Ahhhhh… summer. My favorite time of year. It’s warm, there’s so much to do, and everything seems to be more saturated, more colorful, more alive from June through August.
Every year, I seem to countdown to summer like the kids in High School Musical 2 (a Disney Channel cinematic masterpiece, I would say). In fact, it’s one of the things H. mentioned to me after we started dating – that based on my social media profiles, one of the first impressions is that I’m slightly obsessed with the season.
It’s not an inaccurate statement. Summer brings freedom, high temperatures, and the best of the best about living in Milwaukee. There are many problems with this city, yes, but there’s something truly magical about a warm summer night on the East Side that steals my heart every single year. This summer is bittersweet, being my final summer to soak it all in (at least for the foreseeable future) – so I’m determined to make every minute count.
Thus, my 2016 Summer Bucket List. Some items are new, some are old favorites, many are free, and completing it all guarantees a memorable sending off from the city where I grew up. So, in no particular order, let’s get started:
Go to as many festivals as possible! (Milwaukee is the city of ‘fests – there’s one for nearly everything. And yet, I’ve only been to a few.)
That’s my list as it stands now, although I am open to suggestions and other events if you have more ideas! I’ve lived in this city nearly my entire life, but seem to discover new things to enjoy nearly every way I turn. What would you add to a summer bucket list – or what are you most looking forward to this summer?
Summer is here and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s my favorite season, from the weather (hello temps above 70 degrees!) to the food (fresh fruit galore! cooking out always!) – everything seems to come alive from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
This summer is bringing something new that’s been in the works for a while now… but it’s finally official enough to announce: I am moving to Washington D.C. in August!
(Add about a million exclamation points to that sentence – and then a million more. There isn’t enough punctuation in the world to share how excited I am.)
H. and I have decided to relocate to the nation’s capital and try living somewhere a bit different for a while. While H. has lived all over the country in the past half-dozen years or so – and in other countries across the world – I’ve lived 22 of my 23 years planted here in Milwaukee.
It’s time to give in to my curiosity and chase a new path.
We’ve been debating different places to move over the past few months (Boston, San Francisco, and Austin have also topped our list), but DC appears to be the perfect fit for our professional and personal goals. I’m looking forward to living closer to the ocean, soaking in all of the culture and history, and sampling food at all of the great brunch places I keep reading about, amongst many other things.
Six weeks from today, we’ll be living in our new city and getting to know our new home. It’s surreal to see those words in black and white; I’m sure it’ll start to feel more “real” as all of the logistics fall into place.
Until then, I’m going to continue making lists to ensure we cover all the small details, reading everything I can about DC, and spending as much time as possible with all my friends and family here.
And in 40 days? It’s Washington DC, here we come.
As you can imagine, summer became a bit accelerated when we finalized this decision – I’m trying to squeeze all my favorite things about Wisconsin into the next six weeks whilst preparing to move to a new city (and new time zone!). Later this week, I’ll share my bucket list for the next six weeks – and maybe you can help me figure out (free) things to look forward to in DC. Let me know in the comments, ok?
My dear readers, I am struggling to find the words to wrap my head around what happened over the weekend in Orlando. I know I keep it light and peppy on the blog, so I don’t want to linger over the crime and tragedy – but I am truly heartbroken and infuriated: for the victims, for their friends and loved ones, for the LGBT community, for our country. I couldn’t bring myself to write a post yesterday, and am struggling to do so today, but decided I would do a quick recap before reentering my cycle of watching-reading-obsessing over the news.
Before I get to it, let me say this: I am heartbroken and angry, but I am also proud of the overwhelming support, strength, and resilience in our country and in the LGBT community. The hundreds of people who lined up in Orlando to give blood, the thousands who gathered across the country in solidarity, the prayers and positive thoughts shared across the globe – these kind actions give me hope. If you’re looking to stand in solidarity, vigils and rallies are continuing this week. You can likely find one near you here.
What I’m Eating
Tacos, tacos, TACOS! H. and I are on a total Mexican food kick these days, so between making them at home and taste testing them at various restaurants on the Southside, it seems to be all we’re eating. No complaints here – I’m absolutely loving it.
Also, H. and I celebrated Pride this weekend at the lakefront. We had a blast eating our way through the festival (oh my gosh, deep fried cookie dough!) and sampling free goodies (fair trade chocolate, Barefoot bubbly… so many fun choices). It’s my favorite weekend of the year; I’m glad we got to take in all of the festivities one last time before we move later this summer.
