Sunday, January 29, 2012

Friend Shout out: Maria Desimone

If there is one thing I adore about my friend Maria, it's that she knows what she's passionate about, and shares her gifts with others. One of Maria's many talents is her ability to do hair....and I mean, DO HAIR. Maria is naturally talented with fashion and hair design - it's absolutely amazing!

Yesterday, Marianne and I had a wedding to go to and Maria told us to just stop by her house beforehand so she could give us fun up-do's for the wedding. Of course, Maria came up with the best ideas and made us feel so put together and fantastic, without asking for anything in return.

Pre-wedding excitement!

Marianne and I at the wedding...

Thanks, Marianne...

While I was listening to a toast, Marianne was apparently taking pictures of me...

I'll admit that my idea of "doing my hair" entails blowing my hair out and straightening it (on a good/motivated day). Having a real hair style last night not only made me feel much more put together, but it reminded me of how great a friend Maria is. Thank you, Mia!

Sometimes the smallest things can make such a difference to our friends. If you have a talent, share it with others!

Another perk of a quality up-do: fun, crimpy hair afterward! :)

Re-entering the FB world


When I started my month of Facebook free living on January 1st, I honestly thought that after it was over, I'd think: "I don't know why I ever used Facebook. It's a waste of time and I have no desire to use it again." However, with time I found that my prediction was a bit off.

There were definitely perks to living without Facebook, but I didn't see the results I thought I would. I didn't feel that I was more productive without it, which was one of my main reasons for nixing it (I didn't go to the gym more, clean my room more, or go to bed earlier). I didn't feel happier without it, or that my friendships felt more meaningful (ex: I didn't spend more one-on-one time with friends). I didn't feel happier or more content without it.

I also realized that my previous challenges with Facebook were things I could solve on my own, without removing Facebook from my life entirely. My brilliant analogy for this concept: debating whether or not to keep ice cream at home. I used to think that the only way I could control my ice cream consumption was to not bring any into my home, but after a bit of reflection, I realized that having one pint of quality ice cream in my freezer (now and then) allows me to indulge on occasion and stay satisfied, without over-doing my consumption.

During our final week of Facebook free living, Anna (my partner in crime) and I chatted about our strategies for re-entering the world of Facebook. I was pleased to learn that we had very similar experiences and were completely on the same page about moving forward.

Conclusions & Plans for February and on...

1. Facebook isn't the most private place...Time to up the privacy settings!

I once had my Facebook set to very private settings (which was definitely my preference), but once the owners gave it a "new look" with "new settings" again, and again, and again, I realized that many of my privacy settings changed. Anyone could search for me, people could see me when other friends tagged me in photos, and more. I am NOT a fan of this.

As soon as February 1st hits, Anna and I are going straight to our privacy settings before doing anything else. I'm not going to spend any time explaining why privacy settings are important to us (note: it's not because we have much to hide).

2. Over-using Facebook isn't the healthiest thing

To address this topic, our plan is to use Facebook during the work day as little as possible. This seems like an obvious point (and the right thing to do), but I do like using Facebook as a "15 minute break" at work, and it's difficult to not to reply to a friend when they say: "happy hour at 5:30?"

In addition to scaling back during the work day, we hope to be intentional about our use at home, especially on week nights. We decided it would be too tricky to land on a "daily time quota," but we'd commit to being aware of our time and touch base in mid February to see how we feel about our overall consumption.

3. It's time to ditch and hide crappy and/or nonexistent friends.

We all can relate to the scenario where we hung out with someone in high school, college, at an old job, and/or when we lived in another city, who we don't see anymore. This has been particularly challenging for me with the case of college (going to school out of state and only having the opportunity to see friends when I go visit every other year). I met so many wonderful people in college, but it's unlikely that I will see most of them again. Ultimately, Facebook friendship might not be necessary if I don't invest in the friendship anymore. If I do (coincidentally) bump into these "friends" down the road, there's always the option to reconnect.

