I Believe

Friday, January 30, 2015

My good friend and alpha wolf Mae did a post like this last week, and well that's all I need to convince me to participate. It was a one-time link-up for MLK Day, but I'm pretty sure he broke a few rules back in the day :) and so, I'm following suit.



there is no life lesson that can't be learned from an episode of Boy Meets World.

a good book (or books) can change your life.

women's rights are so important, whether labeled 'feminism' or otherwise.

one should never wear more than one leopard print item at one time.

there's always time for laughter.

anyone who doesn't like electronic dance music simply hasn't listened hard enough.

there's no such thing as "not believing in something".

in squats, we trust.

Sinatra is good for the soul.

kissing is one of the most intimate things you can do.

people who dislike swearing don't know the satisfaction of a well-placed, four-letter word.

Pats are gonna win the SuperBowl! #PatsNation

talent can't hold a candle to practice.

90s cartoons always win (re: Rugrats and Recess).

in never going to bed angry.


I Believe Link-Up

What do you believe? In a happy, happy weekend? :)

Emma Watson May Have Just Changed My Life

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Emma Watson doesn't know. She does not even know. I didn't even know. I mean I knew she, or more like her character Hermione, was a big inspiration to me in middle school, but I had no idea that she would inspire me well into my twenties. But here I am, watching her speech at as the UN Goodwill Ambassador (and late to the party might I add), moved by everything she's saying. At the 4:20 mark, I had to hold back tears and struggled to do so until the end of the speech.

"...but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn't love me less because I was born a daughter, my school did not limit me because I was a girl, my mentors didn't assume that I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day."

At this, my entire expression shifted. I had previously been watching with slightly detached interest, watching because I knew I should and because of course it matters. But that statement woke me up. I was startled to hear something that applied directly to my life. I know, feminism or any conversation about women's rights applies directly to me because, hello, I'm a woman (or a human, some might argue). But more so than that, that statement was my life. Never did I once feel less than unconditionally loved by my parents; in fact, sometimes I think my dad loves me more because his daughter is just as strong and accomplished as he'd hoped despite the societal roadblocks of being a girl. I've never felt discouraged by school or mentors to achieve as much as possible, being frequently pushed by anyone who saw my potential. I am one of the lucky ones.

We talk about white entitlement and male entitlement, and those are real things, for sure. But sometimes I wonder, what kind of entitlement do I carry around as a woman? Surely, the fact that I never even realized how blessed I am to have the unconditional love of a parent, support of a school system and encouragement of mentors, is an indication that I'm blessed. Is that American entitlement? New millennial entitlement? I'm not sure what to title it, but I know it's there.

And here's the thing. I spent so long myself not a feminist because of the connotations the word has taken on, and refusing to acknowledge the disparity because to me it felt like saying "yes we need equality" is the same as saying "yes, I am inherently not equal to you, man." I admit that I sometimes subscribed to the line of thought that imagined feminists as man-hating women, burning their bras and living in pant suits just because. But now... I don't know. I just don't know.

I do know that all of this matters. It really matters. And it is so, so important. Not only for women but for men as well. Because it's not just about women's rights. It's about gender equality, and perhaps even living life outside of a gender. Feeling things and expressing things without regard to our genders.

"Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation." She then goes on to paint the picture of gender inequality for men in such strong imagery that I almost broke my heart. We are all victims of gender stereotypes and as an extension, we treat each other badly in an attempt to stake claim to our (wo)manhood. A man may treat a woman badly to assert his manhood. A woman, who otherwise doesn't feel 'cut out' to be a mother, feels obligated to bare children to assert her womanhood. And meanwhile, all any of us want to do is be happy within our own parameters, by our own definitions.

Is this part and parcel to feminism? Does it fit under the spectrum of that one word? I don't know. But two words: I'm in :)

Have you heard this speech? If not, check it out below. Let me know what you think!



Also, I wrote a post over at Brown Girl Bloggers that I'm really excited about, so pop over there and say hi!

