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How to do almost anything with almost enough expertise.

Capsule Packing

Twenty sixteen is shaping up to be one of the most action packed years of my life. The past few months have certainly fit this theme. Living on almostenough sleep and getting by on almostenough energy has paid off. I have been to so many new places and experienced so many amazing things. Those stories, however, are for another time. Today, I am focusing on the wise advice; “less is more.”

As I am getting out on my own (cue parents popping champagne in background), I find myself less drawn to tactile memories. By this I mean, I value the mental memory of C and my’s first date more than the movie ticket I saved. Huge bags of clothing (that I once thought would hold irreplaceable sentimental value) are packed up for donation every couple of months, I throw away more than I keep when going through drawers and I have a more selective mindset when shopping. This year has taken me to many places where I made amazing memories and guess what– the clothing, pamphlets, scrapbook materials and souvenirs had nothing to do with it.

Today, I would like to write a little bit about what many call capsule packing. In March I ventured to D.C. with some amazing friends and members of my cohort, in June I travelled around Europe for a month with my sister and I will find myself in Nashville with my fiancé in the next few weeks.

As a former over packer, I know that it is tempting to pack a celebrity sized bag for your excursions. What if you need something?

What if you have to wear those suede booties during a cold front in the middle of June?

What if you wear that black dress twice and TMZ captures your epic faux pas? Not likely.

What if you are hauling a 60 pound backpack up 60 steps on your way up to a hotel room due to a broken lift and are so sweaty you have to miss your dinner reservations to bathe? More likely.


As I type, my mom is packing for a trip to Alaska and  I am reflecting on what I chose to pack for a month in Europe. Enter capsule packing. 

According to Wikipedia;Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.”

The Pinterest world has been freaking about this idea for a while now. A few basics that can be dressed up or down and tweaked to fit in with current trends. I like it. I’m not great at it, but I like it. I knew I could do a travel version.

One thing I have going for me here is my unadulterated adoration of black. I used this obsession when creating my capsule wardrobe for Europe.

Seven countries with different climates and styles in one month. In one backpack.

Backpack

What to bring? This isn’t a travel blog, so we are not going into microfiber cloths, packing cubes and moleskin.


Here is what I could not live with out:

  1. A black T-shirt dress from Old Navy
  2. My trusty high waisted Levis
  3. Denim shorts
  4. Denim button-down
  5. Two frothy scarves
  6. A crossbody- I used a Louis Vuitton monogram one (pretty universal)
  7. Dressy sandals- nude
  8. Nikes or Chucks- black, white or cream
  9. Walking sandals- nude
  10. Flipflops
  11. One dressy dress- mine was ivory
  12. One romper- I got a white one from Zara when I arrived
  13. Three or four cute T-shirts or tops (the XXXL T-shirt craze in not happening across the pond)- I brought one black top with lace on the bottom, one striped sort sleeve shirt, one white one and a white linen blouse
  14. Two lounge outfits, I was usually sleeping in one
  15. Rain jacket/ windbreaker
  16. Sweater
  17. Costume jewelry- bronze, gold, silver, pearls. That’s it. Don’t be a rookie and lose your heirloom broach. Thanks.
  18. Undergarments- I ❤ spanx.
  19. Swimsuits
  20. Straightener, mascara, DO, Wen, toothbrush and paste, face wash, meds, chapstick

Thats it. If you can’t carry it, you can’t bring it. Walk around your house for a few days hauling your load, if you don’t feel like you can get up and tour a museum after- it’s too full for you, bro.

I should mention: any time you are going to a new country, leave some room to buy a few pieces of clothing there. Nothing is worse than not speaking the language fluently AND looking like a tourist. I bought quite a few things whilst in Europe, mostly cold weather clothing- June in Amsterdam is not June in Atlanta.

I brought a few things I regretted: a pair of wedges, extra T-shirt dresses, a travel pillow, too many bras, an extra pair of walking sandals…. just things that I could have bought over there if I couldn’t live with out them. I didn’t need them.

