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Oct 262016
 

As you know, I started a new job a little more than two weeks ago. I am so excited by everything I’m working on, and although I’ve been dying to tell you more about it, I wanted to wait to get permission from my manager first so I was clear on what I could share. I talked to her earlier this week and got her blessing to post away, so now’s my chance to tell you more about it!

First, some background. I get questions from you guys all the time about how I got a job communicating about health and wellness. Here’s my attempt at making a long story short.

I always knew I wanted to work in Public Relations (my mom has her own PR firm and I worked for her when I was in high school), so when I went to college, I immediately set about getting my degree in Communications with a focus on PR. I then worked at Ketchum—a large, well-known international PR agency—where I was placed on the social marketing team. Social marketing sounds like social media, but it’s actually about making a change in societal behavior. While there, I worked on mostly government accounts and fell in love with some of the work I was doing with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I also started my blog during this time (2012) so the whole health and wellness thing really came together for me. When I saw a job for a Communications Manager with a smaller nonprofit dedicated to treating and preventing obesity, I knew it was a perfect next step for me! I worked there for a few years where I mostly worked with scientists and doctors. While it was interesting to hear the latest science and talk to doctors about obesity, I wanted to feel like I had a job that was directly influencing the people who are suffering with these problems.

That’s where my new job comes in. I’m now working with the American Diabetes Association on their Strategic Communications/PR team, where I can (finally) communicate directly with patients about managing their health. Yayy!!

So, for those of you who ask me “How do I get a job like that,” my answer is that I basically used my background in PR and my passion for health to lead me where I wanted to go. There’s no easy “quick-fix” solution I can recommend to those looking to break into this field, except to try to take advantage of the skills that you already have and see how you can apply them.

ANYWAY. Enough about that. Let’s talk about the new gig!

In a word, it is awesome. I am writing so much (which, for me, is a great thing!) and everything I’m writing is so incredibly interesting. I’m working on a campaign for “National Healthy Lunch Day” (it’s Nov. 15!) and will be working on other campaigns like “Get Fit, Don’t Sit Day” in early 2017. I get to write about how to incorporate more movement into your day and review infographics that explain how to build a better salad. Plus, I get to hear stories from real, live people with diabetes who struggle with this horrible disease every day. Seriously?! I get paid for this? Every day I’ve been thinking to myself how fun my new job is, and there’s nothing better than that. J

So, how will this affect the blog? While at my old job, I didn’t really post too many of the specifics of my day-to-day work. A lot of it just wasn’t that relevant, and I didn’t want to bore you guys with overly scientific information. With this new job, however, I have a feeling I’ll want to share a lot more of what I’m doing because I think it’s a) interesting and b) important. Of course I’ll always make it very apparent when I’m writing about something for work and when I’m writing something just for myself (which will still be most of the time). Plus, all opinions are (always) my own!

Question of the day: How much do you know about diabetes? How much do you want to know?

P.S. I know this post didn’t have any pictures in it, so here’s one of Jack in a pumpkin “costume” to make you smile. 🙂

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 Posted by on October 26, 2016
Oct 212016
 

Hi friends! Happy Friday! Today’s post is going to be a bit different from your usual Favorite Things Friday update, as I came to an interesting realization about myself that I wanted to share with you all.

So, as you know, I started a new job last week at a new organization that I’m really passionate about. Obviously changing careers is a pretty big life change, and it wound up affecting me much more than I realized – and not just work-wise. Allow me to explain.

Before receiving the offer for the new job, I was happily chugging along at the old place. I was doing my normal routine, including working out in the mornings, going to work, bringing healthy lunches from home, and making dinner/blogging/watching TV in the evenings. It was nothing crazy, but it was a routine that was working for me.

Then I received the job offer and gave my two-weeks’ notice at work. After that, I wasn’t receiving any new projects from my manager and therefore wasn’t super motivated to get a lot done. I didn’t feel like I needed to prove myself anymore – after all I was leaving to explore a new and better position somewhere else – so a lot of my motivation to work hard went out the window. I’m a pretty intrinsically motivated person (i.e., I work hard just because I want to) so when my motivation to excel in work was gone, it was kind of a whole new feeling for me. Suddenly I didn’t mind arriving to work a few minutes late or turning in an assignment that was maybe 98% of my effort, whereas normally I give 110%.

