Monday, January 7, 2013

Manicure Monday: Nude for the New Year

Happy Monday!

I hope you had a nice, back-to-your-routine weekend. My weekend was mostly lazy, but I did a lot of blog work as well. So I don't feel as recooperated as usual, but it was time well-spent.

Did anyone realize that there was no Manicure Monday post last week? Yeah, neither did I. I completely spaced it, seeing as last Monday was New Year's Eve. Oops...! I didn't realize it until days later, and I that point, it was kind of too late. Anyway, this week I went for simple and classic: a nude mani. It'll go with everything, gives me a little style without much effort, and I adore this Essie color: Sand Tropez.

I was planning on making a special announcement and doing a lot more blog work today, but I got called into work. I always get called in when I have something to do and I always don't have to go in when I have nothing planned. Typical. Anyway, I just threw on my new running jacket and infinity scarf, both Christmas presents. Quick make up, out the door, and Starbucks for lunch on the way! See ya! 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Growing my Blog, Growing my Heart

Hey Folks! Do I start every other post with salutation now? Oh well, I like it! Today I want to address where I am with the blog right now, or basically, a little recap of where 6 months of blogging has gotten me.

First off, I started this blog in July 2012. I had just finished a Multimedia Composition for course where one of my assignments was to keep a blog over the semester. I had to update the blog at least once a week, sometimes more. I got to choose any topic of my choice, for which I chose healthy living. I posted about doing Insanity for the first time, recipes, grocery shopping, and stuff like that. It was fun, but more than that - my professor showed me that blogging is a real media that people make jobs out of. Being an English Writing major, I always knew I wanted to write but I never knew how. Blogging gave me the how. So after my wedding in June when I got back, I took the plunge started my very own blog.

The first four months of blogging (July-November) were pretty stale for me. I was only blogging an average of about 9 posts per month. I always had ideas in my head for blog posts, but few of them ever came to fruition (which is so sad. Sorry blog posts I never wrote!). I wanted it in my head, but my reality wasn't making much happen.

But in December - just last month - everything kind of changed. My passion for writing and turning my every day life into blog posts grew something fierce. At first, it felt like a lot of effort. How many times do I have to break out my camera and then import pictures onto my computer, and then edit them? Ugh. How many hours do I have to spend formatting stuff and proof-reading? How many posts will I have that have zero comments? Groan. (If you've blogged for any amount of time, please tell me you feel my pain.) But it was all worth it because by the end of December, I had blogged twice as much in one month as I had in the last four, and my page views for the month was almost as much as I had had in four months as well. I saw a huge jump.

Obviously, the more dedicated I am to the blog, the more visitors and comments I get. It's not a hard equation to figure out. But because that "equation" has shown me the results I have now, I'm overjoyed and even more excited about blogging. But besides posting more and getting the hang of the take pictures, format pictures, write post, publish post to social media rhythm, the biggest factor in becoming more successful with my blog has been connecting with you guys. Yes, I know this is not a novel concept. You read it on every blog post about how to grow your blog. But I just have to attest to the fact that that tip is so true. It's the number one thing anybody can do: just connect!

Where Social Media Comes In

In the staler months of my blog, I was reluctant to use social media to my advantage. I have been a social media scrooge for a while now, wanting to quit it altogether and such. But when I ultimately decided I needed social media merely to grow the blog, and I started using it like I should, that's when I stopped disliking social media and I started seeing real results and relationships form. Just in the past two weeks or so, I feel I have really connected with some fellow bloggers. And maybe it's not a big deal to anyone else (or maybe it is), but I seriously feel a part of my heart growing for these people I'm encountering.

An example of this love is from some tweets that really made me smile this week from Caroline at The Trendy Trainer and Kacie at Savvy Sassy Me. Caroline's tweet was in response to me saying I hope to grow my blog as big as some of the "big bloggers" someday. Too sweet. Thank you, ladies for the encouragement!

