5×5 for the 25th

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

While I hope all of y’alls latter, colder months have been spent wrapped head to toe in ultimate holiday cheer, this holiday season is feeling a little less festive for me — it’s the first one I haven’t spent with any of my immediate family, or truly celebrated in any way (sounds depressing, geez). And not that dear hubs Steve isn’t familia, but celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas growing up had its traditions: small (or sometimes big), intimate family gatherings, where we all dressed up and spent the day cooking, watching movies, playing games, eating, drinking, and being merry. This year, I spent Thanksgiving on a plane, went to Best Buy for some pre-funk Black Friday shopping as soon as I landed, ate dinner at Denny’s because it was the only place open (after I rode there in the trunk of our friend’s car because the new 50 inch TV took up the entire back seat), and concluded the day with some good ol’ Netflix and chill (heh, heh) with Steve. And well, as far as Christmas goes… we ain’t got no tree, we ain’t got no family, and we ain’t got the day to celebrate it anyway, because Steve has been at work since 2 pm (go back and re-read that in a Smokey from Friday voice, please).

But you know what, that’s okay. Steve and I spent all night yesterday watching Christmas movies, and I’ve pretty much continued that on in to today… with a big ole’ bottle of Pinot Grigio and some good ole’ fashioned Dunkin Donuts. The gym is closed, I don’t have work, and I have nobody around, so I’m essentially forced to sit down and zen into the self-care realm, which is proving to be pretty amazing. It’s a Merry Christmas indeed.

And so in the spirit of things, I thought it’d be fun to do a 5×5 things about me post, 25 tid-bits for the 25th of December!

5 kitchen must-haves

  • Good knives: How do you live without them?! Many-a-days have passed since I leveled up from the girl with the hand-me-downs and multi-colored knife set from Ross, and can I just say, I am so glad that era of my life has passed. Grown up gifts are becoming more and more appreciated as the years go by — Steve’s uncle and auntie bought us a Cut-co set two years ago, and… did anybody else know you can slice through a sweet potato in one swift motion? Like… you don’t have to saw through it for a solid thirty seconds? Don’t be ashamed, I was surprised too. Nay, just ignorant of life through the Golden Culinary World’s doors. We may not all be world-renowned chefs, but a good knife set sure as hell can make us feel like one.
  • Crock Pot: THE-HOLY-GRAIL for people who have a busy schedule but are still trying to successfully be an adult. Quick to throw together, does all the work for you, and the final product is often times orgasmic. With Steve working constantly rotating 12 hour shifts, the cooking (not to embody the whole house-wife stereotype) usually falls on me, and even though I do enjoy cooking, I, like most humans, get lazy. But even those of us with busy schedules can squeeze in a little 15-30 minute prep work before running out the door. Turn that baby on low, go about your work and errands, and voila, come home to an aromatic surprise of ‘Damn, who cooked that?! Oh wait, me!’ type-of-moment *hair-flip*.
  • Surplus of seasoning + cooking oils/Asian sauces: I love flavor. Flava queen ova here. Seasoning can make a world of difference; it takes a dish from bland to damn in the matter of minutes. Some of my favorites? Montreal Chicken, Jamaican Jerk, Cumin, Red Pepper Flakes, and of course, garlic. All of the garlic: chopped, minced, powdered, all three, doesn’t matter, just gimme. Though I am proud I have finally learned how to follow a recipe (it’s a skill guys, not a given), there are times when I just wanna get creative and throw something together, and when those times hit, I like to make sure I have a lot of different options for jazzing up the dish (jazzing up? who am I, a food blogger?). You will always be able to find coconut oil, avocado oil, truffle oil, Mirin, Sake, Hoisin, Soy Sauce, and Sriracha in my cabinets. That’s a promise.
  • Huge Skillet: Just as the crock-pot has revolutionized my life, big ass skillets where one-pot meals are made to thrive have too. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I like it easy in the kitchen. I don’t mind a little prep work, but having 3+ pots/pans going at the same time, trying to keep an eye on all of them simultaneously so you don’t overcook the rice or dry out the meat or burn the veggies, well — count me out, that sounds like a fucking nightmare. Skillets make it possible to whip up something delicious, minus all the mess and stress.
  • Keurig: Alas. You knew it was coming. What I love most about this super convenient piece of kitchen-tech is that it makes a perfect single serving — none of that wasted left-over coffee in the pot travesty. I don’t know about you, but I like my coffee experience to be quick, clean, and easy. That’s why I drink my morning cup, to wake me up so I can get the brain ticking to make good life choices. I prefer not to start my mornings off trying to think before I’m ready to, especially when it’s about whether or not I’m putting enough coffee in the filter, or when the last time I cleaned out the coffee grounds in this damn old-fashioned coffee pot was (garnish of mold with that cup of jo, anyone?). Call it laziness. Really, it’s okay. It is laziness, and undeniably my boujee side peaking through. I like keurigs, do I need a reason? This is America.

