Thursday, March 31, 2011


So, things are humming along. I'm eating, I'm moving, I'm watching less TV. No major epiphanies yet...but you all will be the first to know when I start having moments of healthy living brilliance!

Until then, let's talk about fun and frivolous things! Here are my...

5 Favorite Things Right This Second

1. New spring bag/bright fun wallet

Tote: H&M/wallet: Kate Spade
Is there anything better than breaking in a new bag at the start of a new season? I actually bought this one just before Christmas (am I the only one who treats myself while I'm shopping for others?), but the slouchy canvas and black/white combo just seemed more appropriate for spring. I think it will move nicely into summer, too -- perfect size and shape for day-tripping/site-seeing/theme-parking!

And the perfect companion to a neutral bag is a pop of color in a fun wallet. I LOVE this wallet -- my second favorite Christmas gift this year (and this one was actually from Santa, not myself). The bright color and super-polished patent leather is so impossibly cheery. I smile every time I see it! Bonus: the design is so well thought out, there are plenty of pockets and card slots and I can actually stay organized. Hooray for not fumbling with my Metrocard every single day!

2. iPad

Always close at hand

Everyone and their brother (and Oprah) have proclaimed their love for the iPad, so this is not a groundbreaking pick. But it is as great as everyone says. I thought I'd use it mostly for travel (dozens of books and movies and games in my carry-on? Yes please!), but I actually use it for something-or-other every single day. Right now I'm obsessed with Harbor Master -- it is the dumbest game ever and I love it. I can't wait to play around with the Garage Band app -- practically a full sound production studio in your palm for five bucks! I'm playing around with lots of different fitness/run tracking apps, too. I'll post about some of my favorites soon.

I've been searching high and low for a decent iPad case -- it shouldn't be that hard! I'm looking for something pretty and functional, and I did have this crazy idea that the case should cost LESS than the iPad itself. I'm almost ready to pull the trigger on this pretty little number:

Nordstrom Crackle Metallic iPad Case ($48)

I hope it looks as good in person!

3. Bronx Zoo Cobra 

So you probably heard that one of the Bronx Zoo's resident cobras decided to go MIA this week. I am totally bummed she was found this afternoon, I have been thoroughly enjoying this week's snake-related humor. Not sure if she will be able to keep tweeting from her enclosure, but do yourself a favor and follow @BronxZoosCobra to read all about her adventures this week.

Hard to pick a favorite from so many classics, but this one made me laugh for hours:

Bronx Zoo's Cobra
City may not sleep, but I'm ready to. Ooh a chimney! I bet you bragged to your friends about having a
working fireplace in NYC. Hi roomie.

4. IKEA Expedit for your desktop

OK, raise your hand if you love the Expedit bookshelf from IKEA!  LOVE mine -- such a great, functional piece of furniture, such a dramatic focal point in my apartment. Have I ever mentioned that I live in a tiny (less than 400 sq. ft.) apartment? I'll do some posts in the future about small space living, but the Expedit plays a big part in keeping my apartment organized and looking good.

And now I can have one on my desktop. How cute is this!? You can change your icons into all of the adorable IKEA boxes and files that we know and love. I can't wait to get my desktop as neatly organized as my real bookshelf You can choose from 4 different color backgrounds -- I picked the violet, which is perfect for spring (note: hear that, April Fools' Day Nor'easter? I have a violet desktop background now, so you must CEASE TO EXIST!).

Check it out for yourself here on Unplugged (and thanks to Nicole at Making it Lovely for Tweeting this today!).

5. Easter candy

Candy eaten near Runner's World does not have calories
What is it about this time of year that inspires the candy makes to create such works of genius? Who knew there were so many delicious things that you can stuff into a chocolate egg? Valentine's Day and Halloween have nothing on this holiday.

I also really like the fact that there are so many portion-controlled options. I can't have a bag of Hershey's Kisses in my apartment (well I can, but not for long...), but this time of year I know I can grab one of these little single serving treats and get my chocolate fix without going overboard.

Oh, and I almost forgot my final favorite thing right this second: tomorrow is Friday! Everyone do the Friday dance!

