With spring kicking off in March, I have a rather long post for you all this month. Lots of good things going on is a good sign, right?
7 Minute Workout [App]
I’ve been trying to find ways to make it easier for me to commit to fitness. Right now, I’m really enjoying the 7 Minutes app (I use this one on Google Play, but there are many that have slightly different UIs and several available on iTunes as well). I picked this one over some other popular ones (like Nike’s N+TC) because I don’t need any equipment for the exercises as 7 Minute uses only body weight exercises.
If you’re unfamiliar with tabata or circuit/interval training, the default 7 Minutes workout involves 13 different workouts that you do for 30 seconds each with 10 seconds of rest in-between. The science backing this workout says that intense bursts of activity followed by shorter intervals of rest are super effective in working your muscles, and you’re able to maximize the benefits of exercise in only 7 minutes.
As someone who often has a hard time committing to fitness regimens that aren’t a paid-for group class, finding 7 minutes to do something, no matter how painful those 7 minutes may be, seems much more doable than doing half an hour of exercise three times a week. I am trying to do as many days in a row as I can without taking breaks while completing one circuit, since the app tracks how many days in a row you’ve done the exercises, how far into the exercises you got, how many times (if any) you paused, and how many days of exercise you’ve done in the past 30 days. If you’re a fan of the “Don’t Break the Chain” method of forming habits popularized by Jerry Seinfeld, you’ll love that feature.
(Images from Google Play store)
Along the same vein, my boyfriend and I recently decided to give fitness trackers a try. Not wanting to commit a lot, we found one of the most affordable options out there: the Misfit Flash, which is a lower-end tracker made by the folks who also make the Misfit Shine. The tracker itself is whatever to me: it’s made of cheaper materials but gets the job done and has an option for you to clip it or wear it on your wrist.
The app is what I like. The UI is really nice, although I wish the Android one was as nice/robust as the iOS one. I can connect it to RunKeeper, for the handful of times I decide to run, and MyFitnessPal, because I understand that being aware of what I eat is really important to my overall fitness.
You earn “points” for your physical activity (so mostly for walking, as it counts your steps) and I like the social element if only so I can compete with my boyfriend. One thing I also like is that it shows how you rank with the average males/females using the app. “Missfit” is on my leaderboard and I think that’s a neat feature.
Also, we really wanted to look into sleep tracking. I used a sleep tracking app, but I don’t like keeping my phone on my bed, so this is a nice alternative. It has issues as far as not being able to track naps, not tracking if you wake up and go back to sleep, if you have irregular sleep hours, etc., but it’s a nice way to get more data about my sleep habits. And I’m all about dat data.
(Images from Google Play store)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
I usually don’t watch super trendy shows (see: Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc.), usually because I don’t know about them when they premiere and then because I feel like I am being peer-pressured to start watching it. (Looking at you, Doctor Who and the Tumblr propaganda that eventually got me to watch.) This definitely applies to Netflix shows, because I don’t really like the idea of sitting down and binge-watching a season of a show the day it is released to the public. (See: why I don’t watch House of Cards despite the fact that, as a show about DC, I have friends who can be seen as extras.)
When Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was announced a short while back, I fully intended to not watch it. I like Tina Fey (the producer) and all, but I didn’t watch 30 Rock, I’m not a die-hard Tina Fey fan, I don’t feel anything about Ellie Kemper or Jane Krakowski, the premise was quirky but not enough where I felt really compelled to watch it… I just didn’t really have any motive to watch. But then I heard that Ki-Hong Lee was on the show… as a love interest, no less! I love Ki-Hong (his smile takes over his whole face… and yours) and I am all for Asian male love interests.
So, I sat down to watch the show and really liked it! It’s 30-minute episodes, which made the 12-episode season much more digestible than shows where the run-time lasts closer to an hour. It’s a light-hearted comedy, which meant that I was able to breeze through episodes not only without being stressed and tense for the next one but while laughing as well. It’s definitely a bit too edgy/quirky for television and perfect for the Internet. It’s super self-aware and smartly written. I recommend it if you’ve been wondering about this show.
Even though it snowed half a foot the first week of March (… you think I’m joking), the weekend immediately following that storm gave us our first taste of spring weather. I had my windows open! The snow thawed almost immediately and left immense puddles everywhere! I went outside in jeans without a pair of leggings underneath them!
