Let’s switch it up a bit today and talk about fitness! As many of you know, I work at a local gym, Bodysmith, on Saturdays, and through this job, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the personal trainers, who have answered all sorts of my health and fitness questions. Last week, I decided to sit down with Will, a longtime trainer, who was kind enough to share tons of knowledge with me and my readers (LOL-ing at the weights dropping in the background as I transcribe our recording!).
I asked Will how long he’s been working full-time as a trainer, and he could tell me the exact day–May 19, 1987! He said that at this point in his career, most of his clients “have a disfunction of some sort, like a hurt knee or a sore back.” But, as you would guess, many people also contact trainers because of a desire to lose body fat. “The misunderstanding I commonly see there is people saying that they want to lose weight,” Will says. “They need to change that language and say, ‘I want to lose fat. Because losing muscle is losing metabolism, and metabolism is your skeletal muscle. If you lose muscle, you have to eat less. People think deprivation is the key to losing weight, when it’s a matter of distribution.”
Will’s overall nutrition advice is simple: “If Mother Nature did not make something firsthand, do not eat it.” (Of course my reaction was, “Uh…ever?!”). “That’s tricky,” he noted, “because we’re in such an industrialized society. Paleo is a great idea, but eliminating carbohydrates is dangerous.” He mentioned in our conversation that eating five or six small meals throughout the day, rather than the traditional three, can help one lose weight. “It’s a matter of nourishment,” he explains. “If you’re only eating three meals a day, your body has to store all of those calories to distribute them over 24 hours. If you’re eating every three hours, you’re telling your body, ‘We are not starving; we are not in danger of starving,’ and it will get rid of the excess.” So what does this mean when it comes to trends like intermittent fasting? “Do it for a little while, see how it changes your body, but don’t eliminate a macronutrient like carbohydrates or fat or anything else, for an extended period of time,” Will stresses.
Generally, Will’s clients see the most success when it comes to strength. But, he emphasizes, in addition to doing movements properly, one shouldn’t look in the mirror when training. “You know where everything is on your body; you don’t need to look at yourself in the mirror–every time you look at yourself in the mirror, you’re out of position. Your head follows your eyes. Places like this gym used to be tiny, and they put mirrors on the wall to make them look larger.”
If you want to get stronger but you’re afraid of bulging muscles…what do you do? “Don’t be afraid of heavy weights,” Will says. “If you think that lifting weights is going to make you bulky and that’s not something you want, go up to the biggest person in the gym and ask them how long it took them to get that big. More than likely, it’s more than 10 years.”
And if someone isn’t able to work out with a trainer but wants to workout from home, what is their best bet? Luckily, it’s simple. “Move your body physically every day,” Will says.
Will also left me with what he considers to be the definition of fitness: “The definition of fitness is the ability–key word, ability–to meet the needs of everyday life with ease, maintaining a reserve for emergency situations. Fitness is an ability, not an appearance. Body fat management is a component of fitness, but it’s one of 15. Too many people focus on the appearance of their body before the functionality of it, and that causes a lot of problems.”
In my last post, I talked a bit about some of my Craigslist strategies and my experience using TaskRabbit, and today I’m back with some additional pointers, having received some new questions in the meantime.
A reader commented on my last post wondering if I’ve ever used TaskRabbit for hanging art.
While I personally haven’t, it’s definitely something they can do! However, there’s no need to spend $50+ on this–I usually opt to hang art on my own because it’s pretty simple. You just have to accept that you’ll likely make some errors and have extra holes in the wall, but this is nothing you can’t resolve with a bit of spackle. You definitely don’t need a level or fancy tools to hang pictures, either. Despite math and hand-eye coordination not being strong suits of mine, I will toot my own horn and say that I have a great eye when it comes to filling space and can estimate measurements like a pro (I’m way too impatient to go the route of cutting newspaper-sized prints out and arranging them on the wall where you want your pieces to go, but many people recommend that, too!). Putting together a gallery wall or even just hanging a print or two is much simpler than it looks, promise!
Is it rude to ask a Craigsist seller if they can deliver?
