Monday, June 29, 2015

Movie Goer + Smoothie Parfait Recipe

Here we go again! Another Monday. And my last real Monday before my schedule starts getting crazy. Okay, not crazy, but it's my last week of freedom before I start having actual things to do with my days. I'm working a couple of Rice Volleyball camps, one of my friends is getting married, and I'm rounding out the summer with a trip to New York City. Because those three things are such a huge burden, so I am sure I am receiving all of your sympathy right now. But I am hoping to get a lot done this week, while still maintaining some regularity with this blog. Here's to hoping that I have a completed to-do list before I leave for a weekend in Austin on Friday afternoon!


I've got another new recipe to share with you guys today! It looks far more complicated than what it actually takes to throw this creation together. After waking up and going for a neighborhood bike ride, and running the hill up at Stratford, I was more than ready for something cool and refreshing. Thus, this smoothie "parfait" was born. 

For the smoothie -
  • Pink portion
    • 3/4 cup sliced strawberries
    • 1 sliced banana
    • 1/2 cup almond milk
    • Handful of ice cubes
  • Green portion
    • 2 handfuls baby spinach
For the parfait -
  • Granola
  • Blueberries
1. Line the bottom of a mason jar with granola. I used my own version of this homemade granola, but any granola will work.
2. Place all ingredients for the pink portion in a blender, and blend until smooth.
3. Pour half of pink portion into the mason glass, over the granola.
4. This is where it got tricky for me. I happened to have blueberries handy in my fridge, and they are not the most buoyant fruit. They didn't sink to the bottom, but they didn't quite float on top of the pink portion. In any case, I added in blueberries as my next layer.
5. Add two handfuls of spinach to the blender, blending the spinach into the remaining portion until smooth.
6. DO NOT JUST POUR THE GREEN PORTION OVER THE PINK PORTION! Instead, and this is a bit more time-consuming, spoon the green portion over the pink portion, going around the edge of the glass first. Once one layer is complete, keep spooning the green portion into the mason jar until full.
It really doesn't take that long, and you'll get an Instagram-worthy breakfast.
7. Top with another spoonful of granola, and another handful of blueberries.
8. Enjoy!

Movie Mania

You guys may or may not know that I am not a big movie-goer. It's rarely something that I will choose to do, and even if suggested by another person, it's a 50/50 chance that I will actually go with said person. It's not even that movies have gotten so incredibly expensive, because they have, but it's that I often feel guilty about sitting for two hours, doing nothing but looking up at a big screen. I feel as though there's something else I could be doing, and while that is usually true, sometimes being still is exactly what I need at that point in time. And even then, I'll often choose reading over seeing a movie. Which is why I haven't seen a movie in theaters since October, when I saw Gone Girl (which, by the way, didn't hold a candle to the book).

However, when my uncle came to Houston in late April, he talked about how he spent an extended afternoon at Sundance Cinema downtown. And this wasn't the first time I had heard talk of Sundance. Many of the teachers at school frequent it, because it's the type of place that won't be overrun with teenagers. Not that we don't like teenagers, of course, but if how they behave in the classroom is any indication of how they behave when they are out and about, I can speak for all teachers when I say that we'd prefer not to share a movie theater with them. I'm just saying. Anyway, I had heard that Sundance is the best of the Houston movie theaters, so as a devoted Houstonian, I knew I was going to have to check it out. So after Friday evening's massage, I made my way downtown, drove around a bit trying to find the best parking (sidenote: Sundance will validate parking up to three hours. Score!), and ventured inside for my first Sundance movie experience. And after having a Sundance movie experience, I'm not sure that I can ever go to another theater. And here's why -


  1. Reserved seating. This isn't required, but if you buy your ticket online, you get to pick your seat. So if you have a favorite spot in the movie theater, you can make sure it's yours.
  2. The seats rock, for lack of a better word. Roomy and comfortable, and the armrests are huge. Which is a nice plus because then you don't have to feel as though you're in your neighbor's lap throughout the entirety of the movie. It feels like you're on an airplane, you know, without the plane part. This would really be an ideal date night theater.
  3. Though I didn't check it out, as I was riding solo this round, Sundance has a bar, with food and drinks that are made to be carried into the theater with you. Like I said, ideal date night theater. 
  4. And mainly catering to the adult crowd, there are both indie and mainstream movies shown here. The prices aren't that much more than they are at any other movie theater, and to me, the experience was worth it. Though I don't see my movie-going percentage increasingly significantly, I will certainly be returning to Sundance the next time a movie craving hits.
And I actually saw two movies this weekend. I know. We're going 0 to 100 real quick over here. Friday I saw Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which I absolutely loved, but made me cry in such a way that no movie has done in a while. I'll even step out and say that this film was better than the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars. I didn't love that movie, though I absolutely loved the book. I digress. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is actually based on a young adult novel as well, and it chronicles the senior year of three teenagers - Greg, Earl, and Rachel. It's the typical "high school" story - the relationship between a teenager and his overbearing parents, the reality of high school cliques, and the unique relationship between student and the "cool" teacher, but it does it in such a way that truly mimics reality. It captures the stereotypical high school moments, but not in a stereotypical way. It's tough to be a teenager, and that's highlighted in the protagonist, Greg, who is clearly not comfortable in his own skin, even preferring to call his best friend Earl his co-worker because he doesn't want to give someone the friend label and then be let down. High school is a time when self-esteem issues are commonplace.

