Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Spring Cleaning Your Closet

Even though the weather is still really cold, spring is on the way as evident by the blooming magnolia and cherry blossom trees. Spring is the perfect time to really clean out your closet. This has been something I've been wanting to do for a long time but absolutely dreading it. But I have so many clothes I need to toss that I don't wear anymore. One of my new years resolutions was to have a tranquil home. My goal for my home is to be light and airy and not overflowing. I want to be able to find what I'm looking for and have my home always be company ready. I think this will help me live a calmer life. I'm relying on the lessons I learned in Marie Kondo's books on decluttering.

Rule #1 for Kondo is to not waste money on organizational solutions. The most important principle of the book is that you must purge before your organize. She frowns on the idea of buying organizing bins because that only encourages you to store more unnecessary things. So I pulled out the storage bags I had under my bed and emptied out the clothes that I have been storing but haven't worn in years and have no plans to wear again!

Then I attacked my bathroom cabinet and dumped out the storage bins that have a tons of makeup samples and half used products that I will never use again. I filled a whole grocery bag with that stuff! Next up I emptied the junk drawer in my kitchen, that was such an easy, doable task. And then I tackled my entryway with my collection of free tote bags. You know they all seem so useful, but I don't need 50, right? Then I cleared off the kitchen counters of paper clutter. With the easy stuff out of the way, I felt a bit accomplished and ready to do the hard work in the closet.

Reduce the Amount of Clothes You Own
Kondo says to not  keep something just because it might become useful and to be confident in your decision to throw things out. Kondo recommends you do a "joy check" on your clothes, put them on and ask yourself will you really wear them again. If no, thank the clothes for the wonderful memories they gave you. My next steps was to discard old coats, my high school prom dress, and college sorority gowns.  I got rid of all of my birthday dresses because those were one time occasion dresses no matter how sentimental.  I got rid of  most of my cheap necklaces. Then I took every shirt out, tried it on, and decided what to toss.

I've had some luck selling clothes on Tradesy but decided it was just easier to bag everything to donate. I requested a donation bag from Thredup which is an online consignment store. They send you a huge plastic bag that you can fill with clothes. It has a pre-paid printed FedEx label on it.
They will either sell it on their site, taking the photos for you or donate it to the charity of your choice. It's super easy and simple!

My activewear collection has gotten a little out of control and spilling out of my drawer. I seem to tire of things quickly and always buying more yet never getting rid of anything. That's one of the most popular things ThredUp sells so I threw a bunch in my donation bag.

Previously I tossed all my old electronics. What I haven't tossed yet: old purses, books, cds, free t-shirts, "painting clothes", and old costumes. I'll save that for my next clean out session. I found how easy  it can be to tackle one small task in the name of a better home. As everything I accomplished here I did on a Sunday afternoon. I've set up a system to help me not end up with an overflowing closet again. I've cut back on my clothes spending and set a policy of tossing one article of clothing for every new one I buy. I still use the stylebook app religiously to see what is in my closet. It tracks what dates I've worn what clothing so I know what hasn't been worn in awhile.

At the end of the day you have to realize that you don’t need all of this stuff. It won’t make you happier. And your home should not make you feel overwhelmed or stressed.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Visit to the Portrait Gallery

With all the rainy weekends we had last month I found a lot of indoor activities to keep me busy. You might have seen on the news that the Obama's official portraits were unveiled and now on display at the Portrait Gallery.  On the second floor of the museum is the "America's Presidents" exhibition which just reopened last fall with portrait paintings of all the Presidents. The line was so long to see Obama's portrait they had to move his portrait to the third floor. The line is to have your picture taken with his portrait, but if you don't want that, you can do a quick walk by picture like I did. The guards don't allow you to stop! lol There's a separate line for Michelle's portrait on the first level.

