Apr 30, 2015

Essential Oils - I Bought 'Em

Yup.  I'd been eyeballing them for quite some time, but was hesitant to buy something that I was so skeptical of, even though I knew I'd have a blast using them.

But then I read 7 Ways to Live a More Magical Life over at Oddly Lovely, and realized that doing things just for fun is a perfectly valid reason to do them.  I might not think essential oils can cure all ills, but I would have a ball playing with potions and aromatherapy in my own little home apothecary shop.

So I bought a "starter set" from a company which is hopefully not total crap and I made a list of what each oil is supposed to be good for.  Lavender for sleep, relaxation, and headaches.  Peppermint for digestion, nausea, pain relief, and so on.  And I've played with them a little bit.  It's easy enough to add stuff to body lotion, or coconut oil for a topical application.

Diffusing was another story.  I used to have an oil warmer, but my compulsive purging saw that out the door years ago.  At first I thought I'd just go really simple and buy some mini spray bottles, but I had trouble finding any with good reviews.  After poking around, I went ahead and bought a diffuser.  They're really not that expensive.

I've only used it a couple times so far, but the diffuser has been really nice!  It really circulates the scent and the one I bought is kind of tear drop shaped, and does this color shift thing that I really like.  The funniest part is that after using it once, Ryan noticed the smell (still hanging around the day after), liked it (he said it was how a "baller" should smell), and then commandeered the diffuser.  So I might have to buy another one.

As you may have guessed this post really doesn't have much point.  I just started using them and I have no advice or tips to offer, but I do have questions!

Essential oil users, which are your favorite oils and what do you do with them?  Any tips for a newbie?  Favorite brands or diffuser recommendations?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Apr 28, 2015

Intentional Thriftiness - Things I Probably Should Do To Save Money

Just to round things out, let's talk about things I could, and probably should do to save a little bit of money, that don't involve me being lazy and/or neglecting my health, car, or social obligations.

1. Groom My Own Dog

Ryan and I recently agreed to start taking Luke to the groomers every 3 months.  It's awesome, because they trim his nails (which I'm chicken about), and we don't get dog hair all over the bathroom, or have to feel guilty for putting our pup through what he considers to be torture.  Buuut... it costs upwards of $50 each time.  Multiply that by 4 and we'd save $200 just by sucking it up and bathing him at home.

Potential Savings: $200/year

2. Remember to Use Coupons

I always forget.  And it's so easy now!  Most of the applicable coupons are on the Safeway app, so all I have to do is spend 10 minutes flipping through before going to the grocery store each week.  It's not a ton of savings, but say $5 per weekly shopping trip, times 52 weeks for $260 a year.

Potential Savings: $260/year

3. Stick to a Shopping List

I buy a lot of silly, random things for home organization, or just whatever.  These splurges usually start with a few products I've had my eye on for a while, but have been fighting the urge to purchase, and then, once the purse strings have loosened, a bunch of other, not-well-though-out things fall into my basket as well.  A splurge around Christmas time got us an extra bowl (clicked twice by accident), napkin holder, hot plate, and dish sponge holder, none of which are all that useful.  Another splurge got me a manicure set (which I haven't even attempted to use) and a handful of random cosmetics.  The splurges are usually around $200, with anywhere from $50 to $80 consisting of impulse add-ons.  So say I cave and "splurge" every 4 months or so (3 times a year), with an average of $65 of extra junk.  By only buying the things I've been eyeballing for a while, I'd save $195 per year.

Potential Savings: $195/year

4. Strategize Groceries

We've got a Costco membership and I think we validate the money it costs with the savings on dog food alone.  But just the other day Ryan pointed out that the frozen pre-prepared fish fillets at Safeway are $10 for 2, while Costco has a similar (and equally tasty) product for $20 for 6.  The only thing that's iffy about Costco is that we rarely seem to go in with a list, which means lots of impulse purchases.  But if we were able to follow #3, we could save a good chunk this way.

In an attempt to figure out the potential savings, I googled price comparisons and I'm really glad I did!  Evidently the best savings are with dry goods, frozen, and dairy.  I made up a bunch of numbers to estimate our savings, but it was starting to feel too bogus and baseless, so I'll just give you the number for the fish.

Potential Savings: A Chunk
Potential Savings on Frozen Fish: $120/year (if we bough the 6-pack once a month)

5. Nope, I Only Have 4

I love odd numbers, but it was not to be.

