Next up, 2014

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Last year I decided on themes from 2012 and set ones for 2013, and it turned out to be one of my favorite posts. From time to time, I would look back to see how I was doing at my resolutions or if, most likely as I feared, I had forgotten about them entirely. I’m probably way too proud to say I really did accomplish last year’s goals, so I decided I would do the same style this year.

2013 was the year of…

Creativity. I made great strides as a budding amateur photographer and even won the Innovator Award at my agency’s annual peer-voted awards ceremony for the most creative strategies, ideas and campaigns (and tights, due to my daily variation of colors and patterns).

Relationships. Last year I was excited to announce the return of one of my best friends (now roommate). This year I had another lifelong friend move to the DFW area and managed to make some pretty huge strides in my romantic relationship. November 2012 I was sure I was on the brink of a break-up, yet somehow we grew together in a way I didn’t see coming, leading up to our engagement November 2013. Crazy! No offense meant to the rest of you guys, but I’m pretty sure I’ve locked down the most caring, intelligent, witty, handsome guy out there.

Travel. My real goal, if you haven’t caught on yet, is to make every year the year of travel. In 2013 I visited El Paso, Washington D.C., Austin, Chicago, Wisconsin, Tulsa, New York (twice!), Istanbul and Atlanta. What a great year!

Health. After battling what appears to be food allergies in the form of super swollen eyes and lips, I finally have the uncomfortable issues and itchiness under semi-control. I reached a pretty low place when my physical issues were leaving me ugly and sleep deprived, but I have been so blessed with a loving boyfriend, compassionate boss, tireless parents, understanding friends and the BEST DOCTOR EVER (aka Dr. Crawford). I also got to experiment with new recipes and restaurants in line with my new gluten, dairy, soy, egg, nut, bean – free diet.

2014 will focus on…

Engaging. Recently I realized that my natural inclinations to keep my head down in the grocery store and zone out to the tune of my to do list at work are just not what’s important. Life is not at all about me, and I want the way I live to reflect that. Some ways I plan on doing that include smiling more, asking questions, complimenting others, inviting people to coffee and lunches (heck, actually taking lunches) and dedicating one night a week to catching up on message replies, texts, maybe even a “hey, how’s life” phone call or snail mail note. I’ve let far too many close friendships grow distant and opportunities to connect with strangers fall by the wayside. No more.

Using time intentionally. This looks like lining up podcasts for my daily commutes to hear from Ben Stewart, the Bible app, TED talks or Italian lessons. This also looks like using my nights and weekends to pursue others and my interests, rather than pick up dinner at Whole Foods only to waste away on Netflix (no matter how good Sherlock, Parks & Rec and White Collar are). For instance, I have been promised a trip to Italy once I become fluent. Motivation, secured. I came across this quote the other day by H. Jackson Brown Jr.:

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

Rediscovering reading. When I was younger I read multiple books a week. Now, the same length book takes me at least a month. This year I want to read more, in turn increasing my appetite for even more books. Reading also has the side effects of inspiring creative juices and providing much needed rest, both of which I can always stand more of. I also really, really want to start a book club. I’ve been talking about this for at least a year, and enough is enough. If you’re in the Dallas area and love books and brunch, you should probably think about joining. More info coming soon as I figure out just what this looks like, but I’m très‎ excited.

Traveling. Up next is a road trip to Marfa, a leisurely beachfront long weekend in Maine, Austin for SXSW (and most likely my bachelorette party), another trip (or two, or three) to New York City and of course, our honeymoon. Right now, Italy’s Amalfi coast and Naples or Spain’s islands and Barcelona are in the lead.

That’s it! I could go on and on when it comes to goals and to do lists, but hopefully these themes give you a good idea of where I’ve been, where I’m at and where I’m going.

What have you got planned for 2014?

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Morning start

Morning routines are super important to how you feel for the rest of your day. They say you should eat like a king in the morning a prince at noon and a peasant at dinner. Or, queen and princess in my case ;). What you eat in the morning affects your mood, your energy and what food choices you make throughout the rest of your day. I’m a big fan of morning routines (plus they get me to work on time!).

So part of entering into a super healthier lifestyle, this week I tried substituting morning coffee for warm lemon water. “They” say it offers a ton of benefits when you drink it first thing, before you do absolutely anything else. My favorite ones were that it kicks off your digestive system, cleanses your system / is a diuretic, clears skin, energizes you and enhances your mood. I’m all about the energy, cleansing and clear skin so I was totes down to give this whirl.

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I can’t lie.. it was kinda rough.

