This week was pretty good! I got off to a rough start on Monday, and I really didn’t want to work out given that I had a bad day. I decided to push past it and workout anyway. A lot of traffic meant I couldn’t squeeze in my planned run before class, so I figured I’d go to the boot camp class at the gym anyway. Then the teacher didn’t show up! I decided to do the elliptical machine, but I didn’t have my headphones, and I lasted about five minutes before giving up and going home. It was a good faithe ffort.
Tuesday was running at the track (with a bit of a delayed start) and then luckily things got a bit better from there!
Monday’s plan: Boot camp + 30 minute run This did not happen – see above for the drama!
Tuesday’s plan: 30 minute run at the track I squeezed in a run of 21 minutes and ran 1.5 miles.
Wednesday’s plan: November Project workout + evening yoga I made it to NP and ran 1.5 miles, but I decided to pass on yoga in favor of doing freelance work instead.
Thursday’s plan: 40 minute run I ran/walked 3 miles in 49 minutes. This was really more of a walk. My calves were sore and it was humid, and I felt bad about the whole thing. But a friend reminded me “walk is better than sit!” and that changed my perspective.
Friday’s plan: Rest Done!
Saturday: 4 mile group run Done! 4 miles in 53:48. I joined a new pace group this week and it felt much better.
Sunday: Yoga This didn’t happen because I went wine tasting with friends and I couldn’t make it to the class before we had to leave.
Overall, week two counts as pretty good.
Here’s what I’m planning for this week, per my workout plan:
Monday: Boot camp + 30 minute run Tuesday: 30 minute run at the track Wednesday: November Project workout + evening yoga Thursday: 40 minute run Friday: Rest Saturday: 5 mile group run Sunday: Yoga
It’s pretty similar to last week, but I’m hoping for a better success rate this time around.
From an “accomplish all the things” perspective, I didn’t do super well with my goals in September. But I did read five books (of the 8 I was hoping for), I wrote a bunch of blog posts, and I went on a solo adventure day. I ran my 5k, started marathon training, and flossed most days. Progress!
Wednesday November Project
Catch up on bullet journal trackers + “some lines a day” journal
Organize photos in Dropbox
Weekend meal prep
Read 2 books
Yoga once a week
Connect with a friend
Clean out clothes and reorganize. This is left over from last month, but I really want to get to it.
Plan for NaNoWriMo. I’ve decided to do it again this year (I took the last few years off) and I want to at least create an outline of the story I’m hoping to write.
Plan for and have Adventure Day #2. I still need to write about the first one, by the way.
Create editorial calendar + write 15 blog posts. I’m so happy to be back blogging more consistently, and I’m going to ride the wave as long as I can!
The 18 month anniversary of my move to LA seems as good an opportunity as any to write an ode to my favorite ice cream shop: Salt & Straw.
There’s three things I love most about Salt & Straw: their branding, their changing flavors each month, and their instagram-ability (let’s be real).
I don’t know the first time I went, but I do know that my now-roommate and I used to stop there on our way to concerts at the Troubadour, which I love (and haven’t been to in far too long).
Salt & Straw has a set list of consistent flavors, but they also have 5-7 new flavors each month, usually on a theme. The last time I went there it was “Late Harvest”. In April it was misnamed flavors invented by kids to trick people for April Fools’ Day. In August there were a bunch of flavors with vegetables, and I had a delicious scoop of chocolate zucchini.
I really like that you can try as many flavors as you want – and even if I don’t like the flavor, they’re still always interesting and new.
There’s also the time that I saw Victoria Beckham and her kids (on my roommate Bri’s birthday, no less) and she asked me if we were “in the queue”. We were, but I said no, because it was Victoria Beckham. We basically all stood there in silence while she ordered and then coped with the shock afterward.
It might seem silly to wax poetic about an ice cream place, but I really do love it there so much. I get the same thing pretty much every time (chocolate gooey brownie) and it feels like a small luxury each time I do.
My favorite location is in West Hollywood (where I saw Victoria, obviously) but find a complete list of Los Angeles Salt & Straw locations here. Find all my LA food recommendations here.