Of course all of this is to be expected when you’re moving on to a new job, but what I didn’t expect was that this lack of motivation would carry over to my personal life as well. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like setting my alarm super early to wake up early to take a class, and instead I went on a couple of measly runs with Jack. I didn’t feel like grocery shopping on the weekend to set myself up for a healthy week. I didn’t feel like packing a healthy lunch, so I wasted a ton of money on SweetGreen (thankfully SweetGreen is still healthy! Just expensive).

For almost my entire last two weeks at work, I barely followed through with any of my usual healthy habits. What the heck?

As soon as the new job started, however, I was more motivated than ever to prove myself in the office. Not surprisingly, that motivation has continued to my daily routine as well. Since I started the new position I’ve taken more classes than usual, cooked tons of healthy dinners, and brought a salad and an apple every day to eat at work. I’m back to making healthy and affordable choices.

I guess all of this is to say that I really surprised myself with how I reacted to this big life change. Sure, I could have easily sucked it up and fixed my habits when I was in that slump, but I just didn’t want to. It was like I was finally giving myself a break, giving myself permission to be something less than 110%. I guess I sort of looked at that two weeks as a mini vacation from my life. It was a weird thing that I experienced, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Maybe it was good for me to take a break and reset? Maybe I was just being lazy? Who knows.

In the end, I’m glad I’m back to my normal routine and incredibly happy I didn’t let myself stay in a slump for too long (two weeks was plenty!!).

My new suggestion based on this experience is that if you’re finding that you’re having trouble sticking to your healthy habits – especially ones that you know you can stick to – it might be a good idea to take a step back and look at your big picture. Are there other things in your life that aren’t motivating you? Is there something you’re feeling less-than-thrilled about in your life? If there is, change it. If you can’t change it, try to change how you feel about it. Think of a way you can motivate yourself or find some small goals to work toward. That will most likely result in the change you are looking for; at least that was the case for me!

Question of the day: Have you ever experienced a slump like this? What did you do to fix it?

 Posted by on October 21, 2016
Oct 122016
 

Hey friends! How is your week going so far? Mine is excellent, and I am absolutely loving my new job! I thought I’d tell you a bit more about it by doing a day-in-the-life style recap of my first day (Monday). Here we go!

I started my day off with a challenging bootcamp workout at MADabolic via ClassPass (<– affiliate link for $30 off!). We went through a great circuit that included weighted walking lunges, D-ball slams, box step-ups, rowing, and kickboxing. It was a tough one, and I was a sweaty mess by the end. 🙂

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Side note: Whenever I have an important day ahead of me (i.e., a new job!!) I almost always make sure to get a morning workout in. It just sets me up to feel so much better for the rest of the day!

After my class, I came home, showered, and ate a bowl of Quaker Oatmeal Squares + skim milk (not the smartest breakfast choice since it was so low in protein, but sadly I didn’t take the time time to prep anything else over the weekend). Then it was time to get dressed for my first day!

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For my new gig, I’ll be driving to work instead of taking the metro, which is something totally new for me! I hardly ever drive (Fabio and I share a car) so it’s definitely going to take some getting used to. The good news is that my new commute is only 15 minutes, which is SO nice compared to my old commute of an hour. Woohoo!

When I arrived at my new job, I sat down with my manager, headed to a training, and then immediately got started on a bunch of projects! Later I went out to lunch with my new team (we went to Clyde’s where I ordered an unpictured curried chicken salad) and had a great time getting to know everyone. The Marketing/Communications team at my new office is pretty big, and most of the employees are similar to me in age, so I think I’m going to make a lot of new friends. 🙂 The rest of the day was spent heading to meetings and reading up on the projects I’ll be working on.

Overall, I was so incredibly excited by everything I found out I’ll be doing. I will be working on consumer-facing campaigns to educate the public about treating and preventing diabetes, including how to balance a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet and exercise. So perfect!! Since the organization I’m now working for is so much bigger than where I was working before, they actually are capable of hosting really cool events (sometimes with celebrities) and can make real progress! I’m planning to talk to my new manager to see how much information I’m allowed to share on here (I want to make sure I’m not breaking any company policies or anything) and then I’ll elaborate on what I can.

