Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Etc. Book Club

It's a sad fact, but I spend more time reading book reviews than I do reading actual books. I have limited time to read books, partly because I'm busy and partly because I have more magazine subscriptions than a doctor's office. So when I do commit to a book, I want to make it worth my while. I have more than a dozen books pinned on Pinterest, and during the time spent scouring reviews of all of them on Goodreads and Amazon, I could have read "War and Peace" and "The Pillars of the Earth," twice. But 437 hours later, I chose "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes.

You might be wondering, "Then what the heck is this photo of another book at the top of this post?" That's the book I ended up with.  Most of my review reading proved useless when I got to the library and my top five choices were checked out. On second thought, maybe my review reading proved fruitful since the books I picked out are in demand. So in demand in fact, I am the 42nd person on the hold request list!

You might also be wondering, "Why don't you just buy the book?"  Because: A. I'm frugal. B. I have a small bookshelf and have nowhere to put books when I'm done reading them. C. A "due by" date forces me to read the book more quickly. D. Going to the library makes me feel like a nerd, in a good way. 

"Indiscretion" by Charles Dubow is one of the books I pinned after reading a review in O Magazine.  It's centered around a summer in the Hamptons, a wealthy couple, Harry and Maddy Winslow, and a young woman Claire, who becomes obsessed with them. The story is narrated by Walter, Maddy's childhood friend, in the style reminiscent of Nick Carraway in "The Great Gatsby."

This Hamptons, rich people theme could make for a great literary counterpart to one of my favorite shows with an equally-naughty, one-word title, "Revenge."  But I'm hearing some not-so-great reviews.  I'm only about four chapters in, and the narration feels forced and contrived. But I'm sticking it out for now. Updates to come.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pet Therapy



For me there is life before dogs and life after dogs.  I'm sure this is the way people feel about their lives with children, and maybe that means I'm abnormally obsessed with my dogs. Although I promise I don't dress them up and push them around in strollers! 

I was out of town for several days and returned too late on Monday evening to pick up Mattie and Jade from the dog sitter.  The house was so quiet and empty that night, and it quickly reminded me of what life was like before they were around. Sure, I slept through a whole night without getting awoken by barking and was able to eat a meal without two greedy rat terriers trying to steal it from me, but looking back, man, that was boring and lonely!

It's stating the obvious to say pets bring you endless joy and unconditional love. Countless studies show they lower your blood pressure, reduce stress and help you live longer. Therapy pets bring comfort and support to people chronic conditions and make hospital stays a little more comfortable.

The last few days have been less-than-stellar, but no matter how upset I am, the pups make me smile...and laugh, because they are two of the goofiest dogs I've ever met.

They usually go in their crates when I'm not home, but recently I've been letting them "roam free," as I like to say, when I leave for a short time. Today I had a quick appointment, and when I got home you would have thought I was gone for a week. Now, who else in life is THAT excited to see you?

I'm so grateful I rescued these two crazy canines because they rescue me every day!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Diary of a Mad Target & Whole Foods Shopper

There are two places I should never go: Target and Whole Foods.  My bank account would thank me.  (Oh, and Loft...but that's for another post.)

I take that back; I can justify Target if I stick to my shopping list. It's when I venture into the clothing and home sections that things get a little hairy. (Hello, really cute Damask-themed, sale-section Crock-Pot I have never opened that my fiance wanted to bet me how long it would take me to use...Obviously he would have won.) 

Despite that, shopping at Target actually does save me money. By the way, if you're not printing the coupons off the Target website, you're missing out.  These are not the $0.35 off 400 cans of baked beans variety of coupons, they offer DOLLARS off products you're already buying...and you can choose to print which coupons you will actually use. Do this now.

[For those who may be worried about shopping at Target since the data breach: Neiman Marcus just announced it was targeted (no pun intended) as well. So whether you're buying store brand cereal or Herve Leger, it can happen anywhere.]

[For those who may be wondering if I was paid by Target to write this, unfortunately, no I was not.]

