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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo by Dane Hillard Photography

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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 ;)

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

Virtual Drinks

My friend Dixya over at Food Pleasure Health does a weekly “virtual coffee date” post and I thought I’d join in on the fun and share what’s been happening with me lately.

So if we were meeting over coffee, tea (or maybe an old fashioned? ;)), I’d tell you that I’ve been cooking more!

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At least, I’ve been trying to! Aside from the chicken curry I posted about recently, I’ve been trying to make something at least 2-3 times a week. It isn’t easy. Most of the time I get home from the gym around 7:30 or 8 and REB is still working out in the basement, so we just do our own thing. And by that, I mean I make egg whites and eggs, a sweet potato and some kind of vegetable and call it good. However, this week alone I made a quick Harissa “chicken”, ramen from Pinch of Yum blog and a crustless quiche from Cookin’ Canuck.

If we were meeting over drinks, I’d tell you that REB and I have been eating our way through Detroit. We don’t usually do anything for Valentine’s Day, but since it fell on a weekend this year, and we love weekend brunch, we decided to take our food adventures down to Detroit for the day.

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We finally tried The Hudson Cafe in the heart of Midtown in Detroit. The wait was almost an hour, but due to a mishap I encountered from the day before, the owner was there and had us seated immediately upon arriving. It was such a delicious meal and incredibly fast! I could see the appeal and the reason for the wait!
After brunch we headed to a a little more sketchy of an area in Detroit for what else than Valentine’s Day PIE! You all know me and my love for pie.

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I had been wanting to try Sister Pie for almost a year, but due to conflict of hours and the fact Detroit is about 45 minutes away from Ann Arbor, I hadn’t made it out there yet. I was so glad we finally stopped in.

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It’s an incredibly cute shop with rotating pies each month. I will definitely be back!

If we were meeting over drinks, I’d tell you I created a new Instagram account and you all should follow it.

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I realized I might have been cluttering my Instagram account with a lot of food pictures, so I decided to separate it out! Follow along if you want to food at restaurants visited or even recipe I’ve made.

If we were meeting over drinks, I’d tell you how obsessed I’ve become with Spinning. The studio I’m a member of, that offers all the group classes I’m sure you’ve see photos from, has started a new spinning class. Before this class, I had never taken a single class. I was a road cyclist with REB mostly, so doing the continuous pedaling thing was not a natural thing for me.

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I have an incredible community with the people I work out with and the instructor (who is the gym owner’s wife – that gorgeous lady next to me in the pic) is an incredible teacher. I think that and the music totally helps and in the past few weeks, things have definitely gotten easier – especially the jumps and sprints. Given I don’t do enough straight up cardio on my own, adding this once a week is a blessing. On top of the spinning and the usual classes I take there, I’ve been doing personal training with one of the trainers. It was a Christmas gift to myself and REB helped pay for it and It has been incredible! While I don’t know that i’ve lost a single pound or even inches, I know I am infinitely stronger, can push more weight and do more reps without getting tired. I’ve also noticed an improvement in my form and technique so that’s a nice takeaway for sure.

And finally if we were meeting over drinks, I’d tell you that I finished one book and started a new book! I’m slowly but surely making it towards my yearly reading goal.

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My department had to read this book as one of our yearly goals and I actually kind of liked it. It wasn’t as dry as some text books tend to be, and it really has made me think differently about my role in our organization and our department’s role. I may write a review on here about it for anyone interested in reading this for your personal or professional growth!

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I am so excited to read this! Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my all-time favorite authors. I own all her books and I have loved every single one of them. My friend who works in publishing in NYC posted a picture of this book late last year before it was released and I immediately requested it at my library. I love being one of the first people to check out a new book at the library! This book is a book of essays about her life, and it was originally written in Italian, but then translated to English. I’ll be sure to update you all on how it is!

So there’s a little look at what’s been happening with me lately. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

What’s been happening with you lately?

Vegan Chicken Curry

Last week in my Instagram account some of you may have seen a photo I posted of a vegan chicken curry recipe I had made. I have been wanting to share this recipe for the past week!

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The recipe is my take on my dad’s chicken curry recipe which he used to make when I was a kid. We didn’t eat a lot of meat in the house (like ever, since my mom is a vegetarian and did the majority of cooking) but every now and then he would bust out the pressure cooker, some chicken, his spices and spend hours making this delicious curry.

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Daddio!

My dad is incredibly charismatic, hardworking, serious but still has his silly and fun side and he instilled so many characteristics my sister and I carry with us today.

