Signature Scents

The way someone smells says a lot about them. In fact, smell is the most important sense involved with nostalgia. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter what the calendar says, I don’t feel like it is fall until I come home one night to the wafting rosemary smell of my favorite beef stew. The End. The Nose has spoken.

I also switch my perfumes up seasonally, which happens to blow Garrett’s mind. “What the hell is a fall fragrance?” Well thanks for asking, sweetheart — I’m about to tell you my favorites!

Before we get started we should subtitle this: Why I Don’t Write Perfume Descriptions Even Though I Like To Talk About Good Smelling Things.

The Thymes – Eucalyptus

Honestly, this is my favorite year-round fragrance because of its versatility, but I especially adore it when the weather gets cool.

From their website:
Fresh, crisp notes of eucalyptus are surrounded by a bright citrus halo of Italian lemon, lime and bergamot. Trailing close behind are green florals, lemongrass, floating on a bed of herbacious rosewood and fir.

What I would tell you:
First, the bottle is pretty and that’s a must. Obviously it has to smell amazing too, but it’s nice to have sitting out if you so choose. As for what it smells like — I would say it is a combo of “I just took the most invigorating shower ever!” with “How do you get your laundry to smell like that?” It’s clean, but you still smell pretty.

Michael Kors – Very Hollywood

I resisted buying this for a long time because I was sure it was just a Perfume Crush and I would get it home, use it twice and then have it go into my bathroom cupboard to die. But I spray it on me every time it is in the general vicinity at a store, and I recently happened upon it at TJ Maxx for $18 and it hopped in my cart and we rode off together happily into the sunset.

From Sephora’s website:
This fabulous essence features notes of sparkling mandarin, gardenia and vetiver that are suited to a silver screen siren.

What I would tell you:
First, I am NOT a silver screen siren but I still love it. Second, this picture makes it looks like it is for strippers but it is not. Third, obviously I HAD to buy this perfume for the name. All three, very important things.

But the upside is that it also smells delicious. I feel like I need to preface this by saying I am generally not a flowery perfume wearer, but the hints of gardenia in here are just the perfect touch of glamour for me. I feel like a grownup when I wear this for some reason. And my boyfriend tells me I smell pretty which is always a nice bonus.

Burberry Brit Sheer

I’ve had this for years and still enjoy it every time I spray it. There are only a few perfumes that I actually feel that way about.

From Burberry’s website:
A refreshing, vibrant fragrance with top notes sweet lychee, yuzu, pineapple leaves and mandarin. Heart notes of pink peony, peach blossom and nashi add a soft floral accent. A sheer veil of white musk and blond wood gently balance this fresh youthful scent.

What I would tell you:
First *SQUEE* A pink plaid Burberry bottle!! I feel like I need to clarify that Burberry Brit Sheer smells MUCH DIFFERENT than Burberry Brit. Burberry Brit is the perfume your grandma likes. Burberry Brit Sheer is what you wear when you are rocking the cutest shoes you own.

Second, this description makes it sound like flowers dipped in kool aid — which is not what it smells like at all. It’s…crispier. Do you know what I mean? Cleaner? It’s yummy. But what I like about it is that it has a touch of The Fabulous, but it’s not overpowering.

So apparently I like sparkly pink stripper perfume that SMELLS like a lady and um…notes of mandarin? (The Body Shop Satsuma, anyone?) At least I know what I love! Now tell me, what is your signature scent?

From The Archives: My Early Fashion Journalism Career

I spent the afternoon helping my mom clean out her garage. Wow, I can really feel your jealousy through the computer — I mean it’s actually palpable — do you want me to give you a minute to compose yourself?

Anyway, at age 33, now that I live in my own home with my own garage and attic, my mom felt it was about time I stored my own archives. Understandable, I guess. So we chatted, sorted through old stuff, and I basically came home with months worth of humorous blog material in the form of tragic photos, diaries, and general adolescent awkwardness so I’m just warning you that you may see some archival features in the near future.

