I’m So Done with Dieting

Are you tired of watching what you eat? Me too.

Recently I had a thought, what if I was my ideal weight? What would I eat if I didn’t need to lose a few pounds? The answer came surprisingly quick. I’d eat like a French woman. I’m sure that means different things to different people, but in my mind it was fresh, whole food that is delicious and satisfying with the occasional indulgence. I remembered the book I got from my mom, “French Women Don’t Get Fat.” I decided to finally read it. Author Mireille Guiliano recommends eating a variety of foods, mostly in season, in reasonable portions. Fresh food is preferred to processed and truly enjoying your meals is very important. This is the philosophy I’ve been craving all along. It’s not about depriving oneself or eating diet substitutes. Food is meant to be enjoyed!

Meanwhile, full of excitement and motivation, I finally worked up the courage to tackle a cookbook I received as a gift (in fact I has specifically asked for it): It’s All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t generally use cookbooks because, Google. This book was worth it. It won me over with the fresh-faced photos of GP and the beautifully photographed meals. I remained very skeptical that it was “easy”. After I tackled the shopping for a bunch of ingredients, many of which I don’t ever buy, the assembly was simple. The first thing I tried was chicken tortilla soup. Not only was it easy, but my whole family liked it. Maybe loved it. My picky 9-year-old son ate a meal with multiple green things in it including zucchini. It was such a big hit. I made smoothie bowls, sheet pan chicken, etc.

Both of these books have changed my life. I learned that where I thought I hated cooking, I was just bored. I was constantly buying and cooking the same foods over and over and my tastebuds had lost all interest. In an effort to please my family, I had narrowed our cuisine down to so few things that they were bored too, and hesitant to try anything new. I also learned that the more I cooked, even complicated recipes, the more confident I became and the more fun I had. And of course the more healthy we eat, the more energy we have.

I hope you check out one or both of these books, and try cooking something new. Or buying something new. I find that I don’t put things on the grocery list anymore just because we ran out of it. I plan out a few new meals, a few old standards and make my list from that. I think our food bill has gone down. I use more leftovers and I waste less food. (I’m probably the last person on the planet to figure this out.)

Oh, and I’ve lost a few pounds…

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Living in England

 

Alright, so I’ve recently noticed just how far down the rabbit hole I’ve gone. It’s to the point that I am pretty much ‘living’ in the UK.

Over the last few months I’ve been reading two books written in a language I struggle to understand: English. All of the British slang and references made them hard to follow at times. While reading these books, I started watching a lot of British TV shows. Soon I was so completely immersed in the culture I forgot that I live in America. I suppose it’s partly my distant connection—both my grandfathers were born in the United Kingdom. So, it’s not surprising that I’ve always wanted to visit.

 

It started with:

BOOKS

Night of the Animals, by Bill Broun—this is Animal Farm meets 12 Monkeys. Broun is American but has lived in England and some of the language is so English it hurt my brain. But seriously, I really enjoyed this book and found it extra fascinating because I actually know the author.

The Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russell—I love Scandinavian culture, so this account of a British transplant dealing with the culture shock of moving to Denmark was a two-fer. A completely separate tangent, but this led to me watching the fabulous series Hjørdis and then Rita on Netflix.

 

And moved on to:

SHOWS

ON NETFLIX

The Crown—I loved this show so much. I want to go back and watch it all over again. Queen Elizabeth’s life when she was young. Claire Foy is so watchable. God, this is the best show since, ever.

Sherlock—Benedict Cumberbatch. I think that’s all I have to say. So amazing.

The Great British Baking Show—my kids got me watching this. They binge watched it to the point that they now critique everything I cook, with British accents.

Broadchurch—I was addicted to this crime drama. Although I didn’t love the dark, violent subject, the characters… they made me want to be there.

ON AMAZON

The Durrells in Corfu—My FAVORITE SHOW which I’m still watching. It’s set in the 30s about an English family who moves to Greece.

Poldark—sex in the 1700’s.

 

Combined with:

BLOGS

Fashion Me Now — I’ve been following Lucy WIlliams’ fashion and travel blog for a while. Listening to her is so strangely hypnotizing. I can’t believe I watched this entire video where she just talks about some stuff she bought.

The Frugality Blog —Alex Stedman, though on maternity leave now, has such adorable and accessible posts that I became hooked right away.