 

Grocery Shopping Like a Beast?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Is that even possible? I can't seem to shake the imagery of some wild animal tearing through the aisles with a little basket snapped between its teeth. So I can't say I grocery shopped like a beast, but I grocery shopped nonetheless. This post was suppose to go up last Monday with the start of #beastmode, but alas, I didn't walk my lazy ass up to Trader Joe's until the weekend.


I posted something similar to this during my last attempt to get fit, but as that didn't work out I figured I'd do it all over again. My first step was to plan out meals for the week and then compile a grocery list from that before heading out to the supermarket. I tried to focus on greens and lean meats, mostly fish. The cleaner, the better. "Eat like a rabbit," my aunt would always say.

I'd say one of my biggest barriers to really losing weight and keeping it off is what I eat. As a city kid, most of my nutrition came from heros at the corner store, slices of pizza from Ray's and dining out at the many restaurants the city has to offer. There are restaurants, like Ruth Christie's or Ché Josephine's, that my parents and I have been frequenting since I can remember, and people there who have known me since I was a baby. And don't get me wrong -- I love that. I love those memories and the familiarity. But that does little to help me get in shape.

As exemplified above, I couldn't be further from a professional nutritionist. But there are a few nutritional changes that I try to implement when I'm focusing on fitness (repeat, 'trying').

Water

If you ever calculate the calories and sugar you consume from beverages, you'd wanna throw up. For real. It's astounding. Back in the day, cutting soft drinks and juices from my diet had a major impact on my health. (Granted back then, I only drank clear liquids, i.e. water and vodka, but let's not focus on that.)

Fruits & Veggies

In my mind, there's really no losing when it comes to fruits and veggies. Most fruits and vegetables are basically negative in calories because you burn more calories digesting them then you do eating. I try to incorporate fruits as snacks, substituting them from all the sugary things.

Avocados

I go gaga for avocados. My boyfriend and I try to add it to pretty much every meal. Grilled chicken sandwich? Throw some avocado on it. Salad? Toss it in. Burger? Top it off with avocado. If we can find an excuse to slice an avocado, we do. Forget all the health benefits, the little green things are delicious.

Yogurt

I like my greek yogurt prepped in a bowl like this: a cup of yogurt, some blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, granola and honey. If being delicious isn't enough, the burst of all those colors is a total foodgasm. And sometimes I add a piece of dark chocolate in the corner because I'm a cheater :)

Fish

I've never been a big meat lover. At least not red meat. I never get toppings on my pizza, I rarely order a beef burger, and I only get a steak when I'm really, really craving it. But instead of chicken, I try to eat more fish. Granted, I purchase my fish frozen from Trader Joe's but, hey, it's a trade off (hehe, get it?). If I bought my fish fresh, I'd let it go bad in my fridge and end up ordering out anyways. Frozen fish trumps chinese takeout any day.




CHECK IN #1: These first few weeks have been tough. Workouts reveal how out of shape I really am, and there might have been a milkshake last week. Breaking terrible habits is hard. But it hasn't be breaking me so that's a small victory. That together with a ~2 pound loss so far, I'll take it, for now.




What are your staples for healthy eating?

Fandoms & Being Inappropriate {Confessions}

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Considering that confession #1 does a lot by way of introduction, we jump right in!


++ I haven't blogged in over a week because I've been drowning in books and words, in a good way. I've been reading like a bandit and writing like a madwoman, and I ain't mad at it (the reading and writing part, the not blogging part sucks balls).

++ Also, I've discovered that fandom iG accounts are pretty much a vortex/drug of which I cannot resist. Especially if it's The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices related (#Heronstairs, #Team Jace/Will/Jem <3). If it were socially acceptable, I'd dedicate my life to the many fandoms, instead of, I don't know, adult shit.
<33
++ It follows that sometimes I  seriously prefer fictional people to real people. I don't know what to make of this.



