Bookworm: January 2017

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.” - Sylvia Plath


Not really anything this month - it was a fairly un-noteworthy one as far as reading went, and that makes me sad!


Queen of Katwe, Tim Crothers: Heartwarming, lovely tale of perseverance and grit in the face of overwhelming struggle. Phiona, a young Ugandan girl living in one of the world's worst slums, becomes a chess prodigy through dedicated training and with the help of some seriously committed mentors and supporters. A quick and inspiring read.

Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick: I just love Anna Kendrick - she's one of my favorite celebs - and her book cemented that status for me. She's witty and self-deprecating in exactly the way I find myself being, which is refreshing. The book was a lightning-fast read and I'd recommend it to anyone who is a fan of her acting!

Fat Girl Walking, Brittany Gibbons: This memoir of one woman's journey to body confidence was witty, pithy and unapologetic. Not to mention, often laugh-out-loud funny. I could identify with so many parts of it - and that was refreshing. 

The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman: I borrowed this from Anna as part of my New Year's resolution to be more intentional, and it was a quick, eye-opening read. I mean, every basic girl in the world has read this, and identified her love language, but I found the parts about interpersonal relationships, especially non-romantic ones, to be informative and useful. (For those curious, I'm [DUH] Words of Affirmation, hahaha.)


Whole30, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig: I mean, duh, it's a book about a diet plan. Nobody's going to be jumping for joy over that. That said, it was informative and clear, there were funny little one-liners sprinkled throughout, and I enjoyed the success stories that started each segment.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath: I had a really hard time with this, and it put me in a weird headspace, but I guess that's the point? The writing is extraordinarily evocative and forceful, but the pace and intensity of the literal downward spiral into insanity, depression, suicide...maybe not the best book choice for a dark, frosty Minnesota January, hmm? (Part of my 101 in 1001 #70, which I am clearly not going to finish...such a shame!)

The Darcys: New Pleasures, Linda Berdoll: Could not even handle this Pride and Prejudice spinoff. I would read like three pages and get distracted by the numerous grammatical errors and typos and generally awful bodice-ripping, and put it down, only to pick it back up and cringe anew. DO NOT RECOMMEND. 


Again, none this month and that kind of bums me out too. Time to revisit a few old favorites, I think...

Current faves: gym jams

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been clocking a ton of time in the gym lately (well, at least compared to last year!). Kels and I are doing 2017 in 2017, and that's forced me to up my mileage as much as possible. 

Problem is, I get major treadmill/elliptical ADD and get bored super fast. Also, I have this weird, deeply-ingrained pathological need to be in-step with the music I'm listening to while working out...ex band-nerd for LIFE. Accordingly, some current faves fueling the gym gains this week: 

- "Mr. Brightside," The Killers - It's such a perfect tempo, and such a fun hark-back to my spastic high school days. 

- "Dirty Little Secret," All-American Rejects - same deal. Perfect tempo and I always feel like an angsty teenager listening to it. 

- "Livin' La Vida Loca" and "She Bangs," Ricky Martin - SO TRASHY AND SO FUN. No shame in this game. 

- "Seeing Stars," BORNS - It just makes me happy, and the bass/drum beat is consistent throughout so I can get/stay on step.  

- "Take on Me," a-Ha - Marching band throwback for the win...this was in my first-ever halftime show with the Band of the Fighting Irish. It always makes me smile. 

- "I Wanna Go," Britney Spears - Gotta throw a little Brit in there. Other wins are "Toxic" and "Womanizer." 

- "Lady Killers," G-Eazy - I often catch myself rapping this under my breath, and the other day I got a really weird look from one of the sales rep guys I know who was on the treadmill across from me because I was getting maybe a little too into it...oops.

- "Love Today," MIKA - Happy, fun, bouncy, and fast. 

- "Pumpin Blood," NONONO - What better jam for when you're literally pumping blood? It makes me feel great. 

- "Holiday," Vampire Weekend - I was totally flagging out and cramping up yesterday and this came on in the last half-mileish of the program I was jogging - I ended up kicking the speed up and pounding through in a weirdly aggressive/positive mood. 

- "Dancing in the Dark," Bruce Springsteen - the Boss makes any workout feel boss, and this tempo is awesome. 

- "Shut Up and Dance," Walk the Moon - bonus points for voluntary treadmill jazz hands. 


Songs that just plan make me happy to be alive, on the other hand, are my cool-down jam: 

- "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," Whitney Houston (DUH. Close your eyes, pretend you're at the Backer.)

- "You Get What You Give," The New Radicals (Favorite song of all time, also duh.)

- "F.N.T," Semisonic - such a great throwback, and it's affirming to hear "you're lovely and you're perfect" when I've got sweat literally dripping off my eyelashes. 


Pro tip: the first half of "Hamilton" is exactly right for a 65 minute treadmill workout, as is "In the Heights" if you skip a few of the boring ones...and something about "Les Mis" makes any workout seem less...well, miserable. 

And I'll never skip the Trot cadence if it comes up in shuffle. Sometimes I look it up just to finish strong. DORK. 

A no-excuses healthy January - part 2

Continuing the summary of my Whole30 from here...days 11-22!

Day 11 (1/13): I'm realizing quickly how much easier it's become for me to skip coffee in the morning. My a.m. coffee was always my 100% vice...after cutting out "designer" coffee cold-turkey last year, I thought I'd never be able to survive without my daily Keurig brew or 99 cent cup from the company Quick Stop. Instead, I'm pounding through several cups of herbal tea every day, and I'm noticing the benefits of increased water intake daily in clearer skin and dramatically reduced bloat. Favorite blends so far: Be Well Red Tea's Get Lost, Get Clean, and Get Matcha, Celestial Seasoning's Honey Vanilla Chamomile, Caribou Coffee's Mint Verbena, and Cuppa Cake's Red Velvet. 

