Sunday, August 25, 2013

And the winner is...

The winner of italiagal's 3 year anniversary and 300th post celebration giveaway and an autographed copy of Ooh La La! French Women's Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day by Jamie Cat Callan is...


Congratulations! I will email you, Stacey, for your mailing address. I just know you will enjoy it!

I love her submission about why she feels beautiful. Read it for yourself here.

Grazie to everyone who entered! And benvenuto to everyone who found this blog as a result of the contest.

I would also like to sincerely thank Jamie Cat Callan for making this amazing giveaway possible and successful!

Style Sunday: Leopard Print Ballet Flats

I finally got them! I wrote about wanting an animal print shoe about a year ago in this post.

Check them out...

I picked these up from Banana Republic Factory Store a couple of Saturday nights ago. This calf-hair flat has a slightly pointed toe. I look forward to wearing them all fall long!

Update: I wore these for the first time the day this post published. Verdict: comfortable and chic.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Style Sunday: My Debut in a Bikini

Until this past week, I actually haven't worn a bikini in 11 years, since the blue string bikini I briefly wore when I was 18 during "Senior Week" in Ocean City, Maryland back in June of 2002. (I will not count the tankini, a two-piece that covers nearly as much as a one-piece does. This is a trend I participated in for several seasons.) Wearing a bikini again is a big deal to me, a major moment in my life. It means that I am pretty comfortable with my body for the first time since the onset of puberty about 15 years ago!

I'm not even down in weight at the moment. This is not a celebration of weight loss. I always fluctuate somewhere within the 15 pound difference between what I was at the time of my high school graduation and my highest weight at college graduation. (Thankfully, these numbers are the bottom and top of a single size in clothing.) I'm actually at the top end of this range right now. As a child, I was very skinny, but since I hit age 15, I would consider myself at an average weight. I am no longer skinny, but not big in any way. Overall, I am happy with my body. But, I definitely have a spare tire around my lower waist. My legs are actually muscular, not large with fat. Additionally, I do not crave wearing this particular item of clothing. What has changed is my comfort level with my body. Wearing a bikini is evidence that I am more at peace with my body, even its flaws. That I'm over dwelling on the negative so much.

I bought the bikini during my recent trip to Ocean City, Maryland on July 1st and 2nd. Packing for the trip, I distinctly remember thinking there's no way I'm wearing a bikini. Days later on the boardwalk, I'm committed to its purchase. I thought, "If not now, when? This is the last summer of my 20s! I should own one." The suit I selected was a sexy one at that! The top resembles a bra with a couple of pleats and even sports some padding and the bottom is a bikini cut with some extra fabric that folds down at the top. Both pieces are black. Even though I do not have a model's body, I still feel sexy in it. I felt like I looked good enough that I could get away with wearing it in public.

I wore it when my mom and I went to the beach on Monday, August 12th. (Monday was my first day off in five weeks! My prior day off was the 4th of July. This particular day off was the day after my last day at my part-time job at the luggage store, plus my boss and I had to fight for it from my full-time job since there was last-minute training scheduled. Thank you, D!) My mom has been dying to go to the beach with me as she adores it and could spend all day every day there. Conversely, I like a single perfect day at either a beach or pool each summer. We decided on the nearby beach on the Chesapeake Bay at Sandy Point State Park. It was a perfect outing. Sunny and in the upper 80s. There were a couple dark clouds in the sky, but when they hid the sun for a few minutes every once in a long while, it was a relief. We stayed for three and a half hours. I worked on my tan, gaining enough color to see a faint outline of my bikini. So great! I felt pretty comfortable in the swimsuit. As soon as we laid down the beach blanket, I easily took off the simple black cotton dress with spaghetti straps that I was using as a cover-up. I didn't look around at others to see what they were wearing, so I couldn't feel envious of them and bad about my myself. Comparison is the thief of joy. I just concentrated on myself, on relaxing and my tan. I did have an eye out for the abundant jellyfish though!

Even though I wished a guy would be excited about my debut in a bikini, my mom was actually a pretty good audience. She approved. See, we've always had a role reversal. With rare exceptions, I have always been very modest in public. I don't even own shorts and often wear a camisole under a shirt for more coverage on top. She's the one who urged me to be sexy and show some skin when appropriate. That my nice figure should be shown off. I know I am modest individual, but I also cover up because I know how to dress to flatter my figure. Maybe it's too many years of watching What Not To Wear, bur I truly understand how to use clothes and accessories to create a nice silhouette and flattering look. I know that I am a perfectionist in many areas. Why not use more clothes to manipulate how my body appears and achieve a longer/leaner/smoother/whatever look than what I am? Additionally, because parts of my body are not perfect, I previously decided that I shouldn't show them; I should always cover up. I am tired of being ashamed of those areas. It's not that bad. It's freeing to be okay with them! It's even fun to rock a bikini. To enjoy life without a major hang-up. I want to live in a happy, fabulous and wide-open way. I want to live life to its fullest.

I'm not donating my other two one-pieces, but it's nice to have this bikini in my collection. It's nice to have that sexier choice. Since I always have travel on my mind, it's also nice to know that I can pack a bikini for a care-free vacation. Furthermore, wearing it was a liberating experience. I overcame this personal obstacle in a real act. Accepting my body just the way it is likely leads me further down the path to feeling truly beautiful every day, even the glorious summer.

