Tuesday Tidbits | Workout Motivation

Welcome to the final Tuesday of August 2015!

It sounds completely crazy, but August is just about finished. September starts next week, and fall will soon be on the way.

I adore everything about fall, but I tend to let myself slip out of my workout routine during the cooler months. There’s warmer food and less sunlight, both of which make me want to stay under my blankets long term.

As motivation this week, I have a roundup of links to inspire your next workout. There’s ideas for new moves, new outfits, and post workout snacks. Working out should be fun – if it feels like torture, find a new routine.

Tuesday Tidbits | Workout Motivation

→ Over at Lauren Conrad’s blog this week, there’s a great post about exercises targeting under-worked muscles.

Photo from laurenconrad.com

→ Even though I’m happy to say I’m starting to become a fitness lover, I still have days where I try to come up with excuses for skipping a workout. The Every Girl has responses to the most common excuses, and how to avoid them.

→ I absolutely adore this outfit from the ladies over at A Piece of Toast! I basically live in my Nike shorts, but the Zella leggings look comfortable, cute, and more fall appropriate.

A-Piece-of-Toast_NordstromActive_140130-6

Photo from apieceoftoastblog.com

→ Sadly, so many people don’t seem to understand the rules for etiquette at the gym. It’s not hard – first and foremost, just remember to be aware of other people’s personal space! Women’s Health Magazine has an article this week that delves further into how to avoid being a jerk at the gym.

→ POPSUGAR has a fantastic list of post-workout snack ideas. It includes some of my favorites,  mainly cheese and cracks and protein shakes!

 

Enjoy the rest of August!

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What I Ate | Las Vegas, August 2015

Once a year, I get to visit Las Vegas to see old friends, learn something new at DEFCON, and most importantly ( 😉 ) – eat some of my favorite dishes that I can’t find anywhere else.

This year’s Vegas trip took place during the first week of August. I was able to take part in some old favorites, and try a few new things that are now firmly on my “must do” list.

We stayed at the Monte Carlo, and this year’s DEFCON was located at Paris and Bally’s. These locations are pretty central on The Strip, and offered easy access to most places we wanted to visit (though we also had a pretty awesome Challenger for a rental car).

Kevin was occupied at Black Hat for much of our first full day, so I had the opportunity to have lunch with my friend Ellen. We decided on eating at the Yard House located in The Linq, which didn’t exist when I lived in Vegas. The area feels decidedly “un-Vegas” to me. It reminds me of Downtown Disney in Anaheim with the layout, architecture, and overall vibe. Yard House is located towards the back, near the High-Roller observation wheel.

yardhouse_las_vegas

Lunch & drinks at Yard House

Ellen had the Ahi Crunchy Salad, and I went with the Mac + Cheese (because when do I pass up macaroni and cheese?). Continue reading

Travel Tips | Packing a Carry On Bag

I love to travel, but packing is my least favorite part.

I’m a chronic over-packer, and always end up saying a prayer when I place my suitcase onto the scale at the airport. What if I forget something crucial? What if I have a spur of the moment need for these wedges? It’s not logical, I know, but I’m fearful of being unprepared.

So, I’m still learning my own tips and tricks for packing a suitcase. However, one thing I have built a perfect system for is packing a carry on bag. If you’re checking a suitcase, you’ll likely be bringing a “personal item” with you on board that most airlines still let you bring for free. This is typically a purse, backpack, or other bag that can fit under the seat in front of you. Through my travel experiences, I’ve fine tuned what to use for my bag, and what goes in it.

how to pack a carry on

Choosing a Bag

With your carry on bag, you have to make the most of your space. Don’t be that person trying stuff a huge gym bag under the seat in front of you. The airline may even make you check it at the gate, which can be expensive! When choosing a bag,  pick something that you know is durable and won’t get scuffed. You’ll also want something that fits your essentials and is easy to carry with you before and after your flight.

I like using my favorite Michael Kors bag as my carry on. Kevin got me this as a Christmas gift last year, and I adore it! The bag is pretreated so it’s water proof and can take minor bumps without leaving a mark.

michael kors bag Continue reading

Django Girls PDX: Code Like a Girl

I learned an interesting fact about myself this weekend – I code like a girl.

A few months ago, I stumbled across a post on Reddit (despite what you may have heard, Reddit has a ton of wonderful people and useful communities). The post mentioned that applications were open for a workshop meant to teach women with no prior programming experience how to code using Python and Django. The workshop was being offered through Django Girls, a global movement to introduce more women to the programming field. Thanks to Kevin, I had a vague idea of what programming entails and what Python and Django are. I’d never really messed around with programming myself.  I have a good grasp on HTML/CSS and how those work, and had looked over some of the things Kevin had coded while he worked through some of his Python books.

