18 November 2014

Healthy Style: Pretty Is as Healthy Does

I believe strongly that we each have to find our fit, healthy, happy point, and I believe strongly that it looks so different for every body.

But somewhere in the social media universe (ok, on Instagram), when documenting and sharing my #healthyme journey out there, I started using a hashtag: #prettyisashealthydoes. It just popped into my head recently.

It's true, for me. I feel better, I look better, end of story - for me, that is. But I don't want to push the idea of being skinny. I don't want to push the idea of beauty only. I want other women to feel strong, confident, and beautiful for themselves. It's part of why I started this blog in the first place (the other reason being my writing love).

It's such an odd place to be in, that our confidence is tied so closely to our physical appearance. It makes me uncomfortable. We're not supposed to want to look pretty, but we spend time with makeup and such. We spend loads of money on it, and clothing - as a culture, anyway, and some of us as individuals.

Maybe I'll look back in a week, a month, a year, and think "what was i thinking?!" for now, though, I feel like this is it. Pretty is as healthy does.

image via

13 November 2014

Ageless Beauty: Beauty Tips from the "Advanced" Set

She's always got a show tune at the ready. If you're lucky, maybe a little soft shoe, too. We run into her, usually, when we're on our way back in from our after-school activities, and she's all dolled up, ready for dinner before a show. "An avid theater goer" would be a glorious understatement for our friend Aunt Dottie.

I had another post in draft, just about ready to go, and then I ran into Dottie at our front desk. It's cleaning day, and I offered commiseration, since H and I spent most of our self-imposed 4-day weekend cleaning and organizing. My nails and hands are shot, I shared.

"Oh, you know what's good?"

Dottie and I started swapping natural and home-remedy beauty tips (ok, she shared, and I agreed on the few I know and use). I promised her I wouldn't reveal her age. But let's just say that, well, you wouldn't guess it.

She really is a fashion plate, even on cleaning day. That's some serious (and probably purposeful, knowing her) pattern mixing, never mind the nonchalant cleaning rag in her apron pocket.

1) Fix Those Winter Hands: For hands that are as torn up as mine, and to prevent them getting worse whilst cleaning, track down a pair of white cotton gloves (I kinda like these, because they have "inspection" in the name, as if my house is clean enough for one). You've heard it, the spa and nail place have done it, but slather up your hands with your favorite thick lotion, then don your gloves and go to bed. Note: you will have to adhere to that other bit of advice about not using social media in the bedroom to do this.

2) Fix Your Cuticles: I am not one to worry about them, but when they get so dry they crack and split, well, maybe it's time to do something about them. Dottie says to put plain white vinegar (go ahead, get the big bottle, then check Pinterest for its infinite uses) in a little spray bottle, and spritz throughout the day. She keeps them on her kitchen counter. Office-bound? Keep them on your desk, especially with this adorable atomizer. My own tip, for folks who might see other people during the day and don't want to smell like salad dressing? Add in a little essential oil, say...lavender (my favorite).

3) Keep Your Cuticles: Now that you've fixed them, use up that evening TV time (or whenever else you can sit without touching thing) by using a lip balm (she recommends "the one in the metal tube at CVS," but Chapstick will do, too, she says), and pushing the balm into your fingertips.

4) The Best Lotion: Dottie swears by the big tub of thick Cetaphil ("it's a little expensive, but it's the best"). However, so you don't contaminate your tub with your icky hands, put some in a smaller jar (these are a package of 6, but I'm sure I can find a use for 5 more) for everyday use, then try to use a little spoon or spatula to scoop it out (how cute are this spoon and this spatula?). Also, see #1 and use it on your dry, cracked feet (also like mine).

5) Hydrate and Alkalize: To stay hydrated (and if you look at her skin, there's no way you can argue with this), mix 3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 2 of honey into a paste, then mix into water. Drink at least three glasses a day. From my own experience, especially with my cleanses with Ellen Kittredge, CNC, try raw apple cider vinegar and raw honey (but any old honey will do).