Juliet Kinsman—one of my most interesting British friends, a luxury travel expert.

 

If you’re looking to travel virtually to the UK or pretend you’re more British than you are, I hope you check out some of these lovely escapes.

Posted in Stories, Travel, What I'm Reading, What's New | 2 Comments

Fur Guilt

I’ve been pondering this topic for a while: What do you do with a fur coat that you don’t feel good about wearing? I’d been wanting a leopard coat forever—faux leopard, obviously. I’ve pinned lots of options:

 

Then, one day I was talking to my mom and she said she had a vintage fur coat I could have. It was “ocelot”. I pretended to know what that was and then promptly Googled it. I’ll save you a click and tell you: “The ocelot is a wild cat native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, Central, and South America. Its population is estimated to comprise more than 40,000 mature individuals and is considered stable. Its fur was once regarded as particularly valuable, but legal trade of its fur ceased decades ago.”

My mom said she’d send me the coat, she didn’t wear it and probably wouldn’t need it in California. When it arrived, I quickly opened up the box, took out the massive garment, and tried it on. I knew immediately. I would never wear it … Not as clothes. Not in public. Now what? I hung it in the closet and put off making a decision about it.

Recently, I decided I needed to find it a new home.

I’ve never been really definitive about my feelings on real fur. I feel pretty awful about that statement. It’s as if I don’t want to offend anyone. But the longer I think about it, I can never condone wearing real fur. I can’t even be okay with wearing a fur that was made a really long time ago.

You can’t sell illegal fur. I didn’t want to just take it to the thrift store. After a little research I found a few options: donate it to a museum, to a place that helps the homeless like PETA’s fur campaign or to a place that helps animals like Cuddle Coats.

I contacted Cuddle Coats and arranged to send it off.

I haven’t told my mom.

I thought more about finding a faux fur. They look so cool. But, now I don’t know. Do they?

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Winter 10×10

The Pieces

The Outfits

My Thoughts

I decided to jump on the bandwagon this time around. I love reading blogs like stylebee.caun-fancy.comseasons-and-salt.com and stylethislife.com

I’d never done the 10×10 challenge and I guess I thought I wouldn’t get much out of it. It’s funny how different it is to do something in your head versus in reality. This is what I learned from doing it:

  1. A capsule wardrobe makes picking out an outfit lightning fast! In this case, I had 3 bottoms and 5 tops (and 2 pairs of shoes) and a goal to not repeat combinations.
  2. I really prefer jeans to skirts.
  3. It’s okay to wear only your favorite items—on repeat.
  4. I became more accepting of myself. I realized it’s okay to be really casual or not even wear makeup.
  5. I gave myself permission to be cozy and warm. Layered as needed.
  6. Wearing Birks with socks indoors is my new fave.
  7. I have clothes in my closet that I rarely wear that I really like!
  8. I DO NOT need more clothes.

That’s it. I really enjoyed participating in the challenge with amazing women all over the world. Check it out if you want more inspiration: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/winter10x10/

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January-ing

One of my goals this year is to write more posts. Like many bloggers, I do it for love, not money. It’s a creative outlet. It’s fun and makes me feel connected to others. In many ways it’s like journaling. It helps me see what I’ve accomplished and what I hope to in the future. It helps me to see what’s important and what isn’t and to let go of that.

It’s a funny thing. Such a private, introspective thing that is completely public. Some times I realize I’m shouting into the void, other times I remember that a few people are actually reading it, some people I actually know as well as a bunch of complete strangers. I wonder if I’m being too personal or not personal enough. I ask myself if I’m being too influenced by the blogs I read, not being original or true to myself. I’m probably I’m not alone in this.