Edit: fixed some of the photos, some of them went really wonky. I need to learn to use my camera a little better.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pretty, please.

I love makeup. LOVE!

Inner beauty is most important of course, but being the super-girly girl that I am, I don't mind spending some time working on my outer beauty, too.

Over the years, I have experimented with all different brands and products. Since I sadly don't have an unlimited Sephora fund, I have become pretty good at figuring out which products are worth a splurge and which drugstore items are great bargains. Here are just a few of my secret weapons:

-Stila Illuminating Liquid Foundation ($38)

Flawless, glowy skin is always the goal -- even with great nutrition, hydration, and exercise, a good foundation helps create a perfect canvas. I often splurge here because I find the pricey foundations usually have great ingredients and super creamy formulations that make them go on easily and last longer.

I love all Stila products, but this one stands out as a real winner. The formulation is creamy, silky, and offers a perfect medium coverage -- not so much that you feel like you're wearing a mask, but enough to do the job and cover little imperfections. It adds the right amount of brightness, too. No glitter, no weird shimmer - it just turns up the wattage.

If dropping $30-40 on foundation doesn't sound like a great time to you there are some good drugstore options. I love L'Oreal foundations, and I usually have a bottle on hand in case of emergency (note: what constitutes a foundation emergency? Well, once I was getting ready for the night and was running late as usual. I couldn't find my foundation anywhere -- turns out that I had tossed it in my gym bag after a workout and it was hiding in the toe of my boot, not to be discovered for a few days. Since then, I like to have a spare or two lying around).

CONCEALER: Splurge, for serious.
-AmazingConcealer To Go ($28)

This is my favorite. I use it under my tired little eyes, and I swear they should call it Sleep in a Tube. They should give it out to new mothers, stressed-out college students, brides, early bird gym rats...pretty much everyone! 10 different shades cover so many different skin tones, another plus (this Peacock is the fairest of the fair, so I pick whatever shade looks most like White-Out).

Go with the smaller tube, it will last forever. And when people keep telling you how young and fabulous you look and millionaires start proposing marriage, you won't be thinking about the measly 28 bucks you spent.

BLUSH: Splurge (there are some bargains coming soon, I promise)
-Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick ($38)

There are quite a few blushes in my rotation, and I find that the ones I like best are of the non-drugstore variety. I love Benefit's blush boxes and tints, and Nars makes lots of things to make your cheeks pop (like the hilariously named Super Orgasm). Right now, my must have is Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Brick. I like the Rose color, but there are a few different shades (including a bronze-y one that I might try if I ever develop anything that looks like a hint of a tan).

This is great for so many reasons. You can swirl a big brush across the whole brick and hit the apples of your cheeks for a bright pop of blush; you can smudge the darker colors in the creases of your eyes for an easy shadow option (just use your fingers); the light color makes a great highlighter, especially right in the corners of your eyes. This is a great little compact to throw in your purse so you can touch up during the day, and its great to travel with, especially if you're trying to pack light (I love ANY product that doesn't give me problems when I go through airport security).

MASCARA: Steal - yay!
-L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara, Carbon Black (about $7)

Excellent drugstore staple to have in your bag (especially since you're supposed to replace your mascara every 3 months -- do you all do that?). Some people like that mascara in the pink and green tube (you know the one I mean), but to me Voluminous is the real superstar. Super thick, super flirty lashes in just a few swipes. The Carbon Black shade is VERY similar to one of the fancy brands (cough DiorShow cough).  The best part is the price -- always less than 10 bucks, but I often find it on sale at Target for $5!

-Nivea Lip Care, A Kiss of Shimmer ($3-ish)

Every once in a while I'll spend more on a fancy lip product, but in general I am happy with the things I find at the drugstore for a couple of reasons:

- SO many colors to pick from
- Lots of drugstores let you return makeup after you've tried it on, so you don't get stuck with a dud
- I will definitely lose my lip products within weeks (days?) of purchase

This is actually more of a lip balm but it has a nice hint of color -- looks good and good for you, can't beat that! I am not a big fan of shimmer on my lips so I usually blot a little after applying to cut some of the shine -- but if you like your pucker to be glossy, more power to you! I like this pink shade, but check out the other colors, too.

