"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."

--Winston Churchill

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bye Bye October

Well, October is almost over and I am just starting to get used to the idea that October is here. We had an extension of lovely warm weather this fall and before I knew it, the month flew by and I've hardly had a chance to enjoy all the wonderful things October has to offer. This weekend I am determined to soak up ever last minute of this month including a visit to the pumpkin patch before Halloween arrives! Here are a few of my favorite things about the beautiful first month of fall...

TIGHTS! I love love love pairing tights with everything from shorts to skirts to dresses, both dressy with heels or dressed down with boots. Tights are the perfect transitional weather piece and are the magical item that can transform a summer outfit to a fall outfit.

Every October I make a point to pay a visit to the pumpkin patch and pick out the perfect little round pumpkin that I generally like to name and draw a face on. I usually leave it at that because my carved pumpkins tend to look like Quasimodo.

I absolutely adore the beautiful colors that appear in Oregon in the fall. Every year the trees never cease to amaze me in their dazzling array of warm and vibrant colors. Photo shoot anyone?

BOOTS! Ok, boots can pretty much be worn year-round but I like to break them out in the fall and then hardly take them off. I wore my favorite pair almost to the ground last year and this year I am coveting these beautiful Steven by Steve Madden riding boots in Cognac. Yesterday I found out that I have a 158 dollar credit at our local resale store so I might just have to designate some of that extra spending money to investing in this key piece to my fall wardrobe.

This year I am falling even more in love with the flavor of pumpkin. I love pumpkin bread, cheesecake, lattes, pie, and even soup. And this morning I was introduced to Trader Joe's pumpkin butter which my friends, is heaven in a jar. Taste it, and if you love pumpkin flavor your life will be transformed. Of course, I found out after eating it that sugar is the second or third ingredient. Dangit! But you know, it was worth it
; )

Leave it to artist Bella Pillar from the blog Juniper Valentine and my favorite Papyrus card artist to make Halloween look adorably chic.

What are some of your favorite things about October?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Robin Hood and Agave Walnuts

Mondays can be a drag. Sometimes it takes everything in me to roll out of bed first thing Monday morning after a relaxing but too short weekend. However, this morning I got up half an hour earlier to do an early morning workout and didn't even mind knowing that I had an eight hour workday ahead of me because I knew that Robin Hood and agave walnuts awaited me when I got home. My parents had still never seen Robin Hood so I Netflixed it and made a plan to have a movie night tonight. I also decided that I wanted to try making for myself the amazing toasted agave walnuts my mom made over the weekend. They are so simple and so yummy you'll forget they're not the traditional candied nuts that are doused in sugar. I add them to salads and yogurt for that extra crunchy sweet punch.

Here's how you do it:

Start by thoroughly greasing a casserole dish and setting the oven to 325 F.

Pour a decent amount of walnuts into a medium bowl.

Pour a generous amount of agave over the mound of walnuts. Generous but not too generous. You don't want the nuts drowning in the agave.

Mix the agave with the walnuts thoroughly.

Spread the walnut mixture evenly into the greased dish.
Set dish in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Open the oven and stir the mixture and keep them in for another 15 minutes. And voila! The nuts are done toasting. Keep them in the dish to cool for about half an hour or so and try not to munch on the entire pan before putting them away : )

The backstory behind the nuts is that while I was planning on making them tonight anyway, my mom thought she'd make another batch for me because she knew how much I loved them. However, before I could even see them our mischievous dog got into our pantry, fished the nuts and only nuts out, and ate almost the entire batch before my mom got to him! I guess I was meant to make them myself after all.

And as for Robin Hood? The perfect way to start the week is watching Russell Crow once again done the armor that looks like he belongs in. I saw the movie in theaters and have been wanting to see it again ever since. I think I liked it even more the second time! The love story is wonderful. And my parents loved it too.