So, when I wonder what I should write about I think I want it to be relatable and helpful. The kind of things I talk to my friends about. These days it seems like we’re all talking about surviving. It may look like we’re living the dream on Instagram, but the truth is we’re hanging on by a thread. The biggest challenge seems to be mental stamina. What with it being January in the northeastern part of the US, snow days, flu season, aging parents, unrealized dreams of greatness, the news, holiday weight gain, and all the rest, it’s a lot. And through it all, I am often reminded that many things are luxury problems. The challenge is to not get overwhelmed. Here are some of the ways I cope:

  1. Just do the next thing — When I can’t motivate, I just take the next action. It’s best if I do less thinking. I make lists and prioritize those things—does it have to get done today?
  2. Try to do some form of exercise most days — I’ll do walking, jogging (often on the treadmill), indoor cycling, yoga, or online workouts.
  3. Call women — I learned a long time ago to surround myself with a supportive group of women and it’s not unusual for us to call each other when we’re falling apart or to share good news (or a photo of something we want to buy but really don’t need). When I go too long between calls, or actual face-to-face time, it gets harder and harder to reach out and then I’m in real trouble.
  4. Read inspirational books — Right now I’m really enjoying The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. I know “Hygge” is super trendy these days but all about making the most of winter right now. I’m also reading Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh as a sort of daily meditation which is amazing.
  5. Get out of the house — It’s a bad day when I don’t leave the house once. I work from home so I try to go somewhere else to workout, meet with a client or go have lunch with a friend. Otherwise I’ll have to think up a reason to go out like to get this rug from Target or all the way across town to take a roll of film to be developed only to learn that they mail it out.
  6. Do work — Being useful always helps. I am so grateful for all our clients and I love what I do. Being self-employed requires a good amount of self-motivation and it can be hard to get started. My business partner/handsome husband and I started having weekly staff meetings. It’s a good way to get organized and stay motivated—and positive. I wouldn’t describe these meetings as professional… but they do help the morale.
  7. Guilty pleasures — Because I’m a stay at home mom and work from home, I have a weird schedule. I often feel guilty that I can workout before work or take off during the work day. But there are things I have to do to maintain my creativity and my sanity. My to-do list includes things like: go to art museum, play the violin, take a nap, put outfits together, buy flowers, take down wallpaper, meditate, paint a painting, make granola, get eyebrows waxed. It may seem trivial or a waste of time to some, but I find it really helps my mental state.

So, I hope you are making it through this time of year and are being good to yourself. How do you stay positive through the winter?

 

Posted in Motherhood, Stories, What I'm Reading, What's New, Womenhood | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the Year

I want to share with you some of the really good things I’ve experienced this year. It’s the 2nd to last day of the year and it’s lightly snowing here in PA. We’ve been on vacation this week at 110FRONT and it’s been so relaxing. As I was scrolling through my Bloglovin feed, I thought about my own neglected blog and what I could write about. I’ve always focussed on Fitness, Food and Fashion, because it’s honestly what I love. So, here’s what’s going on:

Fitness — I’ve been doing what I’ve always done: a random mix of whatever I can motivate myself to do and what works with the weather. A typical week includes Spin, Yoga and Jazzercise (which are the things I pay for.) I’ve been trying to curb my spending on “recreation” so after I pay the $35/month for Jazzercise and roughly $40/month for Spin, Yoga is an “extra.” I fill in the other days with free things like walking on the local rail trail or doing a workout on PopSugar. Same ol’, same ol’. Sometimes I make up my own workout. I put on a Pandora station like 80s hip hop or Florence and the Machine and just freestyle it. The only challenge I’ve had with working out is that my back has been…unpredictable… and sometimes I have to take a break from all exercise which is awful. I weigh myself daily and try to aim for a certain number on the scale. It records my weight to my fitbit app so I can see my progress — it’s a true obsession! I have to work hard on acceptance and moderation. I try to focus on being grateful for my overall health. And I have been working on my commitment to going to the chiropractor sooner rather than later. I track steps with my Apple Watch which I’ve had for over a year and I love it.

 

Food — Currently, I am eating everything. I don’t think Christmas is the time to be on a diet. However, making healthy choices is always in the back of my mind. I think that over the last 20 years I’ve made eating healthy a way of life. A typical day includes coffee with a little cream, breakfast: cereal with milk or eggs with baby spinach/kale and goats cheese and salsa, lunch: a sandwich made with leftover chicken, some kind of cheese, whole grain bread or salad with chicken or tuna, nuts, olives, tomatoes and homemade oil and vinegar dressing, dinner: veggie burgers with yam fries, pasta with tomato/pesto sauce or maybe tacos. I snack on almonds, cashews, cheese sticks, dark chocolate and lately: homemade cookies. Once a week we order Chinese food or pizza. I’m trying to quit diet coke, so I drink water or seltzer or green tea. I got Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, It’s All Easy, which looks really pretty in my book case. I have good intentions to use it one day. I get really bored cooking every day, thinking up what to make, but the kids are helping more and more and my husband will cook if I ask, so it’s constantly evolving. Oh, and believe it or not, I cooked meals in a crockpot for the first time this year. Win!

