I don’t talk about it much because I’m afraid how people react and worry that no one will want to be around me if they know, but I struggle with anxiety a lot, particularly social anxiety. (I’m still not sure I’m going to actually put this out there but if you’re reading this, well I guess I have.) And it’s not just new people and large groups that freak me out (‘tho they do) but even the prospect of getting together with a girlfriend I’ve known for years. I worry that I’m not smart enough, funny enough, interesting enough, thin enough (!) — just enough, period. I avoid more things than I try and fret obsessively in the lead-up to the things I’ve said yes to, and then overanalyze every little perceived misstep afterwards. (If I haven’t cancelled at the last minute. Which brings its own set of worries.) It’s exhausting. And isolating. I’m telling you all this because I know there’s got to be someone reading this post who can relate, someone who feels crippled by anxiety like I do, someone who really has to push themselves to try small things. If it’s you, I want you to know that you’re not alone, that you can do things even if you think you’re going to die. And you might come out the other side better for it. (You might still overthink things ’til you’re a wreck, but you might be proud of yourself too.) What do I know about it? Well I’ve spent the past month doing a 30-day challenge at a local barre and cycle studio, The Dailey Method, and as much as it was physically challenging, it was an exercise in mental and emotional toughness even more so. The Dailey Method comped me a free month in exchange for a post, and I want to share some of the things that helped me not only meet my goal, but exceed it, and come out feeling stronger all-round. As the instructors often reminded us, the mind is ready to quit long before the body. Here are some of the strategies I used to help me push on through. I hope they’ll help you too. … Anxiety and the fitness studio: How I pushed through The Dailey Method’s 30-day challenge and not only didn’t die, but came out stronger
All this talk about last-minute Christmas shopping is making me anxious. To me, last-minute is just before the stores close on December 24, which means there’s still plenty of time to pick up prezzies for your loved ones. And if books are on their list (and even if they’re not, get them some!), here are three picture books sure to be a hit. … Three picture books kids will love to see under the tree + A giveaway!
The Taste Box is the latest entry into the Canadian food subscription box market. Yes, another subscription box to discover! How much do we love?! Each month Toronto couple Matt and Jenni curate a unique package of food and drink products around a theme and ship it to your door. The first box shipped this month with an assortment of goodies perfect for celebrating yesterday’s World Pasta Day. Here’s a closer look at the Pasta Is Love box (sent to me to try free of charge) and a couple of notes about what’s coming up next.
… Discover The Taste Box + A discount & giveaway!
Any day is an opportunity to make a new start, but somehow that feels especially true the first day of the month. And I need a new start. I feel like I’ve done nothing but eat, sleep, repeat the past two months and it so isn’t working for me. But today I’m making myself a promise: I’m going to run every day and slay the hell out of March. I’m tired of feeling like a sloth (and worse) and beating myself up about it.
I miss the rush of feel-good hormones a great sweat sesh brings, and the boost of self-confidence and mental clarity I get when I’m in a healthier groove. Not that exercise is the be all and end all — I also need to be creative, somewhat organized, eating well and in touch with my girlfriends to feel good (or less bad) — but it has a huge impact on my overall outlook and somehow I’ve forgotten that.
In January I committed to go to the gym every other day and I did for a little while, but it wasn’t enough to keep me going. I need to work out every day to make it a habit and feel in shape. A moderate approach just doesn’t work for me. What does: putting on my workout clothes when I wake up in the morning and going to the gym as early as possible in the day. It’s what I did this morning, and what I’ll do tomorrow and the day after that.
That’s not to say I’ll be killing myself. I’m talking 30 to 45 minutes on the treadmill, maybe some stretching and that’s about it. I know I should be lifting weights but it’s always felt so boring, and frankly I’m intimidated by all of the muscled people (mostly guys) on that side of the gym. I’ll get to it one day (maybe) but for now I’m just going to push myself on the cardio.
I’ll check in again at the beginning of next month and let you know how I did and how I’m feeling. In the meantime, March is mine! How will you make it yours? Is fitness a priority for you?
Sorry, did you say something? I’ve had my head in a book the past couple of weeks and I feel like half of me is elsewhere. Which is so wonderful, isn’t it? When was the last time you got lost in a great book?
I started Emma Hooper’s Etta and Otto and Russell and James one night last week and stayed up ’til 1 in the morning to finish it. And wanted to start it all over again, it was that good. I’ll tell you more about it this week.
What do you think about the Nate Berkus pillow in front? I obsessed about it for a couple of weeks before bringing it home to try it out. Hubs thinks it’s too 80s, but I’m kind of liking how it contrasts with the black and white pillow and picks up on the peach in the brick. I’m just wondering if I’ll tire of it. What do you think? Keep, or return to Target while I still can? (I’ve got two of them.)