My parents are now jet-setters. I think I might have mentioned that once or twice before, but they are. My dad is a professor of engineering at a private technical school up here in Michigan and he takes a sabbatical every year and teaches overseas. My mom, retired from secondary education, goes with him because, well, why would she stay here in the cold by herself? So I pretty much don’t see my parents from about December-June each year. It’s hard, sure, but I just think of how they finally get to have time together, seeing the world! Plus he gets to teach in a far more relaxed environment every where else in the world than America where stress and long hours are the norm.

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Parents at my wedding

I miss my parents a lot – a little more than usual – and realized that I missed just having a comfort meal with them. My sister and I can each probably name off 10 things my mom makes that we absolutely love that we consider comfort food. But for both of us, my dad’s chicken curry was by far our favorite thing he made for us (well, ok aside from his famous Sunday French Toast).

I emailed my dad and asked for his recipe, but he’s been so busy teaching, so I decided to try to take a stab at making his curry with vegan chicken. And I have to say, it turned out pretty well! I used Gardein Chicken Scallopini as the protein, but you could easily use tofu if that isn’t your thing. Meatatarians can of course use chicken.

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Just a few simple ingredients and this was ready to eat in about 45 min., including inactive time. I remember it took my dad a few hours to put his chicken curry together since he’d let the chicken marinade, then cook in the pressure cooker, he’d also make the garam masala fresh. I always make a giant batch of masala so I had that on hand, and using vegan chicken meant no pressure cooker!

So my version might not be exactly like his, but it certainly was comfort food for me and reminded me of Saturday night dinners at home.

And, it felt like maybe all of us weren’t so far away from each other.

Vegan “Chicken” Curry
 
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A vegan take on South Indian chicken curry
Author:
Recipe type: vegan, vegetarian
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups meatless chicken breast protein (Gardein Chicken Scallopini or similar; about four scallopini pieces), thawed slightly and cut into cubes/pieces
  • 2 tbsp lemon, juiced
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • ½-inch piece ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped (1 small onion or ½ medium onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp (or more if you desire!) garam masala (make your own or buy store bought)
  • 1¼ cup tomato sauce (3/4 of a 15-oz. can)
  • ½ cup lite coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. For the marinade:
  2. Combine chicken pieces, garlic and ginger paste, turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder, lemon juice and salt into a small bowl. Stir to coat all pieces. Cover bowl with saran wrap and set aside for 15-20 min.
  3. For the curry:
  4. Add olive oil in a saucepan or large skillet until heated. Add onion and sprinkle with pinch of salt to help sweat them out. Cook until 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Next add the garlic and ginger and cook 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add tomato sauce and garam masala. Cover and cook 5 minutes until simmering. Give it a quick taste, add more garam masala if needed.
  7. Add chicken pieces back in, leftover marinade and all, stir, cover and cook 5-8
  8. minutes.
  9. Add the coconut milk, stir, give it another taste and add more salt or spices as needed. Leave uncovered and cook another 5 minutes.
  10. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve over rice, quinoa or grain of choice.
Notes
Could substitute Greek yogurt instead of using coconut milk if you want it vegetarian vs. vegan
Could use chicken instead of vegan chicken for the carnivores!

What comfort foods remind you of home?

Practice with Gratitude

There are many “-ism’s” my yoga instructor Dominique shares with us during our classes. They could be things she has experienced during her own practice, things she has read about, or things her own instructors have said. The point is these “mantras” are what she bases her classes and flow around, so during meditation we can come back to it and bring notice to it.

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Professional photos I did for my instructor Dominique!

Before I get into the purpose of this post specifically, here are some of my favorite Dominiqueisms that I try carry with me on a daily basis or during our classes:

• “The hardest adjustment in any pose is the adjustment of your mind.”
• ”Remember to breathe through the chaos.”
• ”In stillness you are able to hear. In silence you are able to feel.”

So it’s no surprise that when I went to class on Tuesday she said something to us after a particularly difficult and challenging Sun B flow. We were in child’s pose and Dominique was telling us to return to our breath (mine had gotten pretty choppy) and practice with gratitude.

At the time, my friend Andrea and I kind of did a side glance at each other from our mats in a silent “Are you kidding me? We’re freaking tired as hell here!”, but then Dominique continued.

She told us that when we are tired or in a state of frustration because we couldn’t nail down a pose, or maybe had a bad at work, had an argument with someone or even got frustrated for another reason, we have to remember to practice things in life with gratitude. Being thankful for something doesn’t have to only be acknowledged or recognized at Thanksgiving. And that last phrase got me thinking!

It seems easier said than done, right?

Try to ask yourself how many times a day do you stop to really give thanks for the things you have? I know there are people out there who do this a lot, which is great! For me personally, I could be better about it. Sure, I’m not ungrateful for the things in my life, but do I really stop to recognize the things I am grateful for? No. So I think we could all take a little time and just remember to be thankful. It doesn’t have to be for any particular thing, but remember to just give thanks. It’s a simple thing, really.

