Friday, October 24, 2014

TGIF & Weekly Scenes

It's starting to really look like fall here
I've been spoiled with breakfast in bed... can't wait for Sunday!
Back in the kitchen, making lots of veggie-laden soups for lunch
My first attempt at cacciatore
 It's been a whirlwind week. With the prospect of a new job on the horizon, I'm in the middle of a mad dash to get a visa and a background check (because the job is at a school). Needless to say, I'm ready for the weekend to be here so we can relax a little bit. But not tomorrow - we're helping my brother-in-law and his fiance move into their brand new house! Exciting, but I bet we'll all be a bit sore on Sunday.

Today is only day 3 of my 30 Day Candid Photo Challenge - and I've already sort of failed miserably. I forgot to post anything yesterday. Whoops. Life, you know? But I'll keep at it and post twice as much today. Don't forget to join in - #Disowned30Days on Instagram, and don't forget to follow me @disownedclothing!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


It's a well-known tradition to give anniversary gifts based on an annual theme. Not many people adhere to it, but I think that it's a fun inspiration. One's mind immediately jumps to all of the opportunities that this year's theme allows: plane tickets, cash, etc. Mind you, if I could think of a really great gift that didn't fit in the theme, I'd go with it. But this year, and because of financial restrictions when it comes to gift-buying, I've made a homemade anniversary gift in keeping with the one-year theme: paper.

For those of you who don't know Steve and my story, here is a [slightly] abridged version:
I was studying abroad in London when I was 20, and Steve and I met through a mutual friend.
He fell in love with me at first sight, so he says, but I blame the leather leggings I was wearing and the fact that I'm pretty sure I danced on a table at some point during the evening we met.
Classy girl, aren't I? Well, he kept coming around to see me, so he must be telling the truth.

After I left London, we kept in touch via Skype for a few months, almost a year maybe. But as things do, our contact fizzled out.

{Time Lapse}

April, 2013 - I was going on a 9-day vacation in Ireland, beginning and ending in Dublin. Steve happened to be on Facebook the day I arrived, and saw a photo of me drinking a pint of Guiness. He commented on the photo, saying that the only appropriate place to drink Guiness is in Ireland. Well, I said, I was.

I went about the next week traveling around the pretty Irish countryside, and returned in Dublin on day 8 of our trip. Walked into the hotel, and while my mom checked in, headed to the bar (as one does). And do you know who was sitting there? Yep. Steve.

I ditched my family, and tour group companions, and the two of us spent the rest of the day pub crawling through the Temple Bar area. I don't think I stopped smiling, or laughing, for a second. Somewhere between pubs, while walking down the street, I blurted out, "doyouwannagetmarried" in some sort of silly, slurred speech. Well, to this day, that counts as my proposal. Yep. I proposed. But he did bolt into a church at the end of the street, mid-sermon, and demand that we get married on the spot. After that, I think he asked our taxi cab driver to perform the ceremony. It all got a little blurry, but the proposal stuck.

There was a really romatic horseback ride through the mountains the next day, but that's part of the longer version. You'll have to buy the book, for that.

I returned to NYC two days later, back to my "normal" life, but it wasn't going to be normal for long. Steve started the visa process to come to the states, and I had to kick my then-roommate out (sorry, Greg) and start preparing for Steve's arrival. My friends and family all thought we were nuts. Well, we are. But it suits us.

He arrived in late August. I remember standing at "arrivals" in JFK, thinking he wasn't going to walk down that ramp. I thought it couldn't be real.
But it was. And on October 18th, 2013, we tied the knot at City Hall in New York. You can read more about our fun day here.

