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F(m)F Fridays: Play Tourist in Your Own City

Happy Friday, Superheroes!

I hope you’ve had a good week! First full week of June- it’s a magical time! I hope you’re gearing up for some fun this weekend, so, in the interest of helping you with that, another installment in my Friday series: Fun and (Mostly) Free Fridays! This week, we’re getting to know our own cities!

How long have you lived where you live? A year? 5 years? Your whole life? Well, no matter how long you’ve lived there, I bet there are places you’ve never been, museums you’ve never visited, and things you didn’t know.

This was certainly true for me! I live right in downtown Dayton, Ohio, but I spent a lot of time on Tuesday doing things I’d never done, all within walking or biking distance from my apartment. First, let’s look at what I did, and then, I’ll clue you in on how you can take on YOUR city (or one nearby).

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To start with, my mom and I got 24 hour memberships to our local city wide bike share. If you have a bike share system in your city and you aren’t using it, you’re missing out! Here’s how it works (at least here!):

-You buy a membership for a period of time. We went with the 24 hr option, although there are weekly and monthly subscriptions available. The membership cost us $5 apiece.

-You pick up a bike from any of the city wide bike hubs- they’re EVERYWHERE. You have the bike for 30 minutes, and then you check it back into a hub. You can get another one immediately, and you can keep doing that for the length of your membership.

The bike share program is awesome- I’ve used it quite a bit to go places around town. Again, I recommend it!

After we picked up our bikes, we started on a “walking” tour of downtown Dayton architecture. I have to be honest, I wasn’t overwhelmingly excited about the idea to begin with. However, there are some stunning buildings in this town, some I’d never seen before, and it was very interesting to learn about the history of the city through it’s buildings.

After we finished our tour, we got some lunch at the always delicious and super fun Lily’s Bistro (local people, check this out!), we walked around the Oregon District for a while, checking out the cute little local shops the area hosts.

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Next, we went up to the top floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The top floor of the hotel is the bar and restaurant, and open to the public. They have incredible views of downtown! We had a great time looking out the windows and pointing out different places.

We finished our afternoon at America’s Packard Museum. This little known gem right in downtown might be small, but boy, it packs a punch! I’m not much of a car girl, really, but some of the history involved with these cars is really incredible. Besides, they’re so very fun to look at.

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So, that was our tour of Dayton- and we barely scratched the surface! There is so much to do and see in this city, I feel like we could do this for at least a week and not have seen everything we could.

If you want to play tourist in your town (and really, you should!), here are some fun resources for you to start with:

GPSmycity– Mom found our walking tour on GPS my city. This is an app that you load onto your phone (or tablet), and it has little ebooks that give you all kinds of information about what you’re looking at. Also, the walking directions were very clear and easy to follow- both for someone living in the city (me) and someone who is unfamiliar with it (Mom)!

Check local facebook pages. We have several- Dayton.com, Dayton most metro, dayton local… I follow all of them just on the lookout for fun things to do in the area! Find them for your city and then keep tabs on them.

Ask around! If you’re not sure what to do or where to go, ask someone! What’s their favorite part of the city? Where do they take guests? You’ll learn a lot!

Whatever you do, get out there. Enjoy the place you call home! This is how we save our cities as superheroes- not by fighting crime in the streets, but by supporting our cities as they build and rebuild and become the kinds of places we want to work, play, and live!

Superhero action of the day: Take some time to learn about the place you live! Maybe you’ll learn something new!

OMP: Baked sweet potato chips

Hey superheroes!

It’s Summer time! And you know what I love about Summer? Yes, other than the long days of sunlight, endless sundresses, perfect outdoor weather (especially early Summer), and a respite from the school year? Summer food. There’s something so… lovely about grilling out, corn on the cob, watermelon, and lemonade. Maybe it’s my inner midwesterner coming out, but cookout food is the best food.

At my apartment, I don’t have any outdoor space, so I don’t have a grill, which is a bummer. So if I’m craving cookout food on a random Thursday evening, I have to get a little more creative than that. Thankfully, it has been very cool here this week (60-70 f) so it isn’t too hot to cook (I also don’t have AC, so I often eat cold food all Summer!). Anyway, gotta take advantage when I can to turn the oven on.