I thought since it is Sunday and I know all of us are planning our fabulous outfits for the week I thought you all might enjoy a page of hard hitting fashion journalism from my 12 year old self. It’s my first foray into fashion writing, straight out of my junior high school’s “paper” (if you can even call it that) named The Bird’s Eye View. Volume 1, Number 1, by the way. And with enlightening advice like this, I can’t imagine it was the last.

The other reason I’m posing this is because I have no menu to post today. We’re eating Halloween Candy for dinner, how about you?

********************

Fashion Trends
By Holly Woodcock
March 4, 1991

EXTRA! EXTRA!
Read all about it. We at Hopkins Jr. High have decided we don’t all have the same taste!

To most people the way they dress can tell a lot about them. Some spend hours picking out the perfect outfit, but others would rather slip on a pair of jeans (or Z. Cavarricci’s), an IOU sweatshirt and a matching pair of suede boots and walk out the door. Others prefer skirts or long shirts with leggings underneath.

Shoes are a big thing too! You can’t wear ratty tennis shoes with a dressy skirt and you can’t very well go and wear high heels with a pair of jean shorts. But if you mix it up with your shoes you can find some style.

No guys on the other hand sometimes choose to wear sweat pants. But others wear fitted jeans to show off what all that weight training (if you know what I mean.) Some guys don’t follow the trends though and just wear the old stand by Bugle Boys. But those select few who are up with the trends wear those awesome funky overalls. Farmer style, buckling both straps, or original with only buckling one strap. There there are those Wild Things who let it all hang loose and don’t buckle any straps.

As you can see, fashion is very complicated.

******************

I mean…I have no words.

Rejecting The Cult of Busy

I’m not apologizing, but the fact is I haven’t updated here too much in the past couple of weeks. (I have been updating the ol’ Facebook page a few times a day though, so I’m not totally MIA. Come over! Hear my daily drivel!  Wow, I’m really selling it, aren’t I?) You see, the weather has been getting cooler, the days are getting shorter and as such, I’ve just felt compelled to do a little bit less. And what do you know? I’m actually listening instead of pressuring myself.

A year ago I was struggling with the idea of doing less. It was hard for me to determine when it felt right to scale back and when it felt lazy. Being a Busy Person Who Accomplished A Lot defined me. I was scared of what would happen if I tried to do less. But I was more scared of what would happen if I didn’t stop trying to keep up that pace.  For my health.  For my relationship.

FOR MY SANITY, YO!

Today, I’m in an entirely different place with how I feel about doing ALL! THE! THINGS! and just being busy in general. And I’m kind of shocked to say that it feels really good. From the outside my life doesn’t appear to involve a lot of chandelier swinging or hip eatery visiting or fantastic weekend trips. And I’m sure to some this is a real travesty.  But what it does have a whole lot more of  is balance, and for me that is a GIANT victory.  I have taken my priorities (improving my health, preparing to plan a wedding/have a baby, prioritizing stress management) and crafted a life that actually reflects those goals. LIGHT BULB!!!! It’s funny how sometimes the simplest concepts take years to actually make sense in practice.

I’ve always thought one of these days I would sit down and write about my experience with this Busyness As My Identity Disease, because I think many people suffer from it.  In fact, our country actually lauds it — especially for women…don’t even get me started on this cult of She Can Do It All.  She can’t.  And if she knows what is good for her, she doesn’t want to.  But this morning as I was clicking through my Google Reader (do I need to be panicking about my reader? Somebody tell me.  I am slow.) I read something that I could have written.  And so instead of writing my own manifesto, I’m just going to point you in the direction of the one I read this morning.  Uh…WINNING!

The Silliness of Busyness. (A super worthwhile read, IMO.)

Some of the finer (and more relatable to me) points:

You may be lost in the silliness of busyness if…

* Your usual response to “how are you?” is “so busy”, “crazy busy” or “busy but good”
* Your busy life keeps you up at night thinking about everything you didn’t get done
* You spend time complaining about how busy you are
* You make list after list to make sure you don’t forget anything during your busy day
* You use a phone in the car because “it’s the only time you have to talk”

Honestly, you all. I would have answered yes to all of this a year and a half a ago. I still find it sort of shocking that there is another way to live. I mean yes, we are all going to have periods of time where there is too much on our plate, many things to juggle, or a super busy day here and there. But for me, the key has been acknowledging that there is a difference between those things I just mentioned and being all consumed with the cult of busy and letting that hamster wheel be your identity.  That has been a process.  Well, truth be told it still is a process.

