO, burpees, save me! Spare me! Puh-lease!" So, I'll be the first to admit that I've never really done these until recently. Mostly because they involve a push up in the middle, and I find those to be hard enough on their own, let alone sandwiched between some squatting and jumping business. For those of you who are like "WTF is a burpee Hanna, you've lost me already" watch this YouTube video.
So, recently I've been pinning some quick home strength workouts to try to switch it up, and one of my favorites involves this circuit: 5 burpees, 10 squats, 5 burpees, 10 lunges (each side), 5 burpees, 15 sit ups. You repeat that as many times as you can in 20 minutes (or, if you are me, you do it two or three times and then collapse, without looking at how long it took you). I've noticed a few things: 1) burpees are really hard. That reputation is well-earned. 2) I like them. First because they really wear me out and I feel the work in my whole body in a really short amount of time, which is so efficient, and second because I've noticed myself getting better at them really quickly, and that's the most gratifying part of working out. 3) I think they're really helping tone my arms! Hooray for that! I've been trying to integrate more burpees and more planks because they are both simple, fast, whole-body toning moves and I'm starting to notice the benefits.
3. The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin
Word on the street is that this book has been turned into a TV series on FX, and I bet that series is awesome but I wouldn't know because we can't keep a television alive longer than a few months in our house. No joke, after having a dead TV in our living room for close to a year, we finally bought a new one on black Friday and broke it a few weeks ago when it jumped off its TV stand, to its death. So I'm reading this book instead of watching the series, and I think that's probably for the best.
I love a good crime story, and the OJ trial is obviously a legendary story. But, having been in the first grade when the trial happened, all I remember about the trial is that the day the verdict came back my first grade teacher made all the kids sit quietly on the carpet square in the corner while she and the teacher's aid listened to the radio across the room to hear the jury's decision. So, I'm learning about it for the first time and I can't put this book down. If I'm being honest, this book was the opposite of fuel for me this week, because it caused me to stay up too late several nights because I couldn't stop reading. But those are the best kinds of books, so it goes on the list.
Happy Friday, friends! We made it! I hope you all had lovely weeks, and I'll be back next week with some recipes--there was a recipe shortage this week because I had SO MANY other things I wanted to talk about! And also because I kept accidentally eating cheese and crackers for dinner.
Happy Friday, everyone! I'm trying something new this week--skipping the weekly workout log on Wednesday and instead swapping in a new kind of post that I'm going to try out the next few Fridays. The idea behind Fueled Up Fridays is taking a look at the things that kept me energized and excited throughout the week--this is a good reflection tool for me, and will hopefully give you some ideas for new things to try, too. This week, I'm talking about three things (and it was hard to narrow the field, because this was a really good week!): Glennon Doyle Melton, The Women's Strength Summit, and finally unpacking my clothes at the new house.
I. Glennon Doyle Melton (and specifically her book, Carry On, Warrior)
I first became familiar with Glennon because friends of mine on Facebook were liking her posts and every one I read was so profoundly true, and stripped down, and loving, and right (and funny, on top of all of that) that I finally started following her myself. I am completely in love with this woman's soul. For context, Glennon is a recovering alcoholic and drug user whose life changed drastically and quickly when she found herself pregnant at 26 (which was also the moment that she stopped drinking and using drugs). She married her husband, the father of her children, whom she had been dating for a while but had known for "ten sober nights" when they tied the knot. She is now a mother of three, still married to that man, and the best kind of Christian (who, you know, is most interested in forgiveness and loving others....like Jesus.) Her writing cuts to the heart of being human in a way that is frankly difficult to describe. But please, take my word for how magical it is.
Because this world is a wonderful and magical place, Glennon is friends with Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love and Committed, two of my all-time favorite books, and another human who I would like to take squarely by the shoulders and say "You get it, this life thing. Thank you for writing about how much you get it.") Glennon has a new book coming out this summer, and Elizabeth has been talking about how great it is, and I'm DYING to read it, and then this week I learned that Glennon is also coming to the Twin Cities to speak this summer and I immediately scooped up two tickets to see her. Part of the promotion for that event mentioned the book she has already published, Carry On, Warrior, and I immediately bought that book on my Kindle app and started reading it that night. And you guys. This book. It's changing my heart. It's making my life better. It's doing all the best things that art can do for you.
