My One Year Anniversary, Part I

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I randomly thought about my Tuscan zucchini pasta casserole and realized I came up with the recipe almost a year ago. It got me thinking about how we measure time. Do we measure our time in recipes, memories, and friendships? Maybe lifestyle changes {like going gluten-free}, blogiversaries, relationship anniversaries, or moving dates.

I think we measure time in all of the these ways, but maybe some hold more significance for each of us than others do.

This July is my one year anniversary of moving to Raleigh. I graduated from George Washington in May of 2011 and stuck around DC for two months, living up my last days as a college student and DC resident. After an amazing trip to Norway to visit family, I hauled all my earthly belongings out of storage and moved into a one bedroom apartment near downtown Raleigh. This literal and symbolic move marked the beginning of a new chapter of my life {pardon the cheesiness} and one of the craziest, most intense years of my life.

Like the new year, one year anniversaries are the perfect time to reflect on what has happened in the past year and think about what the next year holds.

No words will do justice to the past year and no blog post can completely encompass all the emotions, but here are some highlights {thank goodness I have a blog to document all these memories!}:

July

  • Celebrating my first birthday as a college graduate with best friends in Raleigh {they can’t make it this year unfortunately}
  • Buying Pearl, the first car I’ve ever owned by myself {she’s doing well}
  • Forming Roman Co, LLC, the company my sister and I co-own and realizing that the dream of a coworking space was becoming real!
  • Switching over from research to recruiting at LivingSocial
  • Getting a once-a-week babysitting job with two cute kids {I still babysit them!}
  • Joining the YMCA {a year later I still go regularly!}
  • Attending my first official Change the Triangle event at the Food Bank {I’m now the head of the Membership Committee}

August

September

October

November

December

  • Recorded a rap music video, called #TRFLovesIt for The Raleigh Forum 
  • Flew to NYC for Christmas
January
  • Went “skiing” {aka sitting in a ski lodge} with our stepdad and had the best time
  • Hosted a killer new years party
  • Held A Night in Raleighwood {co-sponsored by Yelp!} at our office
To be continued…
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link roundup for the week

I love this post from The New Professional on doing what you love or loving what you do {not necessarily the same, but also not necessarily mutually exclusive}.

Yes and Yes has become one of my favorite blogs- I love that it highlights interesting topics, stories, and debates and isn’t just a clone of every other lifestyle blog out there. Check out Let’s Stop Pretending It’s Always Easy and On Privacy, Honesty, Other Bloggers, and Oversharing.

Love this post on changing “yes but” to “yes and”

I need to do this gluten-free Raleigh bar crawl {though I wasn’t crazy about Lilly’s when I went}! And speaking of gluten-free, here is a great post from Gluten Free Girl on some of the lessons she learned from traveling gluten-free. On a related note: I bought San-J gluten-free soy sauce packets to take for on-the-go sushi!

I was really moved by The Freedom of Not Needing to Be Right on Tiny Buddha, where the tagline is “simple wisdom for complex lives.”

Have you seen this image? The words that immediately jump out at you are supposed to describe you. I really hope my first doesn’t describe me but my third word was passionate, which I think is fitting.

Props to Heather on what turned out to be an amazing collaborative photo shoot gone right– I love the pictures!

Here’s some great advice on changing your environment in order to change your behavior from my friend Austin, who is currently in Taiwan.

The new Evernote Food might be my new way to track what I order at a restaurant so I don’t forget for the next time I go!

What did you read on the internet this week? 

how to find scintillating blogs

Source: etsy.com via Jillee on Pinterest

 

It’s sometimes difficult to find beneficial, enticing blogs that you can’t wait to catch up on. I have several “go tos,” but it’s always nice to periodically add a few more! Here’s how I find worthwhile blogs:

Blog rolls– once you find blogs that you love, see what blogs they love {blog rolls are generally found on the right sidebar}

Tags on WordPress– click here for a list of the most common tags or on your WordPress homepage, click the “Read Blogs” tab. You can add topics there {I have added “Raleigh,” “Social Enterprise,” and “Gluten-Free Cooking.”