Happy tweets :)

And as Kacie has said, just be yourself and you will find success. She posted a great post about being your self and how that simple idea has lead to her great success (yes, I think you are widly successful! Congrats on getting into Shape!). It's so simple and yet so many of us bloggers are kind of not ourselves because, well, this is the internet and it's scary, and what the heck is my blog supposed to be like anyway?! 

Anyway, with all this said, I just wanted to give a shout out to everyone I've been connecting with recently. Our connections mean a lot to me and I'm so glad to get to know other people doing what I do. And this list is in no particular order, it's just the order my bookmarks opened up ;)
I'm really excited about where this blog is going and how much it has the opporunity to grow - not only in terms of numbers and posts - but in terms of friends :) 

Friday, January 4, 2013

{ A Year of Resolutions: 2013 }

Happy Friday! I am super stoked today, as I reaveal my *dun, dun, dun, dun* New Year's resolutions! As I mentioned a while back, I was thinking through some ideas for my New Year's Resolutions. Well - I finally decided and I'm so excited to share them with you! Although, typical me - I can never decide on just one thing. I typically don't do resolutions, but something about this new year's clean start really inspired me to set goals now. Instead of making one New Year's Resolution, I'm making 12 monthly goals for 2013.

The Plan 

For each month of the year, I'll have a different goal or focus. I love making goals, and I usually get so excited about them that I try to do them all at once. But trying to do them all at once usually results in failure and frustration. So instead, I'm breaking up all my wants and goals for the year over the course of 12 months. This way, I can focus on one goal at a time for long enough to create good habits and see progress. This method allows me to set many goals throughout the year with a reasonable plan for accomplishing them. This plan also helps me shift my focus to many different things instead of focusing too much on any one area of improvement. Below is a short synopsis of my monthly goals. It's a bit long, so bear with me! 

A Year of Resolutions: 2013

1. Back to Healthy January: Typical for a beginning-of-the-year resolution, I know, but it had to be done after 2012's holidays. This month's goals include: a new workout plan, keeping track of meals/calories through My Fitness Pal & striving to eat healthy filling foods, keeping a water diary (in attempt to drink more water regularly), and only having one dessert a week.

2. Good Day Sunshine February: An area I want to see change in is my morning and nightly routine. I want this month to be about establishing a true routine that allows me to wake up on time and go to bed in a peaceful state. This goal will allow me to focus on waking up when my alarm goes off (instead of 10-20 minutes later - novel, I know), complete certain tasks after waking up, and have a dedicated relaxing beditme routine.

3. Marriage-focused March: This month will be all about focusing on one of my most important relationships: that which I have with my husband. This month will focus extra on my relationship and finally make all those good pins on my love board get some use. I'll also start reading The Love Dare, which dares you to do something different in your relationship every day for 40 days.

4. All-things Organized April: I'm pretty sure organization should have been my middle name, but there's always more room to get organized in my eyes. Leave no space behind, this month will focus on small organizational goals from problem areas in my house to going through my whole closet.

5. Priority in Prayer for May: I do well at prioritizing prayer, but sometimes what I pray about gets all over the place. To displace the burden of wanting to pray about everything all the time, I’m going to commit to following a prayer schedule, where I pray over one topic for that day of the week, such as my marriage or friends.

6. Stay Pretty for Summer June: While I'm sure I already spend plenty of time maintaining my appearance, I thought it would be fun to spend some extra time on it for a month. I tend to get into ruts of wearing the same clothes and doing the same thing with my hair. This month, I want to experiment with new styles and trends. My goal will be to try something new with my style (hair, clothes, beauty, etc.) every day and make sure that every day I do something to make myself feel and look beautiful.

7. Just Eat July: This month's focus is all about being in the kitchen. My goal this month will be to try new foods and recipes that I am normally afraid to try for fear of not cooking it right, it being too time consuming, and simply because I am a creature of habit when it comes to what I eat. My goal this month will be to try at least two new full-course meals each week, featuring a main dish, sides, and a dessert.

8. Worry-Free for August: Something I struggle with is worry and anxiety. The more I worry, the worse my anxiety becomes. I am always trying to tame my worry and hand my worries, fears, and insecurities over to God, but it's definitely not an easy task. This month's focus will be giving up one worry a day for every day of the month. I will focus on just one worry, such as worrying about what I eat, and for just that one day, choose to surrender it. I will outline a lot more details about this one later, but for now, it's just a worry-free month.