++ Have I mentioned that I predicted the Sons of Anarchy series finale back at the end of Season 6? It still hurt my heart </3. I was a complete wreck during those last few minutes.

++ I've listened to both of these songs at least 100 times this past week. For real. ONE HUNDRED. Anything with John Newman or Adam Levine's voice on it gets my panties in bunch. Should I not have said that? :\

Maps by Maroon 5 on Grooveshark Blame (feat. John Newman) by Calvin Harris on Grooveshark

++ Which reminds me, "inappropriate" is basically my middle name these days. It's like my filter's broken.



++ I'm looking forward to the Fifty Shades of Grey movie so I can hate watch it. Bwwaaahhhh!

++ Dubstep gets me moving like this. I can't control myself, which is great when working out but not so great when, you know, doing normal things like walking down the street.


++ The fact that one of my bestfriends (like a sister since we basically grew up together) just had a baby and another just got married kinda makes me feel like I should be doing so much more with my life.

++ I want every single one of the new Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid matte lipsticks. All of them.

++ I cheat at the emoji-pop constantly.

As this is my first confessional post in months, I'm linking up with Hump Day Confessions championed by Channing Tatum, because I mean, how could that not be right?


Making Melissa

Confessed anything recently?

Links Around Town

Friday, January 9, 2015

I've already found so many things to love in 2015, which isn't surprising considering how many cute and inspiring things are circulating the internet. This week has been an extremely productive one. There are a few projects in the works that are just working out. Don't you just love when that happens?! :) Considering that I posted three days in a row this week already - count em: one, two, three! - I figured an easy friday list of things was in order.

Hope your new year is off to a great start! What are you up to this weekend?

Happy Weekend!


Who knew our favorite Rugrats 'all growed up' would be such hipsters! 

Damn, someone got to it first. 10 reasons Chuck Bass is, well, Chuck Bass

Gavin DeGraw's voice makes me swoon. His song "Fire" has been on repeat. 

Also, Beyoncé's "7/11"? My JAM. Favorite workout track of the past month. 

Babies always elicit tears from me, but these boys are the best.

There's a way to not hate running? Give it to me please!

This really snarky article about how bad the 50 Shades movie is gonna be.

The moment he knew she was the one. Really cute.

Book-to-Movie guide lets us know about 38 books becoming movies this year.

What a perfect way to break the baby news!


Back When I Was A Beast

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I could name a few of my more fit friends who would question that statement, but for me, that's what it felt like. A little over two years ago, I was a beast in the gym. I felt fit, and strong, and confident - something I hadn't felt since my junior year of high school. Until I began doing gymnastics competitively, fitness was a struggle for me. My parents are phenomenal but balanced dieting and forcing feeding their children vegetables wasn't exactly their strong suit. I have the silver fillings to prove it! And once I stopped competitive sports, I triggered my weight gain button - hello 70+ pounds! I tried to control my weight in college to the tune of success and failure, but it's in law school where I finally got it together and went into #beastmode.

So it's a new year, and although I'm sure "getting fit" is on everyone's resolution list (including mine for the past two years), I'm looking to enter #beastmode again, because honestly, it's one of the times I've felt most alive.
Last year, I attempted and failed miserably at a fitness challenge I called "Sweating for Summer". I failed. But what's that saying? Try, try again? So here we are a year later. A workout challenge by another name but just as sweet: #beastmode. (Oh, and yes, I will continue to use #beastmode because it makes me feel cool.) The challenge will be similar to my previous one. It's 24-weeks from January 12th until June 29th, and I'll be checking-in every two weeks. Check-ins won't necessarily be full posts, although some posts may be fitness-themed, but I'll be updating with a line or two on designated days. If you're also looking to firm up this year, I'd love it if you left comments about your progress so we can commiserate together. Also, feel free to use the tracker I created for myself below.


Click here for fillable .doc format.

