1. 2014: An Year of Living Earnestly.

    Now I know everyone’s either on the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon or their like…hellz no, I suck at those. Well, I exist somewhere in the amorphous middle, stuck in some sort of resolution-based purgatory, right alongside the way I feel about flat shoes. 

    One half of me loves the beauty of change and discipline, the harder the better. The other half of me desires to live outside of the boundaries of strict deadlines and rules (like some godforsaken New York-based hippie that only eats meat), to be able to enjoy the complex grey areas of life…so this year, instead of resolutions, I’ve put some thoughts together on how I want to live more earnestly even in the little details of life. 

    I share these here with you, faithful readers (or not so faithful readers), not to gloat about how many things I’ll be kicking ass at in 2014, or to faux-inspire you (you’ve got Pintrest for all your inspirational quote needs isn’t that right?) but to honestly share things that are on my mind, and that I’ll probably fail at miserably. There’s a particular beauty in sharing missteps with vulnerability…they create little potholes in our story that others can fill in, or feel connected to. (If you would like to embroider this on a pillow at some point, please contact me at thebebetterblogger@gmail.com)

    So there.

    Instead of that nasty resolution word, let’s just call them “The Things of 2014”:

    -When something happens and I have an inclination to react with negativity via my sass-filled peanut brain, pause, and then do the EXACT opposite thing of what I really want to do. Get that? Stop. Drop. Do the Opp(osite).

    -Realize we are not put on this earth to judge humanity, our loved ones, or the gal at Starbucks for ordering an apple donut fitter muffin (1032 cals) and then pushily double-checking with the barista that her latte is skinny. Quell this as much as possible, especially at major airports. 

    -Stop eating when full. This will obviously be the hardest one as there is meat to be consumed in the world but my inner thigh meat will rejoice. Can I get a Hallelujah?! (says the small gospel choir that lives in/around that region of my body)

    -When I’m in a social situation and exchange the “We should hang out sometime!” words…actually DO IT. Or do not open my socially-supersized mouth and offer. Be a person who follows through, always. 

    -Recognize the people in life who suck energy and who give it. Spend the majority of my time and energy with the latter. Don’t feel guilty about the former.

    -Read more bookz. Because, books.

    I think that’s all folks. So pretty much, slap my hand if you see me going for thirds, if I ask you to hang out…expect to have to see me in the near future (UGH!), and if I stop spending time with you…eesh, you know what that means.

    Happy New Year Lovies,

    xo Chinae

    P.S. I’ll also hopefully be writing a little more on this ol’ thing.

    ***(Photo: The Last Sunset of 2013)***

     


  2. Be a Better…Houseguest.

    New Year’s Eve…one of my most favorite holidays each year that always seems to end in ONE GIANT THROBBING HANGOVER (my first post of 2014 and i’ve already used the word throbbing, it’s gonna be a good one folks). Every January 1st, I welcome the changing year with a woozy hello due to a pesky recurring champagne intolerance, and a penchant for not eating very much due to the “always-present form-fitting dress” situation. We all know that sequins just bounce light off any bump or crease like a lighthouse in the night…so hence the “drink your dinner” survival methodology.

    On a side note, I’d really be interested in that Survivorman guy attempting to wade through channels of lycra, cheap (and some $$$) champagne, and the LA hipster party scene…this would be the most pertinent challenge for my general interests at this point. 

    I digress.

    This New Year’s we were lucky to spend the evening with a few close friends, The Buchanan’s and some friends of theirs…cheersing with some bubbly before heading out to a random LA house party (which when we arrived, realized that we didn’t know anyone so we just talked to ourselves and then quickly left the premises after midnight kisses).

    One thing we New Yorkers are not used to is the fact that you have to not only drive TO the party, but then BACK from the party. FML. So this New Year’s I opted to be the lady off the sauce (OK maybe I had one glass of champagne and 1/2 glass of vino), and maybe for the first time, wasn’t the proud owner of a headache that would be likened to Hiroshima on New Year’s Day. Maybe I’m turning over a new leaf. 

    We planned to crash at the Buchanan’s that evening and I have to say, adult sleepovers (not those, you sickos) are just the best. You get to act like complete idiots and it’s ok, because you pay rent and have proper footwear dammit.

    To curb the impending hangovers from my compadres that next morning, I woke up extra-early, headed over to the grocery store and planned the perfect breakfast to heal even the worst hamster-wheel feeling headache (does anyone else picture a hamster wheel squealing in their head sometimes when they are in pain? This may not be a thing).

    Wanna be a good houseguest? It’s simple. 

    Get up early. Clean up. Do dishes from the previous night. Make breakfast (or reservations if you’re domestically stupid).

    No matter how incompetent you are in the kitchen, you too can make these hearty and delicious breakfast sammies. Your hosts will love you forever and might even invite you back for round two. 

    The Morning After Sandwich: 

    What you’ll need:  

    • 6 Large English Muffins
    • 2 Large Haas Avocados
    • 6 Eggs
    • 6 Slices of Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
    • 1 Large Heirloom Tomato
    • Arugula 
    • Thick Sliced Bacon (don’t cheap out)
    • Butter (softened)

    Step 1: Set oven on broil, butter each side of the English muffins and put them in the oven to toast. Do not forget about this, as your hosts’ house will burn down.

    Step 2: While your muffins are toasting, cook bacon to a crispy perfectness. Take this seriously. After bacon is cooked, set it aside.

    Step 3: Slice your avocado and tomato, and wash and dry your arugula. 

