Digital Reads

Link Love

September 12, 2016

Link LoveHi guys. How ya doin’? I’m struggling.

This weekend in Milwaukee was a much-needed blast. The only bummer? I am SO tired now. I’m trying to rally just to write this post. Let’s hope that I can throw myself in bed early tonight and start off the week right tomorrow morning.

Hope you all have a strong start to your week as well! If you need some light evening reading, might I recommend a few of these links…

Local Musings

ugh, stop with these midwest stereotypes

September 10, 2016

ugh, let's stop with this okay?Happy Friday everyone!

We’ve made it through another week. Luckily, this shorter week really made the days fly by and only today felt like I was watching the clock, waiting for the weekend.

Ry and I are headed to a party my agency is throwing in MKE (Milwaukee, WI for those of you who don’t know) tomorrow night. Staying at the Kimpton, probably watching the Notre Dame game at a bar in the 3rd Ward. The usual. Will report back sometime next week. Other than that, just hoping it’s another productive weekend filled with meal planning, laundry, reading, watching the first Packers game (#GoPackGo) and continuing to clean up that budget of ours. Fun stuff, I know guys. I go hard.

Anyway…

This post is going up a bit late, but it wouldn’t be me if it wasn’t just slightly late, right? Right.

I just felt like this post needed to be written. These things need to be said. One of the many reasons I started blogging and threw “Midwest” in the title of my blog was to try and be a voice of the modern heartland woman. Modern. Meaning, probably not the stereotypes that are passed around in the media or elsewhere. Of course, I’m just one small voice in millions in the Midwest, so if you feel anything needs to be added to this list – please let me know! I’m interested in what you guys think are the most annoying stereotypes we get too.

1. We’re all farmers.

My uncle is a farmer. I grew up across the street from a farm. Many kids I went to school with came from generations of farmers and some became farmers as adults. TBH, I love farms (makes sense – I love animals), but I dislike generalizing an entire population.

2. We have funny accents.

We definitely say things a bit differently, especially depending on where you live in the Midwest (a Chicagoan accent is very different than a Minnesotan accent, which is different from a Wisconsin accent). But guess who else has a funny accent? EVERYONE. I mean, we’ve all met someone from New Jersey or New York, or chatted with a Cali guy?

3. We’re backwards.

Ugh, I hate this stereotype. Just because I live between two coasts doesn’t mean I’m out of touch with what’s going on in the world, culturally, politically or otherwise.

4. We have outdated style.

Please. Have we seen some of the fashion bloggers who live around these parts? Oh, you haven’t? Well here are just a few:

  1. Sequins and Stripes
  2. The Chambray Bunny
  3. Regally Soled
  4. Sabby Style
  5. Charmingly Styled
  6. Wit & Delight (okay, they’re basically just lifestyle – but they’re so cool!)
  7. Blake Von D
5. We all enjoy the frozen tundra and refuse to leave it.

While I absolutely love a romantic snowfall around Christmas time, the frozen tundra that is January, February, March and occasionally April are THE WORST THING EVER.

“If everyone hates it so much, why don’t they just move?”

Have you seen the Midwest in the summertime? Or in the Fall? Or earlier Winter? This is such a beautiful place to live, it makes the winter season bearable.

6. No one interesting lives in the heartland.

Oh, puh-lease. Didn’t you just see all the bloggers I mentioned? No? Alright, well here are a few other “cool” peeps who call the Midwest home:

  1. The late Prince, who called Minnesota home.
  2. The billionnaire Warren Buffet lives humbly in Omaha, Nebraska.
  3. Meanwhile, Lebron lives in a $9.2 million mansion in Ohio.
  4. John Cusack prefer to hang out in Chicago (when he’s not working).
  5. Not to mention these 20 midwesterners who changed the world.
7. There’s nothing to do in Middle America.

Well where are you in the Midwest? My guess is no matter where you are, there’s more to do than you think. In a city? Well, you know there’s options. In a smaller area? Visit a local cafe or secondhand store, or take a walk around. You’re bound to find some beauty.

