Odds And Ends

Hello there!  Happy Friday night!  I have lots of little odds and ends to share with you today.

1. I have been LOVING on the short and sweet workouts lately.  A few of my favorites:

  • Levels 1 and 3 of the 30 Day Shred.  Takes about 45 minutes; pretty high intensity and a nice combo of strength and cardio.
  • 20 minutes of Yoga Core (from yogadownload.com) + one level of The Shred.
  • 10-15 minutes of abs + 3 miles on the treadmill, with 4 minutes of Tabata Intervals.
Your favorite short (but still intense) workouts?
2. I have changed my mind about homemade salad dressings and balsamic vinegar.  I used to think it was just easier to buy salad dressings, especially since I don’t make salad that often (confession: I’m lazy and hate washing and chopping that many vegetables).  But I’m starting to feel like salads are really cleansing, even in winter.  My favorite: spinach, carrots (thinly sliced), avocado, and grapefruit.  Dressing: 1 tbsp EVOO, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp mustard, sea salt, pepper to taste.  So simple.  So many nutrients and colors!
3. If you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting pictures, it’s because I left my camera transfer cord thingy in New York (I’ve been in Canada and Michigan).  Not that anyone cares that deeply about my blog.  I just felt a need to share.
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4. I got my December LSAT score back.  It was a significant improvement over October, and I am now in a position where I have a good shot at getting into some top 25 law schools and a very distant chance at some top 10 schools.   I’m quite thrilled; exuberant actually.  I’m filling out my applications with surprising zeal.  I’m so excited about this next stage of my life.  It sounds cliche, I suppose.  But it’s true.  I have wanted to go to law school since middle school, and now I feel like my dreams are finally going to come true.  Well, I have to get in first, of course. 😉
5. It pays to be nice to people.  About twice a year, when I am in Michigan, I get a massage here.  It’s not super fancy, but is really high quality.  I often have the same masseuse, Carl.  I’m always really friendly and chatty with him.  I was talking about law school, and he said that once I get in, he is going to give me a free 60 minute massage.  How nice is that?!?!
6. I know what I want to do this summer.  I want to take a trip from Paris all the way to the other side of Eurasia, partially on the Trans-Siberian railway.  I would love to plan it in stages so that I get to see a lot of different places.  Ideally, it would last about a month.  The views from the train are supposed to be spectacular!  It technically starts  in London, if you want to go about it in the historic way, but I like Paris infinitely more.  So there.
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That’s all for tonight I suppose!  Any other college seniors out there?  What are your post-graduation plans?

Adventure Saturday: Tips For a Long Healthful Life

Today’s Happy Note: Spending time with family!  I normally only see my mom’s extended family at Christmas so it was nice to get to see a few of them in the summer, even if only for a day.

Good evening dearies!  I hope it’s been a wonderful Saturday.  I had an Adventure, of course!  I went a bit upstate on the train to see an aunt, two cousins, and my grandfather.  They were here for a wedding (I didn’t go to that; we just had lunch and spent the afternoon together).  We wandered around town, munched on the most amazing pita (so pillowy!), and admired the beautiful grounds and history of the hotel-manor they stayed at.  It’s funny; as much as I despised growing up in the suburbs, I enjoyed myself very much this afternoon.  The small-ish towns along the Hudson are wonderfully endearing and a nice break from the city. I absolutely feel in love with the city, but at times it can be overwhelmingly busy and distant.

I probably walked about two miles today and might go for another walk in a little while, or do some dancing/yoga.  I used to take dance classes at school and I am really missing it. I wonder if there are any local, inexpensive community classes near me? Dancing and yoga remind me of one another.  While I love running, I think they might be more soothing forms of movement for my spirit.

Photos from the Adventure:

Who might this be?  That’s my grandfather!  He’s 95 and a half! Doesn’t look it!  He is an amazing man who has exemplified healthy ways of living since his boyhood in rural Iran.  He has a very powerful internal drive that I have yet to find in another person.  At 95, he still writes papers, read, communicates with friends and family members scattered around the world, attends conferences, and participates in tremendous charitable activities.  He has truly been heroic.  I wanted to take a few minutes during our visit today to ask him how he has maintained vibrancy and health for almost a century.  I’m sure random genetics play a role, but so do our habits and choices.

