New Additions

This week has been sparse on blog posts because I’ve been busy celebrating the homecoming of one of my best friends….NATE!!!!

New years 2011… Wowza.

I’ve had an amazing summer with all of my new friends, but there’s been a noticeable lack-of-Nate. He’s been, I kid you not, biking across the country all summer, making intermittent stops to build homes for the homeless. Whatta goody-goody.

Credit goes to Nate for making this is profile picture.

I actually am so proud of Nate, and I admire the strength that it must have taken to make this kind of journey. But I am so freaking happy to have him back. Nate was one of the people who was most encouraging and supportive of me when I first decided to change my life and get healthier. I’ve seriously missed having him around as a pillar of support, sounding board for my irrational worries, and his pop song belting skillz.

Anyway, now that Nate is back (with huge thighs and a sexy, sexy farmer’s tan), I’ve been spending the week playing with him!

On Tuesday, Alex’s mom came up and cooked us a delicious dinner one night.

There’s that farmer’s tan I was talking about.

And one night we brought Nate to Baja Bean for traditional $3 pitchers (and a couple of tequila shots to celebrate the big two-one that he hit on the trip).

Need to perfect the art of taking photos in the dark after a few drinks.

And then last night we all stayed in and watched The Hunger Games, which was really fun for me because Alex hadn’t seen it and I was excited to see how he liked it. He loved it, of course, because Peeta.

There’s been a whole bunch of new things going on recently! Nate’s not technically new in my life, but he is new to my life in CVille. And all the UVA students are back in town for school on Tuesday, which means my parking lot is super full and my apartment complex is gonna be bumpin’ tonight.

I also started on one of the MANY home improvement projects I’ve been meaning to get to. I used a coupon and got 10% off some cool fabric to start giving our bar stools a makeover.

I’ve still got to sand a spray paint the metal part of the chairs, but I’m just touching them up in the same white color so that can wait a while.

I’ve also got a new little violet that was a gift from one of the people I work with.

And now that I’m finished with The Paris Wife (not my cup of tea, but the book club gals loved it!), I’m moving on to Swamplandia!, one of the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction this year.

Heidi and Spencer arguing in the background.

My running playlist has also seen some new additions!

My FAVORITE running song right now is “The Bathtub” from the Beasts of the Southern Wild soundtrack. It’s instrumental, but I’ve never felt more focused on a run then when I run to that song.

Tonight is the first Saturday with all the UVA students back, so it’s definitely going to be a wild one. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to hide in my room or if I’m gonna get all “If ya can’t beat ’em, join ’em” tonight. 🙂

Happy weekend!

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Katie Gets Real About Her Future

Last night I was fortunate enough to get some QT with two of my besties-for the-resties, Colleen and Molly. I met these extraordinary young women on an equally extraordinary study abroad trip to Ireland the summer before my junior year at JMU. Molly and I went on to be roommates for a year, and Colleen remained one of our closest friends.

Unfortunately this is the only photo I got of the two of them last night. We were pretty busy with the wine.

Colleen is an aspiring book publisher and Molly is an aspiring film maker. They’re both so brilliant good at what they do, and they’re both so brave. Colleen is currently living in NYC trying to find authentic work in a really competitive and strange field, and Molly just got back from 3 months of traveling all by her little ol’ self. File those under “Things I Am Not Emotionally Stable Enough To Attempt.”

We spent a lot of last night talking about the woes of being our age. How it’s difficult to understand when you’re parents are going through a hard time, but even more difficult to not accept their generosity when you’re struggling. How laundry is not nearly as easy as it was in our cozy college apartments. How it’s hard to not spend money, even when you don’t have it. How its a curse to not know what you want to do with your life, but just as much of a curse to be sure.

This conversation came at an apropos time. After getting pretty good scores on the GRE this past weekend, I’ve been really thinking about my plan to be a high school English teacher. I see myself around kids, I see myself around literature, and if I’m thinking long-term, being an educator would allow me the kind of lifestyle that I would want if I have a family.

But today I looked at the tuition prices for the education program here at UVA. Guys. It’s criminal. And it’s not even an expensive program compared to other ones. I mean, I would be under a ridiculous amount of debt, especially considering I wouldn’t be able to work full-time AND be a full-time student.

