Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Metallic Eye

Here is a fun look I decided to try because metallics can go with anything, and are always in style! I used a light, neutral shadow, lined the top lid with a dark brown, lined the bottom with gold eyeliner, and lined the inner corner with a shimmery silver. I finished off with 2 coats of mascara on the top and bottom lashes. Metal gear solid! Or...something.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Beginner's Workout

Today marks the 4th week (1 month mark) of my adventures in fitness. I am actually pleasantly surprised that I have kept it up, and even more shocking still, I enjoy doing it. If you had told me at the beginning of the month that I would actually enjoy working out, I would have laughed in your face. I had so many reasons not to go (don't have time, don't have money, don't want to do it, I'm sick, crafts seem like more fun obvi, etc.). I even had legitimate concerns about going (I had back surgery 9 years ago, will I hurt my back? Will my (already small) boobs disappear completely?) Coming from the girl who HATES to run, even around the block, and has started and abandoned workout routines no less than 10 times, I surprised myself. I am kicking myself (not literally--I bruise easily) for not having started earlier. I have been buying some cute new workout clothes, and even got myself some weight lifting gloves--something I never thought I would buy!

I believe that I can attribute my success thus far to 3 big factors:

1. I got a GREAT deal on a gym membership for only $25/month. I am on a family plan, so it's actually about $10 cheaper than the individual membership. The gym is also just down the block, so it's very convenient to go anytime.

2. I have a great workout buddy (Josh) who has given me really good advice to work out the right way and not get hurt. A workout buddy is also great motivation for you to go when they are holding you accountable. Every time I thought up an excuse to not go, I felt really bad, like I was letting Josh down for not going myself. Guilt for the win!

3. I have had the willpower to go 4-5 times per week religiously.

At first, 4-5 days per week sounded like a lot to me. But honestly, going 4 or 5 days a week is not as hard as I thought it would be. It still gives me 2 days off to let my body rest. Also, the days i know I am going to be hanging out with friends or making plans after work, I take as my days "off" from the gym. I originally set my goal to go at least 3-4 days per week, and so far, have easily been making 4-5 days. And when I do go, it's for at least an hour and a half. I do about 40 minutes of circuit training, 20 minutes of stretching, and 20 minutes to finish on the elliptical. The biggest thing is that I am not making excuses to not go the gym. Believe me, I have thought about it, but the one day I didn't go last week was because I was feeling pretty sick, and had a pounding headache. I know if I would have went that day, it would have only intensified.

I cope with the time out from my day by not looking at the clock while I am at the gym. I don't even bring my phone with me (unless I am working out alone). Seriously, I just don't keep track of the time, because the reality is that I should be doing all of the workout without worrying about how long it will take. I have also gotten some good reading time in, because I bring my Kindle to the gym and read while I run on the elliptical. I also almost never watch TV shows (mainly because I can catch anything I ever want to see online, and also I am usually busy doing other stuff), but I can catch some of them while on the machines at the gym. It's also easy for me to be indoors when it's so cold outside right now. I am looking forward to summer, and being able to be active outside. I will probably ride my bike, but who knows--I may start running! That's a long shot, but it could happen.

My body has reached the point where it's no longer sore after my workout. The soreness thing only lasted about 3 days, max, so once I made it past that, I was golden. What I am learning about working out is that you have to do it properly, and so many people do not. Here are some great beginning pointers I got from Josh. Already from just my short time at the gym, I have seen people violate almost all of these.

Beginner's Workout Tips

-If anything is hurting, stop. Just stop. Working out is supposed to be challenging, but you could really injure yourself if you feel hurt and you keep pushing yourself.

-Stretching should be done before anything else in conjunction with working out, because you actually can lose flexibility from weight training. Striking a balance is key.

-When stretching, hold positions for about 25 seconds. Anything less than that does not give your muscles enough time to really stretch out. 

-Doing 3-5 sets is ideal for each exercise you do, and anywhere from 8-12 reps per set is great. I do 3 sets, and the reps vary, depending on the machine.

-Allow yourself to have a full minute rest between each set, because you have to allow your muscles to disperse the lactic acid you just built up. While resting, you can pop over to a different machine that works a completely different muscle group, then switch back to your original machine, and cut your workout time down by doing this.

-For weight training, you will know if you are lifting the correct weight, because you should be able to just barely do 8 reps of one set. If you can easily do 12 reps and keep going, you probably need to increase your weight.

-Each rep you do should be done slowly: at least 2-3 seconds out, 2-3 seconds back in. You don't get more benefit out of the exercise by going faster. In fact, you get less. I have seen several people doing fast reps, although the benefit is not about quantity, but rather, quality.