The Obamas' selected two African-American artists to paint their portrait. Michelle's portrait was painted by Amy Sherald who is a portrait artist who only paints African-Americans in paintings that address social justice. President Obama's painting is by Kehinde Wiley who has a similar background to Obama. Wiley was born to an American mother and Nigerian father and he did meet his father until he was an adult. He is a portrait painter who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of African-Americans. The floral background is full of chrysanthe­mums the official flower of Chicago, jasmine from Hawaii, and the African blue lilies are for his late Kenyan father.

Also on exhibit through April 15, 2018, is the Marlene Dietrich: Dressed for the Image. It's a photography exhibition celebrating the life and unconventional fashion of the German film icon.

My favorite long time exhibit is the Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, by Nam June Paik. It consists of  300 TV screens outlined by neon lights where the TVs in each state show clips from that state such as the Wizard of Oz and Martin Luther King. The pic below is from last year.

The museum has lots of interesting events. Last fall they had a Day of the Dead celebration with traditional Mexican dance and food. Last month they had events for the Chinese New Year celebration. Admission to the museum is free as are their events.

National Portrait Gallery
8th and F Streets NW (G street entrance has a handicap ramp, the other side of the building has a lot of steps)
Washington, DC 20001
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM daily
Closed December 25
There are free lockers to keep your coat. Backpacks are not allowed to be worn.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

2018 Winter Olympics

The United States won 23 medals, only Norway, Canada, and Germany came in ahead of us. I always watch every Olympics, but figure skating is my favorite sport. This year a couple friends of mine threw Olympic themed parties, I don't know why I never thought to do that when I love themed parties! They asked people to come dressed up and bring food from a foreign country. Even though the last Winter Olympics were in Sochi, this year Russia was not allowed to officially compete because of the vast state-sponsored doping scheme during the last winter Olympics. But they allowed a few Russian athletes to compete under the Olympic flag and still two of them were tested positive for banned substances.

Fun Facts: Did you know Puerto Rico has its own Olympics team? And that all the announcements at the Olympics are done in 3 languages, the host country's language, English and French (before English even in the London Olympics).  It's because the International Olympic Committee is based in the French part of Switzerland and because the number of eligible countries determines the order of language spoken. North and South Korea participated as one team. They did the entry parade together than the women’s hockey team was composed of women from both sides and they competed as "Korea".

The U.S. women's ice hockey team beat Canada for gold for the first time in 20 years! The camera caught Canadian hockey player Jocelyne Larocque  ripping off her silver medal a second after it was placed around her neck, she later had to apologize. A year ago the US women's ice hockey team threatened to sit out the Olympics if they didn't get equal pay to the men's team. The men got to bring guests along to tournaments free of charge; the women were not, and had to share rooms. The men got a per diem of $50 while the women got $15.The contract dispute lasted 15 months but they finally won a salary of $70K a year vs the $6000 a year they were getting.

Skier Lindsey Vonn said this was her last Olympics after having waiting 8 years to compete this time around since she was injured during the last Olympics. She said she wanted to honor her grandfather who was a Korean war vet. I recommend reading her book about her life, career and living a healthy lifestyle.
pic from Lindsey's instagram
Figure skater Ashley Wagner unfortunately didn't make the cut to be on the Olympic team this year, but she went to Korea anyway and had the most interesting Instastories everyday.  Adam Rippon was the breakout star on the ice at these games. Just follow him on twitter and see his wit, and know that according to him his eyebrows are sharpest of all. lol

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is the first Olympic Games that allowed figure skaters to perform to music with lyrics.  For the short program the International Skating Union  chose Latin music as the theme and skaters had to show latin dance moves in their skating. It was fun to listen to all the great songs choices they picked! All three of the American female figure skaters fell during their programs and didn't win a medal.

Unfortunately for French figure skater Gabriella Papadakis,  her costume came unhooked at the beginning of her program and she was distracted during the whole skate trying to hold it up, it eventually fell down and she flashed the cameras. Since they don't show the Olympics live, I don't know why they showed this on tv?

