3 Ways to Get Out of a Reading Rut

Typically, I’m a voracious reader. Lately I’ve been starting and stopping more books than I finish, watching TV before bed, and feeling a general distaste for every option I pick up. I’ve made it a goal to get back into the swing of things before the height of summer, as it’s ideal for the beach, the porch, and even the traffic-laden drives to reach vacation. Here are 3 ways that I use to get out of my reading rut:

  1. Quick Reads: Books like Eligible or any mystery by James Patterson is a quick read, and I become immersed within the first 20 pages. They kick-start my reading habit back into gear, and even if they’re not the most fulfilling, usually I’ll enjoy it enough to head right to the next book.
  2. Read in the Morning: This works especially well when the chapters are short, as it’s not completely derailing to your morning routine.  Lately, I’ve been picking up my book instead of my phone in the mornings and taking 15 minutes to read a couple pages. I’m not a night person, and reading in the morning ensures that I won’t fall asleep with a book on my face.
  3. Go to the Library: There’s nothing more enticing than seeing all the bestsellers in one place, yet you don’t have to buy them. It’s a perfect way once in the habit of reading to keep cruising through the titles! You just have to finish the popular titles in two weeks to avoid late fees – tough when you always bite off more than you can chew!

3 Habits to Change

I’m a creature of habit, live by routine, and feel completely off balance when anything changes. I’m a decently early riser (whether I’m tired or awake I’ll rarely roll over and fall back to sleep), need to get some form of exercise in, and plan out most of my meals in advance. However, despite this sounding decently organized, there are bad habits I’ve also adopted that have unfortunately become part of my routine.

  1. Eating Too Quickly – this has been a longtime problem. I’ve always been told my grandparents, parents, etc to slow down and chew my food. I’ve tried to sit down, without my phone, and be more mindful about taking time between bites. Let’s be honest…it’s hard. Always something to work on, though.
  2. Checking ALL My Blogs in the Morning – yes, this is something that makes me happy in the morning, but now there’s just too many. Sometimes I feel as if I’m simply wasting time, procrastinating (it can also lead to a black hole of online shopping) and delaying starting my day. I’m working on only checking my top 3, and leaving the rest as something to look forward to as an afternoon break.
  3. Sitting – I recently read this article  and had a minor freak out. I definitely sit way more than necessary, and rarely move throughout the day. Now, even my near-daily runs will not combat the effects. We’ve taken to immediately standing at our desks than sitting down, since we already sit about an hour in the car to drive to the office in the morning. Sitting down is a nice break while (mindfully) eating our lunches.

2 Books to Keep in Mind for Your Next Read

 

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube – Blair Braverman

People are incredibly interesting – that’s what I took away from this memoir written by a girl at Colby just a few years older than me. She tells her coming of age story through her experiences dogsledding in the Arctic, an area in which I have no knowledge.

The Visitors – Simon Sylvester

 I couldn’t put this book down, and I’ll admit, I chose the book by its cover randomly in the library. It blends mythical folk tales, the Scottish dialect, and a thrilling murder into a story told through the eyes of a young girl.

 

1 Museum to Visit More Often in Boston

I’ll sound like a broken record to all my friends, but to any 20-something, the Museum of Science is one of the most underrated places to go. When the winter months hit New England, they hit hard: frigid temperature, piles of snow, and a sudden lack of outdoor activities. Do you have a friend visiting? Are you looking to fill some time on a weekend? Tired of meeting a friend at a bar on a weeknight? I highly recommend making the Museum of Science your next stop.

  • National Parks Adventure was one of the most amazing films/documentaries I’ve seen (I’ve been twice). You’ll sit surrounded by an 180° screen, immersed in the whole environment. For those who’ve seen Meru, you’ll enjoy seeing Conrad Anker in a different, less intense, light. Also, there’s showtimes around 7:00 pm, perfect for a happy-hour alternative, or the nerdiest date ever. imax_national-parks-adventure_0.jpg
  • Right now there’s a CHOCOLATE exhibit, need I say more? Okay, I haven’t been to see this yet, but I can only imagine how incredible it will be.
  • The Museum Shop has the cutest and cheapest home accessories. See the tea light holders in the picture below? Those are $6 each at the Museum Shop, which I find a steal compared to what they would cost at Pier 1 or West Elm. Also, each one is different! fullsizerender-4

 

 

1 Week Sample Meal Plan

Last week, I mentioned how I strategically grocery shop. This week, I’ll detail a sample list and meal plan for how I go about 5 days worth of cooking!

