Monday, August 1, 2016

Dog Days of Summer Catch-Up

I think it's been about 4 months since I've done one of these, so  might as well see what I'm up to this summer? I have to say, it's been the hottest summer since I moved to DC (though I do admit that my first three summers were pretty wimpy in terms of heat and humidity, so I had it coming), so much of my activities have been focused on staying cool and ultimately embracing frizzy hair.

What I'm drinking
It's my second summer of The Passport Program, which lets me try out new (to me) bars and save $$ on drinks. I've hit up lots of new spots and some old spots that I hadn't frequented in awhile (pro-tip: Kapnos has a fantastic happy hour and is never busy!! WHY?!?!). I've had struggles finding my go-to Shiner Ruby Redbird this year, so the Passport Program has been a good way to get out of a bar rut and support local businesses.

What I'm reminiscing about
For some reason, summer 2013 has been in my rearview mirror a lot lately. Perhaps because it was my first summer in DC, and I embraced it with gusto. Between trips I took and visitors I had, plus just general DC fun, it was a pretty great summer.

What I'm Loving
Where I am right now. There are so many good things happening in my life, from friends having kids and getting engaged, to spending time with people I love, to the slow pace of summer, to my church that continues to affirm why it's in my life, to having so many credit card points that I get to plan crazy trips (that I may or may not take).

Also, my new apartment. I've lived alone in the past, but it's my first time doing so in DC, and man is it great. I'm also in a quieter hood and close to friends, and really like the set-up of my place, so despite all my moving angst, and the money that one seems to hemorrhage when moving and setting up a new place, it's worth it.

What I've been up to
All the workouts. I joined ClassPass in July to try it out after many friends raved about it. Instead of a membership to one gym or studio, it's a membership to hundreds in your area, from yoga to spin to barre to HIIT, etc. The catch? You can only visit each studio three times a month. I like the cancellation policy--you must cancel 12 hours ahead of time or they charge you. It keeps me from sleeping through my alarm or getting home from work and deciding I'm too tired to go to spin. My favorite thing has been getting into hot yoga, which I love and hate. But I've tried out lots of new gyms and feel like I've helped combat SOME of the Passport Program effects :-)

What I'm Excited About
My usual answer--upcoming travel. I have a mix of work and fun trips coming up, including Labor Day in LA to celebrate a special lady's 30th birthday, and a return to one of my favorite cities--Vegas!

Oh, and also, my own birthday! It will be decidedly more low-key than last year's jaunt to Greece, but it's always nice to spend it with friends.

But let's not forget something that I get excited about every four years:

True story: I used to want my wedding processional to be the Olympic theme. My Olympics love knows no bounds. You have been warned. 

What I'm Dreading
My post-travel exhaustion. A total first-world problem, I know, but I had three trips in three weeks earlier this summer, and between the energy you need to travel, sleeping in hotel beds, time changes, and feeling like I'm missing out on life in DC, I was exhausted.

What I'm Watching
Not a whole lot right now as I've kicked Ballers to the curb, Royal Pains has ended (sob), and Playing House hasn't yet started. When will that be coming back, USA Network?!

What I'm Listening to
The West Wing Weekly podcast. Hosted by Josh Malina (Will Bailey on TWW) and Hrishi Hriway (who I was introduced to as a guest on Gilmore Guys), they talk about The West Wing, episode by episode. It's interesting to hear about the show from a fan and star of the show perspective, and they get some pretty stellar guests (Richard Schiff, Janel Maloney, Dule Hill). One gripe I have is that Josh Malina is not at all an expert on The West Wing, despite being on the show for four seasons. I do occasionally yell at the podcast when he gets something wrong, or something I've know about forever blows his mind.

What I'm Reading
I finally got back into reading! However, I'm in between books at the moment, but have a few on my to-read list, and need to renew my library card post-haste (apparently in DC they expire after three years?!? Stupid). Any recommendations to add to the list?

What I'm doing this weekend
Well, it's Monday. Can I say I haven't given it a ton of thought? Though, some friends and I are going to a food truck festival of sorts (it has more specifics than that, but I do, in a deep corner of my mind, try to restrain from too many identifying details about my life and wherabouts because you know #crazypeople #stalkers). Other than that, probably passporting.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer TV, How I Love Thee

I posted to the Twitters recently that summer travels make it really hard to keep up with all the TV I want to watch in the summer (first world problems, amiright?!). Then I got a request to write a blog post about summer TV, so here we are.

