Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday faves--the gadget edition

It's been a long time since I've done a favorites entry. I've found lots of things to love in the last few months, but I thought today I'd concentrate on my favorite gadgets.

More than a blender
Those of you who follow me on Facebook already know what my favoritest favorite is going to be. I obsessed about it for months. I watched videos. Read blogs. Pored over reviews. And then spent an inordinate amount of time trying to justify spending more money on a blender than I do for my monthly car payment. Thanks to QVC's Easy Pay, I was able to swing it. And guess what? It was totally, totally worth it.

I use it every single day. I make smoothies that are as smooth as milk (not even a teeny tiny piece of spinach), the creamiest mashed cauliflower I've ever had. I made soup out of nothing but red peppers, cashews and water (to die for), ice cream made out of only frozen bananas. I'm convinced this thing can help achieve world peace (seriously, maybe people are just cranky because their smoothies are chunky).

It's hard to try to convince anyone to spend that much money on anything. But if you're thinking about it, can justify the cost and are just wondering if it's worth it, consider this your enthusiastic YES IT IS.

I have told y'all before that I'm not really a pasta fan. I like it OK, but it's not something I'd ever order in a restaurant (even an Italian one).

What I do like? Zucchini. One of my very favorite veggies, for sure. I had read a few recipes that featured zucchini noodles, and I was instantly intrigued. But how do you make such pretty ribbons out of a hard, green vegetable?
Zucchini noodles with avocado cream sauce. Yum!
 The first thing I tried was a mandoline slicer. I'm sure this works perfectly well for some people. But I couldn't quite get the hang of it and was left with a mushy pile of zucchini. Not at all the pretty strings for which I was hoping.

Enter the GEFU Spirelli Spiral Cutter. Coolest thing ever. You put your veggie in the little opening and twist it until perfect little noodles come out of the side. It couldn't be easier. I've seen other spiralizers that are huge and take up lots of counter space. This is small and seriously effective. One of my favorite things to do is make a salad with cucumber noodles in a sauce of vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce. So good.

Wrist Party!
Now, for my favorite non-kitchen gadget. Fitbit was another gadget I obsessed over before finally taking the plunge. Several of my friends and co-workers have one, and I wanted to join the cool kids' party. It's been a while since I've been obsessed with something that's fitness-focused. But I'm officially in love with my Fitbit. It tracks your calories burned, your steps, even your sleep.

You can add friends and keep up with their steps, too (even send them jeers or taunts). My favorite thing is that if you hit your goal for the day (which you set yourself. Mine is 10,000 steps), the Fitbit lights up and buzzes, creating, as my friend Laura calls it, a party on your wrist. It's so motivating to be able to see your goal and actually achieve it. Love.

So what are your favorite gadgets that help you stay healthy?

Monday, September 23, 2013

One doesn't have to be the loneliest number

Yesterday, I crossed something off my bucket list. I went to the movies by myself.

Now for some people, this isn't a big deal. I have friends who love going to the movies alone. But for me it was a significant thing. I probably could have found someone to go with me, but it was important to me to do it on my own.

I have realized that I base way too much of my own self esteem on what I think others think about me. It's not even what people say or do, but how I perceive it. And it's kind of messed up.

As I settled into my chair (I saw The Butler, by the way. Fabulous.) with my small popcorn (OK, and Junior Mints, which no one cared if I dumped into the popcorn bag), I panicked a little. Am I the only one all by myself? Look at that group of girlfriends who are together for a movie date. Do people think I have no friends? No one who loves me?

The bigger question: Should it matter?

I wish I could say no. Unfortunately, I let it matter all too much. But I allowed myself to be a little uncomfortable, and then I enjoyed the movie. I walked out of there almost like I would after a good workout--with a big sense of accomplishment. Being alone isn't so bad.

Here's the thing about me. I've always been desperate to fit in--no matter the circumstance. My former women's group began in a rocky way for me, with one member telling me I didn't need to try so hard, that they already liked me. It hurt my feelings, but she was right. And it made me see things from a new perspective.

I hate that I'm jealous and insecure. I struggle with that especially in big groups of friends. I worry that no one really wants me there--that the only reason I'm there is because of the one person that really likes me who says "Come on, guys. I know you don't really like Erika, but give her a chance." And then I ruin it by trying annoyingly too hard. Almost every time I leave a group of two or more friends, I analyze how I acted and if they will want me around in the future. And then I tell myself that the NEXT time, I'll be less chatty, less desperate, less insecure.

Why am I telling you all this? It is a little hard for me to write about, because it's embarrassing and perhaps the part of me I most dislike. I long to be confident and not worry if people like me. I mean, my friends love me. So why do I question this? Constantly? It creates a vicious cycle.

I think about my movie date with myself. Of course I'll question whether or not people like me. I mean, I don't even like hanging out with me.

It's something I am trying to work on--being OK with being who I am--whether that's in a group or by myself.

But I hope people who love me will remind me, like my very wise friend did once upon a woman's group, that I don't have to try so hard. Being myself is enough.