9. Second Half for September: Immediately after running my first half-marathon, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to run another one. I'm planning on running the Run to the Rock half-marathon in Plymouth, Massachusetts where you run to Plymouth rock through the woods! 

10. Scary Shop-Free October: I’ve done this before, but it’s always a challenge: a whole month of no shopping for myself. Simple, but still harder than it sounds! 

11. Read for November: One of my reoccurring goals always is to read more. However, the goal of "read more" never seems to mean much unless I put a number with it. For this month, I want to read a book a week for the whole month to push myself to actually make time for reading. More on what books I'll be reading later!

12. Blog It Up December: Why not take a month to focus on my favorite hobby: the blog itself! This month will be about all-things-blogging: social networking, lots of fun posts filled with pictures, and possibly taking the plunge to buy a domain name :)
Putting this all into words can kind of make 2013 seem like a daunting year before me. Yes, these are a lot of goals. But goals are what work for me and motivate me to be my best self. I hope to write about all of these goals with at least weekly updates on each month's topic. I hope to write about success as well as failure, as I'm sure each goal will not go as planned. While I have set aside a certain goal for each month, I also am giving myself the flexibility to change which goal I do for which month, in case the goal isn't practical for that month. Overall, I'm really excited about these goals. I'm sure you'll be hearing about all of them in a lot more detail when the time comes! 
  • Question for you: Do you believe in New Year's Resolutions - why or why not? What goals have you set for yourself for 2013? 
*Special thanks to Shabby Blogs for the graphic.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Zippy Elliptical Workout

Good day! I'm having a good, but cold day so far. To start my day, I had my favorite breakfast: whole grain toast with peanut butter, banana, honey, and wheat germ. And of course some Starbucks to warm me & wake me up.

My fave breakfast

In leui of my January fitness plan, some cardio was on the books for today. As much as I desperately wanted to run, it was about 4 degrees this morning. Yikes! Outdoor run = out the window. Thankfully I have access to small gym in my apartment complex, but I wasn't keen on an indoor run today. Ugh, how I loathe the dreadmill! I really just feel my best running outside. Running on the treadmill takes more coordination for me, something I don't have a lot of.Instead, I opted for a quick but tough elliptical workout.

Zippy Ellitpical Workout

What always keeps me motivated when working out indoors is music. A lot of my favorite songs came on today, helping me keep up the pace. 

Soundtrack for Today
  • "Toxic" - Britney Spears
  • "Where the Streets have No Name" - U2
  • "Dancing in the Dark" - DEV
  • "Give It Up to Me" - Shakira
  • "Vertigo" - U2
  • "I'll Meet You There" - Owl City 
  • "Part of Me" - Katy Perry 
elliptical workout
And done! 
Also, I've decided to keep a workout log on the blog from now on to track my progress for 2013. And  after that workout, I'm starved! On the menu for lunch today is a chicken, avacado, and cheese melt along with some Trader Joe's Organic Lentil soup. Healthy, delicious, and very filling!

Chicken/avacado melt with soup

Now I'm home the rest of day hopefully to get some to-do list items done and stay toasty! 
  • Question for you: How do you stay productive when it's cold and gloomy out? 

Book Review: { What Alice Forgot }

I just finished What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty for Peanut Butter Finger's December Book Club. I'm so glad I decided to this month's book club because I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It got me to read a fiction book, which I hadn't done in far too long. I read plenty, but not ususally for pleasure - and what a pleasure it was! I got this book the week before my Christmas vacation and took it along for the trip. It was perfect to curl up reading this intriguing book on a cold night with a blankie. It was just what I needed to fully relax on my trip. Anyway, onto the review!

