Weekly Chatter: Binged Out

Pulling myself away from episode 13 of Orange Is The New Black for this week’s installment of Weekly Chatter. No spoilers, promise.

Welcome to Weekly Chatter! A brain dump of all the things that don’t necessarily fit in a regular old blog post.

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So who watched the entire second season of Orange Is The New Black in three days flat? Yep, I binged out too. There is something glorious about watching this show under bed covers into the wee hours of the morning on the iPad. And while I do like that Regina Spektor theme song, thank goodness Netflix now gives the option of skipping to the next episode with the ability to completely skip the opening.

I promised no spoilers but I’m dying to talk about the season with someone who has watched it. By the way, who knows when season three is going to be available?

Speaking of television shows… So, this happened this weekend.

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I’m referring to the Pinterest follow from Monica Potter. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful for the follows from Stem Cells Thailand and these two other lovely pinners, but KRISTINA FROM PARENTHOOD is following me on Pinterest! I mean, you all know my love for the show. If not, here’s the recap on my visit to the Parenthood set last season and my thoughts on her breast cancer storyline.

I’m not really sure how this happened…well, here’s my guess. I followed her on Pinterest several months ago after discovering her adorable blog Mrs. Potter and perhaps she’s just following people back. But, I looked closer at her account and she only follows 96 people. 96. And I’m one of them. Bizarre but I’ll happily take it!

Last week, I received a copy of a cookbook to review here on the blog. It’s called The Cancer Wellness Cookbook and I was pleasantly surprised with my first glance at it. Pretty photos, tasty sounding recipes. I’m excited to dig in and have a full review here in the coming weeks.  The problem? I have a cookbook problem. I have 20+ cookbooks right now in my kitchen — that I can see. Meaning, I have more stuffed into cabinets and cupboards throughout my house. But, I never ever make any recipes from any of them!

The Cancer Wellness Cookbook | Full Review on wendy-nielsen.com #cancer #breastcancer

So, I got this hair-brained idea to make at least one recipe each week from each of these cookbooks and share them here on the blog. A personal challenge of sorts. Remember that movie…the girl who blogged her way through the Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking? Not really that. More like, cupcakes from my copy of The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and crepes from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything. I’m not sure if I want to share everything here on the blog or only on Instagram or what. I’m still figuring it out. I’ll let you know next week!

Shout outs! Thanks to the wildly gifted author Catherine Brunell for commenting last week about podcasts! She shared with me the podcast she hosts called Ottawa Writes Podcast! Definitely going to give it a listen this week! Catherine is a blogger and published author. You must read her first novel called The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending.

Three things I’m loving this week:

1. Jumping rope. My trainer made me jump rope last week at the gym and it’s like riding a bike, y’all. You never forget.

2. I want to be friends with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Fixer Upper is my absolute new favorite HGTV show.

3. Watermelon slushies. My daughter has been begging to make these since having them at a friend’s house. I hate cutting up a whole watermelon. It’s such a pain. Ok, maybe it’s not the biggest pain the ass but this did sort of make a wet mess everywhere. But, goodness…they were so good. Scoop out melon into blender, add ice and blend.

watermelon slushies | wendy-nielsen.com #watermelon #slushie

 Now go download OITNB and leave me a comment about season two!

Weekly Chatter: Not a Failure

I have opened and closed my lap top at least three times to write this week’s post. It’s probably why it’s three days late, too.

Welcome to Weekly Chatter! A brain dump of all the things that don’t necessarily fit in a regular old blog post.

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My closest friends know how much I love a good podcast. I can’t get enough of the three from Elizabeth Laime right now (Totally Laime, Totally Married and Totally Mommy). Last Friday, after Elizabeth and Andy (her husband and co-host) wrapped their show with guest Andree Vermulen, I tweeted the following:

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This guest was off the rails with the information she was putting out there about animal proteins and cancer. First, she lives a vegan lifestyle and I totally respect that decision but I was so bothered by her statements that animal proteins cause cancer. If it were only that simple. Did you see the “official findings from Johns Hopkins” making the internet rounds last week that sugar causes cancer? Again, if it were only that simple.

The reason for the tweet is because Elizabeth’s reactions were “Hmmm…interesting” and Andy was especially quiet. If I could be a fly on the wall in that room after their guest left! Elizabeth is a vegetarian and animal advocate so I imagine she agrees to some parts of what Vermulen talked about. But, her mother also died from cancer so I can’t help but wonder if these ideas were a little too close to home.

