Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Solo Day Trip to Amherst

When this past weekend rolled around and I didn't have any plans to do much of anything, I began contemplating taking a drive out of Boston, just to clear my head and get a change of scenery. Within about twenty minutes of awaking on Saturday morning, I decided I'd like to drive to Amherst, got dressed, filled a water bottle, grabbed my camera (which I didn't really end up using), jumped in my car, scooped some Dunkin Donuts, and hopped onto the Mass Pike for a 100-minute drive west.

It wasn't a very nice day for a drive - a mixture of snow and rain - so that put a slight damper on my ability to zone out while driving to ponder life's great questions. Instead, I skillfully maneuvered my Yaris down the wet Pike while singing along with my iPod at the top of my lungs. (Quick random poll: Do you sing while you drive? I only recently realized that not everyone does this, which seems really effing weird to me. Please weigh-in via Twitter or Facebook.)

Arriving in the Pioneer Valley, my very first stop was Esselon Cafe. This was where I had my first post-college job as a server/barista/staff supervisor. I graduated from UMass in the spring of 2006 and then floundered a bit for that summer, not knowing where my next step should be. With a whole crop of the-best-effing-friends-in-the-whole-world still finishing up their final year of school at UMass, it wasn't terribly hard for me to decide to move back to Amherst for the fall "semester." There, I found an apartment, scooped the job at Esselon, and then spent the next year working there full-time while pretending I was still in college with my friends.

When I stopped into the cafe for brunch on Saturday, it was the first time I'd been there in years - but the place hasn't changed a bit (aside from staff turnover). I ordered French toast with strawberry compote and fresh berries, which I enjoyed with a big mug of hot coffee before getting back into my car and beginning the ultimate Amherst-drive-around.

French Toast from Esselon Cafe in Hadley, MA, brunch food
.  as seen by all the cool people on my instagram  .
For about 2 hours, I wound and wove my way through the streets of Amherst and through every nook and cranny of the UMass campus. So much has changed in town and on-campus since I was a student there. Businesses have closed, moved, changed hands, changed names. A tonnnn of new buildings have sprouted up all over campus, leaving some areas nearly unrecognizable.

UMass Amherst campus pond and view of the library and student union
.  campus pond and view of the library and student union  .

I made special trips past a few of my old apartments and dorm buildings, as well as some of my favorite off-campus hangouts. The latter included some of the best and most notorious "party houses" around town, which were all given colloquial nicknames like Russell Street, Hippie House, Long Radio House, or Monkey House. Everywhere I drove, bittersweet memories flooded back to me, which - as the term bittersweet generally implies - was both good and sad.

Before leaving town, I did manage to park and actually get out of my car for a bit to head into the Campus Center, where my wallet took a hit as I went a little H.A.M. on the University Store's apparel section.

Sweatshirts and clothes at the UMass Amherst University Store

It seemed high time for my wardrobe to get some fresh UMass gear, so I bought two new t-shirts and a sweatshirt. The sweatshirt has barely left my body since Saturday - it's so freaking soft and cozy.

There were so many fun and irreplaceable times had in Amherst, and driving around town/campus was pretty much as literal as you can be with the phrase "taking a trip down memory lane." It was a much-needed reflection session, and I was glad that I was alone for the day - able to drive absolutely anywhere that I pleased, able to stop at any random house or building or parking lot that I wanted, able to spend as much time as I chose. But I do hope I'm with lots of friends the next time I go!! :)

And on that note, check out this post from the last time I visited Amherst with my friends Kara and Kyle!

Where did you go to school?
When was the last time you headed back to your college campus?
Do you still keep in touch with your college friends?


Friday, March 27, 2015

Bright Spring Pastels and Scattered Dot Nails

Today's nails are a direct result of me doing what I want.

I wanted an accent nail with lots of polka dots in a specific bright-pastel color scheme, and these polishes were the perfect colors for it!

Mint green nails with pink and polka dot accent nails

The pale mint pastel is Mint Sorbet by Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear, the pink is Tip Toe Pink by Milani, the darker green is Mint Apple by Sinful Colors and the white is Snow Me White by Sinful Colors.

Mint pastel polish, pink nail polish, white polish, dotting tool

I used 3 coats of Mint Apple on my pinky, pointer and thumb nails, 2 coats of Snow Me White on my ring finger, and 3 coats of Tip toe Pink on my middle finger. Then, using both ends of my double-ended dotting tool and all 3 colored polishes, I placed random, scattered dots atop my ring finger.

Mint Apple nails with Tip Toe Pink and polka dot accent nails
 Mint Apple nails with Tip Toe Pink and polka dot accent nails, ampersand ring

If you couldn't tell, I've become pretty into the two-accent-nail look. Decisions be damned - use alllll the polishessss!

Mint Apple nails with Tip Toe Pink and polka dot accent nails, aka Bailey blog

In case you wondered, my gum seems to be healing suspiciously well from Monday's wisdom tooth extraction. I've barely needed to take any pain meds at all, and was able to start working out again today. There's still a slight chipmunkesque quality to my right cheek, but it's not the most noticeable thing in the world. However, the antibiotics I'm taking are going to put a damper on my weekend fun, as those are appppparently not to be mixed with alcohol.

