I Have the Need…the Need to Read!

I have always loved to read. From the time I was a little girl, lost in Nancy Drew or Sweet Valley High or To Kill a Mockingbird (one of my all-time faves!). When I wasn’t outside, my parents could always find me with my nose buried in a book. To this day, I love to curl up with a good book and get completely enveloped in the story. The characters become real and the stories so palpable they can make me laugh out loud or bring me to tears.

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(Photo Credit: Jennifer Halen Photography)

As I’ve gotten older, though, I find myself being drawn to autobiographies more and more. Fiction can be fun, but give me a book about an interesting life lived and I’m one happy nerd. To be clear, I will never lose my love for a book…something about the smell of a brand new book and physically turning a page makes me happy. But I digress.

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(Photo Credit: Jennifer Halen Photography)

Books like Play On: Then, Now and Fleetwood Mac quickly grabbed my attention since this is one of my favorite bands. I love hearing the behind-the-scenes tales about the ever-evolving band from the English drummer’s perspective. It not only covers their wildly successful albums Rumours and Tusk (hello classic rock!), it delves pretty deep into his personal life in love, magical music collaborations and inner-band turmoil. If you were ever a fan of Fleetwood Mac (I mean…if you weren’t, we should talk) you should definitely pick this one up!

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Another favorite of mine in the musical realm is Not Dead & Not for Sale: A Memoir by Scott Weiland, frontman for Stone Temple Pilots. This harrowing recount of his struggles with sex, drugs and rock and roll was, at times, hard to read, but even when I decided to re-read it I couldn’t put it down. I randomly picked this one up in the airport on my way to Philly a couple of years ago. Again, I’ve always been a fan of STP and have even seen them in concert, but it was so incredible to read about Scott Weiland’s personal journey as the face and voice of a band I’d only previously known (and respected) musically.

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On occasion an unexpected find, like Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susanna Cahalan will be enough to keep me curled up on the sofa for an entire weekend (hey, it was stormy…at least I wasn’t wasting any of our beautiful Arizona sunshine!). This one is a book about a twenty-four-year-old woman who, after having been an investigative reporter for the New York Post for ten years, had a sudden mental breakdown with virtually no diagnosis. “…an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity…a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.” I was more and more intrigued as the story continued, mostly because this was told by Susanna herself, though much of the information came in the form of doctors’ notes and video footage from the psych ward during her hospital. I would definitely recomment this book if you are into psychology and/or have a morbid curiosity for how the brain works.

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As my nerdiness knows no end, I will continue to read on and share my recommendations on books in different genres and welcome yours as well!

Not Your Garden-Variety Floral Arrangement

Springtime is one of the most beautiful seasons, if you ask me. Flowers are in bloom everywhere you look and Spring styles are coming out to play! It’s safe to say I am mildly obsessed with patterns and prints, but floral prints are pretty high on my list.

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This sweet little floral romper is perfect for just about any occasion! Happy hour with friends, a day touring wineries in beautiful Southern California or a hot date with someone special. You can find similar styles here, here and here. I paired it with my favorite Jessica Simpson wedges (you can find a similar pair here, here or here) to make those stems look a little longer (See what I did there? Yes, I’m a nerd.)

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My crossbody bag/clutch from Francesca’s Collections gave the perfect amount of texture! I got this one a while ago, but you can find even cuter ones here and here!

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To finish off the look I added a chunky necklace from Charming Charlie…one of my favorites. Similar styles found at Charming Charlie here or, if you’re like me and are addicted to Bauble Bar, you can also find one here.

Whichever way you decide to dress this romper up, it’s sure to be a stunner!

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(Photo Credit: Jennifer Halen Photography)

Stay chic, my friends.

Kitchen Change-Up!

I decided to forego Meatless Monday this week and changed it up so I could try out a couple new recipes! Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of people trying sweet potato buns on their burgers and I wanted to give it a go. I found a recipe for spiralized sweet potato latkes that I thought would make perfect buns! I love combining ideas! Come Monday evening, I was excited to get cooking. I grabbed my little Vegetti and got to work! I know, I know…the Vegetti is a poor substitute for the Spiralizer, but I wasn’t sure how much I’d actually use it so I went the small/cheap route to use it as a tester. Turns out, I am loving it! After the sweet potatoes stained it (it now looks a little pink), I have a feeling I will be upgrading to the real deal soon! 

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Back to the lesson at hand (bonus points if you guess the reference!). I found the recipe on Skinnytaste.com and it was really easy to follow, as most of their recipes are. I had just about everything I needed at home already, so I picked up a few small sweet potatoes at Trader Joe’s. I prepared the mix for the latkes and let it sit in the fridge for a few minutes while I got my spicy burgers together. 

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Since I don’t eat red meat, I perused the interwebs for a turkey burger recipe that would go well with the sweet potato buns and voila! I found this one on The Lean Clean Eating Machine blog site. Simpatico. Side note: this blog has so many recipes I now want to try! The author, Danielle, posts whole food recipes that are perfect for those who love lots of flavor! Luckily, the recipe called for items I generally keep in my fridge/cupboard, so I was all set! I did not take a picture of the burger mix because, well it looks incredibly unappealing, if you ask me. So I put them in the oven to broil and got back to finishing my latkes. 