When you decide that it is ok to live life your way, you can stop being busy and start doing things that matter. You can talk about your meaningful day instead of ranting about your busy schedule.

It’s just that:

A decision.
A commitment.
A re-prioritization.

And it can be done.

What’s important to you?
What do you wish your life looked like?
Is what you are doing getting you to that goal? 

If not, make a change.  There are some interesting links and food for thought over there to evaluate where you are and what you can do to get yourself off the busy train.

So anyway, that was my long way of saying,  hello!  Don’t you look nice!  I’ll be back here shortly posting on the regular: talking about what I’m cooking, discussing some recent fitness progress and perhaps showing you a few of my latest creative endeavors. But for now I’m just relaxing because that is what feels right. And I have to say, Damn it feels good to be a (Couch Ass Dent Causing) gangsta!

A Few Updates of Little Importance

Skintervention: The Update – Ok seriously, you all came through with some amazing recommendations/commiserations about my skin crisis. Gold star for you because skin drama is just the pits! I actually made a spreadsheet of your recos — do you believe that? BELIEVE IT! My nerdiness knows no bounds — and because I am not made of gold doubloons, I started with the cheap ideas first. This included the following cocktail in the morning and evening:

I’m washing with Cetaphil and using the Tea Tree Oil as an astringent on my jawline. I use a light moisturizer on the rest of my face but I’m not in love with it. I’ll probably give it a couple more weeks before I introduce something new into the routine though so I can really make sure I’m getting good results. (Whispering so as not to jinx it: Right now I’m getting good results.)

So thanks for all of your feedback!

*****

Cooking Mojo: I Done Lost It A Bit – As you can probably tell from my oft repeated menu items lately, I’m feeling a little uninspired in the kitchen. The upside is that the same old recipes still taste pretty damn good. The downside is, I don’t love being bored in the kitchen.

I found a solution at the Carmichael Library last night where, in a moment of extreme denial of vanity, I went in my sweaty post workout clothes. Among the stacks of books, cds and dvds I found The Paleo Diet Cookbook and The Primal Blueprint Cookbook.

Personally I like to find good looking recipes and tweak them myself, but I’m kind of excited to flip through the pages of these two books and see what inspiration they bring. When I’m done I will do a mini review in case you are interested. I need to remember to do that more at the library — uh, look at cookbooks obvs — not show up in my sweaty gym clothes.
*****

Other realizations from last night’s library trip
– I’m pretty sure The Babysitter’s Club series is responsible for every entrepreneurial inkling I’ve ever had.
******

Is anyone else ready for hibernation season to start or is it just me and probably a little bit because it is Monday?

What’s For Dinner?

My mom, who prides herself on always finding the perfect useful but exciting birthday presents, bought me a FANCY Crock Pot for my birthday. It was indeed exciting AND useful and since I am the type of person who has to physically restrain herself from wearing new shoes out the door of the store where they are purchased, my menu this week will definitely make use of my new toy.

Monday
Lunch: Shredded Southwestern Beef Salads — I think this recipe rivals the Barbacoa at Chipotle. I’m cooking this in my Crock Pot BECAUSE I CAN!
Dinner: French Onion Soup Burgers + Stove Top Brussels Sprouts + Salad

Tuesday
*I start my 5am CrossFit class today. Pretty sure I’ll be ready for lunch around 9am. :)

Lunch: Garrett and I both have the day off so we’re hitting up the new restaurant some of our fellow CrossFitters just opened. Locals, check out Skip’s Kitchen. (I’ve got my eye on The Heap.)
Dinner: I’m going to eat here with some lady friends, Garrett is fending for himself.