The overall verdict was that I had an amazing first day, and am so excited about my new responsibilities.

At 5:00 I hopped in the car, and I was back home by 5:20. This new commute is SO great!

I spent the rest of the evening blabbering away to Fabio about everything that I learned and all that I’ll be working on, while cooking a Blue Apron meal of steamed pork buns and a kimchi style side of cabbage.

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It came together so well and Fabio and I both agreed that we loved this meal! We are going to see if we can find these kinds of buns in the grocery store. 🙂

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Yum!

After dinner we had some ice cream for dessert, and I don’t even remember if I watched anything on TV or just called it a night. I do remember feeling exhausted!

Question of the day: Do you have a ritual that you do before a big day?

 Posted by on October 12, 2016
Oct 062016
 

Hey guys! How’s your week going?

I have a pretty exciting life update to share with you guys today…I got a new job! Today is actually my last day at work, which means that things are super busy as I try to wrap everything up. I wanted to check in with you guys yesterday with a “day in life” type of post, and I was planning to get a Favorite Things Friday post up for you tomorrow, but with all the extra work as I try to wrap up projects plus multiple going away happy hours (my coworkers are the best) I haven’t had much time to sit down and blog. I hope you understand! Hopefully I’ll be back with more updates next week and can tell you how the new gig is working out.

So, why the change? Well, as some of you may know, I currently work for a small nonprofit organization dedicated to the treatment and prevention of obesity. I work in PR/Communications for this organization, and I truly, truly love what I do. What could be better than having a full-time job where I can communicate about health and wellness?

Unfortunately, this organization is just really small, and after 2.5 years of working with the group I feel like I’ve hit the ceiling. With a new house and a wedding to plan, I need to make sure that I’m continuing to grow professionally so I can pay my bills. #adulting

The new job is with a much larger nonprofit organization (with a huge communication/PR department!) that is dedicated to treating and preventing diabetes, so it’s still very health and wellness focused. It’s also a little more patient-centered (my current organization really works with doctors and researchers), so I think I’ll feel like I’m making a bigger impact and helping to improve people’s health on a more personal level. It’s also a huge step up for me (I’ll be an Associate Director and managing two people – yikes!) so it’s really good for my career (and paycheck! Woop woop!).

Anyway, I’m really excited about this new chapter, but of course it’s a bit sad to leave behind the amazing team I’ve been working with for the last couple of years. I’ve been so lucky to work with them!

I’ll try to pop in here with a post tomorrow but realistically I’m just not sure if I’ll have time to give you guys an update. If I don’t get around to it then I will check in with you on Monday, which is my first day at the new job! Eek!

Question of the day: How many jobs have you had in your career?

This will be my third!

 Posted by on October 6, 2016
Sep 282016
 

Hey there! Thanks so much for the birthday wishes! I had an awesome day yesterday, which I’m planning to tell you more about later this week. Today though, we’re not talking about birthdays. We are talking about the things that I’m learning you have to deal with when you’re a homeowner, which I guess also coincides with getting older.

On Monday night, the night before my birthday, I was treated to a nice welcome to adulthood. Hello, 27! Aren’t you fun. 😉

This story involves references to unwanted critters in our home, so if you are squeamish about pests then stop reading right here. Megan, I’m talking to you.

Ok, so. Where to begin.

You may remember that earlier this month Fabio and I were dealing with a spricket and mouse issue in the storage room under our stairs. As a refresher: sprickets – which look like a cross between a spider and a cricket and are actually called camel crickets – happen to be the favorite food of mice (or something like that). If you don’t get rid of your sprickets it could draw mice into your home, making it a lovely double whammy of a pest problem. We had been seeing a few sprickets here and there from the time we moved into our house, and then a couple of weeks ago we saw a mouse. Ugh.

At the time, we sent Jack and our friends’ dog Tully (who we were dog-sitting) into the storage room to chase off the mouse, and bought a bunch of traps from Home Depot. We didn’t see the mouse again after that, so I (naively) thought the dogs had scared it off and our mouse problems were over.