Sometimes you just need a little extra something to get you through your Monday : )

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Moving On

Last night I went through a frustrating and aggravating experience that I am still recovering from. While trying to stay good with my money and not making any personal indulgence purchases, about a week ago I was delighted to remember that I still had (or so I thought) in my possession a 50 dollar gift card to Zappos left over from my graduation gifts. So, after perusing their sight for several days and finally landing on the perfect pair of glamorous platform pumps for an upcoming Christmas party, I decided to order them and pay the 21 dollar difference. So, last night, with wallet and laptop in hand, I was about to complete my order when I opened my wallet and to my dismay and utter perplexity, the gift card was MIA! I immediately scoured every nook and cranny that it could possibly be hiding but to no avail. I probably went through my wallet a total of 6 times and even went through my old empty wallet thinking I might have left it there. I called Zappos and they told me that the only way I had any hope of getting the gift card would be to contact the gift card givers and have them contact Zappos to be reimbursed and then reissue a card. There was no way I was going to make them go through that so after what felt like hours of hating on myself and near tears of frustration, I finally decided to wave the white flag and give up. So, my friends, all this to say is that there comes a time when you have to let go of a frustration situation that you want to beat yourself up for. Because I let my heart get so set on those beautiful shoes, I have come up with an alternate plan. I have decided to make up the 50 dollars I lost by doing odds and ends jobs, listing things on Ebay, and collecting some money I have at a couple local resale stores. Already I have done one household job I was told I'd get paid for, listed 3 Juicy Couture hoodies on Ebay, and made the plan to call the resale stores on Monday to see exactly how much money I have. That way, if all goes to plan I can finally purchase the shoes without any extra expense on my part and with the accomplishing feeling of knowing that I earned it and, in a sense was sufficiently punished for losing the gift card.

I think in this economy, working hard to earn every indulgent purchase you make instead of compulsively buying something with a credit card really helps add appreciation to the item and improves your relationship with money. Already, I feel like I am growing a lot in my spending habits and know that anyone can if they set their mind to it. Lost a big gift card? Slap yourself and move on. Come up with a plan to make up for it if you can. And most importantly, remember that there will always that "if I could just have" item and learn to make the most of what you have.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rainy Day Reading Material

Yesterday I came home to a lovely surprise of not one, but two of my favorite magazines laying across the kitchen counter awaiting my arrival. In addition to those two, I have the November issue of Glamour that I still have barely touched after almost a month. What happened to the days where I would make time to devour every single colorful and glossy page of my favorite magazines? Is it leftover guilt from the college days where reading a fashion magazine instead of doing homework felt like a sin? Or is it perhaps that, like our culture, I have become so media-crazed that the only relaxing sounding activity is laying in front of a television or computer screen and vegging? Whatever the case, this rainy weekend I am determined to rediscover the simple art of curling up and reading a good magazine and a good book without a television blaring in the background or being involved in a simultaneous conversation. I forgot how much I love to curl up and be cozy on rainy days. It is truly one of life's simple pleasures. In addition to breaking in my magazines including my all-time favorite, InStyle, I am going to finally pick back up Never Let Me Go, the book I abandoned for the last couple weeks for Grey's Anatomy. Who knows? Maybe one day I might actually write another book review on this blog...

Here are a few books on my reading list:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Happy Friday my fellow readers! Don't forget to make time for yourself this weekend and give your tired self a day of rest.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Power Roles

Elle magazine just hosted their annual Women in Hollywood Tribute (where of course my favorite woman in Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow, was honored) and it got me thinking, which Hollywood actress has the largest body of work representing powerful women? And As I was thinking about how much I want to see Hilary Swank's new film Conviction--about a woman who, convinced her convicted brother is innocent, puts herself through law school with the sole goal of representing him in court and gaining his freedom--I realized that hands down Hilary Swank takes this medal. From a female boxer to a women's right's activist to a high school teacher determined to motivate and inspire juvenile delinquents to learn and succeed, Swank's roles vary all over the spectrum and are placed back in time and present, historical and factual. But the one thing almost all of these roles have in common is the representation of female strength. All I can say is props to you Ms. Swank!

Here are some of my favorite Hilary Swank girl-power roles:

Freedom Writers

Swank won me over as Erin Gruwell, the fiercely determined new 23-year-old teacher at a high school full of juvenile delinquents and under privileged students who obstinately refuse to participate in class. This movie is inspirational because of the transformation that happens in the classroom through Erin's optimistic attitude and belief in the students who hardly believe in themselves. A wonderful performance and a wonderful film.

Red Dust

In this powerful film Swank plays a human right's lawyer from New York returning to her childhood village in South Africa to work on the case of a tortured policeman. The film sheds light on the brutality corruption of the Apartheid and the corruption's complex nature. I saw this not long after returning from South Africa and found it incredibly educational and eye opening.

