December 13, 2011

The Time Has Come - - Ready?

Oh my. It's here. Done with school, FOREVER. It didn't really hit me until I got all my grades this morning and sort of realized that I was disappointed to pass all my classes. Yes, I graduated with a GPA that earns me High Honors, but it's the end of an era that I really, really enjoyed. 

Next week is vacation time in New York City then Boston then back to work full-time. Is this the real world that everyone's been talking about? The real question is - am I ready?! Part of me feels ready, but another big part of me does not. 

I guess when I think back at my 16 years of schooling, I realize how much I have learned and how much life I have experienced. I was always kind of a nerd, and even though I got quite the rush from buying new pencils, erasers, and notebooks, it was all the lessons outside of the classroom that I will cherish the most. Through my interactions with teachers, friends, family, awkward moments, stressful times, and heartbreaking incidents, I grew up to be who I am now. While I'm sure that in the years to come I will have to rethink the important things I think I've learned, these are a few of the lessons I hold closest to my heart as a new (!!) graduate: 

Banana Cream Pie - - Example of #11
  1. No one will ever love you as much or as unconditionally as your family.
  2. Knowing how to work under pressure (aka procrastinate) is a good quality to have.
  3. Nothing is certain but change - cliche I know, but so true. Don't count on anything.
  4. You are always going to be most successful if you are doing something you love.
  5. Don't tell anyone you love them until you really mean it. It's not a word to be wasted.
  6. Get involved. Be active in your life. In school this is sports, student council, etc. In life, well, I'll keep you posted.  
  7. Don't take anything too seriously, even yourself.
  8. Organization is the most important tool.
  9. Don't burn bridges because you'll never know when you need to turn back.
  10. Believe in yourself even if nobody else does. If you find someone else that does, hold onto them.  
  11. Always enjoy the sweets that life has to offer.
What is the most important lesson you've learned so far in your life?


xo
Toni


November 27, 2011

Warmth

Turkey Cupcake
So, here I am back in my little loft in college after an amazing Thanksgiving weekend spent with family, friends, and unbelievable food. Yes, I need to work out twice as much this week to just break even, but it was worth every sweet, crunchy, salty, crispy bite. The best part, though, and the part that really made leaving so hard this morning was the warmth.

With only two weeks left until my 3.5 years of college classes are over forever, I can't help but wonder why I still feel more comfortable at home. But then I realize that that's where my family is, where my boyfriend is, and where I can lay on the couch in my pajamas until noon. School is where I have to go to work, do my homework, work out as much as possible, and try and stay social and relevant to my friends. Home is warm, school is cool, and the older I grow the more "warm" I want in my life.

I think this warmth is one of the main reasons that everyone loves the holidays so much. The warm drinks, warms soups, warm blankets, and warm cookies are just a complement to the warmth that we feel when we are surrounded my love and happiness. Now that Christmas is less than a month away, holiday season is in full swing and I hope that everyone can find a few moments to slow down from their busy, cool lives for a moment of true happiness and warmth. 

Even though ideally I would like to spend every weekend around all the people that warm my heart, this isn't always a possibility. That's what's so great about food, though! Sometimes a smell can evoke memories of home, helping you feel closer even if you are hundreds of miles away.

So, here is a list of my "Top 10 foods That Make Me Feel, Literally and Figuratively, Warm":
Warm colors make a beautiful sunset

1. Hot Black Tea with a Splash of Milk

2. Chicken Noodle Soup

3. Vegetable Soup

4. Pasta with Tomato and Basil Sauce

5. Hot Chocolate

6. Chicken and Vegetable Pie

7. Mashed Potatoes

8. Warmed, Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies

9. Scrambled Eggs and Sausages
 
10. Warm Milk with a Touch of Honey


... What would you add to the list? What makes you feel warm and comforted when your family is so far away?

xo
Toni

November 15, 2011

Life Less Seriously

One of the most important skills I've acquired in college, besides how to procrastinate with the best of them and how to remove myself from situations I find less than appealing, has been the ability to take life less seriously.

Of course, there are times when serious occasions knock at your door, such as deaths and injuries and financial crises. Most of the time, however, we just live our daily lives, planning for the future and, for lack of a less-cliche term, sweating the small stuff.

One of my favorite examples of taking my own life less seriously is last Halloween. If you refer to the above image, you can see that I dressed up at a fairy. What you can't see is that I stayed at home with my mom, dressed like this, and spent a few hours giving candy to children from the ages of 2-12.

I live in a college town where Halloween is, to say the least, a HUGE deal. The gym is heavily attended, costumes are strategically planned to ensure maximum skin-exposure, and, undoubtedly, drama ensues. This goes on for at least 3 nights. If I had to listen to a "oh my gosh. my fake tan is dripping because I tried on my slutty-santa costume and this is my last Halloween here and it has to her PERFECT" one more time, I was going to explode. So I went home. And dressed up as a fairy.

Other examples include being realistic about the GPA I want to graduate with, and not trying to make friends just to say that I have friends. I like the people that I like, and I like spending a bit of time alone. Many people stress about their popularity and would coin me, perhaps, a "loner", but I don't think that's true. I have about as many good friends as I do fingers, and I choose to enjoy my time with them when I get it instead of constantly overexerting myself to be as social as possible when, quite frankly, I would rather be watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. with a bowl of oatmeal.

That brings me to my next point - food. I try to eat as healthy as I can on a regular basis. I try to workout as much as I can to stay healthy and to allow me some extra calories. However, it is NOT worth stressing about counting calories. In fact, stress causes weight-gain (and wrinkles), so rather trust your body to tell you what and how much you need. Don't freak out about the extra cookie. You know you loved it, so what?