Wednesday
Lunch: Grilled Chicken Thighs and Roasted Broccoli
Dinner: Crock Pot Beef Stew with Bacon, Onion + Sweet Potatoes

Thursday
Lunch: Taco Salads
Dinner: Curried Sliders (Thanks for the idea, Amelia!)+ Roasted Moroccan Spiced Carrots + Parsnips

Friday
Lunch: Gyro Salads
Dinner: Crock Pot Italian Pot Roast and Tomato, Squash + Feta Gratin

Saturday
Lunch: Brunch! Pumpkin Pancakes, Eggs + Bacon
Dinner: Crock Pot Brisket + Pizza Zucchini + Salad

Sunday
Shop!

What’s cooking in your neck of the woods this week?

Why I Made A Facebook Page For My “Personal Blog”

First I want to tell you what it feels like to make a Facebook page for your Personal Blog. You know when you throw a party and about five minutes before it starts you have a full frontal freakout that no one will even show up and you will be forced to drown your sorrows alone and eat appetizers for dinner for a week because no one came?

Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

Putting yourself out there and waiting for people to “Like” you is an odd feeling. But I’ve been thinking about this experiment for a while, and I decided to try and temporarily put my fear of that aside, and go ahead and made a Facebook Page for Holly Would If She Could. That said, I thought it might be nice to take a minute to tell you why.

It’s no surprise when a business or a niche blog set up a Facebook page, right? It’s just goes along with the territory these days: if you sell stuff and you are not on Facebook — YOU DON’T EXIST. MUAHAHAHAHA (insert maniacal laughter of choice.) But for a personal blog, the area is a bit gray. Since some do it and others can’t even fathom the need I wanted to clarify my intentions, and you know I love intentions.

1. Facebook is convenient for “Community”

Love it or hate it, Facebook is a gathering place. People are there in droves posting, talking, liking and commenting. Many of you read blogs and subcribe via RSS but there are many people who don’t, and I wanted to put the blog out there for those who like to get their content on Facebook.

Also, community is built in with Facebook. It’s like the world’s biggest virtual coffee shop where we are all sitting around shooting the breeze. And I WANT to shoot the breeze with the people who read this blog! That’s YOU! And I want you to grab that latte and sit down and chat and it seems that Facebook has the most comfy chairs and the wi-fi.

2. Facebook allows for communication in real time

This is the best thing about Facebook, in my opinion. Warp speed communication! Obviously I love to blog and I can’t imagine ever stopping, but it is nice to be able to talk about stuff, share interesting things I come across or have conversations without having to come up with an entire coherent post, then wait for comments, and then respond. That is a lot of steps, and honestly it has it’s place. But to me it is like having a phone conversation vs. text messaging. And you’d agree it’s nice to have the option to do both, right?

3. Somewhat Related: Facebook is quick and dirty

I love thinking up new post idea and it’s one of my favorite parts of blogging. But I also love spur of the moment ideas and would like a place to tell you what’s on my mind and hear what’s on yours. Twitter is awesome for that (and of course you can follow me there) but ideas don’t always happen in 140 characters. Sometimes you just want to put something out there and get feedback instantly, you know?

********Which then, of course, leads to the question:

Why can’t you just do this on your personal Facebook page?

The truth, I probably could.

But in short, I don’t think it would be as effective or create as much community — and that is my goal here. I blog because I enjoy writing and LOVE the ideas that get shared, the people I get to talk to (and meet!) and the joy that it brings to my daily life. Truly. I don’t make money off of this blog, it is currently a labor of love that I do because it is SO WORTH IT!

While my personal Facebook page definitely has overlap with the community here at the blog, the style of content IS different. That doesn’t mean that I am a different person on my personal Facebook page, but there is definitely more narrow curation of content when it comes to the blog — and I like that. I think it’s kind of nice to know what you are going to get when you come here.

While Holly Would If She Could is definitely not a “niche blog”, I talk a lot about food, fitness, body image, CrossFit and cooking. Not everyone on my personal Facebook wants to hear about all of that so much. On the flip side, sometimes on my Personal Facebook I talk about local events or getting my tires changed or the amazing frappucino I just bought at the Howe Bout Arden Starbucks. Not that useful to blog readers who aren’t local.

