Finding My Flow

9/13/2013 Update:

I took about a year off from blogging to give myself more time to enjoy life. After a while I missed writing and sharing through a blog, so I am back at it with my soon – to- be husband on our site livingez.us. I am still blogging about fitness and healthy living (no recipes yet, but surely some to come in the future), along with sharing our love and life in Charlotte, NC.

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Happy Friday!

On Tuesday night I went to a great yoga class at Dharma Lounge in south end Charlotte (Maybe it’s not in south end…I still haven’t mastered all the neighborhoods in Charlotte).

Regularly going to yoga is something I have been meaning to establish in my routine. Kath and I used to be regulars at a morning yoga class while we were at school, and I loved the combination of stretching, toning, and breathing exercises.  However, in the evenings I get home from work and just want to relax.

I forgot how relaxing yoga can be.

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I left the class totally refreshed and calm. Also my arms felt like jello.

It was a vinyasa flow class which means that we cycled through several basic poses. The instructor added poses at certain points and paused to deepen the stretch at others. Vinyasa is known for being more of a “fitnessy” type of yoga because of the speed at which you go through the movements (you also do approximately 3,555 tricep push ups).

Here is a lame 90s infographic that I found online that was the best demonstration of a Vinyasa flow. Unfortunately the colored penciled illustration of a girl in a blue unitard does not do justice to the amazing feeling of really getting into the flow.

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I loved feeling the movement through my body, and being able to focus on my breathing. It also provided an opportunity for me to clear my mind for the first time in a while. I love being busy and going from one activity to the next, but sometimes it is great just be still and not think about anything.

Of course, there were times during the class when my arms were on fire. Or moments I did not think I could hold a pose for one more second. But it all added up to  a great way to relax and revive myself-I am looking forward to next week already 🙂

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New Camera Fun!

I got my new camera (Canon Rebel XT) in the mail on Thursday, and since then I have been wearing it around like a necklace! I just can’t get over how amazingly clear and focused all the pictures are, and how much I have to learn!

I have been dreaming about buying a DSRL for quite some time now, I just did not want to drop the several hundred dollars necessary to purchase one. However, when my old camera suddenly died on me a couple of weeks ago, I just could not survive without a decent camera. At first I thought about getting buy for a few more pay checks with a cheapo point and shoot, but once I went to amazon and saw the DSRL’s I could buy for only one hundred more…yeah, it was over.

I bought my camera used from amazon, and have not regretted it thus far. Yes, the camera body is a little scratched (which was noted on the description), and it is not the newest model, nor does it have all the high tech features. But it is a huge upgrade from my canon powershot (a camera that I absolutely loved, and will probably buy again just to have the convenience of a point and shoot), and the price was reasonable for my budget.

While I love making healthy meals, and the community and friends I have gained from blogging, I think the biggest enjoyment I get from the whole process is the photography. I love taking pictures of food! I think it is so much fun to manipulate the food, lighting, and accessories to produce a picture that is good enough to eat.

Shooting in manual mode is a lesson in patience and trial and error right now. I definitely still have a looonng way to go in improving my pictures, but I can also tell such a big difference from where I began only a few months ago.

Here are some of my favorites from this weekend:

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Recent Finds and Faves

I wanted to take a post and share several little things that have been keeping me happy and healthy over the past few days. I didn’t think each one on its own could constitute a post (especially not without a decent camera), but I did want to share.

Indian Spiced Cauliflower– I saw this recipe from Everyday Maven featured on Food Stories Blog. I love roasted cauliflower and curry, so I knew it would be a favorite. I was not disappointed!! It basically constituted half of my dinner last night.

PB Crave– I won Taylor’s giveaway, and was so excited to get three flavors of PB Crave in the mail a couple days ago. I love it way more than I ever thought I would!! All the flavors are  great, without any artificial ingredients or sweeteners. My favorite flavor is the Razzle Dazzle-a raspberry white chocolate blend. Sadly, Im almost out!