5 gym essentials

  • Quality headphones: My go-to headphones are my Beats, I have an over the ear wireless pair in hunter green and the Beats Solo in black that wrap behind your neck. The sound quality is flawless, the design is sleek, and truth be told, they just make me feel like a badass. A crucial part of hitting the gym is listening to the music that pumps you up, whether that be rap, rock, or EDM, and the music needs a beautiful outlet in which it can stream. It’s worth the money investing in a solid pair that’s built to last, Beats or not. The initial price tag might seem a bit appalling, but it’s worth every dime not to have to constantly readjust them in your ears, or worry about them getting unplugged from your phone, or getting pissed when the left ear-piece starts cracking out. Every. Damn. Penny.
  • Pre-workout: Dat pre-pre! I don’t take many supplements, but I will advocate night and day for a solid pre-workout. There are tons of different brands out there, so I would advise getting some advice on ones that might best cater to your body. I’ve tried multiple kinds that have made my stomach severely hurt after taking them, to the point where I’d have to leave the gym early and sleep it off on the couch because I felt so icky. That had to do with the type of formula it was — my stomach can be very sensitive to caffeine and such — which is why I recommend doing your research. But the brand I swear by is Lit: it comes in several flavors (currently obsessed with Icy Fireworks), it gives me a slight tingle, and I can feel the difference in my mentality when I drink it before training. Useful for getting in the zone and even better for a pick-me-up on those days you’re dragging ass.
  • Protein: The post-workout drink, specifically formulated to deliver the protein you need after the gym in order to fuel those gains and build those muscles! Delicious when blended with fruit, yogurt, honey, and almond milk for a smoothie, efficient when you’re just trying to get your daily protein intake. I’m not much for tracking macro-nutrients — in fact, I don’t do it at all. I’ve always been more of an intuitive eater, eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full. I know what’s healthy and what’s not, and I can generally build a pretty diverse, nutritious plate. But after some recent research about how to best build muscle, I realized that I am not eating nearly as many calories as I should for my weight and height, especially if I’m trying to grow areas of my body. So I downloaded MyFitnessPal and am attempting to keep a rough estimate on my daily intake, getting as close as I can to the suggested protein, fats, and carbs. Steve and I even bought a scale so we can start measuring our portions of meat, veggies, and starches (like rice and potatoes), because we also realized we are eating way too much protein in one sitting. All you really need is 4 oz, which is equivalent to about 25 grams of protein, which is all your body can successfully digest at once. I am learning, people! Learning!
  • Resistance bands: They make the burn really, really burn. In a good way… if you’re a masochist like me. With different levels of resistance, they’re the perfect tools for glute activation or an added level of god damn to your already brutal squats and hip thrusts. Not much else to say except, buy a set already.
  • Cute outfit: Face it ladies, you might get a stellar sweat in wearing your oversized gray bed-time shirt and sweats from 10th grade, but you don’t feel nearly as confident as you would if you were wearing a seamless pair of leggings and a Gymshark cropped hoodie. Or maybe you do, and I’m just insecure. That’s fine. Insecurity works for me (kidding, kidding). On the contrary, I’ve found that putting on a little foundation and a light brush of mascara with a flattering outfit makes me feel more ready to tackle the gym. I don’t do it for any wandering eyes, I do it for me. Baby girl likes to look good, and you should too.

