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Monday, January 27, 2014

MIMM: Too much marvelous for one post

Life is funny in the way that it ebbs and flows. Bad things and good things alike seem to come in waves, and right now it's high tide happiness. It's been a long time coming, and I'm planning on embracing it while it's here. I won't even get into the details because everything is so feelings-based, for lack of a better description.

Marvelous is...

Finding a new and unique hidden gem. Justine's in Providence. The location is kind of hush-hush with a lingerie shop display in a sketchy neighborhood, but once you get past the curtain, it's a gorgeous intimate bar setting with amazing $5 cocktails and a great bar staff. Check out the awesome menu:
I ordered a manhattan (my recent drink of choice), but sampled my friend's Brandy Alexander, Ward 8, and Charlie Chaplin. I was happiest with my choice, but the Brandy Alexander was incredible...just too rich to drink the whole thing. And in classic fashion, I started up awkward interactions with a slew of people at the bar. I do it because I can. It makes for some interesting memories. 

Marvelous is...

Returning to yoga after almost an entire week's (unintentional) hiatus and unrolling my brand new Jade yoga mat!
Extra long teal Harmony mat ♥  

Marvelous is...

Finally achieving a yoga pose I've been working on for months. I don't know if my body just needed a rest to reset, or if it was all the positive energy emanating from my beautiful new mat. Whatever it was, I'm so excited to have finally held one-legged crow! And I know it wasn't a fluke because I've done it about five times since then. Brief holds, mind you, but holds nonetheless.

Thanks, Katie, for hosting another Marvelous in my Monday!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Spill It Sundays: TV Shows

Once again, I've been a terrible, no good, inconsistent blogger. Forgive me. I've decided to Link up to Arman's Spill It Sunday! This week's theme: TV shows.

What was your favourite TV series growing up?
When I was a wee one...

Sesame Street, obviously. There are old videos of me reading magazines and poorly singing the theme song while I watched the TV shows before age 2. I was such a nerd.
When I was a kid...

My dad and I would have "Kablam parties" every Friday night when I was a kid. We would go to the store and pick up a bunch of snacks, usually Cool Ranch Doritos and crunchy Cheez Doodles (not Cheetos!), and just hang out watching this weird Nickelodeon series. I was also really into Spongebob. I blame my dad for that one, too.
When I was in college...
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My freshman roommate and I were obsessed with Brett Michael's Rock of Love on Vh1. No, it wasn't even a good reality TV show, but we loved laughing at Brett's sad attempts to bed these women and maintain his image despite the obvious fake hair. What is romantic about telling someone you want them to administer your insulin? Nothing. At least not in my eyes.
What is your current favourite TV series?
I really love a lot of TV shows for different reasons. I've mentioned before here that I am hopelessly in love with Gunnar on Nashville and Captain Hook on Once Upon a Time. Their attractiveness is more appealing to me than the actual content of the shows, to be honest.
I find myself talking about Duck Dynasty far too often and realize that I definitely watch it too much. Whenever I scroll through the TV guide and see Duck Dynasty is on A&E, I turn it on immediately. I have a little crush on Jase and I find Si and Willie to be hilarious. It doesn't help that the rest of my family has the same problem. 

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As for new TV series that I'm loving, I have to say Brooklyn Nine Nine is my number one. It needed to be said somewhere in this post. Does anyone else find Andy Samberg to be kind of sexy?
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If you could guest star in ANY TV show, which would it be?
I would have to say New GirlNew Girl is basically the ideal primetime TV show for my sense of humor. I really love awkward, uncomfortable comedy in a TV series, but it's usually found in more obscure shows like Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (an Adult Swim classic)...
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And Portlandia. The bookshop skits are gold.
Photo credit: So many bookstore GIFs!
Back to New Girl... I really just want to hang out with Schmidt and Winston. I would totally be BFFs with them in real life. Maybe I should just be Jess. I'm awkward enough. 
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What genre of  television do you enjoy the most? (Reality, Action, Drama, Comedy)
Definitely comedy. I prefer comedy in any form of media, really. At the end of the day, I want to laugh. 
Yes, I marathon Duck Dynasty, Top Chef, and a slew of other reality TV shows if it happens to be on, but comedy most captures my attention.
Which TV series do you think should NOT have been renewed after it’s first season yet had?
Oh, I could go on forever about TV shows that shouldn't have been renewed. If we're talking reality TV shows, definitely any series that chronicles the lives of the Kardashians. I'm sorry (not really), but they just do not deserve their fame, nor do I want to watch them drone on with their flat affect and overly done up appearances about whatever drama they've been able to muster up this week. Yet I will still watch it if my sister turns it on...I never claimed to be perfect.
Which TV series do you think deserved to be renewed yet was not? 
Ben & Kate! I wanted to cry when that show was cancelled! It was so funny, and made Tuesday nights the best comedy night on TV. I don't even understand how it was cancelled in the middle of its first season. RIP.

