Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Snow Ice Cream

I have very fond memories of snow ice cream.

I remember the day perfectly:

I woke up to my mom telling me school was cancelled because of snow. (Magic words for any kid. And college student. Case in point: I actually cheered today when one of my classes was called off. Still magical!)

The outside world looked a little like this:



I ate some oatmeal, got into my snow suit, and knocked on all my friends' doors. We spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon building snowmen, pelting each other with ice balls (safe, right?) and sledding.

After our cheeks were flaming red and our toes lost feeling, we finally trekked back inside and peeled off our snow gear, which was soaked.
From the snow.

Except that one time I peed in my snowsuit, but I mean, I always strive for efficiency.

So after all that was all taken care of, my mom would make us a refreshing, heaping bowl of snow ice cream.

And it was the perfect precursor to hot cocoa, let me tell ya.

So in the spirit of the winter storm howling outside, here is my mom's recipe for snow ice cream!


~Snow Ice Cream~

1 gallon snow
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk

Collect *fresh* fallen snow in a large bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla, and slowly add the milk. Use a little less or more milk for desired consistency.



Delicious! Way better than just grabbing handfulls of it.

Anyone else ever made this? 

Enjoy!

<3

Monday, February 25, 2013

My thoughts on...detoxing

Ello poppets!

*Sorry. I don't say that ever...*

Yesterday I decided this week I would do a detox. And I guess what automatically comes to mind are the endless juice fasts that graced the blog world after New Year's. 

Not that kind of detox. But sort of?

See, I believe in all that mind-body connection mumbo jumbo. And I wanted to have a very relaxed week. Even if the events of the week are not relaxed, I wanted my attitude to at least seem calm and happy. Because, well, our weeks are numbered.
Morbid but true.
And I don't want to waste my time being anxious and worried.
I think food plays a major role in that as well, so I am just trying to simplify what I eat, what I have and what I worry about.

I mean, an instant pick-me-up would be some springtime weather, but that's just gonna have to wait. Especially since we are bracing for another winter storm. Not breaking out the peep-toe wedges anytime soon.

So yesterday I kicked off the week with a trip to the grocery store and did some cooking. I spend every Sunday doing at least 2 hours of cooking to prepare for the week. It's pretty therapeutic, actually.
Yesterday I cooked up some chickpea salad wraps and sassy water, both of which I highly recommend.




Then I went for a run around campus in the cold, which was pretty, but...cold. Or refreshing, depending on how you look at it.




Then I felt like a plant would be the perfect addition to any detox week, (logical? who knows) and I found this little guy.

He looked WAY worse yesterday when I picked him up. The poor thing was fifty percent off and so thirsty. I couldn't just leave him there.
Here's to hoping he's around for awhile, because sometimes, as I have admitted to before, things don't work out so well for my plants.


Also, I will take this time to give a shout-out to my wonderful newspaper staff. Together we took home ten awards at the ICPA newspaper awards in Chicago, and made a lot of weird (and awesome) memories.

Here is a crappy photo of the view from my room!
































The detox plan continues this week with the following:

-At least 7 hours of sleep each night (One night achieved!)
-Lots of green tea and water
-Some additional workouts from the videos at blogilates
-Getting the paper out in a timely manner
-Spring cleaning in preparation for March! Which is Friday, if you can even believe that.

Have a good week, everyone!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Anxiety.

Hello there!

This is something I have been wanting to post about for awhile, 
but wasn't exactly sure how to present it.

I want to talk about it for two reasons:
1. It makes me feel better to get it out there.
2. Maybe it could help other people.

A little anxiety in life is normal. Healthy, even. It keeps us on top of our game in stressful situations and can even kick in as a survival instinct.

However, for some of us, that instinct is a little out of whack.

I had atrocious anxiety as a child. It went away during high school, but at this point in my life, it came back with a vengeance.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which is where you feel anxious and nervous about anything and everything, all the time.

You know how you feel when you think you forgot to do something important that you can't quite remember, and it nags at you?
That's how I feel all the time.

It's pretty common, but it's also terribly distracting.

On top of that, I am a MAJOR hypochondriac. Google is my greatest frenemy.