I’m linking up once again this month with Anne of In Residence to share what I’m up to right now. The photo above is from an LA bookstagram meet up I went to over the weekend. It was my first time going to a book swap, and if I’d known people were going to bring stacks and stacks of books, I would’ve brought way more to share! I’m looking forward to the next one.
Tomorrow marks my 18 month anniversary of living in Los Angeles. It’s hard to believe! It’s also been six months since I published this post, and I just reread it. I stand by every word I wrote then, and I can see how I’ve grown even since then. Here’s to the second half of year two!
wearing | my sneakers a lot more! As I mentioned in my post on Monday, I started marathon training, which involve 4-6 workouts a week! My new-ish sneakers (I guess two months isn’t that new) and I are getting very well acquainted with each other after a month of little exercise.
collecting | books! As I mentioned above, I went to a book swap with fellow readers I went on Instagram. I had my first day of marathon training that morning and had to rush home and jump in the shower, so I was a bit late to the actual meet up and only had time to bring one book. That said, I still managed to walk away with six new-to-me books and I look forward to reading them.
making | all my meals! I’m on my fourth week of eating meals I’ve prepped on the weekend ahead of time, and it’s been great and brought my food spending way down. I spent $140 less on eating out in September than I did in August, and I feel great about it.
taking | advantage of the weather! If I can’t wear scarves and cute sweaters like all my friends in the Northeast, I’m going to enjoy the sunshine as best I can.
planning | an editorial calendar for the blog! I’m suddenly full of post ideas and doing my best to get them written as quickly as I can. On this note, if there’s anything specific you want me to write about, please let me know! I definitely want to write about finances, the adventure day I had last month, and things to do in Los Angeles. That’s not even counting catching up from various adventures I had over the summer. Anyway, let me know!
I am absolutely at least ten books behind my Goodreads reading goal of 100 books in 2018, but not stressing about it yet. This month I read five books, but two of them were really big and previously intimidated me. I had almost entirely positive feelings about the books this month, and one was a strong standout for sure.
I’m skipping the ~official summaries this month to make things easier on myself, but if you super duper miss them, let me know and I can bring them back.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
I could talk about this book all day. I got it from Book of the Month last August and was intimidated by the length, so I never picked it up. Something compelled me to do so at the beginning of September, and I am endlessly thankful I did. Once I got into it I couldn’t stop reading it. I’m still thinking about it, honestly.
It’s the story of Cyril Avery, a boy who was adopted as a baby by a couple who give him a home, but not much else. His father repeatedly reminds him that he’s not a ‘real Avery’ and insists on calling him his adopted son, even through Cyril’s adulthood.
The story starts after World War II and begins with Cyril’s birth mother leaving her family in rural Ireland and heading to Dublin to start a new life. From there, it picks up every seven years throughout Cyril’s entire life. I went into this not knowing much about it, other than that John Boyne was Irish. It deals with Ireland’s relationship to the Catholic Church, fiercely loyal but also complicated, about the country’s attitudes toward sexuality, and about growing up and finding a home. It’s a long book but an incredible one, and you’ll absolutely see it on my top ten list at the end of the year. I don’t frequently reread books, but I will certainly read this one again.
RECOMMENDED FOR: anyone who loves a sweeping, heartbreaking and heartwarming life story
The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory
I bought this book at a tiny bookstore north of San Francisco last September. I went to visit my friend Mallory for Labor Day Weekend and because she’s a great friend and knows what I’m about, she took me to a bookstore, where I found this and couldn’t resist.
When I was a kid, my absolute favorite book was The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory. I was obsessed with her historical fiction take on the life of Katherine of Aragon, King Henry IV’s first wife. (Did you know she was married to his brother for a short time before she married him?)
This book isn’t quite as good as The Constant Princess and I know far less about Lady Jane Grey and her sisters (whom the novel centers on), but I still enjoyed reading it. It was a bit too long for my taste (550 pages!) and felt like it dragged on forever in parts. I’m not sure how historically accurate it is, and there’s plenty of Amazon reviews saying it’s not, but I think if you really like this time period you could check it out.
