What I’m Reading Lately

Last week we (me, Bobby, Kurt) took a road trip up to Canada for our summer vacation. We drove up through Boston, into Portland ME, and hopped on an overnight ferry cruise to Nova Scotia before trekking further up to Prince Edward Island where we spent a few peaceful days relaxing.

With all the driving and ferrying I had plenty of time to read. Here’s what I’ve been reading both on my Kindle app (for iPhone/iPad) and real paperbacks.

astonish me maggie shipstead

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. I read this on Kindle. It is a ballet story that follows young dancer Joan throughout her life as she moves from being a professional ballerina to being a mom and wife and all the drama that comes in between. She has a brief and passionate fling with a Russian dancer in her early days that follows her throughout the story.

Review: As soon as I got into the book, about 2 chapters in, I couldn’t put it down. I did ballet growing up and ballet stories have a special place in my heart. Very well written and a very engaging story. Even if you don’t love ballet you will love this book. (I will admit that in the beginning of the book, when I wasn’t really sure what direction the story was going to take, I was slightly paranoid that some horrible tragedy was going to happen – thankfully it didn’t.)

flirting with french by william alexander

Flirting with French by William Alexander. Another Kindle book (which I started on the subway). A true story in which William sets out to master French, the ever-elusive language of romance… it turns out to be harder than he thought.

Review: It took me a few days to read this but once I got going I couldn’t stop. I too would love to become fluent in French, but it is massively difficult. Admittedly, I haven’t put in the effort that William has. If you like languages you will love this.

missing mom book joyce carol oates

Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates. I picked this up simply because I miss my mom. I got it in paperback at a store in Charlottetown, PEI. This is a story of a woman, Nikki, who loses her mom tragically and suddenly when she (Nikki) is 31. It follows Nikki over the year after her mom’s death as she grows and changes and her life continues on.

Review: This was my first book by Joyce Carol Oates and it will not be my last. What a beautifully written (descriptive but not flowery) and engaging story. I couldn’t put it down.

paris key book

The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell. This was sent to me as an advance copy (paperback) and comes out tomorrow (Sept 1). Genevieve Martin moves to Paris after separating from her husband and her uncle dies (it’s her mom’s brother; her mom passed away when Genevieve was a teen) to take over his locksmith shop. She learns about her family’s history while figuring out who she is herself.

Review: I loved the writing and the story. I am a sucker for Paris. I’ll have to check out more of Juliet Blackwell’s books.

What are you reading lately?

The Non-Hunger Diaries: How I Eat And Move {Part 2 of 2}

Today’s post is a continuation of Monday’s post on how I eat. Today’s topic: How I move! If you’re curious about the Non-Hunger Diaries title, see this response.

A Chillax Workout Routine

I’ve been talking up my new gym a lot lately, but I haven’t turned into your typical gym rat. Update – I have actually quit the gym. I tend to stick to milder workouts like yoga, pilates, ballet, and Nia (my new favorite workout). Not to say that these things are always “mild” – but they’re definitely customizable. You can work at the level that you’re comfortable with for that day and not feel guilty about not giving it your all.

I like to fit in some kind of movement each and every day so I’m never hesitant to take a step back in class and stick with the lower level option. In yoga I always take a few extra child’s poses; in Zumba or other cardio classes I never go full intensity for the whole hour. It’s not what feels good for my body so I just don’t do it. On the other hand if you do love giving it your all in class, go for it! (Just make sure you take a break sometimes.) For me, I enjoy moderate exercise every single day. It keeps me healthy (body and mind).

I walk for exercise anywhere from 1-4 miles a day. It’s so important to listen to your body and give it rest. I will always think that walking is the best form of exercise (as long as you have proper form) but in a city of smelly streets, sometimes it gets to be not so fun, and it’s also getting cold. For most of history humans did lots of low intensity “exercise” all day long – we were not built to go full out for an hour and sit on our butts the rest of the day. (This is why I love Nia.)

