things i’m loving

IMG_1860[1]

via Target
Who doesn’t love a good cross body (especially for under 20 buckaroos!)? This bright cobalt is all the rage this season.

IMG_1864[1]

via Essie
My joints are aching for some warm weather…and this polish in mint candy apple doesn’t help. Would be super cute with a golden accent (i.e. gold nail or two or even a design).

IMG_1862[1]

via Pottery Barn
My bathroom is so happy with its new robe hooks and matching fixtures in oil rubbed bronze. Just my style – classic with a hint of antique.

IMG_1858[1]

via Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution
These workouts have been kicking my butt! They’re only about 35 minutes each and make you hurt in all the right places :). Hopefully by summer I’ll have her abs…I can dream, right?!

IMG_1857[1]

via Moi
French press coffee is the best – especially if you don’t have to leave your house! Mine is made by Bodum and I love it. It’s easy to use and easy to clean. It’s available at Target and  Bed Bath & Beyond. I also have a Keurig but it’s easier to adjust the strength with my press.

IMG_1856[1]

via Moi (again)
I recently had dinner with my friend, Elizabeth, at Soul Gastrolounge in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte. I’ve heard great things about it for years, but never tried it. Believe me, its name doesn’t do it justice. We ended our tantalizing tapas dinner with a dark chocolate cupcake with salted caramel ganache and a whipped malt frosting. The photo isn’t very clear, but it didn’t last long enough to get another ;). This was one of the best cupcakes ever! It paired perfectly with a good ole cup ‘o joe.

Advertisements

Sending Good Thoughts into the Universe

I started off my Saturday morning with an amazing, relaxing and inspiring yoga/pilates class at the Y. After slacking off a little this week, I was determined to get up early and get it right today. I enjoyed a mocha almond Kashi bar on my 5 minute drive and rushed in just on time, yoga mat and Smart Water in hand.

I used to do yoga twice a week for about 5 years but have been on a sort of hiatus the last couple years. Even though I knew it balanced the pounding I did to my body during half marathon training, running became the front runner and I let yoga take a backseat. I’ve done it sporadically at home, but there’s nothing as zen-ful (yes, I made up a word there) as having someone with a calming voice guide your movements. It allows me to concentrate on my breathing and on deepening the poses when I don’t have to count or think about what move I should do next.

I definitely felt the burn in my arms and hamstrings today, which told me how out of practice I am. There’s nothing quite like that first downward dog after you’ve been off your mat for a while. I am hoping to start incorporating yoga back into my weekly routine, especially since I’ll begin training for my next half marathon this upcoming week. Yoga really helps with my flexibility and stretches out my hips and hamstrings that get so tight when I run regularly. It’s also a nice break from running everyday.

In addition to the physical benefits, yoga has always been a way for me to find my balance. When I get stressed or am carrying some extra emotional baggage, yoga is a way for me to escape for a while and find the clarity I need to release those things that bog me down. It helps me to appreciate the wonderful things in my life that become hazy when I can’t see through the fog. It is my zen.

I hope that you have something in your life that brings you clarity and helps you to also escape from your demons, whatever they may be.

Now I will leave you with a poem my favorite yoga instructor and zen life coach used to recite at the end of class:

May you be filled with peace and goodness, love and light. May you be well. Namaste. 

A Lovely Day Off

On Friday, I had a lovely day off of work and decided to fully enjoy it. I woke up early to get in my 30 day challenge workout via bodyrock.tv. I’m a week behind so I just completed day 5. I haven’t been as active lately, so I thought a challenge like this would be a great way to get back in the swing of things. All of the videos are 12-20 minutes, and let me tell you, it is worth waking up at 6:30 a.m. for. Honestly, I can do anything for 12 minutes. I was hurting the first day after just doing the fit test! I’m hoping this whips me back into shape so that in 25 days I can start training for another half marathon. There’s nothing like the burn that tells you you’re pushing yourself…ahhh, the burn. And I’m still feeling it.

After the workout and a quick bowl of cereal, I started cleaning. I go through these OCD clean freak phases, where I’ll spend an entire day cleaning and reorganizing my 952 sq. ft. house. It was not one of those days. 2 very kind volunteers from Habitat for Humanity came by to pick up some furniture I wanted to get rid of immediately donate and cleaned my forever untidy kitchen. Still in my sweaty yet comfy workout clothes, I went to meet my bff Jayni at our place – Amelie’s.

Located in NoDa (North Davidson), the art district of Charlotte, it’s this eclectic French-style cafe and bakery with mismatched chairs, couches and crazy chandeliers filling the space between the blue striped walls.

Chandelier made out of kitchen utensils and appliances

Best of all, it’s open 24 hours. We’re both busy bees and get caught up in work and school and everything else, but we meet there once or twice a month to take time out and relax and laugh and catch up on each other’s busy lives. It’s amazing that our friendship is still so strong after 13 years. It’s so easy to let life get in the way and I constantly struggle with that. Something I’ve learned, though, is that you have to make time for the people in your life. We’ll spend anywhere from 2 to 4 hours there whenever we go. I mean, it is an all afternoon event. We’ll start with coffee or tea and sit and chat about the cool stuff on the walls.

Then we’ll get lunch and eat and chat some more.

