Upcoming Fitness Events

This weekend I will be running my first 5K! I’m joining a big group of friends to run the color run Saturday morning in Santa Rosa. Since it’s a color run, the atmosphere will be relaxed and most of the members of my group are treating it as a fun run rather than running for a great time. I’m so relieved the pressure will be low for my first race!

I’m also a little terrified I’ll never be able to get rid of the color as most of the pictures I’ve seen of the event look like this:

imagesCA5PQ1YK

Another concern is that I’ve put zero thought into what I’ll be wearing. I met up with a few girlfriends last night who are running the event and they had their outfits completely planned. They’re both wearing tutus and brightly colored clothes and told me if I showed up without flare I would be in big trouble.

IMG_6896

I’ve seen a lot of pictures of people wearing tutus to the race, so this seems like a pretty common thing, but I’m not sure I’m brave enough to wear a tutu while running! I think a trip to the Halloween store is in order to see what I can find.

In other fitness news, I made my first appointment with a personal trainer for next Monday. I’ve been delaying meeting with a personal trainer since for some reason it intimidates me but I finally bit the bullet. I feel like I’ve reached the max of what I can do on cardio and strength machines and need some help to really get to the next level.

In the future I’d like to run a few races, get involved in some more serious weight lifting and maybe even try Cross Fit. Even though I feel much healthier and in better shape than I was before joining a gym 6 months ago, I know that my fitness journey has just begun.

All About Fall

This past weekend was filled with fun fall activities. I’m usually not someone who is super into holidays or celebrating the passing seasons, but this year I’m definitely in the spirit.

Brandon and I spent last week pulling together our costumes for a Halloween party on Saturday. Usually I’m a total grouch about Halloween and declare I don’t want to dress up until the day off and then scramble to find a costume. Brandon was really excited about dressing up this year though, so he got me in the spirit.

We had some fun at our local Halloween store:

photo3

I was tempted to go as a peacock, but decided to make my costume because putting the pieces of the peacock costume together was over $60! I mean, really now. Costumes have gotten expensive these days.

Friday night I spent the night at home, relaxing on the couch. Someone was happy to have me home for the weekend…

photo

That’s Harrison’s TGIF face. 😉

We made stuffed bell peppers for dinner Friday night and they turned out absolutely amazing.

photo5

We stuffed a few large green bell peppers with lean ground turkey, diced tomatoes, onions, garlic with some sriracha mixed in and cheese baked on top. Delicious! My mom used to make these whenever the weather got colder while I was growing up so they seem like the perfect fall meal.

Saturday night we went to a Halloween party at a friend’s house and had a great time hanging out with everyone and seeing their costumes.

photo2

Most of the costumes were completely inappropriate and hilarious. We’re definitely getting old because we left the party before midnight while everyone else was still going strong.

Sunday morning we had brunch and then headed over to the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch. I had read online that they occasionally have food vendors and I expected there to be a lot of activities, but besides a large playpen of corn for kids and the corn maze that you can pay to walk through, there aren’t many activities offered. We bought some kettle corn (yay!) and wandered through the pumpkin patch for a while.

photo6

The pumpkin patch has been open for a few weeks so it’s slim pickin’s as far as pumpkins go! Gotta get there early, I guess!

When we got home, I finished off our weekend of fall festivities by baking pumpkin spice cookies.

pumpkin-cookies1

I didn’t use exact measurements, but threw some pumpkin, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract, butter, eggs and sugar into the mix until the consistency looked right. I made a cream cheese frosting from butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Then I proceeded to polish off 3 (or 7) cookies as soon as they came out of the oven. The perfect end to the weekend!

8 Messages About Happiness for Women

Something I think a lot about is the pressure our society places on women to look, act, and think a certain way. I really think the ideals society presents as the path to happiness are misleading. As a woman it can be difficult to go against the grain, disregard the strong messages we receive everyday, and find the true path to happiness.

I recently read an article on PsychologyToday entitled 8 Messages to Teach Young Women & Girls About Happiness. The article touches on societal misconceptions on what leads to happiness and ways we can educate women and girls to create happiness in their own lives.