    Step 4: Did you forget about the muffins? Call the fire department now. 

    Step 5: Warm a skillet to a medium heat (with a little butter) to fry the eggs. Fry each on one side for 1 minute, quickly flip, then remove from pan, lightly cooking the top but keeping the yolk nice and runny. Set each egg on a muffin top (see what I did there) and cover up with the slice of cheese asap to get that sh*t melty and delicious.

    Step 6: Once your eggs and cheese are all in place, pile on your bacon, heirloom tomato, arugula, and last but not least, your perfectly ripe avocado. Top with muffin butt.

    I served these up with hash browns, fresh squeezed OJ, and heaps of coffee. 

    Cannot wait to share lots of adventures with you all this year! 

    Happy Hangovers (and New Year),

    Chinae

     


  3. Be A Better…Host.

    Lately, I’ve been crafting cocktails like a mad woman and there have been quite a few keepers going into the recipe books (god I wish I was a person who was responsible enough to put my recipes in their own book…but yeah, INTERNET is where I keep all of the things). 

    I digress.

    3 events in my not-so-recent past have called for custom-crafted libations and I of course, was happy to oblige. 

    My friends Desiree and Stephen wanted giant jars of special margaritas to go alongside their taco truck-catered wedding reception in Palm Springs. Now, to be honest, I abhor tequila. Instantly I flashback to a time where 3 for $1 ( did you get that…repeat, 3 for ONE DOLLAR) tequila shots in border town Mexico seemed like a decent/good idea and my liver was 10 years younger and agile like a jungle cat.

    There may or may not have been a mechanical bull involved often after said tequila experiences.

    BUT, people getting hitched seemed like a good time to get over my bull riding PTSD and I was bound and determined to make a margarita I would actually want to drink myself. 

    Here’s what I came up with:

    El Toro Margarita:

    • 2 oz Tequila
    • 2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
    • .5 oz Agave Nectar
    • Pinch of Salt
    • 1/3-1/2 Bottle/Can of Mexican Beer (I prefer Dos XX)

    Mix all the ingredients well and pour over ice. Garnish with salt (I got black salt for home use…Buy it HERE) or a lime.

    These other two cocktails were for work events I did…and both really lit it up. 

    The Pineapple Spice:

    Start by adding your pineapple juice, lime juice, tequila, cilantro and ginger puree into your shaker. Shake with ice for 10 seconds and then strain over fresh ice in a high ball glass. Top with club soda and garnish with cilantro.

    The Apple Crisp:

    • 3 oz fresh apple cider (cold)
    • .5 oz lemon juice
    • 2 oz  pineapple Skyy Infusions vodka
    • Dash of cinnamon 
    • Lemon zest
    • Grated ginger
    • Club soda

    Start by combining apple cider, lemon juice, lemon zest, vodka, cinnamon and ginger in a shaker. Shake to combine and then pour over ice. Top with club soda and garnish with lemon peel. 

    Cheers to Fall and know that next time…we’re back to bourbon. 

    xo C

     


  4. Since I’ve Been Gone…

    Hold please.

    OK, we’re done being away from one another dear readers…since I’ve been gone (channeling my inner Kelly Clarkson…hopefully the skinny version), lots of things have happened huh? Miley has licked quite a few sledgehammers, our government peaced out for a bit, and I bought a baseball hat with a puff ball on top. Like I said, a lot has transpired.

    Much to the general chagrin of the internetz, I’m back for good and like a bad case of the ebola virus, you can’t get rid of me (although my writing has not been confirmed to cause you to bleed from your eyeballs…there’s always next post!). I know you’ve probably felt the void of mediocre humor and lax writing style, so here I am, back to fill that void in this corner of the internet. 

    So everyone  about three people have asked…”where have you been girl?” Well, I’ve been off my personal writing game, but trust me folks, I’ve been clickin’ around on this ol’ keyboard a’ plenty (jury is still out as to why I am talking like a farmhand). Here’s a little update on what I’ve been up to and whether you like it or not, I’ll be back to posting once or twice a week, per usual. 

    Let’s get the personal stuff out of the way first:

    This summer, I dated a fine gent who taught me all about wine, ginormous Italian families, and what the word algorithm means. We eventually amicably parted ways, which is always hard, but then we ate copious amounts of BBQ together to ease the heartache, as any good Texan woman does. I’m back to figuring things out in my personal/past life and will update you guys when things are firmed up over here, my thighs included. (The thigh part could take a minute)

    As for work and such….some fun things have been afoot!

    image

    * Photo by Eric Ryan Anderson, styled and directed by your truly

    You may or may not know, but I’ve been working in PR/MARKETING for a rad furniture design company named DESIRON for the last 6 years and I totally love what I do everyday and I am insanely thankful and lucky to like where I go from 9-5pm everyday. Plus, I get to plan parties. BUT, in my spare time, I’ve been doing quite a bit of freelancing and there’s more to come on that soon. 

    image

    My latest projecto was with a brand spankin’ new startup named, Timshel, which my friends Phil and Sean started. I’ve been helping them on the marketing end and also helped plan bits of their kickstarter launch party which was a total b-b-blast (READ, we got people really drunk on my cocktail recipe). If you are a human being who likes people, dogs, other people, memories, and/or has an iPhone, you should check out their new product…basically it’s a subscription service to print photos (Instagram and normal) directly from your mobile device…a blessing directly from the baby Jesus for lazy asses like me. If you’re smart, you’ll go ahead and back their Kickstarter HERE. 6 days left on that bad boy people or you’ll forget your memories forever and life won’t mean anything. 

    image

    * A photo from the launch party, taken by Josh Goleman, stain on Sean’s shirt, courtesy of Sean

    Some other friends doing kickass things that you NEED to know about:

    -My friend Anna writes this ultra-yummy blog called The Yellow Table and now, she’s writing a book. DANG girl. Follow her cookbook journey here

    -My bestie Becky and my friend Jon (and his business partner Benj), just launched their men’s accessory line, Passavant and Lee. The party was incredible and Stifler was there, so..YEAH. Check ‘em out. I had the pleasure of doing the flowers for the party and got to see a sneak preview of the line. SO good. 

