Wellegance

Cultivate a Life of Vitality, Pleasure, Passion and Purpose


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Loafing Around

By now, you’ve no doubt noticed one of this season’s biggest shoe trends – the loafer. The charm of the loafer is that it manages to look both chic and fuss-free at the same time. I also love the slightly masculine feel of them.

Loafers pair well with both “skinny” jeans/pants and wide-legged trousers, alike. They’re easily dressed up for work, yet are also perfect for knocking around on weekends. And the loafer mule is especially perfect for this time of year, when warmer temperatures allow for a little more ankle exposure.

Below are some of my favorite looks. Maybe you’ll be inspired to add a pair to your fall/winter wardrobe (and if so, you may wish to check out Nordstrom’s collection, as they offer a huge selection of loafers, both in the store and online).

Happy shopping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images: (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9)(10)

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Weekly Wellegant Find: Aurorae Yoga Mat Bag

If you attend yoga classes, you know how much more convenient it is to tote your yoga mat in a bag, as opposed to simply rolling it up and carrying it under your arm. For sanitary reasons, many of us also prefer to bring our own towel, blocks, and blanket. And then there’s the water bottle. It can be an awful lot of stuff to bring to yoga class and my experience has been that few yoga tote bags are large enough to hold all of it.

That’s why I was thrilled to find this Aurorae Yoga Mat Tote Bag! My mom, who also practices yoga, bought one for herself last year. When I saw it, I immediately fell in love with it, so she surprised me with one as a gift (Mothers really are the best!!).

I’ve used it ever since and have never looked back. It’ s large (without being too cumbersome to carry), very well-made, light and it comes in several stylish colors. It even has an outer pocket which is the perfect size for a wallet, cell phone and car keys.

I can’t tell you how many times a fellow yoga student has asked me where I got my bag and then ended up purchasing one for herself. Right now, there are a number of us enjoying our Aurorae bags! If you’re a yogi, I can’t recommend this bag enough.

Namaste,

Karen

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Recipe: Marinated Artichoke Hearts (GF)

When hosting a gathering (big or small), there’s nothing better than a fabulous charcuterie platter and one of the things I love to include on that platter is marinated artichoke hearts.

For years, I’ve bought them; they’re sold in jars and it’s a bit tricky to find ones that are suited to my taste. I find that they’re usually one of two extremes. Either they can be terribly bland or an assault on the tastebuds – loaded with salt and vinegar. So, I decided to try my hand at making my own. The result was fantastic…they were light, fresh and full of flavor.

Try this (very fast, very simple!) recipe once and, I promise you, you will never purchase marinated artichoke hearts again!

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Marinated Artichoke Hearts

I decided to try my hand at making my own marinated artichoke hearts and the result was fantastic! They were light, fresh and full of flavor. Try this (very fast, very simple!) recipe once and, I promise you, you will never purchase marinated artichoke hearts again!

Ingredients

  • 1 can of artichoke hearts quartered, drained and rinsed
  • 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small lemon zested and then juiced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • ¼ tsp. Sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. Dried Italian Seasoning
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes optional

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice (approximately 3 Tbsp.), garlic and sea salt. Add the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes (if desired).
  2. Add artichoke hearts to a small salad bowl. Pour the dressing over them and gently toss to coat.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
  4. About 20 minutes before serving, bring to room temperature and sprinkle the lemon zest over top. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, as needed.

Recipe Notes

Serves 4 as an appetizer.

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Design a Workspace to Inspire

Most of us have a designated workspace at home which is used for completing work-related tasks at home, paying bills, creative projects, personal business/planning, etc. And while these are important tasks and we probably spend a good bit of time doing them, we often don’t make this space in our home terribly inviting. In fact, many people simply re-create the small, bland and impersonal office cubicle at home (and we all know how motivating and inspiring that environment is!?).

I’m currently in the process of redecorating the office space in my home, so I’ve done a bit of research and planning. Here are the best tips I’ve uncovered for designing a workspace to inspire:

  1. Select a location. Consider things like space, light and noise level. Remember, this is a place where you want to be productive. A too-small space that is dark and noisy will not encourage productivity. So, be sure to find a spot in your home which has the elements you need to work well.
  2. Choose a paint color that inspires you. We think of colors like white, cream and beige for an office space, but no need to limit yourself. The goal is to make this space inviting and creative. For some, that means bright and vibrant colors and for others, soft, calming tones. Use color to assist you in creating the ambiance you desire.
  3. Position your desk so that you have a pleasant, interesting view. This affects your mood and comfort level more than you realize!
  4. Your desk, chair and other office furniture should be both beautiful and functional. How much surface space do you need to work? Do you require drawer space? Shelving? A bulletin board? What kind of chair are you most comfortable in? Think about your needs first and then, when shopping for furniture, look for the pieces that both serve your purpose AND look and feel pleasing. Create a workspace that appeals to your aesthetic and beckons you to spend time there. That might mean warm woods, soft lines, cozy chairs, etc. Strive to make this space feel as warm and inviting as the rest of your home.
  5. Address your lighting needs. In order to minimize eye strain, headaches and discomfort, make sure that your space is well lit. Natural light is preferred, however, you will likely need more light than nature provides. Invest in overhead lights and/or a desk lamp, as necessary.
  6. Think about technology. Determine what technology you require to get your work done and make sure that it’s available (along with chargers, computer mouse, mousepad, cord storage, etc.). Be sure to position your desk so that you have access to electrical outlets and position your computer so that the glare is minimized, as well.
  7. Accessorize with items that inspire you. A space feels more like home when it includes items that we love to look at and things that hold special meaning for us. Whether you display framed photographs, books that inspire you, artwork, fresh flowers, your favorite mug and/or pretty notepads, make sure that you surround yourself with the special little touches that make you want to spend time in this space.
  8. Include your preferred time management tool. I love paper calendars (this one is my favorite one!) and planner books (like this one) so I make sure to have those on hand. If you prefer electronic calendars/planners, you’ll need to have access to those tools.

