Inspo

Link Love

July 17, 2016

Link LoveHey guys. So remember my last post? Well, funny story…later that day, my computer fried itself. Good news? It can be repaired. Bad news? It’s currently being repaired, which holds off editing and other such things I was hoping to get done. *le sigh*

Sorry about the holdup..again. Such is life.

Life

falling off the wagon

July 13, 2016

Falling off the wagonRemember when forever ago I told you I sucked at consistently blogging? And then I repeated the same thing basically every few weeks when – again – I wouldn’t blog?

Well, take that and apply it to my life.

Finances. Fitness. Food.

None F-related words too, I’m sure. Like painting. Other side projects. Kero. My family. Friends (wow that still is a lot of “f” words..fackkk). I feel like I’ve fallen off the bandwagon in many (or most) areas of my life recently.

Basically, some things are private and I went through a *major* private moment, which I’ve eluded to before. I know it sounds super sexual and fun, but really it has been a miserable journey, albeit a good learning experience. I feel like a stronger, more patient and understanding person. I’ve battled some of my own demons. But the flip side of that has been my fall from “grace”–going from being fit, healthy, happy, consistently writing and reading and traveling, to laying on the couch, binge-watching Netflix and binge-eating those super delicious Trader Joes white cheddar puffs.

After The Event, I lost weight due to stress. Like, a lot of weight. And then that same stress helped me put all the weight back on…and then some. And then some more. Meanwhile, my 6x/week workouts went down to nothing. Honestly, sometimes it was just a struggle to get out of bed, let alone eat or workout. Most days, the closest thing I came to fitness was laughing at Tina Fey.

This summer has been a bit better. I’ve started dipping my toes into the “fitness” waters again. I go to a strength training class 2x/week with a friend, and once that stops in early August, I plan on working through a regime my trainer wrote up for me. I’m also trying to incorporate cardio 3 or so times a week, and that’s not counting the walks or bike rides I go on with Kero.

Then there’s the food. LAWD Midwesterners–especially Chicagoans in the summertime–love their food. Or maybe that’s just me? Either way, this has been my biggest struggle. So, for the time being, I’m back on MyFitnessPal to help keep myself accountable. I feel so lame measuring and weighing things out at work or home, but I know it’s for the best and that it’s not a permanent feature of my life.

So, why am I sharing all of this?

I guess because I’m tired of faking it. I love eating healthy and working out. I miss that routine I established–where I didn’t think twice about going to the gym. I *had* to go for my sanity. But now? I don’t feel that way. Some days, it’s a struggle to wake up and get to the gym because I need to snuggle with Kero and sleep, more than I need to be on a treadmill for 45 minutes.

But I’m getting there. I know I’m getting there.

It’s somewhat weird and somewhat natural for me to share this with you.

I understand every blog is different. For awhile, I feel as if there was a trend in the blogosphere toward very straight-forward, informative blog posts. But I’m injecting a little bit more personality into this blog because I miss it! Even though it’s scary AF to share this with you. Literally, I have no clue who reads this. Maybe we went to high school together? Maybe we never met? Maybe you’re in my fitness class or live in my apartment building? But at the same time, the human experience (the highs and the lows) is the real reason I’m drawn to the blogging world, so I have to be brave enough to share mine too.

However…the copywriter in me struggles with this concept. How can I divulge such personal information when it doesn’t immediately align with some of the “themes” I’ve developed on this blog? But really, how shitty, fake and contradictory would I be if I shared healthy recipes or inspiring stories, while behind the scenes I haven’t worked out in 5 weeks and I had ice cream for dinner?

Pretty shitty if you ask me.

So, while the purpose of this blog has always been to shed light on what it’s like to live in the Midwest as a modern, creative, sometimes-hippie woman, it’s also natural for me to want to share pieces of my personal journey too.

One part journal (personal, fitness journey) and one part journalistic (DIYs, interviews, recipes), if you will.

And I hope that no matter what part of that mix you’re drawn to, you get something–inspiration, motivation, perspective, camaraderie, understanding–out of it.

This entire post is me being 110% transparent with you.

Have I binged on junk the past 2 months? For sure. Have I gained weight and lost muscle and spent more afternoons than I’d like to admit self-loathing? Yes. But I’d like to think I’m on the upswing, and I’m hoping I’ll get *completely* back on the wagon–fitness, blogging, traveling, reading, eating right–very soon. Thanks for bearing with me.

Be Life

Summertime CHI

July 1, 2016

Chicago in the SummerThere is something so insanely special about living in Chicago in the summertime.

Everyone jokes that you give up 8 months of grey, terrible weather in order to live in the bliss that is summertime in Chicago. While I disagree (Autumn and Spring here are also beautiful), I will say there “magic in the air” in the summertime. Or that’s just the sangria. Either way, I love it here.