8. We discriminate.

Why does it seem like the weird, racist, terrible shit is the stuff the media likes to focus on when it features the Midwest? Like everywhere in the world, we have not-so-good-people living around here, just like we have incredible and way-too-nice people living here too. It’s a melting pot, much like the rest of America.

9. The Midwest is just farms and backwoods.

Have you seen the incredible architecture in Chicago? Or visited the biking paths in Twin Cities? Or walked the streets of Madison (especially during a Badger game)? No? Well, then please don’t talk.

10. Nothing of note happens in the Midwest.

Need I remind you of #6. No, okay how about this? Or this is currently happening. And this happened too. Then there’s always this.

Any other heartlanders have anything to add?

Inspire Relax

lust, love and leave: september books

September 6, 2016

Doing a little housecleaning and upgrading the name of this series because that’s how passionate I feel about these things.

Also, it’s been awhile but I’m back in the reading game baby!

While I know Oprah and Mark Cuban prioritize reading, I’m not always so strict with my reading schedule. For me, reading and books are oftentimes like a roller coaster. One month, I’ll read nearly every day. The next month I’ll barely touch a book.

But no matter what hill I’m climbing on that roller coaster ride, you can trust two things: 1. I’ll always be reading up about what books to read next *and* 2. buying more books.

And with that, let’s break down what I’m reading (or not so much reading at times?), and what I’m looking forward to reading this season.

The books you need to check out this month!

love

The Goldfinch: If you’ve read this blog for a bit, you know that I’ve been trying to read this book for. Ev. Er. I think I started reading it about three years ago? I’m on page 200-and-some. Out of 700-and-some pages. Yeah. I think the size of it is intimidating (I have the hardcover), and also makes it next to impossible to commute on the train with–where/when I do the majority of my reading–but I’m hopeful I can fall in love enough with this book to finish it this summer year.

Shoe Dog: Written by the founder of Nike Phil Knight (a fellow book enthusiast), this book is highly recommended for any entrepreneur or the entrepreneurial-minded. It was well-written, engaging and gives readers a subtle boost to never settle and never give up on your dreams.

Gang Leader for a Day: I may have mentioned this book in the past, but since it’s been a bit, I thought I might recommend it again. LOVE. Maybe because it’s based in Chicago, and I’m inherently biased, but this is a smart book that makes you look at the world differently. With all the racial issues going on in this country, this is a strong reminder to love your neighbor because, as cheesy as it is, everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Don’t be so quick to judge a book by its cover. Literally, because this book is kind of on the older-looking side.

The Girls: Lusted after it. Read it…fast. Loved it. It’s inspired by the Manson murders, so if you’re into a bit of creepy darkness, I recommend.

 

lust

Life on the Line: If my former reads haven’t been dead giveaways, I’m a sucker for a good chef book. I also am obsessed with Netflix’ Chef’s Table. Put those two together and you get this book–featuring one of the Chef’s on Chef’s Table and his incredible journey, that spans beyond cooking. Hoping I can snag this one for cheap since it’s not a newbie.

Sweetbitter: A “summer must-read,” this novel follows the journey of a young twenty-one year old girl as she navigates the culinary world in NYC. Per above post, I’m a sucker for a chef’s tale. Fiction, or non.

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo: Like most aspiring writers and self-proclaimed feminists, I’m way into Amy Schumer. Which means by default, I’m pretty damn excited to soak up her recently released book. Lucky for me, my sisters gifted me her book for my birthday, so I’ll report back soon.

 

leave

Wake Up Happy: I’ve heard stories of Michael Strahan and how driven and charismatic he is, so when I saw this book on sale at Barnes & Noble, I thought “Sure! Maybe I can glean some wisdom from this man!” Sadly, the terribly poor editing detracts from whatever message(s) are buried within the pages of this text. Skip it!

P.S. I’m always down to be friends on Goodreads, if that’s your jam. Let’s get nerdy together.

Digital Reads

link love

September 5, 2016

Link Love v. 30Whelp. This weekend has flown by.

The nights have been fairly chill, but during the days have been non-stop: long walks to the lake with Kero, trips to the neighborhood’s new Mariano’s, cleaning/organizing the apartment, and hoping to still get some good solid time with a book or two tomorrow. And work on that fall/winter budget with Ry. Oh, and reading all of these lovely things:

Ahhh, such a needed weekend. What did you all do?

