Monday, March 30, 2015

Hey Athens, You're a Peach

This past weekend we went to Athens to celebrate Heather's birthday.  Last year we went to the Slingshot music festival and we went again this year. I have to say, last year the music was much better, but we still saw a few great acts and for the price, it's worth it get to check out a bunch of bands shows in one weekend. 

Friday night we left Asheville after work and rolled into the super fancy Best Western a few hours later to a lovely surprise. I packed lots of yummy food so we made sammies real quick ($$ savin' yo) and then walked downtown. We stayed at the same hotel last year so we knew our way around which was nice. We hit up the Little Kings Shuffle Club and then ended up seeing a show at The World Famous. 

I am a little obsessed with their chalk-painted menu. The lighting didn't lend itself to great photos, but this is the kind of thing that makes me remember a place and want to go back! Between the two venues was a mobile art installation that was part of the festival. The inside of a shipping container was outfitted as one huge instrument. Every part of it that you could touch would trigger a sound from the speaker set up.  Neato!

Saturday morning we woke up fairly early for "vaca" and made our way to The Grit! It's a favorite Athens venue and we were lucky to get a table so fast, it was half empty when we walked in, but 5 minutes later there was a line out the door. 

He's saying "Put down your phone and talk to me!"

 We were super pumped to get coffee, can you tell? 

I ate an amazing carb-fest with a fried egg and tempeh bacon sammie + cheese grits and Heather had a veggie scramble. Typical. 

Commence the walking. 

As tourists do, we spent the whole day walking around Athens. I don't consider myself much of a shopper, but I certainly did a lot of it this weekend!  Most of my purchases were gifts, but I got myself 10 records for $12, and felt like a thief! This record shop was a total hole in the wall and everything was 50% off. We spent forever playing each one on their record player to see if they worked, and all were in great shape. 

Note: I have officially beefed up my Motown collection, and I couldn't be happier to live out my personal dream of being a backup dancer, alone, in my kitchen. Me and Diana are gonna have a great time singing together this summer, sorry neighbors. 

Other cute spots we checked out were Masada, Atomic and, my favorite, Community. Everything in Community is gorgeous, and not to mention, locally and sustainably made.

Saturday night we saw shows at the 40 Watt, Little King's and the Georgia Theater. The favorite was definitely Window 98, which is what Win Butler from Arcade Fire calls his new project. Second favorite goes to the Jamaican Queens from Detriot, who made the whole crowd go crazy by kissing on stage. Nothing like love.

Sunday we fueled up with Jittery Joes and made our way back home. The music wasn't as big of a part of this Athens trip, which was alright. It ended up being a fun 2 days of wandering and drinking overpriced beer. Two of my favorite activities!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Routine, The Big Ugly Beast

I have been so off my meditation game lately and I can really feel it.

The anxiety is creeeeepin' and I have had to mentally slap myself into taking some deep breaths the past week.

Not fun.

Two weeks ago my mom, sister and niece were here and then the four of us traveled to see my grandmother over the weekend.  I did bring my mat along for the ride and got a little yoga in, but no meditation in grandma-baby-crazy land!  Sunday, I returned home exhausted: Just sleeping with a baby nearby had me feeling a little bit zombie-like.  Being a parent is terrifying, but I digress.

The very next day Heather's family rolled up for a week's stay.  So, for the past two weeks we have had all three bedrooms and the couch filled.  There was also much celebrating,and cake eating and wine drinking, none of which lends itself to waking up early.

Never in my life have I been diligent about anything.  I like to say that I have been a consistently inconsistent runner for 14-ish years, taking months of here and there every since I began cross country in middle school.

I have clung to this whole idea of taking each day as it comes and not planning, so as to not miss any exciting opportunity that may come my way.  To stay flexible. When laid out like that, it's a pretty juvenile practice.  It doesn't really serve me or my best interests.  For me, this has meant many fewer healthy days, since habits that make me feel good, like work outs and cooking, really only happen when planned for.

One of my goals for 2015 was to get better at routine and to have more structure in my life.

With that in mind, I am not so pumped with how I easily let my routine slide away over the last two weeks.  I want to be that person who is up at 6am, getting it done, even when there is company on the couch!  But instead, I was sleeping in, using the excuse that I didn't want to wake up the poor souls who got relegated to the living room (the only disadvantage I've found to owning a small house, by the way).