Our main conclusion: if we're friends with someone we do not trust and/or are not fond of - de-friend. If we're friends with someone we have not talked to in ages and see no chance of talking to (or running into) ever again - de-friend. If we're friends with someone who we feel uncomfortable having view our personal information - de-friend. If we're friends with someone who is negative, overly self absorbed, or does not treat us with respect - de friend. You get the point.

Along these lines, if we're friends with someone who we're uncomfortable de-friending (ex: the relative who you know is a good person but drives you up the wall), it's time to hide...and perhaps de-friend later on, if need be.

4. Only use Facebook for the reasons we love.

I like that Facebook allows me to connect with people I'm unable to see on a regular basis. I like that it allows people to organize fun events in order to spend time together IN PERSON. I like that I can share about my life with relatives and close friends (note: I do not have one relative who lives in the same state as me). I like that when I've been unable to attend a wedding or special event of a close friend, I'm able to see special photos from the day. I like reading interesting articles or hilarious youtube videos that make me laugh or think critically about the world. I have some friends who make my day better just by posting an uplifting comment, quote, or update during the day. I could name a few more examples, but I'll hold off so I can conclude this post. :)

In the end, we're all different and it's up to each of us to know when the "too much of a good thing" theory applies to our Facebook consumption. This was definitely the case for Anna and me, which prompted the change. Hopefully February will be a great month for us and our Facebook makeover will pay off!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Little Treats for Self (Mint C Me Smile Lip Butter by Yes to Carrots)


Today I got a new lip balm that I love. I'm a fan of minty/peppermint flavored lip stuff, but sometimes it feels like it's a little harsh on my lips when the tingly mint ingredients are too strong.

I've heard great reviews about the Yes to Carrots products, so decided to try one out. The Lip Butter is really nice, lightweight, conditioning, and calming with the right amount of mint. It's also USDA certified Organic!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Making the bedroom a laptop free zone


The other day, I was talking to my friend Anna about our Facebook free existence this month. This lead to other topics, including our computer use in the evening and our "interesting" sleeping habits.

For a number of years, I've developed a bad habit as it relates to my evening bedtime routine: laptop use. After discovering the wonders of Netflix Instant Viewer and the opportunity to watch unlimited episodes of The Office whenever I needed a laugh, I started getting into a daily habit of watching an episode before falling asleep. What I didn't realize is that this seemingly innocent habit would turn into larger, more permanent habit, and that I'd tack on abc.com, Hulu, Facebook, and other addiction-promoting sites to my list (don't judge).

Today I did a bit of research and came across a couple helpful articles. One article on WebMD spoke about nighttime computer use, stating:

"Playing a video game or finishing up some work on computer before bed may keep you awake long after you turn the computer off. A new study shows that the bright light of a computer screen may alter the body's biological clock and suppress the natural production of melatonin that's critical to the normal sleep-wake cycle" (Source).

In a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll, the results showed that "63% of participants believe that their sleep needs are not being met during the course of an average week," and that "95% of the 1,508 people surveyed reported using some type of electronic device–such as a TV, computer, video game or cellphone–within an hour of bedtime at least a few nights a week" (Source).

It is clear that Anna and I are not alone with our nighttime habits, but the bottom line is that it's not healthy and we should consider changing our ways.

In further discussions about our re-entry into the Facebook world in February, and Anna and I agreed that we should talk about our overall Facebook and internet use, including when and where. We agreed that starting in February (if not sooner) we are going to ban our laptops from our bedrooms on Sunday through Thursday evenings when a good night's rest is the most essential for our work performance and overall productivity the next day. I am SO glad to have an accountability partner in this, because it's going to be very tough for me to kick this bad habit.

Anna and I both shared that we always wish we would read and journal more often, and we think that ditching the bad habit will create more time for healthier habits like these! Another activity I've also thought about doing is going on a quick, evening walk with Lucy before going to bed (another healthy replacement). Lastly, I notice that on the nights I spend too much time on my laptop before bed, I end up ditching my morning workout, which is something that I've been missing these days. I deserve to have that time for myself and my health every day.

