First Day of Fall: Checking in as we Head into a New Season

It's been a hot minute since I last posted. I have many posts that I want to get up but #lifehappens and with the state of things in the US (looking at you NC), Presidential politics, the anniversary of 9/11, and the recent terror attacks/bombs (what are we calling it?) that happened in my neighborhood, it felt hard to get those posts up... they are coming, don't worry. With the change of season, #hellofall, today felt like the right time to get back into the swing of things.  

The Peanuts always make me smile. [Source]

The Peanuts always make me smile. [Source]

I'm going to keep it short and simple and see how I did on my End of Summer Bucket List. *Spoiler Alert:* Not great. 

Governors Island: The last day of the season is Sunday so I do still have time to make this happen. Maybe... 

Finish my Book: Yes to this! I'm now reading All the Light We Cannot See. I know I'm really late to the game on this one.

Met Costume Exhibit: Checked this off as well! As I wrote about in my August favorites post, it was really well done and I had such a wonderful time seeing the incredible pieces. Fashion truly is art.

Baseball Game: Nope. Baseball season isn't technically over yet but I can say with almost complete certainty that this isn't happening. Although now I'm seeing it as a challenge and might have to make it happen, this is what happens when you tell me I can't do something.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge: I already gave myself a "maybe wait until fall" and given how brutally hot it was at the end of August/beginning of September, there's no way this was happening. I'm thinking this will make for a nice Sunday stroll with boots and a matcha latte in hand and whatever else I can include to make me #basic.

More Pool Days: I'm going to go the, "not my fault" route here. Over Labor Day Weekend I tried to make plans with my parents and then each day they would bail on me. I had some quality roof sitting though so I'll say I half did this.

For those keeping score that's 2.5 with a maybe to the 3 remaining items. Not great but not awful; ok, kind of awful.

Did you check off all of your summer to dos? Do you think I can get these last ones done?

It's the Great Pumpkin (Spice Latte) Charlie Brown

Despite fall officially starting in a few weeks and predictions for 90+ degrees this weekend, the PSL (that's Pumpkin Spice Latte in case you've been living under a rock since 2003) has arrived at Starbucks, and for its legion of fans, that means it's now fall. When the social media posts first hit my feeds, I started thinking about the PSL, and the pumpkin/pumpkin spice craze in general. Growing up it wasn't really a big deal, or at least not that I was aware of. My first memory of pumpkin as a thing is my freshman year in college. Not being a coffee drinker, I didn't opt for a latte, but did have a lovely affair with Dunkin Donuts' pumpkin spice donuts. There might even have been a time when because of said donuts, "pumpkin spice everything," was listed as an  interest of mine on Facebook. #basic #sorryimnotsorry #yesimkindofsorry 

PSL Pumpkin Spice Latte is fall

We grew and picked pumpkins, adorned the front porch with them, carved our initials into the young ones as they grew, and painted or otherwise decorated pumpkins, but eating pumpkin pie or pumpkin in any other form? Not so much. Was this just a case of expanding my horizons in college? Had everyone been on the pumpkin as food train (hay ride?) without me? Or, maybe the fad really was born in the early aughts? I had to find out. 

So what did I find? A) Corporations really do run things and B) The PSL and ensuing craze dates back to 2003. Pretty much everything I read credited pumpkin mania to Starbucks which launched the PSL in 2003. With my 2004 introduction to the world of pumpkin, I wasn't totally sheltered from the pumpkin life, just fashionably late to the pumpkin patch. The statistics are pretty staggering; between 2008 and 2015, sales of pumpkin flavored and scented food/home goods rose nearly 80%.[1] The trend has even sparked pumpkin haters, one of whom wanted to start a national anti-pumpkin day because "it's just out of hand."[2] Considering that this year there are Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, he kind of has a point. 

I don't think Mr. Anti-Pumpkin Day would like this. IG: @eb_smith4

I don't think Mr. Anti-Pumpkin Day would like this. IG: @eb_smith4

But I bet there'd be a line around the block if they were. IG: @seacaitgo

But I bet there'd be a line around the block if they were. IG: @seacaitgo

I'm no longer all about the pumpkin flavored everything, but I get the appeal. When I think of pumpkins, I think of jumping in piles of leaves, Halloween, cozy fires, snuggling under thick blankets, being with family, Thanksgiving; it's basically a Hallmark Channel movie in my head. I'm not alone in that. Cindy Ott, wrote an entire book about pumpkins, Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon, and found that it's about nostalgia and a longing for an idealized pastoral life that no longer exists for most of us[3] -- I'd question whether it ever existed, but that's a different story. Fascinating how those three letters have created millions of dollars for companies because they make people think of the simple life. 

What's bigger, the pumpkin or my hair? Seriously though, the nostalgia is real.

What's bigger, the pumpkin or my hair? Seriously though, the nostalgia is real.

Are you all about the PSL? Did you know any of this?

If you want to read some more: Mental_Floss, CNBC, Smithsonian.com, CBSNews, NPR.

 

 

Five Favs: August

I've been trying to think of what to put in this post. I had a good August, but it was also a busy month, dominated by work and much of what I did I have already shared here. This will be a shorter-than-normal favorites

"Remember When" at Story

"Memories..."

"Memories..."

As I wrote about here, the current "story" at Story is 90s nostalgia and it's all that and a bag of chips. You'll be straight up trippin' if you miss it.    

 

"Brainwashed"

I know it's not for everyone but I think Mr. Brainwash is a genius.

I know it's not for everyone but I think Mr. Brainwash is a genius.

In that same post, I talked about the Brainwashed, the exhibit by Mr. Brainwash at Tagliatella Galleries in Chelsea. Two floors of colorful, street art that makes you think about pop culture, our society and is also pure eye candy. Are you still sitting there reading this because you better be halfway out the door to go see the show (or you can finish my post and then go). 