RECOMMENDED FOR: fans of the Tudors and historical fiction
The Elizas by Sara Shepard
I bought this on a whim at the LA Times Festival of Books this April, when I attended a panel about books turning into tv shows. Sara Shepard wrote the Pretty Little Liars books, and I wanted a chance to meet her and tell her how I’d met some of my best friends in college watching the show, so I bought her book and got it signed. (She did not receive the comment with the enthusiasm I felt it deserved, but that’s okay.)
This is a mystery/thriller story, but I didn’t think it was a very good one. It’s composed of a dual narrative: one of a woman in the real world, and one that comes from the book she’s about to publish. Things and events from the book start to appear in her real life, blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s not. I got the sense that it was supposed to be unsettling, but rather I just found it all a little bit weird.
RECOMMENDED FOR: fans of thrillers and diehard Pretty Little Liars fans
Dreaming in Irish by Sarah-Jane McKenna
I received this book from my freelance client in order to write a review of it for the website. It’s the first novel by this author, who writes under a pen name.
In researching this book, I saw it described as a ‘cozy mystery’. I don’t see it as a mystery as much as a story of uncovering family history. The death of her sister and her brother-in-law sends Kate Doyle back to Brooklyn to take care of her young niece and the rest of her family. As she establishes a new normal, she finds a family heirloom in her mother’s basement and decides to learn its story. This quest will eventually take her to Ireland.
That summary sounds boring and there were a few places where this story lags, but the real standouts were the characters. I loved each member of Kate’s family, especially her niece Molly. It was
RECOMMENDED FOR: fans of character-driven novels, genealogy and Ireland
I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel
As a member of the book launch team, I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this book to share on social media. I loved what I read in August, but I finally got a chance to sit down and read the full book. It’s a collection of stories about reading, books, libraries, and the book loving lifestyle.
I loved the chapter about confessing literary sins. (Mine is that I’ve never read Pride & Prejudice!) I also loved the chapter where Anne talks about the books that made her who she is today – I’m making a note to write a post about that for my own books! Finally, there’s a great chapter where Anne talks about how she used to live literally next door to a library and how that made her use it all the time. This is a short collection (it took me just under an hour to read in its entirety), but it’s a really good one.
RECOMMENDED FOR: book lovers and anyone who loves a book lover
In total this month:
Total number of books: five Number of fiction books: four Number of nonfiction books: one Books by people who are not white dudes: four Total number of books this year: sixty-five
When I first started running, I devoured running blogs. I loved reading people’s training logs, their race recaps, and their emotions about the whole process. But there was one problem: all of these people were a lot faster than me. I wanted to read someone who was more like me: not a speedster, but plodding along day after day, trying her best. So I decided it’d be up to me.
I used to write recaps of my own, three summers ago when I was training for my first half marathon. I didn’t do it for my first marathon, but I wished I did. So I’m doing it now, for marathon number two.
The Road Ahead
The race is on March 24, 2019. I’m training with the LA Road Runners, and we started training last Saturday, September 29. It’s a long training cycle (26 weeks) and a few people have questioned that, since most marathon training plans tend to be 16-20 weeks. Our program is a bit different in that it starts with shorter runs and builds a foundation before moving on to the longer runs most programs start with.
I may write a post about my intentions/hopes for this training cycle, but the main reasons I signed up for this crazy adventure again are because 1) I know I can do better than I did before and 2) I loved how I felt when I was training before. The schedule and regimen were really good for me.
That said, I wasn’t super excited about the prospect of going to the first run on Saturday. But then I woke up and got really excited during the drive. It was great to see people again, and it made me feel like part of a community. I had that feeling of planting down roots – doing the same thing for the second time with the same people.
I intended to work out at least twice during the week but it didn’t happen. Not a great start, but it’s okay. 26 weeks is a long time, and I’m alright giving myself a bit of grace at the start.