Ultimately, we have to know ourselves the best. There are some people who function just fine on 5 hrs of sleep and fall asleep right away without issues, and sleep soundly through the night. I am NOT one of those people and never will be. I also think that it comes down to prioritizing, and being intentional about our time and planning things in advance. So, if watching The Office in the evening is still important to me, that should happen earlier in the evening outside of my bedroom, an hour or two before bedtime.

I also frequently ask myself this question: "Later in life, do I want to look back and say 'I spent years spending every hour before bed looking at a computer screen,' or 'I spent years caring for my health by reading books, journaling, and getting enough sleep'"?

I hope you'll consider joining Anna and I for our quest to develop healthier sleeping habits, if your routine is in need of this type of makeover!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Props to my Mom

My mom and I in Leavenworth, WA over the Summer. Happy times!

Over the weekend, I had sent my Mom and Dad a thank you card to thank them for a few Christmas and birthday gifts. I also thanked them for taking such good care of me during the holiday season (yes, even adults need to be cared for!).

Tonight I received a text message from my Mom with the following:

"Went to the mailbox and got your brilliant thank you note...so thoughtful and lovely. While reading it, not kidding, David called (from Safeway) to tell me spontaneously what great parents dad and I are. There is no American Board of Moms. That's as good as it gets. I love you guys. You are my life."

I loved getting this text message from my Mom because it reminded me of two things:

1. It's so important to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us.
2. The smallest acts of kindness can really go a long way. My thank you note (and my brother's phone call) took just 5 minutes to write, but made my Mom's week.

Happy idea for you!

Take some time this week to think about a mentor or caregiver in your life, whether that's a parent, aunt, cousin, sibling, spouse, or friend that has made your life brighter and better through acts of love, kindness, and unselfishness throughout the years. Then - tell them that you love them and/or appreciate them! I'm a big fan of a handwritten note (because I think it says a lot more), but a friendly e-greeting or phone call are also great options :).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Little treats for self (Spa weekend findings!)

This weekend I took a "spa-cation" with my girlfriends in Fairhaven, WA at the Chrysallis Spa and Hotel (one of my favorite places on earth). I decided to hold off on spa treatments and instead, treat myself to a few fantastic girlie gifts. The first was a set of Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel (pictured above). I had looked for this brand for ages but couldn't find it anywhere. Thankfully, the Chrysallis Spa gift shop came to the rescue! I love the Wake Up Rosemary scent because it has such a calming and stress relief affect and makes me feel like I'm at a spa :).

Other findings:

Iced Pear Hand and Body Lotion (also from the Chrysallis Spa)

Brown Bear Coffee from The Woods Coffee (my favorite coffee shop in the U.S.!)


Super cute makeup bag (note: it's silver AND sparkles) made by Apple & Bee

For the record: I'm currently at home, drinking a Guinness, and smelling my new Ginger candle. The perfect way to end the day!

From bubble bath to candle holder!

Tonight I took a bath and used up my very favorite bath product: Laura Mercier's almond coconut milk honey bath. I also wanted to light a candle, and realized I could put two and two together!

One thing I'm trying to do is conserve "stuff" around my home and not purchase things that I don't make great use out of. While it's such a simple idea, I love that I can make use of the container instead of buying a new candle holder and throwing one away.

Yay for "mini green" efforts that brighten our day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More snow fun!

"Hi my name is Lucy and I'm cute."

Around noon, Lucy hit her wall staying inside (instead of playing outside). My friend, Maria, had just stopped by to say hi so I told Lucy (since she speaks so much English) that we'd walk Maria home and then go to the park to run around.

It was very cold outside with the icy wind hitting my face, but we had a blast. I am so appreciative of this day with the rare opportunity for fun in the snow.

Last, but not least...

The return of the famous "Fargo Marge hat" (for those of you who have been long-term fans)

Joy from a snow day!

Today I woke up and the snow had FINALLY arrived. After days of our news stations claiming "a major snow storm will for set in all over the city" and having it not set in (at least in my area), the snow finally showed its happy fluttery face.