I’ll include some pictures of my trip- see if you can find my reused pieces!

 

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Brownies, Baby!

Hi long lost friends,

 

It sure has been a while… I have my reasons. I caught the flu (102 fever on New Years Eve. Bummer.) and that turned into pneumonia. I had to miss the first week of classes and, two weeks later, I am finally caught up. I’ve spent the last few days getting my life back in order; scrubbing the kitchen, cleaning out my closet and getting some groceries.

Somehow, I have managed to stick to my paleo plan. We have had a few minor slip ups….. a bag of dark chocolate raisinettes (the big ass “family” kind with the zipper… I think by “family” they meant Graduate Student) at the movies and some queso on a cold night to be exact. Despite my lack of self control around candy and cheese, I have still managed to lost 3.5 pounds. Yay!

Sidebar: The candy incident (#raisinpocalypse2016) happened I went to see Good Dinosaur with some girlfriends. Its really great. Go see it.


 

Like I’ve mentioned before, the hardest part of dieting, in my opinion, is temptation. I have found if you have healthy treats like fruit around, it is not that hard to make a good choice. The truth remains that sometimes a girl just needs some dang dessert.

 

Enter paleo brownies.

Close Up Brownies


 

This all started with the horrible mistake of buying 100% cacao chocolate. PSA: that stuff does NOT taste like the dark chocolate that coated the raisins of doom. What to do with it…. Throwing it away wasn’t an option because 1. I paid for it and 2. I have become really strange about wasting… like, I re-use my ziplock bags. Maybe it is all the homeless people roaming around downtown Gainesville. I digress. The brick, I mean chocolate, had to be used.

In class I was studiously pinning while listening to lecture and I stumbled across a little recipe on a super great blog: http://cookeatpaleo.com/one-bowl-coconut-flour-brownies/

I was hesitant. Coconut flour and I don’t get along. It can get a little ugly. Once I tried to make an oatmeal-like dish with it and the only good thing that happened was it ruined my appetite.

So I gave it a go, mostly because I was procrastinating on some thesis work, and let me tell you…. It was the best decision I’ve made since deciding to finish the grad student sized bag of raisinettes so they weren’t tempting me any more.

Brownie Parts

I made a few changes. Here is how I made these little squares of goodness happen.

 

Oven at 350

8×8 pan greased

¾ cup of organic coconut oil

The remainder of the large 100% cacao bar that I did not consume after I spit that one bite out

¾ cup of organic agave syrup

A splash of vanilla extract

3 organic, free range, eggs

A dash of sea salt

3 TBS of organic coconut flour

 

Throw the remainder of that nasty chocolate bar in a glass bowl with your coconut oil and put it in the microwave in 20 second increments-stir in between each.

Don’t burn it… that would be gross.

When your concoction gets smooth and chocolatey let it cool a little

Now add your splash of vanilla extract, agave and dash of salt

Stir that baby again

Now, put in your three eggs and whisk, whisk, whisk

Finally, sift the coconut flour in SLOWLEY

Don’t be cute and try to add more. Don’t. That stuff will dry your batter out like night of drinking cheap tequila. It would probably work to make industrial strength paste or to block holes in a sinking ship.

Whisk, whisk, whisk then pour it into your pan

Cook that pan of fudgy gold until a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean. I don’t have tooth picks so I used a steak knife. It’s called ingenuity, folks. My brownies took exactly 22 minutes.

Let them cool and store in the fridge! Or on your counter. It’s really up to you. Sorry for being bossy.

Chicken or the Egg

 

I don’t know how many calories are in there. You can add it up if you’re that concerned. Let’s focus on what’s really important here: I ACTUALLY MADE SOMETHING EDIBLE with coconut sand. Did I say sand? I meant flour.

 

Enjoy!

You’re welcome.

Paleo Prep

 

In an earlier post, I alluded to my personal weight loss mission. I am so proud that I have lost thirty pounds in 2015, but I plan to finish up my this long, sometimes obnoxious, commitment in 2016. I only have twenty more pounds to go. I am a big supporter of simple weight loss, Less In, More Out- LIMO.