Thanks, Arman, for the fun blog post idea :)

The Big Man's World

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What I'm reading on a Wednesday

No work for me today. The office is closed, but I was (again) expected to drive to one of the group homes to work for the day or take a forced vacation day. Considering it takes 30 minutes to get to the nearest house on a normal day, I didn't feel like finding out how long it would have taken today. When precipitation falls, New Englanders forget how to operate a vehicle. Clearly, I took today off. It's not even the end of January, and I've already wasted two vacation days to snow. And I just found out they are predicting more snow for next week. Not to mention it feels like -9°F with the windchill today in RI. Come on, winter! Enough already!

Since I didn't have to get up for any particular reason today, I actually slept in until 9:15am, which is unheard of for me. I'm such an insomniac, but my body and mind apparently needed a rest. It felt awesome.

My day today has really consisted of playing Candy Crush on my iPad, an hour of shoveling, a makeshift kettlebell workout at home, and marathoning episodes of Portlandia and Best Ink. Nothing exciting, so I thought I'd share some articles that caught my attention over the last week.

How to Make Sweet Potato Caramel via Bon Appetit
Who knew that healthy, refined sugar-free caramel was awaiting me right on my countertop at almost all times? I definitely need to give this a shot. Worst case scenario, I've cooked some sweet potatoes.

4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Actually Healthy via eatlocalgrown

I sometimes engage in an internal battle about my daily use of stevia in my coffee, tea, or food. Realistically, I use at least two servings of stevia a day, some days more than that. I know it's not as bad as Splenda, but I really feel like I should try to cut it out completely. It's nice to read some positive potential side effects of stevia. I still want to cut back, but maybe there are definitely worse things I could be putting into my body. Like heroin.

10 Benefits of Yoga via yoganonymous

Just more justification for my yoga obsession. I seriously cannot say enough about how much my body and mind has changed for the better since I traded in running and kickboxing for yoga. Miracle exercise, I tell you.

A Horrifying Picture of What Sleep Loss Will Do To You via Huffington Post

Okay, this article freaks me out. I need to start getting more sleep ASAP.

Monday, January 20, 2014

MIMM: Low-key plans with high entertainment value

Let me preface this post by saying that American Horror Story this week gave me the serious creeps. I can't deal with that butler, or all the blood. Ugh.

Now that that is out of the way, onto more marvelous things. Like the weekend. I'll do my best to keep descriptions brief despite all the amusing and awkward details. Honestly, it's too much to share, and I'd have no idea where to begin. 

Friday night I finally got together with another girl who works for the trivia company after several reschedules. We were going to check out Justine's, but we ended up at The Avery because it was easier to locate. No complaints there. I would have snapped a picture, but it's always super dark in there. We happened to end up seated next to this group of completely insane group of people ranging from what I guess would be late 20s to late 40s. Long story short, they convinced us to go with them to Lili Marlene's on Federal Hill, and we stupidly offered them a ride. Weirdest mile-long drive in my life. It took like 20 minutes to fully get out of the Avery parking lot haha.

Lili Marlene's was not what I expected from a bar on Federal Hill. It isn't exactly easy to find unless you know you're looking for it. I actually wasn't even sure it was open when I looked from the street. Upon walking in, all I could think of was a speakeasy. Again, too dark to take a picture. I loved the vibe of this place, and definitely want to go back. My grapefruit martini was amazing and for only $7.50 for a drink on The Hill, I have no real excuse not to. Our experience at Lili Marlene's was filled with just as much surreal and random interactions, even after our drunk/crazy "guides" were cut off (no surpise) and left.

Saturday is better explained in pictures, I'll leave the details up to your imagination:

Marilyn Monroe themed bathroom at The Scurvy Dog in Providence.
The usual yoga on Saturday and Sunday mornings left me feeling a little better about all the alcohol I consumed. All in all, a solid weekend that deserved the entirely unproductive Sunday I had. I'm also a little bitter that I have to work today despite it being a holiday. At least I won't hit much traffic.

Linking up to Katie's Marvelous in My Monday!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A new approach on eating to gain muscle & a chipotle pumpkin chicken stew

I'm not changing out of yoga pants today, and I don't feel guilty at all about that. Sundays are made for being lazy. Plus, my weekend was entirely overstimulating and chock-full of awkward situations, far too little sleep, and new-to-me people and places. But I'm saving that for tomorrow's Marvelous in my Monday post, so you'll just have to wait for the details.