These are just a few of my faves -- what are your must-have makeup secret weapons?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Alison's Reasons Why Not

First, can I say once again how grateful I am for all of the brilliant and inspirational bloggers out there? Love you to pieces, I learn something (or many somethings) new every single day!

I have been thinking about a great post by Elle, one of the genius contributors at Prior Fat Girl, that I read a few weeks ago. She shared one of her strategies for fortifying her willpower in the face of the many, many temptations that cross out paths every day.

I feel like I am fighting this battle constantly. I know that eventually (once I am in the zone) I will be much better at saying no... but for right now, when temptation comes along I am susceptible. When I saw that box of delicious pastries in the office last week (provided in honor of a departing co-worker, who is actually diabetic -- yes, I work with geniuses), my brain convinced my hand that it was a very good idea to grab one (or two, or...) and indulge.

Elle's strategy is to think about your bigger goals and have a list of those goals at the ready so you can really determine if that treat is worth it. What do you want more, a cookie or a new wardrobe/more energy/a teeny bikini? And she says it even more eloquently than that! Check it out for yourself HERE.

In the spirit of Elle, I present to you my list of things more important than that very tempting (fill in the blank) -- otherwise known as:

Alison's Reasons Why Not

1. I want to run a marathon
2. I want to be able to BRAG to people I ran a marathon
3. I miss my 2005-era wardrobe, which fits a smaller, fitter girl. It is really lovely, and contains things like this little DVF number:
So much better in person. Also, remind me to tell you the story behind this dress -- an old-fashioned NYC shopping triumph. It was fated to be mine!

4. I want to comfortably fit in the small seats on the subway -- I ride a crowded train and I HATE passing on a seat because it is too squishy
5. I want to live for a long, long time -- long enough to be a sassy grandma who wears fabulous, funky jewelry and that crazy bright pink lipstick
6. I want to ride a zip line through the jungles of Costa Rica (and other adventure-ish type stuff)
7. I want to wear skinny jeans and tall boots (and leggings! God, those look comfy)
8. I want glowy skin and tons of energy
9. I want to be a good example

and finally, my immediate source of motivation...

10. I am spending a week at the Beach Club Resort in WDW this summer, and I want to feel more comfortable splashing around Stormalong Bay in my bathing suit

Wish I was here....

Tomorrow is a new day, and I know there will be times when I don't want to fight, when it will be easier to skip the workout and eat things I don't need. But hopefully now I'll remember to ask myself an important question: How important are my goals -- do I want to get closer to them, or do I want to push them even further out of reach?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What would they say?

So I had an interesting experience this weekend that got me thinking...

I have a neighbor who I am friendly with -- we say hi in the laundry room, we talk about our dogs, etc. What is a little weird is that though we always say hi to each other, we never actually introduced ourselves. After a few months it just seemed odd to say, "Oh, and I'm Alison...what's your name?". Weird, I know -- feels like something that would happen to characters on an NBC sitcom. Sometimes I feel like I missed the day in kindergarten where they taught normal social interaction and I am just slightly awkward in that department.

Last time this neighbor and I spoke, she mentioned she wanted to give me something and I figured we she would do so next time we ran into each other. But I walked into the building on Friday and the doorman had something for me -- it was a note from my nameless neighbor with the info she promised. It was addressed to me and signed with her name, so at least the introductions were finally out of the way!

But it got me thinking...she must have asked the doorman about me in order to get my name and I wondered, "If someone had to describe me, what would they say?"

People in my building are young and attractive. I don't know if it is intentional or by accident, but this is just a good looking building. Lots of people who look like models (maybe they are...they're kind of moody and aloof). Plenty of young doctors, too (there is a hospital nearby). And then there are the doctors who look like models....our own little Grey's Anatomy. I do not fit into any of these categories.

