Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Wrap-Up

I have nothing to say except that July was pretty eventful. I … um … had a birthday?

Challenge: Sample Every Flavor of Blue Bell Ice Cream
Only one new flavor this month: we finally tried Mocha Madness! I was nervous that it had already been phased out, since HEB stopped carrying it a couple of weeks ago, but when Matt was at Wal-Mart picking up stuff for our camping trip, he stumbled across a half-gallon of the stuff and scooped it up. And I've gotta say, for someone who is not a coffee fan, I quite liked it. Coffee ice cream, with pecan bits, chocolate chips and caramel swirls. Mmmm.

Completed: 65 out of 77 flavors

Challenge: Cook All The Way Through a Cookbook
I'm cooking through the "Bride and Groom First and Forever" Cookbook.
Whole Roasted Garlic
I normally buy garlic in a big tub, pre-minced, because it's way easier to just scoop out a teaspoon than mincing it yourself. So it was kind of a surprising discovery when I made Whole Roasted Garlic, mashed it up and spread it onto a baguette a la bruschetta and found … that fresh garlic makes your breath STANKY. Holy cow. But the bruschetta was delicious, so I'd say it's a win, even if no one wants to come near us.

Completed: 40 of 150 recipes

Healthy Living: "De-Stressing"
Over the last 30 days, I managed to "de-stress" (ie. work out) … I think it was 10-12 times? Miraculous. That includes time spent on Pilates videos, going hiking while camping, biking, a thigh workout/date at the ice skating rink, and our regular walks around the neighborhood. 

I also wanted to show you my cool new running shoes! They're pink! And they don't hurt my feet!!! 
I'm really excited about them; I had been wearing my GoWalks instead of buying proper athletic shoes, and that always made Matt nervous when I wanted to go biking or anything. So now he is happy, I am happy, and my feet are happy. (The first time I wore them, I actually ran for the better part of a mile without stopping! So obviously these shoes are MAGIC, because I am not in that good of shape.)

Other Adventures
We talked about the worry dolls we had as kids. We started an herb garden, wrapped up part of the kolache trail and I finished Matt's Christmas gift seven months late. I talked more about Citizen's Fire Academy and the top 10 things I learned that could save a life. I switched my commenting system over to Disqus (and I will reply to comments on that next month for those who requested I let them know how I like it). I shared the apps I've been crazy about lately. I was brutally truthy about being self-employed and starting a new office job. And we chatted about cleaning out our closets.

How is your summer going? Anyone else surprised it's basically almost over? (I say that as far as like, having teacher friends going back to school and stuff. Summer in Texas lasts all year.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Often Do You Clean Out Your Closet?

My answer is NEVER. I keep EVERYTHING. I wear EVERYTHING. (Kind of.) I never get rid of ANYTHING, even if it should have been long gone.

My logic is, I have to keep everything, because I haven't gotten around to replacing everything that really should be replaced. And therefore, my closet is filled with things that are ill-fitting, shrunk from the wash, falling apart or covered in those nubby little pills.

And that just wouldn't do. I was about to start a job in which people probably would care what I looked like, and so I should probably be presentable. (The dress code is basically business casual.)

So two weeks ago (on a Friday night, because I'm super cool), I finally pulled out all my shoes, and all my clothes, and threw everything on the bed so I could try every single piece on. I called my sister, because making fun of me for still having crap from high school is one of her favorite activities, and I needed that kick in the pants to finally get rid of the stuff that I keep insisting is still fine, but really should have retired a long time ago.

Like shoes. I haven't bought flats since I first moved to College Station in 2009 (whaaaa). I asked Rachel what she would consider too worn out to keep. And she said if they were majorly scuffed up or damaged, or had holes in them and couldn't be repaired, they should get tossed.

Goodbye shoes.

Goodbye pants that don't zip, and shirt that never went with a single thing I owned, and "Boobs Akimbo" dress (22-year-old Allie may not have had a problem with you, but now the ladies need a little more wrangling than that).

Bye, things Rachel made for design school that are model-sized and not Allie-sized.

I am pretty proud of myself for finally being willing to part with so much that I've held onto. And hey! Now you know I wasn't lying when I said pretty much everything I own is pink. But now my closet is empty and sad and I am having problems putting together anything decent to wear. I am the worst at clothing.

I think I'm getting to a point in my life where I'd rather invest in quality than buy cheap-o junk that's going to fall apart within a few months. And I think I'm getting to a point where I actually do see the value in hand-washing pieces instead of just throwing everything in together (ahem, shrunken clothing).

