Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On aerial yoga and stepping into my own skin.

(note: this post has been sitting in my drafts folder FOREVAH. As in, at its inception there was still multiple feet of snow on the ground. A lot has changed since I wrote it --example: I started training for a half marathon!-- but still, these words ring true so hey! let's chat about them, you know?) 

The body I live in right now is very different from the body I lived in two years ago... is very different from the body I lived in five years ago, and seven years ago, and ten years ago... and you see where I'm going here.

I recently added aerial yoga to my workout repertoire, and let me tell you-- it's kicking my Capital-B Bootay in more ways than one. I leave the studio every time with the weirdest sensation of being a bag of jelly bones + this crazy strong, zen'd-out acrobat. Also? It's forced me to face my body head-on.
note: this is not aforementioned swan pose. bummer. but do
you know how difficult it is to take selfies during class? sigh. 
In class the other week, I was struggling with swan pose-- hooking the silks over my hips and letting myself fly forward, held only on a literal wing (the pose is modeled on a swan, after all) and a prayer. I settled into a rhythm, hands clasped and hips squared, up on my tip toes, ready to fly... and I couldn't. Scratch that-- I wouldn't. The thought of taking my feet off the ground suddenly went from basic motor movement to insurmountable everest of a task. I leaned in, and felt the pressure on my hips. Nope, ease off. Took another step forward, ready to go. Nope. Whether that block was physical or mental, I don't know (though I have a sneaking suspicion it was both, as most things are). 

"Just go for it," I heard my friend call from the hammock next to mine. "It feels so much better when you just let go." I laughed and threw something like a 'nice metaphor, what are you-- writing my blog post for me?' back at her, but of course she was right.

It doesn't matter if my body looks like that tiny pixie instructor or the mama-of-three swinging in the hammock next to me-- in fact, I'd rather have neither. I'd rather show up in my own skin and see what happens. It didn't take me long to pull off a swan all by myself-- in fact, only one class later I was swinging with ease, flipping into poses I hadn't yet dreamed I could do. My ever-wise friend was right, of course-- it happened so easily when I just let go. In the meantime, I'm enjoying seeing what this body can do. Who knows what it'll be like in two months, five months, a year-- I'm only interested in the here and now, really. I only want to pull myself up against the force gravity and see what it feels like to be supported solely by myself. And fly, of course.



Monday, June 23, 2014

25 Things in my 25th Year

photo courtesy my awesome roomie. jazz hands courtesy excitement over hearing wild seals in San Francisco.

I was out for a run with a friend of mine the other day and shared my surprise that my birthday was almost here & I'd barely thought about it. This, if you know me, is unusual (oh, birthdays. I love you).  She smiled, laughed & said 'it's because things are so good right now!' And at the risk of sounding like a giant cheeseball-- I think she's right. Easily, 24 has been the best year of my life thus far. I've been thinking about everything that this year has brought me, and I just can't wipe this stupid grin off of my face. 

I began writing these birthday lists as a practical, let's-do-this approach to owning my life for the last five years, purposefully shaping the bigger picture into a story I'd be proud to tell-- and frankly, it's worked. Coming up with this list for 25 was a little difficult in the best way possible. No longer do I feel the need to write it down on paper to try something new, no extra pushes are necessary to step outside of my comfort zone. For the most part, I step outside of my comfort zone on a regular basis without the same fear that used to accompany it (except for some things-- I'm lookin at you, 'cook a whole chicken'). 

So today, on my 25th birthday, as I stare in the mirror at the bare freckled face I once had to convince myself to leave makeup-less, I'm happy. I'm genuinely proud of the life I'm living, and I'm ready to set the intention for another spectacular year on this planet. Let's do this, 25!