Million Dollar Baby

Who could forget Swank's performance as an aspiring pro female boxer in her thirties? Her and Clint Eastwood blew me away in this inspiring and sad film also directed by Eastwood. Talk about female strength! Once again, Swank's character possesses a fierce determination that eventually wins over Eastwood as her coach and leads her to achieving her dream.


I don't care what was said about this movie. Sure it is long and could have been cut quite a bit, but I thought Swank's portrayal of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, was powerful and moving enough to carry the film in and of itself. And what woman doesn't want to watch a film based on the incredible historical figure who broker barriers for women everywhere?

Hilary Swank films that I still want to see:

Boys Don't Cry
Iron Jawed Angels (This is on top of my list of must-see Hilary Swank films about the Women's Rights movement.)
The Affair of the Necklace

While we're talking about Hilary Swank, might I add that she's been looking fabulous on the red carpet these days. Here are a few of my favorite of her recent looks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Check it Out!

Check out today's post of The Girl With the Blue Bow featuring me! She is going to start weekly posts featuring the writers/creators of her favorite blogs and I was honored to be her first interview.

Gonna go work on my painting now! Happy Monday : )

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Top Blogs/Newsletters

I've been wanting to do this post for quite some time. I feel like I owe it to several blogs for inspiring me, entertaining me, and turning me into a faithful follower. Before this year, I never followed blogs, let alone read them. When I was finally introduced to the blogesphere my internet-surfing and reading world was changed. Suddenly I felt more creatively inspired because everything I was reading seemed so accessible. Flipping through fashion magazines and looking at red carpet photos can only do so much before I want to wave the white flag and surrender because I don't have the money to buy the clothes these women wear, or the beauty team to make me look that perfect. Blogs allow people to explore the other side of fashion/food/living because they are written by people we can relate to. And yet, some of these people posses real talent, creativity, and heart that has gained them many faithful followers who can't seem to get enough of them. I still don't consider myself a huge blogger because I don't follow many blogs that religiously. Therefore, consider it true praise from limited blog viewing that somehow these few blogs and newsletters captivate me enough to hold my attention.

I have to list Behind the Seams first because this blog is what got me started reading blogs and was part of the inspiration behind starting my blog. This is the blog of Trang Huyen, last year's Bluefly Stylist and America's Most Stylish Blogger winner. Every look this woman puts together is a work of art and a testament to her true fashion sense and talent. I frequently look to her for inspiration and have to admit, if I ever met her I would be truly starstruck.

This is the other blog that inspired me to start mine. I had known Jessica before even knowing she had a blog and when I finally discovered it I was blown away. Her natural flair for writing mixed with her fun and quirky fashion sense have together kept me hooked from day one. I can say that without bias from our personal friendship that her blog is truly addicting.

I have mentioned Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point before when I discovered her incredible Operation Beautiful which aims to end fat talk and change women's perception of beauty that has been warped by the media and fashion world. Since then I have become hopelessly addicted to her blog which chronicles her daily meals and training for marathons and job being a food blogger and body image spokesperson. The funny thing is, she posts frequently throughout the day (sometimes up to 3 or 4 posts a day!) mostly posting pictures of her healthy and delicious looking meals and writing what she did that day and somehow I have to read every single one! I am so captivated by this woman's lifestyle and her heathy eating and body image that I can't seem to get enough of her. Perhaps it is because of my deep longing to be that healthy both physically and mentally...ok, maybe not the marathon running part...

This is the newsletter that--I kid you not--helps me get out of bed on Thursday mornings. Yes, there might be some bias from the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow is my favorite actress and celebrity. However, I think I can still say that even if you are not as huge of a Gwyneth fan as I, or better yet, don't even recognize her name it would be hard not to enjoy her weekly newsletters featuring everything from restaurant and bakery recommendations to fashion tips and author interviews. In fact, her letter from last week where she listed her favorite food blogs helped inspire this post. Subscribe to it and I guarantee you will be hooked.

Ok, I don't know what turned me onto this newsletter in the first place, but somehow I have found myself trying to keep up with their almost daily newsletters on an almost daily basis. Maybe it is because I am intrigued with all the information I learn about what is in our food and how bad some restaurant foods are. The newsletters give tips on how to live a healthy lifestyle and what foods hold the most nutrition. However, be warned that once you sign up your inbox will rarely be empty.

