Month : July 2011

Living simply.

Where has the summer gone? I know, I know, it’s only the beginning of August – but there’s something about this month – the month when the pool closes, the month when kids head back to school – that makes the end of the season loom.

Page and I are both keeping busy with work (as always) but are a bit less crazed than in previous weeks. He made time for an annual guys’ long weekend in South Carolina, and I’m getting ready to spend one in Philly with my best friend come Labor Day weekend. Both much-needed breaks!

A couple of people have asked how the house search is going…um, what house search? There’s been literally no time! We both have pointed out that if it was a really urgent need, we’d have made or found the time to go hunt a bit…and the fact that we just can’t get super stoked about searching is a sign that it’s just not a top priority. The time will come – probably sooner than later – but for now, that item is down the list a bit.

What IS at the top of the list is organization, purging, and zen-seeking. It’s crazy times like these recent weeks that force me to re-focus on our balance of schedules, finances, workloads, social commitments, time for R&R, etc. (And to think – we don’t even have kids to add to that equation!)

I started with a book – Organized Simplicity, that was recommended by a fellow blogger. The author’s narratives on overscheduling, overbuying, and oversizing all resonated with me. I don’t know that I picked up a lot of brand new information, but it was rather an enforcement to some things I already knew – even if I’m bad about putting those things into practice. I did learn some new tips and tricks, but the real value for me was the motivation to jumpstart some purging, and reevaluate all of the stuff I’m bringing IN to my house. The author is certainly living the extreme side of simple, but reiterates time and again that it’s about finding what is simple for YOU – not meeting some standard.

For us, simple living won’t mean growing all our own produce or sharing one vehicle, or living in a 600 square foot apartment. None of that is realistic and would add stress rather than minimize it. For us, living simply is about less stuff to sort through to find what we’re looking for, not amassing more things because they’re on sale (this one is specifically for me), having an appropriate amount of stuff for the amount of space we live in, not needing to clean around a zillion knick knacks and piles of stuff, and overall feeling the zen of some time balance between work and play. In short, the ideal – for us – would be to only have the things we LOVE around us, and have the time to enjoy them.

The book is split into many chapters that touch on organizing (and paring down on) schedules/activities, spending (getting finances in order), home making tips, and finally a room-by-room instructional guide for cleaning/clearing/organizing all of the main areas in the home. The latter section was more than I needed – to me the idea of making keep, donate, sell, and toss piles is second nature. I purge way more often than the average person, I’m sure. But for those who really want a cheerleader or who have so many rooms in their house that the project seems like Mt. Everest, this part of the book could be extremely helpful. It is written with the intention that you, the reader, will spend ten days “simplifying” your life…I say use this as a tool to motivate yourself, then take as little or as much time as you need, then check back in with the book every year or so to be sure you’re still on track.

With a pending move (at some point in the near future), I am all about not moving a single thing we don’t have to – another motivator to get purging. I have an appointment scheduled at my favorite consignment shop, Crazy Daisy, in Cedar Rapids, for some of my clothes and housewares. The plan for the rest of it is to store for a garage sale. There’s enough stuff, of a nice enough quality, that just dropping it at Goodwill seems like a waste. I’m still just getting started, but depending on the size of the pile, we may have a sale yet this fall. If it’s a manageable (storable) amount, I’d like to hold out until Spring when our book club is coming together to do a joint sale. For now, it looks like this…

And just in case you thought blogging less was part of my simplifying plan, don’t worry – it’s not! šŸ™‚ I will get back here more often now that the craziness has calmed a tad. One thing I HAVE been keeping up with is my Pinterest pinning! You can follow my boards (including one on simple living!) here. Are you a pinner? Send me a link, I love following new people!

Back soon with more stories – and not just ramblings of purging, I promise. šŸ™‚

200 minutes and counting

I recently caught a re-run of an Oprah show that aired earlier this Spring. Bob Greene, Oprah’s long-time fitness and health expert, was leading a sort of “boot camp” for several women for 60 days, the goal being that they would add actual years (that’s plural) to their lifespan in only two months’ time. Over time, with their new habits, they could look/feel/BE twenty years younger.

The women ranged in ability level, weight, had a variety of eating habits, and suffered from other bad health habits – some only averaged 5 hours of sleep a night, some smoked, some suffered from severe levels of stress. All of them started on a plan comprised of four pillars: nutrition, exercise, skin care, and sleep.