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At around that same time, our light bulb went out in the storage room, and while I was too skeeved out to spend much time in there, I still didn’t see any mice so I didn’t think much of it. Then a couple of days ago Fabio replaced the light bulb in there, and then shortly after that he noticed mouse droppings in the coat closet (which is nowhere near the storage room). Our friends were over at the time so he quietly vacuumed them up and didn’t say anything about it (!!), but then on Monday night he declared that we needed to go to Home Depot to “solve our mouse problem.” I, of course, had no idea that our mouse problem needed to be solved, so this was definitely a surprise to me.

Anyway, off to Home Depot we went, where we spent way too much money buying mouse traps. As soon as we got home, we sat down to eat dinner and all of a sudden Jack ran over to the coat closet and started sniffing loudly at the crack under the door. He also started wagging his tail and acting really odd, so Fabio abandoned his dinner and went over to the closet.

When he opened the door, Jack immediately lunged into the corner and started trying to get at something. Our vacuum cleaner was in the way, so Fabio ran and got a broom and then moved the vacuum. Once he did that, Jack really lunged into the corner, and then I saw a mouse scurry out of the closet and run around in a circle. Obviously I did what anyone would do in this scenario, which was scream at the top of my lungs and stand on top of the couch cushions so the mouse wouldn’t touch my feet.


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The mouse then went back into the closet (I guess because there was nowhere to hide) and Jack continued sniffing him out. Then the mouse ran out a second time, and this time he went right between Jack’s legs (Jack didn’t even see him, and kept sniffing in the closet).

Good job, Jack.


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Luckily Fabio did see the mouse, so he whacked him on the head with the broom (while yelling, of course). Unfortunately, he didn’t hit him hard enough because the little guy kept running and finally hid under the couch. Where I was standing.

At this point I was terrified: I couldn’t get off the couch because the mouse might touch my feet, but I desperately wanted to get off in case it decided to crawl up onto the couch. Basically I was standing on the cushions going like this:


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Literally.

Finally, Jack realized the mouse was no longer in the closet (seriously, it took him forever to figure this out) and he came around to sniff under the couch after Fabio and I both pointed him in the right direction. The mouse scurried out from under the couch and Fabio was able to hit him again with the broom. He hit him about 5 or 6 times (yelling each time – it was hysterical) and then even when the mouse was dead, he hit him a few more times (LOL).

When we were both sure the mouse was dead, Fabio used the dustpan to throw it in the trash while I cleaned mouse blood and brains off the carpet. This is when I realized that being 27 and having these adult responsibilities is maybe not all fun and games.

You better believe we set up all the traps before we went to bed.

Oh, and the next day? My birthday? I took the trash out (in the rain) and when I came back inside I was greeted to a gigantic spricket. Happy birthday to me!

Question of the day: Have any funny pest stories?

 Posted by on September 28, 2016
Sep 232016
 

Hey friends! Happy Friday! Life is good over here – two of my best friends are staying with us through the weekend (unfortunately due to sad circumstances). Britt drove down from Boston, and Catrina flew in from California. It sure has been fun having them here! Plus tomorrow we have plans to go bridesmaids dress shopping and then out to brunch with a huge group of our friends for my birthday (which is on Tuesday!), and originally I didn’t think they’d be able to make it since they live so far away. I’m so happy they are going to be able to come now! 🙂

Anyway, I’d rather spend time snuggling with them on the couch than sitting over here at the computer, so I’m going to keep things short today and just leave you with some snapshots of my evening with them. 😉

When I came home from work, I was greeted with fun music, a cocktail, and three of my favorite people on the planet (plus Jack).

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I saw that Catrina and Britt had written on our “I Love You Because” board. 🙂

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I had written “you protect me from the Demogorgon” after we finished watching Stranger Things, and they added “you let the gurlays move in” since they’ve been working remotely from our house while Fabio and I head into the office.

After our cocktails, we all took Jack on a walk to the park.

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<3

And then we hit up Whole Foods for some groceries for the weekend, as well as hodge-podge dinners from the hot bar/salad bar.