What else should I do to save money?  In what ways are you thrifty?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Apr 26, 2015

Sunday Sweats - Another Week

Sunday Sweats Theme Inspired by Holly

I was sick last week, and didn't feel well enough to attempt anything until the weekend.  I say "attempt" because my run on Saturday lasted about half a mile before I had to walk, and I was sweating like I'd gone 3 or 4.  Yoga on Sunday went a little better, but even into this past week, I tired a lot quicker than my usual.  Not fun!  Anyway here's this week's workouts...

Weekly Workouts

Monday - Strength Training

Bench, pull downs, ankle rehab.

Tuesday - Strength Training, 1.3 Mile Run

Lunchtime workout with curls, triceps, and ankle rehab.  Tried to run to make up for Saturday, but it just felt bad.  Or rather, it felt good for precisely 2 tenths of a mile and then it felt terrible.  No particular issues, so I'm not sure what the problem is, but focusing on positives: I got sunshine and Luke got exercise.

Wednesday - Strength Training

Legs today.  I was feeling a bit too wimpy for squats, so instead did leg press, lunges, calf raises, and ankle rehab.  After work I took a nap instead of biking, and I can't say I feel terribly guilty about it.

Thursday - 30 Min Biking, 3.1 Mile Run

Whaaat?  TWO types of cardio in 1 day?  I know, life is crazy.  I biked at home (we have a recumbent bike), and was going to call it good and start my homework, but then my lovely neighbor suggested we go to the gym.  While I had already exercised and I did have things to do, you can't turn down a gym buddy!  And I need to get more comfortable using the tiny gym at our apartment complex.

We got there and the 2 treadmills were both in use, so I tried out an elliptical.  My goodness, that was hard!  So much harder than running!!!  So it was with great relief that I took over the 2nd treadmill when it became vacant.  And then the run was so much better than the last 2 times I tried, and the 3 miles was not just doable, but fairly easy and I was able to play around with different speeds.  Best workout since the sickness!

Friday - Nada

I could claim rest day, but really it was frantically finish up homework so I can work on other projects over the weekend day.  Less relaxing.

Saturday - 7-8? Mile Run

My sister and I were planning on doing a 6 mile run through Center City (Philadelphia), along the riverfront, and back again.  Then I got confused about the "boathouse" that was supposed to be my turnaround point and I continued an extra 2 to 3 miles past before I found a boathouse (not the correct one) and turned around.  Poor Sister2 had to sit and wait for my exhausted, slow self to jog/walk back to where she was waiting, because her phone had died so we had no way to set up a different rendezvous point.  But in the end no one panicked, and we did find each other again, and I went a great distance, although I'm not entirely sure how long it was.  So... call it a success?

Sunday - 45 Min Yoga/Pilates

Today's pilates were extremely welcome to help shake off the residual soreness from yesterday's run.

Total Weekly Mileage: 11.4-ish
Total Hours Exercised: 5.5
Weeks to Next Race: 1

    Thoughts Going Into Next Week

    For better or worse, the race is next weekend.  I'll admit to a healthy amount of dread.  I'll cross that finish line, but will anyone still be there by the time I get there?  Only time will tell.

    On a similar note - my sisters and I are trying to find a half marathon to sign up for in August.  We're debating between a couple options.  The favorite (The Town's Half Marathon in Oakland, CA) has a time limit to finish by - 14 minute miles.  On the one hand, if we keep training we should be able to make that without too much difficulty.  You could even walk a little bit with 14 minute miles.  Buuuut... my training really hasn't gone smoothly up to this point, so maybe I shouldn't sign up for things I'm not currently capable of doing.  What do you guys think?

    How did your workouts go this week?  Should I sign up for the half marathon with the time limit or find another one without that restriction?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 23, 2015

    Doing Stuff and Feeling Stressed

    Last week was a pretty low point.

    I've been feeling the strain of keeping up with my grad school class, forcing myself to tackle new projects at work (IT training, which means I know nothing and have to ask for help constantly), and an assortment of wedding prep and design projects.  I'm constantly working, organizing my schedule, or feeling guilty for not working, and I'm frequently out of my comfort zone.

    So when I got sick, it didn't just mean I had to spend a day or 2 in bed, it meant that while I did nothing, everything else would continue to pile up and make the tasks waiting for me even more daunting.

    I wrote a while back about how I've been feeling "busy" and I didn't want to, anymore.  I don't want to be guilty of spending more time being stressed out about tasks that ultimately won't contribute to my overall happiness.