6) Your Face: Forget the fancy creams, at least a few times a week, and use either the aforementioned Cetaphil or good, old-fashioned Vaseline. Slather your mug with the stuff, use an old, clean men's T-shirt (but don't bleach it, because that's not good for your skin) as a pillow case to save your shams, and get a good night's rest.

7) Avoid Stress: It's simple, and easier said than done, but this was her parting thought to me (after I tried to explain about this blog as a website so I could get her permission to post her pic and tips). Rid your life of as much negativity as you can. It just doesn't do a body good.

Oh. And one she forgot, but I've learned from knowing her nearly 16 years: learn a few show tunes by heart, and break into song on a fairly regular, but unexpected basis. There's one for just about every situation.

What are your favorite beauty tips and at home remedies? What are the ones you really, actually use (and didn't just pin to your "Must Try" board)? Leave a comment and tell us - and tell us who told you!

06 November 2014

Style in Print: What I'm (Not) Reading Now, Stylish and Otherwise

I've been a reader as long as I can remember. As long as I can remember, I've had a mile-high stack of books next to my bed. Back in the day, I would finish every book I started. Every. One. Even if I hated it. I was That Girl who finished her whole summer reading list, even circling back to James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man the night before school started and read all night, heavy as it was, to finish it. I took two books, at least, wherever I went, wherever I moved. Anna Karenina and The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson went to Austria, to the University of Maryland, to Germany...you get the picture.

Don't look now, but our room is CLEAN.

As I've gotten older, busier, and have different priorities, books are still my escape, but I don't finish them all. I still buy them almost indiscriminately - even more than fashion - intrigued by a title, an author, a subject. Since starting the blog way back in 2005, I've tried to read more fashion history and style perspective.

My favorite L.L. Bean Moon Beam alarm clock, which wakes me with flashing light before going to a classic bell, No.2's self-portrait, various "gifts" from the Beans, a lavender candle (I always have lavender by my bed. always) I think I found last year at Salt and Sundry, and a bookmark with Emily's line, "The pedigree of honey does not concern the bee. A clover, anytime, to him, is aristocracy." (Politics & Prose)

The stack is high, and the list is long. But just its mere presence is a stabilizing force for me, as comfortable and safe as my favorite riding boots and cozy grey scarf.

Here's what's next to my bed, hoping, hoping, hoping to be read. Just for kicks, books I've cracked and in which I've read at least a few lines? Italicized. Books I've actually finished? Ye Olde Asterik.

On their end, top left, a stack of Janet Evanovich novels*
The Awakening, Kate Chopin,* a favorite from that summer before senior year of high school, and subject of my college essays
Woolgathering, Patti Smith (yes, that Patti Smith)
Night Soldiers, Alan Furst, which someone on twitter recommended if you love spy and suspense, which I do
Insurrections of the Mind, 100 Years of Politics and Culture in America, edited by Franklin Foer, which I found through Brain Pickings' (go sign up for and support this amazing site, if you read - ever)
Atemschaukel, Herta Müller, the German version of the Nobel-Prize-Winning The Hunger Angel, built of absolutely arresting prose, and from which I was blessed to hear her read at the Library of Congress a few years ago
The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron, which I tried to start when Allie led this venture, and the Moleskine notebook I bought to do my daily writing
The Truth About Style, Stacy London, which she signed when she told me she loved my (faux) reptile dress (swooning still)
Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life, Justine Picardie, a long-overdue tome I absolutely must get through by a wonderful fashion storyteller
Fashion is Spinach, Elizabeth Hawes, a seminal work for anyone who gives a you-know-what about Fashion with a Capital "F," recommended by "Ms. Spinach" Betsy Lowther, brains behind the blog of that name
A German notebook, unfindable here in the States, and way better than any notebook, even Moleskine
Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey, for my odd obsession with Indian flavors
Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant, which is an homage to the power of the internet, bought almost solely because I "know" its editor, Olga Massov of Sassy Radish
Andrew Wyeth Looking Out, Looking In, the catalog from the National Gallery of Art's recent 60-work exhibition on this pivotal American artist. Also, I'm a homer.
To the right, on their end, an old daily notebook I bought when I started my current job, and a stack of German language classics I bought in the bargain bin in Vienna