1. Try stand-up paddle boarding. Also try not to fall off and drown.
2. Make my own hula hoop. Become this girl.
3. Run a half marathon (!!)-- is this cheating because I've already signed up for a race and I've been training for the last two months? Oh well. More to come on this, probably, because I actually enjoy distance running. Who am I? What did I do with Mary?
4. Go berry-picking at a local farm.
5. Make cheese. Eat it. Repeat.
6. Buy a set of acrylic paints & some canvas so that I can paint at home. Where, in my tiny apartment will I find room to paint? Let's cross that bridge when we come to it.
7. Go social-media free for a week. I feel oddly zen about this. Bring it, quietude of my mind.
8. Make gluten-free fish & chips at home. This is the one food that I haven't been able to sufficiently replace since my celiac diagnosis, and I miiiiisssss it. Dangit, remnants of my London study abroad. This will also hopefully serve to conquer my intimidation of a) cooking fish other than salmon and b) deep-frying things without burning them. Fingers crossed.
9. Go zip lining. Does this exist outside of tropical rain forests? Specifically, in the upper midwest? Also, did I mention I'm moderately scared of heights? As in, not when I'm in tall buildings but yes when I'm strapped to a piece of twine with no soft place to fall. This'll be fun.
10. Do an unassisted yoga headstand.
11. Do 25 Random Acts of Kindness (RAOKs). Tally but don't blog about them because hello, defeating the purpose.
12. Try a ballet barre fitness class. Resist urge to dress in the leotard, tutu + topknot uniform from the ballet classes of my youth.
13. Write some fiction. Fun fact: when I was 10, I wrote a 200+ page fantasy novel on our family's ancient PC. My ever-loving parents humored the crap outta me and helped me print and bind it and everything. I can guarantee you it is a cringeworthy terrible Harry Potter mimic, but still. Writing fiction for fun went out the window way back in high school & I'd like to try it again, just to see. I can also one billion percent guarantee that whatever I write will never see the light of day, so this shouldn't feel as intimidating as it does. Right?
14. Go geocaching.
15. Do some financial planning. Student loans are due, man. Time to put on my big girl pants and plan for the future.
16. Visit a new city! The ultimate goal is at least one place I've never been at least once a year. Last year was San Francisco-- who knows where this year will take me!
17. Try the November Project. As a general rule, I dislike bootcamp-esque things. But this past year has been about kicking my own butt and after reading Ali's blog post & doing a little hunting for a November Project in my town, I can't not give it a try. Free and awesome and butt-kicking and local? Sign me up.
18. Drive. In. Movie. This has been on my list for millennia, apparently. It's happening this year. (done 6/27/14)
19. Drink raw liver smoothie shots consistently for a week. Oof, apparently I'm a glutton for weird food punishment. I finally put on my big girl pants and made chicken liver mousse this year and surprise surprise, I loved it. Surprise surprise, raw liver still eeks me out. Surprise surprise, pastured liver is phenomenal for you and so now I must give it a whirl and see how it makes me feel!
20. Learn how to change a flippin' tire. I skipped Life Skills 101, I guess.
22. Try canning something. Try not to let my innate desire to ignore directions and do my own thing cause a massive jam explosion in my kitchen.
23. Get my hair done at a blow-dry bar because I'm fancy and a grownup and I can.
24. Keep saying yes.
25. Give love like it grows on trees. Practice forgiveness like I'm made out of it. Let go of the rules and just enjoy. Listen to my gut. Stand with feet planted firmly in the earth & head far up in the clouds. Look for the magic, leave every person and every day better than I found them, take deep breaths. Be grateful. Be happy. :)



Monday, April 21, 2014

daily outfit: shake the dust

Well. It's been a long winter, hasn't it? 
shirt: french connection; pants: old navy; sparkle flats: kohl's 
"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." --Charles Dickens
I've had these photos sitting in my drafts folder for a few weeks because frankly, I just couldn't find the right words. Try as I might, winter always leaves me a little foggy. A bit dust-covered. I don't realize it until I find myself sitting in the sunshine, barelegged for the first time in many long long months. Then it becomes so abundantly clear just how lacking this winter has left us all.

                  

It's so strange to think that it was only a few weeks ago, on the precipice of spring, that I had reached the point that I maybe truly definitely believed I might never feel warm again (as evidenced by my eagerness to shed my coat in these pictures. It might look warm, but it was definitely still hovering over a balmy 34 degrees). We'd all past the point of cabin fever long ago, hadn't we? And eventually, after so many mornings waking to snow covered cars and ice-tipped eyelashes, you begin to believe you're doomed to live, grumpily, in an ice-covered igloo forever and ever amen.


And then. The scales tip. The sun comes out. Just like that, my tank feels filled again, effortlessly. 


And so, thankfully, finally, it's time to shake off the winter dust. I am a sucker for a metaphor, drawn to the possibilities of a changing season like a bloom to the sun (there we go again). And so. Things are growing. New life springs forth,  and all that jazz.  Oh, spring. It's so very good to see you again. 

photos courtesy of sara bill photography!



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

24 Things: the great roundup

Oh hello there! It's been a while since we've had a life list update, hasn't it? I might not have been writing about it all, but I've definitely been checking things off one by one!