This fun blog brings out the movie buff/addict in me. Christina's quirky taste and vast knowledge of movies and TV keeps me reading. I love her Foreign Fridays posts where she features a review of a foreign film every week. I can always count on her for movie recommendations when I am updating my Netflix que. Look for me in her Monday post where she'll be kicking off her "Any Friend of Mine" posts featuring short interviews with the writers and creators of some of her favorite blogs!

There is definitely some personal bias in keeping up with this cute and relaxed blog because the creator happens to be one of my closest friends. I love getting updates on her busy life and the occasional fun fashion posts. Check out her latest post which I am honored to say was inspired by my Wishful Wish List post! She is worth checking out just because of how adorable she is.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Very Wishful Wish List

Surprisingly, my current list of coveted items isn't miles long like it has been in the past. Maybe that comes with being better with my money...and the fact that I don't spend a lot of time shopping around anymore. However, there are a few things I am finding very difficult to stop thinking about and wanting. Maybe sharing them with you will help ease my intense desire to have them in my possession...

Several of my friends and my sisters can tell you that I have been talking about wanting a deep blue velvet platform pump preferable with ankle straps for quite a while now. Well, when I came across these Victoria dress pumps the other night, ankle straps suddenly seemed irrelevant. They are the shoes of my dreams (well, at least from the last several months) and now that I've seen them I cannot get them out of my head. If only I could find a way to justify their purchase...

My family can testify that ever since childhood I have been beyond obsessed with this movie. When I was a little girl I would watch it multiple times in a week, wear the yellow Belle dress my mom made for me almost on a daily basis, and dance around to the soundtrack. To this day I still know all of the songs. I owned tshirts, back packs, and I even remember ordering the battery operated magic mirror from the Disney catalogue. That said, you can only imagine my excitement to hear that Beauty and the Beast is finally being released from the vault and is now available in a blue ray/DVD combo pack! Sadly, I haven't been able to purchase it yet, but once I can finally afford it I can guarantee that my favorite Disney movie will be in my hands!

I call this the disco ball dress and when I came across it on asos.com my inner glamour girl came out and fell in love. However, this dress is about $300, so I know that even if I had a spare bit of spending money, this dress is way out of my reach right now. So therefore I am using this dress to represent my desire for a Christmas dress. Every year I buy one for my dad's company's annual Christmas party. Sadly, I won't be able to attend this years, but there is another fun Christmas party that I CAN attend and would love to have a new dress for. So, here is my plan: Right now I am gaining more and more credit at our local resale store after bringing in clothes that I never wear including a vast array of cocktail dresses (I know, it's hilarious. Somehow I'm an Oregonian who thinks she's a New Yorker). I am hoping that I will have a large enough balance there to take out the money and buy myself a Christmas dress with it. Not too bad, right?

When I read that Elton John was coming out with a new album in a matter of days I about flipped out! I don't care if it is a collaboration with some random old singer who looks like Santa. I am not afraid to admit that I am completely Elton John obsessed! So much so that going to one of his concerts is one of the few things on my bucket list. I read this morning that he is touring for this album and if I wasn't at work when I read it I would have let out a scream of excitement. Though it seems very unlikely I will see him on tour this time, at least I will be able to listen to fresh songs from one of my favorite musical artists! I know, I'm an older woman stuck in a 23-year-old's body.

So there you have it. What are some of the things on your wish list?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Need for Peace...and Grey's Anatomy

Well my friends, I'm still in the midst of my quest to find balance and health and so far it is going very well. As of yesterday I have officially begun my full-fledged food restriction, but I basically started about a week ago. However, (between you and me) I couldn't bear the thought of not being allowed my chai tea in place of coffee so I am continuing to drink black tea against the doctor's wishes. Shhh don't tell! It feels wonderful being off sugar and I highly recommend it to everyone strong enough to try. I am still disgusted by how many foods sugar manages to sneak it's way into.