So happy to see the Valentine candy at the Bulk Barn. Hearts are cute year-round!
Happiness is finding a leftover cupcake in the fridge, this one from ThimbleCakes.
And January’s Happy Mail is here! I’m sending some of this month’s collection to Aneta, Carolyn, Janey, Brian, Linda and Renee. Would you like some happy mail too? Email your name and address to me at email@example.com and I’ll pop a note in the mail to the first 10 people to respond, wherever you are in the world.
Have a great week, everybody!
I feel like new year’s resolutions are nothing to be taken lightly. If I’m going to commit to something I want to follow through, and not half-ass either. Whole ass, baby! All the ass! But there’s something about the word resolution that feels too, I don’t know — heavy. Too much pressure. And I put enough pressure on myself as it is. But a list, why a list isn’t all that bad, is it? Especially if it’s made up of a number of things you genuinely want to do. And I genuinely want to get back to the gym, eat better, see Steven and Chris and transform the third “bedroom” (for years a 6′ x 12′ junk room) into useable space to blog and craft. And what’s better: I think I can do it.
I’ve had my head in the clouds the past few weeks, now it’s time to put my feet on the ground and get shit done. I think these are all doable in the next six months, so I’m going to work to achieve these things by the end of June, then make another list for the rest of the year.
Julie’s January to June Checklist
- Work out every other day (i.e. a 30 to 40-minute run on the treadmill at the gym, ideally in the a.m.) + no eating after 7 p.m. (I’m a terrible night snacker)
- Build gallery wall above the living room couch
- Order living room chairs using my Urban Barn gift card (I’m waiting for a furniture sale)
- Transform third bedroom into useable blogging and crafting space
- Travel to Montreal to visit my friends Linda and Isabelle
- Run a 10K race (Ottawa’s race weekend in May or the July 1 Canada Day race, ‘tho I might cross this one off since I feel like like this is more of a should do than a want to do)
I may add a few more as the weeks go on (I’m still mulling over a few blogging- and kid-related things) but I feel like this is a good start.
Oh, and you might have noticed I’ve changed the blog’s template to freshen up the look a bit. Eventually I’d like to invest in a custom design but I’m happy with the look and functionality of this one for now. I hope you are too, and I’m so glad you’re reading!
Tell me, do you make new year’s resolutions? If so, what’s at the top of your list? If not, why not?
Want the easy how-to? Drop by So Fawned Lifestyle.
Oh the kitchen’s been smelling so good! Yesterday I made these triple chocolate sour cream cookies by Christine at Life on Manitoulin. Their cakey texture makes them almost brownie-like (yum!) and the m&m’s give them a nice crunch.
We shared them with friends who came over for a playdate after school.
We’ve also made a few ornaments for the tree, like these Christmas pom pom ones over at So Fawned Lifestyle.
How much do we love personalized notebooks? I ordered these ones from minted a couple of weeks ago using a gift certificate I’d won in a contest (woot!) and couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out. It’s Christmas come early!
And speaking of Christmas, one try small things reader is going to find this surprise prezzie at their door in the next couple of days, maybe even tomorrow! Is it you? Oh I can’t wait for it to arrive!
I love Fall. I’ve mentioned this, yes? I love the cooler days, the cozy layers, the crisp crunch of a new apple and a cute pair of ankle boots. It’s my favourite season, and (for me) the one that seems to fly by too fast. I want more Sunday mornings at the farmers’ market, more walks in the leaves and more time to curl up with a blanket and a book. Here’s how I want to make the most of Fall.
Eating / Apples, squash and pumpkin everything.
Drinking / Tea and hot chocolate.
Practicing / How to write without over-thinking too much.
Mastering / Hmmm…. nothing really, but I would like to train myself to stop snacking after dinner (but Twitter parties make me so hungry!).
Learning / More about SEO (I really have to get on it!).
Trying / To get the the gym every other day.
Playing / With my kiddos after school (now that they’re no longer at daycare, I’ve got them from 3:30 on).
Finishing / My Christmas shopping (yeah I’m one of those).
Reading / A Beautiful Mess Happy Homemade Home and a couple of books I didn’t get to over the summer.
Remembering / To be easier on myself.
Wearing / Cozy layers.
Cooking / Applesauce, soups and stews in the slow cooker.
Working / On more DIYs for So Fawned (including some fun Halloween themed ones!) and my blog’s Crafts and Style & Decor sections.
Traveling / To Blissdom ’14 (I hear Mississauga is beautiful this time of year) and maybe to Montreal to visit an old friend.
Wanting / To meet some of my favourite bloggers at Blissdom and be inspired!
I’m terrible for setting my expectations way too high, so I’m trying to be a little more reasonable for Fall. Here’s how I did with my Summer list:
Eating / Strawberries we picked ourselves. Check.
