The Purchase that Saved the Summer (+ a cocktail recipe)

When we moved to Alabama, I was so excited that we’d have a backyard. Coming from a big city, where it was starting to feel like we were living on top of our neighbors, I was excited for the extra space. Our first summer here, we hung out in the backyard a bit. Did some grilling, sat outside chatting with friends, even planted a few things. But the mosquitoes were pretty horrendous. In a true case of “the grass is always greener,” I started to miss our screened-in balcony in Miami.

But this summer we showed up with an action plan! We splurged on a pop-up tent (more like a pop-up gazebo…this thing is pretty huge) that offers a bit of protection from all the bugs. It’s proven to be the perfect place for eating dinner, reading a book on a lazy afternoon, and just CHILLING. We’ve even run an extension cord from our kitchen on a few occasions so we could hook up a box fan. Hello, GLAMPING!

Do you hang out outside in the summer? Do you have a porch, a stoop, or do you just head to the park? Let me know in the comments below.

Wherever you’re chilling, this drink would be the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing summer’s evening. Enjoy!

Cocktail Recipe:

Ingredients –
– 1 bottle of Prosecco 
– 1 cup Limoncello
– 1 cup raspberries, muddled & for garnish
– 2 lemons, for garnish

Instructions – 

At the bottom of a wine glass, muddle approximately 4-5 raspberries.

Fill each glass half way with Prosecco, then fill the remainder of the way with Limoncello.

Garnish with fresh sliced lemon and raspberries before serving.

P.S. Other summer faves are linked HERE.

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Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #6 in the Finding Delight Book Club. I’ve been a reading machine in 2019 (wow, I like the sound of those rhymes), but I figured it was about time I posted another book club selection. If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. The current pick is I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight by Margaret Cho.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“Haven’t we heard enough from these ancient white guys?”

Synopsis

With all her notorious, righteous comic rage, Margaret Cho lays out in no uncertain terms what’s wrong, what’s right, and what’s definitely worth fighting for.

From gay rights to racial equality to the right to choose, nothing is off limits for the comedian. She encourages her readers and army of loyal fans to stand up and speak out against those who want to keep free thinking liberals from ruining their “picture perfect” world.

Brutal, honest, and funny, I Have Chosen To Stay And Fight is everything you’d expect from one of the most woke comics of all time.

“My attitude toward peace does not depend on which war we are discussing. I think that words should do the work of bombs.”

Initial Thoughts

Ok, I’ll be honest. This is a book I slapped into this reading list without doing any research whatsoever. I was listening to old episodes of Jonathan Van Ness’s podcast and came across one with Margaret Cho. She just seemed so smart and witty and like someone who’d been fighting the good fight forever but had no plans of backing down any time soon. I knew I had to read something she’d written.

I hopped on Google, found this book, and typed it into my phone notes where I was storing a list of books to blog about. Next thing I knew this book was next up and I grabbed it off the shelves of the library. I flipped through it on the walk home —

I had no idea it came out in 2005. In fact, in bold on the inside of the jacket cover it says, “A survival guide to making it through to 2008 and a hilarious, kick-ass call-to-arms.” Wow, I thought, that’s a throw back.

But weirdly, it feels so familiar for our current political landscape. I hate to call it deja vu or a regression. Even though many of the themes Cho speaks out against in the book still linger. Instead, I found her words comforting. “I have chosen to stay and fight.” And keep fighting…

I also had no idea the book was arranged as a collection of essays. Which was a fun surprise. Most of the time they read more like slam poetry than article…which seems oddly appropriate for 2005 (at least that’s what I was into in 2005, lol). But while the writing is crass and honest and in-your-face, I wouldn’t necessarily call it “funny.” Not a disappointment, just unexpected. A choice for this particular book given the subject matter?

Maybe we’ll get to the bottom of that in our next post, when we discuss the author!

“In the darkest reaches of my imagination, it occurs to me that we are the heirs to the aftermath. We are the scavenger minority, picking at the carcass of civil rights, trying to get our measly share, so very far removed from the idea of fair …”

Read this is if you’re interested in: politics, comedians, things that haven’t changed since the early double aughts (😂).