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The other day, I bought 3 pork chops on sale at my grocery so I could make one of my go to week night meals: oven baked paleo BBQ pork chops. It’s the easiest entree ever- dry rub some of Popular Paleo’s BBQ spice rub recipe (I got it in her EXCELLENT book, The Frugal Paleo Cookbook.) Seriously, I make this recipe all the time. It’s excellent, takes a half hour, including prep and goes with a lot of things.

But that brings me to my next point: what to eat as a side dish? I quickly settled on sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes. I can eat them prepared a thousand ways, for any meal or snack, and never get tired of them. They’re one of my pantry staples.

So, that was easy. But how did I want them fixed? Let’s try something new.

I’ve made sweet potato fries before, and i know the drill. Cut them, add oil, pop them in the oven and they turn out soggy. Cut them thinner, it helps, but… hm.

So I decided on a kind of sweet potato kettle chip. A couple of notes, and we’ll get on to the recipe

-The more uniformly you cut your potato, the more evenly it will cook. If you have a mandolin slicer, use it! If not, do your best, but don’t be surprised if you’ve got a few that are burnt and a few that are soggy.

-DO NOT skip the parchment paper. It makes a LOT of difference.

Ok? Cool. Here we go.

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

Serves: 1, maybe 2

 

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet potato

2 TB olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

-dash of red pepper flakes

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.IMG_1597
  2. Cut sweet potato in thin disks. The thinner the better, but no blood, ok? Blood doesn’t go well with potatoes. Again, the more uniformly thick the slices, the better. The thinner they are, the less cook time you’ll have.
  3. In a ziploc, mix together oil and spices. Add sweet potato slices to bag, seal, and shake, squish or wiggle to coat each disk in the oil mixture.IMG_1598
  4. Lay the disks out on the parchment paper covered baking sheet. Lay them out in one layer, not touching. The more space you can leave, the shorter the cook time! (I never leave much space, but I also like them a little soft)
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Check regularly after 15 minutes to judge your chips according to preferred level of crunch and thickness.

Remove from oven, serve immediately! Enjoy!

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Superhero action of the day: what’s your favorite cookout food? Is there a way to make it a little more healthy for yourself?

 

Living your truth

I went back to my boxing class tonight. I needed it. There’s something very freeing in a workout that hard. It leaves you wrung out, exhausted, It gives you so much room for mental clarity. When you’re stressed, sad, anxious or scared, my whole hearted recommendation is a workout that strips you bare, especially if it makes you uncomfortable. I talked a little bit about that preference of mine in Batten Down the Hatches, a post I wrote about what to do when life gets hard.

Anyway, there I was, in my boxing class, probably dying as we finished the second two minute round meets 1/4 (?) mile run. And everything hurt, I could barely breathe. It’s been a month or so since I was there, and in that month, I’ve eaten a lot of bad meals, and I’ve taken a lot of naps. So tonight class hurt. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts every time, but I could really feel that month off. When things get like that, I try hard to find a single floating life preserver of positivity to keep pushing through the onslaught. Usually, it’s a compliment, memory, or goal.

Today, my life preserver was this thought: you are a superhero, and this is how you train for your job. And then, the shame washed over me. How can I be a superhero when I’m sometimes out of breath at the top of the stairs? How can I be a superhero in double digit pants sizes? How can I pretend to be a fitness minded person when I love ice cream as much as I do, when I’ve essentially taken a really slow month on my goals? I’m a pretender. I’m a fake.

And then I caught myself. No. That simply isn’t true. None of those negative thoughts are true. I am a superhero because, even though I’m out of breath, I keep climbing.  I am a superhero because I have the courage to stand up for what’s right, and to live my best life, regardless of the size on the tags of my clothes. I am a fitness minded person because I am climbing back in the saddle, because I will never give up, because I will never, never back down from my goals.

And then, in a blink of an eye, I was thinking about how amazing a “plus size”, female, strong as anything, sexy, fierce superhero would be.

I. Am. A. Superhero. Because I choose to be. This is the kind of thing that you get to decide to be, unlike being tall and leggy, unlike being a physicist. I am a superhero because I say I am.