The eggs helped hold them together, and the olive oil made them a nice golden brown. Truth be told, the first batch did fall apart a bit, but I think I was too quick to flip them. Hey, I was hungry and they smelled so delicious!   

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The second batch, however, came out quite nicely and just in time for the burgers to be done!

The second batch, however, came out quite nicely and just in time for the burgers to be done!

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I put one latke bun on the bottom, added a little arugula (so peppery and delicious!) and my burger, then topped it with a little shaved Asiago cheese and some fresh avocado. Anyone who knows me knows I looooove me some avocado! This highly anticipated meal did not disappoint! The burger was just as juicy as the recipe described and much more flavorful than I’d hoped! The latke buns were crispy and the perfect addition. 

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Looks glorious, doesn’t it? I was inspired by my Spode plates to give myself a beautiful little presentation…and then I savored every single bite. Speaking of, those are my favorite dinner plates and I’ve been on the hunt for more of them for about 6 years now. You can find Spode china at various stores like Macy’s and Bed Bath and Beyond, but this particular collection has been hard to find! I suppose that’s what happens when you buy them at Tuesday Morning. The search continues…

Anywho, if you’re looking for delicious, whole food recipes, be sure to check out The Lean Clean Eating Machine blog and Skinnytaste! They are sure to provide you with endless options and inspire ideas for mixing it up in the kitchen while keeping it healthy and whole! 

Happy kitchen experimenting!

The Weight of the Matter

Fair warning, this post may ruffle a few feathers!

Weight is a touchy subject, no matter which end of the spectrum you fall on. It’s an issue that should be handled with care, compassion and a freaking conscience. I believe wholeheartedly that weight is something we all have control over. I know it’s not an easy thing to get a grip on, but it’s still something that can be maintained…on either side. Chew on that for a minute while I explain why I’m bringing this up (pun totally intended).

The other day, while discussing lunch options in the office, I was asked “Are you having lunch or are you not eating because you’re trying to be skinny today?” Umm…EXCUSE ME?! I must have heard you wrong. Oh, no? Let’s keep talking about it. Go on and tell me that you know that sometimes “skinny girls” just forget to eat lunch (sucker punch). Still not done? Ok! Try to backpedal and tell me that you really only meant that you know how I watch my sugar intake. My sugar intake prevents me from eating a sandwich? Yeah, I must have misheard you.

I’m pretty certain I had my best bitch face on, but I kept my mouth shut (for once) and just walked away. I couldn’t believe the audacity of that single statement! I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, consider myself “skinny.” I consider myself to be athletic, fit and strong. I have put in a lot of WORK to get to this point, so I definitely don’t appreciate anyone reducing it to skipped meals!

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Let’s dive a little deeper into this situation, shall we? For lack of a more sensitive way to say this, the person that made this thoughtless comment is on the heavier end of the weight spectrum. Imagine for a minute just how differently this conversation would have played out had I been the one to make a comment about what SHE was ordering (or not ordering) for lunch. What kind of terrible human would I be?! The same exact question asked from me to her would have been so blatantly offensive, I may have gotten myself tangled up in an HR situation.

So what makes it okay for her to ask me if I was skipping lunch to be skinny that day?! Oh, that’s right. Nothing. Nothing makes that okay. I’m no angel, but I generally try to be mindful of the way I speak to people. You know, the whole “treat people how you want to be treated” thing? Sorely underrated.

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This whole thing got me thinking about the times I’ve joked with friends about how maybe we don’t need to order the cheese fries because our asses are starting to resemble our chairs. Or how I see a thin/heavy person and have a snap judgment in my head that they might need to eat more/less. How easy it’s become for us to make snap judgments on people we know AND people we don’t know! Looking at a heavyset person and thinking they are not doing anything to get healthy is just as wrong as looking at a thinner person and thinking they need to “eat a cheeseburger or three.” Just as it’s wrong for a thin/fit person to make snide and thoughtless comments about what a bigger person is doing, eating or how they’re living, it’s wrong for that bigger person to judge the smaller one and assume they don’t eat (or don’t eat enough).

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I mentioned earlier that I believe that your weight is your choice. If you choose to be on the heavier end of the spectrum, that’s your prerogative. Conversely, that I choose to be fit and pay attention to what I put in my mouth (most of the time) should be absolutely none of anyone’s damn business. It’s wrong all the way around. Whether you are thin or heavy, exercise or don’t, you are maintaining the lifestyle of your choosing. So let’s stop with the judgments, the comments and the sideways glances. Treat people as they should be treated…like HUMAN BEINGS. We will all be a lot happier if we learn to be better humans. #endrant

The bottom line is we need to live and let LIVE.

I’ve Moved!

Hey guys! You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything on here recently. That’s because I decided to go with self-hosting! Yippee! My site addy is still the same, so head on over to waterandsunshineblog.com and re-subscribe with your email address (or your WordPress user name).

Thanks!
Bri