Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Favorite books of 2014

I love to read, and read a lot (I'm also a speed reader by nature so my quantity of books read in a year is high!) Due to being on a medical leave for the last, almost three months, I've read even more than normal. So I decided to make a list of some of my favorite books I've read this year.

An Unquenchable Thirst was interesting and a very different read from a former sister of Mother Theresa's ministry. From the original trial period within the group, to her over 20 year service. An inside look into the Missionaries of Charity, how they become sisters, their daily life, how charity worked for the group.

And the Mountains Echoed. I love Khaled Hosseini and his other books, The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Sins, are equally as good as this novel. I would say this book isn't the tear jerker the other two are however, but it does focus on more characters at a time whereas the others focused primarily on just a couple of characters. A beautiful book .

Neil Gaiman has the craziest writing and Good Omens is definitely crazy! It is a comedy that was written alongside Terry Pratchett, and follows the lives of a witch, a fallen angel (demon), an angel, and the birth of the son of Satan.

I've read quite a few social impact books this year and I Am Malala was the last one I read. Most people know who Malala is, and this book is written from her perspective about her childhood, the events surrounding her shooting, and life after.

Mindy Kaling. Hilarious. Relatable. You want her to be your best friend.

Lean In, by the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg brings forth in this book reasons why women hold themselves back in their careers, why they shouldn't, and ways she messed up, and moved forward.

Mighty Be our Powers is another socially conscious book that totally had me riveted. I think I read it straight through and didn't sleep if I remember right. Leymah Gbowee tells about life before war hit her area and during, the hardships faced by her family and herself, ways she overcame them, and life now as she works towards saving her homeland and women's rights in her country.

A book written by a women raised Catholic, felt like religion was empty and wasn't sure she even wanted it anymore, then found her home of faith.

By the founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie gives a bit about his background, how he founded the company, why, and how, if we want to start something that matters to us and the world, some tips and tricks to do so.

A book about mythological creatures in a modern day setting. LOVED IT!

I don't normally read books that are categorized as women's literature unless it's a classic, but dang it Liane Moriarty writes some intriguing, mystery books!

Teenagers acting all crazy. A rich family and some insane secrets. Good book for adults or teens.

Another book by Liane Moriarty. I've read a few of her books and What Alice Forgot is my favorite. A woman has an accident in spin class and her world is turned upside down because she can't remember how she got there.

Amy Poehler, like Mindy Kaling, it's relatable, and you want to go out for drinks with her. She discusses her childhood, how her career started, her love affair with Tina Fey, career and her marriage, divorce, and kids.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lower body Fitness gifs

Because they can be awesome. Some of the ones I'm posting today are from this Tumblr and made by this YouTube channel.

Burpees. Burpees are evil.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lifting options for women+giveaway

Training style for women courtesy of Fitocracy! It goes over some varying styles of lifting training based on the physique desired.

Next up is a training plan that is mentioned constantly all over the place. Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer. It is a 12 week nutrition/lifting/cardio (I dislike cardio...) and is great for beginners, or if you're just getting back into training after a long absence. There are recipes, exercise examples linked, and each day has a specific plan outlined. You change it up every 4 weeks nutrition and intensity wise, and it's pretty fantastic! 

As someone who dislikes cardio, unless it is on my bike, I LOVE lifting complexes, especially if I know I will be short on time, or if my schedule looks crazy for the week. T Nation has some great examples of barbell complexes that will kick your butt.  

I've created some of my own complexes that are similar and I really enjoy them. A complex is a series of lifts with a barbell where you perform each exercise back to back and you don't finish until the first "set" is over. Like a really long superset! I typically perform mine as an 8x8 with no, or little weight on the bar. It gets HEAVY! 8 exercises for 8 reps each, 3 rounds.

