Highlights

my happy place ATG FINAL

{Finally, my toes are in the sand. It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer.}

Between you and me, I’ve had better weeks. Not that anything in particular happened to me personally that should make me say this. There’s just something in the air as of late that seems to be hitting nearly everyone around me, creating this level of….what…exhaustion, perhaps?  Truth be told, I’ve been dragging much of this week myself.  Add in the aftermath of what’s happening in the press and I suppose we’re bound to feel the effects of it.

Though I’m always mindful of being healthy, I tend to slip into patterns where I could be better about taking care of myself. The interesting (and somewhat frustrating) thing is that I feel like I have been taking better care of myself lately. I’m eating balanced meals and cutting back on sugar, which for me means addressing my more recently developed predilection for snacking after dinner. (I haven’t had Hot Tamales in weeks! And yes, this is a big deal.) I also had an invigorating yoga class that didn’t leave me practically disabled because it had been so long since I last practiced that I was sore for 3 days straight. In fact, I can feel myself improving. And with one exception where I stayed up late one night to put the finishing touches on my blog, I usually went bed at a decent time.

I realize there’s always room for improvement, so I’m going to spend some time this weekend focusing on what else I should add to take things up a notch (and if you’re yelling at me in your head right now to get more exercise on the books…I know, I know). Aside from this, I’m thinking I just need a little at home rejuvenation this weekend. It really could be as simple as a day lounging around in my PJs all day, reading books and watching movies.

As we wrap up another week, I’m decidedly going back to the last time I clearly remember being in my happy place. It started on a late Saturday morning last weekend: my notepad, a few magazines, the first Diet Cherry Coke I’d had in ages, chips and guacamole in the cooler, toes in the sand while watching the fog burn off and turn into pure sunshine on the beach in Malibu with my guy. From there, what more could I ask for when meeting new book club gals over brunch the very next day to chat about an engaging read? (Never mind that I’m now somehow juggling two different book clubs!) Oh, and let’s not forget what I think will become my new indulgence (in moderation, of course): crunchy french toast buried under strawberries. Yum!

In other words, after my first trip to the beach this season (and nearly at the end of it at that!); along with a warm Sunday morning brunch with new friends, somehow, it actually started to feel a little bit more like summer, like my happy place…and most certainly the highlights of life lately.

Have a great weekend!

Malibu Setup ATG FINAL

{Our set-up in the fog in a spot away from everyone…note to self: need beach chairs.}

Malibu Beach ATG FINAL

{Enjoying the view once the sun arrived.}

Trees to Brunch ATG FINAL

{Something breathtaking happened when I gazed up through the trees on the way to brunch.}

Crunchy French Toast ATG FINAL

{A great book club discussion and crunchy french toast (they’re dusted in cornflakes!) topped with fresh strawberries from a cafe 5 minutes from my house…this might become a problem.}

 Buddhist Boot Camp FB Quote

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5 Reasons This Week Will Rock!

5 Reasons ATG FINAL


It was one of those weekends that just didn’t feel long enough. All I seem to recall was a wedding on Saturday night, seeing another gal rock pretty much the exact same dress as me at said wedding (but to help with the sting some, it did look slightly better on me. 😉 ); 2 lemon drops, a trip to Target, a stop at Trader Joe’s and somehow it’s already Monday. I’m not too stoked about this, but understand that one cannot just wish their life away incessantly waiting for the weekend to arrive once again. This new week brings a few fun things to look forward to.

Here are 5 reasons this week will rock:

#1. Two words: Restorative. Yoga. (I’m so excited about my first restorative yoga class in ages! Yes, this is about the easiest form of yoga you can do – you basically pay to take a nap for an hour and a half…and I’m okay with this.)

#2. Joy the Baker’s Fresh Blueberry and Mint Lemonade (hello!) coming to a taste bud near me! This looks so refreshing, I can’t stand it nor wait to whip up a batch. The only hurdle is that I neglected to get the blueberries when I was at the grocery store yesterday. No worries. I’m all over it and will report back.

#3. I’m REALLY trying to get into Orange is the New Black. I was semi-interested after the first episode, totally bored by the second, though much less bored by the third. I’m aiming to give it some time to see what all the fuss is about. It’s one of the most buzzed about shows on TV currently, however, I’m just not seeing why as of yet. I’m giving it 3 more episodes/nights on the couch to suck me in, otherwise I’m moving on.

