Everyday Inspirations

 
 
{ash}
Stuck trying to find a decent topic, I asked my boyfriend what I should focus on for this week's etiquette tip. He immediately said, "What about driving?" That's actually not a bad idea, I mused. I mean, here we are, closing out another Sunday, preparing to head out to work in the morning. Mondays are bad enough as they are. Let's not let the morning commute make them worse.

Driving is a very, very, VERY broad topic, so for tonight I will focus on one simple aspect -- being the nice driver on the road.This is coming from a driver who commutes in Utah, where people are not really known for being peaceful drivers, which is quite sad. What is it about being behind the wheel that makes people think they're invincible? I've seen drivers do incredibly DUMB things. And why? To save five seconds? To (barely) make it through a light? It's just... stupid.

So my challenge for you is simple: be the nice driver. Do you see someone who wants to merge, even if he is a little late? Slow down and let him over. Someone taking forever to get out of the intersection? Don't honk. Is there a woman trying to enter the busy line of traffic? Slow down and let her in with a little wave.

I believe that if we all do at least one simple thing behind the wheel tomorrow morning, we'll make major differences to our days. You'll be amazed by how much more calm you are when you aren't focused on being the fastest or the first. Truly, it isn't worth it to you or anyone else is on the road. Let's all try it together: at least one nice thing during our morning commute. Tomorrow, we'll commit to save our sanity by not playing silly driving games.
 
{angie}
Picture
Today Ash and I went out on a photo shoot for some nice new profile photos of the two of us. We walked down to this marsh by my house that I went to a few weeks ago and it was interesting to see the changes. The snow had melted and ducks and geese had started to re-inhabit what was a quiet, desolate pond. The snow uncovered a world autumn had left dead. It is a world preparing to green and blossom beneath the surface. I have always loved the transition of the seasons, particularly winter to spring because of the new hope of beauty and warmth it brings. The first new smells of growth waft through the air and seedlings creep out from under the leaves. Before you know it this world of dead has been reborn into new beauty. Right now we are on the brink of it all and I can't wait.


 
{ash}
Picture
Last May a friend and I took a vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. One of my goals while there was to bring home a few pieces I could use to decorate. One day we were exploring a market and I spotted this cute little bowl. I loved it because it was easier to transport than some of the bigger souvenirs I had been eyeing, plus it's gorgeous -- colorful and cheery.

I now use the bowl to hold earrings so I can easily keep track of them. I love this simple touch to my room, not only because it reminds me of a great vacation but also because it makes me think of the wonderful people I met during my week in Mexico. I felt so welcome in their home, and I have never hesitated to relate my experience to others.

Beautiful, simple pieces are an easy and elegant way to add a unique feel to a space. It's especially lovely when purchasing those pieces helps support artisans in some of the poorest countries. You can find awesome fair trade sites all over the Internet. A couple of my favorites are Ten Thousand Villages and Overstock.com's Worldstock Fair Trade.
 
{angie}
College food generally has a bad reputation, but at Westminster College where Ashley and I graduated, we actually had pretty good food. There was this warm Greek salad they used to serve that I still get cravings for. Steak, feta, onions and tomatoes sauteed in balsamic vinaigrette and served on a bed of spinach. Not only is this dish insanely delicious, it's also super healthy. Below is a recipe I made in attempts of recreating it and I think I did a pretty dang good job.

{Warm Greek Salad}

Picture
Ingredients
12 oz. steak, sliced
Kosher salt
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/3 of an red onion, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 tbl. olive oil
spinach

Directions
Saute onions and steak in olive oil. In pan add salt and garlic powder to steak. Once steak is half done, add in balsamic vinaigrette and feta cheese. Add tomatoes at the end for 30 seconds. Pour over a bed of spinach and serve. 


 
{ash}
This is the second time I've started off a new year training for a half marathon. Last year's race experience was one of the most inspirational things I've done. Even simply remembering how accomplished I felt the day of the race is enough to get me out of bed and on the road.

One of the benefits of training this year is the Olympics. Seriously. I dare you to tell me that you don't watch the Olympics and imagine yourself accepting that gold medal and tearing up on the stand as you hear your national anthem being played. Watching the athletes is inspiring. We want to be them.

I was listening to NPR this morning and the announcer was talking about how the athletes we've been watching for the past week and a half are not only physically talented, they dedicate an enormous amount of time perfecting the mental tricks it takes to reach their level of talent. This is something I've thought about quite a bit since becoming a runner because I wasn't prepared for it. It takes an amazing amount of mental preparation to pull off long-term training. It's not enough to simply show up; you have to be mentally ready to take on challenges.

Sometimes I think that it's those mental hurdles that are the hardest to get over when it comes to taking care of ourselves. We can hear again and again how beneficial regular workouts are for looks, health, and overall well-being. But until something clicks in our own minds, we're not going to be able to face the trials that come with exercise. I completely believe the reasons we are scared to overcome mental hurdles is because we know in doing so we have to give up something comfortable in our lives, whether that's sleeping in every morning, giving up no-good diet, or actually causing some physical discomfort as you push your body to do new things.

