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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Downton Abbey Series 3 finale

Well, those of us in the United States (who hadn't already purchased the DVDs as M and I had) finally saw the Series 3 finale last week. So, if you don't want to know more about how it ends, stop reading now!

PBS recently posted this lovely "Mary & Matthew" love story video which was so nice and incredibly bittersweet:

Anyone else think Matthew looks hot, even when holding a stuffed animal? What is wrong with me?!

The song featured in the PBS video above is "Never Far From Me" by John Garrison, whose hometown is Coventry, England:

PBS and ITV always find the most perfect promo music.

I was wondering - is anyone else thinking negative things towards Dan Stevens? It IS his fault, entirely, for possibly ruining the show prematurely. Let's just think about that for a second. His sexy ice blue eyes ruined many a Downton Abbey storyline. Boo Hiss. Julian Fellowes recently told the New York Times (here and here) that, "...we begin Series 4 six months later. We don't have to do funerals and all that stuff. That's all in the past by then. [...] one of the main themes is the rebuilding of Mary, that Mary has to rebuild her life in a society which is changing."

Let's hope she finally defrosts to Edith (even just a teedle bit), and I hope she doesn't become a total floozy. Does Matthews money go to his son, so his son is now heir to Downton? Here is hoping Mary doesn't have to marry well again to "save Downton" or some shoddy news such as that!

In closing, some of my fave gifs involving him...

First meeting Mary - what a great 'durrr' face:


Laughing over the salty pudding scene, thanks to poor Mrs. Patmore:


Mary realizing she actually HAS fallen for her distant cousin, confesses it to him, and they have their first kiss:


THE SADDEST GOODBYE EVER (with a whole 'yeah-I-rejected-you, kind-of, plz don't die I am too proud to admit I need you with me' face):


So now that we are both seeing other people, but obligated to see each other on a regular basis... not awkward at all:


The night that ginger died and it is all because Matthew and Mary danced and kissed! (at least that is how Matthew sees it):



Christmas Episode:


Prettiest fake-snow ever!



I am hoping by now you all have seen my posts on the awesomeness that is Tumblr's creepy EdithWithGooglyEyes gif:


OH! I almost forgot the obligatory fashion-y references (at least the subject matter is still relevant)...

Ralph Lauren:


Harper's Bazaar Editor Laura Brown interviews friend Michelle Dockery:


In conclusion... thank goodness tomorrow is Friday... what a horrid week!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Technology is fun

So, my office is in an outdated building, that has had offices built into spaces not originally intended for so many offices. That sounds wordy, but my floor originally had three offices and many, many cubicles. Now it has about 50 offices and no cubicles. Lots of halls within halls, woohoo! Anyway, this redesign creates some problems - such as few outlets for each of us within our office.

Outlets are useful for things like computer supplies, printers, lamps, etc (duh). Currently, I have no lamps but I did get two surge protectors to extend the use of my outlets when I find a couple that I love. One way to save a couple outlets is this fun tool I got from Kikkerland.com:


USB Windmill Fan, $20.

The blades are foam, but they keep my office nice and cool while remaining quiet. You plug it in and it is powered through the USB, or you can use AA batteries to power it independently. It sits at the head of my desk and is wonderful for air circulation as it is just under 9" tall.

Isn't technology great?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My winter beauty products and routine

I know a lot of you have posted on this sort of thing already, but I wanted to share my Winter beauty routine and the products that go along with it for you all to see. Maybe you have never heard of a brand or have wanted to know more about it - so I hope you will comment on any of these if you have any questions...

I buy all of my beauty supplies now at Sephora. I guess because I rarely have to pay for shipping, I enjoy the VIB benenfits and while I love how ULTA gives you cash off a purchase, my ULTA is impossible (esp to find the items I go in there for). That said, I do go in there from time-to-time to buy items that M enjoys (like Paul Mitchell tea tree products). I really did not worry too much about my skin until I had a skin cancer scare one summer during middle school. Since then I have been heavy on skin care and light on makeup. Getting married last Fall changed that, and I started gradually adding fine makeup products into my daily routine starting in about August. Prior to that I had been exclusively a Bobbi Brown, Origins, and Clinique girl. So, please see some of those everyday, go-to items, below!