#4. Trader Joe’s Chicken Lasagna. Picture this: a $4.99 lasagna that’s pre-made in the refrigerated section that merely requires a gal to pop it in the oven for 45 minutes (I like it almost burnt), have a gourmet meal, AND get at least 3 nights worth of grub out of it? This gem, my current obsession, will be my dining companion over Orange is the New Black.

#5. Starting my next book club read: MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche.

These are 5 reasons this week will rock! I hope yours does too!

See you Wednesday!

Highlights

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{decisions, decisions.}

Well into November, and what a busy month it will be. My boyfriend’s birthday, AFI Fest, the first meeting of my new book club (where I need to haul ass and get the book done!), Thanksgiving, stressing over all things Christmas, and things oh-so-busy at the office…you know, the works!

I realized recently that while I make a conscious effort to take care of myself by eating healthy, and getting enough sleep – I’ve likely been in a weird mood lately because I’m falling into that trap again where I’m not taking the time to slow down and relax more, getting out of my head, and indulging in things that make me truly happy. And even doing the things that don’t necessarily make me happy at the time, but I’m always glad I did (I’m looking at you “gym”).

I know they say money doesn’t buy you happiness (though I beg to differ because it certainly did in this case – ha!), but I think the biggest highlight over the last week was on Saturday morning. My guy and I got up after a good night’s sleep and went out to breakfast, then I went out to splurge on the first professional pedicure I’ve had in over a year. Queue the relaxation…

If there’s one way I would start out every Saturday morning, it would be to sit in a small café, cradling a latte, eating pancakes with strawberries on top, and chatting with him. There’s nowhere to be, and nothing else to do right then and there. It was the happiest moment I’ve had (aside from being Spooked the weekend before) in quite some time. Of course, this would get expensive quickly so it’s unrealistic for now, especially since I’m no slack in the kitchen when it comes to making breakfast on the weekends – but I guess the change of pace and environment was nice. And sitting in a spa chair for half an hour for a pedicure was the icing on the cake!

This weekend kicks off 2013’s AFI Fest so I’ll be in the heart of Hollywood all weekend long saturated by the best in cinema. I love the eclectic mix of films and being in the environment with other cinephiles, though the waiting in line for hours before each film is not my favorite part. It’s amazing how draining it is just waiting around for a movie to start. At least I’ll be in good company. Since I have over half a book to get through before my book club next week, my Kindle and I will spend some time together while I wait. I’ll post about the film festival next week, complete with the films I saw and a wrap-up of the experience. I’m on the docket to check out 6 new films in the next 3 days! In the meantime, you can read about last year’s experience here.

Have a marvelous weekend everyone…and treat yourself to breakfast if you can. It’s worth every single cent to splurge sometimes.

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{Purple pedi splurge.}

Highlights

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{A thoughtful gift from a friend’s garden brightened a not so awesome week.}

Not to be a complete Negative Natalie, but this week was pretty crappy in general. Do you ever have that experience of things not going quite so well with the brilliant caveat that it’s all happening at the exact same time? Well, it’s been one of those weeks.

Drama, a general lack of energy, busy at work, topped-off by being dead on “E” and needing to get gas in the middle of the night (against all my principles) are some of the culprits. Even better, your debit card not working at said gas station because of possible fraudulent activity so you have to contact the bank because guess what – you don’t have any cash! Really? Now I’m spending even more time in a gas station…at night…alone…against my principles.

Ladies, I know it can’t just be me. Don’t you get that eerie sense that if you don’t keep alert when you’re in a gas station by yourself late at night with creepy guys wandering around (without cars, no less) that if you close your eyes for a second longer than necessary, that someone is going to come up behind you and kidnap you? Perhaps it’s just one too many scary movies for me but I refuse to become a statewide amber alert.

I’m also beginning to wonder just how much yoga plays a part in maintaining balance in your life. It’s been a month now since I’ve practiced, and while I’m not saying that life itself was any better or worse when I was practicing consistently; I am saying that I think I was somehow different, which made me react to circumstances differently.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do about my yoga practice ever since my membership to my amazing yoga studio expired and quite honestly, I’ve been slacking on dealing with it. (I know, I know.) It’s even crossed my mind to just buy a DVD and do it at home, but I don’t think it would be quite the same. There really is a synergy to yoga when you practice with like-minded people and have your favorite instructor come over and adjust your posture. This, among other things, is something I’ve got to look into ASAP.

