Surviving a Manic Monday & Other Uplifting Thoughts

monday

It’s Monday. Again. My beloved coffee press has to break before 7 AM. Is this a bad omen?

Not necessarily. One might say it’s a matter of perspective. For instance you might be at work right now, at a job that you either hate, couldn’t care less about or perhaps you are incredibly fortunate and are living your dream. Boy, do I hope you are experiencing the latter.

For the rest of us who are still searching for a career vs. a job, something with a purpose and perhaps a few perks…please read on!

What do you do when you work full-time and feel drained, emotionally and physically? You’re thankful to be employed at all; perhaps you know the feeling of instability and uncertainty that comes from being unemployed or stuck in the temp-to-hire cycle. Do you spend every possible moment that hasn’t been sucked out of you to rest (a.k.a. retiring to a quiet spot to stare at the shadows on the wall) or even sulk? Or do you dedicate whatever time and energy you have left from the day to find inspiration or inspire others?

I have to admit, when you fill up your schedule trying to make the most of each moment and opportunity, you may feel fulfilled and accomplished but you can easily become exhausted trying to balance the “day job” alongside the pursuit for your “dream job“. Even more so–If your day is dedicated to projects or obligations that do not capture your creativity or do not have a meaningful connection to your passion, you are well on the path to becoming disengaged and in some way, a shell of yourself–going through the motions to get things done, make the money, pay the bills and do it all over again (darn you, $tudent loan$!).

Enough. I’m learning how the negative energy that arises from being in a rut or a slump just breeds more energy-sucking negativity. I firmly believe that when you are dedicating your life to something with substance and meaning to your soul, the energy you put into your work will regenerate you, not deplete you. It requires determination, courage and strength to stop the cycle and reclaim control over your life path. Yes, you are in the driver’s seat and you better believe there is a destination and destiny that is far greater than the road blocks you might be facing lately. Embrace it. Own it.

What do you to find inspiration and how do you keep the momentum going once you find it?

I believe it is imperative to surround yourself with a core group of family, friends and colleagues who respect you, your dreams and your struggles. This group should be a source of support and motivation and they should also dole out tough love when you need it. I also believe it is key to embrace your community and be an active contributor to it. There are so many causes that could use your support and that’s a great push to get “out of your head” and focus on things much greater than yourself. Giving your time and effort to others and to improving your community benefits you in so many ways. It’s kind of like sending positive energy out into the universe and getting some of that right back.

I think the hardest part is putting yourself out in the world so you can take advantage of all the opportunities that you can’t find sitting at home or at your desk job. These opportunities may not always be what you expect. They could be lessons on what not to do, who not to trust. But learning these important lessons can save you a lot of time and heartache later on. This part is hard for me at times because it can make me feel vulnerable. But it is in these raw, honest moments that you can experience the most fulfilling and life-propelling moments and meet the right people who can help you on your mission. 

Yes, I believe your skin needs to be thick if you want to make it in the ‘real world’ and the more you expose yourself to challenges and rejection, the savvier and more shrewd you will become. But be open to the opinions of your core group of support, they will know you best and therefore have the most concern for you and will help keep you grounded. Having a thick skin does not mean you need a heart of stone, or that you need to be cynical or ruthless. Remain humble, no matter how great your success or failure.

I’ve gathered a few of my favorite inspirational quotes, thoughts and advice in this slideshow. May these nuggets of wisdom spark the flame of your passion and help you find meaning in who are and what you do : )

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Here are a few of my favorite career entries found on The EveryGirl. The stories behind these amazing women will certainly kick your motivation into gear:

BRIKA FOUNDERS JENNIFER KOSS AND KENA PARANJAPE

SELF MAGAZINE SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR STEPHANIE MILLER

CECILIA WONG OF CECILIA WONG SKINCARE

XOXO Liz Signature

Express Grand Opening Party & Jessica Sturdy from Bows & Sequins

2013-10-03 19.04.24{Yours truly with Jessica Sturdy, style blogger of Bows & Sequins…we match!}

I had the honor of meeting Jessica Sturdy, style blogger behind Bows & Sequins last Thursday at the Desk-to-Dinner shopping event with InStyle Magazine  and Grand Opening Party for Express at Madison and 51st in NYC.

Jessica was so sweet and we talked about how she started her blog and some of the exciting projects she is working on. I asked her some style advice questions and I wish I could take her shopping with me because this lady has an amazing eye for style.

The theme of the event was Desk to Dinner. How to take your professional work attire and transition this into night life. Think about the blouse/pencil skirt combo and adding a leather jacket and a long chain or trading in your denim for leather pants.