Perhaps my biggest mistake was giving up on coffee the same week. I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep the weekend before and felt like I had never fully made up for it until I was able to sleep in on this lazy Saturday morning. I don’t drink a ton of coffee, usually just one small cup in the morning. I just love it in the mornings, sometimes just the smell is all I need!

Regardless, I was tired all week. In my job, I’m sitting at a computer writing content and researching all day so if I’m tired, my eye lids start getting heavy. Looking at my screen gets harder and before I know it I’m starting to drift asleep.

Plus it turns out that half of a lemon in just a mug of hot water tastes pretty terrible. At first it isn’t so bad. The warm water is soothing and delicious in the AM, but then when it cools down…it’s just a little too much.

Although I did feel kinda tired all week, I did notice feeling more energized after having the warm lemon water. Furthermore, my skin was breaking out over the last few weeks, and I already see improvements.

I’m definitely going to keep up the lemon water in the morning.

The Instagram rabbit hole

The Instagram rabbit hole is a dangerous one. You think you wanted to follow just one instagram account of cute puppies? Yeah right. Because then then there will be that moment when they post a squeeze-worthy golden retriever puppy and say “see more by following..” … and it begins.

For me, it began when I started following some yogi instagrammers. These gals get in some crazy positions and are both yoga and emotionally encouraging. I loved that my feed was filled with headstands on a surfboard, meditation on a beach, and some crazy pretzel like positions in a gorgeous studio. It inspired me to start practicing yoga at home when I’m not in class to improve my practice. What a concept, right? (ha)

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But that was just beginning.

Then I started following one fitness Instagram account that the boyfriend follows. Just something to give me a few recipes every once in a while and some pictures of abs for me to peruse while I eat a chocolate chip cookie freshly dipped in a tall glass of milk. Yum.

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One thing lead to another… and now here we are. My Instagram account is flooded with fitness tips, recipes, abs, butts and healthy living tips that I now enjoy while sipping on some cucumber juice instead. Although my Instagram account is still dappled with fashion, photography and design, it’s quite obvious where the majority of my Instagram feed leans towards. To be honest, I love it.

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Instagram gives me an easy and pretty way to get great healthy tips. I’ve recently started more life changes towards clean living and most of them have derived from an Instagram post. Who woulda thunk? (Okay, I guess marketers, i.e. myself, figured that out a long time ago)

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A clean and healthy living is my mojo lately and something I’m becoming more and more passionate about. Although I’m not coming off any juice cleanse and I still enjoy the occasional frequent pasta bowl, so far it’s an exciting journey. So just start preparing yourself for some posts on the random things I’ve been trying. Tonight for instance…dandelion tea? More on that later.

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Eating healthy, Eating Out, Eating Cheap and why those don’t go together

I am currently under going a strategic effort to eat healthier in my day to day life. Sometimes I am totes down for gorging on some pancakes from Company Cafe because I know I have the calorie space that day, but other times I need to opt for the granola and fresh fruit. This is starting to become fairly easy because I notice such a change in my body and how I feel when I eat better versus when I over eat and fill up on crap. It’s also especially easy because I simply can’t afford to eat out all the time so there’s way less opportunity for temptation. But as I mentioned in my last, this was a busy weekend. I ate out for virtually every meal. EVERY MEAL. And what I realized is how expensive it is to eat healthy. This pisses me off. 

Now I realize I have no right to be angry. I’m aware that everyone knows it can be expensive to eat healthy. You can get a whole meal of grease at McDonalds for like a penny, versus packing your lunch full of pricey veggies, fruits and hard boiled eggs  (plus these take time to prepare – obnoxious) OR paying $15 for a decent salad. 

Since I was very aware I would be eating out so much that weekend, I was armed and ready to fight against tempting fatty foods full of sugar and cellulite. Saturday morning, post the boyfriend’s triathlon, we stopped at a breakfast place and I had to say no to the 900 calorie eggs benedict (sometimes I really hate when restaurants post the calorie counts…) and yes to the oatmeal with fresh fruit. Granted, it was delicious. But I refused to even look at my boyfriend’s hollandaise sauce for fear of drooling all over his heavenly plate. The oatmeal was an $9 event, my boyfreind’s eggs benedict was $8.  Just a few hours later, I was at brunch for my roommate’s birthday at Cedars Social. Yet another place chock full of delicious menu items. The French Toast was begging me to order it. It teased me with its hot maple syrup and fluffiness. I managed to mumble to the waiter that I’d have the fruit plate and two egg whites on the side. A meal that cost me $14 but was significantly smaller and less complicated than all the other menu items. The French Toast was $10, for example. 