And you are all superheroes because I say you are. No matter your level of fitness. No matter how many times you’ve started over on your goals. No matter the amount of money in your bank account, no matter if you’ve eaten ice cream every night for dinner for a week. No. Matter. What. You are a superhero if you say you are.

Of course, this works equally well on all of life’s hurdles. Sure, maybe it’s struggling through running that last mile, but maybe it’s starting a new job, or getting a new job, or going through a breakup or losing a loved one. When you find yourself drowning, you dig deep. You own your truth. You put your shoulders back, stand up proud and shout from the roof tops that you are a superhero and that no one can take that from you. And that when superheroes are going through difficult stuff, or playing the comparing game, or feeling uncertain, they do what’s right anyway.

And we can do that too.

Superhero action of the day: Tell someone something you’re struggling with or ashamed about. Talk it out. Get rid of it. Kill that shame with some openness.

 

 

 

On my plate: spaghetti squash and meat sauce

About three years ago, I pretty much gave up wheat based foods. Not always, I love pizza beyond any reasonable person’s reaction. However, I feel better when I don’t eat very much of it. So, I try not to cook it, and I limit it when I go out.

However, that left me trying to find other ways of eating some foods that I really love and find comforting.

Especially pasta.

Enter the spaghetti squash.

Vegetable noodles are becoming more common. You can make them out of lots of different things- zucchini, sweet potatoes, even carrots.  That is, if you have a zoodler. If you don’t have the fancy tool, you can still try vegetable noodles. In the form of spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti squash are the bright yellow oblong shaped ones. They’re pretty inexpensive, but they’re a little intimidating. They look like this:

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Here’s how you cook them:

  1. cut in half long ways. This is a little tricky- they’re super hard skinned, but you can do it, Superhero!
  2. . Place cut side down in a baking dish, and add water to cover the bottom of the plan.
  3.  Cook for 30-45 minutes at 400.
  4. When the meat of the squash is nice and soft, use a fork and gently scrape the strands out of the skin and serve immediately. Be careful of those fingers- the halves are hot.

While that’s happening, make you some sauce!

For the sauce, you’ll need:

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 large onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

32 ounces of crushed tomatoes (canned)

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 TB pepper

1 TB oregano

1 tsp italian seasoning

1 tsp crushed red pepper

2 bay leaves

 

  1. Brown ground beef. When it is just a little pink, add onion and garlic and cook together until onion pieces stat to turn translucent.
  2. Add seasonings, and stir to combine well.
  3. Drain at least some of the grease from the meat off, or use a slotted spoon and start on a new pan.
  4. Add crushed tomatoes to beef mixture, and stir together.
  5. Let simmer together for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, and place over cooked spaghetti squash strands. Top with cheese, if you like! Enjoy!

 

OMP: spaghetti squash and meat sauce: www.superheroliving.blog

 

Get out of your comfort zone

I spent last weekend at the first annual Girl Redefined Retreat. I cannot WAIT to tell you ALL about it, but honestly, I need a little bit of time to process the whole thing. For now, though, let me say, it was one of the best weekends of my life and I have learned so much about who I am and the kind of person I want to be from my time there.

 

Perhaps the thing that was compounded into my head over and over again though, was the importance of getting out of our comfort zones.

This isn’t the first time that lesson has been jammed into my brain. Repeatedly, in my life, there have been times where staying comfortable cancels out any forward momentum.

It hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn. In fact, most of the time, I get dragged out of my comfort zone like a baby bird getting flung out of the nest. It’s SCARY to get out there, try something new. It’s terrifying to realize that getting from point A to point B is going to take something new. It’s going to take something scary. It’s going to make you uncomfortable. It’s going to require a level of vulnerability that you’re not used to.

This is true in many areas of our lives: it’s true in our careers, in our relationships, in our goals and dreams. It’s true with our pet baby projects that we’re scared to show the world. It’s true with our health, our fitness goals and our struggles.

There are several ways we can work on getting out of our comfort zones in small ways so we can be more prepared for the big, scary leaps.

