Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

What I Read This Month: May Books

I have a million and one excuses for this month, but it really comes down to two things: I worked too much and I spent what little free time I did have playing Zelda.

At the end of April I started contracting with a magazine in Oakland. This has meant that I spend four hours commuting three days a week. In theory this would be a great time to read, but in reality multiple transfers and rude people who talk on their phone on the train often make it a frustrating experience. Top that off with too much work and I end up trying to squeeze in as much productivity as I can out of my disjointed trek across the bay.

When I did have time to presumably sit down and read, I often chose instead to sit down with my boyfriend’s Nintendo Switch and play Zelda instead. Why? Because my brain has been fried and I’ve really enjoyed playing it. I spent more time playing Zelda on our trip to Iceland than reading. This was aided by the fact that I was quite jet lagged and reading ended up with me falling asleep or not remembering the last 10 pages. No regrets there.

Cafe Skuld, Husavik, Iceland

[If you were going to read in Iceland, this little cafe in Húsavík would be the perfect spot. Or you could get on a boat and see whales like I did.]

May Books… Er… Book

All of this is to say, I read one book this month. And I’m slightly ashamed about it. I was close to finishing another book, but its technical science has slowed me down considerably. Look out for that one in June.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

Ah, another Fredrik Backman book. I just can’t get enough of these. His characters are lively and vibrant. So far every one of his books has fully sucked me in. My Grandmother was no different. I loved Elsa and her view of the world. Her grandmother would tell her fairy tales from a land she made up, and Elsa would in turn see the whole world through the lens of the fairy tale.

Add to that her grandmother’s antics like breaking into a zoo to cheer up her granddaughter and you have the making of a hilarious, touching book. Once I did pick this book up on our trip, I couldn’t stop. Not even Zelda could keep me from finding out what was going to happen next.

If you happen to be able to read this in Iceland or a Scandinavian country I highly recommend it. I read this mostly in Reykjavik and the story came to life for me. While it’s set in a small town in Sweden, the apartment buildings and bright colors of Reykjavik matched wonderfully.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

There’s a (good) reason things have been quiet around here. I spent the last few weeks working like crazy so I could take a full eight days off in stunning Iceland. While I have plenty more to say about our trip (and enough pictures to break the internet), I’m excited to share what I packed.

Why?

Because this was my best packing job yet! All of my stuff fit in my 45L backpack, including my bulky hiking boots and my plane snacks. My big down jacket? Oh yeah, that was in there too. Nailed it!

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

I put weeks of thought into what I would bring to Iceland, mostly because the weather was constantly changing leading up to the trip. That didn’t change once we were there either – Iceland’s weather is unpredictable and extremely variable. I highly recommend being prepared for cooler or wetter weather than weeklong forecasts predict for a spring trip.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

I wore every item I brought, except for emergency underwear, a couple pairs of thin socks, a sports bra, and a short-sleeve athletic shirt that would have been used had we hiked another day or two.

Staying for more than eight days? Simply wash every 5-7 days. Most of the guest houses, hostels, and Airbnbs we looked at or stayed in had washers. No need to pack more.

Clothes

Tops

  • 2 long sleeve cotton t-shirts
  • 2 long sleeve technical t-shirts (if you aren’t planning on hiking, sub for any warm base layers)
  • 1 short sleeve shirt
  • 1 technical short sleeve shirt
  • Fleece sweatshirt
  • Swim suit
  • 1 bra
  • 2 sports bras
  • 1 knit sweater
  • Pajamas
  • Rain coat/ wind breaker
  • Down coat

Bottoms

  • Corduroy pants
  • 2 pairs of hiking socks
  • 5 pairs of regular socks (I wore 1 pair…)
  • 8 pairs of underwear
  • Fleece sweats (for hiking and lounging)
  • Thick leggings/tights (winter running tights, long underwear, or ski tights)