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    - My friend Nate is helping launch a new studio space here in NYC, Drift Studio…TODAY! If you’re in need of an affordable but too-cool-for-school space for shooting or rentals, take a peek HERE.

    -Did I mention that my friends from The Lone Bellow just played Carnegie Hall? STUPID good. If you haven’t met them via your ear holes…you better get into that HERE

    I think that’s all folks. 

    Did I mention that I got a baseball hat with a pom pom on top? 

    image

    Whatever. I’ve missed you internet assholes.

    xo C

     


  5. My Birthday and Periods Have Something in Common.

    I don’t know about you, but I do my best thinking while showering. Something about the routine, the mindlessness of it allows for the occasional good idea to roll through. So this particular morning, the morning of my 28th birthday I began typically with a gritty workout and then to my steamy thinking chamber I went.

    I spent that 6 minutes (and some more later) thinking about the significance of birthdays and particularly the number 28 and here’s what I came up with…

    MY PERIOD.

    Ok, so not all my watery thoughts are brilliant. But stick with me here people. So, for all of you who don’t have lady parts (or those who have yet to get to know your own), the body takes around 28 days a month to go through a cycle of prepping your body, with lots of complicated steps in between which I choose not to elaborate on because I specialize in Marketing not Gynecology.

    Similarly, the last 28 years have been a preparation cycle of their own (not leading to pregnancy, THANK GOD). But with just as many cramps (and skinny days) peppered in. Each year has been individual, scary, beautiful, and like no year previous.

    Year 27 was one of the most challenging, redeeming, thought-provoking, years of my life. I’m sort of sad to see her go, not because I’m one day closer to 30, but moreso because she’s taught me what it’s like to stand teetering on the edge of your late 20’s and to finally feel more of who you’re meant to be than ever before.

    In the previous 365: I did the best work of my life. I wrote things that mattered to me. Old friendships were revived. New friendships were born. Babies were born (thus melting my heart into a globby mess I didn’t know could exist). Friends got married. I discovered I really actually do like wine. I discovered that I like bourbon more. I lived out a great love. I endured the worst heartbreak of my life. I explored my Texas home state and continued my thought that Texas in fact, is forever. Friends moved away. Friends moved in. I saw things I’d vowed to see before I died. I saw things I never wanted to see before I died. I came to be in the best physical shape of my life. I learned how to properly do a burpee. I met someone new. I spent time laughing with friends over the chronicles of dating and the ridiculousness of New York. I spent time crying with those same friends about heartache, loneliness, new jobs, old jobs, no jobs and the scariness of New York. Did I mention that I learned how to do a burpee?

    And at the end of it all, I sit here, grateful for every single piece.

    My hope for my 28th year is that I can remember it all. All the jumbled bits and pieces of my story over the years, that they would all be pungent in my mind and heart, for good. All for the goal that I’d continue to learn how bumps and bruises are the best teachers of life. How being able to recall past joy, can actually produce new joy. How serving and bringing dignity to others is the reason why we’re here. How to let the past inform my future, but not steer it.

    Mostly, I sit here astounded thinking about how little I was able to predict the last 28 years and how I’m finally starting to accept and trust that that is exactly the way it’s been intended to be.

    Here’s to the start of a new cycle of 28, one rooted in “being better” that will also hopefully not end in pregnancy (56 year old new mom, not great…).

     


  6. Be a Better…Bartender.

    It’s as hot as balls out Edition:

    If you are in NYC right now along with the rest of us suckers, I’m so so sorry. It’s a sweltering 987937598 degrees out today with about 99% humidity. Let’s just say parts of my body are sweating that I didn’t know had pores. 

    I digress. 

    Here is a video response defeat this shit weather (this is not me if you were confused) and then better than that…an excellent cocktail down below.

    This woman gets it: (NSFW for language) 

    Warning, this kind of heat isn’t the type that one or two cold bevvies help. You’re gonna need to get super drunk and then forget that you can control your sleeping and waking…it’s just that bad out. 

    Passionfruit Lychee Fizz:

    + 1 oz. Passion Fruit Puree

    + 1 oz. Lychee Puree

    + Splash of Club Soda

    + Fresh Basil

    + 1 1/2 oz. Cucumber Pearl Vodka

    In a cocktail shaker, combine purees and vodka. Shake with ice, vigorously. Strain and pour over ice and add basil to taste & garnish. Top with a dash of club soda. 

    Happy summer…f*ck.

    xo Chinae

     


  7. Another Locale…

    Hi folks, 

    I have not abandoned you. Do not worry.

    Occassionally I write things other places. 

    Today I wrote:

    "Why Can’t We Just Be Happy For Each Other?"