Like everything, life requires balance. Balance the serious with the less serious, and leave yourself room for silliness, cookies, and TV, because they are all wonderful. 

How do you avoid making life too serious?

xo
Toni





November 14, 2011

The Joy of Something Different

It's true that most people, at some time of their life, fall into a rut. This could be with what they wear, what they eat, who they talk to, or just about anything. It seems to me like little rut-avoiding life changes can really make a difference in helping to lead a happy life.

For example, this weekend my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to drink some beer before going out. Normally, we like light, cheap beers that go well with citrus, such as Shocktop or Blue Moon. He likes Amstel or Stella, but they're still pretty light. So, last night we decided to try some different, flavored beers. One tasted of raspberries and chocolate, while the other was thicker and a bit sweeter than others. It was so fun tasting the new flavors, and it made this night "the night we tried those different beers" instead of just another night that we went out with the same people to the same places.


Of course, doing this all the time ruins its novelty. Not every moments has to be the most memorable moment ever, but switching it up every now and again makes life interesting.


Here are some ideas for "Rut-Avoiding Activities':


1. Eat a Completely New Food - This can be done at home or at a restaurant. Trying something, whether it is a new ingredient or a new dish, will make any day stand out from the rest, whether you love it or hate it. I suggest leeches, bok choy, fondue, or dragon fruit.


2. Change Your Workout - Try running somewhere you've never been or taking a kickbox class. You'll still get a great workout, but it will help you avoid boredom in your exercise schedule. Sometimes driving 10 minutes to be able to run somewhere completely new for thirty minutes is worth the extra effort, especially if it means a new set of hills to conquer or an ocean-side adventure.


3. Wear Something Out of the Ordinary - For me, this includes any and all forms of hats. I love them, but rarely find time in my strictly work and workout clothes daily attire to fit them in. Wearing something that you don't normally wear often gives you a sense of being someone else or playing a role. It could be fun to go to dinner in heels if you wear flat shoes 7 days a week, or if you spend your whole week dressed up, it could be a nice change to spend one day entirely in sweat pants - to Starbucks, to the grocery store, and in front of the TV.


4. Go Somewhere Different - Instead of the same old bar or restaurant, take a night out of the month to try a karaoke bar or a piano-dueling bar. There is no doubt that when you look back at your month, those nights will be remembered much more than the countless nights at the regular bar. Some bowling alleys serve drinks and have DJs which could be a nice change, too.

How do you avoid getting stuck in a rut?

xo
Toni


November 8, 2011

Getting Up in the Morning

Last night, when I was filling out a job application, I was particularly intrigued when one of the questions stated "What gets you up in the morning?". I told them that honestly, my coffee wakes me up in the morning because without it I would be somewhat of a zombie. However, on a deeper level, I said that I am inspired to wake up and live my day so that I can work hard now and play hard later.

Most of my days start early, either for work or school, but I get up each day because I know that what I'm doing is worth it. I work hard so that I can play hard, both of which I am going to have to be awake to do.

Of course, the fact that I can enjoy my coffee overlooking the ocean is also a perk, making it easier to leave my dark room when there's such beauty right outside. I know, however, that everyone struggles once in a while with "why even bother?" and wants to spend the entire day in bed. Believe me, I know. I know that the world is cold but the bed is warm. So warm. But if you can find one reason, whether it's the fact that you're going to see a loved one today or work on a project you care about or eat something totally delicious, there is always at least some little inspiration to get up. 

If there isn't, give yourself one day to stay in bed. I tend to choose Sundays for this (less consequences than during the week), but it's glorious. However, one day is usually enough. 24 hours later you will be ready to roll again, thinking of all the great things that can be accomplished by getting your butt out of bed and living your life purposefully. And hey, if you need some coffee to help you see the light, go for it!

So, what gets you up in the mornings?

xo
Toni


November 6, 2011

Why Food?

When I decided to start a blog, I thought I wanted it to have a theme. I thought about the fact that my main goal and the thing I'm most excited about in life is being a mom one day, so I made that my title. However, my daily (ok, let's be honest... more like weekly) posts had to be about my life in general because how much can I really write about motherhood since I have, you know, zero experience. 

I find, then, that I like to write about food. While looking through other blogs, I find that most other people like to write about food as well. In fact, in my very little although extremely enjoyable research, I've found that the 3 most popular blog topics are food, exercise, and fashion. Why these? I mean, people could write about relationships, their jobs, their childhoods, their nightly hygiene rituals... pretty much anything. I think people like to write about food for the same reasons we write about exercise and fashion; creativity, sense of accomplishments, and solidarity. 


Creativity - Food is endlessly creative. There are an uncountable number of different possible combinations of all the ingredients that the world has to offer. For example, check out my OIAJ (Oatmeal in a {peanut butter} jar) that I had for breakfast yesterday. The OIAJ idea was stolen from Emma at www.sweettoothrunner.com, but the idea to eat it overlooking the ocean on my deck was my own. Just looking at all the blogs about cupcake decorating... I mean it could take YEARS to try out all the creative recipes for both the actual cupcakes and the decorations. It is inspiring and exciting.

Sense of Accomplishment - Like running and fashion, there is a sense of accomplishment with food when you find the PERFECT recipe or you finally find a way to make a vegetable dish that the whole family enjoys. Most people that I read about try to stay healthy, so it can be so rewarding to upload pictures of healthy recipes and feel proud that you ate so well that day. Also, making the food look good enough to photograph is an accomplishment on its own, although I am still working on this aspect. I think that when you make a really good meal, snack, or dessert that you are proud of, you want to share it with others. So, people make food blogs to share all their triumphs (and sometimes failures) on their blog as a way to show others and themselves what they have accomplished.