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Speaking of friends. In case you missed it, I kicked off the first in a series of guest posts about the complexities of female friendships. I wrote late into the morning hours, editing and re-editing, and I still don’t feel like I said exactly what I wanted to say on the subject. Girlfriend friendships weigh heavy on my heart because I’ve been trying to help my own daughter navigate the rocky terrain and I haven’t even been able to figure out my own.

June 1st was my Project Tank Top deadline. I’m not exactly where I had hoped to be by my self-imposed deadline but I am thrilled with my progress. My friend Anna wrote last week, “Failure does not make me any less awesome” and I totally agree even though I’m really not declaring the project a failure. I’m simply readjusting my goal and reflecting on what I have accomplished in the last several months.

So last Friday while at the gym, I asked my trainer to snap a photo of me while I was in a side plank. With the exception of lunges, the side plank  has been my biggest struggle since I started working out with a trainer. I have a shoulder and neck thing that made getting up into that side plank almost impossible. I won’t lie…it still hurts like a mother but I can do it.

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Not the prettiest picture – bad hair, double chin, a sweaty mess but I’m in a side plank, y’all. This keeps me going, I know that I eventually will get to my idea of tank top ready…maybe in time for sweater weather! 🙂

Shout outs! Last week I asked for a couple of parenting book suggestions. Thanks to Denise for coming through! Ordered them and I will let you know how they are.

Three things I’m into this week:

1. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. She appeared in that Kathleen Hanna documentary I told you about last week and performed with Nirvana during this weekend’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

2. The California room. I need this in my backyard complete with flat screen TV, fireplace and cozy couches.

3. Birkenstocks. OMG, I know! I rocked those babies throughout high school and they are making a huge comeback right now – along with every other item of clothing I wore in the early 1990’s. But I’m in love with these.

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Thanks for hanging. Download the Totally Married podcast and click on one of those related links below.

Weekly Chatter: Dress Up

Yes, I’m back dating this post because damn it! it will go live on Sunday (even though it’s now Tuesday)!

Welcome to Weekly Chatter! A brain dump of all the things that don’t necessarily fit in a regular old blog post.

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Are your kids out of school yet for summer break? We’ve still got several weeks to go and I am counting down the days. Not only because I love the freedom of summer but because this school year has definitely had its ups and downs. I’m not ready to talk here on the blog exactly what that means but I am asking for your suggestions on all things parenting school-aged children. I’m looking for book recommendations on motivating your kids, mother-daughter relationships, how to create successful homework routines, working cooperatively with others, self-esteem issues and peer pressure. Please leave me a comment below!

Speaking of summer. I just hired a sitter to come watch my kid a few hours a week. Believe me, it feels totally pretentious to hire a sitter so that I can go to the gym. So much so that I felt it was necessary to explain to the potential babysitters about my history of cancer and why it was important for me to make the exercise a priority. I am totally aware these are first world problems.

Wednesday was like Christmas around these parts! I received my first Stitch Fix box! Do you know what Stitch Fix is? So, it’s a monthly subscription service where you input all your style likes and dislikes, sizes, preferences, etc. and a stylist from Stitch Fix sends you a box of fashion options! The cost for the styling is $20 – which means, it costs you that for Stitch Fix to pull and mail you five hand picked items (including jewelry). If you hate everything, you mail it back and they keep the $20. If you decide to keep any of it, that $20 is applied towards the total purchase.

Stitch Fix Box

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I loved most everything when I opened the box. Inside were two blouses, one knit top, a pair of “straight leg” pants and a pair of hoop earrings. All of it was mostly my style and things I would likely buy myself. Unfortunately, I hated most of it on – for various reasons – but mostly because the blouses and knit top were cut very slim. The straight leg pants were actually skinny and I looked like a penguin in them. Finally, I prefer a more delicate earring. So, it all went back. My next one comes in June sometime…keep your fingers crossed it’s something I will keep! Have you had an Stitch Fix success?

Over the holiday weekend, we drove out to Simi Valley to visit the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum. It was actually pretty fun. But, it’s what we saw the night before while staying at a hotel in Westlake Village is what I want to tell you about. Holy wedding, folks.