 

Fashion — This year I continued to curate my closet, only adding what I really need and what feels like it’s truly “me.” I bought things and returned quite a few things and I worked hard to appreciate and celebrate my wardrobe favorites. New additions: Madewell brown suede bootsMadewell jeans, Target (A New Day) trench coat, Everlane cashmere crew sweater and J.Crew tissue turtleneck t-shirt in stripe. I donated clothes to charity, used ThredUp and discovered Poshmark (check out my sales!) I also tried out StichFix for the first time after I received a gift certificate from my family. I ought to mention, too, that cut back what I was spending on clothes this year. We redid our budget and decided to do away with the clothing allowance. It’s been good for me to scale back and be more selective with what I buy — and more honest and transparent in my marriage. I was surprised how much I didn’t feel deprived and how much less stressed I was. A big thank you to my friend Kim who inspired me in this area.

 

2017 — What a year! I got a Nikon FG film camera last Christmas and am still on my first roll. I went on an amazing trip to Omaha in April with a bunch of women I adore. I watched my kids play a lot of baseball, softball & football, as well as sing (in front of people!) and do gymnastics. We went to the shore in the summer and Washington, DC in the Spring and again in the Fall. We went camping for the very first time as a family. We finally finished renovating our main bathroom, which has spanned over 7 years. We went to the shore in September which is the best time of all. I turned 50 in October and had a series of quiet celebrations including brunch & shopping in NYC. I started playing the violin after my aunt gave me my grandfather’s violin. We shared a lot more dinners with our friends/kid’s friends and learned that it’s the best way to become better friends. We lost our beloved hamster Molly and adopted a beautiful cat named Noelle. I read many books including The Magnolia Story, Peace is Every Step, Love Wins, as well as these. Every thing I read this year was from the library or was a gift! Favorite shows I watched were: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Patriot, Red Oaks, Big Little Lies, The Great British Baking ShowThe Crown, Alias Grace, Ozark & This Is Us. That’s it. Thanks for reading.

Happy New Year! Here’s to another great year of health & happiness!

 

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To Tuck or Not to Tuck?

I’ve had a lot on my mind these days. Life is busy and life is incredibly hard and lately, very tragic. I think a lot about what’s going on in the world and I feel a lot about it. This blog is my outlet… an emotional and a creative outlet. I think we all need a light-hearted diversion occasionally. So, please indulge me in this very not serious topic: Shirt Tucking. 

I have always been squarely in the no-tuck camp. Why? Because I have (in my mind) a crazy large booty. I feel like the visual effect of having my tops over my pants creates the optical illusion that my backside is more reasonable. For this same reason I have embraced lower cut pants as long as they’ve been around. As waist heights have risen, I’ve resisted. Ever so slowly I’ve become more openminded about high waisted pants. And one day last month I was somewhat willing to try tucking in my shirt. Probably because of Jeanne Damas. I started to think maybe it looks better to tuck shirts in. I kind of like having a defined waist and having longer-looking legs.

I tried tuck vs. no-tuck with the two pairs of high-waisted pants I own: a wide-leg crop from Madewell (that I cropped myself using this video), and a long flare from the Gap.

So, I enter into evidence, exhibits A – E. You decide.

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My Never Ending Search for the Perfect Trench Coat

It all began back in 2013. I became aware of the most important wardrobe must-have. The Trench Coat. Remember Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? I wanted to look just like that. I searched and researched and then finally, on February 4, 2014, I found the perfect trench coat: Banana Republic, eBay, NWOT, $50.

I never wore it. I tried. I really did. I thought the problem was that it was too long, so I had it shortened. I still didn’t wear it.

Pictured below: The BR Trench Coat (photographed January 2016)

Caught up in Ines de la Fressange x Uniqlo fever, I bought a bunch of stuff I would end up returning including this next trench coat, pictured below. I felt like the color was wrong and the lining made it look bulky.

I continued to obsess about finding the right coat.

