Saturday, January 26, 2013

Random Reviews, 1

When I asked what kind of posts y'all would like to read, one thing was suggested more than most: book reviews.

I guess that since I'm an English teacher, y'all think I read a lot.  Unfortunately, during the school year, I do not have time to read nearly as much as I'd like to on my own.  Honestly, I'm generally too drained from the school day when I get home, and all I want to do is zone out in front of the TV.

So, these "Random Reviews" will be a mix of books, TV shows, and movies.  And, I don't believe I'm a very good "reviewer," so I think my "reviews" will really just be random thoughts.  :)

A Book

Buy on Amazon
After seeing one of my students read this book and discussing it with him, I knew I had to buy it.  Unfortunately, it just sat on my shelf.  I let several students borrow it, and when they returned it only a few days later (having read the entire thing in that short of time), I knew it was a must-read.

Unwind is a dystopian young-adult novel that takes place after the Second Civil War - the war on reproductive rights.  The war decided that abortions would be outlawed but that parents could "stork" their babies (leave them on others' doorsteps and force another family to adopt the baby) or "unwind" their children between the ages of 13 and 18.  When a child is unwound, every part of his or her body is donated to another human: the hand goes to an amputee, the liver goes to someone in need of a transplant, etc.  The novel follows three teenagers who were set to be unwound for three very different reasons.  It is really, really interesting -- and frighteningly realistic.  No wonder my kids loved it.

A TV Show

Buy on Amazon
I have heard the fuss about Downtown Abbey for quite a while now, but I was never super-moved to see it.  On a whim (and after finishing Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead), The Boy and I started season one on Netflix.  And before we knew it, we were on season three.  We. are. addicted.

If you are the only other person in America who has yet to see Downton Abbey, it takes place at a huuuuuuge manor in England right before (season one), during (season two), and after (season three) World War I.  It follows the lives of Lord and Lady Grantham and their three daughters as well as the servants that work for them.

My favorite character is Sybil, the youngest daughter, as she is strong-willed, stubborn, and opinionated, especially for the time period in which she lived.  I also love Mr. Bates and Anna, two of the servants.  They are just so darn sweet.

Please watch this.  And then please talk about it with me.

A Movie
Pre-Order on Amazon
The Boy is a former film major and, therefore, loves everything cinema.  In addition, he is just as excited about the Academy Awards as I am and wants to see all of the nominated films before the big night.  Last weekend, we hit up a matinee of Django Unchained.

Typical of other Tarantino films, Django was quite gory.  And, it was an amazing film.  It definitely did not seem like a three-hour movie and instead flew by.  Christoph Waltz definitely deserves his nominations (and Golden Globe win), but I'm surprised that Jamie Foxx wasn't nominated for anything.  His portrayal of a slave turned bounty hunter was incredible.  And, when is Leo going to get some recognition for his acting skillz?!

Anyway, go see Django.  We loved it.

In Conclusion

(Do you like how I'm ending this post with the phrase that is banned from all of my students' papers?)  I just wanted to wrap up this most random of posts with a note to say that I'll try to do this somewhat regularly but that the reviews will most likely happen whenever I finish a book.  :)

Peace out, yo.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

So, I've Got That Going For Me

When I made my workout plan for this week, I apparently forgot that I had some super-duper long days.

First, I had a tough time falling asleep last night and was up more than I would have liked, probably due to the fact that I had a three-day weekend and naturally (for me) thought I would oversleep when I actually had to wake up at a certain time.  Welcome, Panic Mode and Restless Sleep.

Therefore, when my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m., I immediately reset it for 6:30 and fell back asleep.

Today, I worked (obviously), ran/walked two miles, went tanning (hey, my dermatologist prescribed me "light therapy"), and worked the wrestling meet.  I was able to come home for about 30 minutes to heat up some leftovers and take a quick shower, but other than that, I wasn't home until 8:30.

Tomorrow, my day is going to be quite similar: work, three-hour meeting, bowling.  I will be gone from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  So, I am already assuming that I will not be working out.  Oh well.

Before anything else, let's look at some pictures:

Chicken Tamale Casserole + Mexican Cole Slaw
This is what I have eaten for the last three non-breakfast meals.  I would say that I wish I were kidding, but I really don't wish that: this meal was that good.

Seriously.  I'm kind of addicted.