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This is the view from our room. There were easily 500 seats set up for this wedding that was to start at 8:45 pm. My husband thought I was nuts because I was obsessing over how the petals were in disarray on the aisle. We watched the florist meticulously put the petals in that squiggle formation and within hours – guests, hotel guests, photographers, lighting crews – traipsed up and down the aisle messing up the petals. This former bride would have been pissed if that was my wedding. Also, the aisle was flanked with these beautiful tall candles that were never lit before the ceremony. Ahh…I was freaking out from four floors above.

It was close to 9pm when the music starting blaring as each bridesmaid and groomsmen danced solo to their own individual songs down the aisle. Not to mention, parents, grandparents, ring bearers, flower girls and two ballerinas all got their own song to walk into before the bride finally made it down the aisle. I’m not joking about the ballerinas. They wore Swan Lake like costumes and did pirouettes to Etta James’ At Last. The actual ceremony was all of ten minutes. I was dying to know what the reception looked like if that was the ceremony! No, we didn’t crash.

Shout outs! This is a new thing I ripped off from my favorite podcast Totally Married. I want to give a big thanks to Lisa Marie I. for telling me how much she loved these Weekly Chatter posts and that she turned a friend onto them. Thank you!! xo

Things I love this week:

1. Loving the single Magic from Coldplay’s new album Ghost Stories.

2. My friend Megan’s super adorable Summer Survival Series on her blog Mama Bub! Up first, a homemade playdough recipe.

3. I’m still obsessed with True Tori and last week’s episode was nuts! I was tweeting during last Tuesday’s episode when Tori was having a complete emotional breakdown. I mean, I know it’s a reality show and who knows how much is true but I was feeling just as confused as Dean was when Tori was telling him to DO SOMETHING! I tweeted and this random producer guy responded.

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Are you watching True Tori? Let’s discuss. Do you think these sort of “grand gestures” exist in the real world?

4. Nine lemons in a bowl thanks to Shannon on Real Housewives of Orange County. I’m trying to drum up some good feng shui energy!

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5. The Punk Singer. If you have Netflix, definitely download this really great documentary about Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill. You’ll love this film if you were a teenager in the early nineties and into the grunge/punk scene at all.

Thanks for hanging and don’t forget those book suggestions!

Weekly Chatter: Love and Lift

I saw my reflection in a window this weekend and didn’t hate what I saw. Strange things happening around these parts.

Welcome to Weekly Chatter! A brain dump of all the things that don’t necessarily fit in a regular old blog post.

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I might have mentioned last week that I’ve been going through my own little food revolution. I’ve been following a Paleo diet for the last couple of weeks since I started the Whole Life Challenge and let me tell you about the changes: less headaches, less acid reflux, and less bloat. I’m even seeing the pounds drop some (must move more!). Sunday night, I ate a really delicious orzo salad and BOOM! headache. Stay the course, Wendy. I don’t miss refined carbohydrates at all but I miss desserts. I’ve got a crazy nighttime sweet tooth but this Paleo-friendly banana ice cream fixed that this week.

Speaking of moving more. Remember Project Tank Top? Unfortunately, I’ve had to revise my June 1st goal date. The arms are no where close to where I want them to be. Improved? Absolutely. But, definitely still a work in progress. I’ve added another goal, too. We’re going to Hawaii in August and I am determined not to be the fat mom at the pool. That is my WHY and I’m hanging my hat on it.

Speaking of finding your WHY. Jessica and I went to see Jillian Michaels live last Friday night. No, she didn’t work us out. She’s a fantastic speaker and I love, love, LOVE her weekly podcast. Anyway, she talked a lot about how you’ve gotta find your own why – or, attaching a goal to give meaning to what you are doing. I’ve got a long ass list of whys but this girl tops it. Plus, cancer sucked and I don’t want to go back there anytime soon.

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Truth? I was feeling pretty down during the week. I had my feelings hurt by someone. It wasn’t the first time it happened and I’m sure it certainly won’t be the last because I’m sensitive, yo. Anyway, I have spent FAR TOO much time worrying about this particular situation and declared – in the great words of Oprah – “I don’t want anyone who doesn’t want me.”

So, even though I made my big declaration to only a few select friends, the love that came from that made it all better. Jaime’s words lifted me the highest: “They don’t know what they’re missing. You’re a treasure!” You know what? She’s right.

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Three things that have me pumped this week:

1. New Foo Fighters album in the fall and HBO docu-series which will debut on the band’s 20th anniversary. Hoping for a good old rock and roll show by the end of the year.

