Instagram Challenge

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

As my birthmonth approaches I've decided to do a November Instagram Challenge. For those who don't know, I LOVE Instagram challenges, but always feel like the categories don't quite fit me and my life. So here's a challenge, designed by me, for a picture a day in the month of November.

All of the categories are open to your interpretation and if you don't like one - toss it! As long as you're taking a photo a day, that's all that matters!

Please hashtag the photos you take this month #redberrieswhitesnows so we can all see what each of us is posting. I love having a community to do these things with. The hashtag comes from a poem by Clyde Watson that begins, "November comes, And November goes, With the last red berries, And the first white snows."

If you have questions about any of the prompts for the days, feel free to ask! Otherwise go forth - take photos - and have an awesome November!

A Few of My Favorite Things: Hannah D.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hannah and I met in high school and have recently delightfully reconnected over her support of my blog. Hannah lives in New York City where she is Research Data Associate while the med school acceptance letters pour in. 

Hannah's favorite things:

Book: It's hard for me to unseat the warmth I feel for Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, but Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris is another one of my favorites. I've read it about 100 times, and it still cracks me up.
TV series: I've been a rabid X-Files fan since high school. They're making a new X-Files miniseries this year and I am vibrating with excitement.
Music: According to my Last.Fm, Death Cab for Cutie has the mathematical lead!
Beauty product: I live by Clinique's Long-Last lipstick in Red Red Red. Undeniably my go-to product for makeup beyond my day-to-day.
Podcast: I am a high-volume consumer of podcasts (my gateway drug was Radiolab and I'm unashamed to admit I've heard pretty much every episode they've ever made). Another podcast that I love is "The Longest Shortest Time", which is, technically, a podcast about parenting, but is actually really about the many experiences of being a human. It's compelling and fun listening, even if you aren't a parent and/or aren't super kid-focused.
Quote: Maya Angelou: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Recipe: Roast Chicken is my go-to food. It's cheap, it makes you house smell amazing, and it feels like a treat (and it fancy enough to serve to dinner guests, even though it's astoundingly easy). I love Ina's guidelines for how to do a basic roast chicken... unfussy, tasty, and easily adapted to be flavored however you like (I like lemon and garlic). Pro tip: pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and rub it with butter/oil for crispy skin. The drying part is critical. 
Outfit: I bought a short, black, spaghetti-strap skater dress from Express this spring and it's become my favorite item of clothing. It's super basic, and because the top is tight, I can layer it under shirts for a casual skirt-y look (with my trusty black keds!), or dress it up with some big jewelry and heels for a data. I'm looking forward to wearing it with a sweater and tights this fall and winter.
Place to go in New York City: Well, about two months ago I moved to New York City, so I'm still getting my feet under me as far as all the places I like to go! So far, I've loved walking the Brooklyn Bridge, eating ramen at Chuko, and wandering around/gawking at my pretty new neighborhood.
Thing to do for self-care: I'm a longtime yoga practitioner. Focusing on my breath and the flow of a good practice is so lovely, especially when I need to clear some extra headspace.
Piece of advice you've received: Our harshest critic is always ourself.

Monday Musings: Being an Introvert

Monday, October 26, 2015

I've long known that I was an introvert. My mother is an introvert and in our household of two we frequently spent whole days absorbed in quiet, companionable reading or working or playing or silence, both of us needing the time to relax, recharge, and look inward for energy and answers.

Often though, when I reveal myself to be an introvert people are surprised. "But you're so sociable!" "You're not socially awkward though..." "You've never seemed shy to me." It's so interesting that in an age where, according to Susan Cain and her book Quiet (more on this in a minute), the majority of our society is on the introverted side of the spectrum, there's still such a misunderstanding of what introversion means.

This week I worked, on and off, Sunday-Saturday. This is unusual for me but conferences and recruiting events required it. Then, Saturday night I slept for 13 hours. I was exhausted. Didn't want to see or speak to anyone. And thought that a book, a mug of tea, and a warm purring cat sounded like the perfect way to spend the rest of my weekend. I imagine that only the extremely extroverted among us cannot relate to this feeling. This need to recharge one's batteries. And yet, for me, and for many introverts, it is not just a helpful practice but an imperative one.

When I was young I was shy and sensitive. Two things that Cain makes sure to differentiate from introversion but can often be found as a packaged set. I was never considered the life of the party, but if I got you talking one on one we could talk for hours. This means I have some very close, dear friends, but not many acquaintances. And while I can be social and make small talk at gatherings, it is not my natural state of being so it takes a lot of work. Work that, on top of things like my 8-5 job and exercising and choir and volunteering, makes me very tired.

And I've realized that, despite living in a society that glorifies the extrovert ideal, I'm really quite at peace about who I am. I've had to relinquish my fear of missing out and realize that the things I gain from solitude and books and those occasional deep conversations are more valuable to me than a few fun Instagram photos, a cocktail or two, and the ensuing exhaustion. Not everyone is like me, but that's the beautiful thing about personality. We're all at once so different and so much the same. And today I'm allowing myself to bask in the beauty of that.

Are you an introvert? And extrovert? What has it meant for you?

Friday Favorites: October 23

Friday, October 23, 2015

It's been awhile since I posted a Friday Favorites AND it's autumn - everyone's favorite season - so lots of things to favorite this week.

1. My new flannel shirt. I love flannel shirts and I got this new orange and navy one from Target a few weeks ago and have been living in it.

2. My personal trainers, Mike and Mia. I am SO glad I've gotten into personal training. It is great to have someone teach you how to exercise and to be accountable to someone every week. More on my exercise plan next week!

3. Rain. It may be that I have my collegiate roots in the Pacific northwest but I've been LOVING the rain in Denver this week. Plus every once in awhile it opens up and you get sights like this - seen on my evening run.

4. My cat. This week we celebrated our one year adoptiversary. She is so quirky and sweet and goofy and I love her so much.

5. My friend Ariel. Ariel came with me to a work event as my date last weekend and she made me seem more interesting and fun and smart just by being in her company. We should all be so lucky as to have friends like that.

It was a great week, y'all. I hope you all had lots of favorites this week too! Happy weekend!

Meal Time: 4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I had to make a dessert for a potluck that I knew my friend Jenny would be attending. Jenny is gluten-free so when I wandered over to Smitten Kitchen (my go-to for baking needs) I was pleasantly surprised to find these dairy-free, gluten-free peanut butter cookies!


1 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (a 16.3 oz jar of Skippy is approximately 1 3/4 cup!)
Course-grained sea salt to finish (I didn't add this ingredient)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract and the peanut butter until smooth and completely incorporated; you shouldn't be able to see any ribbons of peanut butter.

Scoop or spoon the dough into balls. I don't have a fancy dough scoop so I used an ice cream scoop which worked just fine! Deb recommends anywhere from 1 2/3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup.

At this point you can sprinkle the cookies with course-grained sea salt if you choose - I skipped this step and they were still amazing! Bake smaller cookies for 14-15 minutes and larger cookies for 18-20 minutes. When finished, cookies should be golden brown on the edges. They'll need to set on the sheet for a minute or two until they can be lifted onto a cooling rack. 

I was seriously so impressed with these cookies - they accommodated so many dietary needs, were a perfect mix of crunchy and chewy, and, as Jenny said, they make you want to freeze a bunch and dip them in your coffee in the morning. Overall, a great success.