Cleaning my room has been on my to-do list for a while. When I started getting overwhelmed with my many tasks, I would feel worse about the fact that my room was messy and I hadn’t cleaned it yet. This would drive me into a guilt spiral that was further aggravated by the fact that I can’t actually stand messes. Evidently, my method of coping with a mess is usually to be driven so mad by it that I am reduced to doing… nothing, about the mess or anything else in my life.
But, on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, a breath of fresh air gave me the kick I needed to actually clean. I told myself I would only clean my room and save cleaning the rest of the apartment as a roommate activity, since I don’t get to see my roommate too often. But as soon as I broke out my vacuum, I wound up vacuuming the entire apartment and wiping down almost every surface. Oops! I even (finally) took down my Christmas lights that were in a Christmas tree arrangement and rearranged them in a non-holiday way, as I’ve always liked the look of rooms with soft fairy lights.
Now I walk into my apartment and my room and feel so at peace rather than irritated and angry at myself. It is one fewer obstacle to me actually doing things I need to do. This doesn’t mean I do those things, but I have one fewer excuse now.
With the shift in the weather and a desperate need to do something productive, I have been enjoying cooking even more than I usually do. Not only have I been cooking, I’m cooking less familiar foods. This includes:
Pancakes from scratch and not from a mix! (I almost never have flour and this is my first time having baking powder in the pantry)
Ridiculously fluffy pancakes
Mickey Mouse pancakes!
Mac & cheese with cheese sauce from scratch (I had to purchase cheese???)
Scallion pancakes from scratch
No photos to share this time around, but let me know what you’d like to see me make in the future!
“Chinese Female Bodyguards”
A friend of mine shared this VICE video on Facebook and I soaked up every single one of its 12 minutes. Because of the absurdly fast-growing Chinese upper class, which includes many powerful businesswomen, there is a growing demand for female bodyguards. Not only is it more practical and safe for women to have a female bodyguard, but having a bodyguard is, in and of itself, a status symbol, and the Chinese upper class is obsessed with displaying status symbols.
It resonated with me, personally, because the women are taught “feminine” things such as walking in heels and putting on makeup. This is not because they need to be “more feminine”, but rather, in China, wearing heels and makeup is a way to demonstrate your respect of other people. In this case, the trainees want to show respect to their clients and their clients’ colleagues.
Also, since assault weapons are illegal in China, bodyguards must be highly skilled in martial arts. We’re not talking Jet Li The Bodyguard from Beijing level skills, but those would be really helpful because bodyguards cannot legally carry weapons. (Side note: That is my mom’s favorite Jet Li movie and it’s a good one.)
The movie is from 1994… and it shows. But I love it.
Late Night Happy Hours
I am all about happy hour for one main reason: excellent food deals. In fact, I am really baffled by people who only drink during happy hour? We’re in his bar from 6-8 and you don’t want to eat food? But you had lunch hours ago?
Anyway, what I’m really into right now is late night happy hours, since happy hour can be harder to coordinate in the DC area with folks living in Maryland, the District proper, and Virginia. A Friday night late night menu special is perfect for those situations. I went to the one at City Perch two Fridays in a row and really like the food. The service is another story but the food and drink specials are SUPER GREAT. I have definitely found myself suggesting this as an option more than once to my friends. This is a time in my life when I can really take advantage of the fact that I am more of a night owl, as I’ll only start wanting to sleep at 8 PM more and more as I get older.
I’ve been working on this post all through March and it’s hard to believe how long ago watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or stress-cleaning my entire apartment feels now.
April is shaping up to be jam-packed with lots of fun, and it’s BEDA so you are going to have random things to read whether they’re quality or not!
What were your highlights from March?
What are you looking forward to in April?
First of all, huge shout-out to MyTix, which gives people ages 18-30 or who are active duty members of the armed forces access to crazy discounted tickets to performances at the Kennedy Center.
These are not some dinky $2 discounts, either. You can see shows at something like 75% off the regular ticket price, in really great seats, for really amazing shows. You can look at a show and see that tickets cost $50-$150 depending on your seats, but then buy them on MyTix for about $20.
What’s the catch? You might have to fight for these tickets. To the death.
My friend Annie told me that the NSO Pops was doing a tribute to musical theater duo Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (you may know them from their most famous musical, Les Miserables) featuring the flawless Lea Salonga (you may know her as the singing voice of Disney’s Jasmine and Mulan).