While I think there is a lot of overlap, I truly think it is time to separate the audiences and I’m not a fan of just choosing what I want to share with who, Mark Zuckerberg. I feel like it is a courtesy to all involved to separate blog stuff completely, so that’s what I’m doing. Not that I wouldn’t be Facebook friends with blog readers, but I just think it’s a nice thing to do — to offer an opt-in rather than I an opt-out. For now, I like this solution.

*****************So now that we’ve clarified that:

What kind of content can you expect to see over there?

1. Interesting articles I find from around the web
I like the phone-it-in Friday links post just as much as the next person, but for me, I like instant gratification more. File it under ‘F’ for Flaws. Sure I share items from my google reader (and you can follow those if you like) but there isn’t a lot of space for discussion and Facebook does it better, I think.

2. More thoughts/goals/motivations/process discussions from daily life
Life happens in between well written posts with an introduction and a nicely wrapped up conclusion. I want to capture more of THAT.

What will you NOT see:

1. A page full of auto-feed blog posts for weeks on end
I want this to be A Place, not a list. Expect my voice over there, not just an RSS feed. So even if you already subscribe, hopefully you will still find some useful/entertaining stuff. And if not, well maybe I will change my approach. We will see.

So I hope you will come by and LIKE ME (cue party planning panic) because I really don’t want to eat all these appetizers myself. And if you have already, thanks friend — you’re a real pal!

I Love These Ladies Like A Love Song, Baby

I think we can all agree that if one cannot find the energy to recap a weekend until a Wednesday, it was a very good weekend, yes?

A very good weekend, indeed!

As a consolation for the fact that I had to back out of The Blathering this year (WEEP!), I invited AndreAnna and Liz to come play for the weekend, and play we did!

AndreAnna arrived Thursday and I’m pretty sure we didn’t stop talking until we realized it had slowly turned into The Middle of the Night and if we wanted to actually make it through the next day, we needed to go to bed IMMEDIATELY.

Friday morning, you know we had to workout.
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AndreAnna was one of those people who made me feel like I could maybe, possible, hopefully, actually survive CrossFit — so the weekend could not go by without us actually busting out a WOD side by side. Fun times! In order to balance out the bad-assery of our morning we headed out to get manis and pedis and then OBVIOUSLY shopped until we dropped.

Friday night Liz rolled into town and we wasted no time — no passing go or collecting $200 — it was time for cocktails and some fireside chat!

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And some fireside double unders, which also go well with cocktails in case you are wondering. If you haven’t tried to jump rope a bit tipsy in flip flops, I dare say you haven’t lived. Also: I need one of these magic jump ropes STAT!

You would think this would be the point in the evening where Garrett would say to himself, “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING IN MY HOUSE?” but honestly, I think he was a smitten kitten, and could not have been more entertained by the three of us goofing around. I mean AndreAnna kept him in stitches, and within about 5 seconds of meeting him Liz dropped some serious Formula One knowledge on him, so it is safe to say that Garrett ALSO loves them like a love song.

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Saturday we headed out to Sonoma in search of the quintessential California Combo of wine and cheese. I mean, it’s kind of a must, right? The plan was to grab some sandwiches at The Sonoma Cheese Factory but first we had to stop over at Swiss Hotel for some Glarifees.

(Thank you Gina for turning me on to these a few years ago — they have changed my life and I’m sure now AndreAnna and Liz would say the same!)

What the hell is a Glarifee? Imagine the best Irish Coffee you have ever had, but more foamy and delicious and ICED! And there you will have it. It is worth it, and if you are ever in the are, it is a MUST TRY. Trust me on this one.

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Of course we eventually got our sandwiches. I have like 5000 version of this same picture and every single time it tastes even BETTER than it looks. I’m not too much of a bread eater anymore, but there are just some things for which there are no substitute and a sandwich at the Sonoma Cheese Factory is one of them.

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Then it was off to Sebastiani Winery, and I’ll give you one guess as to what we did there.