How I’m Moving My Body
I took it incredibly easy this week because of the slightly nagging ankle I mentioned last recap. So easy that I didn’t even head out once – even though I desperately wanted to. I truly missed running this week and tomorrow will be truly joyous. It’s the first day I’ll be back out on the pavement… it’s time for HALF MARATHON TRAINING!
I’ve been reading articles and tips and tricks about training like crazy this week to get my “running fix” and prepare for the next fourteen weeks. I can’t wait to beat my own personal best in terms of time and distance throughout the coming 82 days – and I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it!
What I’m Reading
I’ve started to dig deep into the life of Hillary Clinton this week, reading her first memoir: Living History. I’m only two chapters in so far, but I want to ensure I do my due diligence on every candidate before casting my vote this fall. From what I’ve read so far – she’s definitely an excellent writer and storyteller.
The first week of LSAT studying has gone extremely well. I’ve taken three timed practice exams and one untimed one to gauge where my score and understanding is at before diving into my study schedule. I’ve pinpointed where I need to grow, developed a plan, and am ready to get right to it.
What I’m Watching
I started watching The Good Wife with H. over the weekend and I am hooked. It’s incredibly engaging, heartfelt, and fascinating. We’re six episodes in and I’ve already requested the next season from the library – I can’t wait to see what happens with Alicia, Peter, and the entire cast I’ve fallen in love with this weekend. Alicia is such a #girlboss.
What I’m Making
No notable progress on the Georgetown cardigan this week – every free moment seems to be wrapped up in preparing for the LSAT or watching the news for updates on the election or this weekend’s tragedy.
What I’m Listening To
Politics have taken over my airwaves – I’ve currently been working my way through the archive of Politico’s Off Message podcast. I loved his interview with Hillary Clinton, was fascinated by his conversation with Alan Gross, and am currently working my way through one with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
What I’m Wearing
The parade of new clothes continues. I’m learning how to mix and match the new items in my closet and pair new combinations! I’ve been loving my new preppy basics and classic pieces – I’m truly building a wardrobe that will stand up for years to come.
So there it is, an abbreviated look at what I was up to this week. Tonight, I’ll be attending a vigil tonight with H. at our city hall to stand in solidarity with those affected in Orlando. This week, I’ll figure out how to move forward from this tragedy; I’m also looking forward to the start of half marathon training and another week of studying for the LSAT.
Have a good week, all. And for anyone who has been affected in some way by this weekend’s tragedy, I’m with you. I’m thinking of you. And together, we’ll get through this.
A busy, crazy week + living without internet = this blog post gets a bit of extra bonus content: an extra day of updates, just for all of you.
So what have I been up to this week (and a day)? Let’s get right to it.
What I’m Eating
Keeping it simple this week after my indulgent birthday celebration: it’s been a week of tacos, tacos, and more tacos. Yep, Mexican food is my absolute favorite. (Spoiler alert: tacos are on the menu for tonight!)
How I’m Moving My Body
In my unbridled enthusiasm after last weekend’s color run, I went at it like a rocket this week. I did back-to-back sessions of #C210k Monday and Tuesday…and at the end of Tuesday’s run, my ankle started to nag. I tried to shake it off, hoping to participate in Global Running Day on Wednesday.
But my ankle said no, nope, no way. I decided that protecting my ankle was worth way more than any virtual running cred so I took a well-deserved rest day Wednesday – and happened to stumble on an insane sale in honor of the virtual holiday. Race registrations in the Rock ’N Roll Marathon series were slashed for one day only and I was tempted. I kept clicking back and forth on the link all day, debating if I wanted to take the leap and up my distance.
I did it. I fell down a virtual rabbit hole equipped with the same unbridled enthusiasm and adrenaline that carried me through the Color Run last week…and registered for my first half marathon this fall(!!!!) – and a full marathon in the spring(!!!!!) for good measure. I’ll be heading to Virginia Beach for 13.1 miles over Labor Day weekend: just a mere 89 days away. And this spring, I’ll be running 26.2 through the nation’s capitol (yep, DC) in March. I cannot wait(!!!!).
After quite a bit of research, I’ve decided to follow the Hal Higdon Novice 1 half marathon training plan. It starts next week Monday (with a rest day!), so I’ve been taking it easy on my legs and ankles in preparation. I don’t want a minor nagging feeling to turn into a full blown injury before I can even get started.
I cannot believe that I’m actually registered for both of these races(!!!). It seems so surreal to me and I am so excited. Just a few months ago, I could barely run a hundred yards and now, in just a few more months, I’ll run several thousand in my first long distance race.