Maxing out isn’t healthy.

“Having it all” and “leaning in” are phrases that have become increasingly popular lately. Women and girls feel pressure to get a degree, have great careers, the perfect marriages and be perfect moms. Having it all takes a lot of work and when women buckle under the pressure, they feel like they’re inadequate. But here’s the thing, working to your maximum capacity at all times isn’t good for your mind or body. It leads to burnout and unhappiness.

Buy more experiences and less stuff

We live in a materialistic culture where women and girls are encouraged to have the best clothes for a great style, nice furniture for a pinterest worthy home, the best shoes, the best cars and on and on. Every day we are inundated with marketing messages to buy more stuff. However, science has proven that spending money on experiences leaves the spender feeling more fulfilled than the spender who buys things.

Focus on self-efficacy rather than self-esteem

This is a distinction I’ve never really considered before. The difference between self-esteem and self-efficacy is feeling you are good enough vs. feeling you have power to create great results with your life. While I think feeling you are good enough is worthwhile and important, grasping the power of your own abilities to change the course of your life is empowering.

Take (good) risks

This one is based on the fact that girls are told from a young age that abilities are static, whereas boys are encouraged to grow and improve. Therefore, women grow up avoiding challenges and risks while men are more likely to take them. Women should be open to taking good risks to expand their careers and not shy away from new opportunities.

Don’t get stuck in your own faulty thinking.

So often women base decisions on ideas they believe to be true, which are really social constructs such as “I haven’t achieved enough” or “I need to be better.” In reality these are ideas that have been cemented as fact in our brains that only serve to make us unhappy.

Perfection really does not exist.

Really, it doesn’t. We can strive to be perfect, but there will always be something we can improve upon. If we put ourselves under constant pressure to attain perfection, we will only succeed in making ourselves miserable.

Vulnerability is Good

This goes hand in hand with taking good risks. We need to focus on perfect less and more on making ourselves vulnerable so we have the strength to take those good risks.

Avoid happiness traps

So many times women have the idea that happiness is in the future and will come after they receive this or accomplish that. They think “I’ll be happy when I’m in a relationship” or “I’ll be happy when I have X job.” I have definitely fallen victim to this line of thinking, and reality is that even when you achieve these things, happiness comes from being present in the moment.

Meal Planning: Take 2

Lately I have been putting a lot of effort into meal planning. Meal planning is important for us for several reasons. We’re trying to save money for a house, so we realized one area we could cut back is dining out and food expenses. Typically, we’ll be really good at food shopping for a few weeks, and then run out of food, get lazy and end up at the Whole Foods hot bar every night (which is expensive!). Meal planning has the added bonus of helping us maintain a healthy diet instead of indulging when we have nothing at home.

We created a budget of $125 a week for groceries and $50 a week for date night dinners. We also allotted a small amount of money for going out with friends and entertainment activities. This budget is pretty sparse, but we’ve done well sticking to it so far.

Here are a few meals from the past week:

photo1

Thai Chicken Curry – I saw this recipe on fantastic food and it’s amazingly simple! The curry sauce is made from mixing coconut milk (you can use light coconut milk), sriracha and chili spices and the recipe includes sweet potatoes, green bell peppers, and rice.

photo4

Honey Pumpkin Ravioli, topped with parmesan, with a side of kale and mushrooms. Not the prettiest meal, but this was delicious! We bought pre-made honey pumpkin ravioli from Trader Joe’s after taste testing it. While it was delicious, we probably wouldn’t have it regularly since it’s not as healthy as our typical dinners.

photo3

A simple salmon dish with a Greek salad on the side. We got a great deal on salmon, so decided we’d include it this week. It was delicious and easy to make.

So far our strategy has been to decide what dinners we want during the week and picking up the ingredients for those meals and some extras for breakfasts and lunches. This might sound pretty simple, but for someone who has thrown together meals on a nightly basis based on what’s lying around the kitchen, it’s a new experience.