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Only the fanciest meals at casa Fabio and Chelsea. 😉 (Don’t worry, we are cooking a real meal tonight.)

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I layered the bottom of my box with spinach and mixed greens, and then tossed lots of other goodies on top. The mac and cheese was phenomenal. So cheesy! Plus I have leftovers for lunch today. Woohoo!

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Britt and I also got these coconut date rolls for dessert. They were very tasty, but reminded us a bit of snowy dog poop, haha! I had a hard time finishing mine after that comparison, but don’t worry, I still did. 😉

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Alright, I’m heading back to my gurlays on the couch to finish watching this game. Byeee!

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Question of the day: How often do you get to see your long-distance best friends?

Never often enough!!

 Posted by on September 23, 2016
Sep 162016
 

Local friends, what are you doing on Sunday, October 16, at 6:00 pm? Nothing? Good – then you are free to join me at the Whole Foods on P Street in Logan Circle for a dinner with Pacers Running!

At the dinner, I will be talking about all the usual stuff you see on CET: how to balance a healthy lifestyle through meal planning, fitness, and a ton of fun thrown into the mix. You’ll also enjoy a three-course meal with beer and wine (woohoo!) and you can meet other fitness fanatics in the area. This is a great way to network and connect with others like you (perhaps you’ll meet a new running buddy?), enjoy a relaxing Sunday dinner, and get some tips on how to realistically balance the craziness that life brings with a few healthy habits.

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Truthfully, I’m honored that Whole Foods and Pacers Running invited me to speak at this important event, but I’m also feeling a bit nervous about the whole thing! Public speaking is not something I have too much experience with, but I’m thinking that with a glass of wine in my hand I should do ok. 😉 One thing that would help me a lot is to see some of your friendly faces and know that you – my most faithful readers – are cheering me on from your seats! I’m also really looking forward to meeting you guys and talking to you during the event. 🙂

If you’re interested in coming, tickets are $65 and you can reserve your seat here.

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I hope to see you there on October 16!

Question of the day: If you were going to come to a dinner where I was speaking (please come if you can!) what you want to hear me talk about?

 Posted by on September 16, 2016
Sep 142016
 

Hi friends! I didn’t really have anything specific to chat with you about today, so I thought it would be a good time to post a fun blog survey. Feel free to play along in the comments below! 🙂

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate, 100%. (Except when it comes to ice cream, in which case I prefer vanilla with chocolate toppings.) I would say that if there’s one food I crave more than any other, it’s chocolate. After almost every meal I wind up wanting something chocolatey, and it’s taken me a lot of practice over the years to not give in to those cravings every time. I’m still not perfect, but I’ve learned to stop buying bags of chocolate chips from the store because I can now admit to myself that eating a whole bag without ever having baked with them is not ok. Semisweet chips are my nemesis!

Photo from my mini banana oatmeal chocolate chip muffins. Love those!

Innie or Outtie?

I have an in innie! Confession time: In high school when I was on cheerleading, I really wanted to get my belly button pierced. A few of my friends on the squad had theirs pierced, and I thought it was what all the “cool girls” were doing. Luckily for me (in hindsight) I was self-conscious of my weight at that time so I never did it. Thank goodness.

Oh hey, it’s Hana and Bianca!

I’m on the bottom there somewhere…

Hot, Hot Summer or Snowy Winter?

Hot summer! I loooove the summer and am one of those people who embraces the feeling of coming outside from an air conditioned building and feeling a wave of hot, humid air hit you in the face. I even kind of like getting into the car in the summer when it’s super hot. Something about the summer just makes me so happy, and lately I’ve been really trying to embrace my walks with Jack where I’m wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops because I know these days are numbered. I think February and March are the worst months ever, and I’d trade them for July and August any day.

Save or Spend?

Save. I am actually a really frugal (cheap?) person, and I hate to spend money when I don’t need to. I am not the sort of person who will shop at Bloomingdales or Nordstrom (even though I love them) because I know I can find better deals at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. I think I’ve gotten even more frugal since I started dating Fabio almost 8 years ago (!!) because he really is a budget master. This winds up being good for us though because it allows us to spend money on buying a town houseplanning a wedding, and traveling! I think saving really helps us to prioritize the things that we really want to spend money on. (Although I could use some new workout gear from Lululemon…)

Photo from our recent trip to Colombia!