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A quick stop for some “dinner” on the way home and we were ready to hit the town.

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(Why yes, this did end up proving to a be a poor choice for “dinner” prior to a night out, thanks for noticing. Rookie Mistake.)

Saturday night found us out at Faces, which I have to say after 10 years of living here in Sacramento is still the best place for a night out that includes cheezy pop, ridiculous rooms to dance in, strong drinks and hot gay men go-go dancing on the bars. We put on our fancy clothes and headed out to enjoy JUST THAT!

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Of course a few cocktails later we may not have looked quite so pulled together, but still having a blast!

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Sunday morning required A LOT of coffee, a greasy breakfast at Tower Cafe, and a good amount of time couching. I mean where else were we going to brainstorm theories of why Selena Gomez is so cute and Demi Lovato looks so bootsy, even though they are the same age? Deep thoughts, you know. WE HAD LOTS.

I think that was the best part of this weekend, looking back. It’s fun to be able to email and tweet and facebook and text, but there is nothing quite like sitting on your couch shoveling pizza in your mouth with no shame. Or booty shaking to Robyn in the living room. Or dropping blenders full of margaritas on the patio and being able to do little more than laugh hysterically.

These are the moments that you can’t have while sitting at a computer all day, and I feel so lucky that we got to have an entire weekend full!

These are my people.

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And this WAS my blender. RIP (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!)

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And it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!

XO

The rest of the weekend photos are here if you’d like to have a look. Half naked go-go dancers is all I’m saying. HALF NAKED GO-GO DANCERS.

September Books

I read 5 books last month which means it’s official — I reached my goal of reading 50 books this year!

GOLD STAR!

Obviously I’m kind of excited about that, and I can’t help but think that documenting those books here made me push a little harder each month. There were definitely times where I knew that if I didn’t pick up a book soon I would be showing up here and writing, “Yep, didn’t read anything” and the thought of that always bummed me out. Does that count as positive peer pressure? Who knows! But it certainly motivated me to turn off the TV and crack open a book more often than not. And in the long run, I am always happier when I am reading more.

This month, it seems I was very into mystery/thriller types.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
In this book a 30-something realtor is abducted and locked in a cabin in the remote wilderness for over a year. After escaping, the story of her abduction and the year following it are told through sessions with a psychiatrist. When I heard that, I thought I would hate the writing style of this book, but I actually found that mostly I was able to fall into the story and get lost in the plot — which was enjoyable. Of course then she would begin each chapter with “Hey Psychiatrist, I’ve been thinking…blah blah blah” and that would remind me that the author was using this little device and kind of irritate me, but mostly I didn’t notice. The story was entertaining enough for me to overlook that though, and when I put this book down I immediately put her newest book on hold at the library.

Thank You Notes by Jimmy Fallon
I feel like this shouldn’t even count as a book but I had to wait for it on the hold list at the library for weeks, so I’m counting it! It is stupidly hilarious, as is Jimmy Fallon and I thumbed through it in about an hour. Not sure it was worth weeks of waiting, but there were some hilarious one liners. For example: Thank you, Miley Cyrus, for being 16 and acting like a stripper at the Teen Choice Awards. If you REALLY wanna piss off your dad, why not just cut off his allowance?

Granted, it was probably mostly ghost written by the writers on his show, but it was Silly. Stupid. Funny. And I like that. Don’t buy it, but flip through it at the library for a laugh.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
The quote on the cover of this book said it was a “stylish” mystery. What the hell does that even mean, I thought. But you guys — IT IS STYLISH! It was just a pleasure to read because of the writing, not necessarily because of the mysteries.

The book’s (and series’) main character Jackson Brodie is a detective and there were 3 cases that were all interestingly interwoven together and ultimately solved. Of course that part was enjoyable, but it was the characters, locations and emotions that kept me turning the pages, not so much a heart pumping sense of What Happens Next? It was stylish, I thought to myself in the end. What a great word! Now whether that makes for a great mystery book in your opinion, only you can know. But I enjoyed it! And I will definitely read more of Kate Atkinson.

