Link Love Wednesday: Kate Spade & Mercury Retrograde

imageGood evening, readers!

For those of you who have been feeling a little off lately, you’re not alone. Mercury is in retrograde, which means that everyone is going absolutely crazy — particularly those of us who are Virgos or Geminis — and life is stranger than usual, to say the least. (According to my dad, this might have more to do with the fact that I’m not taking my vitamins than the idea that the planets control my life, but it’s fun to imagine nonetheless.) Have you noticed any changes in the last few days?

Whether you’re a big believer in all things astrology or a skeptic, enjoy today’s batch of links to get you through the week!

What links are you loving lately? Share your favorites in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Lessons Learned from Audrey Hepburn Characters

Five Lessons Learned from Audrey Hepburn CharactersEverything I know, I learned from Audrey Hepburn.

Okay, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but ever since I first watched Roman Holiday back in high school, I have been in awe of the glamorous actress and her equally glamorous characters. I dressed up as Holly Golightly for my decades-themed 21st birthday party (complete with the fancy cigarette holder), and whenever I’m stressed out, I’ll often turn on one of her movies to relax. (I even somehow integrated Audrey’s film characters into a blog post about balancing health and a social life.) The actress herself was someone to aspire to – a humanitarian and devoted mother.

This weekend’s blog focuses on a few of the lessons to be learned from some of her more popular roles. Share your own favorites in the comments section below!

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1. “Oh, but Paris isn’t for changing planes, it’s… it’s for changing your outlook… for throwing open the windows and letting in… letting in la vie en rose.” – Sabrina Fairchild, Sabrina (1954)
Early in the movie, a lovesick and insecure Sabrina travels from New York to Paris to attend culinary school, and she emerges a sophisticated and confident young woman. The lesson to be learned from this? Sometimes, all you need is a change in scenery to become a different person. For Sabrina, that new backdrop is the Eiffel Tower, but in reality it can be anywhere – a new city, a new country, or even a new park across town that you’ve never visited before. Travel, no matter how far the distance, can change your perspective on the world, on people and on life in general. (And of course, when in doubt, Paris is always a good idea.)

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Five Lessons Learned from Audrey Hepburn Characters2. “There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girl’s complexion.” – Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Not all attention is positive attention. Holly Golightly learns this the difficult way, as she finds herself at the center of more than one scandal throughout the film. Certain shades of limelight, in fact, can lead to a negative public perception of a person. It’s okay to make mistakes from time to time, but important to strongly consider the choices you make and align them with the reputation you want to have.

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3. “When you can be fancy-free and flash a smile that folks come flocking to see, you’ll be as lovely as can be.” – Jo Stockton, Funny Face (1957)
Positivity goes a long way. Sometimes, a simple smile can make a person’s whole day that much brighter. We may worry about how well we’re dressing for our body types or when was the last time we had our roots touched up, but an even more important lesson in how to be lovely is to consider the way we make others feel and the type of energy we put out into the world.

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5 Lessons Learned from Audrey Hepburn Characters4. “You musn’t give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get, until they’re strong enough to run into the woods or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree and then to the sky.” – Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Don’t go into a relationship with the intent to change someone. If the person you fall for tells you that he or she doesn’t want to settle down, believe that person. Never idealize someone to the point that their flaws or even their differences in opinion don’t exist. Recognize people for whom they are and don’t try to pin down someone who doesn’t want to be pinned down.

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5. When in doubt, break the rules and take a mental health day. – Princess Ann, Roman Holiday (1953)
This lesson isn’t a quote from Roman Holiday, but it does partially sum up the film’s premise. Princess Ann has grown weary of her press engagements during her tour of Europe, so she escapes to spend a day as a Roman tourist, making a few unlikely friends along the way. The film ends on a bittersweet note, and she ultimately returns to her duties as princess, but Ann does have the opportunity to experience Rome from a different perspective and make lasting memories of her time in the ancient city. Sometimes in life, it’s okay to take a break from your obligations and do something exciting for your own well-being. Recognize when you are being stretched too thin, and do something about it.

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What are your favorite lessons from Audrey Hepburn’s iconic movie roles? Sound off in the comments section below!

Your Health in Action: Eating Healthy While Maintaining Your Social Life

Tips for Eating Healthy While Maintaining Your Social Life

Whether you’re a seasoned paleo foodie, a chronic dieter or a newcomer to the world of clean eating, there’s a good chance that you’ve struggled at one point or another with how to stick to your program in social situations. Going out to a restaurant or a party can be pure torture (read: relatively inconvenient) for those enduring any kind of elimination diet or simply trying to eat healthier, especially when the people you go out with are ordering all the unhealthy foods you still crave.

Luckily, there are ways to make your social life a whole lot easier to maintain while still making your health a priority. Here are a few tips to get you started!

"But what will I eat at Tiffany's?" Holly asked herself, wondering if she could find a menu online.

“But what will I eat at Tiffany’s?” Holly asked herself, wondering if she could find a menu of their breakfast options  online.