Solidarity - Food is the one thing that literally every single human being has in common. Yea, we may wish that all people also had a desire to exercise (hello, rising obesity rate!) and a need for good fashion, but that is unfortunately not always the case. Food brings families and friends together, and for many people it is more of a hobby and a passion than a necessity. For example, I've written posts about my late-night eating habits and my love for yogurts and berries. While I've also written posts about life struggles as I leave college and about deciding what to do with my life, I tend to get the most comments about food posts because EVERYONE can relate in some way or another. Whether you hate yogurt and berries (HOW DO YOU LIVE?!) or you love them, you have an opinion because food matters to everyone. 

I'm not saying that from here this blog will be only about food, but it is interesting to notice what gets people talking. I learned in a class one year that one of the most innate human needs is the need to belong. So, if people want to belong and people need food... obviously the food-blogging community is going to be a fast-growing one that is helpful to individuals who are bored of their eating habits but also helpful to society as a way to make people bond over something that is all-inclusive as long as you are a hungry human.

Why do you like writing about food (or fashion or exercise)?

xo
Toni




November 1, 2011

The Perfect Bite

Sometimes I wonder what my perfect bite of food would be. I would have a really hard time deciding between a fork-full of fresh chicken salad with boiled eggs, sweet peppers, and corn or a taste from a perfect bowl of pasta. I also love a good bite into a grilled vegetable panini with goat cheese and whole wheat bread. 

Lately, however, I seem to be just trying to fit in as many veggies as possible wherever possible since I feel like college-style living is not healthy and I need to compensate. Does beer count as whole wheat? Just kidding! Kinda..  Anyway, I just don't have as much time, space, or money as I would like to create unique, healthy, well-balanced recipes.



So, a few nights ago, I made one of my favorite veggie-packed meals. It was very similar to one of the meals I described in this post about balance that I wrote during another time I was feeling crunched for time but was insatiably craving vegetables.

The dinner consisted of a salad with spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese next to a Trader Joe's Reduced-Guilt Primavera Pizza. I feel like it's the best way to easily get a large amount of veggies in a cheap, quick, totally yummy way. The pizza costs $1.99 and is 250 calories, and the salad probably costs about $1.00 and has about 150 calories. Very satisfying. Plus, the pizza provides some carbs to get me through my workout the next day.

The perfect bite perhaps?

How do you get veggies in your diet when you don't have much time? 

xo

Toni

PS: I heard that Starbucks already has holiday cups! Is it true?! They're just the best. It's illogical, I know, but the coffee just tastes better and cozier in a holiday-themed cup!

October 24, 2011

4th Meal - - Why The Bad Rep?

Whoever said that the day should revolve around 3 meals was not someone that I would probably get along with. I eat all day, every day. Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say that I snack around my meals all day, everyday. I wake up hungry, and  I normally go to sleep dreaming about what I can eat the next day.

One of my favorite meals of the day is what a popular Taco Bell commercial calls "4th Meal". I haven't eaten Taco Bell in over 3 years, but I do like where they're going. Dinner is sometimes not enough for the night, and sometime between 8 and 10 pm I tend to get a little craving for either something sweet, salty, or both.

Tonight I went to the gym after dinner and did 3.5 miles on the elliptical and 30 minutes lifting weights and doing ab exercises. Obviously, I needed more nourishment when I got home. I've heard that milk is a good recovery food, so I chose non-fat milk, Trader Joe's Honey Nut O's, and fresh raspberries. Raspberries are also meant to be a great recovery food. Plus they're delicious!

I do understand that "4th Meal" gets a bad reputation because many people probably choose to eat potato chips, entire bags of M&Ms, or indulge in 2 or 3 servings of mac n' cheese before bedtime. These late-night foods are ok occasionally (I can't be a hypocrite), but not a good habit to get into, especially if you are watching TV or going straight to sleep after. Your body's metabolism naturally slows down at night when you are relaxing, and these foods are doing you no favors.

There are benefits to eating snacks after dinner, though. For example, if you are not hungry when you go to sleep, you are less likely to wake up hungry and therefore more likely to eat reasonable portions throughout the next day. Basically, the more often you eat, the higher your overall metabolism stays, helping you lose weight (or maintain your healthy body weight) more easily.

Here are my Top 5 Choices for Late-Night Healthy Snacking: 
All of these options offer nutrition and taste without giving you energy, so you won't have trouble sleeping.

1. Cereal with Milk and Berries - The milk helps induce sleep, and the berries are packed with anti-oxidants. It's light and has a good balance of nutritional properties.

2. Oatmeal with Melted Chocolate and Banana - This is great if you want something sweet. Melt a small piece of chocolate into hot oatmeal, and chop a banana into pieces for a perfect pre-sleep snack that will keep you full and satisfies into the next morning.

3. Wheat Crackers and Low-Fat Cheese - Perfect if you want something salty. The wheat promotes healthy digestion, and the calcium in the cheese promotes done strength. Win-win!

4. Veggies and Hummus - If you don't want to eat something warm, veggies are a low-calorie snack that can incorporate a large variety of flavors and textures to keep you snacking all night, guilt-free! Dip them in some hummus for extra flavor without the fat that dips like ranch dressing bring. I recommend Trader Joe's Eggplant Hummus or Trader Joe's Tomato & Basil Hummus.

5. Wheat Toast with Raspberry Jam and Nutella - This is for the hungrier-than-just-a-small-snack late-night eater. The toast is a great way to fill up, and the sweetness of the Jam and Nutella is unbelievably satisfying. Plus, you are getting some fruit from the jam and some calcium from the Nutella. Delish!