Let's take a look at all the things that have happened since our last check-in:

                             

1. Go total curly girl method for at least 30 days (done 11/13). Can I just say this was a little anti-climactic? Going sulfate-free helped my curls immensely, but I did that like, two years ago. My curls are still curlin' away, but it appears it's not going to be as simple as just co-washing to figure them out! I'll persist, mostly because I just can't quit you, curls. 

3. Host another clothing swap & donate the rest to the awesome organization where I did my clinicals (done 9/16/13) Heyo! This is still my favorite thing. Cleaning out my closet + getting new clothes for free + lady bonding time + donating heaps of quality things to worthy organizations? It's like all my favorite things in one neat little package. 

13. Host/go to a red wine tasting, learn more specific details besides just: um... I like it. (done 3/27) Guess what! Wine is good. Surprise surprise. I think there's plenty more to learn here, so this wasn't a one-and-done, but some friends and I hosted a wine pairing night at my apartment and let me tell you, it was fantastic (and thank goodness I was already home because man, two glasses of wine and I'm a goner).

16. Nail down some definitives on my N=1 experiment. (never done, of course-- but kicked into high gear in March!) Did you know that my body does not like dairy? I KNOW. Dear thyroid, quit your shenanigans, please. But the great news is I'm feeling great-- I'll report more soon if anyone is interested! 
                              
17. Make paleo donuts (done 2/1/14). The long & short: I made them. They were tasty. Unfortunately as much as I wished it into existance, they did not taste like chemical-bomb krispy kremes. Just because I don't eat them doesn't mean I don't still dream about them, friend. But it was a fun experiment and I will definitely be trying more recipes!

15. Take a trip (done 3/7-3/10). Three of my favorite people and I packed up for a long weekend in San Francisco to celebrate our beautiful friends' beautiful wedding and it was a mush mush weekend of love and excellent food and uber rides and large golden-y, gated bridges and did I mention I love exploring new cities? Because I do. More! I want to go to all the places!

20. Pay off my credit card bill entirely. (done 3/28) This was BY FAR the greatest, most anticlimactic thing on this list. I was laying in bed one Friday morning, realized that I had the final payment ready to go and a few button-clicks on my iphone later, it was paid off. No-Spend January was a rousing success in that not only enabled my San Francisco adventure, but let me finally check this one off my list and it feels GREAT. I love knowing this isn't hanging over my head anymore, and now I feel really prepared to tackle those student loan payments looming on the horizon (only slight sarcasm here)!


hangin' out. (ask how often I make
that pun. wait, don't.)
21. Spend at least 30 minutes each day in activities that make me slooow down, gets my mind outta the way & help me connect & feel physically strong. (never fully done, but in full-on-loving-this mode since autumn). I've always loved being active, but I was so willy-nilly about it-- never scheduling anything in, doing activities that didn't feel challenging or fun, getting bored on the treadmill or heck, even on my outside runs when it was just the same monotonous thing, week after week. But since I've joined a new gym, started really learning how to strength train, do sprint workouts, hike new paths, walk to my favorite practices at my local yoga studio, challenge myself mentally + physically at aerial classes-- I just can't be bothered to be bored being active anymore. I think it's safe to say I've found my sweet spot, and I like it here. Plus hello, muscles. Hello, squat booty. Hello, kick@ss aerial flip skills. Hellooooo, sprint PRs after long days to bangin' 8tracks playlists and endorphin highs for hours. Yes, definitely. I like it here. 




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Happy Belly Book

I like to think of myself as a balanced contradiction.

I'm the girl with her nails always painted who'll happily muck herself up on a camping trip if it means getting to sleep under the stars. I equal parts know all the lyrics verbatim to every James Taylor song AND every rap song that the 90s left in their wake. My love for bacon and crossfit-style squat workouts is surpassed only by my undying devotion to my home-brewed kombucha and hours spent on my yoga mat. I know. I don't get it either.

hi-lighted within an inch of its life
So I suppose it should come as no surprise that I'm not a big fan of dietary labels. While I may eat close to a certain set of guidelines, I am more of a 'learn as you go' type of girl. Something may work today, but who knows what will work tomorrow? Life is learning process, isn't it? Anyways, I have a point, promise. I was recently approached to review Happy Belly by Nadya Andreeva, a book focused on digestive health through the practical application of Ayurvedic techniques (traditional Indian medicine) in both diet and lifestyle. From the outside, one might think that Aryuveda and a real-food, omnivorous diet (cough cough paleo cough) wouldn't mesh, but I'm here to happily tell you that's not the case.