My LIMO method can be challenging especially with a bread basket of garlic knots in front of you. The easiest thing to do is to enjoy as much as you want of healthy, low ingredient foods. Personally, I have found that using the Paleo Diet as a guide helps me choose these healthy, low calorie foods.

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Add some flavor

My body gets hungry when I need something (protein, healthy sugars, water, etc…). I may want queso, but I probably do not need it- unless I had a bad day, then I need it. And a grande margarita. The truth is, I feel much more satisfied when I am supplying myself with pure, natural foods. We are not designed to consume all of the processed foods we do. I don’t need to be a doctor or dietician to tell you that with confidence.

After a year of dieting, I feel confident in my ability to write almostenough about what works for me. As I’ve said before, I am not a doctor, I am not encouraging anyone to dislike their body, nor am I advising anyone to make significant changes to their lifestyle that could be potentially damaging.

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The first thing I learned when I began to diet is that the best thing you can do for yourself is to eliminate temptation. Sure, I have a small candy stash, but when I am focusing on losing weight, I do not by ice cream, mozzarella or any other potential Achilles heel. The next simple rule for my LIMO diet is to be prepared. Does anyone else sing the song from Lion King whenever they hear that? If I am hungry and open my fridge to see nothing, I am likely to run out for a quick snack that is probably not healthy for me. If I open my fridge to a beautiful fruit salad of pineapple and papaya, I am going to enjoy that and move on with my day.

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Some people are afraid that Paleo will be too expensive. Unfortunately, it’s true that organic is not always cheap. I went to Whole Foods with a $50 bill and came back with the foods featured in this post. Each grocery was selected for a number of reasons:

  1. I could pronounce the ingredients
  2. The ingredients came from plants
  3. The item addresses a craving I know I have while on Paleo
  4. I feel great about putting this food into my body
  5. I am actually going to consume it

This grocery trip gave me the basics to execute healthy eating habits for a while.

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The most important thing to remember when trying to do Paleo on a budget is that your purchases should be able to be used multiple ways. For example, the pumpkin puree can be mixed with coconut flour and warmed to form a porridge or mixed with a little cinnamon and honey and chilled to serve as a yogurt-like treat. It is also of paramount importance to read the labels. Finally, do the best you can. The cashew butter I bought has “safflower oil” listed as the last ingredient. This particular flower oil is not considered Paleo, but it is better than peanut butter so that is alright with me.

Give yourself a little leeway, as my friend Kathryn wrote in “Seasons Eatings” this is not all or nothing. Do the very best you can and, by golly, that is a lot better than most folks are doing.

After my trip to Whole Foods, I have some basics and some snacks. I can fill in my needs with easy trips to the grocery. Some of my favorite Paleo and LIMO approved grocery foods are grapefruit, eggs, almond milk, avocados and halo oranges.

If you want a comprehensive list of Paleo food choices, visit this website. It is pretty darn awesome.

Google is your friend as you face cravings and boredom. I love a puzzle- a craving for spaghetti will lead me to some research and the challenge to make a Paleo version. I have to admit, it is a little addicting.

If you have any tips to help Less In More Out hopefuls, leave them in the comments below.

Seasons Eatings 

Hi everyone, Get excited for another “almostenough” post by a fierce female! Kathryn is a member of my Graduate cohort and an impressively healthy human (not to mention a killer writer)! Enjoy her take on food and gather almostenough inspiration to live more like her. 

Mary Kate 

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be extreme. 

​ When Mary Kate asked me to write a blog on healthy eating habits, I’ll admit I was a little surprised. At the time, I was stuffing my face with Nutella-coated Speculoos cookies that our professor had thoughtfully provided. I am not what I would consider a model of healthy living perfected. I do not do the Paleo diet or the raw food diet. I like Uppercrust Bakery. A lot.
As I thought about it, however, I realized I was making a mistake that I think a lot of us make. We tend to live by the “do it perfectly or you are a failure” mentality. I see this a lot when it comes to being a vegetarian.   

