Friday, May 27, 2016

Thoughts for the week #2

  • Elder Scrolls VI in 2019?!?! That's far too long from now. If they take what people loved from Skyrim, add things from popular mods, and learn from their mistakes with Fallout 4 (okay this has been a problem with Skyrim too, FO4 was arguably a bit better with this).. It could be amazing. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the heck out of modding Skyrim and may make a post about that. I may even try my hand at making mods! After I fix my broken game...which I broke from installing mods. Eh, maybe I'll just make a new character.
  • An Open Letter From Someone ‘Beyond Help’ - Trigger Warning: depression, suicide. "You don’t get to decide ... which of us are “beyond help.” You also don’t get to decide which of us deserve to live. You don’t get to decide who has a chance and who doesn’t.
  • OffbeatHome - Getting Older -  I'm kind of bummed that I'm even struggling with this concept. I'll be 28 next month, still quite young! Yet here I am with forehead wrinkles. I can see them watch over the course of photos from the last few years. I am sure the wrinkles are super normal for someone my age, but when you're surrounded by a society that against signs of aging, it can be discomforting. Since I've never been one for much make-up, I'm trying to learn to shrug it off. It's just my forehead.
  • Lookit the pretty fabric I bought! I started sewing again this week and already made a bra :D. This weekend's project will be underwear! I hope I don't run out of this too soon, patterned fabric (cotton/lycra blend) is not cheap.

GIF of the week

Photo of the week
Practicing stitches on my sewing machine to use the best one for stretch

Friday, May 20, 2016

Thoughts for the week #1

Instead of spamming Facebook with lots of posts, I guess I'll compile things here and see how that works out. This may be a regular Friday post.
  • I'm unstoppable/ I'm a Porsche with no brakes/ I'm invincible/ Yeah, I win every single game/ I'm so powerful/ I don't need batteries to play/ I'm so confident, yeah, I'm unstoppable today/ Unstoppable today, unstoppable today/ Unstoppable today, I'm unstoppable today/ Unstoppable today, unstoppable today/ Unstoppable today, I'm unstoppable today - from Sia's Unstoppable
  • Gaming travel rewards is a tempting process, but I don't think I have the dedication to make sure it doesn't destroy my credit. I do want to buy a house someday, after all.
  • I'm getting back into sewing and found Craftsy! It has online tutorials, with hours of instruction, for all kinds of projects. I'm going to check out this one for beginners. I've never had any formal instruction and most of my projects were refitting t-shirts, so I think this will be very helpful.

GIF of the week

Photo of the week

My newly organized sewing station. The fabric is my mom's scarf that I have needed to return for almost a year. The jewelry box holds some needles & current cross stitch projects/thread.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Summer camp aka. church camp

Between the ages of 11 and 14, I went to a summer camp for Orthodox Christian kids. Maybe it was 12 and 15 actually, I can't remember and I don't have the pictures anymore. Telling people about this is always kind of funny.

"I went to a summer camp when I was growing up too! It was a church camp."

I had never done a sleep-away camp before, or really camp of any kind. Fortunately, my sister went with me, so I was way less scared because I could always find her in a crowd for reassurance. For two weeks for a few summers, we went off and spent some time in the woods of southwest Pennsylvania with a bunch of other kids from all over the country. The session that we attended usually lined up with the same other church groups, so I saw some kids from Louisville, Kentucky for at least a couple of years. I learned that it's pronounced "loo-vull". We also went at the same time as two of our closest childhood friends, which is exactly why we picked those session dates!

The church part is not that weird, in my opinion, but I have an obvious bias since I grew up with all of that. The days were split up into different segments: slots of time where you could sign up for different activities like archery, running, arts & crafts, soccer, swimming, as well as slots of time that were dedicated for spending with your cabin mates and brother/sister cabin. Each cabin was paired up with a cabin of the opposite gender and same age. Those classes were about various Christian concepts, bible stuff, chanting (like singing in the church, chant? it's all about tones), trust exercises, I don't even remember what else. What it boiled down to for me was "here are all kinds of things that you can apply to your life to be a good person," which is really not a solely Christian concept! And that fun stuff.

Oh yeah, we also attended church twice a day. WHAT?! Yes. Mornings was orthros, which is just a 30 min service (before breakfast). Even was vespers, again a fairly short service before dinner. We also prayed before each meal. On Sundays, we had liturgy (like the Catholic mass) with communion and everything. That can run about 90 min to two hours.