So since our story crosses space AND time, I made a little gift in keeping with that, as well as the first-year theme of paper. It's all of the important places in our relationship: where we first met, where I proposed, and where we tied the knot. There are little hearts stitched over the exact geographical location on the map where all three of these events took place. So, I think I did a pretty good job with paper. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 1 & Weekend Recap

Our anniversary weekend was amazing. I came home from grocery shopping to a candlelit, four-course meal prepared by my one and only. At the exact minute we were married one year ago, he handed me an adorable book - a fairy tale book, written about our love story. It's title? "The Princess and The Idiot." I have photos, I promise - I just haven't gotten around to uploading them yet. Dropbox sometimes decides to hate me.

Sunday it was cold and breezy, perfect football weather. Since the pitch was just a 2 minute walk away, I was able to go watch Steve play as the colorful leaves blew across the field. It's a much slower seasonal transition, but I definitely need to get some of my cold weather clothing (especially scarves!) shipped over here ASAP.

Don't forget... Today is the start of my 30 day candid photo challenge - so get on Instagram and hashtag #Disowned30Days to join in!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time Traveling & The 30-Day Photo Challenge

Albums of old photographs absolutely captivate me. 

A lot of people, and photographers, try to capture that antiquated feel in their pictures, but you simply can't come close to the charm in grainy, candid black and white and faded colors of old film. 
It's an inspiration, really; to actually get a film camera, and leave the photographs to fate. We all edit photos, and we all know it. Film doesn't give you that luxury; you're stuck with whatever a scene looked like at that very moment in time.There is no preview, no delete button. No substitutions, no regrets. 

Sitting around the dining room table with family, a bottle of wine, and some old photo albums makes for one of  the most genuinely nostalgic scenes I can imagine. I wish I had more old family photos; I'm jealous of those who have boxes upon boxes of old photographs, because luckily someone in the family was a hobbyist photographer, or enthusiast. It makes me feel a little left out, sometimes, for only having staged and special-occasion photos (for the most part). I love the random moments that make up life. We need to capture those more, because that's what it's really like, and that's what it's really about. 

I'm doing a 30-day photo challenge: to take candid photo(s) every day, for 30 days. Who's with me? 
I'll begin posting for the 30-day challenge tomorrow, with a link-up badge for anyone who wants to participate. If you're not a blogger, but want to do it anyway, use #disowned30days on Instagram to tag and post along. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Time Flies

Today is my first wedding anniversary.

And by "first," I mean, one year. It's also the first of my two wedding anniversaries. 
(Legally married in October 2013, married in the church in June 2014. Hey. I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to celebrate two anniversaries.)

Yep, one year ago we won the award for casual weddings. We said our vows with our closest family and friends during a ceremony that lasted all of 2 minutes at City Hall in NYC. Then I took off my shoes and we walked to our favorite bar, where we had our "reception."  I changed into a dress that I pulled off the sale rack at Target, for that.  Our fancy wedding menu included buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks, and nacho mountains. We forgot all about a cake and champagne, but luckily my buddy at the bar provided us with a cake from a nearby Chinatown bakery, and two bottles of bubbly. About 8 hours of fun later, we headed home with my best friend and new brother-in-law, where we [drunkenly] ordered a pizza and watched The Inbetweeners Movie. Romantic, right? 

It was perfect.

It's hard to believe how incredibly quickly time has flown in the past 365 days, and how much my life and our lives together have changed in the process. It's been a beautiful, magical year, filled with growth and learning and sacrifice, and I wouldn't change it for the world. Here we are, 3,000+ miles away from where we said "I do," in the midst of starting a brand new chapter of our lives together.
I don't even want to imagine where I'd be today, what I'd be doing, what my life would be like, if it wasn't exactly as it is at this moment. And I'm more in love each and every day.

Here's to many, many more years that are just as wonderful as the last.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

So Fed Up

Bear with me, because I have had it up to my eyeballs at this point with Google.

