Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall 2011 Inspiration Board

While I still maintain that your early 20s are profoundly full of insecurities because you're going through a lot of huge life transitions, they are nothing compared to the teenager years. You're slowly influenced less by other people and focus more on what you actually like. And the more you focus on things that you actually like, the happier you become.

Finally, after years of wearing things that didn't really suit me just because they were trendy, I've kind of accepted my style. It honestly hasn't really changed since I was in middle school, it's just become more refined, I suppose. I'm more confident when I shop because I know what appeals to me, I know what I'll regret buying later on, what I'll get a lot of wear out of, what's worth investing in, etc. I've finally accepted that if you want to not look like crap, you have to stop buying crap. Going for the Forever 21 version of something is usually (thought not always!) going to look like the Forever 21 version. There's a reason nice clothes are more expensive -- they're nicer.

Of course, I don't have a whole lot of cash, so I generally rotate the same items over and over again. I'm constantly seeking creative ways to recycle. So, like usual, I made an inspiration board for the season. Something I can take a quick gander at when I'm in a hurry to get ready and am having a total sartorial brain fart.

Here's a peak:
In case you couldn't tell, all I wear is black pants, solid color dresses, blazers, scarves, stripes, leopard print and army green. Seriously, that's all I wear.

Now I know I'm committing a major blogger sin by not attributing where all the images came from, so for that I apologize. I usualyl just take screen shots when I see something I like and never take notes about where I got them. I can say, however, that these are some of my favorite blogs/stores/places to get ideas, and where many of these images came from:
  • Net-a-porter: Where all of the white-backgrounded outfit shots are from. Totally out of my budget, but anytime I buy something I love and then don't know how to wear it, I find a similar-looking piece on Net-a-Porter and see how they styled it. Merchandising Gods over there, I tell ya.
  • Wear it Both Ways: A newer blog that I think is adorable. Features a guy and a girl who pick a theme for their daily outfits, and each wear the trend in their own way. 
  • Atlantic-Pacific: Everyone's gone batshit crazy for this girl. She's totally revolutionized the idea of being fashionably preppy in the blog world, where for the past few years everyone's been a little too obsessed with being overly weird and different. Not really my style. 
  • The Glamourai: Aside from her great style, I die whenever she posts pictures of her apartment. It makes me want to move out of my mom's house (...) asap and start decorating.
  • Sterling Style: Another fresh-faced prepster that I love.
  • Gapeteria: I'm not really a Gap person (other than their workout pants and black pants collection) but I love the street style they post on their blog. Always some great ideas in there.

Love letters: Shopbop edition

My dearest Shopbop,

My adoration for you has grown quietly over the years. Whilst a young, broke thing in college, I would scroll through your lookbooks, searching for ideas for my rather lackluster wardrobe. Whenever I desperately needed some jumper cables for the uninspired portion of my brain, this did just the trick.

I never did order anything from you, at least not until about a year and a half ago. I bought a pair of Cheap Monday sunglasses, and they arrived to my house in lightening speed. Unfortunately, they looked like absolute crap on me. So back they went. (For free, no less! God, why does every store not have free returns at this point? Don't they get that online shopping is the future and should be made as convenient as possible?)

Then a few months ago I went through this anxiety-ridden phase where I realized I had no clothes that were really representative of my age and I was always dressing like I was in my early 40s. So I placed an order for a gazillion different knit dresses when there was an extra 20% off sale promo and again, they arrived quickly. And some of them were even on hangers! Do you know how much that warmed my heart? I am so lazy about hanging up new clothes. That requires going to the basement and finding a spare hanger and that is too much work so I usually leave new purchases on a chair and say that I'm just absorbing their beauty and newness. Right.
Obviously the houndstooth-printed box was a huge turn-on for me.
 So anyway, all the pretty new dresses arrived and I spent two hours trying them all on and settled on two. Ironically, I've only worn one of them once. It turns out trying to dress young just isn't my thing. But whenever I buy something I really love (and I really do love both dresses!) I always end up getting loads of wear out of them, even if it takes awhile. So I still have faith.