Pretty much every day I believe that I have some kind of terminal disease even when it has been proven to me that I DO NOT have it. So I look up other things I could have.

It's a vicious cycle, and it's a major time suck.
I spend SO much time, sometimes up to an hour or two, looking up things 
that could be wrong with me. Almost every day.

Do you know what I could be doing with that time?

LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE.

To be honest with you, it's a bit debilitating.

I do see a counselor for this, but it's very difficult for me to convey (for some reason) what I'm actually going through.

And I'm trying to handle it all very organically, because while medicine can be helpful, 
it's just a Band-Aid for the real underlying issues.

So it's a bit of a journey for me right now. I am trying to be very honest with myself and accept that it IS possible to change these ways of thinking, but it takes time.

Plenty of people have overcome anxiety and hypochondria, but it's not a quick fix by any means.
This winter I was diagnosed with something called Chiari Malformation, Type I.
It is not life-threatening, just annoying, and there are many varying degrees of it.
I have the mildest version of it, but it comes with symptoms like random numbness, awful headaches, dizziness, arm pain, blurry vision, muscle weakness...the list goes on and on.

After I had that diagnosis, my hypochondria kicked into overdrive. I wondered what else could be wrong.

I think the worst part for me is that some people treat it like a joke.
When you say you have hypochondria, are anxious about something ridiculous or have convinced yourself you have some kind of disease, people laugh about it.

I know, because they do it to me.
It's easy to try to joke about it or laugh it off, but when it comes right down to it, 
it's very scary to try to deal with. It's extremely challenging to work through. And it is something that absolutely requires the support of family and friends.

I have been lucky enough to have people close to me who do take it seriously and try to support me even when I'm acting crazy.

I think the important thing, first of all, is awareness. I felt better when I found out I had an anxiety disorder because it proved the world wasn't as awful as I thought; my brain was just processing it that way.

But now I have to begin trying to get better, and it really is a challenge. But I'm working on it. Exercise, a balanced diet and creative outlets help tremendously. Being alone and drinking caffeine does not. I'm just in the process of finding out what works for me.

So...that's what's on my mind today.

(If you read all of this I'm pretty impressed.)

Mostly I just wanted to get that out there. I would love to hear from anyone going through the same thing, or just any thoughts on it, really.

Sidenote...it's almost the weekend!

Now there's something to smile about.
:)


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

On simplicity.

As a college freshman, I came in wanting it all.

I wanted to graduate and have thousands of dollars of saved up, a glamorous job in NYC and an incredible wardrobe.

Well, I am graduating in a few months. I have none of those things (well my wardrobe does have its glam days...) 

And I'm pretty happy about it. Not that I would turn down a few thousand dollars, but oh well.

In fact, I have been on a simplifying kick. As I get ready to leave college and move in with my boyfriend and his family, I am trying to keep only the necessities.

Cut down the excess in what I eat, what I own, what I buy, and even what activities I commit to.

It started just last week, actually. I divided up my paycheck to ensure I would have for everything and moved some extra to my savings. I nixed the idea of buying new things for my Ireland trip (in less than one month!)

Well, except a raincoat. I don't own one and I'm pretty certain I'm gonna need it.

I am also planning on selling anything and everything in good condition that I just don't need anymore. Why hang onto those extra things you might need once? I have my clothing favorites in my closet, the books I actually want to keep and the shoes I rotate throughout the week. Beyond that, the rest is sort of just cluttering my life.

I found this video on Ted Talks, and I thought he made some pretty great points. It does feel refreshing to visit a pristine, organized hotel room for a few days. 
Well, pristine at first.
After about a day it looks like my suitcase blew up.
I digress.


So in the spirit of spring cleaning, my goal is to streamline, simplify and focus on the good stuff.

Which, amazingly, isn't stuff at all.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My thoughts on...quarter life crises

First of all, there is some kind of horrifying bird RIGHT outside my window.
The kind that you usually hear off in the distance in the woods somewhere.
But this one is right up on my window going "ooooooh....WOOoooh" over and over again, and it's a little weird.

