Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What's Your Workout Routine?

I just got back from working out with Anonymous and I think I'm going to be feeling it in the morning. (A.'s always disappointed when he doesn't wake up sore the following day. Is that masochistic?) Anon.'s lucky enough to have a park across the street with a track and a gym inside her apartment building. How convenient is that?! Apparently too convenient because the woman hardly uses either. Well tonight I:

- Ran a mile around the track and speedwalked another half mile.
- Did 30 sit-ups and 90 crunches.
- Pushed through five push-ups (Man, do I hate those.)
- And an assortment of squats, lunges, bicep curls, and stretches.

It was really nice to have a workout buddy there with me because even though we didn't keep the same pace during our run, we joked and chatted during all the other bits and time flew by. We even taught each other some new routines and made plans to do it all again together next Tuesday. I want to keep doing crunches on my own and also have a Groupon for a month-long membership to the YMCA that I really need to activate soon before it expires.

What are your favorite workout routines? I know it's good to mix things up, but I still prefer to just run around until I get tired. It's so nice to let the mind wander and just let my legs do their thing.

Image: motivationtohabit.tumblr.com

Monday, January 30, 2012


Last night, A. and I had an impromptu animation viewing. I played The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and Le Moulin and he had me watch Kiwi!, a 2006 sweet and popular short about a little bird trying to fulfill a lifelong dream. How could I have missed this?
Do you have any favorite animation shorts? Pixar always nails it, don't they?

Monday Inspiration: Alt Summit Roundups

Since I didn't attend Alt Summit a couple weeks ago, I've been going around reading the attendees' highlights and tips they gathered from the design/blog conference. Here are a few of my favorites in the hopes that you'll glean something new from them, too:

Chronicle Book's "From Blog to Book" panel discussion.
Quotable summit speakers.
An Alt Summit roundup on Pinterest.
A very mini Alt recap (and motivation).
Summit highlights from Design Love Fest.
A Twitter recap of the "Growing Your Readership" panel.
Danni's awesome Alt Summit Extravaganza.
Top tips from Alt Summit.

Image: notyouraverageordinary.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

Souvenir Foto School

Just earlier this week, I went out for a walk around midtown with A., our Canon Rebel, and all the intentions of taking some every day shots of the city. But every time I took the lens cap off to shoot something, anything, I just wasn't inspired enough to click open the shutter. "I really need a photo project," I sighed. Perhaps focusing on some goal would get the creative photo gears moving, make me pay more attention, and feel more comfortable running around with this relatively new piece of equipment.

Well on Wednesday I read Ez's post about Miss B's Souvenir Foto School and I immediately wanted in (and lucky me, I got the last scholarship spot that was awarded)! Using prompts that begin with each letter of the alphabet, we're going to challenge ourselves and shoot a photo a day for 30 days. The goal is to gain confidence, ask questions, participate in this creative community, get inspired, and improve your techniques along the way. If Miss B's daily photo editing Project MMXII is any proof, I think we're in very good hands.

Class starts February 1st and I'll be posting my photos here each day. Here's hoping they turn out all right because I'd love nothing more than to rely a little less on other people's beautiful photos and just use my own around here.

Image: besottedblog.com

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Minimalist Blog Templates by Blog Milk Shop

If your blog needs an update or a complete overhaul for the new year and you don't want to spend days Googling around for code tweaks and fixes (like I painstakingly did last year), then pop on over to Blog Milk Shop. Designers Ana Degenaar of Blog Milk, Danni Hong of Oh, Hello Friend, and Jennifer Hagler of A Merry Mishap have teamed up to create a pretty collection of blog templates. And no worries about every other site having the same design you do: only 15 issues of each theme are sold and there's optional custom installation available.

Images: blogmilkshop.com

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a touching and absolutely beautiful animated short that delves into the power of storytelling. Inspired by Hurricane Katrina, actor Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and book lovers, the silent film follows Morris Lessmore as he's transported to a place where books have a mind all their own and the ability to breathe new life into the humans that adopt them. It's only 15 minutes long, but I was nearly moved to tears by the end. Here's hoping it wins that Oscar it's nominated for this year. (via Public School)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Time for a Resolution

And here it is: I want to stop being disingenuous out of courtesy. For example, I no longer want to laugh at jokes I don't find all that funny. Is that mean? Pretending is so tiring! Maybe I'll give them a smirk for their brave attempt just to be kind, but lately I've been noticing how fake it feels to laugh away when my brain is going "Wow, that was terrible." And being stuck in boring or draining conversations just because I don't know how to walk away? I'm liking it less and less, but I'm such a people pleaser that I'd hate to make someone feel bad with my honesty.