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On that note, here are my takeaways from class on how to better practice with gratitude:

• I showed up to my mat. Sometimes that’s simple enough to practice with gratitude!

• Setting an intention at the beginning of class is a very easy and direct way to practice with gratitude. Whether you set an intention for yourself or for someone else who couldn’t make it to their mat, it’s an offering. And a positive one at that!

• Return to your breath and notice. Where did the ujjayi (deep “ocean” breathing) go? It also seems like a pretty simple concept, but it’s another practice of gratitude and another Dominiqueism. Remember to stop, take a deep breath, and come back to your breath. Come back to the intention you’ve set and be thankful for it.

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• Trying to stay positive and staying focused while practicing can be so hard when a pose proves to be challenging, hurts, etc. When we return from rest and hug our knees to our chest, it’s a way to silently thank yourself during your practice. Seems silly but hug yourself!

So for any of you who do practice yoga, or just want a little mantra for your day or week, remember this one.

Practice with gratitude.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend, friends!

What are some sayings or mantras you carry for yourself during the day or week?

Day in the Life

These are fun posts to do from time to time and I recently had a friend tell me that sometimes it seems like I do so much and how I balance it all. So I thought it might be fun to share with you what a day in the life of Aparna looks like.

Each day is actually very different for me depending on a variety of things, but I still thought it might be fun to share a look into a “typical” week day. So here’s what Tuesday Feb 2 looked like for me…

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My usual time to get is 5:51 a.m. (and I allow myself one snooze if necessary), and we get up, get ready for work, give the dog his food, meds and let him out. Then REB and I drive into work together (since we both work downtown) and we’re at work by 7:30.

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Lots of alarms, I know!

However, Tuesday and Thursday is a different tune. I get up earlier so I can go to my 6 a.m. bootcamp class before work. I need enough time to 1). possibly hit snooze once 2). get up and change 3). Eat a pre-workout snack and 4). Get there on time.

6:00 – 7:00

Sweat it out for an hour in a circuit focused on glutes and hammies. Hurts so good.

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Photo by Sharon.

Usually I get to work by 7:30, but on these bootcamp mornings, I rush home just in time to see REB leaving for work. After a quick shower** and giving the dog whatever meds he still needs (REB usually leaves me a text letting me know), I drive myself into work and get in around 8.
**Tuesday and Thursdays are the days where my hair looks absolutely haggard and gross. My coworkers are incredibly genuine and nice to not point that out those days.

8:00

The first necessity upon getting to work is having second breakfast and my only cup of coffee of the day before diving into the day.

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Love our standing desks! They’re especially nice on days like this particular Tuesday where we worked on hamstrings and glutes so sitting down hurts like a mother.

Depending on the week, my team and I may have our usual scrum ceremonies of sprint planning, retrospectives, workshopping more stories, or just other general meetings. However we didn’t have any meetings scheduled so we were able to carry on board work as usual after our standup. I also fit in a mid-morning snack around 10:30 consisting of two hard boiled eggs and some black pepper.

Noon

Lunch, which I prepared the night before at home. Today I had some Jamaican Jerk tofu leftovers, broccoli and string cheese – proteinalicious!

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4:30

After leaving work and taking nearly 25 minutes to get home (I only live three miles from work. Why is there disgusting traffic in this tiny city?), I realized REB and I got home at the same time. After-work “ceremonies” include feeding the dog, giving him his meds, letting him out, getting our mail and catching up with REB! Then it was time to change for yoga!

7:00 – 8:00

I’ve been practicing with Dominique as my instructor for about 3 years and just love her.

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I call my Tuesdays and Thursdays my “two-a-days” because I do two workouts those days. I do bootcamps in the morning both days, and then on Tuesday night I head to heated yoga class, while on Thursdays there’s a weight/strengthening class at my gym.

8:15-bedtime

Because I was gone over the weekend and didn’t get a chance to do my usual Sunday grocery shopping, I had to go to the store after yoga. I loathe going to the grocery store on week nights. I didn’t get a full list of things, but enough of our “staples” to hold us over for our lunches and some dinners!

When I got home, REB was in the basement working out so I had a quick dinner (brinner, actually) and ate it while catching up on my DVR shows. Before bed, I was able to get a few more pages in! I’m currently reading Wildflower by Drew Barrymore. It’s pretty good so far.

So there it is. A Tuesday in the life of moi. Ok, so maybe not the most exciting thing ever, but hey! Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. …or whatever.

What are you currently reading?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Spartan Weekend

This past weekend I was able to cross off something on my list that I’d never done before: attend a Spartan basketball game.