Shoes/ Accessories

  • Hiking boots
  • Athletic shoes/ warm, comfortable walking shoes
  • Flip flops (especially if you are staying in a hostel or visiting hot springs)
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Beanie/thermal headband
  • Small backpack for hiking or a crossbody bag

My boyfriend and I shared his small backpack while hiking and my crossbody bag everywhere else. I used my medium-sized crossbody bag on the plane for reading material, my journal, passport, snacks, and my water bottle.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

On the Plane

I broke every single rule and packed my hiking boots. I HATE wearing shoes on a plane, and there was no way in hell I was going to spend 20 some odd hours shoved into my hiking boots. Or take them off and put them back on through security. No thanks.

  • Comfortable athletic shoes
  • Cords
  • Fleece
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Compression socks (for my ankle)
  • Bra

What my daily wear looked like:

long sleeve base layer + fleece + thick socks + warm pants + down jacket (+/- rain coat) = warm, dry, happy traveler

Daily temperatures were anywhere between 14C (around 60 F) and 3-4C (mid to upper 30s) as we traveled along the Ring Road. Reykjavík was quite a bit warmer than the mountains in the north, but wind chill could still drop the temperature quite steeply in the city. Layers made it easy for me to stay comfortable throughout the 30 degree swing.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

lived in my cords and fleece sweatshirt, but we rarely stayed in one place for more than a day and no one could see my sweatshirt under all of my jackets anyway. You could easily bring another pair of pants if wearing the same pair frequently bothers you. I personally didn’t mind, especially since I was mixing it up on the days that we were outside exploring. I hiked in my thick tights (technically winter running tights) with my fleece sweats on top. Wind-resistant hiking pants would also work great.

Yes, I wore two pairs of hiking socks for our entire 8-day trip. It was too cold for my feet to get nasty, so I wore each pair twice before washing and hanging them over the radiator. It worked great.

Zero Waste Gear/ On the Go Eating

It was important to me to make as little waste as possible on our trip, especially because Iceland is a fragile environment that is suddenly experiencing a massive surge in tourism. All of these things also made bringing my own food on the plane a breeze. These were by far our most used items, and I am really glad I brought them.

  • Bamboo cutlery set
  • Cloth napkin
  • 5 handkerchiefs
  • Foldable grocery/tote bag
  • Metal water bottle
  • Insulated metal water bottle
  • 3 metal food containers (packed with food in both directions : ) )

I filled both of my bottles for our flights, and still had to ask for a bit of water on the plane (which they gladly poured straight into my water bottle). The extra bag was perfect for buying groceries, wrangling stuff for a short trip, and hitting the hot springs.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

Toiletries

  • Sleep mask (hello constant daylight)
  • Ear plugs
  • Bar soap
  • Mini hair brush
  • Floss
  • Deodorant
  • Small container of laundry soap
  • Medications as needed
  • Tooth brush
  • Hand towel
  • Nail clippers/file
  • Hair clip and hair tie
  • (Optional: full-sized towel)

Liquids

I ended up deciding to not bring a full-sized towel to use at hot springs or where we were staying. Most of our guest houses/ hostels had towels already included in the price, and the rest were relatively inexpensive. We went to one hot spring that didn’t have towel rentals (or an attendant), and we just brought one of our towels from that night’s guest house with us. It would have been difficult for us to get our towels to dry while we were driving the Ring Road, and I really didn’t want to have to worry about them. We paid a bit extra overall, but we always had a warm towel and it really wasn’t that expensive in comparison to Iceland’s prices in general. My small hand towel (below) was used for drying our hands and dishes as needed.

What to Pack for Iceland in Spring

[This is what happens when you have been up for 24 hours and you realize you haven’t taken a picture of your pack – you take a blurry photo in the airport at midnight on your way home.]

