Virtual Drinks – August Edition

Happy Friday, friends!

If we were having virtual drinks this evening, we’d be having them at Mikette, this new French bistro on the north side of Ann Arbor and I’d gush about how excited I was to try it finally! It’s owned and operated by the same people who own the fabulous wood fire pizza place on the same block as my office as well as the Mexican street food place next door. The husband-and-wife team are really bringing unique cuisine into Ann Arbor and I appreciate it immensely. Stay tuned for a review next week!

If we were having drinks this evening, I’d tell you how excited I am to go to Denver in two weeks to see Amber, her hubby and their two pups! By the time I visit her, it’ll only be a month since she’s moved from Ann Arbor, but it seriously feels like it’s been so much longer. It’s still odd to drive by her street and not want to pop over and say hi. I imagine I’ll be creepy and do that with the new owner of her house… ;)

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.42.50 AM

I’m excited about Denver, though! It’s been a long time since I’ve been there so I know it’s changed. I have a friend from high school who lives there too so I’m hoping to maybe see her or have her meet up with us if it works out. Things on the agenda are trying to find all the fun, free things we can do! Did you know: The 13th stair on the capitol building is exactly 1 mile above sea level. PHOTO OPPORTUNITY. Other items on the agenda include going to Casa Bonita! I mean, how could you go to Denver and not go there?! Regardless, I’m so excited to see them and snuggle their dogs, hike the mountains and check out some cool breweries and restaurants!

If we were having drinks this evening, I’d tell my current music obsession is the new Carly Rae Jepsen album – Emotion Side B. It’s pretty fantastic and true CRJ electropop. There are some songs she sounds just like Madonna or Debbie Gibson. The synth is strong with this one. If you need something peppy, fun and upbeat for the weekend, play this one!

If we were having drinks this evening, I’d tell you I’m a lean, mean, reading machine this week. I’ve gone through two books and onto another that I’ll have finished tonight or tomorrow. I’ve really honed in on the whole “unplug” ritual at night and instead of being on my phone on social media in bed at night, I’m throwing that device aside and picking up a book for 1-2 hours before bed. Here are the two books I finished this week:

Behind-Closed-Doors

This book was a pretty intense psychological thriller. Not as great as every review made it out to be (in my opinion anyway), but it was gripping, at times incredibly disturbing and perverse and gave me some angry feels. It’s a quick read though – under 300 pages – so at least it didn’t drag on like some thrillers do!

{09792141-D539-47BC-9AC9-EA179F120AD7}Img400
I mean, people shouldn’t be so surprised that I read this book and finished it in a day. You throw the name “David Duchovny” on anything and my inner 15-year-old squeals in delight. This book was pretty good with some great dialogue and you can’t help but read it in the famous monotone voice at times! And don’t worry, it’s not super heavy on the baseball like the cover may have you think.

I also recently finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which honestly didn’t live up to the hype I was hoping for. You can read my review on Goodreads if you follow me on there, but I am glad I read it at the very least! Just lacked a little something for me. Maybe because you’re reading a screenplay and not a full-on descriptive novel? I don’t know… It was a little more mature than magical and maybe my expectations were expecting what I read when I read them 10 years ago!

And finally, if we were having drinks tonight, I’d tell you that you’d need to go home and start watching The Get Down on Netflix. It’s the new show created and directed by Baz Luhrman (genius behind Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge and Great Gatsby) and it’s a-ma-zing. It takes place in the late 70s when hip-hop was starting to come out from the Bronx and Grandmaster Flash was becoming huge. It’s got the colorful-ness Baz offers in all his productions, it’s got great music, great beats and incredible cast and character development. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already!

Come back next week for more book reviews (hopefully) and a review of the French bistro. And always, shout out and thanks to Dixya for always hosting these fun, virtual drink posts!

What book are you currently reading or would recommend?

Five Thoughts on the Last Five Years

If someone 10 years ago told me I’d end up marrying someone from my high school, I’d have laughed in their face. REB and I weren’t even really friends in high school. We had mutual friends and a mutual circle of friends, I knew he was a nice guy and not a douche like many of the people in my graduating class, but he and I weren’t actually friends at all. In fact, I had more classes with his brother than I had with him. I love how things ends up working out, though.

REB and I are celebrating our 5 year anniversary tomorrow. Hard to believe it’s been 5 years. Like, no joke. It really is hard to believe! So on the eve of this blessed date, I thought back on the past five years married together!

IMG_6084

1. Be Yourself. Be Weird.
I have seriously met my match in this department. I have been a weirdo my entire life – my sister can attest to this. And now REB can attest to it, too. I say a lot of weird things, I make up words and use them on a daily basis, have a dumb, weird shoulder dance I do, and I haven’t stopped making weird faces at cameras for photos. The fact that REB can put up with that and find it “endearing” is beyond me, but I appreciate it nonetheless. There was a night he and I were laying on the couch and I started bobbing my head forward and said “I’m a chicken”. Why? Who knows. He laughed though and knowing he can put up with my weird, random moments is a blessing to me. He has even told me he likes my weird. Things feel off we can’t kid around and laugh every day. Kindred spirit nerds. Don’t ever stop being weird around your loved ones. I know I’ll be 75 and still doing that weird shoulder dance around him if I can help it. Especially if my knees, hips and other joints allow for it.