Now, Shopbop, I turn to you again because I need some jewelry. Specifically, jewelry that doesn't give me hives. More specifically, a gold choker and some dangly, neck-elongating gold earrings. You see, I usually buy my accessories at Forever 21 (like I said, I'm young and broke) but it turns out my skin can't handle nickel, and it turns green and I get rashes on my neck and my earlobes start to ooze. (Sorry, TMI.)
So I'm doing my usual order-a-million-things-then-send-back-what-doesn't-work deal. And I love you for being so cooperative with my crazy, picky shopping habits.
If you want to buy anything for me on my wishlist, feel free. I certainly will comply most happily.
Shopbop, thanks for your patience, quick and free shipping, and houndstooth-lined boxes. Rock on.

Truly yours,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Where was this three months ago?

Well this is just rude.

If you buy $100 worth of Brooks gear in the next month, you get to use a special bathroom at the starting line. And let me be honest here: My biggest fear about this race is not whether or not I'll get winded, or have my shoe lace come untied,* or get a leg cramp (knock on wood), it's that I'll have to pee. Apparently there's this weird rule that even if you stop to pee, the clock keeps running. Dumb. So of course I want to pee RIGHTBEFOREISTART but I don't like standing in lines and I'm worried I'll be there waiting and the race will start and I'll be lost and these are the kinds of things that keep me up at night. I know, I have a good life, I never said otherwise.

Anyways, of course I totally want to have my own special VIP bathroom but hello? I bought my $100 Brooks shoes three months ago. Who buys new shoes a month before the race? Dumb. Although it is safe to say that I will end up buying the exact same pair of Brooks Adrenalines that I've been buying since high school some time in the near future. Every time I get fitted at a running store, I end up with the exact same pair of shoes. Not even intentionally. I didn't even realize it until this most recent pair, because I'm not a particularly observant person.
My trusty sole mates. Ha. Oof, that was bad. Sorry 'bout it.
Although if I was really in the mood to spend some dough, I would totally splurge on these. I've been craving a pair of obnoxious-looking sneakers forever but haven't been able to justify the money. Maybe I could justify it now that I know they would also buy me a ticket to a race day bathroom with a short line?
I can't believe I just ranted about VIP port-a-potties. Ew. This training is getting to me.

*Apparently the clock-doesn't-stop-when-you-pee rule also applies to shoe laces. I ran a local 5k race tonight and my shoe lace came untied right after I finished mile 2. Sweet. I just ignored it and kept going. This woman behind me yelled up, "Hey! Your right shoe lace is kind of dragging!" right as we were getting close to mile 3 and I just yelled back, "I know! Thanks!" I'm trying to not take four hours to finish, ok? And I already talked to the race director and he said if I stop to tie my shoe he refuses to adjust my time. I don't qualify for any special rules. Lame. But thanks!

Whatever. It paid off. I PR'ed. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spice cabinet-curried-mango-lentil salad. Yum.

My favorite summer lunch lately is this self-invented lentil salad. I'll make a big bowl of it on Sunday and then bring a cup of it for lunch for the next few days. It's soo delicious and really easy to modify depending on what your spice cabinet looks like. If you're new to lentils (I was until a couple weeks ago), I highly recommend trying out Trader Joes's pre-steamed lentil packs. It's over in the refrigerated vegetable section next to the pre-steamed beets (my other favorite thing to pack for lunch.)
I have yet to perfect the art of lentil boiling, so I'm not even going to try to tell you how long to cook the dried ones for. I will, however, insist that you sort through the bag and check for little twigs. They're in there. They won't kill you. Unless, ya know, you eat them and choke. So look out.
While the lentils are boiling, chop up a ripe mango, some cucumber and fresh chives and throw into a bowl. Then open up your spice cabinet and take a look at what's in there. I used a million things. Well, actually just seven: parsley, red chili pepper flakes, curry powder, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper. I also throw in a little splash of olive oil to get everything to stick together nicely.
These are only suggestions. I like the flavors together, but use what 'ya got.
Why yes, I am incredibly lazy and hate dirtying up a lot of spoons and bowls and just mix everything with a knife. Don't judge.