My daily beauty routine - winter

Laura mercier
sephora.com

Givenchy
sephora.com

Smashbox
sephora.com

Bobbi brown cosmetic
bloomingdales.com

Laura mercier
sephora.com

Ole henriksen
sephora.com

Bite beauty
sephora.com

Bliss body cleanser
blissworld.com

Clarins beauty product
bergdorfgoodman.com

Friday, February 22, 2013

Richmond loves Ledbury!


Any of you with grandfathers, fathers, brothers, uncles, significant others, and husbands need to check out Ledbury if you have not already. This brand has been growing in popularity every year since it was started in 2009, and is headquartered here in Richmond, Virginia in the old tobacco warehouse district. This area is now more popularly called the Shockoe Design District. The quality, fit, and the company's own special touches have innovated what some call the perfect shirt.

The Blue Townsend Tattersall slim fit

They have two styles to their shirts - M wears the "Slim Fit" which is tailored and works with his (ahem) perfect frame, but there is a more traditional fit, which they call the "Classic Fit," that works on all sizes of men as well. Check out this Vimeo from Ledbury, below:

The Anatomy of a Ledbury Shirt from Ledbury on Vimeo.

Paul Trible is a W&L grad while Paul Watson went to Davidson College. These Liberal Arts college graduates have traveled the world and had been involved in the Public Sector as well as philanthropic work before founding this company. The materials for their shirts come from Europe, their tailoring is in the English style, and their style is heavily influenced by their Southeastern United States upbringing.

The Green Montgomery Check slim fit

I love a man in a good shirt. A well-fitting, if not custom-tailored shirt is so important. These shirts can be dressed up or down without issue and have a wonderful weight. They are cut perfectly and really elevate any kind of casual dress. One of the ways I fell in love with M, and how he gained respect so quickly from the male members of my family, is due to his style. He is not a sloppy person when he dresses down. He is immaculate about his appearance (being an Army guy doesn't hurt), and he had never worn suit pieces as separates until I begged him to try it. He is just that particular about his clothing. He puts Ledbury up there with his Brooks Brothers, Zegna, Burberry, Nordstrom, Billy Reid, Paul Stuart, and Need Supply Co. purchases.

The brand frequently issues "Short Run" shirt styles during the different seasons, and also sell a very fine, but limited selection of ties, blazers, and accessories. None of their items cost more than $700 (blazers), and their gorgeous shirts average at about $135. Read their information on the post-purchase care of a Ledbury shirt.
Check out the Ledbury website. Where can you purchase Ledbury shirts? As per their website:
Ledbury.com is the primary shopping destination for our products. Beyond our website, our Richmond showroom located at 117 S 14th St is open Monday-Friday from 9AM-5PM. We also host pop-up shops occasionally throughout the year; sign up for our email newsletters to learn about our next pop-up location. At this time Ledbury does not sell shirts via wholesale.
Like Ledbury on Facebook. Follow Ledbury on Twitter.

The Purple Mckinsey Oxford slim fit

Tailors with a banking degree from CNN Money YouTube page, published on July 6, 2011:


All images included in this post are owned by Ledbury, Inc.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It has been one of those days...

...When I am talking about a personal matter with my office door closed and someone clearly was eavesdropping and tries to give input when we are walking out of my office to go to lunch...

...When I post something funny on my Facebook and then someone leaves a passive-aggressive comment that we could have done without...

...When I Tweet something factual and am choosing to not be ranty on Twitter and then one of the people I am politely referring to (without saying anything TOO obvious) DMs me asking, "how are you doing?" when in reality she doesn't care and it is the first time she has corresponded with me in months, let alone leave a merely supportive comment on my blog like I had done for her for years...

...When an ex-friend asks me if I am heading into D.C., and pretends like she is suddenly tight with my friends and that they have plans with her, when I know they do not like her let alone know why she would say that...

...When a coworker has been working here for all of two months, and tries to change a major office policy thinking she has "tangible experience" which equals no public sector experience...


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gluten-free coconut chocolate chip cookies

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Civilized Caveman, who adapted them from Primal Palate

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins minimum
Total time: 22+ mins

Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw honey (I also like agave nectar, or locally-sourced honey)
4 omega-3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut (I use the finely-shredded coconut, not the coarse type)
3/4 cup of chocolate chips (I use dark-chocolate organic chips)

Ahead of time, take a Pyrex liquid measuring cup, and melt down the coconut oil and honey. Let it cool down a bit prior to combining into recipe as you do not want to accidentally cook your eggs!