I love Glennon's writing because she is funny and lighthearted and self-deprecating, and in the midst of all of that she says things that are so right on that it actually takes my breath away. There are so many passages in her book that I've highlighted (and I don't ever do that, unless it's by accident because I meant to turn the page but my iPad misunderstood). I knew I wanted to share a passage from the book on my blog, and I had a hard time choosing because there are so many that I love so much. I want to turn this entire book into a poster I can hang on my wall. I want to wallpaper my house in these words. Because I couldn't choose, this is the most recent passage I highlighted, in a chapter about marital struggles:
"I read somewhere that God sends us partners who are most likely to help us heal. This rings true to me. It's just that sometimes the healing is so hard that one or both partners can't take it, so somebody bails, or makes it impossible for the other partner to keep on loving. I understand this completely. Healing is so painful. Thankfully, when we turn away someone who would have helped us heal, God sends another. I don't think he punishes us. He gives us lots and lots of tries. God is Forever Tries. I think He sends our healing partners in all different forms, not just spouses. He sends sisters, girlfriends, strangers, authors, artists, teachers, therapists, musicians, and puppies until one or several partners stick. But if we want redemption, we have to let one stick, eventually. We have to sit through the pain long enough to rise again."
II. The Women's Strength Summit
Another great example of women being their awesome selves this week is a virtual event being put on by Steph Gaudreau (also known for her brand, Stupid Easy Paleo) called the Women's Strength Summit. The Summit started on Tuesday, and there are a handful of amazing and inspirational speakers streaming every day, talking about strength and fitness and confidence and body image. The amazing part is that the summit is free, and the talks are available for three days after they go live. I've been streaming them at home while I do my evening workouts or cook dinner. Each of the talks I've listened to have been thought-provoking and each of the speakers has had a distinct personality and viewpoint that shines through to the listener. What I have really loved is that all of the speakers I've listened to have come across loud and clear as happy, well-adjusted, settled (and yes, strong) women. They are each all of these things in their own way--from the women whose focus is on body image and promoting self-love to the women whose focus is on building muscle and promoting strength training in the female athlete community, they're living different lives and are passionate about different things but they have each clearly found peace and joy in their own health journeys and helping others on their path toward wellness.
I particularly loved Erin Brown's discussion of self-love from the perspective that women feel the need to comment on each other's appearance as an indirect way of focusing on, or avoiding focus on, their own insecurities. Her point was that society approaches women primarily about how we look rather than any other aspect of our selves, but also that women often comment on other women's appearances either in negative ways (often to make yourself feel better--maybe I don't measure up to the standards of perfection, but neither does she) or to make yourself feel worse (if only I could look like she looks, I'm sure everything would be better). The takeaway from that is that focusing on changing how you talk to yourself, or think about yourself, is often really hard, but you can start making meaningful changes by focusing on how you talk about/think about other women. She gave the example of a friend of hers who made a point of picking out something that she liked or could compliment for every single woman she saw--this friend would sit in a public place and think to herself "I really like her shoes. Her walk is so confident. She has really pretty hair." This internal dialogue about other people eventually had an impact on her own negative self-talk, and helped her to be more gentle with herself. More loving. Such a hard thing. I appreciated her take on a different way to approach that shift.
That's just one of many examples of a great and thought-provoking exchange from the Summit--if you're interested in learning more, you can check it out here.
III. Finally Unpacking My Clothes!
We've lived in our house for a month and a half now, but it's really only the last week or two that I've gotten my clothes organized enough to start wearing real outfits (or maybe it's just that I finally have the energy to find the pieces I'm looking for, now that we have a fully functional bathroom and kitchen and I don't have contractors in my house at 7am every day.) In any case, I'm getting back into my normal routine and having fun with getting dressed again. Here are a few pieces I've been wearing on repeat:
1. The Picnic Table Pants
I have a real shortage of non-jean pants that fit me well, so I recently went in search of more and found these at TJ Maxx (they're Cynthia Rowley and they're awesome). When I tried them on I texted a picture to my friend Jenny to ask if they looked too much like a picnic tablecloth, and because she is a great friend she said, "No, I like them!" And the picnic table pants and I lived happily ever after.
2. The Best Blazer There Ever Was
I don't have to wear suits every day anymore (or ever, actually) but I used to wear them, and I've purchased a lot of blazers because of it. This is the best one I've ever owned, and it's from TARGET. Target, you evil genius, you. Are there no limits to what wonderful products you can offer me?!
3. Ankle Boots
We've been enjoying some early spring weather in Minneapolis, which means I've braved showing about two inches of skin between my pants and my ankle boots several times. Ankle boots qualify as perfect shoes in my mind because you can wear socks, they're easy to dress up or down, and they go with jeans, skirts, work pants and dresses equally well. Evil genius shoes, those ankle boots.