I spent the better part of this morning being upset and stressed out about that. I mean, I would consider taking on the debt if it was my DREAM to be a teacher. But the honest truth is this: I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, and teacher kinda just sounds good. Don’t know about you, but that seems to me like a bad bad bad reason to willingly go into debt.

When I got home from work I watched the newest Vlogbrothers video entitled “Is College Worth It?,” wherein John Green makes some typically world-rocking insights. (If you all aren’t familiar with John & Hank Green, you’re welcome in advance for what I am about to share with you.)

“College is not about maximizing income, it’s about becoming a better and more informed observer of the universe.” Shit.

Year of Katie is about not only my journey in health, but also my journey through this weird/scary/nauseating/exhilarating/inspiring place called “not in college anymore.” Part of that journey, maybe the most important part, includes answering the question “What am I going to do with my life?”

Right now, here are my prospects for the next couple of years: A.) Stay at my current job, which I love and I’m so blessed to have, but which is definitely not career oriented……. B.) Apply to graduate school with the sincere hope that I am destined to be a teacher, and come to terms with the reality of the debt I will accrue……. C.) Find another job that will be both emotionally/intellectually satisfying and financially realistic.

I’d be okay with any of those options, to be honest. I don’t know what I’ll be doing a month from now, let alone a year, and this is a strange place to be. But until then, as harrowing as it is, I’m gonna remember that it’s kind of cool to be so… on the brink. The world is my oyster and all that stuff.

Right?

Posted in Mind | 3 Comments

Borrowed Wisdom

You know how sometimes you go to someone for advice, and you pour your heart out to them only to have them respond, “Oh yeah, that sucks…”?  I even have several friends who will just straight up say, “I don’t know what to tell you” when I go to them for advice. I know I can’t get angry about that, cause at least they’re being honest, but I hate being left hanging when I’m asking for guidance from someone I respect.

All of my friends are good at giving advice about certain topics (Suzanne, for instance, is basically my only peer I would trust to give me professional advice), but there are two people in my life that always have good advice about any topic: My dad and my friend Lauren. Sometimes I think that I’ve already heard all that needs to be said about everything (I’m practically a professional advice-seeker), but every time I talk to them I’m floored by how incredible their minds are and that they always manage to say something inspiring and unique.

By way of example: My dad is the only person who has ever been able to convince me that maybeeee organized religion is a good thing, and Lauren is the girl that brought me “love languages” (everyone says “I love you” in different ways…who knew?!). Brilliant people, I tell ya.

It was a bit of a rough weekend for me and body image, so I called the two people who I knew would be honest and say the right thing, and since they’re both such advice-giving geniuses, I thought I’d share some of their wisdom that put me right back on track:

Best advice from my dad: When I was complaining about my lack of energy to exercise or resist cravings, my dad suggested waking up earlier. This might seem counter-intuitive, but he pointed out the very true fact that the sleep you get after hitting the snooze button really isn’t good sleep. In fact, the more times you hit the snooze button, the more you’re probably screwing up what sleep you did get. I’m better off getting 5 good hours of sleep than I am getting 5 good hours plus a 6th really crappy hour.

Being up early means I have time to move my body a little before the day starts. This morning I did a 15 minute workout that I found on Pinterest, and just jumping around and listening to music made me so excited to get my day started. Not to mention I’ve already revved up my metabolism for the rest of the day.

My sweet daddy also said he’d start calling me at 6:30 so I could hear his voice first thing in the morning, and so he could remind me about why I wanted to be up that early in the first place. Love that dude.

Best advice from Lauren: I was talking to Lauren about how I would be so disappointed in myself and so embarrassed if I gained back what weight I have lost over the past year. She reminded me that people aren’t drawn to skinny people. People are drawn to cool people. A good example of this can be found in my TV-show-of-the-moment, The Hills. (Leave it to me to draw real like connections from asinine TV shows.). Lauren and Heidi are super beautiful and thin, but my god are they dull and horrible. Like, none of you would actually want to hang out with them, right? Plus, I sometimes get all weepy about being single but if looking like them attracts the like of Brody/Spencer/Justin-Bobby, then I’d rather look like the mom in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Her husband seems great.