My favorite part of a snow day is the peace and happiness that it brings (both individually and to the community you live in). It makes your day better because it's a fun surprise that helps you appreciate the small things in life - the beautiful outdoors, coffee in a real mug, an opportunity to do laundry and take care of your home, and QT in your sweatpants. Of course, work will continue today, just in a more relaxing fashion :).

Lucy is very curious about the happenings outside...

Quite different feel in my neighborhood without any cars!

Right now there are about 30 kids in my neighborhood going sledding down my street. The kids could not be more excited. I love sitting on my couch by the fire and watching them play. I was able to get out this morning with Lucy to introduce her to the snow (she experienced this once last year). I adore how bouncy and happy Lucy gets when she runs through the snow and when she has snowflakes all over her, including a chunk on her nose :).

video

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A little tea detoxing


While my birthday last night was amazing, the "aftermath" of the bar portion was not. I have a few strategies for beating hangovers, and wanted to highlight one of mine: Tea.

I never thought that drinking tea could help cure hangovers (or feeling icky in general), but after reading a lot about certain types of teas, I've discovered some actually do the trick! Over the years, my body has changed a lot (related to alcohol tolerance). I now have to drink less and be strategic in how I prevent and work through the hiccups on special occasions.

Today I'm drinking "Get Clean" tea by The Republic of Tea. My friend's mom gave it to me along with other tea accessories as a house warming gift the other year. Clearly, she knew Monica and I were having too much fun. This tea is a Rooibos herbal tea with lots of other great stuff mixed in, including natural vanilla and honey flavors, which I love.

Info about this tea:

"Herb Tea for Detoxing - Had too much of a good thing? Feeling out of balance, a bit heavy or puffy? Then it's time to get clean.

This gentle naturally caffeine-free herbal detox blend helps the body help itself as it stimulates the liver*, one of our natural cleansing mechanisms. This product contains nuts.

Ingredients

Organic Rooibos (leaf), Milk Thistle (seed), Indian Sarsaparilla (root), Dandelion (root), Chicory (root), Burdock (root), Red Clover (herb). Other Ingredients: Natural Vanilla Flavor, Natural Almond Flavor

Do you have a favorite tea?

Birthday reflections


Yesterday it hit me why we celebrate birthdays (or at least why I do):

Birthdays are what I call an "annual reminder" that we are loved.


Birthdays are a one day BIG pick-me-up. They remind us that we are not alone (no matter how young or old we are), and that we have friends who care about us who prioritize our friendship.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I woke up this morning thinking "That was my best birthday yet." It couldn't have gone better. My friends were beyond kind and generous to me this year when they definitely didn't need to be, but I was so touched by all of the thoughtful gestures.

Here are a couple highlights from the day :)


My friends Marianne and Maria treated me to a manicure yesterday at Hoa Salon in Roosevelt. We had a great time together and I love my nails! I brought one of my favorite everyday colors with me, Rumple's Wiggin' (pictured above). So glad I could get polished up (no pun intended).

When I got to my place after manicures, I had a "Christmas + Birthday" package in the mail from my relatives in Colorado. My favorite little cousins, Anna and Jillian had each made me their own stationery with handwritten notes! They also gave me custom Christmas tree ornaments with their school photos (beyond cute). Robin (my cousin, their mom) also gave me a collection of photo prints of Jillian and Anna which will soon be on the fridge!

Earlier this week, my friend Jessica mailed me a darling package in the mail, which included a fun birthday card and a little book of Friendship quotes. Jessica had highlighted one of the quotes for me:

"When people have light in themselves, it will shine out from them. Then we get to know each other as we walk together in the darkness, without needing to pass our hands over each other's faces, or to intrude into each other's hearts." -Albert Schweitzer

Last night, my family took me out to dinner at Jak's Grill (one of my favorite places in Seattle, especially when I'm wanting a great steak and glass of red wine). Before dinner, my mom gave me a couple gifts. One of them was this darling book, 100 Unforgettable Dresses, by Hal Rubenstein. It is truly girlie and a perfect coffee table piece. Of course, I immediately found a few of my favorite gals in the book, Sarah Jessica Parker (and the Sex and the City crew) along with Marilyn Monroe.