Lol, literally as I’m writing this someone just messaged me about something and asked if I could deliver–no car, sorry! However, I ask people this all the time, and more often than not, the answer is yes! I recently purchased a super cool chair from someone who lives way out in Dumfries, VA, by meeting her in Pentagon City where she had a work meeting, and another seller from Laurel, MD, brought something to her office in Logan Circle for me to pick up. It doesn’t hurt to ask at all–I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how simple these arrangements have been and have scored some super cool items that I would’ve ruled out otherwise. You never know unless you try!
Do you bargain with the seller when you’re making a purchase on Craigslist?
I actually rarely ask for bargains. If the items is something I know is super popular and really want (like a campaign dresser or something of the sort), I won’t ask unless I get a really good vibe from the seller and am confident he/she won’t backtrack and pass me up for someone else. However, if I like an item but could live without it, I may ask for a slight decrease in price (ex: trying to knock down something from $50 to $40 or $75 to $60). I’ll never lowball someone or ask for a lower price on something that is worth a ton (I’ve seen West Elm couches in great condition posted for $30, for example–you’d be crazy to try to negotiate on a transaction like that!). If something has been listed for more than five days, I am more inclined to ask about a lower price than if it’s just been posted, as the seller likely wants to get the item out of their house at this point and will be more flexible!
Not really Craigslist-related, but have you ever ordered from any of the vintage furniture sites/Instagram accounts?
I haven’t. I follow a ton of these accounts (One of a Find Charleston is a favorite), but I’ve never placed an order because shipping is often between $150 and $200 extra. Living in the DC area, I find enough similar items listed on CL or Facebook marketplace or even at local stores like Miss Pixie’s that I don’t feel compelled to pay a high shipping cost. However, these Instagram pages can serve as great inspiration and help me keep track of styles that I like so that I can keep my eyes peeled for similar options locally.
I felt this chair deserved a post of its own partly because of how complicated it was for it to actually end up in my home! I often go back and forth with myself after responding to Craigslist postings, because more often than not I don’t really “need” something I see on there, but at the same time, I find it difficult to turn down what I know is a good deal on a cool piece–and as Colby assures me, I’m just picking up investment pieces for down the road ;). So this time, I emailed the seller, got a quick response, and made plans to travel to Virginia to pick it up the next day. But then I decided that the trek was too long, I didn’t need the chair (true), and my time would be better spent doing errands and things at home rather than spending an hour-plus (realistically an hour and a half to two hours if I metro-ed one way) picking up a Craigslist item. Right after I backed out (and immediately regretted it), the seller told me it was totally fine because someone else could come by the next morning, which made me feel better–as someone who sells a ton of items on CL too, I hate letting people down when they think they have a sale, because I know how annoying it is!
The next day, I was out running an errand and still thinking about the chair (I think I was actually gazing at the pictures of it on the Craigslist ad, haha) and how I shouldn’t have passed it up, when the seller emailed me and told me not only that her backup person flaked but also that she would be attending an event in DC and could bring the chair to my house for no extra fee. Umm, serendipity or what? I immediately replied saying yes, and within a couple of hours, the chair was mine!
I love these photos Heather shot of it the other week…it matches my new white dresser and really pops against the brick wall.
Do you have any ridiculous CL stories like this one? I’m glad the seller wasn’t phased with me being so flip-floppy…it was meant to be!
Happy, happy Friday! This week was a super busy one with work, so I’m excited to unwind this weekend with the H Street festival, a friend’s party, and a little shoot at my apartment on Sunday with a local company that I love (more on that soon!).
Thank you so much to everyone who took my reader survey this past week, which I linked to in last Friday’s post! I generally shy away from feedback but am so appreciative of everyone who chimed in. It sounds like interiors and personal posts are the most well-received, so I’ll certainly keep doing those–and I’ll continue to add plenty of DC-related content but not too, too much, since many of you don’t live in the area. Fashion/beauty posts are less popular among this group, which is fine with me–I like to do those posts from time to time, but that area of blogging is already pretty saturated as it is. However, I will note that I have some different types of posts queued up for next week, so I’m excited to share these with you guys, too!
I wanted to share a new product that I love (more on that below) as well as a great resource for buying plants–Whole Foods! Sure, every city has its boutique plant shops–and I love those as well–but Whole Foods has had some affordable, aesthetically-pleasing options lately, so I wanted to share them with you on here.
