5 Simple Changes To Improve Your Life

I’m sure everyone is in the middle of a “cleanse” right now and doesn’t want to hear about any other ways to improve their lives, but I’ve adopted a few new habits since Christmas that have been working for me so I thought I would share. Normally, I don’t go for new year’s resolutions, opting instead for a “word” or theme for the year, so these are a handful of ideas for you to mull over and either do or not do – no pressure!

1. Hang damp towels outside, even in winter. Okay this is California so I’m blessed with sunshine all year round which makes this tip pretty easy. I’m not gonna lie, we have a bit of a mildew situation if I leave the towels hanging in the bathroom, so I’ve moved them outdoors. When the sun goes down, I bring the towels in. There’s only two of them, so it’s not a big chore. Benefit: sunshine breeze smell every morning when I step out of the shower and grab my outdoor-dried towel.

2. Move empty hangers to the end of the row. A great tip I picked up from my friend over at Nature Girl and it makes perfect sense. When you remove an item of clothing from your closet, move the empty hanger to the end of the row. Benefit: when you go to hang up your laundry – the hangers are all in one place and not interspersed throughout your closet. Easy, right?

3. Eat a serving of whole fruit with breakfast every day. This is something that I sort of did already but not with any regularity. When we went on our trip to England, I had a fruit every morning. Right now it’s clementines or bananas or apples. Benefit: we all know by now that we need more whole fruits and veggies in our diet, this is an easy way to get a serving in and it sets a healthy tone for the day. Plus, I feel a bit more energized.

4. Don’t wash your face in the morning. You probably have a skin care routine you follow in the evenings that includes cleansing – I just started using Sibu cleanser and I’m very happy with it. During the night, your face secretes oil to moisturize your skin but it’s not like you have a face full of makeup that you need to wash off come morning. I find that just rinsing my face with warm water in the shower works well enough. This idea may sound controversial to you – if so, don’t do it. Benefit: I’m not using soap on my face and I have noticed my oily/combo skin is more balanced.

5. Cut back on self-help books. I did pick up a couple of them at the library recently – mostly on financial advice, but I’m having trouble getting through them. I used to read quite a lot of self-help. A LOT of self-help. I’m starting to realize that although some of the tips are beneficial… mostly when I read self-help, it felt like I had a big hill to climb. Benefit: there’s nothing that I’m SUPPOSED to be doing right now. :)

I hope these changes have inspired you and that you are not too cranky from lack of food (from the cleanse you are on) to implement one or two of them. Let me know how it goes.

Each Day Is Fresh… With No Mistakes

So here we are in 2012! That means the 80’s were 30 years ago. So crazy. Okay back to the present… I chose a word for this year that I’ve probably chosen before but really need to concentrate on it this year and that is… wealth. I’m talking about building wealth in regards to money, but also in health and relationships. A holistic kind of wealth. January is a great time to set new business goals and think of alternate ways to earn income, so I will be focusing on that this month. And making time for exercise and cooking healthy meals!

Last year my word was stretch and I did manage to do some of the things I listed in this post. I saw Facebook friends in real life, did more home-cooking, landed a bigger client, and traveled to England.

I wanted to share a few of the awesome Christmas gifts I got this year, as they were particularly good.

This Revlon hairdryer is awesome… After we went on our vacation to England, I came home to find my old hairdryer could not compare to the dryers I’d been using in hotels and homes on our trip. So I did some research on Amazon, came up with this inexpensive dryer and put it on my Christmas list. Let’s just say, I love it.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish… My mum-in-law gave me this (along with the Instant Boost tonic and face mask) and I was instantly excited. I have never used a skin care system before. I’m more of a bit of this and then a bit of that, kind of girl. So having these products makes me feel like a grown-up. I have very very sensitive skin and so far (I’ve been using it since Christmas day) these products do not irritate my skin. The only sort of downside for me is I don’t have a washer/dryer in the house, so keeping the muslin cloths clean is a little tricky. So far I haven’t notice a huge improvement in my skin (like clearing out my pores) but my skin does feel softer and it looks brighter. UPDATE: I do still like the products, but I’m using Sibu cleanser instead as I was having trouble dealing with the muslin cloths.