For a measly $19. Say what?! Pause that spending freeze, I needed to get in on this.
Tickets for “Do You Hear the People Sing?” went on sale for MyTix members at 10 AM. So you best believe I was on the website at 9:55, ready to refresh at a moment’s notice. I was armed and ready. I had coordinated with Annie so that my seat was next to hers when…
… I never got a ticket confirmation. I looked at my ticket page and the ORDER DIDN’T GO THROUGH. Panic mode engaged.
I must have typed in my credit card number wrong (typical) and luckily for me, my seat was saved. I made it. I did not think I would ever be able to afford Kennedy Center tickets before a more respectable age but here I was, going to my first show at this amazing venue.
First of all, there is a free shuttle that goes to the Kennedy Center, and on the shuttle ride I was able to listen to classical music and smooth jazz. I mean, honestly, I could’ve just sat on that shuttle bus and rode around DC if not for how crowded it was.
Second of all, the venue is spectacular. I didn’t manage to snap a photo of the main hall, but there are flags on either side and a paper cut art installation at the end when you walk in:
The show itself was so marvelous. It was so well-structured, the transitions were done very nicely. The orchestra was, of course, superb, as was conductor Steve Reineke.
But let’s talk about the ineffable Lea Salonga for a moment. Oh Lea. There was so much talent on that stage over the course of the show but Lea demonstrated the best vocal control up there. In my head, I reasoned that these other Broadway stars were just intimidated being in the presence of Lea Salonga because, well, I would! Save for Terrence Mann, who is such a seasoned performer that he doesn’t need to feel nervous around anyone ever, the other singers didn’t seem to have the same control of their voices that Lea did: strained verses, losing control and going sharp, little things that I’ve come to expect Broadway performers to not do. No one is perfect, so I don’t think I really would have taken notice if Lea Salonga wasn’t so incredible and on her game. (But I’m a biased fangirl. What do I actually know?) (Answer: Nothing. I don’t know anything. What is a blog?)
Boublil and Schönberg are best known for Les Mis as well as Miss Saigon, two shows that I would say Lea Salonga is also best known for starring in, so our tribute concert began with some pieces from Miss Saigon, came around with La Révolution Française and The Pirate Queen, and finally indulged us with Les Mis.
What I really loved about the show was the insights to each musical and song that we got. It wasn’t just “Here’s a song from Miss Saigon, enjoy!” Someone on stage (the maestro or one of the singers) would explain the context of the writing of the musical, the context of the song within the musical, the background of the singer performing, and more. Truthfully.. <leans in close> I’ve only seen Les Mis. But I could still appreciate that a naïve 17-year-old Lea Salonga was taught how to make love to a man onstage by her male director for Miss Saigon. And that The Pirate Queen was conceptualized after a suggestion from Riverdance.
The entire program was excellent, marvelous, spectacular, magical. The best part was at the end. We had this amazing surprise:
Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg came out!!!
Literally, I gasped in unison with the theater. We did not expect the composers themselves to be there! They popped out for just a brief moment and then ducked back out, but I mean… I actually stopped breathing. What a surprise. Their music brought us all here, and it brought them out as well.
Super magical spectacular evening. And my friend was so worried that “Do You Hear the People Sing” wasn’t in the program. Come on. It’s the name of the show, it’s obviously the encore piece. 🙂
What are you favorite Broadway musicals?
What are your favorite concert/arts venues?
It is time for Blog Every Day April here on sipofstarrshine.com. I have been attempting to BEDA for a while now here and on my old blogs and am never successful in achieving 30 posts in 30 consecutive days.
I don’t know if this is the year that changes, but I’ll never know if I don’t try!
With that being said, I am trying to have some drafts ready to publish for days that I know I will not have content ready. April is always one of the busiest months of my year and this year is no exception. Even though I am trying to plan ahead for those days, I still get this feeling I’m going to fall off the wagon. My weekends usually suffer the most here, so please do not be alarmed if you don’t see a post during those days.
But no more talk of failure! Forget these wide-eyed fears. I’m here; nothing will harm you. My words will warm and calm you. (PotO fans?)
Will you join in BEDA? (Who will be strong and stand with me?) (Really on that musical theater kick, apparently.) Any suggestions for posts I can do during BEDA? (Besides Europe recaps :P)