The Sixes by Kate White
Speaking of heart-pumping, page turning thrillers: this was one. I read it over a few days (even though I really needed to be doing other things) because I just had to know what happened. The ending wasn’t quite what I had hoped it would be, but the entire experience of the book was just super fun and engaging.

I’m sort of embarrassed to tell you how I came across this title, but we’re all friends here right? So I started following Katie Lee on Twitter after reading Groundswell last month and she tweeted that this was one of her #fridayreads. I am a total sucker for books about secret societies or mischief on college campuses (HELLO, Secret History…will there ever be another as good as you?) and this fed that particular addiction quite well.

I won’t say this was the best thriller I ever read, but it was super fun to get involved in and I immediately checked out 3 more of her books, which I think is its own kind of endorsement, yes? She is the Editor in Chief of Cosmo and it shows. Compulsively Readable but Guilty Pleasure-ish, you know? One of my bookshelves on Goodreads is going to be named that one day, for sure.

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens
After reading Still Missing at the beginning of the month and enjoying it, I was excited to see this show up. But when I cracked open the first chapter, the main character was talking to a psychiatrist again and honestly, I was a little disappointed. I guess I didn’t realize this type of narrative structure was her schtick. But I kept going, as the story had an interesting premise: Adopted girl named Sara searches for her birth mother. Finds her, only to discover that she was the only surviving victim of a serial killer/rapist and Sara’s birth father is still at large. When the media picks up the story the killer starts calling Sara and she gets involved helping the policy try and capture him.

This book. Ugh. If I could put aside the psychiatrist thing, it was a very entertaining read at the beginning. But the ending? I did NOT love the ending of this book. Very anti-climatic and coupled with the psychiatrist gig? It all just kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. I really want to like Chevy Stevens. Undecided if I will read anything of hers again. Two might be enough.

So what did you read this month — anything that knocked your socks off?

30 Days of Denim – Lessons Learned

THAT, my friends, is a whole lot of denim!

When I started this little project I had a few intentions:

The first, could I transform how I felt about getting dressed everyday? Not that it caused me stress, but it wasn’t really something I did with intention all that regularly. Could I start to develop a “style” or could I learn to recognize what my own style was and feel inspired by that?

I think you can glance up and see that YES! I do have a style (Jeans and Cardigans, FTW!)  But we’ll talk more about that in a minute.

The second – Would doing something like this help me get a bit more in touch with my physical self? This is another YES! But there were so many things I discovered in between that I want to discuss.

Here were some of my most important lessons learned.

1. Style takes effort (duh) but that effort is two-pronged: Inspiration and Execution. I had never really thought about that until I had to come up with 30 separate outfits. In my mind I thought that I was just not a person who executed on the style front very well.  But it turns out that I was actually not spending enough time in the inspiration phase. And you know what — I LOVE the inspiration phase.

I’m a creative person by nature and have always loved looking at pretty things. I pigeon-holed myself into thinking that style was something that just happens for those who are sophisticated! and thin!  and fabulous!  But really style is just another level of creativity to cultivate in everyday life if you so choose.  And not everyone does and that’s ok.  We all must pick and choose our endeavors, and I may not always choose to prioritize fashion with intention, but that epiphany made me feel like I had a whole new creative outlet instead of feeling like it was something else I needed “to work on” and that was empowering.

2. Execution is just practice. You’ll win some and you’ll lose some. Some outfits will be better than others, but luckily no one is keeping score. This Ira Glass quote about art has spread like wildfire around the internet and I think it relates to all creative endeavors.

If you trudge through the muck, you are bound to find some gems.  It’s about the process, not only about the end result.  And it’s ONLY CLOTHES in the end!

3. The camera can be your friend. And I’m not just talking about the Cher Horowitz advice. Did the thought of that just make you cringe? Because let me tell you, I cringed my way through at least the first 10 days of photographs. I died over the dumb looks on my face, how rigid I looked, my lack of posing ability — you name it, I nitpicked at it.