My wise yogi sister practices some aspects of Ayurveda, so I'd been familiar with it-- but frankly, it seemed a little intimidating, so I never took the plunge into learning more (cop out!). You all know I'm blatantly honest about the things I tell you about on this here blog (even if that means giving a not-favorable review), but I am happy to report that Happy Belly totally exceeded all my expectations and then some. In the last year, my health priorities have gone from more superficial goals to being focused on balance and healing-- mainly, digestive and hormonally. Happy Belly is a treasure trove of how-tos on not only healing your gut, but maintaining a balanced lifestyle that best supports health and healing overall. 

see that thumbs up? my belly is happy.
so is the rest of me, because I was headed to yoga!
hence the sloppy appearance, naturally.

While I'm not sure I'll ever fully buy into an Ayurvedic perspective (but I'll be first to admit that could change!), there are definitely things I've already implemented into my day-to-day routine that have already surprised me with their awesome results. I've been toying around with Ayurvedic recipes like this bangin' yellow lentil squash soup (adjectives are my own-- but it's really that good) or simple, easily digestible kitchari for breakfast. I've figured out my predominant dosha and have started implementing spices tailored to my own particular properties. I've been tongue-scraping (although I've technically been doing that since December-- thanks, yogi sister, for getting me hooked!) and dry-brushing regularly and as a result, have had the best oral & lymphatic health of my life. I'm scaling back a little on the dairy (sniff, sniff, I miss you cheese), particularly in combining it with anything else. Nadya's take on food combining is a fascinating and easily digestible (pun absolutely intended) approach on something that seems to me so equally foreign/complicated and vital for good gut health. If anything, this book has been an excellent primer into the next step of health and healing for me, and I can't wait to learn more. The only things I'd liked to have seen more of in the book are recipes and more concrete steps into implementing Aryuvedic practices into your life if this is your first foray into such things. Information is super awesome, but I am the type of learner who likes to hear the big-picture things and then be given the specific steps to implement those changes into my life right away. From the 'barely tip of the iceberg' that I've learned about Ayurveda thus far, I can tell it's multifaceted and likely more complicated than any one book could impart-- but I can't tell if it's a positive or a negative that reading Happy Belly has left me wanting even more! 

outtakes: yoga clothes and silly face style
If you're interested in gut health and the way it impacts overall health like I am (or are interested in taking the tenants of an anti-inflammatory diet one step further), I'd absolutely recommend checking out Happy Belly. Nadya's asked me to share that if you purchase the book before March 21st, you'll get a whole bunch of great bonuses-- a PDF toolkit, a cookbook (both of which I've gotten a chance to read and have loved! I told ya-- the specifics. I am a fan.), access to a 2-hour panel on digestive health, a self-care kit and an intro to Aryuveda e-book. Thanks again to the Happy Belly team for sharing this awesome resource with me - and I promise to report back on my little Ayurvedic experiment after a few months' time! 



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

#1book1life

Time for a little something different.

I have spent the last few days trying to start this blog post and coming up short on the right words every single time. Blogs, true to nature, tend to be a little vain-- let's face it, everything I write here is, hello, about me-- but today is much more important than that. 

A few years ago through a series of serendipitous events that sound straight out of a friendship fairytale, I met an incredible musician & now-friend named Kelsey Kufner. Fast forward oh, five years to last week, when she contacted me asking if I'd like to be a part of a movement to save lives + share the story of living a spectacularly un-ordinary life in the process, to which I obviously jumped at the chance.

Here's the long + short of it: every year, 1.2 million people die of malaria (life-threatening, but curable) simply because medicine is not readily available. And it's not a complicated fix, either-- one lifesaving pill costs only $4, but yet access is limited. Cost and supply are still barriers that require a little work to circumvent, but clearly, with the right resources, it's not an insurmountable feat. Authors Seth (of needtobreathe, only one of my favorite bands ever) & Chandler Bolt have set out to save 10,000 lives by buying 10,000 lifesaving malaria pills. How? They've written an incredible ebook (Breaking Out of a Broken System) about living a life that is anything but ordinary-- stepping outside of what seems like the stereotypically predestined path and instead choosing to live boldly, authentically, spectacularly-- even when it seems easier to follow the status quo. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at what they're written, and I absolutely inhaled it. This book is raw, it's real, it challenges expectations and dares you to do something greater. 