And then we have Rachel, the girl with leukemia. Something no teenager should ever have to face, but unfortunately, something that teenagers do face. Rachel isn't interested in those who pull the cancer card, and while Greg originally hangs out with her on his mother's request, a genuine (doomed) friendship eventually develops between Rachel and Greg. And Earl, too. Greg lets his guard down when he lets Rachel view the films he and Earl have made growing up, and they even try to put together a film for Rachel as her condition continues to decline. 

I obviously have a soft spot in my heart for high schoolers. I really think they're the coolest. And I appreciated the way this movie captured the complexities of what it means to be a high school student today. Self-loathing, low self-esteem, selfishness, genuine friendships, feeling out-of-place, bumps in the road. And I really appreciated that this wasn't a cliche love story. Because believe it or not, high school boys and girls can just be friends. A raw and real portrayal of adolescence that gets five stars from me. 

Saturday's movie was an accident. I was hanging out with Gayle as she unpacked and organized her room from her big move home from College Station - okay, I probably distracted her more than anything - but she and a college friend who has also moved home to Houston had plans to hang out that evening. She invited me to join them, and it was decided that we would do dinner and a movie. Gayle's mom suggested we see Spy, but neither Gayle nor I am a big Melissa McCarthy fan. And I've heard only good things about Disney Pixar's Inside Out. So Inside Out it was. And I absolutely saw what all the hype is about. 

Another coming-of-age movie, this one focuses on Riley, a girl who is taken from her life and friends in Minnesota when her family moves to San Francisco. As is the same with everyone, she is guided by her emotions - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust - the little voices inside her head who work in Headquarters to guide her through life. Joy prides herself on the fact that many of Riley's memories are just that - joy. But when she moves away from everything she knows, she begins to experience loneliness, isolation, and sadness. And I think what is most memorable about this movie is the importance of Sadness. Without it, Joy can't do her thing. It allows viewers to understand that sadness is real, sadness is normal, and that it's okay to feel it. We just can't be happy all of the time, and more often than not, sadness is what draws our loved ones closest to us, which allows us to feel that joy again.

I won't even begin to pretend that this is scientifically correct, because I do remember some things from my AP Psychology class senior year, but I thought it was a wonderful presentation of the complexities of our feelings and emotions, and how it's okay to feel them. We don't have to put on a happy face all the time, and acknowledging these other feelings will often result in genuine happiness.

And with that, I'm off to sit by the pool and read before heading up to Bellaire for tonight's open gym. I've got my fingers crossed that I'll even get to play tonight, as many players are in New Orleans for Junior Nationals. Catch y'all later!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Anna's Survey

Happy Sunday! It's a rainy morning here in Houston, which I felt was perfect for curling up in bed and getting today's blog post checked off my list. Start each day with a task completed, right? Anyway, this is a survey that I saw over on Carrots ‘n’ Cake’s blog, which she read in the April issue of Health, which featured an interview with Anna Farris. She liked the questions, so she turned it into a blog survey. And I’m doing the same. Because who doesn’t love a blog survey? This one’s short, but sweet for certain.

Can you eat what you want or do you have to watch it?
I definitely consider myself a healthy eater, but I also have a runner’s appetite. I am hungry a lot of the time, and I consume what most people would consider to be a lot of food. But because I’d rather eat a lot than I little, I do watch what I eat. I make sure that most of what I put in my body is going to fuel it. That being said, I know all too well what body image struggle looks like, and I also know that it can absolutely consume one’s mind. And while I won’t go crazy and eat an entire chocolate cake in one sitting, I also won’t ever deprive myself of a little treat when I want one. It’s everything in moderation.

