Wellegance

Cultivate a Life of Vitality, Pleasure, Passion and Purpose


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Slow Down and Maintain Your Summer “Mellow”

One of the things that I love the most about summer is that time seems to slow down. Perhaps it’s the heat that drives people to move slower, perhaps it’s the longer days, maybe it’s because there’s generally less to do…whatever the reason, it’s a feeling that I’m always loath to give up when summer winds to a close and September rolls around.

It seems that, as soon as the calendar page turns to August, my mind begins to fast forward, thinking ahead to ‘back to school’ and beginning to compile the lists (many lists!) of things to do, to make, to buy, etc. Most years, I feel as if I cheat myself out of several weeks of summer because of my inability to stay present and to keep myself in “summer mode” for the full duration of the month. Well, this year, I made a vow to do things differently.

I’ve thought long and hard about this and I believe that it is possible to slow down during these last couple of weeks, despite the fact that the media, technology, advertisements and seemingly everyone/everything else is trying to speed up and jump ahead. Here are the strategies that I believe will help us to maintain a sense of calm and ease at this busy time. And while I’ve been speaking specifically about summertime in this post, these practices are helpful at any time, during any season.

Because it’s really all about our thoughts. As we all know, nothing that we do is ever TRULY going to slow the passage of time. However, we most definitely can change our perception of time so that, rather than feeling rushed, stressed, anxious and harried in these last few weeks, we can continue to feel present, relaxed and joyful.

How to Slow Down and Maintain Your Summer “Mellow”

  1. Limit the items on your daily ‘To Do’ list. Do less and make the things you decide to do really count! I like to identify 3 things each day that I will get done. These are the things I deem most important. By limiting it to 3, I rarely have a day where I feel non-productive. While I may not complete everything I’d like to do, I almost always complete the 3 things that I’ve identified, and because I’m not spreading myself too thin, I do a better job on those 3 things. As with most things, it comes down to quality over quantity.
  2. Give up multi-tasking (if not long term, at least for the next few weeks). There is no greater myth than the one that tells us that we’ll get more done if we work on multiple things at one time. Our brains are simply not designed to concentrate on more than one thing at a time and, for this reason, multitasking (a) rarely produces as good a result as single-tasking and (b) is exhausting, as it requires quite a lot of mental energy. Stop doing it and you’ll likely be amazed at how much more productive you are and how much better you feel.
  3. Set limits/parameters around technology use. Technology (and, particularly, social media) can easily become a time-eater and create feelings of inadequacy. In an effort to slow down, seek to control what you feed your mind. The result will be more space and clarity rather than the feeling that we must hurry up and/or do more.
  4. Get your daily “nature fix.” Nature is a great metaphor for life. Whatever happens in nature happens on its own time and can not be rushed. Furthermore, being in nature encourages us to be present and experience what’s around us with our senses, rather than our intellect. This kind of presence and connection is a great way to slow down and savor our time.
  5. Truly listen to others. Often, conversations happen so fast and we’re so focused on getting things done that we fail to truly listen to the people we interact with. I’ve been frustrated by others who aren’t great listeners, yet I’ve also been guilty of doing this (many of us are, from time to time). One important way to slow down is to take our time when we’re in conversation. It not only shows the person with whom you’re speaking that you’re interested, attentive and considerate, but you’ll get more out of the conversation, as well.
  6. Pause throughout the day to take a breather. Literally! Stopping periodically to take a few deep, cleansing breaths will help to relieve stress/anxiety. Those pauses are also helpful when we find ourselves getting swept up in the momentum of what’s going on around us. Just a moment or two to close our eyes, breathe and refocus helps to slow our thoughts and maintain a sense of calm.
  7. Eat mindfully, sitting down. No wolfing the food down. No eating at the kitchen counter or, worse, on the run. In other words, slow down and savor your food. Consider mealtime as an opportunity to nourish yourself and allow it to be a moment of pleasure. After all, nothing seems to expand time more than the experience of pleasure.
  8. Make healthy food choices. Limit stimulants like caffeine and sugar. As we all know, what we put into our bodies makes a difference in how we feel. If we’re on a caffeine or sugar high, it stands to reason that we’ll be moving more quickly, probably jumping from task to task and, generally, feeling less of a sense of ease. And besides, with such wonderful, fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s not hard to satisfy ourselves with healthier alternatives.
  9. Incorporate simple pleasures into each day. Take a moment to buy yourself flowers or indulge in a piece of dark chocolate or make a call to that friend you’ve been thinking about. It may only take 5-10 minutes, but it will make the day seem a little longer (and so much sweeter!).