How do these two things connect? Working with Palmetto Medical Initiative, the Bolt brothers have crafted an incredible plan to effect real change. 100% of the profits from the sale of this book will go towards the purchase of these lifesaving malaria pills-- in fact, the sale of one book = the price of one pill. Hence, one book saves one life. Pretty sweet tradeoff, yes? And could it be more beautifully poetic that a book set out to change the world has such an impact not just figuratively, but literally as well?  One book, one life. 

This video does an incredible job of explaining just what's at the heart of this mission: 


The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking back on one of my favorite quotes from Ram Dass-- "We are all just walking each other home." It is our responsibility to take care of this world, of each other. But so often I get bogged down in the day-to-day-- yes, the world is broken, and I am approximately one half of a blip on the grand-scheme radar, so how will I ever do enough to really make a difference? This. This is how. Doing what we can with what we have, working together, this is how differences are made, this is how the world is changed. Please consider taking $10 and donating to this incredible movement. One book, one life. It's that simple. 

You can find the Bolt brothers' book for sale here. More information on the Palmetto Medical Initiative here. And lastly, more info on their awesome mission can be found here



Saturday, February 22, 2014

review: cave cravings february box

Friends! Let's talk awesome things. Specifically, food-awesome. You all know that I've been eating within a paleo framework for the better part of three years, leading to my eventual celiac diagnosis, weight loss, health gains, blah blah blar all the good things. And honestly, after almost three years, it just feels like normal, real life now-- it doesn't require much effort or thought or explanation, it just... is. But the one thing that still gets me to this very day is snacks. 

I am a snacker, by nature. Give me a thousand tiny bowls of bite-sized goodies over a full meal any day (well, most days). And while eating a diet focused on nutrient density doesn't really require snacks on the daily, I like to always keep a few things on hand for on-the-go (and frankly, I am just a human with snack-loving written into her DNA). So when Cave Cravings contacted me about their new all-paleo (gluten & grain-free, unprocessed/real food) subscription box asking if I'd like to give it a whirl, my answer was of course an enthusiastic yes (or maybe it was more like 'GIMME'-- semantics, really). 

I thought it would be fun for their very first box to do a little taste-test review video-- recruiting the help of my fave roomie, Sara. Sara doesn't eat a paleo diet (though I like to think I'm rubbing off on her), but she is a fairly adventurous healthy eater regardless, so I thought she'd be a good third party balance to my... ahem, adventurously quirky palate. As always, even though I was sent the box for review, you know honesty is my best policy-- all opinions are honest & my own!

ps. apologizing in advance for the excessive amount of times I say 'I feel like'... ugh, Mary. 
Don't make this into a drinking game, surely that won't end well. 


Are you interested in checking out Cave Cravings? Find them here-- you still have time to hop on board for next month's box! 



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Currently: February, 2014

It's been a while since we've caught up, hasn't it? Like, really really caught up. Grab a cup of coffee (I'll wait)-- let's do this!
oh hello! dis is mah face today. I find it more helpful when we can see each other, namely, that I can show you my award-winning grumpy cat face.
Currently, I've been...

listening to: any, any, anything by Alex Boy√©. Have you heard of this dude? A friend of mine posted his increeeeedible cover of Let It Go from Frozen (still haven't seen it, lemme crawl out from this rock I've been hanging out under) and I absolutely lost myself in his youtube channel. He's got some incredible original songs up on his channel, but I'm absolutely losing it over his 'African-ized' covers of popular songs. This upbeat, uplifting, all-the-other-up-words cover of Ho Hey has been on solid repeat for the last 24 hours: 



reading: The Mercy of Thin Air, Ronlyn Domingue (the perfect blend of 'magical realism + human connection' that I just fall head over heels for-- still reading, I'll report back when I'm done!); If You're Not Yet Like Me, Edan Lepucki (this short story broke my heart wide open and flipped me sidesways and oh man, just spend the $5 on the ebook. read this.); Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed (as far as I'm concerned, Cheryl Strayed can do no wrong. Wild was incredible, this was amazing. Just... ugh. If you read one thing this year, make it this book.) 