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
In a large stainless steel bowl, combine coconut oil, raw honey/nectar/sweetener, eggs, vanilla extract, and sea salt.
Add in coconut flour.
Stir in the shredded coconut and chocolate chips.
On parchment lined baking sheets, drop heaping tablespoons of cookie batter. Due to the cooking process, these cookies do not expand a great deal, so be sure to make them into a 'cookie shape' as they will not expand like common cookies.

Bake until golden brown. I tend to start it at 12 minutes with a timer and go from there. Every oven has a different calibration or internal temperature. I let these cook at our home kitchen for 15 minutes and they were perfect. Slightly toasted coconut exterior - a gorgeous golden brown. A mere 12 minutes in our home oven yielded soft and undercooked cookies.

Let them cool and 'set' on a rack or on the tray prior to moving them.

The scent, smell, texture, and taste of these cookies are wonderful. Even M likes them which says a lot. These have a wonderful consistency. They are not chewy but stay moist over time and do not crumble. They work well in both a cookie jar and in the fridge.

*All of the links included are not affiliate links. They are either sources or the brands I use and recommend for this recipe!*

Friday, February 8, 2013

Red 2 Trailer

I cannot wait to see this movie - RED 2 - when it comes out in theaters! It will be released the weekend of my birthday, and I am a huge fan of Mary-Louise Parker (since Fried Green Tomatoes, really, but she was fantastic on The West Wing, too). I love action flicks and it looks like this one will not disappoint. Did you see RED when it came out in 2010? Have you all seen this trailer yet?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fall/Winter 2012/2013 runway trend: wine tones

A model walks the runway at the Alexander Wang Fall 2012 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Pier 94 on February 11, 2012. (Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images)

A model walks the runway at the DKNY Women's Fall 2012 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on February 12, 2012. (Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)

A model walks the runway at the Tommy Hilfiger Women's Fall 2012 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Park Avenue Armory on February 12, 2012. (Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)

Available at Cusp, Single strapless lace dress in wine, $92.00. (Style No. CSS13_T5DA5)

Available at Nordstrom, Alex & Ava cap sleeve jersey sheath dress in wine, $158.00. (Item No. 588080)

Available at Nordstrom, Eileen Fisher merino jersey dress in dark tulip, $248.00. (Item No. 585114)

Available at Nordstrom, Topshop bodycon midi dress in burgundy, $48.00. (Item No. 638773)

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Alexander McQueen cashmere-blend leopard print skull scarf, $725.00. (Style No. 0408780926280)

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Diane von Furstenberg calf hair and brass ankle boots. Was $795.00, now $318.00. (Style No. 0469684459045)

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Elizabeth & James pintucked 'Chantal' silk blouse in merlot. Was $265.00, now $106.00. (Style No. 0478582099512)

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci 'Lady Stirrup' calf hair and leather top handle bag in carminio red, $3400.00.

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Jil Sander 'New Malavoglia' colorblock small tote in burgundy blue, pre-order $1490.00. (Style No. 0413352359335)

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Marc Jacobs leather loafer pumps, was $645.00, now $258.00. (Style No. 0441974887745)

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Nanette Lepore 'Foxhound' dress in orchid, was $378.00, now $226.80. (Style No. 0414084685655)

See the Tommy Hilfiger Fall 2012 "Town & Country" fashion show:


Read more about this trend from my Examiner.com article here.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Workin' on my fitness

Well, I am going to get real with y'all on this post. I am going to tell you lots of details about my health, and I will be completely blunt. Remember: this blog is my opinion and my opinion only. I might be super harsh with some of my comments but it is my personal opinion. Also: I am not a professional or a doctor so just take everything as my own personal experience which may or may not mesh with yours.

H'OKAY SO...