FoodPress.comtheir tagline is “Serving up the hottest dishes on WordPress” and they are indeed! Search through posts that have been “FoodPressed” to find new recipes on new blogs {one of my posts popped up on the site one time!}

Google Reader– once you have added a subscription, click “Feed settings,” then “More like this”

Comments– I periodically browse through the comments on my favorite blogs. Commenters are often bloggers and you can follow their URLs back to their pages!

Pinterest– This newbie platform is quickly shifting the game of blogging. It’s incredible to me that I can send a picture to Pinterest and have hundreds of hits to my blog within minutes. Search for random interesting topics to find a carefully curated group of results, which ultimately link back to blogs.

How else do you find cool blogs to follow? 

cristina chats…with meredith

For an explanation of my “Cristina Chats” series, click here!

The first person I want to introduce you to is Meredith Stokke of Food for Thought. I’ve known Meredith for a few years because she used to be my sister’s neighbor! She was also one of the first people I thought of for the blog group 🙂

Meredith is a therapist who works with teens, young adults, and families. She specializes in treating eating disorders, so body image is the primary topic covered on her blog.

Meredith is the happy runner in the red shorts!

Share an image that captures YOU.

I ran my first half-marathon this past summer in Chicago with one of my best friends, and her sister snapped this picture of us as we ran by her. When we both saw her in the crowd cheering, we both instinctively reacted the same way. I think this captures me well.

Share your six word memoir with me.

Once was lost; thankful I’m found.

Tell me a fun fact.

I was a ballerina growing up and danced on pointe.

Why do you blog?

I blog because I want to encourage and educate, but I also blog because I want to challenge people to think critically about beauty, self-esteem, weight, the media, dieting, etc. Plus, I love to write and blog because I enjoy it!

How did you come up with your blog title and content?

Honestly, I don’t remember how I came up with the title- but I was asked to start blogging by a former therapist boss about counseling related topics. I…really ended up loving it (and am still going strong almost 2 years after leaving that job!). Because I specialize in treating eating disorders and body image, I have a lot of conversations about the media, beauty ideals, self-esteem… I think this is something that a lot of people think about and wrestle with. My goal with my blog content is to challenge the way that people view the media, and encourage people to have healthy, grounded self-esteem. I also enjoy writing about other things sometimes too– anything positive and encouraging that might inspire people to have hope, or live a better, more full life.

If you could improve your blog in one way, what would you do?

I would love to post more frequently- my lack of posting, especially lately, has everything to do with how busy I am, rather than not having enough content to post. Between running my private practice, seeing clients, doing a few hours a week of work at William Peace University, volunteering, and keeping up with my social and personal life, it’s a lot! I’d also like to get back to interviewing people that inspire me!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from blogging?

That small gestures can make a difference! I’ve always believed this, but blogging has really reinforced that for me. I always assume that my mom is the only one that reads my blog (hi Mom!) and so when I get emails from strangers who read my blog and share with me how a particular post has impacted them, it really touches me and reminds me that simple things can make a difference in another’s life. We all have the power to have a positive impact on others, no matter how great or small the gesture is!

What’s the greatest thing you’ve gotten out of blogging?

There have been so many great things! Connecting with people in the field that I respect is probably near the top of the list. I’ve had the opportunity to interview different people, and friendships have formed as a result.

What are your favorite posts on your blog? 

Hmm. I know this is cheating, but here are 3 that are special to me: Dispelling Eating Disorder Myths, a Girls on the Run re-cap, and a post on my experience at the Children’s Malnutrition Center in Guatemala.

If you could only read one blog for the rest of your life, which would it be {something other than mine even though that’s a natural first choice haha!}?

I can’t choose just one- I read so many! I love Amy Hutton’s blog Amstel Life (her story is amazing and every time I read her blog, I cry- true story). I also like a faith based blog that an old roommate of mine writes, called SheWorships.

What is your favorite part of the Triangle?