However, once you get over the fear of being outside your comfort zone, I believe you'll find that you like the challenge. Dare yourself to do one thing you're scared of that will make you healthier. I promise it will be worth it.
 
{angie}
Picture
I love home fashions right now--Damask patterns, lace-inspired designs, organic shapes and textures. Love love love! It's a beautiful marriage of old regal elegance with new modern simplicity. I found this little gem while shopping for my dining room table at Furniture Row (which has fabulous deals on gorgeous furniture by the way www.furniturerow.com). It is elegant, yet bold enough to make a statement and I love the intricate graphic element to it. This would be great as an accent piece on a colored wall or as a black and white theme to draw a room together. Love it!

 
{ash}
Picture
A couple days ago I posted how excited I am for warm weather to arrive. This is why. I am so ready to wear lighter fabrics and beautiful pastel colors that I find myself falling into an almost daily case of spring fever, which usually includes spending time online looking up new shoes, outdoor destinations, and the official first day of spring (March 20).

Not that I haven't already been making this fun, flirty tank work with my winter cardigans. Angie has lovingly given the top the name "that shirt" (with a little sigh) because it's the perfect definition of why we're ready for spring fashion: super girly shape, gorgeous lace details, clean white color.

More than once I've found myself imagining wearing this top, a skirt, and a pair of sandals, with a warm breeze kissing my bare legs. And I'm on a beach. With a margarita. Now we're getting somewhere!
 
{angie}
In this fast-paced world, we often send out emails in a hurry without taking the time to make them effective. Here are my top three tips for sending effective emails, whether for personal or professional use.

1. Proof read
No need to spend all day editing, but it's always good to take a quick read-over before you hit send. Don't let your message lose credibility or be misunderstood because of typos or weird sentence structure.

2. Share your main point first
There's nothing more annoying than an email where you have to read through a paragraph or more to find out what the purpose is. If your item needs further explanation, you can elaborate afterward. Is your main point an action item? Make sure to put your request and deadline right at the top.

3. Keep it simple
Don't blab for paragraphs about stuff that isn't relevant. Sometimes those huge emails are so overwhelming that people don't read what you have to say. If you have a lot to say, make sure you aren't repeating yourself and that you are saying it in the shortest, simplest way.
 
 
{ash}
Picture
It's getting to be the end of February, which means we're thisclose to spring. I don't know about you but by this time each year I'm completely over the cold and the coats and the boots. I'm ready to break out the flirty, fun clothes.

There is, of course, a trade-off. When the winter goes, so does the skiing, which can be a bummer, particularly when you live in Utah -- home of the greatest snow on earth. I captured this image last Sunday while skiing with my sweetie. I've been in love with the trees at the top of Snowbird's Peruvian and Little Cloud chairlifts since, oh, forever. They live a harsh life, what with constantly being pounded by sub-zero wind and storm after storm. But because of their environment, they become so gloriously covered with ice and snow that they just glisten.

Insert your own metaphor on life if you wish.

So even though I do spend much of these last few weeks of winter wishing ahead for days of sandals and pastels and BBQs, I try to stop, take in the (frozen) moment, and remind myself that while summer's awesome, she doesn't have all the beauty in the world.
 
{angie}
Picture
I know I know...You've heard it a million times. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You shouldn't skip is lest you die as early death, most likely from obesity, diabetes, or cancer. Blah blah blah. For years I was not a breakfast eater. I didn't have time. No it was more than that—I wasn't hungry for it. Why eat when you're not hungry right?

Well I'll tell you why. A few years ago I started this thing where I had to eat breakfast everyday before 10:00 am. At first I felt a little overfull, but quickly I started to notice a trend—I was hungrier. It would get to be 11:30, 11, no 10 am and I would be hungry AGAIN. If I didn't eat breakfast I wouldn't get hungry for lunch until maybe 1 or 2 pm. Now for any of you on diets or trying to lose weight, I know you're thinking...yes PLEASE tell me the secret to making me HUNGRIER. But I promise I have a point.

Hunger is a very important part to losing weight, or just maintaining. Not starving yourself hunger, real, true, stomach growling hunger when you eat a healthy diet and exercise. That hungry signal means your metabolism is getting faster—the golden ticket if you're like me and love to eat. I noticed that when I ate a healthy breakfast before 10 am and maintained a moderate workout schedule, I was consistently hungry the rest of the day and had to, had to, eat little snacks. A wonderful bonus.

So tomorrow when you wake up, think about breakfast. Ash and I eat a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and a banana pretty much everyday. The decision is yours: you can be a skinny bitch that orders lettuce with a side of water or you can be the skinny mega-bitch that orders lasagna and dessert because you eat breakfast. The choice is yours.