On a different note, as I have been recently reflecting on the right way to balance my life and what to prioritize, a conversation I had today with a friend lead me to realize even more the importance of "me time." Like me, this friend often has a hard time saying no to people, which leads to a full calender and hardly any time to unwind. Even if these commitments are fun social outings or events, if we continuously keep ourselves busy with activities outside of school or work, eventually we will wear ourselves thin. This is at least the truth for me and many people I know. There are super humans out there who seem to manage to do it all and still have energy and happiness to spare, but these are a very rare breed. After being out of school and in the "real world" I am amazed how quickly we can fill up the time we would have been spending on schoolwork. By the time my work day is over, all I want to do is relax, but quite often there are things to do, errands to run, people to see, and by the time I am finally done, the day is over. Does this ring a bell for anyone? Well my mission for myself and my assignment to this friend of mine and everyone else who is no-saying challenged is to read this book:

This book covers the many ways in which every person needs to set up personal boundaries in their life. I struggle with wanting to people-please all the time even if it means sacrificing important things. My mom started going through it with me and a few other girls but I never finished it. Now I am determined to pick it up again and go through it in depth.

My other assignment is to start by designating a day of the week (weekend days work best for most working people) to keep completely and absolutely clear of work, appointments or plans of any sort to unwind and refresh. This can include your own personal list of chores and errands that you haven't gotten to during the work week as long as you know you will feel so much better and ready for relaxation once they are completed. By the end of that day it is important to do something that you absolutely love that relaxes you. For me this is sometimes painting, reading, and quite often watching movies and sometimes TV. After getting used to your one "me day," try to find at least two week days where you have no plans after work other than going home and working on your own personal things and rewarding yourself with something like a glass of wine or a chapter of a good book before bed. Lately my guilty pleasure has been going through Grey's Anatomy season 6 on Netflix. Nothing relaxes me more than watching another episode of a TV show I am extremely addicted to .

I realize that putting up boundaries and making plans to have no plans is easier said than done, but it is also extremely important in our lives in order to maintain our sanity and inner peace. Remember, I am right along with you.

Now onto another episode of Grey's Anatomy...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

No More "Bad Foods"

Tonight was very therapeutic for me and not to mention an incredibly huge milestone. I actually made macaroni and cheese! I know, most of you might say, "so what?" but if you really knew my deep history with food you would know that this is big.

Let me explain: Ever since I can remember, macaroni and cheese has been near if not on top of my list of very favorite foods. I adore it and would beg my mom to make it for me when I was young. When I was finally old enough to make it I discovered the Annie's brand and fell in love...especially with the Mexican flavor. I would make it all the time and pig out on it till I felt like I was going to burst. Fast forward a few years when I was growing increasingly self conscious about my body and hated how "fat" I was getting. I know this wasn't the case, but merely my body changing and me eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted because that was what I was used to from my childhood. When I finally broke and decided to go on a diet, I decided that carbs were the first to go, and that would mean saying goodbye to my beloved mac and cheese. My "diet" started off innocently enough, but subtly became more and more rigorous and restricting. I won't go into the whole nightmare experience my eating disorder took me but let's just say I didn't touch macaroni and cheese...or hardly anything else involving fat or carbs for years.

Even since I've been healing and developing a better relationship with food, the idea of eating a bowl of macaroni and cheese still frightened me. My fear came from a mix of my lingering eating disorder and my fear of a possible allergy to dairy. However, after discovering that I am in fact far from a possible dairy allergy I thought it would be the perfect occasion to break out a box of Annie's mac and cheese with rice noodles!

I steamed some broccoli and carrots to go with it because I felt a little unbalanced eating it by itself. Let me just say, I savored every delicious bite! I did not eat the whole bowl, as I might have done in the past, but saved the rest for later.

I subscribe to Eat This Not That's online newsletter and in a recent slideshow titled, "25 Best Nutrition Secrets" they say to go ahead and eat your favorite foods. Just do it in moderation. "Good eating doesn't need to be about deprivation. It's about making smart choices--eat foods that you enjoy, just not too much of them."

My Aunt Catherine also recently introduced me to a wonderful site called Positively Sunny, which offers positive advice and tips for living a happier life for women. On the site they have a section on learning how to Eating Happily. Kathleen Johnson writes, "For some reason, we think the food we love can't be good for us. I just don't agree. No matter what foods you enjoy most, eating them with joy is healthy. Give yourself explicit permission to eat the foods you enjoy, even on a daily basis."

This particular section in the post really spoke to me:

All right, some foods are better for us than others. But thinking in terms of good food/bad food doesn't serve our happiness. We eat dozens of different foods each week. Invariably, at some point during a typical week, you might eat a food that you or someone else has labeled "bad". Then you think you've been good or bad.