On a brighter note, I’ve been reading a really great novel for my book club meeting next week that I can’t wait to sit down and discuss with the gals over a glass of wine. If you’re looking for a new read, And the Mountians Echoed by Khaled Hosseini has been a welcome distraction. I’m only about half way through so I can’t vouch for it entirely; but so far, so good. And while I wasn’t expecting much from the new film, Jobs (wait for a rental), it was fun to go to an advanced screening during a busy week to get away from it all for a while. I will say, that while I didn’t really care for the film, Ashton Kutcher pulled off such a complicated character pretty admirably. If anything, it was astounding to see him transform into that character. He looked so much like Steve Jobs from a certain angle at times that you could’ve fooled me.

The great news is that weekends always put things into perspective and you get the chance to start again. I’m really looking forward to a girl’s night tonight. Redbox, sushi take-out, and good conversation are on the way.

Have a nice weekend!

Thankful

I loved this festive cake I saw in a bakery while in San Juan Capistrano recently.

It’ll be pretty low-key on my end for the long Holiday weekend. We went the total lazy route and ordered our big feast from a combination of The Honey Baked Ham Store and Bristol Farms. We even decided to change things up this year and have ham instead of turkey. Such rebels!

While I write a weekly post (sometimes twice a week, or when I can’t think of anything else compelling to write) where I reflect on the “Highlights” of the simple things happening around me; I thought this would a good time to reflect on what I’m truly thankful for in life in the grand scheme of things that is the year of our Lord, 2012.

My first apartment! I moved into my own place earlier this year and words cannot describe the sense of accomplishment and independence I feel every time I walk through the front door. This is my favorite wall in my humble abode and I’m thankful for having a small place in the world to call my own.

My best friend, who happens to be my boyfriend, for being the awesome guy that he is! This is an old picture I took last year while in Catalina Island. It’s a favorite of mine of us.

I’m beyond grateful in the midst of a tough economy to be working and working in the field that I actually studied in college.

I joined a book club this time last year and one year later, not only have I given myself the motivation to actually begin and finish a book (rather than juggle two at a time and never finish either one of them); it’s also opened my world to a whole new group of girl friends. We’re all ages and from different walks of life, bonded by our nerdiness for books. 🙂

One of the happiest things I’ve done this year was start this blog. It’s really given me the creative outlet that I had been craving for such a long time. Thank you to those that read, comment, or like even one of my posts. I’m grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Highlights

Can you believe that we’re halfway through September already? I could have sworn I just paid rent! My goodness, how time flies. Thankfully, there were a few moments from this week that made an ordinary day, pretty extraordinary:

{FOOD.}

Is it me or does pasta taste better on the second or even third day? Monday night’s dinner was a huge highlight and success, in part because I dined on leftovers from my recent visit to Osteria Coppola. I warmed up the chicken lasagna in the oven, as opposed to throwing it in the microwave, to let it cook slowly and develop a bit of a crunch to the top layer. Things always taste better from the oven. I must remember this mantra when I don’t have the patience to wait. A quick homemade side salad and a glass of ice tea and I swear I was in Italy in my own house.

{FILM.}

By far, one of the greatest experiences this week was seeing Celeste and Jesse Forever. It’s an awesome off-beat dramedy, with a nice salute to Los Angeles. Rashida Jones (could she be anymore gorgeous?) and Andy Samberg do a superb job bringing the highs and lows of a complicated and deteriorating relationship, but an everlasting friendship to the screen. I LOL’d, felt my eyes water, and had a smile on my face the whole time. I also fell in LOVE with the music in this film and was on Amazon.com within an hour of getting home looking to purchase the soundtrack. Unfortunately, no soundtrack exists, but thanks to another fellow blogger I was directed to a playlist created on Spotify with all the film’s songs. “Drifting In and Out” by Porcelain Raft is my new chill out song. This will be added to my collection later this year when it’s released on DVD for sure!

{FUN.}

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this week, which is a nerdy love of mine. I’m currently reading The Cider House Rules by John Irving. I still have quite a way to go before my next book club meeting. I’m very much enjoying it, but it’s 561 densely packed pages!

Have a great weekend!