October Foodie Pen Pals Reveal Day!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 | Posted under Health + Fitness

(First, a very special happy birthday to my hubby! I’ll have more on his big day tomorrow!)

Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen various bloggers participating in what’s called Foodie Pen Pals. Intrigued by anything involving food, I checked it out. Launched last year by Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean, it’s a massive food exchange where bloggers (and tweeters, etc.) sign up to get matched with another blogger, with whom you send approximately $15 worth of food. Then there’s another person who send you $15 worth of food. The food can be local, homemade, whatever, so long as you follow your foodie pen pals dietary requests. I thought it sounded like fun, so I signed up!

I was assigned Carma, a blogger in Ohio, whom I sent three different New York apples, a bar of Portland, OR based Moonstruck chocolate (yum! and my favorite!), and a few bite-sized locally-made chocolate candies.

I was assigned to Nancy, a blogger in Miami, who sent me a bunch of yummy local food.

My box included:

- Plantain chips

- Cassava chips

- Gilda crackers

- Guava jelly

- Mojo marinade

- Footy’s hot sauce

 

So far, I’ve tried the plantain chips (very good), the cassava chips (tastier, but a little stiffer than regular chips — you really have to chew them), and the Gilda crackers and guava jelly. Nancy recommended trying the crackers with the jelly, and I have to say it’s a brilliant suggestion! However, it’s a pretty carby combination, so I’ve struggled to manage my blood sugars after indulging. Jelly isn’t something I normally eat, and I think it hits my system a lot harder than I anticipated.

We’re looking forward to trying a new marinade, and we’re already planning on using the Footy’s hot sauce (an award-winning Miami-based sauce) on wings at our Holiday Party coming up in December. It sounds like perfect finger food!

It’s so much fun discovering new foods, especially things that I wouldn’t normally buy myself. I’ve already signed up for another round, and it’s not too late for you to join either. Lindsay is accepting new pen pals until Nov. 4, and then assignments go out on Nov. 5!

Happy nomming!

 

The Lean Green Bean

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Pile on the Miles

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 | Posted under Health + Fitness

A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to train for a 5K. I had tried using the C25K app before, but I didn’t really like it because I actually don’t like stopping and starting all the time. I’d much rather run very slowly, and then walk if I need to. I feel like I warm up better and can usually end up holding a pace longer. The Runkeeper app lets me do this. The schedule is designed to slowly increase mileage and time spent running, but without the carefully calculated intervals. About once a week, it does break up the run into “fast” and “slow” running (which for me is jogging fast and walking) and they call it speed work.

It worked pretty well up until I hurt my back a couple weeks ago. Now I haven’t run for almost two weeks! Yikes. I’m looking forward to getting back out there, because my time was improving, but I also know that means it will be painful since I’m a little more out of shape.

I more or less have decided that my first 5K run will be a local Turkey Trot. Nothing terribly impressive, but it’s legit so it counts. The Turkey Trot near me will be the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

But I also found out about another exercise challenge, called Pile on the Miles. Pile on the Miles was started by another blogger, Monica, and the goal is to run or walk a certain number of goal miles during the month of November. What I like about the challenge is that running and walking count toward the total, so I don’t have to worry about burning myself out. But as most of us know, walking is just as beneficial toward overall health as running! So I know this will motivate me to move everyday.

Plus: there are prizes! Woohoo!

So far there are over 700 people signed up! Wow! I think it will be fun to go through the list of participants and find some new bloggers to read.

My goal is 50 miles for November, or roughly 1 2/3 miles per day. I know there will be days where I walk/run more, and days when I walk/run less. The person who logs the most miles wins a big prize, but I’m just hoping to meet my goal. A lot of people have listed 50 miles as their goal. I don’t want to overcommitt myself and then get upset when I don’t reach my goal.

I think it’s important to focus on healthy during the unhealthiest time of the year. Not only will this motivate me to keep on top of my 5K training, but it will also push me to just move more often, even if it’s not as intense. As recent reports have shown, being consistently active every day is crucial to preventing disease.

Will you join me in Pile on the Miles?