Elliptical or Treadmill?

Meh – I’m not really a fan of either of these but I’ll say treadmill because it’s more versatile. Plus, you can always find a good treadmill workout to mix things up!

Banana or Apple?

I eat both of these almost every day, but I’ll have to go with bananas here. I can’t say I get too excited about an apple, but when I have a banana that’s perfectly ripe I actually get excited to eat it. Is that weird?

Morning or Night?

Morning! I am without a doubt a morning person, and I get so much energy from getting up and getting things done early in the day. Fabio is a night person and prefers to do all his productive activities right when I’m getting ready for bed, and it drives me nuts! By 10:45 pm, and I am already asleep. And, even though I hate when the alarm goes off at 5:00 am, I’d much rather get up and get stuff done at that time of day.

Love or Money?

Love. Does anyone ever choose money for this question?

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Photo from our engagement session in Jamaica!

Lip Balm or Lipstick?

Lipstick! While I will always carry a tube of Burt’s Bees Lip Balm in my purse, lately I’ve gotten really into lipstick and now have a bunch of fun colors in my purse as well! I think adding some lipstick to a normal ensemble can make things a little more fun, and I’m trying to make a conscious effort to wear it more often. 🙂

Pictured above: Urban Decay matte lipstick in the color Tilt

Alone or with others?

I have a lot of fun when I’m with others, but I like being alone too. Since I grew up as an only child (although I now have an 11-year-old half-sister and a step-sister close to my age) I am used to entertaining myself and am totally fine when left alone. That being said, I was also a daycare kid and would spend 12 full hours at daycare with other children growing up, so I’m also good at talking to just about anybody. While there is nothing better than a fun weekend surrounded by all of my best friends, I also enjoy a wine, sushi, and Netflix binge night on my own.

Coffee or Tea?

Yikes – this is a tough one. I used to be a tea person all the way, and while I still enjoy my mugs of green tea, lately I’ve been drinking a lot more coffee! Ah! What has the world come to?

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Straight or Curly?

My hair is naturally straight – like don’t-blow-dry-it-or-straighten-it-at-all straight – so I like wearing it curly as a change of pace.

Oh look, it’s Hana and Bianca again, almost 10 years after that first picture. 🙂

Three Squares or Graze All Day?

Three squares during the week, but on weekends sometimes it’s two squares or more grazing. Since we eat more indulgently on the weekends, I don’t always eat three meals. During the week though, I need that three meal routine!

Right-handed or left-handed?

Right!

Beach or Mountains?

Beach! Although Aunt CC’s and Uncle Steve’s house in the Berkshires is making me consider the mountains much more.

So sad I missed the annual girls trip to Fire Island this year!

Mac or PC?

Mac! I use an iMac at home and a Macbook Pro at work, and although there are definitely some things that PCs do better, I like how Macs hardly ever seem to freeze, get viruses, or break down for no reason. Knock on wood.

Shy or Outgoing?

Outgoing. I can talk to anyone!

Question of the day: Your turn!

Beach or mountains?

Chocolate or vanilla?

Three squares or graze all day?

 Posted by on September 14, 2016
Aug 312016
 

Hey there! I had fun recapping my Monday last week, so I thought I’d do the same thing today. I hope you guys enjoy another edition of Monday in Review!

I woke up at 6:05 on Monday morning and began my day with a sleepy walk around the neighborhood with Jack. I let him run around off-leash at the park while I listened to a Bon Appetit podcast, so it was a nice way to start the day.

At 6:40, my chariot (Anne!) arrived to pick me up. We drove into Georgetown with a beautiful sunrise, and before we knew it we were sweating to another great workout at Urban Athletic Club.

We had a fun class taught by Romain which included some jump roping.

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I’m never very good at jump roping, but it definitely is fun and it’s a great way to get your heart pumping!