Bottom Line

Iceland’s weather changes rapidly year-round. It’s especially important to pack lots of layers in spring. If you plan on hiking or doing the Ring Road, definitely bring clothes that would keep you warm in snow just in case. You may not need them, but they will be priceless if you do (speaking of price, EVERYTHING in Iceland is expensive. This is not the place you want to be buying an emergency jacket). We also particularly enjoyed our extra-warm clothes on our whale watching tour.

Packing cubes are clutch, and highly consider bringing a backpacking backpack if you plan to go outside of Reykjavík. We carried our packs up muddy hillsides, down long gravel roads, and up many flights of stairs to get to our bed for the night.

What I Read This Month: April Books

I’m a little late on this one, but nonetheless I did actually read in April. Maybe not as much as I wanted or as consistently, but there are still April books worth mentioning. Spoiler alert, there’s actually fiction in here.

My April Books

What I Read This Month: April Books

The Borrower

As someone who practically grew up in the library or with a book in hand, The Borrower spoke straight to my heart. The story is about a young librarian and her star reader, Ian. The boy’s obsession with books and his mother’s oppressive censorship hit home for me. While my mom never limited what I could read, my elementary and middle school certainly made its opinion clear about the books ‘good Christians’ should read and those that are straight from the devil.

My heart went out to this little kid, but the author does a great job of showing all of his sides. His drama. His manipulation. His self-centeredness. His fear. His desire to escape.

I had to suspend my disbelief a bit more than I would like with this one, but overall I still enjoyed it.

 

Britt-Marie Was Here

I’m still talking about A Man Called Ove, so I was more than excited when another one of Fredrik Backman’s books arrived for me at the library. Britt-Marie didn’t disappoint either. I loved the humor of the story and the quirks of the characters. It’s an easy book to tear through, and I dare say a good one for a long flight if you happen to find yourself in that type of situation.

 

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

While Joan Didion’s piece, Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream, was part of the required reading for my college magazine journalism class, Slouching Towards Bethlehem was my first real dip into her writing. I was left mostly confused and feeling like I was standing just outside the main group at a party. I could pick up things here and there, but in general I was too far out of touch with the culture and time to know what was going on.

 

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016

The first Best American collection I read took me more than six years to finish. Not so this time. If you like stories about the impending catastrophic earthquake predicted to hit the Pacific Northwest or why sports bras are typically so shitty, this one is for you.

 

Want more recommendations?

Check out what I’ve read so far this year:

March
February
January
Best Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2016

You can see all of my book reviews here.

The Best Waterproof Athletic Tape

Waterproof athletic tape that actually stays on in the water or extremely sweaty situations is nearly impossible to find. I have spent years suffering through terrible tape that falls off in just about every situation.

My swim coach used to wrap injured joints with what felt like half of a roll of athletic tape, and it would all have fallen off long before we got out of the pool. I was queen of sweating off ankle tape in the middle of basketball games.

waterproof-athletic-tape- waterproof athletic tape

I accidentally found my favorite waterproof athletic tape.

Back when I was healthy, one of my CrossFit friends taped my hands with tape made to protect my palms during endless pull-ups. I was massively skeptical. The weird tape had goats all over it. But it stayed put like nothing I’d ever tried.

I went home and bought myself a couple of rolls of Scary Sticky Goat Tape. A couple of months later my PTT was flaring up, and I couldn’t find my athletic tape. In a pinch I used my Goat Tape.

The hold was impressive. It outlasted the entire CrossFit workout and my shower after.

I’ve never gone back.

best waterproof athletic tape

The Best Waterproof Athletic Tape: Scary Sticky Goat Tape

Goat Tape stays on no matter what I throw at it. A hot, sweaty, dirty hike in the middle of the summer? No problem. An hour and a half swim with endless kick sets and sprints? You bet. Hot yoga? Totally chill.