Need some style ooh la la? Enter to win the book Ooh La La! French Women's Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day by Jamie Cat Callan here.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Things To Do: Summer 2013 Edition: Update

On Thursday, August 15th, to further celebrate Ferragosto, I did another thing on my summer bucket list...

5. grill kabobs and dine al fresco

This is the first time that I prepared these beef kabobs...

This dinner is easy. First, I made a marinade of vegetable oil, say sauce, Worchestershire sauce, mustard, freshly-ground pepper and minced garlic. I stored beef pieces in this marinade inside a ziploc bag for several hours in the refrigerator. Also, I soaked wooden skewers in water for awhile (so they don't catch on fire). Next, I cut up red and green peppers as well as a white onion. Then, I put five kabobs together. Because I'm concerned about the beef being done, I actually grilled the skewers for 25 minutes on a grill pan on top of my stove. Finally, I served the kabobs with some white rice. ...and a glass of red wine of course. They were delicious! I thoroughly enjoyed this meal and look forward to the leftovers! I can see making kabobs regularly and experimenting with different foods.

I actually dined indoors Thursday, but I did enjoy breakfast on my balcony that day. Maybe next time I make kabobs, I will dine al fresco.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for an autographed copy of Ooh La La! French Women's Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day by Jamie Cat Callan! Find out how here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Things To Do: Summer 2013 Edition: Update

August 15th is an Italian holiday called Ferragosto and it is dedicated to leisure. Italians tend to take off from work and often take off to the beach on this day, if not a full month surrounding it! You can read more about this special day here from one of my favorite bloggers, Karen of An American in Italy.

I scheduled a vacation day on Thursday from my job, so I could channel my inner Italian and take part myself and cross this item off my summer fun to do list...

12. celebrate Ferragosto on August 15th

I was planning on wearing a summer dress on this day but when I was headed out the door at 9 AM, I checked the temperature and it was only 67 degrees! Yes, for August. So I changed into a more appropriate outfit--a black tee and white capris with silver strappy flat sandals. I walked in the sunshine a block to Target to pick up a grande cappuccino and blueberry scone from its in-store Starbucks. I enjoyed them while reading through some of my blogroll on my balcony.

Fueled on caffeine and carbs, I also walked to the grocery store two blocks away. (I like walking, but I would have driven if I have a vehicle on property. My car still conks out. I usually only borrow my dad's Saturday evening through Sunday or maybe Monday night.) I purchased ingredients for beef kabobs as well as regular items to stock like a box of pasta, a jar of tomato sauce on sale and a couple of limes for margaritas! I came back home to marinate the steak pieces and lay around, glass of freshly-brewed iced tea on the coffee table.

Again, I took off walking, three blocks this time (in a temperature around 78) to spontaneously treat myself to a professional pedicure. I brought the book I'm trying to finally finish, bread & wine by Shauna Niequist. It is such a great book; I've simply been distracted from it. This is the first time I patronized this place and the salon was pretty good. I picked out the color Peru-B-Ruby by OPI, which is a typical polish for me, a shimmery dark pink. I am also pretty loyal to the brand. I always feel pampered and like I'm taking care of myself after a professional treatment.

I came back hungry for lunch and popped some popcorn and then settled in on the couch for a viewing of Roman Holiday which, of course, stars Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. I love that movie. Perfetto for my holiday.

After that, I tried a new recipe for dinner. My first attempt at beef kabobs turned out well! (Stay tuned as I have scheduled a post on that!) Since I actually took my blogging break, I had to hurry up and blog a bunch after dinner.

My holiday was very relaxing, just what I needed since I tend to work a lot. I tried to be present and mindful all day, so I truly feel relaxed. I was happy to spend a vacation day by taking part in an Italian tradition. "So happy..." as Audrey Hepburn's character in Roman Holiday would say.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for an autographed copy of Ooh La La! French Women's Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day by Jamie Cat Callan! Details here.

Happy Birthday, italiagal! Ooh La La Giveaway!

I took a bit of a blogging break, Italian-style, as in during the month of August. Welcome back, readers!

Today is this blog's 3rd anniversary. It is also a special post because it is the 300th one. 

First of all, I adore this blog and am grateful for my readers. I have always loved to journal. This blog happens to be a public form of that. I am so happy that it connects me to others based on mutual interest or point-of-view. I hope to continue as long as I can!

Anyone who knows me knows I love a fabulous birthday celebration. So, to commemorate these two milestones, I am announcing a giveaway. Jamie Cat Callan kindly agreed to send an autographed copy of her latest book Ooh La La! French Women's Secrets To Feeling Beautiful Every Day along with a little note to my blog contest winner. I love this prize! If you haven't read this book released last May, you should and this may be your opportunity to land a copy! You can read my book review and my tangent on one of her topics on this previous blog post.

To enter, you must accomplish two things. First, leave a comment on this post about one thing that makes you feel beautiful. Second, like Jamie Cat Callan's Facebook page. You may enter anytime before 12:00 AM on Sunday, August 25, 2013. I will select the winner at random and announce the giveaway winner's name sometime on Sunday, August 25th. Be sure that I have a way to contact you to collect your name and mailing address should you be the lucky winner!

Good luck!