What I’m Reading
This week, I decided to take on a whole new challenge: the LSAT. Yep, this girl has decided that she hasn’t had enough of school and wants to at least consider going for another three to four years.
Joking aside, I’ve been debating the possibility of law school for about nine months now – and decided that it’s time to stop thinking about it and start working towards it. For now, I’ve committed to at least taking the LSAT this September (just a few weeks after my first half marathon) – and from there, I’ll see how I feel and if and when I want to apply for law school. Where it stands right now, I’m interested in doing a joint law-masters program with either public policy or international relations. I’ll certainly keep you posted as I do more research and make more decisions.
Preparing to take the LSAT is no small task. I checked out this massive tome from the library (seriously, it’s almost a thousand pages) and took my first practice test yesterday – and now I’ll start working my way through practice tests and the strategies outlined in the book. The prep will slowly take over the next 16 weeks of my free time: between this and half marathon training, I’m going to be a busy, busy bee.
Speaking of the half marathon, I decided to cut my losses and return the book about running I’ve been working through the past few weeks. Instead, I picked up a new one – the Runners World Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training – which I started over the weekend. I figured this book would give me more targeted and specific information necessary for the journey on which I’m about to embark. I’m a few chapters in and will definitely be seeing this one to the end.
What I’m Watching
Continuing on with my week sans internet, I’ve been watching House of Cards like a maniac this week. I forgot how much I loved this show! I’ve also been digging a PBS JFK documentary I picked up from the library. It’s engaging and incredibly detailed – but I’ll give you the full scoop once I’ve finished it.
What I’m Making
The yarn for my sweater has arrived(!!!!) and it is beautiful(!!!!). I’ve decided to embrace my inner East Coast prep and knit the Georgetown cardigan by Hannah Fettig. It’s beautiful and simple, which is what I’m looking for – and will look great in the silvery-taupe color I picked out.
The cardigan can be found in her Home & Away collection: nine beautiful, classic patterns that are all beautiful in their own rights. I decided to buy the entire collection because I can see myself knitting at least five or six of the sweaters in the future. I think they’ll be the perfect foundation to my (hashtag) Project Sweater Chest.
I cast on the sweater today, which is perfect timing because it’s finally time for Stash Dash(!!!!). Stash Dash is the invention of Laura and Leslie, the lovely women behind the Knit Girllls video cast – one of my favorite knitting podcasts. The goal is to knit a predetermined amount of yards out of your stash (you can set your own goal, from 3K to 15K) between May 27 and August 21. It’s a great way to work down your stash and get some works in progress off the needles – which means I’ll finally finish some of the small projects that have been lingering around the house.
I set a very reasonable goal of 3K for the summer. Between prepping for the LSAT, half marathon training, and a potential cross country move, I feel like 3K is just about all I can commit to this year – but I’ll be knit-knit-knitting away to make it happen! You can join in the fun on Ravelry here and if you love the Knitmore Girls podcast as much as I do, you can track Jasmin’s progress with the (hashtag)teamcuteknitter on Instagram.
I love the variety and listen to each one for different reasons: NPR Politics offers a round up of the week’s news and quick, conversational takes on big headlines. Powerhouse Politics, which is produced by ABC, offers a few interviews intermingled with more in-depth political commentary. Off Message, led by Politico, are long-form in-depth interviews with political candidates and other insiders.
Between the three, I feel like I get a well-rounded podcast-education every week, which supplements what I read online and in-print. NPR Politics always makes me laugh while Off Message often sparks new ideas and gives me plenty to think about. But what I love most about all three is how they all feel non-partisan, to the best of their ability. I’ve unsubscribed from other politics when there is too much slamming of one party or the other – or when the information clearly feels and looks biased. With these three, I feel they give equal time to both parties and equal opportunities to all candidates; I finish each podcast feeling more informed than when I pressed play.
What I’m Wearing
This week, I’ve been wearing all new clothes(!!!). I did quite a bit of shopping over Memorial Day weekend, which included stops at some of my favorite stores: Loft, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, and of course, J.Crew. I know I promised a review last week, but the time just slipped away from me – too much fun to be had!
I also did quite a bit of online shopping on my new favorite site: ThredUp. It’s an online consignment store where you can buy new or gently used items from brands you love. For me, that meant J.Crew, J.Crew, and oh, did I mention – a little J.Crew. (Yes, I am predictable. Yes, I am okay with it.)
I am very impressed with the items I picked – they are all in good shape, with no stains or discoloration. Some are even new with tags! I love all the items and only a few are going back, just because the length is too short for my 5’10” frame. And the price could not be beat – one pair of shorts (new with tags) was just $7 – and I got a beautiful cashmere cardigan for $12. I’ll definitely be shopping there again – and I’d highly recommend you check it out!