This week we picked up the ingredients for stuffed bell peppers, meatloaf, burritos, Thai Chicken Curry (Brandon can’t get enough of it!), a chicken dish, and salads for lunch. So far meal planning is really helping us eat healthier and stick to our budget so it’s a practice I’d like to keep up!

Happy scenes from the weekend

Happy Monday! I’m starting to feel recovered from the frantic pace of last week. With a really busy work week and a final for a class the week flew by. I took the weekend to relax and recover (with a few workouts thrown in!) and it was fantastic.

Here are things that made me happy this weekend.

photo8

These fall flower from Trader Joe’s. At $3, they’re a steal for something that makes me smile every time I enter my living room.

photo3

Girls night out. I got to spend Friday evening with these lovely faces while we watched a band play in Cotati. Spending time with just the girls always leaves me feeling happy and refreshed!

photo

Giant jenga. There are no words.

photo2

This amazing sushi roll from Hiro’s Japanese Restaurant in Petaluma.

photo6

Spending time with this goofball.

photo4

And these goofballs.

A great weekend indeed!

Anniversary Weekend

This past weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a long, long time. And I’ve had some pretty good weekends lately. 😉

Friday evening we had a few friends over to play card games (we’re officially old people). We ended up chatting for a few hours, and only playing one game but we had a great time!

Saturday was our anniversary and I spent a few weeks looking forward to the day. We both knew we wanted to make a big deal out of our anniversary since, well, relationships are hard work so why not celebrate all the work we’ve done? We didn’t get each other gifts, but each planned an activity.

Brandon planned a day date to a pottery studio in Santa Rosa. Pottery painting is a hobby I wouldn’t have envisioned for him, so I was surprised when he planned this activity for our date. We spent a few hours at the studio and each painted a coffee mug. We left them at the studio to be glazed and fired, and we’ll get to pick them up this week!

photo

Brandon hard at work!

photo2

Here’s my mug before glaze. I found a picture of dandelions I was trying to copy, but Brandon said they looked a bit like broccoli instead. 😉

On the way home from the pottery studio, we stopped at Petco to pick up a new friend.

photo7

Meet our new eyelash gecko, Bruce! Brandon is really into reptiles (we have two snakes already) and after hearing that Petco was having a sale on reptiles and cages this weekend he asked if we could get a gecko. We were looking at leopard geckos when I spotted this little guy and fell in love. I’m sure a lot of people don’t find reptiles that interesting, and I count myself among them. I’m not crazy about snakes, but for some reason I loved Bruce the gecko instantly! He has awesome coloring and loves to climb and jump.

After getting Bruce settled in to his new home, we went out for our anniversary dinner at The Melting Pot. I have wanted to try this restaurant for a long time, so it was the first one that came to mind when planning our evening date. Neither of us has tried fondue before so we decided to get the full experience by getting the four course option.

We started with cheddar cheese fondue that arrived with bread and veggies. Next, we each had a salad. I had the caprese salad which was pretty good. The mozzarella cheese was very soft, but I found the balsamic reduction a bit too sweet for my taste.

photo1photo3

Our third course was the meat course. For this course, you choose the oil you want to cook the meat in. While we chose the standard vegetable oil, apparently there is a battered option that is for more advanced fondue-ers (I didn’t know such a thing existed!). The meat arrived with vegetables and a plethora of sauces to dip in. It was definitely interesting cooking our meat in the oil, if not a little frustrating at having to wait to eat our delicious main course!

After the meat course we got the s’mores chocolate fondue to finish off the evening.

photo4

It arrived at our table with a message wishing us a happy anniversary and many sweet goodies to dip in the chocolate fondue. This course was easily my favorite!

5

We asked our lovely server to take a picture of us as we were leaving the restaurant to commemorate the moment.

Though we had a fantastic experience trying fondue for the first time, I’m not sure The Melting Pot would be a restaurant I would frequent. It’s great for the novelty aspect, but I think it’s pricey for the food.

