Thank you all so much for your insightful comments on last week's post about charitable giving. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I haven't made any decisions yet, but you all have given me some great ideas to think about.
How was everyone's weekend by the way? We were in Dallas for a long weekend to attend Jason's cousin's wedding. It was a lovely wedding and seeing Gabe and Kristi's happiness and love for each other got me even more excited (if that's even possible) to marry Jason. I'd never been to Dallas before (or Texas, for that matter!) so on Friday we put on our tourist caps and did a little sight-seeing. We went to Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum, which I found fascinating as I've always had an interest in all things related to JFK. Later, we hit up the Dallas Museum of Art to soak in a little culture. (Since I work at an art museum, I always make a point to visit one in every major city I travel to.)
It was a great weekend, but alas, I now feel like I'm playing catch-up with sleep, cleaning + laundry, wedding planning, exercising, etc. I'm trying to practice some extra self-care this week (eating well, taking lots of deep breaths, and saying no to unnecessary activities) so that I don't get overwhelmed. Things might be a little quiet on the blog this week as I try to get centered again, but hope to be back at it soon!
In the meantime, I leave you with a couple fun links:
13 Small Things to Simplify Your Workday
101 Ways to Cheer Yourself Up: Part 1 and 2
Hope you're having a wonderful week!
P.S. The cherry blossoms are almost at peak bloom! I'm going to try to take some photos this Friday since they are supposed to peak on Friday and Saturday.
Image via Smashing Magazine.
So, being new to this whole thing, I'm super curious to hear about your experiences, dear readers. Do you donate to charity? (You don't need to tell me how much, obviously...that's private.) How often do you donate? How do you decide which organizations to donate to? If you have a certain amount to give, do you give it to several organizations or one organization (where it could potentially go further)?
Also, I've got a few ideas in mind already, but if there are any organizations that you feel are particularly worthy, I'd love to hear about them.
Happy Tuesday, my dears. How's the week been treating you so far?
I am super excited because my Planner Pad is due to arrive today! I first heard about the Planner Pad from Kimberly Wilson, and since that time have heard many more of you sing its praises. I finally decided that I need to see what all the hype is about. From what I've read, it sounds like the format helps you to not only organize, but also prioritize, which I think will be extremely helpful.
This may make me sound hopelessly dorky, but there's something so satisfying about the prospect of organizing the next few months of my life! After I go to the gym and eat dinner, I'm going to sit down with a mug of tea and map everything out. Ahh...
Do you use a Planner Pad? What do you like about it?
P.S. Thanks to those of you who chimed in with advice about the size. I went with the Executive size because I like to have extra space. I'll let you know what I think!
I spotted the Eat, Pray, Love trailer on my sister's blog this morning and had to share. Who else is super excited for this?
I haven't read Gilbert's second book, Committed (it got pretty lukewarm critical reviews), but I'm headed to Dallas for a wedding this weekend and I could use a little plane reading. Have any of you lovelies read it? Would you recommend it?
Large glass of warm water with slice of organic unwaxed lemon (this acts as a natural cleanser to your system)
Glass of unsweetened almond milk
As I mentioned, this post began as a fairly straightforward list of weight loss tips, which a couple of you had asked me to share after I tweeted that I'd lost 20 pounds. I realized, however, that the changes I've undergone in recent months have taken place on a deeper level than that list conveyed. The post felt incomplete and disingenuous. I felt that you deserved more and that I owed it to you (and to myself) to share that deeper story, even if it meant baring a little bit of my soul. Yikes.
I've always loved food. Maybe it's because I grew up in a household of foodies or maybe it's due to some fundamental aspect of my personality. I love everything about it. The endless variety of textures and tastes, the artistry of a perfectly prepared dish, the coziness of cooking and sharing a meal with loved ones. As far back as I can remember, the utility of food has always been intertwined with the experience of eating it. By this, I mean that food was never mere nourishment. It was, by turns, pleasure, creativity, celebration, togetherness, and community. Until recently, I would have called myself ardently omnivorous, in every sense of the word. What I wouldn't have told you is that my enthusiasm for good food had slowly translated into an extra 30 or so pounds, which I thankfully carried pretty well on my curvy/athletic frame.
The past couple of years and particularly the past six months or so have felt like a revelation for me, food-wise. As a person who loves food, I naturally have followed the push to revolutionize and reform our country's fantastically screwed-up food system. I've read the books and watched the documentaries, first out of curiosity and then because I couldn't stop. The more I learned about what goes into your average supermarket fare, the more horrified I became (and I'm talking just the actual physical composition of the product itself, not even the cruelty inherent in the process, although that horrified me in equal measure.)