The newly renovated Express had a club-vibe and there were hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, mini makeovers and of course special discounts for purchases made during the event. I wore a fancy Express top (black and gold lame) with a black blazer, skinny dark denim and leopard flats. After all, I took the whole desk-to-dinner theme literally by adding the blazer and walking from work to the event. I wore my Bows & Sequins inspired necklace my sister gave to me (from JewelMint) in honor of the hostess.

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2013-10-03 18.13.06{Display styled by Jessica}

2013-10-05 14.51.37{A few items I picked up from the event: Diamonds & Camo}

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{My Bows & Sequins inspired necklace from JewelMint}

Upon entering the store I took the atmosphere in and immediately recognized Jessica. I introduced myself and we got to talking. She recognized my top because she also owns one and she got the reference from my necklace right away : ) Jessica took me around parts of the store explaining the outfit she wore and some of the displays she styled for the night. Not only was I a bit star-struck to ask this style guru my questions, but I was ecstatic that Jessica was so open about her blogging, career and encouragement to me and my dreams.

I’d love to share some of the highlights from my convo with Jessica:

Highlights:

Dressing to Impress:

Jessica will also be attending this year’s Lucky FABB in NYC! She went last year and said the speakers were amazing and the networking you get to do is priceless. She said the energy was high and the gift bags were fabulous. She was excited when I told her I was going for the first time and I asked her what a beauty or fashion blogger should wear to an event like this.

Jessica’s advice: Wear something that is honest to who you are and comfortable–both in fit and style. This is the event where you can wear anything that expresses your style, but you don’t need to feel like you have to wear something wild to stand out. Her lesson for me was that she wore pants to last year’s conference that weren’t tailored and she did not feel 100% comfortable in them and it can show in your body language and pictures. At a conference like Lucky FABB, you can’t afford to be uncomfortable in your ensemble–you have to focus on feeling fabulous and enjoying the moment (and taking the most Instagram-worthy selfies ever).

Fall Trend Alert:

I asked Jessica if there was one thing we should pay attention to this Fall, be it a print, color combo or cut. Jessica took me over to one of the displays she styled for Express and explained that she is currently feeling Camo (yes, it’s back!) to mix with more refined pieces (i.e. camo shirt with blazer and skirt for work). She also loves the incorporation of leather details like piping on skirts and of course the slew of moto-style jackets that are in practically every collection–classic and adaptable bad-ass chic style. For colors indulge in black and white; gold and black.

Expressing Your Style:

If you have checked out Bows & Sequins (do so right now if you haven’t) you know that Jessica displays her outfits of the day (OOTD) with candid with the city as her backdrop. I asked her how she felt about taking these pictures out in the open where passers by are sure to gawk out of curiosity. Jessica agreed that especially when she started blogging in Chicago, that the idea was a little frightening to her and that she had to be creative in how she got the pictures taken (now she has the assistance from friends and photogs, but before that she had to rely on self timers and quick poses!). Her confidence comes from loving what she wears and having fun with expressing her style choices.

Now she is more comforatble about the street style pics, even if a small crowd forms near her shoot. After all, that’s New York for you. The sidewalks are our catwalks and we are all models and photographers.

Passion Advice:

I am so grateful to Jessica for giving me her honest advice about how I can manage a not-so-dream job and the pursuit of the ideal career path while juggling a blog and passion that requires whatever remaining time and energy you have. Basically, you have to stick to your guns, take advantage of every opportunity you have and surround yourself with the right energy to keep you grounded and humble.

For all my fellow bloggers, whether this is your “hobby” or your career, you have to put in the hard work and allow yourself to thoroughly enjoy the fruits of your labor. And for those of you who feel like you’re not that important or not that big of a deal: Jessica has come a long way from sharing outfit pictures to hosting events and being an ambassador for brands. She didn’t get there overnight and she still has those pinch-me moments where she can’t believe the opportunities that have blossomed from her blog. But most importantly, she does not take it for granted and she appreciates her supporters.

Bottom line: If you have subscribers, fans or followers you have source of support and admiration from people who celebrate you and look forward to what you have to share. So keep on sharing, creating, writing and designing. There are millions of creative people in the blogosphere and the more variety we have the more we have to celebrate.

For more pictures from the event, search for #EXPStyle!