Me enjoying a turkey, brie and cranberry compote baguette

Then we’ll get a pastry (or two!) and sit and chat and drool over how delicious that salted caramel brownie (or macaroon) was that we devoured in 2 bites.

MMMMacaroons

Then we’ll chat some more before we go back to that big, busy world that awaits us…

The Neverending Office Project

Guess it’s time to tackle another organization, de-clutter project! At least I got to enjoy a few deliciously relaxing hours…

Back to the Grind

In keeping with my “better me” resolutions, I started exercising again this week and lemme tell ya, it hasn’t been easy.  My entire body is sore, from my slightly hunched shoulders to my butt bone, and I’ve spent every night before bed enjoying a hot bath and glass of wine (sometimes a girl just needs a good ole glass of red).  That seems to ease the pain temporarily.  I’ve always been a runner, despite shin splints, but after my last half marathon in December 2010 I just haven’t had the same drive to hit the pavement everyday. I did participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k back in October with my soul sister, Cat, for the American Cancer Society (I refer to her as my soul sister since we’re basically the same person in different packages).

Me & Cat before MSABC 5K

It was Cat’s first 5k (she hated running before she met me. you’re welcome, Cat 🙂 ) and she was super stoked, so it was great that we finished in 32 minutes. I think that was the first time she felt the same rush from running that I get. Besides the 5k, though, I have let running take a backseat to everything else going on in my life. Where it used to be a way for me to relax, it had become one more thing that stressed me out. So I cut it out (insert Uncle Joey scissor fingers here). I’ve used grad school as an excuse pretty frequently this year, but I know that if I really want to get back into it that’s all up to me. I’m the only one who can lace up my Asics and move.

I used to love waking up at 6 a.m. to get in a run before the rest of the world (or my little town) littered the streets with their SUVs and compacts.  There’s just something about being up as the sun breaks and taking in the day before I get bogged down with work and school and whatever else tends to add stress to my routine.  I’m also one of those weirdos that prefers running when it’s teetering 40 degrees, the harsh chill filling my lungs and forcing me to increase my speed to keep my blood pumping heat through my body. Ahhh, there’s nothing like it.

So, my challenge for myself today (and for you, too, if you’re interested!) is to run. Run like there’s no tomorrow. Even if it’s only for a mile. That’s one more mile than sitting on the couch, wishing I was running.

A New Year Equals New Beginnings

Happy 2012 (+2) everyone!  I hope you had a safe and fun time bringing in the new year!  I myself enjoyed some shenanigans (ie. booth dancing, cocktails and sparkly clappers) with my group of 6+ at our typical hangout on Cherokee Street, where one is Ms. Manager and another Mr. Chef. Needless to say, we always get the best service and a few freebies here and there 😉 . We were told there would be a deejay, which translated to posse as there was a man behind the turntable and another bouncing through the crowd doing sing-a-longs with the guests. This turned out to be quite the scene when he partnered with a tipsy, middle-aged gentlewoman (who had been the only one dancing for a good half hour) for a rap rendition of a song that will remain nameless.  I can always sing along to the good rap songs, but I can’t tell you the title or artist to save my life. That is, unless it happens to be m&m Eminem. The best part of the night, besides all the booth dancing, was the free pizza and champagne for treasured guests at midnight.  Let me tell ya, woof down some pizza we did.  And around 1AM we all drove home in pizza induced comas.

My orange dreamsicle midnight cocktail!

              

Now on to the good New Years’ stuff…

I hope you’ve made your resolutions for the new year. After all, it’s your opportunity to start over (or at least that’s how I choose to look at it).  I always look forward to this time because it reminds me to take care of myself.  It’s so easy to start the year off right by eating healthier, exercising daily, etc., but it’s even easier to tire out your motivation by the end of the year.  I like to think of this time as a blank slate, a chance to begin anew and refreshed…and a chance to actually succeed at achieving and maintaining my vital list of resolutions and lifestyle improvements.

Speaking of resolutions, here’s mine (in no particular order):
~ be a kick ass MOH for my best friend(of 13 years)’s wedding
~ travel to 3 new places (Boston is already on the agenda)
~ write blog posts 3 x per week (yikes – I just realized that’s 156 this year!)
~ take an art class (I currently have my eye on Alisa Burke’s recycled art class…check out her awesomely creative blog at http://alisaburke.blogspot.com/)
~ take a photography class/teach myself how to mack on photoshop
~ finish painting and redecorating my home office and bedroom
~ make improvements to my backyard (make grass miraculously grow, new shed, fence for Susie Q, lay patio stone, build a fire pit)
~ get my finances in order (aka pay off my car, undergrad student loan, etc.)
~ read at least 10 books that aren’t required for grad school (just started Across the River and into the Trees by Hemingway, my fave author)
~ write at least one poem or short story each month
~ submit 3 pieces to various publications
~ make a conscious effort to exercise regularly and eat healthier
~ run another half marathon
~ start practicing yoga again

I know this seems like a lot to tackle, but I’m posting my list to hold myself accountable.  Each of these things are things that I enjoy doing, but need to refocus on.  I’ll keep you updated as I start crossing things off my list!  Feel free to share your creative resolutions as well!