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…
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
- 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.
- I really prefer jeans to skirts.
- It’s okay to wear only your favorite items—on repeat.
- I became more accepting of myself. I realized it’s okay to be really casual or not even wear makeup.
- I gave myself permission to be cozy and warm. Layered as needed.
- Wearing Birks with socks indoors is my new fave.
- I have clothes in my closet that I rarely wear that I really like!
- 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/
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:
- 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?
- Try to do some form of exercise most days — I’ll do walking, jogging (often on the treadmill), indoor cycling, yoga, or online workouts.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?