Okay, you know what? This is sounding a lot weirder as I go along. I met a lot of cool people and enjoyed my time there, even though the last year was difficult for me. My depression was kind of starting at that point, I really missed my best friends from home, and I did not consider myself Christian anymore.

The things I remember most from camp

  • feeling scared, but meeting a lot of friendly campers that made it easy for me to be a little more outgoing than I normally would (super introverted over here)
  • feeling kinda cool because I knew some older kids there (my sister and two childhood friends, as well as a couple of their friends)
  • trying some new things, like archery and walking across a log that was (to my perspective) very high up in the air
  • getting a crush on a counselor
  • counselors covering up tattoos with bandages and campers covering up piercings with bandaids if they had more than one in an ear (boys weren't allowed any)
  • singing some Britney Spears song with my cabin at karaoke night, I think
  • Christmas in July, where we went around and serenaded other cabins with songs that we had written
  • trying to play pranks on our brother cabin (having to clean up the toilet paper after is really no fun)
  • snack time! where you could spend some money that your parents put in your camp account to buy two snacks (a drink and a candy bar, usually). I became a fan of Cherry Coke
  • looking through a care package from my friends and feeling really lonely
  • being comforted by someone in my sister's brother-cabin when he saw my crying at the last night of camp and he made me laugh
  • being identified as "Nika's sister" in the nicest way possible (instead of the annoying way, which is when teachers do it in school)
  • riding horses!
  • feeling pretty sad and witnessing a lot of crying on the last night/day of camp when we all said goodbye until the next year
And now I'm going to a sleep-away camp for adults!

It won't technically be in the summer because Camp Nerd Fitness occurs in September, but man I am SO excited.

Minus the religious stuff and hiding body modifications, I'm pretty much expecting to relive my camp experience and in even better ways. This time I'll have my partner-in-life/crime with me which is pretty fucking awesome. We won't have to share a room with anyone because we booked a hotel room on the camp site. I really want to do the ropes course and will conquer my fears of that blob thing.

But what should I dress up as for the costume night?! Gotta think of nerdy costume ideas, brb.

Friday, February 19, 2016

That's a thing, right?

Skincare. It's something I have pretty much never given much thought to. Over the past, I've come to a few realizations about my perceptions of my body:

1. My idea of how my body should function is kinda vague and I really didn't expect to feel like things were falling apart (several bouts of tendinitis back to back, aching joints, constipation etc.) until at least 30 years old. I'm currently 27.
2. My idea of how my skin should look is COMPLETELY based on various media representations. Celebs all have flawless skin because they use make-up and probably pay somebody to figure things out for them.
3. And that goes for wrinkles too. Are forehead wrinkles in your mid/late-20's normal? Well, they must be because I have them now.

I guess I should consider myself lucky (thanks for the genetics, Mama, no seriously they're great) since my acne only crops up in response to stress/certain foods and I certainly don't look older than I am. In fact, last October, a bunch of teenagers thought I was in the late-teens. Nope, I'm actually married and have about a decade on you guys. I guess that means my personality was very accessible for them? That's good, I think. Teens are tricky. I try to treat them like rational people and that seems to help, even though everybody knows teens are pretty irrational (it's a biological thing with adolescence) and even they are aware of it even if they deny it profusely.

Anyway, after a day or two of considering to use some expensive anti-wrinkle products to try and rejuvenate a face that really needs no rejuvenating, I decided to invest in some skincare products to help protect my skin, at the very least. I didn't do much in the ways of washing/moisturizing prior to this. My forehead gets super oily, the rest of my face is probably pretty dry. I just rinse my face in the shower, maybe wipe it with a wet wash cloth, and that's it. I rarely wear make-up and when I do, it's all around my eyes anyway. I'm lazy and just want to feel like I'm taking good care of my skin without much additional effort.

I came across Fat Face Skincare. Their products aren't that much more expensive than major name brand skincare products and I really like their ingredients. Tallow in a body butter? Some might say "ew", but I say "cool!" Not only does the tallow they use come from pasture-raised cows (a good life for them), but tallow carries all kinds of helpful nutrients for the human body. I'll let you browse the site for more info.

One of the things I bought is an oil cleansing blend. If you haven't heard of it before, it's basically using an oil or mix of oils to rub on your face and then wipe off. This particular oil blend is vegan (no animal products in it or used in the making of it). The cleansing oil picks up the oils on your skin and when you wipe it off, you skin is left with the clean and healing cleansing oil instead of the dirty oil that's been on your face all day.  Apparently this works very well for removing face make-up! I usually rub my Cleansing Oil onto my face when it's dry (often after a shower), then lay a hot wash cloth over my face for 30-60 seconds (I'm impatient) to let my pores open up. I wring the cloth out first so I don't burn myself, my tap water gets very hot! After that, I just wipe the oil off with the same cloth. When the last bit of water evaporates, I follow up with the Mrryhaculous Face Cream.

