Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday favorites!

This week, I'm late. Work has been crazy-exhausting. Anyway, I celebrated my husband's birthday with a wonderful date night, helped my friend start to organise and reimagine her closet, discovered some groovy new board games (Pandemic, anyone?), got to know my job and my coworkers better,  and ran an exhausting evening of errands with my dear, awesome, patient spouse.

This weekend, we're having some friends over for a fancy pajama party to celebrate my fella's date of birth in our giant blanket fort. We'll play games and eat tasty snacks. Exciting!

And now, the best of the internet this week:

Author Diane Duane is the victim of theft - her bank account was drained dry. Help her pay her bills in the interim by buying her e-books (all 20% off!). Her Young Wizards series is some of the best YA fiction out there.

The question of the year, according to Slate: Are smart people ugly? Why can't they go together, Slate?

Over at ESB, they just devoted a weeks to BOOBS. Dressing them, taking care of them, et cetera. I just downloaded the podcast for my commute. <3

A great tip for wearing button-downs with sweaters.

This is a neat idea for writers: make a wiki for your world-building!

If you love that there are all these new lip butters on the market as much as I do, here's a review of Revlon's vs. L'Oreal's.

My new favorite beauty product: Fotoshop by Adobé.

Some handy, simple food photography tips.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Work-life balance: Commuting (for the ears)

Some days, especially in the evening,  I don't relish the nausea of trying to train myself to read. On those days, it's time for me to spend some quality time with my iPod. I've also discovered that it's easier for me to get into a groove with my work if I'm listening to music, so I have to make the most of my four gigs. Here's how I'm doing it so far.

1. Make special playlists.

Everything from a perky "Wake Up!" playlist to a calming end-of-the-day meditation mix could be finding a place in my collection of tunes soon. I also like lists for special occasions, from a dance recital to Hallowe'en.

2. Listen to a podcast.
I've downloaded one so far, and on Sunday I'll be searching through recordings of The Vinyl Cafe and Made of Fail. I'm also curious about The Moth, Grammar Girl, TEDThis American Life, 4PP, and QuackCast.

3. Storytime.
Audiobooks and short stories are another thing I want to try out. As Becca pointed out in the comments section, novels might be harder to follow than nonfiction. I'm starting with a short story by Neil Gaiman to see how I fare.

4. Learn a language.
Find language recordings to listen to, or...

5. Make friends.
Meet someone who speaks a foreign language! My "bus buddy" happens to be Egyptian, and I get to practise my Arabic a little bit. Bus buddies do not have to be all business, however. It's fun just to talk about your day or common interests.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Work-life balance: Commuting (for the eyes)

I have an unfortunate problem. I have always been a voracious reader, and would happily read everywhere I went. As I've gotten older, though, I've found it more and more difficult to read in moving vehicles without getting motion sickness. I remember being ecstatic when discovering on a school bus trip that I could read on busses with no trouble. Sadly, these days, I can only read nausea-free on airplanes.

I want to try and fix this. So far, I've been relying on my iPod (and makeup application, oops) to entertain me during my commute. I sit and chill out, listening to music and letting my mind wander. Though this is fine sometimes, my iPod doesn't have the greatest battery life anymore, and I feel like spending 2-3 hours a day just listening to music isn't very productive.

It's time to teach myself to read on the bus. I've read about various methods here and there, but I think I'm going to try reading for a few minutes at a time until I feel queasy, stop until I feel better, and then start again. If that doesn't work, I'm prepared to delve into weirder solutions like blocking my view of the outside, bringing a bag of salty foods to smell, and reading really engrossing books.

And if all else fails, maybe I'll give meditation a whirl. If it works for Thich Nhat Hanh... ()

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Work-life balance: Wardrobe

I realised within a few days of starting my job that when you're getting up and your spouse is still asleep, stomping around your bedroom getting dressed at 6am is fun for precisely no one in your house. You're stuck trying to find clothes in the dark, your husband's peaceful slumber is over, and your cats are wishing you were getting dressed in the bathroom so they could nuzzle your legs and get their fur all over your clothes.