I hope that these strategies help you hang onto that summer vibe a bit longer and enjoy these last few weeks more fully. Summer is a gift that we’re blessed to receive – a beautiful, bountiful time of year when the rush of life subsides, if only for a while, inviting us to slow down and savor it. Let’s not to miss this golden opportunity!

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Weekly Wellegant Find: The French Chef in America (Book)

As a longtime fan of Julia Child, you can imagine how excited I was recently when I opened up my local newspaper and learned that Paul Prudhomme (nephew of Paul Child and co-author of Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France) was going to be speaking and signing his most recent book, The French Chef in America, at my local library.

You see, I had just read My Life in France a couple of months prior and loved it. My Life in France is the memoir of Julia Child, which she insisted on writing with her nephew, Alex Prudhomme, as she was getting on in years and preferred to dictate the stories to Alex and have him do the writing. I absolutely loved it! Not only did he maintain her unique voice, but the book revolves around two great loves of mine – food and France.

Now, Prudhomme was at it again with The French Chef in America. This follow-up book is the story of Julia Child’s career, after she moved back to America and embarked on her career as a cookbook author and one of  America’s first TV chefs. By the time Prudhomme wrote it, both Paul and Julia Child had passed away. He authored the book himself, relying, once again, on the stories recounted to him by Julia in the year or so preceding her death.

I wanted to hear Prudhomme speak and learn more about this incredible woman, so I immediately marked the date on my calendar and contacted my foodie friend, Jen (you might remember her from this interview!). We made a date to go together.

Alex Prudhomme’s talk was fascinating and the book did not disappoint. Once again, he managed to capture Julia’s voice and weave together her many interesting and entertaining stories. The book reveals the opportunities and the challenges Julia Child faced as she revolutionized both the American approach to food and made cooking a form of entertainment. It’s a fun and inspiring read and I highly recommend it.

As summer winds down, there are precious few days to linger over a good book. This one, however, is worth the time. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be truly inspired by this authentic, passionate and really funny lady.

(If you’ve read it, I’d love for you to share your comments below.)

Enjoy,

Karen

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Recipe: Napa Cabbage and Carrot Slaw (GF)

I love a light coleslaw alongside grilled meats and fish in the summertime, and I especially love side dishes that can be prepared in advance and eaten cold. This Napa Cabbage and Carrot Slaw is just such a dish and, much like my version of potato salad, this slaw isn’t loaded with mayonnaise but, rather, dressed in a light vinaigrette.

I prefer to use Napa cabbage, as it’s a bit more delicate than regular cabbage (and the leaves are a bit frilly, which looks so pretty!) A few grated carrots lend just the right amount of sweetness to the dish and the lime juice and fresh cilantro in the dressing give the dish a bright pop of flavor.

It takes just a few minutes to prepare and will last in the fridge for several days (although it’s best eaten within a day or two, so that the veggies maintain their crispness).

It’s so simple and truly a treat. I hope that you enjoy it!

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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I love a light coleslaw alongside grilled meats and fish in the summertime, and I especially love side dishes that can be prepared in advance and eaten cold. This Napa Cabbage and Carrot Slaw is just such a dish and, much like my version of potato salad, this slaw isn’t loaded with mayonnaise but, rather, dressed in a light vinaigrette.

Ingredients

  • ¼ head of Napa cabbage thinly sliced (using a knife or food processor)
  • 2 carrots grated (by hand or in a food processor
  • 1 large scallion thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Fresh cilantro chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the cabbage, carrots and scallion in a bowl, toss and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice and chopped cilantro. Toss into the slaw, then add salt and pepper, to taste.

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21 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself

“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” – Tony Robbins

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A year or so ago, when I first conceived of the idea of the Wellegance blog, I heard Tony Robbins say this and it struck a chord with me. At the time, I had already coined the term ‘Wellegance’ and was clear on what that term meant to me. Essentially, Wellegance is the joining of two concepts that I believe are at the heart of a well-lived life: wellness (body, mind and spirit) and elegance (valuing simplicity and quality over quantity in all areas of life). I began to consider the principles that one must live by in order to curate this ‘Wellegant life’ and I kept coming back to the idea that each of us must commit to getting to know ourselves. I mean REALLY getting to know ourselves. Excavating ourselves by chipping away all the layers of social conditioning, family expectations, gender roles, responsibilities, etc. and discovering the woman who exists underneath all of that.

How much do you know about yourself? Oh, sure, you can tell me your likes and dislikes, preferences, pet peeves, your hobbies, childhood best friend and your most embarrassing moment. But how often do you stop to examine the workings of your mind and the yearnings of your heart? The beliefs and desires that motivate you to do the things you do? Most of us lead such busy lives that we don’t stop to reflect nearly as often as we should.

