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.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Confessional

Another confession: I'm afraid of riding real bikes, unless I'm at the beach. Cars are so aggressive!
1. I didn't go to spin class this week. My real confession? I'm actually all bent out of shape about it. (Literally, I can feel my gut forming as we speak.) I've totally become one of those people who's obsessed with going to spin class. I know. I make myself sick, too.

But in all seriousness, until a couple months ago I was terrified of spinning because it just seemed so INTENSE and people who love spinning, reallly love spinning and I didn't want to be that awkward person huffing and puffing in the corner. But then I got into a fitness rut and decided to drag my friend along just to try it out and you know what? It wasn't awkward or intimidating. The instructor was super nice and explained everything. (And generously pretended not to care when it took me three classes to FINALLY remember my bike settings.)

It took a bit of getting used to and it left me with a rather horrific, uncomfortably placed bruise (this only happens after your first class, I promise!) that made sitting at my desk the next day slightly less than peachy. But I still totally love it. To the point where I get upset when I have to miss class because of work or driving my brother somewhere or whatever.

Moral of the story is: if you've been too afraid to try a class at your gym, just do it. It'll be worth it. Now I need to follow my own advice and start becoming a yogi.

Um, deja vu or just a desperate need to go shopping?
2. I seriously wear the same seven outfits every single week. There is zero diversity in my work wear right now and it's getting totally pathetic. I could actually give you a detailed description of the exact seven outfits, but that would be really embarrassing if anyone reading this actually sees me on those days and would be able to confirm that yes, Jesus, she really does wear the same thing over and over. I hope the girl has access to a laundry machine. (To put your mind at ease: Yes, I do. What, you think I still live at home just for the free cable? ...ok that too.)

I need to go shopping -- bad -- but unfortunately I can't. My mom and I placed a little bet last Friday to see if we could manage to go two full weeks without buying ANYTHING other than groceries and gas. (One exception: if you run out of a vital toiletry, you're allowed to replace it. We're not trying to make each other walk around in 93 degree heat without deodorant.) If either one of us slips up, the loser has to buy the winner a little present.

I haven't been much of a shopper the past few months because, hello, entry-level salary, but I have been dying to buy some new workout gear. (Gym clothes are actually the only reason I even bother to do laundry, and I'm sick of having to actually do laundry every week. I'm domestically lazy, ok?) And really, I need some new daytime duds -- just to give the people around me some visual interest, ya know? Everything I do is for the greater good of those around me, I swear...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Small problem.

This weather report is a bit of an issue. Wednesday in particular. 91 degrees and humid?  

Not ok.

I'm running this 5k on Wednesday night after work, and, you see, I'm kind of a spoiled exerciser. I only run outside if the temperature is juuuussstttt right and there's no traffic and it's not getting too dark and there aren't any threatening-looking men standing near by and there is zero humidity and, well, I'm a diva. I'll admit it.

That's why I have a gym membership. No excuses. It's lit and air conditioned and I pay way too much money to not use it and sometimes there are threatening-looking men standing nearby, but then I can just turn to them and say, "Excuse me, sir? The entire mat is empty, save for this small corner I'm using to do deadlifts and shoulder presses, so do you think you could move more than two feet away from me to stretch your hip flexors? Thank you." (Some guy really did do this to me last week. But I'm scared of confrontation so I didn't say anything. It was really uncomfortable, though.)

So what's a diva like me to do when she's already signed up and paid her 25 bucks to run a race in hellish weather? Suck it up, I guess, and look forward to losing six pounds in sweat. Why hello there, silver lining.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A little bit obsessive.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a compulsive researcher. It takes 10 hours of reading Sephora reviews before I decide what shampoo to buy. When I bought a car last summer? Oh Christ, you don't even want to know. It was repulsive how much I read about cars. My mom was ready to shoot me if I brought up transmissions and gas mileage and automatic windows at the dinner table.

Hobbies are good for the soul. It's good to have something specific to think about that isn't work and finances and the future and all that depressing crap.

So lately all my attention is focused on training for this:

Meaning my mom now wants to shoot me when I talk about pacing and cross training and crying about IT band issues. Meaning I spend nearly all of my free time reading Runner's World and obsessively researching every little ounce of pain I experience to make sure that it isn't a stress fracture. Stress fractures are my biggest fear in life. God, they're terrifying to even think about.

The race is September 18th and I'm already beginning to threaten people's lives if they don't show up to spectate. I mean, I know watching a race isn't exactly thrilling to everyone.
...So bring a flask. Anyone who knows me knows there's nothing I find more fulfilling than being the center of attention. I love a good ego boost. So basically I'm saying I'll probably run ten times faster if there are people I know lining the streets of the course, and you want that for me, riiigghtt?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sunday Confessional

Yes, I have four different kinds of cuticle oil.
1. I compulsively apply cuticle oil throughout the day. Maybe it's because I'm always staring down at my nails typing away on the keyboard, so I'm perpetually reminded of how ragged-looking they are and it kind of ruins my self esteem. And since manicures are expensive, I just keep laying on the cuticle oil. Seriously sometimes five times in one day. It's an obsession. Recently I bought the Sally Hansen VitaSurge cuticle gel. It does the job, but it has these little orange bits (like those things that are the best part of using hand sanitizer!) that sort of get stuck in the sides of your nail and are bothersome. So I would maybe just stick with the regular oil next time. Moving on.

    2. Until last week, I was terrified of using a foam roller. I always thought that the people at my gym who used them looked like a rare crossbreed of embarrassing and pretentious and I like to just try and look as normal as possible while I'm working out. Unfortunately, I went and effed up my right IT band last week and because I don't particularly love limping around like a grandma with a hip replacement, I looked up some videos and started foam rolling. Of course, just to confirm my worst fears, a guy I have a mild crush on walked by while I was mid-hip roll and now I'm mortified because, seriously? It's just not even possible to NOT look awkward on a foam roller. I've accepted it. But seriously dude, why couldn't you walk by when I was showing off my superior flexibility during post-cardio stretching? Or how about after I've spent 45 minutes in the locker room straightening my hair and putting on makeup? Since when are you even a member here, eh? Nevermind. Moving on. 

    3. I am completely, 100% baffled by the concept of life balance. It's implausible to me. (Also implausible: marriage before I'm 57 years old. My mom suggested that I could be married in the next few years [read: she wants me to move out as soon as possible] and I laughed in her face for hours. No way, Mamacita. It's you and me and slumber parties and hair braiding and ghost stories until I'm on Medicare and finally making millions!) Anyways, I have no idea how to juggle friends and family and work and other work and staying healthy and sane. How the HELL do working mothers do it? How do they not gain 800 pounds, forget the definition of a hair brush and cry themselves to sleep at night? Oh, most of them do? Ok, well that makes me feel better.