At any given moment there are usually a bunch of things I’m currently obsessed with and that I wish I could share with you all. I decided to change up the format a bit for this post and instead of posting a recipe today I’m going to share a few of the things I’m loving right now. What kinds of things? Anything from food products and kitchen tools to beauty products, web sites, books and TV shows. Maybe you’ll love them too!
For those of you who are worried about the format change, have no fear! I’ll be back to recipes in the next post. I’d like to make this list an occasional (bi-monthly? seasonally? whenever the mood strikes? we’ll see…) series though if it seems like some of you are interested. It could be a fun way for you to find out about some new things or to discover I love the same things you do and we can gush about them together in the comments!
1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
You should read this book. It’s rare that I would recommend the same book to people of all ages and tastes, but this is for everyone. Wonder is a book about a boy named Auggie who was born with such a severe facial deformity that at the age of 10 he’s undergone 27 surgeries and he knows there are more in his future. Auggie has gotten used to pretending he doesn’t see the looks people give him or the comments made under their breaths, but he still sees and hears them. Until now his mother has homeschooled him but he’s about to start 5th grade at a brick and mortar school with other students. This book is the story of that school year from Auggie’s point of view as well as members of his family and his classmates.
This is not a book you read passively. This book makes you FEEL. Through the eyes of the characters you will experience fear, hope, hurt, excitement, betrayal, justice, injustice, pride and compassion. You will worry about the characters. You will get angry. You will feel touched. You will likely cry and likely cheer out loud. At the end of the book you will want to be a better person and you will want to share the book with others.
I really hope you read it.
I used to run. I’ll never be super fast and I’ll probably never aim to run a marathon (though a half someday would be incredible!) but a couple years ago I actually enjoyed running. Then I stopped. Winter came along with snow and ice and it was less convenient and I just stopped. I’ve tried to get back into it a few times since then but usually it’s been extremely short-lived, mostly because it’s frustrating to be out of shape and so far away from what I used to be able to do! I’m sure at least a few of you can relate.
It was hard for me to bite the bullet and realize I needed a tool to keep me motivated, provide structure and ease me back into it. I downloaded the c25k app for my phone (there is only one official app, and it costs $1.99 to download – definitely worth it to me but there are some free knock offs out there as well!) because I’d heard a bunch about it before and almost everyone I know who used it in the past now runs much longer races and has stuck with running after the program is complete. C25k stands for “Couch to 5K” because you can start with a couch potato fitness level and presumably run a 5K 9 weeks later. The thing that drew me to it is that it uses a very similar technique to the one I used to build up to running in the first place a few years back. The app has you commit to 3 workouts a week and it instructs you to alternate between walking and jogging for predetermined intervals, jogging for longer amounts each week until you can straight-up jog. The first week you just have to be able to jog for 60 second intervals, with 90 seconds of walking in between. The second week the jogging increases to 90 seconds and the walking to 120, and so on.
I just finished my 5th week and I’m really excited about it right now. I was super nervous about my last workout because it was the first one running 20 minutes straight without walking intervals, but I was ready! Every time I’ve been worried I wasn’t ready for the next step up in c25k the app has been right and I did it. Twenty minutes may not seem like much to the distance runners out there, but it’s a big deal when you’re starting at couch! I am extra proud because it was raining out last night and I went out and did it anyway. Feels great!
The app is very easy to use. You can pick from several different “trainers” to give you vocal cues to switch between walking and jogging and the app will play music and playlists from elsewhere on your phone right through the app (which is super convenient). It tracks your route using your GPS ad gives you statistics afterward about your pace. It streamlines everything so that all you have to focus on is walking/jogging.
For anyone who wants to get into running (at any fitness level) but isn’t “a runner,” this is a great app to get you started. Has anyone else had success with C25K? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! I will definitely keep you all updated on my progress.
ipsy is a monthly subscription service that sends you a cosmetic bag full of makeup and beauty products (some full-size and some sample sized) for just $10 a month. I’ve been a subscriber since May and I’m hooked! I get overwhelmed in stores like Sephora or even in the beauty department at Target and it’s hard for me to spend a lot of money to try a new product if I’m not sure how it will look or whether I’ll like it. ipsy is perfect for me because they send 4-5 new products in each bag, so I can be a little adventurous and try some new things without shelling out a ton of money. Some of the items I’ve loved best so far are things I never would have tried on my own, and for only $10 a month if there’s something in the bag I don’t love it’s no big deal – I’m still getting my money’s worth! The products even come in a fun new cosmetic bag each month.