When the lentils are finished cooking, mix them in the bowl with your produce and start spicing away. I usually have to season a few times. I'll put what I think is a TON of spice in, taste it and then realize there is practically no flavor. Maybe my taste buds are fried, who knows. I usually use a ton of chili powder and cumin because they are my FAVORITE. God, cumin is wonderful. I will eat practically anything if it has cumin, chili powder or cilantro in it. Yum. I'll also eat anything that has peanut butter and chocolate in it, so then these happened:

"Healthy" peanut butter-fudge brownies
My brother and I had a major hankering for baked goods, so I made boxed brownies but subbed the oil, water and egg for 2 cups of canned pumpkin. Then I microwaved a tablespoon of peanut butter and spooned that over the top and used the knife-swirl trick. THEN after the brownies were finished baking (I took them out a few minutes earlier than the recommended time on the box, which is fine since there's no raw egg [aka you can eat the raw batter]) I let them cool a bit before pouring on the frosting that came in the box. Holy crap they are so delicious and fudgy. I don't mind the way "lighter" baking tastes, but if you prefer your brownies cake-y you might not like these. They're really thin and dense and just the way I like them. And since there's very little fat involved, I didn't feel guilty when I ate two. I may or may not feel guilty when I end up eating two more for dinner tonight.

QUESTIONS: Do you have any healthy baking tips? Do you use applesauce or pumpkin in place of oil?
Also, what's your favorite spice? Is anyone else as cumin-obsessed as I am?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gimme a moment, will ya?

Thumbs down for crappy race performance.
 You know those phases when everything isn't sucking big time and everything feels really exciting and new and you think to yourself "Rah rah rah! Life is so fun!" because you're curled up on a couch at 6am having some monumental conversation with someone and realizing you're not the only batshit crazy person out there? Or you're driving down the turnpike after a huge storm and the sun comes out and makes the road all glisten-y and you're all like "Wow! Life is so beautiful!"
You know those moments? Those moments that are kind of dumb when you analyze them but are really sweet at the time?

I'll just stop now before you vom over how warm and fuzzy this is.

What I actually wanted to say was, I haven't had those kinds of moments lately. I've been feeling kinda crumby. Remember that race I had to do a couple weeks ago? It was mis-er-able. I have never felt so awful while running EVER in my entire life. Not even that time at field hockey try outs in ninth grade when they told us we had to run a 7:30 mile to make the team and my previous best time was lingering around the 8:20 slow-poke region (so I felt like death and "sprinted" my ass off and ran it in 7:30 and made the team. phew. now excuse me while I ralph my diluted gatorade.)

Anyways, it was a million degrees the night of the race, the course was hilly (well, hilly in comparison to all of the 1% incline treadmill running I'd been doing) and not only did I NOT beat my previous 5k time from before I started my half training, I added about an hour and a half to it. (Exaggeration, but might as well be.) Oh oh, and I had stayed home sick from work the two days before because I legit felt like I had lymes disease (I don't) or something -- achy and more exhausted than I've ever been.

So the odds were against me and yadda yadda yadda but I finished and was really freaking bummed that I didn't run better. I pouted for awhile and drank 3 bottles of water and ate some pineapple and grimaced at all the medalers who finished the race in under 16 minutes. (WTF didn't anyone tell you crazy people it's 92 degrees outside with 50% humidity??) I was down. But then I got a sudden wave of relief because I realized that this race didn't really matter and thank God I messed up this one and not the big race. I know my eats were HORRIBLE the days before and I hadn't been training outside at ALL, so I immediately resolved to start working harder. Well actually I had another week of craptastic runs and eating habits and THEN I started being better. And I've made the following adjustments:
-Don't eat lots of crappy foods. They make running completely miserable.
-Go back to rotating my running surface: road/treadmill/trail/track
-Stop getting hung up on pace and run times. It puts me in a bad mood and when I'm in a bad mood I run even worse and then I get angry for running slow and get in an even worse mood and then I run slower and (do you see the vicious cycle?)

And do you know what? Earlier this morning after I finished my four mile easy run, I was walking down the street to my house and the sun was filtering through the leaves and the sky was really blue and I thought to myself, "Wow! Life is so beautiful!"
Thumbs up for a Mr. Rogers-style beautiful day in the neighborhood.