I guess what I am getting at is that I HATE that eating healthy is so expensive. To me, the hard part was just making the healthy choice and fighting my eternal sugar cravings. But now, in addition, I have to consider the economic effects of eating healthy when I eat out. Even now when I go to the grocery store and load up on fruits and veggies, my grocery bill comes to an easy $60 without even trying. So I eat healthy, lose weight, but then can’t afford to treat myself to a new dress to celebrate my good eating habits. Where is the justice in that? For now, I’ll settle for a good Vogue or Cosmo to get me through these trying times [ha]. But my credit card is just not as happy with my diet change as my yoga practice (and my yoga pants) is. 

Found Tiffany’s?

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The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet

– James Oppenhiem

I had a very Finding Tiffany’s moment the other day. My dad emailed me something about an impending family trip we are taking in May and referred to it as happening in “a few weeks.” I scoffed and said to myself “in a few weeks? There’s absolutely no way…”, my parents and their forgetfullness is just totes adorbs. And well, as it turns out May 11th is in fact just a few weeks out and as always, my dad was right.

Why is this moment so great? Maybe it’s all the yoga, new relationships or new work responsibilities  but I feel like I’ve been so lost in the today that I am no longer constantly waiting for what’s coming next or counting down the days to the weekend. There’s so much happening in my life right now, right this second, that time spent where I’ll be in five years seems wasted. Each day is presenting its own challenges, its own quirks, its own joys and its own sorrows. I feel I’ve been lavishing in each and every one and working each day to its fullest. Perhaps I should be planning a little more than I am (no need to remind me, Bank of America), but I’m okay with taking some time off from a plan to plan. Maybe I’m still on “Spain time” but this week I’m just continuing to focus on the here and now and loving each and every minute of it and those I choose to spend it with.

So, Tiffany’s found? Blog over? Not quite. The effort to live in the now while planning for the future will always be a juggling act. Plus, there’s always something to improve, something to strive for and something worth working towards. Which brings me to goal numero dos.

My other goal for the week is a bit more taboo in a sense and I actually considered not posting about it. I have come to the conclusion that I wish to lose weight. I’m not necessarily overweight nor chubby, in fact according to most BWI measurements I’m right smack dab in the middle. But there’s always been that extra 5-15 pounds that I just don’t think belongs on my body. So, I’ve decided to make a valiant effort for the first time in my life to make it go away. My desire to trim down has stemmed from several events. The first is Europe. I ate like a king and the walking tours simply didn’t provide me with the calorie burn I needed for all that pasta. The second is because my metabolism will actually let me shed some pounds (and with my 24th birthday rapidly approaching…) it’s only going to get harder as I get older. The fourth is well, I have several family and friend events coming up in the next few months and frankly I want to look damn good for those photo opps. And third because I want to see if I can do it.

The “I want to see if I can do it” is really my strongest motivator. Ever since New Years I’ve experimented with a multitude of tests for myself. The first was giving up all sugar, including the kind in breads, deli meat, past sauce etc. This wasn’t that difficult but mostly I found myself eating almost worse because if I found something with no sugar, but still high in calories, I decided that I deserved it. I also tested out the giving up of desserts. I tried this for a few months but when Valentine’s Day rolled around and I was on a first date, I simply couldn’t say no to a Lavender Vanilla milkshake and risk cutting the night short (which I have never regretted since the milkshake was the best dessert I’ve ever had and the guy turned out to be well worth the extra calories). And then it was just downhill from there. I enjoyed these little challenges to test my will power, something I thought was in the pits due to my escalating love of sweets. But I found that saying no was easy, and that days I ate well and put good nutrients in my body I felt amazing. Furthermore, I do not wish to be controlled by food nor cravings. I am also not a foodie nor a cook (and I can’t afford to eat out all the time), so eating to me is a means of getting energy and not being cranky, so I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything. A craving for chocolate simply should not result in maybe one, okay two, well maybe just four more halves, Snickers minis. I want to be able to think to myself ‘yes, I do want chocolate, but no it isn’t worth the calories or the terrible run I’ll have later.’

So for the next month or so I’m going to be eating cleaner. I have no real time table on this as I hope it will turn into an all over life change. And I just hate the word diet, as it leaves me with the bad taste of no carbs, starvation and desperation.

Plus, fruits and veggies are way more fun than buying a pair of Spanx. Now, I’ll be honest, I will be keeping some prosecco in my diet. I’m not a miracle worker here people.

A super start

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When Lydia and I first started this blog, the first topic was obvious: What does Finding Tiffany’s even mean for us? Figuring out what my goals were and where my dreams lay took a lot of soul-searching, but I eventually settled on a version of my life “to do list”. Some of those dreams and priorities have shifted a little since, but it has still been a great diagnostic to hold myself accountable for making forward momentum in my life.