 

Time with Friends

Despite my busy schedule this month, I did get in some solid friend time, the most special of which was with a friend who lives in San Francisco. I didn't know he would be here until about a week before his arrival.  Felt completely spoiled because I got to spend a huge chunk of his very limited time in NYC with him. I also got to have dinner with my high school bff. I wish she was in NYC but in less than a year from now she will be! Both of these people are the type of friends who just "get" me. We can talk about stupid things, serious things, whatever and they're 100% right there no matter what. I'm a lucky girl.

 

Dad's Recovery

Can't keep a good man down. If this is the last post I ever write, it's because I put up this pic and am now in hiding. 

Can't keep a good man down. If this is the last post I ever write, it's because I put up this pic and am now in hiding. 

A little cheesy but... The month began with my Dad's second hip surgery (second as in he's already had the other side done, not the second go-around on this particular hip). I knew he would be ok and his main concern was being in good enough shape to go to the not one but TWO Springsteen shows he and my mom have tickets for in Philly next week, but still, I was a much happier girl once we had seen him in the recovery room and mom and I were chomping down on pizza. I'm pleased to say he's doing well and will be seeing the boss x2 in a few days. 

 

Manus x Machina

As I wrote in my end of summer bucket list, I didn't want to miss the current Costume Institute exhibit Manus x Machina. Last week I needed a little inspiration and decided it would be the perfect time to go so off I went. The exhibit did not disappoint and though it was crowded, it wasn't too bad. The show is divided by types of details/materials so there is a section about lace, one on floral appliqués, leather, among others. It was a really interesting way to learn about each technique and see how they were put into play by the design houses. Unfortunately the show closes on Monday so there isn't much time left if you still want to see it. 

No trip to The Met is complete without going to Dendur aka my favorite place in all of NYC.

No trip to The Met is complete without going to Dendur aka my favorite place in all of NYC.

Looking forward to what September has in store!

What were your August favorites?

Yes Barry, I WILL "be seeing you": My Barry's Bootcamp Fear

Fear is a funny thing. It exists entirely in our minds, manifesting differently depending on the trigger and from person to person. What's more, triggers vary as we age, depending on where we are physically, and of course between people. A strange noise might be terrifying if you're in an alley late at night, but you might only give it half a second of thought if heard at 2pm while sitting at your desk. 

When it comes to fitness, there is one workout that I have come to fear: Barry's Bootcamp aka "The Best Workout in the World." Avoiding Barry's began innocuously. As I wrote in this post, I stopped running years ago. For those who aren't familiar with a Barry's workout it is made up of tread work (treadmill) and floor work (weights, crunches, etc. done on the floor). There are those who #doublefloor, but I know myself and I tend to get frustrated when I can't do something. Knowing I would only be able to do half of the workout filled me with a sense of defeat. Over the years, my "I don't want to do double floor," turned into "I'm scared of Barry's." I have come close to booking a spot, but before I hit reserve, I close the browser tab. After running in Croatia and seeing that my body is not only ready but completely able to handle it again, I can't let myself hit the X anymore. I am going to take a class.

You can't scare me. Ok maybe that weight can. IG: @barrysbootcamp

My Barry's fear boils down to something that is almost universal across species: Fear of the unknown. When I think about it, it's actually pretty silly. What's the worst that can happen? The "fail" scenarios consist of needing to use a lighter weight, turning down the speed and/or incline on my treadmill, taking 30 sec. to pause and reset, and being sore later. Note to self: NONE of these are bad things, let alone things you haven't done before. I quite literally ran off the side of a mountain in Wyoming with a parachute (and a guide). So yeah, I'm booking a spot. Stay tuned for the full report but probably no sweaty selfies. 

I can get down with this ^^^ IG: @barrysbootcamp

Do you have a fitness class you've been avoiding? Do you do Barry's? 

A Rose by Any Other Name

Do you remember your first email address or AIM name, myspace, friendster, etc.? Remember how much time (or maybe not) you spent putting into what your handle would be? Well, when it came to setting up my Instagram account way back when, I did it through Twitter and just decided to keep the same name. It was easy, it was already part of an online presence I had, and it was my initials/name so of course it was me. Turns out I was really wrong on this last piece. 

When in doubt, KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid, but you're not stupid, no one is).

When in doubt, KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid, but you're not stupid, no one is).

As much as our names/initials can be used to identify us and come to be a part of us, they don't necessarily capture who we are. Are any of my personality traits a result of me being named Leah? Definitely not. For me, Instagram (my personal Instagram that is, not the things I do for clients for work), is a mash up of a visual diary, mood board, vision board, and things that make me happy. My moniker, @lfrosenbaum, felt too staid and just didn't capture who I am. I felt a little strange acknowledging that my name didn't express my "me-ness," but then as I wrote above, I realized that our names are just that, names. They don't necessarily define us and when you come down to it, you don't even choose them for yourself, major caveat of course if you have had your name legally changed and/or chosen to change your name after marriage/divorce, but even that is somewhat from convention and society and not always 100% motivated purely by our own desires. So, I had a brainstorming session of words that spoke to what I use Instagram for and how I wanted my feed to be seen. The essence of my feed is the things that I love and so I started a hunt for available handles that could work and finally found that @whatleahloves was available. A quick gut check with a friend found me defending my decision and that's when I knew my heart was already set on it. I took a breath, made a post to let people know (anyone else always like "New phone who dis?" when you see an unfamiliar name pop up your feed?), and went for it. 

Since making the change, I have felt so much happier and more like myself and not just on Instagram but in general. It's made me spend a lot of time thinking about how we present ourselves and the ways in which we choose to honor, or not, our true selves. I won't get into any more self-reflection for now, it is Friday after all. Happy weekend!

Have you ever changed an online handle? While we're at it, thumbs up/down to my change? 