What are your favorite ways to pamper yourself?
I’m going to have to go with the answer before mine. Massages are probably my favorite indulgence, though I don’t get them often, but pedicures are my must-have guilty pleasure. I rarely let my toes be seen unpainted, but my nails will rarely be seen with paint on them.

I’ll go more in depth about this in another post, but on Friday I enjoyed a sports massage at Zalla Massage, and I don’t have enough good things to say about it. It had been a while since I had a massage, and between work and working out, I knew I had put my body through the ringer. Zack has golden hands, and I felt like a million bucks walking out of their cute little hobbit house. If you ever find yourself in the Montrose area with some time to kill, you know what to do. A little relaxation can do wonders for a person.

Besides wine, do you have a go-to drink?
Honestly, it’s probably just wine. I’m not a huge drinker, and if I am going to drink, it will probably be wine. That, or a mimosa. A Hugo’s blackberry mimosa is hard to beat. And champagne was my first love.

Do you have any health regrets?
Hmm. There was a period of time when I really, really restricted what I ate. I was so concerned about gaining the freshman 15 that I went in the opposite direction and didn’t let myself enjoy much of anything. It took me a while, but I soon realized that’s no way to live, and while it’s not really a regret so much as it was a learning experience, it’s still sad that I made myself feel so guilty over one little slip-up. I would spend hours agonizing over one unhealthy choice, fearful that it would suddenly make me gain ten pounds. Extreme, I know. But when someone tells you, “You can’t gain the freshman 15 because you don’t have anywhere to put it,” just before you get ready to make the big college move, it sticks with you.

Are you a yoga person?
I’m not even going to pretend here. I am not a yoga person in the slightest. But on a whim I purchased a Groupon for Aerial YogaHouston, got outside my comfort zone, and took what I consider to be a FUN yoga class early yesterday morning. I wish I liked yoga, but I am just not a relax-and-stretch kind of person. There is absolutely a time and a place for both of those things, and I should certainly make more time for them, but that’s just not my exercise style. I’ll spend more time talking about it in another post, but the bottom line is, that’s my kind of yoga!

What workout move do you loathe?
I hate a love/hate relationship with jumping lunges. But what I truly loathe are leg lifts. They really irritate my back, which is probably telling me something, right? They’re the one exercise I just won’t do when prompted in some sort of group exercise class. And I certainly never choose to do them on my own.

When do you feel your best?
I feel my best after a good, long run. And though I typically prefer the hot over the cold, I really love the feeling I get after completing a run on a bitter cold and wet day. Triumphant is the best word to describe that feeling.

When do you feel your absolute happiest?
Lately I’ve noticed that I feel my absolute happiest when I’m with a group of friends, we’re all just hanging out and talking, our phones are nowhere to be seen, and we’re all just laughing and having a good time. Those are the moments that are hard to beat. I feel it when I’m hanging out with JAKL, I felt it when I was eating dinner on the beach in San Francisco, and I felt it at the Astros game the other night – just four girls talking and laughing over America’s pastime.

And that’s all I’ve got for you right now. I’ve enjoyed one great and funfilled weekend, but it’s time to really be productive!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Chocolate for Breakfast Round Two

Happy FRIDAY! I'm back with another post for you guys today. And this one is a great one because it centers around yet another easy and healthy breakfast recipe that includes my very favorite ingredient - chocolate. It really doesn't look a whole lot different from this recipe right here, but I did make a couple of changes to it. Minor changes, but to me, they made all the difference.

I don't know how you fall on the quinoa spectrum, but I absolutely love it. I've never been a huge fan of rice, and couscous, while delicious, has few nutritional benefits, but quinoa is just plain addictive. And good for you. And I often end up cooking far more than what I actually need at that time, and it's not one of those foods that keeps particularly well. So if you have leftovers, you have to use them pretty quickly. Which is why this healthy quinoa pancake recipe is absolutely perfect.

And even though every day feels like a Friday when you're a teacher and you still have summer vacation, thank goodness for Fridays, right? Chocolate is obviously a must.