One of those goals involved more yoga, but not just any yoga anywhere. For months turning into years I longed to try yoga at Super Yoga Palace near downtown Dallas. After researching Dallas’ yoga offerings, everything I found about this place seemed like just what I was looking for – a casual environment that embraces the yogi lifestyle with a variety of classes that really teach every aspect, not just lead. It’s also aesthetically pleasing with a huge mural and indie music I’d listen to outside of yoga class. In addition to a happy hour after Friday’s class, they even have a class where everyone brings their favorite vinyls to play during the practice. Sold.

This morning I had my second class. Nothing like starting your day feeling physically accomplished, mentally (and literally) stretched and emotionally rested!

Not only is this a check on the to do list, but it has also inspired a new goal. I’ll be making this a weekly affair, hopefully even trying out another class or two. I’m excited to see how my practice improves and hey, the stress-reducing / fitness benefits don’t hurt either!

Starting from scratch

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My on-again, off-again relationship with my kitchen has been going steady for years, but my new gluten, dairy, and heck, everything free diet has forced me to spend much more quality time with my pots and pans as of late. 

I mean, I’ve always like the idea of cooking. But it just takes so long, ingredients can get a little pricey when you’re just cooking for one and it seems like an awful lot of effort to start from scratch after fighting traffic home from a long day at work. I knew if this month-long commitment for a healthier me was going to be successful, I was going to need a plan.

For the first week or so, I spent an afternoon making a huge bowl of white rice and grilling chicken kebabs with different seasonings so I could easily grab a perfectly-portioned meal whenever I was hungry or frantically trying to get out the door for work. Some vegetables helped liven up the rice every day, and I treated myself to the most adorable sectioned container to pack everything in. Luckily, my three years of work at an Asian restaurant also prepared me to not only eat, but enjoy rice for meals on end.

But nobody can eat rice 24/7, so this week I’m venturing into all the possibilities of quinoa. My experience with this grain can be summed up by the embarrassing fact I was walking around pronouncing it “Kwin-oh-uh” for far too long than I care to admit…My mind was blown to learn this is the exact same food as that grain everyone pronounces “Keen-whah”. Who knew?! Well, probably you did, but there you go.

I cooked this quinoa substituting half the water with chicken stock, then added basil, cucumbers, grape halves and a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Quinoa cooks just like rice, and I can’t stress enough to make sure you don’t add too much liquid. My first batch of quinoa came out a little lot on the wet side, which is not nearly as appetizing as the dryer, store-bought quinoa I’ve had before. I’d also advise drizzling the olive oil on top just before serving/eating, rather then mixing it in advance. Not only does this keep the salad from getting too moist, but it looks nice on the plate, too!

Kicking a sweet habit

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Hello, my name is Sarah and I’m a functioning sugar addict. I was living in a world dictated by cravings that controlled when, how often and what I ate. I was never satisfied or “full” until having something sweet, no matter how small, after every meal. I couldn’t say no to food junk that was anywhere within about a 25-foot radius or if I was alone, stop eating it until it was gone, I felt sick or both. I say “functioning” because despite this weak spot, no, weak crater, I still ate relatively healthy, well-balanced meals and have always been one those much-hated people who maintain a pretty thin figure with low to moderate exercise. I know…disgusting.

I even–this is embarrassing–resorted to eating cookies for breakfast…on more than one occasion. Thinking back on those times I can’t help but hear Kate Winslet in my head from The Holiday scene where she sniffs stove gas after learning douchy Jasper is engaged, “Low point…low point!”

I’ve read plenty before how damaging sugar and even “healthy” or “natural” sugar substitutes can be on our health. So, after some fear and quite a lot of skepticism of my own willpower, I made the commitment to give up sugar for three months. That’s right, I haven’t eaten added sugar, dessert or even food with over 5 grams of sugar (if I could help it) since January 4.

Of course, I’ve been dreaming for April 1 to come around, trying to decide which dessert will be my first back in the game, and let’s not kid ourselves, is there really any competition where Sprinkles cupcakes are concerned?

Meanwhile, I was still dealing with quite a lot of compounding chronic issues that were really starting to bring me down physically, emotionally and mentally. After countless hours of research and doctor visits, I finally landed on some au natural health solutions that have made a HUGE difference in how I look and feel every day. In addition to taking about 16 supplements and drinking 90+ ounces of water a day, making my own soap with baking soda and rinsing each load of laundry with vinegar, this treatment plan also includes a strict (and temporary, thank God) diet. Interestingly MIRACULOUSLY enough, after not eating processed food, wheat/yeast, dairy, sugar and so much more for only just one week, my issues have all but vanished along with literally all my cravings (which people claim disappear when you just give up sugar, but mine held stubbornly intact).