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This was our first class without our friend Kathleen, who actually wound up having her baby yesterday. Woohoo! Kathleen was such a trooper and kept the workouts going up until a few weeks ago. Amazing! Congratulations, Kathleen – we will miss you while you’re out!

After class, I hopped in the shower at UAC and then took the bus over to the metro. I’m reading a really good book right now called Katherine, so I really enjoyed my hour on the metro to read it.

Before I knew it, I had arrived at work and it was time to dig into breakfast: plain Greek yogurt drizzled with a little honey, plus a banana and homemade peanut granola from my favorite Eating in the Middle cookbook.

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This granola is like crack, and I’ve even found myself reaching for handfuls after dinner when I’m craving something sweet. It’s delicious!

My yogurt bowl tupperware was a little too small once I added all my toppings, but I was too lazy to grab a bigger bowl out of the office kitchen. #keepingitreal

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After working all morning I took a break for lunch, which was a salad with couscous, chicken, feta cheese, carrots, Craisins, and avocado. Plus balsamic dressing. Yum! I picked up some pearl couscous during my last trip to the grocery store, and I’m liking these larger rice-like grains a lot!

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While I ate I read some blogs at my desk (ugh I know – I should have gone outside, but my email inbox kept pinging and it was hard to totally step away) and then it was back to work.

I took a break at around 3:30 (like usual) for a snack! On Monday I had a peach and a mug of raspberry green tea.

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Sadly my peach was a bit of a dud – it was sort of mealy/flavorless – so I wound up tossing it after a couple of bites. Boo.

After work, I walked over to 8407 Kitchen Bar to meet two of my old coworkers for dinner! (One of whom is my friend Claire, who you guys hear about often!)

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8407 Kitchen Bar is a fun little spot that’s sort of tucked away from the main drag of downtown Silver Spring, and they have great happy hour specials and delicious food. We wound up ordering spinach artichoke dip, calamari, and deviled eggs (all unpictured because I was having too much fun chatting) and then a while later we wound up ordering a second order of the deviled eggs because they were so yummy.

Having dinner with my old coworkers made me realize how much I miss working with them every day, but it also made me feel incredibly lucky that we still keep in touch as much as we do. It’s important to keep up those relationships!

Claire rode the metro home with me up until Noma (man, I miss being her neighbor!) and then I rode the rest of the way home by myself. I actually wound up getting caught up in reading and responding to emails once Claire got off the train, and I went two stops farther than I needed to on the metro! Oops – that never happens!

Luckily I realized my mistake and quickly got back on a train in the other direction, but then when I got to metro center to transfer trains I forgot I was on the opposite side of the platform as usual, and got on another train in the wrong direction! Ah!

At this point I started reading my kindle which sucked me in for a while, and eventually I looked up to see what stop we were at and I realized I had gone pretty far in the wrong direction – again. Of course when I got out to transfer there were no trains coming for a while, so I waited at the deserted L’enfant Plaza station for a while.

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Eventually a train came, but it was a blue line train which only goes as far as Rosslyn (I needed orange or silver). I quickly called Fabio and asked if he could pick me up from Rosslyn since the next orange or silver trains would be another 12 minutes. Luckily he agreed, and before long I was in Rosslyn waiting for my second chariot of the day.

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Ugh – what a nightmare. And I didn’t even have any wine at dinner! Sheesh! I wound up not getting home until almost 10:00, and by that time I was ready for bed.

The end!

Question of the day: When was the last time you made a stupid travel blunder?

 Posted by on August 31, 2016
Aug 242016
 

Hi friends! Those of you who are long-time CET readers know that reading is one of my favorite passions in life, and I plow through books like nobody’s business. In fact, I have a weirdly close relationship with my Kindle, and even though it cost me less than $130 it’s definitely one of my most prized possessions. Whether it’s getting lost in a book during my hour-long metro ride to work or reading a few pages in bed before falling asleep, nothing makes me happier than having a good book to read!

That said, I’ve read quite a few good books this summer (and unfortunately a couple of duds as well) so I thought I’d share a few of the highlights with you today. Maybe you’re hitting the beach one last time before summer ends or maybe you’re spending some time at the pool before it closes after Labor Day, but wherever your plans may take you, if you’re looking for book recommendations here are some of my recent favorites!