When you sign up for ipsy you take a quiz about your hair/skin types, coloring, etc and some of the products you receive are chosen based on your preferences. You can also provide feedback on the products you do receive which helps them make better choices for you. Sometimes there is a waiting list to join (because they need to make sure they’re getting enough products for everyone!) but it’s worth the wait. I get so excited each month when I see that shiny, bright pink envelope at my door! If you want to subscribe, you can join here. That’s my personal referral link, but I promise I am not including this just to win a free nail polish or whatever I get for referring a bunch of people. I’d just love to see if any of you decide to get on board!
4. Ziploc Vacuum Freezer System
My fiancé positively gushed about the Ziploc Vacuum bags and pump for over a month before I finally checked them out. He even bought a freestanding chest freezer to accommodate all the new freezing he was doing. I wasn’t convinced that I could get as excited about freezer bags as he was, but I have to admit that these are pretty darn awesome. If you’re sick of freezing leftovers in regular bags or plastic containers only to find your food covered in snowy freezer burn and traditional vacuum sealers seem pricey and cumbersome, this may just be your solution!
The Ziploc system is easy to use and store and the starter kit (includes the pump and 3 quart-size bags) cost a little over $4 at Walmart. Boxes of additional bags (which come in quart or gallon sizes) are a little over $3. All you do is fill the bag with whatever you want to freeze (so far I’ve done soup, chicken breasts and ground turkey and my fiancé has done a ton of fresh vegetables to use throughout the winter) and then seal it up the way you would a normal Ziploc bag. Then you place the pump over a specifically marked area of the bag and give it a few pumps until the air is removed and the bag is suctioned around your contents. That’s it! Place it in the freezer and you’re done.
I’d thought about getting a fancy vacuum sealer, but I don’t really have the cupboard space and they can be several hundred dollars. So far these bags have been a perfect solution for me – check them out!
5. Fall TV
Fall TV is back! My DVR is full again with all my favorite shows and I can’t wait to see what they have in store. A few of my favorites are below; let me know if you think there’s anything new I should watch and tell me what you’re watching this season!
Parks & Recreation (NBC, Thursdays at 8 EST)
This is probably my favorite show. If you’ve never watched it, the previous seasons are on Netflix, so what are you waiting for? I do have to warn you, the first season wasn’t amazing, but it’s only 6 episodes long and they worked out most of the kinks and retooled some of the characters in season two. This show gets better and better every season. The characters have become so well developed and lovable and the relationships between them are really well done. Every Leslie should have a Ben, every April should have an Andy, every office should have a Tom or a Donna and everyone on Earth should know a Ron Swanson. Just trust me, you want to watch this show.
The Mindy Project (FOX, Tuesdays at 9:30 EST)
After reading Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?” I knew that if only we could meet in real life, we would obviously be best friends. With this information in mind, when she got her own show last year I enthusiastically tuned in. Mindy plays a successful OB in NYC (also named Mindy) with a messy love life and complicated relationships with her co-workers. Mindy is the hilarious, smart, shallow but lovable girlfriend we all want to have. She’s a little self-centered, but she can always make you laugh and that makes it all worth it. Plus it comes on right after New Girl (which would also be on this list if I wasn’t so worried this post is already too long!).
Scandal (ABC, Thursdays at 10 EST)
Scandal is my guilty pleasure show, except I don’t even feel guilty about it. This show is packed with drama, sex, lies, murder, government conspiracy, political dealings, and well, scandal. It’s addicting. Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, a fixer. Basically, if you’re a VIP in Washington DC and you have a PR nightmare of epic proportions on your hands, Olivia is your girl. She can fix it, spin it or bury it faster than the press can keep up. She also happens to be the President’s secret mistress and former advisor. This show is a rollercoaster of twists and turns and you’re not going to want to get off. You’re in luck because the previous seasons of this show are also on Netflix! If you’re looking to get sucked into a guilty pleasure show that has a plot that’ll keep you on your toes, this is the one for you.
I'm always on the lookout for fun new things...tell me what you're loving right now in the comments!