I hope this gave you some good ideas, and I hope you think before judging the "4th Meal" next time you brush your teeth at 9pm just to keep from eating more. (We all do that!...right?)

What's your favorite late-night healthy snack? Your favorite late-night guilty indulgence?

xo

Toni



October 20, 2011

To Blog or Not To Blog -- Not Even a Question!

So, since I'm still really new to the world of blogging, I constantly find myself asking "Why am I doing this?" I also just recently started a twitter page to complement the blog (@NotYetAMommy), and it makes me think the same thing.

Don't get me wrong, no one is forcing me to keep a blog or twitter page, and I am thoroughly enjoying the whole experience, but I can't help but wonder why blogging has become such a phenomenon.

I realize that the main thing that pulled me into blogging was that I LOVED reading other people's blogs. I work at a PR firm that sometimes does promotions through bloggers, and I would find myself engrossed in their posts - learning about their lives and seeing their pictures and experiencing the amazing food and fashion adventures that they had. My first main inspiration was Sweettoothrunner.com where I felt like I was reading about someone I had known for years. No one that I had actually met knew was so into exercising and so into sweets like I was. Then I found more similar blogs. And more. And I knew I wanted to join the community.

I also felt like I had something to add to the blog world. I tend to be an introverted person, keeping most of my thoughts and observations to myself (with the exception of my boyfriend who pretty much knows my life better than I do). I felt like blogging could be a good way to express some of my thoughts, and maybe other people would find them as fascinating as I found theirs. Since I am in a unique time of my life with school ending in 2 months and the real world basically knocking on my door, the timing seemed perfect. 

I feel that some people would (I say would because pretty much no one I actually know in real life knows that I do this) say that it's narcissistic. They would ask "Why do you think people care about what you're doing with your life?" or "So what that you're not yet a mom?", but I think that the world of blogging has taught me that every single person's opinion and life story can and should be valued. We shouldn't rely on Google or CNN or professors to tell us what's important and what works in life. We've all had experiences, and I don't think that there is anything wrong with wanting to share them.

I'm sure, as fellow bloggers, you often get people asking why you do it. It's not going to make you a huge fortune and most likely won't bring you fame. But it does give you a way to "meet" people that you would never get to otherwise. It gives you a way to see different perspectives and share ideas, challenges, and successes with people who have similar goals and interests. Plus, obviously, the amount of recipes I now have access to is unreal. My always-hungry stomach really appreciates the time I spend looking through blogs.

So far, the response I've gotten as I've tried to nestle a spot for myself in the blog world has been incredible. I've gotten such great feedback and encouragement. I still have a long way to go, but I have enjoyed every second. 

What's your favorite part of having a blog?

xo
Toni

PS: I know the picture I chose may seem kinda random for this post. However, I saw it as a good way to represent what I think about bloggers. On some level, we all have something in common just in the fact that we all keep online diaries of our outfits, our meals, or just our thoughts, and we feel comfortable sharing that information with the universe. AKA, we are all the "umbrellas". However, each blog is slightly different, just like each umbrella is of a slightly different shade or height. Ok, maybe I had too much red wine with dinner, but I hope you can see what I'm saying.

October 14, 2011

Inspired, Healthy, and Happy

In my experience, being healthy helps promote happiness, and being happy helps promote health. I like being healthy. I like being happy. So, when I find things that make me both healthy and happy, I LOVE them. Here are three of those things:

1. Swimming in the Ocean






There is nothing more soothing for the mind and the body than a dip in a cold ocean on a warm day. The rhythmic ebb and flow of the waves relaxes your bones so much that you won't even realize that you are burning calories as you swim. The salt water is great for your skin, and the sun gives you a beautiful tan. Sounds like a win, win, win to me!





2. Berries, Yogurt, and Granola


This is my favorite food combination by far. The health benefits are unbelievable - yogurt helps digestion and has calcium for strong bones, berries have antioxidants and anti-aging properties, granola (if you buy the right kind - I suggest one with flax seeds) provides carbs and sugar for energy. The combination is sweet from the berries and tangy from the yogurt. There is a great contrast of smooth and crunchy. In essence, it is the perfect breakfast or snack that is as healthy for your body as it is delicious for your taste buds. Yum!


 3. Going Out Dancing 

 



I'm sure plenty of people would disagree with me, but I think going out is healthy. Being social is good for the spirit and stimulating for the mind. My favorite thing to do when I go out is dance. A lot. So, I figure I'm burning calories, indulging my soul, and having fun at the same time.  Also, if you stick to minimum late night eating and avoid sugary, calorie-laden drinks, going out can sometimes be even healthier than staying home, watching a movie, and pigging out on junk food. Score!








If I could wake up one day and go for a swim in the ocean, go home and have a snack of yogurt, berries, and granola, and then go out dancing all night, I would have pretty much the happiest and healthiest day I could imagine. If I could have my family and boyfriend with me, I would be even happier, and therefore even healthier. 

What's your favorite happy and healthy activity or snack?

xo
Toni






October 11, 2011

Battle of the Sex(es)


I'm currently taking a class called Gender and Communication. As a Communication Major, I actually prefer classes like Media Literacy, Communication in Small Groups, or Non-Verbal Communication. Sometimes, however, I end up in a class like Gender and Communication that I find a little, well, hard to believe.
 
So far, we have learned some pretty obvious and factual stuff. Like, for example, the fact that women are typically earning less money than men, and that men more often than women choose violence as a way to solve their problems. However, we have also been told that men only like to talk to big audiences because they feel a need to show power and don't see the value in one-on-one dialogue. Our class was also told that women, on the other hand, are unable to solve any problem without first discussing all of their emotions and analyzing each of the possible ideas with a one-on-one conversation.