FullSizeRender(5)

IMG_6083

2. Make Time For Each Other.
Easier said than done, right? I can’t stress how important this one particularly has been for us. We are on completely opposite schedules. He’s a night owl and I’m a morning/afternoon person. I work out right when I get home, he likes to decompress and work out later in the night, so often times we just do our own things for dinner. I go to bed earlier like a grandma, and he’ll stay up and come to bed later. I sometimes work longer hours and there are Saturdays that he has to work. It’s all mixed up, but one thing we absolutely try to do, is a date night once a week. Whether it’s dinner out, ordering in, watching something together, going outside for a walk with the dog, just sitting in bed talking, or even trying to go to bed at the same time. That last one sounds bad, doesn’t it? I used to get so mad he wouldn’t go to bed with me, and sometimes still do (I’m learning to let that little crap go, though), but quickly learning that if he at least comes up and sits with me and we talk about our days, it’s almost like a lullaby for me and I fall asleep. Seriously. Regardless, we make time for each other despite our busy schedules and “extracurricular activities”. This is also an excellent segue into the next point.

3. Let Go of the Small Crap.
I feel like this is a life lesson for everyone, no matter your marital status. I am still learning on this one and probably will continue to learn and iterate on it. (Oh God, I sound like my freaking scrum master now). I  used to hold grudges over the dumbest, littlest things and in the grand scheme of things….none of that matters! If there is one rule we try to live by, it’s to not go to bed angry. It doesn’t always happen, which is not great, but we at least talk about it. Communication has become key. If I can’t talk to my spouse or anyone about what is bothering me and really talk it through, that’s no bueno. I know there are things that each of us do that the other finds irritating or whatever, but the point is, don’t sweat the little stuff. Life’s too short.

IMG_6485

FullSizeRender

4. Personal Cheerleader.
Be each others cheerleader! REB is one of my biggest supporters. I don’t even know how to thank him for the support he’s shown me while we dated, while we lived together before marriage and now being married. When I decided to change jobs, he was gung-ho about it and told me I could do anything. When I said I wanted to start up a photography business he told me he was surprised it didn’t happen sooner. When I want to take little trips on my own without him to visit friends, he encourages me to do it so I don’t lose touch with the people in my life I don’t see as much. When I told him I wanted to throw down hundreds of dollars on a personal trainer, he told me he loved the way I looked and always has, but if I want to work on form and strength, I should do it. No matter what I want to do, he’s right there cheering me. I’m returning the favor too. When he told me wanted to maybe get his PhD I told him to do it. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and if there’s one person who can do it, it’s him! When he thought about switching jobs to one that would completely change our location and lifestyle, I told him do it! If it meant he’d be happy, I want to make sure he can do it all.

IMG_6094

5. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop the Love.
Who knows what the next five years holds, but I know the love won’t stop. We know that kids aren’t for us, so it’s just me and him for the long haul. I love that it’s just us, too. My mom once told me that I married a true gem of gems…and I used to think it was cheesy (because my mom is a super cute, traditional and superstitious Indian woman), but she’s right. He’s a gem and shines bright like a diamond and all that jazz. I’ve loved the adventures we’ve had so far, and can’t wait to see where we go next!

FullSizeRender(3)

FullSizeRender(2)

What A Week!

When people tell me their summers get busy, I used to laugh. My first thought was always, “How could they be busy?! It’s summer! You just gotta relax, man.”

I’m a judgmental fool. I now understand why people say such things. It feels like now as summer is ending, I’m getting busy. What was happening the first two months?!

So last week has been one of those weeks where I’ve had something going on every single day after work and the same can be said for each weekend for the month of August.

P H O T O S !   I swear it’s been a slow year for me. I don’t always go into a year assuming I’m going to book a bunch of sessions. I have a full-time job and while I’d love to make the photog thing my full-time job eventually, I take what I can get when I get it! My friend with whom I assist photographing weddings had smaller ones this year that didn’t require needing an assistant, and so many of my clients are already married and have already hired me for family, baby, maternity, etc. portraiture.  I now have 5 sessions lined up for the month of August. I’m not complaining of course, but I will be a lean, mean editing macheen! I also can’t wait to share some sneak peeks from those sessions, which all you lovelies can view on the Facebook page!

If any of you follow along with my Instagram or Snapchat, you’ll know that on Tuesday I participated in a little thing called Lessons from the Lemonade Stand. A few months ago, my friend Andrea, who I go to the hot vinyasa class with, suggested to our instructor Dominique that it’d be cool to do a class to Beyonce’s Lemonade album. So it finally happened!! Andrea has the best ideas. She’s the one who suggested we flow to Janet Jackson one class, which was one of the best classes. I knew Dominique would deliver an awesome flow for us! On top of that, her mom, who owns a local juicery, brought homemade juice and lemonade for after – with no added sugar.

Dominique and her mom with that incredible juice!

Dominique and her mom with that incredible juice!

Let me tell you: it was a hard class, too. Domnique’s class is probably one of the harder and more advanced classes offered at the studio, but this was no joke. It was longer than the usual hour, and her brother (in the back of that photo), recorded it while we were flowing and taking formation! We ended the class with some dancing too and just had fun. So while I was a sweaty mess (no surprise there), I was so sore the next day so I know she worked us real good!

FullSizeRender

Yoglow

The next item on our week-of-busy-ness was attending the grand opening for a new events space in town. The Zingerman’s franchise is a household name here in Ann Arbor and quite famous in certain parts of the country, too. They own several businesses: bakehouse, creamery, roadhouse, deli, coffeehouse and now an events space you can use for weddings, parties, etc.

My coworker and friend told me about the new Greyline grand opening and since it was a free event, I signed up for REB and I to attend before it sold out! The new event space is located in the old Greyhound Bus Depot that has been remodeled. It’s attached to the newly built Marriott hotel so it can be used in conjunction to weddings and such. The space is beautiful! Their previous events space was cozy and intimate with exposed brick, long tables, dim lighting, etc. This new space is modern with a big, open floor plan, dark wood floors, tons of big windows letting in natural light, beautiful, artistic-looking hanging light fixtures, tall ceilings – it’s just wonderful! We had a smorgasbord of food to try and two drink tickets and boy did we get our fill of everything!