2. I’m totally digging fruit infused water lately. Loved this lemon, orange, cucumber and mint water. Planning on making a few other combinations this week! Got any good suggestions?

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3. I should receive my very first Stitch Fix this week! So, so excited! If it’s great, I’ll share photos.

Stay tuned for lots of content coming in the next two weeks! The friendship series kicks off on May 29th and I’ll be featuring stories from eight of the most talented and fabulous writers from around the way. I’m also working on a sponsored article for Pollinate Media and a little gardening DIY for May’s Adventures in Pinterest.

Grab a water and poke around the blog a little bit.

Weekly Chatter: Time To Stop Wilting

Didn’t I just write one of these? Will I ever write anything else besides these weekly brain dumps?

Let’s jump in.

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This week kicked off with me wallowing. I had just wrapped up a pretty successful event the day before and I was beating myself up about what I wished I would have done differently. I knew I would be pushed beyond my comfort zone. In a complete panic, I threw most of the speaking responsibilities onto my co-host. In typical Wendy fashion, I stepped back out of the frame and wilted into the wallpaper. I’m tired of being that girl. I shared my disappointment with a friend on Monday morning and she told me “Don’t let yourself get put in a place if it’s not where you want to be.” But, I put myself there. I need to figure out how to stop doing that.

I dropped into Starbucks during the week for an iced coffee. I don’t like this particular location I went to; it’s small and awkwardly set up but mostly because I don’t like the staff. One guy makes me incredibly uncomfortable and he’s always there. He reminds me of the boys in high school who were loud and made fun of everyone else. I walked in as he shouted “OPRAH IN THE 80’s ON THE BAR!” — I figured he meant the new Oprah branded chai tea but I didn’t really get his joke. Someone else didn’t either because he then said “Oprah Grande” and I got his dumb joke. Chuckles all around, dude.

By the way…have you tried the Oprah Chai Tea? Order the iced version next time you go. Delicious.

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Speaking of Oprah. I caught my first episode of Super Soul Sunday because it featured this short featuring Hollye Jacobs who wrote the NY Times best selling book The Silver Linings about her experience with breast cancer. It’s the book I wish I would have written myself. But, I’ve got something up my sleeve. I just need to act on it.

Speaking of books. My daughter was home sick from school on Friday and by Saturday afternoon this mama had some serious cabin fever. A trip to Target was in order and I was on a mission to grab It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow. Why? Well, I’ve found myself having a paradigm shift about food. Plus, I’ve been following Andrea Howe (@gwynethmademedoit on Instagram) and have found her quest to to cook creatively with real, whole foods totally inspirational.

Speaking of food. I finally watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead while the little one slept the day away on Friday. I’ve done a 3-day juice cleanse and it’s not that easy. Joe Cross did it for 60 days. I’m not crazy enough to attempt even a 10-day cleanse but I am open to adding more juice to my diet. It was so interesting to learn about micronutrients and what they can do for the body. Got any good green juice recipes to share?

Five things I’m currently excited about:

1. Parenthood was renewed for its final season! So, boo for it being the final season. But, yay for one more!

2. I tore through the Jason Priestly memoir over the weekend. It was heads and tails better than the Jennie Garth memoir; well written and the time line was accurate! 90210 fans will not be disappointed. I’m thinking my review of the book needs a stand alone blog post…maybe later this week!

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3. Both Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark of Slumber Party with Alie and Georgia commented on my IG post this week. I love, love, love their podcast and would totally go to the No Kid Hungry event, if I didn’t already have plans on June 1st.

4. Have you seen the extra long commercial for the movie The Fault in Our Stars? I loved that book so much and cried my eyes out when I finished it. Who wants to cry some more with me when it opens on June 6th?

5. New car = Sirius Radio = Howard Stern. Reunited after all these years. It’s been a long time since I listened regularly. I was an early adopter of Sirius Radio when Howard moved from terrestrial radio. But life happened and I haven’t been able to listen in a long time. I was shocked to hear Mary Ann still calls in everyday.

Still working on tons of new content including that friendship post and my thoughts on anonymous blog comments…all coming soon! Thanks for hanging.

 

 

Weekly Chatter: Mending Fences

My very favorite readers have spoken! The weekly brain dump stays, for now.

