Where There Is No Struggle, There Is No Strength

In a few words: I’m struggling right now.

With many, many things.

Adjusting to the pace and travel of my new position at work
I’m working more hours, juggling more projects and even though it’s been two months I still haven’t quite found a rhythm. I’m traveling more that ever and those days make me feel a little zonked. In an awesomely productive way! But dinner still needs to be made on those nights, you know?

Staying motivated to pursue my health and fitness goals
I don’t know if I will ever not struggle with this, mostly because my mind always at first defaults to goal/destination type thinking but in reality THERE IS NO END. Sometimes I think about all this work I have put into getting fit and healthy and then I think in a few short months I could get pregnant and everything will be different. Not that I would give up any of my health and fitness prioritization, but I would have to wrap my brain around new goals and thinking and that sounds freaking exhausting since I finally feel like I am getting into my groove after two years of work! Thinking about that makes me feel defeated. But that is so lame because I set out on this path specifically because I wanted TO BE AS HEALTHY AS POSSIBLE WHEN I GOT PREGNANT. Oh, irony.

Keeping up with all the ideas I have for this website, versus the time I have to actually execute them.
The amount of time I spend thinking about and executing pictures and posts and things for this blog is insane. It is a Full Time Hobby! But I love it. It is honestly one of my favorite things in life and it feels like such a luxury to be able to post here. But it is a commitment and a responsibility and I am definitely wrestling with the next steps. Do I monetize? Post less? Post more? Seek out guest posts? How does it fit in with the next few years? All of that.

Staying hydrated
Listen, there are days when I struggle with the basics here :)

Having enough time to relax and to pursue the fluffy things I love
Sometimes I want to just sit down and watch the entire first season of a television show in one weekend because my friends recommended it. Currently I do NOT have that kind of time. While I enjoy the fact that I don’t spend a lot of time with my television, sometimes a girl needs some quality time with the DVR.

Keeping myself from diving off the deep end nutritionally and just eating cake for a week.
I want to tell you my eating habits are poor right now because I feel like they are off the rails. But when I was describing this to a friend last night (hi Gina!) she was like “What, are you diving head first into the bread basket every night?” and the truth is, I’m not. It’s more like I’ve made dried fruit and dark chocolate a nightly habit instead of an occasional indulgence. But when you say that out loud, YOU SOUND LIKE A GIANT DOUCHE. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel any less out of control. And I don’t really…like feeling out of control because when I do it just sort of begets more similar behavior.

The truth is, I’m struggling with all of it right now.

It’s all kind of converging at once and the other day I had a long, dramatic feeling sorry for myself moment on my drive to work. I was lamenting my crazy-busy schedule, wishing that I was at home finishing up my book and catching up on my Real Housewives of Wherever. I had forgotten to pack breakfast. I was going to a meeting on my lunch break. It was just a melodramatic sob fest in my mind and then I thought to myself:

WAIT A MINUTE HOLLY, YOU ARE THE ONE WHO MAKES THE GOD DAMN SCHEDULE. GET IT TOGETHER.

So you know, I’m trying.

I’ve talked a lot here about trying to find balance, but recently everywhere I turn Danielle LaPorte keeps popping up purporting that life balance is a myth, and the pursuit of it is causing us more stress than the craving for balance itself.

I don’t really believe in coincidences so the fact that I keep reading this over and over in different shapes and forms makes me feel like maybe I ought to actually sit down and really digest that idea. If life balance is a myth and I should be pursuing my passions, where do I go from here? Because I’ve got a lot of passion up in here! :)

I don’t have any answers today or a great way to end this post or any grand epiphany to share, but in an effort to be transparent I just thought I needed to throw this out there. Life is really, really good lately — but also not without it’s challenges. And sometimes it’s nice to just say that out loud, and hope that by throwing it out there in the company of friends it will help me move on to the next chapter.

Happy Friday and here’s to hoping!

Thirsty Thursday: Fresh Squeezed Honey Lemonade 3 Ways

Since I added it to my Summer Bucket List I’ve been itching to make some homemade lemonade. It’s such a delicious drink to enjoy outside at the end of a long day and it actually used be a staple sitting in my fridge. But here’s the thing – my old recipe? Began with 2 Cups of Sugar.

Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing! But I’m not really in the habit anymore of consuming 2 cups of white sugar at the end of a long day. That’s not to say I never indulge (obviously) but now when I do I feel like it’s got to be worth it. And to me, a simple beverage seems like more of a necessity and less like an indulgence, you know? So I wanted to find a way to still enjoy the ritual of a cup of lemonade on occasion, without having it be such a crazy nutritional gut bomb.

Amber left me a comment on my bucket list that initially inspired this recipe. (Yoga friends especially, check out her awesome website — she’s pretty amazing!) I then tinkered with it to make a larger batch, and of course made some variations (including one of the Adult Beverage variety.) The recipe does call for honey (local and raw if you’ve got it – might as well do yourself a favor), but it’s nowhere close to 2 cups of sugar anymore. It skews a bit on the tart side, which is my personal preference, so if you like it a bit sweeter feel free to adjust to taste!


Fresh Squeezed Honey Lemonade
Serves: 1 Small Pitcher
 
A lower sugar alternative to the traditional pitcher of summer refreshment.
Ingredients
  • 16 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (about 8 lemons)
  • ½ Cup Honey (this is what I recommend, start here and adjust to your preference)
  • 4 TBS Hot Water
  • 32 oz Cold Water
Instructions
  1. Juice your lemons. I used Meyer Lemons which tend to be a little sweeter.
  2. In a small bowl mix your honey + hot water until the honey dissolves and you are left with a honey simple syrup. It's ok to add more hot water if your honey is particularly thick.
  3. Mix lemon juice, simple syrup and cold water
  4. Serve plain or with one of the following variations

For Strawberry Lemonade

Blend 8-10 fresh or frozen strawberries with 2 TBS Water and 1 TBS honey to make a chunky puree. Add to the bottom of the glass, pour in honey lemonade.

For an adult beverage: Add a splash of Mandarin Orange Vodka for a twist!

For Iced Tea Lemonade

For a pitcher, brew a 16 oz of double strength iced tea (get as creative as you want with the flavor of your iced tea, or just use plain.) I used 4 black tea bags and steeped them in hot water for 4 minutes. Let the tea cool and mix with lemonade

For an adult beverage:
Add a splash of vodka to spice up the night!

Then kick back, put your feet up and enjoy a little (lower sugar!) relaxation in a glass!

Day Trip – Marin County + SF

Sacramento is a fantastic city to live in! But since this is the great state of California and it is not on the coast, it sometimes gets a bad rap. I remember when I lived on the coast in LA I felt like I was making a real compromise moving to a valley town. Luckily one of the cliches that you hear about Sacramento all over the places is true: it’s such a short drive everywhere! The Bay Area, Lake Tahoe and Wine Country are all right in your back yard. Ten years after that big move, I really appreciate that this is completely true.

I’ve been taking advantage of this all summer long and last Saturday was no exception. We packed up some snacks and headed out with our Couples Besties (HA! still love that term) to have a fun day enjoying Marin County and San Francisco.

Our first agenda item: Hike Mt. Tamalpais. No big deal.

It was a nice leisurely, sunny drive to Mill Valley and we started our hike right next to a redwood shaded creek. The scenery was gorgeous and there are all sorts of neat homes in the area that look like modern (EXPENSIVE!) tree houses. It was kind of fun to imagine what it would be like to live there as we made our way into the woods.

Oddly enough the hardest part of the hike is basically right out of the gate. It’s 15 minutes of steady ascent, but it’s completely shaded and makes you feel like you are the only people on the trail. Katie kept saying Mt. Tam is the “air conditioned mountain” and I’ll tell you what, I was grateful because that first climb felt like a nice little Saturday WOD outside the CrossFit box. High intensity (and definitely constantly varied, HA!) When we got to the top I was basically a sweaty mess, but it felt great. Exercising outside is the best!

The rest of the hike was filled with tough hills mixed up with some mellower patches where we could visit and tell stories.

The hike took about 6 hours altogether but the views starting getting amazing in the first hour. Around every corner there was another peek of the ocean or the various bridges that cross the bay. And the entire time there was a cool breeze blowing.

Towards the top there is a paved path that leads to the summit trail and so Jeremy and I decided to run up it. I guess I was enjoying chatting too much though because I turned around to talk to Garrett and Katie behind us and ran right into a tree.

Awesome! Too bad I have no pictures of that. I’m sure the biker who was riding past me right as I did it (trying very hard not to laugh — nice of him) has a picture of that in his mind.

WHAT A KLUTZ! Sometimes I am a hazard to myself!