{sorry, obligatory '00s reference}

Back in my senior year of boarding school I was doing pre-season training with field hockey when I collapsed. I had a massive exertional heat stroke and was trucked to the hospital. Awesome. And yes, that can cause brain damage for the doubters out there. My Assistant Coach told me to spit out my mouth guard and put my hands over my head. When I did that I fell over like a tree and was out for a few minutes. We quickly realized that I was paralyzed (thankfully temporarily), my heart was slowing down, I remember being unable to talk or move anything but could hear everything and was crying. I quickly went into shock. The EMTs could not get an IV in me as the ambulance was bouncing around so much, and they kept saying "we are losing her." Oh boy, fond memories. I remember seeing the entrance to the hospital, and then not opening my eyes until about 8 hours later. To this day, since my parents were not there, we have no idea how they treated me as the Dean of Students was there post-arrival.
Anyway, so I was in the hospital overnight, got back to school, and was in the nursing wing for a few days. Again, my senior year of boarding school! What a bummer, 'eh? I lost a ton of weight, and my metabolism was completely different after that point. I was anemic, now add onto that potassium deficient, and was incredibly weak. It didn't help that this time of my life included several medications (your teenage dream combo of ADHD/depression/anxiety/Trichotillomania) so I was a hot mess. I was essentially benched for the rest of the senior field hockey season, and spent my free time running fitness trails behind campus (it on a 350+ acres property) and using the rowing machine. I was pretty much a size 6 all the time and was rather active walking all over campus.
When I got to college I was really bad about binge drinking but also was good about eating regularly and working out so I was pretty much consistent in weight, still a size 6. {Nov of Freshman year of college above}

It wasn't until I left school {after the ugly thing happened}, and took a Gap Year living in Baltimore that my weight got a little weird. I was keeping weird schedules working at Nordstrom, going to bars, sleeping was off, diet was shit. I did work out but not in the traditional sense.
SO, my weight went up a bit, but not a huge amount. {my face gets wider when I gain weight}

However, when I moved to Charlottesville and lived on 14th street I was in a house of very healthy, green eating ladies. It was wonderful. It was inspiring and motivated me. Plus, Cville is an athletic city - lots of biking, runners, etc. - and I got on board with that really quickly.
I then moved from 14th Street out into the county so I could pay a cheaper rent. The apartment community was great as it had a wonderful gym, and when I started working for the USDOJ the basement had a gym as well. I worked out all the time. I just did the elliptical and handweights. Nothing fancy. I was also on the breaking-up-with-unsuitable-boyfriend diet, which was essentially "one stomach flu away from my goal weight" ... although I had no goal weight.

Well, then, in 2008 I collapsed while at work. I had to go to the hospital and they told me I had a condition called costochondritis and for me it was the chronic form. It basically gives me heart-attack symptoms although you aren't having one. Talk about confusing and frightening! UVA really took great care of me and UVA and Hopkins have kept me healthy since then thanks to a lot of communication with my doctors. It was not the best time. And my weight got even lower. I had my wisdom tooth surgery taken out that summer and lost about 15-20 pounds as I had four taken out at once and they had to break my jaw in two places for 2/4 teeth were impacted. At that point, really, to some friends I was almost too skinny but I couldn't help it due to my health:
I am not going to lie, I really loved how I looked, I still had a figure, I have always been VERY long-waisted and my chest and butt were still nice and guys seemed to love my body. Yes, I went there. However, I became more aware of how diet is essential, particularly when you have pre-exisiting chronic deficiencies of major vitamins! Esp. important ones for your heart and brain (see potassium and iron).

From from Sept 2011-Jun 2012 I was pretty inactive. When I saw this photo I felt really sad as I knew I had really lost my curvy, toned figure completely (I may have even said 'ew fat face'):

So then I started the workout routine I have now. I sleep AT LEAST 7 hours a night. Eight to nine hours is my average.

{Boarding school classmate, Trish, who is a rockstar and my hero!}

Fitness:

I have never had a personal trainer but some of my friends are trainers so that helps. Here is my routine which normally lasts between 30 to 60 minutes, depending on my energy level, how I feel, etc...

I get up at 6AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to do these exercises.

I first do your classic calisthenics we learned in gym class at our elementary schools:
-jumping jacks
-push-ups
-squats
-lunges
-crunches
-calf raises.
3 sets of each, with no cap - but normally about 25 each set.

Then I go into weight training. Since I have not been as active as I used to be, I have been doing the low-weight, high reps method. I use a pair of 8 lb dumbbells I got when I did cross-country in 9th grade. No major kettlebell training at this time, but just a little bit and then I use my smallest kettlebell, which is an 18-pounder.
-Dumbbell swing with one of the 8-pounders. I normally just do this until my arms get tired, but I'd start at 3 sets of 5 if you can manage it.