On that note, what are you up to this weekend? I've got nothing on the agenda yet, but am always on the lookout for an activity or two!

{Linking with Fab Favorites and The Nail Files}

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Collage from Leftover Scraps

So not to make a really left-field reference to something that happened months ago, but.... anyone remember that "just because" collage I made back in January? No? That's ok, I won't hold a grudge. It's right here, if you'd like a quick refresher. G'wan then. Take a look - it's relevant to this blog post.

K, now that you've definitely gone and looked, here's why it's relevant:  Using the scraps of magazine cutouts that were leftover from that collage, I made another collage altogether. Heyooo! #Recycle.

DIY artwork, teal, white, pink collage

Here's a casual step-by-step via photos:

DIY collage step by step

And the mandatory close-ups of the details:

DIY artwork, teal, white, brick, pink, texture, roses, collage

DIY artwork, teal, white, brick, pink, texture, roses, collage

DIY artwork, teal, white, brick, pink, texture, roses, collage

Here are the two pieces together:

Two collages, white, wood, turquoise, pink

Two collages, white, wood, turquoise, pink

The cool thing about recycling scraps from one collage to make a new one is that you can create multiple pieces of art that have a similar feel, but each with its own unique look. It kind of reminds me of a fashion show - where everything that comes down the runway looks like it belongs together, even though each piece is different. Here's another example of a similar kind of project I made for my grandmother several years ago:

Teal, pink, grass, roses, DIY art, collages for my Gram

I hope to do more crafty things soon - whether it be painting or making more collages or drawing. I feel happy and purposeful when creating things, so it makes sense to make an effort to do it more often.

On that note, I'll have a recap soon of Craft Club #5, I promise!

So what artistic projects are YOU working on?
Do you have a favorite Pin board for color palettes? They make for great collage inspiration!

{Linking with Craft Frenzy Friday}

Monday, March 23, 2015

Peace Out, Wisdom Tooth #2!

WELP I just got my upper-right wisdom tooth removed this morning, and I feel like a NEW WOMAN.

Actually, the first dose of pain meds are just starting to wear off, so I'll likely be feeling like a sore, cranky woman very shortly. Either way, getting this sucker out is one more thing I can take off of my mind/plate for now, so thank god for that.

This was much less dramatic than my last wisdom tooth extraction, which involved lots of tooth-breaking and gymnastics on the part of the oral surgeon. This time, the tooth was able to be pulled out all in one bloody piece:

I'm one of those people who requires entirely too much local anesthetic before feeling properly numbed, and this time was no different. At first, it felt fine with the initial dosage, but when the doctor started really pulling the tooth out, I could definitely feel some uncomfortable, slightly-painful pressure. We stopped, and she gave me more anesthetic while explaining to me that she was twisting out my tooth "like a lightbulb." Hmm. Interesting visual, doc. Thanks! With just a couple minutes of twisting and without much more fanfare, the tooth came out. Done and done.

And yep, I took this one home with me, too. Why should the tooth fairy have all the tooth-collecting fun? Speaking of which, my mom told me to put the tooth under my pillow tonight... Note to self: #DONTFORGET.

I do encourage you to check out the "after" photo of Wisdom Tooth #1 - it didn't fare nearly as well as this one did. But in its defense, it was in a much trickier place in my mouth.

Anyway, after picking up all of my appropriate prescriptions, I made my way back home and have kind of just been chilling and eating cold and/or mushy things all afternoon and evening. To avoid nausea, it will be important to keep eating food steadily while I'm taking these meds... so cue the smoothies, ice cream, yogurt, and scrambled eggs. I'm sure it's what Beyoncé's diet looks like, too.

Currently I'm just slightly chipmunk-cheeked on my right side, but it may get worse in the next day or two. I'm not allowed to exercise - or SNEEZE - for a couple of days either, so... wish me luckkkk.
Sidebar, I was really, really pleased with my entire experience at this dental office - Great Hill Dental in Boston. The surgeon I saw, Dr. Carol Lorente, was unbelievably kind, patient, and warm. The woman assisting the procedure, Kim, was the same. I felt like I was in very good hands with them, and that peace of mind goes a long way with someone like me who is very anxious about the dentist.

Who else has some misbehaving wisdom teeth? If you have a funny story about yours, I'd love to hear it!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekend Recap + My Workouts of the Week

Heyoooo, happy Sunday evening! It's the end of the first weekend of spring, so I hope you did it up right and proper.

My weekend has been a solid mix of solitude and friendship, so no complaints there. On Friday I went to the gym, did some online shopping (bought these little guys from DSW's site), went to the grocery store, and binge-watched a few episodes of Game of Thrones into the wee hours of the morning. (By the way, I just finished Season 4, so I'm all caught up now... and actually loved the show so much that I immediately started it over on Season 1 last night. Is that weird? Don't answer that; I don't care.)

On Saturday I started my day (predictably) at Donut Villa, then hit up the gym for a lower body workout before meeting up with my friends for an evening of shooting pool at Flat Top Johnny's in Cambridge. I'd never been there before, but it's an open-layout bar with food, drinks, and 12 pool tables. J-rod and I won a few games in a row - #NOBIGGIE - and a couple games of Skee-Ball were also enjoyed.

