Friday, March 29, 2013

Independence Day.

One of my goals when I wrote my 25th birthday post was that I wanted to get the ball rolling and finally set down some permanent roots by moving. I had my taste of freedom when I lived in one of my Poppy's smaller properties last year, (post here if you missed it!), but after it sold in an unprecedented amount of time (literally 3 weeks after being put on the market), I was back to living with my parents.

I cannot complain and say that my parents' house was hell, or that I didn't have space, or was in any way being mistreated, but I was still miserable. I thrive on independence and "me time." Going from having an entire house, coming and going when I pleased, and doing things on my time; back to living under my parents' roof was a really big and very difficult adjustment for me. My parents have eased up and are considerably less uptight than they were when I was younger, but it's still the fact that there was someone at home who was worrying about me if I didn't come home, or the disapproving looks my mom silently passed my way when Edwin slept over, or the lack of space for all my stuff that required me to span out into my bedroom and my brother's vacant room so that I felt like I wasn't suffocating from too many clothes, that just began to add up.

I knew that buying a condo or townhome would be the best fit for me, and to me, it just made me sense than to be pouring money into rent.

My search for a place lasted for a while - I saw some beautiful, but crazy expensive places; some cheap and disgusting/scary places; and some scattered in between, but for my budget, most places that I looked at were ridiculously outdated and studio apartment sized. It became a core rather than something enjoyable, and I began to dread the search.

Once I found a place that seemed to be the perfect fit - onsite pool and fitness center, fairly special rooms with gorgeous hardwoods, and a balcony - I brought my parents and Edwin to come see it, and put in my grown-up offer (and almost cried once I started seeing all the numbers add up for the cash I'd need to supply if my offer went through). I told Edwin in the car on the way home that I was not going to stress it - the whole process was very zen for me as I adopted this "if it's meant to be, it will be" mentality that goes against every aspect of my personality. Edwin and I went to Mt. Fuji (an amazing Japanese hibachi restaurant, where I hadn't been since my 23rd birthday with Poppy when he sat next to a transvestite and didn't realize) for a friend's birthday that night, relaxed, and didn't say a word about the offer.

The next day, I received word from my realtor that my offer was rejected, but that they countered by reducing their original asking price by $10,000, which was a victory in and of itself. I raised my original offer a tiny bit, but not giving much wiggle room in it to go up any more, and a day later, my realtor called again telling me that my offer had been accepted.

The time from my offer being accepted into closing was a blur, but a blur filled with a ridiculous amount of stress. From the lawyers being slow, to further negotiations, and packing things up, it defintiely has not been the triumphant and easy exit from my parents' house that I anticipated. My demeanor over the past few weeks has become increasingly irritable (Edwin told me on Saturday night, "Yeah, you've been beyond bitchy ever since you moved in"), but it's getting better.

As my things get moved in, and I can go home after work and do whatever I so please, I'm getting happier. I'm sleeping more comfortably, I'm eating more healthy food since I can prepare it myself without anyone over my shoulder commenting, and I'm taking time for myself. I'm trying - and as the pieces continue to come together, I hope that I can become less bitchy and more at home and at peace.

I think that I figured that moving out would solve every aspect of my unhappiness, but the added pressure is defintiely taking a toll. Sometimes I set such high expectations for events, people, or plans that I end up disappointing myself which definitely plays a huge role in my mentality.

So, this is my new home - it's a work in progress, but clearly based on the fog I haven't been able to shake myself out of over the past two weeks, I'm a work in progress as well.

I'm finding the little things and places that are bringing me increasing happiness, and just like decorating my house and organizing, it's coming to me step by step and with considerable effort.

My living room/dining room area (with balcony off the back that faces the sun in the afternoon).

Living room decorations/odds and ends:

I read on Pinterest that if you save all your $5 instead of spending them, it's a great way to add to your savings account without a huge sacrifice, so I've been trying it out. Once I fill the jar, I'll split it 50/50 and do something fun/put half in savings.