So, in honor of the memory and as a bookmark of inspiration for myself, I'm flooding this post with pictures of #beastmode Kari (many of which are mirror pics, eep!) to remind me that I did it before and I can do it again. And if it inspires any of you as well, well that's just the frosting!
Last photo on the right is quite possibly my favorite photo of myself!
Sure, we all make them, but I'm interested to know anyway! What are some of your fitness goals for the new year?

To Fill Up & Live | My True Love Gave To Me

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Look at me, kicking off my resolutions right with my first book review! Technically, it was December's book, but po-tae-to, po-tah-to.

Title: My True Love Gave To Me
Authors: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt De La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White
Editor: Stephanie Perkins
Publication: 2014

I've never reviewed a collection of short stories and I'm not sure how to do it effectively. I do know that if I wait until I've finished the entire book, I'm sure to forget what I thought of earlier stories. So here's a compilation of my thoughts for each story, recorded as I read each one. (Note: stories marked with a "*" are my favorites.)

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell *
"You're like a kaleidoscope. You change every time I look away."
"'You guys really fell asleep against Michigan.' 'I'm not actually on the football team,' Noel said. 'That's no excuse,' Mrs. Porter said." :)

LOVE. I'm obsessed with this story and the main characters Mags and Noel and their series of New Year's Eves. Especially Noel. This entirely too-short, short story made me laugh, swoon, aww and gasp all within the span of 22 pages. I hadn't read a Rainbow Rowell novel in a while, and although I knew I loved her work so much, I couldn't pinpoint why. Then I read Midnights and a page in I'm face-palming myself because, hello, she just tells such a wonderful story in such a wonderful way. Rainbow is most definitely still my homegirl. I read it again before continuing on to any of the other short stories in the book #sorrynotsorry #notatall.

Polaris Is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han
It was a very cute story with an interesting premise - the only little girl in the North Pole surrounded by Santa and his elves. However, it felt a bit rushed, launching into a new idea two pages before the end, so it feels like an afterthought. I did really liked her character voice, and the writing style sucks you in. It's my first Jenny Han story (although I have two of her books) and it makes me anxious to pick up her novels.

Your Temporary Santa by David Leviathan 
I'm torn about this one. I could sense there were deeper issues that got glossed over in this very short (10 pages!) short story. [I did really like how it featured a homosexual relationship in a way that was ancillary to the story and therefore, equated it with any other relationship, instead of setting it apart.]

The Lady and The Fox by Kelly Link
If I thought I was torn about the last one, than I'm being tormented by this one. In a word: Weird. Really weird. I felt like I was in a haze while I read this story, but I couldn't put it down. The premise started out really interesting, a girl who spends each Christmas with the family of her mother's close friend, but then it spins off into these paranormal aspects that I wasn't sure what to do with. Hmm.

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Peña *
I hate to admit it but I did not expect to like this short story. I don't read many things from a male point of view and the story of a college boy, house sitting for a wealthy friend and starving over the holidays doesn't sound like something that belongs in a holiday collection of short stories. But I loved it! The protagonist's voice was real and funny, and the interactions in the story were honest and heart-warming at times. What I thought was a story about starving for the holiday turned out to be one about getting your fill.

It's A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins *
"A thrill went through her, hearing his voice again at such a close range. Superior and aloof, but definitely with that paradoxical underpinning of friendly amusement. It probably allowed him to get away with saying all sorts of rude things. "

Eeee, all the feels! I knew Stephanie Perkins was going to bring them (of course!) but I didn't expect so much from 20 pages. North rivals Noel in crushable male characters, for sure. Perkins just knows how to write such interesting characters in the most unlikely situations and make you eat it all up. Like Midnights, I could have used about 200 more pages of this story. The Perkins "girl meets boy + adventure = the feels!" never misses!

