A Little Bit of Shopping

Mall Haul

I haven’t done any Marie Kondo-ing like Lar, but I plan to pare down my personal belongings soon. In the meantime, I’m still making a conscious effort not to buy things just because I want them. It helps that I have a limited budget, so I can’t go on a shopping spree.

Even though I was tempted to buy a whole new outfit when I went to the mall this weekend, I was pretty disciplined. I only purchased these seven items:

1. Black and white Woven Top from H&M. I cannot not buy a black and white striped top. Some day in the not too distant future, my whole closet will consist of  nothing but black and white striped tops.
2. Two camisole tops from H&M. They were two for $10 and I’ve been needing a couple of camisoles to go under a few summer tops.
3. Anastasia Brow Wiz in medium brown. I ran out of my Tarte eyebrow pencil this weekend, which is the main reason I went to Sephora. The store was completely out, so I decided to try out the Anatasia of Beverly Hills version.
4. Sephora honey mask. I’ve been wanting to try one of these masks for a while. I have super sensitive skin, so I figured the honey mask was a safe bet. Have you tried any of these Sephora masks? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
5. Compact Tangle Teezer in black. I’ve had my eye on the Tangle Teezer for a while and saw this travel version in the checkout aisle at Sephora. I love it! It comes with a cover that pops on over it so I can throw it in my purse without the bristles getting bent.
6. Darling Magazine. I love getting Darling Magazine newsletters in my inbox, but I’ve never purchased an issue until now. I found it at Anthropologie. At $20 it’s not cheap, but it’s a great read and and an issue I’ll be keeping on my coffee table for a while.

I’ll admit that the magazine and mask were splurges, but I didn’t go crazy. Right? Maybe some day I’ll be enlightened enough not to feel the urge to buy anything, but not today!

 


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3 Things

I would really like to meditate. And I’ve tried. And I’ll keep trying. But I find it really, really hard to work-out my meditation muscle (i.e. your brain?). My thoughts run rampant and wild and trying to convince them to all just stay quiet while I breathe in two-three-four and out two-three— they are already up and running around and tumbling over each other and pushing each other out of the way vying for attention. My breath has no chance against the monkey brain.

When I’m finding it hard to quiet my brain, and very tempted to just drown out the noise with a Netflix binge, I turn to other things that pull me outside of myself (and away from the unruly monkey brain thoughts): enter illustrator Maira Kalman, poet Mary Oliver and art historian Sister Wendy. They always make me realise there are bigger and better and more wonderful things happening away from the dull roar of unnecessary (and sometimes petty) thoughts running amuck in my noggin. Here’s just a taste:

Maira Kalman

MairaKalman 1

MairaKalman 2
Images from Maira Kalman’s blog posts in The New York Times

Mary Oliver

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Sister Wendy

Ommmmmm….
These ladies are good.

Let me know what works for you when you need to ground yourself a bit and stop the go-go-go. What are the bananas for your monkey brain?


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My Favorite Post-Workout Smoothie

I can go for days (ok, weeks) were I consistently eat a not-so-great diet, but no matter what, after I workout I always crave something healthy. Maybe not green juice or salad healthy, but something healthier than cookies, chips and other crap.

This protein smoothie has been my go-to post-workout snack for a while now. There are no artificial anythings in it, plus it’s filling and delicious.

Protein_smoothie_ingredients

I originally found this smoothie in Kimberly Synder’s The Beauty Detox Food book. I’ve been making it for so long that I might have changed a few measurements along the way. For the most part it is pretty much the same as her recipe:

2 Cups almond milk
1 Frozen banana
1/2 Acai smoothie packet
3 Tbsp hemp protein powder
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Tsp cinnamon
3 Drops of Stevia

Throw everything in a blender on high and blend until its smooth.

You can find all the ingredients at Whole Foods. I use the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro Fiber powder. For those of you who live in Atlanta, the Sambazon acai smoothie packets are also available at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market.

I have a Vitamix blender, which I love so much. Vitamixes are incredibly expensive. I purchased mine on QVC because I could pay for it in five installments, which is much more doable than forking over $450+ at once. It’s absolutely worth the money. I use my Vitamix at least 3 times a week.

I got Lar hooked on this smoothie a few years ago. Just writing this post is making me crave it. I might go make myself one now. . .