To end the day, I gathered with my friends at a bar in Ballard for birthday drinks (note: drinks is plural, not singular, and unfortunately I'm paying a bit for it this morning). Before I headed out, My friend Celeste stopped by my house to pick me up, and brought me these flowers!

Celeste had put together the bouquet herself! She said that it was her first time arranging one. I was so touched by the gesture. It was so thoughtful, creative, and sweet. Plus an added bonus: my house smells amazing right now!

The evening finished with a "bang" with a great mini party in Ballard. I was so thankful for each and every one of my friends who took time out of their day to celebrate with me. My friend, Jessica, stopped by the bar toward the end to make sure that I had a safe ride home and dropped me off at my front door. She also gave me a card with two tickets to see a movie together. What a doll!

Conclusions...

It's my opinion that after a certain age (perhaps, 21?) that birthday parties aren't really "necessary." After all, we're adults. However, I've realized that birthdays are a great excuse for people to come together and have fun, especially as our lives get busier and we see each other less often. I didn't have any idea who would show up (or if anyone could) but so many of my friends stopped by to say hi and give me a hug. I felt so blessed!

I am thankful for my friends for their many acts of kindness yesterday. Also, to keep with the birthday theme, I want to say happy birthday to Anna and Emily, two of my wonderful friends who shared the same birthday as me yesterday! I hope this is a great year for the both of you.

"But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine."
-Thomas Jefferson (Quote Source)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wisdom from pictures


I came across these "photo quotes" today and wanted to share with you because I think they are fabulous. My next project will be finding out how to order these gems so I can display at home! The "be gentle" message is (ironically) a quote my friend Anna shared with me just the other week. Enjoy!

Which one of these quotes inspires you the most, and why?

Friday, January 13, 2012

The BEAUTIFUL human body

Today I came across a youtube video (called "The Contortionist") that made me say "holy s***" repeatedly throughout the entire video (in a good way). It features a yoga instructor from Equinox named Briohny Smyth, going through a series of yoga poses. Not only is she insanely talented, but when I watched the video, the following thought resonated: The human body is absolutely beautiful. We have the power to do so much if we take care of ourselves!Apparently the video has gotten quite a bit of feedback. Some people are appalled by her lack of clothing, others (to no surprise, men) are quite thrilled, and lot of people are a big fan of her yoga talents (obviously). Others are giving kudos to Equinox for a damn good marketing campaign.

A lot of attention has also been drawn to the song that's played during the sequence, "Midnight" by Dstllry Music. I think it's pretty awesome, and was also intrigued by Briohny's playlist featured on the Equinox site.
...
In conclusion, all I have to say is: YOU GO, GIRL!


Thankful for this day


When I woke up this morning, I was greeted by the most beautiful sunrise and (now) crazy sunshine. For that, I am thankful.


I am thankful because it's Friday and I have a wonderful weekend ahead of me to spend time with friends AND myself.

I am thankful because I have a job, and a job I love that allows me to help improve the quality of life of others.

I am thankful for incredible friends like Anna, Megan, Monica, and Jessica, who have been beyond supportive of me this month as I grow and learn more about myself.

I am thankful for the gift of writing, that I am able to use it here and share my thoughts with others (or just myself :).

I am thankful for readers who have told me that my Blog has an uplifting, positive voice and it has made them happier - I can't think of a better compliment.

I am thankful for this day. I am going to make it a great day because ultimately it's up to me what kind of day this is going to be.

What kind of day are you going to make this?

“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.” Og Mandino

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Putting protein back into my life


Tonight I had a (complimentary) monthly appointment with my trainer at my gym. It was going well until he suggested taking my body fat percentage.

The intention behind taking my body fat percentage was to have a tangible way to track my progress as I integrate more strength training into my workout routine (which I truly do support). However, it doesn't feel the best when your body fat percentage is more than what you thought it was.