See? It’s been quite a week! What have you been up to this week? What are the highlights? Drop me a line and I’ll check it out on my next study break.
I’ve started 23 the same way I want to finish it – running with a smile on my face.
Saturday morning, H. and I got up early to drive the forty minutes down to Racine, a town a bit south of where we live. Munching on a bagel in the car, I was trying to process my excitement and anticipation: I’ve wanted to run the Color Run since I was about seventeen or so, and the time has finally arrived.
When we pulled off the freeway, I started to search out signs of the 3.1 miles that I would soon face. First came sights of some flags, where I would grab water and continue on my way. Then, I saw a few people heading down the sidewalk in their white t-shirts and rainbow tutus. And finally, pulling into a spot just blocks from the tech college, I saw it: the finish line.
The series of inflatable arches that would soon mark one of my “firsts.” After covering 5,000 meters, I would cross through the tunnel and over the line which marks the end of my first race – but the start of everything thereafter, proof that I can truly do anything I decide to chase. (No pressure, right?)
With race number in place, H. and I wandered around the pre-race party. (It was bumping already at 8 in the morning!) The Color Run is truly a family affair – there were tons of little kids and families enjoying a beautiful, albeit cloudy, morning on the lakefront. And it was great people watching – so many creative costumes and groups of people of all ages stoked to be out and doing something active.
I was simultaneously trying to take it all in and calm my nerves. I knew, logically, that I could cover the distance. I’ve been comfortably running 3 miles for a few weeks now and am now covering about 5 miles a session, three times a week. But the anticipation of crossing my first finish line, the anticipation of doing something I’d wanted to do for so long – I could barely stand it any longer.
I just wanted to run.
About 20 minutes or so before the race was about to start, H. and I made our way over to the starting line and I made my way up to the first corral. Since the Color Run is so relaxed, many people just walk it with their friends, children, or even dogs – but I knew I wanted to run my first race. I ditched my phone and headphones (mostly because I was concerned about the paint situation)and gave them to H. for safekeeping.
With music pumping at the start, I felt my adrenaline starting to kick in – and moments later, after the national anthem, it was time and I heard those magic words: ready…set…go. I was off like a (very reasonably paced, keeping in mind I wanted to run fast in the second half and not blow my energy right away) start.
And off I went, running along and weaving the walkers who decided to go in the first corral. All was well – until about a half mile in, when I suddenly and an excruciating stabbing pain in my side – right about where my appendix is. Oh, shoot.
I tried to push through, panicking and trying to bargain with the pain that if I just finished the race, I’d take it easy and even get it checked out after. The pain continued so I took a few moments and walked. Then I tried to run again – same pain. So I walked until the pain was nearly subsided, a quarter mile before the first mile marker.
I gave myself a pep talk. I told myself to push through the pain and it would be ok. I started to run. And then run some more. I flew through the first color station and got doused in hot pink paint. And luckily, my side pain subsided as I eased into the second mile. (I’m not sure why the pain came, but I think it had something to do with hydration and eating numerous foods I rarely do the day before on my birthday.)
Plodding through the next mile, no pain. But running by myself – with barely anyone around – with no music – can be described in one word: boring. I’ve never ran by myself sans music before and I wasn’t a fan of the experience, although I loved running through each color checkpoint and hearing the support and the music they had blasting. (N.W.A. was at a middle color stop and was a personal highlight!)
But while I didn’t necessarily enjoy running sans music, I did love running sans-GPS. I loved not worrying about my pace or checking my time or getting self-competitive. It really allowed me to quiet down and listen to what my body was saying, rather than racing to beat a personal best.
After I crossed through the fourth color stop, I knew it was mere yards until the finish line. (I tracked mileage by color checkpoint since I didn’t see any mile markers on the course.) I picked up the pace and started chanting to myself “you’re a runner, you can do this.”
When the silence got too much on the course, I started thinking about Beth Risdon, who authors a favorite blog of mine. I told myself to shut up and run: if she can run 26.2 miles after biking over a hundred and swimming 2.4 in an Ironman…twice…without any music, you can run 3.1 miles sans Spotify.
It worked. I shut up, I ran, and when I saw the finish line’s tunnel at the bottom of a hill, I went out in a dead sprint – form and precautions about running slowly downhills pushed aside with the adrenaline of finishing my first race. I flew through the last color stop, as they doused me in a rainbow of paint, and through the tunnel, high five-ing the staff as I went across the finish line. I grinned the entire way.