I might be partial because I live and work in North Raleigh, but I love North Hills. There are lots of great restaurants (Coquette, Mura, Midtown Grill, Vivace, Piola), great shopping (Gena Chandler, Lululemon, Monkee’s), and it’s not too far from downtown either! If I could pick another favorite, it would be Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke in Durham- I love going to Duke basketball games.

What’s your favorite season? 
I love the summer. I went to graduate school in Arizona, and after living there for a few years, I crave blue skies and sunshine. I love being outside, doing summer-like activities, going to the beach. I also think summer just has a more casual, laidback feel to it. And I love that.

To read more from Meredith, visit her blog, Food for Thought!

insider blogging info

During the wine tasting event with the blog girls, we discussed the ins and outs of the blog world. Tons of great advice was shared and it seems like it could all be summed up by one common thread and two words: read blogs.What do I mean by that? As a blog reader, you get a feel for what you like and what you don’t like.

You get an idea of what designs you like, including fonts, graphics, layout {I sent Sara a few of my favorites, like this, this, and this}.

You get an idea for what kind of content you like {I like looking at a mix of aesthetically pleasing graphics + personal narratives}.

You get an idea of what blog strategies work for you {I think two posts per day is perfect}.

And then you can implement these ideas on your own blog. Sara is designing a pretty header for me. I’m searching for a photography class so I can provide my readers with images to accompany my writing. And I post an average of two posts per day {one at 9:35am!}.

I’m not saying steal other bloggers’ ideas, of course. For example, I love Anne’s 5 Minute Packable Lunches, but I wouldn’t take that idea and pass it off as my own. Instead, it complements a little series I already do, which I call Lunchbox Meals.

And that, my friends, is your insider blogging info for the day.

Have questions? Ask me and I’ll pass your questions along to the other blog girls!

Source: decor8blog.com via Patricia on Pinterest

on the menu for the week

It’s yet another week of being inspired by food posts from my “friends” in the blogosphere! I love going through my Google Reader on Sunday, starring the recipe posts that catch my eye, making a grocery list, filling up my cart {usually at Trader Joe’s}, and then holing up in the kitchen for the night. Cooking is one of the only times I don’t touch my phone or care if it rings. Very liberating 🙂

Pasta with Cabbage and Leeks {from My Wandering Spoon; made with turkey bacon and gluten-free pasta}

Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds {via Kaileen Elise}

Zucchini & Yellow Squash Fritters {adapted from Martha Stewart; made with gluten-free flour}

Chicken & White Bean Chili Soup {from Fannetastic Food}

Kale Tomato Soup with Chickpeas and Cumin {from The Daily Meal}

P.S. Here’s a helpful kitchen tip: a standard shot glass is 1/4 cup! Handy to know when you don’t have a measuring cup readily available.

Photo credit 1, 2, 3

why i will never be a famous blogger

  1. The public can be mean. Haters of The Pioneer Woman have created a blog dedicated to mocking her…who has that much time on their hands and that much hatred in their hearts?! P.S. I didn’t link to the blog because I don’t think they deserve more traffic or incoming links.
  2. Readers can be mean. Recently Kath wrote a blog post that her loyal readers deemed less-than-satisfying, and it set off a barrage of mean-spirited comments attacking her for not providing better content. Turns out, she’s pregnant and has been struggling with morning sickness! I hope they’re ashamed of themselves.
  3. I will never have the time, energy, or talent for Pinterest-worthy photography
  4. I love making up my own recipes, but I also love simply recreating already-existing recipes
  5. I don’t have a theme {I don’t detail every meal I eat, I’m not a travel blogger, I don’t solely blog about hard-hitting issues} and I can’t seem to finish a blog series {didn’t quite make it to 11 recipes there!}

As you can see, my rationale for why I will never be a famous blogger is made up partly of my own limitations but also partly of external factors that demotivate me to try and make it big.