In trying to pinpoint causes for the change, my trainer asked me about my diet and my protein consumption. I admitted that over the years, I've decreased my intake. I am a big fan of "plant-focused" nutrition and meals that have a Mediterranean influence. I am not a vegetarian or vegan but I have moved in that direction somewhat over the years (I'd say I'm a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being a total over-indulgent meat lover, and 1 being a hardcore vegan).

For the sake of continuing the story...

After my appointment was done, I rushed to the nearest grocery store (in classic Margie fashion) on an adventure I called "put as much protein in your cart that you can find in 10 minutes."

You name it, I bought it:

-low fat cottage cheese
-chicken
-more Chobani yogurt (as if 8 containers in my fridge weren't enough)
-lean ground beef
-soy milk
-fresh salmon
...

I am excited to put more protein back into my diet. Looking back, my diet in the past month has consisted mostly of vegetables and higher fat snacks, like cheese and crackers. I am not someone who is overly concerned about fat ("everything in moderation" is my go-to saying), but I do believe in aiming for healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

I am excited to see if I notice any changes in the next few weeks. After all, protein is really important to eat while building muscle (strength training).

To end my post with a bang, let's hear from WebMD! :) The full article is very insightful, but I've posted my favorite findings below.
...

The Power of Protein

By
WebMD Feature

It's easy to understand the excitement. Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a "macronutrient," meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. Vitamins and minerals, which are needed in only small quantities, are called "micronutrients." But unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply.

So you may assume the solution is to eat protein all day long. Not so fast, say nutritionists.

The truth is, we need less total protein that you might think. But we could all benefit from getting more protein from better food sources.

How Much Protein Is Enough?

We've all heard the myth that extra protein builds more muscle. In fact, the only way to build muscle is through exercise. Bodies need a modest amount of protein to function well. Extra protein doesn't give you extra strength. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Teenage boys and active men can get all the protein they need from three daily servingsfor a total of seven ounces.

  • For children age 2 to 6, most women, and some older people, the government recommends two daily servings for a total of five ounces.

  • For older children, teen girls, active women, and most men, the guidelines give the nod to two daily servings for a total of six ounces.

Everyone who eats an eight-ounce steak typically served in restaurants is getting more protein that their bodies need. Plus they're getting a hefty amount of artery-clogging saturated fat as well.

Choose Your Proteins Wisely

The type of protein you eat may play a role in successful weight loss and in your overall health.

Consumption of large quantities of processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats, have been linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer, Hu says. You'll have a harder time maintaining weight loss if you eat these proteins often, and you may be damaging your body.

Hu and other nutrition experts recommend getting dietary proteins from the following sources:

  • Fish: Fish offers heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and, in general, less fat than meat.

  • Poultry: You can eliminate most of the saturated fat by removing the skin.

  • Beans: Beans contain more protein than any other vegetable protein. Plus, they're loaded with fiber that helps you feel full for hours.

  • Nuts: One ounce of almonds gives you 6 grams of protein, nearly as much protein as one ounce of broiled ribeye steak.

  • Whole grains: A slice of whole wheat bread gives you 3 grams of protein, plus valuable fiber.

"A lot of plant-based foods like soy and legumes can give you the same amount of protein as meats. I have nuts for breakfast every day, because they not only give you a lot of protein, but they're healthy sources of fat," Hu says.

So when you decide to cut carbs and boost protein, take Hu's advice: Don't lose sight of the big picture.

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/benefits-protein

Guest Blogger! Anna (Facebook Free Living)




I am BEYOND excited to feature my first guest Blogger, Anna Tegin! Anna is my lovely friend who decided (in mid December) that she would join me in my Facebook cleanse this month. I am so glad that Anna and I are teaming up. For one, it provides accountability. For two, we can share our experiences. For three, hopefully we can inspire others to join the effort.

I asked Anna to give me her feedback on how her experience has been thus far at roughly the "halfway point" of the month. Here is her incredibly honest and awesome feedback...