 

  1. Try new things. This can be a variety of things! New foods, new hobbies, new experiences, new places. Heck, maybe it’s enough to try a new grocery store!
  2. Reach out to people. Sometimes, it can be uncomfortable for us to do this, especially if it’s strangers! My favorite way to practice this skill is to compliment strangers. “hey, your hair is really lovely!” “Oh my gosh, that jacket is SO CUTE!” You’ll be amazed at how people will react to this. It’s a sure fire way to lift people up, and it will make you feel UNSTOPPABLE. No one is going to say much of anything besides “oh, thanks!” when you do this. You’ll build confidence, and you’ll build their confidence. Win-win. Of course, there are lots of ways to reach out to people that will stretch your comfort zone. Call an old friend and catch up. Go out of your way to be nice to someone- especially someone who needs it extra bad.
  3. Find a challenge- or create your own! There are lots of online challenges you can be a part of that look SO fun- check this one out: comfortzonecrusher.com

So that’s just a few ways to work on stretching the size of your comfort zone. But what are the benefits of living on the edge of our comfort zone?

First, I think it’s important to live there, so we aren’t afraid of doing things. Superheroes are brave, and we want that! And living on the edge of our comfort zone is an important part of that. If you haven’t read my post on the meaning of the word brave, you should! Secondly, living on the edge of our comfort zone keeps us on our toes. Complacency is the enemy of forward movement, and we have to move forward, always. Finally, living on the edges of our comfort zone helps us to be ready to say yes to unexpected opportunities.

 

And that, my friends, is how we become superheroes. We stay on our toes, we stay brave, and we say yes, unflinchingly, and without fear. We build each other up. We speak our truths, even when we’re scared. That’s superhero living. You in?

 

Superhero Action of the Day: Make a plan to get out of your comfort zone today. Even if it’s just a random compliment, find that place of discomfort, and reach for it. You can do it!

How I meal plan for the week ahead

I have found meal planning and prepping to be an invaluable resource to me. I work three + jobs, work out regularly and maintain at least a semblance of a social life. If I’m not going to eat out every meal (or eat food that makes me feel yucky) I HAVE to meal plan.

I’ve developed my own way to do this fairly organically, and I’ve adapted it over the last six or so years. It works fairly well for me. It worked fairly well for me when I was cooking for the household too, although granted it’s a little less work intensive as a single person. However, it’s a fairly adaptable system, and you should feel free to adapt it to suit your needs!

Why I meal prep:

Well, for starters, I’m really, really, really busy. There are plenty of days where I eat all of my food on the go. This is why I bought a nice (and kind of expensive) cooler/lunchbag.  (I have this one) Because I always have to take food with me. So I meal prep because I’m busy.

 

It also saves me money. If I go to the store one time during the week, with a very comprehensive list of what I need, I save money over multiple trips, browsing and eating out a lot. Also I live in a food desert, and going to the grocery is not ever on my way home.

It provides some structure and form to my week. Because my schedule is so nuts, it’s nice not to have to make decisions as I go about what I’m going to eat that day.

It helps keep me away from disordered eating. Due to my past history, I have a tendency towards disordered eating when I get stressed or too busy. Having a plan in place as I head into a busy week helps ensure that I will eat enough to keep me moving.

Ok, so that’s why. But HOW, Charis??

Fair.

If you don’t know this about me, I use a 9×12 sketchbook for everything. Work, personal, all of it, right in my book. So I start with that.

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As you can see, I’ve written the dates for the week across the top, and then listed the days out down the sides, with a slot for each meal. At the end of the week, I’ve listed a spot for snacks.

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Next, once I’ve got my form set up, I go through and write in any meetings or events I have that week that will have provided food. So, for example, if I’m having dinner with Dad on Thursday, I write down “dinner with Dad”. Then I know I don’t have to plan a meal for that time slot.

Once those are all filled in, I count how many total meals I have left. Usually it’s about 16 for me, it might be more or less for you. That usually includes 7 breakfasts, and the rest are (obviously) lunch and dinner. So first, I decide what I want to have for breakfast.