Then I read the book, The Curated Closet and learned that just because everyone says something is a “Must-Have” you don’t have to believe it. It may not work for you. I mean, how can something be a must have for everyone. I began to let go of my need for a trench coat. “It’s not me.” I still sort of held out hope. Maybe, I just hadn’t met the right one.

I finally gave away that Banana Republic coat I never wore, never loved. I could live with out a trench coat in my carefully curated wardrobe. No one needs a trench coat.

But I still searched. I saved them on my Pinterest boards. I had my eye on a few, but waited. I didn’t need one and I didn’t need to spend the money.

And then on a whim I grabbed this trench coat, pictured below, at Target for $45. I’m wasn’t sure about the color but loved everything else about it, especially the hood. As I was buying it I felt sure I would be returning it the next day.

Could this be the one?

Here are my top contenders, and the one I bought:

Uniqlo | $130
Everlane | $138
Gap | $80 (on sale for $56)
Target | $45
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Copy Cat

When I’m bored or uninspired by my clothes, I go to my style board on Pinterest. When I’m really bored, I try to recreate my favorite pins with items I already own. Not a new concept of course, it’s been done by everyone from jseverydayfashion.com to manrepeller.com.

Look One: Cream-colored sweater, olive “army” pants and black sandals. I would love to  buy a cable knit sweater like the one in the inspiration photo, but will settle for this old, Old Navy sweater. Source

Look Two: White button down, black pegged trousers and red pumps. I love her shoes—leather with ankle straps. Mine are swede and you can’t see it but they have a nice brown block heel. This is a simple, obvious outfit formula, but somehow I needed Pinterest to tell me it goes together. Source

Look Three: And black trousers go with anything so they definitely go with my oatmeal colored sweater. I don’t know what kind of shoes she’s wearing, maybe Adidas, but I’m still doing the red heels. Sunglasses complete the look. Note to self: a big black tote can’t be too big. Source

Look Four: There are so many things that are good about this inspiration photo, from the coat to the little bag, but the main thing here is: high-waisted jeans that are belted and have the shirt tucked in.* After I took this selfie, I promptly took a pair of scissors to the hem of my jeans and then washed them. Source

*Only half tucked, but may have been a turning point for me regarding tucking in shirts.

 

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What I Read This Summer

The Forgotten Garden
by Kate Morton

Having already read The Secret Keeper, I knew I would love this book which unravels the mystery of a little girl who travels alone by boat from England to Australia. The story line has us bouncing back and forth between present and past — 1900, 1913, 1975 and 2005. It is reminiscent of The Secret Garden, which I read and loved when I was little, but goes much deeper into complex family dynamics and history. I was so incredibly hooked. My favorite read all summer. (Note: I found this book in a little free library in Carversville, PA so double win!)

 

 

Born a Crime
by Trevor Noah

I grabbed this book one day at the library because I was heading to do one of these really-fun-for-the-kids-really-boring-for-the-moms thing and needed a book to read while they played. I’m trying to not be that person on their phone who’s ignoring everyone. I feel way cooler reading a book and ignoring people and this somewhat controversial title seemed like the perfect way to do that, so extra points for me.

I was somewhat unprepared for how heavy it would get. I should have known. But what an amazing story. So worth reading.

 

The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

I get a lot of recommendations from my aunt Cindy and she thought this one was so good and thought I would love it so much  that she ordered it on Amazon for me. We were talking about it at the Memorial Day picnic and the next thing I knew it was in my mailbox.

An epic page turner, told from the point of view of two french women living through WWII. I mean, I knew the war was bad but this made me feel like I personally lived it. And I gotta tell you, I was so mad at the Germans. The author really drives home the indignities endured, like having their priceless paintings taken and not having any coffee. Brutal.

But seriously, everyone should read this. It felt so significant to me at this time in our country’s history.

 

The Painted Drum
by Louise Erdrich

This book. It didn’t look that interesting at first. I couldn’t remember where I got it. Then I remembered: I read a review about it (probably in Marie Claire or Elle), put it on my Amazon wish list and then my lovely sister Missy bought it for me for my birthday. I finally go around to reading it. The initial plot is rich and dark and draws you in, but then it’s like a story within a story. It was so interesting, so unlike anything I’ve ever read. I won’t tell you anything else. Just read it.

 

 

 

 

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