Today was Craft Club #5! That, of course, will get its own blog post, so I'm not going into too much detail about it now... but I will gladly share that I made a scrumptious fruit salad for the occasion. Noms on noms on noms!

Alright with the weekend in a nutshell, let's move on to zee workouts of zee weeeeeek! Here's what I did at the gym this week:

3/16 (lower body)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 30 calf raises, 17.5 lbs each hand
3x: 15 leg lifts from side plank, each leg
3x: 15 deadlifts, 17.5 lbs each hand
3x: 20 side lunges + plyometric pushoff each side
3x: 8 single leg deadlifts each leg, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 40 diamond clamshells each leg
3x: 15 static lunges each leg, holding 6 lb medicine ball overhead
3x: 30 squats + 20 squat pulses

3/17 (core)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 30 Brazilian crunches
3x: 15 crunches on exercise ball, holding 15 lbs
3x: 30 cobras
3x: 30 v-sit twists, holding 15 lbs
3x: 15 dynamic side planks each side

3/18 (cardio)
40 mins hiking*/jogging treadmill:
   0:00-4:00 varying hike
   4-5 jogging 4.4 mph
   5-9 varying hike
   9-10 jogging 4.5 mph
   10-14 varying hike
   14-15 jogging 4.6 mph
   15-19 varying hike
   19-20 4.8 mph
   20-24 varying hike
   24-25 5.0 mph
   25-29 varying hike
   29-30 5.2 mph
   30-34 varying hike
   34-35 5.3 mph
   35-36 5.4 mph
   36-37 5.5 mph
   37-38 5.6 mph
   38-40 walking/cooldown/low incline

3/20 (upper body)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 10 deltoid flys, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 20 alternating chest flys on exercise ball, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 10 deltoid raises, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 10 overhead press, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 lat pulldowns, 37.5 lbs
3x: 10 chest press on exercise ball, 15 lbs each hand
3x: 10 bent over rows, 15 lbs each hand
3x:  10 close grip chest press on exercise ball, 15 lbs each hand
3x:  13 seated rows, 37.5 lbs
1:15 plank

3/21 (lower body)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 15 leg lifts from side plank each leg
3x: 30 calf raises, 17.5 lbs each hand
3x: 25 side lunges + plyometric pushoff, each leg
3x: 15 deadlifts, 17.5 lbs each hand
3x: 40 diamond clamshells each leg
3x: 10 single leg deadlifts each leg, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 15 static lunges each leg, holding 6 lb medicine ball overhead
3x: 30 squats + 20 squat pulses

* When I go "hiking" on the treadmill, I adjust the intensity and/or incline every minute for the entire duration, making sure to go through the entire range of available inclines (0-15).

By the way, if you didn't catch the update that I added to last week's workout post, here is the link to the first workout video that I filmed for my company's YouTube channel:  Intense TRX Interval for Your Core. A few people asked me about it, so figured I'd share here! Feel free to like/comment/share it with all your fitness-loving homies.

I shoooould have gone to the gym today, but Craft Club just sort of took over the morning/afternoon - which I'm certainly not complaining about. I absolutely love this scheduled "crafts and girls" time. Oftentimes it's more chatting than crafting, but - again - no one's complaining about that! #Love!

Annnnd here's the one grey cloud on the horizon that's been keeping me a little anxious all weekend: I'm getting a wisdom tooth out tomorrow morning. Eek! Because it's on the top (rather than my lower jaw bone), it shouldn't be as big of a to-do as the last one was, according to the oral surgeon. I'm hoping she's right!

Wish me luck in my recovery ;) And feel free to send me your favorite smoothie recipes.

How are your workouts going this week?
Did you do anything fun this weekend?


Friday, March 20, 2015

No Nail Polish, But a Bit of Ms. Lauryn Hill

Fridays usually mean nails around here, but I'm taking a break from that this week because I didn't have the energy in me yesterday to come up with an idea, do all the nail/cuticle prep, polish my nails, take pictures, edit the pictures, etc. My Wednesday night went a bit further into the wee hours than I'd anticipated, which is why I was so done-for all day yesterday. What was so terribly exciting about my Wednesday evening, you ask? OH JUST MS. LAURYN HILL.

Yeppp, on Wednesday night I went with a few friends went to see an acoustic performance by Lauryn Hill at the Wilbur Theater in Boston. The tickets had been burning a hole in my iPhone (that's what we say these days when we use Passbook, right?) for months!

I have a pulse, so obviously I was a fan of Fugees, and I was among the millions of people who bought (and became obsessed with) The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill back in 1998. A few years ago, she performed her entire Miseducation album at the Rock the Bells festival, and witnessing it in person was pretty special. When I heard she was coming to Boston, I immediately rallied some troops (Kara, Steph and Amanze!) and put it on my calendar.

The show was supposed to start at 8, but at around 8:30 a film began playing onstage - Concerning Violence, a short documentary about anti-imperialism and decolonization that was narrated by Ms. Hill. It was interesting (and also a bit depressing), but not everyone in the audience was psyched about being shown a documentary at a concert. When the film ended, a DJ began spinning onstage - who, by the way, was definitely dressed like she belonged in the background of a 1993 Salt 'n Pepa video. At this point, not everyone in the audience was psyched that there was a DJ playing instead of Ms. Hill. Can you pick up on a theme of growing malcontent?

