Today when I stepped outside, I smelt spring and was about as happy as this baby and her camel:
I was outside in a dress, with bare legs and I was starting to believe this day would never come. I swear if I see a single snowflake before Christmas next year, I will walk all the way back to California.
Anyways, after a few hours doing this:
I was excited to bust out all the spring/summer clothes I’ve been daydreaming about and this is what I came up with:
You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to use that title!
Maybe turning 30 brought some maturity to me finally, as seen in my new found love of all things plaid.
I don’t know.
But I do know that before this winter I have never preferred Plaid or any other “Classic” styles. But as in most things with me, I always go overboard with any new interest of mine, Whether it’s: painting, DIY projects, yoga, or clothing, I suck all the fun out of whatever it is I like, until I am sick of it. That’s probably how my new love of “Plaid” will end up, but for now, me and plaid are BFFs.
I have seen so many cute plaid scarfs, hats, and ect. on my friends and people I see out and about, this winter that I wish I could have taken pictures of some people I saw who inspired my new obsession for plaid. If anyone has any pics of them wearing their favorite plaid accessory or clothing item to add to this post, or your opinion on plaid, my email email@example.com and I will add it!
But For now, here are some of my favorite plaidy plaids…
I’ve got a little pooch belly, but hey that’s okay!
Skirt is from Charlotte Russe ($19.99 or buy 1 get 1 for $10.00) which I bought in store and couldn’t find online but they have a similar one online (for $19.99):
Knit short sleeve white top is from H&M from this summer but I found a similar top from H&M that I actually think would look better with the plaid skirt. Their Heavy Jersey Fabric Short Sleeve Top available online in black or light grey for only $17.95:
The boots I bought at Target, probably 2 winters ago, and are still my tried and true favorites (plus the heels are about 2″ so I can actually go wear them out without walking like I am on stilts ) I love the contrasting brown leather ankle strappy things that make it okay for me to wear with black or brown (at least thats what I tell myself..fashion experts would probably say different). But I found a very similar pair by Dv by Dolce Vita Brand, called their Jaxen Suede Booties available at Lord and Taylor online and on sale for only $64.48 (marked down from $128):
My second “Plaid” winter outfit, is mainly just these pants I found at Forever21. I bought them online, (Got super excited and actually bought two of the same exact pair..so if anyone is interested in a free pair of pants…email me!) A lot of my style decision thought process goes something like this: “Should I really be considering wearing this?” “I look ridiculous.” and finally “Oh well, who cares!” and then proceed to checkout. And so it was with these pants:
These Gingham plaid pants are available at Forever 21 currently on sale for only $16.99. But aren’t for the faint of heart, I’ve got some junk in my trunks and these pants def. don’t help to conceal that. But they are red plaid pants for under $20 so…
Last week, I visited the absolutely amazing Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan with some friends for the first time to attend a workshop called How to Build A Terrarium. If you are ever in Grand Rapids, you have to visit the Downtown Market. They have the indoor Market Hall, a “culinary collective” of artisan products including a Bakery, Juice Bar, Coffee Bar, Wine Bar, Meat Market, Bake Shoppe, AND gourmet restaurants including: Fish Lads, Rak Thai, Sushi Maki, Tacos El Cunado AND even a Creperie.
In the summer, they have an Outdoor Market three times a week and in the Fall, every Saturday from 9am to 2pm.
Finally, they also offer a full schedule of classes, programs and workshops which include everything from: yoga, cheese making, Introduction to Aromatherapy & Essential Oils, Cooking Classes, Mommy and Me Activities, to Greenhouse workshops. Click Here to see their schedule of upcoming classes. This is where I went with two of my friends to do the How to Build a Terrarium Workshop. I put together a cheat sheet of the ingredients you will need based on what I learned at the workshop to share with you:
1. First, start by putting about 1 inch layer of gravel at the bottom of your container, to fill up space in the jar and to keep the soil from being to damp.
2. On top of the gravel, put approximately .5in to 1.5in layer of activated charcoal, also to help soak up extra water.
3. Add your cactus/succulent potting soil. The amount of soil you want to use really depends on the size and shape of your container. You want a nice, thick layer so that the soil comes up about to the bottom of your opening.
4. Plant your succulents in the soil. Give them space to breathe.
5. Add your decorative items on the top of the soil after you planted your succulents. This will help weigh the soil down.
* Most succulents need about 6 hours a day of indirect sunlight. Make sure your terrarium is in a cool, well ventilated area.
* It helps to place your terrarium near a south or east facing windows in the winter in order to get maximum sunlight exposure.
* Observe your succulents when they are by windows, as sunlight may be magnified in the glass and can scorch leaves. Adjust accordingly.
* In the winter, you may water just once every 2-3 weeks.