The last bit of advice I’ll offer is to be patient! If you’re anything like me, when you begin a redecorating project, you want to do everything at once – paint, furniture, accessories, etc. However, it often takes time to truly create a space that’s beautiful and functional. Sometimes, we need to “live in” the space for a while in order to get clear on what we need and want. Having patience throughout the process and giving yourself time to find just the right pieces will most definitely pay off. Your home office will be perfectly suited to your unique needs and preferences, and will quickly become a space that excites, delights and inspires your best work!

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Weekly Wellegant Find: Pumpkin Pie Gelato by Talenti

Let me begin by saying that this Talenti brand Pumpkin Pie Gelato is, basically, autumn in a bowl!

I love when Fall rolls around and the markets feature all kinds of seasonal treats and “limited edition” flavors. There seems to be display after display of ‘apple-this’ and ‘pumpkin-that’. This gelato was just such a treat that I happened upon this past weekend.

It’s super creamy (as all good gelato is!), with a rich pumpkin and cinnamon flavor.  As if that isn’t fabulous enough, little bits of brown sugar and cinnamon and buttery chunks of pie crust are sprinkled throughout. My daughter and I practically polished off the entire tub in one shot. It’s THAT good!

If you’re looking for yet another way to celebrate this glorious season, this is a ‘Wellegant Find’ worth finding…

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Recipe: Oat-Berry Muffins (GF)

This week, the market had what I can only imagine is the last of the really good summer berries. I bought a big carton of strawberries and blueberries, determined to enjoy one last taste of summertime before the pumpkins and the autumn fruits and veggies fill up every bin.

This is a recipe that I adapted slightly from a blueberry muffin recipe posted on the Skinnytaste blog. The combination of fresh berries, cinnamon and oats is divine! And I love that they’re a gluten-free breakfast option because, well…there are only so many eggs that a girl can eat!? Anyone who limits gluten knows that breakfast can be a challenge!?

The problem with most gluten free baked goods is that they can be extremely dense. The addition of applesauce in this recipe makes these muffins very moist and light. I find that, when served with a smear of almond butter and some fresh fruit, they make a satisfying (and lovely!) breakfast or snack.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s the perfect way to savor the sweetness of summer, while ushering in the toasty, cinnamon-y goodness of autumn.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Oat and Blueberry Muffins

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups gluten free quick oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp. Canola oil
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • cup gluten free flour/baking mix (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose
  • Flour)
  • 1 tsp. Baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup of fresh berries you may use any combination of strawberries, blueberries and/or raspberries

Instructions

  1. Place oats in the food processor and pulse a few times to turn the oats into a coarse powder. Place the oats into a small bowl and add the almond milk. Allow to soda for approximately 30 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, honey, applesauce, vanilla, egg whites and oil. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients - flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
  4. Combine the oats/milk mixture with the applesauce mixture and give it a stir.
  5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, then fold in the berries.
  6. Spoon into the muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Makes 12 muffins. Note: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (if they last that long!). These muffins also freeze very well.

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Trust Your Struggle

From time to time, we all face challenges and struggles. Struggle is part of the human condition and there isn’t a single person walking this planet who is immune. Those of us who’ve faced challenges know all too well how heavy it feels when you’re in the midst of it and how desperately we wish for the pain to go away. I’m not going to play Pollyanna and try to convince you that this process isn’t exhausting and upsetting. I won’t tell you that you’re wrong to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. Or that I have all the answers. I most definitely don’t.

But I will share a few of the things that I’ve been grateful for and a few of the things that have comforted me during tough times. I believe that there’s a tremendous amount of healing in simply sharing our experience and offering others whatever little bits of knowledge or understanding we’ve gained. I’ve certainly benefitted from the wisdom of others who have faced challenges and, while I’m no expert, I have a few thoughts that I hope might benefit others.

You see, we spend so much time trying to resist struggle and avoid pain that we often overlook the fact that struggle has the ability to lead us somewhere good, if we let it. If we trust it. If we stop resisting, accept what is (even when it sucks), love ourselves through it, and trust that it will eventually pass. Not only will it pass, but it’s likely to leave us a few gifts to take along on the rest of our journey.