It was well after 10pm when Lauryn finally came out and took her place on a loveseat-style couch at the center of the stage. Picking up her guitar and speaking little-to-no-words to any of us, she and her band launched into Conform to Love. Cue the chair-dancing, because it was a smallish venue and no one was really standing much.

I only took one photo while we were there, and it came out terribly blurry...

Lauryn HIll at the Wilbur Theater in Boston, March 2015

... but you get the general setup. I've been trying to find the setlist for the show, but so far it's nowhere to be found. Other highlights were when she did Sweetest Thing, Lost Ones, and Fu-Gee-La in its entirety.

She closed out the show with Doo Wop (That Thing), which is when she finally got up out of her chair herself. The rest of the audience followed suit, and it was a great closer. It was almost 12:30 in the morning when she finished, so that was an unexpected element of a Wednesday night show. So very worth being exhausted the next day!

Now for your entertainment, here is some music from Lauryn to get you on my level:

Sweetest Thing

So High (Cloud 9 Remix) - John Legend feat. Lauryn Hill

Turn Your Lights Down Low - Bob Marley feat Lauryn Hill

And here's a random cover of Conform to Love by a young woman named Kamilah Sumner - watch the whole thing, she just gets better and better.

Leave a comment to let me know what your favorite Lauryn Hill song is! And I'm sure that a regularly scheduled nail polish post will be back next Friday ;)


Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Workouts of the Week + A Rambunctious Pre-St. Patrick's Day

This was another week of doing pretty well at the gym! It's becoming a nearly habitual part of my day-to-day, and that's a habit I'm notttt mad about forming. Just need to make sure that I don't injure myself. God knows I'm prone to doing that, so... knock on wood.

Here's what I was up to at the gym this week:

3/9 (upper body)
3x: 13 seated rows, 37.5 lbs
3x: 13 close grip chest press on exercise ball, 12.5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 bent over rows, 12.5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 chest press on exercise ball, 12.5 lbs each hand
1x: 8 overhead press on exercise ball, 10 lbs each hand *too heavy!
2x: 8 overhead press on exercise ball, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 lat pulldowns, 37.5 lbs
3x: 10 deltoid flys, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 8 deltoid raises, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: alternating chest flys with a 6 lb medicine ball
13 overhead press, 5 lbs each hand
13 overhead press, 7.5 lbs each hand
overhead press, 10 lbs each hand

3/10 (lower body)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 30 calf raises, 17.5 lbs each hand
3x: 15 leg lifts from side plank, each side
3x: 15 deadlifts, 17.5 lbs each hand
3x: 20 side lunges + plyometric push-off, each side
2:15 jumping jacks
3x: 8 single leg deadlifts, 7.5 lbs each hand (I don't know why, but these are SO HARD for me!)
3x: 15 static lunges each leg, holding 6 lb medicine ball overhead
1:10 plank
10 mins hiking* treadmill

3/11 (core)
5 mins treadmill
3x: 15 crunches on exercise ball, holding 15 lbs
3x: 15 lying overhead raise + double crunch, holding 7.5 lbs
3x: 30 cobras
3x: 30 v-sit twists, holding 15 lbs
3x: 15 dynamic side planks each side

3/13 (cardio)
45 mins hiking*/jogging on treadmill - here's the min-by-min breakdown:
    0-4 varying hike
    4-5 jogging 4.4 mph
    5-9 varying hike
    9-10 jogging 4.5 mph
    11-14 varying hike
    14-15 jogging 4.6 mph
    15-19 varying hike
    19-20 jogging 4.7 mph
    20-24 varying hike
    24-25 jogging 4.9 mph
    25-29 varying hike
    29-40 jogging 5-6mph
    40-45 varying hike/cooldown
30 bodyweight squats + 20 squat pulses

3/14 (upper body)
3x: 10 chest press on exercise ball, 15 lbs each hand
3x: 10 bent over rows, 15 lbs each hand
3x: 10 deltoid flys, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 10 deltoid raises, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 10 overhead press, 7.5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 lat pulldowns, 37.5 lbs
3x: 26 alternating chest flys with 6 lb medicine ball

* When I go "hiking" on the treadmill, I adjust the intensity and/or incline every minute for the entire duration, making sure to go through the entire range of available inclines (0-15).

I'm trying to increase my arm/chest strength ("pushing" exercises like chest presses) before I increase any of the weight on my "pulling" exercises (seated or bent over rows) so that my chest muscles have a chance to catch up to my back muscles. From what I have learned, if your back muscles are much stronger than your chest then you're not building a balanced upper body. I've moved up to 15 lbs for presses now, and once that becomes easy then I'll increase to 17.5 - probably in a few weeks? And won't that be exciting??!?

Speaking of exciting, here's a sneak peek of the first video I shot with my company's YouTube channel a few weeks ago:

Filming a workout video with Stephen Cabral and Diet.com

Watch out world, there's a whole video coming. (Update: Here it is.)

