Sunday, September 14, 2014

(Not Quite) Fall Favorites.

The first week of September on the East Coast was HOT. Like, 90+ days with ridiculous humidity levels of hot, where you couldn't tell if you had just come out of the shower, or just stepped outside for a minute. It was brutal, so the early release of the Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks left me just "meh" and just feeling extra, extra lazy (besides the start of work, which just left me "meh"). 

However, the spike in weather only meant that the cool down this week is even more welcomed - we're talking 60 degree nights now, which is perfect weather to make me gear up and get excited for fall in a few weeks. 

So, on that note, my end of summer/pre-fall favorites are including:

1. Surprises from Influenster/serious workout motivation. 
I love running in the late summer/early fall - the weather is perfect, the leaves are changing so everything looks different, and there's usually no humidity. However, once work starts up again, and I know I won't be in a bikini anytime soon, I take a dip in motivation for running - which is so counterproductive! 
Influenster and Victoria's Secret totally must have banded together to shake my early fall laziness, because I received  a complimentary box of Victoria's Secret goods - the VS Sport bra and the knockout crop capris, as well as a stack of 25% off coupons for a VS Sport item, which I handed out like candy to friends and coworkers (and some of the fantastic women in my yoga class). While I received these items for free, my opinions are not influenced by this and are 100% honest.

In the package, I received the VSX Sport Knockout crop, which retails for $62.50 normally (still cheaper than some of the other high quality sports gear). They're thick enough that they don't do that horrible see through thing when you stretch them, and have my favorite feature, the hidden waistband pocket, which is perfect for a run when you want to carry some money, a key, whatever.These feel high quality - and you won't get that dreaded see through effect when you bend over while wearing them (I asked my best friend). 

They're also comfortable enough to wear to brunch with said best friend, which is living proof that guys and girls CAN be just friends. 

In love. 

I also received the Standout Sport bra, which retails for $49.50. It is heavily padded, which for me is a plus, because there is nothing I hate more than running with jiggle - this bra ensures (and I tested it through tempo runs, jogs, and sprints) that the boobs are staying in place. The straps are comfortable and adjustable, with cushioning. According to the information that I received, the nylon performance fabric has four way stretch, and it keeps you cool and dry. My take on the sports bra is really that it held up so well. I'm a big fan of functional design that still looks pretty (the Barbie pink color definitely doesn't hurt either!). This offered awesome support, looks great, and isn't too tight or restrictive, which is necessary. The adjustable straps were an enormous benefit, since it eliminated bra strap bulge, which is another issue of concern for me.

And I actually sucked it up and ran during the humidity to test out the bra - it was THAT motivating! The after picture is not so cute, but the nice thing was that the bra did NOT get sweaty (even when the rest of my body was dripping). 

2. Pancakes. 
Guys. I have been eating so many pancakes lately. I may actually turn into an enormous chocolate chip pancake and I do not care at all (hence the need for running in humidity, nah mean?).

3. Poetry
I'm officially teaching ONLY Language Arts this year, versus all five subjects (is it weird I'm going to miss teaching math?). The positive is that I get to design my own curriculum, and pick any resources I want - I've already got my poetry unit on lock and am SO excited.

4. Lucille Bluth
I rewatched Arrested Development with my dad and brother, and I swear, Lucille Bluth is my spirit animal.

5. Lots of blankets and open windows.
Fall for me means leaving my windows open and just piling on blankets on my bed. I love being cold going into bed so I can snuggle up and cocoon (except on weekdays, because then 6 a.m. comes wayyy too early to break free from the cocoon). 

6. Pretty typography and meaningful quotes.
I'm telling you, there are days when you have to make your mind up to be happy. It doesn't always come naturally, and sometimes it has to be forced, but if you can keep mantras around to remind you of how awesome you are and what you deserve, it definitely helps.

7. Oversized sweaters.
Love. I love these all year round, but particularly when you can just throw one of these on over a tee for nights outside.