    Check out my second post on Medium today about: How to Stop The Inner Cringe When Good Things Happen to Someone Else

    VISIT OTHER BLOGGITY BLOG HERE.

    xo C

     


  8. Be a Better…Person.

    Warning, this may not be the funniest blog post that I’ve ever written, but consider it a brief break from mediocre humor to get to know ourselves, just a little more. For humor, click HERE. 

    *Throughout the past two years I’ve been writing this blog, I tend to steer away from personal issues or things that may result in internet “over exposure” but I’ve learned so much in the last few weeks of life, that sometimes sharing is the best thing.

    I’m two weeks fresh off a break up.

    A break up with someone I love dearly as a human being, someone that I respect with all of my being, and a man that is the definition of discipline and honor ( I think there might be a Wikipage for this). He’s great (yes, that’s present tense). I think I’m decent too (it has been confirmed, there is no Wikipage for this). But I’ve learned that sometimes, duality in greatness doesn’t mean perfection, or even compatibility in the end…That love is not math, one plus one…does not simply just equal two. 

    image

    Now, I am so so thankful that we’ve both exited the relationship, still with a huge amount of respect for one another, and yes, I know that’s not always the case. Truthfully, I spent the first post-breakup days analyzing everything…trying to pick apart the inner sinews of dynamics and missteps within the last 2 years…and then suddenly like LA traffic, I stopped. 

    I stopped questioning the why and how, and started realizing the most important thing..was figuring out how I could remain intact, gracious, and strive to be the best version of myself….not to make the other person jealous, not to fool others into thinking I was stronger than I am…but mostly, because that’s what we should be doing ANYWAY. My mantra of “being better” can’t stop at the doorstep of adversity or change…that’s the moment when it’s as vital as the blood in your veins. 

    Here are some things I’ve been wading though, I hope some of this resonates, even a little bit:

    -Be gracious: So what the f*ck does it mean to be gracious anyway? The old dictionary describes it as: being marked by tact and delicacy,  characterized by generosity of spirt, filled with mercy and compassion. So how the hell can we do those things…in real life, when I’m too busy being glum? Well, my answer was pretty simple in the end (this is ever changing btw). Think of others. You are not the only one that feels the waves of change and difficulty. You are not the only person that’s been involved with your relationship (there’s a web of people that you’ve chosen to weave together). I had to choose to thank those who supported us at a couple (through it all), to choose to ask my people how THEY were doing, and began to realize that if one becomes completely self-focused, your soul will burst inward..and no one wants that. Get outside of yourself and your struggle for extended moments during your day, don’t ignore what’s happened, but be thankful for lessons learned and see yourself as a part of a bigger story. 

    -Understand that Shit WILL Happen: Every time something negative happens to us as people, we’re just dumbfounded and caught totally off-guard, like WTF LIFE?!! Why? Did we think that somehow, by not being a serial killer or a complete degenerate that we somehow escape hardship? I did apparently. Honestly, I’ve had a really good life. Things have come easily, and while there’s been bumps in the road..for the most part, I’ve been really blessed. But did I really expect that things would go as planned for the next 70 years (including that I would die at the age of 97, with a mojito in hand, sunbathing on a black sand beach)? I’m realizing that you can’t live your life in expectation of adversity, but to know that if and when it happens, that the way you’ve built yourself up in the meantime, really matters. 

    -Challenge Yourself and Put Down the Paper Towel Tube: In the past two weeks, I’ve realized how truly unimaginative I’ve been at viewing my story and life as a whole. We tend to pigeonhole ourselves into “what I can do”, “how others see me”, “what I’ve come to expect from myself”…and in all that, we’ve completely lost any sort of imagination and expectation of future greatness.  Now, I have to say that my relationship wasn’t the driving factor of my small-sighted view, this is generally just a problem for us as people…people who get stuck in the day to day, people who are too busy to dream, people who live with small margins.  My effort, in singleness but also just moving forward is to stop looking at my life through a paper towel tube with one squinty eye…only seeing a small, manageable vision for my existence. I’ll be tossing that tube out, and will be attempting to exist in the terrifying vast oblivion that lies outside the boundaries of what’s safe, what’s possible, and what’s known. 

    -Be Close: When things fail, it’s insanely hard to have your life be a spectator sport…it’s hard to have people watch you flail and then tune in to watch what happens next. But I’ve come to realize, that it also can be the best treatment for an ailing heart. To surround yourself with a group of people, who are deeply observant and involved, is totally scary. You could look dumb. Or unwanted. Sad, or weak. You could mess things up. You could look insecure. But…the truth is, hiding it from others, doesn’t make those things any less present. You’re still going to feel that way. You’re still going to mess up. The difference is, if you never give others a direct view into your life, you’ll miss out on the great freedom of vulnerability.  I can almost promise that you’ll be taken care of. My care came in the form of friends, waiting with posterboards at the airport after my breakup, with a rental car waiting in the parking lot to scoop me up, and take me home. Did I mention it was 5AM?

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    Take time to yourself as you need it, but remember that suffering alone still is suffering, and you’ll be surprised the amount that you’re loved, if you let go and be vulnerable. 

    Here’s a quote that I was not smart enough to write:

    ‘Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.’ -CS Lewis

    I hope that in some way, this hits home for at least one of you...To end, I remain here, thankful and completely bowled over with the mystery of life and how much joy can be in the wake of what feels like an impossible blow. 