Read this if you loved: I’m the One That I Want by Margaret Cho, I Am Not Your Final Girl by Claire C. Holland, Tragedy Queens edited by Leza Cantoral.

Keep a lookout for Part 2! I’ll be posting it soon.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

5-Week Home Workout Challenge (Week 4!)

workout wk4

What’s that you say? You’re ready for another week of at-home workouts courtesy of the interwebs? Well, I’ve got just the thing for you!

It is STILL super hot where I’m at, and I’m trying not to get down on myself so much for not getting outside much. It is just. so. stifling. (and humid and bright and BUGGY!) It’s weird that I used to think of these types of workouts as being a good resource to bust out in the dead of winter. But now that I’ve clocked quite a few years in the southern reaches of the U.S., I can say they are, without a doubt, my SUMMER WORKOUTS. Especially for the dog days we’re in right now.

Tuesday:

You may or may not know this about me, but Keaira LaShae is my workout QUEEN. I’ve discussed my favorite of her workouts HERE.

Wednesday:

Ok, indulge me for a moment. THIS is why I love YouTube so much. This is a great workout…and it was just hanging out on YouTube on this channel for Hennepin Healthcare. A channel with 4k subscribers and 9 workout videos randomly posted 3 years ago for some sort of weight loss program they were doing. No idea how I stumbled upon it but so glad I did! There are literally all sorts of gems like this just waiting to be found!!!

Thursday:

This is the third in a nice little trio of tough workouts this week…

Friday:

And this is the much needed relief! Also a nice way to end the week after a somewhat stressful work week.

Saturday:

Wow, amazing how easy this feels after the beginning of the week. Again, this instructor’s videos are so low-key…this time I realized it might be the houseplants?

Sunday:

Have I mentioned how much I hate bouncy cardio? And there’s been a lot more of it this week than I care for. But HALLELUJAH we have powered through!

Monday:

And one more appearance from our queen! Truly amazing how worked my abs felt after this and I GOT TO STAND THE WHOLE TIME (not a crunch in sight!).

Oh my goodness, I only have one more week to go!

P.S. Week 1 and Week 2 and Week 3 – in case ya wanna start from the beginning and catch up!

A Peek at My Podcast Subscriptions

Hey friends! It’s been a little while since I’ve shared my current podcast subscription list. (Here’s a look at the list from Nov ’17.) Wanna see what’s been in my earholes lately?

Culpable

Culpable  explores unsettled cases where the people who seem deserving of blame somehow eluded justice. On February 26, 2014, Christian Andreacchio was found dead in the upstairs bathroom of his apartment from a single gunshot wound to the head. After a mere 45-minute investigation, local police ruled his death a suicide, despite substantial evidence that points to Christian’s death not only being a homicide, but premeditated murder.

Who? Weekly

A podcast dedicated to deciphering and celebrating pop culture’s greatest (and not-so-greatest) Whos and Thems. Everything you need to know about celebrities you don’t. Hosted by Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber.

 

Who the Hell is Hamish

He was born Hamish Watson, a surfie dude from Sydney – but he could morph into whatever you wanted him to be. Hamish is due to be sentenced to jail for swindling a handful of victims out of more than $7 million. But these crimes are just the final pages in a resume too think to staple; for decades he’s duped victims in the US, Canada, Britain, Hong Kong and Australia.

Building a StoryBrand with Donald Miller

If you’re frustrated because you struggle to get the word out about your product or service, the Building a StoryBrand podcast will help. Fans of the podcast are ecstatic about the fun and entertaining way Donald Miller brings you practical advice about clarifying your message so customers will listen. Don and the StoryBrand team are the world’s leading experts in harnessing the 2,000 year-old proven power of story formulas to get people talking about your brand.

The Rewatchables

The Rewatchables, a film podcast from the Ringer Podcast network, features HBO and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and a roundtable of people from The Ringer universe discussing movies they can’t seem to stop watching.