5 staple hair products

  • YES-TO Tea Tree & Sage Oil Shampoo & Conditioner: High-five for all my fellow dry-scalp prone hunnies out there! Right there with you. It’s almost 2019, we can talk about dandruff without acting repulsed, c’mon. I used to be embarrassed as hell about it, I thought I legit had a skin condition and would call my mom freaking out, convinced I had eczema. Then she offered up a genius idea: just wash and condition your hair, every single day. Wash my hair? How very interesting. I was used to washing my hair every 3-4 days, I still er, showered of course, but I’d wet my hair and leave it at that. For a while it kept my hair much healthier and made it appear much fuller, which for a girl with naturally thin hair, was a dream. But eventually the dry-scalp flared up and my mom’s idea was a winner. I now wash my hair and give myself a deep scalp massage every day, sometimes every other, and the eczema-lookin shit has cleared right up. The YES-TO brand is a god sent: it smells amazing, it works like magic, and it makes my hair softer than anything I have ever used before. Best part? Only $8 for a bottle that’ll last you most, if not all year long.
  • Argan Oil 5-in-1 Leave-In Spray: Every girl should have a good leave-in spray on hand, and one with argan oil no-less. It detangles, adds shine, helps with frizz, provides thermal protection, and moisturizes to prevent breakage: nothing bad about it. I mainly put it on my ends to avoid any greasiness, but find what works best for you.
  • Kristin Ess Sea Salt Air Dry Spray: Shoutout to my sis, Kaura for introducing me to this stuff! It’s a super fine mist that you spray onto your damp, towel-dried hair to give you some effortless beachy waves (bonus: no salt-crunch). My hair already has a natural wave to it, so adding a mist of this and scrunching it while it dries accentuates those waves significantly. It’s perfect for when I want some style but don’t feel like going through the whole routine of blow drying and curling — and yes, it smells fantastic.
  • Kristin Ess Soft Shine Beach Wave Spray: Another must have. Rather than spraying this on wet hair, you spray this on after you’ve already heat styled. It adds shine, enhances curls, creates texture, and opts as a light-weight hair spray, as well. The best part about the Kristin Ess line is that her products are inexpensive but so freaking, magical. I hate feeling like I have a lot of product in my hair — I don’t want to weigh it down, I just want to give it life — her products make that possible on a budget.
  • Wand: Every girl’s best friend. I have a one inch and a one and a half inch barrel, and I use them when trying to achieve different styles… obvi. Typically I go with the bigger one, I prefer looser curls for an every day look but the smaller one is nice when you’re aiming for tighter. I could never master regular curling irons, and I’m not much for straightening my hair. Wands create simple, quick, effortless chic styles and frankly, I just don’t know where I’d be without my wand. Probably sitting in the corner, with sad, lifeless, dull locks. Crying. Into a tub of ice cream. Because of my shitty hair. I’m not vain, you’re vain.

5 things about me that might surprise you

  • Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook free: It’s true. Minus WordPress, Snapchat, and Pinterest, I am as social-media free as it gets. Weird for someone in their twenties, I’m aware, but I just got so fed up with the comparison game and vortex of nonsense I found myself in while I mindlessly scrolled and scrolled and scrolled. It was draining, and so one day, I made myself delete everything. And truthfully it was one of the most liberating choices I’ve ever made — once you delete your accounts, you literally do. not. think. about. them. ever — it’s pretty wild how we can go from all-consumed one minute to completely uninterested the next. You’d think I’d miss it, but I don’t. I’m so glad that I don’t have to worry about keeping up with everyone, but most of all, I love that I don’t have to worry about keeping everyone up with me. In this day and age it is rare to do something and not feel the urge to post about it on some platform. Going on vacation has transformed into how-many-likes can I get on a sexy beach-side bikini selfie or twerkin’intheclub video contest. It’s no longer about enjoying the present moment, it’s about making sure you get the right angles so all of your “friends” know what a fabulous time you’re having. It’s all an illusion, and it’s sad. I’ve been toying with the idea of making an Instagram again because I realize as a blogger it’s important to have a platform like such in order to connect with a wider crowd, but ugh. I don’t want to get sucked back into the vortex. Life outside it is so nice.
  • Lover of IPAs: I used to hate beer. I think I speak for all women when I say the first time we tasted it we thought we were drinking horse piss. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Sure, Mike’s Hard Lemonade tasted like pure sugar, but at least it tasted like something. Then one day I tasted an IPA while I worked at The Hub, and suddenly, it clicked. I got all the fuss. Some might argue that IPAs taste like horse piss, but I would argue that it’s the best horse piss around. Yes, they have a bold flavor. It’s called hops, and it’s what makes beer, beer. So, in retrospect, IPAs are the King of Beers. I like the bite. To each their own. It’s the only beer I’ll touch, besides an occasional Stella when I don’t want something so heavy.
  • Participant in the Pink-Hair movement: Whether it was a nose piercing, bangs, or dying your hair pink, we all went through a rebellious, take-it-or-leave-it phase. Mine was the latter. It was the first time I’d ever dyed my hair, and I wanted something different, so naturally I chose a lavender that was extremely hard to achieve. It turned out nowhere near the picture I went in with, but I rolled with it anyways. It faded fast into an orangey-blonde which was real cute, but it looked good for the first couple weeks — good enough to make an impression on Steve’s uncle the first time I met him, so good in fact that the next time he saw me he made sure to let me know I looked much hotter with the pink. Noted Uncle Howard, noted.
  • Incapable of whistling: Unless it’s on anything hot, then I blow and tunes just start flowing out. It’s actually infuriating. Steve says it’s all in my head, that I just need to do the same thing I do when I’m blowing on soup when I’m trying to whistle, but I could not disagree more. I’ve tried a thousand times without success and have finally found a way to resolve the issue: give up trying, it ain’t that important. Sometimes quitting is the only answer (clearly well on my way to becoming a motivational speaker).
  • Late in the Concert-Game: As much as I love the energy of concerts and festivals, it took me eighteen years to go to my first one (unless you count Britney Spears on the beach in Hawaii when I was 5). It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado and started college that my roomies swiped my concert virginity. It was in Denver, on New Years, and I highly doubt you’ll know the band, Boombox. To be honest, I didn’t even know who they were prior to that night, but I decided enough was enough, it was time to let this deflowering happen. And what a deflowering it was. We pre-gamed Jameson in the car before going in, shimmied our way to the front row, and danced ourselves into the New Year to some funky ass jazz. It was epic. When it turned midnight, balloons and confetti fell from the ceiling and I finally understood the obsession with seeing music live. Nothing compares. Good vibes all around. Boombox was my gateway to all the concerts and festivals I’ve been to since, and because of that, I will forever turn up their song Stereo whenever it comes on. 