Trust me, this is not a post to make you {my kind readers} feel sorry for my inability to make it in the big leagues of blogging. Nope- it’s just an acknowledgment that maybe blogging fame isn’t- and shouldn’t be- the end goal of keeping my little blog alive and well 🙂

On that note, I’ll leave you with this picture, which made me laugh out loud:

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the trouble with blogs is…

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Sometimes I sit for long periods browsing mindlessly and half-heartedly  through my Google Reader blog roll. Even worse, sometimes I scroll intently through the posts, enraptured by the delicious meal that so and so ate or the new skinny jeans that so and so bought over the weekend.

When I finally come out of my blog-induced stupor, I often feel an overwhelming sense of frivolity.

Frivolous:

characterized by lack of seriousness or sense: frivolous
self-indulgently carefree; unconcerned about or lacking any serious purpose
of little or no weight, worth, or importance; not worthy of serious notice

Did reading about a certain blogger’s luxury-infused trip or new purchase improve my life or, even more importantly, the lives of others?

I hate to describe anyone’s blog as frivolous, because I know how I would feel if someone assigned  that unfortunate adjective to Scintillating Simplicity. But, as Elisabeth pointed out, lifestyle blogs can often be a form of escapism.

But then I read blogs like Branch of Jasmine by Kathleen, which details her time working with a women’s empowerment organization in Rwanda. Or McArabia’s and Chipsy by Sarah, which she updates as she works on her Fulbright on the evolution of food systems in Egypt. And I remember how important it is to balance time spent perusing fun, carefree blogs with time spent on blogs that address interesting, pertinent issues.

Do you ever feel frivolous when reading lifestyle blogs? What are some of your favorite “deep” blogs? 

blogging boundaries

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The issue of TMI is a constant topic in the blogging world…and the Twitter world…and the Facebook world…Not surprisingly, we discussed it in depth as part of personal branding during our brown bag lunch at The Forum.

There are plenty of bloggers who have a devoted and extensive readership because of the blogger’s openness. Many people value straight shooters who are willing to be blunt- and even at times share intimate details if it means bettering the blogging community. Like Angela, who posts rather openly about her stomach issues for the sake of giving context to why she’s been adding many gluten-free recipes to her blog. And ultimately, this honesty benefits readers because it’s relatable and provides them with valuable content {like gluten-free recipes!}

As I’ve said before, I try to keep the content of this blog optimistic because for me, it’s a place to celebrate when life is great and inspire when life isn’t as wonderful. And I want my readers to have the same positive, uplifting feeling that I get on here. That’s not to say that I don’t allude to a bad day every once in awhile. But I don’t feel obligated or even right giving the entire internet world a detailed account of my woes, illnesses, fights, you name it.

Personal reputation isn’t the only thing on the line here. Research shows 45% of employers look at social media profiles before making a hire. I’ll bet you big money that oversharing has cost someone out there a job or two. Or ever heard how some insurance companies are canceling individuals’ policies based on their Facebook pictures and tweets?

I’m curious of your opinion {especially you, fellow blog girls!}: Where is the boundary between being open and honest and oversharing?


P.S. Enter the Balsamic Vinegar + Olive Oil Gift Set Giveaway over at Savory Simple 🙂 The pumpkin balsamic vinegar sounds amazing!

a ray of sunshine

Photo credit {via Pinterest}

Ever had one of that crappy days weeks where you can’t seem to wake up on the right side of the bed? Luckily, that’s not this week for me, but it was how I felt pre-Christmas.

During those kinds of days, maybe this will help. Or, better yet, maybe you’ll happen to read some incredibly sweet, kind words on a friend’s blog that make you feel so much better about yourself and life.

I was having a rough few days when I stumbled upon Sara D’s {not Sara Rose, my sister} blog post, which mentioned me and our new blogging group.

She wrote these nice words:

And these…

And, finally, these…

Made. my. day. Thank YOU Sara for willingly jumping feet-first into a brand new group without any hesitation. And we are definitely a Twitter success story 🙂

Be sure to check out Sara’s blog, Watermelon Roses, as well as her Etsy shop {coming soon}!