XOXO Liz Signature

Express Grand Opening Party with InStyle Magazine & Jessica Sturdy of Bows & Sequins

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ill see you there

Who: Jessica Sturdy, style blogger and author of Bows & Sequins

What: Express Grand Opening with InStyle Magazine

When: Thursday, October 3rd @ 6 PM – 8 PM

Where: Express @ Madison Ave & 51st Street

Why: Desk-to-Dinner Shopping Event

XOXO Liz Signature

October: Breast Cancer Awareness & Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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{Photo courtesy of Avon Foundation}

October has kicked off and there are so many things to look forward to on the agenda. This is indeed a very special month not just because we start the end-of-the-year holiday season (bring it on, baby) but because it is Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness month.

These are extremely important issues for women and it is imperative for us to recognize where we stand in terms of progress and how our communities can unite to make a difference.

I love to write about beauty and style and there is nothing more beautiful or stylish than to support a cause that affects so many.

I believe…

Awareness is beautiful. Empowerment is beautiful. Unity is beautiful.

I’ve included a few organizations and programs that you can check out and support. Please feel free to share with your family, friends and coworkers and let me know if there are any other organizations you support!

From the National Coalition of Against Domestic Violence:

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered women’s advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when a range of activities were conducted at the local, state, and national levels.

From Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN):

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helplinefor the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

From National Breast Cancer Awareness Month :

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The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is a collaboration of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to services.

Since its inception more than 25 years ago, NBCAM has been at the forefront of promoting awareness of breast cancer issues and has evolved along with the national dialogue on breast cancer. NBCAM recognizes that, although many great strides have been made in breast cancer awareness and treatment, there remains much to be accomplished. Today, we remain dedicated to educating and empowering women to take charge of their own breast health.

From Susan G. Komen:

You may be a runner. A volunteer. Or an activist. But however you choose to get involved, just know that everything you do makes a difference. After all, without the support of people like you, we know 10 million people could die of breast cancer in the next 25 years. Susan G. Komen for the Cure® strives to raise funds and educate people in the battle against breast cancer through global events and legislative actions each year. Breast cancer is still killing and impacting far too many of our loved ones. So, how will you get involved?

From Avon Foundation For Women:

From crusading against breast cancer to speaking out against domestic violence, the Avon Foundation has been standing strong for women since 1955.

From the Mary Kay Foundation:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Mary Kay Foundation is a leader helping end violence against women and finding a cure for cancers affecting woman. What better way to support both of these causes then to participate in The Mary Kay Foundation’s MK5K Saturday, Oct. 5. For more details visit, http://lnkd.in/bMkEzV5less

From m.powerment by Mark:

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I hope your October is filled with achievement and empowerment. 

If you have any words of encouragement or a story to share, please feel free to leave a comment!

Pass it on : )

XOXO Liz Signature

Big Sister Banana Nut Muffins

Having a big sister usually means you have a best friend for life. Someone who knows you longer and better than anyone else; who protects you and teaches you everything they’ve already learned about school, style, boys and life. As my big sister and I grow and become wiser, I have a lot to thank her for since she has always been a source of love, inspiration and of course great baking ideas.

Here’s a super easy, possibly healthy way to bake scrumptious banana nut muffins. Turn your weekend (or any day) into a sweet treat!

So I woke up yesterday, made my coffee and went to grab a banana and lo and behold, the last three I had were soft and brown. Somehow this always happens.

Then my sister popped into my head. One time when I visited her she just happened to have fresh, homemade banana nut muffin bread seducing me from inside the oven. She gave me a tip to salvage any over-ripe bananas with her quick recipe and I wanted to share this with you.

Well, I didn’t have a loaf pan readily available and decided to use the foundation of her recipe and modify it to make muffins.

{What You Will Need}
Good news is  you probably have many of the ingredients already and you can be clever and substitute when necessary.

3-4 over-ripe bananas (mashed)
3/4 cup granulated pure sugar cane (or white sugar)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
1/2 cup ground or chopped nuts (skip for any food allergies)
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Lemon juice from one whole lemon (or 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice)*
A little extra lemon juice, sugar and brown sugar to create a simple glaze
1 Toothpick

*I love the taste of lemons and add them to recipes whenever I can. For this recipe, I used the juice inside the batter to work in tandem with the Baking Soda. Since I didn’t have Baking Powder (which has a combination of Baking Soda and Cream of Tartar to help breads rise), the lemon juice should bring enough acid to react with the Baking Soda (click here for a more thorough explanation of pH chemistry for baking . Apparently, baking soda + lemon juice is great for a green household cleaning agent and can also safely whiten teeth!).

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin pan or line with liners (I prefer pretty little liners).

I used a small 4-cup processor to chop and grind whole nuts. I had to use the last bit I had from the container, so some of the pieces were already small. I just pulsed the processor twice for each setting: chop and grind, chop and grind.

To mash the bananas, I took the easy way and used a spoon to cut and press until I achieved a smooth, thick consistency.