    I even made a plan, a Google Doc titled "Becoming Unbusy" to help me.  I listed out all the stuff.  Then I put all that stuff in order of priority.  I made a rule that I could only put 2 things on my "to do" list each day after work, and only 5 things on the weekend.  And then I searched for superfluous tasks that I could set down.  I dropped monthly goals.  I dropped my habit-building project.  I dropped my monthly craft project.  I told myself "no" when I wanted to start new projects (alas, capsule wardrobe!).

    I thought it would magically fix the problem, but it didn't.  So I looked around for more things to simplify, more things to put away, and I realized this.  I can't.  Or rather, I won't.  There's nothing else that I'm willing to get rid of.  I'm not going to quit school.  I'm not going to not officiate at my sister's wedding.  I'm not going to not get married later this year.  And I will never, with very few exceptions, say no to a client project.

    So I guess what I've accepted is that the stress isn't going to go away until this summer, when Sister2 is happily wed, and my final project has been turned in.  It's not ideal, but resigning myself to it feels a little better than frantically trying to fix it and "catch up."

    I'm also going to rely rather heavily on the "Master To Do" list (that huge timeline with all my tasks until August).  Because when I try to think about everything I need to do, I can feel the chaos and confusion entering my brain.  But when I just think about this week's tasks, or better yet, what needs to be done today, then it starts to look a little more manageable.

    In a way, the list has a similar mantra to my meditation app.  Nothing exists beyond this day, nothing exists beyond this moment.  And this moment isn't so bad.

    How do you manage stress when you overload yourself?  Any tips for time management?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 21, 2015

    Phone Free Date Night

    Ryan and I did this last night and it was awesome!

    For me, a big part of the enjoyment of eating out is the interaction with the other person.  Lately, I've gotten as connected to my phone as anyone, but it's never been hard for me to put it down to talk to the people I'm with.  I find an in-person conversation to be more enjoyable, so if the choices are internet, or person in front of me, the person I'm with will always win.

    Ryan tends to be less of a talker, and more "connected."  So in the past, if there was a lull in the conversation he'd pick up his phone.  In theory, there's nothing wrong with this - we weren't talking anyway, right?  But the fact that he now had his attention devoted to a different stimulus meant that not only would he not offer any new conversation from his side, but that I'd have to actively work to drag his attention back to the present.

    I use this as an example, not a criticism.  Because Ryan's not the only one and it's so easy to do!

    Here's another.  You're discussing something, a debate arises, and naturally you use the phone to check something relevant to the conversation.  Buuut, then you see some notifications, and before you know it, you're browsing social media instead of continuing the conversation that initially sent you to the phone to research!

    And sometimes it's things that you feel have a high level of importance.  I, for example, will always pick up the phone when my parents call.  Because they don't call without a reason (though sometimes that reason is just to make weekend plans or ask to borrow my car, which is hardly urgent).  Ryan will always pick up for work calls and respond to work emails asap.  Which, as he's settled into his role and gotten to be a baller at his job, means that the volume of calls and emails just goes up, because he's reliable and competent and responsive.

    So when Ryan suggested leaving his phone in the car when we went to dinner last night, I was elated!  Yes, please do, it's what I've always wanted.  I was a little surprised when he took my phone (which was in my hand as I, too, checked work emails) and put it in the glove compartment with his, but you know?  Good point.  I might not be as bad (in my mind, anyway), but if we're going to have a date that's unconnected, we should both be unconnected.

    And it was all-around lovely.  I, honestly, forgot all about the phones and didn't think about checking mine until we were leaving and I reflexively checked my pocket to make sure it was there (obviously it was not).  Ryan mentioned about halfway through dinner that he had had the impulse to reach for his non-present phone a couple times, but that he was settling into not having to remain in constant vigilance and it was actually really relaxing.

    I enjoyed his unusual volubility, and not feeling like I had to maintain a high level of interesting conversation in order to compete with his phone.  I also enjoyed a break from the steady stream of buzzing announcing various notifications that really don't matter.  As fun and useful as the phone can be, spending too much time on it (specifically social media) always leaves me feeling empty.

    I'm hoping we make this a regular thing.  I've been more prone to putting my phone on do not disturb these days, but not having it around at all is even better.  The only thing I'd change is to take my license out of the phone case and put it back in my purse so I can order a drink if I want one!

    How connected are you to your phone?  Do you ever go phone free?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 15, 2015


    Almost immediately after posting my "hooray, I just ran 5 miles" post on Sunday, I got sick.  It was pretty gross, and unpleasant, and even painful at times.  (As an aside, you know how we all carry a certain amount of "water weight"?  Well after spewing continuously for 12 hours, I'm pretty sure I've got about 7 pounds of it.  Although not right now.)