There's a boatload of shy, nerdy, and awkward people in my life and that's totally okay, I'm a bit of each of those things myself. So you KNOW I get my fair share of random interjections having nothing to do with the subject matter at hand, unnecessary personal information, obscure references, conversations that go on long after I've mentally checked out, and way too many jokes that fall flat (for me anyway). So at the risk of coming across as dry, I'm going to start saying:

"I'm sorry, but I missed how that was relevant. Could you please explain it to me?"
"I think that was a bit more than I needed to know."
"No, actually I've never heard of [insert unknown band, film, artist]."
"Well it was nice catching up with you, but if you'll excuse me I'm going to go [insert other activity]."

What do think about my new social goal to keep things real? Am I being too harsh? Or do you agree with author/aviator Anne Morrow Lindbergh who said that "the most exhaustive thing in life is being insincere?"

Image: flickr.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Film Savvy Are You?

In honor of the 2012 Academy Awards nominations announcement, here are three movie quiz posters created by designer Stephen Wildish. Each illustration is a clue to a movie title that starts with that particular letter of the alphabet. How many can you get? I'm not too great at this, by the way, but only because the movie collection in my memory is embarrasingly low. In fact, I've only seen two movies on the entire list of nominees!

Images: redbubble.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Girl With Seven Horses

Latvian photographer/illustrator Ulrika Kestere has just finished this short photo series based on a fairy tale involving an imaginative girl, seven invisible horses, and a blustery day:

"Once upon a time there was a girl who had 7 invisible horses. People thought she was crazy and that she in fact had 7 imaginative horses, but this was not the case. When autumn came the girl spent a whole day washing all her clothes. She hung them on a string in her garden to let the gentle autumn sun dry them. Out of nowhere, a terrible storm came and its fiercefull winds grabbed a hold of all her clothes and all seven horses (authors note: since they are invisible they obviously didn't weigh much). The girl was devestated and spent all autumn looking for each horse spread around the country, wrapped in her clothes."
I love the landscapes, the dreamlike quality, the moodiness, and how the fabric colors seem to merge well with each scene. See the rest of the series here. (via Colossal)

Images: ulicam.blogspot.com

Monday Inspiration

"Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure." ~Oprah Winfrey

Image: existandbefree.tumblr.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday, peeps! Today I have so many links for you; they've been gathering up in my bookmark folder for a while now! Hope it keeps you busy for a few days while I run off to enjoy my weekend with some coffee shop writing, a Saturday afternoon brunch at The Sunburnt Calf on the Upper West Side, and then partying with some nerdy hooligans.

It seems like a bunch of the bloggers I follow have run off to the Alt Design Summit this week and I've been keeping up with their news bits and feedback via Twitter. Have you every attended a blogger conference before? I'm wondering if I should go to one (preferably one right here in NYC). It'd be great to meet some of these personalities in real life and connect with the people behind the websites, don't you think? Plus, some of the speakers sound so inspiring, just the quick tweets and quotes are giving me many ideas.

1. What happens when you leave a bike locked to a street post in NYC and take a photo of it for 365 days.
2. Simple and charming biz cards.
3. An "aww" goes out to these little measuring cups.
4. Fifty-two acts of kindness.
5. A modern wooden dollhouse.
6. Free printable planners and checklists for your week, cleaning to-do's, blogging, and menus.
7. A robot tea infuser.
8. Try this trick the next time you dine with friends who can't stop checking their phones. (via A.)
9. Pinwheels! (Is it spring yet??) And I LOVE this surprise lantern project.
10. This bulldog puppy nearly frustrated me. But yay, a month later he finally learned to roll over on his own.
11. Advice from the elderly about finishing your life with no regrets. (via my sis, Dama)
12. Proenza Schouler's medium suede totes are so nice, but holy jeebus who the hell pays $1,595 for a bag?!
13. Dragon scales cards from Wit & Whistle. (via Claudia's Pinterest board) And hey, you are sweeter than...