I mean, if you live here, you know what I’m talking about.

And if you don’t, you have to make a special trip to visit the city in the summer.

We talk a lot about “patio weather,” which basically means it’s a gorgeous day and we need to find a restaurant or bar that has a patio so that we can all hang outside in the sun.

The lakefront is bustling—people running, biking, laying out, swimming, walking their dogs, fishing off the walkway, taking pictures, playing beach volleyball on North Avenue Beach, taking out their sailboats or cruisers or waterskis. And when it’s a sunny day, you can expect this sort of crowd all day.

If you do visit for the summer, here are a few must-visits (ranging from predictably touristy to more local flavors):

P.S. If there are any other Chi-town peeps out there, leave your favorite Chicago spots in the comments below. I’ve lived here a few years, but definitely need more places to explore. Especially during the summer.

Cozy Chats

Thoughts: It’s Your Journey

June 28, 2016

Why you need to stop comparing yourself

Hands down, summer is my favorite season. But…there is something about summer that lends itself well to copious amounts of comparison.

Kids are graduating high school and comparing themselves to their fellow graduates who got into better colleges…or are moving farther away…or embarking on more exciting journeys…

College students are looking around at their friends and the internships or summer jobs they locked down, comparing them to the side gigs they got to make ends meet…

College graduates are comparing themselves to their successful classmates who already have secured down a job or moved to a new city…

Other friends are getting married in droves as we all look on in envy, thinking our love story will never happen or be as great as their love story…

Coworkers are moving up and into bigger, better and more beautifully-decorated places, making our apartments or homes feel smaller…

Not to mention the bikini bodies…

And the luscious tans…

And the flawless faces…

There’s just so much going on in the summer–which is great–but it also means there’s so much to compare ourselves to. Of course FB, Twitter, Insta and Snapchat don’t help much, as life now looks like a beautiful, curated thing.

Which, um, by the way–IT’S NOT!

Consider this a very random reminder that your journey is your own. And that no story, online or otherwise, is as perfect as it may appear.

Life is long and one day you will find your happiness–the job you ultimately want, the significant other you can love forever, the stable home of your dreams. You deserve it. Remind yourself you deserve it, and ultimately it will happen.

It’s all within reach, just maybe not immediate reach. And that’s okay! Our society has become obsessed with immediacy, but what happened to the slow grind? The eventual gratification? The working at something good until it becomes great?

Everything happens for a reason. Just try and notice beauty, appreciate love and celebrate your own blessings, because you’d be surprised by how many there are.

And when that doesn’t work, just know that you are *not* alone in feeling left out or lesser. We all feel it, no matter how healthy or happy we may look. Envy’s gross like that–don’t let it win.

Link Love

Link Love

June 27, 2016

link loveWhew…busy week(end). If you follow me on Snapchat (@midwestlovefest), you probably put two and two together and realized I went home to Wisconsin to surprise my mom and dad and celebrate my dad’s 57th birthday (happy bday dad!). Now, I have a super busy week ahead, but it’s okay – because we have a long, happy 4th coming up soon. Hope you all have a lovely start to your week!

Knowledge Life

Natural Fix: How to Get Rid of A Planter’s Wart

June 23, 2016

Fast, Cheap and Natural Way to Get Rid of Planter's Warts (for good)Okay, we’re going to get a bit gross here.

Talking, planters warts.

It’s not pretty, people. I know, I know. But this issue drove me NUTS virtually everyone will have at least one (if not several) planters wart in their lifetime. FUN!

Basically, the odds are not in your favor.

Little bit of backstory/personal antidote: my mom is the quintessential midwestern woman. My dad’s from the Chicago area and we traveled a lot, which means I’d like to think I have a healthy mix of the big town attitude with small town upbringing. Well, like any solid midwestern woman, my mom was thrifty. Before she had us (her three kids), my dad said she was obsessed with Mother Earth News and would try and make everything, including trying to make ketchup from the tomatoes in her garden (no clue why, but they always bring this up as example of how hippie my mom can be). Props to her!

Well, her thriftiness and penchant for natural solutions has definitely been passed onto me as an adult. Again, I probably have a healthy mix of both natural and unnatural solutions, but when I find a Mother Nature-approved remedy? I’ll always down.

Okay. End of antidote.

Basically, what I’m saying is I tried to get rid of my planters wart the Big City way. I applied wart stick to the warts.

Nothing.

I went to a foot doctor, recommended by my primary care physician. On average, with insurance, every appointment was $25. Not bad, but that ish adds up! I saw my foot doctor a few years ago, maybe 7 or so times, before my wedding. Supposedly the wart was gone by then, so I breathed a sigh of relief, got married, honeymooned, came back, switched jobs and all of a sudden…that sucker was back! Not sure how it came back, but it was there. And so I continued with the wart stick and returned to the doctor.