Love in the Time of Cholera

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Fabio’s sister Diane bought this book for me when we were in Cartagena since the Nobel Prize-winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is one of her favorite writers. I actually already had the book on my “want to read” list, so I was thrilled when she offered to get it for me as a souvenir. The book also takes place in Cartagena, which made it really fun to read once our trip was over.

Aside from all of that, I loved this book so much because of Marquez’s absolutely beautiful writing. While the plot is definitely interesting, the highlights of this book for me were the vivid descriptions of the setting and the interactions between the characters. Marquez uses the most mundane details that most writers would skip over to paint a realistic picture of what life is actually like for these characters. His writing is so complex and detailed that I actually had a hard time getting into this book for the first few pages, but once I got into it I had a hard time putting it down. When the book was over I felt like I had actually gotten smarter from reading it, and I felt like I probably would never read another book again that was written so beautifully. This one can be summed up in one word: wow.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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This is another book that had been on my reading list for ages, and when I decided to start reading it I honestly had no idea what to expect. This nonfiction book follows the journey of the author, Rebecca Skloot, as she uncovers the history behind Henrietta Lacks, a black woman living in 1950s Baltimore whose cells were taken from her unknowingly during a medical procedure, which wound up being a major contributor to medical science and helped find the cure to polio. Even today, most scientists have Henrietta’s cells in their labs, and they are still being used to find the cures to diseases like cancer and AIDS. The crazy part about this story is that even though Henrietta was a major contributor to modern day medical treatments, she was a poor black woman at the time (in fact her descendants are still poor today) and she had no clue her cells had even been taken from her by one of the only doctors who would treat black patients at the time.

This true story the author uncovers in her research is shocking, and it’s hard to imagine that just 60ish years ago, the U.S. was treating African Americans in this way. It was a really eye-opening book for me, and I felt like I was telling all my friends about this book as soon as I was done reading it.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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This book! Ah! I really loved this one. Someone recommended this book to me a while back, and for the life of me I can’t remember who it was. If it was anyone reading, then thank you!! As you may know, historical fiction is my favorite genre, and this one took me right into rural 19th century China where young girls were being foot-bound. This is a historical phenomenon I honestly didn’t know anything about before, but I always sort of wondered about it (maybe everyone does?). This book explains the whole process in detail, and it’s really interesting to see how this practice shaped Chinese culture.

Aside from the historical context of this book, I also really connected with the characters and empathized with them during their journeys. Excellent read!

Rebecca

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This was another book that I had on my reading list that I didn’t know anything about before picking it up. The fictional story takes place in England in the 1930s, which was actually when the book was written. It follows the story of a young girl who starts off as a poor maid to a rich old lady, who falls in love with a handsome man almost twice her age, marries him, and then finds herself in charge of his beautiful and famous manner on the water. The main character – who is weirdly not named throughout the whole story – is haunted by her new husband’s late wife, who seems to be everything she’s not. Whereas the main character is young, inexperienced, awkward, from a poorer background, and introverted, her husband’s late wife was beautiful, brilliant, funny, outgoing, well-bred, and commanding.

Again while the story line was interesting, the writing here is really what stood out to me. The author does a great job of making you feel exactly what the main character is feeling, which sometimes is awkward and very introverted behavior (these parts made me cringe!). It was a beautiful story with a couple of twists, and I’m planning to go back and reread this one in a couple of months.

A Man Called Ove

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Ok, this was a book I wanted to love but I think I just didn’t get it. This book had tons of great ratings and I even got a couple of comments from you guys saying you loved it, but I think it just wasn’t for me. While I did enjoy the character development of the grumpy old man named Ove – and I especially liked finding out why he was so grumpy – I didn’t like it enough to feel really wowed by the book and I was honestly kind of happy when it was over so I could move on to something else. In fact, I almost didn’t even include this book on this list but I know a lot of other people really enjoyed it and it wasn’t that I hated it or anything, so I am still throwing it up here. If you read this book and loved it, please enlighten me!

Want to see even more books I like? Check out my book reviews page and follow me on Goodreads!

Question(s) of the day: Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

 Posted by on August 24, 2016