Judgment like this isn't consistent with happiness. It also seems to lead to binging, overdoing and generally not enjoying the food you eat. Be flexible. Even if something isn't loaded with nutrients, it might taste good. It might have been a gift of love from someone. It might have been all you could find to eat. If any of these are the case, all I can say is: Enjoy, be grateful or learn from this and plan ahead!

Though my current food allergy testing restricts me from many foods, my resolution is to no longer label foods "good" or "bad." Instead, I will use this opportunity to branch out and try foods I am not restricted from, even if they are something I would have run away from in the past. I want to change my perspective on food altogether and no longer be afraid of it. Instead, I want to be a conscious and not mindless eater and to eat the foods I love and savor and enjoy them to the fullest.

With that said, cheers to macaroni and cheese!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Great Food Hunt

Today I kicked off the beginning of the elimination mode for my food allergy testing. I don't want to bore my readers with the long list of foods I have to restrict myself from but to give you a better idea let me just list the ones that will be the hardest to live without:


...and the list goes on with random fruits and vegetables and fish. I have already eliminated coffee and have replaced it with chai for now. However, that will have to go eventually as well because I am not supposed to have black tea either but only green tea. Some things I just have to transition of I will be one grumpy lady. I have to say it has been an adjustment but in these last couple of days I have learned a lot about food and grocery stores. Already I feel like I have become much more informed and aware of the food we eat regularly without even blinking and what it contains. Even at our local food co-op which carries mostly natural and organic foods (I'm talking the healthiest of healthy) I read sugar or evaporated cane juice on an overwhelming number of labels. Why must they add it to EVERYTHING?!

I do have an amazing find to share with you that I discovered the other day. It was love at first taste! This yogurt is all natural and is sweetened with agave. The texture and incredibly creamy consistency was my favorite part and get this: it is nonfat! I don't really understand that but I have found a new food obsession.

The picture on top is an amazing salad I made myself for dinner. Thank heavens for salads! On Friday I plan to really tackle the supermarket and go on the big food hunt. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cutting Back: My Food and Money Challenge

This week has been a big wake up call for me. Now that I have postponed my journey to South Africa, I have made it a priority to focus on my health which includes my chronic stomach ailments. I have been dealing with constant discomfort almost on a daily basis and am ready to get to the bottom of it. I do realize that I definitely pulled a number on my stomach in the past when I would deprive it of nutrients and my stomach might be partially reacting to that now, but I am also convinced that I have several food allergies that might also be the culprit. That said, I have been ordered by my doctor to completely cut out at least a dozen foods from my diet for three weeks in order to see which ones I am affected by. When I was first told this and was given a list of all the foods I can't eat my initial reaction was panic. However, now that I have let it sink in and have researched foods I CAN eat and have given myself a plan to gradually ease into my new diet rather than cutting everything cold turkey right away, I am actually getting excited about the idea of solving my stomach issues and becoming more disciplined.

Ever since I can remember, I have been a compulsive person, both with eating and with money. When I'm stressed or distressed I abuse them as a way to cope. I am always battling within myself and beating myself up when I once again resort to food or spending money I don't have to deal with something. Therefore deep down I am actually embracing being forced to save my money for Africa and pay bills and finally learn how to manage my money like an adult as well as eat mindfully and more healthy. The food allergy challenge couldn't come at a better time to parallel my money challenge and I think my blog is the perfect outlet in which to document my daily/weekly goal of finding creative ways to stay fashionable and have fun without spending money, and to eat good meals in my diet.

My Kick-off plan:

To start off my new challenge, I have decided to give myself a food and a money goal to accomplish by the end of the week.

Food: Go to the grocery store and scour the isles for new and interesting foods in my diet that I can try. Write down any meal ideas that I come up with to start planning. Focus on what I CAN eat, rather than what I can't.

Money: Go through closet and find all clothing items I've been holding onto but deep down know that I won't wear again and bring to our resale shop. The more I bring in, the more credit I get which meals GUILT-FREE shopping!