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Tell Me Something Good

Monday, October 29th, 2012 | Posted under Tell Me Something Good

So I unwittingly put a giveaway on the Monday before my usual “Tell Me Something Good” Friday post, which comes at the end of the month. Totally forgot about it! Since I couldn’t skip announcing the winner, I decided to just shift the schedule.

This project is based off something an old friend of mine would ask me in college. Now I’m asking you!

My Something Good for the month of October is that we recently found out that we’ll be spending Christmas in Minnesota! We weren’t sure we could see any family during the holidays, because our budget is quite tight now that I’m in school full-time, so I’m very excited that my mother-in-law is helping us out.

Tell me something good that’s going on in your life!

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Friday Finds

Friday, October 26th, 2012 | Posted under Friday Finds

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Considering our influence in global politics, you’d think maybe other countries should have some sort of say in who our President is? Here’s who the rest of the world would vote for. (Hint: not Romney.)

Perfection is not the answer to happiness.

19 Things to Stop Doing in Your Twenties. I’m pretty sure I’ve done all of these at least once.

Did you know that your twenties is your prime time for making the friends you’ll have for the rest of your life? And surprise surprise, social media does not help your social life. (Oops.)

This guy shares 16 ways he blew his marriages (yep — two of them), and 16 ways to not blow yours.

Brooklyn hipsters on candid camera.

I’m pretty sure I could come up with more, but this list of 15 Reasons Why Hedgehogs Are Better Than Politicians is a nice start.

6 Ways to Decrease Your Suffering. This list really spoke to me.

I’m joining Pile on the Miles! More on this next week…

Internet time-waster of the week: Cat Bounce. Move them around by dragging them with your mouse.

 

This weekend, we’re attending a baby shower for couple of friends of ours from our church group. I just love babies!

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Etiquette Essentials with Mr. Post

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 | Posted under Friends + Relationships, Love + Marriage

When you think of etiquette, what comes to mind?

For me, I think of which fork to use, how to address an envelope, and what to do with gifts you don’t like. On Tuesday, I attended our Junior League General Meeting and had the opportunity to hear a talk from Peter Post, the great-grandson of Emily Post, the woman who basically invented our modern concepts of etiquette. Originally, Anna Post, Peter’s son and Emily’s great-great-granddaughter was supposed to speak, but she was sick. Peter is also the director of the Emily Post Institute, so he is quite experienced in all things etiquette.

So what did I learn?

The first thing Peter explained was the etiquette is not about the rules.

“I don’t care what fork you use,” he said.

Peter explained that proper etiquette is really a relationship builder.

“The How in life matters. How you interact with people matters. You have choices in how you fix the problem – either it helps or hurts a relationship. How your actions are perceived by others matter.”

If we don’t consider how our actions affect others, we might lose friends, clients, opportunities, etc.

Peter says that in etiquette, we should keep three goals in mind:

1) Stop and think before you act.

2) Make choices that build relationships.

3) Be sincere in how you act, or people won’t believe you and have confidence in you. Trust is fundamental in our relationships.

Peter then shared some advice on how to deal with some timely issues that we’re all dealing with:

Political Talk: Peter says we need to recognize that your job isn’t to change someone’s mind. I think this is a really important point, because I think most of us might secretly hope that a perfectly worded tweet or link to an article will suddenly illuminate the “other side” and we’ll recruit more people for our candidate. Peter says to “stick to facts instead of a personal attack.” People get incredibly defensive when they feel they are being attacked for their beliefs, and that won’t get you far. Or just change the subject!

Holiday Parties: Peter says if you receive an RSVP, answer it as soon as possible! Even if you’re not going. Even if you’re not sure that you’re going. Keep the hostess updated so she knows how to plan, and won’t find out last minute that you’re coming. It also guarantees that you received the invitation! Most of the time, I assume that if someone doesn’t answer an RSVP, it means that a person can’t make it. But in reality, invitations are sometimes lost or forgotten. So if you have an invitation, RSVP. And if you’re missing RSVPs, make sure to follow-up, since there’s a chance they never even received it. Peter also says not to bring extra guests unless you tell the hostess, as she might not be planning enough food for extra people.

Also, if you decide you can’t come, update your RSVP right away! I have had a lot of no-shows at my parties, and I agree with Peter. It’s incredibly hurtful to make food for a certain number of guests, and then have people not come or wonder where they are.

