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Kind365: The Beginning

 Day 1: My first act of kindness in 2016 was writing thank you notes for our fabulous doormen. These gentlemen do much more than just guard our home and receive our packages. They meet us every morning and every evening with big smiles and warm greetings, making us feel like part of a community. 

Greg never fails to ask me how my day was, expressing genuine concern in how I am. Vladimir teases us for our love of Amazon. Frank sends me out into the world on the right foot each morning with a hot cup of coffee. These men have made our apartment home, for which I am deeply grateful.  

Day 2: I found myself in Grand Central Station this morning en route to visit some friends in Connecticut. While waiting to buy my ticket I overheard a man asking people to help him buy his next meal. Realizing that the spare dollar I had in my wallet would mean much more to him than me, I gave him it in the hopes that it helps him buy some food.

As I sat on my train a woman and her son came down the aisle, clearly in distress. The mother explained that they were a bit short on train fare and asked the other passengers for help. 

It instantly brought me back to a time my mom and I hopped on a departing train without tickets, only to find out once we sat down that we didn’t have enough cash on us to pay for the marked up onboard fare. We were lucky enough to be surrounded by generous people who helped up make up the difference.  

 I stood up alongside a few other kind  passengers to help the mother buy their tickets. I hope one day they return the favor to an unlucky family who miscalculated how much money they had for their tickets. 

 

Kind365

Oh, January 1st. The one day we all reflect on the past year (often
wallowing in our failures) and make bold proclamations to change everything in the coming year (often lofty and extreme resolutions but with good intentions.) After all, who amongst us doesn’t hope to be better in the new year, however “better” is defined?

It is my general opinion that resolutions can, and should, be made through the year. They don’t happy 2016need to be bound by a calendar. Self-improvement is important, as is the self-reflection that urges people to improve. Nevertheless, upon reflection of my year I’ve hopped on the bandwagon, deciding to make a bold, potentially lofty resolution in hopes of being better in 2016.

I’ve resolved to commit an act of kindness every day for one year. 365 days of kindness big or small, planned or unplanned, elaborate or simple.

While I believe I am a kind person, I think I could make a more concerted effort to spread kindness. Sometimes I find myself completely caught up in the stresses of my life, carried away by the impatient pace of the city. It’s those times when I’m disappointed by my lack of compassion toward others and the ease of which I overlook those in need.

My goal this year is to be kind to at least one person each day, with the hope that the acts of kindness spark a chain reaction that is carried out by others. I hope to make people smile, brighten people’s days, send good vibes into the world, and make myself focus on others rather than on myself.

Since it is a pretty unanimous feeling that New Year’s resolutions are difficult to keep for a full year I’ve decided to blog about my efforts to keep myself honest. I’ll be posting about my resolution on social media with #Kind365 for anyone who wants to follow along.

Wish me luck!

fireworks

DIY colorful painted houseplant pots

All four pots

Final product of my DIY painted planters.

I have a dark confession: I don’t like houseplants. I know for some that’s a crazy concept and it makes me out to be a nature-hating city dweller. That is far from the truth. I love nature and the outdoors. But, for whatever reason houseplants aren’t my thing.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend is big into the houseplant scene. In an effort to be the type of person who can compromise for the ones she loves (blah, blah…) I concocted a devious plan to bring pops of color and design to his green friends. I decided that in smaller, aesthetically interesting pots I could learn to love the plants, or at least cohabitate with them.

This plan brought me to Pinterest and then to Home Depot – a dangerous string of events. My creations were inspired by posts on Eva Daiberi’s blog Miss Renaissance and Amanda Wright’s blog Wit & Whistle. The posts offered tips and techniques that proved to be advantageous.

Overall, this project was fairly cost efficient. I escaped Home Depot only $25 poorer as I already had paints, brushes and some plants. I bought a succulent and a cactus because I think they’re more interesting than the large leafy green plants we already had. My suggestion is to underbuy when you’re taking on a new DIY project as you may have things you can substitute in at home or you may end up hating the project. If you don’t like that philosophy just make sure to save the receipt. Here is everything I needed:

Supplies: 

-Plants

Terra Cota pots and bases

-Cactus

-Succulent

-Acrylic paint and brushes

-Painters tape

-Rubberband

-Water cup

On To Painting

If you want vibrant, deep colors you first need to prime your planters. Basic white acrylic paint works fine. Primer helps display the color as it is lighter than the paint and the pot. I wanted to experiment with multiple looks so I tried some pots with and without primer.

I painted this entire pot white because I wanted to cover it completely with a bright yellow. After it dried I used painters tape to block off a triangle. It took two coats of paint for each to ensure it was opaque.

I primed the entire planter to prepare for a design that covered the whole body.

I primed the entire planter to prepare for a design that covered the whole body.

I left the base the original terra cotta color since the pot has so much going on.

I left the base the original terra cotta color since the pot has so much going on.

Next I played around with color blocking. I took two approaches here, one with a rubber band and one with tape. Wrapping a rubber band at a diagonal around the pot helped me create a clean line with a nice curve. These pots look like they were dipped in a paint can.