Other linkies on exercise:

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That’s all, folks.

What’s your workout routine like? Have you found something that works for your body?

Tea Time and Relaxation

The Perfect Tea(Maker)

One of my very favorite things to do at night (or any time of day really) is make myself a nice big mug of tea. I’ve loved tea ever since I was in college. I got into loose leaf tea when Bobby brought me back some Lupicia loose leaf tea from Hawaii just a few weeks after we started dating. This was back in the winter of 2005-2006. Can’t believe that cute college boy turned into my husband! Things certainly do change over the course of 5 years.

A lot of my friends know about my love of tea too; my one friend that I talk about a lot (a bridesmaid) actually got me the Perfect TeaMaker from Teavana as part of our wedding present. It really does make the perfect mug of tea.

I have been loving the Earl Grey Creme flavor the most – it’s actually replaced my morning coffee. I sweeten it with a few drops of NuNaturals Stevia and drink it up as I do my morning routine. Here is the fresh loose leaf tea (you might recognize this from my header):

Going in…

Ready to pour the near-boiling water!

Steeping.

After it steeps you just set the Perfect TeaMaker on a mug (it fits with just about any size), which pushes up the bottom and lets the tea drain out. If you just have it sitting on the table (or its base) it does not leak. It’s very well designed! Then add your NuNaturals stevia (I only say NuNaturals because it is my favorite brand of stevia) and let it cool enough to drink. Speaking of NuNaturals, you have until Thursday to order and get 15% off! Click for coupon.

Tea & Yoga/Health

One reason I like drinking hot tea is that I can’t gulp it down quickly. I have to savor it. Something it’s hard to sit down and really savor meals/drinks/life. So tea makes me slow down and appreciate the moment. It’s almost like yoga or meditation. Savoring tea teaches you to savor the moments when you’re not drinking tea, if that makes sense. It’s the same principle in yoga – when you learn to hold a challenging pose you are practicing for how to face challenging situations in life. You breathe and you get through it. Tea helps you learn to appreciate moments of pleasure even when you’re not drinking tea.

Project Food Blog Entries That I Like (and that you should vote for too, if you like ’em)

Whew. Long post. Lots to say.

Do you drink tea? What’s your favorite flavor?

My favorite flavor is “cookie tea” from Lupicia. It tastes just like a cookie, especially with milk and a touch of honey.

Don’t forget to enter to win $65 from CSN Stores! Deadline is tomorrow night.

I Can’t Budget

**Update: I have since quit the gym… I will stick to my walking and occasional yoga!**

Last night I joined a gym.

::blush::

I know, I said it was expensive. I said it wasn’t worth it. But then someone that I talk to about my problems told me that maybe I should just try it, and see if it makes me happy. And Bobby agreed. So I popped over and signed up. And so far I am very happy! You see, I have this problem – I need to constantly have some kind of mental stimulation or else I get bored and irritable and do things I regret. I also need to have a reason to get out of my house aside from work and the occasional dinner date during the week.

Back to last night though – I did 2 classes. I was actually feeling sick yesterday (I even worked from home because I didn’t feel well in the morning) but by nighttime I’d started feeling better, and I hadn’t left the house and was feeling antsy – so I went over (it’s just a few blocks away).

Delicious Veggie Dinner

You know after a great refreshing workout like that that I had to nourish myself. I met Bobby up at Good Health Cafe (which I posted about yesterday too) and got the macro plate (beans, rice, tofu, seaweed, steamed veggies, with the most amazing ginger-carrot dipping sauce). It’s vegan and macrobiotic. This was huge.

It came with a salad, too. Bobby got some delectable pepper-seitan dish over rice. The sliced oyster mushrooms were the best part. Also vegan and macrobiotic.

We shared (meaning that I ate most of) dessertblueberry apple pie. Vegan, but not macro – it had agave nectar in it which I don’t think counts as macrobiotic.