Social Media: This isn’t really new, but maintain eye contact with people who are speaking. Whether it’s in a meeting or when you’re with friends, pay attention to the people you’re with. If you are going to check your phone or take a call, make sure it’s okay with the other person. “Checking your phone might be good for you,” Peter says, “But it can hurt the other person.”

Finally, Peter had these three words to keep in mind when it comes to etiquette:

- Consideration

- Respect

- Honesty

Need more help? The Emily Post Institute has several etiquette guides. In addition to their enormous etiquette Bible, they have guides for couples, men (!), children, weddings, and more! I bought the Essential Manners for Couples, and I’ll be sure to share any tips we learn!

 

Do you have any etiquette tips you abide by?

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Pumpkins Ablaze!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 | Posted under Home Life

Last Friday, I joined a group of girls through a local meet-up group for a little trip to Westchester’s The Great Jack-O-Lantern Blaze, an elaborate collection of more, than 5,000 carved pumpkins. It was amazing! While I tried to take as many pictures as possible, my iPhone was not that great at photographing in the dark. However, I managed to get a few good shots to show off:

Of course, this was amazing inspiration for our own Pumpkin Carving Party, which we hosted at our apartment on Sunday. We had about a dozen of our friends to carve pumpkins, make candy apples, eat lots of food and watch Hocus Pocus (the greatest Halloween movie, ever). We’re very lucky that our living room is fairly large for a 650 sq ft apartment, and we have two dining tables (one six person table, and one four person table), which also makes it very convenient to host people.

 We strung up a couple banners, a Trick-or-Treat banner we bought at Target and a “bloody knife” banner we had purchased a couple years ago and never used. We also provided a few Pumpkin Master carving packets, which come with stencils and carving tools. I’ve actually never carved my own pumpkin (my dad always did ours), so I had no idea what I was doing!

The final products were soooo cool! My pumpkin is the one on the far right (it’s a kitty peering over a pumpkin), and Erik’s is the raven in the back. My friend Sarah did the amazing mummy on the left. How cool is that?! The stencils helped immensely, and even though my fingers hurt at the end, it was really fun!

A couple weeks ago, I saw a tutorial of caramel apples on Cupcakes and Cashmere, and I decided that I really wanted to do caramel apples at our party. We bought two bags of apples, and searched for caramel at three grocery stores (!), plus we bought candy and sprinkles to roll the caramel apples in. At the end of the day, I’m not sure it was worth it. Sure, they are tasty, but I’m not sure if they are really my thing. But we have two extra bags of caramel, so now I’m searching for ideas for what to make for our holiday party! Suggestions?

Our final products were pretty awesome. Maybe not as amazing as the Blaze pumpkins, but I think they turned out pretty good. (A couple friends donated their tiny witch to us.)

What did you carve on your pumpkin this year?

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People I Find Fascinating: Erin Condren

Monday, October 22nd, 2012 | Posted under People I Find Fascinating

I’ve always wanted to be a paper planner girl. I have bought a dozen planners over the years, but can never seem to get past the first couple of weeks before I forget I own a planner. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had a really boring life? Who knows. Anyway, late last summer (of 2011), everyone started talking about this woman, Erin Condren, and her Life Planner. There was a gift code going around, so I decide to take a risk and I ordered my own. Even with the gift card, I still ended up spending roughly $40 because of shipping, but I figured the high price might convince me to use it.

Well, I’m a total convert! I’ve used it consistently throughout the whole year and definitely plan to order another. I’m excited to share an interview with Erin Condren, the woman behind the magic, as well as another special giveaway!

An Interview with Erin Condren

AN) What inspired you to create the Life Planner?

EC) My first job out of college was in Swimwear Sales and the company paid for my Franklin planner and a training course to learn how to use it. It was a very “vanilla” system that didn’t really appeal to my “colorful vision”, but it was helpful in developing time management skills. Fast forward to to when I started my home business printing stationery and stickers…I had a dream of someday creating my own Planner that could be colorful, inspirational, and of course, PERSONALIZED. My business partner thought I was nuts and told me that “everyone uses their phone/mobile device to plan their calendar!”