Even though I had seen it all once before, I was more tuned in this time around. Particularly when Bob mentioned that he started all of the women, regardless of ability levels, at 200 minutes of cardio a week. Just cardio – that doesn’t include weight training. I did some quick math in my head. If I added up my minutes of JUST cardio, I clock in at about 160 minutes a week, on average – usually between 4 and 5 days where I have an average of 30-45 minute sweat sessions. Hmmm…if these “beginners” can do 200 minutes a week (all of whom have jobs, kids, responsibilities) I suppose I could step it up as well!

Bob went on to say that after the initial 60 days, he would bump them all up to “full speed” – as if 200 minutes was just child’s play. The idea was that if you could make time for 200 minutes a week, it was no big thing to make time for 300. THREE HUNDRED MINUTES a week! A small freak-out was my initial reaction. How does anyone have time to get that all in PLUS weight training? Again, I did some fast math. Okay…realistically that would come out to 50 minute sessions, six days a week. Really, that’s only a matter of adding an additional day at normal length, OR adding another 20 mins a day to 5x a week (once I get up to the 200 plan). And really, what’s another 20 minutes of activity once you’re already at the gym and sweating it out? It’s nothing. All in all, I’m excited to have a bit of a challenge. I haven’t blogged much lately about anything health or workout related, but I have been slowly dropping a pound here and a pound there in recent weeks. However, I’m hopeful this increase in cardio time will speed up some weight loss and give me a new goal to work at.

My one big concern with this new plan was WHAT I was going to do for all that time. I can jam out on the elliptical or treadmill for 30 minutes or so, but by the end, I’m starting to get bored. To nearly double that time might just drive me crazy. I have an hour long zumba class to throw in to the mix every week, and can swim for longer than that without getting bored, but I needed some new zip in my workouts.

Recommended by Bob the man himself, I purchased this book by Women’s Health Magazine, The Big Book of Exercises. (Guys, there’s a Men’s Health version of this, too!)

I’m excited about this book for a few reasons. For one, I am constantly nervous about getting in a rut, getting bored, or both. This book is completely full of different exercises to try, all of which require minimal, if any, gear to accomplish. Secondly, the exercises are heart pumping, so even though they may have some toning/weight training built in, I can still count the time spent doing them toward my cardio minutes. Third, the book is full of color photos of real people doing the exercises – so there’s no confusion. And finally, there are TONS to choose from – just trying one new move each day will be a good way to switch it up and keep my body guessing. And there are so many exercises to choose from, I don’t have to like or do them all to still have a good mix.

So there you have it – the latest workout goals. I’m going to start with “just” the 200 minutes/week plan (still trying to figure out if yoga counts towards this…thoughts???) and go from there. I’m thinking if I can just make 200/week work for the month of August, then I’ll be ready to step it up again in September. Although it might have to be to 250 initially – 100 minutes is a huge leap!

I’ll let you know how it goes…anyone want to join in the challenge with me? šŸ™‚

thirty second re-cap

Just a quick few updates to let you all know I haven’t fallen off the planet….here are a few things I’ve been up to:

1. Painting this lamp from the BHG Garage Sale…back soon with the reveal!

2. In a renewed quest for simplicity and balance, I’m devouring this book. (Realllly good stuff here. An in-depth post to follow.)

3. Tried this Baked Ziti dish from Cooking Light – I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars for taste, but was simple to make and I love anything that lets me pile in the summer veggies.

4. Have become obsessed with this lower-calorie alternative to chocolate milk. Great as a post-workout snack or for breakfast on the go:

5. Passing by these paint chips every day on my dresser. Playing with the idea of lighter tones of the jade accent color in our room. Thinking possible wall color for next bedroom when we move.

6. Rocking neon pink polish – on all twenty digits. A constant reminder to lighten up. I like it. šŸ™‚

That’s all she wrote for now. Still catching up but taking a much-deserved day OFF tomorrow. While there is a LITTLE work to be done (keeping it to an hour or two MAX), the rest of the day’s priorities include a workout, the pool, some reading, and most importantly – sleeping in. Ahh.

burning at both ends.