Our third bedroom is where I normally yoga (yes it's a verb) and meditate.  Turning on the little salt lamp and closing the door to any distractions makes it feel "right".  Losing that space over the past two weeks was apparently detrimental to my practice, and that really annoys me.  I should have just plopped down in my own bedroom or even my closet, deck or bathroom...hey my eyes would be shut!

All I can do is try better next time.  I'm not so big on beating myself up, something I like about myself.

The chance to try again is coming quickly as we'll be on the move this weekend.  I aim to meditate in our hotel room, although you won't find me sitting on the floor of this particular hotel (we are playing it cheap this weekend). The healthy practices in my life, yoga, running and meditation, are ALL things I can do very easily while traveling, so there is no real excuse.

Support is one thing that I find helpful in keeping up good habits, so let me know if you feel me over here!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring is Springing over in Asheville

The feeling of expectancy that has arrived along with spring has surprised me.  Never have I been quite so excited to experience the contrast between winter and the coming of warmth and sun.  Monday night I was standing on my porch watching the sunset and thinking, damn I have never been so excited to recognize the end of winter.  Typically, I go with the ignorance is bliss method in the winter: Full acceptance of early sunsets and cold mornings and zero thoughts of Spring.  This year was no different.  Every year, when the nights are suddenly warm enough to sit outside I am pleasantly shocked.

This year, Spring has brought a whole new feeling that caught me off guard.  I feel all of this relief, excitement and expectancy.  Now I understand the whole "promise of Spring" idea.  I am feeling that this year, and it feels good.  Even more so because I didn't see it coming.  Especially, I'm looking forward to drinking coffee on my front porch in the quiet of morning and rain.  There is nothing quite like a spring thunderstorm.

Last Spring and Summer we didn't do much to spruce up our mud pit of a yard (you have to see it to believe it, promise).  We never purchased furniture for the porch or hung up the hammock.  This year, knowing that we are staying here for the time being, I can't wait to invest my time and energy into making it my place.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Photo Dump: Family Weekend and a Million Baby Photos

My mom, sister and niece visited from Pennsylvania this past weekend and are now, sadly, back in their home state.  It was an exhausting whirlwind and I loved it.  Somehow we packed in 3 breweries, bbq, birthday celebrations with grandma and a singular pee explosion.  Guilty.  Louisa is clearly the most photogenic member of the family with Mozey coming in as a close second.  I apologize for the lack of content, but these photos speak for themselves!  Honestly, I quite like using the "photo story" method, it's pretty redundant to keep saying, we ate dinner here, grabbed a beer over there and then changed a diaper, changed an outfit and threw a bunch of cheerios on the ground.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Current Music Obsessions

Music hasn't been a much-talked about topic over here, but like most people, I like it.  Groundbreaking, eh?  I'm no expert; I like what I like.   As a kid, I used to dance to Paul Simon in our living room and he's still one of my favorites.  In middle school JLo, Diana Krall and Tracy Chapman had my heart.  An odd mix, I know.  In high school I moved on to Motown, some terrible emo music and all sorts of rap (thanks to my sister).  College was Tegan and Sara and...Tegan and Sara.  Jazz, rap and even a little punk make their way through my headphones.  Neil Young and Dolly Parton are repeat offenders, too.

Here are some songs and artists I've been obsessed with lately:

I have to include this even tough I just discovered it last night.  But it's gold, I tell you. Gold!  Screaming Females played in Asheville last night and Heather made me go with her. In order to psych myself up for some moshing post-teens I went on a YouTube binge and now have a new respect for the lead singer.  Also, this gem came out of it:

I listen to NPR every day and kept hearing about the dude who won their Tiny Desk contest.  The video just came out and he's so good!  I need to check into more of his music, but for now here's the video from NPR's site:

Annie Lenox's name has passed by my ears before, but I never made the Sweet Dreams connection. Now I get it and damn, that lady has a voice on her.

