15 May 2013

Fashion Finds: Birthday List

Six days from today-- so next week on May 22nd if you want to get technical-- we're moving back to the Chicago area. It's also exactly TWO MONTHS UNTIL MY BIRTHDAY!

Not that I'm excited or anything.

However, there are people in this world who are excited and love me enough to give me presents (which any self-obsessed, materialistic woman's happiness depends on). To prepare for the flood of gift requests I'm sure will pour in, I've compiled a list-- with pictures!!!-- of everything fashionable that will make my birthday amazing (besides World Peace-- get on that shit, people!).

First things first: a mani/pedi. It's essential for relaxation and summer feet exposed from wearing sandals all the time. And I haven't had one done professionally since my wedding nearly 6 years ago.

For my finger nails, I'd love a combo of NARS "Trouville" and Sephora by OPI "Key Lime Pie." I'm thinking candy stripes or make the ring fingers pink and the rest green.

 Then for the pedicure, I'll go with white toes for summer-- they look really cute! My apologies for the foot photo: it's the least gross one I could find.

Now for my favorite part: CLOTHES!!! I'm obsessing over tunics at the moment as I own a grand total of zero. For we goddesses of the curvier variety, there's a great website exclusive for sizes 10-28 called SimplyBe. While I have yet to try their clothing, SimplyBe has an in-depth sizing chart for clothes, bras, and shoes, as well as instructions on how to take your measurements (something a goober like myself needs).

A few tunics that have caught my eye...

Frock & Frill Lace Trim Strappy Tunic-- I love it because it's summery, feminine, and a change from the black and grey I always wear. 

Joe Browns Marrakesh Crinkle Tunic-- Gorgeous neckline, amazing color, fantastic shape.

Changes Boutique Strappy Top-- Vibrant but sexy, and a little bit rock 'n' roll if you style it right.

These tunics are long-- a benefit for anyone with a less than flattering tummy-- and pair perfectly with leggings.

Oh yes, I totally wear leggings. I love them! I get the black ones from Torrid since they're thick, warm, and not see-through, something Kim K, Sophia Vergara, and this woman should've considered before leaving the house. Some people may say leggings are a sign of "giving up," not to be worn outside the house, and that bigger women should never wear them.

I say fuck 'em. Wear what you like! I happen to like leggings. BOOM.

I especially like these Pull On Slim Leggings in red from SimplyBe paired with the Marrakesh tunic above:

Of course, I still wear jeans because they're classic and go with everything.

Sophia Blue Washed Skinny Jeans from Torrid-- I have a pair already and would like another.

And of course I need (priorities!!) these two jackets to wear over my tunics and leggings...

Joe Browns Remarkable Coat-- true it's more for spring, but I love the quirkiness and the polka dot lining.

This Tall Spot Blazer would be a-mazing for summer since it's jersey and will go with everything!

Finally, no birthday wardrobe would be complete without accessories!! First up, this baby:

Michael Kors Medium Jet Set Multifunction Saffiano Tote in Vanilla

 And of course, nautical jewelry from Etsy:

And wedge sneakers for style :)

Wow.... this list is 'spensive. But I'm totally worth it.

What are your summer wardrobe desires? Do YOU have a birthday too??

12 May 2013

5 Awesome Facts About My Moms

Being an old married lady, I am blessed with two mothers, as well as several other amazing maternal figures in my life. 

I am one lucky gal.

So in honor of Mother's Day, here are two lists of 5 Awesome Things about my mom and my mother-in-law. I know five seems short but these lists could go on and on and on, and we all have shit to do!

My Mom (Bev)

  1. She's an incredible pianist and sight-reader (sight-reading is when you're given a piece of music for the first time and must play through it). Numerous times I've been on the phone with Mom and she's told me that she needs to look at some concert music. "When's the concert?" I'll ask. "Tonight," she replies.
  2. Hours long phone conversations about nothing. At the moment our record is 4+ hours but that's only because she went to Hawaii for a week and I needed all the deets. Most of the time we end up on topics far different from the original purpose of the call: "Mom, how do you boil eggs again?" Three hours later.... "and that's why I don't like Gwyneth Paltrow."
  3. Mom is the Champion of Blurt. Blurt is a fun team board game where definitions are read from a card and the first person to blurt out the correct word belonging to it wins. In others words, definitions are read from a card and Mom wins.
  4. Unmatched organization skills. My mom is booked a year or two in advance for playing gigs, she has a busy social life, works almost seven days a week during the school year, and makes time to visit me... and hang out with my brothers too, but I'm still the most important person ever. The house I grew up in was not only spotless but everything-- EVERYTHING-- had (and still has) its place. Yet she's not psycho about it. Plus she keeps a notebook with notes from every party she's ever thrown-- and that's a ton. Finally, if you're a friend of my mom, she's got your birthday and anniversary in her address book (which is solely written in pencil so when people move she can easily update it which she does promptly).
  5. There's no one more willing to help or up for an adventure (schedule permitting of course). When I lived in Appleton, my mom and I visited so many attractions in the area, she's always going on excursions with friends and family to Chicago. My mom just loves to do stuff, explore, look at model homes, or go apartment hunting... with my cousin and aunt... in Ohio... because why not? Mom is beautiful inside and out with a sunny spirit that's ready for adventure and loves her children and their spouses unconditionally.
Love you Mom!
Mom and me making "sexy faces" on my wedding trolley. 2007

She got sunglasses like mine during her last LA visit.