Well, we sold 50K Life Planners last year, so clearly I’m not alone

What advice do you have for budding women entrepreneurs? What do you wish you had known when you got started?

There is no “luck” in a successful business. It is endless hours with a business that never sleeps. It really doesn’t get any easier as you grow, it’s just that the challenges change and new obstacles appear. I work just as hard now as i did when I was getting it off the ground from my home. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE WHAT I DO, but it is very difficult to make that jump from having an “idea” as an entrepreneur to becoming a successful business person.

If you are going to make that jump, be ready to make many sacrifices to maintain a balanced work/family life. (Still trying to figure out that “perfect balance!”)

As the Queen of Planners, you must have some great tips on organization. As a wife, mom and business owner, how do you get everything done?

No one plans to fail, we simply FAIL TO PLAN. I’m not saying I plan everything perfectly or far ahead… I still consider myself very spontaneous and easy going, but each day (for the most part) follows a plan. Even if I write it down the night before, I have some sort of “script” in my Life Planner, my Oh, What a Week! schedule pad, or just a piece of paper in my purse. It’s amazing what can I can get accomplished if I plot the course.

What’s your philosophy on maintaining a work-life balance?

I do my best to live FULLY in the moment. This means when I am in the office, I maximize my time by setting goals for each day and making daily lists.

If I can accomplish my work goals, I can “put the phone down” when I get home and fully engage in my family life. I’m not saying I don’t check emails from time to time during a little league baseball game, but watching my 11 year old twins grow up overnight, I just don’t want to miss a beat with them right now. Having a business partner really helps so that we can take turns on vacation days and have uninterrupted family time that I live for.

One of my favorite things about the Life Planner is how fun and creative it is. Where do you find inspiration for your creativity?

Inspiration is all around us! I came up with a Holiday Card idea from the graphic on a box of crackers. My roots were in the Apparel Industry and I’ve always loved fashion and textiles.  I also love typography and get inspired by words and quotes everyday.

What’s one upcoming thing in your planner that you’re excited to do? What’s one thing that you’re dreading? 

We have a family vacation planned in December, leaving on Christmas day and will be away for 9 days…the longest I’ve ever been away since I started my business. As much as I am LIVING for that moment when my family and I board the plane, sooooo much has to take place before now and then. The next couple months are soooo busy with calendar season, holiday gifts and Christmas cards…we have 3 shifts planned so my business is buzzing around the clock.

While I’m so blessed to have a booming business in this troubled economy, the next few months of production are a bit more than daunting. Inevitably a few orders will have mistakes, and I truly “dread” a disappointed customer.  We will do our best to deliver smiles around the world this season!

What do you hope to accomplish in 2013?

Honestly, I feel like this “party” is just getting started! We launch my custom built new website platform in 2013 and the sky’s the limit! We have plans to release a phone APP, a “home” collection of wallpaper and fabrics, and an even MORE customizable Life Planner among so many other things! As for a personal goal, I dream of having time to organize my photos! Perhaps in 2013 I will actually have prints made of images since 2007… I have not printed a single picture since going digital…bring back film!

Do you love Erin Condren’s Life Planner as much as me? Then enter to win a $25 gift code at ErinCondren.com! If you’ve already purchased your Life Planner this year, you can save the code and use it to buy your next planner, or stock up on lots of other fun items, like notepads and address labels!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be announced on this weeks’ Friday Finds! And stay tuned for more People I Find Fascinating!

FTC disclosure: The giftcode is provided complimentary by EC Design LLC.

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Friday Finds

Friday, October 19th, 2012 | Posted under Friday Finds

On the war on women. (Brilliant!)

A great post on friendships — wanting more, yet not investing in the ones we have.

BFFs I wish I had: Amy Poehler & Tina Fey are hosting the Golden Globes! Woot!

40 things to say before you die.

I love my state: Defense of Marriage Act struck down in NY.

10 Ways to Break Your Own Heart.

32 mistakes we’re all going to make. Yep… I’ve already made several of them!

The best thing to come out of this week’s debate: Binders Full of Women.

 

This weekend we’re hosting a pumpkin carving party at our place! I’m hoping to actually take pictures of the festivities, since I tend to be pretty lousy at photographing my own parties. What are you up to?