Former Olympic skater Johnny Weir was one of the commentators and his outfits and hair were a show of their own! Here is one of his fabulous looks. Check out the hair brooch:

Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, a competitive body builder who competed in the USA bobsled team. But it was Germany and Canada that tied for the gold medal. When the Jamaican bobsled coach was fired she kept the team's sled! Luckily Red Stripe beer got them a new sled just in time. Nigeria had it's first ever bobsled team, although all the women were American born and raised. 

The shirtless Tonga flag barrier was back this year covered in oil in 30F degree weather.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Pink Finds for Spring

It's rained every weekend in February so I'm looking forward to a Spring full of flowers. Light pink is one of my favorite colors to wear so I'm always on the lookout to add more to my closet. The sneakers are a cheaper dupe for rose gold Steve Madden Antics! If you need some transitional sweaters the long pink cardigan or fuzzy pink sweater are perfect! Or if you're stocking up on pastel spring dresses, these two are super cute! You can never have enough pink in your closet!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 New Years Resolutions

I feel that writing them down makes a big difference because it makes it more concrete and it's something I can look back at to hold myself accountable to make sure I'm still on track.  I just completed a workshop on Vision Board planning so I’m finally ready to write down my goals.

1. Lose 25 lbs by April. I lost 15 lbs last year and my pants are fitting loser. My plan is to continue to meal plan and be consistent with healthy eating habits. A bunch of my girlfriends are doing Dry January where you abstain from alcohol for the month so I finally decided to get on board this year when I refused previous years due to my birthday falling in January. I think the lack of those extra calories on the weekend will help jump start my weight loss efforts. I can report now that I've successfully completed Dry January and lost 8 lbs this month!

2. Push the pace at Orangetheory. I've taken 190 OTF classes as paying for their expensive classes has been my motivation to never miss a class. I want to challenge myself to increase my base rate to 6mph and run longer at that rate. I’ve stayed stagnant running at 5.5mph for 10 years. My goal is to burn at least 500 calories each workout and increase my splat points. Continue to commit to morning workouts because I love having my evenings free.

3. Have a tranquil home. I'm naturally a messy person, so I've read both of Marie Kondo's books on decluttering but still need help keeping consistent with it as it's a habit you need to nurture. I took a workshop on the Kondo method as a refresher for myself.  I would like my home to be light and airy, comfortable and welcoming, and most importantly not overflowing. I want to be able to find what I'm looking for and have my home always be company ready. I think this will help me live a calmer more productive life.

I’ve started working on is emptying my closet because I have so many clothes I need to toss that I don't wear anymore. I also put in place a spending freeze on clothes and I’ve been selling clothes on Tradesy. It's a super easy, and way less stressful then selling on ebay.  Tradesy's commission rate is 14.9% and you can use your funds to buy stuff from their website or withdraw it from your paypal account for a 2.9% transfer fee. You have the option of using Tradesy's shipping kit for $10 which the seller pays for. After your sale is confirmed, Tradesy mails you a polybag and a pre-printed mailing label with tracking. Listing is free and your listing remains up indefinitely.

5. Last year one of my resolutions was to organically increasing my followers on instagram by working on the aesthetic of my pictures, using more hashtags and engaging more with others. I'm happy to report that I have enhanced my photography and doubled my followers! I plan to continue to work on this as a goal for this year. And adding the goal of working on my posing and styling a  beautiful, curated feed. Here's screenshots from my feed of my Christmas series, the Fall series, and the Night series. 

6. I want to read more this year, somehow I haven’t had much time to read lately, probably because I spend too much time on instagram. Last year I only read 25 books, when in 2016 I read 46 books and in 2015 I read 66 books. I started using audible again and hope that will help me listen to more personal development books . I averaged more than one book a month last year, although sometimes none for a couple weeks, but surprisingly almost an even split of personal development, fiction, memoir, and mystery.

7. Drink green smoothies on a regular basis. I get on a kick here and there but am never consistent with it. This helps me to eat more fruit.  I just learned that I can freeze the green smoothie recipe I make, so now I can make large batches and fill my freezer with it.

8. Take more Spanish classes. I started taking classes last fall to refresh my Spanish and the new semester starts next week!