 


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Insta Inspiration: Kayla Itsines

instagram inspo

On those days that I really, really don’t feel like working out and I need some added motivation, I always turn to Instagram. There are a handful of fitness gurus who constantly inspire me. You guys might be familiar with Kayla Itsines — especially if you use Instagram for fitness inspo too. She’s an Aussie with a massive following that swear by her Bikini Body guides.

I think she, and her followers, all look amazing, but I don’t follow Kayla because I want a “bikini-ready” body. In fact, I haven’t used her guides as of yet (and keep waffling about the idea). I follow her because she also has endometriosis.

I admire anyone who works out and aims to be healthy (because we all know how hard that is), but just having a lovely set of abs or pretty pictures of green juice wouldn’t do it for me. Knowing there are others who work through additional pain and health problems gives me strength to workout even when I’d rather not because I don’t like thinking about my own scars (both physical and emotional) from endo.

I know endometriosis isn’t a universal problem (thank goodness!) but everyone has something they battle with that makes working out harder than it needs to be. We all have our own pain and barriers that make an already arduous task, that much harder. So when you need a little extra encouragement — not to get a bikini body, mind, but to just get your body moving — I highly recommend checking out Kayla if you haven’t already.

Oh and I also follow Kayla because she loves puppies!

A puppy-loving, endometriosis warrior. Double-tap.


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Getting Ready in 45 Minutes

A few days ago Troy and I decided to treat ourselves to omakase at Craft Izakaya after work. I worked until 5:30 p.m., worked out for an hour, and then had 45 minutes to shower, do my hair and makeup, and find something to wear.

I went from a hot, sweaty mess (the photo doesn’t fully show off the oiliness of my hair):

Getting Ready Before

To something a little more pulled together:

Getting Ready After

Old Navy dress (from a few seasons ago) | &Other Stories pumps | long necklace from Boutique Karma

I know some women can get ready in 15 minutes or less, but if I have to wash my hair, it’s going to be at least 30 minutes. I have super thick hair, a cheap hair dryer, and an old CHI straightener. That combination means a decent amount of time fiddling with my hair. So getting ready in 45 minutes is like lightening speed for me.

How about you? How fast does it take you to get ready? And recommendations for a decent, but not too expensive, hair dryer?


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Summer time?

sweater weather
Necklace Novica | top H&M | leggings M&S | boots Cos | bag Fjallraven

So you know how last week Cath was complaining about how hot it was in Atlanta? Well, I was super jelly. I mean, even though I vaguely remember those swelteringly humid days that made it hard for your lungs to work, I can’t help thinking summer heat is amazing! And I know I’m just saying that because I live some place that doesn’t really do summer.

I’m still wearing long sleeves and trousers and a coat most days. The only difference between my spring wardrobe and my full-on winter wardrobe is I allow for a generous amount of ankle sliver (see pic above) and I don’t wear a scarf or gloves with my coat.

If you are a sweater-weather fan, Scotland is the place for you. Our winters aren’t too cold (but boy are they long and dark) and you can wear layers year round. Yes, year round! Summer is jacket-weather except for those few blissful days (and I mean days, not weeks) where the heat breaks just over 70 degrees … and even then you’ll probably need a jacket at some point because it does still cool down at night.

I’m sure that all must sound heavenly to you guys fighting it out in the heat right now. And I do feel incredibly lucky to live in a beautiful city where even cockroaches don’t dare to tread. I know I will miss this stoney, shadowy silhouette of Edinburgh when I’m living in the freshly scrubbed Pacific Northwest. I will romanticise Scottish rain (because it’s totally different to Seattle rain) and I’ll miss the history and the stoic dreichness of this beautiful place. But, in the meantime, I miss the heat and the sun and the lack of a true summer.

Billy Connelly was so right when he said, “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter.”  And when he says “June” he means “kind of Spring, but not even.”

Good luck with whichever weather you are facing now: sweater or sweat-er. And tell me how you’re coping!


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Summer Time

Milly_for_Kohls_capri_tank

My summer festival outfit (note my hair flattened by sweat): Milly for Kohl’s tank | Rkitekt necklace | secondhand Coach bag | Marc by Marc sunglasses

It’s not technically summer yet, but it already feels like it in Atlanta. I hate the summer. I know. It’s a strong statement, so let me rephrase: I hate the summer unless I’m at the beach. Here are my five reasons to dislike the season:

1. The heat makes me sleepy and I feel like I’m much less productive when it’s hot out.

2. It means the cockroaches come out. Troy and I pay top dollar to get our house filled with chemicals to ward off the little buggers, but there’s nothing that gets rid of cockroaches completely. It’s just part of living in the south. And there’s nothing you can do about them when you’re outside in nature – like on a city sidewalk at night. My coping mechanism is to constantly prance around so one won’t run over my foot. I’m open to other suggestions.

