Check!

So, remember how I mentioned one of my July Goals was to submit a piece of writing to a website other than my own? Well, just under the gun, I’m happy to announce that I’m going to be checking that one off the list!  I will be writing over at Bodies in Motivation regularly and sharing my health and fitness journey over there, and I’m really excited to be getting back to prioritizing my own health.  

My first post is up today and I’d love it if you came by and said hi.  It feels pretty personal just letting all this stuff hang out, but Bodies has been a great source of inspiration for me on my own quest to be my best self, so I’m hoping that maybe my journey can help inspire someone else to explore what their own plan for their health is. 

Hope you guys like it!

What’s For Dinner?

The day has just begun and I’m already hungry :)

My Secret Addiction

This month has been crazy — filled with productivity, action, and meaningful long term planning.  I’ve been sitting at the computer a little less and doing a little more.  I’m not ready to say I am kicking ass and taking names on my July To Do List but I will say that I am getting there and definitely everything I have chosen to do this month has been a conscious choice, which has been AWESOME! Something about being choosy with how you spend your time makes life seem a lot less stressful and a lot more under control.  (Most of you are probably shouting “DUH!” at your computer screens right now.  I know.) But can I tell you what is totally out of control this month?  Our magazine subscriptions!  (And here’s a confession:  I just subscribed to 2 more TODAY!  OMG what was I thinking.)  I’m not really sure what to do about it.  In some ways it is so easy, in others it is so overwhelming. 

How many magazines do you subscribe to? 

These are the magazines that make their way to our mailbox every month:

Cooking Light – This is a monthly staple that I just love getting.  It inpires meals every month and they usually have a few articles I’m interested in peppered throughout.  I know I could mostly get these recipes online but I love flipping through cooking magazines on Sunday when I meal plan.  Sitting at the computer is just NOT the same.  Plus, I got a year of it for $5 on Amazon at Christmas.

Real Simple – Great articles, great recipes, great home stuff — I find this magazine to be lifestyle eye candy.  and again, I got it for $5 a year on Amazon at Christmas, so it definitely has paid for itself, even if I don’t read every page of every issue.

Rachael Ray – I’m on Team Rachael Ray, feel free to judge me, and I love her magazine!  Recipes are usually fairly simple, lots of fun cooking and travel articles.  It’s just always a fun (and quick read) and usually a few pages end up dog-eared for that Sunday night meal planning session.  This would probably be the first “cooking” magazine I would cut, but dammit, I DON’T WANT TO!

Fitness – I don’t know why I still get this.  I’m not sure I have ever paid for, renewed, or requested this magazine, yet it keeps  coming to my mailbox.  I think the exercises are always a bit weak sauce, and the “health” articles always seem a bit gimmiky and advertiser driven (well, more obvious than most magazines I mean) but some of the recipes are fun and it can be good inpiration to shake up my workout at times.  I don’t love it, but I still get it.  

Vanity Fair – some of the best and intriguing magazine articles aroun — and usually they are about stuff I never even knew I wanted to know about.  Plus celebrities!  I mean, this tickles both the intellectual and superficial side of my brain and I kind of love it.  I don’t really want to give it up, plus I recycle it when I’m done with it and pass it on to my mom, so it’s also my good deed for the month. (right?)

The New Yorker – I have wanted a subscription to The New Yorker for ages and finally this Christmas I bought myself one.  It was $35 on Amazon around Christmas and I thought to myself, hell, I buy at least 6 issues a year (and they are painfully almost $6) so this pays for itself.  AND DAMN IT, I’M WORTH IT!  The only issue (haha, “issue”  See what I did there?  Ok, sorry) is that it is an incredibly dense magazine and it comes EVERY WEEK.  So it’s a lot of reading, and truth be told, I don’t read every issue from cover to cover but it is also one of the magazines that both Garrett and I like to read.  As long as I keep that price locked in, this one’s a keeper. 

Sunset – I can’t get enough of this magazine and it is one of the only magazines that I pretty much start reading on the way back from the mailbox and don’t put it down until it’s done.  I am always cutting out inpirations for decor, vacations, recipes.  So damn useful!  This mag is a MUST.  The funniest part of this magazine is that I never used to read until Garrett’s mom got him a subscription to it for Christmas one year (it’s tradition that she buys him a new magazine each year and they are always thoughtful interesting choices.)   