I tend towards mostly paleo meal prep- in fact, my goal is to eat paleo at home so that when I’m out and about I don’t worry about it as much. That does extend to breakfast (sometimes unfortunately, breakfast is my struggle meal!) When I decide what I want to have for breakfast, I fill it in in as many of the blank spaces as possible, and then I either decide to make something else and fill that in, or get some “convenience” breakfast items (post forthcoming) to fill me in.

Then I do the same with lunch and dinner. But how do I know what I want to make? And where do I find recipes? Also fair questions.

First, I think about what I’m in the mood for. Just in general. Mexican? Salads? Fish? Steaks? Chicken? Sweet potatoes? Stretch my cooking wings? Play it safe? Then I take a look for recipes that fit that desire. Some things I can do now without a recipe. If I want fajitas, for example, I can do that without a recipe. But if I want this amazing enchilada crockpot casserole that I only let myself make about twice a year, well, I need the recipe for that. Or if I want to try something new, I’ll definitely want the recipe!

The first place I look for recipes is Pinterest. I tap a few keywords into the search bar and we’re off. I do have a couple of cookbooks and I like them. My favorite right now is the Frugal Paleo Cookbook. She’s amazing.

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If I’m using Pinterest, I pin the recipe to the proper board, and then I write the name of the recipe and that I pinned it into the slot on my meal plan chart. At the same time, I start a grocery list on the bottom of my meal plan. Frequently at this stage, I just write down everything the recipe calls for (except spices).

I’m also a really good leftover eater, so even though I’m only cooking for myself, I make family portions regularly and eat the same two or three meals for a week.

Once I’ve chosen all my meals, written in all the times I’m going to eat which recipe and made a composite list of ingredients, I double check my pantry to see what I’m out of or what I already have. I don’t keep very many pantry staples on hand, but it’s always a good idea to check. I also double check things like paper towels, dog food, etc at this point, and add anything I need to my list.

Then, if I’m feeling really crazy, I rewrite the grocery list and group like items together (produce, meat, canned goods) to make it easier to shop.

Lastly, I go through my grocery store’s flyer and the coupons in the app and double check if there’s anything I’m already buying on sale or that I can use a coupon on. I do this last because it keeps me from adding things I don’t need to my list. Oh, I’m eating Italian and American comfort food this week, but corn chips are on sale… this helps with that instinct for me.

And there you have it! Meal planning 101. It takes me less time to do it than it did to write this post at this point. I know it seems overwhelming! But you can do it.

I tend to do my grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon (although I’m thinking of shifting to Monday morning), so I try to do my meal planning on Saturdays. Frequently I’ll schedule a meal I call “grocery surprise” on Saturday- and I let myself get whatever I want at the store to cook and eat that night- usually it’s fresh fish or a small steak.

When I’m really on top of my game, I then spend some time meal prepping for the week- post forthcoming about how I do that!

 

Superhero action of the day: do some meal planning today! Maybe it’s just planning your lunches for the remainder of the work week. Or maybe, you go wild and plan out the whole week. Be sure to let me know how that worked for you!

 

Sunday Night Rituals

I know, we aren’t even ready to start thinking about Sunday night yet- it’s only Saturday night! But hopefully this will give you some time to schedule this for yourself and let it help you.

A couple of years ago, I was looking for a way to be more ready to start my week. What kinds of things did I need to do on Sunday so that Monday didn’t suck so much? I found this post  on a blog called Blair Blogs. Boy, did it help! I tried her way now and then for a while, and I did notice myself feeling better about my weeks. Over time, though, I’ve adapted her routine and turned it into my own. Here’s what I do on Sundays to make sure I’m ready for the week ahead.

 

  1. Sit with my planner & make goals

I sit down with my planner, make sure I’ve got all of my meetings, teaching days, etc. scheduled in. Then, I go back in and fill the rest of the days up. When am I going to exercise? Clean my apartment? Do my laundry? Run errands? Take long walks with Penelope? Yes, I write ALL of that down in my planner. I also write out weekly goals- how am I going to get where I want to be at the end of the month? I write it all down.

  1. Ten minute tidy & dishes

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I spend 10 minutes tidying up my apartment, and I make sure all of the dishes are clean. The week starts better when my space is clean. Ten minutes may not seem like much, but you’ll be surprised at what you can get done in that brief amount of time if you focus!