Example of a full body complex I do:
Shoulder Press
Good Mornings
Back Squat
Straight Leg Deadlift
Front Squat
Calf Raises
Hip thrusters

I had been planning on this post anyway, and I received an email about a giveaway to win a Digital HD copy of the Arnold Schwarzenegger's Pumping Iron documentary! As someone who loves lifting, there isn't a much bigger inspiration than Arnold. Though I think my first introduction to him was watching Kindergarten Cop as a kid ha ha.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I went ahead and added a Rafflecopter widget to make this easier. The content of this post was my own idea and was in the works prior to being asked to host a giveaway for the dvd and it happened to coincide with the post. All opinions are my own. I was approached by a marketing company on behalf of Lionsgate films and asked if I'd like to run this promotion.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Personal/Professional Development

This is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind for quite some time. I don't feel like I have a direction available to me, and I'm not sure why so I'm working on it. I'm also having to take a sabbatical from work due to some health issues, so there will be some new activities to try.

First off, I am doing a Mindset reset, 10 week challenge that I heard from Danny Johnson who runs the blog/empire The Sweaty Betties. It's called the JillFit Mindset, and is a 10 week daily email challenge. I'm only at the end of week 1 and am intrigued so far but haven't gotten far enough to really judge it. (I actually started this months ago, but due to medical issues, have had to hold off but I am starting it over today!)

I also bought a Groupon for a local yoga studio. It has great reviews, and seems like it might be fun. Plus, it's less than 10 minutes from my house, and has manageable times.

Rosetta Stone. I've had this for a long time, and while I can understand conversational Spanish, and read it enough for basic comprehension, it's always bothered me that I'm not more fluent with it. I think I'll be working on this over the next few weeks as well.

Budget! This is something I definitely need to work on. There are just so many cute workout clothes & so many good books...

The books (I'm not sure I know how to write a post anymore without books being involved somewhere...)

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by the COO of Facebook and was a former executive at Google. I borrowed this book from my local library as an e-book and really enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would. 
That we haven’t failed the mothers and grandmothers who made our ambitions possible. And yet, in a deep and profound way, we are failing. Because feminism wasn’t supposed to make us feel guilty, or prod us into constant competitions over who is raising children better, organizing more cooperative marriages, or getting less sleep. It was supposed to make us free—to give us not only choices but the ability to make these choices without constantly feeling that we’d somehow gotten it wrong.

Start Something That Matters Book by the guy who started TOMS is definitely inspiring but also full of useful information, and he freely admits he originally started it as a way to make money and it kind of took off on it's own.
“servant leadership.” Coined by writer and business consultant Robert K. Greenleaf in his 1970 essay “The Servant as Leader,” the term refers to someone who uses qualities like empathy, listening skills, stewardship, and awareness rather than power to assert his or her authority to lead.
I'm also learning Illustrator. I enjoy working with art, and the computer and this seems like a logical step. As a blogger and someone becoming more involved with social media, I think this is important.

 I think it's important to try new things and get out of my comfort zone; which is something i haven't done in a while but definitely need.

Advice on new things to try? Or your favorite activity?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Give Back Shopping!

As we all shop for the holidays, with Black Friday, and Cyber Monday coming up, I believe it's important to shop with meaning and purpose. All of the sites and products below give back to the community in some way with each purchase, and where applicable, I have denoted how. 

Do you have a favorite give back shopping site?

Noonday Collection was started as a way to raise money for adoption fees and is based here in Austin. It's primarily jewelry and it's reasonably priced! The items in the picture below range from $12-$30 and are made by artisans involved with the Fair Trade Federation.

TOMS is the original "one for one" company. I recently read his book, Start Something That Matters, and was impressed. He was honest (or so it seemed) and passionate. Purchase shoes, they give shoes. Purchase eyewear, they help restore sight to someone in need. Also, right now if you pay with PayPal, you get free two day shipping.

Beyond Beanie is one I haven't shopped at yet but I am planning to for the holidays. Each purchase, a beanie, bag, and other accessories gives back to the community a certain amount. 1 beanie gives 5 meals, 1 bag gives a set of school supplies.

Sevenly is one of my favorites! I own a couple of shirts from this organization. Each week they focus on a different charity or organization and donate $7 from each purchase.

Warby Parker also operates on the buy one, we give one, business model but with eyewear.

MudLOVE is mostly jewelry. I actually own one of the bracelets and love it! The band is my favorite part; it stays exactly where you put it which is amazing for an adjustable band. Each purchase donates a week of clean water to someone in need in the Central African Republic.