The last 100 yards of the race are a complete blur. I got tunnel vision and all that mattered was pulling my body across that finish line as fast as possible. As I slowed through the final hand off, getting my medal from the sweetest six year old girl and other goodies, it started to click in.
I did it. I finished my first race.
Crossing my first finish line can be described in one word (although I do have many): elation. I am so proud of myself for what I accomplished and I’m proud of myself for finishing something I started. When I spotted that finish line I felt an adrenaline rush that pushed me through that last 100 yards and introduced me to the “runner’s high” everyone is always asking me about.
Post-race, I rode that adrenaline high for hours. I couldn’t stop grinning and looking at H. and saying “I did it. I did it,” on repeat. If I was a person who did cartwheels, I would’ve done them all over the pavement. Instead, I just floated the entire way home. It was the best experience to kick off being 23; I know in my gut I’ll be chasing that feeling all year long.
I did it. And now I want to do it again (and again…and again). Anyone up for a run?
I made it, I made it! I’m a year older and ready to take on 23… can you tell?(!!) This week has been an absolute whirlwind, so let’s get right to it.
What I’m Eating
It was an unusual week for me – less cooking and far more celebrating than average – but I had a blast. I did enjoy some tried-and-true favorites, like a taco quinoa skillet, earlier in the week so I wouldn’t touch my weeklies before my birthday extravaganza.
And extravaganza it was. I had quite the tour of rich, delicious foods at the end of the week.
From a 46 smart point margarita to a slice of decadent homemade mint ice cream cake, I definitely treated myself to all my favorites. It was awesome, I loved it… but my body was not too thrilled. I woke up literally craving fruit and vegetables both mornings – and I’ve gotten right back to my “new normal” first thing Saturday morning.
It’s now a fresh week and I’m ready to eat well and fuel my body through Memorial Day and beyond.
How I’m Moving My Body
Since I was so busy celebrating (dancing counts as fit points, right?!), I only managed two sessions of C210k this week. But those sessions were hard and I completely conquered them – even running my fastest mile ever (9:19!!!!) in the rain. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made since March and I’m gearing up to crush four sessions this week.
Thursday morning, I got up bright and early for a four mile stroll in the fog. Just me, the warm spring morning, and an episode of the podcast I’m hooked on. (More on that later!) It was perfect.
And, this week, I got to cross something MAJOR off my bucket list. I ran my first 5k this weekend and got doused with color all along the way… I ran the Color Run(!!!!!!). Crossing my first finish line was an adrenaline rush that I’ll never, ever forget – and don’t worry, I’ll give you the entire lowdown later this week. Just know: it was amazing.
What I’m Reading
Still making my way through my stack of library picks this week, but I’m loving the Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners. I’m almost done – which is perfect timing, because I’m ready to start training for my first half marathon soon and I’ve got another book on the subject checked out and calling my name. H.’s mom thought I’d been running for a while based on how much I know, talk, listen, and read about running… but H. had to clarify that nope, I’m just obsessed. (oops!)
What I’m Watching
Since I’m currently living without WiFi (one of my roommates recently moved out), I’ve been checking out a variety of DVDs every week – and it’s been a blast. H. and I have been watching House of Cards, Broad City, and The Closer. Out of the three, you should watch House of Cards right now if you haven’t already – 10/10 would recommend. The Closer is a decent crime show and worth keeping on in the background. And Broad City – well, I say skip it. It wasn’t for me.
We also watched the most inspiring, sweet movie yesterday after my 5k: Run Fatboy Run. I LOVED this movie. It’s a British film about a man who runs a marathon against all odds to hopefully win back the woman he loves. No spoilers, but let me tell you – it took a lot of self control not to register for every marathon ever after the credits rolled. Go watch it.
What I’m Listening To
I have fallen down the rabbit hole and fell in love with a new podcast, all. It’s called Pop Fashion and it’s the perfect balance of funny and smart. Lisa and Kaarin are completely charming and extremely knowledgeable about the fashion industry. I’ve been working my way through their archive after discovering the show this week and I’m learning so much while laughing along the way. I’m half-convinced I want to move to DC and become best friends with these girls. (Is that creepy? It’s probably creepy. Sorry not sorry!)
What I’m Wearing
I went shopping y’all(!!!!!!). This weekend, I’ve started the process of truly restarting my wardrobe in my new, smaller size and I’m so excited about the pieces I’ve picked up. Keep your eye out for a full report later this week, but trust that there’s plenty of J.Crew in my future. (Shocking, I know. wink!)