Last month, I fell in love with this little terrarium (it cost $30, but it’s so worth it–it adds so much life to a space!) and this little box of succulents (only $10!). Both were featured in my recent room shoot with Heather, so I finally have some nice pics of them. The best part about these plants is that they require minimal care–just water them once a week or so (I honestly think you can likely get away with even less than that), and they’ll be fine. Plus, how cute are they for a small apartment?
The product I wanted to share is my new candle from Otherland. Elizabeth had the “rattan” scent burning when we shot her Houzz tour in September and I knew I had to scoop up one of my own. I love supporting small, women-owned companies, and Otherland is no exception. The smell is so amazing and the packaging is super cute, too!
What products are you loving lately? I love hearing about new brands (particularly for decorative accessories and the like), so send any recs my way!
I’ve always been such a bag lover–when I was younger, bags were all I wanted to spend my money on…no shoes/accessories/clothes could compare! I love this bamboo piece that I snagged at Miss Pixie’s not only because of it’s chinoiserie chic design but because it lets me put several of my favorite pieces out on display. I have this hanging by the door going into my bedroom, and it’s been super functional!
I did a little browsing for equally adorable hooks and am rounding up a few of my favorite options here. The best part is that they’re all under $50, so you can save your hard earned money for yet another a bag rather than a storage system 😉
This midcentury modern option from Urban Outfitters is super aesthetically pleasing…I kind of want it; it would look great in a foyer for coats (we actually have a set of hooks downstairs that came with our place, though).
I’m always amazed by how many great products I find when browsing World Market. This wall hook is likely even prettier in person!
This animal head hook is another World Market find that would obviously be perfect in a kid’s room but would also add some (always needed) sass to a grown up place.
Anthropologie obviously has several styles of stylish hooks, but I really like these monogrammed ones.
This wall hook from West Elm is on sale for $41 and is one I’ve been swooning over for awhile now! The gold is so gorgeous.
…this dinner is so much more than the title suggests. In addition to being easy, cheap (it’s like $3 per serving!), and healthy, it’s also filling, fast to make, delicious, and will guarantee you leftovers for lunch the next day. Perfection, right? What it’s not? Photogenic (hence the one icky-looking photo in this post…sorry, don’t gag, I promise it’s yummy!).
I made up this dinner on a whim a few weeks ago and have been whipping it several times since because it’s just that good. You guys know I’m not a cook in the slightest. Cooking doesn’t bring me joy, it just makes me feel impatient and hangry…I hate the idea of putting in a ton of work to create something that will only get destroyed (well, I guess enjoyed is a better word, but it’ll literally get chopped into pieces) within an hour. However, I make an effort to make most of my meals at home, especially for dinner, so I had to find something that would work for me. (My coworkers and I constantly talk about whether we’re people who prefer spending money on food over everything else or feel the complete opposite…you can guess which side I’m on).
While browsing Trader Joe’s website/Instagram one Sunday (yes, I really do this to get grocery inspiration #dontjudge), I learned about their corn and quinoa salad that I’d somehow passed by on previous shopping trips. I picked it up later that day and ate a few bites of it plain because my weekend eating habits are always out of whack and I’ll realize at 2 pm that all I’ve had all day is like, an English muffin with peanut butter and a few pieces of chocolate (#balance).
The salad is super good on its own, trust me–and as Trader Joe’s says…“This wouldn’t be Mexican Style Corn & Quinoa Salad if it didn’t contain a healthy amount of Mexican style corn. But we go beyond the corn here. Brightly colored layers of grape tomatoes, kale, red & green cabbage, and a mixture of white quinoa and brown rice accompany the corn. It’s made complete by a fresh lime wedge and a packet of roasted poblano cilantro dressing that recreates the delicious crema you’d find on elote and esquites. When all contents are emptied into a bowl and mixed together, you’ve got a salad that’s sweet, fresh, and flavorful.”
I mean, YUM!