And thank goodness, because I commissioned the super-talented and very funny Jessi Sanfilippo from SHUGGILIPPO to whip up an image to go with my Weekly Chatter series. I’m all sorts of in love with it and she totally nailed my hair, don’t you think? Even my crazy cowlick at the part line.

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So, let’s get into it.

My husband made it home from China. You can’t even imagine the relief I felt when I got the text that he landed. And the panic that set in because he caught a different flight and was getting home a whole six hours earlier than I had planned for. I wanted the house clean, the refrigerator stocked and a welcome sign to greet him. We managed the sign.

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The mission was to keep him awake and active until his normal bedtime so we spent most of the afternoon at the Irvine Spectrum. Over lunch, he shared his spring break adventures. I was surprised to hear how much he really enjoyed his time there. He was able to visit (and hold!) a panda at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. They also visited the Great Wall, The Palace Museum in the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square. I was floored to learn about what he ate. When in Rome, I guess.

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Back to school also meant back to the gym. I had taken 10 days off from working out, which is really stupid. I have plenty of exercise DVDs and weights at home that I could have easily used during that time off. Instead, I did nothing and I paid for it royally on Monday. I’m working hard on #ProjectTankTop. And because it was nearly 90 degrees here on Monday, I decided to wear a work out tank to the gym. It wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it would be. I guess it just takes ripping off the Bandaid. Oh, oh! I also got two compliments about weight loss this week. The bi-weekly workouts with the trainer is paying off! Now, if I can clean up my diet, I might really see some changes. :: throws out Easter candy::

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Pass the eye cream. Those are some serious crows feet happening there. #nofilter #obviously

The hard workouts are definitely helping with my stress level. Thankfully, we secured a new speaker for Girls’ Lunch Out this week and I’ve been doing everything to put together great swag and door prizes for those who are attending. We’re pumped about all the cool brands and sponsors helping to make this event great. I’m planning on a long ass massage come May 6th.

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I picked up Jennie Garth’s new memoir last week. It was slow to start but picked up quickly once she started talking about her ten years on 90210. I’m almost done and feeling super critical about it (which pains me, for real). First, it’s not nearly as funny or as good as Tori Spelling’s first book “sTori Telling.” Second, it doesn’t have any flow to it. Each chapter reads like individual essays and the same stories overlap in several of the chapters. And finally, only a crazy 90210 fan like myself would be hypersensitive to the inaccurate time line she’s presented. She wrote about being pregnant with her first daughter and how she worried about telling the producers because how would they be able to include a pregnancy into the story line of an “underage” high schooler. Um? Kelly Taylor was in her third year of college the time Jennie Garth was pregnant. She also goes into detail about shooting a scene for “a prom or dance of some sort” and being hugely pregnant and again referring to being a high school student. Editing fail. And yes, I realize how dorky all of this makes me. But, West Beverly should not be referred to as Beverly High! Gah!

The season finale of Parenthood aired this week and it was the episode I saw filmed the day I visited the set. Of the two scenes I saw filmed that day, only one made the episode. The one that was cut was between Camille and Julia. They were packing up the house (yes, I knew the Braverman house was indeed being sold and everyone that day was bummed out about the inevitable tear down of that particular set). Anyway, Julia got a call about Victor’s speech and runs outside. What we saw on the actual episode was only Julia running outside to tell Victor the good news. I think I’ll write a follow piece to my day on the set later this week where I can spill the details I’ve known for weeks now.

We spent both days this weekend doing a little work in our backyard. We’ve buried our head in the sand since the fall and it shows. The biggest problem I see are the wooden fences between our house and both of our neighbors’ houses. The bottoms have completely rotted out, they lean awkwardly and are mostly kept standing by the bushes that run along the fence line. You would think we would have had these replaced years ago except there might have been an incident between a new neighbor and a very pregnant and very hormonal crazy lady.

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We’ve tried repairing what we can but you can’t put syrup on shit and call it pancakes – as my husband likes to say. So all of our big landscaping ideas aren’t activated on because we have this crappy fence to look at. It starts with the fence – or talking with the neighbor – about the fence before we can do anything else. Until then, I dream about a backyard like these:

Love this hydrangea path and the vegetation in this secret garden nook. I absolutely love the feeling this outdoor space gives me. I might kill for this California room. We’d even entertain the idea of a small backyard pool.

That’s it for this week. My intention is to actually write other content during the week but it just didn’t happen this week and I’m ok with that.