My Mother-in-Law (Sema)

This list was co-written by me and my husband.

  1. Sema has a skill for quoting movies. And apparently it's a genetic trait since Michael is the same way. She'll quote from films like Bridesmaids, The Hangover, Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, The Other Guys,  etc. You could say watching movies is a favorite family past time. We always end up laughing.
  2. After raising five children-- well almost, the youngest two are 11 & 12-- she's pursuing a career as an aesthetician (say that 5x fast!) and even has a job already before officially graduating. Oh and she's top of her class. A beautiful example of "it's never too late," not to mention the interesting conversations about bikini waxing.......
  3. She has amazing taste in music and is a fervent concert goer. If you want to know if a band is good in concert, chances are Sema's seen them. More than once. And the amount of concert tees..... Favorite bands include Radiohead, Muse, Hot Chip, The Flaming Lips, Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2-- see what I mean? And she loves to dance!
  4. Her skills in the kitchen are legendary. I've never had a bad meal from this woman. Sema makes up recipes... she makes.them.up. And they're good every time. How do people do that? Plus she's always evolving and improving recipes she finds. It's an incredible skill, one of which I'm totally jealous. Many wonderful family memories were made around their dinner table eating awesome food, chatting, and laughing.
  5. She's a closeted Nerd. I think she's on Book Five of The Game of Thrones series whose TV show is taking the world by storm. Not only does this mean Sema can read, but she can read a lot. While Sema travels, goes to concerts, visits friends, and keeps up with her kids' social schedule, she also loves curling up with a book or movie and having an adventure at home. She's a beautiful, fun, down to earth woman that cares deeply for her family and friends. 
Love you, Sema! (and sorry about the older pics-- we need to take current ones!)
My In-Laws at the U2 360 Tour concert at Soldier Field. 2008

Sema and Michael at our bridal shower in 2007.

Happy Mother's Day to every mom, fur baby mom, and women who have a maternal influence on others! Our maternal side is one of the best parts about being a woman!

11 May 2013

Soapbox Saturday: The Oh So Superior Traveler

Saw this on Pinterest...

judge judge judge judge JUDGE.

So anyone who doesn't choose your way of life is materialistic? You have a better grasp on happiness than someone who wants a house or loves collecting books or enjoys fashion? How positive and uplifting you must be to people with this constant judgment hovering around you like a black cloud.

Insulting someone else's choices to justify your own is small. And mean.

Maybe you're a "Girl Gone International" because you have a nomadic spirit. Maybe it's because you like traveling. Maybe you hate belonging to one country. Or maybe you're running away from reality... or the cops. It could be anything!

Whatever the reason, if you're making the choice to "experience" life by traveling because the only other option you see available to you is Materialism, then I suggest you keep traveling because you don't understand the world at all. And I guarantee most of these girls have stationary families and friends they can temporarily invade visit... but would never live because they need to fly off at a moment's notice for another experience like a drug addict looking for a fix. 

Newsflash: Everything-- let me say that a little louder in case you didn't hear me-- EVERYTHING in life is an experience.

From studying abroad to writing a book; from working for the Peace Corps to buying a house-- all are experiences. First apartment? Experience. Music festival? Experience. Getting your seventh tattoo? BOOM! Experience. 

And don't argue about the meme's wording. "Well it doesn't say 'materialism..." NO. You and I both know exactly what it means: "I choose to 'live' by collecting 'experiences' while the rest of you rot away in an unhappy existence surrounded by material goods." Is that so? I have "things" and I have experiences and I'm happy. I know many people who have this same grasp on life. And I've known people who prefer not to leave their town, and don't believe they're missing out on anything because they're happy with their lives. So stop judging them Chick-wearing-a-trendy-outfit(things)-standing-in-the-middle-of-a-wheat-field-who-got-there-via-car(things)-holding-an-umbrella(another thing)-as-a-storm-rolls-in. Anyone else think her next experience is about to be electrocution?