I decided to make myself a personal Google + page, you know,  because "everyone is doing it".
So I did. But then, why did I suddenly have these massive photo albums of old, and even unused, blog photos in my personal profile? Who wants that? *Delete*

Suddenly, my blog was completely devoid of images. And it still is, about a month back, and going. I restored the photos to my Picasa albums - but when I deleted them from my Google + page, apparently it completely deleted them from my associated Blogger account, as well.
And they didn't re-populate once they were restored. Because that makes sense.

So I have to go back through YEARS of posts, and restore all of the photos. Hoping that they still exist. Because Google decided to do something ridiculous like this. So thanks, Google.
And thanks, readers, for bearing with me while I make the repairs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My First Giveaway!

I'm so excited to announce my first giveaway. It's just so thrilling to be able to bring something fun (and free!) to my lovely readers. This post is brought to you by eShakti, so please stop by their website (even if you don't want to enter the giveaway) and support one of my wonderful sponsors!

I love the vintage-inspired feel in all of the designs on eShakti. The best part? Their clothes are custom-made to your measurements.  Being petite, it's always been a struggle for me to find clothes that fit me proportionately, without having a waistband around my hips, or having to hem everything so that it doesn't drag on the ground.  It's not everyday that you can buy something beautiful and custom-made that fits perfectly at a normal, affordable price - it's such a great luxury, and a great convenience for those (like me) who aren't exactly an off-the-rack size.

I'm heartbroken that they don't ship to the UK yet, because their clothes are so lovely and their style is right up my alley. Check out the stunning neckline on this dress. How sweet is that? Or this party dress that would be absolutely perfect for the holidays - I just can't decide what I like more.

And I've fallen completely head-over-heels for this embroidered maxi dress - I can see myself jetting off to somewhere exotic in it (commence daydream in 3...2...1...).

So have a browse through their new arrivals, comment below, and let me know what you love from eShakti! Two lucky readers will get a $25 gift certificate from eShakti - to be drawn at random on Monday (October 20th). Good luck, and happy shopping!

Sorry, this giveaway is only for readers in the USA and Canada. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

3 Unexpected Uses for Coconut Oil

I'm a big fan of coconut oil - and really, who isn't these days? From cooking to skincare, it's the best all-around item to keep in every room in the house. Here are a few of my favorite non-conventional uses for uber versatile coconut oil:

1. Leather Conditioner
It's great for skincare, so why not leather? After all, leather was skin at one point, too. A pea-sized dab of coconut oil can give a quick condition & shine to those winter boots and leather shoes. I just buff it in with a cloth or tissue, and voila! 

And speaking of shine...

2. Furniture Polish
Nothing beats that freshly-shined look of wood furniture in your home, but sometimes I worry about all of the chemicals in an aerosol can of furniture polish. I mean, it looks nice,  but at what cost?
Mixing a few drops of your orange or lemon essential oil into coconut oil can make for a great furniture polish - and a little bit goes a long way here. Plus, you get that fresh citrus-y clean smell without any of the harmful additives. It's a win-win!

3. Sticker Remover
Nothing is worse than those little price stickers that leave behind a gummy residue when peeled off. There are some expensive goo removal products in stores, but again, why use all of those chemicals? Rubbing a little coconut oil onto the sticky part, and then rubbing with a cloth or paper towel, should remove whatever a sticker may have left behind. It might take a little extra elbow grease, but you also don't have to worry about an abrasive solution damaging whatever it is you're removing the sticker from.

Have more ideas for coconut oil uses? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just in Case

Just in case you're having one of those "impossible Mondays," or even worse, an impossible week, here's a little gem to help keep it all in perspective.

We've all been there, we've all had those days. Or worse, those weeks. Or those months. Or years. It's almost as inspirational as this - almost.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bedroom Talk

TGIF! It's about time. I know, I know, I don't have a "real job" at the moment, so why am I so excited that it's Friday? Well, for those of you who are wondering, I don't just lay in bed all day.

My bedroom is also... *drumroll*... my office! For now, it's got a little desk-like setup, and it's where I do all of my blog shenanigans, my workouts, and of course where I relax and sleep. Quite the all-purpose room! So I thought I'd let you step inside my little space.