Royally Obsessed

Royally Obsessed is the podcast for all things Royals! Kaitlin Menza and Lisa Ryan both write about The Royals for everyone from Cosmo to NY Mag, and each week they discuss the highs and lows in Buckingham Palace, and everything you need to know for high tea.

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

A weekly exploration of all the things Jonathan Van Ness is curious about. Go on a journey with Jonathan and experts in their respective fields as they get curious about anything and everything under the sun.

 

The Freelance Friday Podcast

The Freelance Friday Podcast is all about… you guessed it: freelancing. An inside look at the world of freelancing, featuring tips, tricks, and interviews with people who are doing it right.

 

Call Your Girlfriend

Call Your Girlfriend is a podcast for long-distance besties everywhere co-hosted by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, and produced by Gina Delvac. Every week, Aminatou and Ann call each other to discuss the intricacies of pop culture and the latest in politics.

Household  Name

Surprising stories about how the biggest, household name brands affect our lives and culture — for better or worse. Host Dan Bobkoff finds tales of tragedy, love, strange histories, unintended consequences, and accidental success.

Britney’s Gram

Each week, comedians Tess Barker and Barbara Gray discuss and dissect Britney Spears’s Instagram posts.

 

Reply All

Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, who launched the show in 2014. “A podcast about the internet’ that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it.” – The Guardian

 

And before you ask, NO — I am not able to keep up with all of these. There are some that I’m still listening to episodes that came out years ago…but these are all the shows that are in my current rotation and that I would whole-heartedly recommend. 😉

P.S. I asked 9 friends, “What’s your favorite podcast?” and here’s what they had to say.

mid-week round-up

What have you been up to loves? Last weekend, Chet and I saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…complete with a huge tub of popcorn. Have you seen it? Sometimes I just can’t get over how good an actor Leo is! Hope you have a fantastic week, do a few things for your own enjoyment, and here are some links you might want to check out…

The best street art in every state.

How to give constructive criticism without making it awkward.

Everyone knows about urine-detector dye, despite the fact that it has 100% never existed.

These cookies are my new favorite thing.

How to eat candy like a Swedish person.

24 books under 200 pages, recommended by TED speakers.

An ice cream truck owner who hates influencers so much he charges them double.

When should you tell a child their adopted?

A fish pie loaded with summer’s bounty.

Fall is right around the corner!

Sweet new merch from Call Your Girlfriend.

16 words people often mix up that can make you look foolish.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — My Favorite Words and The Truths We Hold — Continued Material.

For Your Enjoyment

What are the things you do purely for your own enjoyment? Not the things you are supposed to do, or should, but things you do just because you can?

Here are a few of mine — 

1. Reading fiction

I’m currently reading The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant.

2. Taking walks in my neighborhood

I walk to the library to pick up and return books. I walk whenever I’m on the phone. I walk when I want to listen to podcasts or music or my thoughts.

3. Doing face masks

Do you have a favorite I should check out? Always looking for new ones to try!

4. Photographing my cat

My camera roll is literally 98% pictures of Wink. (Only a fraction end up on Instagram.)

5. Watching YouTube videos

Here are a few channels I’ve written about (and still love!): Latasha James, Kara and Nate, and SuperHolly.

Share yours below! xoxo

P.S. If listening to podcasts is something you do for enjoyment, I’d love if you’d check out mine! RIGHT THIS WAY. 🙂

Minimalist Dinner Plan (w/ freezer meals)

One really simple approach to creating your monthly dinner plan is batch cooking. Which, with all the overly complicated meal prep YouTube videos out there, can seem incredibly daunting. However, just a little bit goes a long way when cooking ahead for the month. (Especially if you’re just cooking for one or two and you’re ok with repeating foods!) “Feed your freezer today, feed yourself all month”… is that a saying? It should be.

Here are four things you can make for the month ahead to make dinners a little easier…

Baked Beans

A big pot of baked beans is kind of obnoxious to make on the regular. But it freezes incredibly well. This is a great side item, but I like it as the main dish. I got the idea from one of my favorite books, My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss, which talks about having baked beans for dinner with steamed broccoli and corn bread. Yum!