So I started playing out the conversation between my neighbor and the doorman in my head. First, I tried to think the best. Maybe she referred to my little pup:

"I have a note for the girl with Audrey, the super adorable dachshund -- do you know her name?"
Gratuitous Audrey photo - she wasn't crazy about her Christmas look

Then, I thought maybe she threw in a descriptor or two:

"I have something for the tall brunette who owns the world's cutest dachshund -- do you know who I mean?"

Finally, I thought the worst:

"I want to leave a note for that bigger girl in the building -- you know, that one chubby girl who lives here? The girl with the great personality?"


I'll never know, but I hope that in the next few months I'll give the rest of the world a new way to look at me. Here are some of the ways I envision being described:

"Do you know that girl who is always in running clothes? She's kind of a blur in the neighborhood..."

I'll even take:

"There's that girl who is always red-faced and sweaty. 'Cause she's such a hardcore runner!"

And one day...

"Hey, who is that girl who's like a younger, less man-stealing Angelina Jolie?"

If you just squint and tilt your head a bit...
(Photo credit:

It COULD happen. I am sometimes told I look like Liv Tyler...and more often, Xena Warrior Princess. Angelina Jolie isn't THAT far off....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In the Zone

"I'm up against the speaker, tryin' to take on the music
It's like a competition, me against the beat
I wanna get in the zone, I wanna get in the zone"

-Britney Spears

Sing it, Britney!  

This is where I am right now, trying my hardest to get in the zone. You know what I mean: when making all of the right choices comes naturally and you're just cruising. You're chugging your protein shake with a pep in your step on the way to the subway (or however you get to work --car, bike, pogo stick); you have energy to tackle your vigorous workouts and even MORE energy when you're done; you're able to anticipate and sidestep those sneaky saboteurs to healthy living (endless office birthdays, client dinners, well-meaning-but-pushy relatives). It is almost effortless, and it feels GREAT.

It has been a while since I've been in the zone, and it feels like I am going to have to fight and claw my way back there. Where I am now: no time and no energy for my workouts; bad meal planning; eagerness to indulge in any and every treat that makes its way into the office. 

Mmm...donuts. I'm a sucker for the pretty pink ones.
But I've done it before and I can do it again. Here are the steps I'm taking to get back in the zone and get my healthy mojo back:

1. Admit that I'm not perfect, and that's OK

What? No, never!!! Type A personality in the house! OK, moving on...

2. Make the time

"I don't have time" is the oldest, most cliche excuse in the world, and I am no cliche. I'm going to work hard over the next month to make time for a daily 30 minute workout (at least) and a weekly grocery shop/meal prep session. 
I kick it old school -- I actually still use a paper planner. LOVE this cute one from Whomi (you can find it on Amazon). The color coding helps keep track of different projects, different family members, etc. I use one of the colors to keep track of my training.
I need to break my bad habits and make some new good ones, and I need to pencil even the simplest tasks into my schedule until they become second nature.

3. Find Inspiration!

Really, there is nothing more inspirational than reading the great healthy living blogs out there (check out my blog roll for some of my faves). Thank you, ladies! So many of you are in zone hard core, and it is really amazing to read about all of the races being run and goals being achieved while women just like me kick-ass at their jobs, plan weddings (everyone is engaged! I hope it is contagious ;)), raise kids, etc. Again and again I am reminded that if you do the work, you get the results. I'm going to get there, too!

4. Remember my goals

I want to run a marathon. I want to be a runner. I want to look great in my clothes. I want to have tons of energy.

(Insert Peacock Here)

5. Turn off the TV

A little weird, but let me explain. I am a bit of a TV junkie, I could sit and watch the pretty moving pictures for hours. But recently I have come to realize two things:

-The quality of the programming I choose is, um, not good
-It is a total time suck! Even when I try to turn it on for some "background noise", I find that I end up on parked on the couch wasting precious minutes (...or hours...or weekends).
Basically, I am overindulging on TV junk food: too much crap, too often. It isn't good for my body, and it is doing nothing for my brain. I am going to rely on my trusty DVR to record the shows that are worth my time (The Daily Show, Glee, Judge Judy), I'm going to Netflix the good shows that I have missed out on (please don't tell me to watch The Wire -- I know!) and use my old TV time to take Audrey to the park, go for a run, or read one of the million books I am dying to crack open.
(No joke: as I am writing this, the TV is on. I don't remember what I was watching before, but I looked up to find some random show about RV travel on my screen. Ugh. Turning off the TV now.)