I try to sit down each day and work a regular 9-5, and most of the time I put in weekend hours, too. Blogging is a full-time job, y'all! I think that getting up, getting dressed, and acting like I'm going to work each morning helps to keep me motivated and on a schedule. If I'm making a recipe for Street Cred, I'll have my tripod set up in the kitchen, usually in the afternoon for the best lighting. But otherwise, this is where all of the editing, writing, and blogging takes place.

I really like the calm quiet mornings when I'm alone. I tend to get a lot more accomplished when there's no socialization or noise to distract me. I'm a bit of an introvert, so I love the coziness of my little bedroom office, and the soft morning light when the frost is melting off of the windows.

I love candles. There will always be one lit when I'm working - and I'm obsessed with coordinating fragrances with seasons. I've even written a satirical essay entitled "The Proper Use of Scented Candles," just for fun. I just find them to be calming, and warm the mood, and make my workspace and living space feel super cozy. This week it's a "Festive Spice" Febreeze candle...Which reminds me, I need to go candle shopping because my current one is getting a little low.

I couldn't showcase my bedroom/office without this guy. Doopy sometimes contributes to my posts by walking across the keyboard of my computer while I'm writing. But for the most part, he just keeps me company and reminds me when it's breakfast and lunch time.

And at the end of the day... there's a fluffy white bed waiting to snuggle up to. With Doopy, of course. And sometimes Steve. But mostly the cat.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I Think I Finally "Get It"

I remember my first encounter with yoga none too fondly. I begrudgingly tramped through the snow and the dark at 6am during a blizzard, mildly hungover and deeply resentful of my vow the night before to accompany one of my close friends to her early morning class. It was my junior year in college, and I had been pulling all-nighters on a regular basis. Let's just say, I wasn't feeling so great.

When we finally made it through the snowpocalypse, the searing lights in the campus gym reminded me just how early in the morning it really was. The next few events are a little out of order, but from what I recall, about 3 minutes into the class the instructor raised her entire body off of the ground... on one hand. I just sort of laid there in disbelief, unable to even bring myself to a downward dog in my then-present condition.

No. Absolutely not. Hipster nonsense.

And shortly thereafter, I rolled up my mat and walked out.

Frankly, I've always sort of gotten pissed off by yoga classes. I've never been able to relax; all of the "breathe deep and release your stress" stuff just made me want to beat the nearest person in the head with a brick. It's not who I am, so I gave up on it and turned elsewhere. On the other hand, I've always liked Pilates - I can feel myself exercising, it's more "no-nonsense", and doesn't require ridiculous amounts of flexibility. So I stuck with Pilates for a long time, on and off.

Part of me always wanted to enjoy yoga, though - maybe that's why it was so frustrating that I simply hated it. I sort of lumped every yogi together as a pack of sports-bra-and-super-high-waisted-legging-wearers doing handstands at all times, and decided that it was someone completely fundamentally different from myself, and always would be.

But then my health...declined. I got married, and my mostly-veggie diet turned into, for lack of a better term, "meat & potatoes". I've decided to take hold of my individual health again, and not feel guilty for it (more on that here). So, thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I've found some favorite free workouts at home on a daily basis. I occasionally force myself to do a yoga video, usually choosing a ten or fifteen minute segment and swearing to myself, "it won't be that bad this time."

Today, I didn't stop halfway through the 20 minute sequence. I didn't hit pause and tell myself that I'd come back to it later. I didn't say to myself, that's enough, and sit in child's pose while checking Instagram for the latter half of the video. I'm not sure when it was, but I was doing something pretty horrific for an out-of-shape person, like chair pose, and I just forgot how to complain. I forgot how stressed out I had been lately, about money and finding an apartment; I think yoga finally got to me.
I enjoyed it. I finished the video. And you know what? I wish it hadn't finished.