    The point is, I feel like poop.

    I feel like I've set a precedent of disappearing for a week or 2, and then popping back up and saying, "Oh, I've been on vacation!  Here's some of my adventures."  And I just wanted to dash everyone's hopes now.  Ain't nothing glamorous happenin' over here.

    But at least I'm not dying.  Which is probably what I would have told you if you'd asked how I was on Monday.

    See you all in a few more days!  And if you have any miracle cure, old wives tales, or even superstitions about curing the flu, pass 'em my way.  I'll try anything once.

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 12, 2015

    Sunday Sweats - Strugglin' On

    Sunday Sweats Theme Inspired by Holly

    Image found on Pinterest
    I was considering putting Dory on here for the picture instead.  "Just keep swimming!"  But yeah, same basic sentiment.  This year has alternated between being frustrated that I don't feel like I'm improving and then getting into a groove and feeling awesome.  So when I hit those setbacks and my ankle is having issues, or when I don't feel like I'm improving as fast as I should be, I just need to remember that in the long run it is still forward progress.

    Anyway, on to the workouts!  Here's what I did...

    Weekly Workouts

    Monday - Strength Training, 15 Min Biking

    Lunchtime workout: bench, dumbbell rows, situps, ankle rehab, and dumbbell clean and press, which was new to me.  I've worked specific muscle groups, like biceps or triceps, but it's less frequent that I do things that hit multiple muscle groups.  So then I discover weird things like the fact that my forearms are about as useful as wet spaghetti, and my left side is weaker than my right in a few different areas.  Oh well.  Such is life.

    After work, squeezed in some biking, jogged about a block in my toe shoes, and called it a day.  (Side note: running on your toes is HARD!  I am not good at it.)

    Tuesday - Strength Training, 1.5 Mile Run

    Arm workout (and ankle rehab) and then an attempted run after work.  This did not go well.  My leg was hurting and nothing about it was feeling good, and I gave up after a mile and a half.  I did jog around a little bit in my toe shoes later, while walking Luke, and that bothered my leg noticeably less, which is exciting!  But I know I can't go that far in them yet, because they make my legs so incredibly sore the next day after only a couple tenths of a mile.  (I'm not sure which muscles are getting worked, but they're obviously not very strong.)

    Wednesday - Strength Training, 30 Min Biking

    Biked in the morning, despite not getting up very early, and I'm glad I did.  Feeling accomplished!  Barbell squats at lunch, along with lunges, calf raises, and general ankle stuff.

    Thursday - Nada

    Things happened.  Friend things, and Cinderella, and laughing at my cranky goddaughter's absurd accusations and parking lot crying fit, and realizing I'm not the only one who has trouble staying up past 10 (even if the other one is only 7 years old).

    Friday - Nada

    Uhhh, yeah.

    Saturday - Played Outside?

    This probably shouldn't count, but we played tennis and goofed off out in the sunshine and it was generally a wonderful day.

    Sunday - 5 Mile Run

    This was a roller coaster of a run.  The first mile wasn't too bad, but by 2 I was struggling, and at 2.5 I was ready for a break.  I stopped and stretched (and switched my movies - Return of the King!), and then got back on the treadmill, determined to at least walk the full 5 miles if I couldn't run it.  I walked about half a mile, and then tried running.  As I kept going, my ankle hurt less and less and I think the end of the run actually felt better than the beginning.  Huge victory!

    Total Weekly Mileage: 6.5
    Total Hours Exercised: 4
    Weeks to Next Race: 3

    Thoughts Going Into Next Week

    I'd love to get my "hours exercised" up to 7.  An hour per day always seemed like a lot to me, but when you think about it, it's really not.  Lunchtime workouts are at least half an hour, and then I just need to tack a run or half an hour of biking onto my morning or after work and boom!  Goal completed.  Also I've begun phasing in the toe shoes.  It's weird in some ways and running on my toes is really difficult for me.  Presumably it'll get easier/become more natural in time, but right now I feel like I'm dancing around instead of running.  Despite that, I am starting to feel like I will get the hang of it eventually and that it'll be a lot easier on my legs/ankle.

    How did your workouts go this week? Do you land on your toes or your heels?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 10, 2015

    Cinderella, Dressed in Yella, Went to Town to Catch a Fella...

    I saw the Cinderella movie last night.  I went with my friend, Melisandre, and her daughter (my goddaughter), and I learned a few things.