I’ve included meat in this week (contrarily to my tip that it’s way cheaper to not buy meat) and I did two grocery runs. I had on hand: peanut butter, salsa, quinoa, oats, frozen peas/corn, chicken stock, canned tomatoes,  other pantry items.

Market Basket

Whole Foods

  1. Bananas
  2. Kale
  3. Chicken Sausage
  4. Eggs – I usually splurge on organic eggs
  5. Onion
  6. Tomato
  7. Sweet Potato
  8. Salad Greens

 

  1. Ground Beef – on SALE!
  2. Avocados – on SALE!
  3. Onion
  4. Cauliflower
  5. Zucchini
  6. Yukon Gold Potato
  7. Mushrooms

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie Frittata Oats w/ Banana & PB Green Smoothie

Frittata & Salad

Frittata & Salad

Bolognese w/ Zucchini Noodles

Frittata & Salad

Shepherd’s Pie

Mexican Bowl w/ Sweet Potato & Quinoa

Bolognese w/ Zucchini Noodles

Dinner Out! 

Shepherd’s Pie 

 Whatever’s Left!

On Sunday before the Super Bowl (woo, Patriots!) I made a frittata that would be a great lunch/breakfast during the week. I paired it with a salad and homemade vinaigrette for lunch at work, but eventually even the yummiest of meals get old. I knew I had plans on Wednesday night, and a friend was coming over Thursday so I wanted to make something special. I purchased ingredients to make a Shepherd’s Pie for some comfort food during the blizzard that’s fast approaching. Between grain bowls, eggs, and avocados I can fill in the meals that I didn’t plan. They’re also mostly balanced with veggies, grains and protein.

I didn’t account for snacks here, which are an essential part of my day as well. Usually I have a couple oranges on hand, or nuts that I can portion out during the work day.  It definitely takes practice, and for someone who thoroughly enjoys grocery shopping I usually end up purchasing extra goodies no matter what.

4 Cambridge Restaurants Worth Crossing the River For

Truth be told, I already live across the river; however, most people view the best restaurants in the city as being located in the South End, Back Bay or Newbury. This is definitely not the case! Next time you’re looking for a night out, consider these options:

  1. Alden & Harlow: Hands down one of my favorite places in the area. Great vibe, diverse menu, and mouth-watering cocktails. Make a reservation for an early dinner (and on a weekday) to ensure you get one of their limited ‘secret’ burgers.
  2. Lone Star Taco: There are two locations of this restaurant, but their East Cambridge joint is the only one I’ve been to. Definitely consider the mug-arita if you’re in the mood, more marg…more fun!
  3. Little Donkey: You have to be a wee bit adventurous here, it’s tapas style and the chefs put an interesting spin on all the classic dishes. Tip: they’ll always try and get you to order more plates (and it’s definitely tempting with the options) but I find I’m usually full after 1.5-2 dishes. And save room for dessert!
  4. Area Four: PIZZA! Need I say more? The Food Network, and even Obama, approves.

6 Tips for Grocery Shopping for One

Although my roommates are entirely flexible in regards to sharing most ingredients, our schedules differ during the week, and we mostly cook for ourselves. Meal-planning and preparing for one is no easy task. No one enjoys seeing a full $4.00 box of organic spinach gone to waste, or soup left overs that end up in the trash because you just can’t eat another bowl. I’m no expert – but I do enjoy the strategy behind grocery shopping and sticking to a budget. Here are my steps for a successful trip to the market:

  1. Schedule Dinners Out in Advance: It’s pretty obvious that these days, eating out is one of the easiest ways to be social during the week. Even though it’s more expensive, I do allow myself one or two meals out a week (likely a dinner one night of the week, and brunch during the weekend). It’s much easier to plan these meals ahead to better gauge the amount of food you’ll need.
  2. Stock Your Pantry with Basics: I consistently have quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, chickpeas and black beans in my shelf. These items last forever, and create an excellent base for almost any meal. I hate when I run out, because my grocery bill is always a wee bit higher, but it’s worth it to have on hand when you’re craving something healthy and easy.
  3. Make Something Big or Pair Ingredients: My grocery shopping usually falls into two categories: meal plan around a large-scale recipe or buy ingredients that can be paired into different. I make a casserole or a soup in the crockpot and buy ingredients to follow that recipe, and if I tire of eating the same thing, I freeze and date for a later time. If I’m pairing ingredients, I’ll always buy kale or spinach (can be used in soups, salads, and smoothes), eggs are great for all meals, sweet potato, lemons, and any other produce I feel can be used for multiple purposes. When using this method, it’s easy to make enough for dinner and pack the rest up for lunch the next day.
  4. Don’t Buy Meat: Disclosure: I’m not a vegetarian. However, I rarely buy and cook meat myself. Not only is it more expensive, but I’m a bit too wary of undercooking and making myself sick. I pretty strictly only eat meat when I’m out for dinner, which makes it feel more special. There really is nothing like a well-made burger when you’re with friends. I feel plenty full eating beans, quinoa, and eggs to get my protein.
  5. Shop the Outside Aisles: Articles state this over and over as the best way to eat healthy, but it’s also the best way to grocery shop on a budget. Usually the middle aisles are filled with processed, overpriced junk food that you don’t need, but consistently snack on. It’s just best to forego.
  6. Cook with Friends: This is a cheaper alternative to dinners out, and often, I don’t have to use transportation ($) if I offer to cook. I love having friends over for a pizza night, potluck dinners, or wine and cheese. It’s an easy way to be social, and if you’re lucky to have generous friends like me, you’ll rarely end up doing the dishes too.

My grocery bill is usually between $20-$30 for the week. It can be lower if I exhibit excellent self control, or higher if I get tempted by the pints of Ben & Jerry’s on sale. Price also depends on where I shop: cheapest is Market Basket, middle is Trader Joe’s, splurge is Whole Foods (which is the least convenient for me, luckily).

2 Green Smoothie Recipes

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I still prefer to eat my food, not drink it, but there’s something to be said about quick, on-the-go smoothies I can sip while driving to work. Once or twice a week it’s a nice change after oatmeal and eggs, which can get a bit monotonous. Smoothies will always be the easiest way to pack in nutrients, and feels like an incredibly wholesome start to the day.

I try not to include ridiculously expensive powders and who-knows-what ingredients, but I went to Cambridge Natural over the weekend to experiment with a couple changes to my tried and true green smoothie.

-Blender: I use a Nutribullet and I’m in desperate need for another (it’s loud, dirty, and the motor isn’t working great). I have to wait until both my roommates are awake to use it. If you have suggestions, let me know!

Matcha Green Smoothie: I love the caffeine included in this smoothie for mornings, and it’s not too ridiculously grassy-tasting.

  • 1/2 frozen, ripe banana
  • 1 cup spinach or kale (tear leaves off thick stem)
  • 1 cup unsweetened nut milk – I’m a bit obsessed with Califia Farms Almond Milk 
  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 1/4 tsp spirulina
  • 2 ice cubes and water to thin to desired consistency

 

Tropical Green Smoothie: This option’s a bit sweeter and great for summer. The cucumber is hydrating, while the ginger and lime makes it crisp and refreshing.

  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 2 inch chunk of cucumber
  • 1 cup spinach or kale
  • 1 cup unsweetened nut milk – coconut is a great option here
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger (or small knob if your blender can handle it)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 ice cubs and water to thin to desired consistency

1 New Shampoo and 2 Product Reviews

As hard as I try, and as much as I’m reminded by my mother, I do not have the hair that can forgo washing a couple of days. Within a day, it looks greasy and dark, and there’s nothing to do but put it up in a ponytail. Since I attempt to exercise on a daily basis, only body shower takes an instant-toll on the look of my hair.

So despite all the advice to only wash hair twice a week, I find myself shampooing closer to six times. All the product definitely causes build up over time, leaving hair looking greasy despite cleanliness.

Sophie, my lovely coworker, mentioned a HASK Charcoal Clarifying Shampoo that just happened to be stocked at our local Bed Bath and Beyond. We both picked up a bottle while running errands for the office, and here are our reviews:

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Linda: Since the shampoo isn’t super creamy, it felt like it was stripping off a couple laters of gunk sitting on my roots. I would never be able to use this product without a conditioner, but I definitely will be using about every other or third shower to mix up my products. 

Sophie: Thought it smelled nice, but definitely not daily use for fine hair. 

VERDICT: I may pick up the conditioner the next time I’m at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon and use them together.