For breakfast, I ate my new favorite:

A Yo Lite (today's was Strawberry Rhubarb Pie), one-fourth cup granola (Bare Naked Oats & Honey), one-half cup blackberries, and one scoop vanilla protein powder.

In addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I drank a Chai latte (holy calories - whoops) and ate a bowl of lime and salt popcorn.

Thank you all for your blog suggestions yesterday.  Here's what I'm thinking:

  • Friday Favorites (because I'm obsessed with everyone else's take on this)
  • What I Read/Watched (probably a lot more of the "watching" during the school year)
  • Workouts and Recipes (I should probably post some of those, huh?)
  • Random Musings and Nonstop Sarcasm (like you expected anything less)
  • Cat Pictures (you can all thank my mom for suggesting this)
This is what happened during my three-day weekend.  I didn't wash my hair from Friday morning to Tuesday morning, and you're lucky (well, The Boy was since he's the one I saw) that I showered once a day...usually.
So, I've got that going for me.

Peace out, yo.

Monday, January 21, 2013


It seems like every time I start doing what I'm supposed to be doing (i.e. eating well and working out), something goes wrong.

For example, last time I blogged I had just started P90X, had a detailed running program in place, and was rocking it with healthy eating.

That same day that I started P90X, I got the flu.  Not only did I stop eating well (mac 'n cheese is about the only food I want when sick) and working out (hello, no lung capacity), but I also missed three (should've been four) days of work.

Last Monday (one week after getting sick), I finally started feeling more like myself.  However, my lungs were definitely not like themselves.  One day I walked the length of the school to get to my mailbox, and I was sure I was panting like a dog by the time I got back to my room.  Another day, a colleague and I were goofing off and raced each other in a full-out sprint to the copy machine, and I swear I thought my lungs were going to explode.  So, working out was definitely not on the agenda.

On Saturday, however, The Boy and I went to breakfast and decided to walk to the cafĂ©.  Round-trip, it was about three miles.  It was a gorgeous day, and it was a wonderful walk (and breakfast) with my best friend.

Now that I am officially feeling better (despite being ridiculously unmotivated), I hope to get back on the healthy-living train.  I feel like every time I try to make a super-detailed plan, though, I get off track.   Like, if I have a three-month plan figured out and then miss two days of workouts, I feel like I failed the entire program.  Or if I have my weekly menu figured out and then something comes up and I "mess up," the whole week is a wash.

Maybe if I focus my training to one-week increments (keeping in mind that I will likely run a half marathon or three this spring) and avoid kicking myself if/when I eat a cookie or "mess up" in some other way, I will be more likely to succeed.

I am also planning on varying my workouts a little more.  I really hate running on a treadmill, and it is so darn cold outside that my lungs will hate me if I run outside.  And, frankly, I am not enjoying running as much as I normally do.  So, maybe I'll incorporate a few runs into my weekly plans, but I'm not going to kill myself to try and run five miles at the gym.

So, without further ado, here is my dinner plan for this week:

Monday: Chicken Tamale Casserole and Mexican Cole Slaw
Tuesday: leftovers from Monday since I have to work
Wednesday: leftovers from Monday since we have bowling ('cause we're nerds like that)
Thursday: Grilled Balsamic Skirt Steak with roasted veggies and red potatoes
Friday: date night (?)

And here is my workout plan for this week:

Monday: nada
Tuesday: spin (at 5:10 a.m.!)
Wednesday: Body Pump (at 5:05 a.m.!)
Thursday: run two miles
Friday: Body Pump (at 5:05 a.m.!)
Saturday and/or Sunday: walk/hike 2-3 miles

If I don't wake up super early for those morning workouts (and, let's face it: that's a real possibility), I'll head to the Y after school for a treadmill workout.  Ugh.

Please cross your fingers and send me happy thoughts that I will actually stick to the plan this week - and in weeks to come.  I'm sick of making excuses and changing my "goals" every time I post a new blog entry.  :)

On a different note: I really enjoy writing (and really miss my freelance gig), but sometimes I am just at a loss as to what I should write.  There are some days where my breakfast, lunch, and dinner are just too boring, and some days where I am sure you do not want to see yet another picture of my cats.  Please give me ideas as to what to write about.  For example, I am planning on writing a post about different blogs that I like.  I really enjoy reading others' "Friday Favorites" and might post something similar.