 Roasted nuts with semi-sweet chocolate chips 

I get two main reactions when people find out that I am a vegetarian. The first is that I must have an abnormal amount of willpower. People tell me about how they tried to be a vegetarian and even made it a whole week, but then they gave up. The second reaction seems to want to prove the opposite. People call me a “fake” or “cheating” vegetarian when they see that I eat eggs, milk products, and occasionally fish.
The two different attitudes stem from that same mentality of “go big or go home.” I think one of the biggest mistakes we make when it comes to diet and exercise is that we try to achieve some perceived standard of perfection. We set the highest possible goals and when we can’t obtain them, we give up. We don’t allow ourselves slow or imperfect progress. 

 

Plain yogurt with local honey 
These attitudes are particularly evident when it comes to vegetarianism. People think that there are strict standards in place to qualify as a vegetarian, and if you don’t meet them, you are a fake or a failure. Vegetarianism, however, (at least in the U.S.) is more of a spectrum.
In general, vegans do not eat any animal products, including eggs and milk. Vegetarians fall on a wide scale that I will group into categories for the purpose of this blog (in reality, these categories are fluid):
1) “Ovo-lacto” vegetarians: eggs and milk products, but no meat.
2) “Pescatarian”: eggs, milk products and fish, but no other meat.
3) “Pesco-pollo” vegetarians: chicken, fish, eggs and milk products, but no other meat.
4) “Semi-vegetarians”: meat in varying levels and in different ways. I have a friend who only eats meat when he buys it from a farm or farmer’s market. The rest of the time, he is a vegetarian. Another friend is vegetarian while living in the U.S., but eats meat while working in Central America.

  
Grapefruit: citrus season in Florida is the best
The goal of outlining these categories is to show that there is no standard of perfection. There are just people trying to do what is right for their bodies and for their environment.

  
Ready to roast sweet potatoes 
If you are thinking of becoming a vegetarian, I will offer my best advice on how to go about it (I do this because I think that these ideas also apply to adopting any form of a healthy diet):
1) Decide why you want to do it. Maybe you see mass meat production as problematic or maybe you have high cholesterol. Base your goals on your reasons. You might want to go vegan or instead do a pesco-pollo diet. Accept that there are a range of options and there is no standard of perfection.
2) Do NOT quit eating meat “cold turkey.” This is the most common mistake that I see. People think that you have to go all in, all at once, or not bother. The cold-turkey method works only in rare cases. Cutting meat out of your diet is an entire lifestyle change. You will buy food differently and you will plan your meals differently, and you will likely find that this takes more effort. Also, it is a common misconception that food is interchangeable. In reality, your body reacts in different ways to different foods. A key example for vegetarians is that the body absorbs iron from meat differently than iron from vegetables. Your body will have to absorb protein and iron in different ways, so you should give it time to adjust. I spent two years becoming a vegetarian.
3) Make a plan with goals. There are two main ways to cut meat out of your diet in increments. The first is to do it by days. You could start with a meatless Monday and, over time, add in more and more days. Or you could do it by categories of meats, which is what I did. I took out ham, then pork, then red meats, etc.
4) Allow yourself imperfect progress. It is okay to “cheat” occasionally as you make the transition. That may be your body’s way of saying that you are moving too fast or that your vegetarian diet still needs tweaking. It is more important to do what is right for you than to try to meet some perceived standard.
5) Don’t be afraid to change your end goal. Everyone is different. If you perpetually feel weak and tired, you should consider a change. I have had friends who gave up vegetarianism because they were chronically anemic, while others have always had high iron counts as vegetarians. There are ways you can still meet your goals. If you are concerned about mass production of meat products, but find that anemia is a problem, you can make an effort to buy meat from local sources. I reiterate: there is no standard of perfection. Do what is right for your well-being.
I spent this much time on vegetarianism because I think that the same ideas apply to diets, in general. It is important to make a lifestyle change rather than jump on a fad diet. It is important to take it slow and let your body adjust. It is important not to give up after set-backs, cheat days, or failures—imperfect progress is okay. And, most importantly, you should not dictate your health based on some perceived standard. Not everyone is built to be a vegan or even a vegetarian. Not everyone is built to weigh a certain number or fit into a certain size. Life is about balancing healthy living with enjoying your life. You can still be a healthy eater and enjoy a Speculoos cookie once in a while.