I'm getting revved up just writing about this, so with that I am headed out for an evening walk...and a little Britney on my iPod to keep me going!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Introducing my Furry Little Vitamin

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
-Groucho Marx

Last year one of my friends gave me a great birthday card -- it says "Dogs are furry little vitamins for the soul", and I smile every time I see it on my bulletin board (yeah, that one is a keeper).

Anyone who knows me IRL knows that I am a dog lover who has been wishing and hoping for a dog of her very own for years. I thought that I would get my wish after I graduated from college. Finally, an adult living on my own -- I would be the boss of me and get to make any decision I wanted. Adopt a dog? How about a dozen?

Well, it turns out that lots of other people were the boss of me, namely all of the terrible, not-pet-friendly landlords I kept ending up with. (What's up with those jerks, anyway? If I am ever a landlord I am going to embrace pet-owning tenants. People with pets are wonderful!) After years of gazing longingly at dog parks and cooing at all of the tied up dogs in my neighborhood, I eventually found myself in a pet-friendly apartment. Finally! Now all I had to do was find the perfect dog.

Refresh and Rally

As much as I LOVE springing forward into long, warm spring days, sometimes the actual resetting of my body clock is not so much fun. This year, it was kind of a total failure.


-staying up way too late
-sleeping way too late
-briefly waking up to walk the dog
-and then immediately taking a 3 hour nap

I made a pretty good mess of the first long day of the year. I still felt groggy after waking up and didn't quite know what to do with myself. I puttered, read blogs, looked out the window at productive people, and generally succeeded in wasting even more time.  By 5pm I hadn't eaten anything and I felt like crap (what a shock!). I ordered some food and chatted with my mom, and both managed to make me feel a little better. I knew I didn't have much time left, but I wanted to make SOMETHING out of the day.

I did something unusual and hopped in an early evening shower.

This is not my shower, this is a room at The Standard LA. It has glass walls that look out on the room and fits at least 4 people. It is made for peep shows and par-tays! I used it to watch Seinfeld reruns while washing my hair.

Usually I jump in the shower right before bed or right after a workout, but for some reason I felt like I needed the refreshing, cleansing action of a good shower.  And I was RIGHT!  Just taking 10 minutes gave me the clean slate and renewed energy I was hoping for. I managed to rally and hit my to-do list pretty hard: walked and fed the dog, straightened up around the house, cleaned the floors, took out a mountain of recycling, did 2 loads of laundry, ran the dishwasher (ooh, I love saying that...probably the only time in my life I will have a dishwasher and I want to relish it!), and even made a little light dinner for myself.

It is amazing how one small thing had such an impact on my mindset and my energy level, and I know that this is exactly what a good workout does for me as well. This was a lesson I learned in graduate school, and it has proven true time and again. If I am feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and unfocused, I find the best thing to do is to make some time for the gym. An hour later I am energized, totally re-focused, and ready to tackle ANYTHING! Hooray for endorphins!

I'm going to take this lesson with me as I work on building more workouts into my schedule. Working out is great for my body but it is SOOO important for my mental health and mindset. And if a clear mind means a happier, healthier peacock...why wouldn't I make working out a priority???

ABCs of Me

 A  Age: 32
 B  Bed Size: Queen; space in my apartment is at a premium, but I managed to just squeeze it in. I love my sleep!
 C  Chore You Hate: Dealing with the recycling; I love Mother Nature! I just hate all of the sorting, tying up, etc.
 D  Dogs?: Yes!! Audrey the Dog; miniature dachshund, age 3