What else would you like to see on this little blog o' mine?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Some Good Help

We'll see how long this post lasts before the codeine kicks in.


The Boy started coming down with something on Saturday, and by last night he was pretty much down for the count.  And then last night he (and therefore I) was pretty much awake non-stop coughing.

At first I attributed his cold to his first real winter.  He's had a couple of colds in the last couple of months, and I've been totally fine.  Apparently, however, I should have knocked on wood.

I believe my good friend Mr. Bronchitis (or some distant relative of his) is here for his annual visit.  And just in time for finals.  Joy.

So, tonight I took a boatload of cough syrup with codeine, some Ibuprofen, and now I'm sipping on Sleepytime tea (with honey, of course) in the coffee mug that reminds me of my mom.  (She has like eight million coffee mugs, and this is the only one I remember her using when I was growing up.)

Today started off fine.  I had a twinge of a headache throughout the morning, and then by the afternoon I was coughing fairly regularly.

Before I continue, I have to show you my favorite breakfast as of late:

One thing of Yo Lite yogurt (today was Raspberry Vanilla, I think), one pouch of granola, one scoop of vanilla protein powder, and one cup of berries.  Holy yum, and holy filling.  The rest of my eats today were an Amy's frozen dinner for lunch, a Fiber One bar and some carrots for a snack, and a salad from Palmer's for dinner.

When I came home from school, though, I still started P90X with the Chest & Back and Ab Ripper DVDs.  Because this workout was a little over an hour, I'm really glad that I had a friend:

Chloe is such a good workout partner.  (On a completely different note, I am glad she is covering up my toes in the bottom picture because I totally just lost a toenail - completely - from the marathon.  Totally fell off.  Just now.  Three months later.)

Back to P90X:

That is some working out, let me tell you.  The Chest & Back DVD was 52 minutes, and it was a lot of push-ups, some pull-ups and chin-ups, and some exercises with weights/bands.

The push-ups were really tough, and I did them all on my knees.  The only ones I totally couldn't do were the decline push-ups (where your toes are on the seat of a chair) and the under-the-fence push-ups where you start in downward dog and swoop down so that your chin almost touches the floor and then continue through your arms - and then go back to the starting position by reversing the motion.  For the decline push-ups, I just held a plank in that position, and for the under-the-fence ones, I said screw it.

I could not figure out how to do the pull-ups or chin-ups since I didn't have a bar or a place to loop the bands, so I just fast-forwarded through those exercises so that I would keep my heart rate up and burn out my muscles as much as possible.  If anyone has any suggestions as to how to do that portion of the workout without the necessary equipment, I would greatly appreciate it.

For all other exercises, I used resistance bands.  I started off using my five-pound weights, but those just didn't seem to cut it.

The Ab Ripper DVD was also quite tough, but I did much better on this one than I did with the bazillion push-ups.

I definitely learned, however, that I am extremely out of shape and have a really, really long way to go.

Side note about P90X (after one whole day): they say that it's a workout plan without any steps to it (i.e. there's only one level, take breaks when needed), but I would really like for there to be a "how-to" segment before each exercise.  I really need to work on form, but aside from a "keep your spine in line" and a "use your back, not your arms" here and there, there is not really any guidance on how exactly your body should look/feel while doing the exercises.

After doing the strength portion of the workout, I was supposed to go on a two-mile run/walk with MB.  However, since I already have cold-weather, exercise-induced asthma and because of whatever the heck is happening in my lungs right now, I decided it might be smart to forgo the cardio today.  Hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday I can get outside and do some walking/running.

This evening I went to the first class of my second session of Spanish.  I was super tired and not feeling well at all, but I am not impressed so far.  We spent the first hour introducing ourselves (in English) and reading "how to learn a language" and the objectives of the class.  The second hour was spent reviewing the alphabet, verb conjugations (without context), and how to introduce ourselves.  I literally said three sentences in Spanish the entire class.

This overachiever is not too thrilled.

But, now I'm back home, and - again - thankful I have help:

Seriously.  This cat has "intimacy issues" but has yet to leave my side the last couple of days.  Maybe she's emitting her healing vibes.  I don't know.