Once you hike (or drive) your way up to the top (CHEATERS!) the path to get to the summit is only about 1/3 of a mile. it’s a fun little trail through stairs and rocks and trees.

When we finally arrived, the view was TOTALLY worth it and we spent some time just relaxing and having a little snack and enjoying the fruits of our labor!

I, of course, had to climb some rocks and ham it up! And put on a jacket! Seriously, the mountain *IS* air conditioned. That is the way to hike, man.

It took a few more hours to make our way down the mountain, but once we did, there was only one thing on our mind: MEXICAN FOOD. We changed quickly and made our way to an adorable little taco place in town called Joe’s Taco Lounge where we regained our energy.

Marin county is just a hop, skip and jump from San Francisco so we took our full bellies across the Golden Gate and decided to have some tourist-y fun over in Ghirardelli Square. I can’t even remember the last time I crossed the Golden Gate! These two things are not particularly hip San Francisco things to do, but sometimes it is fun to be a tourist in your own backyard. And come on, Ghirardelli Square IS A PLAZA SURROUNDING A STORE FULL OF CHOCOLATE. I mean, after hiking all day, it was a no brainer!

Of course when we were done we had to grab an Irish Coffee (or two!) over at the Buena Vista, which is always a treat when we are in that area of the city. That place is always packed and overflowing with folks from out of town, but we managed to share a table with another couple who were also from Sacramento. Random!

All in all, it was such a great day!

And despite all of that coffee, we slept like babies that night. Weird. :)

Bison Sweet Potato Chili

I realize I have been asking a lot of you lately. I mean first I try and make you love chicken thighs and now I am throwing bison at you? Man, I am just pushing all the scary meat on you lately, aren’t I?

Roll with me for a second though, because remember as part of my 2012 goals I am trying to eat more game.

Here’s the thing about bison though? Is is kind of awesome. It’s ground beef’s leaner and more iron-rich brother. Bison typically graze on grass and most of the time they aren’t fed commercial grains. It is super protein dense and contains tons of nutrients, but the caloric density is lower than beef and even pork. You know I hate counting calories, but I don’t pass up a good caloric bargain when I see it, so bison is a total WIN!

Let’s just say if ground beef is Donnie Wahlberg (who I love, of course, NKOTB forever!), then bison is Mark Wahlberg during the Calvin Klein underwear years.

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Have I sold you yet? WHAT MORE CONVINCING COULD YOU POSSIBLY NEED?

If you are interested in having shirtless Mark Wahlberg over bison for dinner it but still a little bit scared, might I suggest trying it in chili? You can’t really go wrong trying a new meat in chili since there are so many other flavors going on, right? I especially like this chili because it is complex and full of vegetables. I originally saw a Bison Sweet Potato chili over on Paleo Girl and that really got my wheels turning. I decided to meld her recipe with my favorite-ever Damn Good Chili and thus, this recipe was born!

4.0 from 1 reviews
Bison Sweet Potato Chili
Serves: 4 Adults
 
Ingredients
  • 1 TBS Coconut Oil
  • 1 lb Ground Bison
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato, peeled and cubed (small-ish bite sized!)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 2 small yellow squash, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded and diced (leave the seeds in if you like it HOT!)
  • 1 4 oz can green chiles
  • 2 TBS Cumin
  • 1 TBS Chili Powder
  • ½ tsp Paprika
  • 1 Cup Tomato Sauce
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Cup of Beef Broth
  • 1 Bell Pepper (color is your choice) diced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt Coconut Oil in a large heavy bottomed pot (I used my 7 qt Dutch Oven)
  2. Add your onions, scallions, zucchini, squash and sweet potato and cook until vegetables have some color (about 10 minutes)
  3. Season layer with salt and pepper
  4. Add the bison, break up with your spoon and brown meat until it is no longer pink
  5. Add the garlic, jalapeno and green chiles and cook for another minute or two
  6. Season layer with salt and pepper and then dump in all your spices
  7. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and beef broth and mix it all together
  8. Bring pot up to a boil and then lower to a simmer
  9. Simmer pot for 30 minutes, covered
  10. Uncover, add in diced Bell Pepper and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until desired consistency is reached. (I like a thick chili)
  11. Dish up and top with scallions, or any other desired toppings
  12. Enjoy!

 

See…that doesn’t look too scary, does it?

What’s For Dinner?

We’re having WINE for dinner!

Ok, not really. But we are spending this coming weekend in Sonoma for my cousin Jim’s wedding, so our menu is somewhat short and sweet.