All Creatures Great & Small: Series 1… I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched this series, but it’s a lot. So nice to have our own copy now. Can’t recommend it highly enough if you are at all a fan of BBC period shows.

Thank You notes… Unfortunately, I don’t have them here with me so can’t provide a link. But nevertheless, I love the idea of giving someone a box of Thank You notes for Christmas, as you know the recipient will have lots of them to write come new year. Sadly, I’ve only managed to put together one thank you note for Christmas gifts… only because I pretty much said a hearty thank you to most people in person. But I received a thank you note yesterday and thought it was very classy. Also… who doesn’t like to get mail that’s not a credit card offer or a bill?

So there you go… some ideas for 2012. Hope it’s off to a great start!

 

Merry Christmas!

Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday. This shot is of the Christmas lights in Peterborough, UK near the cathedral. Even though we miss being in England on vacation… we are having a lovely holiday here in sunny CA. Lots of good food and hanging out with family.

Back from England

We were so lucky this year to be able to visit England during (our) Thanksgiving week. Most places had their Christmas lights up already and shop windows were fabulously decorated. Having been to England a few times now and with an English husband, I didn’t tend to do a lot of typical touristy things – although we did visit the Tower of London as I hadn’t been there since 1993. Mostly we spent our time with friends or revisiting favorite spots and trying to savor each moment as the memories of this visit will come in handy when temperatures rise here in Sac in the summertime.

Some observations I made during the trip:

1. Keep a travel journal. I wish I had been better about this. I used to always journal on trips when I traveled solo. But now… not at all. I took a lot of photos and that helps a bit, but some written remembrances beyond “dinner at Angelsey Arms – soup excellent” would have been nice. The only written record I kept was of how much money I was spending – and that can get a bit depressing!

2. Everywhere they have tea – they have Peppermint tea. I love the ritual of tea, but not the caffeine, so I was very glad that most places offered at least Peppermint tea for me to drink. I put milk in it as if it were regular tea – tasted great. The other popular herbal tea was Lemon & Ginger. I liked that as well, but it’s quite feisty.

3. Get on the bus. I think the Tube is amazing. It gets you where you need to go and it really blows my mind to think about how many people those trains move around every day. This year we decided to supplement our Tube use with some rides on the city buses. It was so much fun, not that hard to figure out, and a great way to see the city – especially from the top deck! As much as we like to walk, sometimes it’s nice to hop on the bus to get to a tube stop or to get from a Tube stop to someplace not within walking distance (like the Geffrye Museum). Anyway, I enjoyed it. It can take longer than the Tube to get somewhere – depending on traffic, time of day, or where you are in the city.

4. Picnic in the square. One of my favorite lunches in London is a cheese/chutney or pickle sandwich from Marks & Spencer or Sainsburys, a bag of chips/crisps, and a lemonade… eaten on a bench in one of London’s pretty squares. We often do this if we are having lunch separately. For example, I went Christmas shopping on one day and he on the next. For him it was Cavendish Square and for me, Hanover Square. It’s amazing how quiet those little green spaces can be considering how close they are to the main avenues. Just don’t feed the pigeons.

5. Coat check. Since I don’t usually go to England in winter, I’m not normally hauling around a big heavy wool coat. But this time I was (plus scarf, plus umbrella sometimes) and all I can say is… how awesome is coat check? For $1.60ish, you can let the National Gallery deal with your cold weather wear, while you flit about the galleries feeling weirdly light and sweat-free. If we go in milder weather next year, I’m still going to coat check my cardigan.

Okay enough of that.. here are some photos!