Both of these are sometimes true, but I find it slightly ridiculous to assume that, with over 6 billion people in the world, there is almost anything that ALL males have in common or that ALL females have in common - well, besides one thing. While "sex" is biological (you either have a penis or you don't), "gender" is socially and culturally constructed (how you choose to use that piece of, um, equipment and what it defines about you). My class was taught that some cultures value men that are strong and violent, while others value men that are smart and sensitive. Even this is a huge exaggeration to me, because I think that each individual person values different things in men, women, and people in general. 

What I do find interesting, however, is how couples handle the balance between "feminine" and "masculine" traits. In my (albeit extremely humble) opinion, the most successful couples in this modern age are the ones where both partners have some traits that are typical of the other sex. In other words, a couple where the man is overly masculine and the woman is overly feminine is probably not too successful because the man will always be dominant which will probably cause the woman to be resentful.This would lead to either big fights and a break-up or a relationship that did not have a very deep, emotional connection with mutual respect. Rather, couples where the woman has some independence and decision-making power and the man is able to show some vulnerability and emotion are (in my experience) much more likely to last for the long-term. 
 
I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with a girly-girl or a man that is strong or extremely powerful. However, people in relationships need to be able to empathize with each other and be more of a cohesive team than a set of two completely opposite people. I think that if each person in the couple has a good balance of responsibility and confidence while still being nurturing and vulnerable, the pair is much more likely to be able to adapt to whatever speed bumps might come their way and live a happy life together. They can each protect, inspire, support, and encourage each other through any situation, letting them excel as individuals and grow closer as a couple.

Do you agree? What do you think it takes for a couple to work long-term?

xo
Toni  

October 7, 2011

Birthday Booze and Celebratory Cupcakes!!

Someone once told me that calories don't count on your birthday. I've lived by this philosophy ever since, and I decided for this last birthday so eat and drink exactly what I felt like during all the celebrations.

Unfortunately, my body is not used to it and found subtle ways of convincing me to return to my standard diet of turkey sandwiches, salads, lentils, vegetables, oatmeal, cereal, and lots of yogurt with LOTS of berries and granola. I do love all my healthy food and daily exercise, but I had a lot of fun indulging in all my birthday treats as well.

Here's a little glimpse into some of what my taste buds got to experience in the last week or so:



Baby CrushCakes Cupcakes at work


First legal drink!
 
White Choco Chip Banana Cream Cupcake
 
Some Little Minis
  
Cheesecake!
   
Tiny Jack Daniels in Chocolate!
 
Ghirardelli Sundaes
 
Bread, Cheese, and Cucumber Salad at the airport

Raspberry Vinegar and Lime Olive Oil... UNBELIEVABLY GOOD!!


... I'm thinking I need to cool it on the cupcakes for a while. Next weekend I'm going to a wine and cupcake pairing/tasting place, so if I can resist until then that would probably be good.

Like I always say, it's really about balance. While in San Francisco eating and drinking to my heart's content, I was also walking all around, riding a bike through the city, and dancing around whenever I found an appopriate time to do so. At least I was burning some calories while consuming all of this yumminess, right? :)





October 5, 2011

From The Other Side of 21

I can’t believe my birthday is over! I had the most amazing, perfect time ever. So many people had said that turning 21 was going to be anti-climactic, but I would wholeheartedly disagree with that. I ate and drank and explored through San Francisco, and had the best night downtown in Santa Barbara. I have over 150 pictures and will put some up here soon.
I guess I don’t feel very different to how I felt being 20, but I do feel the sense of freedom I expected. I feel excited and ready to explore lots of things I never got to in the past. I suppose with my actual birthday being over, however, I have to get back to the real world. I’m back at work and back at school already.
What I feel like doing most right now, however, is snuggling up on the couch with some hot tea. It’s pouring outside which makes it very difficult for me to focus on anything but the sound of the rain. I love winter. I like big coats, high boots, fuzzy socks, warm drinks, cuddly movie days, and Starbucks holiday cups. I’ll be in NYC for Christmas and New Years Eve this year, and I can’t wait for that!
Since the point of my blog is that I’m “Not Yet A Mommy”, it’s interesting for me to document my progression as I get older and learn more about the world and my place in it. I think I’m finding it more and more important to be true to yourself in order to be happy. For example, I chose San Francisco instead of the typical Vegas for my 21st because I knew that it was more of my kind of place and I had an absolutely perfect time. I didn’t listen to everyone who told me to “make sure I was blacked-out by 10pm” in order to have fun. I remember everything about my birthday night, and I had a complete blast. Everything was exactly the way I wanted, which hardly ever happens!!
What’s your favorite part of winter? What have you learned as you’ve grown up?
Xo
Toni  

September 26, 2011

Beginnings and Birthdays


20th Birthday

I get very excited about beginnings. I LOVE the beginning of school especially, with all the new books and binders and schedules. Yes, I’m a nerd, but I love it and embrace it. This is my last year of school, which means I had my last ever “First Day of School”. Sad.
This year is also an extra special beginning because I turn 21 in 3 days. To me, this signifies the beginning of a lot of freedom. I don’t have to be scared of being caught with alcohol or (more realistically) being caught with a fake ID. I can go out when I want to, where I want to, and not feel like a criminal. Finally. I have learned in the past few months that older does not equal wiser. Let's leave it at that.
For my birthday I’m going to spend the morning with my family, come up to school and go out with my friends and boyfriend at night, and then go to San Francisco for the weekend. I’m SO excited! I can’t wait to explore the city and see the sights and eat the food and drink the coffee and everything else.
I feel like this year my birthday signifies much more than just an ability to drink legally. I’m really growing up and figuring out who I want to be and starting to plan what I want to do with my life after school. Kinda big stuff, if you ask me.
So, I’ve decided to make 3 “New Year Age” resolutions, starting on September 29, my 21st birthday:
1.   BALANCE – I’ll continue to strive for balance in my life. I know I’ll be going out a bit more than I was previously, but I have promised myself that I will not get sucked into making partying a priority. I need to do well in school, try my hardest at work, stay healthy, and also have fun. I need to find the balance.