Now, summer TV to me means both shows that are only on in the summer, as well as a time when I catch up on shows from the regular season that I missed. Below are the highlights:

Summer Season Shows

Royal Pains: This is the show that's currently on TV that I've been watching the longest. I started watching it in 2009 (its first season) when I would go to the gym Saturday mornings and it would be on TV. It's hard to believe that was seven years ago, but this show kept me coming back each summer (and occasionally in the winter when they'd have a 5-episode winter season). The premise, a doctor from Brooklyn opens a concierge medical business in the Hamptons, expanded as the series went on and more characters joined the show over the past seven years, but it was always entertaining and I actually cared about the people on the show. The series finale airs this Wednesday, and I'm a little bummed to see all my Hamptons friends go.

Playing House: A discovery to me last year, this show became one of my favorites immediately. A 30 minute comedy about two best friends, one who's divorced with a baby, and the other is a successful businesswoman who moves back to their small hometown to help raise the baby. This is one of the smartest, funniest comedies on TV right now, so catch up on seasons 1 and 2 post-haste (I watched these seasons over Labor Day weekend, so you can knock them out quickly). Season 3 was not a given, I actually wrote to USA network about the need to renew the show (which I don't think I've ever done?), so when it was announced in January, I was THRILLED. The release date hasn't been announced, but you can bet I will be waiting with baited breath until then.

UnREAL: Another new discovery to me last year. A fictional behind the scenes look at a show like The Bachelor, created by a former producer for The Bachelor. I don't watch The Bachelor or it's spin-offs, but this show is addicting, partly because of how crazy things get, but also because, I don't really think it's that far from the truth. I sometimes even watch this show in REAL TIME. WITH COMMERCIALS. High praise.

Ballers: This is kind of the perfect summer show. Easy to watch and forgettable (I don't even remember the main character's name . . . ) The Rock plays a former pro-football player who now advises current players on financial matters. It's fascinating to see how people in the financial industry chase after these players, and how people who were just handed millions of dollars react to sudden wealth (spoiler: not well). The new season starts this month, I think, so catch up on the first season now.

Playing Catch-up:

Two shows I'm adding to my summer list now that their seasons are available in totality (I support binge-watching TV). I've watched a few episodes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and hear it only gets better, so I'm interested to see what happens with it. And, I haven't watched the new episodes of The Mindy Project from the spring, so I'll be catching back up with Dr. Lahiri and the gang.

Anything I need to add to my list?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Oh Yeah, Resolutions

As we're halfway through the year, I thought I'd check in the old New Year's Resolutions and see how things were shaking out. If you don't recall, here's what my goals were in January:

--Run 400 miles (roughly 8 a week). If I manage a half-marathon, this should take care of itself, but still, I want to keep running regularly. 
--Take two classes. I took ballroom dance this fall and really liked it. I may take another dance class, but also want to look into learning French. 
--Learn to meditate (I have an app that will teach me, I just need to remember to do it)
--Take yoga once a week
--FINALLY make photobooks for all the photos I've taken since college *gulp*

Well . . . things are going ok. 

In terms of running, that pesky pneumonia I got in January sidelined me for half that month and most of February in terms of heavy cardio activity (the whole diminished lung capacity and exhaustion thing). And then I got more into other workouts and running just didn't seem as fun. So, I've run 52 miles this year (whomp whomp). But, I plan to run a half-marathon this fall, so hopefully that plus the training will get me close to the 200 mile mark. Thanks a lot, pneumonia.

Take two classes: This also hasn't started yet, but I am likely going to take a dance class this summer. Stay tuned as to what that might be.

Learn to meditate. I've stuck with this off and on a bit. I've done some 5-minute meditations and have used those skills when stressed or having trouble falling asleep. But I still need to actually stick with it.

Yoga. Yeah, this has really fallen by the wayside. My gym's yoga schedule does not match up with mine (or rather, the easy, beginner yoga schedule does not match up with mine haha). But next month I'm trying out Class Pass and hope to hit up some yoga studios by my house.

Photobooks: SUCCESS. I think I've made three photobooks this year, and done a lot of picture organizing. I still have many more to make. but still, I feel like this was a good start.

Well, this was a sobering reminder that I need to GET ON IT in terms of resolutions. So, hopefully my December update is much better, haha. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Farewell to The Good Wife

I started watching The Good Wife in August 2014, binging on Amazon Prime. I finally caught up in the spring of 2015 and started watching in real time. And, I seemed to join the real time episodes just as they were going downhill.

But overall, The Good Wife is one of the strongest dramas of the last ten years. Aside from Walter White on Breaking Bad, I don't know if we've seen a main character develop and change as much as Alicia Florrick has. I learned so much about the legal world (I feel like if I ever get arrested, I will know what I can and can't say and how I should answer questions), and became the biggest fan girl for Alan Cummings (playing Eli Gold). I even like Matt Czuchry's Gilmore Girls character, Logan Huntzberger, more because of his TGW character, Cary Agos. Seriously, when I watch Logan episodes of GG, I think "he's a great guy because he'll grow up to be Cary Agos."