-For cardio, try to run on a machine that can display your heart rate. It's important to do this because you should maintain a pretty consistent heart rate throughout. Many people get tired and slow down at the end of their cardio workout.

-Crunches actually put an unhealthy strain on the weakest part of your back, which could down the road could lead to disk herniation (umm...OUCH!) Flex intolerance can also occur, which is so much pain and stiffness that one cannot easily bend at the waist to pick something off the ground. I swear, I am not trying to scare you, I just learned this. They also don't work ALL the stomach muscles, which can lead to good looking abs from the side...and no other angle.So what is a good exercise to get abs? Planks and leg drops, in which you lie on your back, raise your legs in the air at a 90 degree angle, and slowly lower them until they almost touch the ground. Repeat until you cannot do them anymore. Rest a minute, and do 2 more reps.

-Drink lots of water during your workout, because otherwise you will get very parched and dehydrated.

I know the results of working out will not be immediate for me, but I am willing to work hard for them. The short-term effects I have experienced already have been nothing but positive: I feel physically stronger, I have more energy throughout the day, my mood is better, and my appetite is increasing. I am actually able to eat everything on my plate and still get hungry every few hours. I also am thirstier lately and have been drinking more water in general, which has health benefits all around. I took some "before" pictures, and in 3, 6, 9, and 12 months will take updated ones to see how far I have come. My diet is a whole other beast--I am a total foodie. I pretty much have always eaten whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it, and don't ever really gain weight. I am a twig, and I always have been my whole life, so I am looking forward to actually putting on some muscle!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Magenta Eye

Here is a look I honestly didn't think I would like...but I was wrong. It's actually pretty cool. I would definitely wear it as a going out look, but not to work. I am thinking of rocking this more this summer!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Buon giorno! (That means "good morning" in Italian). All right, if you don't know how to make spaghetti, it is high time you learn because that's just kinda sad. Just sayin'. It is a poor man/woman's meal for those tight college budgets. When I think of spaghetti, I think of this romantic moment from Lady and the Tramp:

You can even cheat and buy everything for the spaghetti pre-made (including meatballs!) This is an easy one to throw together, complete with meatballs from scratch.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

-1 lb ground beef
-2 eggs
-1 onion
-2 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper
-1 tsp garlic powder
-3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
-1 cup Italian bread crumbs
-1 package of pasta
-1 jar of spaghetti sauce

1. Mix the eggs, ground beef, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese together well.

2. Dice the onion into tiny pieces and add that to the mixture as well.

3. Mix in the bread crumbs.

4. Form meat mixture into meatballs (remember, the bigger you make them, the longer they will take
to cook. I made mine a little smaller than golf balls. They do cook down a little.)

5. Pour sauce into a pan and heat on medium temperature.

6. Add meatballs into sauce and cover. Lower heat to medium-low.

7. Cook for 40 minutes. Move meatballs around about every 5-10 minutes.

8. Bring water to a boil in a separate pot. Reduce heat to medium temperature, and add in noodles. (Most noodles will take about 10 minutes, so do wait to cook them until your meatballs have been cooking about 30 minutes).

9. Drain noodles, and serve with sauce and meatballs.

Here is a random fact--did you know spaghetti was actually invented by the Chinese? Technically, as early as 3,000 B.C. the Chinese were using noodles. Sorry, Chef Boyardee.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Protein Shake

This is a new section I have added in the hopes of sharing the health and nutrition knowledge I gain along my personal fitness journey. This protein shake recipe was introduced to me by Josh, and comes from Scooby. No, not this one (although Mr. Doo seems muscle-y, he's NOT REAL).

This is the right one (Scooby Werkstatt):

As you can see, Scooby the human is a pretty fit dude. Know what else? He is in his 50s! You would never guess it--he looks amazing! He has done a lot of research on exercise and nutrition, and looking at the guy, you can't argue that he knows what he is talking about. And he is, quite frankly, just adorbs. Like a panda--really cute, but wouldn't want to make him mad or he might rip your face off. Not saying he would do that, but look at those arms. Just sayin'. Check out his website--he has a lot of great information to share, and he even myth busts diet supplements, exercise equipment (i.e. the bogus Shake Weight), and common workout misconceptions. I'm working on advocating to be his website editor...and you know what, he actually got back to me (unlike the manager from Très Locos who is NOT a celeb!)  Here's the proof:

He's AWESOME. Obviously. Anyways, enjoy! (And don't hate on the ancient blender I used...a new one is on my wish list).