IMG_6067

• Assorted Zingermans breads (a fruit/grain bread and their famous sourdough)
• Assorted cheeses (most was from their creamery)
• Eggplant caponata with capers and peppers
• Blueberry and peach cobbler w/ crumble topping
• Sangria (they also had mock sangria for the kiddos)
• Curried popcorn
• Assorted meats (my friend ate that)
• Not pictured: watermelon and mint salad

IMG_6082

It was a great event and I’m so excited for them to have this new space! Congrats to Ari and everyone at Zingerman’s!

My company’s annual summer picnic also took place this week, which is a great way to get out of the office and enjoy the weather (read; HOT MICHIGAN WEATHER) for a few hours and get out of the office. We once again had it at this huge farm/orchard which has a petting zoo, wagon rides, mini golf and more. It’s great because we can bring our families to the picnic!

Later in the week was our going away dinner for Amber since she was leaving for Colorado on Sunday (emotional mess over the weekend, lemme tell you). We treated her to her favorite wood-fire pizza place downtown so she could get her fill before leaving the mitten state. It was a sad, but wonderful send off and I’m glad her close Michigan friends could drive into town for it!

IMG_6125 IMG_6126

Ride or Die

Ride or Die

The week ended with seeing BT in Detroit Friday night! The first time I saw him live was in Chicago at Vision for my 21st birthday and my sister and BIL got us tickets to see him. It was Halloween weekend and I dressed up like Parvati Patil from Harry Potter (not thinking then that I looked like a hoe-ish Catholic school girl /facepalm) and even got to meet him! He signed my Ravensclaw tie and also my shirt, which was pretty superb. The next time I saw him was a few years after that when he rolled through Detroit after his Emotional Technology album dropped. Another fun show, but since then, I hadn’t heard much about what he’s up to! But then I saw he was coming back to Detroit and it was only $10 to see him – I jumped at it!

Top that week off with another busy weekend and now we’re already into the start of a new week. Here’s hoping I have a less-than-busy week, despite having some busy weekends ahead of me.

Happy Monday!

What are you favorite ways to keep your summer fun?

End of an Era

Disclaimer: I have written and rewritten this post about 5 times and deleted each draft because I didn’t know what to say. And I think I was also in a bit of denial to write this post due to its subject matter. Tears were shed while writing this because I’m a pansy and legit thought this day wouldn’t come in my adult life.

Second disclaimer: I realize I’m being hella melodramatic, but in a matter of seconds you’ll understand why.

My friend Amber is moving away.

No, that can’t be right. Let me repeat it.

My friend Amber is moving away.

Nope. Still hard to bring myself to admit as something that is happening. And in 6 days.

For those of you who don’t understand the breadth of this announcement, it’s basically the end of an era.

20040e0751b86ddb1bbcbfea63f0ed08

When I was a kid, I moved around a lot. No, I wasn’t an “army brat” but rather the daughter of a professor working his butt off trying to make tenure. When it didn’t work out, we’d move onto the next university. On the one hand, I’ve been able to live in some different states and seen some cool places (and the travel bug was born from an early age). It also allowed me to become resilient to change and as a result, I have friends all over the country. But on the other hand, moving is hard when you’re young and you have friends and you don’t want to leave because you can’t set up the foundations of middle or high school with said friends – SO tragic I know.

I figured that being an adult, we were done with the whole “moving away” thing. This is not the case, however, because…

My friend Amber is moving away.

If you’ve read my blog for the past 5 years, you know about Amber. You know the adventures she has, the adventures we have, the fun she and her husband, and my husband and I all have together.  She lives less than 2 miles from us. We review scary movies on Vine, we have the weirdest dogs ever but we’re obsessed with them, we love Ann Arbor and wine and pizza and hell, we started the hashtag #realhousewivesofa2 …but all that will change in a matter of days.

Her husband has gotten a new job in Colorado and it’s a pretty great job and opportunity for him, so they’re moving. He’s already made the trek out there to get things settled and this weekend, she’s packing up her car, truck and pups and making the drive out to The Centennial State to join him and start new adventures.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.42.18 AM

….And it’s hitting me harder than I thought I would. But, I know how great this job opportunity is for her hubby and they love the state of Colorado. Being completely outdoorsy-hiking-awesome people, this is a great fit for them. So after getting over this thought:

6f357a56b409905c84732a619ac3bd23b4eb13572c66d5883342f50aa57fd082

I thought back to the amazing times she and I have had together and I know this isn’t goodbye forever!

The story of Amber and I starts on Twitter 5 years ago. We were following one another because we were both females, married, living in Ann Arbor and vegetarians. It was decided we would have a “tweet up” and get dinner for her birthday. Both our husbands came along to make sure the other wasn’t actually a CraigsList killer and it turned out to be one of the best nights ever complete with conversations about every nerd thing imaginable: scary movies, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and more. We started hanging out every Sunday for “Sunday Funday” to watch Game of Thrones, which evolved into movie nights to get over my horror movie fear (accomplished!), walking our dogs, having dinners together, Friendsgiving, renting a cottage up north in Michigan…the list goes on and on.
I may have only known her for 5 years, but it feels like we’ve known each other for so much longer. I can’t remember a time hanging out that we didn’t have fun or laugh.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.23.28 AM

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.23.06 AM

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.18.16 AM

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.21.35 AM

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.41.02 AM

I am eternally thankful that the internet introduced us and we became such fast friends. I’m thankful for her and her hubby who would take care of Gryff when REB and I were out of town. I’m thankful for the amount of times she’s helped us out in some way or shape or form. I’m thankful for the laughs, the fun, the wine, the movies, the dogs, the adventures and more I’ve had with her. I’m also feeling a bit selfish and envious in thinking that she might meet a new brown girl out west who might be slightly cooler than I am.  But I also know that she and her husband and dogs are an amazing bunch and new adventures never hurt anyone.