 

 

Born in the 80s, Bred in the 90s

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't get hit with a rush of nostalgia at the mention of "the 90s." Was it really a better time? Terrorism threats were nothing like they are today, our country did not feel so divided, and the economy was strong. On the other hand, my view is tinted with childhood. When the clock struck 12 and we began the new millennium, I was only 13, so while I know that there are many metrics that will show the 90s to be superior, there were also many things that weren't rainbows and sunshine, I was just too young to be aware of them. Still, I will always love the 90s and yesterday I unintentionally had a day-long 90s fest, it was rad.

What she said. This little guy came home with me. 

What she said. This little guy came home with me. 

My day began with class at Flywheel. While everyone was coming in and getting set up, the music playing was 90s, specifically Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5." As Bega's hit faded out, I heard those familiar guitar strums of Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn," (I know you know what I'm talking about, right?), and thought, "X's class always makes middle school Leah so happy." The next thing I knew, X told the room she had a 90s playlist and it felt like a good time to use it. YES, so much yes. "Spice up Your Life" was the first song up and then it was 90s jam after 90s jam and all the smiles as I dripped with sweat. After class I told X that I felt my day could only go down from here; luckily I was wrong.

I planned to meet a friend to see the Mr. Brainwash exhibit "Brainwashed" at Tagliatella Galleries. It was a great show- two full floors! Many people are intimidated by the Chelsea galleries and it's such a shame. They are free and are often full of really stellar shows. Just because you aren't going to buy anything doesn't mean you can't go in! Remember that.  

Life IS beautiful. Thanks for the reminder Mr. B.

Life IS beautiful. Thanks for the reminder Mr. B.

After indulging in some culture, the friend I was with suggested we head down to Story. Story is one of my favorite stores; it's a visual magazine with new issues -- "stories" -- every four to eight weeks. The current story is "remember when," any guesses on what that means? ...TOTAL 90s NOSTALGIA! Pretty much every item in the store had my friend and I exclaiming, "Oh my god, remember ____!"

You just see this and smile, right?!

You just see this and smile, right?!

Gak! I had so much of this weird goo way back when.

Gak! I had so much of this weird goo way back when.

After browsing and a little shopping, we just couldn't resist, it was time to head home. I needed a quiet night in and what should be on TV, the 1996 classic "Jerry Maguire." I was all, "show me the money" to that. Would I really want to go back to the 90s? Probably not, but it was a perfect Saturday.

Do you have 90s nostalgia? How did you spend your Saturday?

I'll Wear My Party Dress If I Want To

At my elementary/middle school, we had a dress code from JPK (that's Junior Pre-Kindergarten or age 3) until 2nd grade and a uniform from 3rd grade on. For my dress code years, particularly JPK - Kindergarten, I often went to school in a party dress. My mom has since explained that this wasn't the case for my first few weeks of JPK but then, upon noticing some of the other girls coming in dresses, she asked their moms about it. The rationale was more or less that we were at an age where we were growing quickly so why not make sure we actually wore these beautiful dresses our parents had paid for, wash/send them off to the cleaners, and repeat. It's kind of genius, no? So we joined the bandwagon and soon it was bows and smocking all day err day. 

Recently I've taken a similar approach to my daily wardrobe. I am not the girl who works from home in PJs. I get dressed in real clothing every day. That said, when I don't have a meeting or client-related event, my outfits typically include jeans or shorts. However, lately I've found myself wanting to wear my summer dresses and skirts. Not the super fancy ones that in my youth made their way onto the playground, but those that would fall under the "Wear to Work" and "Day to Night" or even "Date Dresses" categories on a shopping site -- More shopping sites should have a date wear category, just sayin'. The first time I did it, I felt almost awkward about it, why dress up to just be with myself? But the more I thought about it, dressing up for yourself is exactly what I should be doing every single day.

Treating yourself well is paramount to happiness and wellbeing. Sometimes I buy a fun patterned pair of workout crops or a tank with an inspirational saying to make me feel a little more badass and help me get through a tough session, wasn't dressing up a bit for work more or less the same? I decided it was and haven't questioned my outfit choices since. There's a whole portion of my wardrobe that hadn't been getting the love it was used to and I missed showing it that love. Now, I mix it up; some days it's shorts and others it's dress time, with perhaps a few swipes of mascara for good measure.

Would you dress up if you worked from home?

End of Summer Bucket List

The past two weeks have been non-stop. While I was in "go" mode, I definitely lost track of the fact that summer is coming to a close.  Le sigh. 

I feel you store window.

I feel you store window.

While I have had an incredibly full summer (travel, a room of balloons, discovering I actually do like running, seeing shows, to name a few), I've decided to make a no-pressure end of summer bucket list. I may not get them all done, but I'm going to give it the old college try.

  1. Governor's Island: Every year, I say I'm going to go and then I never do. I really want to change that. I'd also like to rent a surrey so please come join me, I need at least 3 people :)
  2. Finish my book: It's pathetic that I have not managed to make it through one book this summer. I have less than 100 pages to go. I feel absurd just writing that. New goal: Finish my book by the end of next week.
  3. Met Costume Exhibit: With the weather in NYC feeling like 100-110 over the next few days, museums and movies are really the only things you can do. But, even if I don't get this in now, the costume exhibit is usually a favorite of mine and from the pictures I have seen of the current exhibit Manus x Machina, I think it's safe to say I won't be disappointed.
  4. Baseball GameI'm not the biggest baseball fan but for as long as I can remember, I've gone to a Mets and/or Yankees game at least once a summer. This year I haven't been to either Citi Field or Yankee Stadium and I'd like to change that... Or maybe I just want ice cream in a plastic baseball hat cup.
  5. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge: Like going to Governor's Island, walking the Brooklyn Bridge is something I've been talking about for years. I am hell bent on making it happen, but it needs to get cooler first and with tourist season in full swing, I might wait on this until fall. TBD.
  6. A few more pool days: I need a few more pool days up at my parents house. There's nothing like being home except being poolside at home. 