-1 frozen banana (remove peel, then place in a ziploc bag in the freezer)
-1 cup of milk (non-fat or soy is fine, whatever you prefer)
-1-2 scoops whey protein powder, any flavor (# of scoops depends on the recommended serving on the packaging)

1. Break frozen banana into 4 pieces. Add to blender.

2. Pour in the milk.

3. Pour in the whey protein powder. I used chocolate, naturally. I haven't done a ton of research on the best whey protein powder, but this is the first one I ever bought.

4. Blend until well mixed (it shouldn't have any big lumps). Shake will be smooth and creamy.

5. Pour into a glass and enjoy. This makes a great snack in summer, and all year long!

Mmmm...protein shake!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sweet Potato Wedges

Here is a good side to go with lunch or dinner. This was prepared with the help of my good friend, Phil.

Phil is sexily cutting the slices of sweet potatoes. Eat your heart out! ;)
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

-2 large sweet potatoes
-cayenne pepper to taste
-salt and pepper to taste
-olive oil

1. Slice the sweet potatoes thinly. You can leave the skin on, if desired.

2. Coat the potatoes with olive oil, and place on a sheet of tin foil. Chop fresh rosemary up and spread them over the potatoes.

3. Add cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste.

4. Put potatoes onto the grill. Keep the grill on low and flip the potatoes every 10 minutes until crunchy. If you are cooking in the oven, preheat to 350°, and cook about 7 minutes per side.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Grammar Nazi

Grammar is my life. I am obsessed with it--there is no doubt about that. I guess you could say I am a bit of a self-proclaimed grammar Nazi. Ok, a bit is an understatement. Yes, I even have a Pinterest board all about it. I like editing grammar when it is not correct, I like learning new words and their definitions, I like learning what languages and origins that words derive from, and I like learning other languages. I have no clue why I didn't decide to become an English teacher, a linguist, an etymologist, or a newspaper editor for my career. I would rock those jobs, hands down. When I wake up in the morning, I think to myself, what grammatical disasters will I encounter today? I can guarantee at least 5-10 (and that's on the low end), as sad as that is. I see mistakes everywhere I go: on signs, on menus, on things I read on the internet, in newspapers, on TV, etc. I actually enjoy editing, because I have a good eye for it. It really excites me, as nerdy as that sounds. I have edited numerous papers and written materials, both for content and grammar, for friends and family. It's a hobby I enjoy, much like playing video games or reading a good book. I edit publications as a side job, and I love it because it is at my own convenience, and I can get it done in a heartbeat. So if you ever need a proofreader, you know who to go to. Also, this blog post is "alot" amazing. Thanks to my good friend, Ray for sharing!

The majestic alot
 Some of my favorite games include Mad Libs and Scrabble. Why? Mad Libs is all about parts of speech (even though I tend to take it to a relatively perverted level most of the time. Also, there's a free app for it--download it. Do it.). And Scrabble is all about spelling. I mean, I took 3rd place in a spelling bee competition I did in 6th grade. Floating around somewhere there's even an embarrassing photo of unfashionable 6th grade me in braces and scrunchies with a bronze medal around my neck fist pumping at a young age, before that was a thing. Some of the smartest people I know have an extensive vocabulary that I am rather envious of. One of these (who I don't REALLY know personally) is Tim Gunn. When I listen to him speak on TV, he is very eloquent. He uses a lot of big words that I have to look up in the dictionary (examples: matronly, haberdasher, Sturm und Drang). He also uses a lot of references to famous people, events, places, etc. I also would like to point out that many careers have their own vernacular. That is, you learn a lot of jargon, or words that are specific to that field, such as cooking (al dente, a point) and ballet (pirouette, rond de jambe). I was shocked to learn that even gamers have a lingo all of their own (n00bs, pwn, afk). It shows that you are well-educated and cultured when you can incorporate other spectacular vernacular into your everyday language, and do so naturally and effortlessly. I am always impressed with people who can do that, and who also seem to know a little about a lot of different things. I expand my vocabulary through reading. There is so much to learn from books. Sometimes I, even on the rarest of occasions, catch typos in books, and think, "Wow, Stephanie Meyer really should have hired me as her editor."

Mad Libs! Best game ever...never leave home without it

I actually want to start a business where I would edit menus for restaurants in exchange for a free meal. I don't know if it will ever take off, but seriously, it would make their business look so much more professional. One of my favorite abominable online menus that I have seen is from this Mexican restaurant, Tres Locos. You can enjoy food that is "glutten" free, and they even have "pork lion." Picturing that one really made me laugh (after I was done cringing, of course). I emailed the manager and let him know about the typos and offered to fix them for him (twice), but never heard anything back. I guess he is ok with having an online menu that looks like it was written by a very young child who has not yet properly learned the ways of the English grammar (and potentially never will). And furthermore, he must be ok with me (and other grammar-sensitive customers) pointing out how dumb he looks, because he didn't even bother to respond to my email. Twice.