So, Amber, I know this isn’t goodbye forever, and is “see you later” for now. I know Denver isn’t far and is only a quick, direct flight from Detroit. I know you’re going to have the most amazing time in Colorado waking up with mountains and babbling brooks. I know your dogs are going to love the open fields to run around and find munk-munks and bunnies. I know you will love your weekends filled with hikes and clean air. I know we’re going to make our way back to Toronto for TIFF one year soon. I know your husband is amazing and hardworking and this change is definitely a good one for him. I know you’re going to kick ass and take names when you start your new job out there. I know you’re going to make a whole new set of friends you can be weird with, and maybe you’ll even meet a new brown girl out there who will remind you of me.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.43.02 AM

But, I also know that you’ve become one of my very best friends, and, I’m going to miss you so much beyond words can even comprehend. And you will be missed by the mitten state too.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.42.50 AM

 

 

No Ragrats

I would start apologizing for not being around and blogging, but I can’t. I’ve seriously been doing so much and enjoying so much of the spring and summer that blogging became a total appliance-in-the-back-of-the-cupboard type thing for me. However, if you’re one of those people who follow my Instagram, then you’ve seen what I’ve been up to the past few months! For those of you who don’t (no hard feelings), maybe I should do a quick recap of what I’ve been up to…

1. VERMONT
OK. I went to Vermont in April. A P R I L. I still have photos I’ve taken there on my fancy cam and never downloaded or edited them. I had planned on doing a full recap (two posts in fact) stating out the things we did, and a food guide since it was my second time visiting the state. That never happened. Even if it’s late and may not be relevant, I may still do that post so stay tuned for it! If for nothing else, maybe it will help any of you looking to travel there in Fall or Winter!

2. DETROIT
I’ve been falling in love all over again with this city. Detroit has totally made a comeback peeps, and it’s good. Really, really good. I get super defensive and irrationally angry at people who talk badly about Detroit, say they never want to visit, etc., but then comment on photos of food, places visited, etc. when I post about the city and ask where I am when said photos are taken. You can visit it too! True, there was a dark time for the city a few years back, and yes, there are parts that are still kind of sketchy, but many cities are like this. Detroit has seriously grown and is continuing to come back and people in Southeast Michigan should come support it! I’ve been discovering all kinds of new bars, restaurants, museums, events, public art, etc. in the city and each time I go, I fall a little deeper in love.

IMG_4562

Yes! In the summer, we have a beach in downtown Detroit!

IMG_4621

3. New Ink
I jumped on the tat wagon and got my fourth tattoo a week ago. I absolutely love it! Had a little bit of an awkward haggling session with the artist, but we ended up agreeing on a price that was reasonable and fair for its simplicity. I love tattoos! I know they aren’t everyone’s thing, but they’re fun and I like having them. And you absolutely should not do it unless you’re totally cool with having something stamped on you (literally)  F O R E V E R . . .

IMG_4557

“I have no fear, I have only love”

4. YOGA and STRENGTH
I’ve still been committed and steadily going to my gym for group fitness, personal training and recently started up yoga again. Every time I stop doing yoga, my body notices and the repercussions are kind of bad. My balance gets off kilter, my flexibility deteriorates and overall mental health and well being takes notice of it missing, too. I’ve been loving going back and seeing my favorite instructor too. She’s actually doing a “Lessons from the Lemonade Stand” class in two weeks that I’m registered for. We’re going to – get this – flow to the entire Lemonade album by Bey. I. CAN. NOT. WAIT. Will definitely need to recap on that later!

IMG_4470FullSizeRender(1)

5. ANN ARBOR ART FAIR
Every year, four days in the middle of July, Ann Arbor becomes a total cluster-you-know-what with thousands of people looking at art. It’s a pretty big art fair we have here, right downtown, and it brings thousands of artists from all over the country, as well as tourists coming to see art, buy art, talk art and more. I’ve lived in Ann Arbor for almost 10 years and I’ve been coming to art fair each of those years. I used to love it a lot more, but as I got older (and more cynical) I get more annoyed than anything. For one thing, it creates a ton of road closures for us since the booths are set up right in the street, so driving around, wanting to eat downtown is pretty much non-existent. My office building also sits in the heart of “Propaganda Alley” so the booths outside are not art-related but every cause imaginable wanting you to sign up. It gets pretty annoying to walk out of the office for the day and be accosted to sign four different petitions, or be attacked by Hari Krishna’s claiming you aren’t actually Hindu (that’s my favorite by the way). However, I know it brings a lot of tourism (read: money) to this city and that’s always a good thing. Ann Arbor is a cute little city so it’s fun to see people enjoying it. Even in the 100-degree heat. I try to buy a piece of art every year, too, and this year was no different.

IMG_4708

6. IDIOT BOX ADDICTIONS
I haven’t been watching a ton of TV lately. Truth be told, I have no shows on right now and I’d rather be reading or doing something outdoors with the dog and hubby. However, there are two things I’m currently obsessed with: Stranger Things on Netflix and The Great British Baking Show on PBS.
Stranger Things I started watching last night and watched the first four episodes. I didn’t get any sleep, but it was worth it. It’s like a weird supernatural show, X-Files-esque, with killer synth music and mystery. I still don’t know exactly what it’s about, but I like it. A lot. Check it out if you’re into that sort of thing!
The Great British Baking Show I’ve been obsessed with since the Downton Abbey days when it would air before Downton. They’re really on like Season 7 across the pond, but here in the States it’s like Season 3. It’s a great show! No commercials since it’s on PBS, and talented bakers making some very hard baked goods in various challenges. And some of these things they make are insane! I think older seasons are available on Netflix if you want to check it out.