Without further ado, I present “Baba’s tips for 95 years of healthy living”:

  • Don’t overstress!  In fact, understress if possible.
  • Always keep your mind working in different subjects; for example Baba has been both a mathematician/engineer and a literary/poetic scholar.
  • Stay away from too much alcohol.
  • His super-foods: walnuts, raisins, plain yogurt, lentils, pomegranate juice.
  • It is important to eat these things — and other healthy things — as a child.  Childhood health affects the rest of your life!
  • Always stay active.  Baba has done many activities, games, and sports his entire life.  As an eight year old boy, he found a tennis ball.  This was his only toy.  He kept himself active and entertained by bouncing it around.  Favorite childhood activities: broad jump, high jump, pole vault, and volleyball.  He actually played on the volleyball team at Tehran University as a setter.  Throughout his adult life he has loved racket games — tennis, squash, and racquetball.  He still plays tennis and walks (we probably did about a mile together today).  In fact, he beat me at racquetball two years ago (I was trying)!
  • He has had a lot of sadness and unhappy events in his life.  Overcoming these and persevering anyways has been a very powerful force in shaping his mental capacities.
  • A multicultural lifestyle with diverse interests and connections keeps you healthy because you are constantly learning.  He speaks five languages and is still quite proficient in three of them.
  • Creativity is a “secret” to old age.
  • You have to learn to be satisfied with very little.  Western materiality is destructive to our health.  Being satisfied with little nurtures our spiritual selves.
  • Tea can be “as delicious as a special meat dish.”
  • His vice: sweets!  A little dessert makes us happy and nurtures our souls.
  • He has always rewarded himself with little things.  For example, when he was a teenager, raisins were a special treat.  If someone gave him a handful, he would parcel them out over several days.  Each time he completed a long paper or complex math problem, he would reward himself with a single raisin.  Other rewards: pencils or paper.
  • He is critical of extravagance.  Instead, he believes powerfully in charitability.  He has established a school for 440 poor girls in Iran who otherwise would not receive an education.  He endows the entire establishment (teachers, classrooms, uniforms, sports and games, etc.)  He has a powerful belief in the ability of education to extend and enrich our lives.
  • The entire world can take a hint from more simpler ways of living — that would prevent a lot of bloodshed.
  • His favorite meal: yogurt with jam and walnuts, good bread with chevre.

So there you have it!  Living to 95 years from the expert.  He has an older brother who is either 97 or 98.

I didn’t take any interesting food pictures while I was out because I didn’t want to have to explain the blog.  I did, however take pictures of a major dinner fail:

My blender failed in the middle of smoothie-making!  Grrr.  I can’t get it to work now at all.  Perhaps it overheated?  I didn’t eat all of the above mess, but did eat out the frozen berries and some of the liquid.  It was actually quite tasty!  Better flavor than most of my smoothies for some reason.  I remedied this little failure with some comforting OIAJ…

Nature’s Path hemp oats in a Naturally Nutty Vanilla Almond Butter jar with a handful of trail mix and a serving of TJ’s chocolate covered pretzels!  I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a serious statement: NN Vanilla Almond butter is the best nut butter I’ve ever had. It truly is amazing.  It does have some sugar, but only 5g.  The flavors just work wonderfully together.  It tastes like a really premium vanilla almond frosting.

Not sure why, but I was feeling guilty about everything I ate today.  I didn’t have anything “bad” for me at all, but I do think I wasn’t eating mindfully.  Need to work on that; not because I’m trying to be obsessive but because my mind and body feel best when I have a clear, conscious relationship with food.

Any fun Adventures from today?  Adventures tomorrow? I have plans for a long run, yoga, and possibly a movie!

See you tomorrow!

PS — Go enter the most awesome giveaway ever here!  Evan is giving away an ice cream maker!

Important Discoveries: Food Edition

Today’s Happy Note: I try to avoid making food my happy note, but today was a very grumpy day and not much else seemed joyful.  So I’m gonna go ahead and say that my frozen yogurt (cookies and cream/vanilla) with chocolate chips made me happy.  TLC is better though.