Giving Christmas Away

 

Those of you who actually read “almostenough” have probably discovered how important Christmas is to me. It is a time where life is supposed  to come into focus. The magic seems to fade a little more every year. Even though it is slipping away, I refuse to let go. I refuse to let this season become all about consuming food and gifts. Most of all, I refuse to become one of those people who sleep-walks through this beautiful time of year.

What can a girl do? Each year, I seem to have more adult responsibilities and more on my mind. Jobs, bills and grades cloud my once peaceful relationship with Christmas. In high school, a viewing of my favorite Christmas movie (Eloise at Christmastime) and some peppermint stick ice cream would do the trick. Today, it takes more to get me into the Christmas spirit. Maybe it is because I am more aware of the suffering of others and maybe it is simply because I let myself give-in to the anxiety that family time brings me- either way, when this Christmas season began I knew I had to do something.

Sometime in November, I decided to “give Christmas away.” I stopped to consider what I believed in and what was important to me at this point in my life. After some reflection, I decided that I wanted to do something for children, women and my community. I started to google (isn’t that how all good things begin?) and I found a small non-profit ministry in Georgia that gathers Christmas wishes from families going through hard times. Reading through the descriptions of how each family ended up in their unique and desperate positions made my heart heavy. So many people need help. I am only one shopaholic.

I chose a family that lived in my area and was starting over after escaping an abusive relationship. I’ll never meet these people for their own safety, but I hope that my mission to find Christmas spirit and give Christmas away will make a difference. The children’s lists were small and simple- two gifts and things that were necessary to start over- underwear, socks, shampoo…

Give Christmas
The final product of 6 weeks of work.
Any one who knows me personally knows that I go big or I take my big butt back home. I decided to rally the troops. Between my family, the angels in my graduate program and friends, we got everything on the lists and then some. I found myself making hard decisions that this woman has to make for herself and her children every day. As my beautiful friends would ask “how can I help?”, I would have to decide what this family needed most. Do I ask them to buy a warm coat or food, tampons or socks? All of these things I take for granted were important to this family and who am I to decide what they need most? What a wake up call.

Helping this family helped me. I spoke to people willing to give whom I haven’t heard from in a while. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people willing to help me help this family without a second thought. I can never feel alone at Christmas time again because I know wonderful people are waiting in the wings to support me. What more could I ask for?

In an hour, the couple that runs this ministry will come to my house, pick up the Christmas I collected (with a TON of help) and drive it to the safe house this family is staying in. An empty government issued apartment. I am sitting in a leather recliner in a beautiful room surrounded by artifacts from all over the world. How in the world can I feel like I am losing my Christmas spirit when I am cozy and safe and full? Maybe Christmas isn’t this rosy, warm feeling that you get when you watch a movie about Santa, maybe it is the way you behave and carry yourself during a season that reminds others of what they do not have.

I hope this post can give you “almostenough” inspiration to give a little of your own Christmas away. Even if you just drop a dollar in the Salvation Army bucket or bring some clothing to a homeless shelter, the fact remains that a single spark can light a fire, or burn down your Christmas tree.

I would love to hear about the charitable acts you took part in this holiday season in the comments below! 

Fierce Females

Hi everyone! I am so glad you have been following me on this blogging journey. I like to make it a habit to embrace and appreciate bad ass women. Thus, I am starting a series of blog posts called “Fierce Females.” In the next few months, we will have the pleasure of reading “almostenough” posts by yoga instructors, models, academics and other really, really amazing women that I admire.