That night, I decided that the corn would go really well with black beans (hello, DIY burrito bowl), and this dish was born! All you need to do is grab a frying pan, add some of the corn and quinoa salad, throw in some canned black beans (a can of black beans is seriously like 79 cents, so I always have a ton of them on hand in my cupboard), and add in some taco seasoning (you’ll probably only go through about an eighth of the packet, so just grab a chip clip and save the rest for next time), and stir everything together on medium heat. Place everything in a bowl and top with fresh avocado, or the cilantro dressing that comes with the , or some hot sauce…whatever you’re feeling at the moment. Then sit down and enjoy! The whole thing takes less than five minutes to prepare–faster than the time it would take you to pick up takeout!
This dish is packed with protein, tastes like your favorite Mexican food (which I could eat every day), and is vegetarian-friendly…what more could you want? I’ve enjoyed bringing leftovers to lunch at work, which has been a nice alternative to my usual sandwiches.
What are your favorite easy healthy dinners? (And let me know if you make this one!).
Happy Monday! I’m back with a long recap about my solo trip to Charleston (I was there Wednesday through Friday of last week) and have so much to share, so get ready for a lengthy post!
I booked my trip in the beginning of September. I’d been wanting to go to Charleston for ages, and I’d managed to find a JetBlue flight that was only $130 out of DCA (I frequently see even lower fares on JetBlue’s site, so check often!), so I decided to bite the bullet. While the Wednesday through Friday ticket fare was cheap, it meant it would be harder to find someone else to travel with, as not everyone has the same amount of vacation days left over, etc (our calendar at work is July 1-June 30, so I’m just at the beginning of my “year,” whereas most people are reaching the end). However, I decided right away that this would be a solo trip for me. Traveling by yourself is something you’re told you’re “supposed” to do in your 20s, and while that was a motivator for me, I also knew being alone (especially in a small, safe, relatively nearby city) wouldn’t be a huge deal to me. I do a ton of stuff alone in DC, so I wasn’t super worried about it feeling that different.
I left DCA around 8:30 am on Wednesday morning and was on the ground in Charleston by 9:50. I had started typing in Uber pricing to my Airbnb while in the gate at DCA, and it was looking close to $20 to go about 20 minutes, which didn’t seem ideal (I was expecting it to be like $9!). I thankfully thought to quickly look up public transportation options and found out about a bus that took only 20 minutes to go from the airport to downtown and cost $3.50. While I did miss the 10 am bus by only a few minutes and had to wait for the 11:00, I was totally fine just sitting in the airport with my book and didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything because my flight was originally due in at 10:30 anyway.
Earlier in the week, I had decided that because my Airbnb wouldn’t allow me to check in until 5 pm, I would just pack super light and spend most of Wednesday wandering around the city. Armed with my trusty NorthFace backpack (with this fold-up Everlane tote inside for souvenirs) and a crossbody, I was all set. Honestly, there are so many students in Charleston that walking around the city with a backpack actually made me blend in, haha. It definitely wouldn’t be ideal in a jam-packed city like New York, but walking around with “luggage” wasn’t a huge issue. Armed with recs from Katie and Heather in addition to some things I’d googled on my own, I was ready to set out and explore!
My first stop after getting off the bus was Hominy Grill, which I’d recently read about on Lauren’s blog and knew I had to try. Like Lauren, I ordered the fried green tomato BLT (with pimento cheese, YUM), a sweet tea, and a side of mac and cheese (eating healthy wasn’t my forte on this trip, and I’m 100 percent ok with that…when in the South, you have to try a bit of everything!). I scarfed down my meal and then began walking around King Street, stopping in a bunch of places like Skinny Dip (the cutest store ever with a patio on top–I got a drink that was a mix of frose and frozen red wine, yum!), Candy Shop Vintage, Sugar Bakeshop, and the Darling Oyster Bar. Eventually, it was past 5 and I took an Uber to my Airbnb to rest/nap (it was like 85 degrees in Charleston, and I was sweaty and exhausted!).
After resting, changing, and briefly talking to my host (I was staying in a guest room in a couple’s home–they’re about my age and the guy is a student at the med school in Charleston), I set out to grab a cheap, quick, and healthy (finally!) dinner at a Mediterranean place downtown. While eating there, I got a call from the leader of the ghost tour I’d signed up for several weeks ago asking me where I was (it was 7:50, and the tour was supposed to start at 8:30 per the company’s reminder email). Well, it turned out that they’d recently changed the tour times for fall and I was the only person on the list they’d forgotten to call and correct. Since my schedule was so open they just moved me to the tour on Thursday night, but the experience was a little frustrating since I’d already Ubered all the way downtown and would have to go back to the Airbnb. I ended up grabbing a beer and catching part of the Caps game (so many DC sports fans in Charleston!) at a bar before calling it a night.