Monday
Lunch: Grilled Chicken Andouille with Vegetables
Dinner: Grilled Ginger Lime Shrimp + Cauliflower Rice + Salad

Tuesday
Lunch: Taco Salad (Nope, we can’t go a week without it.)
Dinner: Indian Spiced Beef Bowls with Spaghetti Squash + Salted Radishes

Wednesday
Lunch: Italian Antipasto Salad (recipe soon. It’s delish!)
Dinner: Grilled Fiesta Chicken Thighs + Broccoli + Salad

Thursday
Lunch: Flank Steak Salad with Blue Cheese
Dinner: Breakfast for dinner! (Or Mustgo!)

…and then we’re off! Long weekend in wine-country here we come!

*****

What’s cooking in your neck of the woods?

Live the Thigh Life: 10 Paleo Recipes To Make You Love Chicken Thighs

So remember how I used to be afraid of chicken thighs? But then I found some easy recipes and now all of a sudden I am a Chicken Thigh Ambassador? Well I think it’s time that ambassadorship got a hashtag.


I racked my brain and obviously the only one that truly represents the essence of amazing-ness that is the chicken thigh was #thighlife. I mean, RIGHT?? I think it’s got a certain panache. Don’t you think 2Pac liked chicken thighs? I bet he did.

Anyway, if you are still on the fence, I’m going to urge you one last time to give chicken thighs a chance. Wait, who am I kidding, this will not be the last time. But in case you needed some inspiration, here are 10 recipes from around the internet that might get your creative cooking-wheels spinning! I’ve included some substitutions if you want to make sure they are paleo.

1. Lemon Chicken Thighs
2. Korean Chicken Thighs (use your favorite soy sauce substitute)
3. Gingered Chicken Thighs (sub soy sauce and maybe sun butter for the peanut sauce?)
4. Turkish Chicken Thighs (sub coconut milk for the yogurt if you don’t do dairy)
5. Greek Chicken Thighs
6. Filipino Chicken Adobo (again with the soy sauce substitute)
7. Baked Pumpkin Chicken Thighs
8. Braised Chicken Thighs
9. Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs (substitute chicken broth for the beer if you don’t do beer. The spice mixture looks awesome!)
10. Honey Spiced Chicken Thighs

*****

Do you have any tried and true chicken thigh recipes that have converted your friends? Leave ’em in the comments!

Wednesday Bullets

It’s Wednesday and I’m feeling a little random today. Want proof? Here’s a picture of Garrett wearing a jaunty pirate hat. For no reason.

I think Garrett is a natural pirate...

BAM!

Anyway, I’m traveling for work today which means while you read this I am probably riding in the car with my boss for many hours, shaking someone’s hand, smiling and nodding, or kissing babies or something. YAY! Please just stuff that jealousy right back down where it came from.

Soooooooooooo, while I do that fun stuff, here are some completely arbitrary things from around the internet. I wish I could find some creative thread to link them all, but instead they will just be all over the map. Like me today, actually. HEY-O! That was some creativity for you right there! If we were on Jeopardy this would be the Potpurri category. But I will not be quite as snide, snippy, snooty-pants as Alex Trebek.

I hope.

Well, I won’t correct your French pronounciation, that’s for sure.

Anyway — here are some things!

*I came across this funny post about 65 Rules for Successful Living and it made me nod my and laugh hysterically in equal parts. (It’s full of “colorful” language, so beware.) #2 is basically my motto in life. #26 is SO. Darn. True. I want to tell everyone in the world #35. #38 took me like 30 years to learn. I love the graphic for #57. Oh man, just go read it.

*I fell down a rabbit hole of Parenting Book Recommendations the other day that started with this post. Weird I know. I like rabbit holes. The more random the better. Anyway, while I don’t think a book is going to teach me how to “do everything right” when it comes to having a kid, I am a book lover (as you know!) and so when I have a chance to learn about something in book form it excites me! Anyway, that was my long winded way of asking if YOU read any interesting books about conception/being pregnant/having a little one that you would recommend. Alert: NOT PREGNANT, it’s just on my mind.

*I liked this mix of Summer Songs. (Still not sick of this Robyn album! That is a damn good album!) What is it about summer that just REQUIRES fun music? We’ve been listening to a lot around around here, but can I confess something to you? Summer 2012 is totally going to be the summer of Call Me Maybe, and I’m not even upset about it. :)

*This shirt makes me laugh. I need some more pithy shirts to add to my (very small) collection. Scratch that, make it tank tops. (Here, how about this one? HILARIOUS) It’s too damn hot for t-shirts lately!