5 habits to kick in 2019

  • Binge drinking: Why haven’t I kicked this one earlier, you ask? Because I’m twenty-two and dumb. We’re all little alcoholics when we’re young. We have hard times defining limits and harder times remembering anything that happened the night before. It’s this vicious cycle where you start drinking even when you don’t feel like it, because you’re supposed to live up to this twenty-something livin’ large ideal, then the shots start kicking in and for a while it’s all fun and games, dancing and laughing and letting loose, but then the five other completely unnecessary shots kick in and it’s all ‘oh shit I think I’m gonna yack, where’s a god damn toilet, why do I do this to myself’ slurred mumble-jumble. It’s horrible. I’m sick of it. I feel like ass the day after, it’s one hundred percent counterproductive to my fitness goals, and it’s expensive. It’s time to start prioritizing my health — I finally hear you liver, loud and clear.
  • Sleeping-in: We have twenty-four hours in a day. We work anywhere from 6-10 hours, we commute, we cook, and we try to carve out a little us time. If you work an average 8 hour day, that leaves you with 16 hours of precious time. If you sleep for 7, that leaves you with 9. 9 whole hours to find some reasons worth living for, woo. But for people like me, who have a tendency to stay up late and sleep in late, those 9 hours shrink to just a few. Most of my days consist of rolling out of bed between 10 & 11, eating some grub before the gym, and coming back to meal prep (if I have time) before scurrying off to work — sometimes I don’t even shower until I get home. What a life, what a life. There was a period of time when I would wake up at 7 and it felt like I was living in a whole new dimension, one where I could make breakfast, workout, meal prep, clean, and still have some down time before work. It was a lovely dimension, a dimension I miss, a dimension I am determined to find and bask in again.
  • Drop the JUUL: It’s a shitty habit. I’ve never smoked cigarettes — alright, that’s a lie. I have. But only when I’ve been drinking and my friends are already smoking. Another reason to eliminate excessive drinking. Also, hi peer pressure. I never got anything out of them though, maybe a slight head buzz, but nothing to make me succumb to whatever hold they have on the millions. Then a year ago, the JUUL came around and pretty soon everyone I knew was puff-puff-passing those bad boys and the concentrated nicotine had me hooked. The buzz was nice, and I enjoyed it more knowing I wasn’t putting a bunch of toxic shit in my body (though who knows, might still be). Realistically, anything that you smoke isn’t good for you, but it’s a pick-your-posion type of world. I didn’t buy my own until last month when I visited Colorado, because I knew that once I went down that rabbit hole my will power was a goner. At least if I just bummed hits off my friends, I was saving money and I wasn’t fully ‘addicted’. Jokes on me. Anyway, Steve and I decided that this last pack was going to be our last — sliding into 2019 like some real New Year Resolution type folks.
  • Netflix: I’m embarrassed to do this but I’m going to do it anyway to furthermore prove to myself just how many irretrievable hours of my life I’ve wasted — in all their entirety, these are the shows I’ve watched, pilot to finale: Friends, New Girl, Young & Hungry, Game of Thrones, Miami Vice, Grey’s Anatomy, Younger, Gossip Girl, How I Met Your Mother… you know what, I’m embarrassed. You get the point. Too. Many. Hours. Wasted. Watching a lil Netflix every now and then is totally fine — it’s good for some unwinding and relaxing. But going over board is well, just that. Totally unproductive. I’d rather spend my hours away from work enjoying more simulating hobbies, like writing, reading, or learning how to play my poor, neglected ukulele. Productivity is in, my friends.
  • Cut the Crap: All the people-pleasing, all the negative self-talk, all the worrying and doubting. It’s energy draining. Pointless. Numbing. Insignificant. These are human challenges. We all deal with them. It’s impossible to avoid them, to not have any bad days, to be a total fucking ray of sunshine all the time. And it isn’t healthy to strive for perfection. But it is healthy, I think, to constantly strive to be better than the person you were yesterday. That’s what this sweet, sweet life is all about: growing, overcoming, flourishing.

I hope you angels enjoyed this post, I had a lot of fun writing it. But it’s now 2 am, and Steve is asleep on my shoulder. That’s my que. 

Till next time,

J



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