2.   GO WITH THE WIND – I am tempted to start planning the rest of my life immediately after I finish school in December. I get extremely anxious when I think that I don’t know where I’ll live after graduation, if I’ll be able to find a job, or if I’ll have roommates that I can handle. I want to travel, have a career, and be closer to my boyfriend. I’ve decided, though, to give this a bit of a rest. I still have at least a year to live in my college town (even if I won’t be in school), so I’ll enjoy that and cross the other bridges when I get to them - - or at least when I get closer to approaching them.

3.   DON'T STRESS THE SMALL STUFF -  With all that I have going on between my birthday, school, work, relationships, working out, the sorority, and many other things, some things are going to have to give way for others. I promised myself that I will not stress out about missing the gym one day, about missing a night out with my friends, or about only giving 95% effort on a 5-point homework assignment. If I want to find the balance, I have to be willing to accept that I can't do EVERYTHING 100% perfectly 100% of the time, and that's ok. I have my priorities (#1 of which is being happy and making sure that the people I love are too), and I'll try to give myself a bit of a break if I can't do it all. Easier said than done for me, but worth a real try.

I can't wait to upload pictures from this week/weekend. I intend to fully make up for the lack of posts this week with TONS of updates next week.
Do you make resolutions for your birthday? What do you wanna work on as you get older?

xo Toni


September 23, 2011

Saved by the Blog

This is where I would like to be today. On a calm river, in a luxurious gondola, being serenaded by a funny Italian man and sitting next to someone I love. Many times, this is my happy place.

This week has literally been the craziest for me in a long time. I had my first day of school, which was great because I love school, but I've also been doing recruitment, going to work, and getting far less than 5 hours of sleep a night.

I'm trying my very best to keep it together and stay sane. If you saw me last night at 2:00am attempting to scratch my elbow with my toes, you would know that sanity is often not within my reach when I'm exhausted.

The best way to maintain cool, calm, and collected for me is to stay in contact with my parents and boyfriend who all tell me it'll be over soon. I try to not take my tiredness out on them, but this is often easier said than done. I also rely heavily on coffee while trying to eat as many fruits and veggies as I can - also easier said than done.

With all this madness, I find it hard to carve out even 15 minutes of blogging time. I've seen such incredible blogs about amazing girls and guys that have these fun, adventurous, busy lives. Where - I have to ask - WHERE do you find the time?! I've SO enjoyed starting this blog. I enjoy writing and meeting the other bloggers. In fact, it has in many ways helped me achieve sanity, and I am going to try keep it up as much as possible. I apologize in advance if the time between posts increases slightly and the content becomes more flustered during times like finals week and throughout the rest of recruitment.

OK, 15 minutes is up. Back to work.

xo
Toni

September 16, 2011

Food For The Soul

Some people say that "time heals everything". While I can agree with this, I must admit that I am also a firm believer that food can cure (almost) anything, as evident in The Case for Coffee and Cupcakes.  

Yesterday was a particularly stressful day for me. On top of preparing for school to start next week and working 8 hour days, I have to be part of recruitment for my sorority. I'm using all the self- restraint I have to not write too much about this because if any of the girls in the sorority see this blog, I don't want to be exiled. They all know that I hate recruitment; I don't keep it a secret. If you have ever been around a stressed-out woman and felt the stress rub off onto you, you can only imagine what a house full of 150 stressed, over-caffeinated women is like. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

When I got home last night, I was irritated and stressed. I needed some time alone to calm down and regain a positive attitude if I wanted to attend the party that my house was hosting to kick off the new school year. After some encouragement from my boyfriend, I decided to not let the chaos and stress defeat me. So, I turned to food to turn my frown upside down. 

I only had about an hour before I needed to start getting ready, so I made this wonderful, heavenly snack - Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks dipped in peanut butter, raspberry jelly, and Nutella. Yes, you read that correctly. Chocolatey, berrilicious, peanuty goodness. It was fantastic. The protein from the peanut butter kept me full and energized, the carbs from the pretzels soaked up the subsequent "party beverages", the chocolaty hazelnut spread put a smile on my face, and the berries were delicious. Perfect food for the soul.

Try it yourself. But make sure to work out the next day. Delicious, yes. Healthy...maybe not so much.
Nobody's perfect and that's how it should be.

xo

Toni

ps: sorry about my less than amazing pictures. I plan to work on this in the future.

September 14, 2011

Wordless { Well, Kind of } Wednesday

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. 
Here are a few of my happiest pictures:

(I didn't include any with other people - which are really my favorite - because I don't want to post photos of anyone else without their permission. Maybe later.)


September 12, 2011

4 Feet Are Better Than 2

Sometimes its hard to exercise. You don't have energy, you just ate a huge meal, or you have so many other things that you need to do that spending an hour working out seems almost counterproductive. With school starting in less than 2 weeks, I see all these excuses looming in the not-so-distant future.

The truth is, however, that a good workout - which can actually be as short as 20 minutes- improves your energy, allows you to eat more, and helps you stay more focused when doing other tasks like writing papers or organizing a trip. I find that the days that I work out end up being more productive, more energetic, and overall more enjoyable.

If you are lacking exercise motivation, here are a few things that I have found encourage me to get up and work out even if I would way rather get up and go straight to the couch.