8. Drinking and eating for charity.
Every year my family goes to a firefighter's appreciation/fundraising benefit. This year was no exception and included my dad rapping to Drake's "Trophies" in the town car on the way over, lots of drinks and food, and going HARD on the dessert trays.

It was so freaking dark that pictures are terrible quality, but you get the gist of how the evening went ;)

Knob Creek and ginger, Ketel and club. Brother/sister benefit-ing.

"Your mother is going to be really pissed off you didn't feature her glass of water." -Dad
 This even raises a ton of money for the volunteer fire department and was just a great time to spend with my family, which is always a great time.

What are some of your favorites about this in between summer/fall weather? 

Currently listening to: Technologic - Daft Punk

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Best of Netflix - September 2014 Edition

So, post breakup, I decided that I wanted a week where I did next to nothing. Wake up late, make coffee (which unfortunately was my morning and afternoon meal, which is NOT good at all), and watch a TON of Netflix. Like, more than is healthy for your eyes or brain. 

The beauty of Netflix is that it's always there. So while I won't be going on an "I'm sorry for myself and will be alone forever" binge any time soon, I can't say that I'm not looking forward to a rainy weekend day to indulge a little bit (after a run - it evens out, right? OR on days I don't want to run, I promise myself I'll do 15 squats or 15 push-ups after every episode).

So here, are some of my favorites that I've binged on or enjoyed lately. 

1. Orange is the New Black
You can easily watch a season in a weekend - it's only 26 episodes, so you're not dedicating too much of your time (just like.. a full day). But seriously, talk about flawless casting. Every single character has so much depth, even the ones you love to hate. The episodes focus on one character, and what brought them into the prison, which is interlaced with what's going on at the prison at that moment. It's brilliantly done and I can't recommend it more highly (unless maybe you're a prude or don't like to hear the f word. Then maybe not so much for you.. I discouraged my prude mother from watching it).

2. The Walking Dead
Oh, you're behind? Or don't have much to do from now until October? CATCH UP before the new season comes mid-October. Seriously, get on The Walking Dead, because it is legitimately one of the best television shows - and it's more than just a zombie show, there are so many dynamics and it's really a study of human nature (if we're being Aristotelian). They JUST put the newest season up, so seriously, catch up and we  can swoon over Daryl together (don't knock him until you watch the show).

3. Jumanji 
Obviously. Relive your childhood - it's as good as you remember.

4. Food, Inc.
This isn't a fun watch, but it's one of the tipping points that converted me to vegetarianism (though it first just made me WAY more conscious about my eating habits and behaviors). It's a powerful look into the food industry in the United States, and is done in an interesting way (though it will probably infuriate you a little, and might make you buy more organic/local).

5. Love Actually
The best love movie ever created, in my opinion. Plus, Colin Firth. Plus, it's just so sweet. Plus, you know you wanted someone to hold a sign for you saying how you're perfect to them (with a beautiful appearance by Rick Grimes from Walking Dead). Ugh, swoon.

6. John Mulaney New In Town
This is HYSTERICAL stand up comedy. Mulaney is self deprecating in an adorable way, looks and sounds exactly like my best friend (which is just an aside), and talks about very easy to relate to topics in the funniest way.
My friends and I quote this sketch ALL the time (and I almost said the f word in my class when explaining that trying to plot points on a graph is like finding a place in the city and how it's a grid system, ya simple bitch).

Seriously, watch it. You're welcome.

7. The Following
They only have one season up yet (there are two in total), and this is NOT a show for the easily scared and squeamish (like me), but it is GOOD. It stars Kevin Bacon as a retired FBI agent who is profiling a serial killer that has a cult of people who will carry out his sick mindset and ideas. It's dark and will have you biting your nails/jumping - so take that as a warning.. but it is ADDICTIVE.