Anyway, Lauren reminded me that I need to have confidence that my personality is enough. After that, the taking care of my health part is something I do for myself. I like to work out and eat right because it makes me, like my anatomy and guts and stuff, feel good, and I lose motivation when I do it because I’m worried about what others will think.

So with her advice in mind, I let myself spend the morning dancing around to Robyn and cooking a colorful breakfast: Egg whites with onions and peppers (topped with goat cheese!), and a perfect peach on the side.

Hard to feel bad when you’ve got a peach like that. Nom nom nom.

Best advice from me: Invest your time in finding an outstanding support system. You’ll be glad you did.

EXCITING THINGS HAPPENING TONIGHT!!!

Posted in Body, Soul | 6 Comments

Great Success*

(*said in the Borat accent)

I spent a good portion of last night very afraid that GRE day was going to be a disaster. Remember all that hardcore playtime Millie Girl got yesterday? Well it appeared that somehow my outta shape lil pup pulled a muscle. Last night she was struggling to get up the stairs or jump on the bed, but she wasn’t whimpering or panting so I decided to put off any decisions about vet trips until today.

She’s fine this morning! A little sore, but clearly she was just pooped.

I was thankin’ my lucky stars I didn’t have to spend the night at the vet. I was well rested when I hopped out of bed this morning, and I even got to stop by Einstein’s to pick up breakfast. You know what they say about testing on an empty stomach!

Power bagel with fat free cream cheese and a small coffee. I’m normally not a huge bagel person (I hate to be like this, but seriously the amount of carbs in one of those suckers is ridiculous… one bagel is the equivalent of EIGHT slices of bread), but this one was small enough and chock-full of fiber and seeds. And peeking out of the corner there, you can see I picked up a banana for a mid-exam snack!

Can you see the steam?

Well, I know you’re all dying to know….

I PASSED!!

Well, there’s not “passing” in GRE-land technically, but I got higher than the scores that the grad program I’m looking at deems “competitive.” Guess that studying paid off. 🙂 I’m not even sold on grad school yet, but it’s good to know that I’ve got those scores under my belt for the next 5 years if I want ’em.

I was going to head back to CVille right away, but after a long conversation with my dad (more on that later), and a shorter conversation with Alex’s dad, I decided to grab some lunch and spend the afternoon here.

It’s been a bit of a convenience food kinda day, not being at my house and all. I picked up Panera… YP2 Greek salad and summer corn chowder (apple on the side!).

Last night, Alex and his dad were talking to me about the Scoville Scale. I thought I liked things spicy… but considering Sriracha is so low on the scale and I can only have maybe a drop or two, I guess I like things pretty mild. This pepperoncini was speecy-spicy, but I bet it was only like a 1,000.

What am I up to now?

Celebratin’ by the pool!!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in General Lifestyle, Mind | 2 Comments

Preparation, Migration

This morning I woke up rather late. 8:00! I have to be out the door by 8:40… and I needed a shower this morning. I think I spent too much time watching The Hills on Netflix. Woops.

I prepared my breakfast and snack the night before because I knew today was going to be wild.

PB&J overnight oats. They may look disgusting, but the texture is like cookie dough. And the flavor! Man, I could eat breakfast every meal of the day.

It’s a good thing I was planning ahead last night because our fridge is b.a.r.e.

This girl can live off white wine and apple sauce, but that might not be the most nutritious thing in the world. And I polished off the eggs and apples with my snack.

And I nearly finished the coffee! What a tragedy that would be.

Java was on the go this morning since I was in a hurry. This entire morning felt rushed since I took a half day off to head to Richmond for my last doctor’s appointment in the 804! I feel like it’s officially not my home any more since I’m switching to doctors in Charlottesville. It’s those little things that make you feel really moved on.

The other night, Apurva asked me where I actually live in Richmond. When people ask me where I’m from, I always say Short Pump area and leave it at that. But when they ask specifics, like where I stay when I’m here, I don’t have an answer! My mom sold my childhood home a little over a year ago, and my Dad and step mama have cats that Millie would destroy. So where do I live when I’m here?

Why, Alex’s house of course!

Millie had a ball in the back yard.

 

I might’ve thrown her in the pool.

[Oh! How I wish this wasn’t blurry!]

The little lady was pooped!

And this girl’s pretty tired, too. I’m gonna be turning in to bed relatively early, because you know what tomorrow holds….