*This was an interesting post about Cleansing and Fasting. The internet is always talking about one or the other, so it was nice to learn a little something about how the body works with respect to both. It’s very science-y though. Drink a cup of coffee first.

*Did you think Alt Summit sounded cool? Did you know you there is an Alt Summit Channel that offers classes you can take when you are bored at work feel like learning?

*Do you subscribe to the Oprah philosophy of not eating after a certain time at night? 5pm? 6pm? Whatever. Ask yourself if that seems to have worked for Oprah. Then read this. Then quit worrying about it and eat when your body tells you to eat.

******

Ok, your turn to let your arbitrary-nature shine! Leave me a link of something fun to read. I’ll be in the car a lot today, remember? I need a reason to furrow my brow and pretend to be reading something important. :)

Summer Reading List


I mentioned on the Bucket List that I wanted to read 15 books this summer. A lot of them are already sitting on my book shelf just waiting to be picked up and every time I walk by I feel a little twinge of excitement.

It’s an ambitious goal for me because we have a lot on our plates this season but these are the 15 books I’m hoping to get through:

1. 50 Shades of Grey – Listen, I just need to see what all the fuss is about. I’m not committing to the series or the genre, but since it’s already so much a part of the seasonal pop culture zeitgeist, it’d be a shame to pass it up!

2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – This is our book club selection for the month and I honestly can’t wait to finally read it since I’ve heard it is such an emotional book. Garrett and I are reading it together and hosting the discussion. Two of my favorite things!

3. Dark Places by Gillian FlynnI read Gillian Flynn’s first book last summer and it was a real page turner. This is her second book and I hear it is even better! Not to mention she already has a third out and I *really* want to read that, but I’m sort of OCD in that I like to read authors’ books in order when I can. Lame.


4. Faithful Place by Tana French – I’m going to try and not let so much time pass by between my Tana French experiences this time around. Plus she has an awesome looking book coming out this summer too, and obviously I have to read the books in order! :)

5. Most Talkative: Stories From the Front Lines of Pop Culture by Andy Cohen – You know I’ll buy anything Bravo sells, so I clearly need to know everything there is to know about Andy Cohen! Plus, it’s been a while since I’ve read a celebrity autobiography so you didn’t have to.

6. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett – I just really think this has an engaging sounding plot summary — Amazon jungles! Mysteries! Death! Adventure! I mean that has the makings for a pretty good summer book, right? Besides, everyone I know who read it loved it. Sold!

7. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan – This was a total impulse buy that I made for the kindle the day after I downloaded the kindle app for my phone. It sounds suuuuuuuuuuper good!

8. The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman – So Chuck Klosterman has long been a favorite of mine, and as an author he falls into the category of “I’d Read Anything He Writes.” He writes hilarious non-fiction that I can’t get enough of, and this is his first foray into fiction. It’s totally going on the list!

9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – I like John Green just fine. I’m not his most hyperventilating super fan, but he writes good Young Adult books. Everyone seems to be raving about this little gem, so I’m willing to see what it’s got.

10. The Cradle In The Grave by Sophie Hannah – A long time ago Amazon sent me a creepy email that told me if I liked Tana French I would like Sophie Hannah. I trusted them. They were right. Damn computer-bots! Since then I’ve read everything she’s ever written. Except this. I’m going to remedy that.

11. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I only get to read the NEW Gillian Flynn if I read the OLD Gillian Flynn. But OOOOOOMMMMGGGGG, how can you not read what this is about and not want to know “What’s in the box???” (That was my best Brad Pitt impersonation, btw.)

12. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp and Mark Reiter – I first read about this on Elise’s blog. Sounded intriguing, so I reserved it at the library. That’s Standard Operating Procedure around here.


13. Broken Harbor by Tana French – No NEW Tana without reading OLD Tana. Man, I’m quite the book Nazi, aren’t I? Lucky for me this doesn’t even come out until July 24th, so I am buying myself a little bit of time to catch up. Whew!

14. The Calling by Kelley Armstrong – So, I read the first book in this trilogy last year but I just looked back at all of my book reviews and I never included it! How Rude! Well let me quickly recap: Young adult. Trilogy. Werewolves. Weird Happenings. You know, the usual. Anyway, the first one is a friggin cliff hanger and then the second one didn’t come out for like a year. Man! Hate that. Anyway, this is the second. I don’t really expect great things, but I just need to know how the story ends, of course.

15. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed – I got totally suckered in to wanting to read this book by Goodreads. Every time I would get on to update my reading list there would be a banner ad for this book or a link to the book trailer. Finally one day I watched it and I was sold. I love a good memoir, and especially one about recovering from grief…HELLO, you know me and this particular brand of torture. I’m all over it. Even in the summer.

*****

Have you read any of these? Are any of them on your Summer Reading List?

Weekender: South Lake Tahoe

A weekend on the south shore of Lake Tahoe was just what the doctor ordered. Although if you looked at the amount of crap we packed, it may have seemed like we were going for an entire week!
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Because we were driving up with friends, we brought just about everything you could imagine, along with a cart full of crappy indulgent weekend food from Trader Joe’s.
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If you are in the market for crappy indulgent weekend food, I need to personally recommend the Trader Joe’s Kettle Corn Cookies. Not only do the make a delicious (and completely wheat/sugar fueled snack – UGH!) but they pair quite well with a cup of coffee in the morning! Oh you all, this was not my finest display of healthy eating, but while we are talking food pairings…have you ever tried this?
Wine Pairing.
You should.

We got on the road Friday afternoon and had a quick and traffic-free ride up to the lake.
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We were stoked to leave the impending heat of Sacramento behind! It was supposed to be a long weekend of triple digit days back home, so seeing the pine trees, the lake, and the temperature rise only to about 85 degrees was welcome!

We checked in to our condo and then headed over to Garrett’s and my favorite Tahoe tradition: The Beacon Bar & Grill.
Diptic
Rum Runners + Calamari + Beach Side Dining make it a Must Do whenever we are in the area.

Saturday we were up early to cheer on our friends competing in the Fittest of the Sierras.
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There were three events and despite looking pretty standard, they were all pretty brutal to watch. Let’s just say more than once I thought to myself how happy I was to just be a spectator, I can’t even imagine COMPETING! :)
Diptic

We had a great turnout from our gym and all of our athletes did fantastic! I love these faces!
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You know what I also love at CrossFit competitions? The t shirts that everyone sports. Always good eye candy.
DipticDiptic
CrossFit competitions are good for eye-candy in general, ahem.

In all seriousness though, yes, lots of super fit bodies doing amazing things is fun to watch, but honestly — what is really inspiring is just seeing EVERYONE out there doing their best! People of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels showing up to give 100%.

For each workout every athlete had their own little cheering section, and man if you could bottle the energy in the room during the last 60 seconds of each, with all the screaming and cheering fans — Red Bull would be out of business. It is really freaking emotional, and I will tell you sometimes it makes sensitive sallies like myself get a little misty!
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After the competition was over, all that cheering and hollering made me ready for a nap! But I rallied and headed down to the beach with some friends and it was GORGEOUS!
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I may have also spent some “quality” time reading. HAHA. That book, man. I don’t really get it yet.

After the beach, we all put our party pants on and got together for some BBQ and Duck Farts. Do you know about Duck Farts? I did not, let’s discuss: equal parts Khalua, Baileys and Crown Royal. You can shoot it from a glass, or you know, just squeeze it in your mouth. Your call.
Diptic
Either way: Delicious. It sort of tastes like coffee, oddly enough. And you know how I love coffee.

Despite having a celebratory Saturday, we were up and at ’em early Sunday to get home, which actually worked out pretty well. I got to grocery shop and do a little cooking before heading back to work this week. If you can believe it, even after a long and (not SUPER healthy, if I’m being honest) weekend, all I can think about is getting back into the gym. We had such a fun time!
This motley group of people we get to see day in and day out are inspiring, awesome, and most importantly tons fun!

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The lake, the competition, the food and the company were all top notch!
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I’m ready to go back — and to me, THAT is the sign of a good weekender!

June Favorites

Another month, another set of favorites! All of these things have felt like steals, scores or just simple things that are making my life happier this month!