What's on your end of summer bucket list?

Where everybody DOESN'T know your name

Recently, I've become hyper aware of the fact that I don't know my baristas' names. Since my January transition to social media and copywriting full-time, I've been working from home which means that for the past 8 months, I have gone to the same coffee shop nearly every day (it's under my building). With each visit, the baristas and I got to know each other a bit, although I know many more things about one in particular (he's very chatty but in a good way). Despite the fact that they more or less know what I want when I walk in and I know that one of them has a pet tarantula, just planted an herb garden, and wants to be a bee keeper (I told you he was chatty), I have no idea what any of their names are and because it's not a write-your-name-on-your-cup place, they don't know mine either. 

If only they had name tags. 

If only they had name tags. 

I feel terrible not knowing their names and really want to ask but I'm worried that might come off like I'm hitting on them or make them think I'm a loner with no friends. Am I over-thinking this? Probably. 

At what point do you ask the name of someone who you aren't meeting in a social context? The first time I went to "my coffee shop," I had no idea if I'd ever go back, but then I did, many times over. Don't even get me started on all the people who live in my building that I pass in the lobby or have shared an elevator with. I'm not sure what the answer is but, I've decided that tomorrow I'm asking the guys (and lone girl if she's there) what their names are. Will they think I'm a total weirdo? Maybe. But, in the name of human decency and just feeling so super awkward, I refuse to let another day go by without knowing. 

Soon walking in for matcha will be like this ^^. #squadgoals #staygolden [PC: Getty Images/NBC]

Soon walking in for matcha will be like this ^^. #squadgoals #staygolden [PC: Getty Images/NBC]

Do you know the name of your barista(s)?

Is there someone whose name you don't know despite seeing him/her daily? 

Olympic Fever

No, no, that's not the name of a disease acquired in Rio, although maybe if people start drinking the tap water... Kidding, but not really.

Sports are the Universal Language

I love the Olympics. Especially this year, it's nice to have something bigger that unites us all. The global language of sports, is one of the things I love most about sports and fitness. When I studied abroad in Stockholm and lived in London post-college, I could walk into the gym and suddenly we all spoke the same language. Everyone was there to work on themselves, be it physical or mental. I may not have been in my home gym, but in many ways I could have been.   

Sports unite us

The Olympics are also about moments that you will never forget. Those, "Did you see that?" and "Oh my God did that really just happen?!" times where you become aware of how much these athletes have trained and how incredible the human body and spirit truly are. For me, during the summer games these moments occur during gymnastics and swimming.  

The Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle

The men's 4 x 100m Freestyle (that's a relay where 4 swimmers each do 100m of freestyle) is my favorite swimming event. I may have watched it in 2004, 2000, and 1996 (and possibly 1992 and 1988 but I was a very little lady then so who knows), but it wasn't until 2008 that this race captured my heart. The US men hadn't won this event in 12 years and were ahead until the third leg when France took the lead. Everyone assumed France had all but won since their fourth swimmer was not just ahead of Team USA, but was also the world record holder. But then, our anchor (that means the final swimmer) Jason Lezak morphed into a superhuman and from somewhere deep inside, caught up and surpassed France (and minor detail, set a new world record)! It was one of the most incredible feats of athleticism I have ever seen. Since that night, whenever I find myself struggling in a workout or other physical task, I think about that race and what Lezak did. (Dear Jason Lezak, If you're reading this, you have been my extra push so many times. Thank you.)

Skip ahead to 4:06 (or watch it all). Seriously, wtf?! HOW did he do that?!

Last night Team USA brought home the gold in the 4 x 100m Freestyle again. Needless to say, I felt like all was right in the world and I took it as a good omen for the week ahead. 

What are your favorite events? Do you have a sports moment that stands out for you?

 

National [Insert Food Here] Day

Today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, yesterday was National Watermelon Day, and tomorrow is both National Mustard Day AND National Waffle Day. I don't know about you, but I've started to get National X Day exhaustion. Maybe it's the result of social media and having the food(s) of the day plastered all over every screen I have for 24 hours, rinse and repeat, but it just feels like way too much. Does everything need a day and does every day need a thing? In case you hadn't already guessed, my answers are no and no. That said, these are the nine foods (and one drink) that I think are worthy of a day of national recognition, dare I even say global recognition. Some actually already have days or close-ish days/months which I've noted thanks to  Foodimentary.

Brownies

My favorite dessert. For me, every day is Brownie Day.

[Source]

December 8th: National Brownie Day; February 10th: National "Have a Brownie" Day

 

Peas

I have always loved peas. One of my favorite utensils as a child was my pea pusher; a perhaps ridiculous, but actually quite useful piece of cutlery given to me (my parents) when I was born.

[Source]

No day for these guys :(

 

Pizza

I love pizza. My dad loves pizza. I assume I inherited my love for the cheesy, saucy goodness from him. Pizza happens about once a week in my house.

[Source]

October: National Pizza Month; September 5th: National Cheese Pizza Day

 

Broccoli

Broccoli is possibly my favorite veggie. Carrots and spinach are close runners-up.

[Source]

No national day for the broc either.

 

Chicken Kabobs

Is it just me or does everything taste better on a stick? Chicken kabobs = major win in my book.

[Source]

September: National Chicken Month

 

Tea

You already know I'm a cup-a-day kind of girl. Favorites: green, earl grey, and matcha.

[Source]

January: National Hot Tea Month

 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

Creamy or crunchy, raspberry or strawberry, on a bagel, bread, or even a wrap, pb & j is bae.

[Source]

Chew on this... February 12th: National PB&J Day; April 2nd: National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day; August: National Sandwich Month

 

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

 The ultimate cereal? Yes times a million. I totally "crave those crazy squares."