For today's "My thoughts Monday," I have had a lot on my mind.

Yes, that is "relax" backwards. What you can't see is that I am wearing very colorful fleece monkey pants in this photo.

And by a lot, I mean pretty much everything else besides what I should be thinking about.

AKA, I am terribly, hopelessly distracted.
BOOM, second semester hits and I am immediately hit with senior-itis. Hard.

Not like that's anything new. I remember daydreaming my way through first grade (and pretty much all the other grades...)

I would balance pencils on my fingers and draw flowers everywhere just to get through the day.

But these days, I am distracted by so.much.more.

I realize that I may be a few years shy of a true "quarter life crisis," but I totally believe you can have one of those at 22.

Not that it's a bad crisis.

I am very, very lucky to have found incredible people to surround myself with and an exceptionally supportive family. I even have a relationship that grounds me and fulfills me like nothing I've ever experienced before, and sometimes I am horrified to think of what I might have turned into had I not stumbled upon love.

It wouldn't be pretty.
I have a feeling it would involve a lot of cynical speeches, wine coolers and working on the weekends.

However, I still have these days where I feel pelted with thoughts of "Who am I? Where do I go from here? Why do I feel vaguely like I am supposed to do something meaningful with my life, but then kill a few hours watching New Girl? Why is everyone and their neighbor suddenly married and/or having children? I am still trying to keep a freaking plant alive!"

I find it quite challenging and overwhelming to live in the moment right now because there are so many exciting things to look forward to.

But at the same time, I believe I will look back at this stage of my life and miss so much of it.

I will miss my apartment and my roommates, pulling all-nighters with my friends to "study," working with the newspaper staff...

Sometimes it's a challenge to just slow down and appreciate everything that's going on right now.
But this is life.
The here and now.

And can I tell you about right now?

Right now I am drinking my kiwi lime tea out of my new mug, waiting for my boyfriend to come visit me, and watching Jenna Marbles. This, like those Disney commercials say, is me at 22.
For a limited time only.

And you know what? It's a good moment. And I am going to share it with you in the form of the video I just watched. Because it made me laugh, and you should be laughing too.


You're welcome.

<3


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sunshine in a bowl

As I have mentioned before, I am a breakfast person.

If I don't eat first thing in the morning, I am a grumpy Shrek of a human all day long.

Especially in the winter, when the outside world is pretty much devoid of anything pretty or warm to keep me going.

Not even snow around here this year. At least that sparkles sometimes.

So lately, I have been incorporating a lot of tropical fruit into my breakfasts so that I can pretend like there is, indeed, sunshine out my window.

Behold my favorite breakfast of the moment (and fruit of the week!), kiwi.


That may not look like the loveliest bowl of stuff, but really, it's amazing. Not to mention satisfying AND super healthy.

Oatmeal, almond butter and kiwi all blended up may sound weird, but trust me, it's this kind of creamy, tangy, masterpiece. Bonus: Add blueberries. I didn't have them on hand when I crafted this particular bowl of goodness, but they are an excellent little addition.

However, this is only my most recent fruit-oatmeal-almond butter concoction. There are about a million others, but here are some of my other favorites!

+Apples
+Strawberries and bananas
+Peaches
+Blackberries
+Pineapple and coconut

I also like to brew a cup of pineapple blueberry tea to go with the tropical theme. It doesn't give me a tan like a real vacation, but really, those don't give me a tan, either. 
So they're pretty much equal.

Happy breakfasting!

<3



Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Stages of Luuuuurrrrvveee


"Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love."
- Leo Tolstoy


Ah, Valentine's Day...
I do love a day where you can call people Shmoopie Pie and Honeycrumb Cupcake Blossom and not be judged for it.

Me and my valentine have not seen each other all day, but in about an hour or so we get to hang out in our pj's and be lazy, which is the very best way to celebrate after a long day!

 Valentine's Day should ALWAYS be on a Saturday in my opinion. None of this middle-of-the-week business. Even if it totally undermines the historical significance of the holiday.

I am someone who loves to know the inner workings of just about everything, especially when it comes to humans and all the things we do.