Even though I was still pushing myself physically through the rest of the workout, I felt a lot more at ease. The words of the instructor in the background just sort of floated across the room, and I did what I had to and didn't focus on anything else. And it felt nice. I liked it. I'm not sure if it's just because I found the right beginner-style workout, or if the instructor's voice hypnotized me, or if there was voodoo involved - who knows. But I like it. And I might go do it again, right now.

PS - No, that's not me doing a handstand in the photos. Yeah right. Lol. That's my dear friend who initially introduced my to yoga, and the photos are from a camping trip we took together a couple of years back.

(Here's the link to the video, in case anyone else wants to give it a try!)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wood Nymph

I needed excuses to do two things today: to practice using Lightroom, and to wear my "new" hippie dress that I acquired this weekend. So I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed off into the woods, just off of a trail near the house where we like to walk the dog.

It's sort of sunny but cold today, and the sunlight was playing tricks as it filtered through the ever changing leaves in the soft morning breeze. Hues of gold and orange touched everything on the forest floor, and I felt like the floaty cotton dress was alive as I danced through the birches. It was a quiet way to clear my head today; a simple but effective practice in patience and self-love, as I set and reset the timer on my camera, running and skipping and repeating shots a dozen times each.

And now it's another piece of the puzzle in the learning process, as I gave Lightroom another go. I was going to separately edit in Photoshop and compare the two, but I think I'll keep pushing myself to learn if I don't allow myself another option. It is quicker, I have to say. And the lack of precision in the editing process forces me to think more about the composition while I'm taking the photo.
All in all, I loved the fairytale lighting in the trees today. It's one of those moments that I was genuinely happy to be by myself, alone with the sunshine and my thoughts.

Car Boot-y

Apparently, due to more language barrier difficulties, I wasn't properly communicating what I wanted when I asked to go to a flea market here. To my current knowledge, what I should have been saying is "car boot sale". It's the same thing. It really is. It's a bunch of people who pull up in their cars/vans/trucks and unload random stuff onto folding tables to sell cheaply & quickly. And they're usually on a Sunday. I don't know what a flea market is over here, but from what I've gathered, there might be fleas involved and I probably should stay away. Lesson learned; another language barrier is overcome.

Sunday was bright and sunny, seemingly the last glimpse of warm weather for a while. After a lot of nagging over breakfast, I convinced  the hubs to drive me to a bi-weekly car boot sale in Ascot. I'm now even more excited to find our own place and begin decorating and filling it. The mid-century and antique furniture, the mixed ornamental china patterns, odd paintings, and travelers' treasures from all sorts of places laid on blankets and metal tabletops. We stood in awe at a table displaying one man's collection of WWII artifacts - German Uboat captains' uniforms and rings, Nazi soldier passport books filled with stamps and notes of where they had been stationed, medals, antique firearms and even movie props - like an old rifle used in the film We Were Soldiers. You just never know what you're going to find at one of these sales, and that's what makes them so much fun to browse.

I managed to wander away with a hippie-esque floral dress for £2, and an antique lapis lazuli bracelet (if you've seen my outfit posts, you'll know how much I love lapis). I'm still sitting here dreaming of "the ones that got away": a long vintage mink coat, a retro picnic basket, and a small antique bistro table & chairs painted with delicate flowers and birds. I think that my personal heaven would be wandering around car boot (flea market) sales for eternity.