Earlier this week, I bought the most perfect dress from J.Crew this week to celebrate my birthday. It’s chambray and striped and everything I was looking for in a nice-casual dress to usher in my new year.
So that’s what I’ve been up to this week. It’s been a blast and I’ve definitely kicked 23 off on the right note! I can’t wait to see what this year has to bring – one excellent week at a time. I’m looking forward to finishing off the long weekend and run-run-running quite a bit this coming week. Thank you to all the veterans and members of the armed services who served and serve our country; enjoy a lovely Memorial Day, all.
Since it’s my own personal new year, I thought it would be appropriate to set some goals as I look forward to the next 12 months of being 23. I love resolutions, goals, and bucket lists: 2016 is rooted with the mantra of live big – a reminder to start living my life and going after my goals rather than just stowing them away and dreaming about them.
23 is going to take this grounding mantra to a new level and set concrete goals to accomplish. I’m predicting it now – it’s going to be a good year.
These are the goals I’ve settled on so far:
Run a marathon. I’m registered for my first half-marathon this fall as part of my year of living big, but I want to take the goal to the next level and run a full in spring. I haven’t decided on which one yet – any recommendations?
Get my passport stamped for the first time. I’ve had my passport for almost a full year now, but have yet to use it! Aside from a cruise in the Bahamas when I was 13, I haven’t traveled outside the country – but this year, that’s going to change. Whether it’s across the ocean or just across the border, my passport will leave my bedroom this year.
Take a class. I knew it when I graduated and it’s still true: I miss being in school. I truly believe that you should never stop learning, so I’m challenging myself to enroll in a class just for fun; it’ll be a great way to meet new people and stretch my brain. From French to photography, there are so many exciting options… I think the true challenge will be deciding what to pick!
Road trip across the country. Route 66, anyone? While it doesn’t have to be that legendary highway, I want to take my small weekend trips to the next level and head towards the ocean with H. A week or two, just us and the open road, sounds like the perfect way to clear my head and explore the possibilities of what’s up next.
Join at least one new club or organization. Something that’s surprised me post-college is how many meet-ups and clubs there are for adults – there’s literally a club for anything. Knitting groups, book clubs, running teams… this year, I want to branch out and meet new people that love the things I love.
Pay it forward. I was raised in a family where volunteering was not just encouraged, but expected. I loved lending a hand and helping others who weren’t necessarily as blessed as I was, so I continued to help out with nonprofits well into college – but somewhere along the line, got busy and it fell by the wayside. This year, I’d like to get back into the habit of lending a hand and start volunteering with an organization doing work I admire to improve the local community.
Challenge myself to do one new thing every month. It’s my own twist on that classic Eleanor Roosevelt quote. I’m not the most “go with the flow” person, so in my Jordan year, I want to step outside my comfort zone and routine to try something new at least once every 30 days. This could be something small (cooking a new kind of cuisine, perhaps?) or big (surfing, maybe?), but either way, it definitely will be something new to me.
So there they are: my goals for 23. Seven goals that will push me to grow and learn and leave 23 a different person than I could possibly even imagine now at its onset. I’m so excited, I’m practically bouncing off the walls – and no, that’s not all the sweets I’ve indulged in today. //wink//
But, speaking of sweets… I better get going so I can enjoy all the privileges my birthday has to offer! Let me know what you think of my goals in the comments – and I’ll check in with you soon – I’m running my first race EVER tomorrow!
What do you think should be my new thing for each month? I’d love some ideas! Also, I’m obsessed with reading advice columns and letters to authors’ past selves… so do you have any advice you’d give to your 23-year-old self? Feel free to share!
More than Christmas, more than Halloween, more than any national day that tickles a kid’s fancy, my birthday has always topped the list of favorite holidays. You can keep the scary witches and colored eggs – I’ll take the day of my birth every time.
A few months ago, one of H.’s coworkers celebrated her own birthday with a fervor I know quite well. I knew immediately I’d met someone who “got it” – a birthday-loving soul sister, some might say. Besides phenomenal taste in the holidays, she said something that’s rattled around my brain as my birthday approaches.
She loves her birthday because it’s her own personal new year. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to what’s to come.
Frankly, that’s brilliant.
I’ve always loved New Years for this reason – it’s the holiday I cite most often as my favorite when birthday is considered “not enough.” I love the promise of fresh beginnings and the feeling that anything is possible, even for just a second.
So, on the eve of my 23rd birthday, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the past year.