However, my TV critic soul mate, James Poniewozik (formerly of TIME and now with the NY Times) has said it best (of course he did, because we are the same person when it comes to TV):

Note: This contains spoilers for the later seasons, so don't read it if you're not on the current season.

‘The Good Wife’: A Broadcast Gem Fades Away

So I'll say goodbye to Lockhart Gardner/Florrick Agos/Lockhart Agos and Lee/Lockhart Florrick/Lockhard Gardner Bond (haha, oh  man, that was a crazy partnership), and the dream of Florrick Canning. But I'm sure I'll think of them the next time I face legal trouble. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Five

Plans for longer, newsier posts have gone by the wayside, but here are five things I'm a fan of this week:

1. Queen Elizabeth's 90th Birthday. If anything, so we could get these photos:

How cute is Prince George? And, apparently all of their faces will appear on stamps, so the photographer had to ensure that their heads were all at the same height and not too close to each other for stamp cropping purposes. 

This makes the Queen look so normal, in my opinion. Just hanging out with the grands and great-grands!

2. This article about Soul Cycle. I've been to Soul Cycle here in DC a few times (for free, I am not paying $35 for a spin class, thankyouverymuch), and really don't understand the fuss. Having gone to spin class off and on since college, I feel like Soul Cycle classes are dangerous (you never add resistance and bounce all over the place) and really just about artistic performance (I had more than one instructor either dance in between bikes or take their shirt off and pour a water bottle over themselves). I'll stick to my regular spin class, thanks!

3. Seeing Fun Home: I am a sucker for live theater, and while in NYC last week for work, I ended up with a free night and took myself to the TKTS booth (where they sell half-priced tickets to shows). Walked away with a front row seat to Fun Home which won the Tony for Best Musical last year. Not your typical Broadway spectacle, it's a very intimate show, really a drama that has the occasional musical piece, but very little dancing. The theater is in the round, and set pieces are constantly being moved by the actors to portray different locations. I can't say you're going to be singing any of the songs when you leave, but it's beautiful and heartbreaking. 

4. Baseball!! Despite the rain on Opening Day (Which I attended!), I'm super excited for baseball season. America's pasttime is perhaps my favorite sport to watch in-person, mainly because I don't care who's playing, I just enjoy the game. Going to a game tonight!

5. Impulse buys at Sephora. While in NYC I popped into the Time Warner Center to hit up their Sephora and buy a replacement lip pencil. Next thing I know, I'm by checkout counter and pick up MakeUp Forever's Translucent Powder in travel size and Clinique Eye Make-Up Remover in Travel Size (I feel like regular makeup wipes never remove my eye makeup and when I travel its all I bring). Both of these things have been great additions to my Adult Makeup Bag.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Early Spring Check-In

When will I stop saying "time is flying" and just accept that this is the pace life moves now? I was thinking I could blame the first part of the year passing so fast on getting pneumonia and feeling like I missed three weeks of life (which I kind of did).

But, with spring around the corner, figured it was time to do a check-in as to what's going on around these parts . . .

What I'm Drinking:

Still staying away from coffee for the most part (despite a few times of falling off the wagon post-pneumonia and traveling). Enjoyed lots of dark beers in the winter and all the red wine. Now making a slow transition to white wine (a switch flips for me come April and spring weather, and red wine sounds terrible and white wine sounds like the most delicious thing ever). Good times.

What I'm Reminiscing About:

College spring break. Facebook likes to remind me that nine years ago this month, I went to Destin with a group of friends. It was your stereotypical college spring break. We drove 10 hours, starting at 6 a.m., bought cheap booze at Wal-Mart, frolicked drunkenly in the surf, went to various clubs and bars, I ran into a guy I went to high school with, ate lots of seafood, rented a boat, shopped at outlets, and made memories that still make me smile (and cringe) at the ripe old age of 30.

What I'm Loving:

A few things . . . like being done with my Junior League placement for the year, which means I have many of my nights and weekends back. My placement is concentrated in February and March, so while I'm free for the rest of the year, I have a lot to do in those months, culminating in a weekend-long event in mid-March. Also, buying spring clothes. Ever since I KonMari-ed my closet last year, I'm feeling a lot more confident about what I like and don't like, and what I actually need in my closet. So I feel like I've made some good choices, and am pretty cutthroat about what I actually like.

What I've Been Up to:

The aforementioned Junior League volunteer shifts. When I started out on this committee, where many of the people have served on the committee before and are all friends, I thought "I likely won't become close to anyone and will just do my shifts and leave and no one will learn my name," (not in a whiny way, but in a "I'll just punch my card and get this done" way). Well, spending so much time with the same group of people in less than glamorous conditions (sorting donated items) and then finally dressing up at the end for the big event, well, it felt a lot like sorority rush, and you're all friends because you've seen each other bleary-eyed on a Saturday morning, wearing workout clothes and no make-up, and bonded over the crazy s**t that was donated (like a bedpan. A BEDPAN).