[Source]

March 7th: National Cereal Day

 

Blueberries

Perfection in fruit form. Maybe it's because I loved the book Blueberries for Sal or maybe it's because they are just so damn delicious.

[Source]

July 10th: National Pick Blueberries Day

 

What foods do you think deserve their own day?

Digital Digital Get Down

Bonus points if you can name who sang that song, i.e. "Digital Digital Get Down." To all my 90s boy band lovers out there, you can do this! But I digress...

Yesterday I got the dreaded "You have used X% of your data for this billing cycle" text. Why I only get these some months I'm not quite sure but nevertheless, they always make me a little nervous. Did I use too much? How bad (i.e. $$$) would it be if I go over? Am I addicted to my phone? Then the rational side of my brain kicks in, or my dad tells me that it's NBD and the new billing cycle starts tomorrow so shush. #FatherKnowsBest

Mini "OMG I'm a phone-addict who will lose all her money to Verizon" freak outs aside, yesterday's text made me stop and think about my phone usage. 

Everyone does this right?! [PC: William Iven]

Everyone does this right?! [PC: William Iven]

Time to investigate

What am I doing when I use my phone? Answer: 99% of the time I'm on Instagram, Facebook, email, taking photos, texting, and checking Twitter. Funny how none of that is what a phone was actually created for, oh to live in the 21st century. Some of this activity is necessary for work, some is to communicate with friends, and some is for fun. But it's this last category that I've stretched too far. When I am watching OITNB, do I need to also check Instagram? No. When I'm walking to the supermarket do I need to be on my email? At times yes, but mostly no.

On the one hand, my desire to find for fun, happy details in the environments around me; my love of flowers; and my work in social media make me a close observer of my surroundings. However, so many of my most memorable moments are those when I am 100% there taking it all in with only my five sense, rather than through a lens (contact lenses not included #duh). As frustrating as it was to have only sporadic access to technology while I was in Croatia and Italy, the lack of 24/7 connectedness was a huge part of what made the trip so wonderful and allowed me to come back truly refreshed. 

Digital Detox

I don't know how this will go, but I've decided that I'm putting myself on a digital detox or more of a digital diet. (Hate the word diet, but here it seems ok-ish).

  1. No emails, texts, calls (unless necessary) during meal times. This is pretty much a non-negotiable for me if I'm dining with others, but when it's just me at home, I will work while I eat. I need to give myself the same respect as I give to my dining companions and allow myself to truly enjoy my meals. In other words, BE PRESENT.  
  2. One hour of no mindless phone usage per evening. If it's important or something incoming that needs to be dealt with, I can do it but there will be NO scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, reading blog posts, etc. just because my phone is within reach and it's been 5 minutes since I last checked the feeds. 

Not the longest list, but I think it's a good start. 

Have you put yourself on a digital diet/detox? Who sang that song?

 

Five Favs: July

I can't believe it's nearly August! Back to school sales are starting to take over window displays, I heard a girl telling her mother her Halloween plans, next thing you know Starbucks will roll out the Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Still, we have plenty more summer to go...right? Right! With a whole month of summer before us, here's a look back at what I loved in July.

Open Hearts

Over the past few years, incidences of racism, intolerance, homophobia, random acts of gun violence, basically a Pandora's box of horribles, has been increasing, and in recent weeks it has more or less become the norm to wake up to news of a tragedy somewhere in the world. These issues are hard to talk about. It's maddening, mind-boggling, upsetting, scary, and when the incident in question has happened to someone who is not of your same race, gender, sexual orientation, or is otherwise viewed by society as different from you, there is a fear of saying the wrong thing and being unintentionally offensive. To combat this, a friend of mine organized a gathering, open to all, which she named "Open Hearts." Did we come up with a solution? Of course not. Was it incredibly moving and cathartic? More than I thought possible. To speak, listen, and learn in a judgment-free, safe space, was liberating and so healing. 

Life, Animated

Several months ago, perhaps even a year, I read a fascinating article by a man whose autistic son, Owen, loved Disney movies. However, Owen's attachment wasn't just that of a typical fan. Instead, Owen used the movies to understand emotions and make sense of his life. Sadly, for many years Owen was non-verbal. Eventually, his family was able to get him to speak again by talking in character. (Of course this took years and was far more complex than I have just made it sound.) "Life, Animated" is a documentary about Owen and his family. It is a beautiful film full of heartbreak, humor, and hope. It isn't playing in many theaters but if you can find it, it is well worth your time. 

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Matcha Lattes

I drink tea daily, but it was only recently that I go on the matcha latte train. I don't really have anything to say except that I'm hooked. Try it; I think you'll like it.

Morning goodness.

Morning goodness.

Martin Creed at the Park Avenue Armory

As I wrote in this post, Martin Creed's "The Back Door" at the Park Avenue Armory is a must see, specifically the balloon room. I could wax poetic again about how much fun it is but instead I'll leave you with this gem from last night at the DNC which proves that no matter who you are or what your age, being surrounded by balloons will make you uncontrollably happy. 

Aww Bill, I love balloons too. Note that he carries one off at the end.

#ImWithHer

Whatever your political leanings, it is undeniable that a woman being the presidential nominee for a major party is a BIG DEAL. It wasn't until the roll call earlier this week that it really hit me. No longer is a woman running for president a "maybe one day." My parents raised my sister and I to believe that we could do anything, regardless of our gender. I never consciously thought, "I can't be President because I am a girl," but I have always had a subconscious picture of what a President looked like. With the election of President Obama, that image shifted to encompass men of color but, as I realized this week, it was still the image of a man. Whether or not Hillary wins in November, watching the DNC filled me with optimism and made me feel truly empowered.   

So much yes to this! [From a friend's Facebook post.] 

