work it out

i never thought i would come to this space to share workout routines, but what the hell.

it’s a funny study in motivation for me, this exercising thing… i’ve learned to pick out what factors get me going – and keep me consistent. yes, i want to get in shape, to feel strong, to stay active for the sake of my health. but with the job i have currently (and the grad school/job combo i may have lined up next year), exercise has been more important to me as a way to unwind, physically. i spend so much time talking throughout the day that i forget to breathe normally sometimes. i unknowingly tense my shoulders, neck, lower back, jaw, etc. etc. etc. for hours at a time. it isn’t until i get myself in front of these workout routines that things release and stretch out, and my body feels like itself again.

here are the three (free!) videos that have really worked for me and my workout-averse personality. 

20-Minute Yoga for Complete Beginners —

this is more of a reset button than a true workout routine. i tend to use the stretches to release tension, and the quiet, slow pace with guided breathing helps me clear my mind a bit.

Intro to Bellydancing —

yes, bellydancing. once i got over how silly it felt, i found a lot of the movements to help with lower back tension, easing muscles that don’t really get attention in other workouts. i use certain segments of the video as warm-up/cool-down and skip the rest.

NYC Ballet Workout 1 —

this is my go-to for a true workout. i have always loved taking ballet classes, but i’m on a tight budget and this is the next best thing. i skip the middle ‘stretches’ segment and do some or all of the other exercises. they get my heart rate up, work my core and leg muscles, and force me to pay attention to my grace and posture. then, depending on my mood, i’ll use the ‘reverence’ or one of the above videos as my cool-down. 

after i’m all done, i get to skip downstairs and slap some stickers onto our house workout chart and then bask in the swirl of my endorphins. it’s an ongoing lesson to myself that hard work can feel good. 

breaks my heart

in the best way.

if you’ve seen the movie, you know the ending ain’t pretty – but this is damn beautiful. the beginning always is.

(turn it up.)

(you can listen to the whole song here.)

a trip, fall

.

i’ve returned from a journey over seas and across years, or so it felt.

i am not one for big weekends or late nights, stumbling into the next day with wild stories in hand and unexplained pictures on the camera.  if you know me, you know this.  even if you were to have just met me, i’m pretty sure you would still know this.  instead i am one for sitting by the window and dreaming, listening to the rain and thinking, quietly shuffling around the kitchen – or the pages of a book – and wondering at my life with the volume turned down low. it’s what the experts call absurdly introverted.

so when i say that after coming home, things have gotten quiet around here – it means they’ve been really, really quiet.

the trip was an important one. i saw friends i hadn’t seen in five years’ time.  friends whom, when i left them, i couldn’t be sure i’d ever see again.  time folded onto itself a bit while i was there, and i remembered more than i thought i did: who i was then and who i hadn’t yet become.

and to process all of this since i’ve been home? well, i’ve done nothing, almost exclusively.

aside from going back to work, which has involved some extraordinary snooze button-hitting and high-heeled feet-dragging, i’ve been taking comfort in little meals and favorite tv programs – to a pathetic extent. and my crazy-high level of self-esteem compels me to share the details now.

(yes, i do believe this little write-up is about to take an unfortunate turn.)

.

food & tv pairings for the travel-weary

drive-thru hamburger on the road home from the airport
ice-cold coke
half of
gossip girl
before wilting into my blankets

a lamington, surprisingly moist and pillowy after being carried over the pacific in my suitcase
teeny glass of milk
castle

crispy fried squid with spicy salt
thick toast doodled with honey
how to make it in america
.

there is some (anti)social anthropology that can be done here, i’m sure.  you can get to work on that while i go dig up an episode of—

material things

it’s friday, which means it’s nearly the weekend, and that means it is time to cheer up.

a beautiful little print arrived for me in the mail yesterday:

.

…full of delicious little details and my favorite colors.

.

it’s from an etsy shop called beethings, whose work i saw on design*sponge not too long ago.  the print caught my eye, and i made a late-night impulse buy: my fingers went clickety-click and my credit card went chargedy charge charge…

i think, generally speaking, you’re supposed to regret the results of such behavior. but honestly, i love all the things i’ve bought on a whim.

.
the most recent before that was this pair of fabric-covered button earrings:

i spotted them in a tiny shop on a tiny street in san francisco, and with the encouragement of an enabler/friend, they were tucked into my purse in no time at all – my wallet a few bills lighter.  they’re sweet little things, and i’m making a promise to myself to wear them more often.

{i did some investigative googling and found the maker (crafter? jeweler? artist?): cookie & the dude.  (i knew there was cookie in the name.)  you can see more of her earrings here. yummy.}

.

and i leave you with this little tidbit from yet another impulse purchase.  this time, i fell victim while standing in line at a borders bookstore during christmastime: the adventures of milo & otis, $5.99. no regrets.