To be extremely clear, this tape is not like Kinesio Tape. It does not stretch with you, and it’s not used in the same way. Goat Tape is more of a traditional, stiff athletic tape that is used to stabilize joints and limit range of motion. It has been a life-saver post surgery, especially in the early days when I couldn’t even stand the pull of the water on my ankle while swimming.

best waterproof athletic tape

Important things to know:

Goat Tape is extremely sticky. It’s in the name, and they mean it. If you have body hair, you will need to use pre-wrap to prevent an acutely painful, unexpected wax. My brother and I learned this the hard way when I taped his arches… but I bet his feet looked better in sandals!

I purposefully tape my ankle without any pre-wrap. I feel like it gives me a better hold, but there are pre-wraps with adhesives that would likely give you the same feel. Or you can just shave. No judgements here.

Like any tape, your skin needs to be clean and dry before applying or it won’t stick. If you sunscreen or even put lotion on hours before, the tape won’t stick to your skin once you start sweating or swimming. It will, however, still stick to itself.

Always wrap your tape longer than you need. I tend to add an inch or two to the end of the tape to allow for it to unravel slightly in the water without causing critical failure. The end doesn’t always come undone, but it gives me piece of mind that an inch or so can loosen and I won’t have any problems while swimming. This isn’t necessary if you aren’t going to submerge it in water.

Ins and Outs

There’s something satisfying about watching things go. Even if it’s not my stuff, a donation pile is soothing and full of promise. I love checking in on #minsgame and reading blog posts about what people choose to keep or get rid of.

I never really thought to track my own ins and outs until I saw this post from 600 Square Feet and a Baby. Her pile was so inspiring that I thought I would share my own. This is a list of everything we’ve donated, trashed, sold, or bought in the last three months.

Ins and Outs

Outs

Donated:

1 pair of snowboard boots
Plastic cutting board (was saving for camping, but it’s not in good shape)
Pair of socks (too big)
Sample mouthwash (new dentist, didn’t know to refuse)
8-year-old water filter jug

Sold:

Sweatshirt
Fancy bookmark
Leggings

Recycled:

Pair of black pants (replaced in December)
Broken raincoat
4 shirts
Old swim trunks

Trash:

An 80% full bottle of hair spray from 2009…maybe earlier. It hadn’t been used in at least four years.

In:

Matt:

1 pair of swim shorts, replaced dingy, two small trunks
1 t-shirt, replaced one of the ones that was recycled
1 raincoat, a much better fit than my old, broken one that he was squeezing in to.

Me:

Nothing.

Although to be fair I did try my best to find a new fleece jacket. So far no luck, but I’m still looking. Once I find one my two, sad fleeces will be donated and recycled respectively.

What I Read This Month: March Books

Where did this month go? March flew by, and all of the little books I read certainly helped speed it along. My March books are certainly an odd mix. I have been trying to read more of the books that I put on my Goodreads list from years ago (like One Day and Gulp). It’s kind of fun to go back in time and read the books that had caught my attention, although some of them fall a bit flat. Turns out we’ve both aged.

March Books

In honor of spring, I read books about deep winter, death by indigestion, and parenting. I’m really selling it aren’t I?

March Books 2017 Book Reviews

Difficult Women

I will read pretty much anything Roxane Gay writes. She has a strong voice that comes through whether she’s writing searing essays or stomach-turning fiction. The short stories in Difficult Women were arduous to read. The women in each story face horrors, try to put themselves back together, and seek out destruction. I was’t prepared for it.

It’s a must to pair this with something uplifting. And maybe don’t read the news while you’re working through it either. In internet speak, the whole thing is potentially triggering. Gay doesn’t make the stories go down easily, but her writing will drag you in anyways.

 

One Day

I finished One Day early in the month, and I’m still mad at David Nicholls. I was fully sucked into this book until he started dropping bombs three-quarters of the way through. By the end I didn’t like any of the characters and I was disenchanted with the whole story.

Is the movie less frustrating?

 

The Little Book of Hygge

The Danish concept of hygge (hue-guh or hoo-gah depending on who you believe on the internet) is right up my alley. I’ve been fully into hygge long before it took over the entire world, I just didn’t know there was a word for it.