Kitchen (with un-shown peek-through window into the living room!).

Based off of the contents of my cabinets, I don't know if you could tell I'm actually a 25 year old and not a frat boy/child (with a little Puerto Rican influence for when boyfriend cooks for me, woo!).

Kitchen details/odds and ends (so far) - a mix of my style and things from Poppy's I fell in love with:

Trader Joe's wine that Edwin and I are beyond excited to try (NJ Trader Joe's don't sell wine, wahh). Any recommendations of good ones?

Bedroom, complete with mattress on the floor and slightly blurry closet photos (but seriously, two big closets? I'm thrilled!).

Not even 1/4 filled yet.

Well, this was clearly very important to the move:

Obligatory bathroom picture, mainly because I love the color of the walls.

What are your favorite decorating tips? Any websites or places that I absolutely need to check out to get some fun (and not super expensive) decor?

Currently listening to: Comin' Home (Live) - City and Colour

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Through the Looking Glass - Firmoo Lenses Review

When I was in second grade, it seemed like all my friends were getting glasses and/or braces. For some reason, probably the desire to totally and completely fit in with my peers, I was jealosu of them, and was so sad that my eyesight was perfect and I didn't need glasses. Of course, this was short lived, and once fourth grade and those super awkward years rolled around, my optometrist revealed that I now did in fact need glasses.

I still remember my first pair of glasses - they were red and oval shaped, and absolutely awful. Pair that with my gawkiness and bad skin, and I was the poster child of an awkward middle schooler. As soon as high school hit (or the summer prior to starting 9th grade), and I was recruited for varsity soccer, I got contacts as quickly as possible, leaving my horrible glasses behind me with happiness.

Once I got to college and realized that all nighters + contacts were a terrible horrible combination, I realized that I was responsible (kind of) enough for real, grown up glasses, which made all the difference.

Glasses have stopped being for nerds - my sixth grade self is rejoicing over the fact that glasses are now very trendy statement pieces - often worn by people who don't even need a prescription (ugh, no fair!). When, an online glasses retailer that offers a variety of styles of glasses (prescription and non-prescription) contacted me and asked me to try a pair, the sixth grade me was still reluctant about how they would look, or if all those insecurities would come flashing back to me.

My experience with Firmoo was simple - I chose my pair of frames, selected that I did not want prescription lenses, and they arrived within the week. I picked a pair that I normally wouldn't have chosen - the big, retro geeky kind of frames, because I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone. I actually ended up loving them (despite my parents making fun and saying that I looked like Buddy Holly).

I wore them to a technology conference where I was a presenter on using iPads in the classroom at a local college, and I think I walked the line between nerd and professor very well.

Firmoo has fast shipping, and an awesome first pair free policy, where you can try out frames at absolutely no risk. Their customer service was on point, and after having Versace and Burberry lenses for the past forever years, I was definitely pleased with their prices as well!

I did have difficulty navigating their site to find my original pair that I ordered though - there is a bit of clutter which makes easy navigation a bit more complicated, but that was the main hiccup I found with the site. After searching for ~15 minutes, I still couldn't find them, so this link is for a very similar pair.

I've had a lot of fun with my Firmoo lenses, and have gotten a ridiculous amount of compliments both in person and via Instragram on them. Be sure to check the site and pick a favorite pair - let me know in the comments what your favorite style of glasses are!

Have you ever worn glasses? What style are you a fan of (or not a fan of?!)?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Runners World.

"I don't even know what I was running for - I guess I just felt like it."
Holden Caufield, The Catcher in the Rye

My boyfriend and I have gone for exactly one run together.

It was a spur of the moment decision, when we were bored after waking up one morning and decided the weather was nice enough that we should do something inside (and it was probably a good detox as well). As we put on our running clothes, I grabbed my phone and headphones, to which he said, "No, let's try just running today without distractions." I was fine with this - he is a former distance runner, and we recruited for various schools to run for them, so I know he's way more knowledgeable than I am (plus, he can run under a 6 minute mile, so I bow before this since I am ridiculously slow by comparison).