ANNA'S WORDS

If you have seen the show “Hoarders” or even just the commercials for it, you know that the people featured on that show are mostly level five. And if there were a show called “Facebookers” I would be on it as a level five offender.


When I wake up in the morning, my eyes and brain aren’t exposed to a computer screen until I arrive at work about 2 hours later. 3 weeks ago I was a hit-alarm-grab-computer-check-Facebook kind of girl. Physically, this change meant that my neurons did not have ads, status updates, and album uploads violently thrust upon them first thing in the morning. Now, I give my soul at least an hour to catch up to my body before I start feeding it information and the end result is that I don’t feel so tired and I am overall more productive at work.

I have rediscovered what I like to call ‘creative boredom’. In fact, I have found that I am a creative cook at heart. I’m not saying that Facebook stopped me from using my groceries, but somehow ;) I have not had to throw out any produce in 3 weeks. You know, sometimes I don’t want to work on our wedding plans (blasphemy!!!) - I end up staring at all the stuff in our pantry until my mind finds really cool recipe ideas. The other day I realized that the asparagus was getting to a ‘use or lose’ stage and I quickly whipped up an asparagus soup that was amazing. It was also a great excuse to use my favorite tool the immersion blender, which Seth thinks is my replacement addiction.

Facebook was teaching me self-hatred. We are not born with the knowledge of self-hatred – this is taught to us in various ways and we mostly recognize it in the media. As a level five Facebooker I was constantly inhaling updates, links, pictures. All of them showed me how awesome everyone’s life was. Masters degrees, expensive weddings, lavish vacations, rocking parties, skinny bodies, shiny jewelry. Give a girl a break. Am I really the only idiot with credit card debt in the entire world of my 423 friends? Really? But I never ever questioned the authenticity of the posts I was reading. I questioned myself. The choices I had made. The path I was walking.

Facebook was breaking down my communication skills. I mean, for crying out loud, I was thinking in status updates. Super lame. I was relying on Facebook to tell me how my friends were doing. If I had been bad about staying in touch, I would just throw a “Hey Gurl. Love and miss ya sooo much” on her ‘wall’ and all was good. Right? Wrong! I neglected one of my friends because according to Facebook she was on top of the world. When we finally connected and TRULY CO-MU-NI-CA-TING, I discovered that her marriage was falling apart and that she needed a friend. Sometimes we don’t know how to ask for help. When we don’t make ourselves available to our friends and family, we inadvertently fail them. And we fail ourselves.






That, dear reader, is an important prelude to my mid-detox check-in.

A little under three weeks ago I accepted a challenge from Miss Margie and quit Facebook cold turkey (ok, I invited myself to the challenge). You might be asking yourself ‘what could possibly have changed, improved, transformed in just three weeks?’ Stop. Find an ex-smoker. Ask them how long the first three weeks of non-smoking felt. As a recovering smoker I can tell you. It.feels.like.FOR-EVER.

Ok, all joking and dramatic preludes aside, giving up Facebook has quite literally changed my life. Because I’m a skeptic sometimes, I want to address those of you first (we’ll get to the good stuff later). Here are some concrete changes that happened because I have not logged-in in 3 weeks:


The other changes that Facebook has brought to my life are harder to explain. Both because it’s hard to describe and because it’s really hard to tell people the truth, when the truth doesn’t make you look like a bad-ass rock-star:


All this said I do miss Facebook. Not like I miss smoking. No, the desire to reunite with your smoky friend comes when you least expect it: at the bottom of a glass of Merlot and at the end of an epic feast. Unlike my BFF the cigarette, I miss Facebook because I want to see my friends. You see, I moved across the world only to fall in love with a city in which no one stays for very long (Washington, DC). So Facebook, in all its deceptiveness, allows me to visit with my girlfriends who live anywhere from Seattle to Boston to New York to Johannesburg to Hamburg.