    Mostly that 7 is old enough to become aware that your mom and your mom's friends aren't cool.  I guess I always knew this day was coming, but I thought we still had some time left!

    Melisandre had found, upon digging through my collection of burned CDs from the Napster days, an excellent mix titled, "High School Jams."  Naturally, we played it, found ourselves awash in a wave of nostalgia, and sang All Star at the top of our lungs.

    As for the 7 year old in the back seat, I figured she'd either A) Never heard this music before or B) Would know and like it from the movie Shrek, which is undebatedly one of the best movies of all time.  So wrong I was.

    "Why are you singing old people music?"


    Well, I guess either I can deny that we're "old" to a 7-year-old, or I can admit that from this moment on, we're going to be "old people" in her eyes.

    "Because we are old people."

    Yep.  I said that.  At age 27.  It's too soon.  I wasn't ready to be old!

    Anyway, enough complaining about that.  Let's move on to the other things I learned.

    1. I'm Not Good at Just Enjoying Movies Anymore

    I'm too busy analyzing things like, "Is there racial diversity?" (not really) and "Does this project a positive message about women?" (good enough, but not super inspiring)  Not that those are the worst things to be concerned about, but on occasion I'd like to just watch something without analyzing it to death.

    2. Actors I Like Do Not Necessarily a Good Movie Make

    I was basically celebrity spotting.  Ooh, it's Rob Stark (from Game of Thrones - no idea what the actor's name is)!  Helena Bonham Carter!!  That other guy from Game of Thrones whose name sounds kind of like "duck" (Xan Daxos?)!  Galadriel/Cate Blanchett!!  And while all those little moments of recognition were fun, the overall movie was just kind of eh.  There were a few funny parts, and even a couple of genuinely different concepts added to the traditional story, but for the most part there was no "spin" on the Cinderella story.  This was just another remake of the same, old storyline, with not much to recommend it over all the others.

    On that note (apparently I'm done with that list), let's talk about what has been my absolute favorite Cinderella story.  Remember the version with Brandy and Whitney Houston?  Absolutely amazing.  Let's talk about why.

    Why the 1997 Cinderella Movie was the Best Cinderella Movie

    1. Race?  What's That?

    This movie paid no attention whatsoever to race.  Cinderella was black, her stepmother was white, and had one white daughter and one black daughter.  Whoopi Goldberg (a black woman, you know, in case you're completely out of touch and don't know who Whoopi is) was the Queen, the King was white, and somehow this racial combination produced an Asian prince!  Because why not?!

    2. The Stepsisters

    They were abso-freaking-lutely hilarious.  Remember their song?  When they're following Cinderella and the prince around and being jealous.  I have and will always treasure such lines as, "She's a frothy little bubble, with a certain kind of charm.  And with very little trouble, I could break her little arm!"

    3. The Quoteability

    I still quote this movie all the time.  Usually the stepmother.  Her response when she's corsetting her daughters into their tight dresses and they complain that it hurts, "Beauty knows no pain, girls!"  And when she's coaching them on how to snare the prince, "Remember girls... we hide our flaws until after the wedding!"

    4. Jason Alexander

    This was probably better as a kid than it would be now, but as a 10 year old, his clumsy shenanigans were hilarious!  He's just a funny little man.

    5. Whoopi Goldberg

    I've always loved her.  I can't think of a single thing I've seen her in that I didn't like her character.

    6. Character Depth

    Cinderella has songs?  That emphasize her thoughts and personality instead of her cleaning and maidenly accomplishments?  And she and the prince give their relationship a second thought before plunging happily into wedded bliss?  I feel like the new Cinderella movie was trying to go in this direction, but didn't manage to spend enough time on it to actually develop the characters.

    7. It's Part of My Childhood

    It's like when Ryan tries to share his old games with me.  I never get it, because it's really not the game that's so special, it's the memories associated with it.  And I don't have those for his games.  But I have them in abundance for this movie, so any newer version has got to be hella good to even compete!

    What did you think of the new Cinderella movie?  What's your favorite version?  What movies from your childhood will you always think are awesome?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 7, 2015

    Accidental Thriftiness - Things You Probably Shouldn't Do That Save Money

    I'm not generally a very thrifty person, as evidenced by the hefty Amazon purchase I made about 30 seconds before starting this post.  But there a few ways I save money without actually trying, and I figured I'd let you guys in on all the secrets...