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

Posted in General Lifestyle, Soul | 2 Comments

Healthy On the Cheap: My Favorite Tips

One of the main complaints about healthy living is that it’s too expensive. If you’re like me, keeping a tight budget is just as much a priority as keeping up a healthy lifestyle. I’ve had spending problems in the past, and part of my problem was that I assumed that I had to spend a lot of money to get the things that I wanted. Gym memberships, Whole Foods bills over $200, yoga classes, and fancy cooking products can really add up. It really makes a girl wanna sit in front of the TV with a meal from the dollar menu at McDonald’s.

But being healthy is only expensive if you’re not doing it right.

I’m here as a reformed spend-a-holic to tell you: You can be healthy (or lose weight or whatever) on $40 a week. That’s the average amount I spend on groceries every week. All it takes is knowing how!

Here are my best tips for being healthy without breaking the bank:

CHEAP FOOD:

  • Either stop eating meat altogether, or drastically reduce your consumption. Meat is more expensive than almost all produce. (Sad but true: If your meat is cheap, you really shouldn’t be eating it.)
  • As a general rule, food that comes in a box tends to be the most expensive. Some people think that the best way to lose weight or be healthy is by buying “diet” foods like 100 Calorie Packs or low calorie Smart Ones meals. This is an awful misconception. A lot of these products are just teeny tiny servings of highly caloric junk food, and have absolutely no nutritional value. Aside from being full of chemicals and other yucky things, those products are also SO expensive… $5 or $6 per box. Stay away.
  • When you absolutely must buy something in a box, always buy store brand. I’m all about Kroger brand pasta and bread.
  • Capitalize on the deals that your grocery store offers! If there’s a 2-for-1 deal on bread, buy 2 loaves and freeze one.
  • If there are grocery store options in your area, take an afternoon to visit a few of them and compare prices on their store brand items and produce. Make it a habit to shop at the grocery store with the best quality and the lowest prices. The inconvenience of spending an afternoon comparing prices is a small price to pay for the comfort of knowing you’re getting good deals.
  • It should go without saying, but make sure you get a frequent shoppers card where your grocery shop. If you’re a student, ask if they have student discounts. Our Kroger has an amazzzinnnggg student discount.
  • Make loose meal plans for every week, and shop in your pantry first. What does that mean? If you know that you want to make pizza, make sure that you check your fridge first to see if you have any marinara sauce before you pick up a new jar from the store.
  • Never ever ever ever ever shop without a grocery list, and never ever ever ever ever put something in your cart without first looking at the price. Shopping without a grocery list is the number one deadly sin of frugal/health minded shoppers.
  • Go to the farmer’s market for produce! It can be less expensive because the produce is seasonal and local, and you’re supporting local farmers. It’s a bonus that the farmer’s market is so much fun!
  • Make peace with the fact that you might have to do a little traveling to get everything you need at the prices you want. I have been known to get canned and dry goods at Big Lots (yes, Big Lots), produce and frozen goods at Kroger, and meat/cheese/specialty items at Whole Foods.
  • Include it in your budget if you want to go out to dinner. But be honest with yourself: Going out is expensive, and it’s difficult to control the quality/quantity of food you get.
  • I also want to make it clear…. You don’t have to sacrifice the quality of the product for something less expensive. As an example, Kroger’s natural peanut butter is less expensive than Jiff peanut butter. And I think it tastes way better. (Side-rant: If your peanut butter has more ingredients than “peanuts” and “salt,” it isn’t real peanut butter. Go natural 100% of the time.)
  • Bonus frugal shopping idea: Keep track of your receipts, and watch how the prices of your most frequently purchased items fluctuate. It will make you more aware of how you’re spending your money.

I’ve got a weirdo left-brained roommate who likes to put all our receipts in a spreadsheet so we can see how the price of broccoli changes from week to week. This is for the more advanced grocery shopper.

