Blogging is tough.
I am new to blogging, and my goal was to blog 2-3 times a week. But when you are writing really structured, photo-heavy blogs (travel guides, fashion analysis, etc), it is time consuming and hard to keep up. So, I took a bit of a breather.
But I’m back!
I wanted to write a blog about what’s running through my head lately. Probably my biggest current point of interest has to do with Red Pill Theory.
Oh my God, did she just say that?!
It feels like I have to give a disclaimer. Generally, Red Pill is unpopular, especially with women. The ESSENTIAL THING TO KNOW is that Red Pill Women is a bit of a different beast from The Red Pill. I don’t think there’s enough awareness of that.
So what are Red Pill Women?
…and they ain’t no friends of mine.
DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT BUYING THAT TICKET.
The scene: daybreak. A quiet, dusty road pierces the horizon, seemingly endless as it divides country fields. At a nameless intersection sits a small bench, and on that small bench sits a girl. Next to her, a giant suitcase, and in her hand – a bus ticket. As she watches the steady, dependable bus approaching from the distance, she feels her fears subside – her new life is about to begin.
If I remember correctly, I think the story I was telling myself about the beginning of my journey into my new life was something like that. The reality, however, was a lot different – and that’s all thanks to the terrible people at Greyhound Bus!
In March of last year, I was finally ready to go to England for an extended stay. Since I would be there for so long, I had to sell my car – but that left me in a predicament. How would I get from my small town of Dothan, Alabama to the Atlanta airport? I thought I had the solution: a Greyhound bus! It was romantic, it was affordable, it was old-fashioned, it was practical…
…it was a nightmare.
Living this long-distance relationship, self-employed life means that sometimes my schedule is a bit unusual. On top of that, my partner is a chef. If you’ve been in the hospitality industry, you know how wild the hours can be. To make maximum use of the time we can spend together, I keep England time while I’m in America. So I’m awake for the day anytime from 3:00 a.m. – and I take my days off when he gets his.
Yesterday was an off day, and we spent it mostly binge-watching Parks & Recreation (which is new to him). Leslie Knope is seriously one of my idols.
It’s refreshing to see a female character who is career-minded, determined, and strong – but still vulnerable, kind, and sometimes insecure. Honestly, tons of respect to Amy Poehler for making that happen, and Leslie will always have a place in my heart.
So, in honour of Leslie, I’m doing a suit thing today. A girl boss can’t go wrong in a classic suit, and when you stick to basic colours and fabrics, it’s easy to mix-and-match pieces. To add interest to what is a really nicely-cut combination of separates from White House Black Market (the trousers: there are a pair for sale here) and Banana Republic (my favourite blazer ever), I added this vintage waistcoat.
It’s bold and bright, but the black calms it down just the right amount. Combining vintage pieces with clean, modern basics can make them doable – in even the most conservative work environments. The top pairs perfectly with the Betsey Johnson bag, too – the chains and bows reference the chains in the waistcoat, without being TOO matchy. Plus, the gold accents all complement each other. (I’m such a Betsey fanatic. She can be over-the-top, but her stuff is lushly feminine and quirky, with hints of Japan, and vintage, and nautical everything. It’s perfect.)
Shop the look, with a similar bag, blazer, & shoes.
Now, let’s get stuff done!
Things have been so busy for me the past few days. I’ve owned an online boutique for ten years now, but it’s the first time I’ve really given my own shop an honest go. I’ve been piled up with photography, listings, and marketing ideas – not to mention blog posts. But I’m loving every second of it.
This is one of the first new looks I’ve done some photography for. It works so well together because of the cropped top and high waist on the skirt. The midriff just peeks through, so it’s still modest without being frumpy. The top is Chinese-inspired, and the satin brocade pattern is so luxe it almost looks haute couture. And the skirt has pockets! Even though both pieces are vintage, they are completely wearable – and even though this look is retro (even including a retro-inspired Cole Haan hand bag) it doesn’t look costumey when it’s styled minimally. Shop the look below, with a similar bag & shoe.
See you again soon… work is calling.
Happy World Inner Peace Day! It’s about to get deep in here.
“Within us lies the peace, the beauty, the glory of our being. There is an ocean of all that. We cannot seek it outside, we have to go within.” – Nirmala Srivastava
Today – March 21 – is World Inner Peace Day, the birthday of spiritual teacher and yogi Nirmala Srivastava. I wish I could say I just knew that – that it’s noted on my yearly calendar, popping up as a notification on my phone with the sound of a deep ringing gong.
I wish I could say I know all about Nirmala’s teachings, and that I’ve mastered inner peace completely; that I easily achieved nirvana years ago, a miraculous and simple moment that came to me with ease between an episode of No Reservations and an oil change. I wish I could say I am always calm, and mindful, and in complete harmony with myself and the world; who meditates and does yoga daily, who only wears sustainable fabrics. Oh, and a gluten-free vegan!
But those would be lies.
Here’s is the truth: I had a strong pull towards this topic, and specifically one of my all-time favourite books, The Untethered Soul, before I had any idea it was World Inner Peace Day.