.

the film is definitely a nostalgic favorite of mine.  i watched it for the first time when i was in elementary school, back in those days when going to my friend’s house to eat grilled cheese sandwiches off of tupperware plates and then play barbies all afternoon was just about the best thing ever.  i watched it again when i was just a little bit older, catching it on tv at some odd hour of the night while battling my first case of jet lag – and it was soothing like no other.

here’s to hoping nothing crabby’s got you by the nose today.

staying positive

how is it february already.  why is it monday only.  i need some gummi bears.  this still cracks me up.

the swell season

happy monday, guys. (sob.)

i don’t know about you, but i think conan o’brien is tops in all sorts of ways. i caught my dad (who is usually full of puns and cheesy humor) laughing aloud while watching him on tv one night, and it was like all my world had come together and been made right.

anyway, despite all that, i’ve felt like his new l.a. set has produced a lot of awkward musical segments, which is especially sad when it’s an artist i know has the live performance thing down tight. i don’t know what happens; i just find myself thinking pretty often after watching a performance, “well, that was a weird one.”

perhaps things have improved since i watched more regularly – or maybe it’s been my imagination all along – but i caught a performance recently that really did it right.

the swell season playing “low rising.”


their song really rose to fill the space.

big brother, little sister

it’s funny how little it takes to make me nostalgic. today, all it took was a friend sending over a mr. bean clip and suddenly i was tumbling backward to soft, simple afternoons when i was a just little kid… before i was old enough to be latchkey, before daycare arrived in our school district – back when it was just me and my big brother at home alone after school. the memories are faint, because there was only one year we were ever at the same school at the same time. only one year that i was asked to “wait for anthony” so we could walk home together: big brother, little sister.

i remember watching this with him:


and laughing because my brother laughed.


getting to know wallace and gromit, too:

and, one day, eating four strawberry fruit-a-freeze popsicles in a row – bought from a small japanese supermarket, meant for individual sale but taken home in the original cardboard packing boxes because we bought so many at once – and my brother getting blamed for my uncontrolled gluttony (but it was summer and so hot! and they were so good…)

and something else on pbs, a show whose name i can’t remember. but the kind-voiced, fuzzy-afro’d man taught crafts… the distinct sound of his sharp scissors chomping through thick construction paper still rings in my ears.

he had an episode once that taught how to make your own lick-and-stick stickers. my brother and i tried it, and i can’t remember how successful they were, but i remember being fascinated by the fact that vanilla extract was part of the
lickable glue recipe.

.

i think i may have come to the part of my life where it circles back to the beginning. or the near-beginning. it’s likely i’ll be moving back home – the home i grew up in – in just a few months. …and i realize i might have a chance for a second go at this whole family thing, to grow up and learn how to be a better child. so i suppose it’s timely that i am thinking about my big brother and how he shaped me, whether by sitting beside me watching pbs, or playing his hipster music loud enough so that i could hear it down the hall, or even through his absence as we quickly grew up and apart.

today is one of those days when the fibers run together, and it feels good after such a long stretch of floating untethered.

(500) days of summer

i think i have a crush on this movie.

i saw it the weekend it came out, and i still catch myself thinking about it from time to time, and melting just a little bit.

and joseph gordon-levitt… my, did he grow up nice.

homemade bbq sauce

i find myself in a generally better mood when i’m not trying to finish cooking five dishes the day of a dinner party, so a couple nights ago i got a head start on prepping for my barbecue this weekend. the stars of the menu are pulled-pork sandwiches, something i’ve been wanting to make for a while since i’m a fan of eating them. i did my homework, researched some recipes, read through reviews… and one from emeril lagasse seemed to be a safe bet.

there were three main steps to preparing the sandwich filling: roast the pork, shred the meat, then toss it around in some homemade barbecue sauce. quite a few reviewers mentioned how the flavor of the sauce improved after some time in the fridge, so on a wednesday night i found myself watching old episodes of friends while chopping a whole lot of onions.

after they got a good and buttery sauté in the pan, a generous amount of spices went in, too.

IMG_4584

plus, like, twelve thousand cloves of garlic. divided by a thousand.

then tomato paste, cider vinegar, and some water before things really started blurbling.

IMG_4591

pretty soon, the aroma of the sauce hung in the air and my little house was smelling awfully sour. indeed, there were some recipe commenters who worried over the vinegar content in the recipe, but for this first time out, i decided to follow it faithfully; i’ll just keep my bag of brown sugar close by for emergency adjustments. i haven’t tasted the sauce yet – the tupperware’s currently resting quietly in the fridge – but i’ll be roasting the pork later today, so we’ll see then how well the two get along.

to be continued…

everything

hello, this is my mishmushmash of everything i’m currently feasting my senses on.

i’ve been so giddy that “so you think you can dance” is back on. that show never fails to captivate me at least once or twice during a given episode, to hold me very still sitting on the couch and fill me to bursting with inspiration – and possibly the sudden urge to prance, with feeling.

this performance is a good example (starts at 0:30).

the beautiful song didn’t hurt either. i was so entranced by it, in fact, that i went and looked it up, and happily discovered that the song went along with a lovely little music video. youtube is my friend.

the same episode, i was especially taken with a pair of brothers.

they are so dapper, so charming in their performances. and aside from that, i just love seeing siblings who obviously love being related to each other. “my whole life i’ve been waiting for you to grow up, so we could be best friends. you finally made it, kid.” oh sheesh, somebody put that in a movie or something, please.

i also have been listening to this song “help i’m alive” by a canadian band called metric. nobody who knows me would say this is my typical kind of song, but something about it is perfect for this summer – a song to come on the radio at the right moment, on a drive to somewhere fun, when you just gotta roll down the windows and let your hair fly around your face and turn up the volume. looks like the band’s whole album is free to preview here.

lastly, i took this recipe (my new go-to for chewy chocolate chip cookies) and swapped out one cup of flour for some unsweetened baking cocoa, and then added a teaspoon of espresso powder. i took a ziploc bagful of them to go over and watch a dvd with some friends, and at the end of the night a couple of them were squabbling over the leftovers. it’s always a good sign when your baked goods can start a fight or two.