7. READ MOAR
I got behind in my goal of trying to read 40 books this year. This time last year I was more than halfway done with my goal. Summer time has been keeping me busy and I picked back up on the reading and got the bug again. I’m almost halfway done with the goal but here are some books I recently read that could be contenders for the rest of you if you wish:
• Love, Loss and What We Ate – Padma Lakshmi
• The Sister – Louise Jensen
• The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper – Phaedra Patrick
• Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
• A Man Called Ove – Frederik Backman

And finally
8. CHICAGO
I’m going to Chicago again this weekend, this time for a work retreat Sunday-Tuesday. They don’t do these that often (I think the last one was five years ago), but this year we’re going to the Windy City. Not sure what’s in store yet, but we’re staying downtown for it, which is kind of fun. I’m mostly excited to go there earlier and have part of the weekend to see my sister, brother-in-law and nephew! It’ll be good to see them before I do work-related things for two days. Also hoping me and Parita (My Inner Shakti) can finally meet up! We tried to last year when she was in Detroit for a wedding, but it didn’t end up working out with time conflicts. Hoping we can remedy that this year!

I’ll make sure to recap a little more and maybe make myself a little more prevalent in this space of the Internet. You can always keep following along on my Instagram or Twitter to see more of my adventures!

What are some favorite things about the city or town in which you live?

Wake Up and Smell the Routine

I am such a Type A person. I used to think I wasn’t, and hated to admit that I was because I thought it meant I was uptight and no fun at all. I quickly realized that this is not true, of course. I just like things a certain way and have to do things a certain for any number of reasons. One of those things is my routine.

I am a routine freak. I like having order and like knowing what I have to do. I also like having order in my house and having things done and placed a certain way. Now that doesn’t mean I’m like Danny Tanner.

I’m not planning travels or vacations with a strict agenda and I certainly am not a neat freak, but I am OCD about a few things and my routine is one of them. We all have bad days or weeks, though!

I’ve been feeling especially “off” with my routine when it comes to my morning workouts. Point blank: I haven’t been getting up for my 6am classes in probably 2-3 weeks, and honestly, considering it’s usually part of my routine, I felt bad about it and could almost feel the repercussions of it.

Routine isn’t for everyone, I get that. It’s hard to get up before 5:30 for work let alone for voluntary exercise. I’ve heard the phrase “It takes 21 days to form a habit” a million times, but all it takes is one relapse and for me and it will feel like I’m miles behind where I want to be or where I think I should be.

I found this article on Thrillist and it showed the routines of famous people and why they had to have routine. Some of them were doing so to help with insomnia or depression, but some do it simply because it made them more productive throughout the day. This is why I work out in the morning. I feel more productive, more energized and overall just feel better.

But back to my original train of thought on routine and specifically “workout routine”: it can be hard to find a schedule to exercise during later hours in the day, let alone early-ass morning. Doesn’t matter how motivated you might be, this is a hard thing to do!

This article shares ways to keep motivation for work out routines, and here are my basic takeaways from the article, as well as things I’ve found to be helpful for myself:

• Tell yourself or someone you know “I’m going to work out in the morning.” For me, having that makes me accountable for my actions. And being Type A, if I don’t do it, I see it as a goal I didn’t achieve. Ok, ok, I realize that sounds really harsh, but it helps to have a buddy to have your back and help you see through your goal!

• Lay out your workout clothes the night before. Easier said than done, but for me it’s where I put them. Mine are on my dresser in front of my glasses and in the order in which I will put them on. That way, I know I have to get up, change and put my glasses on to be able to see anything – ha.

• Set two alarms. This sounds silly, but I used do this when I was first starting to attend the early classes. I used to set one alarm for 4:51 so I could snooze. Then the real one was at 5:11 a.m. where I know I HAVE TO GET UP and I actually do get up.

• Take a few deep breaths when you first get up, stretch your arms and reach down, touch your toes. It’s been said that doing morning stretches is a healthy way to start your day and wake up your body and mind. And if you’re getting up that early for your workout, you definitely need all the energy boosts and relievers you can get!

• EAT SOMETHING. I used to work out on an empty stomach and would feel dizzy and downright sick to my stomach. I’ve read studies that say this is the way to go, and I’ve read studies that say you have to eat some kind of carb and sugar to get your energy up in preparation for your workout. I don’t follow either strictly. I just need to have something in my stomach before I go. For me, it’s half a protein bar, usually consumed within 30 minutes of my workout (so, on my drive to the gym). It’s got the sweetness (since mine are usually with peanut butter or chocolate), it’s got the carbs to give me fuel and it has the protein to keep me full. I have something right after my workout too (either a protein shake or the other half of the bar). Food gives you energy and Lord knows having energy at 6 a.m. is a must.

Keep at it. This is the hard one. It was for me anyway. Ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” What is the reason for your routine? What is the outcome?
Now I know that on those days I get up early to work out, it’s just something I do. There isn’t a real question about it. It might take 21 days to form this habit, but it might also only take a week. I feel more energized on the days I work out in the morning despite my complaining the two hours prior to finishing said work out. And having workout buddies and accountability buddies helps! A simple text from a friend, or your spouse or significant other, or anything to help you get there is all it takes.

There’s no science to this, and there is no science to routine. They say the hardest part is typing up your shoes, which used to be (and sometimes still is) true for me.. It won’t happen overnight, but it can be attainable if you at least try and more important, you want to try!

What are things in your life that need routine?

**I am not an expert in exercise nor am I claiming to be! These thoughts are my own and those tips are strictly my takeaways. Each person will have their own views on what to do pre- and post-workout!