8. Bridalplasty.
Okay hear me out - I was going through a breakup, and all I wanted was a trainwreck show that made me feel better about my life, and the fact that I was putting chia seeds on top of ice cream and pretending it was healthy. This show is absolutely horrible. Like, awful. But soooo awful that it's so good. Stolen straight from Netflix, this is the gist of the horror (remember, feel bad for me, don't judge my horrible taste in television): Brides-to-be vie for plastic surgery procedures and the wedding of their dreams, where the big winner will reveal her new look to the groom.

9. Blackfish
I think everyone has probably seen this at some point - it's a more serious one (I have to redeem myself after Bridalplasty), and is about the abuse of the animals, specifically Tilikum, whose captivity caused the killer whale to kill trainers over the years. It's insane, and will have you not wanting to visit Sea World any time soon. Not a feel good movie, but an informative one.

10. Hook
Another one that's as good as you remember it, though it will break your heart to see Robin Williams so young, and as talented as ever.

11. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Missing No Reservations? This is exactly the same, and will give you a dose of travel, and how weirdly hot Anthony Bourdain is. Oh, hello.

12. American Horror Story
The first season was by FAR my favorite, and definitely the scariest. So well acted, so twisted (especially the twists in the first season - insane!), and just so good. Again, another one not for the squeamish or easily scared, but it's so good and Jessica Lange is seriously perfect. Another one to catch up on before the new season (though it honestly doesn't matter, because every season is 100% new with the plot - no carry over characters or storyline).

Who are your favorite OITNB characters? I love Red, Taystee, and Poussey. And obvi Pennsatucky. And maybe everyone.
What are you Netflix (or regular TV) favorites? (I do have House of Cards on my queue). 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Growing and Opening Up.

In case you haven't realized at this point in time, life can be really unpredictable.

Back when I was 11, 12, 13 (when you know it all), if you had asked me where I would be in ten years, I promise you I would have been disillusioned enough to think I'd have my entire life all together by 21 - 25 at the VERY latest.

As any upper middle class child probably thinks (when they're young and exceptionally awful), I thought that my life was beyond terrible. I couldn't wait to be an adult where I could eat ice cream for dinner, stay up late, make a ton of money by not working hard, drive a nice car, fall in love and be married to my own Macaulay Culkin in My Girl minus the bees type of way (because that was the epitome of true love at that age... either that or something out of a Mary Kate and Ashley straight-to-video movie).

Unfortunately, life does not work that way (and I never had it that bad, let's be honest).

One of the hardest things about growing up is losing love. When two people - two genuinely good and decent people - look at one another and come to the realization that "this is never going to work out if we actually want a shot at happiness in our lives."

I've been through breakups with screaming. I've been through breakups that were pinned entirely on me and how awful I am. I've been through breakups where cheating was the straw that broke it all. Nothing is more devastating though than when you realize that you gave your all, and it just wasn't enough. That all the love you have for that person is still there, but it's been transformed into a different kind of love because of numerous fights (over the same scenarios).

It's where you realize that if you want a shot at surviving and coming out of something with a sense of positivity, that you need to cut it off while you still have that love.

And that's where I'm at. Knowing that right now with where I am in my life, and what  is important to me, and how I've grown throughout different circumstances.

Some of the most important things that I've learned from my relationship - things that I will hold dear to me and cherish, because that is truly the only way that you can improve yourself:

1. Never apologize for who you are.
Here's the thing - I'm sarcastic, and outspoken, and really outgoing (which is maybe three horrible personality traits rolled into one, ah!).
I've always been able to get along with (most) people, I say inappropriate things, and you can read every emotion I'm feeling on my face. I can't date someone who digs their claws into my leg to get me to stop speaking my mind. I can't date someone who is upset when their friends like me* - which in my opinion is a VERY positive thing.
I would legitimately be silent because for a while,  because I was dating someone who was extremely jealous and threatened if he felt that someone liked me more than him, so I became the ultimate wallflower (and for someone with a serious case of resting bitch face, this is NEVER a good idea). Once I got beyond this, I became even more comfortable in my own skin, which opened up to more people coming into my life.

There are a lot of people who do not like me (actually, I was told the other day that I'm very polarizing, people either love me or hate me), but that's okay. Because I will NEVER change who I am to be something that someone expects.