    1. I Cut My Own Hair

    I started cutting my own hair partially out of laziness.  Making appointments and driving to the salon - so much effort!  But I discovered that I really enjoy it.  Watching those wisps of hair fall into the trash can, and shaving off all the missed strands or weird corners.  So much fun!  But when you get down to it, that's anywhere from $30 to $60 per cut (I don't do Supercuts anymore.  I've had ok experiences, but I've also had really bad ones, and I'd rather pay more for reliability).  I tend to trim my hair twice a year and do a more thorough layering/angling cut a couple times, so that's probably two $30 cuts and two $60 cuts, for a total of $180 saved by doing it myself.

    Estimated Savings (for me): $180/year

    2. Drive Thru Aversion

    Sometimes I think, "I could really go for a chicken bacon swiss," and the only thing that stops me from hitting up the nearest Arby's is my own apathy.  Extra driving and speaking to people... eh.  I'll just have a frozen meal at home.  I generally would like food without effort more days than not, but only actually crave some sort of fast food maybe once a week.  So we'll say $5 per week - $20 per month - $240 a year.  Boom!  Saved by my own laziness.

    Estimated Savings: $240/year

    3. Being a Bad Car Owner

    I'm supposed to get an oil change every how often?  If 3 months goes by and I've only driven a couple thousand miles, I just don't feel it's necessary.  Especially now that there's no warranty on the car anymore.  I still go every 4,000 miles or so, which takes me about 6 months to reach.  So that's 2 oil changes I skip, at about $50 each, so I save myself about $100 by being terribly irresponsible with my automobile.  Fingers crossed the car doesn't collapse due to my bad treatment and take away all those savings.

    Estimated Savings: $100/year

    4. Resisting Medical Treatment

    It's a pain to find a doctor (still don't have a primary care physician), and frequently it's a lot easier to just wait and see if it goes away.  Oh, and things like the eye doctor.  They want me to come in every year!  My eyes have had the same prescription for about 10 years.  I think I can pretty safely push that back to every couple of years.  I really only go in when I run out of contacts, which is infrequent, since I don't wear them often.  Since our health insurance has a pretty high deductible, and I haven't had much time to build up my HSA, I've been paying a few expenses out of pocket.  It seems like the bills I get for a medical visit tend to be anywhere from $50 to $200, so if I saved $100 by skipping the eye doctor, $50 for a random visit just to choose a PCP, and another $100 for not going to physical therapy (yeah, I know, I should probably go), that's $250 this year!

    Estimated Savings: $250/year

    5. Being a Homebody

    While we can go out with friends and have a good time, Ryan and I tend to stay in more often.  Our ideal night is when there's no nagging obligations hanging over our heads and we can just have dinner together and play video games.  We do like to eat out on occasion, but the larger bills tend to be bar tabs, and those are infrequent.  So let's say the average socialite goes out for dinner and/or drinks with friends once a month, and we only do so once every 3 months or so.  With an average bar tab of $80 when we do go out, that's $320 we're not spending simply by being anti-social!

    Estimated Savings: $320/year

    As I wrap up this list, it occurs to me that most of my savings can be directly attributed to some vice or other.  Laziness, primarily.  So probably don't follow the example I've set.  Or do.  Whatever.

    Do you have any ways you save money by being lazy?  Or just ideas for how to save money?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 5, 2015

    Sunday Sweats - Get It!

    Sunday Sweats Theme Inspired by Holly

    Image borrowed from Greatist
    Here's a good one for this week.  Rather than continuing to be frustrated with my limitations, or feeling like the upcoming 10-miler won't be worth it if I can't run the whole way, I'm going to focus on what I have achieved and what I'm currently achieving.  I can run a lot more than I could in the past, I've been running consistently (mostly) for a longer period of time than I ever have, and sometimes it even feels good to do.  What more do I need?

    Onto the workouts...

    Weekly Workouts

    Monday - Nada

    Travel day, so unless cringing every time the kid behind us on the airplane shrieked counts, I'm afraid this wasn't a very energetic day.

    Tuesday - Strength Training, 30 Min Biking 

    We did single set fatigues, which was new to me!  Essentially, just one set with your starting weight, and lift until your arms won't go up anymore.  The last 5 shaky reps are the best, and I couldn't help but laugh through the end of each set at the sheer ridiculousness that my arms were giving out on such a light weight.  Bench, incline, military, shrugs, pull downs, and ankle rehab.  Biked after work.

    Wednesday - 1 Mile Run, Strength Training

    I got up early and ran!  I considered trying out the gym for our apartments, but instead jogged Luke around the neighborhood and was disappointed that the overall distance was almost half a mile less than I had thought.  But it's a start and he'll be happy with the extra exercise.  Plus he actually ran with me instead of dragging at the leash, which is rare!  Squats at lunchtime, along with lunges, calf raises, and typical ankle rehab.