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Pancakes
Prep time: Less than 5 minutes
Cook time: 4-5 minutes
Makes approximately 8 small-medium pancakes

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk, but I'm on the dairy-free spectrum)
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (or 2 eggs)
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
  • Dash of honey (or sweetener of your choice)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Handful of chocolate chunks
1. This recipe makes the most sense when you have leftover quinoa, but if you don't have leftover quinoa, cook up some quinoa. It requires minimal effort and takes less than 15 minutes.
2. Put quinoa, milk, egg whites, honey, baking powder, cinnamon, and chia seeds in a large bowl.
3. Mix all of the above together until smooth. Batter will be thick.
4. This is where we may differ, though it will certainly end with the same result. I have a Perfect Pancake Maker, because I am the world's worst pancake flipper. So I simply scooped batter into each of the four rounds, sprayed down with cooking spray, and placed the pan over medium-low heat. If you don't have a Perfect Pancake Maker, no stress! Simply spray down a large skillet and scoop your pancake batter into three or four rounds.
5. Once the pancakes are in the rounds, sprinkle the chocolate chunks into the batter.
6. With a pancake maker, close the lid, give it 2-3 minutes on one side before flipping it over for 1-2 minutes on the other side. The same goes for using a skillet, you just don't have to close the lid. It may even be easier because you can keep an eye on the pancakes and flip them when they turn a golden brown color.
7. I totally intended to eat these topped with strawberries and blueberries, because those two fruits plus chocolate are hard to beat, but I got so excited that I completely forgot about the fruit. Next time. But garnish as desired - fruit, syrup, Greek yogurt, butter, etc.
8. Enjoy! Because chocolate for breakfast is always a good idea.

And that's it. An easy breakfast that will keep you full for hours afterward. My breakfast of four (okay, maybe five) pancakes fueled me for another one of Felipe's strength and circuit workouts. It was a toughie, but I really enjoyed it. I felt strong and full of energy throughout the class, and some of the exercises we did had my brain churning with potential circuit workouts. So be on the lookout for some of those. And with that, I'm off to fix myself a (very) late lunch before heading downtown-ish for a massage and a movie. Because every once in a while you just have to treat yourself.

Things I'm Loving Friday XXXIX

Here we are - another Friday! This week seemed to fly, but that's probably because I had little things to do each evening of this week. Volleyball consumed Monday through Wednesday, but last night I attended my first Astros game of the 2015 season. The Astros have created quite a bit of noise this year, and at one point, were the hottest team in baseball. If you knew what we have been dealing with in Houston these past .. many .. years, you would understand why this is such a big deal. It was on my summer list to attend a game, and what's better than attending a game against those all-too-famous New York Yankees? We had a wonderful time at the game, and we even got the victory. And I am officially a Jose Altuve fan. He may be small, but he is mighty!

But now, it's time for another round of Things I'm Loving Friday!

Niko Niko's
Houston's #1 Greek restaurant, and a place I'm almost embarrassed that I had never been to before. I'd heard of it, I'd put it on my to-eat list, and yet, until last Friday, I had never taken the plunge. Hanna and I were long overdue for a Trouble Twin date, so when she suggested Niko Niko's, after being inspired by the many people who are exploring Greece this summer, I was all in. And in true Kelli form, I could not decide what I wanted. I knew I had to get a pita sandwich in some way, shape, or form, because Niko Niko's is known for its pita bread. But did I want to go with the famous gyro? Chicken? Pork? Niko Niko's is prepared for people like me - offering a menu item called the Hat Trick Combo, which features a mini gyro, a mini chicken kebab sandwich, and a mini pork sandwich. The best of all worlds, and I ate every last bite. The pita was the star of the show, and while I loved each pita sandwich, I think the gyro takes the cake.

Hat Trick Combo
Fat Cat Creamery
What is dinner without dessert, right? And what is summer without ice cream? So when you put the two together, you've got yourself a winning combo. Especially when the ice cream in question came from a shop that made this list of The 33 Best Ice Cream Shops in America. What I like about this hole-in-the-wall creamery is the unique flavors - some vegan, some alcohol-infused - that aren't too out of the ordinary. I went with a scoop of the Chai Tea Coconut, which is dairy-free, though the dairy-free Pina Colada was calling my name, too. Hanna went with the Whiskey Butter Pecan and Coffee combination, and we enjoyed our ice cream while sitting outside on the porch catching up on life on a most beautiful Texas evening. 

Common Bond
Another beloved Houston establishment. Which became evident to me upon walking in the doors and seeing not one open seat in sight. Luckily, Amira and I were stopping in for only a sweet treat or two, but I vowed to come back to enjoy an actual meal, because everything looked delicious. And not only did the food make a nice appearance, but the restaurant's decor and atmosphere did as well. Big windows letting in natural light, and long tables that may have you sitting next to someone you don't necessarily know. Making new friends is a good thing. The star of the show, however, was the showcase of pastries, cookies, and all things sweet. I opted for a bag of granola for myself, that I have enjoyed over the course of this week with almond milk and dairy-free chocolate chunks, and a package of different-flavored macarons for my family. My mom raved about the lemon, but the salted caramel has consistently been given five stars. Evidently their croissants are some of the best around, but unfortunately for me, I've just never liked the things. But when all is said and done, Common Bond certainly did not disappoint, and I will be making a return sooner rather than later.