So ironically, today would have been the first day I could eat sugar again, and I actually don’t even want any. Ladies and gentleman, this is what real freedom looks like.

Another fun side effect of this new diet is the unavoidable need to get creative in the kitchen. So I’ll be having some of those tasty results coming your way soon. In the meantime if this sounds familiar, you want to jump on my health bandwagon or are just plain curious here are my two favorite resources: I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson (the e-book) and Allergies: Disease in Disguise by Carolee Bateson-Koch.

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A Nickel For Your Thoughts

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The most magical thing about writing (and reading) is that moment of perfect synchronicity, when the reader goes “YES, me too!” I have this moment of understanding and connectivity with books and other bloggers (unbeknownst to them) often, and it is exactly that which has always motivated me to write as well. I can only hope that somebody stumbles across something I write and is encouraged, excited or if nothing else, left with a little more feeling of belonging than they had before. So it is with this hope that I broach a topic that has been weighing on me a lot lately.

I think I can speak on Lydia’s behalf when I say that healthiness is an important part in Finding Tiffany’s for us. When you feel 100% you’re better equipped to go out in the world and live life to the fullest. Whether through yoga, running, eating less sugar or finally making it to some doctor appointments, we’re always looking for ways to incorporate more of a healthy lifestyle.

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So…what happens when everything you thought was eating healthily turns out to be actually slowly diminishing your immune system?

I found out this week I’m allergic to nickel, among other things. I’m afraid I’ve grown pretty boring since then, since all I’ve done ever since is research what this means and what I can do about it (Did you now 15% of the population have some sort of nickel allergy?? See, full of fun facts). You see, nickel is in basically everything. Keys, jewelry, zippers, buckles, metal buttons, pens, paper clips, cooking utensils and pans, door knobs, hangers…It’s also in food: wheat, ALL vegetables (including my favorites, spinach and mushrooms), nuts, soy, oatmeal, tuna and beans. And of course my favorites: wine (only red, thank God), chocolate and beer.

I can’t tell you how confusing it has been to retrain my brain these past couple of days. Everything I eat (and enjoy) on a daily basis that filled me with pride for taking care of my body (minus the chocolate and alcohol) was actually building up against my immune system the whole time. Huh.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I do firmly believe that having a healthy body is paramount to living a happy, fulfilled life. Because I believe that there ARE answers out there, no matter how many times you have to visit doctors who make you feel like a crazy hypochondriac. Because I want you to know that other people know whatever it is you’re going through, whether it’s people on our blog, another blog or a random message board. And hopefully, knowing that gives you some comfort. Helps you feel understood and accepted. Makes you feel at home, wherever you are, however you are.

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As my friend told me this week, after I kinda thought I was going to be murdered while using the sketchiest bathroom of my life in an otherwise fun, quirky place (Lee Harvey’s) only to look up and see someone else had already hit my feelings spot on with the words scrawled on the bathroom wall, “This bathroom is f****** creepy as s***”…..

….Life is all about the shared human experience.

Inspiration: All The Little Things

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On Finding Tiffany’s, we talk a lot about realizing goals and exploring life, but we’re only telling half the story if we don’t spend some time talking about all the things that help us get there. Inspiration is contagious and can come from anywhere. Starting this week we’ll be bringing you more about all the things that inspire us…pictures, quotes, links, random details from daily life.

This week has just been one of those weeks where inspiration has been a little harder to appreciate and hold on to…between not enough sleep and some pesky health issues, the below have been even more valuable for my sanity!

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Italian kitchen art from Etsy that will be hanging in my kitchen: “If you want to live long, you have to eat, drink and sleep” and an Italian idiom that essentially means “At the table with friends and family, one does not grow old.”
The weather this week has been California-worthy. Driving with the windows down in the 65 degree weather instantly brightens my mood.
The weather this week has been California-worthy. Driving with the windows down in the 65 degree weather instantly brightens my mood.
Truth. If you've ever been sick (and it seems like everyone is these days) you know it, too. I've been inspired to take charge this week: revamping my diet (no sugar, lots of green tea, vegetables and protein) and finally meeting with some doctors.
Truth. If you’ve ever been sick (and it seems like everyone is these days) you know it, too. I’ve been inspired to take charge this week: revamping my diet (no sugar, lots of green tea, vegetables and protein) and finally meeting with some doctors.