Day 13 (1/15): Food boredom is very much a thing, I'm finding - and I have a terrible habit of making giant batches of recipes and then eating them til I'm sick of them. It's hard to cook for one person, but I'm kind of forced to do I've been relying on the excessive amount of Lunds/Byerly's salad bar takeout containers to portion out single servings of recipes. They're the perfect size for a meal, they are so easy to grab and go with every day, and they're perfect to throw things in the freezer. Lifesavers. 

Day 14 (1/16): Wearing a dress to work today that barely zipped in November/December...and it's roomy everywhere but the bust (ugh, story of my life). Such a great feeling - although it's got me dying to jump on the scale, and that's a strict Whole30 no-no...ugh!

Day 16 (1/18): For the first time, I made a recipe that was a total meh fail...and unfortunately made a lot of it. I'm going to suck it up and deal, but needless to say I'm not pleased. On the bright side, I have the most gorgeous honeydew from Lund's cut up and waiting in my's so freaking good. 

Day 18 (1/20): I went to The Lumineers' concert with Hannah last night and had a really hard time with the fact that I couldn't grab a beer with her or hit up happy hour before the show. I don't know why that was psychologically so felt like I was compromising on having a fun night because of the program, and that annoyed me. On the flip side, I'm really realizing how much my social life centers around, too much...and thinking about other ways to socialize with people instead. Can't wait for the weather to turn so I can add lake walks and sunrise yoga back into my life!

Day 20 (1/22): Workouts have been so much better lately, and I don't know if that's Whole30 or just the fact that I'm finally in a better, more consistent routine. I've been hitting the company gym almost daily, which is great, and I'm doing yoga several times a week. Gotta love feeling bendier...not to mention how much fun it's been to get my old competitive side out trying to beat yesterday's mileage in the gym every day. 

Day 21 (1/23): Did legit three hours of meal prep after work during The Bachelor (omg, this season is such a shit-show!). I made more Whole30 pesto (addicted), cooked up a ton of spaghetti squash to mix into everything, and made my favorite breakfast casserole again...can't wait to have it portioned out and ready to go every morning.

Day 22 (1/24): Today was our Q4 earnings release at work, and we always celebrate with a huge department brunch. Everyone brings something in to potluck it up, and the offerings are anything BUT Whole30-compliant. We're talking, I kid you not, a woman who brings in 20 Egg McMuffins (and two men brought cookies this time). I contributed a cut fruit platter (oooh exciting [NOT]) and ate my breakfast casserole instead of the pastries, cookies, and Sausage McBiscuit things...slightly antisocial, but eh whatever. 

How am I feeling? Generally pretty good! Like I said, I'm finding my clothes fit a lot better...and I wore a dress to the opera on Saturday that I would NEVER have worn a few months/even weeks ago...which is a really nice feeling. That said, I don't know if that's entirely Whole30, or just that I've been working out like a maniac (probably some combination of both). 

I'm sleeping better than I have in a really long time, which is huge for me...I'm used to being up a couple times a night and sleeping very lightly. Additionally, I've only had one migraine this month, which is really rare. Finally, the whole process of shopping and cooking has started to become less stressful...while I still find myself freaking a little over the expense of it all, it's much cheaper than my takeout/eating out addiction, and I'm gaining a ton of kitchen skillz that are kind of fun to have in my arsenal. 

Home stretch! Be back with a final report next week. 


A necessary reminder and a good life ethos.

I'm having quite a month, campers - and I've taken a pretty intentional step back from this space as a result (so much for the New Year's resolution to write more, HA). That said, this came up in my Facebook "On This Day" today, and I thought it was worth sharing. It's one of my favorite explanations of priorities: 

"A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles roll
ed into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend."

101 in 1001: Wine Country Adventures

When I put "Go to a wine tasting" (#97) and "Visit Napa Valley" (#7) on my 101 in 1001 list, I had no idea I'd get to check them both off on a spectacular holiday trip to California with my family! We were all wondering if it would be weird to spend Christmas away from home, skipping all of our traditions in favor of new adventures and surroundings, but our trip was absolutely lovely (and we're definitely planning on repeating the new tradition!). 

While we did so much more than wine tasting on our trip to Sonoma and Napa, one doesn't visit wine country and NOT hit up wineries galore! We spent two full days of our trip wine tasting, with scattered pop-ins here and there on other days in between other excursions. All in all, we hit up over a dozen different wineries all over Napa Valley and Sonoma...and I learned so much about wine along the way!

I'm waiting for my sister's stunning photos (as usual) before doing a full write-up, but a few highlights:

Sunset sparkling flights at Gloria Ferrer on our first night

"Nine Barrel" pinot noir at La Crema's stunning new tasting room

Views for miles and life-changing sauvignon blanc at Hanna in the peak of the Alexander Valley

Tasting the sparkling wine exclusively bottled for President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev as part of talks to end the Cold War

Family fun and a whole lot of pride for sister Meems at Domaine Chandon (Their special edition summer 2017 bottles will feature Emily's design work!)

And generally having barrels of fun...see what I did there? 

More to come...but it was sure fun to revisit wine country via photos on my alcohol-free Whole30. Check out more 101 in 1001 here...only three weeks left, eek!