 I feel like if the only language you can speak is English, then you should be stellar at writing, reading, and speaking it. Unfortunately, that's not really the case. Most Americans don't speak a foreign language. I learned this when I went to my first ever global conference. People from other countries were really surprised to learn that I spoke French, and fluently! That was a very proud moment for me. I am a huge advocate of learning another language. Not only is it valuable to employers, in traveling, talking about anything interesting, and in social situations, but you truly learn so much more about your native language when you take another. When I took French in high school and in college, I learned the parts of English that I didn't even know existed and what they were called, and I learned that there are a lot of words we use in English that derive from French. A lot of words to do with fashion, decorating, cooking, art, language, any words ending in -tion, and so many common phrases (c'est la vie, vis-a-vis, déjà vu, etc.). It really gave me a new appreciation for the English language, and I learned how much we have borrowed (well, ripped off) from other languages to make our own.

Me too

From a very young age, I loved English and grammar classes in elementary school. I can remember when we would learn something, and then have to do an exercise on it in the book. I was done in two minutes or less. Every. Single. Time. In this day and age, kids have the convenience of cell phones, and communicate a lot through Facebook, Twitter, and texting. Hence all of the LOL, LMAO, YOLO, etc. The thing is, with all of the shortcuts like that, are they ever really learning proper grammar? My guess is, probably not. Eventually we all will be like, TTHDIENEONTOT and everyone will supposedly know what the hell that means! I have to admit that for younger kids I am Facebook friends with, I usually end up unsubscribing from their status updates. Especially when they are posting things like (no joke, this really was posted), "Dis movie is so kewl, its 1 of my faves u know lol jk" or "Toca bell has the best customer survice, un like the mcdonals people, they r stupid." I look at these statuses and I feel like I am 1) getting dumber just reading it, and 2) going to have an anxiety attack from the amount of wrongness. Also, I have never heard of "toca bell." I am totally going to be one of those moms who is all School Houserock-ish, like "Grammar is cool!" and reward my kids when they spell things right and punctuate properly. I probably will make my kids learn a second language from a very young age too, because studies have show that with brain development early on allows kids to catch on better. The ability to learn and absorb another language starts to taper off at around the age of sixteen. I'm not saying it's impossible to learn one after that point, but it just becomes increasingly more difficult. Those are the people who are saying things like, hola (pronouncing the "h") and grassy-ass for gracias. There are certain things that are absolute deal-breakers for me when it comes to dating. Bad grammar and punctuation is definitely one of those. It's pretty up there with smoking. I know, crazy, right? Good grammar is sexy. It shows that you are intelligent, and that you care about what you speak/write.

I also feel like if you have a good handle on English, you know when you can abuse it. What I mean by that is that even I use shortcuts like LOL and TY when I am texting or instant messaging my friends or family. And believe it or not, I am not always grammatically perfect (shocking, isn't it?) when I type, and sometimes I spell things wrong because I am typing too quickly and not checking it before I send it. But I know when it is appropriate to do so, and when it is not. Appropriate = a text to my bestie. Not appropriate: on a resume. You have to know the rules in order to break them. Otherwise, you just end up looking like a prize idiot. One thing I am very much known for is making up my own language, including workplace appropriate swear words, random words, and general Shelly-isms. Well, I say making up, but I have borrowed some of them. Shiggens (shit) came from my cousin, so I have to give her credit for that one. Bizzle (bitch), I am pretty sure Snoop Lion (or whatever the hell he is called these days) invented that one, or, at the very least, made it famous. Tomater is a person who doesn't like tomatoes (tomato + hater = tomater). Mingys are short for flamingos, and Zeebees are shot for zebras. I also like to pluralize random words for fun. So, for example, "I love you so much" becomes "I love you so muchases." Seriously, say it out loud--it's a lot of fun. The only bad part is when I slip up at work and say something idiotic to my boss like, "I'll be right thereases." I bought this game called Bananagrams, which has a bunch of letter tiles (like Scrabble) in a banana-shaped carrying case, and accidentally threw the instructions away. On a plane ride with my friend Amanda, we busted it out and just decided to make up words to entertain ourselves, and furthermore, make up definitions to match those words. I came up with e-wambino. "What is an e-wambino?" she asked? It's a wambino...online. Duh!