The name says it all, this stuff is really miraculous. If I'm having a small acne outbreak (why is it always on my chin??), I can rub a tiny amount of this on the blemish and it's usually gone in the morning! Before this, I'd use tea tree oil, which is very drying and didn't always seem to work. A little goes a long way with this product, the recommended "pea sized" amount is possibly too much for me. I get the tiniest bit on my finger tip and rub into one area of my face at a time (cheeks, chin, nose, bridge, and forehead/temples). I use this very sparingly on my forehead because it still gets pretty oily. The rest of my face feels even softer than it usually does and I really love the smell.

I think I'll try their Stank Stop next. I have a different deodorant that's oil/shea butter based that I use right now, but I'm not completely happy with it. My pits get really irritated if I use it for a couple of weeks at a time, but without the baking soda, my BO is frankly disgusting. Your welcome for that overshare. A slightly different formula may be better for me, who knows!

So why am I bothering with this if my skin is usually fine? I guess I want to prepare my face for the future. The better care I take with my skin now, by moisturizing and protecting it from the sun, the better it'll look as I get older. Though, again, thanks to my mom, I still think I'll look pretty good in another thirty years. :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Learning to sleep, part 1

There are stories in my family about what a night owl I was, even as a baby. I was once found sitting on top of a bookcase that was just a bit too close to my crib, some time after I'd been laid down to sleep. When I started having sleepovers, at first, I called to get picked up because I couldn't sleep. I've never slept well away from home, but I guess that's not too unusual. Eventually, I learned to just lie there and wait. My friends would fall asleep pretty quickly (I could tell by breathing patterns or probably poking them) and I would be left to stare at the ceiling or try to covertly read/occupy my time.

For some reason, it never occurred to me to talk to anyone about this. I wonder what might've been different if I had. I have always thought it was mind-boggling that people claim to fall asleep within a few minutes!

I would like to sleep this restfuly.

As a teenager, and especially starting around the time I began experiencing depression, I felt perpetually tired. I could stay in bed until noon or later, just dozing. I remember staring at the clock and getting a very good sense of how much time had passed in the night without looking, being awake for hours at a time in the middle of the night. It's really no wonder that I was exhausted.

Finally, during my college years, I started falling asleep faster (maybe within 30 minutes instead of an hour or more) and stopped waking up during the night as often. If I did wake up, I could usually fall back asleep within 30 minutes. During my junior year, I started waking up once per night, several times during the week, feeling as though I'd stopped breathing. I would cough and catch my breath, then go back to sleep. I brought it up to my doctor and she suggested I might have "mild sleep apnea". It wasn't a problem as long as I slept on my side or stomach, just on my back. I had always preferred sleeping on my stomach anyway.

The apnea seemed to go away, or I wasn't woken by it anymore, after a few months. It would happen only a few times a year that I could remember. After college, my chiropractor told me to stop sleeping on my stomach because it was hurting my back, so I made back-sleeping my primary position. The apnea still didn't seem to be an issue. I was still "always tired", but sleeping through the night.

Over the past couple of years, the frequency has changed. I'm woken up by the sleep apnea at least once a month. My new psychiatrist asked me about my sleep quality about a month ago and I told him the usual: with a history of insomnia, I feel like my current sleep quality is adequate. How could I know what is really a "good" night of sleep if I've rarely had them? I can only remember a couple of times that I felt like I had good sleep, and those were very short periods of time (a month or two here and there). I have no idea what helped during those times. I refuse to make coffee-drinking a habit, especially because it seems like it is just covering up the issue without actually dealing with it.

With my husband's comments in mind (that I never seem to sleep well and that I do snore a bit), I went back to the psychiatrist and talked to him about my sleep history. He concluded that the sleep apnea may not be "mild" and it's very common to not remember being woken up by it, if the wakening is very brief. Even if I'm not being woken up by it, it's very possible, given my general affect of someone who is sleep deprived, that my sleep apnea is really affecting my quality of life. 30 minutes to fall asleep is not too terrible, but it is a bit long.

Next month during my annual physical, I'll be asking for a referral to a sleep clinic. My insurance will cover 80% of the costs after my deductible, which is $500. Fortunately, I have an FSA this year, so it'll probably all go on that. I'm now wishing I'd put more into the FSA.