Saturday: 3 mile run at 13:22 min/mi pace. This felt okay – honestly a little bit fast. We run with pace groups and I think I’m going to try a different group next week.
Here’s what I’m planning for this week:
Monday: Boot camp + 30 minute run Tuesday: 30 minute run at the track Wednesday: November Project workout + evening yoga Thursday: 40 minute run Friday: Rest Saturday: 4 mile group run Sunday: Yoga
I’m hoping to write quick recaps with thoughts/plans/feelings/results every week. I’m excited for what’s to come!
I saw Bastille for the first time the week before I moved to Los Angeles. They played at the Agganis Arena in Boston, a 7,200 seat arena, and I went with my friend Lauren. It was March of 2017, and I was getting ready to start a really big adventure.
It’s been pretty much exactly 18 months since that night, and I got to see them again on Monday. (I think my previous show was on a Monday, too, and I’m sappy, but I’m not quite sappy enough to count the exact number of weeks.) Pretty much everything about my life now is different, but the show was just as good.
A list of random things I want to remember: running into my friend and his girlfriend and them offering to let me crash their date since I was alone, how the venue was set up with strange levels, how fancy the lobby was, how nice it was to find free parking, how the people in front of me were being annoying and I decided to forget about it and just enjoy the show, how I put my phone away and barely took any pictures the whole night.
I want to remember how the band brought balloons on stage for the encore and then joked that it looked terrible (it didn’t), how good it felt to just close my eyes and feel the music and dance, how Dan put on a taco hat someone threw on stage, how the singer of Walk the Moon was three inches in front of me and I didn’t know til I got home and looked on Instagram.
I want to remember how I’d had a weird day and once I let go of those feelings and decided to lose myself in the music, my whole mood lifted, how freeing and joyous and fun it is to sing Quarter Past Midnight and Happier and Pompeii with 1,800 strangers, how there were zero visuals for the show and it really didn’t matter at all because they are just that good.
My number one goal when I moved to LA was to go to more concerts. I saw NEEDTOBREATHE at the Greek Theatre two nights before this show (for $20!) and that experience showed me that I don’t need to know every song a band has ever done to have a good time at their show. For me, there’s nothing like live music.
It feels vaguely on brand for this blog that I’m writing this post with just two weeks left to go in the month! But better late than never. Goals + planning feels like it’s fallen a bit to the wayside over these last few months and I’d like to get back to it.
I broke out my sad, lonely Powersheets (which are actually a set from 2017 that barely got used!) and dusted them off for the first time since March. As you might be able to see in the photo above, the page I wrote on is actually from August! It’s a mistake I didn’t notice until I had finished. I crossed it off and wrote September and it’s as good as new. One new thing I did this month was to photo copy my tending list from the Powersheets in a smaller size, cut it to fit my planner, and tape it in there. It helps me to keep an eye on the goals a bit more.
Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish this month:
Read 8+ books. I should be finishing a second today (both books are 550+ pages, so it’s taken a while) and then hopefully make some progress on this goal.
Write 12 blog posts. That amounts to 3 a week. This post makes 6 posts in September, so I’m right on track!
Clean/organize dresser and underbed storage.
Write 5 posts for OriGenes, the site I freelance for.
Run the Santa Monica Classic. Done! Recap post coming next week.
Solo adventure. Not totally sure what this entails, but I just know I want to do some sort of outing on my own. I’m tentatively planning this for next Sunday, since I think it’s my only free day!
Run 15 miles total.
Start marathon training. It starts on the 29th!
Wednesday November Project. 1/2 on this thus far!
Connect with a friend without technology (unless it’s a phone call!)
Spend under $75 a week (expected bills/subscriptions don’t count).
Write a letter to a friend.
15 job applications.
My daily goals are to get out of bed without checking my phone, take my vitamins, floss, read for 30 minutes every day, make my bed, and go to bed by 10:15 pm! Honestly, I tend to use the daily goals section of PowerSheets the least, since I have a habit tracker in my planner.