So much yes to this! [From a friend's Facebook post.] 

What were your July favorites?

Foodie Q&A

Sometimes you just need to have fun and be silly so today I thought I'd do a food Q & A with you.

If you could have dinner with anyone who would it be? I've admired Audrey Hepburn for many years and have read many of the biographies and articles out there. I even wrote my Writing SATII essay about her. Her story, values, charity work... she was truly full of grace and I have always wished I could have met her. That said, my surrogate grandmother passed away two years ago. To see her again, there are no words. At the same time, I fear that it would never be enough time and having to get up from that dinner would be incredibly painful. 

You're at a cookout, hamburger or hotdog? Turkey burger or a combo of sides/veggie option please (I don't eat red meat).

Chips or fries? 99% of the time I'll go fries.

How do you drink your coffee? Tea for me. Green or Earl Grey, every now and then English Breakfast. I'd like to say I'm good and don't sweeten it but with green, it's usually just a little too strong for me to have plain.

Best meal: Breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Dinner or breakfast for dinner? I guess that's still dinner :)

Favorite sandwich? Three-way tie. Peanut butter and jelly always; it's actually a comfort food for me. Grilled cheese and turkey with tomato, cucumber, and mayo on more or less any bread except rye, are close runners up.

Nothing like a good pb&j.

Nothing like a good pb&j.

Favorite cuisine? Probably Greek. 

Favorite food movie? I'm going to really nerd out here and say "El Bulli: Cooking in Progress." It's a fascinating documentary which follows chef Ferran Adrià (who's been called the best chef in the world) and his staff as they experiment in preparation for the following season of El Bulli. (The restaurant would close for 6 months of the year for this testing and then reopen and be made anew.) My mainstream picks are "No Reservations" and the scene in "Spanglish" where Adam Sandler cooks his late-night sandwich. I have always hated egg yolks but in that moment they look downright luxurious.

Just. Look. At. That.

Favorite restaurant? Oh man. I honestly don't know. I have favorites for certain things but I don't think I can pick one overall winner. I'll say the kitchen of Mom and Dad. My dad is a great cook and Mom has the baking down- she makes the BEST challah.

Yes, my parents made those! Pizza on the left (duh) and peach pie on the right.

Go-to drink? Usually a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, or Rosé in the summer. Sometimes I'll go for a mojito or a lemony Vodka something. I'm not a big drinker but I do like a glass of wine every now and then.

What’s on your pizza? One slice is always some sort of veggies like mushrooms or spinach (or both) and the other is plain or Margherita. 

Food you don’t like? I'm not sure if this counts but coffee. I have never liked the taste of coffee, even in other things; coffee ice cream, mocha anything, espresso powder in chocolate, no thank you. 

What's the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Sheep testicles. I was in a Viking village in Sweden and only a few of us were brave enough. I figured, why not? They didn't have much of a taste but the consistency was disgusting, it was like chewing on a sponge.

Rocky Mountain Oysters (ish because they're not from a bull) in all their glory. Who wants some?

Rocky Mountain Oysters (ish because they're not from a bull) in all their glory. Who wants some?

Most impressive recipe? My kitchen skills are really of the presentation, decoration, and figuring things out variety. Need someone to write on your cake? I'm your girl. Can't figure out how to fill your corn muffins with jam? I've got you covered. I can make a few things, but nothing that I'd deem "impressive."

Easy dinners 101. Throwback to junior year of college and the first meal I ever cooked with one of my suitemates. Clearly we thought our culinary triumph was worthy of documentation.

Easy dinners 101. Throwback to junior year of college and the first meal I ever cooked with one of my suitemates. Clearly we thought our culinary triumph was worthy of documentation.

Play along! Answer any of the above or put other food Q&As in the comments.

The new skinny?

In the past year there's been a shift in the way the media, celebrities, trainers, and studios are framing conversations around body image and fitness. Once en vogue, "skinny" is now a four letter word, a la "diet," and instead it's all about being strong. The thing is, I'm not sure anything has really changed. Yes, there are studios, personalities, and media outlets that have definitely made changes and I applaud them, but on the whole, I feel like the images I see and articles I read have just substituted one s-word for another. 

Really? I hope so.

Really? I hope so.

From challenges to recipes that promise indulgence while still being good for you to workouts being advertised by how many calories the average class-goer will burn, the underlying message still seems to be: lose weight by doing this. The intention is good, challenges allow people to set goals and for many such specifics are a powerful motivator, recipes show people that it's not all or nothing but a balance and that changing one's eating habits doesn't mean giving up everything delicious, but calories burned? This one I really think should go away. I know some people use calories in their fitness journey, but to say that a class will burn X number of calories puts the emphasis in the exact wrong place, not to mention that everyone is coming in with such different body compositions that the numbers just don't mean much for the majority. As well meaning as such articles and programs are, where do we draw the line? When a challenge ends, who helps people determine the right amount of classes, squats, time to hold a plank, etc. for them? When meals are described with words like "cheat," it automatically paints them as bad and pulls on the complex relationship that on some level everyone has with food, particularly now when you could drive yourself nuts trying to find whole foods that are antibiotic free, pesticide free, have not been packed with fillers or substituted along the supply chain, are eco-friendly, and sustainably and ethically produced. (My head is spinning too. A garden is probably the best bet, but then you know there would be a study on where the seeds came from. Pick and choose your battles and do the best you can I say.)

When celebrities are interviewed or studios and trainers use testimonials for promotion, there is often an, "I lost X pounds/inches" component. On the one hand, this is not surprising at all. There is a demand for this information and it's what sells. Business is business. But wouldn't it be awesome if there was also discussion about how Mr. X can now run around with his son without having to stop every few minutes or an anecdote from Ms. Y in which she tells us that the clerk at the store offered to carry her bags but she didn't need help because she has gotten so much stronger. 