  1. Make sure the laundry is put away. Similar to a ten minute tidy, knowing where all of my clothes are makes life just a little easier. Besides, it clears up the clutter in my bedroom, which I like!

 

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  1. Meal plan/prep for the week. Whether or not I do the actual meal planning on Sunday, I try to spend a few minutes meal prepping on Sunday afternoons. On very busy weeks, this includes bagging snacks for easy grab and go, and all of my meals. If it’s a less full week, just knowing what I’m going to eat when can be enough. Sometimes I spend all Sunday afternoon doing some batch cooking. This makes for a super easy week, and I’m always thrilled to have it done. (check back tomorrow for a how-to post on this!

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  1. Make a weekly to do list. Usually, in fact, I make several of them. Frequently I start by writing down absolutely everything that needs to get done that week, regardless of project or type. Then, I go through and rewrite it according to what project it belongs to: work, personal, blog, etc. Sometimes, I then go through and rewrite those sub lists in order of importance. Yes, I am a little ridiculous about my lists!

 

  1. Take some time to relax. Sometimes that means vegging in front of my TV watching reruns. Sometimes it means a nice long walk. Sometimes it means a nap, or a book, or a marathon cooking session or organizing time. Sometimes I treat myself to a bath and a home mani pedi. Whatever it is, I try to find some time to relax and refocus for the week.

 

And that’s pretty much it! I know it seems like a lot, but the basics can be done in about 30 minutes, and I get so much more than 30 minutes back. Taking the time to build some structure into my life is what keeps my forward momentum ticking, and let’s me focus on how I want my week to go: productivity wise and personally. Having a solid support structure helps me manage everything and live life the way I want to.

 

Superhero action of the Day: What are some of your Sunday Night Rituals? If you don’t have any yet, what are some things that would help make your week go more smoothly? Can you do any of them before bedtime on Sunday?

 

 

Fun and (Mostly) Free Fridays: go for a hike

If you haven’t gone hiking yet, you, my friend, are missing out. The great outdoors is called Great for a reason. And more than beautiful scenery, there’s something about time outside that helps us remember who we are. It helps us reconnect with our instincts, and become… well… superheroes. There’s a reason the Fortress of Solitude is in the middle of nowhere. There’s a reason Bruce Wayne trained on the top of a dang mountain. The reasons are two fold:

Reason number one: physical exertion helps us learn about ourselves. Any time you wear your body out, it teaches you what your limits are. Obviously, this is true physically, but it shows us our mental limits too. And once we know where those limits are, we can find a way to break through them.

The second reason is that the outdoors teaches those same lessons. And when we combine the two, magical things happen. Reconnecting with nature helps us find our basic, biological selves, and teaches us how to grow. When we do that, we are unstoppable.

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We find things we never knew we were missing.

So this summer, I’m trying to do more hiking. And this week, I found myself at George Rogers Clark Park, right outside of Springfield, Ohio.

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George Rogers Clark Park is a VERY interesting place to begin with, featuring a house you can tour (which, apparently, is haunted, if that’s your thing). There are also a bunch of cool old (or old style, truth be known I’m not sure) buildings- a fort with a log cabin, and a Native American village. The hiking paths are not too long, but there are a fair number of small hills, some lovely water features and lots of beautiful woods. The trails are very rugged and rustic. There were hoof prints in the mud, too, so apparently horse back riding happens there too.

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We hiked almost four miles, and although it was a little bit muddy, it was a lovely, lovely morning adventure.

And then, of course, we had post hike ice cream.

If you’ve never gone for a hike before, you may find these helpful:

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-if you’re going alone, tell someone where you are and make sure you have a map, even if you think it’s no big deal

-wear comfortable shoes, and dress for the weather. I prefer leggings and layers of shirts, a hat and sunglasses. My personal rule is no jeans! If you get wet, they take forever to dry, and they have a tendency to chafe.

-I always bring a pack with a water bottle, collapsible bowl for Penelope, a couple snacks, sunscreen and bugspray, just in case. This also gives me somewhere to put my car keys!