In the basket, left to right
CLEAN, Alejandro Junger, MD, which led my first foray into clean eating over a year ago
The Asylum, Simon Doonan, who is one of the funniest voices in fashion
My Nook,* which I never thought I'd like, but I do. I keep less important works on it, things I'd probably give away down the road.
The Book of Life, Deborah Harkness,* for which I waited not-so-patiently, as I'm a sucker for vampires and smart, kickass heroines
Train Like a Mother, Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell, who host a podcast to which I've taken a liking on this newfound running hobby of mine
The Golden Calf, Helene Tursten,* a fast-paced Swedish mystery I found recommended on Politics & Prose's shelves
The Woman Who Died A Lot, Jasper Fforde,* from one of my absolute favorite authors, and smartest writers out there, the latest installment in the fantastical Thursday Next, "literary detective" series, which all literature lovers should read
My favorite cozy socks. I don't wear socks at home, 99.9% of the time, but when I do, it's one of two pair of L.L. Bean ragg socks (these are cotton, but I love wool ones, too). I have red and black.

There. That's at least part of my list, and a lot about me. What's on yours?

27 October 2014

Style Inspiration: What I'm Pinning Right Now

The seasons have changed, and I'm a happy mama. I come alive in this brisk, clean air. I perk up when the wind whips a little and swirls the leaf kaleidoscope. Our lives have changed a little at home, too. A lot, actually, and we're adjusting to new routines, new responsibilities, and new worlds. It's all good, if chaotic, but we're finding our structure.

In the middle of it all, I'm peeking back into the interwebs for a bit of inspiration. I dipped my toe back into the fashion world Saturday when I got to meet Debra Rapoport, one of the Advanced Style blog, book, and film stars, and the film's director, Lina Pliopyte. It's positively impossible not to be inspired by these two. When I last saw them, they were ducking out of the brunch in their honor to go hit Buffalo Exchange for some thrifting.

5 minutes of glorious conversation with Debra Rapoport? Priceless. (Thanks, Allie, for the invitation and the photo!)

So I took to the interwebs a bit this morning, in hopes of getting back in the swing of things. I went to Pinterest because, well, easy access to images. I played around a bit, and here's what I'm using right now.

My top boards - where I'm focusing at the moment.

Winter Girl - give me a slouchy, big sweater, and I'm a happy camper. Bring on the wool and the plaid and the cozy flannel. Throw in a blustery day, and I'm all eyes-rolling-back happy. Right now, I'm just over-the-moon to see that J. Crew brought back it's Big Turtleneck sweater.

#HealthyMe - the journey I started 3 years ago next February is a lifelong journey. At the moment, I'm doing a 3 week, nutritionist-led cleanse. Because it's about nourishing my body with nutrient-rich foods, and it's fall, so our Washington's Green Grocer "healthy box" comes full of autumnal goodness, I'm searching for recipes almost daily. Yesterday, it was for celeriac, and I found this creamy deliciousness.

Weekends Around Town - while lately, I've been in running gear and schlumpy sweats to train for the Philadelphia Marathon half and to clean up our crazy home, but I'm a sucker for easy casual goodness, a la Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's classic black turtleneck and retro cords.

Carry All - some folks have the lives for quick fall getaways. We don't, but we do have some travel coming up: an overnight for the USMC Birthday Ball, a weekend in Philadelphia for my half marathon, and then the holidays. We have to pack for the whole family, but it doesn't mean we can't carry well. This bright orange overnight bag would have room for the Bean and me to stash our duds...and maybe for the boys, as well.