Organic Gardening – This year’s subscription from Garrett’s mom.  A magazine I probably would not have chosen myself, yet I adore all the great info in it! It’s slightly above my skillset but it gives me something to aspire to. 

California Country – Complimentary magazine for being a California Farm Bureau member.  Great articles about the local agricultural economy, recipes, and fun facts.   

Glamour – All I can say about this magazine is how much I hate it and how it fills me with rage every month that it shows up in my mailbox.  I used to subscribe to Domino (RIP! Sob!) and when it went under I got this stupid, dumb, stupid, dumb magazine as a replacement.  BECAUSE THEY ARE SO SIMILAR.  ugh.  It reminds me on the regular how much I miss Domino.  Can’t wait until this runs out. 

Popular Mechanics – Another $5 Amazon Holiday deal (if you haven’t noticed yet, December — great month to stock up on the magazine subscriptions.  Best kept secret, I tell ya!)  I don’t really read this but Garrett does and he enjoys it. 

Via – Yes this is the free AAA magazine, but you guys it is so fun to read!  Before Garrett and I lived together I would steal this from him every issue.  Now that we are roomies, I still savor the benefits!

So this alone, is quite a long list  (And it doesn’t include the free mags we end up getting from Costco, Charles Schwab, The Fed, and some other weird finance-y publication that I can’t remember.  Obvs, I don’t read it.)  It’s kind of a ginormous list, actually, now that I type it all out.  But seriously the difference in price for subscribing vs. buying a few issues a year is practically negligable and in some cases ($5 Amazon deals) impossible to pass up!  So I don’t really feel guilty about it so much as I feel well…just RIDICULOUS.  And then today I added two new subscriptions (!!!) because I needed another like I needed hole in the head. 

But here is my justification:

Everyday Food – Hi I’m sorry, do we not know each other?  I’m a Martha Stewart Zealot.  Yes she’s a nutty control freak, but man do her recipes and entertaining tips deliver.  Not to mention I am a total lover of the Everyday Food Cookbook Series.  And this magazine, silly little minx that it is, taunts me at the grocery checkout 10 TIMES PER YEAR.  And almost always, I give in.  To the tune of at least $4.  I recently purchased a subscription to this for my mom on her birthday and I noticed on the little subscription mailer that it came with an added bonus.  A subscription to Whole Living Magazine.  Swoon!  This magazine is another little grocery store temptress and the two for one deal was hard to pass up (hello, $12!  For 20 issues!)  I mean really how could I say no?  Well the answer is, I coulnd’t.  And now I am the owner of 14 magazine subscriptions.  And I’m not even satisfied.  Can you believe I still want to subscribe to Oprah?  

It’s a problem you all.  But admitting it is the first step, right?

Family Portrait

My family recently got together to celebrate my cousin Jeff’s 30th Birthday and usually when we all get together we try and take a big family picture — but with 20 of us wisecracking chuckleheads it’s often hard to get us all smiling and looking at the same camera, you know? 

And not only did we succeed at getting everyone in it and looking at the camera, we also apparently captured a random shitting dog that belongs to none of us.  I’m sure there’s a joke in there, but I am too busy laughing hysterically to think of one. 

I just love my family!

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

It’s amazing how one little list  can put some new pep in your step!  All of a sudden I have purpose!  (I know, I’m a little crazy, but I like to think that’s part of why you love me, yes?)  I swear my life motto should be:  If you want something done ask someone busy — because the more I put on my plate the more I get done.  There is no lazier Holly than a Holly with nary a thing to do, trust me.  I have the ability to take more than 2 naps in a day (naps, people!) I have no problem doing lazy.  Now I realize this philosophy is somewhat dependent on inertia, which is sort of counter productive since one actually has to stop sometimes, but today we’re not here to talk about my flawed life logic we’re here to talk about successes and well, of course, immediate failures.