I made sure to get in a Saturday morning workout this weekend because I knew that there'd be some ridiculousness happening later that day. My friends had planned an afternoon of early St. Patrick's Day festivities!

Around 2:30 on Saturday, a group of us met up at Orleans in Somerville's Davis Square for early afternoon drinks and apps. As I promised on Friday, I did indeed enjoy some Bailey's Irish Cream mixed with iced coffee and topped with whipped cream. Obviously, my kind of drink.

From there, we decided on a whim to go bowling, so we drove/Ubered over to Lanes and Games in Cambridge, which is fo' sho' a recurring favorite place to have fun together.  Ten of us played 2 games on adjoining lanes, and more drinks and apps were had. I bowled a 101 my first game (not bad, for me) and then put in a dismal performance during the second game. I can't remember my score but it was probably less than 60? #facepalm

After bowling, some of the group splintered off, but some of us headed back to "after party" (it was only 8:45pm) at the house of my friends in Somerville. Insert drinks, darts, and dancing over the next 4 hours. It was a good night.

This morning afternoon when I got out of bed, I headed straight over to Donut Villa to fill my stomach with greasy breakfast food and the best-effing jelly donut I've ever had. How do they make them taste so good? The owner of the restaurant, John, told me with a wink that he gets them from Dunkin Donuts every morning, but I shook my head at him and told him I could taste the difference. Sidebar, they all love me at the Villa now. Score!

Anyway, I'm going to relax so hard the rest of the afternoon. You can catch me lounging in the bathtub and then watching a movie - or a few episodes of Game of Thrones. It's that kind of a recovery day, haha!

I hope you had a great weekend yourself. Any fun shenanigans or challenging workouts going on in your neck of the woods?

{Linking with #FitnessFriday}

Friday, March 13, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Nails: Matte Green & Layers of Gold

As a nod to my Irish heritage, I've got some green St. Patrick's Day nails today. But let's be honest - even if I weren't Irish, I'd be celebrating, right? That's how we do things in America. And on May 5th, we'll all be Mexican. #Freedom.

Here's how my nails are getting in on the holiday action:

Matte green nails with sparkling gold accent nails

The green is Balsam Fir by Revlon and the gold is a combo of Big Spender by Nina Ultra Pro and Crystal Gold from Forever21's Love & Beauty line.

Gold glitter accent nails with matte emerald green nails for St. Patrick's Day

I used two coats of Big Spender on my ring and thumb nails and topped that with 2 coats of Crystal Gold, which is a fairly sparse yellow-gold glitter in a clear base. It would have been way cooler if it was more jam-packed with glitter, but you can't win them all! Do you have a favorite gold glitter that's pretty opaque? Give me the deets!

St. Patrick's Day nails: Gold glitter accent nails with matte emerald green nails

I used 2 coats of Balsam Fir on all my other nails and finished those nails off with a matte top coat. I topped the gold nails with Seche Vite, to make them really shine and contrast with the green.

I'll be doing a bit of St. Patty's celebrating tomorrow with my friends at some Irish pubs around town. I can't stand the taste of beer, so no Guinness for me, but there may very well be some Bailey's Irish Cream in my future.

There's also a slight chance that I'll check out the (in)famous Southie St. Patrick's Day parade on Sunday... though that may be biting off more than I can chew, since Southie is known for becoming pretty chaotic on parade day. We'll see!

What are you going to be up to this weekend?
Are you wearing any green on your nails to celebrate?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Back to Da Beach, Boy!

Remember when I posted some pictures of a wintery Revere Beach back in February? Well those pictures were taken just before the Juno blizzard, and we've gotten feet upon feet of snow since then, so it seemed high tide time to head back out to the coast to see how the beach was looking these days.

The last time I was at the beach, the snow had freshly fallen and the entire beach was unsullied. Things weren't quite as pristine this time, since the waves of the many winter storms have battered the sand back over the last month or so...

Revere Beach in the winter

Revere Beach in March
A plane flew pretty low overhead as I walked along the water's edge...
Revere Beach under snow

The line from the tide was marked with a broken wall of sandy ice that stretched along the whole beach...

Icy and snowy Revere Beach
 And oh, look, there's me!

Me on Revere Beach in March 2015

 As I walked back to my car, I stopped at the seawall to peer through a snow bank back at the beach:

Peering at Revere Beach through a snowbank
Eventually I suppose I'll make it to Revere Beach when it's not covered in snow. And that day might be sooner than you'd think, since we've been hit with a "warm" week and the snow is finally starting to melt. And by "warm week" I mean that we're into the 40's now, so break out the flip flops, Massachusetts!!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Stuff That's Been Making Me Happy

As the savvy reader may have ascertained, it's not all sunshine and sprinkles over here - although both of those things have definitely been featured on my blog before. (For sure.)

I haven't felt like myself since leaving Vancouver, which is kind of a long time for me to be feeling so low. It still feels like there's a big hole in my life, and I've been trying really hard to fill it in with saying "yes" to things, making plans with friends, buying new clothes and beauty goodies, getting my health in order (chiropractors, physical therapists, and acupuncturists, oh my!), being creative, eating junk food, lining up trips (heyo, Panama!), and exercising.