So naturally, one of my favorite topics to research (because I'm never content to just experience things...research is completely necessary) is love.

I spent years actually convinced it didn't exist. I loved my family, I loved my friends, but love love?

Nah. That's the stuff of Hollywood romance fairies.

But after researching, (and okay, actually falling in love), I know that it's a legit thing and I can stop trying to disprove it.

That's always the way, isn't it? The universe loves proving us wrong.

Something I have recently enjoyed looking into are the five phases that romantic relationships pass through.

There are a few good articles on it, but I particularly like this one from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The article is worth a read, but to some it up in about a paragraph each, it states that romantic relationships naturally progress through five stages:

1. Courtship and Infatuation

"This phase of enchantment involves plenty of laughter, playfulness, sexual energy and excitement. Everything about the other person is interesting, and there is a desire to reveal as much as possible about one's self. Most experts agree that this phase generally lasts anywhere from two months to two years, and is the shortest-lived of any of the stages of a committed relationship."

2. The Power Struggle

"...this early conflict is healthy and perhaps even necessary as both parties are instinctively jockeying for position in the new status quo, and it helps the couple separate a bit from the over-connectedness of courtship. This is when couples must learn the skills to be able to solve problems, listen to each other, negotiate and resolve conflict. The main goal is to build trust. Many couples never move beyond this stage, and many divorces occur at this point."

3. Re-evaluation and Identity Formation

"'This is the famous 'U' chart of marital satisfaction...For marriages that last, the satisfaction starts high, drops to low as the power struggle starts. It stays low...and rises again in the later part, usually after the children are out of the home.' There is a danger of entering a relationship 'dead zone' at this point, where a person becomes bored with their partner and life, in general. They may bury themselves in work or a hobby. The feeling of connection is greatly diminished."

4. Awareness, transformation, synergy

"If the relationship has survived until this point, there is an interest in reconnecting. Each partner must realize his or her own fear of intimacy, and how present behavior is shaped and influenced by what he or she learned and experienced as children in their family of origin. They begin to see their own projections and distortions upon the other person. The war is over, and there is a desire to begin the work needed to build peace and understanding. There is a desire and willingness to learn how to work through conflicts and issues to achieve a satisfying resolution."

5. Reconciliation, Acceptance

"Research suggests less than 5 percent of couples make it to this final stage of completion. Each person is able to take responsibility for their needs and also support the other person. There is a great deal of warmth, mutual respect and a balance between autonomy and union. The couple has figured out how to resolve conflicts quickly. They work together as a team, and resentments are few. They have chosen to be with their partner, flaws and all."

***

So what do you think?

Do you believe all relationships go through these phases? 
Have you seen it or experienced it yourself? 

Not the most uplifting of all Valentine's Day posts, but I find it totally fascinating!










Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How I lost 15 pounds (and kept it off)

I distinctly remember a day my sophomore year of high school when I was home sick from school, stepped on a scale in our bathroom and saw the number rise to 150. I had never hit that number before.

(I have no qualms about discussing weight in actual numbers here!)

At 5-foot-9, that didn't exactly make me overweight, but I realized that my energy reserves were zapped, and I often felt sluggish. 

I had probably gained about 15 pounds over the course of a year, and I didn't know how. Looking back now, it was really a case of growing into an adult body with a slightly more "adult" metabolism.
And I didn't know what to do about it.

While I wouldn't sit down and eat six cupcakes in a sitting, I also wasn't overtly "healthy" when it came to food.

I ate sugary cereal for breakfast every single day.
I ate pizza, pop tarts and cookies for lunch.
At home, I would eat more cereal before (and usually after dinner.)
And I LOVED desserts.
Still do, in fact. They just don't love me back.

I wasn't in sports or activities like I had been when I was younger, so my exercise was mostly limited to a stray Seventeen magazine workout here or there.

Fast forward to senior year, when my appendix burst.
It was a very painful incident, and I was terrified of hospitals and surgery, so the whole thing freaked me out. But the surgery went well, and recovery before I could get back to school took about two weeks.

Something about that finally made me pay attention to my body. 
The NUMBER ONE THING I DID, and I still recommend this to anyone looking to lose weight, is to stop drinking sugar and calories. I lost probably half the weight from doing that alone.

