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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

That Time After Graduation: A Post-Grad Crisis?

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
A topic I've discussed a fair amount with some of my friends is the odd and sometimes up-in-the-air first years after college. Back in high school my best friend and I would literally see every movie in theatres (okay- more like every chick flick, romantic comedy, and failed comedy). When I saw Post Grad back in 2009 I had two main conclusions: 1) This movie totally sucks and is totally not funny. 2) That won't be me in any way, shape or form. And yet here I am, here in the present in 2014 and I have to admit, me and many of my friends are a bit like the poorly-written titular character Ryden Malby played by Alexis Bledel (I never thought I'd make this comparison!)

After graduating from college, my life has definitely changed. Though I am still in classes via a post-baccalaureate program, my schedule is entirely different. I left the environment of a big, top university with all of my friends footsteps away to a commuter school with the majority of my friends no where in sight or in the state for that matter. I am 100% on board and excited for what my future holds: applying to dental schools soon and seeing where that takes me is thrilling and exactly what I want to do with my life. But this in between phase is a little bittersweet.

Aside from superfluous things I took for granted like just grabbing dinner somewhere, hosting semi-pretentious wine and cheese parties in my semi-shitty/semi-chic studio apartment, and going out with friends, I truly miss the company and in-person support at times. I now can only catch up with them via texting, Skyping, Facetiming or phoning. And that sucks. It sucks even more that that is more than likely just the reality of life- this is the future! There will rarely, if ever, be a time where all of my friends are in one place at one time. And that's both fantastic and heart-rending. On one hand, it's great to support one another with personal goals, whether that be working for a television network in Times Square or a job with a top company in Los Angeles or a one-year opportunity with Americorps on the East Coast. On the other hand, I wish I realized this time would come sooner than later and that I could have had the chance to truly cherish times with friends in the past more.

A semi-pretentious party hosted by yours truly

I have to admit, a part of me is also envious. Why can't it be me who is apartment-shopping in southern California or moving to Seattle or Chicago? Why am I not spending more time abroad like I've always wanted to do? But the truth is sometimes life has to go at your own speed. I know that for me, the program I'm doing is best for my long-term goals and that it requires me to stay in my hometown for now.

One surprising bonus of being sort of forced to move back home for a year is that I think I am gaining an appreciation for my surroundings more than ever before. It's definitely easy to yearn for travel and starting a new life somewhere different, but being near my family has its perks and I'm lucky to have that option. Soon enough, I'll be able to experience the excitement and the unknown curve-balls life throws at me when it comes time to get my next degree. For now my time is to be spent here, where I grew up, where I didn't want to go to college but ended up loving it, and where I know I will always be able to call home, though sometimes begrudgingly.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Yearly Habit

I have this realllly bad habit. That I'm fully aware of and realllly need to change. Overall, when it comes to body image and self confidence, I think I fare pretty well. I don't hate myself anymore than the next girl, but I have had my issues with maintaining my ideal weight. Here's the thing, I think I "carry my weight well" in general, so when I can a few pounds habitually each year it's not terribly noticeable to others. But it is (I'm sure!) not that healthy to do and a bad, bad habit I need to break.

Photo courtesy of starbucks.com
Year after year I "go hard" on the workout scene during the summers and eat mostly healthy. I can really only lose weight when I calorie count (kill me!) so when I throw some hardcore My Fitness Pal into the mix it's usually for the better. But here's the thing: I can't seem to maintain a healthy lifestyle for more than six months at a time. When it's warm out and clothes become more revealing and weather-appropriate I am incredibly motivated to get my butt to the gym, try new workout classes, and eat clean. When it's -10° out and blizzarding I want good, baked macaroni and cheese and chocolate cake. And grande non-skinny peppermint white chocolate mochas. And french fries. And... to lie in bed and watch YouTube beauty videos and Barefoot Contessa reruns.

So where does that leave me? Well it seems to be the case that I gain 10-15 lbs each winter and then gradually lose it by the following winter only to do it all over again. And I'm sick of it. Not only do I hate being 10-15 lbs heavier than I'd like to, it's a major pain to have to lose it all again. As I get older I imagine this yo-yo'ing won't get any easier nor will it be any more fun. So it's time for a change! A change that I can stick to for more than six months. 


Photo courtesy of purebarre.com
Okay - so I am coming to this realization at the time of year I normally decide to get back into my fitness goals yet again, but I'm hoping blogging about my woes will help me stick to a schedule. Last summer I got really into Pure Barre and loved every minute of it! It was strenuous but low impact and I felt a definite difference in my thighs and butt after going 3-5 times a week throughout the summer. 

As much as I loved Pure Barre, it's not really that budget-friendly of a commitment right now, so I looked elsewhere. This week was my first week at a smaller, more affordable studio gym that has classes like Zumba, Tabata, Spin, Yoga and.. even a Barre class! So for now I'm trying to incorporate this new gym into my lifestyle and setting goals I can stick to: I must go at least three times a week, I must keep an eye on the amount of bread/pasta/rice I'm eating (!) and I must do this for more than just the summer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Recipe Throwdown: An Unexpectedly Fun, Cheap Date

This past weekend, Ben and I decided to go for a walk to the Farmers' Market and see what was up. Because we took such an early morning flight back from Salt Lake City home, we took a lot longer to get to the market than planned and missed most of the vendors. So Plan B was in order. I decided to get an iced tea (ginger and raspberry!) and brainstorm dinner ideas. We butted heads on the best way to prepare stuffed bell peppers ("stuffed peppers should be done with ground meat not chicken breast!") so we decided to have a full-on, Chopped-esque competition.