* In the summer, it is closer to once a week. Water in the morning.
* If you are unsure, poke your finger in the soil and if it is completely dry then it’s probably a good idea to water it.
And voila! You have a start on a green thumb with a lovely & easy and organic terrarium, all your own. Does anyone have any other tips for making terrariums? If you have one, or make one, I would love to see pictures of them!! succulent
A bright light in our world went out and now my heart feels heavy. With everything going on in the world right now: the unending riots in Ferguson, and the constant ISIS terrorist threats, just to name a few, it is Robin Williams’ unexpected suicide that I constantly find myself thinking about. I feel guilty that out of all of the chaos, death, and injustice going on around the world, it is the death of an actor that has affected me most. I asked myself why that is and I think it’s because his suicide was so unexpected and it is sad to think that someone who brought so much joy and happiness to the world, could be so unhappy himself.
The loss of any human life is painful, but something about Robin Williams’ suicide saddens me to the very core of my being. I have first hand experience with depression and feelings of hopelessness that Robin must have been feeling in order to take his life. And while I struggle with being “real” and transparent about anything serious on my blog (or any other of my social media outlets) about my life but I realized that writing posts like this were the reason I started blogging in the first place about 10 years ago and that is:
to reach out and connect to someone (anyone) who like me, often feels “different,” struggles with depression or anxiety, feels hopeless, like they don’t fit in, that are depressed…
and although I try to hide my struggle from friends and family, I think it’s pretty obvious to the people in my “World,” who try to get to know me, (my friends, family, co-workers, ect), know there is something “different” about me. I’m the friend who falls off the planet for days, weeks, months at a time, the friend who cancels plans and no one hears from, who isolates themselves, sleeps too much… my family and other loved ones kindly skirt around the issue but I struggle with depression and have since I was 15 years old.
What saddens me so much about Robin’s death is that…no one really saw it coming and I hope that he had people he could trust in his life and who loved him unconditionally- his wife, his daughter and I hope he knows he was loved.
and now finally I am getting to the point of this post….
it’s okay. I promise. I swear. It gets better. I know that’s not much, but I have been there in that dark, hopeless place where there is no light, no exit.
And while I never contemplated suicide, there were so many times in my life that I thought I could never be happy in life- where sleeping was always a better option for me than living life- that the drain of just being awake and conscious was sometimes to much-
just keep going. one foot in front of the other, baby steps. Don’t stop striving to be happy, develop your passions (no matter what they are), and when things get hard or tough, try to remember that (and this is what I wish I could tell the 12 year old version of myself, for the 16 year old version of my self, the 23 year old version of myself):
you are not alone. however helpless or alone you might feel. I can tell you because I have been in that place- a place I never thought I could leave- and I did.
I have come up with a list of 15 things I hope will be helpful for anyone who has ever been depressed:
1. Talk to someone, anyone. A friend, family member, co-worker, or anyone you feel you can trust. It is important to get your thoughts out of your head and also a welcome relief to feel that you no longer have to struggle completely alone. Don’t feel that you have anyone to talk too? There are hotlines and chatrooms created with the sole purpose of helping people struggling with depression: http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=urgent_crisis_hotline has a list of resources. Still unsure? My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, I am here.
Whatever makes you laugh, do it: silly dancing, corny jokes, baby kittens…find your happy place and visit it often. Laughing is not only a quick way to boost your mood, but the neurological process of laughing also releases endorphins and gives your body a boost of adrenaline (much like exercising), leaving you in a better mental place.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others. In today’s society, with all of our social media outlets, it is hard for me to NOT constantly be comparing myself to other people. Be content with where you are in life and who you are..stay focused on your own hopes and dreams and remain true to what makes you happy. I am not Kim Kardashian and I may not be at the same point in life where it seems many of peers are, but thats okay and I have to constantly remind myself that it is ok. This is your life, and your journey, no one else’s! One of the hardest things for me to do is to change my negative thinking patterns. I noticed that for me, most days I struggle with starting a new day with a positive frame of mind and I used to find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning…once I realized this about myself (and it took longer than you would think!) I had to start forcing myself to think positively in the morning and started coming up with (or borrowing) little phrases or mantras to “trick” myself into thinking positively. To this day, I still go back to one of my favorite mental health spokespersons:
and his favorite phrases: “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful” and “Baby steps.” Interestingly enough, when I tell myself this in the morning before I get out of bed, I end up feeling better, greater and more wonderful.