3. I’m naturally a heavy sweater (as in I sweat a lot, not the article of clothing). If I’m walking outside for a few minutes I start getting gross and then it takes me forever to cool off once I’m inside. Troy is a lucky guy!  I have to shower at least once a day and wash my hair every day.

4. Even though sweating in the heat is miserable, I also hate the super frigid, overly air conditioned rooms. My office is so cold in the summer that I wear a sweater and use a heater under my desk. That means the air conditioning is in high gear AND I’m using energy to run the heater, which means I’m giving the environment a double slap in the face (plus there’s that whole showering multiple times a day thing when parts of the country is in a draught).

5. On an even more vain note, sweating outside + freezing inside makes for some seriously unfortunate outfits. For example:  sleeveless dress with ill-fitting sweater I keep in my office for emergencies that makes me look like I stepped out of Lands End catalog from the 1980s. I always forget to bring a better sweater or coverup alternative with me to the office because as I’m running out the door in the morning into the god forsaken heat, the last thing on my mind is more layers.

Am I alone here? I know it’s ridiculous to be so down on summer when I live in the American south, but you have to take the bad with the good. Hot summers also mean not having super cold and long winters. So there’s that. And then Creative Loafing just published its 2015 Summer Guide this week that made me not hate this time of year so much.

I hope you all have a not-too-hot weekend!


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Working out at home: my favourite 10 Minute (HIIT) workout

In my last post I talked about going to the gym and my former gym-phobia. I have had an official gym membership for nearly eight months now — and that sounds so weird still! Going to a gym (any gym) is still new to me. And I still find lots of certain aspects of working out tricky.

For instance, if it’s a cold, rainy, windy evening in Edinburgh (the usual spring/summer weather here), the idea of gymming it after a long day in the office sounds about as appealing as rubbing chili seeds in my eyes.

So I found what works best for me is to go to the gym during the weekend and do some workout at home during the week. My favourite one at the moment is this high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. I know 10 minutes isn’t that hard-core, but I feel really proud of myself when I make it through this. Though I have to say, I’m so very glad I can do this in the privacy of my own home. By the end of most of the sets I can barely lift my legs off the ground and my arms go all wobbly — I look a bit like a turtle trying to do a handstand. It is heeerrrrd!

Speaking of my hermit-like tendency during the week, I should be completely honest and tell you that I also still get a bit overwhelmed at the gym if it’s really busy. After work is usual peak time at my local gym and I found it hard to stay focused with tons of people running and cross training all around me.

Another bonus for doing some at-home workouts? I work different muscles than when I go to the gym. I tend to stick to a routine at the gym (2 miles on the elliptical, a few wights and then yoga) and I know I won’t get Michelle Obama arms just doing the same thing over and over.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I used to detest working out. It’s still not my favourite thing, but I’ve been very motivated by the Endo Monster and it really helps to blog about it. So hope you guys don’t mind me sharing what I do from time to time!

x Lar


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First Look: Petit Vour Subscription Box

I love the concept behind subscription boxes (even though they kind of go against the whole simplifying your life/KonMari method). The thought of receiving a gift in the mail once a month is so happy-making. Am I right? Initially I was thinking about trying out Ipsy, but because I’m working on switching out all my makeup to more all-natural products, I went with Petit Vour instead. It’s $15/month – so $5 more than Ipsy, but so far I it’s totally worth the money!

Here’s what arrived in my April box:
Petit_Vour_April15_box

1. Konjac Facial Puff Sponge. It’s an all natural sponge that you can use as a cleanser even without any additional products. It has a kind of hard texture, but as soon as you soak it in water, it gets a nice springy texture. I’ve used it a couple of times in the shower on my face and really like it. It’s supposed to last around three months, so if I find that it makes a difference in my complexion, I’ll include it in my Q2 favorites post.