So how is it working? Well... it's not curing me of my blues, that's for damn sure. But it's all chipping in to keep me momentarily happy/preoccupied and make me forget about being sad for a little while everyday. Here's a random, unorganized look into some of the things that have been making me happy....

My sister Markie works for a Nike store, and shares her family discount with us. I've never taken advantage of the perk - a 30% discount - until the weekend before last, when I stopped into the Nike outlet store near my apartment. I picked up a new pair of trainers... the Nike Flex Supreme in black and pink:

Nike Flex Supreme trainers in black and pink
They ran large so I actually had to go back that night and exchange them for a half-size smaller. I also got a new pair of workout leggings - Nike Dri-Fit capris in the "tight" fit. These felt a litttttle loose on me, but the XS felt a little too - ahem - familiar (if you nahmsayin), so I stuck with a size small. From this trip to the Nike store, my takeaway was: Nike is clearly into vanity sizing. That makes me feel terribly insecure in ever shopping for that brand online, without trying on first.

Workout clothes!

Also pictured above are a grey American Eagle workout tank and a pink cotton Hollister tank top, both from my local TJ Maxx.  I love the hourglass seaming detail on the grey tank - it's super flattering! Having made a couple trips to that same TJ Maxx recently, I also picked up a few other new tops...

This chunky, oversized black cardigan by Max Studio:
Max Studio oversized black cardigan

And this woven oatmeal-colored sweater from the brand Dalia:

Oatmeal Dalia sweater

Oatmeal Dalia sweater

I'm obsessed with both of these sweaters. You can seriously catch me wearing each of them once or twice a week lately. Here's the last shirt I got from TJ's:

Blue button up plaid shirt
As a blue-eyed girl, shirts like this really make my eyes pop. So... shoutout to turning your face
into an optical illusion.

Blue button up plaid shirt

While killing time in Brookline's Coolidge Corner back in February, I stopped into a consignment shop (Second Time Around) and spotted this pale pink asymmetrical BCBG Max Azria sweater (shown below in both white and pink)...

Asymmetrical BCBG Max Azria sweater

... I'm a sucker for interesting hemlines, and I fell head over heels for this sweater's unique criss-cross front, high-lo hem (with BONUS banded hemline in the back!), fitted sleeves, and soft merino wool fabric. It was $50 at the consignment shop, which is certainly more JoBros than I'd normally toss up at a second-hand store, but it was such a "GOTTA EFFING HAVE IT" moment that I surrendered to the flow. Once I got home and discovered that this is originally a $200 sweater... well obviously I went from scolding myself to patting myself on the back.

Some weeks back I received a surprise package in the mail - a gift box of Lush goodies from my friend Stephanie. The Hello Gorgeous gift set includes the Sakura bath bomb, the Comforter Bubble Bar, Tender Is the Night massage bar, Rub Rub Rub shower scrub, and a 0.2oz pot each of Lemony Flutter cuticle butter and Gorgeous moisturizer. I've already enjoyed the bubble bar and the bath bomb, and am slowly starting to make my way through the other products as well. Thanks Steph!
Hello Gorgeous gift set from Lush
source  .
Would you believe that I only owned one face brush that I actually liked? I wanted to get a higher quality brush that would work for bronzer/blush, or just all-over the face for blending. This Eco Tools face brush is super fluffy and gentle on my skin:

In other beauty-related acquisitions, here's a bunch of stuff for me to play with:

1. Benefit Hello Flawless sample trio - a sample from Sephora that was included in a recent purchase (#7), this includes the Stay Flawless primer, Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow brightening sunscreen makeup, and the Hello Flawless power cover-up. I have no idea how to use any of these yet, but... someday an opportunity will present itself to figure it all out.

2. Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel - also a sample from that same Sephora purchase. Has anyone tried this gel before? Let me know!

3. Aesop Parsley Seed Cleaning Masque samples. To warm up one chilly evening, Kara and I popped into the Aesop store on Newbury St and were immediately given 100% of the attention of the lone store clerk. She gave us each a bunch of samples, and the 3 packets she gave me will be enough for one face mask. This one is a "perfectly formulated clay-based masque containing parsley seed and rosehip seed extracts. Suited to most skin types, this masque removes impurities and refreshes the skin." WE'LL SEE ABOUT THAT.

4. ESCADA Joyful perfume - again, a sample from Sephora. The very accurate description of this scent: "ESCADA Joyful is inspired by positivity and a joyful spirit. The luminous scent embodies the beauty of a bouquet of flowers. Bright, fresh blooms of jubilant pink peony release a sense of elation. Juicy blackcurrant sorbet adds a cooling top, and the warmth of honeycomb and sandalwood give depth to the floral notes. The fragrance embodies beauty and confidence and invites you to experience each day filled with joy and positivity." Sidebar, you've got to check out the gorgeous bottle that the full-size version comes in!

5. Full Lash Bloom mascara from Covergirl. This isn't something that normally happens to me, but I saw a beauty guru wearing this in a YouTube video and immediately wanted to know what mascara she was wearing. What struck me about the mascara was that her lashes looked soft and touchable - not hard or crispy. Imagine my surprise when that actually ended up being the chief claim that Covergirl makes about this mascara!