Create

september desktop downloads

September 2, 2016

september downloadsCan you tell where I got the inspo for these desktop downloads?

Okay, okay. It doesn’t take a genius…

Pumpkins Spice Lattes are available at Starbucks! Which basically means Fall is unofficially upon us. And guess what? I am *not* mad about it.

sept01_wallpaperDownload this wallpaper for your desktop here.

Seriously, when you’ve lived in the midwest basically your entire life, you start to get the seasons down to a science. And this is what I’ve decided:

January – March are miserable. Stay in your apartments because the weather is torture.

April – May are when things begin to soften. It’s when spring starts to peak it’s head and you’re getting eager for summer.

June – Early July is a comfortable summer situation.

Late July – September(ish) is the ass-sweating heat of summer for the most part. It’s not as comfortable or beautiful as it may seem.

September(ish) – November are peak Fall months. Pumpkins. Cozy blankets. Candles. Cardigans. Everything nice.

November – December it starts to get a bit nipply, but it’s not too bad. In fact, you’re kind of rooting for snow by Christmas.

And, as if on cue, the past week in Chicago has been bliss. It’s that perfect “69 and breezy” that feels like Fall, but where you can still walk around in a t-shirt and sandals. Total perfection. But then again, it’s supposed to be hot as balls again next week.

But enough of the weather, guess what?

I have no fucking plans this weekend!

You probably don’t believe me. Hell, I barely believe me. It will probably be short-lived. But omg! I’m so excited! As a total introvert, I’ve desperately needed time to myself the past few months (I’m definitely nearing burnout), so I’m very much looking forward to reading, organizing (get way too much pleasure out of a clean apartment and an organized budget), blogging and visiting the Mariano’s that just went up in our neighborhood!

If you haven’t been to a Mariano’s, please stop reading this and run to the nearest location. Seriously, favorite grocery store EVER.

Sept02_wallpaper

Download this wallpaper for your desktop here.

What are you all doing this Labor Day? Downloading these wallpapers I hope, and obviously visiting a Mariano’s if you’ve never been, buuuut then what? Tell me tell me tell me!

Snacks

Super Refreshing End-of-Summer Pineapple Basil Popsicles

September 1, 2016

Basil PopsiclesAlright, so it’s the first day of September, but I’m not letting go of summer just yet.

Yes, it’s been a doozy of a flipping summer. Busy AF. But also sunshiney. And just full-on Chicago, which is my favorite kind of Chicago.

But back to the busy part.

See, I’ve been muddling through a busy work schedule, while trying to budget better, eat better, workout more frequently, train my dog, keep on my Goodreads..and my shows…You get the picture. I needed a little help on the baking front. And the blogging front.

Because, if you couldn’t tell, I haven’t been blogging much (AGAIN) lately.

And while I’m not the best at asking for help when I need it, I did this time. And I asked it from literally the best person possible: my baby sister.

Basil PopsiclesEveryone, meet Kimberly.

Or, at least Kimberly’s recipes!

While I like making and baking healthy type meals like warm apple “desserts” or protein-packed burritos or Whole 30-approved protein balls (and, of course, a cookie cake every now and then), Kimber is the real chef of the family.

Legit this girl has been whipping things up and experimenting with food for as long as I can remember. So I’m super excited to see what she brings to the table (literally).

First thing she’s dishing out? This delicious pineapple basil popsicle recipe! Just look at that icy fresh goodness.

Basil PopsiclesLike I said, we’re not letting go of summer just yet. Whip these up for a super healthy, refreshing Labor Day treat and embrace the few rays of sunshine we have left. Enjoy!

Basil Popsicles

Pineapple & Basil Popsicles
 
Healthy way to enjoy a fresh summer treat.
Author:
Recipe type: Snacks
Ingredients
  • 1 can crushed pineapple (20 oz)
  • 5 medium sized Basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Wash and roughly chop the basil leaves. Put the basil leaves in the blender along with the entire can of pineapple. Blend the two ingredients until the basil has fully mixed into the pineapple around 1 minute. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze fully. Enjoy!

 

Inspire

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.