I applied for the PDX workshop, hoping that it would provide me with new skills to better market myself in my job search. As a public relations professional, I thought it would be neat if I could say “not only can I craft the content for your website, I can code it for you too.” Excitingly, a month later, I received an email telling me I’d been accepted to the workshop.

As the date approached, I became a little nervous that I was going to be in over my head. After all, I went the liberal arts route because my brain isn’t mathematically oriented, and some of the lines of code Kevin has shown me looked like literal Latin to me. I was worried I wasn’t going to keep up with the rest of the group.

Now, go to nataliejhansen.pythonanywhere.com.

blog test

See that blog with the nonsensical posts on it? I put that there. Not only did I code the web page, I coded the blog app within it and created the server  it’s still running on.

And I understood (mostly) what I did to achieve that.

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Tuesday Tidbits: Literary Links

Welcome back to Tuesday Tidbits!

As is apparent from my frequent book reviews and reading lists on Intrusions of Beauty, I am an avid reader. My parents helped cultivate this from an early age, and reading has expanded my world, mind, and soul. It has helped turn me into a lifelong learner and introduced me to new and challenging ideas. If the only thing I accomplish in my life is turning a few people into readers, I will be fulfilled.

This week’s Tuesday Tidbits is focused on book news, products and discussion. I’d love to hear what you’re reading, and share what I’m reading with you!

Tuesday Tidbits: Literary Links

If you haven’t set up an account already, I HIGHLY recommend starting a Goodreads account! It’s very helpful to track what you’re reading, start a reading challenge, and get recommendations for new books based on what you’ve liked in the past.

BookRiot, an internet hub for all things books, recently posted this fascinating comparison of US vs. UK editions of book covers.

go set a watchman

Photo courtesy of BookRiot.

Jeff Kinney, the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, recently opened a bookstore. It saddens me to see more bookstores closing, so I am completely on board with a trend of authors opening their own stores! You can take a look around the store in this video at the New York Times.

John Green, author of many YA books like The Fault in Our Stars, has built a massive internet following over the years. This longer read from The New Yorker looks at how that came to be.

The Millions has a list of the most anticipated books releasing in the second half of 2015. There’s several on here I have definitely added to my list, in particular Not on Fire, But Burning by Greg Hrbek. It comes out in September, so I’ll be looking for it at my local library.

not on fire but burning

Have a fantastic, book-filled week!

intrusions of beauty

cannon beach oregon

To Do List | Tourist-y Portland Top 5

After 5 months of settling into our new city, we are more than ready for some visitors to show around!

In just under two weeks, my biological and adopted sisters (Chelsea and Chelsea, or Chelsea Squared) will be coming to visit. Chelsea #2 helped us move back in February, but exhaustion and limited time didn’t leave much room for exploring together. The girls will be here for just under a week. A few days after they arrive, we will be joined by my dad and step-mom. After the long weekend, we will be off to Las Vegas for nearly another week. My current state of unemployment comes in handy here, as it leaves ample time for showing guests around town and hopping on a plane shortly after.

I have tons of things to do, see and eat on our agenda. The list, of course, includes some “tourist-y” items. When I lived in Vegas, I had a handful of tourist hot spots that I took guests, even when I’d lived there long enough to be jaded by cliches myself. With Portland, we’re still very new and exploring ourselves. Some of the to-dos are things we’ve seen before, and some we’ve saved specifically to experience with our visitors.

rose photo

Also mildly excited to show off our revamp of our itty bitty back yard to someone!

TO DO LIST: PORTLAND TOURIST SPOTS

Food | I honestly could make a full length list of all the food venues we will be visiting! Portland is becoming a major foodie destination. I have some tried and true spots we’ll be sharing with our guests, including Salt & Straw, Voodoo Doughnut, Kyra’s Bakeshop, Maki Sushi and Pastini Pastaria. We will all be trying out Mac! Mac and Cheesery together for the first time, and I’m hoping to maybe try some of the food carts downtown as well.

Powell’s City of Books | Any excuse I can find to head over to Powell’s, I will take! My little sister, Chelsea #1, is about to start her master’s degree in creative writing. I’m planning to find the shelf that her book will some day sit on and take her picture there.

International Rose Test Garden | Kevin and I visited this amazing place a few weeks ago. The trip was a bit rushed thanks to some minor dehydration, and I would love to go back and take another trip through. And guests to the Rose City can’t leave without seeing some roses!

Drinks at Departure | I’ve heard a lot about this hot spot with a view at the Nines Hotel downtown. What better time to find a new favorite drink than with visiting friends and family?

Oregon Coast | With the ocean so close to Portland, there’s no excuse not to experience your feet in the sand. I’m not sure whether we will be heading to Tillamook or Cannon Beach yet. Tillamook also has the Tillamook Cheese Factory, and Cannon Beach is a cozy, fun little beach town.