There was no specific incident that pushed me "over the edge," so to speak. I slowly became more and more aware of what exactly I was putting in my body, and as a result, how it made me feel. I noticed that I felt light, healthy, and energetic when I ate mostly fresh veggies, non-meat proteins, and whole grains and that I felt dull, sluggish, and vaguely sick after consuming meat, dairy, sugar, and simple carbs. On January 1, 2010, I stopped eating meat and dairy, and cut out most sugar, simple carbs, and alcohol. I made these changes not to lose weight, but because I want to feel like my best self physically and because I want to know with certainty that what I'm putting into my body does not contribute to the havoc the typical American diet wreaks on the environment, the animal world, and our collective health.
I don't count calories. I eat as many fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds as I want. You know what? It's not easy, but it's not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. And even though weight loss was not my primary goal, I have to say that shedding those 20 lbs (20.5 as of this morning) feels darn good as I'm literally lighter on my feet, which gives me more energy and makes it easier to work out. My hair is shinier, my skin clearer, and my sleep more restful. I honestly can't remember the last time I've felt so vibrant and just so...good.
I know that some people take issue with the idea of changing your diet for both personal health reasons and for environmental or animal welfare reasons. There seems to be some sentiment out there that the latter reason is more "pure," and that you should not change your diet expecting to reap physical benefits. But for me, it sort of seems like it's all intertwined. I want to feel good, and part of feeling good is aligning my personal consumption with my values. To separate my own health from the health of the earth or its creatures doesn't make sense to me. Isn't the point that we, as individuals, can effect larger change through our own actions? It's food for thought (sorry - couldn't resist).
Tomorrow, I'll be posting more details about what I eat, including a sample daily menu and some favorite new dishes, so stay tuned.
I know there are many bloggers who cover tough subjects with amazing - sometimes downright astonishing - honesty (hello, Penelope Trunk). However; is it just me or is there a maddening tendency among many bloggers to portray their lives as picture-perfect fairytale romps through Never Never Land? While I'm the first one to champion fun and uplifting content, I often find myself yearning for a little more substance and a little less style. However, I don't take issue with these blogs...not really anyway. Instead, I take issue with myself. If I really wish that more bloggers would talk openly about these kinds of things, then why shouldn't I hold myself to the same standard?
I can tell you why I don't. I don't because I'm scared of sharing my feelings so openly in a public forum. I don't because it makes me feel vulnerable. I don't because I fear that the response wouldn't be positive. I don't because I worry that no one would care.
But, you know what? The more I think about it, the more empowered I feel by the idea of injecting some radical authenticity into these posts. I recently tweeted about how excited I am to have lost 20 pounds since December (woo hoo!). A couple of you lovelies immediately responded by asking me to share some weight loss advice, so I began working on a post in the form of a bulleted list with tips like eat more fresh fruits and veggies, etc. Halfway into my post, I realized something. I could come up with 7 million "tips," and still any post about weight loss would feel incomplete if I didn't share at least a little bit about my mental, emotional, and physical struggle to be in a place where I feel really good about my body.
I'll still share my tips, but I'm re-writing the post. In fact, I've got lots of topics that I'm excited to blog about with radical authenticity. My hope is that this space will continue to be a source of positivity and inspiration, but that I will also provoke some candid conversation on a wide range of topics that affect us all. Thank you for being the supportive and intelligent ladies that you are. I look forward to deepening our dialogue and continuing to build our little blog community.
Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope you all had wonderful weekends.
I had a lovely time in Chicago. My mom picked me up from the airport on Friday and we headed to the mall to indulge in a little retail therapy, followed by super yummy sushi for dinner. Saturday morning was the bridal shower (that's me at the shower, with my godmother Laura and Laura's sister Donna). Saturday afternoon was my first dress fitting. It was so much fun to try on the dress again!
Sometimes I still pinch myself when I realize that I get to marry the love of my life in just a few short months. The shower and dress fitting definitely made it feel "real" though, so it was a pretty emotionally intense weekend!
I hope your week is off to a good start. I'll have more fun posts for you later this week!