That's it for the inaugural edition of Fueled Up Fridays--I hope you all have a great weekend. I'm throwing a bridal shower for one of my best friends on Saturday and going for a run and having post-run brunch with another of my best friends on Sunday, so if you don't grab some fun for yourself I'm going to use it all up. Chewy also wants me to say hello on his behalf. He loves you.
I am not good at keeping my nails pretty. When I worked at the law firm, a friend of mine was talking about how she accidentally cut herself trimming her cuticles, and I was like “you trim your cuticles at home?? Am I supposed to do that?” She sort of cocked her head to the side and said “let me see your hands….umm, yeah…you should trim your cuticles.” Good. Thanks. Good tip. So, I’m not the best source of advice on this front, but we’re all works in progress and I’m trying to get better, so come along with me anyway.
For Christmas, a friend gave me a top coat called seche vite that is AMAZING. The whole point, for those of you who don’t speak French, is that it dries super fast. Which is great for those of us who mess up our nails before they dry almost every time. It’s also nice and thick, which helps keep the polish from chipping (although when it does chip it basically just peels off in one giant piece, and then you have mismatched naked-and-painted nails). You can also paint your nails and top them off with seche vite right before you go to bed and not worry about creases in the polish (again, being the nail rookie that I am, I didn’t realize you would get sheet imprints in nail polish if you painted them too close to bed time until I was about 25, and wondering aloud to a different friend how I ended up with a linen finish on my nails. Without even looking, she said “you painted them and then you want to bed. That’s not a fancy top coat, that’s the imprint of your comforter.” Umm, ok, right.)
So, buy yourself a bottle of seche vite and paint your nails whenever the hell you feel like it. Or, not at all. Goodness knows I’m not judging. Also, if you have tips for cuticle management I am ALL EARS.
This Week's Workout Log
My training got a little screwed this week by a busy weekend (birthday-valentine's day-birthday sandwich) followed by the stomach flu. But, I will rally. Here's what I got done:
Wednesday: 45 minute spin class at work followed by 15 minute hard core abs class. You guys, the spin instructor for this class is 38 weeks pregnant and still teaching. Makes me feel not so great about myself when I'm struggling through class and she is TRUCKIN ALONG. She's badass.
Thursday: It was way too cold to run outside today, so I took my run to the treadmill. BUT, our new kitchen appliances were just installed, and thanks to the miracle of old house electrical wiring, our kitchen appliances were mysteriously on the same circuit breaker as our treadmill (two rooms away). Because...why wouldn't that be true? Long story short, I blew the fuse trying to run on the treadmill and gave up about two miles in. At least it was something.
Saturday: I tried to live up to my promise of doing more strength training this day, and decided to try out a new kettlebell workout, which I found on Pinterest (original post is here.) The workout consists of two circuits that you repeat three times each, and I did it with my 20 lb kettlebell. The first set is 12 Russian Swings, followed by 10 squat to row, followed by 20 split lunges (10 on each side--I did these as walking lunges and passed the kettlebell from hand to hand underneath my front leg on each lunge). The second circuit is 10 RDL (the original workout says to do these on one leg but I'm not sure how you're supposed to even it out--I did the first and second times through the circuit on alternate legs, and split the third circuit to do five on each leg), followed by 20 Russian Twists (10/side) and 20 one-arm rows (10/side).
So, when I first saw this workout I thought "that's a great start, and then I'll probably add a set of clean and presses and maybe some other stuff on the end." HA. You guys, I finished this workout, but I knew by the end of it I was going to be extremely sore. I winced every time I sat down or did stairs for...three days? Mostly because it targets parts of your upper hamstring and your glutes that I otherwise don't work enough. Clearly. So this one's a keeper.
Monday: This was supposed to be a 6 mile run, but instead it was a "lay on the couch and curse the microorganisms that cause the stomach flu."
Tuesday: Was feeling much better, so I took Chewy for a 3-mile "run." Chewy is really not a runner, guys, but I'm not ready to give up on him yet. Sure, he wants to stop and smell every fire hydrant we got past, and needs to take breaks to frolic in the snow, but he's adorable. So we don't make great time, but we get the job done.
Wednesday (today): Made it to the weekly spin class, but skipped "hard core" abs afterward. Didn't have it, friends. Not hardcore today. Maybe tomorrow. Not today.
And that's it! Later this week I'll be sharing the recipe for Chewy's birthday pupcakes and a tutorial for refinishing radiators, if you're lucky enough to live in a vintage house like ours! (I actually love our radiators because they keep our house so cozy, but a few of them were in super rough shape. Fortunately, that's not hard to fix! More to come.)