Virtual Drinks

If we were meeting for drinks, I’d tell you the weather in Michigan has been glorious all week! We got a nice round of snow last week and then this week it’s been in the 50s/60s and even up to 71° one day this week. And it’s supposed to be rather warm next week as well. We do have some rain, don’t get me wrong, but I welcome this breezy, mild weather with open arms.

IMG_1240

I’m sure we’ll get a snowstorm in April before winter is really done, but I’ll enjoy this weather while I can! We MIchiganians joke that if you’re ever pissed about the weather, just wait five minutes – it’s true.

If we were meeting for drinks, I’d tell you that my current snack obsession are Quest Protein Chips.

IMG_1278

You guys, these chips are so, so good!** I’ve been trying to eat lower carb for the past few weeks and I’m totally tracking my macros in MyFitnesssPal trying to stay around 100g carbs daily. Let me tell you, it is not easy. I know carbs are in, like, everything, but I quickly learned to make smart choices about what carbs I do want to eat. I’m happy to say that these chips totally fill my salty-snack craving. They’re only 120 calories per bag, 21g protein and only 5g carbs! I bought a variety pack from Amazon that had two bags of all 5 flavors so I was able to try all of them, but the cheddar and sour cream flavor are by far the favorite and tastiest. Now, you have to take them for what they are. They aren’t Lays Potato Chips or anything, but I think they taste great, are crunchy and like I said, they satiate my salty-snack craving and keeps me within my macros!

If we were meeting for drinks, I’d tell you that I am blown away by the photos my coworker/friend took of me recently. I hired him to take new professional head shots for me and also take a new photo for the “About Me” section of my photography website/photo Facebook page.

_8005782

Photo by Dane Hillard Photography

FullSizeRender (9)

Photo by Dane Hillard Photography

We took the photos at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and I loved his idea to do the photos here! He has a very creative/editorial edge and I got exactly what I wanted: urban, edgy but still me. A big thank you, again, to Dane for taking some time to do this for me!

If we were meeting for drinks, I’d tell you how much I’m loving spinning. My gym offers the class once a week now (the owner’s wife is also a certified trainer and used to teach years ago). It was really hard the first two weeks, but now doing the up/downs and springs and jobs are getting much easier! My balance has gotten easier and better too. Considering the other classes I attend incorporate cardio, but aren’t strict-straight-up cardio, it’s nice to have a dedicated class for this! Plus burning between 500-700 calories in an hour doesn’t suck ;)

IMG_1247

My partner-in-crime at most of the classes at my gym

If we were meeting for drinks, I’d tell you that we got a bit of sad news last week that REB”s maternal grandmother passed away, and we’re attending her service this weekend. It’s the thing that was “bothering me” last week for anyone who might have noticed, and it hit me kind of hard. She’s not even my grandmother, but she always treated me like family and despite having some conservative views, she never once judged REB and I for living together before our marriage, for him marrying an Indian girl or anything like that. She welcomed me with open arms, took an interest in my family and culture and was one of the most genuine, sweetest people ever.

FullSizeRender (10)

One of the only photos from our wedding of REB, his brother and their grandmother

She was quite elderly – 91..! – so she had an incredible life. We did know this was going to happen this year, but you can never prepare yourself emotionally for something like this. It will be sad to finally say goodbye to her on Saturday. I am just so grateful and thankful for the time we were able to have with her. For those I have told in person about this, thanks for the hugs, condolences and good thoughts! <3 xo

On a happier note, if we were meeting for drinks, I’d tell you that while the weekend might start sad or somber, it will end on a happy note. Amber and I are going to see Carly Rae Jepsen in Detroit Sunday night and I can. not. WAIT! IMG_9664

Unrelated side note…Amber – is this really the last picture we took together? This was New Years Eve. For shame.
I am almost positive that we will be Snapchatting and Instagramming photos from the concert all night long, so watch for those. I hope you all have a fun weekend!

What’s been happening for you lately?

**I was not compensated for giving this opinion or review for Quest. I bought them on my own and tried all the flavors! 

 

 

Blogs You Should Be Reading

Blogging has become quite the phenomenon. I’ve had this blog since 2007 and it has gone through many renovations (even going from a completely different name to buying domain and redesigning) and the subject matter of my blog has drastically changed, too. Now blogging can be a full time job for some people, and is, and the whole food blogging thing is even bigger now than it was back in 2008! 

I read a lot of blogs. I follow a variety of blogs from lifestyle, to cooking/recipes, to travel – you name it, I might read it! However I realized that lately, I’ve been making my usual “rounds” – so to speak – to a couple that have been standing out to me.

All these blogs are  written by incredibly strong, beautiful and fun women and they’re every day gals. A lot of what they write about is very relatable! So instead of just having a link or a page in my blog listing links of blogs I absolutely love, I thought it might be more fun to feature some of my current favorites and share why I love them!

cropped-img003

The Adventures of Amberherself  

This is my friend Amber’s blog and I absolutely love it. It’s a lifestyle blog with an every day look into her life here in Ann Arbor with her two dogs and her husband. Now this might seem biased because she is one of my best friends, but I really do love reading her blog! It’s hilarious for one thing thing. The adventures her and her husband have traveling, the weird things her dogs do, and even goals she’s trying to set for herself are all fun and insightful things to read.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 8.02.31 AM

My Inner Shakti

This blog is by a beautiful and wonderful woman named Parita. I’m so lucky and happy to call her a friend despite her living in Florida and we’ve never met (we almost did when she was in Detroit last year, but timing and schedules didn’t make it happen. Soon, though!). Her blog is about all things YOU: how to be a better you, goals she’s trying to achieve monthly, product reviews, her work and leisure travels and the life she and her hubby have in Florida. I love her wellness posts. They are so helpful! Finding your inner well being is something we don’t take enough interest in, so it’s great to read about new meditation tips, ways to keep track of yourself, how to hold yourself accountable for your happiness, etc. Plus, her nickname is also Par and she’s also Indian. We’re like kindred spirits!