99 Things All Yuccies Love
This article is it. A friend posted it to Facebook while I was in Cozumel and it had be cracking up laughing in my bed. Then Amira and I were later discussing how we're not quite hipsters, but we're really not yuppies, and the term that best describes us would be yuccies. Young Urban Creatives who want to be "successful like yuppies and creative like hipsters." I can't even list the numbers that resonate with me, because it's really almost all of them. The dollar section at Target is my demise. Half marathons are my thing. The words "guac" and "margs" are a part of my vocabulary - I'm all about the abbrevs. Taylor Swift is my girl. I haven't used a real alarm clock in years. And my selfie stick was almost as worthwhile an investment as my GoPro was. Love us or hate us but we're all around you.

Selfie stick in action
Jordan Spieth
I'll admit that I'm not the world's biggest golf fan. Sure, my dad signed me up for golf lessons at the age of four - the same age Spieth was when he received his first golf club - but it is one of the few sports I never really got into. I really enjoy Top Golf, but that's about all I've got. But you'd have to be living under a rock to not have heard Spieth's name - he not only won the 2015 Master's, but he just won the 2015 US Open as well. A former Longhorn and only 21 years old, he seems to know what's up. His family is extremely important to him, and he credits much of his success to his younger sister, Ellie, who has a neurological disorder that puts her on the Autism spectrum. You can't help but root for the guy who has so clearly remained focused on what's really important in life, realizing that not everyone gets the opportunities that he's had. He has worked hard and he has remained humble, and for that, we'll light the Tower.

I'm years late to this one. Years. But in my defense, it's not as if I didn't know about it. I did. I just chose to ignore it. But just the other day I took the plunge and subscribed to theSkimm. What's great about theSkimm is that it allows you to do just that - skim - while still staying up on everything that's going on around the world. So what is it, exactly? It's an email newsletter that delivers the news in a conversational way. The founders - Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin - sort through the daily news and the headlines and construct a newsletter targeted toward millennials - women, in particular. It is delivered to your inbox every morning around 6am, and it allows readers to be in the know about pretty much all current events in a way that very much fits our generation. You won't spend more than five minutes reading, but you'll walk away feeling as though you can confidently contribute to the intellectual and important conversations your co-workers are having. Want to experience it for yourself? Sign up here.

And that's all I've got for you guys. But check back later because my plan is to share a delicious breakfast recipe with you guys. If not today, tomorrow for certain!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Change of Plans

Hump Day! How it's already Wednesday is beyond me, but I'll roll with it. I spent much of today sitting down with my pull-out map of New York City and mapping out all of the sights, places, and restaurants I have on my New York City To-Do List. Okay, I spent about 30 minutes on it before heading to the pool to tan. But I'm really not familiar with the city at all, and while I am not going to plan out every minute, rather, I am going to see where the city takes me, I want to have some of my bearings about me. It's all about maximizing the time I've got. Besides, I'm well aware that I will be a tourist, but I don't want to scream tourist. I can be a New Yorker. Though the non-New York accent might give me away.


This week, we're back to the old tried and true breakfast of scrambled egg whites and spinach. A grocery store trip has been on my list for a couple of days now, but I just don't have it in me to sit down, make a list, and then execute said list. I've gone with some old favorites this week instead of being adventurous and trying something new. Next week is my week. I promise.


I was beginning to think we were never going to have a full day of sun around here, but when I woke up and checked the weather on my phone, I was pumped to see sunshine nearly ALL DAY LONG! I knew a long swim would be in the books for today, and then I plopped myself down on a lawn chair and pulled out my most recent read - Jon Krakauer's Missoula. It's quite an intense read, and really unlike anything I've read before, but I saw it on display at Barnes & Noble when buying a Father's Day present for my dad, and since my Kindle officially tapped out on me while I was in Cozumel, I plucked this one off the shelves. Krakeuer's Into the Wild is on my summer reading list, but if I don't get to that one, I figure another book by the same author fits the bill just fine. My list, my rules.