    Love to you all,

    Chinae

     


  9. Be a Better…Dresser.

    Recently, a Be Better Blog reader wrote in with this (witty) query: 

    "I just started dragging my ass back to the gym and I’m finding that I’m in dire need of an updated workout wardrobe. My mesh gym shorts from college don’t seem quite sufficient when I know that space-age wicking technology exists. ALSO, I would like said ass not to be hanging out while I do leg things. Could you (pretty please) do post that gives like 5 combinations of gear that I can mix and match, but won’t require doing laundry every five minutes?"

    This is a great question as workout clothes can be tricky tricky. As an example of failing, I tried out some NEW athletic shorts this morning and hadn’t looked in the mirror until I arrived to the gym. TOTAL AIR FUPA people. You know as a kid when you loved filling your swimsuit with air, looking like either you had a boob job or beer belly? Yeah, those shorts looked like that except I wasn’t in a pool, nor am I 5 years old. Not to mention the lining was too short (apparently according to the manufacturer I have an elongated crotch region?!) so I had perma-camel toe. No one likes camel-toe squats. NO ONE.

    When building your workout wardrobe, here are a few basic items you’ll need: 

    //SUMMARY SHOPPING LIST//

    -2 Pairs of Loose Sporty Shorts/Booty Shorts

    - 2 Athletic tanks

    -1 Pack of White Tees

    -2-3 Supportive Sports Bras

    - Tennis Shoes

    - 1 pair of Yoga/Running Pants

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

    -Non-see through colors: You DO NOT want your days of the week undies showing through. 

    -Built in liner: It’s just a must these days, folks.

    -Great fit in the crotch region (as I learned previously): Avoid air fupas, avoid wedgies.

    -Ample coverage: Unless you are ONLY running, you’ll be bending, squatting, leaning, and burpee-ing for a full hour or more…so it’s best if you don’t accidentally get pregnant via the leg extension machine. Think enough coverage so your lady bits stay ladylike.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

    -Happy Colors: Pick a couple fun colors for tanks that make you WANT to work out. You’ll feel better about that 6am gym time and bright pops of color make your no-makeup face more alive looking!

    -Athletic or Natural Materials: This is a non-negotiable. Cotton OR Dri-fit hi-tech sh*t. If you show up at the gym in a Forever21 Polyester tank top and you’ll end up being the smelly/overly sweaty gal on the mats. The good news? You’ll have plenty of room to stretch because your odor and general wet aesthetic will have caused everyone to flee.

    -Refresh Often: Hanes men’s white v-neck tees cost a whole $10 per pack. Re-buy them every month or two to keep your whites looking fresh. 

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

    -Cups/Liner: Don’t risk poking your trainer’s eye out mid-workout with a rogue nipple. Make sure your sports bra has thin cups that keep pancake boob away and protect you from chronic NHO. 

    -Great Fit: High-knee runs should not include kicking your tatas ala David Beckham. Keep ‘em high and tight. 

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

    -Essential Fit: Be sure you get the right size for the types of workouts you’ll be doing. You may need to go a size or 1/2 size up…the best thing to do is ask your shoe salesperson to fit you properly. 

    -Keep An Eye Out: Every couple of months, check the bottoms of your shoes…especially if you’re having back or knee pain. You may be wearing out your shoes, therefore wearing out your much needed support.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

    -Dark Colors: Dark color minimize trouble areas like ass, thighs, and giant calves..not to mention the whole “mask the cellulite” game we’ve all played at one time or another. Also, you’ll want these to be able to be worn over and over without recognition so black or dark grey will always work. 

    -Wide and Flexible Waistband: A general rule of life, avoid muffins and muffin tops. You want your pants to be comfortably tight in the leg region, but beware of thin super tight waistbands. They’ll make you feel self-conscious and you’ll spend half your workout tucking in rolls, rather than getting rid of them.

    -Non-See Through: A little tip, when in the fitting room to buy workout pants, lean over and spread eagle. Can you see your vagina? Yes? You need a different pair. No? You’re good to go.

    I think that covers it. 

    A few tips and tricks for lazy people like me:

    -Mid-week, toss your workout shorts/bras/pants in the shower with you and rinse them out with a little detergent. They are made to dry quick so they’ll be fresh and ready for the next workout. Yes, you’ll still need to do actual laundry once in a while, this is just to freshen in between real washes if you are one of us who doesn’t have in-home laundry.

    -Avoid Patterned Workout Gear. The more nondescript the gear is, the more you’ll be able to wear it. Still feel free to inject bright colors but those snake skin print yoga pants might be a bit much. 

    -Keep things snug. As much as you might want to roll out of bed and throw on a huge t-shirt and basketball shorts…you should avoid this. More fitted items let you actually see your body as you work out, you’ll be able to perfect your form because you won’t be lost in a sea of college-age jersey material. As a bonus, you’ll be able to see your progress more easily when those booty shorts look a little more filled out. Feeling hot (even at the gym)= instant motivation  (And no, that does not mean to put on makeup).

    Now, go shopping.

    Chinae

     


  10. Be Better at…Fitness.

    5 Tips to Get Your Ass Out of Bed and to the Gym:

    I used to be a die-hard nighttime gym person…but between stupid adult errands, after work events,  and my obvious drinking schedule, I’d only be able to make it to the gym 3-4 days a week which in reality, is not enough for me to reverse the effects of years of “4th meal” I indulged in, in college (damn you Whataburger Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit). So what did I do? I learned to get my ass out of bed, and get to the gym before heading to work. 

    Yes, it sucks getting up when it’s dark and snowy or muggy and rainy….but trust me, you’ll be glad when your thigh meat isn’t creeping over on the next subway seat…AND the asian lady that did the impossible by forcing herself into a 1x1” space between you and fat business guy with laptop, will also be grateful for your new-found workout plan.

