Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Body Image Research (Week 2)

(Catch up on my participation in a Body Image Study here and here)

Week 2 started off much more like I thought this study would be...a soft voice telling me that "No one can give or take away your permission to love your body", that we "are a spiritual being having a physical experience" and discussing how when you love yourself/body will help other pieces fall into place, confidence increases, less stress worrying about hiding belly rolls.

Gave us the mantra from Hillel the Elder "If I am not for me, who will be for me?"

The podcast discussed and broke down the myths behind some common excuses/reasons that stop many if us from self acceptance - being surrounded by others who also hate their body, media/society days my body isn't perfect, etc.

The last being "I don't know how to love my body" So the second half was small ways the author uses to find simple pleasures in her body. She has "instant body image boosters" as she calls them.

#1) wear bright lipstick - use it as a symbol that you want to be seen by others.
#2) wear your favorite clothes and no saving clothes as "special occasion only". Turn even a too casual or fancy dress into everyday clothes with a sweater, etc. She even suggests, if you wear a uniform to wear sexy underwear underneath.
#3) only wear clothes that fit or modify them to fit; belts (i.e., tanks under shirts that don't button) since tight clothes are distracting and you focus on areas you are unhappy about.
#4) a good concealer, love face pimples and all, but it will help you stop fixating on imperfections
#5) wear perfume - another signal you matter and every time you smell it's a reminder

The first day I heard listened to the podcast these really stuck with me. Sure they can sound a bit "superficial" but in the end they are just tips and tricks for decorating your temple (body). They're also things I've tried doing over the years (okay not the perfume one being that I have a sensitivity to fragrances).

Even on the weekends, when just running to the store, I'll slap on some of my red "Top Tomato" red lipstick. When I'm feeling lousy (either about my body, am under the weather a little or just feeling blue) I know the nicer I dress the nicer I feel....and who doesn't feel sassy with matching bra/panties. haha

The tip that really struck me (that I don't/didn't already do) was this idea of taking 100s of photos of yourself in bad lighting and at bad angles. To learn not only what angles (and such) are flattering for yourself but it helps you become more accustomed to what your body looks like. This way you become more forgiving when someone else takes less flattering pic.

She also suggested, take good pictures...focus on lighting, outfits, makeup and then post them. So you are controlling your self image....that I feel less compelled to do. If only for the reason that I already working on (being happy with pictures of myself) but it's the idea of taking intentionally BAD photos that intrigues me.....

The last few seconds of the podcast (which always feels to end very abruptly) reminded us that when you look at pics don't scrutinize how you look but rather look at the event. Remember the people. How excited and loved you were at that that time.

(Today we were sent the link to the final week of podcasts....we'll see how it goes but so far I don't think the podcasts have really changed how I see myself or my self-image).

Monday, July 28, 2014

I. Am. Beautiful.

Earlier this month I was tagged in one of these "post 5 pictures of yourself" challenges and it was easy enough. Then a friend tagged me in this "post 5 pictures that make you feel beautiful about yourself" challenge and I found it so much harder.

For years I avoided the camera, or when I did allow myself to be photographed I would look away/stick out my tongue/flip the bird/etc. A few years ago I started to change my outlook on being photographed. I didn't want years and memories to come and go and have no evidence of my participating....this is what truly sparked my work towards self-acceptance and body love. Today I have (apparently) over 700 pictures of myself on Faceboook. However, today, when asked to pick 5 that I felt beautiful in...it was still a struggle. Of the 774 photos these are the only 6 I looked at and could honestly say "I look beautiful".

Now I'm not saying this looking for readers, friends and family to fill my comments area with "you're gorgeous" and "pretty lady" feedback. If anything I ask that you don't.

I am sharing this with everyone and just ask that you look in the mirror and tell yourself "I AM BEAUTIFUL" and share with us five photos that you feel beautiful about yourself. 

Self-love and acceptance of our bodies needs to start with ourselves...but that doesn't mean we can't support each other in our process. Will you join in the movement?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

DIY Technology for the Win!

Caution: This is not a "How To" post, this is simply me being proud of an accomplishment and wanted to share. Please either do your own research or consult a professional.
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A few years ago the screen on my old Dell laptop just died. I hooked it up to another computer monitor and was able to move my photos and documents to my removable hard drive...and then something happened and it stopped working... 