I'm not sure what the answer is and it may not be solvable. Maybe I'm being impatient and change will come in time or maybe it's here and I'm missing it? Would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments. 

Friyay!

Hooray for Fridays

Rather than having Fridays be "Finds," I've decided to make it a grab-bag. Fridays are fun (or at least they should be). The weekend is in sight, and hooray, you've made it through the week! To treat myself on Fridays, I'd rather not be limited just to finds and instead throw out some fun,  another rep of fitness, an extra helping of food, travel, real talk, or a find if I have a good one. This week I'm giving you a fun/find combo. 

A Room of Balloons!

Last weekend I had plans to get froyo with a friend. I know, I know, could we be more basic. But then, as I was falling asleep Friday, and obviously going through Snapchat stories, I saw my sister's bff's snaps from Martin Creed's "The Back Door" exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory. The show had been on my list but once my screen filled with clips and pics of my sister's friends in a room filled with balloons I knew I had to go immediately. 

Don't you want to go in there IMMEDIATELY?! Me too!

Don't you want to go in there IMMEDIATELY?! Me too!

My friend was more than up for it and we had one of the most fun afternoons I've had in a long time. It was like being in a ball-pit except you're walking through rather than swimming and it's easier to move through balloons than it is plastic balls. (Why is it so hard to get through those things anyway?) As we approached the front of the line, which moved pretty quickly, we were both swept up in this state of pure joy and excitement. There was an innocence and simplicity to it that I'm not sure I've felt in a long time. Working freelance; navigating the NY dating scene; living in NYC; and the tragedies, instances of bigotry and hatred, and slew of other horribles that have been unleashed on the world, is draining and it's easy to get jaded. An afternoon of silliness was just what we, or at least I, needed. 

The number of people and time that you're in the balloon part of the exhibit is limited but you get a decent amount of time to play. Still, we have both seriously thought about going back. The rest of the exhibit is also worth seeing, though I caution you that the video portion is not for the faint-of-heart when it comes to bodily functions and you might not want to bring children in depending on your rules/feelings on what they see and how it will be received (SPOILER: You will see someone "relieve herself" on a floor and there is nudity (female top, male bottom from behind).  

If you will be in NYC before August 7th, I can't recommend it enough. Who knows, maybe I'll see you in the balloons. Click here for more info.

Baby's First Poke

I'm not sure I've made it through a day in these past few weeks without hearing "poke." From adults running around, eyes glued to their phone #gottacatchemall, to people raving about one of the newest food crazes in NYC, it's all about the poke 'mon (I'm so clever I know). I've never been a raw fish girl, at Japanese restaurants I always opt for the "Kitchen Entree" portion of the menu or go with a non-raw roll, but something told me I was going to try the poke trend. 

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Since it's opening this past spring, I've heard nothing but praise for Wisefish Poké. After a bit more investigating, I knew it was my turn to experience one of their bowls. After the recent NYPost article "Everything we love to eat is a scam," a horrifying truth that I actually already knew about, I definitely had reservations about ordering fish, especially as this would be my first time going raw. Perhaps not the wisest decision (again, aren't I clever?), but as much as I hate the fact that we are being scammed and food substitutions are rampant, unchecked, and, in more instances than I want to acknowledge, unsafe, all I can do is the best that I can and I have to pick and choose my battles. My poke bowl wasn't going to be a battle; plus Wisefish has tofu and edamame on the menu so I could opt for a non-raw fish protein if I got cold feet. 

Succulents in the middle of the communal table. Love.                   [IG: @heatherjmtl]

Succulents in the middle of the communal table. Love.                   [IG: @heatherjmtl]

So how was it? To quote the Terminator/Arnold "I'll be back." The restaurant is small, with one communal table and 2-3 window seats. The vibe is clean, fresh, and beachy; employees wear baseball hats that have a floral motif and the logo is a cute little fish which in hindsight is perhaps a little sick a la "I'm going to eat you." Ordering is done via iPad with an employee, next up is the pay station, and then you wait for your bowl. The man I ordered with was very kind and explained the ingredients listed that I wasn't sure of (masago? fresh ginger mojo?), he also asked about allergies which was really thoughtful and particularly lucky for me because I am allergic to certain seaweeds. Who knew that the zucchini noodles at Wisefish are seasoned with seaweed? They were easily able to accommodate me and made my bowl with plain zucchini noodles; the man I ordered with even went so far as to include "NO seaweed" in my name so the kitchen staff would be sure to see it first thing.

Not my bowl. I was so wrapped up in catching up with my friend that photos didn't cross my mind; bag blogger I know. However, this bowl looks a lot like mine and don't worry, there are forks if you need (I need).                [IG: @tjdocena]

Not my bowl. I was so wrapped up in catching up with my friend that photos didn't cross my mind; bag blogger I know. However, this bowl looks a lot like mine and don't worry, there are forks if you need (I need).                [IG: @tjdocena]

I went the create-your-own bowl route, but they also have four "House Favorites" which you can choose from. Everything is so fresh, prices are reasonable, and the portions are pretty perfectly sized. All in all, a delicious summertime, or anytime spot. I'm already planning my next combination!

Have you tried poké or any other new foods recently?

Fit for What?

Fitness. It's a word we encounter everyday, usually many times over. It recently struck me to look at the word itself. What are we getting "fit" for? In non-exercise world, fit connotes being appropriate for something, a match, having the right qualities and/or qualifications. Fit for a King. We fit together. The perfect fit. So what does that mean when applied to the realm of health and wellness?

Samesies except brownie. [Source]

Samesies except brownie. [Source]

Simply, I think it means that we all need to take a step back and think about what it is we want to achieve and what makes us happy when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Which exercise method fits you? What will get you to your goals? What do you enjoy doing? Where do you find your strength? The beautiful thing is that the answer will always be different, be that as your own needs change or just amongst people. We're all at a different place in our journey and what we need one day may or may not be what we need the day after that. 

