Sometimes you need a little caffeine. Sometimes you need a lot.

I spent the first half of my week out-of-town for several days of conference planning in Pennsylvania. As usual, I was over-tired from too many late nights. I'm not a coffee drinker, so I turned to my caffeinated beverage of choice: black tea.

This inspired me to finally update my travel mug. In my early days of design, I had given this mug to Matt with a pretty embarrassing insert. After I started drinking tea on-the-go I removed (and destroyed) the insert and starting using the plain tumbler. Thankfully it's now been given a much needed face-lift with some bold chevron stripes. Now, I love it!


Happy Friday!

What a week! One car crumpled in a fender-bender. The other car pronounced D.O.A. by the Safety Inspector. A bout of the stomach-bug causing Matt to break a 7 year vomit-free stretch. And LOTS of rainy weather, adding insult to injury. 

So glad that it's Friday. Pile of unfinished work? Yes. Dull headache? Absolutely. Nauseous husband and a questionable ride? You know it. But I am determined to make today (and everyday) a great one. Happy weekend!

Great Day 8x10 print $19 from ParadaCreations


MUSIC [for your workout]

I am thrilled to introduce our newest feature topic, MUSIC; highlighting playlists that inspire. Guest Blogger is none other than Sara Conde, my talented (and gorgeous) sister. She hosts the weekly Indie Rock radio spot The Caso Show.

I have always loved music and exercise. Well, not so much exercise, but in a world of endless beer, boneless wings, and gelato exercise has become a necessity that I've learned to love. So when my sister approached me to do a guest blog spot I knew just where to start. Below are my workout playlist recommendations. I hope to facilitate your workout and inspire you to not only “get it done” but to have some fun while you are pushing your body to the limit.

Before we get into the actual music I would like to give you some playlist set up guidelines that I have found to be most beneficial. Create a large workout playlist mix and then put it on shuffle. Having the excitement of never knowing what is going to come next keeps your workout music fresh and unexpected. Just make sure you have access to your device so you change songs quickly as you will find sometimes you just are not in the mood for what comes next. I often will put entire albums into my workout mix just to keep it interesting. Right now I average about 200 songs on my playlist. That being said here are some of my favorites:

Ok let’s just get this out of the way. The entire Daft Punk “Alive” album is the absolute best for a high intensity workout. It almost makes a treadmill fun. Almost. You hear the signature beats of your favorite Daft Punk classics mixed together with new sounds and epic build-ups to create a symphony of excitement, empowerment, and euphoria.  Add this combination to the applause of the French crowd, and you will surely attain exercise nirvana. This album comes in handy during long runs as it leaves you feeling pretty much invincible. 

I know most people don’t think of “Radiohead” when they think of workout music, but most people don’t think about this stuff as much as I do. This track compels your feet to move forward no matter how tired you are. Especially recommended for outside runs.

When this upbeat track comes up in your shuffle you will find yourself dancing on the elliptical and won’t even realize it.  Just be careful not to fall off, or get hit with the sliding arm grips. You’ve been warned.

You may think a song called “over and over” might be a bit demoralizing at the gym but this whimsical piece had the opposite effect and brings life to the drab indoor gym scene.

This poppy track will make you take it from level 10 to 11.

(Feat. Kanye West, Santogold & Lykkie Li) Ridiculous title, random group, but this song will make you feel like you are a total baller. I often picture myself in a Nike commercial when this track comes up in my queue.

A great track that will help you get through your crunches and curls. Just be careful you don’t fall off the body ball when you start rapping in your head (this may or may not have happened to me).

This song just always seems to motivate me. Great when you need an endurance boost on the stairmaster or treadmill.

This eerie jam will make you rise above your current state of mind and help you to disconnect from your body (which comes in handy when your heart and lungs are screaming at you.) Highly recommended for outdoor running.

This song is great way to start your work out. It will take your sluggish “do I really have to do this?” attitude and completely flip it around and make you feel that all is right in the world again. This song is just pure fun - plain and simple.