My solution is to get the next day's outfit ready the night before, something that I've never really liked but is basically necessary in this situation. I don't tend to be terribly inspired right before I go to bed. Here's a list of what I do to keep my outfits fun, appropriate, and quick to put together.

1. Check the weather forecast!
This seems like a no-brainer, but you don't want to end up ruining your wool jacket in the rain or eschewing layered tights when the high is minus 4.

2. Pinterest
If you don't have a pinterest account yet, I'm terribly sorry. I use it pretty much daily, especially for outfit inspiration. If you're after a look featuring pants or the colour eggplant, you can often find success in searching the whole website or your own fashion pinboard.
You can even be your own pinterest by keeping a list of favourite outfits. I've pinned some of my own favorite office ensembles, and I've gone through old outfit photos for this blog more than once. An added bonus is that unless you purge often, you already own all the pieces! ;)

 3. Capsule collection on post-its
You might want to try matching post-its, flash cards, or small photos of each item together to make outfits. They might not always work in real life, but they can help narrow your focus (to work clothes, winter clothes, etc.) when you have a big closet, and if you have a smaller closet it can make it easier for you to mix things up. Try it on the weekend - it's can be time-consuming, but often it's because it's hard to stop!

4. Extra outfits
I've taken to laying out more than one outfit when I'm not sure how I'll be feeling in the morning. It can be nice to be able to choose between a skirt or pants or black versus colour, or even combine elements of both outfits if something isn't working.

Hope these ideas help you out!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Work-life balance week.

{it is hard not to find very corny images when you Google "work-life balance"- lots of rocks, signs, and elephants balancing on rubber balls...I picked this one because it's pretty, NOT because I hate my office}

Now, I don't claim to be an expert in work-life balance. In point of fact, I'm pretty terrible at it. At my last job, I'd get home in the evening and be too tired to do much of anything beyond plop myself in front of the couch. It seemed to take a lot of effort to engage in any of my previous hobbies or pastimes. I don't like how lazy I became during that time of my life.

Due to my new, longer commute, almost 12 hours of each weekday are dedicated to my job. When I get home, there are so many things to accomplish and too few hours left to do them all: spending time with my husband, working out, catching up on my Google Reader, meditating, spending time with friends, cooking, playing with my cats, gaming, and planning for the following day. Top it all off with attempting to get a good nights' sleep and you have a recipe for a very frazzled Meg. 

This weekend, I've been spending time looking around the internet in an effort to find things to help me transition into a more balanced lifestyle. I'm going to talk about two things that are high on my list to improve: wardrobe planning and commuting. Hopefully the resources I have to share will help me, and you guys out there too! Stay tuned.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday favorites.

{something calming to cap off a busy week...}

This week, I started off the new year with my first viewing of Ben-Hur and a chicken wing binge, checked some items off my to-do list, visited with my brother and my godmother's family, started my new job, spent a lot of time on the bus, and had a friend over for dinner.

Tonight, we're off to have dinner with friends. I'm excited to eat delicious food, give our hostess a gift I thrifted for her back home, play with their sweet daughter, and talk about all things geeky.

And now, the best I saw of the internet this week:

Who decided that women need to shave? Here's one answer.

Here is a short list of the benefits of video games.

Some thoughts on nerds and male privilege.

This advice for a young girl with an older suitor is fantastic.

Holy Steampunk Medusa, Batman!

Ten steps for happiness at work.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Leftover eggnog?

I love eggnog. In years past, I've guzzled away entire cartons of this creamy drink. This year, I had homemade eggnog ice cream instead, and it was delicious.

Due to my diet, I have to eat homemade probiotic yogurt every day to make sure there are enough good bacteria in my system. I was never a big yogurt fan to begin with, but after over a year of daily yogurt consumption, I needed a way to spice things up.