Alternative – Any other type of beans or grains

Twice-Baked Potatoes

These are more of the side item situation. You can make them the cheesy way or as more of a loaded baked potato with sour cream and bacon and chives. Then, add one half to round out a meat and veg meal. Or have both halves with a salad or some soup.

Alternative – Any other starchy side item

Starbucks Copycat Wraps

These have been my obsession lately. You basically cook some quinoa, corn, and black beans and throw them in a wrap with some jalapeno Havarti shredded cheese. Wrap ’em in aluminum foil and stick in your freezer for the quickest dinners. (Great if you have to take dinner on the go!) With some chips and a pickle spear you’ll feel like you grabbed fast food.

Alternative – Any other freezable sandwich or wrap

Buttermilk Pancakes

If there’s one thing I’m committed to on a deep and spiritual level, it’s breakfast for dinner. But I’m also way too lazy to make pancakes on a weeknight. Sunday around noon while listening to some tunes? Sure. When I’m starving after working all day? Not so much. Good thing you can throw a batch of these in your freezer then whip a few out as needed, scramble some eggs, fry up some sausage, and bingo-bango you’re eating like a brekky-for-dinner CHAMPION.

Alternative – Waffles, french toast, sourdough bread, etc.

How it all comes together…

If you’re cooking for a household of 2 and you make 6 potatoes, 2 lbs of beans, 18 pancakes, and 10 wraps…

That’s 6 meals with potato halves (3 if you’re doing the whole potato), 6 meals with beans, 3 meals with pancakes, and 5 meals with wraps. 20 meals that are partially complete before dinnertime even rolls around!

What do you think? Would you try this monthly dinner plan approach? Do you feed your freezer? Comment below! xoxo 

P.S. Quick + Easy Meal Plan for One on a Budget.

5-Week Home Workout Challenge (Week 3!)

workout wk2 (1)

Hi guys! Another week of working out at home has come and gone. I gotta say, I’m really glad I had all these workouts in the pipeline. Totally eliminates any need to think once workout time rolls around. (Have I mentioned how much I hate making decisions?) I am a compulsive list maker (and list FOLLOWER — I derive great satisfaction from doing things in order) and a lot of that comes from my need to batch make decisions.

Even if these specific workouts aren’t your jam, I really recommend giving THAT part of this process a try. Spend some time mapping out a workout plan for the month (or whatever time-frame suits ya best). I think you’ll be surprised how freeing it feels in the day to day when that one itty-bitty decision is already done and dusted.

Ok — *steps off decision fatigue soap box* On to this week’s workouts!!!

Tuesday:

I knocked this out on an evening my husband was out of town and it was the perfect way to kick off a chill evening at home while solo. #SelfCare

Wednesday:

Yep, you guessed it! More “no jumping” HIIT workouts. Can you guess one of my fave workout search terms?

Thursday:

Another Yoga With Adriene video this week because I love her. This sequence, especially, is a favorite because I sit a lot throughout the week.

Friday:

This workout kicked my ASS in that 35 minutes! I’ll definitely be returning to this channel to try more of Coach Kel’s videos when this challenge is over. 🙂

Saturday:

Was a bit sore after that barre workout so this was perfect. Plus, lazy weekend vibes.

Sunday:

This is a fairly rigorous ab workout, but I love how chill it still feels. IDK if it’s the vibe of the instructor or the way the exercises are arranged or what!

Monday:

Welp, I’m pretty terrible at belly dancing. Still fun though, lol.

And there you have it, ladies and germs! Week 3 is in the books!! Only 2 more weeks left.

P.S. Week 1 and Week 2 – in case ya missed ’em!

mid-week round-up

What’s new this Wednesday? My husband was out of town last week and I’m so happy to have him back in my clutches! Can folks who live with one other person relate to this? The first night I have the house to myself I’m like “Wahooo, the TV remote is mine, ALL MINE!” and then by the third night it’s “Will someone…ANYONE pay attention TO ME!” Anywho, links for your reading pleasure are right this way…

What did you do before the internet?

The forgotten wolf children of World War II.