Bells on My Toes - somewhere in the past 6 months, my beloved investment shoes, my Stuart Weitzman black patent and python pumps are both too big for me. I've tried every pad and trick in the book, to no avail. That means I'm on the hunt for new pumps. ASAP. These might not fit the practical bill, but they. are. amazing.

Other things on my mind in the next while: party planning (Halloween), organizing our home, my continuing obsession with rock star style, writing, updating our home's design, and galas. A girl always needs a gala.

23 September 2014

Give in Style: Fashion of Goodwill Really Means "Let's Get to Work"

I'm kinda funny about charities. I don't like to be pushed or pigeonholed into giving my time or my money. When those United Way campaigns kick off with the email from HR or the office "decides" to do a walk, I dig my heels in and don't participate.

A big part of it is that I want to contribute to something that's going to help someone move forward in their lives. Literacy programs, mentoring programs, and job training programs...that's where you'll find me "spending."

Goodwill Industries does just that. Goodwill's whole purpose is to help someone help themselves and move forward. Sure, they have those stores where we can find great thrifty deals and fashion steals. They also partner with major corporations to give whole groups of people a new chance in a new career.

Before I get to the Fashion of Goodwill runway show and pop-up shop (and they were good), I need to tell you about Goodwill of Greater Washington and Marriott Corporation. Marriott may be a worldwide company, but they're also a local, family-owned business (root beer, anyone?). Their roots are in DC, and they figured out a way to work with Events DC and Goodwill to create a job training program that will give DC-area folks the chance they need. This program, my friends, is exactly the type of "charity" I can get behind: people helping people help themselves.
Goodwill of Greater Washington CEO Catherine Meloy. Oh. btw, she's the one responsible for me scoring that amazing silk caftan at the last Fashion of Goodwill pop-up. Remember?

When all the speeches were finished and plaques had changed hands (stop...shake...turn...smile for the camera), after the video played showing program graduates in their new jobs, there was one last moment. The graduates of the Washington Marriott Marquis Job Training Program came out on stage. Some of them were grinning, some of them smiling tentatively, unsure about the attention - and all were dressed to the nines. These are people who have jobs they didn't have before - because they worked hard to get them.

Next time you think about giving to charity, think carefully: how will this change something for someone today? Tomorrow? How will they move forward because I chose to give?

And now, to get cheeky, I chose to give by scoring $54 worth of thrift store fashion. The runway show was fun. Styling off-the-rack thrift clothes is challenging, and there were some savvy interpretations of workwear (and some crazy ones). Never mind the music. Prince? Michael Jackson? Blondie? Yes, please. (Hey, Goodwill! This girl wouldn't mind a copy of the soundtrack!)
A gloriously 1980s sequined gown? Um...please tell my bank account it's already gone in the online auction.

But the real fun (other than catching up with stylish friends I never get to see) was scouring the racks at the pop-up shop. Alison of Wardrobe OxygenDeb of Real Girl Runwayand I had similar fun earlier this year - and we recreated it. Everyone found a fun score - the real point of thrifting, in my book, is to find things you wouldn't buy otherwise, vice stocking up on basics - and shoppers were leaving with full bags.

From an Oklahoman furrier. Furs are one of my favorite thrift store goals...ahem...finds. Part of me loves just wondering who wore them and where.

I was so tempted by this Dalmatian print blouse. Over-the-top prints are so now, and because it was a whole $7? When "now" becomes "so yesterday," I'm not crying in my milk.

Toldya furs are one of my favorite thrift store finds. There were TWO of these stoles. I found one left. Mink. Stoles. Great condition, and I threw it on as soon as I'd bought it. $24.98. The leather tote bag? Lerkia-Lee of Modage Styles was taking it back. I nabbed it, and have carried it since. $24.98. Also, my dress? Vintage out of a pink garage in New Orleans. Not kidding. Maybe it was $10.

The results, next day. I worked from home, so donned a Hanes (yup) sweatshirt, my new amber-toned lucite-ish necklace ($3.98), and threw my crap in my new tote...to pick up the Beans from school. Now that is Mama Style! (Ignore the mess behind me)