4. Spend time outdoors/ be Active.
Research has shown that sunlight is a natural mood booster and one of the easiest ways to fight depression by boosting serotonin levels in the brain. The sun is also is a rich source of Vitamin D and is also shown to help in bone health, heart health and to reduce the chance of strokes. I enjoy spend time outdoors: hiking in the woods, doing yoga or simply taking the time to be in awe of Nature by listening and looking. I have a habit of collecting leaves, feathers, branches, twigs, stones, seashells..ect…
and keep a couple of my favorite ones in a vase by my bed. I sincerely feel that spending time outdoors as one of the best ways to re-focus on whats important and to remember that beauty and life is all around me, all I have to do is pay attention to it.
5. Keep a journal.
I find this especially helpful, if you are like me and tend to be more introverted and have trouble opening up. It helps me to look back on my journals and to reflect on how far I have come. It is also a great way to motivate yourself and a place to channel your inspirations. It also gives you a place to write down positive quotes, bucket lists, and to keep track of happy memories such as: concert tickets stubs and photos.
6. Keep a daily routine. If you are like me, or the dog in the video in #`1with a case of the Mondays, this is not easy. I confess, This is one of the HARDEST things for me to do. The idea of a consistent, daily routine always scared me and I still struggle with it every day. I always made excuses for why I didn’t need a daily routine…but sometimes this is a very important step for those who struggle with depression. I love sleeping, I always have and used to put off getting up until the very last moment. But as a result, I never gave myself time to wake up, reflect on the day, focus on what i wanted to get done and to have a general sense of well-being. Even though the initial half an hour or so after I am up is a struggle, I feel better, more calm and more prepared for the day when I have given myself time in the morning before rushing off.
7. Consider meditation/yoga. (dwell in the moment)
This one fits in with many of the other tips. Giving yourself time to reflect on life, or even to be still and think about nothing but your breath, helps to clear your head and give you a sense of well-being. I scoffed at the idea of quiet meditation for a long time, thinking it sounded to new age or something for me. I also have very little patience and always thought “There is no way I could ever sit still for an hour thinking about nothing.” And that thought is still true! I lowered my expectations and started timing myself of how long I could just “be still.” I don’t think I have ever made it past 60 seconds until my mind has wandered. But if you are intentional in trying and most of all, patient with yourself, you will get better at it and be better for it.
8. Make plans for the future. Have an old friend you want to visit? (Cassie, I’m coming for you!) or have you always wanted to take a road trip, visit the Lourve, eat real soul food? While spending too much time thinking about the future and not enough time in the present is not healthy, it is important to have something in your life to look forward too. It could be that you are unhappy in your career or with your health. Maybe you have always wanted to write a novel or take an art class. It could be as simple as thinking about something different and fun you always wanted to cook for dinner- just give yourself something to look forward to every day!
9. Weed out negative influences/people from your life.
easier said then done right? If you are human, chances are you come in contact with unhappy people or negative situations SEVERAL times a day. At my current customer service job, I deal with many unhappy people and even when I try to remain positive, negativity is draining and wears you down. There is a difference from coming in contact with negative people or situations and ALLOWING negative people/influences space in your life and brain. Do your best when you must deal with these situations. Be your best self and you will leave the situation with confidence and self-assurance, knowing that you did your best. But, unhappy people, generally don’t like happy people and may try to bring you down with them (misery loves company). Don’t let them- shrug them off and go your own way (frolic in the fields, hug your dog, laugh with a friend) and don’t waste any more of your time or brain space on them than is absolutely necessary. Most importantly don’t feel guilty about being happy.
10. Create something.
You don’t have to have graduated from art school to create something beautiful that brings you and others joy and happiness. Maybe you love baking cookies or always wanted to build a bird house. There is something very satisfying in creating something that took a lot of hard work and being able to look at with a sense of pride (even if it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would when you started) and thinking “I made this.” Even better if you can share it with the people in your life.
11. Take time for yourself. Again, this ties in to many of the other tips. But I just want to re-affirm that it is okay to take time for yourself, doing something that makes you happy. Many of us have spouses, children, parents, friends, co-workers that we spend most of our time and energy on and that is a good and healthy thing (see #13). But at the same time, you shouldn’t be walking around feeling like a zombie, drained of emotional and physical energy. You are your able to be your best version of yourself for others, and for you when you are re-charged and re-energized. I would love nothing more than an hour long massage by a professional massage therapist (complete with the aromatherapy candles, oils, and whale nosies playing in the background) every few days if time and money allowed. Maybe it’s getting a manicure or having a glass of wine and reading a good book for 30 minutes after everyone else in the house is asleep. These little moments will re-charge you.
12. renew your sense of purpose in life. All of us have hopes and dreams and desires for our lives. And as we get older, our lives our shaping up to be very different than what we imagined they would be when we were young and carefree (and that’s okay). While I wouldn’t change anything that has happened to me in my life (the good and the bad), because it made me who I am today..rememembering what I am passionate about gives me a greater sense of purpose in life. Don’t sell yourself short of your daydreams and don’t let anyone talk to you out of what you know you want (unless you’ve always wanted to be a gas station attendant or a tool booth worker…then we made need to talk).