"With Full Lash Bloom Mascara, get exceptional lash fullness that’s soft - even to the touch. With our new petal-shaped brush and mousse formula with natural beeswax, lashes are never stiff or brittle."

It's not a thick lash, it's not a super lengthened lash, it's not a dramatic lash... but it's a nice, soft, everyday kind of lash.

Covergirl Full Lash Bloom Mascara

6. Benefit Roller Lash mascara - I got this as a 100-point VIB present to myself upon checkout for #7. This mascara claims to have an exciting "Hook 'n Roll" brush that "catches, lifts and curls." I love trying out new mascaras, and since my go-tos are usually drugstore brands, it's always exciting for me to try the higher-end stuff, too. I won't be opening this up till my current mascaras are done, but it's something to look forward to!

7. Shiseido Ibuki Multi-Solution Gel - this was the reason I was making that big purchase from Sephora in the first place. My face has been hurtin' for certain, for the last several months. If I could put a bag over my head, I would. I've tried all sorts of things to calm down my breakouts, and this gel is just the latest in the string of attempts. It claims to be "a uniquely textured beauty gel that targets breakouts, roughness, and the look of visible pores for clearer, smoother, and more beautiful skin." So far... I just don't know! It does seem to be making the breakouts go away faster, but it's not preventing them yet... which would be really god-damn ideal. I've been using it for 2-3 weeks now, and am hoping that I can see some really amazing results soon. Otherwise... paper bag, for the win.

Shiseido Ibuki Multi Solution Gel
Shiseido Ibuki Multi Solution Gel 8.  Twisted Peppermint Sparkling Snowflake Scrub from Bath & Body Works. This isn't new, but I've been using it sparingly because it was a seasonal shower gel being sold back around Christmastime, and I can't bare the thought of running out. This sugary sweet peppermint scrub smells SO good that all I have to do is catch a faint waft of it to instantly feel happier. Sometimes I just pop open the cap and breathe it in, without even using it.

Twisted Peppermint Sparkling Snowflake Scrub from Bath and Body Works

You know what else I've been loving? Game of Thrones. My golden goddess of a swan friend, Kate, gave me the first 3 seasons on a flashdrive back in early January, and I have been powering through them. What a good show! It's so exciting and SEXY all at once. I'm a little over halfway through Season 3, so now I'm fixing to get my hands on the 4th season, too.

Internet-wise, I've been loving Rap Genius. This is a lyrics/song interpretation website where I can get lost for hours at a time - especially if I'm educating myself on an entire album. One time I was going track-by-track through Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and it took me 20 minutes to get through the first chorus of All of the Lights. I've most definitely always been a person who focuses on the lyrics of songs, and even as a young child I would re-listen to songs intently to decipher the lyrics. As an adult, the interest clearly hasn't left me. Thanks for stoking my verbal fires, Rap Genius!

Lastly, my friends, guys. My friends have been making me happy and making me smile. Thank you to everyone who hangs out with me or chats with me or leaves me comments every day/week. It's more important to me than you probably even realize!

Well I hope that I sufficiently Debbed you out at the beginning of this blog and then swooped in swiftly with buckets and buckets of joy to make up for it.

What have you been into that helps to keep you smiling? Any good shopping websites or places to buy workout gear or any fun new beauty/fashion finds to share with me?


Sunday, March 8, 2015

My Workouts of the Week

My week of fitness started last Sunday with the filming session that I did for my company's YouTube channel. The workouts we did were quick but challenging, and we filmed five of them in about 90 minutes, so by the end of it, I was pretty wiped out. The all-over soreness I felt the next day really surprised me, but it was welcome. Muscle soreness is motivational for me - it makes me feel confident that my muscles are changing.

Since I was so sore on Monday, I took it relatively easy at the gym that day with some hiking on the treadmill. Here's how the week looked in workouts:

3/2 (cardio)
45 mins hiking* on the treadmill

3/4 (upper body)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 13 chest press on exercise ball, 12.5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 bent over rows, 12.5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 close grip chest press on exercise ball, 12.5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 seated rows, 37.5 lbs
3x: 26 alternating chest flys, 5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 lat pulldowns, 37.5 lbs
10 push-ups (Note: my push-ups are NOT bad-ass status yet. I can currently only go about halfway down to the ground before pushing back up, but I'm going to work on it!)

3/5 (lower body)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 30 calf raises, 15 lbs each hand
3x: 15 leg lifts from side plank, each leg
3x: 15 static lunges each leg, holding 6 lb medicine ball overhead
3x: 40 bridges
3x: 15 sumo squats, holding 17.5 lbs

3/6 (core)
3x: 15 dynamic side planks each side
3x: 15 lying overhead raise + double crunch, holding 5 lbs
4x: 5 plank pike up on exercise ball
3x: 20 v-sit twists, holding 15 lbs
3x: 30 cobras

3/7 (cardio)
35 mins hiking on the treadmill

* When I go "hiking" on the treadmill, I adjust the intensity and/or incline every minute for the entire duration, making sure to go through the entire range of available inclines (0-15).

About 35 minutes into my "hike" last night, I was surprised by a trainer who came up to me to tell me they were closing. Until then I hadn't realized that everyone else in the entire gym had left! #Focus. So I had to cut my cardio session short, but I plan to go back today to do some arm work.