For a curved color block look I used a rubber band.

For a curved color block look I used a rubber band.

Finished rubber band planter

I painted a turquoise color over the primed portion that was blocked off by the band.

To get the ombre look below I taped off the bottom half of the pot. It gave me a clean line level across the pot. I painted the bottom half red and then worked yellow paint into it from the top to create the fade. I made sure not to paint over the faded area too much so as not to mix orange.

Cactus

After a bit of repotting and resoiling I now have colorful plants scattered through my living room. This was an easier project than I originally anticipated and a great deal of fun! I would definitely recommend it for anyone that wants to spruce up the look of their houseplants.

New summertime recipe

Naked Greek Feta-Zucchini Turkey Burgers

In my never-ending attempt to eat healthy I have become bored with my staple menu of low-cal, low-sodium, low-carb, low-fat, easy-to-make recipes. While each was beloved at first, they’ve lost their appeal with repetition. I decided it was time to spice things up. (Oh the joy of cooking puns…)

Seen here grating zucchini. A more treacherous exercise than I first gave it credit for. After the zucchini is grated you have to squeeze a surprising amount of liquid out of it  as it is mostly made of water.

Grating zucchini is a more treacherous exercise than I first gave it credit. After, you have to squeeze a surprising amount of liquid out of it as it is mostly made of water.

My first stop in search of a new recipe is always SkinnyTaste.com, curated by Gina Homolka. In nearly two years of experimentation, her dishes have never disappointed. She uses healthier ingredients and methods but still manages to retain full flavor. I’ve also pushed myself out of my comfort zone trying my hand at some of her recipes, ultimately improving my skill in the kitchen.

Searching for inspiration last night I happened upon her post for naked Greek feta-zucchini turkey burgers. Feta cheese, burger, naked…how could I resist?

This had me tearing up more than I'd like to admit.

This had me tearing up more than I’d like to admit.

Worried at first having never used grated zucchini in a dish and never making a burger, Gina walked me through the steps with grace and ease (on her end seemingly at least…mine however involved a few narrow misses of grating my fingertips and breaking one of the patties mid-flip…)

In the end, the burgers and the Greek salad were absolutely fantastic! A perfect mix of garlicky goodness in a moist burger, which Gina says is due to the zucchini. This is one of my favorite cooking adventures that I have taken with Gina to date.

The hidden gem of this recipe is the Greek salad you make to go with the burger. I'll be making this with many meals from now on.

The hidden gem of this recipe is the Greek salad you make to go with the burger. I’ll be making this with many meals from now on.

What I’m reading these days

Photograph by Kate Ter Haar

Photograph by Kate Ter Haar

So far the summer has given me a wonderful opportunity to catch up on my reading. I’ve had time to escape into fiction, discover new fitness trends and follow stories that pique my interest. In the event you’re looking for some light distraction from the Monday grind, this is what I have been reading by as of late.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

This fantasy fiction novel is the perfect read for anyone who waited for their Hogwarts acceptance letter or hoped to travel to a magical land through their bedroom closet. I was introduced to the trilogy while working with Syfy network on the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Upfront. Syfy will soon premiere a TV show based on Grossman’s series that looks fantastic. As any true bookworm can attest, I had to read at least the first installment before the show began and, let me say, I am now a big, big fan.

10 Cool Podcasts Every Woman Should Know by Madison Feller

There’s no doubt about it, radio is making a comeback in the form of the podcast. After falling victim to NPR’s Serial, as many did, I have a new found appreciation for the medium. This article from Levo League highlights 10 podcasts that are especially appealing to women. First up on my list is Dear Sugar, featuring the one and only Cheryl Strayed.

Blast Calories With This Full-Body Tabata Workout by Anna Renderer

To say that I’m addicted to Popsugar Fitness would be an understatement. Their daily email newsletter is the first thing I check in the morning and my go-to lunch time debrief. They have great health and fitness tips, videos, recipes and routines. Lately I’ve been varying my workouts, focusing on exercise classes and HIIT routines because plantar fasciitis has me taking a break from running. Anna Renderer has nearly every type of fitness video you can imagine and is a fantastic virtual trainer. My goal is to some day work with her in person.

Lauren Conrad Bans the Word “Skinny” from her Website by The Hollywood Reporter staff

Hooray!! I was thrilled to read that style and lifestyle icon Lauren Conrad banned body shaming terms, such as “skinny,” “slim,” and “thin” from her popular site. Whether you like LC or not she is an influential figure to women and girls around the country. Many covet her site for tips on fitness, health, cooking, fashion and home decor. In my opinion, this is a win for the fight against negative female body imagery found all over the media, especially on health and fitness platforms. Conrad is taking a step in the right direction to give young girls positive, healthy role models to look up to.

Which Social Network Should You Advertise On? by Olivia Allen 

Olivia Allen breaks down the pros and cons of using LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook for advertising and when companies should focus on which platform.