But about a third of the way through the process I began to get comfortable with looking at myself “on film.” Yes, I still noticed something I perceive as “a flaw” here or there but I was able to let go of the criticism and appreciate the documentation. I have years of time where I don’t have a single photo of myself or my body — and how much does that suck? Knowing that I was committed to doing this for 30 days made me realize that I was going to have to make a choice: hate myself daily for a month, or learn to embrace some of the great things about how I look. The latter is harder than it sounds, but man is it a discipline I recommend! Being confronted daily with choosing a picture of myself that I wanted to show the world (uh…well, I mean you guys) meant I had to find something that was acceptable so I had to calm down with the “UGH, I hate this picture of myself” talk. And how crazy is it that when you stop talking so negatively about yourself, you stop feeling so negatively.

THIS BOGGLES MY MIND.

4.  Being inspired doesn’t need to translate into mass consumption.  I was afraid, once I started pinning lots of pretty outfits on Pinterest, that I would feel the need to go out and BUY! ALL! THE! THINGS!  And listen, the thought crossed my mind about how I *needed* a new navy cardigan, and I *needed* a new green striped shirt.  But I actually found that this project helped my streamline my spending.  Because I was looking for inspiration I started to see a trend in things that I liked and so ultimately I made a list of all the useful articles of clothing I wished I had in my closet.  Recently I went over to Nordstrom Rack just for fun on my lunch break and man, did they have a BUNCH of cute things!  But nothing was really on my list and while everything was cute, I wasn’t particularly inspired, so I passed.  And no one was more shocked than I was!  But having a better idea of what you want makes it easier to pass up the things that are only ok.  And for me?  That’s a win!

So those were the big lessons, but there were a few superficial lessons too.

1. I need a new haircut. BAD. :) Let’s talk about this more next week, mmmkay?

2. Obviously I like jeans and cardigans. I’m going to try and step out of that comfort zone this fall but it will definitely be a challenge now that the weather is cooling! Here’s where the inspiration comes in though because now I know what I want to look for: cute, warm outfits that don’t involve cardigans. Excuse me while I go pin…

3. Collaboration is so much fun! Garrett and I had a blast doing this silly project together and I NEVER would have thought that would be the case. It was great to do something creative together daily! I think we will collaborate again, although who knows on what. While we were both relieved when this was over to not to have to worry about fitting in a photograph of an outfit each day, we also kind of miss it. Weird, right? Who’d have thought???

It was a lot to learn, do and process, but in the end I’m glad I did it. Thanks to all of you for your feedback, support and for being such a great cheering section through the process. Did you find this helpful at all for yourself? Are you glad it’s over? Do you have any ideas for what I should try next time? Leave a note in the comments, I would love to know your thoughts!

*******

If you would like to continue following my fashion inspiration, here is my board on Pinterest.

What’s For Dinner?

Well I finally took a minute from my busy couch babysitting schedule to come up with some meals. But since I have friends coming into town this weekend, I’m only cooking for half of the week — the other half we’re playing by ear.

Monday
Lunch: Carnitas Salads (mmm, leftover carnitas!)
Dinner: Asian Beef + Cauli Rice Bowls

Tuesday
Lunch: Grilled Sausages + Broccoli + Salad
Dinner: TBD Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries + Salad

Wednesday
Lunch: Grilled Chicken Thighs + Green Beans
Dinner: Green Curry Chicken + Vegetables + Salad

Thursday
Lunch: Spinach Salads with Bacon and Eggs
Dinner: Grilled Rib Eyes + Asparagus + Salad

AndreAnna gets here!

Girls Weekend!

Friday
Today will probably involve some lunch at the Beacon Bar & Grill and definitely some Rum Runners. Maybe after an Emerald Bay Hike and some fun shopping? My favorite Lake Tahoe trip!

Liz gets here!

Saturday

Sonoma Trip! You KNOW this means there will be a meal at the Sonoma Cheese Factory and some lunch on the plaza. Duh.

Sat night, we will go somewhere fun!

Sunday

Brunch at Tower Cafe, for sure.

Then, I’m sure there will be more couch babysitting. It seems to be The Thing lately. :)

What’s cooking in your neck of the woods this week?

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