Quite honestly, I'm excited about this. I would really like to wake up in the morning and feel like I'm ready to just get up and start my day. I don't know if I've ever felt like that before. I'll write a follow-up post when I have some more information from my primary care physician or the sleep clinic!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Getting back to me

Last year, I caught the weight-lifting bug from CrossFit and then ended up spending the rest of the year in physical therapy for my wrists, shoulders, and now back. To be fair, this was CrossFit on top of an insane amount of shoveling all on my own, so I don't completely blame CF for this.

Well, the back issues might have been from doing aggressive pilates at home. Who knows. I didn't get to ride my bicycle to work, something that I have looked forward to doing every year for the past several years.

I spent most of the year feeling pretty sorry for myself, so I guess in retrospect it's not that surprising that I ended up incredibly depressed starting around June. I pretty much crashed by October and the psychiatrist I was seeing at the time hospitalized me against my will. That's not an experience I'm willing to write about further just yet. It's safe to say that it was fairly traumatic to have that decision taken away from me, though the experience in the hospital was not all that horrible.

Now that my shoulders are better, my wrists are pretty much healed, and my back is improving, I'm getting back into working out. I got a membership at Gold's Gym and had a few free personal training sessions. I didn't entirely agree with the trainer's approach to fitness (though she was very supportive over focusing on strength over "weight loss"), but it was still helpful to get some outside perspective. I've done some of my own research on what kind of regular routine I'd like to do.

My main focus now is starting at Orange Theory Fitness. I don't think I can explain it well, but it's basically hour-long classes of HIIT (high-intensity interval training). The class gets split between the rowers/weight section and treadmills, and you swap halfway through. You wear a heartrate monitor the whole time and the whole aim is to get your heart rate up and down to really put it through its paces. There's some possibly nonsense "science" behind all of this leading to weight loss or something. I'm just interested in feeling like my endurance is good (could run a mile if I needed to) and strong enough to jump/climb/lift as much as I might want.

And maybe I'll do barbell training on the side, we'll see.

Monday, December 07, 2015

My first Rent The Runway!

I read about this website Rent the Runway quite a while ago and thought I'd never try it, though the dresses are pretty. This fall, I realized that I had nothing suitable to wear to my husband's company holiday party and didn't really want to buy something new. I knew that a new dress would sit in my closet for a year or longer until the next remotely semi-formal outing came along. Why not wear something once and feel like I got my money's worth?

Rent the Runway is not subscription based, so you can rent whenever you like for no monthly/regular fees. My dress was around $40 to rent for 4 days (that stupidly includes the delivery day, which means I got it the night before the event on Friday).

It took me a little while to pick a dress. I think everything was way too formal at first. I finally narrowed it down to two possibilities: a little black dress, or the Rainwater dress. Typically, you can't go wrong at any event with an LBD, but I wasn't sure how the straps & neckline would look on my broad shoulders. I loved the colors on the Rainwater dress, so I read through the reviews, saw that the bust runs small (a good thing for me) and went for it.

My dress arrived just before 8 PM on Friday. I tried on my first size and couldn't get the zipper up. I really had no idea what size I wore, so I ordered my usual pants size, plus the next smallest size. The pants size was the right one, it fit perfectly!


First, I got to be confused about the package that had arrived. A... bag? Let me tell you, this looked highly suspicious sitting on my front steps. I figured out how to unlock it, unzipped, and then unfolded. It's a garment bag! Inside were my two dresses, a return shipping label, and two more little zipping lock things for the return delivery. One was broken, but I fortunately only needed one.

Sorry I only took crappy iPhone photos.

Yay! So cute. You can also see my lovely haircut.

I figured black tights were more winter appropriate and I wore my so freaking comfy black leather flats. Check them out here

I snuck a photo with the husband. Trust me, he looked dashing. The tie colors matched my dress.

The last part of my ensemble was a silver scarf, which I already owned. I thought that was a nice way to lighten up the colors, plus it went well with the silver accents in the dress. My earrings are vintage silver and the necklace I've just had for ages. Oh I also wore my college graduation ring, aka. Galadriel's Nenya

Oh, sorry. Lastly, this is the make-up I wore, except a little less "wing".

All in all, I do recommend Rent the Runway! Return delivery was easy: find a UPS store or drop-box and leave the package there! They do the cleaning for you and I even got to keep the hangers. They have a pretty wide size range, from women's 0 to 22, which I think is great, though I don't know how many options there are in the higher sizes.