-take note of the weather and the trail- if it’s been rainy, expect mud, etc.

-leave no trace! This is ALWAYS a good idea when you’re outside, but it bears reminding. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but tracks.

Superhero Action of the Day: Spend some time outside today- even if it’s just 15 minutes, enjoy the world today.

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10 Products I’m loving for June

Happy June 1st, superheroes!

It’s Summer time! I know, I know, it won’t actually be Summer for a couple of weeks yet, but the weather is warm, the days are long, and schools are out!

Today, I’ve got a list of some of my favorite products that can set your Summer off to a great start.

Disclaimer: as of now, I get no money from anyone for talking about products I like. These are honestly just things I like and I think maybe you’ll like them too. Links are not affiliated to me at all, they’re just convenient! Cool!

  1. Tarte Tarteguard SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion

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I got this in my Sephora Play! Box a month or so ago, and I have to say, I really like it! I’ve used it the last couple of times I’ve been out hiking or outside in the sun (I’m really pale, and it doesn’t take much!). It’s nice and light on the face, it doesn’t feel greasy, I haven’t broken out, and it’s giving me some good quality spf! Also, I don’t notice that it smells, which is an added bonus for me!

2. Tory Burch- Love Relentlessly Eau de Parfum

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I LOVE THIS SCENT. This is another one I got in my Sephora Play! Box, and I am crazy about it. I mean, first of all, the name is excellent! Love relentlessly is one of my personal mottos- SO superhero. Also, the scent itself is wonderful, light, spicy, complex, seriously, I like it. It balances notes of pink pepper, patchouli, amber and, rose. Individually, those are scents I’m not always fond of, but somehow, this manages to be sweet without being nauseating, spicy without making me sneeze and sexy without being overbearing.

 

3. Dollar Shave Club

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If you are still buying razors like a regular person, I hate to say it, but you’re doing it wrong. These blades are awesome, cheap and consistent. Every month, I get four new razor blades mailed directly to me. You can also get them every other month, which is handy. This comes in VERY handy when you’ve got a last minute pool date or you want to wear a sun dress without warning. (Of course, you should do whatever you like with your body hair, but I like shaving, personally)

 

4. Plantain Chips

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I Love Plantain Chips. Salty, crunchy, delicious. They’re a staple on my grocery list. I love them so much, in fact, that I gave them up during my Whole30 because sometimes I can’t stop eating them. A perfect addition to your beach bag, road trip, or boring old work day!

 

5. Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey

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Another Sephora Play! win. This lip color has become my go to daily color. It feels great on the lips, and the shade is a nice pinky red without being opaque. It’s also not sticky, which is a huge thing for me and lip colors. It doesn’t last as long as I would like, but it also doesn’t leave anything behind, like some lipsticks, so I don’t even mind that very much.

 

6. California Dreaming OPI nail collection

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I love fresh nail colors to go with the season- and these bright colors remind me fo a beachy sunset- perfect for this time of year. Also, I’m always California Dreaming, so these got my attention right away. I’m in love with the This is Not Whine Country and the Sweet Caramel Sunday colors especially. Yum.

 

7. Pineapple corer and slicer

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I love, love, love fresh pineapple. On everything. Pizza, tacos, heck, even ice cream sometimes. Pineapple hot sauce, barbecue sauce, juice with my club soda… getting the picture?

But cutting a fresh pineapple, that’s the WORST. Until this thing. If you can open a bottle of wine, you can use this thing. Just cut the top off the pineapple, and twist this thing down through the pineapple until you get to the bottom. Then wiggle the tool back out, with your fresh pineapple cut in a spiral on top. I’ll never do this another way again.

Get you one.

 

8. Traveler Grapefruit Shandy

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I’m declaring this the Summer of Grapefruit Shandy. Shandy is the perfect Summer brew, always. Sweet, but refreshing, casual, fun… and this citrusy spin on it? It’s wonderful. Even if you’re not normally a beer drinker, you should try one of these. They’re wonderful.

 

9. Cat Eye Sunglasses

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Cat eye sunglasses. They are SO cute. Dramatic, feminine, funky, retro. They’re the perfect blend of ridiculous and fun hearted. They’re perfect for summer. I just picked up this pair of cuties are at Target for only $16. Score!