You see, we’re each on our own unique “Heroine’s Journey” and the only way we make any real progress on our journey is when we come to know ourselves at the deepest level. How do we do that? By asking the very ‘quality questions’ that Tony Robbins is referring to in the above quote. And answering them with BRUTAL honesty (the more honest we get, the more powerful this process is).

Here are 21 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself

  1. Where in my life am I thriving?
  2. What am I hungry for?
  3. Do I enjoy my own company?
  4. How energized do I feel each day?
  5. Who and what inspires me?
  6. How much of what I speak is negative/complaining vs. positive/productive?
  7. What people or situations drain me?
  8. Does my personal style express who I am and what I find beautiful?
  9. Where in my life do I need support?
  10. What am I not saying that needs to be said?
  11. What is the next version of me?
  12. What messages my body is sending me?
  13. Am I saving/investing enough money in my future?
  14. Do I feel at home in my home?
  15. What new thing am I yearning to learn or try?
  16. Am I having enough fun?
  17. What is my ‘superpower’?
  18. Am I procrastinating something I want, waiting for ‘someday’?
  19. Is busy-ness helping me to avoid feeling something?
  20. What pattern(s) keeps showing up in my life?
  21. Have I made peace with the past?

 

If, in fact, Tony Robbins is correct in saying that “Quality questions create a quality life,” (and I wholeheartedly believe that he is), then I maintain that every woman should be asking herself these questions on a regular basis. Think your answers, write your answers, discuss them with a therapist, close friend, your pet or your houseplants…it matters not what you do with the answers. It only matters that you consider the questions and do your best to formulate an honest answer to each of them.

Those answers have the power to guide you toward peace, joy and wholeness. You’ll likely discover things about yourself that you’d never anticipated and when you get to know yourself at this level – your values, needs, desires, fears, habits, emotional triggers, etc. – that knowledge and awareness will empower you to make better choices and move toward the life you desire.

As you set off on this quest, know that I’m with you every step of the way!

xo,

Karen

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It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!

 

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Weekly Wellegant Find: Josie Natori Pajamas

Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE pajamas! For one thing, they’re soft and cozy and signal the end of the day – that lovely time when we can shut the world out, settle our bodies and minds and restore ourselves with a good night’s sleep. And for another, they can be beautiful – colorful, lacy, delicate and feminine.

Now it took me a while to fully appreciate the style-factor, when it comes to pajamas. I’ll admit that, for a long time, I was content to sleep in pajamas that were…well, not very Wellegant. You know the ones I’m talking about – oversized, shapeless, not quite sweats but not far from it. The kind of pajamas you’d expect to see on students in a college dorm, NOT on any self-respecting, grown woman who actually cares about style. Yet…that’s what I wore for more years than I’d like to acknowledge.

Then one day, I considered the fact that I put so much care into the clothing I wear each day. I value quality and the fit and style of my clothing. I don’t mind spending a bit more if I feel that the piece I’m getting is well-made, classic, beautiful and consistent with how I want to look and feel. Why, then, am I content to wear pajamas that have NONE of those qualities? At that point, I decided to “up” my pajama game.

As it was summertime, the first thing I did was purchase a couple of pair of these Josie Natori pajamas. Josie Natori has a line of pajamas that is absolutely lovely and pretty reasonably priced. They’re well made and wash very well (Note: I don’t put them through the dryer but, instead, hang them to dry). But most important, they make me feel like I do when I’m dressed. Like I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in them. I feel cozy and comfortable AND stylish at the same time.

If you’re in the market for some new pajamas, check out the entire line (she has both summer and winter pajamas), many of which can be found on Amazon and/or the Josie Natori website.

I wish you sweet dreams,

Karen

DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

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Recipe: Blistered Shishinto Peppers (GF)

I had never heard of Shishinto peppers until I visited Barcelona, Spain last year. It was a gorgeous day and we decided to lunch at a small, outdoor cafe. We saw the waiter bringing out plate after plate of these little peppers. They were piled high on the platter and still sizzled, having just come out of the pan. They were served with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt.

As everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, around us was eating them, we decided to give them a try (“when in Rome” and all…). I was assured by the waiter that they are not hot/spicy, so I was game. When they arrived, we dove in and just about licked the plate clean. They were absolutely delicious and quite easy to eat; they have a little stem that you can hold onto and simply take little (or not so little!) bites of the pepper until you’ve reached the stem (note: the seeds are eaten as well, unlike jalapenos and other hot/spicy varieties.