13. give back/ invest in relationships.
Balance in life is so important. Too much time spent on only on yourself will cause imbalance, just as much as too much time spent on others (and not enough time for yourself) will leave you completely drained. I promise there is someone out there who feels lost and who could use you in their life. I also guarantee that there is someone out there that YOU are important to and who would love to hear from you. Maybe you are not ready to open up to people which brings me to my next point…
14. Adopt a Pet.
The best thing I did when i first moved in to my own place 8 years ago and was feeling particularly alone and easily sad was adopting my dog Henri. There is something so wonderful about always coming home and knowing that my dog missed me and is happy to see me. I don’t argue that pets are a big responsibility and you should always consider your realistic limitations (such as money, time away from home, space). If you are not in the position for a bigger animal, how about a bird, or hamster, or even a fish!
15. Don’t ever give up. Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget that there is ALWAYS hope. You can and will be happy. Life is a gift. I mean it. We have all made mistakes, but that is what it means to be alive and to be human. Today is a new day. Trust me, I know this mushy positive talk is annoying when you are depressed. But please, if you take one thing away from this post, let it be that, I know you will make it through this and you can be happy. Chances are, if you are like me, dealing with depression will likely be something I struggle seriously with again at some point- but even when that happens, there is hope.
And I leave you with this beautiful tribute to Robin Williams and his thoughts on the beauty of life:
“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this earth. Life is fleeting. And if you are ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky, and the stars that are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting start streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish. Think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.”
– Robin Williams
All photos used in this post are mine, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use, just please credit me and link back to my blog. Thank you so much!
Yes! My first ever recipe! Yay for me! If you know me, you probably know that I am not the greatest cook. It isn’t that I don’t like cooking, I just get overwhelmed at the organization process that comes along with cooking and the clean up afterwards. Also, it gets expensive buying ingredients when you are only cooking for one…but someone once told me the only way to get better is to keep trying (and clean as you go). I was inspired by the picture on the cover of a recent Bon Appetit magazine of a delicious and fresh looking pesto pasta:
oOoOoooooh…my mouth was watering just glancing at the cover. I figured pesto pasta could be a good one for me to try because pasta reheats well, I’m a pasta girl and it’s relatively healthy (hence the green color!). What I really liked was that Bon Appetit’s pesto recipe used cilantro (which I LOVE) instead of basil or spinach (which is a little on the bland side for my taste buds) and almonds instead of pine nuts. So, needless to say, I was sold. I ended up tweaking the recipe quite a bit and served it to a group of 15 friends who loved it. One of my pesto pasta tasters, Shana Draugelis, who runs the AMAZING and inspiring blog Ain’t No Mom Jeans, suggested I put the recipe on my blog as a place to share it with friends. So here it is…if you try it let me know what you think, if you changed it or tweaked it or send me pics @ email@example.com!
-1 lb spaghetti or linguini noodles
-1 lb chicken (chopped into cubes)
-2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
-2 cups chopped fresh flat leaved parsley leaves
-3/4 cup chopped fresh chives
– 3/4 cup unsalted, roasted almonds
– 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
– 1 lemon
– kosher salt
– freshly ground pepper
– 2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (if you like a bit of extra spice!)
– 4 or 5 large garlic cloves (or less if you don’t care for as much garlic)
– optional and for the daring…sriracha hot sauce goes amazingly on top of the finished product.
Directions: (This is the way I have gone about doing it that works best for me and is the fastest)
1. Heat a large pot of water until boiling and in a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 or 2 chopped garlic cloves on med to high heat.
2. Once the skillet is heated, add the chopped chicken cubes. While the chicken is cooking, squeeze 1/2 of the lemon over the chicken and add salt and pepper. (I also added 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper).
3. The water should be boiling by now, so add the pasta and boil on med heat for appx. 6-8 minutes. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set to the side.
4. In a food processor or blender (food processor works much better at blending!) add the cilantro, parsley, chives, almonds, olive oil, 3-4 garlic cloves, the juice from the other half of the lemon and salt and pepper and blend until the pesto consistency somewhat smooth and paste-like.
5. In a large bowl serving bowl mix the cooked pasta, the chicken and the pesto together. Top with fresh parmesan cheese and a little sriracha for a kick!
You will most likely have left over pesto sauce which freezes well and goes great on top of toast,with sliced avacado and fried egg (another idea I stole from Shana!) or throw some on a chicken or turkey sandwich.
Pesto for days and days! I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think if you tried it and any suggestions for improvement! Hope everyone is having a splendid summer!