So the laptop went into the closet and I bought a new one. 

Don't know why it took me so long to get around to recycling the old thing, or what to do with the hard drive. But my mother's company was offering free e-cycling and so we got out the old computers and printers and I decided the time was right. I flipped over the laptop and without any help found the hard drive!!

Okay, truth be told I accidently pulled it out and had to take a picture of it. I posted it to the trusty Facebook and tagged it "Is this the hard drive?"....SCORE!! It was. 

Next step I called an old friend of the family, who runs a computer repair company, to see what my options were. He walked me through a few different devices and I settled on buying an encasement to turn my hard drive into a "external junk drive."

This weekend the case came in and it was time for me to figure out what the hell I was doing. Haha. Damn thing came with Ikea style picto-gram instructions. Ugh. 

 It took some examinging the "directions" over and over....a few attempts at getting the teeny-tiny-itsy-bitsy screws into the holes but eventually I got the hard drive into it's case!!

From there I plugged it in, and was able to move the remainder of my file from it to my new laptop. We're talking thousands of music files saved from permanent deletion. *phew*

The next step was to figure out erasing the data and reformatting the drive so I could use it as a junk drive. 

....TA-DA!!! I did it!!! And all by myself. No tech support to walk me through, no giant IT bill because it's something I did. All. By. Myself!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Leach Botanical Garden

One of the things I love about Portland (and Oregon) is the number of hidden away gardens and little paradises not just out past the suburbs but also tucked away within urban communities. Just recently I discovered the Leach Botanical Garden only a five minute drive from my house.

Seventeen acres of various themed "gardens" (rock, evergreen, desert, etc.) with so many beautiful nooks and crannies. So it was of course one of the first places I thought about when my cousin Grace asked me to be the photographer for her maternity photos.

This November she'll be around 7 months pregnant and is interested in not only maternity photos but also some family portraits. She has one daughter and her partner has two boys....and now with a little one of their own on the way they're a regular Brady Bunch. So we want to capture the love of this combine family.

Grace and I went to visit Leach earlier this month to see if it would be a possible location for photos. She and her family go hiking regularly, but their "usual spot" won't be ideal for her to be climbing around at seven months pregnant. The various gardens and nooks that Leach has she thought was perfect - very similar flora to where they hike.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spring time in Portland

A few weekends ago I spoiled myself with a day at the spa. The place I go actually is a piece of property with a hotel, restaurants, bars, movie theatre and the spa all on site. The spa also has a hot saline soaking pool for customers to use. So I went to brunch, soaked for an hour in the pool and then headed inside for a massage.......made the stress just melt away.

One of my other favorite parts of the property is the beautiful gardens throughout the property. Here are just a few pictures I took that morning.

I may be allergic to every single one of these but I can't help but love being outside and soaking up the beauty that is springtime in Portland.

Monday, July 21, 2014

60 Second Cookie

With the weather being so hot these days the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven...so then what do you do when you are craving a homemade chocolate chip cookie?

Why microwave it of course!

Microwave Chocolate Chip Cookie


1 TB butter, melted
2 TB brown sugar
2 tsp milk
3 TB AP flour
2 TB chocolate chips
1/8 tsp vanilla
Pinch of Salt


Melt butter and mix brown sugar into it.
Add vanilla, salt, and milk - combine well.
Fold in flour.
Add chocolate chips.

Pour mixture onto a microwave safe plate,  spread out so edges are slightly thinner than middle. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Let stand a few seconds. Microwave again for 30 seconds. Let stand a few seconds. (No that isn't an accidental duplicate. You'll microwave for 60 seconds in batches).

Now depending on your microwave you may need to microwave a little longer. The cookie should look dry and starting to look like a baked cookie. Just don't over microwave or you'll end up with burnt chocolate (which is why you microwave in short 30 second batches).

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Homemade Waffles (from Scratch)

Over the holiday weekend I thought I'd tackle waffles from scratch. I had only ever used a pre-mix pancake mix; I've loved the homemade pancakes I made so I thought I'd try waffles. 

2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, just until smooth.

2. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Body Image Research

Week 1: Day 1

I definetly feel defeated after this first listen. Reminded of the stigmas and prejudice we all put on our bodies (our own and others). While it was nice to hear about the HAES movement the podcast spent majority of the 20 minutes talking about myths of dieting and "obesity". However to simply list the principles of HAES at the end, rather than focus on each and how we can attain these, was depressing. 

If anything I feel less empowered and embracing of my body now, after the podcast, than before. I'm now highly aware of my thigh touching the person next to me on the bus. That I cross my arms to become as little as possible in my seat. 

Perhaps as I listen to this podcast again (2-4 more times) I'll be able to find and focus more on the messages of hope rather than defeat. 

As the day went I don't think I felt any better about myself. Felt very aware of my size but also my face.  Felt washed out, green/grey, not beautiful. Walked by attractive man and thought I look like crap, why would he be attracted to me. Then later that night, when I was show attention I indulged and allowed for attention I think is very unlike me. Not something I would have allowed in the past. 

So this morning I now feel guilty and "tainted". As for my body, I put on a cute new outfit, dolled up my hair and applied red lipstick....the three tools in my belt that help me find my inner coincidence. 

Time to listen to the podcast again. Let's see how it goes.

Week 1: Day 2

Compassionate alternative to the war on fat - HAES

Very focused on those wanting to get skinny...and while the message is trying to bring forth the myths of health and pursuit of weight loss being harmful. However the overly rehearsed voice (with sounds of pages turning in the background) almost bordering on monotone- has it difficult for me to listen and hear this as inspirational or body love affirming. 

I encourage and support more people learning about HAES...but I still feel defeated and a sense if sadness after this podcast.

I'm planning on listening to it one more time...to meet the three day minimum for listening to the podcast. I just hope the podcasts get a little more hopeful.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Improving Body Image

A few days ago I saw this post on Facebook:

As someone who has been working hard the last six years (or so) to find love for myself and my body....so I clicked "Read More."

The sign up was pretty easy. A few demographics questions, and a pre-survey (took maybe 10 minutes) asking me to rate differnt statements (self acceptance, feelings of self worth tied to image, etc.) and then I signed up for the podcast website.

Right away I listened to the Introduction.  It talked about mainstream media's opinion on beauty. How it ties to self worth our view of success. Recommendations on looking to internet to break this cycle through blogs, the newest Dove campaigns, as well as other cultures view of beauty and art.

Titian's Venus

It then went on to discuss the three podcasts that would follow:

Week 1 Health At Every Size (HAES) - for those unfamiliar go here.
Week 2 - Reinforcing love of our bodies - "Negative thoughts about ourselves is limiting at best and destructive at worst." and finally
Week 3 - What happens when we stop hating our body? When we face these negative thoughts. 

It should be an interesting experience, and I'm always open to trying to work on my self esteem and self image. I'm planning on posting regularly over the next month with thoughts, feelings and updates as the program progresses.

Pecan Cranberry Chicken Salad

The weather in Portland has a been a bit hotter than normal. We've already had a few days near 90 and this week we're even crossing over into the triple digits. So dinner ideas have ended up being sandwiches and salads; like this Pecan Cranberry Chicken Salad.

I changed some of the ingredients slightly, and I do recommend adding the vinegar in lightly it can become overwhelming. But I put it on a croissant with some lettuce and it was perfect for a hot gross day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Orleans Here I Come

This October my mother and I are taking a week vacation to Louisiana to celebrate her 60th birthday. It's somewhere she's (and I) have always wanted to go so for her birthday I'm making sure it happens.
We've booked out flights, have a (rough) schedule of towns mapped out (first Baton Rouge, then Lafayette and finally New Orleans), hotels reserved and now we're browsing Groupon deals and searching Pinterest ideas for places to visit when we're there.

For How Pinteresting Wednesday I thought I'd share some of my favorite pins so far....




 Have you been to NOLA before? Where are some of your don't miss stops? Any tips or tricks for first timers??

And don't you worry your pretty little heads. I promise to blog and post pictures of our trip.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Baby Shower Brainstorming

Recently my cousin Grace announced that she was expecting bundle of joy #2. I'm so excited because during most of her first pregnancy I lived hours away and didn't get to be around. I did go to her shower, and actually was there for the birth of my "niece". This time though I'm glad to be there for her more.