On Thursday, I got an early start and grabbed breakfast at a cute place near my Airbnb before taking a bus (which was free!) down to the City Market area. I arrived a few minutes before the market opened and spent a long time walking around, trying mini biscuits from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit (so good), and then taking a long walk nearby. I stopped by some of the cutest houses, worked my way down to Rainbow Row and the Battery (love all the old, historic homes, especially because I live in a historic property in DC!), and the Waterfront to see the famous Pineapple Fountain and relax on a bench before working my way up to King Street. I grabbed a late lunch at an Italian place that served salad, pasta, and garlic bread for only $12 (all of which was delish) and then stopped to charge my phone for a bit (ugh, but so necessary when by yourself) before grabbing ice cream at Jeni’s (yes, we have it right nearby in DC, but it’s so good–and no line here!).
I then window shopped for a bit (I didn’t want to buy a ton on this trip because I was already spending a lot on food/drinks/the Airbnb) and popped back into Skinny Dip for a watermelon beer on the patio.
I then made my way to Candlefish where I picked up a cute candle and matches and talked with the cashier a bit–turns out she’s also from my hometown, went to my high school, and is in school at CofC! She gave me some dinner suggestions, but I opted to wander a bit before deciding on Miller’s All Day–and I’m so glad I did.
Not only is the aesthetic in the restaurant adorable (they have fun blue chairs, a midcentury-themed lounge, and cool signs) but also the happy hour was super cheap (my amazing cocktail was only $4) and the bartender was the nicest woman ever. She, another local girl who was also dining at the bar alone, and I talked for over an hour about everything from travel to DC to dating to apartment hunting, and it was so much fun! I definitely am a big talker and was going a little crazy eating most of my meals in silence up until then! That dinner went so long that I only had about 30 minutes to kill until it was time for the ghost tour. Everyone else in the group was super friendly, the guide was great, and the tour was creepy at the right times but also full of historical information. I was honestly wiped out by the time it was over (and had walked about 18,000 steps that day), so I booked it back to the Airbnb and promptly showered, set my alarm for 4 am, and got ready for my 6 am flight back to DC.
While the trip was short, almost everyone I met was super friendly and approachable, the city was easy to navigate, and I didn’t feel too too lonely minus wanting someone to talk to during meals. (My phone was also dying a ton and I had to charge it frequently which meant that I didn’t even really look at it while I was eating!). The experience of staying in an Airbnb with a couple was a little weird just because I never even met the girl (she was in the kitchen at one point when I walked out of my room into the bathroom, but she was getting ready to leave for work and I had just woken up), but the couple seemed normal enough and the room was large and clean. I’d just expected it to be a much more social experience than it was, but I also made a point to be gone the whole day because it was a little further away, so I was also fine just doing my own thing. I don’t think I’m in love with Charleston the way some people are (spending all day outside in 85 degree heat is brutal, even coming from DC!), but I did find it very charming and would definitely go back…who’s in?!
Happy Friday, friends! I’m on my way back from Charleston and thought I’d post a little reader survey (only eight questions, nothing too extensive) for the first time, now that this blog has officially been up and running for almost two and a half years, eek! A lot of other bloggers post these from time to time, and I love being able to weigh in and share my opinions…now it’s your turn! I want to be posting content that you want to read, so please let me know your (fully anonymous, promise) thoughts!