Still, there couldn’t be a better day to write about the book and talk about inner peace. Even though this book is best-selling and has received glowing reviews praising it for helping the reader find some ever-illusive inner peace, Michael A. Singer isn’t a household name in the way that his fellow gurus Eckhart Tolle or Don Miguel Ruiz are. Which I don’t fully get, having read all of them. The Untethered Soul is by far my favourite, opening my mind to new concepts and helping me internalise beliefs which would permanently change my view of the world.
I have read and re-read The Untethered Soul, giving each sentence time to sink into my psyche and create imagery that could quickly come to my rescue in red-flag moments of panic or anxiety. That’s what is magical about this book to me. Singer is able to write in a way that is down-to-earth without being overly simple. He presents concepts that trigger my imagination to interpret his words in a way that will make sense to me. That’s the hallmark of a truly great book – not what is actually written out for us in ink, but how it fuses with our minds to leave a mark on us. Truly great books are interactive.
I want to share three points that I’ve taken away from The Untethered Soul; ways my mind has mapped and integrated Singer’s concepts. They have helped me find a measure of inner peace, and I hope they do for you as well.
1. Learn to ignore the voice in your head.
2. Stop being offended.
3. Everything is connected.
1. Learn to ignore the voice in your head.
Nearly all of us are just a little bit schizophrenic. In what way?
Okay, I admit it. Growing up, I was a disaster in the kitchen. Let’s be honest: I was rarely ever in the kitchen, unless it was to get processed food or put something in the microwave. I was bad.
But I didn’t stay that way. In my late teens, cooking became a real novelty to me. But that was a problem, too: it was a novelty. I would find archaic French recipes which took two days to prepare – and which I had neither the ability nor the tools to execute. Then, there was my canning phase (I once made an amazing blueberry apple butter; but I was giving it away in bathtubs, and still couldn’t find the end of it. I never wanted to see a blueberry again). When everyone in my high school cooking class chose easy, modest recipes for the big test, I decided to bake a calzone – with homemade dough, of course. It came out okay (somehow), but really – what was I trying to prove?
All I accomplished was to exhaust myself, and to decide that cooking is too hard. Eventually, I swore off cooking altogether, and gave in again: to the deceitful, alluring call of frozen pizzas and canned soups.
Fast forward: Me, of all people, falls in love with a chef – and ends up working with him in a kitchen. (Doesn’t life just have a great sense of humour?)
I learned so much from the experience, but mostly – I learned about myself. I learned to re-train my brain to simplify the mental process of preparing food. I learned my palette – which ingredients appealed so strongly to me, that even including a small amount in a dish would excite me. (You’ll see what a few of those are below.) I learned that food was beautiful, and simple, and obvious; and I learned how much better it tasted when you made it yourself, plated it properly, and felt proud of it.
The recipes below aren’t mine. They are a few of my favourites that look gorgeous, taste amazing, and incorporate some of my most-craved components (pomegranate, balsamic vinegar, rich soft cheese). They might not all be strictly Mediterranean, but they have a definite Med flair. They take from 15 to 40 minutes, so you can choose them as they suit you. I’ve reworked the recipes to simplify them or suggest possible substitutes – I don’t speak cookbook, so it’s more helpful for me to translate into realistic terms. (Speaking of cookbook, two of these bloggers have published cookbooks that are 4.5 – 5 star bestsellers that you should probably own. I’ll link them here, and again at the end. They are beautiful, and they’re all on sale.)
When you take interest in your meals and love the way they look, it can transform your relationship with food – I am living proof.
Takes 30 minutes – vegetarian
Basic ingredients: roasting veggie (beets, peppers, tomatoes…) // olive oil // thyme // pasta // butter // mushrooms // garlic (if you like it) // balsamic vinegar // honey // crushed red pepper or cayenne // crumbled goats cheese // topping of choice (pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, raspberries, cranberries…)
Preheat your oven to 425 f / 220 c. // Original recipe uses beets, but this works just as well with bell peppers or tomatoes. Chop your chosen veggie into medium-large pieces, toss them in a little olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper, and bake for 20-30 minutes – until they’re soft. // While your veggie of choice cooks, make your pasta. (You know how to make pasta.) // Put a big spoon of butter and a good drizzle of olive oil into a skillet on high. Cook some sliced mushrooms (whichever are your favourites, I love portobellas) until they begin looking done, then add some minced garlic (if you like it). Cook just long enough to soften the garlic, then put the mushrooms aside. // Pour a healthy amount of balsamic vinegar (this will be your sauce base), a few spoonfuls of honey, and some crushed red pepper (or even a sprinkle of cayenne) into your skillet. Let it bubble softly for 5-10 minutes, until it’s thick and a little sticky. // Mix your sticky sauce with your mushrooms and pasta. If it’s not saucy enough, add water to thin it. Serve it with your roasted vegetable, and add crumbled goats cheese. Pomegranate seeds are a pretty touch, but you can also experiment with using crunchy pine nuts, raspberries, or dried cranberries.