*I feel like an a-hole for typing that - like it's this Mean Girls, "I'm sorry everyone is so jealous of me!" type of thing. 

2. Journal.
I started writing down my feelings - things that were bothering me, relationship wise, and then I would take a day to reflect on what I'd written. If it was still bothering me, I'd bring it up. If not, I wouldn't say anything, but I'd keep an eye out for any patterns of things that were bothering me because if scenario x kept coming up, it was something that was going to keep bringing me down until I spoke up.

3. Binge drinking should probably not be your favorite together activity.
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. When I think about the empty calories, the numerous hangovers, the emptying bank account, the bad and dry skin that was brought on from nights of drinking like a monster... just no (and that's not including drunk fighting, which is actually the worst because you only have pieces of what happened). When that's the foundation of your relationship, it's probably not going to end too well.

Vodka, I will always love you. Craft beer, I will always love you. Red wine, you're so good for my little Grinch heart... But I will never allow a relationship to be focused on either of you - you should be an enhancement to a night, not what the night is all about.

4. Speak UP.
No good comes from being super Irish and stomaching everything that bothers you until you either:
a) bottle up all your anger and explode
b) die

 I went from being someone who never spoke out (or did so with a ton of trepidation) because I'd rather things be "good" and for me to suck it up, versus dealing with problems as they arose to now speaking my mind when I'm upset, because I've seen how dangerous it is to hold onto that negativity; no growth is possible when someone doesn't know you're upset. Sometimes you need to evaluate if it's necessary to bring something up, but if it's serious, talk about right when it bothers you.

5. Stop looking for an opening.
This goes in conjunction with #4, but seriously - there is NEVER going to be a time when you're upset about situation y, and the sky opens up, the sun shines through, and your significant other says, "So, it seems like something is on your mind. Can we stop what we're doing and have a calm and rational discussion on the subject?" Don't wait for an opening - BRING IT UP. Because if you wait for that, you're going to wait forever and then will feel like an asshole for waiting too long to discuss.

6. Don't be compared.
So, this should have been a huge red flag. Do not EVER let a guy talk to you about every single girl he finds more attractive than you. You are not the cute, fun girl who doesn't give a shit and is super confident if you allow this to keep happening - you are a doormat and are allowing someone to put you down when you are beautiful and deserve to be told this And then, when you start seeing girls who fit this "ideal" that your significant other is speaking about, you're going to feel more and more insecure each and every time. It's not a fun game to play.

Stories about exes come up - they're a part of our lives and sometimes a story will have them in it.. but it shouldn't be a constant comparison of you to an ex. And you shouldn't ever have to sit and listen to stories about their sex life. EVER. (This goes into the "wtf was I thinking when I stayed?!" category of red alert).

7. Listen to your (true) friends.
They see things that you don't see. Don't be quick to dismiss the people that love you and support you unconditionally - they're looking out for you and want you to be happy*

*Obviously this goes for your tried and true friends who are honest and upfront with you.

8. If someone wants to walk away, let them.
Don't go chasing people (every single time) - if they can't stick it out and fight for you (or with you), it's okay. It's not you - it's something within them that isn't allowing them to persevere and fight. If you keep chasing, you'll be left with wondering if they would have stuck around, or what turn things would have taken. For me, I'm not going to run after someone ever again if their prerogative is to walk out of the door; it's emotionally exhausting, and I truly don't believe that's how it's supposed to be. 

9. Know what you need, and don't compromise. 
Looks aren't a necessity, they're a want. Huge... bank accounts (ha!) aren't a need, they're also a want. 
I know that I need someone who is driven in their career and is willing to go above and beyond to be successful, even if it's temporarily uncomfortable (and I think that type of drive translates to how they deal with bumps in the road with relationships too). 
I need someone who argues in a similar way that I do - I can't deal with being shut out for days and days while someone is processing; that will never work with who I am. I need someone who doesn't rely on drinking for a night to be a good one. I need someone who likes my friends and enjoys spending time with them (and vice versa), without it being an issue or there being jealousy. I need someone with similar (not carbon copy) interests, who lets me into their world and wants to be a part of mine. I need someone that I won't have to walk on eggshells with in fear of pissing them off. 
These are things that when I get back into it, I'm not going to be willing to compromise on, because I've seen what happens when these things don't line up, and it just won't work for me. And that may sound selfish, but it's okay. 