Synopsis (my version)

The book opens with the main character, Alice, confused as to where she is and what she's thinking. She's just fallen off a spin bike in her spin class at a gym and lost the last ten years of her memory (but she doesn't know it yet). She still thinks she's pregnant with her first child, married to her wonderful husband, and fixing up the old house they just bought. Within a few days, she realizes that her reality has drastically changed in the last ten years. She is in the process of divorcing her husband, Nick. She has three children, all of which she can't remember and are very strange to her. Her once-idolized sister has failed to have children and is resentful and distant from her. Her mother has married her father-in-law. And to top it all off, she's not the same Alice in the slightest. She was a woman who loved her dessert, never worked out, and was blissfully happy that way. But the ten-years-later Alice is uptight, skinny, runs for exercise (unheard of in her world), and basically runs everything her children do - from sporting activities to baking the world's largest lemon merangue pie! Her world is turned upside down. The book takes place over the course of about a week where she slowly gets teeny bits and pieces of her memory back, trying to make sense of "reality." But in the end, her hit on the head may have actually just been the best thing that ever happened to her and her family.


Loved. This. Book. It hooked me right away and kept me going. Honestly, when I first picked it up, I was like... Wow, this is long and thick. But by the end, I could hardly believe it was almost over. It hooked me so well because the whole time, I was thinking, "Oh my God, Alice has to find out what her life is really like!" And I couldn't wait to see if she ever got her memory back. So I just kept turning the pages!

Something I liked and disliked about this book was how emotionally attached I got to the story. Obviously, a good story is supposed to evoke emotion in its reader, but I was actually getting sad or depressed from parts of this story. The hardest thing for me was reading about Alice and her husband, Nick. Being a newlywed myself, I was smitten with Alice's memories of the early years of her marriage. When she lost her memory, she still thought that was reality: a sweet doting husband who adored her and their unborn child. How sweet! I was already in love with Nick before he was really in the story. And then - reality hit Alice and I hard. I was just as taken aback by Nick's hard, cold tone when he first speaks to her in the book. She's in the hospital, hoping he will come to her rescue like she expects. But instead, he's on a business trip in Portugal cussing her out on the other line. I was seriously upset when I read this!

After I realized they were getting divorced, it made more sense, but I was still highly affected. The whole concept of their divorce was interesting. Alice (without her memory) thought of it like a newlywed would. She couldn't fathom why they were getting divorced. She kept thinking it must have been an affair, a death of a child - something "worth" getting divorced for. But when she asks Nick, he simple replies that the reason is a million little reasons and not one big one. This book made me really think about the concept of divorce and why it happens. As a newlywed, it's easy to think that only "big bad" things can trigger a divorce. But the reality for many people, I believe, is that it's actually all the small things that build up around two people and then drive them away. This was sad to read about, but so intriguing and pertinent to modern day. It wasn't delightful to read about divorce and how many people it affects, but it was eye-opening and very thought-provoking.

Things I liked:
  • I loved all the characters, Alice especially. The way Moriarty wrote was just so real. Her writing is conversational, witty, and raw in a beautiful, real-life way. 
  • I liked the way she dealt with Elisabeth's infertility. Alice's sister Elisabeth kept a journal for her psychiatrist as a part of her therapy to heal from how many miscarriages she had had. Elisabeth had been trying by IVF to get pregnant for six years. She had no problem getting pregnant, but always lost the baby. This was a really interesting side-story that was completely opposite from Alice's - the perfect mom with three kids. It was nice to read something sad, like infertility, because Moriarty wrote it with such realistic and raw emotion. 
  • The Australian setting. I've never been to Australia, but it was cool to have somewhere new as a setting. Although I kept picturing it all to be like England for some reason... Not sure why. 
  • The ending! Not going to give anything away here, but right up until the last pages, I thought it was going to end one way, and I was like - NO WAY can it end this way. But then it didn't. It was a really good, catching ending that I adored. 
Things I didn't like:
  • Like I said earlier, Elisabeth keeps a journal that you get to read and so does their surrogate grandmother, Frannie. Frannie writes to her deceased fiance from years before. The thing I didn't like is that most the time, Frannie's entries would follow Elisabeth's almost always. It just started to become a little old. I wish they had been spaced out from each other. By the end of the book, I was tired of the journal entries. 
  • I also just didn't care for the story line with Frannie altogether. It was much less deep than Elisabeth's and just didn't add much to me. Frannie didn't seem to be a major character in Alice's life like Elisabeth was, so I just didn't see her entries as that important. 
End Thoughts 

Overall, I would give this book an 8 out of 10. I thought it was very well-written, captured me as a reader, and had a very interesting story line. I would definitely like to check out more of Moriarty's novels in the future. I am so glad I filled my time with some much-needed reading. This book has definitely inspired me to keep doing book club or whatever it takes to get some quality reading time in for my pleasure.