This week, I am posting an article written by one of my oldest friends. Anna is independent and intelligent and has phenomenal fashion sense. Here, she is going to give us all a lesson about holiday style.

Enjoy!

 

 

Hello everyone! My name is Anna De Loache and I am 24 years old. In college I minored in Journalism and definitely have a love for writing, but for my current job, I wholesale ladies clothing. I live and breathe it whether I like it or not! I am definitely not an expert on fashion, but I do have a good idea of what looks good and I especially love picking outfits out for special occasions.

 

With Christmas and New Years Eve approaching faster than we realize, I think it is safe to say that all women (no matter what age) have one question in common: what am I going to wear?  Whether your style is; preppy, conservative, edgy or just completely unique to you, I hope to give you all some fashion advise along with affordable stores to purchase your holiday outfits from. Just to give you an idea of what my style is, I definitely go for the conservative but cute look. My go too this time of year is a pair of spanx tights just about every day, a dress, and either a sweater, poncho or blanket scarf. Even though that is my everyday outfit I am not afraid to dress “edgy” or out of my comfort zone for a certain occasion!

 

Somewhere that is a guarantee go-to for me whenever I need an outfit for any occasion is Ann Taylor Loft. Not only is it affordable, but they have something for everyone. The sizing is great as well because their clothing typically runs bigger so wearing a size smaller when compared to other places is a confident booster in itself! Another convenient thing the Loft offers is three body type options: petite, regular, and tall- there is something for everyone. Below is the dress I bought for Thanksgiving but I have been able to wear it to work and other social events since:

 

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Green Dress

The best way to complete this outfit is with a statement necklace and a cute pair of boots. Pictured below is a necklace that is also from the Loft just to show an example of something to wear to accessorize the dress:

 

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Necklace 

 

Finally, to complete the outfit, add a pair or boots or booties! Below is a pair from Steve Madden and is available at Dillards in taupe and black. For this particular outfit I would choose the black pair.

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Boot

 

Another great thing about this outfit is, if you go to church on Christmas eve or Christmas day, it transitions perfectly from church to your holiday festivities!

 

Something else I believe most women have in common is that we like to look great and feel comfortable at the same time. The next outfit I’m focusing on is a swing dress from Anthropologie- BONUS, it is a reasonable price! Its official title is “the turtleneck swing dress” and it comes in a pretty red/blush color. I have not purchased this dress but I do own similar swing dresses and they are vey comfortable.

 

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Turtle Swing Dress

 

As you can see, the model is also wearing a statement necklace and what seems to be some fabulous snake skin boots. She is surely very comfortable. An outfit like this is perfect for the holidays because, again, you can wear it to work or an evening out for drinks depending on your weather all the way through March! A dress like this is definitely a go-to for those of you who think comfort and style are both equally important!

 

Already have an outfit but feel like its not complete? Not a problem! There are so many options to complete an outfit: think jewelry, jackets, and vests. Something I want to talk about next is my love for vests. I ADORE vests. In fact, I probably have a problem because I own so many. Honestly vests are perfect for any outfit and any occasion. They go great over dresses, a simple top and jeans, and even a pencil skirt with a blouse tucked in. Below is a faux fur vest made by Wayf and is available at Nordstrom:

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Fur Vest

 

I love this type of vest because you can dress it up or wear it casually. Below is another vest I really like and it also available at Nordstrom:

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Vest

Finally I want to talk about a fun new years eve outfit you can wear to just about any party you are going to attend! It is casual and dressy at the same time. On the Nordstrom website, it is under the category for New Years Eve dresses but it is so appropriate because along with being a fun dress to wear to a party,  you could definitely get away with wearing it to a casual event too.

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Dress

 

For some reason, this dress really stands out to me and it also comes in several colors! The best way to make a dress like this more appropriate for a cocktail party is to add a pair of heels like the pair below made by Kate Spade New York, also available at Nordstrom:

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Shoe

The outfits listed above are just a small portion of what you can do for the holidays, but I hope it will give you some ideas! Shopping for holiday events certainly is not easy, but I think we can all agree that it is fun once we finally find the perfect outfit. Happy holidays!