Fast forward about 10+ sessions, and even though the wart was “shrinking”–according to my doctor–it still wasn’t gone. What’s worse is there was a crater in my foot–this ugly hole that kept trying to heal, but kept getting re-damaged by all the additional visits to the foot doctor.

I’ve been trying to save money (summer goal for real!) and decided that I needed to take a break from seeing the foot doc and try to treat it by myself. Clearly, the wart was still there and I was no less richer for it.

After a quick Google search, I found hundreds of people singing the praises of–wait for it–a banana peel, as an at-home remedy for curing warts. Sure there were a few (super disgusting) photos to prove it, and hundreds of great reviews, but I was skeptical. Mainly because I had been living with this wart on and off for nearly 5 years at that point (the first year I didn’t know it was a wart and thought it was a stubborn sliver). But, I gave it a go.

I religiously applied a small piece of (inner) banana peel to my wart every morning and/or evening, put a bandaid over it and left it there. When I remembered, I would change it out that evening or the next morning, depending on when I first placed it. There were a few times I didn’t change the bandaid for over a day, and a few times I had no banana peel on it and just bandaid.

I’ll spare you any gross pictures because, um, ew, but this is roughly what happened:

  • Week One: Fairly religiously placing banana peel on, with bandaid.
  • Week Two: Toward the beginning of the week, the wart area started to turn brown. I assumed it was some sort of natural banana peel stain (though in retrospect it might’ve been killing off the wart) and just pulled or scraped away any peeling skin around the area.
  • Week Three: The brown area’s gone, all the remaining layers of skin have been peeled back and now it looks like new skin is growing…I throw a bit of wart stick on it to be safe.
  • Week Four: There is nothing on my foot. The scarred area where the wart once was is now made up of new skin. Essentially, the underside of my foot looks like a normal foot. I’m skeptical. I keep a bandaid on it, until I can get a second opinion from my dad.
  • Second opinion: They’re gone!

And that is only based on what I remembered. Tbh, I remember the wart basically being gone within two weeks.

Maybe everyone’s a bit different, but this method seems to work on most people. And trust me, even though I’m big into healthy eating and being as natural and thrifty as possible, even I was skeptical.

I mean, a banana peel vs. science/freezing it off?

But I promise you, it worked.

If you want to try this at home, I recommend this:

  • Cut a small piece of banana peel to cover the area.
  • Apply a bandage over it to hold it in place. The best time of day to do this is definitely at night, where you can sleep while it works it’s natural magic.
  • Change it out for a new banana peel the next day, at the same time *or* swap it out for a fresh bandaid in the AM.
  • Keep at it religiously, for a few weeks at least.

Any who, I know this was gross, but I wish someone would’ve shared this with me. It would’ve saved me a shit ton of money and frustration.

Breakfast

Fancy + Fast At-Home Lox Breakfast

June 21, 2016

I’m all about fast and easy.

*pause*

Let me rephrase, I’m all about fast, easy and healthy breakfasts. Or foods in general.

healthy loxI know people who love the art of cooking—they love coming home from a long day’s work, pouring a glass of wine and making some sautéed steak dinner, seasoned green beans and massaged kale…

You get the picture. They love to cook.

I love the art of watching the art of cooking (Anthony Bourdain is bae), because I have to be honest: I’m still not 100% game on the whole “let’s just throw away my night to make this meal.”

First, there are shows to be watched.

Second, I’m way too IMMEDIATELY hungry for that. See this.

Which is why I’m always excited when I discover healthy recipes that keep me full and are easy to whip up. Because, between Kero, work, trying to get back into my workout routine and meal planning, ain’t nobody got time for anything else. Literally.

healthy loxI’ve always been a fan of lox, but not a huge fan of capers or any of the other things they put on lox. Not to mention the fact lox is always served with a carb-loaded bagel that I could should probably do without. Also, my stomach has an on-and-off again relationship with gluten.

Which is why this simple breakfast is so superb.

  1. The sourdough is low in gluten.
  2. The lox has healthy fats that keep you full.
  3. Grass fed butter or ghee is also a super healthy, keep-you-full fat.
  4. Eggs are a clean source of protein and—you guessed it—also keep you full.

Basically, this is a hearty breakfast you can whip up in no time. I hate to say it, but it’s not even worth a digital recipe card (how dare I, I know).

Here’s the play-by-play:

  • Fry your eggs using either ghee or olive oil.
  • Toast some homemade or baker’s fresh sourdough (I get a loaf from Whole Foods).
  • Spread the ghee (or grass fed butter) on the toast, lay on some lox and top with eggs.

Then, enjoy!

healthy lox