So I’ve been tackling all sorts of things around here and one of the  first things I did was plan all my meals this week according to a strategy I call Operation: Fridge Cleanout.  Generally when I plan meals I sit down with Garrett and we talk about what fabulous concoctions we’d like for dinner the following week and grocery shop from there.  It’s not always the most efficient for the groceries we have on hand, but hey, it works.  However, since I’m “attempting” to wrangle my grocery budget to under $400 this month (which I realize may sound like a ridiculous amount to some of you since there are only two of us, but hey I’ve got to start somewhere)  I thought it might be smarter to actually see what meals we can make from the items we have on hand before writing my grocery list.  And we did.  And guess what? No need to go to the store, we have everything we need right on hand!  So success this week goes to our July Week One Meal Plan:

(Apparently our dinner menu is also an advertisement for Sierra Nevada Products.  Not really sure what to say about that besides, uh…YUM.)
So…Success, right?  Dinner menu with no need to go to the grocery store…WOO!  
Except…you knew there was an except, right?
Except last night we went to Trader Joe’s (which you can file under ‘M’ for My Own Personal Kryptonite) to get a few little treats.  Is their any better place to go for treats?  The only product masquerading as dessert in our house right now is some freezer burned rainbow sherbert and a bag of cherries, and although we don’t eat dessert every night religiously you must agree with me that this is a Dessert Crisis of Epic Proportions, right?  You Must.  Anyway, so we went to TJ’s to pick up two specific things:  Chocolate Covered Raisins (For Her) and Strawberry Licorice (For Him). 
And instead we did this:  
That, my friends, you can file under ‘E’ for Epic Fail.

So, I appreciate you reserving judgment on the two bottles of $5.99 Prosecco.  I don’t know what to tell you about that, or this whole receipt for that matter, except to say it was a momentary lack of all control.  But at the time it seemed like we needed all the items!  After all we are out of Pine Nuts, which I like to have stashed in our freezer, Honey, which I use on greek yogurt for breakfast or lunch.  My almond butter was getting low and plus, the TJ’s brand — has Flax Seeds!  And for half the price of my regular grocery store!  The General Tsao’s Stir Fry sauce is AH-MAY-ZING (so is the chili pepper sauce, hence the two bottles of those), and last night we sadly discovered they were out of it (until two aisles later when we found two bottles randomly lying about so OF COURSE we bought them both!)  The Trail Mix and Nut Aisle is always a challenge for Garrett so he picked up a few more “treats” since we hardly ever hit up Trader Joe’s so those were easy to rationalize.  The black bean dip is because we have a giant bag of tortilla chips leftover from making nachos last week and who eats tortilla chips plain?  Plus, $1.69?  That’s practically giving it away!  Veggie corndogs are cheap at TJ’s so I always stock up when I’m there.  Who doesn’t need an extra bag of Penne on hand (and our pasta stash was getting low).  The Bacon we incorporated into last nights Breakfast for Dinner (and damn it was good, no regrets on that!) and the string cheese?  WHAT KIND OF PERSON SAYS NO TO STRING CHEESE?  A COMMUNIST, I TELL YOU.  COMMUNIST!  Ok, so the mini hamburger buns?  Well, those I’ll admit were an impulse buy — they were just too cute to pass up. Sliders, anyone?

So as you can see, each and ever purchase was a total necessity, I mean come on. Necessity.   The $75 out of my $400 grocery budget on the 6th day of the month, however?  Well, it remains to be seen what the consequences of that will be for that goal.  You win some, you lose some.

July Goals

After a personally and professionally draining 2008 I let myself off the hook for New Year’s Resolutions.  2009 would be the year of relaxing.  And it was, thankfully, and my mental to do list was chock full of things like “chill out” and “take a deep breath.”  By default, when 2010 came around I was sort of enjoying the lack of overarching direction and decided once again to cool it on my normally anal Mission Statement For Life.  But after a year and a half, the little list maker inside of me is ready to bring it back.  As much as lists do sometimes increase my pressure to accomplish, I have finally admitted to myself that I also thoroughly enjoy the act of accomplishing and have genuinely missed the ability to document, strikethrough, and appreciate my own efforts!  So this month I’m getting back to goal-setting, and I hope you will indulge me.  

July Goals 

Health and Wellness

  • Make Appointment with Naturopathic Doctor
  • Make Appointment with Dermatologist to get skin checked
  • Workout 15 times
  • Get Haircut
  • Get Pedicure (Trust me, this counts as Wellness!  haha) 

Relationships

  • Plan a Date Night Outing with Garrett
  • Cook Dinner for Family or Friends at least twice
  • Think of a thoughtful, creative present for my Mom’s Birthday
  • Have a Girls Night Out! 