22 was a whirlwind: I entered post-grad life, I moved into my own apartment, I’ve worked two “big kid” jobs. I became enamored with camping, learned the basics of how to code, fell in love with healthy living, and started this blog. I knit yards and yards of candy-colored wool and pinned thousands of things that inspire me. I checked out hundreds of the titles from the library and read maybe half of them, both books that challenged me and YA lit that’s just plain fun.
But beyond what I did and what I accomplished, looking back, I’m most proud of how I grew without even knowing it.
This past year has been… humbling. I fell in and out of love with what I thought was my dream job. I learned (the hard way) that I don’t have all the answers and there are times I should listen more than I talk. I struggled to find ways to ask the tough questions and reach out for help.
But, through all that, I’ve come out renewed. I realized I am stronger than I ever thought was possible: mentally and physically – and I learned how to stand on my own two feet.
Crashing from a dream opened the door for great new opportunities. I saw firsthand what happens when I push myself to my limits – and then past them. I’m confident in saying I’m in the best shape of my life (inside and out) and that I’m only getting started. I started the year okay with myself and now, I truly love the person I am and the person I’m becoming.
The weather here is (finally…FINALLY) beautiful. So let’s get right to it – what I’ve been up to, that is – so I can get back outside on my porch and enjoy the sunshine before the rain heads our way later this week.
What I’m Eating
This week, it was back to normal – cooking a lot at home, testing out new Pinterest recipes, and revisiting tried-and-true Trader Joe’s favorites. Trader Joe’s is a favorite stop in the grocery shopping rotation, since I know I’m getting quality food I can feel good about at a great price. If you haven’t been… what are you waiting for? Go now!
One of my favorites fast dinners includes the Mandarin Chicken from TJ’s. It’s a bit high in points (9 smart points per serving) but I think the serving size is excellent: an entire cup. I paired it with a modified Cauliflower Fried Rice recipe that came out to be 1 smart point per serving.
Also in Pinterest-land, I made delicious cauliflower stuffed portobello mushrooms, which I modified to come out as 2 smart points per serving. YUM! I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a good swap for mashed potatoes.
Last night, I went out with H. to Belair Cantina for date night. If you’re looking for good, affordable food in Milwaukee, this is the place to go. The waits can get sort of obscene, but luckily they text you when your table’s ready, so we went and got a drink at a neighboring bar to wait it out. After trying all sorts of things on the menu over the past few months, I can finally say I’ve discovered a smart point friendly meal – one Mango Tilapia taco and one Caulifornia taco on flour tortillas plus a serving of chips and salsa come out to be 14 smart points! SCORE.
How I’m Moving My Body
I’ve been all about r-r-r-running! I’m loving the C210k training program – I covered about four and a half miles per session this week. I’m feeling strong and loving how the longer mileage gives me more freedom to explore different paths in Milwaukee and around my apartment.
I ran down to Lake Michigan on Wednesday and along the beach, which was absolutely beautiful…until I had to climb this enormous hill on the way home. I’m proud to say I conquered it though – I ran up the entire way and didn’t stop to walk or break at all! Instead, I followed my recurring mantra, giving myself permission to go slow, but never permission to stop.
On Friday, I ran down to the Riverwalk, which snakes through downtown Milwaukee and through the Third Ward. I loved this path, but I was not loving all of the foot traffic and inconsiderate, wandering pedestrians. I think it’ll be better in the morning or on any evening that’s not Friday, so I’ll be trying it out again this coming week.
What I’m Reading
I’m still working my way through the Big Book of Running for Beginners, which has been an excellent and extremely helpful read. When I’ve finished, I’ll give you a full review – but my preliminary finding is that you should give it a chance if the topic sparks your interest.
I did start a new book though: the Martian by Andy Weir. NO SPOILERS PLEASE!! I’ve managed to escape them so far and I’d love to finish my read unscathed. I am loving this book so far! I’m about a quarter of the way through since I went to a few of H.’s softball games this week and had some dedicated reading time. It’s incredibly gripping and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
What I’m Watching
Three words: Grace and Frankie. I’m almost through the entire season and it is so good. I’m currently worried about how they’ll wrap up some major storylines and hoping it’ll all come together in a neat way in the coming episodes. But since it’s TV – it likely won’t… and a cliffhanger will taunt me until the next season arrives.
What I’m Making
It’s been a super light week knitting-wise. I’ve been working on the Cladach hat but it is seriously not cooperating right now, so it’s currently in timeout. I have to figure out what went wrong and when, but I’m in denial about the inevitable frogging that need stop happen.