One thing that I have accomplished this week was doing a little research on putting some structure into my eating routine to gain weight and build muscle. I really struggle with knowing how much food is enough, especially when it comes to carbs. The problem is that I basically cut out most non-vegetable and non-fruit carbs for a while when I revamped my lifestyle in college. My body and tastebuds just stopped craving them. Now, after years of trying to gain back some of that weight, I finally started to become more comfortable with increasing my carb intake and have found some foods I really enjoy. The problem remains that I just don't know how much my body actually needs to repair and build muscle, so I tend to severely overeat at night when I look back on my daily intake and realize I haven't really consumed any whole grains. This usually appears in the form of me eating an entire bag's worth of chips or several bowls of cereal without even necessarily feeling hungry, but eating because I'm panicking that my body didn't get enough fuel and I'll lose the precious little muscle I have been able to build. Kind of a ridiculous notion, I know.

The point of my mini-rant is that I really need to implement some more structure into my eating routine in order to retrain my brain and body to know what it needs. After reading several articles about the benefits of carb-cycling, I've determined that this is probably a good dietary guideline for me to follow. I've found this article on FitnessRX to be very informational.

Basically, there are several ways to structure carb-cycling, including high carb, moderate carb, and low carb days based on my workout schedule, with fat intake in contrast to carbs and high protein intake on all days.

My rough weekly plan is:

Sunday - 9am Total Fitness, 10am yoga; high carb day
Monday - 6pm Vinyasa yoga, 7:15pm hot yoga; moderate carb day
Tuesday - 6:30pm Yoga Fusion; high carb day
Wednesday - 7pm Tone & Crunch (kettlebells and TRX); high carb day
Thursday - off; low-moderate carb day
Friday - off; low carb day
Saturday - 8:30am yoga fusion, 9:45am vinyasa yoga; high carb day

So I'll follow a high carb, lower fat diet on the days I'm lifting weights. I found this meal plan example helpful in giving me an idea of what a day's intake should look like on both low and high carb days, though I'd aim to consume closer to 2000 calories daily rather than 1400. This week I am going to come up with a meal plan for myself to follow and ideally I'll start carb-cycling next week officially. We'll see if I can stick to it.

For dinner tonight, my lazy self was motivated enough to throw some pantry ingredients into a crockpot and call it cooking a meal. I loosely followed this recipe from A Teaspoon of Happiness, tweaking here and there based on what I had for ingredients and quantities.

Crockpot Chipotle Pumpkin & Chicken Stew


1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1 15-oz can black beans, undrained
2 or 3 medium sized boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp minced garlic
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 large handfuls of kale (I used about 1/2 the bag pictured)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
2 tsp adobo sauce (from the can of peppers)
salt & pepper

Dump all the ingredients into a crock pot over the chicken breasts, adding spices to suit your tastes (I used a lot of cumin and cilantro, but very little salt). Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove the chicken, shred with a fork, and return to crockpot to cook on low for at least 2 hours. Serve with shredded cheese, if you're into that.

Super easy, super filling, and super delicious. #supersoupsunday haha

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


The past two weeks have been crazy hectic at work. The weekend can't come soon enough, though it's looking like rest isn't in the cards. I'm not complaining. I think that I need fun more than I need sleep.

I wish I had something better to post on here, but I'm just so tired. I'm completely lacking creativity and motivation.

I'll end this post with something that I stumbled across on The Chive this weekend that had me cracking up. I can't even look at it without bursting out laughing, and I'm typically a silent laugher...

Monday, January 13, 2014

MIMM: On patience and things well-deserved

Another wonderfully uneventful weekend gone by and it's Monday again. And marvelous it is! My yoga instructor and owner of Shanti Yoga & Fitness in Rehobeth, MA, Paula Paluch, found out yesterday that she was accepted as a brand ambassador for Jade Yoga! Congratulations, Paula!

I can't say enough about Paula. This past week has been a great one for her, and she certainly deserves it! Last year she was brave enough to relocate her yoga studio and quit her job to dedicate her life to what she loves. Undoubtedly,  this wasn't easy for her and life threw her some curveballs, but she was persistent and positive throughout it all. Now all of her hard work is truly paying off in tangible ways: a slew of new yogis have been popping into the studio, she had a wall-to-wall full class on Thursday, and now she is a brand ambassador for her go-to yoga mat company! I'm so proud and inspired by her.