                
Wanna geek out over literary goodness together? Come be my friend on goodreads!

kicking my bootay in the best way: aerial yoga. More on this to come, but oh man. I've been settling into a steady cardio + lifting routine with my roomie + adventure partner in crime that has been making me feel like a badass gym goddess (did you know that squats are super hot? why did nobody tell me?), so in the interest of pushing ourselves way outta our comfort zones and seeing what sorts of awesome feats we can tackle next, we signed up for a few aerial yoga classes. Like I said, I have lots of thoughts on what this experience has meant to me so far (coming soon, promise), but in the meantime, watch this chick. Seriously, this is the coolest practice.



eating: the world's most delicious, tollhouse-reminiscent grain free chocolate chip cookies, pans on pans on pans of these umami-packed caramelized carrots, bowls full of hearty, perfect-for-chilly-days smothered cabbage soup (really, more like risotto), this crazy-easy, stupid-good five ingredient spaghetti squash pizza casserole.

loving: wine corks as memory keepers. A friend of mine introduced me to this idea a month or two ago, and I've been all about it lately. I've been saving the bottle corks for everything from my blog launch to galentine's day to nights in with pizza + camp takota and I can't wait to have enough to fill up cute little jars all over my house. Such a fun way to remember the good stuff.

photo from a beautiful mess
That's all for me! What have you been up to lately? 



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A new look & a throwback story!

First things first: welcome to the new b+b! Isn't it pretty, you guys? Don't you just want to hop inside this color scheme and cuddle up & take a nap in that cute chalkboard font and skip along those stitched lines and and and...

I'm a little obsessed. Could you tell?

For the last year or so, my blog has taken a bit of a more decisive turn in a different direction, and whereas Undergrad Fab (throwback!) and the early days of b + b were all about me being all swf-dressing-myself, I feel more confident in the way this blog has become about every aspect of my life, doing what I do, exactly where I am. And well, that flowery purple just wasn't doin' it for me anymore.

Enter Amanda.
Amanda in pink, Beth in green. Do I not have the prettiest friends?! I know.
Can I tell you all a little story? Amanda and I met freshman year of high school, bonded by our nerdy love of Spanish class and musical theater. We became insta-friends and for four years, she remained high on my list of all-time favorite people. After we graduated from high school, we moved seven hours away from each other, and adult life went on as adult life is known to do, and we just drifted apart. After college, both of us eventually found ourselves in the same city again, and through a few random, completely coincidental turns of fate, our paths crossed again. Isn't that funny, how that works? Thank goodness for that bar-league sand volleyball team, for that boy I dated who just happened to know her boyfriend, for our sweet mutual friend Beth (more on her in a second!), for that gust of wind in just the right direction at just the right time that brought us back into each others' lives.

#tbt: babies! Or junior prom (2006). same/same. 
last year, freezin' our tushes off at a baseball game.
Over the last two years or so, I have been endlessly grateful for this girl - these girls - and their presence in my life. They wear so many hats in my life - running buddies, wine-bottle-finishers, relationship counselors, cheerleaders, you name it. I highly recommend that everyone finds an Amanda + Beth of their own (you can't have mine, of course)-- what I would do without them, I don't know.

This story has a point! And I'm just about to get there. At one of our more recent girls dinners, I was complaining to Amanda & Beth that I was desperately in need of a blog redesign, but didn't know where to begin. Amanda, a graphic & web designer by trade, immediately hopped in with her expertise, and of course, it didn't take me more than three seconds to put two and two together and hire her to give a new identity to my little corner of the internet. 

From the first moment we started, she gave me countless, countless options of logos, fonts & color schemes to choose from. Anything I could possibly want but didn't know how to put into words, she created it. That gorgeous logo up there? Was born because I told her I kinda liked that whole chalkboard-y hand-lettering thing... ish. Those beautiful, vibrant, cheerful colors? Came out of me pointing at every shade of the rainbow on various pinterest color boards and telling her I wanted something cheerful, vibrant, clean & simple but still punchy & quirky. Um...I think. Halp. 

In just a few weeks, she created something completely from scratch, more perfect than I ever could have imagined, exactly what I wanted but had no clue how to bring to life. She let me tweak and nitpick until the cows came home until she had redesigned more than just my 'brand' (ugh, that word though), but she had given this cherished space of mine the face I had always hoped for. And Beth - our test audience - was there at every turn, yes'ing and no'ing and ooh'ing and ahh'ing right along with me, helping me see the bigger picture and giving invaluable advice about what this design would look like from a reader's perspective. These girls, I tell ya. 



So the biggest thank you to Amanda for her incredible work, her persistence & patience and this beautiful design that will carry b + b through the exciting things ahead in the years to come. If you're interested in working with her, I cannot recommend her enough - check out her professional portfolio here to learn more about what she can do with some vague directions, an abundance of vision, and just a little bit of time.