When I used to work in an art gallery, there was a massive flat screen TV hooked up to a very expensive and amazing sound system.  Cleaning up at night, I would sometimes turn YouTube onto full-screen mode and have solo dance parties in there, hoping no one could see me through the massive windows.  Mostly it was Grimes Oblivion, and her new jam is just as good.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Best Yoga Poses for The Lower Back

Even as a young high-school runner, I had lower back pain.  In the early 2000's the whole "core" phenomena had yet to hit, so I was just running about with a blissfully ignorant midsection.

Oh, to be young.

Nowadays, I've figured out that paying attention to that essential area while running and working on core strength really helps with that little nagging pain a lot of us have.

If you happen to have been under a rock lately, the core consists of: the lower back, abdominals, pelvis and hips.  Now, let's be clear here.  I ain't no doctor and the highest level of science I've had is chemistry-for-non-science-majors in college. That class consisted of me spraining my ankle on the way to class and writing a paper about how our insatiable desire for spice changed the course of history.

But, I digress.

During yoga teacher training I learned some anatomy that has really helped me become more aware of these muscles and bones that carry me around all day long.  The tips I'm gonna give ya are what works for me, but they may not work for you!  So please, I urge you, listen to your body.  If it hurts, don't do it!  Aging sucks y'all, I hear ya.  So if you wanna talk yoga + aches and pains and such shoot me an email!

These little babies are gold.  Painful and intense..but gold!  This is a new find for me, but a foam roller can really knock out these little tight spots I just can't get to.  I like to lay on my back with my knees bent and my feet flat on the floor.  Then, with the foam roller under my back, I slowly roll myself up and down, pushing with my feet.

Bridge can really pinpoint those lower back muscles that support your lower spine, and it happens to be one of my favorite poses.  To set it up, lay on your back with your feet planted flat on your mat, knees hip-distance apart.  Pressing through your feet, lift your hips so that your chest comes towards your chin.  Hold this sucker for a while and you'll really feel those muscles engaging!

Cobra can range from very gentle to intense, depending on your far you want to go.  Lying on your belly, press the tops of your feet firmly into your mat.  Place your hands right under your shoulders and tuck the crap out of your tailbone.  If you don't know how to do that, you can feel it by pressing your pelvis into the mat and noticing you bum get firmer!  Finally, lift your heart and feel your whole back strong, from your shoulders down to your hips.  From there, the variations are endless:  Lift your arms, lift your legs, lift both, spread them wide...go nuts!

Start in mountain (standing pose) with arms straight overhead, then bend your knees into a narrow squat.  Placing all of your weight into the left leg, wrap your right knee on top.  Do the same "eagle" position with your arms, but with your left arm on top.  You realllllly have to pull those abs in to stay balanced here.  I am a big fan of these sort of "passive" core poses.  It seems like the majority of the work is coming from the legs, but really it's all in the torso!  Here's a visual:


If you happen to suffer from any lower back pain, or just want to increase core strength, give these suckers a try. Again, if something hurts, please stop!  That's your PSA for the evening!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Internet Treats II

Some nuggets of entertainment from the interwebs.  Hopefully they will bring you a little joy, especially the last one:

This lovely lady does some beautiful hand lettering.  Call me obsessed, but I'm particularly fond of this image.  I have a personal goal to work on my handwriting and Miranti has so much inspiring work to browse through.

As a fan of all things rust-filled and neglected, this little cabin tugs at my heart strings.  And all those windows?  Ugh, so good!

Heather is obsessed with animal documentaries.  Often, while I am doing something around the house I'll get lured into actually sitting down and watching.  Recently, there was a strange woman going on about "tall blondes" which is how she referred to these giraffes.  Very strange, but the point is that it would be so amazing to stay at Giraffe Manor! [This is obviously a cheesy promo video, but up until 1:00 is still mind blowing.]

"Was there anybody who made you nervous painting them?"  He responds: "No. There are plenty of them I've made nervous. Especially Clinton.  Oh, he was petrified."  Apparently he should have been, but just look at this painter, way to go dude.

Happy hump day, you're clearly having a better day than this poor bird.

Martin Le-May Via

Monday, March 2, 2015

Photo Dump...Thank Goodness February is Over!

This past weekend was full of delicious food, actual sunshine and some galavanting around town. And some beer, obviously.  Hope y'all had a good 'un!