Oh, who's the good little puppy?!
 E  Essential Start Your Day Item: Audrey sleeps in her crate at night, and when she wakes up the first thing she does is give me a hug. It is lovely.
 F  Favorite Color: Pink. I try to do it tastefully (you do consider a pink tinsel Christmas tree tasteful, yes?)
 G  Gold or Silver?:  Both. LOVE metallics.
 H  Height: 5'9"
 I  Instruments You Play: Saxophone (through high school); played the piano a little as a youngster, I hope one day I might take lessons again
 J  Job title: I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Most of my career I have worked in nonprofit fundraising. Right now my title is Manager of Client Development, East Coast at Execu-suck, Inc. I hope you won't judge me by my lame-o job
 K Kids: Nope, but hopefully one day!
 L  Live: Brooklyn, NY 
  Mom's Name: Loriann (my grandparents names combined -- Grandpa Lori, Grandma Ann)
 N  Nicknames: Ali, Ali-gator, Snow White
 O  Overnight Hospital Stays? 4, all in my youth: 9 -- tonsillectomy; 10 -- skull fracture (wear a bike helmet, kids!); 13 -- knee surgeries (L and R)
 P   Pet Peeve:  Prejudice; intolerance; people walking slowly
  Quote from a Movie:  "I love smiling, smiling's the best!" "Buddy the Elf, what's you're favorite color?" Pretty much anything from Elf. LOVE that movie.
 R  Right or Left Handed? Lefty
 S  Siblings: Little bother, er, brother (just barely -- we're Irish twins)
  Time You Wake Up? Plead the Fifth. OK fine, normally it is around 8am that I drag myself out of bed -- I have to be at work at 9am, so...
  Underwear: Um, yes please. I like boy shorts
 V  Vegetable You Dislike: Creamed spinach (took me a while to think of one -- I like lots of veggies!)
 W What Makes You Run Late: I can't lie, it is almost always my own fault; it doesn't help that I live far from the subway, and also that the MTA is constantly messing with service
 X  X-Rays You've Had Done:  A bunch -- feet, ankles, knees, a hand or two, teeth, chest; oddly, I've never actually broken a bone (except for that skull fracture)
 Y  Yummy Food You Make: Chicken cutlets, stir-frys, banana pudding
 Z  Zoo, Favorite Animal: Penguins; baby anything

...and now you know everything about me!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The journey of a thousand miles...

...begins with a single blog post.

This is HARD!  Oh my gosh, no one ever told me the first post was going to be so hard! What do I want to say? Who am I talking to? Here goes nothing...

On December 31, 2010, I went to bed with the following thoughts about the New Year:

1. I want to run a marathon
2. I want to write a blog
3. I want to stop procrastinating so much

Huh. *checks calendar* Yup, right on track. Oh, and if I am being completely honest, I had quite a few more goals for myself in 2011, and I am doing just as swimmingly with all of them!

In the past two months, I have certainly spent a lot of time *thinking* about what I want to do and how I want to accomplish it. While I wish there had been a little more action over the past weeks, I do feel like I have a really clear picture in my head of where I want to go, who I want to be, and what the life I want to create for myself actually looks like. And this is big. Huge. I feel like I spent a lot of my early adult life drifting, floating, bobbing one way or the other. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was following one narrow path, meandering along wherever it took me. But there is SO. MUCH. MORE. I want to do, and I am just starting to figure out that I need to be the one to plot that course for myself.

So here we go! Who do I want to be? Well, I want to be a blogger. I have been a voracious blog reader for years, and I am inspired every single day by the amazing, insightful, and honest blogs that are out there.  I read blogs about everything -- fashion, design, cooking, reality television, disturbing cake art -- I am not an expert in any of those things. The only thing I really can talk about with any kind of authority is me, so my blog is going to focus on my goal of unleashing my inner marathoner, and all of the places that journey takes me.

For now, I am going to keep this anonymous. I am a wallflower by nature, so it just feels right for right now. I do truly appreciate all of the wonderful bloggers who just put themselves out there -- you are so brave! Maybe one day...

Alison the Peacock

PS - Why "The Peacock Diaries"? Kinda arbitrary. I do love peacocks -- they're beautiful and strange, and they are quite fast runners. And yes, I know the females are peahens, and I am a girl...but would you read The Peahen Diaries?

PPS -- Newbie Blogger Mistake #1 -- no pictures. Yes, this post looks boring as heck.  I shall do better next time!