The first time I heard this song I literally got up from my office chair and starting dancing. It is a fantastic remix with build ups that will have you moving faster then you ever through you could. If you hear this song and don’t want to move - you are dead.

First of all that entire “Silent Alarm Remixed” album is amazing and if you don’t own it please do your self a large favor and purchase immediately. I find this song to be partially encouraging when I start to feel like I don’t have any more to give. I would recommend putting this entire album in your gym workout mix.

To close I want to be very clear that I am not above the classics you might think to put in your mix, in fact, I encourage them. So once you have gone outside of the box, be sure to add these classic tracks which speak for themselves:

69 Boys – Tootise Roll
Bel Biv Devoe – Poison
Fat Boy Slim – Weapon of Choice
Rihanna – Umbrella
Jamiriqui – Just Dance
SWV – Love Will Be Right Here
Ludacris – Roll Out
Junior Senior – Move Your Feet
Beastie Boys – Get It Together
Bone Thugs And Biggie – Let’s Ride
Janet Jackson – Miss You Much
M.I.A. – Boyz
Far East Movement – Like a G6
The Jackson Five – I Want You Back
Outkast – So Fresh So Clean

You get the idea. Now get out there and WORK IT OUT!


We've Got Spirit

Ah, College. That uniquely awesome stage-of-life full of blessed freedom and limited responsibility. I loved college. More specifically, I loved James Madison University.

Matt and I took a road trip through time and headed back to JMU last weekend. He was there to reunite with The Madison Project for their 15th Anniversary. Normally my heart swells just approaching campus, but we had the bonus of seeing old friends (many of whom we haven't seen since our wedding almost 5 years ago)! I almost burst. As someone put it, Project is like a fraternity with talent. Even the people I didn't know had a warm, brotherly vibe. I loved every second.

            [at the kissing rock during homecoming 2010]                   [matt & phil singing new york, new york - photo becky spray]

Even after confronting some harsh realities (I am no longer college-aged. Face it, girl.) I was a-glow with school spirit. And like other trips to JMU, I was disappointed to come home and see no signs of our college days. Sure, I have a stained sweatshirt in a drawer. A diploma that I asked my parents to frame, and then never displayed. A blanket (which I keep under the bed) and a few cups that rarely see the light of day.

                                   [duke dog homecoming 2010]                                           [matt & i after JMU beat Virginia Tech]

Maybe it's the Purple and Gold party colors that get me. Maybe it's that our mascot is a loveable, but goofy, bulldog dressed like a king. I don't want my house to look like a dorm or a sports bar - is there a cool way to show school pride? Matt picked up one of these great vintage-style shirts at the Bookstore.

There are some great options out there like customized lettering (#6) and vintage Championship shirts (#4). As for me, I'm still on the hunt for the perfect suvioner of our college days.

1: Vintage Pennant : ebay $9.95 2: Boy's University Cardigan Sweater : Lands' End $12.99 3: Vintage Megaphone : cottagefarm $39 4: Throwback Collegiate Tshirts : Champions Again $26 5: Varsity Scarf : blissthings $24 6: Custom Chenille Letters : Mount Olympus Awards : $10 and up.


Netflix and the Art of Procrastination 

Occasionally in life there are articles that describe me so perfectly I wonder if I've been secretly filmed for research. 3 such instances come to mind: my ENFP Myers-Briggs Profile, the Wikipedia page on Narcolepsy (more on that later) and The Science Behind Procrastination in this month's Real Simple. To prove how "me" it is, I actually haven't read the article... all I needed to see was this charmingly realistic illustration. My life in pictures. 

My personal favorites are #1 and #2's strong determination to do the project the next day, #26 Google myself, #38 answer 7 old emails (which is always crucial when you're avoiding something). And the real zinger, #45 : have small anxiety attack.

More often than I'd like, this becomes a typical day in my easily-unfocused, work-from-home life. The article offers 7 steps to overcome Procrastination, which I should really read. Eventually. Oh! I think I hear the dryer.