I drank water and unsweetened tea, and that was about it.
Even now, the only calories I drink come from alcohol or the occasional pop, and I rarely drink.
I do love a good wine spritzer though!

The summer before college, I went through my first official breakup. It was a little tough to deal with at the time, and that combined with the fact that I was leaving for college soon had me very anxious about the future.

So I started to run.

I found that my iPod, running shoes and a long stretch of sidewalk really did my mind some good, so I kept it up when I went away to school.

I still didn't eat well, however, but I was working out enough that I continued to lose weight and got down to about 135.

Dorm food was fattening and I still loved me some Fruit Loops, so my body still felt out of balance.

Sophomore year came, and it was a pretty tough year emotionally. I went through a lot, and was dealing with things I had never dealt with before.
So I took it out on my body.

Every time I was stressed or upset, which was pretty much every day, I would go to the gym and work out as hard as I could.

As productive as that may sound, it wasn't. It was hard on my body. I thought it would make me feel tougher and stronger, but I was using it as an escape to get away from everything else I was dealing with.

And at the end of that year, I met Tom.

It took months of having something stable to feel like I was calming down, and even the summer we started dating I was still pretty out of sorts. But my junior year of college, in a new apartment (with a kitchen!), a new relationship and a new role in campus media, I wanted to focus on balance as opposed to strength (which in my case had meant stubborn escapism.)

The SECOND TIP I TELL PEOPLE LOOKING TO LOSE WEIGHT is listen to your body!
That year I started cooking. Not well, but I tried. I realized that when I ate eggs and fresh fruit or oatmeal for breakfast, my body felt good. When I ate cereal or donuts, I felt like crap.
It sounds so simple, but it took that whole year to figure out what I was missing, when I needed to eat and what I needed to leave out of my grocery cart.

As it stands now, this is what I do. I am not a nutritionist/fitness guru, and this may not work for everyone, but it keeps me feeling my best:

(This is just a general rundown. After this post I will do more regular health and fitness posts.)

-Cardio workout 3X a week, plus toning and strengthening
-Pilates workout 2x a week
-Water ALL THE TIME. I can't go anywhere without my water bottle!
-Tea all day. I usually have three or four cups, especially green tea.
-Most meals are vegetable-based. Veggies do a body good.
-Hot water with cinnamon is great in the morning. You could also add a little honey to sweeten it up.
-Get moving! The more energy you put out walking/running/just not sitting, the more you will have.
-I rarely eat true "meals." I mostly eat small ones every few hours. Again, I have no idea if that's how you're *supposed* to do it, but that seems to work best for me.
-I even stopped eating my beloved cereal, and I don't even miss it. Or the bloating it gave me.


There is no point to this photo. I just didn't want to scare you with all the never-ending words.


So there you go, the kickoff to my more health-based bloggy home.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!

Happy Wednesday!


Monday, February 11, 2013

My thoughts on...Enya and chamomile

Growing up, I was a very anxious child.

In high school it wore off a bit, but it came back full force when I hit 20.

When I think back to what I enjoyed when I was little or what calmed me down, they are still the things that work today.

My most vivid memories are of our old house on a spring day, opening the windows and letting the sunshine in. I was 8, and whenever springtime rolled around, my worries melted away like the snow outside my window.

My mom always played Enya when we cleaned up the house. And when we were all done, and the house was shiny and bright, we would relax and listen to Enya and drink some chamomile tea.

I rediscovered both Enya and chamomile over the past couple of days, and it immediately brought me back to all those years ago.

And I think Enya gets a bad rap, but nothing has gotten me through more tests, friend drama, heartbreaks, bouts of stomach flu or days spent worrying about being a grown-up than Enya.
Seriously, for 14 years now, one CD has been my musical Xanax.

So today, when things got crazy at work and I had atrocious cramps, I brewed up a cup of tea, put on my headphones, and dreamed of sunshine.





Sunday, February 10, 2013

The weekend that restored my sanity.

I'm just going to say what everyone is thinking right now.

This winter needs to be done.