Enter bananog. Recently, I'd been craving a banana milkshake with ice cream. The ice cream in my freezer was eggnog-flavoured. I thought it might be worth a try... and oh, it was. If you like these two things, you'll see that they complement each other quite well. They're also strong enough flavours that with a bit of help from vanilla and nutmeg, you won't even notice the tangy yogurt!

So if you have leftover eggnog in your fridge, give this guy a shot. You can use vanilla ice cream and eggnog instead of eggnog ice cream and milk like I did, or if you're feeling ambitious, you can put your eggnog straight into the ice cream machine and make your own!

sliced frozen banana (I keep this in my freezer for smoothies and banana ice cream)
eggnog ice cream
yogurt (about the same quantity as the ice cream)
milk (or cream if you're feeling really decadent)
splash of vanilla
sprinkle of nutmeg
honey to taste, if needed

Put all ingredients into your blender and go to town! Adjust quantities to your taste - I like being able to taste the banana and the eggnog equally. I also prefer a thicker beverage; sometimes, I have to add more liquid just to get it to blend! If you like something thinner, go easy on the banana and ice cream. Have fun!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Christmas Adventures of Norman the Gnome.

I've had an affinity for gnomes since I was 16 or 17. I remember trying to come up with a name for my livejournal (oh, those were the days). Inspired by a scene from Amelie where she was carrying a suitcase (actually, a satchel, but I'm never been the most observant person) and a gnome, I dubbed myself "suitcasegnome", and it's been my online handle ever since.

Despite my love of suitcases and gnomes, though, I've never gotten any gnomes as a present - until this year. My best friend Becca knitted me a gnome named Norman the Doorman, and we made VERY merry.

Here's how Norman spent his Christmas day.

 Norman tries on a Santa hat. We decide his own pointy red hat is festive enough.

 Norman gets tied up in the excitement of opening presents! Sorry, Norman, but you can't borrow my Tweety Bird pajamas.

Norman gives his presents a whirl. Lookin' good, Norm! 

Norman! Did you drink that whole bottle by yourself? You party animal...

Thankfully, Norman's recovered from his hangover now. I hope you all enjoyed meeting him, especially because he will be back tomorrow to share a recipe to use up the last dregs of eggnog in your fridge. 

Now, it's off to the new job with me! I'm so excited to have such a great opportunity.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolution inspiration.

Happy 2012, everybody! I had a great holiday season: I got to spend time with family and friends, play cards into the wee hours of the morning, drink wine, open presents, eat delicious food, go thrifting with my mum, finish my wedding thank you notes (FINALLY), watch trashy shows on TLC (Extreme Couponing, anyone?), check out the Boxing Day sales, and receive THE most fabulous coat (thanks, Mum!). My husband and I capped off 2011 last night with a small get-together with a too-large menu. We watched "Trading Places" and played cards, again. It was a wonderful time.

Now, it's a new year, and I feel a need to make resolutions, as I often do. This year, I decided to link my resolutions to amazing people I've read about as inspiration and motivation.

First off, I want to stay healthy: continue on the Diet, drink more water, take care of my skin, get enough sleep, and take up exercise, especially yoga and/or meditation to reduce stress. If people in their 80s and 90s can do it, so can I!

Next, I want to give a Spending Fast (or at least a Spending Diet) a shot. Anna's story is so inspiring, and this year people are pledging to join her. Having a group of people with this shared goal will be a great motivation. Now I just need to figure out my parameters...

Of course, I want to improve my creative side: writing this blog, getting back into making art, and possibly start posting outfit photos again (like these fantastic ladies!). I need to focus more on this and less on just noodling about on the internet.

Lastly, I want to focus on all the wonderful people in my life: my husband, our families, our friends, our cats (they're people too!), and all the lovely folks out there I have yet to meet. Watch out world - you're getting a hug!