For some reason I thought The Little Book of Hygge was a list of great ways to create some hygge. Instead it broke down the cultural importance of hygge and the typical activities that Danes consider hygge. I still enjoyed the book and I came away with a great deal of kinship for people in a country I could never survive in.

I hope this concept continues to catch on. I’m much happier sipping a cup of tea in a comfy, warm room than trying to hear people over the cacophony of a loud bar. Can we all just agree to spend more nights at home with a good book or a great friend?

 

Cinderella Ate My Daughter

Pink and I have never really gotten along (not the singer – we still don’t run in the same circles). Even though I refused to wear pink as soon as I could semi-verbalize my distaste for it, I still fell hard for the princess complex and their damn plastic high heels.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter explores the heavily gendered toys that are marketed to children and how they impact their play, friendships, and word view. This book was just as eye-opening and scary as Peggy Orenstein’s more recent Girls and Sex.

I have got to stop reading books about how hard it is to raise intelligent, well-rounded, well-adjusted, socially-conscious children. It makes me feel terrified at the prospect of being tasked with it myself – like keeping them alive and relatively happy isn’t hard enough.

 

The Science Writers’ Handbook

I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to be a journalist or a nonfiction writer. It thoroughly explains everything you may need to know and it answered a lot of my (endless) questions about making freelance work. From what to look for in a contract to the importance of a good home office setup, The Science Writer’s Handbook felt like having a friend and a mentor patiently explain the mysteries behind ‘working for yourself’ full time.

 

Gulp

When I first heard Mary Roach talk about Gulp with John Stewart (way back when he was on The Daily Show), it didn’t grab me. It sounded gross and not very interesting.

Well, multiple Roach books later and it seemed like the right time to bite. It wasn’t my favorite of hers, but it still captured my attention and gave me a few laughs.

 

Eat Pretty

Books like Eat Pretty always remind me to eat better and to pay attention to how I’m treating my body. However, this book was a bit flat for me. It was gorgeous to look at, but I didn’t get anything new or life-changing out of it. None of the recipes in the book grabbed my attention, and most of it was things I had already heard. I would recommend Skin Cleanse over Eat Pretty, but it is a great reminder to eat more healthy fruits and vegetables.

 

Want more recommendations?

Check out what I’ve read so far this year:

February
January
Best Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2016

You can see all of my book reviews here.

Small Space Clothing Storage

I’m obsessed with organizing. I love looking at how people fit things in tiny places. But that’s no secret around here. I thought since I spend so much time staring inside other people’s closets and drawers online (in a totally not creepy way, swear), I should share our small space clothing storage solutions and give a little peek at what things look like around here.

Our storage space is limited – we use the space under our bed as our garage, complete with golf clubs and snowboard. But after six months of splitting a single dresser and a tiny closet I’ve come to realize that it’s really working for us. Our tiny space is plenty of room for two.

Here’s how we do it.

small space clothing storage dresser organization

Stand It Up

It took me a long time to finally succumb to the organization goddess’ folding method. But once I went KonMari I’ll never go back to stacking my clothes. I first tried this when I had the luxury of an entire dresser to myself. It worked so well that I had a fully empty drawer. Standing folded clothes up vertically makes it super easy to see what’s in the drawer and grab what you need. It also means we fit significantly more per drawer.

small-space-clothing-storage-dresser-drawer-organization-KonMari-folding

Line It Up

My boyfriend laughs at me for this, but I store my clothes in a particular order. I don’t have separate drawers for each item, instead I have rows. Take my exercise clothing drawer (yes, this is 50 percent of my wardrobe and you better believe it’s my most loved and most used). My tank tops, t-shirts, and long sleeve shirts are all down the left side. Next to them are my shorts, cropped leggings, and the last of my long sleeves in the back. The third row is sweatshirts and long leggings (which are typically used for lounging or layering, less so working out). On the far right side I have my sports bras and miscellaneous socks, arm warmers, etc. in the far back.