    Thursday - 3 Mile Run

    Sometimes it is so hard to get started!  I knew I wanted to run after work, but I moped around so much that I was in danger of not doing it at all.  I think the only reason it happened is because I had to go to my parent's house anyway to return my dad's phone that he had left at work.  Tiny thing to tip the scale, right?  Anyway, considering how sore I was from the leg workout, it was amazing that I made it for 3 miles.  It was slow, and there was no incline, but I "ran" it so that's what counts.

    Friday - Nada

    A much needed recovery day.

    Saturday - 4 Mile Run/Walk

    We ran outside at the park and it was beautiful! But it was also super windy, so I made it about 2 miles before I had to stop and start alternating walking and running. Running into the wind was weird! It blew the saliva out of my mouth and onto my face, effectively forcing me to close my mouth or drool on myself.

    Sunday - 30 Min Pilates/yoga

    Not sure what we'll do yet but on my way to do something of this nature with my mom. Much needed since we missed the last couple weeks!

    Total Weekly Mileage: 8
    Total Hours Exercised: 3.5
    Weeks to Next Race: 4

    Thoughts Going Into Next Week

    Not much. 4 weeks left so just continue to run and incrementally increase the distance. Oh, and I finally tried my compression socks. I'm not sure that they did much but I'll try them again if my ankle/calf starts hurting and then we'll see.

    How did your workouts go this week? Have you ever tried to run in a heavy wind?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 3, 2015

    Planner/Wallet/Purse - a Frankenstein of a Handbag

    I had a dream.  A dream where my planner and my wallet would live in perfect harmony, and be convenient to carry around at all times, perhaps with a strap of some sort, and also carry a chapstick, because let's face it, that's really THE MOST important thing in any woman's purse, unless it's that time of the month.

    And when I finished mangling Martin Luther King speeches, I did some research and discovered that a planner/wallet/purse wasn't really a thing.  It seems not that many people need this particular item.  Finally I found something that was close and decided to adapt it to what I wanted.

    The result is this.

    Just looks like a purse, right?  It's not.  Not at all.  I found precisely 2 companies that sell planner/wallets.  I was a requirement for me that it be a half page size, so that I could print my own inserts for it, which narrowed those 2 down to 1 (Day-Timer, if you're interested).  After finally deciding to shell out more money for it than I normally would for a purse, I also purchased that little strap you see so that I could convert it into a "cross body bag."  I was planning on doing something fancy, but ending up just clipping the strap to the rings of the planner.  Good enough.

    One of the most beautiful things about it was the zipper pocket.  Most planners have a place for a pen, or even a business card, but very few have as many credit card slots as this one.  It also has a couple deeper pockets, and that nice secure zipped area, which, as it turns out, is incredibly important because my credit cards won't stay in the credit card slots.  Fortunately the planner came with a plastic card holder in the back, so I've put my main cards in there, and the rest live in the secure zippered area.

    The planner itself was unexpectedly gorgeous.  I debated even buying inserts for it, because I knew I'd want to make my own, but finally decided I'd use theirs to start and supplement when I really needed to.  I didn't bother to research the look of the planner because there was only 1 option, so I was quite pleased when the beginning of each month started with a motivational quote, and with all the extra room for notes or free writing.

    The daily pages are pretty standard - no complaints here!

    And the back.  More credit card spots that don't work, unfortunately, but also the plastic sleeve, which does.  And a second pen holder, which is the perfect size to hold my chapstick.

    At first I tried to print out my "goal priority" tracker so I could continue to use the column/row format I'm accustomed to.  Finally I realized the spreadsheet format really didn't work as well in print, and my planner was already set up to accommodate what I wanted to do, I just had to write things out in a different way.  So I've gradually transitioned over and begun to really enjoy using paper again!  I also like having access to it without having to get my phone out and on the rare occasion that I don't have signal.

    My only qualms: 1) It's not as easy as I'd like to get my cards out.  2) The current strap placement mean anything not securely attached will fall out 3) There's no (secure) place to put my phone.

    My ultimate goal is to have this replace all my other purses except: 1) A larger one for when I want to carry more junk, or sneak food into the movies 2) A wristlet for formal occasions or weddings.  For now I'm not quite sold on it with the current limitations, but I'm hoping I can work those out!