I'd also like to thank throwback Mary circa 2003 who (unknowingly and) wisely chose to sit next to the friendly blonde in freshman Spanish class, thus ensuring that someday, we'd all find ourselves here-- so lucky am I to have such incredible (and talented!) friends.

Thank you again to the moon and back, Amanda-- and I'd love to hear what YOU all think of the new look here at b + b! 



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

daily outfit: hibernation

Self-care has been on my mind today.
coat: old navy; scarf: target; polka-dot tights: the limited; boots: dsw
We had an unexpected family emergency a few days ago, and while things seem to be okay for the time being, it gave me pause. I had to take a step back and look at where my priorities have been-- and as a secondhand result, it made me re-evaluate just exactly how much I've been (attempting to) balance on my plate these last few months. I've been saying yes to every commitment, filling every spare minute with more work to do, failing to prioritize sleep and calm and slow and man-- am I feeling it. Isn't that the way it goes? 



I think about something my wise yogi sister told me once-- that we humans are meant to hibernate in winter. Our most primitive instinct is to huddle up, safe from the elements, and slow down while the world pauses and freezes until springtime begins poke its head through the melting snow once again. Of course, we don't have to hibernate anymore, what with things like electricity and coffee and fleece-lined leggings (hello, lover). But, she tells me, it's still rooted somewhere in our human nature, and I believe it. Why is it that we can seemingly run on no sleep and nothing but beachside breeze to fuel our days in the summertime, but come winter, our tanks seems to empty no matter what we do? It's probably because the only way to fill it is to let ourselves hibernate every once in a while.



And so. Last night, tank feeling bone-dry, I canceled a night out. I stopped by the library for a new book on my way home from work, taking extra care to thoroughly crunch through the freshly fallen snow as I headed back to my apartment. I roasted a tray of carrots with dinner and cuddled up on the couch in front of two new episodes of Girls. I lit as many candles as I possibly could before our neighbors started to fear our apartment had gone up in vanilla-scented smoke. I finagled my hair into some sort of ridiculous scarf-covered top knot and actually took the time to oil-cleanse my face instead of hap-dashing my makeup off with a quick swipe. I made a cup of tea. I flossed. And I was all cozied up in bed before my roommate even got back from her last-minute nighttime Target run.



And lo and behold. I woke up this morning and didn't automatically reach for a cup of coffee to start my day. I hopped out of bed instead of rolled. I ate breakfast. And it wasn't in my car. My tank feels a little more full than it did yesterday, and sure enough-- I plan to continue to keep filling it a little bit every day. I have no intentions of running on empty again anytime soon.

These pictures were taken on a winter-y walk with a friend the other day, when the temperatures had just barely risen above freezing to the point that I almost began to believe spring was on its way. And I know that when it does, I'll gladly trade in my wool coats for bare legs and beach breezes, tank magically filled on sunshine and vitamin D. But until then, I'm realizing just how nice it feels to hibernate. 



Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook

It's confession time: I... may have overindulged a little bit this holiday season. Now, don't get me wrong-- compared to my pre-paleo, pre-celiac days, this was still an incredibly clean holiday. But still. One too many ugly sweater pub crawls (coconut milk eggnog, you tasty little stink) and gluten-free christmas cookies did me in. Typically when I'm about to start a sugar detox, I'm excited but always a little nervous to begin/say goodbye to my beloved dark chocolate, but this time-- I'm so ready for a reset I can't even tell you. Farewell, sugar crashes! I won't miss you, insatiable cravings and funky sugar-brain! Hellooooo, roasted veggies. Welcome, winter-y pot roasts and spicy breakfast bowls of zucchini soup. I think we're going to get along juuuust fine this January.

Of course, if you've been around a little while, you know this January marks the first anniversary of my very first 21 Day Sugar Detox (hop over here to read more about that) and coincidentally, the latest and greatest book from 21 DSD genius Diane Sanfilippo was released just in time! Last time, it was the official guide, this time, it's the companion cookbook. I've been eagerly awaiting this release, given how much I loved the first book (see my review here), so of course I was thrilled to be sent a copy for review.

l to r: cabbage-wrapped pork dumplings, the book!, zucchini noodles (zoodles) with creamy tomato sauce
Every time someone asks me for my advice on starting a sugar detox, my number one tip is to have plenty of good recipes for delicious food (that you'll actually want to eat) on hand. Nothing staves off a craving for cake like bacon, amirite? That's why I'm kind of in love with this cookbook. Every single recipe I've made has fit my three requirements: delicious, simple, healthy. So far, I've made the cabbage-wrapped pork dumplings (pictured above, and insanely good), zucchini noodles with creamy tomato sauce, kombucha jellies, butternut squash pancakes with vanilla bean coconut butter, 10-minute sliders, roasted garlic parsnip mash, and creamy cucumber salad. And you guys, this is just the beginning. Grain- and gluten-free pot pie is up next and I can barely handle myself. I've been so incredibly pleased with every single thing I've made so far.