Now onto a quick weekend recap: After a week of sheer insanity and a packed schedule, I was ready to do absolutely nothing come Friday. The crappy weather was a great excuse for me to stay home and lounge about on Friday and Saturday. My sister convinced me to go to the movies to see The Lone Survivor on Saturday afternoon, though she failed to convince me to change out of my yoga attire.
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I just can't turn down an opportunity to gaze at the beauty that is Mark Wahlberg. Will I be watching Wahlburgers on A&E when it premieres next week? You bet your ass I will.

Lone Survivor was disturbingly intense. I have to say it was an amazing story of strength and courage, and the acting was superb, but I was a ball of anxiety for the entire 121 minutes.

By Sunday, I was itching to at least pretend to be productive. During yoga, Sue asked for some help with a facebook issue, giving me a excuse to take a walk in the unseasonably nice weather and spend some time at The Good Seed Market in Seekonk, MA.
Check them out on Facebook
I just love browsing around this store. They have an awesome variety of natural and organic products at really reasonable prices, and the owners and employees are so welcoming and helpful. I'm really happy to have met the owners. Like Paula, they are just doing what they love and their passion creates success. If you live in the RI/MA area, you should definitely stop in and check it out! FYI, they're running an awesome special on chia seeds. I made sure to create a post to advertise it on their facebook page while I was there.
Who doesn't love chia seed pudding?
I had a really encouraging conversation while I was there, and I left feeling more positive than I had been about my current situation and the future in general. Hearing Paula's news later that evening only reinforced my feelings. I just have to continue to pursue my passion, be patient, and eventually it will pay off. Maybe not in the way I expect or as soon as I hope, but it will happen.

As always, I'm linking up with Katie for some Marvelous in My Monday action :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

MIMM: Marvelousness thus far in 2014

Well, it's the end of another weekend and the return to five day work weeks from now until May (!!!) I am definitely in need of some positive vibes here, so I'm happily linking up to Katie's Marvelous in my Monday.

This week, I'm focusing on the progression of marvelousness so far in the new year:

I kicked off 2014 by MCing a bowling alley New Year's Eve event. At first it was awkward and I had no idea what I was supposed to do, but I just went with it and created my own agenda. It ended up being a blast. The more people drank, the funnier it got...although I was concerned about potential injuries from intoxicated bowling accidents. Fear not, no such mishaps occurred on my watch. Definitely an atypical New Year's Eve.

New Year's Day was spent doing not much of anything other than venturing to the nearest theater to see Anchorman 2 with my family. As a huge fan of the original Anchorman and Will Ferrel in general, I was very hesitant of this sequel. I just didn't think it could/should be done, but those promos convinced me otherwise. And the movie itself did not disappoint in terms of hilarity. Originality was lacking since it was essentially the same exact movie as Anchorman, but I can't even care. There were so many ridiculous quotable lines. This Cinema Blend article sums up some of the best lines. Well done, Will Ferrel and crew.

I caught up on all the episodes of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (sadly) and had just enough time with the snowstorm to start a few new Netflix marathons before the return of regular programming after the holiday hiatus.
I'd seen a smattering of episodes of Portlandia, but I marathonned season 3 over this weekend. This show is essentially a higher budget Tim & Eric Awesome Show with a female main cast member. If you like awkward humor, please watch this now.

I also randomly started watching Parks and Recreation and find myself hooked. I didn't like it when I first attempted to get into this show, but I guess I was just in the right mindset today and have officially been sucked in.

On a final note, this Sunday marked the long-awaited return of Downtown Abbey! Why do I love this show? I have no idea. But I'm glad it's back, with all it's random drama and British accents. What can I say, I'm easily entertained.

Other marvelousness in my Monday includes hot yoga (my favorite) and the warmest day of the week according to the extended forecast. Let's pretend it's not raining, or that tomorrow's anticipated high is 17 °F :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Spill It Sunday: Childhood Dreams vs. Reality

After a lazy weekend of yoga and not much else, I was a little uninspired for a Sunday blog post. Then I stumbled across Arman's Spill It Sundays link up and thought I'd join in.

The Big Man's World
Every week is a new theme. This week's topic: Childhood Dreams vs. Reality. 

I'll start off with one of my favorite childhood pictures of myself:
My parents tried really hard to raise a little hipster.

-> What did you want to be when you were younger (career wise)? 