CHEAP FITNESS:

  • Gym memberships are a luxury, not a necessity. Tough love: not being able to afford a gym membership is not an excuse to not exercise. I’ve searched and searched, and it seems as if the only gym in Charlottesville that’s worth going to has a membership fee of over $200/month. Even though I reallllly miss Zumba, that membership fee is not happening.
  • I know, I know. You love the elliptical/stair master/pool. Good news! There’s cardio you can do for free. Before the 1980s when gyms got really popular, people burned their calories by running, walking, dancing, doing jumping jacks, whatever. Do that! It’s more fun anyway!
  • Strength training is easy to do without equipment. Look in any fitness magazine for short and easy routines, or make your own combination of push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, etc.
  • Try this AMAZING idea from one of my favorite bloggers, Cassie.
  • Look up workouts on YouTube! There are TONS of good fitness resources on both YouTube and Netflix… some of the best yoga workouts I’ve ever had have been free videos online.

There you have it!! I’m always looking for more ways to spend less money on my food and fitness, so if you have any other tips… Share ’em!

Posted in Body, General Lifestyle | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Old Friends

HEY EVERYONE! Guess what’s back!

Man, have I missed my little camera. Out of the millions of reasons I started blogging, one of the main reasons was so I could have a creative outlet. My time at JMU was filled to the brim with creative outlets, from acting in Molly’s films to participating in poetry workshops.

Since I graduated I’ve been seriously lacking an avenue to express my inner artist. Blogging has been great in terms of writing, but half of the fun for me is getting to practice photography. It’s a totally new hobby and I’m obviously not an educated photographer. Even still, a blog full of blurry instagram-esque photos is not nearly as fun to keep up. So welcome back, Nikon Coolpix S8200!

I’m winding down from another weekend in paradise over here. We’ve had yet another visitor!!

For as much as the three of us hung out in high school, it’s kind of upsetting that this is the only photograph I could find with all of us.

Kristen (KB is our nickname for her) is one of our closest friends from high school and we haven’t seen her in forever. She goes to Chapel Hill, so it was great to have her come up for a little visit.

Alex was working yesterday so we spent the morning talking about everything under the sun, including our old favorite topic: personality tests and types. KB and I used to spend hours and hours over-analyzing our friends and personalities in high school, so when she introduced me to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator over 4 years ago, my life was changed. As NFP’s (she’s an I and I’m an E) we were obsessed with understanding the world around us through the lens of the 16 types.

I can’t speak for KB, but the reason I’m so interested in personality types is because it helps me understand how to better relate to people and understand their motivations. One of my favorite authors, John Green, is always talking about imagining others complexly, and I think personality typing is a really good gateway to doing just that.

Anyway, KB and I spent a lot of yesterday morning talking about our new favorite type indicator, the Enneagram. Instead of categorizing people into 16 unwavering types, the Enneagram has 9 types on a spectrum. Here’s an example of how personality typing helps me understand people more complexly: Alex is a 5, which really helps me grasp why it’s easy for him to get frustrated when I need a lot of attention or when I don’t understand math concepts he tries to teach me.

KB and I talked about stuff like that for so long that we ended up running out of time to go to the farmer’s market like we had planned. Instead we stopped by an old favorite, Pigeon Hole, for brunch.

Hands down the best grits I’ve ever had. The french toast didn’t suck, either.

Then we shopped around the Corner a little bit and went to one of Alex’s amazing tours in the Rotunda. Here’s a plug for the roomie: If you’re ever in CVille, stop by the Roto for one of his amazing 30-minute tours. Seriously, he’s so good.

When Alex got off work, we hit downtown. We went to Al Hamraa for a Moroccan-style dinner.

The decor was cool, but between the empty restaurant and incredibly awkward waitress, the whole experience was kind of weird. It was tapas-style, which I really don’t like and the food was realllllly tomato heavy. We were honestly a little afraid that we would get sick later in the night. We were imagining having a Bridesmaids situation on our hands… Thankfully we didn’t, but we definitely won’t be going back any time soon.

We followed dinner with coffee and dessert at Mudhouse on the Downtown Mall.

And then we went on a ghost tour! Charlottesville is so full of history, and the tour was designed to be like a murder mystery. It was a 2 hour stroll through downtown; it was entertaining and actually kind of educational. Alex and I were really excited to see a part of Charlottesville that we weren’t familiar with, and it was a perfect summer night. Not too hot, breezy, and clear skies.

The tour was over by 10, so we came home to watch Cruel Intentions, which KB and Alex has never seen. I forgot how creepy and fast paced it is, and Alex and KB liked the shock factor.