So, I'm good and I know I'll continue to be okay. I'm in love with my life and will keep being in love with it - on hard days, I'll remember good times, and I won't give up on myself. It might mean being alone, but that's okay because I'm a strong person and will never allow my relationship status to define who I am. :) Don't ever forget how beautiful each and every one of you are! xo

What are some of the most important lessons you've learned in your present or past relationships? 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Running.

I have a love/hate affair with running - I love how it makes my legs and core look, I hate that I have to stop watching Netflix to actually go outside and run (it's 2014 - can't I take a pill and just have a really good body while not trying whatsoever and eating cake all day?). It's temperamental too - your mind and body have to work together to have a good run, and that sometimes takes significant motivation.

For me, two things make me want to get out and run (okay - looking good is a given, so technically three things). The first is cute workout clothes, which is why I can't even give away all the Lululemon and Athleta reusable bags I've accumulated, and the second is kick ass running mixes, of which I am very proud. 

So, in case you're seeking new music to run to, here are some of my latest favorites. Note though - I do tend to start off my runs very quickly, so there may be need for some slower paced tracks in your workout to go from a jog into more of a tempo pace. 

When the Sun Goes Down - Arctic Monkeys

I am in love with the Arctic Monkeys, and this song is really good for interval running since it starts out very slowly and then picks up speed perfectly. I usually jog the first 50 seconds and then adjust my pace accordingly.

Camelot (original mix) - Sergio Mauri. 

Obsessed, and it's a high intensity beat with a sick drop that'll keep you going and make you dig a little harder. It's like EDM meets Game of Thrones.

Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis

Upbeat tempo, catchy, and maintains a steady pace throughout. Solid and allows your to readjust your pace to work with the beat.

Anywhere for You (Tiesto vs. Dzeko & Torres Remix) - John Martin

This one is pretty consistent, but the pace and BPM is really good, which makes it a good running track. I also am in love with John Martin's voice.

Sweatpants - Childish Gambino.

I love Donald Glover on a whole, but adore this song off his new album, which is killer to begin with. I usually begin my runs with this one, because the beat is sick, but it's not super fast (solid head bobbing music). Plus it's filthy, which is all I want when I run.

Lonely Boy - The Black Keys.

This one starts off fast and maintains, which is awesome for an interval run.

Bang Bang - Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj

This song has a badass beat. I'm obsessed with it, even though I know it's going to be played out in four seconds, I do not care because it is sooo good. It's really good for any HIIT training.

The City - Madeon

Madeon is my favorite ever. EVER. This song has been on my running list for at least three years, and I never, ever get tired of it. I use it usually for interval running and sprint during the chorus, which works beautifully. The video is also gorgeous, which helps 0% during a run.

Salute Your Solution - The Raconteurs 

Another one I use when I want to FLY. Fast BPM that's super catchy. Make sure you're on a stretch of road where you can just take off, without having to wait for cars/the right of way.

M.A.A.D City
Backstreet Freestyle - Kendrick Lamar

Two gems that I can rap every word to (no joke), and that switch up the beat throughout, which again make for a good HIIT run. Again, filthy, and there have been times I swear I've been bobbing my head during a run.

40 Day Dream - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes.

This is usually my cool down - the beat is steady, but slow, and it's a nice one to just do the last four minutes of a run with.

Notable Pandora Stations:

-90's Alternative Station
-Alternative Endurance Station
-Yoga Workout Station

Notable Spotify genres 
(with totally pre-made playlists that are crazy kick ass):

House Workout
Power Workout
Hip Hop Workout

What's your running/workout go to music?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

June & July Recapping.