This was so good – not overly sweet, with perfectly buttery oaty crumbles. (It was vegan, so it clearly was not butter.)

Today’s Tips

  • Enter my giveaway! It’s a big gift certificate good for *anything* at CSN stores. There are a lot of ways to enter and you can probably buy just about anything with it 🙂
  • Do some yoga.
  • Sometimes expensive things are worth it if they make you happy; don’t spend your life saving never to use those savings. Put them towards something that’ll improve your quality of life.

Happy Friday! Do you have weekend plans? I have a choir retreat on Saturday but aside from that I have no idea what I’m doing.

Review: Core Fusion DVD (and an award)

Who else is doing Dori’s Core Fusion Challenge? The goal is to do a Core Fusion class (or DVD) 4-5 times a week for the month of January… intense, but exciting. I went over to Exhale Spa on Sunday and picked up my DVD: Core Fusion Body Sculpt.

core-fusion-dvd

The DVD is 50 minutes; it’s broken into 5 sections of 10 minutes each. The first section is arms, the second is butt, the third is thighs (or is it thighs then butt?), the fourth is abs, and the fifth is stretching. I haven’t done the fifth one yet.

Each 10-minute workout has a short (1 minute) warm-up, then about 7-8 minutes of yoga and ballet (in my humble opinion) inspired strength training, and then 1-2 minutes of stretching. When I first started I thought it was wimpy. Two minutes later my legs were shaking and I wanted to die. But I pushed through and the end of the workout came way quicker than I expected. I did all 4 sections (arms, butt, thighs, abs).

I did this yesterday (Monday) morning, and I’m not sore today (Tuesday)… I credit this to the very good stretching in the DVD… or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). I might be achy tomorrow (Wednesday)! If I feel alright (I think I’m getting sick…) I’m going to do it again tomorrow morning – and maybe even do the stretching segment if I have time.

So far – I love Core Fusion. I hate strength training, and this is much more down my yoga/ballet interest path. Plus, I want my butt to look like the one on the DVD. And those abs! Here’s to hoping that’s me in a month 🙂 Thanks for the intro to CF, Dori!

Another blogger friend, Elizabeth (who I met at Foodbuzz) gave me this sweet Beautiful Blogger Award. Elizabeth is a Beautiful Blogger herself! Thank you, friend!

beautiful-blogger-award

I’m supposed to list 7 random facts about myself. In no particular order…

  1. I love to sing. I haven’t been in a choir for the last 3 years or so, but I have been in various choirs for more than half of my life (age 8 to age 20). I sang in Carnegie Hall when I was 10 and I’ve gotten to tour all over the US. I’m a soprano!
  2. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
  3. I secretly enjoy greasy Chinese food. Er… guess that’s not a secret anymore.
  4. I like to rearrange furniture. We just did our apartment on Sunday (it looks nice!).
  5. We don’t get cable. I don’t miss it either.
  6. My favorite color is purple.
  7. I’m currently reading The Likeness by Tana French (thanks Tina for the rec!). I started it in Miami, then forgot I had it, and for the last two days I haven’t been able to put it down in my free time (what free time? I think I’ve only read it for 2 hours total…).

And I’m supposed to pass it on to 7 people. I was going to cop out like I usually do, but I’m actually going to give it to 8 amazing and beautiful blogger friends because I just can’t narrow it down to 7:

  • Dori (Dori’s Shiny Blog)
  • Clare (Yogi Clare Bear)
  • Cindy (A Sparkle A Day)
  • Gena (Choosing Raw)
  • Averie (Love Veggies and Yoga)
  • Christina (Dinner at Christina’s)
  • Coco (Balance, Joy & Delicias)
  • Heather (Heather Eats Almond Butter)

And now I’m going to bed so that I can get better. I firmly believe that a good night’s rest can cure just about anything.

What do you do to feel better when you’re sick?