Sacramento Tweed Ride

I’m a sucker for tweed. I won’t be there, but this does sound like a great event, especially for history/vintage lovers…  for more info, go to their website.

Happy Halloween!

Day Trip from Sacramento to Napa

We decided, rather last minute, to head over to Napa for a bit of late afternoon beauty and aspirational living. Armed with New Order’s greatest hits and not a lot of cash, we followed highway 12 to 29 and made a beeline for St. Helena. We began, by mistake, at the lovely Ristorante Tra Vigne but when the hostess said they were still serving brunch, we were soon directed to the more budget-friendly Pizzeria Tra Vigne (the place with the big tomato out front). If you go here, order the simple pizza margherita ($13/small, feeds 2), you won’t be sorry. I also recommend a scoop of their gelato afterwards.

We had intended to visit Domaine Charbay to do some vodka tasting but got there too late, so instead we went to our old standby the Rubicon Estate. I’ve been going to this winery for years, even got Francis Ford Coppola to sign my grappa bottle one afternoon in 1997. It feels very old world Europe to me and we like to sit outside at the tables with our glass of wine. The tastings are also good and reasonably priced, but I like to go for a 2oz pour of their flagship wine… the Rubicon. It’s a bit pricey for a full glass, but if you get the 2oz pour it’s a more budget-friendly $15 and you can still feel like an heiress.

They also have a cute English phone box, painted blue, outside the men’s room… which might be a bit dodgy as a photo op spot, but it was pretty deserted when we were there.

Finally we rounded out the afternoon at Domaine Carneros. We got a glass of the Brut Rose and a glass of the Demi-sec ($8 each) and just traded back and forth. But the real star of the show is the view from the balcony – as these strangers are enjoying. Such pretty light!

So that was our short but sweet trip to Napa… and now… back home, where things are not quite as glamorous. :)

Waiting For Fall

It’s in the upper 80s today, but I went ahead with plans to make cream of broccoli soup. It is approaching mid-October after all.

I followed this recipe, subbing a dash of 1% milk in for the heavy cream and it turned out yummy (and low fat!).

Lately I’ve been listening to Pema Chodron’s Comfortable with Uncertainty on my walks. The last couple of days have felt very uncertain work-wise, so it’s been good practice for me to sit with not knowing what’s going to happen. I’m definitely a person who desires security and comfort and will go to great lengths to try and “get it together” as a person. But it’s sort of like corralling monkeys, isn’t it?

So today I said, ok, I’m here… and I’m gonna make soup.

*update: I didn’t realize that all I seem to talk about on this blog is making soup. hahaha… oh well.

5 Cheer Up Videos

I have a bunch of videos bookmarked in a folder called Cheer Up Links. I often listen to them while working. I know listening via YouTube is not the best option but I kind of like being able to watch the video, or not, as the mood strikes. So here we go:

5. This is a new favorite: Caro Emerald – A Night Like This. Fun and frolicky. The video is like a short version of a Selena Gomez movie. Not that I would know one if I saw one.

4. La Belle Dame Sans Merci read by Ben Whishaw. Ok so not exactly cheery but I do seem to fall into a swoony trance when I listen to this. I’m responsible for at least 100 of the hits on this video.

3. The Bean Pole commercials with Daniel Henney and Gwyneth Paltrow. Sweet, stylish, and set in London. I like them all. (Where is this cafe in the shadow of Tower Bridge? I need to go there on our next trip.

2. Almost my #1 choice. Feel the joy. Love, love, love it…. Stevie Nicks Wild Heart (via Ben Lee’s blog)

1. Expialidocious (Disney Remix)… recommended by my friend Jenna. If this doesn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what would!

My Desk in Summer

Here’s a look at my (messy) desk and (overexposed) window. The rosemary is from a garden outside our window (not mine, but given permission to take some sprigs!). The frame was thrifted and the print inside is:  Lady Agnew, c.1892-1893 by John Singer Sargent.