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Do you guys know that in the four years I attended Michigan State I didn’t attend a single basketball game? For shame. I went to so many football games but a big regret of mine is not doing Midnight Madness and getting Izzone tickets (the student section). Just terrible. But hey! Better late than never. The best part of the weekend was being able to do this with one of my best friends, Jackie! I actually bought her tickets to this game as a birthday gift and assumed she and her husband would go. So when she asked me if instead, I’d go with her, and we’d make a girls weekend of it, I couldn’t say no!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind and start from Saturday.

Saturday

Jackie arrived via Amtrak around noon, and after picking her up we headed to brunch! Since we both have an obsession with Paris and brunch, I decided going to Felix Bistro and Bar would be perfect! And was it ever! We each got a champagne cocktail and shared some warm olives. For our main meals, I opted for the Eggs Benedict (but really it was florentine since I got spinach to make it vegetarian) and Jackie got a Croque Madame.

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Both our meals and drinks were delicious and it was great just catching up with her since I hadn’t seen her since her birthday in December – also for shame. After we were done eating, we walked around Ann Arbor’s downtown since it was unusually warm (almost 50!) and I took her to a bookstore in town called Literati. It’s such a cute bookstore with local book signings, a cafe upstairs and they even have literary quotes painted on the side of the building. The downstairs is cute because they have an old typewriter set up and encourage patrons to add onto a story they’ve started.

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From there we walked around a little bit more, got a quick cup of coffee then headed to the store to get some fixings for for later (i.e. more champagne and items to make a charcuterie board for dinner). We ended up spending the afternoon and evening watching movies, drinking some bubbly and just having fun. If any of you follow me on Snapchat, you may have seen some of the hilarity I had posted on there.

SUNDAY

Sunday morning we got up kind of early, had a quick breakfast at home, but then packed up and headed up to Michigan State’s campus for the game! We arrived in East Lansing early (like noon-ish) and since tip off wasn’t until 5:15, we had the afternoon to kill. Our first stop before checking in was having lunch at Woody’s Oasis, which is a nostalgic place for any Michigan State alum. They definitely top my list as some of the most legit Mediterranean food ever. I got a falafel plate that came with four pieces of falafel, spicy hummus, fattoush and pita. I think I ate maybe a quarter of that plate, if that. I had forgotten how huge their portions are! Luckily we just packed up our leftovers!

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Once we were done eating, we took our chances and were able to check into our hotel early. The Marriott in EL is situated across from campus so it’s perfect because you can park underground and then walk across the street and into campus!  Since we had a few hours to spare before the game, we walked to the newly build Eli and Edyth Broad Museum on campus.

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It is an absolutely stunning building architecturally and it’s pretty quick to walk through since it’s quite small. There were some interesting exhibits in there, though.

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After we left there, we went back to the hotel for a few minutes and then made our walk to the Breslin for the Spartan game!

Let me tell you: It doesn’t matter how many times I visit that campus, my heart just goes pitter-patter walking through it. It is seriously one of my most favorite places on earth. The memories I made there during time there will never leave me. I love walking through it and seeing what has changed, seeing what is still the same and remember all the shortcuts to get from A to B.

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Sparty aka Bae watching over campus <3

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Beautiful Beaumont <3

Overall, the game was a lot of fun! Jackie and I were doing all the student cheers along with the students, even though we were sitting a lot further up from the student section. Hey! Some things you never forget how to do – and Spartan cheers during games is one of them ;) Spartans played and defeated Rutgers so it was a good time for sure! GO GREEN!

After walking through the mist back to our hotel, we changed out of our slightly damp clothing (the weather was not too friendly to us that day) and then made our way to our favorite bar and our ol’ stomping ground: The Peanut Barrel. This bar is everything to us. A lot of students have their bars they love and while I went to a few of them, the one that is my absolute favorite is this one. They’re known for their long islands, which are so strong you’re only allowed to order 2. Then you have to switch to something else. I remember them being a lot stronger and a lot larger than what is served now, but I still had to get one for ol times sake.

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We met up with our other friend Valerie who not only lives in the area, but she works for the university and was also at the game. So it was fun to just hang out and catch up. Unfortunately, being a Sunday, Valerie had to leave so she could get to bed before work. However, Jackie and I were staying the night, so we ended up staying at the Barrel for a while. And by “a while”, I mean, we closed the bar down. That was a first! Luckily there weren’t a lot of people in there and the ones who were, we all became fast friend with, and the night ended up being a contest to see who would pick the best songs off the jukebox. A truly fun, and memorable night!

After making it back to our hotel, we crashed pretty hard but were somehow still wired and didn’t fall asleep until 4ish. Terrible. So that meant the drive home on Monday a little… groggy. I wouldn’t have changed anything though, because it was a lot of fun and another fun event I can add to the memory bank!

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And really, any time I can hang out with this chickie, is time well spent.

What are some of your favorite college memories?