It’s a blessing and a curse that Page and I both love to work. (Well, correction. We both love to work on stuff we love!) Which right now, happens to be a lot of things. Page has a bevy of web projects – both through work and on his own, and I’m being challenged with a host of new projects at my jobs as well. I read that sentence back and realize that “challenged” might come across as a negative…when I couldn’t be more excited. I’m so lucky to be pushed. With all of the frustrations come awesome rewards – I love challenge. šŸ™‚

Page and I are fortunate to be in careers where we can flex some creative muscle and gain invaluable learning experiences every day in the worlds of agency and in-house marketing, respectively. Furthermore, we are fortunate to both have “bonus” jobs that we’ve created for ourselves. Ya know, for an additional 20, sometimes 30, hours a week when we aren’t at our day jobs. Most of the time, this works out well, and we don’t blink at the idea of going to the office, coming home, and putting in some occasional evening and weekend hours on some extra projects for our own clients. Both sets of our parents are entrepreneurs – and very hard workers – so when it comes to non-traditional hours and putting noses to the grindstone, we’re familiar.

While we do collaborate on the occasional project, and often spend time together reviewing the other’s work, it’s probably not good when ALL of your time spent together is centered around some form of work. I suppose it’s also not good when you aren’t sleeping much because your brain is whirling about how it will all get done. Annnd I’m guessing it’s also not good when you haven’t been to the gym (the ultimate stress relief session) in more than two weeks, because you need the extra hour each day to get everything accomplished! Phew. I never see it coming, but every once in a while, we find ourselves right smack in the middle of this spot – overloaded, for lack of a better word. It’s all good and under control, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I see this virtual RPM gauge start entering the red area…and I KNOW that’s not good!

It’s times like this I have to remind myself I can say “no” – or better yet “not now” to a project. I’m plugging away at finishing up the overly ambitious load I’ve taken for myself, but am taking on nothing new for Liz Ink for the coming 30 days while I attempt to tie up some loose ends, recharge my batteries, and tweak my game plan going forward. I have so many projects – aside from those for clients – that I want to get going, but doing so will take some prioritizing. Page is feeling the crunch as well – he has been going round and round with a handful of potential clients for several months, and of course, they all came together at the same time asking to start on their sites within days of each other. Are you feeling the intensity yet? Ha! Come join us in Crazyville.

Neither of us has any desire to cut back – it’s our busy schedules that will help us attain our goals for the coming years – the first of which is a house this fall! But, sometimes work takes on a mind of its own, and grows exponentially. It just so happens this is the case for both of us at the moment, so we’re just trying to do good work, get caught up, and take a much-needed breather.

Cue the blog pause. I’ll be back…once I’ve caught my breath.


Happy birthday, USA!

I thank God for my life
for the stars and stripes
may freedom forever fly
let it ring.

Salute the ones who died
the ones who give their lives
so we don’t have to sacrifice
all the things we love.

(Zac Brown Band – “Chicken Fried”)

To our brave troops, who tirelessly defend our freedom here and overseas every single day, around the clock, THANK YOU.

God bless America.

Annnnd we’re back!

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks – with no real “weekend” in between to do my usual catching up and keeping up! ƂĀ I’ll have to get caught up in a series of two or three posts, but for now, here’s the first installment….

Page and I have both been taking on LOTS of new business with clients this summer, so it has literally been work all day, hit the gym for a quick break, grab some dinner, then go back to work all night long. We are never ones to complain though – we love our clients and with every new job, we’re a little bit closer to that down payment. šŸ˜‰ Working in overdrive the way we do doesn’t always leave us time to do as much “fun stuff” as we’d like with friends, but we are confident that working our booties off now is all part of the plan and that it will all pay off in the near future!

So here we go with installment one of the recap…first stop, Chicago – more specifically, “The Bean” in Millennium Park! While in town for the HOW Design Conference, I had crammed SO many notes and new tricks into my brain, that I needed a little break. I ventured out of my hotel and down the block to check out this well-known little landmark, that despite visiting Chicago several times (and LIVING here for several months in ’07), I had never seen in person up close. It was so fun to be out in the sunshine, mingling with total strangers as we all took pics of our reflections and laid on the ground to gaze up from underneath.

There’s more to say about Chicago, but for tonight I’ll leave it at this. In the meantime, check out my post on my first visit to the Sprinkles Cupcake Shop. Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend – I certainly am!