Green is for winners

Ben's stuffed pepper recipe was a twist on the classic, with cilantro-lime rice, pineapple chunks and spicy chopped chicken breast. While his peppers had high marks for creativity, and perhaps slightly better presentation, the taste was not its strong point. Inventive, sure, but it needed more oomph, more depth.

My stuffed peppers on the other hand, were essentially flawless *hairflip*. I stuck with the more traditional recipe and incorporated Mexican flavors and spices, like cumin, diced green chiles and stewed whole tomatoes. Cheddar cheese with Spanish rice rounded out the filling and man, was it a winner (literally and figuratively)!

Anyway, as we finished our friendly competition I began to think: what a fun, inexpensive date idea! We spent Saturday afternoon coming up with recipes we thought the other might enjoy and even put the next movie choice in the hands of the winner; I decided on Frozen and Captain Phillips for our Redbox selections. You could make this an even larger event by teaming up with other friends and enlisting their help on the panel of judges or even hold a competition for best dessert or appetizer.

Sal Tlay Ka Siti aka Salt Lake City!


After months of hard consideration, I've decided to revive this blog. I've just found myself more drawn to writing rather than filming for my YouTube channel these days, but the "Ideal Me" is active on both. So here it goes. A blog revival of sorts.

Last week I went on a semi-impromptu trip to Salt Lake City, Utah with my boyfriend, Ben. He had a "work thing" and asked if I wanted to spend a few days there with him and I enthusiastically was on board for a few reasons. First things first, I want to eventually visit every US state and Utah hadn't yet been checked off. I'm a nerd. Secondly, I've heard such good things about Utah and its beauty and I couldn't wait to explore. Thirdly, I've always been intrigued by the large Mormon culture and was curious about its influence in the area (and I had seen the Broadway musical Book of Mormon a few months prior)

So then came the planning! I am a huge itinerary fan. From my times studying abroad to various weekend trips throughout nearby cities, I love to plan as much as I can. The good news is Ben doesn't mind and pretty much gives me free rein to plan away! It's a great dynamic because I admittedly like things to go my way #onlychildproblems.

Candid during one of my many breaks during the hike
I arrived in Salt Lake City Wednesday afternoon. Ben figured out the public transportation trolley system the night before while going for a run to check out the University of Utah/get contact solution and beer so we decided to check out downtown a bit the evening of my arrival. I have to admit, the first night in Salt Lake City I was a bit.. underwhelmed. Well, downtown seemed a bit grittier than I anticipated and a bit more desolate than I had hoped it would be. We grabbed a couple slices of pizza from Guy-Fieri-Approved Maxwell's East Coast Eatery (not on the official itinerary) and headed back to the hotel.

Thursday fared much better. We hit up City Creek Center, a gorgeous semi-outdoor mall in the heart of downtown and then ventured off to Red Iguana for lunch. Oh my God (Dios mio!). This place might be my new favorite Mexican joint, like of all time. We shared the Red Iguana platter - chile relleno, beef taco, flauta, tostada and a cheese enchilada and I indulged in a very spicy jalapeño margarita. I would literally go back to Salt Lake City just for this place, gladly. Later that night we decided to go to a cinema pub I found on Yelp, Brewvie's. We caught 22 Jump Street that night and then hit up The Bayou for a late dinner before retiring. Oh Utah and your weird alcohol laws. Now, I'm not a lush by any means, but I do enjoy to get my "drank" on here and there. It was very bizarre and semi-culture-shocky to learn of the restrictions on alcohol like draft beer reformulations and the whole you-can't-order-doubles thing. Also, why can't I buy tonic water for the gin at the State Liquor Store? Talk about inconvenience...

At the top of Ensign Peak Park #brighamwashere


Croque Monsieur at Eva's Bakery
Friday was probably my favorite day in Utah. We went to Eva's Bakery on Main Street for an early lunch and this place was so damn cute! It is an adorable bakery with fresh sandwiches and lighter fare, a delicious coffee menu and chic French décor. I finally got to try a Croque Monsieur, a sandwich I had been pinning recipes of for weeks. It was fantastic and after a bit of guidance from our waitress we embarked on a journey: a hike from downtown to Ensign Peak Park. We also checked out Temple Square and the Capitol Building as they were on the way to the peak. Now, I am not the most fit person out there and have been known to fail repeatedly at nearly every athletic conquest, but this hike was actually a lot of fun. Sure I needed to take several breaks and drank both my and Ben's water before we even reached the top, but man, what a view! We even made friends at the top with another couple and hitched a ride back downtown with them (we didn't even get "Taken")! Later that day we decided we wanted to undo our caloric burn by trying to find the greasiest, unhealthiest burger joint we could. We decided on Rich's Mighty Fine Burgers & Grub (also not on the official interary) because a good 'ol American burger sounded better than the Peruvian joint I pre-selected after the hike. Later that night we checked out a bar recommended to us my our hike-friends called Bar X, which reminded me a lot of my favorite bar in Ann Arbor, The Last Word. One Lavender Fizz and Gin Salty Dog later we called it a night and packed our bags for Detroit.

All things considered, Salt Lake City provided a great backdrop for a mini-vacation and I'd go back. For Mexican food of all things.

Photo courtesy of www.utahstories.com
Favorite meal of the trip at Red Iguana

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A New Start

Well.. things are lookin' quite different around these parts! I have revamped my blog entirely with the help of my friend and natural hair vlogger Dora in hopes of reigniting my blogging and vlogging fire, if you will. Where do I even begin? I suppose I'll begin by saying my dedication to my Youtube channel and associated accounts has seemingly faltered. I'm not entirely certain why that is, but it's hard to shake. I find myself recording videos and then scrapping the footage. That being said, I do intend to upload still. I think my perfectionist nature has sort of taken over in many ways but I need to be able to make things work and go with my intuition and admitting the problem is the first step, right?

x Rita