I've never run with someone for fun before - it was always a highly competitive setting for varsity soccer, where the slowest person had to run additional timed miles and suicides, so I was not about to be stuck with that person.

Even as I started out my run with him, my competitive nature kicked into high gear, and I set off on a super fast pace, sans music. This was not my most brilliant of ideas, because I burnt out fast after the first mile, and had to completely turtle pace it back to my house on my loop, with him being very patient behind me.

When we got back to my house, I was ready to die, and he turned around and said, "Okay, I'm going to do another loop, I'll be back soon." I think I did something very ladylike, like gave him the finger, but I was so out of breath and just blah, that I probably am giving myself way too much credit.

When I was laying on my living room floor, still trying to catch my breath while crazy was out running another loop (he later told me that it was way too ambitious and he didn't realize how much the hills were going to destroy him until he was on his way back), I realized that I'm the type of person who thrives on music to pump me up during a workout or run, and that just because Edwin doesn't like music on during his runs doesn't mean that's what works best for me.

I'm known in my circle of friends for my playlists - I love music, and I love running, so putting together running playlists is one of my favorite things ever. Here's a list of a few must haves that I listen to whenever I'm in a slump or need that extra push.  

1. Rattle - Bingo Players.
If this song does not get you pumped up, I don't know what will. The pacing is perfect for interval running, starting out with a fast jog, going into a run, and sprinting for the duration that the beat really drops. And please don't let the fact that Flo-Rida covered a Bingo Players song throw you off from listening to them. He is just a ruiner of all things good music.

This came on in the car on an impromptu trip to the city at 3 a.m. for rice, and as soon as it came on, everyone in the car went crazy (or according to my friend Rob, "Rattle came on and shit just got REAL.").

2. Dog Days are Over - Florence and the Machine.
I usually wind down my runs with this song, again, because you can use it for interval running. In this case though, I do a very slow jog, fast jog, and sprint. Her singing basically encourages me to keep going and keep running for the final stretch.

3. Calling (Lose my Mind) Extended Mix - Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso ft. Ryan Tedder
I cannot get enough of this song. It reminds me of summer (and summer drinks), but it also makes me move along with the amazing beats. Seriously, check it out - so good.

4. Anti Matter - N*E*R*D
I thought I was just alone with this one, but after talking with friends, I learned that I'm not the only one who loves and listens to this song during an intense workout. Something about the beat makes you want to just kick ass - hopefully your own and not the person running next to you though.

5. Ray Bands - B.o.B. 
Okay, I'm a huge fan of B.o.B., but the beat and flow of this song is perfect for mid-run when you want to keep your pace. Plus, he actually is a talented rapper with sick beats and in a sea of Lil Wayne's, that's something to celebrate.

6. Back Against the Wall - Cage the Elephant.
Okay, so this song was my angry song when I was dating someone prior to meeting Edwin. This guy would expect my life to revolve around his, would constantly cancel plans and leave me hanging, and running became such an outlet for me. Every time I would get pissed at him and would take solace in a run, this song would magically come on shuffle right at a time when I was needing to run the hardest. It's definitely stuck with me as a great workout song just for the added motivation it gave me during this time.

7. Power - Kanye West.
The beat, the words, the fact that it's Kanye. You had me at hello.

8. The Night Out - Martin Solveig 
Just check it. It's so damn catchy. (And, the Madeon remix is also SO GOOD).

9. The City - Madeon.
Madeon is a legend - if you haven't heard of him, check him out because he is going to blow up (and he's super young, which is unfair and amazing all at once).

This video is also really sick.

10. Da Rockwilder - Methodman & Redman
I love this song. Have since forever, probably always will.. Microphone checkaaa. It doesn't get much better.

11. Sexyback - Justin Timberlake.
Because I mean, come ON.

12. Mercy - Kanye West, Pusha T, Big Sean & 2Chainz.
I get bored sometimes when I'm running if I'm listening to the same person, so having a ton of different people rapping over one track with a sick beat and ridiculously catchy hook is perfect for me. Even though this song is crazy played out, every time it comes on the radio, I still listen to it.