All in all, it was a dreamy Saturday. It’s a rare and fortunate thing to feel like you’re on vacation right in your own town.

Today, my goals are to eat at least one vegetable (yesterday started with that french toast and ended at Wendy’s drive thru…) and to go for a jog while Alex and KB see Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend… one of the last ones of the summer for students!

 

 

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If I’m Being Honest…

So this is a post about honesty, and if I’m being honest…. I really wanted to come up with a punny play on “Pretty Little Liars” for the title, since that’s all I think about these days. But it’s 10:35 and it was a looooong and emotionally exhausting day at work, so we’ll save that title-in-the-works for later.

I came to a realization today while I was blabbering to Alex after work: I avoid certain truths because I’m scared of them or what they entail. I’m sure everyone does this to some degree, but over the past week I’ve been coming clean about some stuff to myself and you know what? It hasn’t been that bad.

Some stuff I’ve been honest about this week:

1. My weight. I haven’t actually weighed myself in like 5 weeks, and I knew when I stepped on the scale yesterday morning that I’ve had a healthy but not necessarily restricted diet the past month. But I also knew that I wasn’t in dire condition because all my clothes still fit, so I figured I better see what shape I was in before things got worse. If I’m being honest… I’m up 4 pounds from my weight when I moved here and 8 pounds from my lowest weight since last year. Totally manageable!

2. My upcoming GRE exam. I’ve been putting off studying for the GRE because a) I’m not 100% sure I’m set on grad school right now, and b) who likes studying? But the GRE is less than two weeks away, and until recently I had no idea how I could expect to do on it. So instead of doing some wishy-washy studying, I sat down with my book and took the practice exam. If I’m being honest…. I did wayyy above average on the verbal section, and although my math score was nowhere near where it needs to be, I got a really good idea of what needed work and what I was comfortable with. Tonight I sat down with Alex and went over all the math questions I got wrong, and I’m already feeling more prepared for the exam than I was a mere 48 hours ago.

3. My bank account. I’m notorious for avoiding my online banking system like the plague. A couple weeks ago I set up an account on mint.com, and it’s been awesome. I have to say, I thought I was going to hate it. I even cried the night Alex was setting it up for me because I’m such a big baby about my finances. If I’m being honest… having an online system to manage my money has made it SO easy to see where I’m saving, where I’m spending, and that I’m right on track when it comes to being financially responsible.

4. The looming start of another school year. I spent all of college PRAYING to not be in college any more. I didn’t love JMU (sorry, fellow Dukes…. just stickin’ with the honesty theme), and I was beyond ready to graduate. I thought the world would be eagerly waiting for me on the other side of May 5. If I’m being honest… I just saw this video:

…And now I feel like a brat for ever hating school, and I’m really jealous that my roommate and most of my Charlottesville friends get to go back to dining halls and club meetings and office hours and study parties in just a couple weeks.

Being a little (lot) more honest with myself about big events/topics/emotions is almost always the best path to take, because the truth is almost never as overwhelming as you expect it to be. I feel a million percent better just knowing that I’m okay, things are not dire, and all I needed to do was look at the facts.

One last bit of honesty? I called Best Buy today and MY CAMERA IS COMING BACK SO SOON! Oh! How I’ve missed it! How banal and quotidian (thank you, Princeton Review, for those GRE words) my blog posts are without photos!

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While The Cat’s Away

Alex is in West Virginia with his family, so Millie and I had the house to ourselves last night and today, and it has been quite the girl party. I’m talking painted nails, face masks, and Magazine. The whole shebang.

It all started last night after a vigorous cleaning sesh and farewell dinner at Boylan Heights with Conor.

[Not pictured: Amazing vegan burger-in-a-bowl with goat cheese and caramelized onions, and a sad Katie bidding Conor adieu until the end of the summer].

Alex and I always grocery shop at Kroger cause of the great deals, but since I was shopping stag last night, I took a leisurely hour or so perusing the aisles of Whole Paycheck Foods. I love it in there. Grocery shopping does for me what Nordstrom does for other girls.

After unloading the groceries and stocking our new fruit basket…

 

…Millie and I curled up in bed to watch approximately 7 hours of Pretty Little Liars. Only like 3 more episodes until I’m all caught up and I can start watching in real time. Guys. This show is too good. To quote Lauren, “I’m definitely not getting smarter when I watch it, but I’m not getting dumber!” I’ll take it.