Now on the other hand, let's talk about a magical land called Whole Foods.  Shopping at this hipster wonderland of vegan cuisine and eco-friendly shower gel most definitely does not save me money. But I do believe it brings me some sanity. It all starts with that scent. Every Whole Foods smells the same. It's like organic vegetables mixed with rosemary and a hint of elitism. But really, it smells fresh and is full of expensive things you never knew you NEEDED. Just like the aromatherapy products I bought tonight, which is after all, is why I'm writing this rambling post. 

I went there on my break to grab dinner, mostly at the suggestion of my producer. I now blame him for my spending $42 on a Clary sage/lavender-scented oil diffuser, a peppermint oil roller and sweet orange & peppermint "yoga mist."  I don't even do yoga, luckily it doubles as a body and room spray. By the time I spent 20 minutes in the essential oils aisle (or not-so-essential, depending on how you look at it), they were already starting to put the prepared foods away. Fortunately I was able to grab some blackened salmon and Greek salad.

I also came across Threads 4 Thought Sustainable Apparel next to the TOMS shoes, naturally.  I was surprised at the cute and comfortable-looking, good-for-the-planet clothes I found at a grocery store. I stopped myself from buying a dress, but you better believe I've already perused the sale section on the company's website. If I suddenly come down with an urge to move to Austin, you know I've really been brainwashed. 

The point is sometimes a random outing and silly splurge can brighten the day. I'm overcome with optimism that the calming scents of lavender and peppermint can provide some stress relief from a busy day at work. I'm off to turn my bathroom into a Whole Foods-sponsored spa and fire up that Crock-Pot ;) Namaste!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Do you Birchbox?

I do. I have been for more than a year, 14 months to be exact. I know this because they sent me a key chain as a thank you. That was nice of them.

"Them" being the Birchbox team, started by two, obviously, smart and creative women who graduated from Harvard Business School (hence why I said obviously), named Katia and Hayley. Yes, spelled like mine, another (superficial) reason I like this company.

Birchbox revamped the whole idea of "Fruit of the Month" club, and is part of the growing trend of once-a-month sample boxes, such as GlossyBox, Beauty Army and Bark Box...yes, even your dogs can receive mail. Actually, mine already do. Just ask my mom and fellow blogger bestie, Analisa. 

You probably already know most of this information, but Allure does a great job of breaking down several of the beauty sampling services. After reading this, I now want to subscribe to like five of them.

The Birchboxes are definitely worth $10 a month, and I have found some great products. I actually haven't purchased any of these in full-size editions yet, because that's the one problem, they can be a little pricey.

Here are some of my favorite Birchbox finds:

This is the BEST dry shampoo I have ever tried! It smells great and gives you volume without stickiness.  I much prefer dry shampoo powders to sprays.  I just found out this comes in a travel size, so I will surely be buying it soon.

I received this last month and thought I would never use it because it seemed so superfluous. Do I really NEED one more makeup step?  But, I was wrong. It's worth it. It's great at highlighting under the eyes, the corner of the eyes and under the brow line. It gives you a professionally-done look.

This is the best dang thing I have ever smelled! The best way I can describe the scent is a frosted blueberry cake. I don't use shaving cream very often, but I definitely used this. It's thicker, less foamy and soft. There are several scents and the company also makes other products, including shower gel.

This may be my favorite of all.  The color "Perfect Kiss" truly was the perfect shade for me. It may be a little bolder than I would wear for everyday use, but it was great on air, since colors tend to get muted. It also stayed for an entire two-hour newscast, which never happens with lipstick.  It's not sticky and has a half -lipstick, half-gloss feel. 

I just received my January Birchbox.
I'm most excited to try to the Klorane Dry Shampoo since I've heard great things about it. And the tea is made by a Buckingham Palace-approved British brand.  Cheerio!