We ended the evening with a glass of wine on the couch, a reminisced a little about our time together. Since Brandon works on the weekends, it was great that he was able to take our anniversary off so we could spend it together.

Sunday consisted of buying groceries for the week, getting additional items for Bruce and running other miscellaneous errands. It ended on a high note with an evening trip to the gym. I’m pretty sure I was still working off the meal from the night before!

Mental Health Day

Yesterday could definitely be considered a mental health day, even with work involved. 🙂 Before getting ready for work, I dragged my butt out of bed and made it to the gym. This is especially exciting considering I really have a hard time getting up to workout in the morning. I squeezed in half an hour of cardio and some arm and ab exercises, and was happy to have the day’s workout behind me before going to work.

Work was really busy, and the day flew by. I stopped at home in the middle of the day to have a healthy lunch.

photo4

This meal was a simple one of baked chicken and a Greek salad on the side.

In the evening Brandon had plans to hang out with friends and I was looking forward to having the house to myself for a few hours! Don’t get me wrong, I love having Brandon around. But sometimes I just need a bit of me time. I stopped by the store on the way home from work and picked up some “me time” essentials.

photo2

Chocolate covered pretzels, and peanut butter to dip them in (one of my favorite indulgences), a single beer, and a bully stick for Harrison to keep his occupied. I spent the evening watching multiple episodes of New Girl, browsing the internet and painting my toe nails. It was fantastic! Lately I’ve been staying up late with Brandon since he doesn’t get home from work until 7 p.m. and he’s a night owl. I went to bed early last night to catch up on some much-needed zzzz’s.

Oh, and this morning, I came out of the house and was greeted with an unusual sight.

photo3

A group of nearly a dozen turkeys (flock? gaggle?) walking through my neighborhood. I have no idea where they came from, so random!

Hope your Wednesday is off to a good start! Happy humpday!

Things I Love About Fall

I am absolutely loving the transition from summer to fall! I grew up in Arizona where there are few seasons and the transition from summer to winter (there really isn’t a fall season) consists of the weather changing from unbearably hot to mildly chilly. You know winter has arrived in Arizona when the weather dips below 80 degrees and people start breaking out their sweatshirts. When I transferred colleges and moved to California, I did not own a single pair of shoes that was not sandals (true story!).

Though I’m still not a huge fan of winter, as mild as it may be in the Bay Area, I absolutely love the slight chill in the air, the changing of leaves and all the other little things that signal that fall has arrived.

Here are a few things I’m loving about fall:

Pumpkin Candles

pumpkin-pecan-waffles

This candle from Bath and Body Works has been burning non-stop at our place. I don’t usually buy pricey candles from Bath and Body Works but Brandon’s mom picked it up for us as a gift and we love it. Every time we walk in we comment on how great the house smells!

Snuggle Time with the Pups

photo2

This little guy is never one to turn down snuggle time, but he’s always especially snuggly when it starts getting chilly outside!

New Shoes for Fall
photo1

I got a littttlllleee carried away at DSW last weekend while getting ready for fall. I’ve been eyeing new black boots for a while since my current black boots are falling apart. The weather has gotten significantly cooler in the past week so I knew now is the time! I also bought a grey pair of ked-like shoes to give myself an option besides boots on casual days. Finally, I picked up a pair of black pumps that are matte on top and patent leather on the bottom. I have a pair of open toed black wedges I wear to work, but I really wanted a pair of classic pumps. These Liz Claiborne pumps were on clearance and at $20 they were a steal!

Dreaming About Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is my all time favorite holiday! We always have a huge meal with some close family friends, including my friend Allison who I’ve known since kindergarten. We’ve missed out the past two years since we’ve been spread out across the country, but we’ll all be in one place this Thanksgiving so the tradition will live on. Also, Brandon is coming with me to Arizona for the first time this Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait to share the holiday with him.

As a new year approaches, I’m going to focus on appreciating the little things that make me happy and savoring each season!

90s Flashback Weekend

My weekend was crazy busy and I didn’t make it to the gym once. It was for a good reason though, since my parents were in town for my dad’s high school reunion!