Images: all from linked sources

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Paula Deen Comes Out As a Type 2 Diabetic

On Tuesday, Paula Deen announced that she has developed type 2 diabetes and since then the 64-year-old southern chef has come under fire with criticisms from the public and her own peers. The backlash comes from the fact that Deen was diagnosed three years ago and in that time she continued to present her Southern recipes which call for a notoriously high amount of butter, sugar, and other fattening ingredients. In addition, she revealed that she was launching a new campaign, "Diabetes in a New Light," in partnership with diabetes drug company Novo Nordisk, which makes it look like she decided to come forth with the truth just to peddle the products she's been using.

"I made the choice at the time to keep it close to me, to keep it close to my chest," she told USA Today in her first interview about the disease. "I felt like I had nothing to offer anybody other than the announcement. I wasn't armed with enough knowledge. I knew when it was time, it would be in God's time."

"But now I'm coming with good information, something that can help and bring hope to other people," she continued. "It may sound cliché, but it's the God-honest truth."

Okay, I'll start by admitting that I always enjoyed watching sweet Paula Deen during my Food Network-obsessed days. She seems like such a down-to-earth lady and we can't pretend like her dishes haven't left many of us salivating. But how much responsibility truly rests on a TV chef who's intention was never to give out health advice? In fact, during her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007, which I dutifully watched and nearly recorded by the way, Oprah asked Deen how she handled criticisms over her dishes.

"Honey, I'm your cook, not your doctor!" she exclaimed.

Point taken. The woman was here to feed us fried and cheesy comfort, not chat about about saturated fats and heart disease.
Are we so naïve to think that because a television personality does certain things, that they alone are to blame for the choices we make? Yes, she's a role model with some responsibility, people have looked to her for guidance in the kitchen, and maybe she gave off the impression that this is how she always ate with no repercussions (until now), but ultimately it's on YOU to know how many calories you're shoving down your throat, about balanced meals and portion control. Those hearty meals that are laden in butter and fat? There's no reason why we can't indulge on them as a treat every now and then.

It's just unfortunate that Deen decided to use this platform to raise awareness about a disease that currently affects nearly 26 million people in the U.S. to also distribute biased information from a pharmaceutical company. But in the end, it's getting people to talk about diabetes, she's finally sharing healthier meal options, and it's drawing links between diet choices and diabetes. (It should be noted that your risk for developing type 2 diabetes also increases with family history, obesity, age, and inactivity.) Apparently, she's already made small adjustments since being diagnosed in 2008 like getting on the treadmill and giving up her favorite drink - sweet tea.

"That's a big trick for a little Southern girl," Deen told USA Today. "I calculated how much sugar I drank in empty calories, and it was staggering. I would start drinking tea at lunchtime and drank it all the way to bedtime."

As for her dietary habits, Deen said she hasn't made many changes in how she eats and cooks, because "I've tried to use moderation since I hit a certain age."

Still, it'll be interesting to see how she maintains the classic Southern cooking that won her popularity while being mindful of her new health concerns.

Image: momlogic.com and pauladeen.com

Bangkok: Time-Lapse Hair Salon

I saw Peter Nitsch's Bangkok time-lapse video on Prêt à Voyager's site way back when my trip to Thailand was still very much under wraps. Please note how popular the up-do is.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Congress' PIPA and SOPA: What's It All About?

If you tried to use the Internet today, you'll have noticed that several sites went black to protest two bills currently going through the floors of Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (in the House of Representatives) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (in the Senate). Both are meant to stop copyright infringement from foreign sites, but the language in these censorship bills is such that it could be easily abused and would seriously hinder the free flow of information within our own country. It puts the burden on website owners to police their user-generated content and could lead to entire sites being blocked, which would then suppress what people contribute to "open" discussions out of fear of being blacklisted.

Senators are expected to vote on PIPA on Tuesday, January 24 and SOPA talks will continue in early February, but we have to make sure politicians change their minds about this abuse of power long before then. Here's how you can take action and keep the Internet free.