Friday, January 10, 2014

This is Me

This is where I was born

This is my family

This is what I did growing up

These are my teams

This is my sorority 
This is my office 

These are my causes

This is my (budget-pending) addiction
These are my shows

These are my tunes

This is my cocktail

This is my real-life fairy tale moment

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year's Challenge

They say it's not about the destination; it's about the journey. And therein lies the problem with this challenge. Next week I will officially start training for my second half marathon. I have to admit I'm somewhat dreading it. I ran my first half on St. Patrick's Day last year, and leading up to it, what I was worried about was how difficult it would be to finish the race. Come to find out, the nine or so weeks of training were much, MUCH harder than the race itself. That was the fun part! I knew how rough the training was while I was going through it, but looking back at it as a collective whole, it seems even more daunting.

 Just before the finish line during my first half

It takes up a lot of time, especially when you take into account all of the epsom salt baths, foam rolling, massaging, Tiger Balm applying and the whining and crying. Plus, I'm dealing with a torn disk in my back and off-and-on shin splints. And I don't have that "This is my first half!" excitement. 

But all of that seems like small potatoes compared to the migraines I often get after strenuous runs, especially when I run in the morning. Now that I work nights, that's pretty much my only choice. 

So why am I putting myself through this? Reading what I just wrote makes me wonder if I'm a masochist. But really I think it's that I function best under pressure and challenges. And this is my current challenge. If not now, when?  The Sarasota Half Marathon is held in March, and that's the month I'll be getting married next year.  And I will NOT be running a half marathon, thankyouverymuch. 

Plus, despite what it sounds like, I actually like running, and it is hard to beat the that indescribable feeling you get after achieving something pretty darn amazing!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dream BIG in 2014!

Bubbly and balloons on NYE!

If there is ever going to be a time for me to start a blog, this is it. There are a lot of BIG things going on in my life: I got engaged, I was promoted to a new position at work and I'm turning 30 this year! 

For years I've dreamed of starting a blog, but I was worried no one would read it.  But luckily I was inspired by my dear friend, (pro bono) counselor, and now fellow blogger Analisa! Not too long after she told me she wanted to start a blog, I came across an article about how to start one in Women's Health magazine. It was a sign! 

I'm getting into this whole blogging thing mostly because I love to write. It was probably my first passion in life. In kindergarten when assigned to memorize and recite a famous poem, I asked my teacher if I could write my own poem...and so began my love affair with storytelling. As a broadcast journalist, I write every day for a living, but there are many times I come across non-news-related things I want to share with the world, and now I have a venue. Even if most of the world doesn't ever read my musings, I will still enjoy the process.  

When coming up with a concept and name for my blog, I started brainstorming different genres of blogs and realized what mine is not:

-It is not a wedding blog. No, really, I promise. Since I am planning my big day, I'll share anything I come across that is super-fantastic, but I swear I won't turn into a blogging bridezilla.
My amazing fiance, Max

-It is not a dog blog. However, I know I won't be able to resist adding funny and adorable anecdotes about my rescue rat terriers, Mattie and Jade.

-It is not a beauty blog. But I am on a never-ending quest to find the best of the best when it comes to hair, skin and makeup products. I daydream about being the Beauty Editor of O Magazine in my next life. This blog will be the next best thing, for now.  

-It is not a bargain blog. Although there is nothing I love more than finding a good deal. Oh, and couponing. It's a sport to me. I've been living on a tight budget for years, so I'll be sure to share my budget-friendly finds.

-It is not a fitness blog. But I am somewhat of a workout fanatic, and I'm planning to start training for my second half marathon, so expect some exercise-related posts.

-It is not a news blog. However, I will share my (non-political, completely unbaised) thoughts on big headlines, because I'm just a totally professional, Medill-trained journalist like that ;) 

-It is, most definitely, not a food/cooking blog. I have never cooked a piece of meat in my life. True story. I have, however, ended up in the emergency room with burns on my face after heating up tomato sauce. Also, sadly, true story. 

So what IS this blog?

It's about Everything That Counts. And sometimes that's the small things. Let's be honest, we can't philosophize, research the cure for cancer and negotiate peace in the Middle East 24 hours a day. Sometimes we just need to find the best shade of red lipstick, a workout that actually works or the most addictive new show on TV. 

I'm not saying a high heel or hair cream will change your life, but I'm not saying it won't. 

“Let me tell you something big: Give importance to little things!”