13. Give Your Heart Away - The Black Keys.
I can't explain it, but this song makes me run. Hard. I ain't even mad.

What are your favorite songs to run to? I love sharing music, so please enlighten me (I get so tired of my music that I'm constantly seeking out new songs).

I know once I hit "publish" I'm going to think of twenty more songs I could add to this list, but for now, I'm pretty happy with it. This amount of songs is about the cycle that I listen to throughout the duration of one run - to me, the most important thing is to be motivated when you hit that wall halfway through and the end isn't in sight.

And now even Edwin is asking me for a running playlist. Just saying.

Currently listening to: Numb Bears - Of Monsters & Men

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring, Sprang, Sprung.

Spring is without a doubt my favorite season of the year. It's about that time that I start to feel better in general - the days are longer so I feel more accomplished, the weather is warmer so I don't have to bundle up and feel like the son in A Christmas Story, and I don't have to start my car 15 minutes prior to leaving for work.

Now that Daylight Savings Time has kicked in, I'm gearing up for spring, and am definitely craving the following springtime things...

1. Running outside.
I despise the treadmill. Not one single part of me enjoys running on a treadmill versus running outside. There's something about being outdoors that just helps me become more motivated - plus, I run a LOT faster, which is very encouraging after trying desperately to get my mile time down under 8 minutes on a treadmill and failing each time. First run of 2013, I easily had less than an 8 minute mile - I'm telling you, running outdoors works wonders.

2. Fresh flowers.
I don't know what it is about everything blooming, or being able to put flowers all over that makes me happy, but it does. My new place is filled with vases, ready to pop in some freshly cut daffodils or tulips. Even driving around and seeing all the colors makes me happy.

3. Amendment to #1 - being outside.
I love the outdoors. I remember when I was a kid, if it was sunny and warm out, my brother and I were required to be outside - there was no TV, no hanging out indoors - we were bred to be running around barefoot, playing tag and manhunt, swimming, whatever. This has definitely translated into adulthood - my springs and summers give me this intense desire to be biking, hiking, swimming, laying in the sun - I feel beyond slothy if it's a gorgeous day and I'm inside.

4. Baby animals.
I know, I know - I'm 6 years old. But seriously, baby everything is just the cutest (even baby geese who turn ugly about a week later).

5. Colors.
They are everywhere come spring. Granted, neons were still trendy in the winter, but there's something about wearing bright colors in spring that makes everything seem better.

6. Spring fashion.
Spring fashion week got me pumped for colors, patterns, and weather warm enough to show off some leg. I cannot wait to start seeing skirts and dresses make their comeback while walking around the city.

7. Farmers markets.
God, I love farmers markets so much. Something about buying and supporting locally and enjoying unique and delish vegetables and fruits makes me so happy.

8. Floral.
This goes beyond spring fashion - florals are in a category all on their own. Nothing could make me happier than seeing floral dresses, shoes, bags, whatever. Bring it on.
Paige Premium:

9. Sleeping with the windows open.
No explanation necessary.
10. Spring hair, makeup and nail polish.
Spring is when things get a chance ot lighten up from the dark colors of fall and winter.
I love spring colors-  the fresh, light colors and makeup paired along with pastels and fun spring colors on nails. I can't even handle how much I'm loving spring makeup trends.


(From top left - Cute as a Button; Off the Shoulder; Mint Candy Apple; Tart Deco).

11. Central Park in Springtime.
There is nothing more beautiful... besides Central Park in summer, fall, and winter.

I could probably think of twenty more things I'm excited about for spring, but I will spare you ;)
What are you most looking forward to with spring weather?
Any favorite spring activities that I need to be sure to make time for?

Currently: listening to my students complain that the test I'm giving them is too hard. Suck it up, buttercup (xoxo, Ms. B).

All images were found via Pinterest. Let's follow each other! xox