She recently asked me to do her maternity photo shoot (combined with family portraits) and we went out the last weekend to scope out a possible location.

Then I started thinking about how much I'd love to give her a shower. So I talked to her Mom and we agreed to co-host a shower together. So of course what was the first thing we did? Create a Pinterest board of course!! haha

Grace, her mom and I are all pinning and commenting like crazy these days on ideas....even though the shower isn't until mid-November. But it's never too early to start planning.

Here are some of our favorite pins so far:

We've also discussed games and activities - matching baby socks, blind folded diaper change, decorate a onsie, etc.

This weekend we are planning a trip to Scrap (a local second-hand craft supply store) and a few great thrift stores to start looking out for baby-shower items (never too early to start buying good deals). I'm just excited to help her with this shower and give her something wonderful.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

If I Could Turn Back Time

I'd do it all over again!! What am I talking about you ask? The Cher D2K (Dressed to Kill) concert my sister K and I went last week!!!

Somewhere, not so deep, inside me is a love child between Diva and a Drag Queen and sprinkled with some Glitter.....AND because Cher in concert wasn't enough to make this girl all giddy....freaking Cyndi Lauper was her opening act!!!

And why not? I mean when you're a mega icon like Cher no one but a fellow icon could be your opener. Cyndi in her giant red wig kicked off her shoes, danced in circles, came down into the audience and laid in people's laps. She swore, called herself a prick and told stories between numbers.

Once Cyndi had finished her set I was already feeling the surges of adrenalin (and not just because I was hanging on the edge of an upper balcony seat hoping I didn't plummet to my death). I was so excited and wasn't sure how on earth I could get any more energized.....spoke too soon!

Oh....that's how I get more excited!!!!!

Cher is 68 and still just as stunning (if not more so) than 40 years ago. This truly was a once in a lifetime experience and I'm so glad I got to share it with my sister.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Meet Ash's Dollhouse

I love having artistic people in my life. I become both inspired and envious of them. One person that seems to just blows my mind with every new art piece, craft and photograph she post....my cousin Aisling Marie.

Here are just a few of the amazing creations that ranks as my favorites:


I just love seeing new accessories and crafts (like these awesome dinosaur bookends) that she posts on her Facebook account so I realized I needed to stop Bogarting the Aisling and share her with you.

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Here's a few "Get to Know" questions:

How long have you been doing crafts? I have ben doing crafts since forever heehee, my mom got me a Martha Stewart candle making kit when I was 11 and then a soap kit, then I got a jewellery kit, so I did those. Then when I started photography at 16, I started dressing up my friends and started making their fascinators and hair accessories. Then I made them to sell to the public at about 23 to now, 27. (gonna be 28). 

What made you decide to start selling them? I decided to start selling them because people, models and friends and family started saying that I should sell them. So I did my first market and then pop up shop in Canterbury, Kent, England, I also sold at a light festival in Cheriton, Kent, England. My earrings, flowers headbands and accessories and a few sculptures are in an awesome vintage/art shop in Folkestone, Kent, England at the moment called Skylarks.

Where do you get your inspiration? I definitely get my inspiration from nature, I love animals and flowers. I lived in the country for a big chunk of my childhood in Bonita at Grandma Carleen's and Grandpa Brian house. There were wild horses that ran in that back and just wild fields all around. Then living in Sydney there was a whole new flora and fauna to appreciate and again in england and Northern France is different again. I would live in the country with animals and a garden over a flat in any city. 

What has been your favorite piece? Hmmm... my favorite piece I ever made, let me see... is this pill box hat (image below), because the little pearl hearts are from a table decoration at my parents' wedding and my mom let me have it to use.

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Can you see now why I wanted to share her talents with everyone? Aisling has an Etsy store, but currently she is only taking custom orders. All preexisting merchandise is being sold out of a boutique in England. But here are a few more of my favorites so you can see the range of her work:

 I hope you enjoy Ash's Dollhouse Collection as much as I do and if you're interested in talking with Aisling about custom work please email her at florafaunalove@gmail.com