After returning from our trip, I began to see these little gems in Whole Foods. The truth is, I had probably walked by them before, mistakenly assuming that they were hot peppers. Now that I knew better, I began buying them whenever I saw them and preparing them the same way that they were prepared in Spain – blistered in a (very) hot pan with olive oil and salt.

Like most peppers, Shishinto peppers are in season during the summer months, so right now is the perfect time to make this recipe. Truly, it is SO simple and, as we know, simple preparations are often best way to highlight the natural flavors of fruits and veggies that are in season and at their peak.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Blistered Shishinto Peppers

Ingredients

  • Shishinto peppers no particular amount - as many as you desire or will fit in your pan
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and additional oil for drizzling
  • Coarse sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat a saute pan over high heat until the pan is very hot.
  2. Add the olive oil and the peppers. Saute the peppers, keeping a close watch on them. As soon as the skin on one side of the pepper becomes browned and blistered, turn it. Do this until all sides are nicely blistered (see photo above).
  3. Remove peppers from the heat and drizzle additional olive oil over them. Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and enjoy!

DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Summer Beauty: The Natural Look

When temperatures rise during the summer months, many of us move away from a “full makeup” look in favor of a lighter, more natural face. Now, don’t get me wrong…lighter and more natural doesn’t necessarily mean makeup-free. Makeup-free might work when we’re in our twenties but most of us…(ahem) over 40 gals, find that a little makeup goes a long way toward making us look and feel our best. And that, after all, is the whole point: we want to feel good during the hot summer months, knowing that (1) our skin is cared for and healthy, (2) our makeup isn’t heavy and sliding down our faces throughout the day, and (3) we’ve enhanced our features in a way that looks natural, yet gives us that extra boost of confidence that cosmetics provide.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of my summer beauty essentials. These are the products that I turn to when I’m going for that “less is more” look during the carefree days of summer.

Bear in mind that nothing helps us to achieve that look better that taking excellent care of our skin, so be sure to check out these tips for  skincare during the warmer months. Once we have a healthy “canvas” to work with, it only takes a few products and a few minutes to create a gorgeous summer glow. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Tinted moisturizer: During the winter, my skin tends to be dry and I need a richer moisturizer which I follow with foundation. In the warmer months, however, my skin isn’t quite as dry and I prefer to use a tinted moisturizer instead. The advantage of a tinted moisturizer is that it’s a lighter product that (a) won’t clog your pores and (b) allows your natural skintone to shine through.
  2. Bronzer: I try not to get any sun on my face at all. When I’m in the sun, you can be sure that I’m not only covered in sunscreen (this one’s my fave!), but I’m often wearing a sun hat (and here’s my favorite hat). So when I want my face to have that sun-kissed look, I rely on bronzer. A little on the forehead, nose and cheeks – just the areas where the sun would kiss you – gives you the look of a light, healthy suntan.
  3. Neutral eye shadow: For a daytime look, I keep eye shadow very simple and rely on a basic neutral (I prefer a light tan shadow), which I use to cover the eyelid. I often skip the step of adding a darker shade to the crease. A light neutral shadow and some eyeliner is enough to enhance the eyes, while keeping the look light and natural.
  4. Liquid or Gel Eyeliner in a dark brown shade: Liquid and gel eyeliners tend to go on and stay on better than pencils during the warm and humid days of summer. I also suggest going with a dark brown shade, as opposed to black, because I find that brown almost always looks more natural.
  5. Mascara: The same rule applies here…dark brown tends to look more natural than black but, of course, be guided by your skin tone, hair color and personal preference. And you may wish to switch to waterproof mascara during the summer months, as well.
  6. Cream Blush: A cream blush is a nice way to keep the skin moist and give the cheeks a dewy look. It also blends nicely, giving a natural, rosy glow.
  7. Highlighter: I only recently started using highlighter and I’m totally hooked! This one by NARS is the one I use. A little goes a very long way, so be sure to use the slightest bit, rubbed between the pointer fingers and tapped onto the tops of the cheekbones, the inside of the eyes, the bridge of the nose and the forehead. I use a big, fluffy brush to blend it in. It brightens up the whole face and also creates a dewy look (which is very youthful!).
  8. Lipstick/Gloss/Stain in a Mid-tone Coral: In the summer, I love a medium coral shade – not too dark/bright and not too soft. This is a shade that compliments every skin tone and adds just the right pop of color on a neutral face. Summer-sexy, to be sure!

This makeup routine takes only about 10 minutes and makes me feel far better than going out bare-faced. We all know that the brightest and most beautiful glow is the one that comes from within but, for most of us, the extra bit of confidence that comes from feeling “put together” helps us shine a little brighter.

Shine on, my loves!

Karen

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DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!