Gak!  I wanted to post last night, but discovered that the internet at my new apartment is not yet functional.  I’m going to get a new router tonight so hopefully that will solve things (by the way — I discovered that this is what I needed after talking, for free, with an agent at geeksquad online — it was incredibly helpful!).

I flew back to NY yesterday.  I can’t decide to say whether I “flew home” or “left home”.  Weird.

Plane lunch and snacks!

Shrimp/garlic hummus/spinach sammy on seedy whole grain bread.  This combo was a wise choice indeed.  I am in love with garlic hummus but am afraid to bring it in lunches for fear that my breath would smell.  But seeing as I was on a plane where I knew no one, I went for it. 🙂

Other snacks: orange pepper strips, apple, peanuts, cinnamon roll larabar, cashews in the evening.

Always, always, always plan ahead for travel! You can save money, eat healthfully, and enjoy your food when you do this.  For most flights, I recommend packing a variety of snacks and a sandwich.  Portable and convenient.  I wrapped my sammy in cling wrap and then put it in a plastic bag.  Travel is the one time when I am not nice to the environment with my lunch — tupperware just doesn’t cut it.  Ideal travel snacks: cut up fruits and veggies, granola bars, trail mix, plain cereal, sandwiches, etc.  FYI: don’t bring yogurt.  It is, apparently, a gel — I’ve had it taken away before.  Another thing I like to do is bring my own water bottle (EMPTY) and then fill it from a drinking fountain when I get through security.  No overpriced plastic bottles for me!

What are your favorite travel snacks?

When I got to the new apartment, I did some unpacking and then faced the grocery store monster (I was tired).  Thankfully, WF was not crowded (the one on the UWS almost never is) and it wasn’t so bad.  I got a tasty, easy dinner there as well:

Delish.  Serious question: has anyone ever spent less than $10 at the WF hot/cold/salad bars?  Is it possible? I figured I needed a treat after all that travelling (which, by the way, I totally count as exercise.  Especially when getting lost on the E train and having to walk everywhere with my heavy suitcase.  Dear JFK airport, YOU ARE THE WORST AIRPORT IN THE WORLD.  And this girl has done her fair share of travelling).

This morning I got up bright and early.  Okay, well it was actually seven.  I know some bloggers get up at 5 or 6 to exercise.  I have no idea how they make it through the work day.

I ran a decent five miles along the river.  It’s fun planning out new routes and paths from my new place — it’s less than a mile from my dorm, but the perspective and mileage is totally different!  I like switching things up like that once in a while 🙂

Today’s eating discoveries:

I made a major discovery at breakfast: you CAN cook instant oats (from a packet) on the stovetop!  And they get thick like regular oats.  Why would I do this?  Well, normally I am rushed in the morning and hate cooking oats on the stove, but the apartment seems to lack a microwave and I have no intentions of buying one.  Grumph.

Other extremely significant discoveries (seriously, I should become, like, a food reporter or something.  How fun would that be?)…

~Crack wraps taste good un-melted too!

~Frozen yogurt makes me feel better after a terrible day at therapy, everytime!

~Kashi dark mocha almond granola bars are yummy.  I was always afraid to try them because I thought, “a coffee-flavored granola bar, really?  Gross!”  But good thing this is so not the case.  It had that palatable, sweet, chocolaty coffee taste.  Like coffee ice cream.  I like this better than I like their cherry dark chocolate (my former favorite).

~Cooking dinner for yourself, by yourself, day after day, gets a little lonely and boring. 😦  I need a dinner companion!

I had therapy today (instead of Monday since I was travelling).  I think I’ll share my reflections tomorrow because I don’t want this post to be a massive text-monster and I need more time to think.  I just have not had a good month or so with therapy.  It’s frustrating for every session not to go the way I want it.  What’s even more frustrating is that it’s kind of my fault — I basically refuse to talk to my (sweet, kind, understanding) therapist about everything.  It’s very strange.  As soon as I arrive and sit down, I feel angry and sad and stubborn and like I would rather die than tell her anything about my life.  I have no clue why this might be happening but I hope I will get over it very soon.  Anyone have any ideas?