9. Finish my 2017 photobook by the end of January. I create printed photobooks of my vacations but decided to do one of just my entire year minus my vacation. It's 100 pages of my year in review that will be a thin 8x8 coffee table book.

10. Get a new job.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Get On Your Feet!

I went to opening night of Get On Your Feet  which is Gloria Estefan's Broadway musical about her life story. After playing in New York for two years, it's now on tour playing in DC for the month of January then traveling around the country. You'll be dancing in your seat, smiling and singing along to all the songs. The vibrant show is pure joy and my favorite musical to date! It was nominated for a Tony award for Best Choreography. Expect to hear all her classic songs like Rhythm is Going to Get You, 1-2-3, Dr. Beat, Conga, Get On Your Feet, Turn the Beat Around.

At the Kennedy Center honors a couple weeks the honorees were LL Cool J, Gloria Estefan, Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade. It’s an award given to people who have achieved artist excellence. For Gloria’s segment the cast of her Broadway musical sang a medley of her songs, you can see the clip here.

 I recently read an interesting article titled Why So Many D.C. Plays End Up On Broadway.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Sugar Free Cranberry Orange Loaf

I haven't baked a cake in awhile and wanted something low cal for dessert. With it being winter I'm not in the mood to eat my usual low cal treat of Halo Top ice cream. It's cranberry season so I baked this delicious moist cake with a mixture of erythritol and monkfruit instead of sugar. Monkfruit is a small melon grown in Asia. Previously I had always used stevia as my sugar replacement which tastes bitter raw, but monkfruit tastes sweet just like sugar and is zero calories! I used Earth Balance which is a plant based buttery spread but you can use regular butter or for even less calories just cooking spray.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup Classic Monkfruit (or the entire 8.29 oz bag if you like it sweeter) 
  •  tsp baking powder
  •  tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • juice of 1 orange squeezed
  • grated peel of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 TB original Earth Balance (optional)
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 8 oz sour cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with Earth Balance.
  2. In one bowl mix together the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl beat the eggs. Then add the orange, nuts, sour cream and vanilla.
  4. Slowly combine the two bowls and gently fold in the cranberries. Then pour mixture into the loaf pan.
  5. Bake for one hour or until a knife comes out clean. Cool on rack for 15 minutes.

Nutritional Analysis 
Makes  8 servings,  166 cal, 8g carbs, 4g protein, 14g fat, 2g fiber, 3g sugar, 

vs 1 slice of Starbucks Banana Nut Bread

420 calories, 52g carbs, 6g protein, 22g fat, 2g fiber, 30g sugar

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Healthy Apple Walnut Bread
Sugar Free Pumpkin Bread
Sugar free chocolate muffins

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Top Songs of 2017

Here are my top favorite songs from the year that I had on repeat for a long time. I don't follow Kylie Jenner, but like all the men the Kardashians date, they elevate their fame. Kylie put Travis Scott on my radar and now I love his music. Sky Walker was my favorite song of the year, hands down! When I had my first computer a long time ago I changed the start up music so that it played Foxy Brown - Gotta Get Me Home every time I turned on my computer. When I heard The Game sampled from that song, I fell in love with his song! Chris Brown did a reggae remix that was good. And when I was in Cuba I heard the song Despacito everywhere that I'm sick of it now! lol But Camila  Cabello - Havana song is warming up on me but hasn't made the list yet.

Huncho Jack, Travis Scott, & Quavo - Black & Chinese
Miguel - Sky Walker (feat Travis Scott)
Travis Scott - Butterfly Effect
The Game - Oh I
Leo Islo - Lush Life

G-Eazy - No Limit
Remy Ma - Wake Me Up
DJ Khalid - Wild Thoughts
French Montana - Unforgettable
Future - You the Baddass
Wiz Khalifa - Something New

Dancehall Reggae or reggae remixes
Vybz Kartel - Wine to the Top
Collie Buddz - Control
Chris Brown - Questions
Zara Larsson - I Would Like

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