Krampslauf by Holly Black 
Reviews says that this short story was one of the worst and they couldn't even read it. I can't figure out why for the life of me. I really, really enjoyed it! It's mostly based in reality, but there's an element of paranormal and it's a darker story for sure. The characters were great (like Wren) and the story was really intriguing and creative. Overall, cool is the best way I know to describe it.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White *
"The door opens with a rusted jingle, and an animatronic Santa insults my moral virtue three times. Ho, ho, ho."
"And there - when he smiles, his whole faces lights up. It's like his other expressions are placeholders."

If I thought I loved Noel and North, Ben might just be my soulmate. This story, about a little town named after a joyous holiday, told by a less-than-joyous teenage girl, ends up being one of the most heart-warming of the collection. White's characters are realistic and lovable, and her prose is fantastic, I love the ease with which she writes. Also, White is a whiz at dialogue, using witty, funny and charming banter to break up heavier themes. I smiled through the story, laughed out loud a few times and even teared up a little bit. After reading this short story, I only have one regret: not reading a Kiersten White story sooner.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman *
"Of all the things and people she missed lately, it was odd to find herself at the top of that list."

Oh. This. Was. Good. And so relatable for me. Sophie Roth is a Brooklyn girl attending college in the middle of west bumble, where her classmates call her "big city" and she has to clearly indicate when she being sarcastic which is most of the time. Hello, Kari circa 2006! I smiled, giggled and laughed my way through this entire story. So much banter! And mixed in with a few tender moments and another male of the crushable variety. Six foot five, tall, dark and handsome male lead? Yes, please. (Clearly, this collection has made me boy crazy.)

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire
This is a very cute story told from the point of view of the boy who ruined the Pastor's Christmas pageant and is covertly pining after the Pastor's daughter. Classic bad boy likes the good girl but a cute read nonetheless.

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor
After reading the first few pages, I wanted to put this one down, which is ironic because I've heard it takes a few chapters to get into Taylor's phenomenal novel Daughter of Smoke Bone as well. The story was just a bit strange and kind of uncomfortable. Not that it was bad or boring, but it just didn't feel like a story that belonged in a holiday collection. And after completing it, it still doesn't feel like it belongs, but it's less weird and more wonderful. I kind of wish I'd read it separately because expecting it to be cheery and bright is what stopped me from fully appreciating it. One thing was clear: Laini Taylor's writing is wonderful. It's full and luscious and a blend between the easy writing of most YA authors and the complexity of classic novelists.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
I feel bad. This was the last short story I read, and I feel like by the time I got to it, I was all burnt out on cutesy holiday stories and ready to plunge into the novels of the authors I'd just discovered. Something about the story felt rushed and like a network Christmas movie to me. It kind of felt like a whirlwind of unlikely, followed by impossible, succeeded by no-freaking-way.   
The skaters on the front cover represent the couples in all 12 stories, which proved to be way too exciting for me as I flipped to the cover after every story to i.d. them. I was almost right - I was so sure  the "Laini" couple was Mags & Noel from Rainbow's story because they're dancing :)

Here's my rating for the collection as a whole. (Btw, I'm rating with bows now. Not that it's particularly significant to books or my blog. I just really like bows!)

4.5!

This collection may have been the perfect way to end the new year with. Now, I have new authors I'm excited to read! What did you think of My True Love Gave To Me? Got a favorite short story of the bunch? If you reviewed the book along with us, please link up below!


________________________

Note to self: deceptively short stories = long reviews :)

With a new year comes new books for our book club! And a new genre of books as well. Kay suggested this month's book and I'm glad she did because we've never read a non-fiction novel. January's book of the month is: Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman.

Buy this novel!
If the novel is anywhere near as hilarious as season 1 of the show, we are all in for a treat! A ten year old decision becomes Piper Kerman worst nightmare when it lands her in jail for a year and a half. Pick up this memoir to find out what landed her there and all the hilarious and heartbreaking stories she has to share about it. As you read, you can take a look at these discussion questions to get you thinking about the book. I hope you'll be joining us this month, and sharing what you thought come Tuesday, February 3rd in a review!

Happy Reading!

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