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 8.02.40 AM

Food, Pleasure & Health

I love love love this blog by Dallas resident Dixya. She’s another person I consider a friend despite never meeting her, but I swear it feels like we’ve been friends for years!  She’s a registered dietician but her blog isn’t all about healthy recipes and statistics or anything like that. She posts beautiful photos of her adventures living in Dallas, her super sweet and cute dog, incredibly healthy no-guilt and easy recipes (many of which I have tried and loved!) and she will have posts about the importance of your health. She also does a weekly Virtual Coffee Date which will include what’s currently going on in her life – what she’s reading, what she’s doing that weekend, products to try, etc. eWhat I like about her outlook on health is that she doesn’t write in a way that’s like the New York Times current feature on whatever health crisis is happening. She writes about the importance of health-related issues people maybe forget about, like getting your yearly physical, blood work, myths in medicine, etc. Her blog is great for anyone wanting to read something light (and not dense and dry like that of a medical journal), see beautiful photos and try healthy recipes!

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 8.02.14 AM

I <3 Vegetables

I have been following Liz on Instagram for a while now and it’s odd because I followed her there first then went to her blog. Her blog is one of my favorites because she’s a health coach, a vegetarian and a recipe developer! She posts some of the best, easy vegetarian recipes I’ve ever come across. One of her more recent posts is 15 Vegetarian Meals with 5 Ingredients or Less. Genius! She loves yoga and running, and will also share her progress on some other types of workouts she’s been trying out. That’s a big one for me because I get bored with workouts easily, so it’s nice to read about new stuff to try!

Many of you may already be following these blogs, but if you aren’t yet, then definitely make sure to tune in and read.
And to these wonderful women – thanks for keeping me informed, making me laugh and sharing your day-to-day with us!.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

In Other Words in my words

I recently finished the book In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri and I’m left still processing my feelings and thoughts on it.

I have been a fan of Lahiri’s work for years. I have read and own all her other books and loved reading all of them. I think the obvious reason I’m so pulled into her writing is because much of what she writes about is relatable to me. In The Namesake I felt exactly as the protagonist, Gogol.

12749997_1316532998364270_1502272298_n(1)

Her latest book, In Other Words, is a short book that’s autobiographical (her first) and translated from Italian. Lahiri learned Italian and the book shares her journey in learning this language and being able to speak it fluently without losing who she already is.  She learned Italian here in the States, took lessons, recalls her love of the language from her past (even doing her doctoral on Italian architecture and its influence on English playwright) and then she traveled to Italy and decided to write in Italian.

She reflects on how hard it is to learn a new language and then still hold true to your mother tongue and this resonated with me throughout the entire book.

IMG_1158

My sister and I in India before we moved to the States

Some of you may know that I wasn’t born here in the US. I was born in New Delhi and moved to America when I was 3 years old. At the time it didn’t really mean anything, but as I grew up here, it was hard!

I spoke Hindi and Telugu apparently all the time. My parents spoke Telugu at home, but my mom told me that she and my dad were told by teachers that if I had any chance of “succeeding” in this country, I would need to learn English. The school encouraged them to speak English at home so I was exposed to it, and in turn, and unfortunately, I lost my ability to speak it. I still understand it 100%, but I can’t speak a word of it or conjugate a sentence.

IMG_1159

Me, age 5 or 6, when visiting our uncle in Seattle

Imagine seeing family and not being able to communicate with them in that language. Sure, everyone speaks English, but it’s a part of me I totally get discouraged about and makes me feel like a total outsider. Even at work. There are many people who speak Telugu at my office, and with each other, but when I’m there, they switch to English. I’ve told them they can continue speaking it if they want, since I understand, but I think that makes them feel awkward and they just nervously laugh and continue in English.

I took a class in college where I learned about W.E.B. Du Bois and his idea of double consciousness. It’s an idea where you are aware of who you are, but you sometimes still feel disenfranchised from two communities.

One ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife – this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa.

Growing up, I felt like this. I didn’t quite fit in with the American kids since it was new and something my parents and I had to learn, and at home and with family, I felt like an outsider within the Indian community too.

I sometimes still do. I try to immerse myself within my culture because I’m proud of it and my heritage, but I totally have this fear for when REB and I visit India (which we hope to do within the next few years). I know things are totally different in India now, but I’m almost scared to go just us because I can’t speak a lick of Hindi anymore and feel like this will be a language barrier. Maybe it won’t be, but if I go to India, I don’t want to only see the big tourist cities and what not. I want to see my family, have him meet them, and it would be pretty cool if I could speak with them, and not just in English. I know they won’t be offended if that’s all I speak, since again, India is totally different not. Almost everyone speaks English, but maybe part of me feels like it would be “self worth” to be able to speak in Telegu or even Hindi with them.

At our wedding, which was a south Indian ceremony

At our wedding, which was a south Indian ceremony

My sister and I were talking about this and she said something that really stood out: “we’re all trying so hard to stay in touch with our ‘roots’, but what does that mean anymore?” She said we live in America where it’s all about being a melting pot and embrace unity, but we’re still so focused on ourselves. It’s scary to feel lost in a crowd so you’re holding onto those roots so we know who we were because we’re looking for meaning.

I know she’s right, but I also know I don’t want to let it go. I’ve even thought about re-learning HIndi, as if I’m a toddler learning to speak, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. That’s not an excuse, I realize, but I maybe I should try. So how do I identify myself? I’m an American, but I was born in India. I’m happy to have two cultures in my life and even though I want to try to be better at being in touch with my “roots”, I’m setting up new roots here in America and that’s more than OK. I won’t ever forget where I’ve come from, and I will embrace it as best I can.