    Thoughts?  Ideas?  Any crafters out there who know how to better handle attaching the purse strap?  Or how to make the card slots more secure so I can actually use them?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 2, 2015

    I Ain't So Good at Speechifying

    I, along with the fictional character from Atlantis whom I quote, am struggling to put together eloquent words.

    "Whaaat?!" you may gasp all astonishedly.  "But you put together beautiful prose right here on the blog every week."

    Ah yes, you are too kind.  But this occasion calls for a more elegant series of words and phrases.  A series that will take me somewhere between 2 to 5 minutes to say, will be touching yet humorous, and will, above all else, not embarrass me in front of the 50 - 100 people in front of whom I will be speaking.

    And what occasion is this?  Why, none other than Sister2's wedding.

    Like many other couples, Sister2 and Soon-to-be-Brother desire a friend to stand with them and perform the ceremony.  But unlike most other couples, they have invited me to do it.  And so I vacillate between excitement and growing panic as the months slip by.

    I've got a speech written.  But it's ugly.  The proper words elude me.  The funny parts aren't phrased well and the joke falls flat.

    I jotted it all down because I knew I had to start somewhere, and I wanted to solidify the framework of the speech.  I ignored the poor phrasing because a faint memory of quotes by Hemingway kept insisting that "first drafts are crap."  And you have to start somewhere!

    So now I'm in the revision stage.  My outline looks like this:

    1. Introduction - greeting, statement of intent, and theme
    2. Personal Growth - how far Sister2 and Soon-to-be-Brother have come together
    3. Overcoming Adversity - making fun of their ridiculous dog
    4. Uniqueness - the things that make them different and perfect for each other
    5. Wrap Up - tie it all together somehow and transition into the rest of the ceremony

    (And here I thought I wouldn't write 5 paragraph essays in real life.)

    I like the outline.  I think it's a good foundation.  But it's hard to both write something that hits the right notes and that I can imagine saying in front of people.  Because we definitely speak differently than we write (or at least I do).  And I don't want to sound stilted and unnatural (it's going to be bad enough speaking in front of them with a glowing red face).

    But I've got a month to figure it out before we all sit down together and plan the ceremony.  And then another month to fuss over it and practice talking in front of the mirror, Luke, Ryan, Roommate and whoever else will listen to me.

    So I guess I shouldn't worry, right?  Words will come to me.  Eventually...

    Have you had to give a speech in front of a large group and how did you decide what to write?  Do you turn red when people are staring at you?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Apr 1, 2015

    Wednesday Wanderings

    My brain is roaming free and instead of trying to rein it in, I'ma let it.  Here's where my brain is wandering to this Wednesday:

    Travel Thoughts

    • We got back from Texas on Monday!  It was a great trip and a beautiful wedding.
    • Ryan was the best man, and damn, did he look good in his tux!  He also managed, after days of dread and nervousness, to give a really good speech that everyone enjoyed.
    • Texas was in the 80s and beautiful!  I cannot wait until Delaware catches up.

    Back to Real Life Thoughts

    • Coming back from a trip always feels like turning over a new leaf.  Now is the time to change everything and be perfect from here on out!  (Warning: delusional state to last about 4 days)
    • While I welcome the return to routine - my workout partner is always going to grate on my nerves, "Are you done being a slacker?!?!"  Yes, haha, that's very funny, I'm a lazy bum because I went on vacation, can we just shut up and lift now?
    • Thank goodness for non-sulphur-y showers!  (ranch problems)

    Blog Thoughts

    • I like Sunday Sweats as a way to motivate myself, but hopefully no one feels obligated to read about my workouts.  That's why it's posted on Sunday!  No one reads on Sunday!
    • I really need to change my password for Disqus.  I'm tired of this BS "I'll just block myself out of everything" solution.  The solution is discipline and I should probably know my own passwords.
    • I am just about caught up to my scheduled posts again.  Creativity!  Where you at?

    Reading Thoughts

    • The Picture of Dorian Grey was a pretty decent read but...
    • I finally bought the Mistborn Trilogy!  Book 1 was amazing.  Book 2... eh, we'll see.
    • I'm going to have to cut back again now that vacation is over.  :'(
    And on that note (sad that vacation is over), I'd like to leave you with our choicest, top-quality vacation pictures.  Enjoy.

    Apparently I primarily take pictures of other people's dogs (10 of 20 pictures).  Anyway, #1 is the cowardly lion who stayed away from us pretty much the whole trip.  #2 is our little ranch haven with the sulphur showers.  And #3 was to document our first sunshine in months!

    Pictures.  Good.  We take.

    What's been on your mind lately?  If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?  Do you take terrible travel photos?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design