After slicing through the pool, and then sweating my way through my book, I was more than ready for lunch. Not wanting to whip up anything too complicated, because I was pretty hungry right then, I settled on an old favorite - my dairy-free vegetable-filled pizza. I've actually shared this recipe on the blog before, what feels like many moons ago, but I'll be sure and share an updated recipe for those who might want to recreate this deliciousness. Full of veggies, and I would have added dairy-free cheese had I been in possession of it, this pizza is really whatever you want it to be. It absolutely hit the spot, and I have a feeling this will be making a regular appearance in my diet this summer. It makes for a most perfect lunch, and though I haven't yet been, I think I give the custom pizzas at Mod Pizza a run for their money.

Chevron Houston Marathon

Remember this post from a couple of months ago? That announced I was planning to run my very first marathon in 2016? Well, I am still planning on running a marathon in 2016, but I'm moving my run date up about six weeks. Instead of running the Aramco Houston Half Marathon for the second year in a row, I am going to be running in the Chevron Houston Marathon. That's right - 26.2 miles through my beloved city. This was actually the dream all along, but I worried that between the start of school and volleyball season, I wouldn't have time to adequately train. Because if I'm going to run a marathon, I'm going to do it right. Or at least to the best of my ability. And that means not stepping up to the starting line feeling as though I could have prepared better.

When I first announced my decision to run a marathon, I received more than a few comments encouraging me to either get a running buddy or to join a running group. I went with the latter, because while I love running for the alone time I get, I know that I'm going to need the camaraderie and motivation that comes from running with a group. You are a special person if you can get out there and run 20+ miles all on your own. Because nine miles is about all you will be able to squeeze out of me. And that's why I am now an official member of Houston Fit. Their winter season begins on July 11th, and it lasts 26 weeks until, you guessed it, the Chevron Houston Marathon. I was going to join a running group regardless of the race I ran, but because this one culminates with the Houston race, I figure, what the heck. This race is preferable for a number of reasons - the time of year being my number one concern. The Woodlands Marathon takes place in March, which is a risky time in Texas. Really, any time of year in Texas is risky, but at least there's a greater chance of having cooler weather in January. I may be absolutely freezing at the start of a race, but it takes me all of .25 seconds to start sweating once I've started running. So a January run is right up my alley.

After running - and loving - the Aramco Houston Half, I could not be more excited to be doubling that distance as a participant in the Chevron Houston Full. Am I nervous? Of course! Whenever I cross the finish line of a half marathon, I am always thankful that I don't have to run yet another 13 miles. Well, it looks like I'm going to be one of those crazy people this time, because 26.2 miles seem to be calling my name. And what better place to do it than the city in which I grew up? I've grown up knowing and watching and dreaming of this marathon, so to finally be one of those runners is a dream come true. Remind me of these happy feelings when I hit a wall at mile 20.

And though I can't officially change my entry until August 1st, I'm counting on the fact that I'll be able to easily make the switch. I spoke with a marathon representative just yesterday, and he assured me that it's as simple as filling out a form, and paying a fee, of course. And once I get going with Houston Fit, I'll be sure to give you guys a full recap. I've only ever heard good things, and I'm not surprised. A whole group of people who love running? Yeah, I can get in on that.

Monday, June 22, 2015

RIDE Indoor Cycling

Happy Monday! Is that an oxymoron? Well, I'm here to change that! And if this post doesn't lift your spirits, Monday is almost over, anyway. My Monday was definitely a happy one, but I'll get to today in a minute. Let's get this past weekend out of the way.

I briefly mentioned a rollerblading stint. If you've been around for awhile, you know that I love rollerblading. Amira is my rollerblading partner in crime, and we decided to take advantage of the sunshine, hitting the Buffalo Bayou for an afternoon blade session.

We were cruising along just fine for about an hour, and we were almost back at the car when we hit a little bump in the road. We actually started off on a cautious note, walking down the side of a slight downhill, because we didn't want to go flying out of control, lose our balance, and fall face first into the asphalt. I'm sure you can guess where this is going. We thought the downhill had leveled out, so we got back on the road. We had spoken too soon. We went flying down the remainder of the hill, and in all honesty, we would have been fine had it not been for the patch of dirt that had hardened as a result of all the rain we've been experiencing lately. Our blades just couldn't handle that one. Amira went down first, and as I was asking her if she was okay, and she was turning around to warn me, I went crashing down to the ground as well. Aside from a badly scraped forearm and a couple of bruises on my end, and a scraped upper arm for Amira, we were totally fine. In fact, we were laughing so hard at our current state that it probably sounded as though we were crying. Our front sides were covered in dirt, our palms were a little sore, and we were both bleeding, but no bones were broken, nor were any teeth knocked out. So no real harm done. Plus, it's a metaphor for life because sometimes you fall and you have to get right back up again.