Questions for the day... 

  • If you've read this book, what did you think of the journal entries? If not, what's the last good book you've read and why? 
  • How does the concept of divorce affect you? Would it upset you like it upset me? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year: Reflecting on 2012

Happy New Year!

Hope your New Year's Eve was fun and eventful. The hubs and I went out for dinner with some friends and then stayed in playing games and sharing stories. It was a fun time :) I'm ringing in the New Year with a new calendar, as always. Probably one of my favorite Christmas gifts is a calendar. I've always gotten one as a Christmas gift, and since my husband knows I love them, he got me this lovely Paris calendar. I am, without a doubt, obsessed with all-things-Paris. I won't grow tired of looking at this all year long.

Reflecting on 2012 

Anyway, I'd like to do some reflecting on 2012 before I let it completely get away from me. 2012 was an amazing year. I would say 2012 was without a doubt the best year of my life yet. Why was it so great? Here's some fun things I did this year that made it spectacular.


I started the year getting my now-best furry friend, Beans. I had never owned a dog before Beans. He was my birthday present in March. And he has turned my world upside-down in such a good way! I am smitten with him every day. He's changed my heart, warmed my life, and overall made me a happier, better person.

Getting Married! 

The single most important/awesome/life-changing thing that I did this year was marry my very best friend. Our wedding day was Saturday, June 16th. It was the day I had always dreamed of - but even better. We had a small wedding with very close family and friends at my in-laws beautiful home. I couldn't have asked for a better day, a better mate, or better weather (as it was outside!). It was the most special day of my life! 

So happy! 

Beans all ready in his bow tie!


Something I had been wrestling with a while before I started this blog was the fact that I'm a perfectionist. 2012 was the year that I truly addressed this part of my personality and tried to learn more about how to overcome perfectionism. A big help in understanding this was reading the book The Relief of Imperfection. This book helped shape my views about understanding imperfection and begin to embrace them. 

I also worked toward deepening my faith this year like never before. Last January, my church has something called the ask, where we were to ask for something big over the course of a year. I asked to be free of anxiety and worry. While I am not there yet, God has shown me so much, drawn me close to Him in a state of dependency, and absolutely lessened my worry and anxiety. 


Another biggie for me this year was running my first half-marathon! Before 2012, I was not a runner at all. I typically hated running and wasn't "good" at it. I never thought I could run as far as 13.1 miles, but I did and I  hope to do it again this year! Along with the half-marathon, I also completed two rounds of the Insanity Workout. My fitness endevours were really through the roof in 2012 compared to any other year. 2012 was the year that I truly fell in love with fitness and pushing myself harder than I thought I could go. 

Last but not least, I also started this blog! I had been wanting to blog for a while, and in July 2012, I took the plunge. I'm so glad I did because blogging is truly what I love, what inspires me to keep going, and I love the community that I am becoming a part of. Although my blog is small-scale now, I truly appreciate each and every one of you that ever reads my crazy writing and leaves me comments. I have big plans for the blog for 2013, and I can't wait to keep on bloggin'! 

Overall, 2012 was a year all about progression. I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of. I have come so far from where I had been in terms of fitness, my relationship with the Lord, my personal relationships, and my overall well-being. Although it's hard work, everything I worked toward in 2012 was beyond worth it. I am so ready to tackle big things in 2013 because 2012 was such a success in my eyes. I can't wait to keep working toward a better me. Happy New Year & have a blessed 2013! 
  • Question for you: What was the highlight(s) of your year in 2012? 

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