Wear Figs is a newer one I have found. Each set of scrubs sold, they give one to someone who can't afford them; Threads for Threads. Prices are $25-$32 for women, and $25-40 for men. They also have scrub caps and v-neck tees.

FEED Project has been one that has gotten some attention lately! The bags seem kind of expensive, at $100 the first tote below, but once you read the fine print, you see that one purchase will feed a student for a year! That's amazing. Most of them only feed a person for a week, or a month, but this helps even longer. There are also bracelets that are $18 that gives 5 meals. The bags all contain inside pockets and they note in the description that the larger pocket will fit an iPad.
$80, provides 1 year worth of meals to a student. Image from the FeedProjects website.
$125, gives 100 school meals. Image from FeedProjects website.

Faucet Face are thick, glass water bottles with interesting designs. You can even custom design them with your own, uploaded image which might be neat for Christmas gifts for a family! Free shipping with 4 or more.
Through its 1 for 100 program, Faucet Face donates 5% of ALL sales of hose water, tap is terrific and hummingbird feeder glass water bottles, PLUS, a complete filter for each sale of 5 or more individual bottles to the clean drinking water charity Third Millennium Awakening (TMA).
Infographic from
Soap Box Soaps sells soap, body wash, and liquid soaps. A lot of us give soap related gifts at Christmas (like Bath and Body Works) so maybe something like this would be good gifts as well.

This is part of a Make a Difference post I'm doing as part of a link up with She Lives Free. Originally posted on my faith blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Goal & life planning: Part 1

I'm one of those annoying people that thrives on organization but typically seems spacey due to my brain never shutting up. I'm starting to take more risks, and set more goals and I'm really excited to kill them! 

So I'm going to do a few posts about how I plan to accomplish some goals I have in mind, and some soul searching on what I really am passionate about and want to do with my life. I feel like I'm a little late on this, but better late than never right?

I'm one of those weirdos who still prefers a paper planner, though I do keep meetings and appointments on my phone as well (yea Outlook at work!) I use one called Passion Planner. I originally backed her on Kickstarter and absolutely love my planner. Right now she is doing a Kickstarter to fund a smaller one, and I have already backed that one as well. It's great! If you want to try it, she has free printable pages on her website as well, or you can back the new Kickstarter here. It has 14 days left.  

Each week starts on Monday (the new one starts on Sunday, but this is the original one). Has a place to put a weekly focus, write down good things that happened, a quote, and a small goal or task to do each week. Below is a section for a Personal To-Do List, a Work on, and a blank space to get creative. This is a week I haven't written on yet but I enjoy this planner. 

Goal Planning
Another thing I am going to be using to get organized and set goals is something called PowerSheets from Lara Casey Shop. Information from the site:

Picture is copyright of Lara Casey
105 PowerSheets™ last for 6 full months and include: 
  • 2014 Goal Setting and Action Plan Sheets 
  • Monthly/Weekly/Daily Tending Lists 
  • Monthly PowerSheets Checklist
  • Great Things That Happened This Month
  • This is My Year Goal Sheet
  • Big Dreams Page for big ideas
  • What Fires Me Up
  • Things I Want to Learn/Things I Learned
  • My Vision
  • Access to exclusive PowerSheets Facebook Group
NEW in the 2015 PowerSheets™:
  • Streamlined beautiful design
  • Set of 8 tabs, in tan and gold foil
  • Three-Month Goal Refresh 
  • Words of Inspiration
  • New motivating quotes and notes from Lara
I heard about this from Val Marie Paper  when I was looking for a prayer and/or gratitude journal. I'm excited because for some reason, having it written down makes me more motivated than just jotting it down on a post it, or telling myself I'll do it.

I also keep a Moleskine or small notebook with me at almost all times. I like writing and I also use the Notes application on my iPhone to jot down things, such as grocery lists. I'm more likely to forget a paper one but having it on my phone, I have no excuse.

For budgeting, I've always use Mint, but I'm looking into others as well. I like it because it keeps everything together, and emails me updates if I want them. I can add my credit cards, loans, bank account information, and it's all there in one place instead of me logging into each site individually.