A few hours ago, Vogue posted a slideshow of the best street style looks from Russia Fashion Week. Though Russia may not be the first place you think of when it comes to runway couture, it should be on your radar for cutting-edge influential trends that are permeating youth culture, especially in Europe. Working-class, ironic, and edgy, the Russian street style look mixes vaguely punk sensibilities with a fearless appreciation for retro sportswear. Plus – these looks work great unisex. Personally, they give me huge insight into trends to come, especially on apps like Depop! Here are ten of my favourite looks, and where you can shop the looks on eBay. (Snatch up the clear trench coat before everyone else does – they’re going fast! 😍)
Yesterday was the anniversary of my first time meeting my long-distance relationship boyfriend.
Since then, there have been many transatlantic flights, nine months spent together in England, thousands of hours on Skype, and one big decision:
We’re getting married.
I hadn’t really planned on announcing it yet – mainly because he hasn’t officially proposed. As with many long-distance relationships, the decision to get married happens a little differently. We weren’t together when we decided – we were on different continents. We’ve been talking about marriage for a long time, but we didn’t know when. I guess we can thank UK Visas and Immigration for answering that question for us. Because it’s so difficult to secure the unmarried partner visa, marriage is our best option. Besides, we knew it was coming eventually – and when you know, you know.
Still waiting for that ring, though… 💍😉
Being the anniversary of when we first met, I’m reflecting a lot on our relationship. Since we’re made it this far successfully, I want to share five tips that have helped us get here. Some of these are specific to LDRs, but some apply to all relationships!
1. Visit often
2. Communicate constantly
3. Don’t play games
4. Be honest
5. Talk about goals / plans
How much is your time + freedom worth to you?
And how can a little success be your worst enemy? Read on to find out.
I am what has become known as a ‘#girlboss’. A ‘#bossbabe’. I prefer entrepreneur.
At an early point in my adult life, I realised that working for other people was simply not going to be for me. It was ten years ago that I pulled out my laptop and started searching: How to work from home. How to be self-employed. Ideas to make money on the internet. There were a few leads I chased up – but reading about one particular site, which was only a few years old, would change my life forever. That site was Etsy.
Apparently, people were selling jewellery, and art, and anything else they had made, on this site. But that wasn’t all. They were also selling antiques & vintage clothing. I had always considered myself an old soul – with a deep appreciation for 60s music, black and white films, and – lucky me – secondhand clothing. I first started buying and wearing vintage when I was only 15, and I hadn’t looked back since.
After a bit of research, I launched my own Etsy shop in 2008 (it has since been reopened as a UK Shop & USA Shop). Though I saw a little success in my sales, it wasn’t until years went by – years of experimenting, learning, losing hope and getting a “real” job again, then quitting that “real” job, experimenting some more, and finally – meeting my brilliant and business-savvy boyfriend & partner – that I began to see the income I’ve always wanted (currently grossing an average of over £400 // $550 weekly). And – even better – sales are still steadily improving.
So, if I could go back ten years – what would I tell my younger self?
Some of my Etsy shop photos, Year One
View of Hythe Beach from my flat
On my last stay in England, I lived mostly in the seaside town of Hythe. Hythe is a small town on the English Channel, in County Kent – “The Garden of England.” It’s a sleepy, beautiful place very near the Channel Tunnel, which joins England to France. On clear days, I could see the French coast, and I remember watching the fireworks across the sea on Bastille Day.
Stationed on the Southern shore – the first line of defence against invasion – Hythe has an ancient and rich military history. Now, it’s a residential haven near the larger port towns of Folkestone and Dover. But sometimes, it’s the small towns which hide the most often missed gems. Hythe is very sunny and temperate compared to much of England, and makes a lovely summer holiday spot – plus, it’s the gateway to France and the rest of Europe!
I wanted to share a few places that you shouldn’t pass by if you are able to visit Hythe.
My spring perfume came yesterday!
FYI: I’m a perfume hound.
I’ve wanted Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris Jardins Romantiques for years, but this is the first time I’ve gotten around to ordering it. (Though I was heartbroken when what was left of my La Petite Robe Noire by Guerlain leaked out during my flight from England about a month ago, I also knew I’d have to replace it, and that maybe now would be my chance!)
For the last 5 years or so, I’ve worn different perfumes for the different seasons of the year. Some women choose to wear a different perfume for day and night, but I wanted a small way to celebrate and mark each seasonal change.
But perfume shopping can be an assault to the senses, and honestly? That girl behind the counter doesn’t always know which perfumes smell like violet, versus verbena, versus vanilla. I’ve had terrible suggestions from sales associates who were probably being told to promote the new scent, when it was far from what I was looking for.
Here’s how I choose my seasonal scents, and my current favourites for spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
I am into my third year in a long-distance relationship. I know there are a lot of you out there sharing the same challenges. I was fortunate enough to spend nine months in England, living life with my
gorgeous, charming, infuriating cross between Gordon Ramsey and Paddington Bear ahem, partner – but until we work out a more permanent immigration solution, I am back in the United States.
Today, I’ll write the first of a six-part series: Lessons I’ve Learned from my Long-Distance Relationship
Lesson One: TOUGHEN UP, BUTTERCUP
According to researchers, up to 20% of the population qualifies as “highly sensitive.” I am definitely one of those people. What does it mean to be highly sensitive?