As far as the photos go, this was my first time playing with Lightroom. The pics were all taken on my phone, so I had limited resources to work with, as well. I'm still unsure how I feel about it; I know that it's a lot simpler than Photoshop, and quicker, but as a control freak I'm partial to the precise handling that only Photoshop allows. Oh well! Practice makes perfect.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rainy Day Remix

Well, October arrived, and I'm beginning to realize what the words "wet season" really mean.
That being said, I'm devising plans for oodles of things to do when I'm confined to the indoors due to the weather. Before I get all blabby about my goings-on this past weekend, here's little overview of what's on my plate during this particularly dark and gloomy rainy day: 

Adobe Stuff!
I had to update/change my Adobe account to a UK one, so I re-subscribed to the Creative Cloud. The good (amazing) news here it that there is a new "Photography" subscription option, which includes Photoshop and Lightroom (more on that in a minute), and costs LESS than a single-app subscription! Woo! Here's to saving money AND getting new software. Whoop whoop!
That being said, I've spend -most of the morning waiting for said software & updates to download, hence why I haven't posted pics from this weekend (yet).

I've been bingeing on YouTube tutorials all morning. I've never used Lightroom before, but I'm excited about having the mobile version to edit pics on-the-go. If anyone else out there is a first time user, like me, I really like this guy's video tutorial series. Pretty easy to follow and covers all the basics, if you ask me.

Mixed Spice
I found this while grocery shopping yesterday - it's simply called "Mixed Spice (for baking)" over here, but it's pumpkin pie spice. The exact same thing. Yep. Heaven. I'm on my 6th cup of coffee, let's just put it that way. And I bought a pumpkin. So, stuff's going to happen in the pumpkin spice/pie department this week. 

I have no shame over this one, particularly because it's been so damn long (2+ months) since I've indulged in a bagel. A fresh, stinky everything bagel, perfectly toasted, with Philadelphia cream cheese, onion, tomato, and black pepper: one of life's greatest pleasures. An everything bagel was literally my last meal in America. I have suffered intensely the past two months, but when I found them in Costco's bakery yesterday (!) I went berzerk and now have tons of bagels to consume. Sorry, love handles. 

Anyways, I'm playing around with Lightroom for the rest of the afternoon, and probably watching a few more tutorials in that department, so here's a little preview of this weekend: A before/after I quickly edited on my first try, featuring the greatest furniture found at a car boot sale (flea market, in American speak) this weekend, as well as the most terrifying Chuckie-esque doll. This was taken on my phone, so I'm pretty thrilled that it was so quick/easy to edit. Also loving this before/after display in Lightroom; I'm a big fan of instant gratification. Whoop Whoop!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Diary of a Diet: Two Grand

This is not a sponsored post. I legitimately love this app and want to tell everyone I know about it. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you're probably pretty aware that I love to document everything I cook and eat. It's sort of an obsession, but I'm also too lazy to use two accounts, so I also post everything for my food blog Street Cred on there, too. So when I discovered the app TwoGrand, I was in heaven. 

It's an Instagram-meets-food-diary (same basic layout, and easy to jump right into), and it's the perfect place to connect with people who have similar diets or dietary needs (paleo, plant based, gluten free, vegetarian, or simply trying to eat healthy). The bonus is that it sort of doubles as a dieting app (if you're on a diet), just because it helps you keep track of everything you eat without that tedious calorie counting. So sign up, get inspired by other food and health lovers, and follow my handle @danidisowned. Wooo! Stay motivated, people. 

Fall, Finally

My favorite time of year finally feels like it has arrived. I've been [impatiently] waiting for those telltale hues of orange and gold to light up the trees and skies. The lack of dramatic seasonal changes here had almost discouraged me from believing I'd see a true colorful autumn anyway... but I'm so glad that I was wrong.

This week while walking, I came across the first little shrub/tree of the season to be decked out in full flaming foliage. I just stood there and smiled for a minute or so. I wanted to buy a pumpkin and just sit under that tree, drinking something pumpkin-related and eating something containing pumpkin.

It finally feels like fall is here. Those brisk dewy mornings that soon will turn to frost on the windows, the crunch under my feet again as I walk, the smell of damp leaves after a rain. It's so simply perfect.

I've managed to get my hands on a can of Libby's pumpkin puree and a pumpkin spice candle this week, so that was just the icing on the cake. Time to bust out the cozy sweater/legging combos!