In two weeks my Facebook ban will be lifted. Though absence often makes the heart grown fonder, I think absence has made this heart grow wiser. I will likely rejoin with a little bit of a friend-clean-up (yeah, I don’t actually think I know 423 people), some privacy settings, and a whole lot of personal boundaries.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cupcake Chardonnay!



If a wine is named Cupcake Chardonnay, then it better be good!

Over the holidays, my friends Michelle and LaRoy gave me this bottle of wine. If you are a Chardonnay person, then this is a GREAT everyday white. It has classic Chardonnay characteristics, but not too much of anything. Just yummy all around! A nice treat.

Description

Appellation:
Central Coast, California

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes:
“We work hard to bring you the biggest, richest Chardonnay from California’s desirable Central Coast, where the sundrenched grapes create full and elegantly-textured wines. Decadent levels of butter, cream, bright citrus and vanilla melt into a balance of oak and subtle spice. In other words: Delicious.”

Food Pairing Recommendations:
Serve chilled with crab cakes, seared Ahi tuna on waffle crackers or fresh-baked French bread and cheese.

Winemaking Notes:
The Chardonnay was crafted to emphasize the Central Coast’s crisp and vibrant Chardonnay character. A malolactic fermentation was used and then left the wine sur lie to create a wine that is both rich, full, creamy, toasty, and soft.

Premium Fermentation Techniques
Barrel Fermentation — By using this process of fermentation it created a more controlled environment for the wine where the flavors become more harmonized. It also enhanced the golden Chardonnay colors, adds a creamy texture, and provided subtle toasty oak and spice flavors to the finished wine.

Malolactic Fermentation — This process, where the malic acid was altered by natural means into lactic acid, reduces the wine’s acidity and imparts a buttery, rich flavor to the wine.

Aging Technique — Aged for 9 months in premium American oak barrels added richness and complexity to the wine.

Source: http://www.cupcakevineyard.com/wines/whites/chardonnay/

Little treats for self (Eminence facial products!)


The last time I got a facial with the amazing Lauren Sterling, I brought two samples home from her fabulous samples basket of Eminence facial products. I absolutely LOVED both of them and just had to do a little "beauty shout out" :).

I loved both of these products because they are so refreshing. The Eight Greens Moisturizer is very calming, and as someone who has Rosacea, it felt great as a night time moisturizer to "calm" my skin down a bit. The Citrus Wash was so gentle as an exfoliant. Normally exfoliants are really tough on my skin and I react to them, but this one worked so well. Combining them together in the evening was the perfect combination. I'd say they'd be great to use once each week for a "weekly facial tune up" (at least with my skin type).

Eminence Eight Greens Whip Moisturizer (Pictured above)

Skin Type: Normal to dry, mature, dehydrated, lack of tone and devitalized skin types

Key Ingredients:
  • Yucca Extract: supplies phytoestrogens, antioxidant
  • Stone Crop: hydrating
  • Flaxseed/Linseed: Omega 3s, antioxidant
  • Thermal Water: supplies minerals, softens and nourishes the skin
  • Hop Extract: calming, antioxidant
  • Paprika: assists in increasing stimulation and oxygenation of the skin
  • Red Clover: antioxidant, helps to reduce inflammation and acne
  • Chlorophyll: supplies bioflavonoids, rejuvenates skin’s surface
  • BiocomplexTM: an antioxidant booster of Vitamin A, Vitamin C Ester, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid
2oz/60ml

Eminence Citrus Exfoliating Wash

Description: Refining and Cleansing

Skin Type: All Skin Types, particularly Oily to Normal

Key Ingredients:
  • Lime Juice: high in vitamin-c and antioxidants, astringent, helps minimize pores
  • Grapefruit Seed and Peel: Antioxidant, natural cleanser
  • Shea Butter Extract: revitalizes and repairs skin
  • Silica: gentle mechanical buffing action
4oz/125ml

About Eminence Organics

"At Éminence, we use only the healthiest ingredients, without any harmful chemicals or additives, chosen to give premium results to all skin types. We believe in a holistic approach to skin care and health and feel passionate about sharing our quality products with you."