Looking forward, I’m getting excited about the sweaters I want to knit to round out my new closet. Knitpicks is having a major sale on their superwash Merino wool; I’m debating colors and styles so I can knit a few sweaters this summer. Help me decide? This one, this one, or that one – which one strikes your fancy?
What I’m Listening To
In the midst of packing, cleaning, and organizing (I’ve been helping H. move apartments!), I’ve gotten a lot of podcast-listening done. I’ve been relistening to old episodes of the Knitmore Girls this week, a multigenerational knitting podcast led by the fabulous Jasmin and Gigi.
Listening to this show is like talking to old friends every single week. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been listening to this show since I was 15 years old (when it started in 2008!). Over the years, I’ve listened and grown as Jasmin had a daughter – and now a son – and explores what this means for her life and her knitting. It’s hands-down my favorite knitting podcast and something I look forward to every week.
What I’m Wearing
My Old Navy jeans and pants came in the mail and I am in love. I’ve come up with a reason to wear them almost every day this week since I got them in the mail on Tuesday. They fit perfectly and the length is amazing (a typical challenge due to my extra long inseam).
That’s it for now! This coming week, I’m looking forward to (drumroll please…) MY BIRTHDAY! I’ll be turning 23 on Friday and I cannot wait: the night before, I’ll be getting dinner with my cousin and going dancing with my friends from high school. And then on the day itself, I’m excited for a low-key day of shopping, relaxing, and celebrating with H. and my family before my FIRST RACE EVER on Saturday morning. I’m saying it now – it’s gonna be a great week!
I’ve been putting it off for a while but it’s to a point where I can’t procrastinate much longer: I need to develop a style wishlist and prepare for a wardrobe rebuild. I’ve been wearing the same half-dozen pieces on repeat over the past few weeks because my closet is shrinking: about 75 percent of what I own at this moment no longer fits and it’s frankly the best feeling ever because… it’s all too big!
I’ve loved fashion and shopping my entire life. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to most of my closet (no seriously, I took four heaping laundry baskets worth of things to my parents house for my sister’s perusal before it gets donated) since I’d carefully spent the past three years carefully curating a wardrobe I loved.
But instead of focusing on all the clothes that have left my teeny-tiny closet, I’m looking forward towards the promise of buying new clothes in my new size that make me feel great – and work for the post-grad life I’m living now.
Last week, I ordered two pairs of jeans and a pair of black pants online (a necessity due to my extra-long inseam). They arrived today(!!!) and I’m excited to have pants that fit once again.
It was extra thrilling considering I haven’t bought a single new clothes item since July 2015. Last summer, I decided to see if I could go a month without buying new clothes and, well, a month turned into a season which turned into almost an entire year! Now, as I start to craft a whole new wardrobe, I feel more centered about the idea of shopping.
I’m looking forward to buying classic pieces that will form the building blocks of my wardrobe and sprinkling in a few fun things – a much more healthy perspective then just buying trendy pieces on a whim whenever I felt like it. (It’s pretty similar to my views on healthy living: I make nutritious, good-for-my-body choices about 80 percent of the time and make indulgent, good-for-my-soul choices for the remaining 20 percent.)
I’m excited to build a wardrobe I will love for years to come: classic essentials authentic to the personal style I’ve always envisioned for myself.
This is what’s been bouncing around my head as I’ve been dreaming up my style wishlist. I’m a bit giddy just imagining all of the possibilities(!!!).
Right now I’m building for spring, summer, and the start of fall. I’ll worry about finding great late-fall and winter essentials as we get closer to those seasons: it’ll give my wallet a rest for now and will give me the widest selection of options to choose from.
My closet needs to flex to three different styles I wear in my day-to-day life: business casual for work, “nice” casual for events and other occasions, and casual for weekends. I’ve tried to balance my style wishlist with pieces that work for all of these sides of my closet.
As you can see, I generally tend to skew towards a clean-cut and classic aesthetic in my wardrobe. I’m attracted to crisp neutral colors, fun patterns and pops of color as accent pieces, and simple accessories.
This is what I’m thinking as a rough baseline for my new wardrobe – hold for a few fun pieces I’m sure I’ll find but couldn’t possible imagine right now. Thoughts on my style wishlist? Is there anything missing you think I’d need? I usually gravitate towards J.Crew, the “Gap Family” (Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy), Ann Taylor LOFT, and Express. With this in mind, any other retailers I should check out?
I’m heading out on a big shopping trip next week for my 23rd birthday, so any input on my style wishlist and musings would be greatly appreciated… and you’ll have to stay tuned to see what I pick up.