 e-wambino: n. a wambino online

So how do I share my grammatical talents with the world? Well actually, I try to educate about it as much as possible. You can't teach everyone everything, but I try to correct people in a nice (humorous), constructive way. I won't just be all haughty like Hermione Granger, all "It's levi-ooooh-suh! Not levio-suh!" I will actually say, this is how it should be, and here is why (I leave out the you're welcome part--usually). I also occasionally will post grammar lessons on Facebook, explaining things like the difference between loose (not tight) and lose (opposite of "to win"), and why irregardless is not a proper word even though its in the dictionary (The prefix of -ir and the suffix of -less both mean "not" or "without." Example: bottomless (suffix -less) means without bottom, and irreversible (prefix -ir) means not able to be reversed. Therefore, to say "irreversibleless" is just silly, and infers a double negative, which actually equals a positive). The funny thing is, most people actually like the reminders my posts give them, and some people even thank me for the lesson and comment on how those things drive them batty also. And some make suggestions for future grammar lessons! I love it so much. If you are not good at grammar, my top suggestions would be to read books about grammar, and practice what you learn by writing. Read books in general to increase your vocabulary. Also, learn another language--take a course or listen to a language on CD. If any of those ideas are too tough, check out this quick reference, or you could always subscribe to my grammar lesson status updates for free. :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Baby Steps

New Year's Resolutions. Most people make them, few people stick to them. It's easy to get caught up in the hype of the new year, and want to change all kinds of things in your life--job, family, health, etc., and then the novelty wears off after only about 2 months. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with making resolutions, because honestly, aren't they really just personal goals? Goals are ALWAYS a good thing to work towards. But, most often change does not happen overnight. It takes time, effort, dedication, persistence and sacrifice. If you set a lofty goal, it may seem overwhelming to achieve. It's best to start with a small goal and work towards a bigger goal with having small goals as steps. As Bob so wisely says in the video above, "Baby steps."

 One of my biggest resolutions is to get fit and have a more toned body, overall. Now, for those of you that know me, I am only about 115lbs soaking wet, and a HUGE couch potato. I have a gold medal in the couch potato olympics. And I HATE working out. I took tai chi about a year ago for several months, and I really liked it, but it just was too expensive for me to maintain. And I just couldn't get into it for myself, and for the right reasons.

I'll admit it, I am a hard worker when it comes to my job and getting things done, but when I get home, I am pretty lazy. I do a lot of pretty sedentary activities in my free time, including reading, crafting, watching movies, and playing video games. So this is going to be a HUGE lifestyle change for me. And really, any exercise I begin to participate in is better than what I currently do, which is nothing. The weird thing is that I was super active when I was younger. In elementary school alone, I played basketball, softball, and volleyball, and then I did dance and tennis in high school. There just were not any sports I was super interested in playing, and if there were, there was nobody around for me to play or practice with.

I know that the positives that will come from working out will be so great for me. Better cardio, more energy, better joint health, etc. From a practical standpoint, I need to have good cardio so I can survive a zombie apocalypse. I signed up for the gym on Monday, January 7th. I went that night for about an hour and a half. Afterwards, I felt pretty great. I wasn't actually even that sore the next day, which also was pretty great. I am going to try to go at least 3 days a week. Right now, 5 days a week is a bit lofty for me, but maybe I can work my way up to that. I just don't want to burn out on the gym or grow to resent it taking up my free time. Baby steps! I also have a really nice bike that is just collecting dust and cobwebs in the basement. I need to bust that out when the weather gets nicer, because I love riding my bike.

Here are some of my other goals for the year. They are not super specific, because they can be brought about in many ways:

1) Get toned
2) Further my career goals
3) Save some money
4) Blog at least 100 posts throughout the year
5) Make some travel plans not in conjunction with a hemophilia event

What are YOUR new year's resolutions or goals?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Peek Chicken

This is one of my mom's classic recipes. It takes a bit of time, but the prep is quick and the result is well worth the wait.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes

-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-2 cans of cream soup (I use mushroom myself, but cream of celery or chicken also works)
-1 1/2 cans of milk (what I mean by this is enough milk from a gallon that you can fill up an empty can of that cream soup, plus another 1/2 can)
-1 package of dry onion soup
-1 1/2 cups Minute rice

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Mix the 2 cans of cream soup, milk, and uncooked Minute rice together in a 9 x 13 pan.

3. Rinse the chicken breasts under cold water.

4. Place the chicken breasts in the pan on top of the rice mixture.

5. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with the dry onion soup mix.

6. Cover the top of the pan and seal tightly with aluminum foil.

7. Bake in the oven for 90 minutes. The key to this recipe is NO PEEKING! You have to just trust that all will be well (it always is!)