But Mary! you're saying. Both of these books look so great, but what's the difference? Should I buy one? Both? What to doooo? Don't worry, I've got you covered. 

The guidebook is for you if:
  • You're a 21 DSD newbie who is looking for all the info on how to do this thing, all in one place
  • You want meal plans and in-depth explanations of the dietary benefits of a sugar detox
  • You're looking for details on the lifestyle components of a sugar detox
  • You want modifications for pescatarianism, breastfeeding, athletes, autoimmunity, etc.
  • You want a solid base of recipes in your wheelhouse & would prefer to not to be too overwhelmed right away
The cookbook is for you if:
  • You're looking for tons (100+) of delish, sugar-detox-friendly recipes
  • You're a detox pro and less interested in the background how-tof details and more interested in recipes
  • You're interested in meal plans with more options
  • You're looking for a way to clean up your diet (possibly without committing fully to a detox!) and want a solid source of healthy, delish recipes that won't wreck your healthy progress
  • You just like to eat good food, man (ding ding ding! Join the club.)
Honesty time-- had I not been sent these books for review, I would've immediately bought the cookbook with my own dollars and waited a bit on the guidebook, since I've been around the detox block a few times and felt like I didn't really need the introductory info as much anymore. However, knowing what I know now about both books, I would absolutely re-purchase both on my own in a heartbeat. While the food is the key for me, the information in the guidebook has been invaluable and so, so helpful in figuring out my own modifications and understanding for my best health. 

As always, if you have any questions about sugar detoxing, please feel free to shoot me an email! I love chatting with you all, especially about something that I feel so passionately about/has had such a positive impact on my health. You know where to reach me :) 



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

No-Spend January: The Plan

Starting January 1st, 2014-- I'm done spending money.
[x]
Okay-- maybe not entirely. But guess who's got two thumbs, an insatiable wanderlust and her very first student loan repayment looming on the horizon? Ahh, this girl. In an effort to reset all of the indulgences of the holiday season, I thought January would be a great time for a reset. I'll be doing another 21 Day Sugar Detox to reign in this little sweet tooth I've developed, and a little bit of a wallet detox to reset my bank account. Plus, now that school is... um, done (what!), I've got a to-travel list a mile long, and the only way any of that is going to happen anytime soon is if I start pinching pennies yesterday. And so begins my first no-spend month! Still with me? Let's Q some As! 

How's this gonna work?
I'll still be paying all of my fixed expenses and living expenses of course, but nothing above & beyond. Any food purchased will be from the grocery store and cooked in my tiny but cute apartment kitchen. Which, let's be fair-- is much more fun anyways. I love love looove to cook, but have found myself grabbing a quick dinner out with friends or swinging through Chipotle on my way home much more frequently than necessary-- time to put the kibosh on that.  It's tough to eat out anyways since my celiac diagnosis, and add a sugar detox on top of that and I can almost guarantee I'll be eating better at home than I would be out & about anyways. 

So you're just gonna be a hermit?
If you know me-- you know this doesn't mean I'll just hole up in my apartment for the entire month of January. I'll be focusing on exploring the free, fun things to do in my lovely little hometown and using this time to focus more on spending time with my favorite people (and myself!) rather than spending money

What happens if you have a spend-y emergency?
Obviously, I'm accountable to only myself here. Which frankly makes it feel all the more important for me to be really committed. Purchases will be categorized into wants/needs. Ingredients for a delicious, nutritious, not-too-spendy dinner to be cooked at home? Need. Big ole' cuppa joe on my way to work? Want. Make it at home, Mary. Make. It. At. Home. 

Why do we care?
Well, you don't have to, I suppose. Don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings if you decide my adventures in banking are kinda boring (they are). But of course, because hello, it's me-- I'll still be writing about my progress and the things I'm discovering along the way.

Above all else, this is a practicing in simplifying. Taking out all that white noise from the background of my life-- that manifests in things like a $6 burrito bowl here and there or a $9 sweater on sale at target because nine dollars-- and reminding myself what remains in the space in between. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next!