This setup means I can reach my arm over while still in bed and pull out exactly what I need for the day. A cold girl’s dream.

small space clothing storage organization under the bed storage canvas bag out of season clothes off-season clothes

Store Out of Season Clothes Elsewhere

Yes, we each have two drawers in an average-sized dresser and half of a hall closet, but it’s unfair to say that we keep all of our clothes between the two. Out of season storage makes our small space work.

I’ve been trying hard to streamline my wardrobe, but even with the harshest knife I can’t fit everything in my allotted space. Thankfully Northern California really only has two “seasons” – cold or warm. In the fall I put away my light sweaters and pulled out my heavy sweater dresses, long sleeve shirts, and thick cords. In a couple of weeks I’ll make the swap again and pull out my dresses and other warm weather gear.

About 85 percent of my clothes stay in my drawers or the closet, but by swapping out season-specific pieces I can save a lot of space. It’s also really nice to not stare at thick sweaters in the middle of the summer. I hate being reminded that winter will come around again. It also means that everything in front of me is something I could wear right now instead of cluttering my daily choices with out of season items.

I keep my off-season clothes as well as anything I don’t frequently wear (rash guard, bike shorts, fancy pea coat) in a canvas bag under my bed. The bag breathes, which is really important for storing clothes or fabric long-term, and the zipper keeps dirt and unmentionables (ie. spiders) out.

small space clothing storage closet organization

Limit Hangers

We only hang up the clothes that absolutely must hang. There just isn’t room to put all of our clothes into the closet. Instead it’s a place for things that wrinkle easily or are too bulky to fold. Dresses, jackets, skirts, and dress shirt are the only things we hang. Okay, that and my boyfriend’s motorcycle gear.

Say Goodbye

We don’t have any magical storage solutions or ‘life-changing’ products. We didn’t take any trips to organizing stores or have our closet professionally designed to fit all of our stuff. Our clothes fit in this small space because we made sure we only had as much as we could store.

My boyfriend and I both like simple, hardworking clothes. We wear the majority of our clothes frequently, with exceptions for fancy occasion clothes. Before we moved in together we both had to downsize two full drawers and half a closet (way more than half in my case). We got rid of a lot of the things we never wore, and we keep getting rid of things as the seasons change or our style shifts. New clothes are also welcome, but if one comes in another must go.

Why I’m Addicted to Lifting Heavy

One of the hardest things to give up after surgery was lifting. And even then I didn’t really give it up. I was back in the gym, struggling under heavy weights, while I was still in a cast. I just couldn’t stay away for that long. Lifting keeps me sane, strong, and happy.

peroneal tendon surgery recovery – Exercise-weight-lifting-heavy-seated-dumbbell-strict-press

But it wasn’t always this way.

“In college, I avoided the “bro zone” of the gym like it was a frat house after a rager. I was intimidated by the grunting, the weird machines, and the almost entirely male population outside of the cardio section and free weights. I didn’t want anything to do with their protein shakes and bro tanks. Instead, I used the cardio machines and would do the same one or two exercises with 8-pound weights every time I went to the gym.

But I really wanted to lift.

A taste of CrossFit was all it took to get me addicted to lifting heavy. After a couple of months, I was lifting more weight than I thought possible. Five years later, I regularly squat more than I weigh, and 25-pound dumbbells are my go-to. Today, I feel at home under the bar.

While there are great weight loss and calorie-blasting benefits of lifting heavy, it’s not why I do it. Weightlifting makes me care more about the weight on the bar than on my body. I work hard at the gym to push my body and mind. It’s about what my body is capable of, not what it looks like.”

Continue reading on Healthline.

*This article was originally published on Healthline as 7 Reasons Why I Lift Heavy (And You Should Too). It’s one of the ones I’ve enjoyed writing the most recently, and I thought it fit in well here too.