I know…this is a major shift in perspective for most of us and I know, firsthand, how difficult that can be. But here are a few things to remember as we move through this process.

  1. When we face difficult situations, we are often reminded of how many people love and support us. And I’m not only referring to those whom we know we can rely on for support, like family and close friends. My experience has been that people are so good – neighbors, colleagues, even casual acquaintances; when people find out that someone is sad or overwhelmed or just, generally, having a tough time, they’re usually very generous in offering help, support and words of encouragement. It’s a great comfort to know that we don’t have to go it alone and that more people than we realize care about us and wish us well. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Challenging times often require that we become more comfortable asking for what we need. This is a big problem for a lot of women, myself included. Most of us are quite good at getting things done ourselves and quite bad at asking for help. However, tough times sometimes leave us no choice. They provide the perfect opportunity for (a) identifying what we need and (b) developing the humility to ask for it. And those are incredible skills to have, during good or bad times.
  3. When we feel knocked down by life, it’s the perfect opportunity to practice self-love and self-care. There simply is no other way. We can’t beat ourselves or shame ourselves or guilt ourselves into feeling better. As anyone who’s tried this knows, if just doesn’t work. We have to accept that we did our best and honor the choices that we made. We have the chance, in each moment, to treat ourselves with love – go for a walk alone, take a long hot bath, spend time with people who lift you up, feed yourself healthy food and healthy thoughts. And most importantly, allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Stuffing emotions down is not loving. Cry it out, move it out, talk it out…the important thing is to let emotions come up and out, and continue to love ourselves through it.
  4. Flex your resilience muscle and develop strong coping skills. Resilience is THE best indicator of who will be successful in life and who won’t (there has been study after study that shows this). But nobody develops resilience without living through struggle. The hard times teach us how to cope. Day to day, we can assess which thoughts and actions feel empowering and which ones don’t. Some days, we may need to go to bed early and have a good cry and other days, it feels better to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and soldier on. Some evenings, curling up with a book and a cup of tea is just the comfort we need and other evenings are better spent having dinner with a group of girlfriends. In other words, take the time to know yourself and “read” what your needs are. That’s what coping is – the ability to deal with difficulties and to soothe yourself in healthy ways. Do that regularly and you’ll become pretty damn resilient (and pretty damn successful at whatever you do!).
  5. You’ll get a crash course in “surrender” and, finally, learn how to “be present.” I thought I knew what it was to surrender. I mean, I practice yoga, I’d read all of the most popular spiritual/self-help texts, I meditate and drink green juice. Trust me, I can talk the talk. But going through some really tough stuff forced me to walk the walk (some days I walk it and some days it’s more of a crawl, but you get the idea ;). There are points in all of our lives where we must simply recognize that we have no control over anything but our thoughts. Period. And we can allow that stark realization to either take us down or plant us firmly in the present moment. If we focus on the present moment and control the one thing we can – our thoughts – one moment leads to the next and the next and, before long, we feel a bit more peaceful and productive. By no means is this an easy habit to learn, but there’s a reason that every spiritual teacher preaches this – it’s the fastest route to peace.
  6. Develop confidence in your strength and abilities. You will surprise and impress yourself.  I know that’s hard to believe when we feel so emotionally fragile but, inevitably, difficult situations require you to act differently and/or do things you’ve never done before. While it’s scary to navigate the unknown and face uncertainty, you’ll get through it (yes, you will). And each time you do, you’ll feel that much stronger and that much more capable of braving whatever comes your way. Success breeds success, so each small victory over a problem or a fear will make you that much more self-assured.
  7. Have faith that things are not happening TO you but, rather, FOR you. Each experience, good or bad, provides opportunities for us to learn the lessons we need to learn and each experience moves us further along on our path. Just because we can’t see the final destination doesn’t mean that we aren’t moving forward and making progress. This one can be especially tough when emotions and tensions at running high. For that reason, finding practices that calm the mind and encourage a more positive perspective are essential. i’ve found that it helps to read inspirational books, stories, articles, etc. If you have a spiritual practice like meditation, that helps, as does surrounding yourself with positive people. In other words, the more you work to alleviate stress and ease your mind, the more likely you are to recognize that “fight or flight” aren’t your only options; there is another one – faith.

Life is long and broad and wide. The challenges we face at any one point in time are simply one chapter in a very long story. Rather than remaining focused on the struggle, zoom the lens out and view your struggle within the larger context of your life. I once heard someone say that she likes to imagine her 90 year old self proudly telling her story and sharing the wisdom gleaned from it. I love that idea – the idea that we each have the power to create our own story. Instead of creating a tragedy full of sadness and regret, let’s write a heroine’s journey. Let our story be one in which we face our troubles with grit and grace and emerge fiercer, wiser and more loving than before.

If that’s not Wellegance, I don’t know what is!

Sending love and light,

Karen

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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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