Hair for the Holidays (flat iron curls)

I have fine hairs and lots of them. I have always had a ton of hair, and learning to manage it has been a challenge. There is always the option of wearing it pin straight, but I really hate the idea of flat ironing all of it more than a few times a month. This is what my hair looks like out of the shower. Note: this is before I stepped out my front door into the humid swamp. IMG_0234

Thanks to grunge making a comeback, the days of thin eyebrows, flat hair and hip-huggers have fallen to the wayside. Today, I can create a few beachy curls with my straightener and get on the road. Easy and stylish- that’s my kind of trend.

Using a flat iron to make curls came pretty easy to me (unlike liquid eyeliner), but I know for some ladies out there it is a challenge.

This post is designed to give you almostenough information so you can have easy breezy hair for the holidays. IMG_0237

Start out by getting any moisture out of your hair. I’m not sure about the science of it, but sizzling hair clasped between hot irons doesn’t seem right to me.

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Next, give that baby some volume. Use downward strokes with a comb to create a knot. If your hair is clean and fine, you may want to add some dry shampoo first. Once you’ve got a good rat’s nest, spray it with some hairspray and brush the top part (what people can see) gently so it looks smooth. Remember ladies, the higher the hair, the closer to God (or your deity of choice).

Heres the tough part. Grab a chunk (about 2 or 3 inches, we’re not trying to look like Shirley Temple here) and clasp your straightener about two inches from the scalp. On each piece you will switch off between rolling your iron forward or back, in the photos below, I am rolling it back. Either way, you will simultaniously move the straightener down the lock of hair and twist it- don’t un-clasp until the end. Spray each piece with hairspray after you release it. If you’re still confused, glance over the images below. If you’re stillllll confused, bless your heart.

 

Next, after you’re curled and sprayed, mess up all of your hard work with your fingers. You don’t want to look like you tried too hard. If you’re like me, you can just not try at all five days a week to really drive the point home.

Hair for the Holidays (flat iron curls)
All the way to the end

Tada! Easy peasy, now you’re ready to drink egg nog and open your gifts in style!

Great luck- if you have any more tips, leave them in the comments!

Wondering about Weight

I remember the first time I became aware of my weight. Around seven or eight, as I sat in my cute bikini at summer camp, a thinner girl told me that the number of rolls on her stomach times three equaled the amount of weight she had to lose to be skinny. That is sad, maybe it’s even more sad that I still remember that moment.

A year ago, almost to the day, I sat in a doctor’s office with tears in my eyes after realizing I had gained 45 pounds in the past four years. So began my journey back home to a healthy weight.

I have been blessed with long legs that work, a brain that thinks and dreams and countless other gifts, this I know. I also know that I was becoming unhealthy- my weight loss journey has not been about aesthetics, but about treating my body like the temple it is. Full disclosure, I am obsessed with my wardrobe and the fact that my clothing didn’t fit anymore was pretty heartbreaking for me too.

Today, I am thirty pounds lighter and I want to provide y’all with almostenough insight to become healthy again, or healthy for the first time or simply healthier than you already are.

I am writing this not because I am a doctor, not because I am an expert, not because my personal weight loss goal is reached and NOT because I want people who read this to dislike their bodies.

I am writing today as someone who has tried the fad diets, the expensive diets and the starving diets all to find out what my Mom and Dad have been telling me all along. There is no magic, there is no easy way and there is no quick fix.

Losing weight is hard and, a lot of the time, it isn’t fun. We have to stop paying money to huge businesses who make their living off of convincing us that skinny is the only way to be pretty and selling us pills and shakes that do nothing at all.


Here is what I know: Less in, more out. Make sure what you’re putting in your body is fresh and not full of chemicals and words you cannot pronounce. You’ll be surprised how much broccoli you can munch on for 150 calories!