I hope you are all having the most lovely of weeks.  Summer is coming!

Home Is Where…

Today’s Happy Note: Family dinner!  I have not had a beautiful, home cooked family dinner with all members of my family (mom, dad, sister, me, cat) present at the same time in months, if not a year or more.  It was delicious, comforting, and loving.  🙂  And yes, my parents are divorced.  They’re still best friends!

Vegetables galore!

Pad thai cooking away!  My sister has the best pad thai recipe outside of Thailand.

My sister and me! Some people seem to think we’re twins, others think we look nothing alike.  She’s actually five years older.

Exercise:

Yesterday (Friday): 6 mile run plus four hours worth of MOVING  which I did entirely by myself.  It was a serious workout.  At one point a friend helped me lift a huge box back onto a dolly, and another friend returned a rolling bin for me, but everything else was all me.  Independent women rule.

Today (Saturday): Travelling with heavy bags.  Hey, that’s serious — I was lugging my bags around for five hours.  Won’t go into the details of why (JFK airport=evil) but suffice it to say my arms are feeling it right now.

So as you’ve probably noticed by now, yesterday I MOVED and today I am “HOME”. But, proximity does not imply relationship!  I did move, but not back home.  I moved into my apartment for the summer and then flew back to Michigan today.  Needless to say it’s been an exhausting two days, and I want to go cuddle with my sister and have some ice cream right about now.

Up in the air!

Random selection of eats from the past few days:

Biscoff.  In honor of Kath!

Cookie Friday and caramel fudge lite choice in one day.  It was that kind of a day.

Storytime: Home

Two and a half years ago, after about a semester of living in NYC, I felt decently at home there.  I knew that I felt a special connection to the city and that it would probably be an extraordinarily meaningful place for me.  I knew how I felt looking across the rivers, finding beautiful buildings, or noticing a depth of cultural diversity.  I knew these things made me thrilled and happy and I even referred to the city as my “home.”  Well, actually, I thought of the city as one of my homes, with my town in Michigan and the house that I grew up in being my other home.  They were both my special places.  In Michigan, I have open spaces with the most lovely pumpkin fields and running trails that wind lazily through meadows.  In New York, I have wonderful buzzing streets and 20-story buildings and thousands of restaurants in reach.

My father picked me up from the airport this afternoon.  As we made our way along the highway and then along smaller city roads and then onto the little side street where my house sits — looking content and almost serene — I had one of the biggest realizations I’ve had in a long while: New York is not only where I live now.  It is my home.  New York being my home was a story that I told myself for the last three years, and in a small sense, it was true.  But in the larger sense — of “home” being where my life and love and passions and future and everyday joy comes from — I wasn’t quite ready to declare the city my home.  It is now, and I suddenly knew this quite clearly today.

At the same time I feel a deep longing for my family.  I am not a child, but I am still a rather young person: I’m twenty years old.  I have been living on my own for three years now and I still miss them deeply, daily.  Many people refer to “home” as a place where their family is, and in that sense, I will always have a home in Michigan.  But in 5-10 years I think I will have my own family and I believe that it will surely be in New York.  With that said, being here, with the three people in the world for whom I have the most powerful, beautiful feeling of love, is a gift.  My mother, sister, and I have not lived together in seven years.  That’s more than a third of my life.  I intend to treasure this time with them (a week and a half) as I suspect that, outside of vacations, it is the last time we will be together in one place.  And not any place either, our original home.  Where we climb crab apple trees and jump from thick ropy willows and hide under the sleeping bags in the basement and sit at the same mahogany walnut wood dining table that we have sat at since before I was born.

The conclusion?  I love both places — among other places that are meaningful,including a special spot in Northern Michigan and Ottawa, the capital of Canada — but New York has moved from a place that I live to a home.  When I walk down Broadway and know exactly how the ground feels at every street corner, I know this.  I feel it.  When I lie down in the sun in Central Park I feel a bit like a compass, sometimes.  Like a compass that knows exactly where it’s pointing and wants to point in that direction.  I sprawl out into a star shape, my limbs different places in my life.  And through all this, I am centered in the city.  The gorgeous, flying city.  City like a flock of birds.