But I'm also in this weird place in life right now, where I'm not quite sure what types of pieces to invest in, because so much is still dependant on Future Allie. I'm no longer just waiting for us to move somewhere else, but it's still something in the back of my mind — will this piece I buy now be relevant to my future life? Future job? Future climate? I know that's kind of silly right now, but I hate wasting money. So it's definitely a consideration.

So here are my questions for you:
• How do you feel about investment pieces?
• What articles of clothing do you think are "worth" investing more in? (Shoes and accessories? Jackets and completer pieces? Work wear vs. casual wear vs. formal wear? etc.)
• What are your favorite stores for purchasing higher-quality pieces?
• Do you think this whole quality-over-quantity thing is a load of crap? (I'm open to hearing all opinions, seriously, because all I know about shopping is that every time I go, my sister tells me I have horrible taste.)

Monday, July 28, 2014


I was MIA a lot of the last couple weeks. Part of it was just being busy. Part of it was not having anything of interest to say. Part of it was that I was out of town, going camping in Garner State Park with Matt's family.

Camping selfie!

But to be honest, most of my mental space over the last few weeks has been taken up by preparing to start a new job.

I haven't worked in an actual office in more than two and a half years. But last week, I woke up and got dressed to go to work at a place in which my cat cannot be considered a co-worker. (She's not thrilled that I've abandoned her during the daytime.)

I am no longer self-employed full-time. In June, Matt and I finally determined that my running my own business just wasn't working anymore. It wasn't a single conversation we had in a state of panic; rather, I'd been struggling with my (in)ability to deal with the stress for a long time. I was asking every month if "this is it" when it came to my business, the month where it no longer made sense for us to keep at it. Matt saw that I wasn't happy anymore. A friend commented one day that I looked like I was disappearing. I was spending more time looking for work than actually doing the work I loved. Matt and I spent so much time talking about his job search that my world had become centered around it, and I was constantly freaking out because there was just too much about my life that I couldn't control.

So when I received an offer for a full-time job? I took it. And I cried a little when I told my family that I couldn't deal with being self-employed anymore. I was heartbroken at the idea of not working for myself anymore.

But since we're being all truthful and stuff, I am so relieved that I don't have to work for myself anymore.

I'm excited to have something to wake up for in the morning again. For someone else to deal with the logistics of how to run a business. I'm excited to have a reason to get dressed up and leave the house and be around other people. About doing something that makes me feel good about myself again. I'm excited to focus for real on something other than Matt, instead of just telling people I'm tired of talking about him and then not being able to talk of anything else.

I'm excited for breakfast taco Fridays and a steady paycheck. I'm excited because, despite this job being totally unrelated to marketing or advertising, on my second day I got to spend the afternoon working on a design project. I'm excited that I'm working with people who understand that we all have gifts and skills that we can contribute.

I'm okay. More than okay. I'm putting down roots. There's a very real chance that I will have to rip them up again, if and when Matt finds a job somewhere else. But this is the most solid and sturdy I've felt in a long time. I needed that more than I knew.

And I'm ready to bloom.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

These Apps Are Making Me A Better Person

It has come to my attention (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) that I am a pretty tightly-wound, high-stress person. It has also come to my attention that more people die from stress-related health problems than all types of cancer (according to a seminar I went to last week). I have been thinking about some pieces of advice I've received lately — things like "take one day at a time" and "let yourself feel whatever you're feeling" — and decided that it's time I actually did something to make myself feel better, instead of just allowing myself to be miserable because that's "how I feel" at that moment. That I need to actually DO things to keep my sanity, and to make my goals happen, and to not die of a stroke at age 34 or whatever.

These are a few of the apps I've been using lately that have been helping me feel like a Calm, Upstanding, Personal-Growth-Focused Productive Member Of Society instead of a Screaming Banshee That Can't Get Her Shit Together. (Bonus: Some of these apps are also helping me toward some of the goals on my Life List. Win win win.)

Headspace (iPhone, Android, Amazon)

Headspace is a meditation app. It's endorsed by Emma Watson, and that was enough to get me to download it. :) But seriously, it was created by a meditation expert named Andy, and he has the most soothing voice. With the free app, you get 10 days worth of 10-minute audio tracks where Andy walks you through meditation exercises, like breathing deeply, focusing on the body and allowing your thoughts to pass you by without getting fixated on them. (After you finish the 10 sessions, you can pay for a subscription to keep getting new sessions. Or I guess you could just repeat those 10 over and over.)