This month, I read a whopping TWO books and am totally ok with that. It was an especially busy month with work, work travel, social things, and life things that sometimes just made me want to unwind with a movie, TV show, or nap rather than sit down and read anything, no matter how lighthearted. I also picked up a couple of books that I just didn’t like that much and abandoned them, haha. But mostly, I was slow because I didn’t want either of the books that I did read to end! And you know that’s the sign of a good book. My reading list is so long that lately I just force myself to finish books as soon as I can so that I can move onto the next, but there’s something to be said for just slowing down and savoring each chapter.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was my first September read, and I picked it up after watching the movie on Netflix. I’m not normally a YA reader but made an exception for this book and am so glad I did. I actually mailed it to my sister at college when I finished it because she’d watched the movie this summer and loved it as well (like everyone else!). If you’re behind, the book/movie tells the story of Lara Jean, an inexperienced high schooler whose secret letters to several crushes accidentally get sent out, only for her to have to deal with the repercussions of several guys now knowing how she feels about them. She then begins a fake relationship with one of the guys, which, you guessed it, leads to real feelings. It’s a super cute read and is actually part of a longer series (there are two additional books), so if you like this one (which is under $8 on Prime, so just order it already!), there’s more where it came from!
From the Corner of the Oval was my second read of the month and omg, I am OBSESSED. I actually first heard about the book through Katie and then realized it was a super huge deal at the moment and it would take me forever to get off the library waitlist, which was a bummer. I actually snagged a galley at a used bookstore last week (and was assured that it was the exact same as the published copy) and didn’t want the story to end (I honestly came back from the bar on Saturday night at midnight and kept reading, that’s how hooked I was!). The book is a memoir written by a young woman named Beck, who lands a job as a stenographer for Obama via a Craigslist ad (and I thought *I* was the queen of Craigslist…). She falls absolutely in love with her new world, and majorly falls for a hot male staffer (referred to as Jason), which leads to tons of drama…I won’t spoil the book, but things get MESSY (but very relatable and real). Beck’s observations of Obama are amazing and the story–while largely about her personal life and experiences as a 20-something–made me laugh, cry, and nod. I knew I would find the book interetsing because I’ve read other great memoirs by Obama staffers, but I didn’t expect to want to become friends with Beck–the book truly felt like a conversation, and her approachable tone, honesty, and pride in her work mixed with the right amount of self deprecation made her a relatable and engaging narrator. What made it even cooler is that Beck was living right in my neighborhood on Swann Street during her time at the White House, so I felt like I was retracing her steps with her! Katie and I can’t get over how amazing this book is and continue to text each other observations! Please pick it up ASAP!
Well, it’s finally October, which means it’s officially socially acceptable to embrace all things fall, right? In college, we’d go apple picking a ton at a place relatively near our campus in Maine, and it’s something I’ve missed since moving back to DC (there definitely wasn’t anywhere local to go when I lived in Manhattan!). Growing up, my family and I go Butler’s Orchard or Homestead Farm fairly frequently, which are great local places to visit if you want to get into the fall spirit. My friend Anna and I have now made the trek to Butler’s Orchard twice to stock up on tons of fall goodies, and our trip there this past Sunday was full of all things apple and pumpkin.
Butler’s Orchard is about an hour outside DC, and you’ll definitely need a car to get there, but all things considered, it’s not too far of a hike out of the city. Since Anna was coming from the suburbs, I met her at the Rockville metro station and we finished the drive from there, which took about 25 more minutes (if no one has a car, you could try to Uber from this point or from Shady Grove, but it may be a bit pricy!). Butler’s Orchard was pretty packed since it was a sunny Sunday, but we did a lap around the indoor store and stocked up on tons of apples, syrups, and of course, apple cider donuts! The store has everything from apple pie samples to local cheeses to salad dressings and dips.
We didn’t end up picking apples because there was a big festival going on and we’re both heading out of town later in the week (I leave for Charleston tomorrow!) and didn’t want to stock up too much aside from what we grabbed in the store (lots of honey crisps!). However, I’ve been apple picking and berry picking there when I was younger, so it’s definitely a good spot, and there’s another orchard down the road that you can visit if Butler’s is too crowded. Just note that you’ll likely want to have some cash on you, just in case–these places are small and it’s unclear whether the other orchard takes credit cards, though Butler’s does.
We also had to grab pumpkins and gourds and take cheesy fall pictures, which made us feel like we were back in kindergarten in the best way possible.
Where are your favorite places to do fall things near DC? I’m always looking for fun day trips (my mom and I are going back up to Frederick to do some antique shopping and check out the leaves on Saturday) and am constantly making a list of new places to go!