I'm off to Chicago tomorrow for a long girls' weekend with my mom (my dad will be on a golfing trip). On Saturday morning, my godmother (my mom's cousin) is hosting a bridal shower for me. I've heard a rumor there will be cupcakes, so needless to say, I'm pretty psyched. Saturday afternoon I have my first dress fitting. I'm excited to see my dress again, especially with the shoes I picked out! And I can't wait to spend some quality time with my mom, and of course, my parents' dog Kiwi.
What are your plans for the weekend?
Image via Larabar.
Nature's Path Oatmeal
Growing up, I was never a big oatmeal person. However, in recent years I have begun to appreciate this hearty, healthy whole grain. (I've heard your taste buds change every seven years, so maybe that has something to do with it.) I've found that a bowl of oatmeal in the morning keeps me full until lunchtime, and provides a steady dose of calm energy throughout the day. There are a few reasons why I gravitate the Nature's Path brand. Firstly, they offer a Flax Plus version, which helps provide those essential Omega 3 fatty acids. Secondly, it's certified organic and the company's founders are active in advocating for organic farming and a more sustainable food system. And last, but not least, it has the best texture and taste of comparable products that I've tried. Texture-wise, it's smooth but not mushy and the taste is just slightly sweet but not cloying at all. Sometimes I will top it off with chopped fruit, almond slivers, or a drizzle of agave nectar,
but it's truly satisfying on its own.
Have you tried Nature's Path oatmeal? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Image via World Pantry.
Today's Nourishing Bite is actually more of a nourishing sip. I discovered Oregon Chai Chai Tea Concentrates several years ago. As a Chai lover, I have sampled various versions of this yummy Indian-spiced beverage. While Teaism's Chai remains my all-time favorite, it's not always possible to drop by my favorite tea house, especially now that I live further away. When I can't get to Teaism and don't have time to create my own version at home, I reach for Oregon Chai's boxed concentrates. These days, I prefer the Slightly Sweet version, which, compared to the Original, has just a teeny bit of sugar. Mixed with almond milk and poured over ice, it's sweet, spicy, creamy and delicious. In cooler months, I heat it in the microwave for a warm and comforting treat. Oregon Chai also offers vegan, sugar-free, and caffeine-free versions of its concentrate.
Have you tried Oregon Chai? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Image via Give Me Oregon Chai.
I laid low on Saturday since I was still feeling under the weather, but sticking around the house gave me the opportunity to do a bit of organizing and catch up on some projects. I got a head start on spring cleaning by doing a serious re-organization of our kitchen. We've already started receiving some wedding gifts, and I wanted to clear out some old and unused stuff to make room for the new!
Today, we took advantage of the nice weather by visiting a nearby farmers market.
I loved browsing the beautiful jams, fragrant herbs, and homemade soaps. Jason saw me admiring some Avocado Mango soaps (made with all natural ingredients) and treated me to a bar! I can't wait to try it out.
We followed up the farmers market with a nice, long walk/run through one of our favorite parks. Now I'm relaxing with a mug of tea and catching up on my favorite blogs.
What did you lovelies do this weekend? I'd love to hear about it!
I was so excited when Olivia contacted me to let me know I'd won her cake stand giveaway! Olivia makes the most beautiful vintage cake stands from unique plates that she finds at antique and thrift stores. It was so hard to choose just one. I finally decided on the Isabella cake stand. Isn't she a beauty?
We believe in being glass-half-full sorts of girls.
We believe that often times, granny is chic.
We believe in peddling vintage Schwinns with flower baskets.
We believe in poetry, picnics, and piñatas.
We believe one is never too old to keep a diary, the secrets only grow more scandalous.
We believe in arranging fresh flowers unruly like an English garden.
We believe in adventure and traveling the globe, be it to Marrakech or Malibu.
We believe in mixing lucite with oriental rugs. Thrift store finds with heirlooms.
We believe in handwritten thank you notes, better late than never.
We believe in needlepoint, letterpress, decoupage and forgiving Martha Stewart.
We believe in piggy banks and cookie jars.
We believe in book clubs full of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Austen and Woolf.
We believe station wagons are hopelessly chic.
We believe in recycling our Grandmothers’ names. Eloise, Jackie, Faye…
We believe in collecting: stamps, shells, books, big glittering diamonds…
We believe in marrying the boy that writes us the best love letters.
We believe in highly competitive board games—Chess, Scrabble, Chutes & Ladders.
We believe in spontaneous road trips and charming, chintzy bed & breakfasts.
We believe there’s something to fortune cookies, wishbones and 4 leaf clovers.
We believe in classics, shaken and stirred.
Image via Kate's Etsy shop.