I know home is where the heart is. Having moved a lot myself, being with Michael and Cooper gives me a sense of home even while living in Los Angeles, a city I don't particularly like (but would never judge the people who do like it!!!). Yet I love going back to my parents' place and visiting my grandma's house. My grandma, whose house is filled-- and I mean fucking filled-- with items (or "things" if you will) from around the world after decades of travel. She and my great aunt & uncle have been to all seven continents, and my grandma just returned a couple days ago from another trip to Turkey (apparently she wanted to see the north this time). All those things in her house could never equal the pile of experiences she's stacked up from being a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, aunt, cousin, traveler, singer... etc etc etc. "Good grief, are you saying people can have both?!"

Yes... yes I am.

Then there's my great grandmother who immigrated from Austria as a child and lived in the same bungalow for over 70 years. When she was in her mid 80's she went to Greece, but overall didn't travel a lot. Great Grandma Young lived and died happy watching her grandchildren and then her great grandchildren grow up. 

Of course the whole concept of "choosing experience over things" is ludicrous and hypocritical because the existence of said things is crucial to the experience. Not following? Say Umbrella Girl wants to see the Sistine Chapel but lives in Australia. Basically-- ignoring the annoying details like paperwork and such-- she first needs to fly across the ocean and various countries to get to Rome, take a car to Vatican City, and then find the chapel (which shouldn't be too hard since it's huge). Once Umbrella Girl arrives at the chapel, she'll admire the handiwork of Michaelangelo and scores of other artists and sculptors that contributed to the overall architecture and artistry, probably by taking pictures thanks to the iPhone Steve Jobs invented. 

There'd be nothing to admire if Michaelangelo preferred Umbrella Girl's version of living instead of portraying the living. If the Wright Brothers were busy "experiencing" instead of "experimenting" she'd never even see Rome. Artists, engineers, musicians, scientists, mathematicians, farmers, etc. create the experiences Umbrella Girl and her group of cohorts spend lifetimes enjoying. Show some gratitude instead of judgment, and stop trying to tell everyone else how to live because-- and this may come as a shock-- there's a good chance plenty of people don't want to be like you. 

Perhaps you think I'm taking this personally. I've experienced (and watched others experience) the condescension from individuals who travel a lot and give me that pitying look for not having been abroad. I used to feel sorry for myself, as if I was the only one left out of an international inside joke. Then I realized that I love my life and am beyond blessed. And it sickens me that people who are supposedly happy "carpe diem-ing" the crap out of life by globe-trotting have this urge to tear other people down for not doing so. Aren't they supposed to be open-minded because they're so damn worldly?

Some may find happiness as eternal nomads, others might need to get the hell out of their country and into one they like better, certain people will pursue dream careers, and there are those striving to give their families a home and the best opportunities possible. And everyone else in between. Happiness is relative so stop belittling someone else's lifestyle because it doesn't match your own. Love and respect others even if you don't understand them.

UPDATE: Just thought of the BEST example: Ellie's Adventure Book in Up. Her husband Carl felt guilty they never had a chance to travel to Paradise Falls (or anywhere) and start the book. However, when Carl opened it up after Ellie passed away, it was filled with memories, adventures they took near their home town-- the zoo, working on their house, etc. Life is the Adventure. That's the point.

06 May 2013

Paleo Blueberry (Lemon) Muffins

What happens to Paleo muffins when you (I) think you're (I'm) too cool to buy muffin papers?

Learn. From. Me.

Driven by an unhealthy desire to eat cake every morning (I don't, but in a perfect world...), I was determined to make these babies work because I wanted an alternative to eggs. The second time around, I followed instructions to the letter and as you can see, these muffins are-- borrowing terminology from Thug Kitchen-- fucking beautiful.

Contain your jealousy... just kidding. Be jealous.

Since summer is a creepin'-- well, everywhere except Minnesota-- these paleo treats make a great snack or breakfast. I omitted the lemon... NOT because I forgot to buy it at the store or anything... which I think would've added another level of flavor that was lacking in the plain blueberry muffins. The biggest flavor difference from the refined sugar and bleached flour kind we're used to is that they're less sweet.

The consistency is spongy & super moist-- so much so they soaked the cheap papers I got from Target, and they should be stored in a sealed container in the fridge to get your money's worth since paleo muffins require a hella ton of eggs, fancy maple syrup, and pricey coconut flour.

But these Paleo Blueberry Muffins were totally worth it.

Paleo Blueberry Lemon Muffins

6 eggs
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup (do NOT use the cheap stuff)
1 lemon, juice and zest (for plain blueberry muffins, simply omit lemon)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the eggs, butter or coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup, lemon juice, and zest together in a large mixing bowl. Sift in the coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda, and stir until well combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

In a muffin tin, scoop 1/4 cup of the batter into each lined muffin cup (natural parchment muffin papers work best for lining), and bake for 35-40 minutes. Unless your oven runs hot, then try 25-35. Test with a toothpick.