-Kettlebell swing, I do this for about 5 minutes straight. That is a good goal, but very hard for a beginning if not in good cardio shape. I squeeze my glutes a lot doing this exercise.


That is my normal workout. I also will run stairs at our house, and I am deliberately mobile at work to make sure my activity keeps me burning at least some of the calories I put in.

Diet:

Since New Years, and being diagnosed as a Celiac, I have been eating gluten free. I no longer eat and then balloon like a pregnant woman, no longer have diarrhea, no longer have chronic energy issues, no longer have anxiety, have dramatically lessened my joint and muscle pains, no longer have intense rashes on my arms. Here is an average day, food-wise for me... Let me note that I have been eating organic, locally-sourced (normally) foods since 2006. I do not eat anything that is from a package... if I do it is incredibly rare.

Breakfast:
-Smoothie with the following: 1 cup of spinach, 1 banana, 1/2 raw mango, 1/4 cup pineapple, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup raspberries or strawberries, 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt. I eat this post-workout. And it is just under 32 ounces worth. I know that is a lot.
-Secondly: From getting up, to workout, to shower, to driving to work, I drink 1 Le Creuset teapot of chamomile tea. This pot is about 32 ounces.

Lunch:
If I do not get a fresh steak salad from the salad bar across the street (they make it in front of you so mine is really healthy), I tend to have a rice flour wrap with fresh Boars Head deli meats in it. This wrap will include some avocado, peppered turkey breast, pepperjack cheese. I will have 1-2 cups of freshly chopped raw carrots. Sometimes I will throw in a Ziploc a handful of Grandma Utz chips for some salt. I will often have 1 can of Cherry Coke at lunch and follow it with about 16+ ounces of water.

Dinner:
Chicken breast, grilled salmon, or pork loin. I often do rice as a side now... with curry or coconut milk, etc. for savory flavors. I then have a salad or cooked or roasted vegetables with it. Not potatoes though - carrots, onion or shallot, zucchini, etc. We have a huge cabinet of fresh spices and I really do spices to make up for what I miss gluten-wise.
Sidebar - During my commute home, I will continuously tighten my abs and butt. No, I am not kidding. I will clench for a few seconds and release... the entire 40 minute drive home. You will feel/see results, I swear!
I either have another can of Cherry Coke on my commute home (35-40+ minutes) or water. And then drink with dinner white wine, red wine, or another 32 ounce pot of chamomile tea.

Let me throw this out there. I am not a snacker. I do not drink coffee. I do not do mid-day snacks. I don't get munchies ever. If I do I am normally ovulating or PMS-ing so I will have about 5 peanut M&Ms (jar on my desk which I haven't refilled since before my honeymoon in Oct) or maybe a dark chocolate square or GF granola bar. I do drink white wine, red wine, and liquor, but I track my calories on FitBit (I like the format more than the MyFitnessPal program) so I eyeball how much and cut back that day ahead of time. So those are hidden calories lots of people forget about that I really don't have in a measurable sense. I am not a big dessert person, but I do miss having a simple chocolate chip cookie once in a while, or even a croissant, which I used to have like 2 or 3 a month, and now I cannot have those anymore since they have gluten. I have cried over that about once a week the past four weeks. I miss them a lot when I am ovulating. Once I master some GF/gluten-free/Celiac recipes, I will share them if you'd like.



Results:
Since New Years (when I started bothering with a scale post-Celiac diagnosis) I have lost 12 pounds. I have, since October, lost 1" from waist, 3" from hips/butt, 1" from each calf, 1/4" from both biceps. And I have always been all over the map at different stores but naturally clothes are fitting the way they used to, skinny jeans are not cutting off circulation in my legs/butt/hips, and I have gone down an entire size in lingerie bottoms (and um, gone up a cup in my bras, which is annoying since I am already a 32DD/E... boohiss). Lingerie bottoms are often in a WIDE range so of course I did a happy dance when I pulled out some old favorites and they fit perfectly again. Of course that perks a person right up.

I will continue to keep you guys updated on my progress/body changes, and please let me know if you have questions!