Cooking and Baking

  • Make Jam
  • Meal Plan for the next 4 weeks 

Intellectual Pursuits

  • Read and Review 4 books (on the blog or Goodreads)
  • Submit one piece of writing to a website that is not your own 

Career

  • Finish Coursework for 2nd Exam of Insurance Designation
  • Schedule 2nd Exam
  • Purchase Materials for 3rd Exam 

Home

  • Paint Guest Bedroom
  • Clean Out Closet 
  • Do a Goodwill Run 
  • Narrow Down Options for Landscape Contractors 

Money and Budget 

  • Try (really I mean it, honestly, try) to keep grocery budget under $400
  • Revise Our Monthly Budget 

It’s a full list, but I think it’s a good list.  And frankly just writing it down makes me excited to get started — funny how that works!

On My Nightstand, On-Deck, and In-the-Queue

As a kid I used to love Summer Reading Lists.  I was also a fan of telling myself that one day I would read every book in the library, and would continually overwhelm myself by acquiring more books than I could read at one time just because the anticipation was exciting.  As an adult I am really no different.  (Book Party…what what?) In fact my love for books has only increased over the years, and despite the fact that I am an incredibly slow reader, I rarely find myself not wrapped up in some kind of good story.  Actually as I was running out the door this morning I was frantically looking for my book, as I usually am, and Garrett said to me, “You aren’t even going to have time to read today — why do you need your book with you?”  And no doubt it is because reading is my security blanket.  I like to know that I have access to a book at anytime.  On the off chance I don’t have a book, I’m not picky — I will read magazines, on-line articles, backs of cereal boxes, instruction manuals (wait, nope, I draw the line at instructions manuals) but you get the idea.  I just love the act of reading and prioritize it pretty highly in my life all year round.  And there is just something about summer + reading that is just such a delightful combination.   So here are the books that are currently on my nightstand, will shortly be on my nightstand, and books that I am hotly anticipating:

On My Nightstand

I’m not going to lie I count this book as a guilty pleasure.  Something about this book (probably the fact that Pat Conroy wrote The Prince of Tides which ended up having Barbara Streisand all up in it) makes me feel like it is a little bit of an old lady book, but I am kind of loving it right now.  It is all about Charleston, South Carolina and it is just full of delicious description.  I know it’s a little overwritten and over the top, but that is also what makes it awesome.   Plus I am a sucker for any story with themes about Southern Society, Racial Tension, Secrets and Lies…and boy is this full of them!  I wouldn’t run out and purchase it, but I got it from the library and so far it has been a quick read.

Yes, I’m totally STILL reading this, but I feel like because it is non-fiction I can intersperse other books in between its beginning and end.  It is a really fascinating look at the history of domesticity, when we started heading away from prioritizing “the home” and why, and a very interesting discussion on what the costs/benefits of domesticity are today.  It definitely is a Pro-Homemaking-Movement type of book, so if that type of stuff is not interesting to you, probably skip this one. But I find that I even though I work outside the home and really enjoy it, that Hayes makes a great case for giving it all up and just living a simple, peaceful life.  It’s pretty inspiring. 
On Deck
Well I have about 20 books on deck, but the ones that are due back at the library most immediately are as follows:
I heard about Sophia Hannah in one of those Marketing emails that Amazon always sends out that I hardly ever pay attention to.  It had the subject line “If you liked Tana French…”  and let me tell you, I did like Tana French, so I opened it.  The plot summaries for many of her thrillers sound mysterious and interesting, and even though I usually prefer lighter stuff in the summer I immediately checked my library and these two books were available, so they are next on my list. 
In The Queue
So like I said, I have a bazillion books on hold at the library and many sitting in my bedroom but here are a few that I am excited to crack open when the time comes.
*A couple of Financial Philosophy books*
*Memoirs…cuz this girl LOVES a good memoir (especially humorous ones)*
 
And if you want to know a really *Dirty Secret* I am probably going to keep it real and tear through a couple of James Patterson paperbacks too.  I know they are garbage, but sometimes you just need a good mindless and dark thriller, you know? Just as I appreciate the highbrow on occasion, I also love the trash!  :) 
Speaking of dark, I read a really interesting interview with Bret Easton Ellis recently that made me want to make my way through some of his books again, but those may be a little too dark for summer.  Garrett still contends that American Psycho is his favorite book (not sure what I think about that, ha!) and I have yet to read that one for fear that the violence will be a turn off, so maybe I will wait for a freezing cold day in winter to start something that depressing. 
Anyway, that’s all that’s going on in this neck of the woods.  What’s on your nightstand?
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