Bread Pudding- I used the last hunk of my homemade wheat bread to serve as the base of this bread pudding. Bread pudding was my second  favorite dessert at the dining hall in college (I think I was the only person who ever ate it), the first being the frozen yogurt machine. When I noticed my bread getting stale, I just knew what I wanted to bake. While my version was not nearly as sweet, it still turned out pretty good. I was afraid the bread would be too dense to soak up the coconut milk and egg mixture, but it was fine. I also wanted an excuse to use these cute rose ramekins that I bought 😉

Tazo Green Tea– This weekend I realized how addicted I am to coffee; I rarely make coffee at home, but I gave into the headaches and make a pot on both Saturday and Sunday. I hate to be dependent on anything (I’m kind of a control freak), so I decided to cut it out this week. I’ll admit that Monday was really tough, and I felt like a zombie all day. It took all my will power not to go to bed at 8pm. However, each day has gotten a little better! I do allow myself one cup of tea each day, and this Zen tea by Tazo is one of my favorites. In contrast to other green teas, I find that these tea does not become bitter, even if I steep the bag for…all afternoon (I pretty much never take out my tea bags before I finish drinking tea-thus, the bitterness). I also like the mint and lemongrass flavors, which make it lighter as well.

Anything making you happier and healthier this week?

Hiking Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Due to camera issues, I never got around to posting pictures of the little trip that Perry and I took to the NC mountains last weekend. While I generally consider myself more of a beach person, hiking in the mountains was a great experience as well.

We decided to go along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and found some awesome hiking trails off of the highway.

 Waterrock Knob was our first hike. The trail was paved most of the way, but the hike up the knob was a bit strenuous. It felt like we climbed stairs continually for most of the journey; Perry and I both gasped for air at the top of the ledge. We also found a little side trail that followed the high way for about one mile, and enjoyed exploring. The views were incredible!

I loved that the weather was almost ten degrees cooler up there, even though we were only a couple of hours away!

The second place we hiked (and swam at) was Graveyard Fields. We did not have time to make it to the Upper Falls, but the Lower Falls were only .3 miles down the trail. Perry convinced me to jump the pool at the base of the falls. The water was freezing, and I was hesitant at first. But after my legs and feet went numb, swimming around wasn’t too bad ;). Graveyard Fields also has tons of wild blueberry bushes. Lots of people were picking the berries, so Perry and I picked and ate our fill!

Unfortunately, before this hike is when I realized that my camera was no longer working. However, I did get a great last shot.

 

My resolve to wait to buy a camera lasted about 5 days. On Friday I ordered one online; now I am obsessively checking my email to see when it’s going to be shipped!!

In other technology-hates-me news: my headphones broke a couple of days ago, and I used them almost exclusively for running. I decided to get a pair of running head phones in hopes of having something that will stay in my ear better than my old ear buds. I bought this pair from Sony.

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I’ll let you all know how they work out in my next couple runs!

Striking a Balance

Happy Monday!

It feels like forever since I last posted on the blog!

I am alive and well; life has just been so crazy. I am still figuring out this whole work-life balance thing. I haven’t talked much about work on the blog, but I am getting to a place where I am enjoying most of everyday. The office is quite young (I would say the median age is in the late 20s) and everyone is energetic and lots of fun. We eat lunch together, have happy hours, and forward funny videos. I especially appreciate that everyone seems to genuinely enjoy the work, and just generally has a great attitude about the job. I loved being able to take my first business trip last week. It was totally unexpected (my boss asked me on Monday if I wanted to leave Tuesday night) and I jumped at the opportunity to actually meet clients in person. However, I didn’t return home until 10:30 on Wednesday evening, and then had to go to work in the morning as usual! My job is not a 9-5 deal, and I feel a little pressured to get in early and stay late. Thankfully, I am getting to a place where I feel pretty competent and am actually enjoying (most of) what I do, so the hours spent at work aren’t too painful.