1. Find a Buddy - Find someone with similar fitness goals as you and make a plan to work out together a few times a week. Having someone holding you accountable for your workout will ensure that you don't give in to laziness. Plus, a little healthy competition never hurt anyone.

Why can't it always be this easy?
2. Buy a Drink... or a Bar - I don't eat them everyday because they are often overpriced, but I really love granola/energy bars. Since they've become so popular, there are many great tasting varieties that fill you up and give you lots of energy, carbs and protein. If you're not working out, however, they have way more carbs and protein than you need. So, I tell myself that if I eat one during the day at school or work, I have to work out that day to make it worth it. I do the same with sports drinks like Gatorade or FRS. If I drink a sporty, electrolyte-filled drink or eat a 250 calorie peanut butter protein bar and then don't exercise, I feel like a fool. Plus, honestly, I feel cool when I think I "deserve" to eat and drink athletic things. Maybe that's just me?

3. Take a Workout Class -  If you've read through my previous posts, it's pretty easy to tell that I'm a big fan of workout classes. I find that I push myself harder and continue working out longer with an instructor than without. I belong to 24-hour fitness, and I love their TurboKick and BodyPump classes. I also love yoga and pilates, especially if I can get some cardio in before the class. Plus, because the classes are at set times, you can't tell yourself "I'll go later" and then end up on the couch until the next morning.

4. Get (or Stay) Dirty - If you think you're going to shower and then accomplish some other task and then go to the gym or for a run and then shower again, you are sorely mistaken. I find that it's easiest for me to go straight from work to the gym, because I already feel like I need a shower, so the idea of sweating isn't so off-putting. For girls, the fact that you have to wash your hair afterwords can alone be enough of a reason to not work out. So, if your hair was washed on Monday and it is now Tuesday night but you haven't exercised, tell yourself that you will exercise on Wednesday and wash it then. Come Wednesday, you know you're going to have to wash your hair that night anyway, so you might as well get sweaty. (Note - Please still feel free to shower on the Tuesday, but don't wash your hair).

If all else fails, go through a checklist of reasons why you want to exercise, including better health, better body, and more ways to justify eating dessert. Chances are, even a 20 minute run will seem worth all those benefits.

What do you do to trick motivate yourself to work out?

xo

Toni



September 9, 2011

Match Made In Heaven

I believe in soulmates. I just know that sometimes two people are meant to be together. If I told you the story of how my boyfriend and I met, you would probably agree. But that's for another time.

I also believe that, like people, some edible/drinkable items are just meant to be together. They complement eachother, and balance eachother out - just like a perfect couple should!



Here is my list of The Top 10 food::food and food::drink Matches Made in Heaven (in no specific order).

  • Berries and Dark Chocolate
  • Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate
  • Cookies and Ice Cream
  • Tomatoes and Mozzarella Cheese
  • Steak and Mashed Potatoes
  • Milk and Cereal
  • Hamburgers and Coca-Cola
  • Tacos and Beer
  • Tea and Biscuits
  • Pasta and Wine

What would you add?

xo
Toni



September 8, 2011

Male Birth Control - - A Wonderful Plan or a Big Joke?

Would you feel secure jumping off a building if you couldn’t see the safety net at the bottom? Would you feel at ease sprinting straight ahead if you couldn’t see that the path was clear? Would you feel safe having sex with a man who reassures you that he has taken his birth control pills, even though you cannot physically see a condom?

Although the most popular and effective form of birth control in recent years has been the female oral contraceptive, the responsibility of preventing unwanted pregnancy may soon be available to males.

This new discovery would encourage both males and females to stop and think about their own forms of birth control and decide whether or not they would be willing to test the boundaries of contraception.

Since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing contraceptive use in 1960, birth control methods for women have become increasingly varied and popular. Before this time, however, women had to be more creative in their attempt to avoid pregnancy. Beginning in 1900, some women inserted lemon halves that had been hollowed out into their vaginas hoping that the fruit’s skin would block the sperm, and its acidity would kill any sperm that managed to escape. Other women followed old wives’ tales that instructed them to do things like jumping up and down or swallowing bees after intercourse.

Today, women have many more contraceptive options that are much more effective and reliable including rings, patches, injections and diaphragms. The concept of male contraception has evolved in a similar manner. As early as 1000 BC, men were using thin layers of linen, leather and silk paper to prevent conception. In 1855, rubber condoms were invented. Men were instructed to wash them after use and reuse them until they crumble.

It wasn’t until 1912 that the disposable, latex condom was created. In the 1950s, condoms were improved with a tip on the end that collects the sperm to further increase their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy. Although this condom is more effective than its reusable ancestor, its success rate at preventing pregnancy has failed to match that of female oral contraceptives. This is due to the fact that condoms can break under too much pressure and are not always used correctly.

Since then, little had been done to improve or innovate male contraceptives until now. According to The Science Channel, researchers began working on a way to make a male form of the birth control pill in the 1950s. They soon became discouraged, however, after hearing testimony from men around the world saying that they would never use such a product. These men showed skepticism towards the possible long-term effects the drug could have on their fertility and their sex drive.

Recently, pharmaceutical companies such as Wyeth, Schering and Organon have once again been working on developing contraceptive pills and injections to be used by men. These companies are currently pursuing clinical trials and awaiting FDA approval. It is unlikely that these contraceptives will be available for public use for at least ten years. Some hormones being tested are expected to stop sperm from being ejaculated. Others merely make the ejaculated sperm unable to fertilize an egg. Male birth control pills would hopefully be 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy, just like the female form. According to Science Daily, researchers found that androgenic hormones work in the testes to control normal sperm count and therefore affect fertility. These hormones are controlled by the amount of testosterone in a man’s body. Researchers stumbled upon this discovery when attempting to find a solution for men who were unable to have children due to a low sperm count. Slightly more testosterone than average was found to produce an increase in fertility. However, a large excess of testosterone proved to dramatically decrease fertility. By altering these hormones, a man’s fertility can be turned on and off rather easily.