Over. Gone. Fried by the sun. Please.

However, as February is my birthday month, I don't hate on it too much.

Case in point...I spent the weekend doing a little late b-day celebrating!

And let me tell you, my family pulled out all the stops. It was pretty luxurious.

And of course Tom got to reap the benefits (i.e. a free dinner and Saturday night spent with me and some of my favorite people!)

So the backstory on this birthday surprise...

Some family members may have forgotten it was my birthday Wednesday, and later felt pretty bad about that.

So they organized a few surprises for me when I went to visit my aunt and grandma about an hour away from school! There were:

Flowers and cards at dinner, 





Parmesan-encrusted filet,


Oven-baked tilapia,


 A special table for us at the martini bar, which my aunt owns,


 A fondue bar, complete with strawberry cream cheese and milk chocolate liquer dips,


Sparkling cider,


Rumchata and club soda (delicious! I had no idea),


And a relaxing morning spent at the farm.

Ahhhh.







Now that's what makes a fabulous weekend!

Aaaand onto the week.

I am really excited because this week, seeing as how it's about a month before spring break, I am doing a health and fitness series (or at least starting one!) So I have been gearing up for that for the past couple of weeks.

Be sure to stop by and check it out.

<3

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Happy Birthday to me!

I am 22 today!

I share a birthday with the following:

Bob Marley
Babe Ruth
Ronald Reagan
Axl Rose

So obviously, I chose a pretty swell day to come into this world. 
And I should be better at baseball and musical things.

I will leave you with this clip from my favorite birthday movie, as today is a maniacal little concoction of constant work and stress. 

So I will let Molly Ringwald do the talking.

:)


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Tuesday Thought

I have learned quickly,
and with a ferocity I don't yet understand,
that life is only about surrounding yourself with a loving, supportive family and community,
and allowing them the same.

Everything else comes second.

Monday, February 4, 2013

My thoughts on...turning 22

So how about that Superbowl power outage, huh?

Beyonce sucked the life out of that stadium.

Anyway...

My 22nd birthday is two days away.

I just want to take this moment to point out how much variety occurs from 20-something to 20-something.

In high school, for example, people are pretty much at the same phase of life. 

People go to dances or football games and join clubs and take similar classes and graduate.
But then they graduate, and things take a totally different turn.

However, I know several 22-year-olds who have a couple kids, are pregnant, engaged, several years into a career, or are just learning how to boil water.

It's kind of a cool time because there is no real recipe for how to do it. 

(And, as fun as 21 was, I'm ready for it to be done.)

But I have a feeling that 21 is going to pale in comparison to 22!

Here are 22 things I am looking forward to in my 22nd year:

1.) GRADUATION!!

2.) Training the new staff for the newspaper.

3.) Flying to Ireland (in about a month!) with my family and boyfriend.

4.) Moving in with my boyfriend.

5.) The exciting/draining/horrifying job hunt.

6.) Finishing up my novels and sending them out to publishers.

7.) Relaxing in the pool with friends.

8.) Meeting new friends in this town when I'm out in the job force.

9.) Seeing "Safe Haven." (I loved the book!)

10.) Visiting my friends at their new homes/apartments.

11.) Seeing my friend's and some family members' new babies! So many babies in 2013!

12.) Roadtrippin' to Chi-town with the newspaper staff. Always a treat.

13.) Being broke and slightly uncertain and young. It is a fun time that I'd like to remember.

14.) NOT attending 21st birthday parties. There was one every weekend last year!

15.) Girls' weekends and celebrating my friends' birthdays!

16.) Celebrating two wonderful years with my Tommy :)

17.) It's still kind of exciting to legally buy wine and margaritas..

18.) I officially feel like I am "in my twenties." 21 felt like practice.

19.) It's a nice even number. I like that.

20.) Birthday shopping. Just because.

21.) No one is going to make me take shots. (Hopefully.)

22.) This is the first year of my life not planned out. Since I was little, I planned through 21. Aaaand it kind of stopped there. This was the metaphorical cliff, and beyond it is a free-fall.

And I have to say, I'm excited for the view.

(And because I do not know of other 22 songs...)