In a large mixing bowl, add the smaller ingredients, the sugars, salt, oil and egg. Mix these into a yellow paste. Then add the mashed bananas and chopped nuts and mix together.

Next, incorporate the flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) and the lemon juice. Mix all ingredients evenly until you have a medium thick batter.

Tip: I use my Ikea ice cream scoop to transfer batter into the muffin pan. This helps me control the portions and minimize mess.

Once all the cups are full of banana batter, place the tray onto the top shelf of the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. By this time the muffins should rise and take on a delicious medium brown glow. Take a toothpick and insert into the muffin in the middle of the tray and one on the outer edge. If no batter sticks to the toothpick, they are done! If batter sticks, whomp, place the tray back into the oven for another five minutes and check again.

At this point, I use a trick I saw my sister use to finish muffins. Make a simple glaze by mixing about a tablespoon of lemon juice and sprinkle in some white and brown sugar (add a dash of cinnamon if you love cinnamon like me!). Use a silicon basting brush to mix and drizzle the glaze over each muffin while they are still warm and let it can cool naturally. This will give you a pretty sheen for display and a yummy, slightly tart first bite.

Tip: This in another big sister tip. If you end up with extra batter for any cupcake or muffin mix and need to only bake a few more, make sure to begin placing the batter in the middle of the tray, moving outward. Since the cups on the outer edge can heat a little differently, starting in the middle when you only have a few cups to fill will help ensure a more even distribution of heat.

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My version is not overly sweet or dry but I can’t guarantee that you will be able to eat just one. I apologize in advance : )

Now you have a fool proof way to make banana nut muffins. Go ahead, bring these to  your next brunch or to the office. Your friends and coworkers will thank you. Just don’t forget to thank your sister, younger or older or twin, for all they have done 

{Cuteness Alert}

Speaking of muffins, here’s an adorable handmade “Stud Muffin” card  from Cherry Blossom Tree Designs. Very cute but not edible!

Available: Cherry Blossom Tree Designs

Retail: $3.50 USD

Do you have a favorite tip from your sister? Let me know!

XOXO Liz Signature

It’s Party Time!

This is just a quick morning post to wish everyone who was born on August 15th the most fabulous birthday ever!

I plan on savoring my special day with the ones I love dearly and celebrate through the rest of this weekend–kisses to all who have wished me well : )

Speaking of savoring, I made some confetti ‘funfetti’ birthday cupcakes…I could eat these for days!

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DIY: Here’s a sweet recipe you can try yourself, courtesy of {The Cake Blog}

Dress it up: And remember to make it pretty by adding a cupcake topper such as this one from {Cherry Blossom Tree Designs}!

Available: Cherry Blossom Tree Designs

Retail: $12.99 for a set of 12

Happy Bday CBTD

Mon chéri, I am off to enjoy this beautiful birthday, cheers!

Happy Birthday to all my fellow Leos! May your day be bright and your smile even brighter XOXO!

XOXO Liz Signature

♦ Birthday Wish ♦

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Two days away from my birthday and I am already thinking about my birthday wish!

I’ve kind of down played my last few birthdays, choosing to keep it low key and not think about how another year has passed. Not very Leo of me…I think with everyone’s busy schedules and having so much on my mind I just bypassed what used to be a very celebratory occasion for fear that it would be an inconvenience to others.

Seriously, what the hell, Liz?

Nonsense. When you cherish your birthday and share this moment with your friends, you allow them the chance to share your happiness. This year is I choose to be acknowledged. I feel like I own my age and my accomplishments and I am ready to move onward and upward.

When I make my birthday wish on the 15th, I know that despite having a lot of things I want to have or accomplish, I will be every bit thankful for what I do have and the fabulous people who are here with me during this journey. I will hope for better things to come in my life…oh, and this hair. Definitely, this hair (Sigh, Nicole Scherzinger.):

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{On A Positive Note}

I enjoy sharing positive thoughts and quotes and I have been surrounding myself with inspiring literature. One book I recently purchased is “Treasure Yourself” by Miranda Kerr (yes, the stunning Aussie Victoria Secret’s model).

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Available: Barnes & Noble

This is a great coffee table/office inspiration station book–both pretty by the cover and filled with sweet, positive mantras. I recommend this book as a gift for a dear friend or of course, for yourself.

Here’s a passage that speaks to me as I reflect on my birthday, and I hope it will brighten your day as well:

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♦  So tell me, what do you wish for?  

wish jar

#Elizabethology #TreasureYourself #AchieveYourDreams #Birthdaywishes

XOXO Liz Signature