And then sometimes you realize you're 23 years old and one, you still rollerblade, and two, you still fall when you rollerblade. We decided that next time we might whip out our old volleyball kneepads as a means of protecting our elbows and our knees. But then again, a little battle wound never hurt anyone.

Surprisingly, this photo makes it look much better
RIDE Houston

Have I got a workout for you guys to check out. Houstonians, Austinites - this one applies to you guys specifically, but there are cycling workouts like this all over the nation.

I used to be an avid spin class attendee. I attended multiple classes a week, and I was in total cycling shape. I'm actually even certified to teach. And then volleyball season happened. And my first year of teaching happened. And running took the front seat, while spin classes sort of slipped off my radar. And as the time between my last spin class got longer and longer, I became intimidated by the idea of attending a spin class, because I feared I wouldn't be able to keep up. Which is silly because when all is said and done, it's your workout and nobody elses, and it really doesn't matter if every other class attendee is a seasoned pro. And that was all the motivation I needed to sign up for my first RIDE Indoor Cycling class.

Simply put, this class was a party on a bike. I'm not sure that I can ever go back to a "regular" spin class after taking one like this. Let me explain. I've heard about these kinds of spin classes, and I often turned up my nose at them. Was this type of class really going to give me a good workout? In short, the answer is YES. 

Because this was my first class, I got to try it out for free. I not only reserved a spot in the class ahead of time, but I also reserved my very own bike. And because this was my first class, I was also given a pair of rental cycling shoes free of charge. Let me jump in and say that though cycling has always been a part of my workout regimen, I have never before worn the real deal cycling shoes. So I was a little nervous on that front, but I absolutely loved them. If this type of class were to become a regular part of my workout routine - aka when I marry rich and can afford to pay $22 per class -  I would absolutely invest in a pair of my own. They clip into the pedals and I honestly felt as though pedaling was easier than it is when I don't wear cycling shoes. Actually, the benefits of wearing cycling shoes are numerous, though I will admit that I did have a hard time unclipping the first time around!

I'm speaking for the Houston studio here, but I was immediately impressed upon walking through the doors of the big orange building. The studio was clean, the staff at the front desk was pleasant and helpful, and Will, my instructor, was awesome. I feel as though the instructor could make or break this type of class, and luckily, mine made it. For those of you who are unfamiliar, RIDE is a BPM class, meaning you pedal to the beat of the music. The entire class was very fast-paced, and you do a lot of pumps, tap backs, and push-ups. I really enjoyed that because it took my mind off of how hard my legs were spinning. You will also find a small set of weights upon saddling your bike, and much like those Pure Barre classes I got hooked on last summer, those small weights are nothing to scoff at. My arms were burning after using them throughout the course of one song, and I was only using two pounders! I most definitely felt the burn.

Party Will (Source)
I found myself smiling and grooving, and shocked when the instructor said class was over. The 45 minutes absolutely flew by (as much as I hate love Felipe's spin classes, they do not ly by), and I truly don't have enough good things to say. Dylan is absolutely right in labeling it a rave. RIDE, I am officially hooked. If only it wasn't so expensive, I'd be a regular. But I do see myself dropping in from time-to-time when I need a break from running. And what's better is that if you don't cancel your reservation in time, you end up paying for the class whether you're there or not. So it's a near-guaranteed sweat session. And trust me, this is one you won't want to miss. For any of you exercise skeptics, I highly suggest giving RIDE a shot. It puts the fun back in exercise. And it's an excellent calorie-burn to boot.

And if my experience at RIDE was this much fun, I can't wait to see what a SoulCycle class holds!

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Happy Sunday, and more importantly Happy Father's Day to any and all dads out there. I could go on and on about mine, but I'll keep it short and sweet. He loves golf more than anyone else I know, in fact, he dragged me to golf lessons at the ripe age of four. I was a little put out because they gave me right-handed clubs, so golf didn't end up being my sport. He gave me my love of chocolate, and he gladly taste tests anything I pull out of the oven. He grills the best hamburgers in the neighborhood, and he loved nothing more than enjoying a beer with the dads of the boys who were toilet papering our house. He spent hours with me at the pool, he lets me live at home rent-free, he's trying to teach me the value of a dollar, he supports my heart for adventure, he'll never say no to a bookstore or ice cream excursion, and he has given me the world and then some. I don't even know the half of what he's done for me, but I think he prefers it that way. I'm the luckiest girl in the world that I get to call this one my dad.

And now, let's get going with another Sunday survey. I found this one over at Carrots 'n' Cake, and I've done loads of "Currently" posts, but each one has been at least a little bit different. And besides, a currently post changes on the daily, right? Right.