The biggest downside about spending lots of time at work is that it cuts into my friend-making time. For the first time in my life, I do not have a built in friend group from just being in school. It has been an adjustment trying to seek out people with common interests and trying to be their friend, without appearing too desperate. I do have a few friends/acquaintances in Charlotte, as does my roommate, and between the two of us we almost have even people to form a friend group lol. In addition to meeting people through mutual friends, I am attending a church and its associated young adult group. I am thinking about maybe joining a gym/yoga studio, but I might have to wait for a Groupon 🙂 I am looking forward to relying on a solid group of people that I can call if I find an interesting event to attend, or just want someone to hang out with on a weekend.

All this friend searching has caused me to choose socializing over sleep in the short run, in hopes of building friendships for when I am not so tired. I don’t know if that makes sense, but basically I find myself going out with people when all I want to do is sleep. However, thus far Friday nights have been reserved for 10-12 hours of glorious sleep.

Okay, so I realize that this may not appear as a “healthy living” post at first glance, but I do think that having friends, a fulfilling job, and adequate sleep are all important in living healthy…so that’s how I am going to justify it 😉

Side note: My camera refuses to work and claims there is  a “lens error” whenever I turn it on! I am going to try and borrow my roommates camera for the next couple of weeks, until I cave and buy a new camera. Also the track ball inside my BlackBerry decided now was a great time to loosen and randomly fall out of my phone…so a new phone is probably in my near future.

Workout to Work Ponytails

Today I am blogging from a hotel room on my first business trip!! I am so excited to get out of the office for a couple of days and meet some clients 🙂

As I transition into the working world, I am realizing how important those extra minutes of sleep can be on the week days. In college, I could stay up late or get up early, and then take a nap or realize after classes. However, at work I need to be well rested and alert all day long.

Exercising in the mornings has definitely helped me wake up in the mornings and gets me going before heading to work. I love feeling like I have already accomplished something before 8! One downisde is that I have to be very efficient in showering and getting ready in order to maximize my sleep time. I do the normal things like prepare my lunch, pick out clothes, and pack my bag. But the biggest time saver for me is putting my hair in a ponytail or bun. This way I don’t have to bother with drying, straightening/curling, or hair spraying in the morning. These are my three favorites:

All of these styles work great with wet hair, and can be done in minutes! I think they look better with longer hair, but I can still get my shoulder-length locks into presentable ponytails. My sister, Claire, graciously let me use her long hair for demonstration purposes. This is my first hair related post, so if anything is unclear please please let me know 🙂

1. Twist: Pull hair into side part. Grab a section close to the center, and start twisting away from face. Incorporate sections of hair as you twist.

Then use a bobby pin to pin the end of twist to secure it behind the ear.

Pull your hair into a ponytail as normal.

2. French Braid: Pull hair back without a part and french braid down the middle of your head.

Braid until you reach the nape of the neck.

Secure the ponytail with an elastic.

3. Fish Tail: Make a low, loose ponytail and create a separation in the middle.

Flip the ponytail inside the separation toward your head and pull through.

Tighten the ponytail to hide the hair tie.

Any other tips to get out the door in the mornings?

Giveaways and Sunday Brunch

I meant to share this earlier, but congratulations to Ericke for winning the Slow Cooker Giveaway!

SlimKicker has contacted you for your address 🙂

Also, I am so excited to have won Taylor’s PB Crave giveaway this week as well!


I have heard a lot of great things about their products, and I can’t wait to try it!

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This weekend, I drove back to Raleigh to spend time with the family for a couple days. One of my grandmas was also visiting this week, so I got to see her as well.

One of the best things about having my grandma over is eating her delicious food. [side note: she was so impressed that I knew how to cook bitter melon]. However on Sunday, my mom took over the cooking for a Mexican/Colombian/American brunch.

Chorizo, a mexican sausage, scrambled with eggs

Arepas, a Colombian cornmeal patty, stuffed with shredded mozzarella.

Southern cheese grits

and lots of pancakes! I decided to opt out of the pancakes, since I have been eating them all week in order to test my vegan pancake recipe.

Any exciting weekend eats?