Drinking / More of these strawberry watermelon daiquiris. Ditto.
Practicing / How to write without over-thinking too much. Still working on it.
Mastering / Video Games on the ukulele. I didn’t pick up the ukelele. Not even once. Learning / How to improve SEO. Zero progress here either.
Trying / To make jam. Tried and succeeded!
Playing / With my camera. Yep.
Finishing / A bunch of projects around the house. Starting them too. Didn’t finish (or start!) any of the projects I’ve been meaning to get to, ‘tho I did do six DIYs for So Fawned: puzzle piece drawer pulls, personalized pillows, wooden spoon dolls, a ring toss game, a back-to-school chalkboard sign, and puzzle piece hooks.
Remembering / Naps are good. Oh yes they are.
Working / On being less hard on myself. Still working on it.
Traveling / Nowhere especially. But the kids would love to go back to Mont Tremblant. No Tremblant trip (the kids would still love to go!); stayed close to home.
Wanting / To make lots of happy memories with my kiddos. And this Kate Spade planner from Chapters. I die! Yes, we had lots of fun times. And my mom bought me the planner!
How will you make the most of Fall?
Don’t you love it when you get together with a friend you haven’t seen in ages and it feels like no time has passed? That’s how it was when I met my girlfriend Kirsten for tea last Monday.
I love the smell of coffee but just can’t get on board with the taste so it’s English Breakfast for me and a vanilla latte for my friend. What do you drink?
Tuesday I used a gift certificate for a pedicure that a girlfriend had given me many moons ago. Like the colour? It’s Hey Baby by OPI.
Wednesday a fab prize from an Instagram contest arrived in the mail — a $430 box of carefully curated beauty products (aka “one-minute miracles”) from The Kit magazine. Do you want to know what’s in the box? Tell me and I’ll share the deets in the comments.
My guy loves smoothies any time of year, but the heat wave we’ve been having makes them particularly refreshing. Do you have a favourite recipe? Our fav: two handfuls of fresh or frozen strawberries + two big spoons of vanilla yogurt + as much milk as you like for one delicious (and healthy!) strawberry drink.
Saturday morning I finished another DIY for So Fawned, with a little help from a certain fella who loves to colour. I’ll put a link up when it appears on the site in a couple of weeks.
Oh, and that Canada Day 10K I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? Yeah that’s not on. Literally. The event doesn’t run anymore and Tanya and I haven’t been running much either so we’ll set our sights on a race in August or September. There’s plenty to choose from then.
On one other note, now you can follow my blog with Bloglovin!
Are you running this summer? What’s ahead for you this week?
If it’s hot where you are, baking might be the last thing on your mind. You want to be out in the sunshine, walking, lounging or gardening or maybe running around with your kids. But trust me, these cookies are well worth the time in the kitchen. They’re the perfect combination of crispy/chewy goodness, with a welcome crunch from the nuts and plenty of chocolate chunks to sink your teeth into. And while I haven’t tried it myself, I bet they’d be delicious in an ice cream sandwich. Will you try them and let me know?
C’mon. You know you want one!
They’re large enough to share, but of course you don’t have to.
And if you do, they make a pretty little gift. Just don’t be surprised if people ask you to make more.
Flourless chocolate cookies
Adapted from this recipe
Makes 10 jumbo cookies (about 3 inches in diameter)
1.5 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa
2 pinches salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 egg whites
1 and 1/4 cup walnuts, slivered almonds or pistachios (or a combination of your favs)
2 generous handfuls dried cherries or dried cranberries
1 3 oz/100 gram 70% cocoa dark chocolate bar, broken into chunks (or a couple of generous handfuls of jumbo semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place one rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Whisk the sugar, cocoa and salt until blended.
Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat on low speed for approximately one minute. Mixture will be runny.
Throw in the nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chunks/chips and stir ’til combined.
Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop, scoop out mixture and drop onto the baking sheet in six generously spaced piles. (If you don’t have a cookie scoop, measure out two tablespoons per cookie.)
Bake for approximately 15 – 17 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through.
Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before carefully peeling from the parchment paper or baking mat.
Bake remaining four cookies.
Finished cookies will have glossy tops, crackly outsides and a chewy, brownie-like centre.
Most of us know how important sleep is for our health, but how many of us can say we get enough zzzzs? Sometimes you need someone to force you to lie the heck down. For both your sakes.
Poor Magic the unicorn is a bit of an insomniac. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t have any eyelids.
But you do!
Put them to good use when you next get the chance and close those peepers for some restorative shut-eye. Leave the dishes for tomorrow and turn off your devices. Hit the sheets earlier tonight and see if you don’t feel even a little bit better when you wake.
(Unless you’re one of those people who say they feel crappier after a nap or too much sleep. Then by all means do what you do.)
Sweet dreams, everybody. I hope you have a good sleep.