Current Celebration: I am officially PADI Open Water Certified! And those are words I never thought I'd be saying, so we can certainly raise our glasses to that. Can I also celebrate the fact that I've been getting ultra-organized these past couple of weeks? I'm in one of those moods where I want to get rid of absolutely anything that is no longer of any use to me. For someone who had a hard time saying bye to her middle school and high school t-shirts, that trust me, I was never going to wear again, this is a big step.

Current Confession: I’m not sure if this counts as a "confession," but I might be entering the YoungLife world once again! I attended a Southwest Houston YoungLife Young Professionals dinner about a month or so ago, and I hesitantly checked the "I'm interested in becoming a volunteer leader" box. I recently met up with a couple of Southwest Houston staff members, and while I'm still a little bit on the fence about it, I have decided that I will attend the August trainings - because my August is so full of free time, right? - before making my decision.

YoungLife Part One
Current Product Find: I haven't personally found any new products that are worth raving about on the blog, but I am on the hunt for one. I used to have a turquoise sideways cross necklace that I wore pretty frequently, but the cross charm recently shifted out of place. I'm on the hunt for another one, so if you know of a place where I can find a colored sideways cross necklace, you know where to find me. Because thus far I've only managed to find gold or silver, but I'm always a fan of a little bit more color every now and again.

As pictured in this photo
Current Plan: I don't have much of one this week. I'm coaching a little volleyball, attending a couple of open gyms at Bellaire, and really trying to cross the little things off of my to-do list. This is my last relatively free week of summer, and it is going to go by faster than I think. I had a pretty lazy day today, so I'm hoping that will gear me up for a productive week.

Current Book: I’m currently reading yet another Young Adult novel - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Though I'm not very far into it at all, I'm really enjoying it so far. It's told from the perspective of an autistic teenager living in England, who is really good with numbers and logic, but is overwhelmed by everyday life. I'm hoping to finish it this week so I can review it on this week's edition of Things I'm Loving Friday.

Apparently it's a play as well (Source)
Current Purchase: Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. Apparently putting me on a clothes-buying ban has shifted my priorities over to shoes, but I think I've finally reached the end of that rope as well. The summer before seventh grade I customized a pair of Nike Shox and they were my favorite pair of shoes in the whole entire world. I wore those things until they could legitimately no longer be worn. So, upon failing on my recent quest to find some red and white Nikes, I headed over to NikeiD to make a pair of my very own. And I cannot wait for them to come in the mail.

Current Drink: Water, water, water. It's hot, hot, hot here in Houston, and I am doing my best to stay hydrated. Especially with all the time I spend outside. But if I'm not drinking water, I'm probably sipping on one of my homemade smoothies. The perfect treat on these 90+ degree days.

Current Holy Moly: I don't have many words when it comes to what happened in Charleston this past week. But I will say that I am absolutely blown away by the fact that the victims' families came out and said they forgave the shooter who took their loved ones' lives away from them. Because now the message reaching the world is one of forgiveness, not one of anger or hate.

Current Show: You guys know I have never been much of a TV watcher. I don't follow any shows regularly, and I'd much rather read a book than watch television. That being said, I do enjoy watching The Price is Right in the mornings, as it's a show that I obviously don't get to watch during the school year.

Current Want: With so many people I know spending time in Asia this summer - a place that has never really crossed my mind to visit - I myself have become obsessed with the idea of spending some extended time exploring part of the country next summer. I'm really not familiar with Asia at all, but it has suddenly crept higher and higher on my travel bucket list. While the entire continent can't be done all in one trip, and there are a couple of countries that I wouldn't mind nixing, I am hoping to sneak in a scuba trip to the Maldives, because who wouldn't want to see the Sea of Stars in real life?

Current Obsession: Rachel Platten's Fight Song. I mean talk about a never-give-up anthem. In fact, this song came about because Rachel Platten decided to ignore the small voice that kept telling her to give up, that she wasn't good enough. It took Rachel Platten 12 years to get to where she is right now, and I think it's so important to remember that we are going to have to work hard for things. And while we're on that journey, we're probably going to hit a few setbacks. But it's then that the fight makes all the difference.

I hope you guys enjoyed a wonderful and relaxing weekend. My weekend left me with a very tired (and bruised - more on that to come) body, but with a very full heart. I got to spend time with quite a few of my friends this weekend, and it left me feeling grateful for summer vacation - because sometimes you have to stay up until 1:30am chatting with your best friends. And be on the lookout for a couple of Houston restaurant reviews later this week! Adios!