1. Philosophy Help Me Retinol Day Treatment (SPF 30)

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So listen, my mom and I have this bad habit of calling each other when there are fun things on QVC and then making impulse purchases. Wait, now that I think about it, it’s always me that’s making the impulse purchases and my mom that’s doing the calling…hmmm. Anyway, she talked me into buying this in May because as you know my skin is kind of a nightmare and I had been looking for a good sunscreen AND a retinol product. Turns out this is one of the only 2 for 1s on the market and I’ve been using it for about 30 days and am pretty sure I want to marry it. Judge me if you must. The texture of my skin has become notably smoother and my jawline breakouts have not been as severe. They haven’t gone away completely, but on a scale of 1 to 10 the are about a 3 instead of the usual 7. And that’s ALL MONTH LONG, ahem.

2. Stila Sparkle Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Flash

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True Story: I am suuuuuuuuuuuuuuper lame with liquid eyeliner. Eyeliner in general, really. My friend Sarah was kind enough to break it down for me once and I am still not confident. I mean, I wear it, but I don’t feel like it’s pulling together my look, you know?
I got a sample of this Stila liquid liner in my birchbox a couple months back and kind of shook my head. Who the hell wants to wear gold, glitter, liquid-eyeliner, birchbox? “Birchbox, you are on notice!” I thought. And then I tried it and um, apparently *I* want to wear gold, liquid eyeliner. It’s super easy (and idiot-proof!) and very subtle. But also, definitely a step up from my plain brown eyeliner. What is not idiot proof is taking a picture of my eyes with my iphone. You will just have to trust that IT FREAKING RULES!

3. Oil of Olay Silk Whimsy Body Lotion with Rose Extract and Almond Oil

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You will just have to forgive the stupid name. I don’t find that I have a particular need for a whimsical body lotion, but I will tell you that in summer I don’t even touch half of my stash because it is too thick. And super emollient lotion + Sacramento’s HOT HOT HOT HEAT is a recipe for unsightly ass sweat marks on your clothes. You know what I’m saying, right? If you don’t, you are on of the lucky ones. Anyway, I am impressed with this lotion’s ability to moisturize while being INCREDIBLY light, so as the temperature’s have increased it has become my Go-To. But do you know what I really love about it? The scent. Now, when you hear Rose Extract and Almond Oil it sounds a little bit Old-Lady ish. It also doesn’t help that Garrett calls all of my Olay products Oil of Old Lady. But let me assure you, it actually smells subtle, a little sweet, and the scent lasts ALL DAY LONG. From a lotion! And for the record, I’m not a fan of floral scents, so the rose isn’t exceptionally floral or overpowering. Promise.

4. Old Navy Vintage V Neck Tees

I read about these a couple of weeks ago over on Wardrobe Oxygen and I have to say, I was skeptical. Old Navy quality is just so hit or miss and in the past few years I have found most of their stuff stretches and becomes ill fitting while you are actually wearing it. I HATE THAT! Not worth the bargain. But for $8.50, I had to check out this alleged amazing tee. And I ended up totally falling in love! They are super thin and worn in (you do have to wear a cami or something under them unless you like your stuff a little see through) but they are comfy as all get-out AND mine didn’t even shrink in the wash!

The other fun thing? They have a men’s version, and that one is cheap and totally Garrett approved! If you must know it took me years of convincing to get him to wear a v-neck shirt (he didn’t want to “look like a girl” — um, WHATEVER.) But he is a total lover of these tees. The kicker though — you must look where the v-necks are manufactured. For the women — the ones made in Vietnam are the softest. For the men — pick the ones made in India. The have a million colors, and the also come in crew-necks if you prefer those, so seriously — CHECK THEM OUT.

5. Dresses


Interesting fact about me: I hated dresses in high school. Like, so much so I eschewed the entire prom experience because the thought of picking out some 1990s dreamy Gunny Sax number actually made my skin crawl. Thank you very much I will enjoy my flannel shirts and work boots while I’m listening to Pearl Jam, reapplying Toast of New York lipstick. Ah…memories.

Anyway, as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to embrace dresses. They are fun, stylish, flattering…yada yada yada. But do you know what else they are? A LAZY LADY’S WAY OF LOOKING PUT TOGETHER WHEN IT IS HOT AS BALLS OUT! Lately all I want to wear is a dress. The other day I put on pants and a work appropriate blouse and I just felt…frumpy and hot. As such, I’m amassing quite a collection this season and you know what? I’m having so much fun with it! I know most of you are probably shaking your head and thinking “DUH, Holly.” But this is sort of a revelatory moment for me, so I’m going to enjoy it. Also — I’m going to recommend it highly, because throwing one item of clothing over your head in the morning completely trumps trying to coordinate 3 or 4!

Um…Winning!

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So what’s rocking your world this month?

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