Off to succumb to a codeine-induced slumber.  Peace out, yo.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


While I should probably start off this post with a "I'm-sorry-I-haven't-blogged-in-like-a-million-years" paragraph, you've seen how well that's worked for me in the past, so I am going to just go ahead and forego it this time and, like usual, vow to try to blog more regularly in the coming weeks.

I started off my "spring training plan" of eating healthy and working out regularly fairly well, but then the holidays happened, stress and emotions happened, and laziness happened.  So, I have worked out a total of five times in the last few weeks.  And, after getting re-measured for a bridesmaid dress today, realized that that really has to change.

So, I have decided to do a couple of things.

First, I am going to run at least three times per week, likely two miles a day during the week and then a longer run (starting with a whole three miles) on the weekends.  Again, I feel like I'll be doing a run-walk combo, so maybe I can convince The Boy to join me on occasion.  :)

Second, I am going to start P90X tomorrow.  I've heard both amazing (yay, body transformation!) and horrifying (holy ouch!) things about the program, but I'm looking forward to doing something at home (no excuses) that will kick my butt into shape.  I'm going to try really hard to stick to the program and do the prescribed workouts everyday, but I'm also not going to stress if something comes up and I can't do the requisite workout.

Third, I am going to log into My Fitness Pal daily, recording every morsel I put in my mouth, every workout that I do, and every pound that I weigh.  Follow me - emmy815.  Motivate me.  Hold me accountable.  I actually did this every day last week - but then, per usual, totally neglected it on the weekend.

On a completely different note, here are a couple of dinners from last week:

Sorry for the goofy color contrast - I'm trying out a new app (Camera +). 
This was Avocado-Mango Chicken, courtesy of Self magazine.  It is seriously delicious and has been a hit with everyone who's eaten it.  One of my besties (hey, MB!) even said she dreams about the salsa.  I think I could eat this once a week.  Last week The Boy and I paired it with Rosemary Sweet Potato Wedges, courtesy of Women's Health magazine (I'm seeing a trend...) and roasted Brussels sprouts.

Everything was so good that The Boy had two helpings.

Of everything.

And then took the last serving with him to work the following day.

On Thursday, I made a couple of "entrees": wedge salad (The Boy's absolute favorite) and Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa, courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats.  (That ruins my streak of magazine-inspired recipes, but I use A LOT of her stuff - mostly healthy and really tasty.)

The salad was delicious, and I probably could've been just fine eating a double serving of that.  I have been craving salad lately, which I believe is my body's way of telling me that it's deprived of veggies.

The stew was not my most favorite thing.  The Boy loved it, but I think what threw me off was the flavor of the kalamata olives with the other ingredients: they just  I ate about half a serving for dinner and then a full serving the following day for lunch, but I'm not sure I'll put this particular recipe on my "regular" menu rotation.

And now, a complete change of pace:

As usual, my New Year's resolutions for this year are to "eat better and exercise more."  I mean, isn't that everyone's resolution?

In addition, though, my primary goal is to live in the moment.  As much as I hate to admit it, I am a total Type A person.  In fact, I am quite possibly the most Type A person that I know.  This certainly has its positives:

  • I am super organized.
  • I am constantly making to-do lists.
  • I like having plans.
  • I am very goal-oriented.
  • And, quite honestly, I could keep making a list (after all, that's what I like to do).
However, there are some definite negatives there:

  • Being super organized means that I have a hard time doing things spur-of-the-moment.
  • Since I am constantly making to-do lists, I get really stressed out if I am unable to cross something off due to whatever reason that may be.
  • Because I like having plans, I am not very spontaneous and instead try to fill every free moment with something; it is really hard for me to just sit still and do nothing.
  • Because I am goal-oriented to the max, I have an extremely difficult time living in the now.  I am constantly planning for the future, which makes it tough to enjoy the little things that are happening now.
So, this year I am trying very hard to live in the moment, to be spontaneous, to be more carefree, to not get so stressed out, to not have somewhere to go or something to do every moment of every day, and to be happy where I am now (because, let's be honest, I have just about the most perfect life in the world).

And, talking about all of this (and rereading The Fitnessista's post about inspiration boards), I have decided to create my own 2013 "pinspiration" board on Pinterest.  Check it out - but maybe wait until tomorrow since I haven't exactly started.  :)

(Hopefully) I'll write y'all again tomorrow.  Peace out, yo.