{image via}

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Oy! My Achin’ Back

Thursday, October 18th, 2012 | Posted under Health + Fitness

I don’t understand. I’m 27-years-old and for the second time this year, I have thrown my back out.

I’ve had lower back problems for a long time. When I was in college, I started developing a deep chronic pain in my lower back that made it almost impossible to bend forward. It was like my spine had fused shut and it wouldn’t stretch. Eventually I went to see a physical therapist, who told me that I had an issue with my spine, and that was putting a lot stress and tension on my lower back. So not only was my spine kind of whacked, but the lower back muscles were bad too. My doctor gave me a list of core exercises to do, and it really helped.

But like most things, as soon as the problem was gone, I stopped doing the exercises.

My lower back still hurt when I would go for long walks around the city, but I blamed bad shoes and pavement. But then in March, while at my niece’s wedding, it happened again. It was sudden and it hurt. Even more than it did in college. I couldn’t bend at all. Not forward, not backward, or side-to-side. Breathing hurt. We used heating pads, muscle rub, and painkillers to get me through the weekend, and for the most part I was okay, even with all the pain. It last for a few days, and then it was gone.

Then yesterday, it happened again. Like March, there was no real reason. I didn’t do some unusual move, but it just slowly came on. I actually noticed it right before a run, but I thought maybe it was just because I needed to stretch and move a little. My run wasn’t very good, but my back didn’t really hurt so I couldn’t tell.

When I came home, I could barely move. Throughout the evening, it got worse. I tried a heating pad, I tried icing, I tried the muscle rub, I tried painkillers. Ugh. Nothing’s working.  I know it can take time to recover from throwing your back out, but seriously? I’m too young for this!

I’m not sure if this is a recurring problem or if it’s just a different lower back problem. Either way, I need to do something about it. I know core exercises are helpful, but I’m not quite sure what to do. I’ve heard yoga can help, but I’m not sure if it will make my back better or worse. I don’t want to overexert myself and then create a new problem.

 

Any suggestions for treating lower back problems?

{image via}

 

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Host Me, Maybe?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 | Posted under Diabetes

One of the things on my 101 Things in 1,0001 Days list that I would really like to accomplish before the closing date (September 28, 2013) is to write five guest blogs. For awhile, I wasn’t really sure how to go about this. Do I just email people, asking if I could guest blog? Do I wait until someone is looking for a guest blogger and then chip in? Those are feasible options, but then I had another idea.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. One thing that I have noticed over the years in the diabetes community is the fact that we tend to mostly talk amongst ourselves. I’m not complaining; it makes sense. Most of the time, diabetes blogs talk about the rigamarole of living with diabetes, and a lot of these stories aren’t going to make sense or won’t be relevant to people who are not personally touched by diabetes. I don’t read vegan or knitting blogs for this same reason. So our awareness initiatives can fall short on people who really need to be made aware, because our readers are people just like us. But the people who don’t know anything about diabetes? We never reach them.

I suppose I’m lucky in that I have a blog about my whole life, so I have a lot of readers who have diabetes, but also a lot of readers who don’t. I’ve had the opportunity to slowly educate many people about diabetes, and hopefully dispel some common myths. But I’d like to reach a bigger audience. So I need your help.

During the month of November, I’d like to guest blog on at least five non-diabetes blogs (that is, your primary niche can’t be diabetes). I already have two people who have said I can guest blog, so I need three more. These are not going to be canned re-posts. Each blog will get their unique post about a particular topic related to diabetes. I’m hoping to keep it relevant to each blogger. So, maybe you like to travel. I can talk about diabetes and traveling. Maybe you’re a runner. I can talk about how I manage my diabetes while running. Unique, but all tied into diabetes for the purpose of National Diabetes Awareness Month.

This is a great opportunity for YOU to raise awareness about diabetes, and you don’t even need to do anything except host my blog post. How easy is that?!

Even though my goal is five blogs, I’d really love to write for as many as possible. So if you’re interested in spreading a little D-awareness, please let me know. The 25 million Americans with diabetes thank you.

 

So, whaddya say? Host me, maybe?

{image via}

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