    I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s easy. It’s not. WARNING: It doesn’t look like a godforsaken Playtex commercial where you’re doing sunrise yoga, giggling over your newfound feminine freedom. But level with me here, getting up completely blows ass anyway. Doesn’t matter if it’s 8am or 6am…that alarm is equally annoying, so why not shrink your growing jowls in the process?

    People are always like…”I don’t know how you do morning workouts!!!! It’s so hard!…I could never do that!” and today’s the day that you need to shut the f*ck up (in a nice way) and realize that YOU CAN. No, I’m not trying to get all Obama on you (but Michelle’s arms tho)…but the first step to gaining discipline is changing your head…and then the schedule will follow. I am just like you, lazy and grumpy…if I can get there, so can you.

    Here are 5 practices that get me to the gym by 6AM everyday:

    #1 Stop Gradual Wake-ups: No snoozing or rolling around in bed. GET UP. Just do it. It feels like Chinese water torture for like 30 seconds, and then it’s done. As soon as your alarm goes off, your feet should be on the floor and you should start the next part of your new found routine (below). Then proceed to the bathroom to do full face blast with cold water, seriously, it’s better than coffee. 

    #2 Clothing Check: Once your feet are on the ground (because you’ve just launched yourself out of bed like a Hanes V-Neck coming out of a t-shirt cannon), make sure your clothes are within arm’s length. Seriously. Put them on a chair near your bed, or on the floor …when your step 2 is inches away, procrastination and sleep gets harder to convince yourself of. Pick every part of your workout gear (bonus points and motivation if you are excited about the ensemble) the night before, and even lay your shoes out…LITERALLY be able to practically roll into your clothes. I know some morning gym devotees like to sleep in their gym clothes, but to me, that promotes snoozing and let’s be honest…I don’t think a spandex gauntlet is good for the girls up top or the lady bits below, overnight. 

    #3 Plenty of Prep: I need caffeine to function as a human being with thoughts and emotions, so I need coffee to do this. Before I workout, I guzzle (literally) an iced coffee, but who has time to make coffee that early? NO ONE. So, make your coffee the night before and have it in the glass ready to go in the fridge. Chug it on your way out the door and you’ll be ready to engage with the rest of the human race in 10-12 minutes. Another part of your prep should be your post-workout meal. You should eat a little something within 30-45 minutes of finishing your workout, so planning your breakfast the night before can help with the morning rush. Boil some eggs, make a greek yogurt parfait, or munch on a protein bar for instant energy, the thought of a healthy breakfast looming will also provide some good motivation for finishing your workout strong.

    #4 Weekly Pump Plan: If you know you need to hit target areas of your body, make a weekly workout plan…Monday-Leg Day, Tuesday- Arms, Wednesday-Core, Thurs-Strip Aerobics…WHATEVER. If you have a schedule, you’ll be less likely to skip the gym…because you just can’t miss leg day. 

    #5 Buddy System: If you have trouble feeling self-motivated, go with someone. Even if all your friends are too lazy to get their asses out of bed, make a friend at the gym and commit to checking in with them or send a damn photo of you at the gym every morning to a friend who’s agreed to keep you in check (who knows, they might be inspired to join you one day). On a personal note, I went on vacation for the last week and I didn’t know this, but I have a couple of accountability partners including two city bus drivers, a random lady, and the front desk worker at New York Sports Club who mentioned my absence to my actual gym buddy. Only in New York can you get a guilt trip from strangers.   

    Why it’s awesome…

    -I feel more awake ALL day. I even said goodbye to my afternoon coffee ritual.

    -My eating is better all day, because I have already made a serious sacrifice to be healthy, so eating an entire sleeve of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles looks a little less appetizing.

    - My ass is smaller.

    - and the best thing….my nights are now wide open and available to the call of bourbon (and friends) if I so choose.

    Need more motivation? Send me your questions!

    Squat or Go Home,

    xo Chinae

     


  11. Be a Better…Cook.

    Spicy Parmesan Almond Crackers Edition:

    Usually, I don’t miss much on my low-carb diet…(minus buckets of chips and salsa), but one thing that can be challenging is to find a crunchy, crispy alternative to a good ol’ fashioned cracker. What the heck am I supposed to shovel a pound of guac or cheese in my face with? 

    I have found the answer folks and it is GLORIOUS. If you’re a regular reader, you know my love of almond flour…but this might be the best things I’ve ever done with that magical dust of the Gods. 

    Here’s the recipe for crackers that won’t make you fat and WILL make you happy.

    image

    2 cups almond flour

    2 egg whites

    1/2 tsp. thyme

    1 tablespoon fresh rosemary roughly chopped

    1/2 tsp. garlic powder

    1/2 tsp. onion salt

    1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (lessen if you’re spice sensitive) 

    5 T. grated parmesan cheese

    Sea Salt garnish

    Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and to prep your pan, cut two pieces of parchment paper the exact size of the pan. Line the pan with one, and leave the other aside. Mix all your ingredients together until combined thoroughly. Place dough mixture on the pan and apply the second sheet of parchment paper on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough as thin as you can without touching the edges of the pan. Then, score the dough into the desired size squares…Mine were about 1”x1” and turned out perfectly. Top the uncooked crackers with a generous shake of course sea salt. Then, cook for 10-12 minutes and then break up the crackers and sprinkle on some extra parm. Finish up baking by keeping an eagle eye on the browning of the crackers and remove when they are crispy and medium in color. Let cool and then just TRY to not eat the entire pan in one sitting. 