I was an odd kid. In the second grade, my teacher did a lesson series on dinosaurs and I honed right in on paleontology. I was obsessed with the idea of traveling to random desserts, caves, wherever it was that I assumed dinosaur fossils might just be hanging out waiting for me to dig up, dust off, and admire. I think it was the cool hats, casual attire, and warm climates that were presented to me as an essential part of the role of a paleontologist. Highly unrealistic, obviously. Luckily this fascination was a phase, not so much a long-term dream.
Pre- and post-paleontology infatuation, I always imagined myself writing. I wanted to be an author. I was always a lit nerd, burying my nose in advanced reading level books and day dreaming about random stories. 

-> What dreams did you have when you were younger?

I have always been relatively practical about my future and what I would be able to achieve. As a kid, I don't really recall any outlandish dreams other than the typical pre-teen 90s girl hopes of one day marrying Taylor Hanson or Justin Timberlake. 
Don't even try to tell me Taylor Hanson didn't maintain his sexiness.
I wanted to go to Disney World, another "normal" young kid's dream. 
Family trip to Disney World, FL. My dad was more excited than any of us.

Speaking of Disney, I am sure I dreamt of someday becoming a Disney princess. More specifically, Ariel. There was a time where I adored the Little Mermaid. Those dreams were shattered, however, on a day my family refers to as "Bloody Monday," where my brand new Little Mermaid outfit was ruined after a messy injury resulting from a run-in (literally) with a dishwasher. Did I mention I was a klutz?

-> Are you in the same career path as what you wanted?

Absolutely not, and I am actively working to change that. Pushing myself to start and maintain a blog is one step towards pursuing a career in writing. Not like I don't enjoy blogging or writing in general, mind you. This just holds me accountable to sitting down with my thoughts and putting them to paper (or keyboard in most cases). I'm also applying to jobs more in line with my ideal career goals: grant writing, health psychology, etc. The problem is that Rhode Island is devoid of promising job opportunities, and the job market is so competitive that any chances of me getting hired to a position that I've applied for is disturbingly unlikely. But I'm determined to keep trying. 

-> Have you achieved any of your childhood dreams?

Well, I didn't marry a Hanson brother and Justin Timberlake is married to Jessica Biel so there's your answer to childhood dream #1.

I've been to Disney World numerous times and continue to dream of going back. I don't care what you think, Disney World is so much fun.

In regards to the Little Mermaid, my opinion of her is vastly different from the idol-like figure I once viewed her as...
Seriously, this bitch is a slut. What woman gives up her voice to be a naked human being for a guy she has never actually met? Her motives are obvious. Whore.

-> Will you try and make any of those dreams realities? 

Like I said before, I'm actively working to pursue my dream of a career in writing, whatever that may be. I believe that as long as I keep trying, something will come my way when the time is right. 

Will I pursue my long-lost dreams of marrying a 90s boy band member? Probably not. But if JT showed up at my doorstep, divorce papers in hand and a ring in the other, don't think I wouldn't accept.

In closing, I'd like to share another favorite childhood picture of my mom and I. Again, baby hipster status with that bandana. Thanks a lot, Mom.

Friday, January 3, 2014

It's a snow day!

Winter storm Hercules left me working from home. Woo hoo! I was so happy to not have to drive 20 miles to the office, plus driving around to the houses and another 20 miles back home.

The major downside to a snow day is shoveling...especially when it's single digit temperatures with a wind chill of -10. 
As you can tell, I didn't want to venture outside...

It wasn't so terrible when I was actually outside because I was powering through shoveling, but once the cold hit me, it was bad. Like really bad

After an hour of nonstop shoveling, I gave up and went inside. That's when the torture started. You know when you lose feeling in your hands and all you want is for the sensation to come back because the awkward numb fumbling is just too much to handle? Yeah, we'll this time I would have preferred to remain in that state than endure the aftermath. The pain of the feeling returning to my hands and fingers was unbearable.

The agony eventually subsided, thankfully. But wait, dear readers, that is not the end of my painful saga. After working up an appetite from hauling snow, I decided to cut up some red cabbage to sauté with leftover pulled pork. Bad idea. I sliced the very tip of my index finger off. Talk about a bloody mess. Why weren't my fingers numb when I actually needed them to be?! 

To make myself feel better, I baked some corn muffins from a box. 

Baking is therapeutic. 

Then, I got a phone call from one of the guys on my caseload at 3:30 saying he was in a rotten mood because he was bored and wasn't getting picked up until 4pm and wanted to go out for coffee. Believe it or not, these are real daily problems in my position that can lead to a more serious issue. What is my life?

I'm posting a picture of cats doing yoga because it makes me laugh and I need that.

I had plans more a more detailed post today, but as you can tell, today's happenings weren't exactly in my favor. Not a bad day by any means, just a day where I'm clearly off my A-game.