Friday night I had a craving for pizza, so after Brandon got off work we had dinner in Petaluma at Rosso Pizzeria and Mozzarella Bar. I wish I had taken a picture of our appetizer and pizza, because it looked delicious and tasted just as good! For the appetizer we had burrata (the restaurant’s homemade mozzarella) and prosciutto. For our entrée, we ordered the Moto Guzzi, a pizza with smoked mozzarella, roasted onions, swiss chard and spicy sausage. Both were delicious, and we had a great date night people watching and chatting from our table on the patio.

In the morning, I woke up bright and early to drive to Lodi, California, where my Dad graduated high school. It was really important to him that I attend his reunion and see where he went to school. They had a ceremony where they announced all the featured classes and took class pictures afterwards.

photo

My mom and I at the ceremony. Also, look at what I found on the walls of the academy’s gym (where the ceremony was held).

photo1

My dad’s high school graduation photo! Excuse the glare, it was in a glass frame. My dad had a great time at his reunion, and I was happy I was able to share it with him.

Saturday evening, I met up with a few girlfriends in Petaluma. My friend Roseanne and I kicked off the evening at Taps, our favorite brewery and restaurant in Petaluma. A little later we met up with Noelle and Jaime at The Social Club.

photo4

photo2

We had a pleasant surprise when we realized the restaurant had a DJ playing early 90s songs. We LOVED every song he played. Noelle even went to get his business card to keep him in mind for parties or weddings! We had a great time singing along to Blackstreet, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and more of our 90s favorites.

Brandon took Sunday off so we could hang out with my parents and we met them for brunch. We ate at a café in Pleasanton, and though the portions were huge, I wasn’t crazy about my food. It was so nice to have my parents in town for a bit and to catch up in person rather than over the phone.

In the evening, Brandon and I were still feeling full from our huge breakfasts and wanted to do something active. We bought a Nerf ball (remember those? another 90s flash back!) to our local park and threw it around for a bit.

photo2

The fiancé is very serious about Nerf ball! haha. It was a fun way to end the day!

Balancing Goals and Living in the Moment

A few days ago I wrote about my fitness goals. I’ve always felt that it’s extremely important to have goals and be actively working towards them. Having goals keeps a person from feeling stagnant, from settling. But here’s the tricky thing about having goals…it’s easy to get so caught up reaching your goals that you forget to be present and thankful for what you’ve already accomplished.

Here’s a recent example from my life. I moved into my apartment about two years ago with a roommate. I love my apartment. It’s the first place I lived in for over a year after my post-college-move-around-a-lot phase. It has an adorable brick wall behind the stairway. It’s the first place I bought nice furniture for instead of hand-me-down furniture and decorated all by myself. I’ve always loved that it has two stories so it feels bigger than your average apartment. It’s where I lived while I was really finding out who I am. Then, about a year ago my roommate moved away and Brandon moved in. I grew to love it even more as it became ours.

Then a few weeks ago, Brandon mentioned that he wants to buy a house. We started thinking about moving away, and looking at homes online, and in the past few weeks we’ve talked about little else.

white picket fence my ideal home_jpg1

Suddenly, my apartment seemed less appealing. It felt small and cramped. I started to resent the expensive monthly rent. I hated that we live in such close proximity to neighbors and that it’s not really ours, but owned by someone else. My mindset shifted, and though my apartment remained the same as the apartment I have always loved I was unhappy with where I was in the moment.

Though this is a small example of balancing goals with living in the moment, I think it’s a good reminder to not let my goals get in way of my enjoyment of the present.

Yoga-ook-goed-voor-sceptici1

Even though I don’t own a house yet, I can still feel bliss and find balance in my apartment. It’s great to keep my goals in mind, but it’s not beneficial to think “I’ll finally be happy when I have X.” I know that when we’re living in that house, there will be times I look back at my apartment and yearn for the feeling I had when I lived there. So while we’re saving for a house, I will continue to find little joys in my apartment and savor the moment.