I better take advantage of the house cleaning time I have now!

intrusions of beauty

Book Review | Social Media for Social Good – Heather Mansfield

nonprofit social mediaSocial Media for Social Good by Heather Mansfield

Book Finished: May 10th, 2015

Rating: 5/5


Though we’ve never met or even spoken, Heather Mansfield is an old friend of mine.

While putting together my literature review for my thesis in the fall of 2013, I had difficulty finding books that focused on research related to nonprofits and social media. My adviser suggested I look into “best practices” books and how-to guides instead. There were only a few titles available, and one that was repeatedly recommended as “the” guide for nonprofits – Social Media for Social Good by Heather Mansfield.

Over the next 5 months, I skimmed through, read and re-read, stared at, and fell asleep on top of this book more times than I can remember. It helped shape my eventual list of best practices that I put together from my research.

Now that my thesis has been done and defended for some time, I thought it would be interesting to go back and read through Mansfield’s work again, this time in the eyes of a professional rather than a student.

Continue reading

portland oregon

A Bed of Beauty and Thorns – Our Backyard Roses

When we moved here in February, one of the first things we noticed (after the fact that we have the tiniest backyard in the world) was that there were several rose bushes in our yard space. And by bushes I mean ten foot trees.

They were dormant back in February, but very obviously had not been cared properly in some time. We later found out from one of our neighbors that the bushes probably hadn’t been pruned in about 3 years.

Rose bushes are hearty, invasive plants that grow without much care, and will also grow as tall as you let them. When they began to bloom in April, the weight caused them to tip over. We were soon unable to maneuver the back yard thanks to the long, reaching arms of the bushes. Once the previously small green weeds surrounding them began to explode everywhere, we decided set aside a Saturday for yard work.

About $100 and 10 hours of fun with spiders, thorns, and snakes later, we’d removed the weeds, trimmed the bushes, removed dead shrubs, laid river rock, and planted some lilies. The yard is much more usable now, and the rose bushes were trimmed pretty drastically.

Continue reading

Book Review | Beautiful Wreck – Larissa Brown

viking romanceBeautiful Wreck by Larissa Brown

Book Finished: July 1st, 2015

Rating: 4/5


If you glance at my growing library, you won’t find too many romance novels nestled there.

Sure, a lot of the fantasy and YA fiction I read features romance; but it’s not often the central axis of the stories I choose. I also don’t prefer romantic “chick-flicks” at the movies – I tend to get bored.

This book had enough of the fantasy and mystery I enjoy that found myself thoroughly wrapped up in Ginn’s drama. And why aren’t we featuring Vikings more often in literature and movies right now? I am convinced this is a severe oversight.

I picked up this book for free at my local library as a gift for signing up for their summer reading program. The synopsis on the back caught my eye, featuring Vikings, virtual reality, and time travel.  I was pleased to find when I got home that it’s a signed edition. A nice bonus!

The book only briefly introduces the main character and her world. Jen is a young, lonely developer in futuristic Iceland working for a company centered on realistic virtual environments. People here are so far removed from the past that they’ve essentially adopted full-time cosplay in their daily lives. Which might actually be kind of fun. Jen doesn’t have any true friends or relationships, but does seem to like her work developing the dialogue and voices for Viking characters in her virtual reality. Continue reading

Polenta Pizza with Mozzarella, Ricotta, Peaches, and Balsamic-Honey Reduction

Fridays are for pizza!

One of the fun things about living with someone who has celiac disease is figuring out how to make some normally gluten-filled recipes gluten-free instead. This is definitely a process – not all of my experiments have gone well (apparently, you can’t just directly sub gluten-free all purpose flour for regular flour all the time). One ingredient that has been a blessing for us is polenta – and I think I’m finally mastering the use of it!

Polenta is a gluten-free grain also referred to as corn grits or cornmeal. It can be used in variety of dishes as a starch by adding water and cooking it. You can cook it the microwave very easily.  It makes a great stand in for regular pizza crust.

Setting aside the fact that you will likely need to eat your pizza with a fork, polenta has a great texture and stands up well for pizza. We have a Williams-Sonoma cookbook that has a bunch of awesome recipes, including one for polenta pizza. I’ve used the recipe before and gotten better results each time I’ve made it.

This week, I came across a summer pizza recipe from Cooking Classy that I really wanted to try. Featuring peaches, it’s different, lighter, and summer-ready. I made a few modifications – mainly exchanging the regular pizza crust for the gluten-free polenta one, but I also used green onions for a little extra kick in place of garlic, and only used two cheeses. We often modify recipes based on what we can afford and what we have on hand.

Step one was putting together the crust, which can find the Williams Sonoma recipe for here. I added grated Parmesan while cooking it for a little extra flavor. You can also experiment and add in fresh herbs.

polenta pizza crust Continue reading