For all the reasons that I am not a fan of ClassPass on the whole, I do think the fact that it makes it so easy for people to look for what they need and experiment time and again with new methods is wonderful and a real strength of the platform. Somedays I feel like you open Instagram, Facebook, etc. and are met with various yoga poses, quotes about squats and/or burpees, smoothies, and acai bowls with the implication that this is what fitness looks like and yes, there is more, but that this is what it really is and if you don't do these things then you're not really part of the fitness community. This isn't meant to be a criticism of posts or accounts like these, I enjoy seeing and follow many of them, instead, it's just a reminder that there are so many ways to be "fit" and none of them is wrong (or right). I don't do as much yoga as I should, do squats 1x/week, haven't done a burpee since the beginning of June, and have never gotten into the smoothie and bowl scene, although that's in large part because they are usually full of my nemesis the chia seed (what up allergies), but I still consider myself very much a part of the larger fitness community. In the end it's about what fits YOU and that will always be different than what fits someone else, unless you clone yourself. I think, I'm not really sure how clones work. 

How do you define fitness? What is currently fit-ing you?

Not Everything Has to Be Exciting

As the title suggests, not everything in life will be exciting. Duh. My week was, to an extent, in keeping with that theme. It was about getting back into a rhythm and settling in after vacation, jet lag, and a short holiday week. Accordingly, my finds were more mundane and in some cases, re-finds.

  • Essie Licorice Nail Polish: Last summer I got really into this color. I'd never felt comfortable with a black nail and wasn't sure I could pull it off but, after seeing the black nail trend sported by a character on a terrible reality show (maybe character is the wrong word but I feel like reality TV is so edited and curated that that's what the people are), I had to try it. It became my go-to polish for the rest of the summer but by late fall, I was feeling more seasonal maroons and gold. A week ago the hankering kicked in and *swoon* my nails are jet black and looking awesome, at least I think so, and really, that's all that matters.
  • Jewelry: I get in jewelry ruts. Aside from my "L" necklace which I wear always- day, night, shower, sleep, gym, it's basically part of me #sorrynotsorry, I find that I rotate between 3 pairs of earrings and 1-2 bracelets. Like many people, I like sparkly things, and thus over the years I have been lucky to amass a very nice jewelry collection, but rarely do I let each piece have it's day in the spotlight. This week I changed that and started mixing it up a bit. Putting on pieces I hadn't worn in years was so much fun and felt like I suddenly had all these new accessories. So, go shop your own closet, jewelry box, etc. You'll find so much there and it costs zero dollars!
  • New Friends: I'm not sure if you can "find" friends but go with me. Sometimes we let age hold us back. I think this comes from the very real and necessary limits that we have when we are younger, but somewhere along the way, it takes on this silly dividing line quality and certain activities, relationships, places, etc. that are in no way age-specific, get linked to a particular age range. Over the past few months, I've gotten to chit chatting with a fellow client at Flywheel. She is 16 years my senior, but we have a lot of the same interests and values. I felt a little weird about it, but I suggested going out for coffee. She was game and we ended up having a great time! While we are at different stages of life and I can't relate to what it's like to be a wife and mother, there is so much we do share in common. As much as I am a child at heart, I also have an old soul, at least I've been told as much basically my whole life. It's true. I have always been able to connect with people many years older than me, having thoughtful discussions from a fairly young age. Even still, I don't think any of us should let age limit us when it comes to finding people to make up our tribe. Good people are good people, no matter their age (or any other way they might be classified by society). We're already working on finding a time to do it again and I hope "this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship." Name that movie- hint, clip is right here:

What things did you find this week? 

Entwine

Last night I went on a date that well, I'll leave it at this, I don't plan to see him again. Aside from feeling like I was in an episode of Sex & the City (or the beginning of a horror movie), he picked a great spot. Luckily there's pretty much zero chance that he'll be there again, so I can safely return! #silverlinings 

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Entwine bills itself as "crafted cocktails x artisanal food." What does that mean? Well, I'd say it's part wine bar, part cocktail lounge, part restaurant-lite. Their food menu is not just bar snacks, light bites, small plates, etc. as so many wine and cocktail-centric places are, and they serve brunch, lunch, and dinner, but you get the sense that the drink menu is really the star of the show. We only had drinks, but the food I saw going to other tables looked and smelled really good and  many of the other patrons seemed to be repeat customers.  

The space itself was total West Village charm. The bar when you first walk in is a bit cramped but in a cozy way and it wouldn't be awful to sit there. You then travel down a fairly dark hallway to a small back room with only a few, well-spaced tables, allowing for an intimate setting in the best sense of the word. Through a glass door you find the patio which is where we sat. High walls block and the foliage from the trees that grow out of the courtyard block out mostly all sight of the adjacent buildings. There are more tables outside than in the back room, or at least that's how it seemed, and they are a bit closer together, though still spaced enough so that you don't feel like you are spending the evening with those at the neighboring tables. There is also a second bar and seating area downstairs. I can't really speak to that since I never saw it but reviews seem positive. 

Who wouldn't want to go back here?! [Source]

Who wouldn't want to go back here?! [Source]

Honestly, my only complaint was the company (and sadly I've had worse). Service was excellent, though a little pushy towards the end as it neared the patio's closing time (the patio closes earlier than the rest of Entwine, I'm not really sure why), and they had a simple but extensive drink list. I stuck with rosé because I love wine and even though it's already July, I still had yet to have my first glass of pink deliciousness. (Coincidence that pink is my favorite color and I love a good rosé? Hmm...) If you're looking for a new spot to add to your rotation, I would definitely suggest checking out Entwine. Here's hoping your partner in crime is better than mine was!

Any great spots you've recently been to? Accepting bad date stories as well :)