A majority of middle-aged, married couples are in favor of trying male contraception, according to a study published in the Journal of Sex Research. William Marsiglio, along with researchers in the Department of Sociology at Ohio State, found that women are more hesitant about men using birth control than the men are themselves.

"A woman could be hesitant to rely on her partner’s actions when the consequences of his mistakes would affect her body," Marsiglio said. "This could be because she does not trust the man to use the contraception correctly or that the physical act of taking the pill gives her a sense of control."

Since the subjects were middle-aged and married, the study did not answer the question of whether younger, unmarried people would be as willing to welcome the idea of male contraceptives into their lives.

"I would never take a pill that messed with my ability to reproduce," said Tyler Smith, a student at San Diego State University who is currently not in a relationship. "It is too risky, and we don’t know what the possible long term effects could be. I always use a condom, and other than that it’s not in my control."

Daniel Major, a California State University, Chico student who is currently in a romantic relationship, cited other reasons why he would never consider using a form of male birth control. "This may sound ridiculous, but I feel like it would make me feel less masculine," Major said. "Birth control has always been associated with feminine things. Messing with my sperm count or forcing me to ‘shoot blanks’ would make me feel like I had been neutered."

College women seem to have similar reasons to the middle-aged, married women for being hesitant about the concept of male birth control. Katie James, a University of California, Santa Barbara student, has been dating her boyfriend for over a year. Although she claims that she trusts him completely in every other aspect of their relationship, she would be unwilling to trust him with the full responsibility of contraception.

"I just know that I would be too anxious every day, asking him if he had remembered to take his pills on time," she said. "If he messes up, I end up pregnant. I
just feel more comfortable knowing that I am taking my pills correctly, and if something goes wrong, I have no one to blame but myself."

Although most of the college students questioned were completely against male contraception, one man thought of a way that the birth control could be used to his advantage.

"For players like me, this new idea is a blessing," said Joseph Shank, a UCSB student who dates several women. "I could fool around with anyone I wanted and have no fear of getting slammed with paternity accusations."

There may be other reasons besides promiscuity that could tempt men into trying these new methods of contraception as well. According to John Schieszer, a writer for msnbc.com, many men have been targeted by women for the sole purpose of getting pregnant. These male victims are often actors or famous sports players who are financially stable. The pregnancy would allow the woman to raise her child without monetary struggle or perhaps it would give the women her sought-after fifteen minutes of fame.
It has also been the case in the past that married women have stopped taking their birth control without telling their husbands in order to have a baby and hopefully save their marriage.

According to the Helium Pregnancy & Parenting Site, this tactic is unlikely to work successfully. The man often feels betrayed and the true problems within the marriage would still remain unsolved. In these cases, male birth control would help ensure that men also have control when it comes to deciding whether or not they are ready to have children.

One important thing to remember when considering male birth control is that it does not necessarily need to take the place of other forms of birth control. A couple could choose to use more than one type of contraception if it would make them feel more confident and in control. Birth control pills may lose their effectiveness due to certain antibiotics, if they are not taken at the correct time, or if a person throws up within 3 hours of taking them. To have both partners on a birth control pill would help decrease the likelihood that one of these situations would result in an unwanted pregnancy.

Also, no form of birth control, other than the condom, works to prevent the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. For this reason, partners that are sexually involved but not in a monogamous relationship are advised to use birth control pills as well as a condom, according to the CDC.

Clara Levy, a UCSB student who has never been in a romantic relationship, says that every one of her female friends is on birth control pills, even if they are not currently involved in sexual relationships.

"Not all sexual acts are planned out like they should be," Levy said. "People often make bad decisions, especially when they drink. Being on birth control can help alleviate the possible negative consequences of those experiences for men and women."
Levy does admit that there are some differences between the sexes, however, when it comes to birth control needs. She says that unprotected women could become
pregnant if they are raped, which is not as uncommon as some might believe. By being on birth control "just in case", they could eliminate this possibility.

"Plus, many men go out just looking for any girl to have sex with," Levy said. "Perhaps the possibility that they may impregnate a woman might be the one thing stopping them from acting on every urge. If men are able to let go of all sexual responsibility by taking birth control, know knows what might happen?"

There were many repercussions of legalizing female contraception in 1960. Once they were alleviated from the burden of having children when they were not financially or emotionally ready, women began taking on more powerful roles in the workplace. They became more independent. They gained a sense of control over their own lives that most of them probably wouldn’t have imagined possible in their wildest dreams. As birth control became more popular, women began initiating more sexual experimentation. They were able to enjoy having sex without constantly worrying about the consequences.

There is no telling the effects that a male form of contraception, whether it be a pill or an injection, could have on society. There is the possibility that women will slowly become more comfortable sleeping with a man without using a condom, especially if she is able to trust him when he says that he has been taking his birth control correctly.

Male birth control may be a continuing factor in the ever-changing, interdependent roles of males and females in modern world. In fact, having to take responsibility for birth control may force males to be more conservative in their sexual conquests than was previously the case. There is also the possibility that the hormones
in the birth control will negatively affect the man’s libido and sex drive, much like the female version does for many women.

Who knows, maybe 50 years down the line a typical couple will consist of a women begging for intercourse while the man lays in bed and simply states, "Sorry, baby, I’m just not in the mood."

* This was an article I wrote for a Journalism class I took, but all the information is true.
* The image above is not my own
* All names have been changed to protect the privacy of those interviewed