Fruits and Veggies are your best diet friends
Fruits and Veggies are your best diet friends

I read somewhere that sometimes when you believe you are hungry, you are actually thirsty. I have found this to be true. Keep drinking water. Your skin will look better, you will be less bloated and you’ll have more energy. Just those reasons are convincing enough for me, but I also hear enough agua makes your body’s metabolism work better.

Sixty-four ounces a day!
Sixty-four ounces a day!

Try for thirty minutes of sweat a day. It doesn’t matter if it is moving boxes at work, chasing your kid around or enjoying a walk after dinner- just make some time. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Two things that help me get out for my walk are cute work out outfits and a great soundtrack. I’ve noticed even Walmart has some sassy stuff to sweat in lately!

Inspire a work out with some great gear
Inspire a work out with some great gear

Finally, I want to remind you to give yourself time to succeed and allow yourself to slip up. Enjoy vacations and birthdays-  by the way you’re allowed to have drinks and girl talk with your friends. Below, you will find a year of my weight loss tracked with the Fitbit app. There are ups and downs. That is SO okay. You are only a human and there are so many more beautiful things about you than the number on a scale.

Don't feel defeated
Don’t feel defeated

I hope that I have inspired everyone to take the stairs, eat your veggies and believe in yourself as you become a healthier version of already-amazing-you.

If you have any healthy or inspirational tips for those of us working on our fitness, please comment below.

Happy sweating,

Mary Kate

Navigating November

My sister looking up to me on Halloween
My sister looking up to me on Halloween

November is here. Halloween came and went in a hurricane of candy corn and Hocus Pocus. Now, we are faced with the impending joy of the holiday season (7 weeks until Christmas, y’all).


This post is for young adults and their parents who are wondering how to navigate the holiday season now that they live in separate spaces. I hope I can give you almostenough information to make the transition flawless.

I remember driving home for Thanksgiving from my freshman year at Ole Miss with butterflies in my stomach. I wondered; what does the holiday season mean now that I make my own rules? I am sure this thought crosses every newly liberated kid’s mind. Sidebar: I still sleep with my teddybear and enjoy Disney movies on the reg so I consider myself a “kid” (five years of legal adulthood be damned).

Decorating the tree in the early 2000's
Decorating the tree in the early 2000s

I am an admitted Christmas crazy. I have high standards for my Christmas. Now that Santa’s magic has faded from my adult mind and the first half of the Christmas season is spent all alone at school, it is a little harder to find the Christmas cheer that I have come to expect. How do you find/give the christmas spirit to those who are not immersed in the holiday spirit all season long (exams will really steal that joy from you)?


First, you have to hold onto traditions. Even if you are busy or too cool to bake with your mom, YOU HAVE TO DO IT. Moms and Dads, we secretly want you to force us to participate, trust me. It will be good for us.

Baking with my mother is a holiday must
Baking with my mother is a holiday must
Christmas Carols on the 25th
Christmas Carols on the 25th

Carols with my dad and cookies with my mom are two traditions that are automatically connected with spirit in my mind.


Next, simply embrace family time. It is really hard to navigate family time as a young adult-admittedly, I would prefer to stay at the kid’s table. Are you supposed to be seen and not heard like in the good-old-days or be a productive part of the adult conversations? Do you have a glass of wine in front of Grandma or is that still a no-no? What type of college stories are acceptable to share? Just have a secret glass of wine in the pantry and push on through (it gets easier, I promise).

We spend Christmas eve with my Mother's family
We spend Christmas Eve with my Mother’s family
Christmas at my Father's family's house
Christmas Day with my Father’s family

Finally, enjoy some “me time.” Parents, let your kids learn what the holidays mean now that they are not under your roof anymore. Reflect on what the holidays will be for you and create some of your own traditions. I love to go Black Friday shopping with my sister and build a gingerbread house with my love, Chris.

Rusty
Rusty

However you decide to enjoy the holidays and whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope you keep love, peace and kindness in your heart. After all, that is what the whole season is about. If you have any tips about how to embrace Christmas as a young adult, leave them in the comments!

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