    Let me know what you think!

    xo Chinae

     


  12. Be Better at…Health.

    For the last few months, I have been pretty dedicated to whipping my body into submission by amping up my morning workouts, eating super clean, and taking 80 bajillion types of vitamins so my body simply cannot fail me. I also have lessened my drinking and that absolutely is the worst thing ever. The elevated effort is working as much as I can tell, so I thought I’d share some of the new things I’ve added that have been helpful/fun/painful.

    And just a reminder…72 days until summer, people. Get your ass in gear. 

    -Cobra Planks: I hate wasting time. So, if I’m gonna be at the gym, I want to feel on the verge of death the entire time I’m there to make it worthwhile. Enter, cobra planks. Now, I do regular planks a ton in my workouts, but these combine three moves for a gut-busting workout that may or may not make you feel like throwing up. The cobra plank incorporates a plank, tricep-pushup AND a cobra pose to give you insta-core strength. Start by laying on the ground with arms and legs extended. Go into cobra pose then place hands under the shoulders and lift into your full plank. After 20 seconds in plank pose, lower your body SLOWLY, with arms near your sides (note: tricep pushups are different than a regular push up)…take about 4-5 counts to lower back onto the floor. Do this 10x in addition to your normal workout and you’ll be seriously regretting that you read this blog. HOW-TO VIDEO

    -Training/Combat Ropes: Someone recently likened my arms to the FLOTUS. I almost died and now anytime I am feeling body-depressed, I will be googling Michelle’s arms. Get your flabby wings in shape by trying out training/combat ropes next time you’re at the gym. I was intimidated at first because I thought I would look dumb but after trying them once, I was hooked. In a slightly crouched (abs engaged, legs slightly bent-hip width apart) position, whip ropes up and down into the air…simultaneously or alternating. Start with 30-sec intervals and then progress up in time from there. Next step…we’re all gonna have Kelly Rowland arms and hopefully a Beyonce career. 

    -Trader Joe’s Freeze Dried Fruit: I’ve been a low-carb eater for years now and have lost a little more than 60lbs total. Since I’ve been trying to shred the last few months, I’ve started carb cycling to get my body burning the most it can, so 6 days I’m low-carb/high protein/moderate fat, and 1 day a week…I am high carb/high protein and NO fat. So this pretty much means I eat whole grains, ultra lean protein (usually turkey), and tons of fruit on my carb up day. To liven up these days…(they are f*ckin boring and I hate them) I’ve incorporated a couple different snacks, my favorite being the Freeze-Dried Fruit packets from Trader Joe’s.  They contain no other ingredients other than the fruit itself and they taste like Astronaut Food from the museum gift shops. Could it get better? These are a far cry from normal dried fruit and would be awesome for that upcoming trip to Jupiter or just to throw in your work bag for an on-the-go snack. My favorites are: mango, banana, and blueberry.

    -Biotin: Listen, I have no idea if this is all placebo effect, but I started taking the vitamin Biotin about 2 months ago and instantly I feel like my hair grew in Rapunsel-like ways. The bottle was 7.99 at Vitamin Shoppe so you really can’t go wrong here folks. Anyone else take this and notice a difference?

    Any new health stuff I should know about? Leave it in the comments!

     


  13. Be Better at…Spring.

    5 Ways I’ll Be Jumping the Gun on Spring Edition:

    Since I moved to New York, I have been notoriously bad at winter. Like…to an obnoxious degree. Typically you’ll find me standing outside of some dark, dank bar, complaining about how I can’t feel my fingers, yet have somehow forgotten to attach pants/tights/gloves to my body. I do this an annoying amount and am actually quite shocked that by spring, I still have friends. 

    Being bad at winter can only mean one thing…I am also terrible at spring. My small brain can’t handle the thought of something in between winter and summer so I omit that bit of information and just proceed with regularly scheduled programming of shorts and no jacket time. 

    My only saving grace is that I live in a city filled with millions of other hopeful idiots who also cannot understand this seasonal middle man. Here’s how I’ll (and everybody else) will be jumping the gun on spring 2013. 

    1) Wearing Stupid Shit: Not only will I pack up my jackets/coats/gloves/beanies a month too early, I will also coat myself in floral prints and start wearing brights so that I can signal to my body that the winter coma is over and now it’s time to have a personality again.  I suggest investing in some mid-temp jackets and blazers…because naturally, we will still be freezing our asses off because New York hates us and wants us to move away forever.

    2) No Tights Time: That first day of no-tights is always such an interesting time in a New Yorker’s life… the men are excited to see that we have girl parts again, and the women are just now realizing what all those crock-pot stews have done to their eggshell-colored cankles. The Duane Reade’s self-tanning section has hurricane-quality scarcity and women are fist fighting over the last bottle of Jergen’s Natural Glow like they are getting the last box of baby formula for their starving baby. 

    3) Spring Break: Though I am well past my college years (RIP 2003-2007), I still can’t help my mind from wandering to where I shall spend my Spring Break. Except I am an adult and I don’t get a Spring Break. I have what’s called a job and it prevents me from the fun of banana boating and consuming my body weight in drinks that are measured in yards. Anyway, kayak.com searches will still happen and I will continue to think of how I can get to Cancun and back without getting my head cut off by the Mexicans and still manage to get a good glow. 