I am never going to be able to stay on top of blogging - I've realized that after trying to play catch up way too many times. Since blogging isn't my full time job, I figure that it really doesn't matter how often I post, as long as my heart is really into it. 

That being said, this summer has been a rollercoaster, but there have been some absolutely incredible happenings. 

1. First, I was a date to a wedding. It was my first same sex, friendship wedding date, and this was definitely perfect.
Never have I cared less about: how much I ate, how much I drank (hello, old fashioned and making friends with the bartenders who bought our love and tips with shots that they insisted upon taking with us), how stupid I look when I dance, etc. I ate like a pig, filled TWO plates with dessert, and have never felt happier at a wedding. 

Hey, date.
 Typical. I've obviously never looked better. 

2. Breweries and burritos. 

Edwin, Justin, Sara and I went down to Carton Brewery in the controversial Central Jersey (controversial because New Jerseyians constantly debate over whether Central Jersey is actually a thing, or if it's South Jersey in disguise). We headed down the hour + drive early on a Saturday morning, and I'm telling you - you know you have your best friends in the car when the car ride down is just filled with jokes and nonstop laughing about everything and anything. Plus, getting to Central Jersey, where all of a sudden you are in hickville with strip clubs called Fantasie's, is always an adventure.

Carton is teeny tiny and the tasting room looks like someone's Williamsburg loft. We were there for hours trying different beers (including a salted vegetable ale that made me want to projectile vomit). 

From there, we went to 10th Ave Burrito in Belmar, NJ, where Ed and I go often when working races down the shore. It was on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, which I don't watch, but is apparently a very big deal, and they have incredible margaritas and burritos, which is something that appeals very highly to me.

3. The end of summer school.

I know I bitched about work, but my summer school crew ended up being flawless (minus one student who likes to write essays on his sex addiction, etc. for shock value - homie, I'm not shocked by anything you have to say).
On our last day, since they all know I won't be their teacher next year (I'm moving to a different department), they threw me a surprise party, filled with heartfelt notes and lots of gifts/surprises. Plus, out of the four students who took the GED, all four passed it, which was extra rewarding. 

 A MOCHA cake, made just for me as a surprise..
"Yo miss, we know you love coffee and desserts, so we got you the best of both." 

I have never been more convinced I look like a student versus a teacher.

This is more typical - me giving resting bitchface to a student starting up about some nonsense. 

4. Birthdays.

My parents have July birthdays, so we always have fun celebrations for both of them. For my mom's birthday, my dad hired our neighbor, who is fresh out of culinary school at Johnson and Wales, to make my mom a blackout cake, which was the best chocolate cake I've ever had in my life (and I do NOT usually like chocolate cake). I took my mom and dad to a local cafe for brunch, and then to a mother/son owned pie shop, which was amazing. 

5. Races

I now work on timing and scoring for road races, and it's amazing. You get to meet a ton of people, get to go to all the after parties, and everything is comped. We worked a race in Belmar (two years in a row - this year I didn't pass out - read: blackout - at 6 p.m., and actually made it until 11 p.m.!), and it's always insanity and filled with food and (too many) drinks and shots. Once a year is about all I can handle, no joke. 

Please take note that the little neon glasses are shot glasses, that had lemon drop shots in them. Ugh. I legitimately detoxed for 2 weeks after this. 

6. Portugal/Ireland pre World Cup friendly game.

I've been a Portugal soccer fan for forever - well, since high school when I thought one of the players (not Ronaldo) was super hot, and I've followed them religiously ever since - I even subscribe to the soccer channel. For a friend's birthday, he wanted to go to the Portugal/Ireland pre-World Cup friendly game at MetLife stadium in NJ. Obviously I was in, and we had a night of beers, cigars, and futbol. Yes, please. 

Probably my first and last cigar, ever. 

 And that has been my June and July in a nutshell, with an overload of pictures. 
What have been your favorite things this summer?