After having a long weekend last week, this weekend went by far too quickly. I still feel like I packed a lot into it, which was good for me. The main disappointment of the weekend is that I was supposed to do a 24 hour adventure race called Questival from Friday night to Saturday night, but I had to drop out for financial reasons. It was a bummer and it looked like my team had so much fun. I definitely hope to be able to do it next year.
So instead of spending Friday night on a scavenger hunt around LA like I planned, I spent it writing blog posts and doing freelance work. I did a very tiny bit of grocery shopping because I promised myself I’d eat some vegetables for dinner, so I stopped at Trader Joe’s for a salad. I think I probably read for a bit and then went to bed. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a little worried I can’t remember what I did? (Where is my brain?) I think this was probably the night that I finished The Heart’s Invisible Furies, which, spoiler, ripped my heart out for all 600 pages.
I woke up, made coffee, and then immediately got back in bed to start a new book. I’ve been trying to do this more often. My mom used to sometimes read in bed on the weekends and I never understood how nice it could be until a couple months ago. It feels very luxurious.
After that I took some blog photos and finalized the two book posts I just published (July, August). Then I felt bad about my lack of vegetables again and made some lunch! Then Bri (one of my roommates) and I walked to Starbucks to get some work done. I worked on a freelance article, scheduled some freelance social content, and saw some dogs! That night I ate dinner, painted my nails, and got ready for a race and a very early wake up on Sunday!
I ran my first race since the LA Marathon in March! It was a 5k that finished in the same place as the marathon, so it was very cool to be back running. I’m planning to write a full race recap for my own memories/training log, but the short story is that I didn’t train ahead of time and had barely been running at all. So the race didn’t feel great and I was pretty slow, but I did beat (by approximately two whole seconds) the base goal that I set for myself.
I grocery shopped and then spent a whole bunch of hours doing meal prep. For the first time in a long time, I did breakfast, lunch, and dinner as follows:
Breakfast: overnight oats with applesauce, blackberries, blueberries, almond milk, and a pinch of nutmeg
Lunch: quinoa, corn, green pepper, beans, and chicken
Dinner: garlic parmesan kale pasta with chicken (from Budget Bytes!)
After feeling like a queen for doing All. The. Meal. Prep., I met up with some friends to celebrate our friend Liz’s birthday, which was the next day. Blake brought a slice of cake to the bar they’d been at (I was late because of endless cooking!) and we sang happy birthday. Then we went to see BlacKKKlansman which was much heavier than I was anticipating (I didn’t know anything about it) and also well-worth seeing. It was a good weekend!
This was a weird month for reading! Some months I read one or two books, some months I read fifteen. I’m up to 61 out of my goal of 100 this year, as of this writing. Yet this month I didn’t pick up a book til I was more than halfway through the month!
That said, the two books I did manage to read this month I really liked!
BAD BLOOD: SECRETS AND LIES IN A SILICON VALLEY STARTUP by John Carreyrou ★★★
In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.
I read this for book club and I liked it! The story is pretty crazy, all things considered. It’s wild to think about how many people Holmes managed to manipulate. Because there were so many players involved and it detailed the experiences of many of them, I felt like this book was repetitive and thus a bit too long. There’s a certain point at which I get that this person was shady and manipulative; I don’t need more info to back that up! That said, I really respect that this was written by the journalist who broke the story. Just this week I heard that Theranos is dissolving as a company, so we definitely read this at the right time!
BEARTOWN by Fredrick Backman ★★★★★
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.
Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.
I only have big feelings about this book! It’s for sure going to be on my top 10 list at the end of the year. It’s like Friday Night Lights but with hockey and set in Sweden. If you’ve watched FNL, though, you know that it’s about so much more than football; it’s about family and love and growing up and all those crucial things that make us happy.
When I started this, I forgot that the author is Swedish and the book had been translated; it helps to remember this when they start talking about moving across the pond to Canada and playing in the NHL. That’s my American bias absolutely showing but I wanted to point it out! I definitely want to read this one again sometime.
In total this month:
Total number of books: two Number of fiction books: one Number of nonfiction books: one Books by people who are not white dudes: zero Total number of books this year: sixty