I am sure I am not the only one who struggles with staying disciplined in these areas and having a healthy relationship with money and food so I would love input, ideas, encouragement, etc. Let's get this challenge started!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend Recap: Wine and Josh Duhamel

This weekend was just the satisfying refresher I needed after what felt like endless early mornings and busy work days. I don't work on Fridays but I like to reserve that day for chores and errands I haven't gotten around to doing during the week. So, this Friday I am proud to say that I tackled the great task of sorting though my hundreds of CDs, throwing away the cases, and categorizing them into a large CD case. I then moved onto sorting through all my DVDs and categorizing them into their designated slots based on genre. I know I am probably sounding a little OCD right now, but it has been something I've been meaning to do forever and already I feel so much better about my life having it out of the way.

Saturday was all play thanks to my amazing mom who threw me a belated birthday wine tasting celebration with some of my best girlfriends. My birthday was over a month ago but hey, it's never too late to celebrate, right? We went to South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville which is conveniently located just down the road from my house and hosts beautiful wine tastings both in their bar and outside in their lovely backyard area. I highly recommend this place if you're in the area and want a fun afternoon out with the girls.

After getting my fill of several delicious wines (the dessert wine was my favorite, being the sweet tooth I am) a few of us headed to see a sneak preview of Life As We Know It--the movie I've been dying to see ever since the previews came out several months ago. Altogether, I was not disappointed. The movie proved itself to be just as touching, funny, sweet, and romantic as the previews made it out to be. I recommend it to all those who, like me, need a good dose of chick flick every once in a while. Having Josh Duhamel's physical perfection in nearly every scene doesn't hurt either. Hey, I'm just stating the obvious.

Today I finally started my next painting, which will partially be the subject of one of my upcoming posts so stay tuned!

Friday, October 1, 2010

New Directions

"The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It's the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years. ~"

Hello my friends and faithful blog readers. At this point I'm not even sure if you are still out there, and I don't blame you because as you can tell by my abhorrent lack of posts, I am an extremely one track person. I have learned that I tend to only focus at one thing at a time, and am often transitioning from one interest to the next. This doesn't mean my passion for fashion and love of blogging has completely vanished. I only mean that I haven't yet found the ideal balance for my life. So, with that I'd like to announce to you the new direction I would like my blog to take. Right now I am in that strange an uncertain stage of life that I've heard many recent college graduates find themselves in and have made the decision to postpone my January venture to South Africa to a later date not yet determined. Right now I want my focus to be finding balance, discipline, health (in all areas of my life), and ultimately true joy. I can openly say that through my college years I lost a lot of all that I listed above because I let stress and my eating disorder essentially eat away my life. I am not yet the balanced, happy, healthy person that I want to be when I finally venture to Africa and until I become that person, I do not want to make such a drastic change in my life. I know I am being more blunt and open than usual, but since I have decided to take my life in a different direction for now and ever since my last post about body image, I have grown weary of writing rather weightless fashion posts when there is so much more to my life that I would like to share with the world. So, my friends, here it is: I want to redirect my blog from solely fashion (and sometimes movie and literature) focused to a chronicling of my journey to health and happiness. Don't worry, I'm not going to go completely Eat Pray Love on you. I just want to write about the things that inspire me and bring me happiness in my daily life.

I just read a wonderful Audrey Hepburn biography called Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto (thanks Jess for the loan!). I highly recommend this read to all you Audrey Hepburn lovers and even those who simply find her intriguing. Not only does it reveal interesting tidbits into the life of a fascinating woman, but it gives a good look into the sadness behind those big brown eyes. I didn't realize how hard and sometimes tragic Audrey's life actually was, and it made her all the more real and human to me. I love her quote above, and think that Audrey reached the peak of her true beauty toward the end of her life when she found true fulfillment in humanitarian work with UNICEF. Though Audrey made her mark on screen in her early years, she was never very happy doing it. All she really wanted was children to love and spoil and a cause to put her heart into. After reading her biography, I have become even more determined not not go through most of my life and following its rhythms without really living it.

So, there you have it. I still will be doing my fashion posts (so not to worry my fellow fashion freaks) but they will be sprinkled in with posts that aim to look at true beauty that comes in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. I hope that one day the fashion world can fully embrace the healthy woman's body. It saddens me that it has become increasingly difficult to separate beautiful fashion with an unhealthy body image, but I hope my blog can help encourage that separation in its small way. Here's to embracing who we are and enjoying life's true beauty and everything that comes with it! I hope you all can join me in my journey to discovering it.