2. Box Naturals Luxe Towelettes. These are not your average face wipes – and I’ve used a number of different brands before. They’re made with all natural ingredients, scented with organic essential oils, and 100% biodegradable. I was kind of skeptical before using one of these, but ended up loving it so much that I’ve decided to save my other sample for Lar. Unlike most wipes these towelettes didn’t irritate my skin at all and left my face feeling both clean and moisturized. I’d love to buy a box of these, but at $10 for 12 towelettes, it’s a little pricy and I’d be tempted to use them everyday.

3. Suntegrity “5 in 1″ Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen – Tinted. This is my favorite item in the box hands down. It’s like a sunblock, BB Cream and moisturizer in one. It goes on pretty thick, but absorbs into the skin fast. As soon as I run out of my current BB Cream, I’m getting this stuff!

4. Lauren B. Beauty Nail Polish. This polish isn’t just free of parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, sulfates, and triclosan, it’s also chip resistant and long lasting. I’m testing it out on my toes at the moment and love the color – perfect cherry color for the summer. I’ll post a photo either on here or on Instagram of my toes at some point this week.

Petit_vour_April_itesm

My May box should be on its way and I can’t wait to see what’s in it. I probably won’t do an unboxing type post like this one for every box, but I’m sure my favorites will end up on this blog at some point.

Do you subscribe to any boxes? I’ve heard good things about Birchbox and I have a friend who is loving LeTote. Let me know what you like – I just might sign up!


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Why I Workout

workout

Before October of last year, I’d never set foot in a gym. And I was obnoxiously very proud of that fact. The idea of row upon row of shiny, fit people running on treadmills made me smirk knowing that I had never participated in such mindless, rote activities.

What I snob, I was! So judgey! A mindset that 100% came from being intimidated by the idea of a gym.

I knew that working out was a good thing, but the thought of those clanky and complicated looking weight machines and intimidating, sweaty people in spandex made me uncomfortable. So even though I’ve been horribly out of shape for years, I never gave the gym a second thought.

But, like nearly everything in my life, things have changed since learning to live with endometriosis. After my first surgery two years ago, I spent half a year still feeling like my body had to knit itself back together. After that, I did a bit of tentative tai chi and yoga, but was really scared to do anything else.

Being afraid of my body because of both my endo and the subsequent surgeries, is not something I ever thought would happen. It’s strange to feel so uncertain of your body. Cath and I trained for 13 years to be ballet dancers. As a dancer, your body is your instrument and you feel you have absolute control over it — put in enough hours of practice and training and you know exactly how to make your body move how you want it and withstand exacting and punishing positions.

But even with this new fear, endo is actually what also propelled me to the gym. I wanted to feel strong again and in control of my body (as much as possible with a capricious, poorly-understood chronic disease). I’d also learned that working out would help keep my hormones leveled out better (women with endo usually have too much estrogen).

So even though the idea of spending an hour with the whirring treadmills and clanking weights of a gym doesn’t make me jump out of bed in the morning, I feel so lucky to get to do it! Since October I’ve felt so much better (thanks, endorphins, you are the bestest!) and my body has more muscle than its had in nearly a decade. I do get some pain in my pelvis once in a while if I go too hard, but I try to listen to what my body needs and pull back when I need to.

I’m still a newbie at working out (which sounds kind of ridiculous at 31 years old), but I plan to make this part of my life. Working out for me will never be about loosing weight or gaining muscle (thought I’m so glad those both happen), but to stay healthy and hopefully keep kicking the endo monster in the butt as often as possible. Getting stronger is a good motivator, but the thing that motivates me most, and also makes it hard to do, is having endometriosis.

So I spend way more time than I ever thought I would googling new workouts to try and half of my instagram feed is fitness gurus that keep me inspired on those days (most days if I’ve being honest ;)) when I don’t feel like working out.

This is all to let you know that you’ll be hearing more fitness-y related things on this blog. Which is weird because I think one of the many reasons why I never wanted to go to a gym was because I felt like there was a smugness about people who worked out. Again, that’s my judgey-ness coming through. But I don’t want you guys to think I’m ever posting pics of myself in the gym because I feel smug. It’s all to foster a holistic approach to staying healthy, whether you are working through health problems too or just want to be a bit more healthy.

Phew! Sorry for that lengthy babble. I promise to keep my next posts short and sweet! There’s just a lot of baggage I carry around with working out, and I wanted to let you guys know about it before I just started posting about fitness and health-related things.

I’d love to hear what you guys do or if you’ve had gym-ophobia too.

x Lar


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