Great way to keep track of your keys.

How to rotate a six-week meal plan.

I need this shirt for the upcoming winter. #HyggeLife

Songbirds are being snatched from Miami’s forests.

He’d been kept alive with tubes for nearly 17 years. Who is he? 

Victims, families, and America’s thirst for true-crime stories.

The rich history and complicated future of pen spinning.

An amazing clay mask.

The story behind the ice cream sandwich.

That’s a lot of hot air balloons! 

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — Top 10 Yard Sale Advertising Tips and Our Mini Vacay to Delray Beach.

10 Tips for Working an Event

One aspect of work-life that I look back on fondly now that I’m a work-from-home freelancer is working events. From hosting speech tournaments on college campuses when I was a forensics coach to planning and executing a street fair during my days on the marketing team at a food co-op, these all day affairs used to be a pretty common occurrence for me. They were always stressful. Always a lot of work. But oh so rewarding at the end of the day when you pulled it off.

After a lot of years, and a lot of trial and error, I feel like I eventually got working events down to a fine science. Whether you run conferences, host all-day trainings, or volunteer at your kid’s model UN tournaments, you know the deal! Here are my top tips —

Preparation –

1. Get plenty of sleep the night before.

I’ve worked plenty of events in a state of exhaustion and, let me tell you, it ain’t fun. Do everything in your power to show up bright eyed and bushy tailed. It will feel like way less of a slog and the hours will fly by if you go into the day feeling energetic. If the event starts later in the day still get plenty of rest the night before and make sure to eat well and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

2. Eat a hearty, well-balanced breakfast.

When you’ve gotta go, go, go – sitting down for a decent meal isn’t always possible. Waking up just a tiny bit earlier is totally worth it if it means you won’t have to scarf a pop-tart in the car on the way there.

3. If you can, spend some time outside and/or do some form of light exercise before you go or when you get a break.

This will give you a nice boost of energy and stamina. It seems counter-intuitive, especially if you know you’re going to be running around and doing a lot of set up throughout the day, but I promise those exercise endorphins are worth it. And the sunlight part is a no brainer if you’re going to be spending the next million hours inside.

During the event –

4. Wear comfortable shoes.

If the event is a more casual situation and you can get away with rocking walking shoes, by all means! But even if this is a biz-cas affair, make sure your shoes are selected for comfort and not style. (I mean, you can have both…but you know what I mean.) I spent way too many years rocking ballet flats at events before I realized those aren’t the BEST option for gallivanting from one end of a college campus to the other and being on your feet all day.

5. Hydrate.

I’ll say it again for the people in the back — HYDRATE! Keep a water bottle close at hand and just keep guzzling. Nothing takes the pep out of your step like thirst.

6. Keep your pockets stocked.

I always want to remain incredibly mobile when working an event…and I don’t really want to carry a bag everywhere I go OR have to add even MORE steps to my daily total to run to a “home base” for what I need. For me, this means keeping some cash and my debit card on my person throughout the day.

7. Have portable snacks on hand.

Sometimes your only downtime when working events is when you’re walking from one place to another. So, I like to bring along portable snacks that I can eat on the go. Bananas and granola/protein bars are great for this. NOM.

8. Avoid the urge to pound caffeine and sugar all day.

Another reason to show up well-rested. All the caffeine and sugar crashes just aren’t worth it…not to mention it will mess with your sleep after the event is over. Don’t you want to sleep like a baby after your marathon day? I think yes.

9. Say “Thank you!”

Successful events truly take a village. Show your gratitude as much as possible. Even if you’re not the one at the tippy-top running the whole shebang, there are certainly people who are making your part in the whole thing easier. Tell them you appreciate them!

10. Don’t bark orders.

And if you ARE running things, be considerate with how you manage and delegate. Events can feel way more high stakes than day-to-day work for everyone involved. Tensions will run high. Ask for help with a specific task instead of giving an order. Slight rhetorical shifts can make grunt work sound a whole lot less demeaning.

What tips would you add? xoxo

P.S. 11 Ways to Sneak in Healthy Habits When You’re Traveling.