Yikes – I got off on a terrible tangent – I hope you’re all still with me!

Regardless, I highly recommend reading In Other Words and all of Lahiri’s other books. She’s an amazing writer and has a beautiful way with words! Even if you can’t relate to what she’s writing, she has the ability to make you stop and think about what you’re reading. Even if it’s a work of fiction. So definitely add this to your reading list this year!

Have any books ever stood out to you on a personal level?

 

Family – Friends – Food Weekend

You ever have a weekend that feels like all you do is run around and then eat all weekend long. That’s how this past weekend felt for me. I didn’t work out nearly enough, I ate everything in sight (translation: BREAD) and met some new friends! The weekend had a bit of a down side, but it ended on a positive note. Here’s the recap!

Saturday

My day started early with heading to Detroit for an Instagram foodie meetup and photo shoot! One of my favorite foodies on Instagram is becoming quite the famous chica in the Motor City. Her name is MyThy (pronounced My-Tee) and we’ve been trying to find a day to meet up to eat food, take photos of food, and generally hang out and talk about food. I was in luck because she does bread pop-ups selling this Hokkaido Japanese milk bread she bakes herself, and she sells them at the pie place REB and I went to on Valentine’s Day. My coworker and friend Dane decided to meet in Detroit at Sister Pie, meet MyThy (he’s met her before though), buy some bread, eat some pastries and then the three of us were going to brunch!

I got there before Dane, gave MyThy a huge hug and bought some of her bread ….and a few other things to enjoy in the morning.

IMG_1023

IMG_0980

IMG_0983

Pie for breakfast! #yestopie

Once we finished our coffees, MyThy, Dane and I headed to Rose’s Fine Food for brunch. I was so glad we decided to go here. This place is tiny but it’s like a trendy hipster diner but with incredibly delicious farm-to-table breakfast and lunch items on their menu.

IMG_0999

MyThy being adorable and taking photos of Crybaby donuts – YUM

We all got a “hot milk” to start and we split two donuts called crybaby donuts. They’re just these fluffy, delectable dough treats that I’m still dreaming about today. I opted for the hazelnut hot milk, MyThy got the turmeric (very interesting!) and Dane got the smoked maple and vanilla. We split a blood orange donut and a chocolate and date one. They were so rich we couldn’t finish them, but they are definitely worth a try if anyone ever goes here!

Now onto brunch. Oh em gee. It was incredibly hard to decide what to get! Everything sounded so delicious, but when my eyes zeroed in and saw something with “hash” and “poached eggs”, I was sold. I opted for the #Chickpeahash (how it’s written on the menu too – haha), and it was so, so good. I couldn’t finish it all but it was like a chickpea stew with tomatoes, chickpeas and greens, with two poached eggs on top, a basil creme fresh and came with a slice of their homemade toast.

IMG_0998

Look at this beautiful table of food!!

I was so impressed with this place that I need to remember to leave a nice review for them on Yelp later today. I highly recommend this place, though. After a quick hug goodbye and making sure we would meet up again soon, we had to part ways so MyThy could make more bread for her pop-up on Sunday too!

IMG_1006After brunch, Dane and I headed to the DIA [Detroit Institute of Arts] because I hired him to take new head shots for me for my photography web site! This was probably the most fun I’ve had with another photographer. Dane is such an incredible photographer and I respect his work so much. He mostly does fashion photography and has this edge to all his photos that I absolutely love. The last photos I had taken of myself I love, don’t get me wrong, but I just wanted a change and really loved his idea of shooting at the museum! I’m so excited to see them.

Sunday

So Sunday started out on a bit of a sad note (I’ll explain more on that in a separate post), but ended on a good note. I will say that I have some nice friends and family who helped cheer us up!

I met my friend Andrea for breakfast in Ann Arbor at a new restaurant I had never heard of called Juicy Kitchen. It’s a really small place with incredibly fresh farmers markets ingredients and an extensive menu with a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. We each got some tea (I got a Chai teabag and she got Green Ginger) and our breakfast dishes were phenomenal. I once again was on a poached egg fix so I got the JK Benedict.

IMG_1038

How beautiful is this dish?? Two poached eggs on top of corn cakes. topped with a goat cheese sauce and served with greens and fruit. It was delicious, light and perfect to start the day. I will definitely have to come back here with REB. It might be across town from us, but it’s definitely worth it!

After breakfast, I met up with my friend Amber and we got some coffee at Mighty Good Coffee and talked for a while. She was having a rough weekend as well and then I had a rough morning on Sunday, so, it was good to just sit and talk it out over everything!

IMG_1060

My friend Amber got a Cortado and I opted for a vanilla latte with almond milk. Both were delicious and I just love latte art. After coffee, we went to see the movie How To Be Single. It’s not typically the kind of movie we’d like, but it was cute, lighthearted and the thing we needed.

Once I got home, REB and I headed to Lansing to see some family. I finally met my brother- and sister-in-law’s new corgi puppy, Annie, who is just adorable.

IMG_1099

FYI: If you’re ever having a hard day or something…find a puppy. Instant happiness and mood elevator! Annie is so cute and a barrel of softness. She’s so characteristically corgi and awkward and wiggles like a little worm. It made me miss how Gryff would have his little awkward puppy tendencies when we first got him. He still has some, don’t get me wrong, and he’ll always be a puppy at heart, but being around a puppy is always fun!

Afterwards we met up with REB’s uncles to have dinner before making the late drive back to Ann Arbor.

So while it was a weekend of ups and down, and lots of food, I’m so thankful to my friends and family for being there. I’m incredibly grateful for people’s talents bringing me to meeting new people and working with people in a new light. Here’s to more fun like this!

Hope you all have a good week!

What’s one fun thing you did this past weekend?