    4) Beach Hair: Say goodbye to severe buns and shit people…It’s time to let loose, get your roots dyed, and get some serious natural wave going.  Pretty much every spring I decide it would be in my best interest to put more blonde in my naturally almost-black hair…I’m fooling everyone….shut up. 

    5) Eating Out: One of the perks about living in New York is that you can consume 3 meals-a-day and their associated cocktails on a godforsaken sidewalk. I love eating outside, it feels very European, and like any good New Yorker, I’d like to feel as posh as I can while eating my KFC double-down. Here’s the thing though…we’ll all flock outside to eat that first springtime brunch and half of the patio will be basking in sunlight (a picture of amazing city life) and then other half will be a crowd of people looking like they went on a Siberian expedition and lost their luggage. It will be miserable.

    Now, I wish I could say that I won’t do any of these things this year…and that I’m going to “Be Better at Spring”..but let’s be honest, I have three pairs of newly ordered sandals under my desk at work and a bikini on it’s way. 

    Cheers to suffering together,

    Chinae

     


  14. A Be Better Story…The Dung Wah Bus

    image

    Four years ago, in mid-July, I felt myself getting progressively stir crazy within the confines of the city so a first time trip to Boston seemed like an inspired idea during the oppressively hot summer. Having moved from Texas just two years before, I had no concept of bus travel beyond the occasional luxury charter bus rides to and from fraternity lingerie parties and other terrible events I’d cinched my boobs together for. So when my friend Allison suggested taking the ol’ Fung Wah bus for a mere $15 dollars, I of course was thrilled.

    I met Allison for an afternoon bus, and as I crossed the threshold of the waiting area, my heart sank. THESE are the people taking the bus? CRAP. I promptly told myself to stop being so damn judgy and prepare myself for a restful trip. Think of it as a moving respite, Chinae. It’s only 4 hours, Chinae. You’re gonna get to sleep and catch up on some reading, Chinae. Maybe they have a bar area, Chinae.

    We boarded the bus. A/C broken in 97 degree heat. Only seats that were open, were directly left of the bathroom. Lots of crazy looking people, foaming at the mouth (ok maybe they weren’t totally foaming, but they looked scary). We met eyes with some of the other normals and silently made a pact that if this turns into a mutiny, we were gonna be in this together.

    Allison and I settled in our seats…I tried to crack my window a few inches so I wasn’t ONLY smelling “Smells Like Drakkar Noir” mixed with the aroma of my own fear. I thought to myself…no one is gonna use the bathroom on the bus anyway. Who would do that? If they do, they totally only will pee, right?

    That day, I discovered the lack of embarrassment and shame that some people have about strangers smelling their feces. After three hours of reckless driving, and zero minutes of reading later (my knuckles were too busy being affixed to the seat in front of me), the driver announced that we’d be stopping for a dinner break. I’ve never been so happy in my life, I felt like it was my wedding day. Of course my joy was swiftly snuffed out when he added that we would need to bring our meals back on the bus due to us running late. Whatever, we still get to stretch our legs and breathe normal air.

    I quickly realized that our “dinner” spot was a friend chicken joint on the side of the highway. I considered running away into the adjacent field at this point and leaving Allison to send condolences to my friends and family. Again, people have no shame and proceeded to board the bus with 5-packs of fried chicken and biscuits galore. The following 3 hours were not a good time to be near the bathroom. In the end, I arrived in Boston…probably sans nose-hairs, but I arrived nonetheless. I vowed that day, that I would NEVER, NEVER tell a new New-Yorker to take this God-forsaken vomit wagon, even to save money.

    So, I was delighted to hear some good news this week and share it with fellow New Yorkers. Fung Wah bus service was suspended this week due to unsafe conditions and ignored safety regulations, and who knows when these assholes will be up and running again. ABC reports that Fung Wah drivers are in the bottom 3 percent nationwide in driver fitness, which measures training levels and experience. A big thank you to the Department of Transportation for saving hundreds of people from a ride on the Poopy Bus of Death.

    The End.

     


  15. Be a Better…Cook.

    Low-Carb Waffle Edition:

    Usually low carb food is pretty good…steak, shrimp, veggies, etc. but when you try to make carb foods into low-carb foods, sometimes the result is dismal at best. It’s like getting a cat because you can’t have a dog…it’s just not the same shit and they still poop in a box.

    Last night however, I stumbled upon something that changed the direction of my life path. OK, maybe it was just a low-carb waffle, but seriously y’all, it was fantastic. 

    Now I thought, a savory waffle not made of any floury goodness? Sounds like bullshit to me. But try them, you’ll thank me later. 

    Low-Carb Savory Cheese Waffle: (adapted from Your Lighter Side)

    • 1 cup riced (grated), raw cauliflower (should resemble coarse crumbs)
    • 1/2 cup mozzarella shredded cheese
    • 1/2 cup cheddar shredded cheese
    • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 1 Tbsp fresh chives
    • 1/3 cup cooked and finely chopped turkey bacon

    Mix all your ingredients together (warning, the batter won’t be runny like waffle batter) in a large bowl. Heat your waffle maker and spray with a tiny bit of non-stick cooking spray. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, spoon batter into the waffle iron and spread out loosely over the surface. Cook for 4 minutes, and then take a look and see if your waffle is ready. Remove after throughly browned. Cool on a wire rack for a minute or two to promote crispiness and you’re ready to nosh. 

    Makes 6 Waffles or 5 Texas shaped waffles (in my case)

    These would be bonkers with low-carb fried chicken and sugar free syrup. Just saying. 

    Do it. 

    xo Chinae