Also I’m totally obsessed with the girl on the far left. Must. Become. Spencer. Hastings.

Today started off with a cool-weather breakfast that I’ve been missing all summer: oatmeal! This morning’s version was PB&J style: PB2, sugar free blackberry jam, and sliced strawberries.

I lounged around on the couch with MDawg for a while, painting my nails and watching more PLL.

One of the best things about Mille: Squishy face from laying on the couch.

I finally got my act together and decided to try out my new workout top at the gym!

Sorr about the crazy eyes.

I wanted to get in some strength training at the gym, but the only other person there was a super chatty guy who wanted to sit right next to me. It was actually making me really uncomfortable (Does anyone else hate that? Don’t talk to me while I’m sweaty and trying to be in the zone, plz) so I went home, got in some strength, and started prep work for meals this week. I’ve never prepared meals in advance before, but I really enjoyed cooking this afternoon and I’ve got a lot of good stuff to look forward to this week.

Rullll good lentils to top my salads with this week!

Whole wheat pizza dough that I popped in the freezer to thaw later.

The rest of the afternoon was spent taking the GRE practice test. According to the test, I’m pretty solidly awesome when it comes to verbal. But math… different story.

Even though the girls over here in this little apartment are missing their boy, it’s been so peaceful and rejuvenating. I feel ready to conquer Monday!

 

 

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Voting With My Dollars: My Decision to Start Eating Meat Again

As I’ve expressed on here before, I’ve been a vegetarian for the past 2 years. I made my decision to stop eating meat in the midst of a Food Writing class I was taking. The class was designed to make the students examine and write about their relationships with food, and during that process we learned a lot about sustainable farming and the meat/dairy industry.

The horrors of factory farmed meat are endless. In addition to being unspeakably inhumane, it’s shocking to me that such low quality meat is even allowed in grocery stores.

I’m a big fan of voting with my dollars. In a country that’s essentially run by industry, I think the best way to demand change and to assert what the citizenship will allow is to spend our money discerningly.  When I find out a company or industry doesn’t gel with my values, I either stop buying from that industry altogether or I find a company within that industry that I’m comfortable supporting. I know that one little person’s money won’t necessarily take down a whole industry, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with myself if I let that be an excuse.

I think that meat, particularly white meat, is great as a supplement to plant-based diets. In the past I’ve always said that if I had the means to purchase meat from small, sustainable, humane farms, I would be happy to eat it. Until recently, I was never able to do that. But now that I have an regular income, I’ve decided to support those types of farms by adding back a little bit of white meat in my diet.

I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes, and I’m honestly really excited to have the flavor of chicken and turkey back in my life. Some vegetarians never crave meat after they swear it off, and some say that they only crave really decadent meat like filet mignon or thick cut bacon. I’ve never missed that fancy, indulgent stuff, but I have REALLY missed tender juicy chicken breasts and cracked pepper turkey sandwiches. Om. Nom. Nom.

On a similar note, I want to make a little statement about my opinion on the whole Chik-fil-A debacle that’s all over the press these days. I have always loved Chik-fil-A chicken, and now that I’m eating chicken again you would think that I would immediately hop back in line at the drive through.

First of all, I’m relatively anti drive throughs. Fast food is totally counter intuitive to my whole food philosophy, and I try to avoid it as much as possible. But more importantly, while I support the president of Chik-fil-A’s right to exercise free speech, I don’t align with the values of the company or the outspoken way they’ve been asserted. So if in the future I’m in a situation where I have to get fast food, I’m going to choose to spend my money at an establishment I feel morally comfortable supporting.

For those of you who are with me on that, but painfully sad to relinquish the perfect combo of sweet and savory that is Chik-fil-A chicken…

 

I think everyone votes with their dollars in some way. For instance, my dad thinks Susan Sarandon is a nutcase, so he refuses to see her movies. Alex’s mom found out some sketchy stuff about Hershey’s cocoa harvesting process, so she’s thinking about not eating her favorite candy anymore. And I remember not being allowed to wear clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch when I was little because my mom thought the advertisements were indecent.

How do you vote with your dollars?

 

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