The Passive Aggressive Manifesto

This joint was written for ME. And maybe you, too?

Image: bettermess.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Japanese Paper Balloons

Have you ever heard of Japanese paper balloons? How festive are they?!
I came across Else's décor while perusing Pinterest and then happily discovered Uguisu, a Tokyo-based paper goods shop that sells all kinds of Japanese items like washi tape, origami papers, stationery, Japanese linen, and these cheerful balloons.
They'd make awesome party decorations that could transform into favors when the event is through, don't you think? Just keep them away from the unforgiving hands of pop-happy children.

Images: olivelse.typepad.fr

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Inspiration

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image: revivalist.okayplayer.com

Friday, January 13, 2012

Idealism and the Unknown

Jetlag can be a beast, I tell you. Since our return from Thailand, A. and I have found ourselves napping for hours on end (if sleeping for 3+ hours can still be considered napping), eating dinner at midnight, and waking up famished at five in the morning. Luckily, my sickly symptoms began taking a hike on my birthday, but this wretched weather is doing nothing to brighten the fact that we're back in the city instead of lounging by the warm sea.

Earlier today, a friend and I took to Facebook for a virtual pow wow on our creative pursuits. A recent change to my freelance hours due to budget cuts (yes, again) have left me a teeny bit uncertain about what direction to take things in and moments like these often lead me to toy with idealistic dreams.

"If you could live and do anything anywhere, where and what would that be?" I asked her.

As writers who yearn to travel the globe, we both mentioned moving overseas and working for ourselves. I don't know if it's because of all the traveling I've been doing or because I want a different pace of life and scenery to shake things up, but I've been growing tired of New York City. Thirty years and I admit I've yet to scratch the surface on all it has to offer, but seeing the same sights, walking the same streets, and feeling the constant push and pull is wearing out my soul.

"The boredom comes from knowing you could be doing more to fulfill your purpose," she said. "So what is stopping us?"

To this I listed three options: fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of giving up the life you've grown accustomed to. My poison is the last: it's scarier to give up the habits and life I've become comfortable with - even though they're not so satisfying - for something unknown. But like my friend was quick enough to remind me, there is also something exciting to be found in uncertainty.

Would you ever leave pieces of your current life behind for the chance to create something different elsewhere?

Image: viensmangerunecroquette.tumblr.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I don't know why people dread entering their 30's; I've been looking forward to it since I turned 29. Thirty sounds secure, all grown-up and out of the tumultuous 20's where every year comes with heaps of firsts, self-discovery, tumbles, healing, and lessons. Honestly, I feel and look no different than I did the day before, but I'm excited for what I hope this next decade will bring: confidence, growth, marriage, a family, things I've found myself wanting more and more the older I get. Friends gasp when I no longer go on the defensive when they mention the last two items on the list, but I can't lie. It'd be nice to settle down and create a home with someone someday.

Maybe 30 has been easy to slip into because I still don't fully feel grown or like I know as much as I thought I would by now. There's still quite a bit left for me to figure out (and I imagine that will never cease to be the case), but I'm now at a stage where I can't wait to find the answers - no matter what they might turn out to be. Just saying you're 30 brings with it an air of maturity and direction. Hopefully some of that will actually seep in though I can't imagine I'll ever let go of the giggly girl within.

Image: etsy.com

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm Back! + Hello, 2012 + Monday Inspiration

Hi all, I'm back from Thailand! Unfortunately, I came back a few too many kinds of sick, but am hoping I'm all better in time for my birthday on Wednesday. I can't wait to tell you guys all about the trip, A.'s reaction to my popping up in Bangkok, the best New Year's Eve I've ever celebrated, and hanging out on the island of Koh Phi Phi.

So how has 2012 been treating you guys so far? I'm actually looking forward to whatever this new year has in store for me. Last year was pretty solid, full of ups and downs and lessons on the self, relationship and career fronts, things I'm still learning about, but I love that there's always room for progress so long as I keep putting in the effort. Each day brings new opportunities to discover something else about myself, what I'm capable of, and new things to be grateful for.

Right now I'm just taking challenges as they come, practicing positivity, and trying really, really hard to attempt a risk or two just to keep life interesting. What about you?

Image: pinterest.com