Sidebar - I added a new exercise into my core workout this week: the plank pike up. It's an exercise that I'd never attempted before last weekend (when I was filming those workout videos), but it ended up being a really awesome move that I couldn't wait to try on my own. It's challenging and effective, and I'm excited to get better at it!

Have you learned any new exercises lately? I'd love to hear about it!


Friday, March 6, 2015

Mint with Envy Nails

It didn't occur to me until I was neck-deep in this mani that St. Patrick's Day is approaching and that I should have maybe waited a week or two to post an all-green nail polish look. But... calendars be damned, AMIRIGHT?!
Green nails with a minty silver accent nail

With two coats of Envy by Sinful Colors on all nails but my ring fingernails, I set about using a pale, sparkly sage-mint polish for an accent nail. Upon realizing that the mint (Green Tea by LA Colors) was about as sheer as the day is long, I had to make a tweak to save my sanity. Applying 45 coats to reach opacity is simply out of the question for me, personally. Do what you will with your own time!

Nail polish look - green nails with a mint silver accent nail

So instead, I used Beware by Pure Ice for a base polish - the best damn silver glitter polish there is. It's opaque enough after one coat, but you can work it up with another coat if you'd like. For this, I used one coat of Beware and then topped it with 2 coats of Green Tea. The effect was a cool minty-silver glitter... as you might have expected.

Sinful Colors Envy, LA Colors Green Tea, nail polish
Sinful Colors Envy, LA Colors Green Tea, nail polish, silver glitter accent 

Tonight I have a sushi date at Sei Bar in Medford with my friend Steph and her friend Cris. The three of us have been doing a monthly sushi date together for the last few months, with each of us taking turns treating the others. Tonight is my turn! Sei Bar has some incredible sushi, so it's really a win-win of food and friends. We're actually planning on taking our order to-go this time, to bring it back to Cris' house for some more comfortable dining and chatting. Steph is even bringing along her adorable French bulldog puppy, Gertrude. (Who, by the way, has her own Instagram account - @omg_gertrude.)

Other than that, I have no real obligations or plans this weekend. Loosely on my to-do list is to clean my bathroom and then take a luxurious bubble bath, but maybe I'll also do something spontaneous like take a little day trip somewhere around New England.

What are you up to this weekend?
Tell me your go-to sushi order!
Whatcha rockin' on your nailseses?

{Linking with Friday's Fab Favorites and The Nail Files}

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Welcome Back: Workouts of the Week!

After taking off what amounted to a solid 5 months from my "normal" gym routine, I was finally given clearance in January from my physical therapist to ease back into my workouts. For those of you who haven't been sitting at the cool table, I'd been having arm/neck/shoulder problems since the summer, which made use of my left arm pretty limited. Now that I'm feeling better, I've been going to the gym kind of a lot this past month - and hope to continue the habit so that I can start to feel like a real bad mamma jamma again.

So since the gym has come back into my life in full force, it seemed negligent not to start up my Workouts of the Week blog again. Note: This is not at all by popular demand. I don't care.

That said, here are all of my workouts from just this past week, including links to demos of each exercise in case you want to see any of them in action!

2/22 (cardio and core)
30 mins hiking on the treadmill
3x: 20 Russian get ups, holding 5 lbs
3x: 20 weighted v-sit twists, holding 15 lbs
3x: 30 cobras

2/23 (lower body)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 40 diamond clamshells each leg
3x: 40 calf raises, 15 lbs each hand
3x: 40 seated leg extensions each leg (no weight)
3x: 15 deadlifts, 15 lbs each hand
3x: 40 bridges
3x: 15 squats, holding 15 lbs

2/24 (cardio)
40 mins hiking on treadmill

2/25 (upper body)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 12 close grip chest press on exercise ball, 12.5 lbs each hand
3x: 12 seated rows, 37.5 lbs
3x: 12 chest press on exercise ball, 12.5 lbs each hand
3x: 12 bent over rows, 12.5 lbs each hand
3x: 13 deltoid raises, 5 lbs each hand
3x: 12 deltoid flys, 5 lbs each hand
3x: 24 alternating chest flys, 7.5 lbs each hand

2/26 (lower body)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 40 bridges
3x: 15 side plank with leg lift, each leg
3x: 15 squats, holding 15 lbs
3x: 40 diamond clamshells each leg
3x: 40 calf raises, 15 lbs each hand

2/28 (core)
5 mins elliptical
3x: 30 weighted v-sit twists, holding 15 lbs
3x: 20 Russian get ups, holding 5 lbs
3x: 20 dynamic side planks each side

When I go "hiking" on the treadmill, I adjust the intensity and/or incline every minute for the entire duration, making sure to go through the entire range of inclines available. It's kind of fun and works up a great sweat.

On a related note, I had that video shoot this afternoon for my company's YouTube channel. It went better than I expected, so hopefully the videos came out well. We filmed enough for 5 different short workout videos, so that's a good crop of material for the channel. Our videographer, Matt, posted an Instagram pic of the shoot in action, if you want to see it here!

Alright, I hope that this has inspired you in some way to keep working towards your own fitness goals. Do you have any online resources for workout ideas? Share them with me!