 

10. Krave Chili Lime Beef Jerky

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This is my other go to snack. Road trips, quick lunch, afternoon energy punch? This is your friend. It’s sweet and spicy, tender, not tough, and completely addictive. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

 

So there you have it! Ten products to kick your summer off right. Get out there, live big- and bring these things with you!

 

Superhero Action of the Day: What are your go to products? I’d love to get your recommendations!

Too Much is Just That

This April, I bit off more than I could chew. I decided to do a whole30, a burpee challenge, an arm work challenge an abs and squat challenge… and work through Artist’s Way.

I consider myself a highly, highly capable person. I am very efficient, have high energy, and I’m incredibly stubborn when I set my mind to something. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to do all of this.

I wasn’t. By the second week, I stopped pretending I was going to keep up with Artist’s Way. It’s still sitting on my bedside table, and I have every intention of picking it back up, but I just couldn’t do it. I just really could not.

In week 3, I found myself three days behind on the exercise challenges. That day, I did 100 burpees, 120 pushups, almost 6 minutes of planks, 250 situps… it was absolutely ridiculous. And I was exhausted for three days afterward.

Not to mention, I didn’t think through how much of my day those exercise challenges were going to take up. Literal hours. I got to the point where I was splitting stuff up into rounds, but one round sometimes took about ten minutes, and if I had 5 or six rounds to do… well. Not that an hour of working out is insurmountable all of the time, but it is, sometimes, to our schedules. And I was walking and boxing on top of this stuff.

I was very ashamed of this failure on my part. I had told people I was going to do this! I can’t believe I’m not going to finish it, not going to do all 50 of those burpees on the last day! What about the 60 pushups? The 230 squats? I was angry and disappointed with myself. And I was exhausted. I looked at my 6 rounds of exercise… and I legitimately rolled over and took a nap.

Here’s the thing, though. On Monday in my boxing class? I did 30 burpees. About at number 20 or so, I realized that a month ago, I wouldn’t have done the second set, I’d have done squats or something instead. When we did pushups in that class, I did them from my toes, not my knees like usual, and I knew I could do them. And finally, when a 90 second plank was called? I relaxed into plank stance and stayed there. And although it was hard, I didn’t want to die.

So did I really fail? I guess, in some ways, yes. I set out to do these challenges, and I did not complete them. I did, however, get stronger and more confident. My arms are more defined. My waist slimmed. I’m not flat bellied, nor do I have super sculpted arms (yet!), but my abs and arms and shoulders are strong. And they are much stronger than they were a month ago.

Busy, busy, busy

There’s a more important lesson here though, and it has to do with the shame around my supposed “failure”. I learned so much about myself this past month. And one of the things I learned was one of my limits. If I had taken on just ONE of those challenges, instead of being a greedy gus and wanting them all, I could have nailed it, and I would have felt better and been less stressed. Instead, I took more than I could handle, and not very much of it got done to my satisfaction. But even though it wasn’t 100% done, I still made progress.

This pertains to the rest of our lives too, you know. When we do too much, we lose track of what is really important to us. And at the same time, we undervalue the success we do reach because we are so focused on an unrealistic goal- something that may never come to be! That’s NOT living life like a superhero. That’s living life like the police captain we love to hate. It’s no fun. It’s stressful. And you never get to soar under your own steam. Instead, how much better off would we be if we learned to slow down, add one new thing on at a time, and be patient? How much better can we live in the long run if we get the right training under our belts? Batman wasn’t trained in a day, you know. Embracing our human limitations doesn’t make us any less of a superhero, it’s just a fact of life. It helps us live fully, when we don’t try to over commit to something we really can’t do well. Find what you do well. Do that. Do that superbly.

Super hero action of the day: make a list of all of the things you do or are involved in. Take a hard look at them. Work, exercise, dates, partners, friends, clubs, hobbies, commitments, kids. Are all of them bringing you joy? Or are you holding onto something that not only isn’t getting your superhero self, but is leaving you feeling run down and ragged? How can you fix that?