I also spent a rejuvenating weekend in Houston in early March, visiting two of the new babies born in the past few months to friends of mine. While I did forget to pack any pants for this trip, resulting in an early-morning trip to Old Navy, I had a wonderful time holding babies, feeding babies, playing lawn crew with a 2 year-old, eating delicious food, catching up with friends, and just enjoying life. I get so much joy out of seeing friends enter new life stages, and sharing in their joy.

What I'm Dreading:

After three years in the same apartment, I'm moving to a new place in the next few months. And I HATE moving. I'm trying to figure out how to do this in the least painful way. Taking recommendations!

What I'm Excited About:

I feel like this is always the case as I look back on past updates, but, upcoming trips! I head to Nashville this weekend for sorority Little's 30th birthday, and am going there a day early to visit my college roommate and her family. So excited for all the friend time and to explore more of a city I really like.

What I'm Watching:

I'm finally catching up on season 4 (4? 5?) of House of Cards, and it's picked up in the last few episodes so I feel like I can power through it. Younger just finished it's second season and I CAN NOT WAIT for the next season (does anyone know when it will be back?).

What I'm Listening To:

A new song discovery for me (perhaps two weeks before it hit radio play, so I feel like a trend-setter) is Borns "Electric Love". This song is so dang catchy and makes me all happy. So, listen to it, ok?

What I'm Reading:

Well, still reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and need to renew my check-out of Dead Wake from the library. Though, the current issue of Texas Monthly is all about guns and the place they have in the culture of Texas, and it's phenomenal and taking up most of my reading time. If any of the articles are online, I recommend reading them.

What I'm Doing This Weekend:

The aforementioned Nashville trip. This has been on the calendar since November, and I love that close to 20 people find a person so dear to them that they will travel (most are flying, some are driving long hours) to celebrate her for the weekend. Memories will be made, inside jokes will be created, and we'll all leave tired but happy.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What I've Read Lately

Clearly, we may never reach the epic reading proportions of 2014 (and, since it burned me out on reading, I'm ok with that). But I've tackled some books since the fall that I'd thought I'd share with you.

Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff

A book club book, this novel got a lot of praise and was shorlisted for the National Book Award. It's the tale of a marriage told from both the husband and wife's perspective. It reminded me a bit of The Goldfinch in that the husband's part was a bit bildungsroman (sorry to bust out the English class verbiage, but it captures my issues with it so succintly), but I really enjoyed the wife's part (or rather, read it quickly). 

So if we were doing star ratings, which I guess we can, I'd give it 3 out of 5.

In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume

Yes, that Judy Blume, who wrote about being a Fourth Grade Nothing and Margaret and puberty. She's ventured into adult books, and this one is the fictional telling of a winter in Elizabeth, NJ when three commercial airliners crashed in the city within months of each other. This actually happened. The book is honestly depressing, but does really capture what I imagine the emotions and psyche of the town was like during that time. 

2 out of 5 stars

Notorious RBG, by Irin Carmon

Another book club book (which I picked). Billed as a graphic novel (which it isn't, but it does have pictures), it chronicles the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, paying particular attention to how groundbreaking she's been in both her early legal career and time on the bench. The most endearing part of the book, however, is the chapter about her and late husband, and how much he supported her in her career and at home. I really hope I run into her out and about in DC.

3 out of 5 stars

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

This is one of those books that's very "your life can change in an instant" focused. AJ Fikry owns a struggling bookstore on Cape Cod (I think), and his life has been changed in an instant, twice. Don't want to spoil too much, but it's a sweet and sad book about how a curmudgeon can find a reason to be happy. 

3 out of 5 stars

Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling

I am on the record as LOVING her first book, so I pre-ordered this as soon as it was available. Did I love it as much? No. But Mindy is still the woman in comedy with whom I'm most aligned in terms of our approach to life, and I truly enjoyed this read. On a beach. With a drink in my hand. 

3 out of 5 stars

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

This book had all the accolades leading up to it. And, it honestly stressed me out a whole lot while reading it. Beautifully written, it follows two children from the beginning of WWII through the end, and even some time after. One is a blind, French girl, the other is a German boy, and, yes, their paths cross at some point. This book, like The Book Thief (another favorite), illustrated how terrible it was to be a German citizen during WWII, a tale I don't think is told often. I also read this book when I had pneumonia and was recovering, so I may have missed a few key pieces of plot . . . 

4 out of 5 stars

So, as you can see, no book really blew me away in this bunch. I'm currently reading Dead Wake by Erik Larsson and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben (I love her podcast, Happier, so figured I'd give this book a try). 

What are you reading right now?