The app also has cute little animated videos that teach you things about meditation and how your mind works. The graphics are seriously so cute, and somehow match the peaceful design of the whole thing.

I'm on day six of the free tracks (I repeated day four because I accidentally fell asleep during it the first time!), and I am thinking about getting a monthly subscription when I finish, because I am really enjoying it. I feel so calm and relaxed after every session.

Duolingo (iPhone, Android)

I don't remember where I first heard about Duolingo, but I am glad I did! It's a free language-skills app where you practice building up your vocabulary in other languages. (Currently offering Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian and French.) It offers these little mini "games" where you practice saying things out loud, or translating back and forth from English into your chosen language or vice versa. Plus, you get little bonuses when you complete "levels," and there are cute owl graphics.

I'm currently using Duolingo to brush up on my Spanish. I've found it relatively easy so far, but I did take Spanish a little bit in high school and college, so I already had the foundation of how sentences are structured and how verbs are conjugated in espaƱol. It is for sure getting more complicated as I continue though; the sentences are getting longer and incorporating more and more vocab.

My favorite part is that it lets you compete against other random players, whoever is on the app at the same time and of approximately the same skill level as you. Like timed practice. But you can always just practice alone if you don't want to play with others.

When I finish the Spanish program and am fluent as a native (haaa), I intend to start working on German so I can speak Deutsch with my mother-in-law and her German relatives, should I ever have the opportunity to visit Germany. I've never taken German before, so I expect that one to be more difficult.

Fig (iPhone, Android)

I just downloaded Fig the other day, but so far I really like the concept. You create a "to-do" list of things that can help you relax, eat better, sleep better and do a whole lot of other stuff better, and then you do them. But it's not like a list where you feel bad if you don't do the things on it (I have a different app for that). Instead, you get gold stars if you DO do the things on your list! Because you're only doing them to feel good anyway!

There are six major categories you can pull to-dos from, like Eat, Refresh and Connect, or you can look through lists of overall goals, such as Weight Loss, Happiness, Stress Reduction and Energy Level, and choose the to-dos you want based on what your goals are.

Also, if you think there's a specific goal you'd like, but it's not on the list, you can always add it yourself. And you can set the frequency too. Personally, it's only been a few days and I think I've bitten off more than I can chew with that eight-glasses-of-water thing. I love water, but that's a lot of freaking water.

Fig costs $1.99 through Apple's app store.

Two Dots (iPhone)

OK, we can't all be making ourselves better people all the time. Sometimes we need games. Like when our brains are too tired to function.

Two Dots is my new Candy Crush. It does that thing where you have to wait to replenish your lives, but unlike Candy Crush, I can actually put this one down once in awhile.

Ahem, you may be sensing a theme, but CUTE GRAPHICS. It has different goals for each level, but it doesn't require a whole lot of thought unless you're stuck on Level 35 like me. It's also free.

What apps are you obsessed with lately? Any you love that I should check out?

P.S. No one paid me for any of these reviews. I bought and/or downloaded all these apps on my own. And all photos are screenshots from my phone.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Housekeeping + Let's Have Some Good Conversations

I have been avoiding switching to a new blog commenting format for, literally, years. People have been telling me — intermittently, yes, but still — for a while that they were having problems leaving comments through Blogger's default comment form.

And also, since I discovered that it's easier to have legitimate conversations with people through e-mail responses to comments, I've felt like kind of a tool only responding to certain people within the original comment thread (because I was e-mail-responding to everyone who had it set up).

I had wanted to switch to Disqus a loooong time ago, but was terrified by the prospect of losing all the comments that I've received over the last three years. And it wasn't until Jennifer told me that she thought they'd fixed that problem that I even reconsidered switching.

So now Everyday Adventures has a shiny new comments section! Hopefully it's all working hunky dory. But if it's not, and you're having problems commenting, please e-mail me. I don't know if I'll be able to fix it, but I'll do my best trouble-shooting. :)

Hopefully this will help to facilitate better conversations, as you'll receive notice (via e-mail or Disqus notification) when I respond to your comments!

So here's our conversation starter for today: what's the best thing that happened to you this week?

P.S. I know that the switch messed up the formatting of the old "stacked" comments (like, if I've replied to your post with my own comment), so I'm sorry if it looks like you didn't get a response, or if my response isn't attached to your comment and therefore doesn't make sense. It'll be better moving forward.

P.P.S. If you don't already receive e-mail notifications about responses and you'd like to, you can set it up through Disqus when you set your avatar and the name you want to post under.