Research the menus ahead of time.
Your friend calls you up and says, “We’re going to that trendy new restaurant downtown tonight. They serve cupcakes in champagne glasses for dessert so bring your appetite.” You immediately jump into a panic because: (a) Cupcakes sound amazing right now but you’re trying to kick your sugar habit. (b) You aren’t really sure what you’ll be able to eat because you’ve never been there. (c) Parking is horrible downtown, especially on a Saturday night.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution to problems A and B: go online and look up the restaurant’s menu online! As both a picky eater and someone who has completed a few rounds of Whole30, I do this all the time before going to a new restaurant. If I can make a decision before I leave the house, I am less likely to order a bucket of tater tots in a fit of hunger and panic. Knowing what you’re going to order beforehand takes away most of the pressure you may be feeling, so that instead you can focus your energy on finding the right parking garage. Planning ahead is key to your success!

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Know your staples and substitutions.
Most of the time, I know I am safest ordering a salad or some combination of grilled chicken and veggies, and I am totally fine with it! Have an idea of what works for you before perusing the menu, and don’t be afraid to make substitutions. I am constantly replacing rice with veggies or asking for the sauce/dressing on the side, and most places are ok with these changes to an extent. I even keep a running list of my favorite healthy options and substitutions at local chain restaurants that allow me to stick to my program if I go out for the night.

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Sabrina didn't have the heart to tell Linus that alcohol wasn't permitted on the Whole30.

Sabrina didn’t have the heart to tell Linus that alcohol wasn’t permitted on the Whole30.

Speak up.
If you decide to go out with friends, pick the restaurant. No more of this back-and-forth “I don’t know, where do you want to eat?” that seems to land you at the Olive Garden every time. (Mmmmm, endless breadsticks.) I have a few friends who are kind enough to ask me if I’m on Whole30 before we go out, but there are plenty of times I’ll take charge on a restaurant choice because I already know there won’t be anything compliant for me at other restaurants. Don’t be afraid to speak up and make the decision yourself!

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Bring food to the party.
I’m guilty of snacking at parties. No matter how many people are present, there always seems to be more than enough food to nosh on between conversations and awkward one-armed hugs. I have never been to a single party where healthy food outnumbered the junk food (although one can only dream of a secret paleo society that hosts monthly parties featuring sweet potato gnocchi and cauliflower poppers). To keep yourself from gravitating toward the Cheetos, bring a healthy snack that people will enjoy and fits your own program. There are about a million ways to make a fun fruit salad, or if you are on a less restrictive program, you can always opt for healthier versions of your favorite junk food (Skinny Pop Popcorn and The Better Chip spinach/kale chips are two of my favorites). Besides, bringing food to a party is the proper thing to do!

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Ann didn't want to spend her entire Roman holiday focused on food, so she and Joe hopped on a Vespa to cruise around the city instead.

Ann didn’t want to spend her entire Roman holiday focused on food, so she and Joe hopped on a Vespa to cruise around the city instead.

Focus your activities on something other than food.
Fun fact: Not every social activity needs to involve a meal. If you find it difficult to stick to your program while out in a restaurant (because, let’s face it, this is no easy feat), stop going out to restaurants. Invite your friends to go bowling or visit an art festival. Watch a movie in the park. Find a museum in the area that you’ve never been to before. Have fun without bonding over how much you’ll hate yourselves for ordering the mozzarella sticks.

Avoid the scale.
In general, a lot of experts suggest avoiding the scale (or cutting back on its use) regardless of your social life, but my tip in particular focuses on restaurant visits. Most restaurants will pack your food with tons of salt, so if you’re planning a weigh-in any time soon, you may want to wait.

"Do I look like I care what you think?" Jo asked, posing fabulously with the Nike of Samothrace.

“Do I look like I care what you think?” Jo asked, posing fabulously with the Nike of Samothrace.

Stop caring about what others think.
When you change your lifestyle, especially when that leads to dietary restrictions, there will be naysayers. Don’t listen to them. Remember that different food groups and chemicals affect everyone differently. I would love to lose weight while eating endless bowls of pasta and laughing in the faces of my enemies, who have gained weight eating that same pasta, I know this is not possible for me. I know how gluten affects my skin, mood and stomach, so when people comment that I should be eating “whole grains” and “in moderation,” I’ll smile, thank them for their suggestions, and keep doing what I’ve been doing. You know what works for you better than anyone else does (except your doctor, of course), so if your friends start giving you unwarranted dietary advice, ignore them or change the subject.

What are your tips for maintaining a social life while still eating healthy? Sound off in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Worst Girlfriends in Literature

Holly-Golightly-and-Paul-Varjak-paul-varjak-and-holly-golightly-24466180-601-400Falling in love can be a difficult experience, especially when the person you love brings a lot of baggage to the relationship. However, an extra dose of drama makes for a great story, one that makes us want to keep reading. Back in April, we talked about a few of the literary world’s most tortured souls (who happened to be some of the worst boyfriends in literature), but what about the ladies? This week, we’ll talk about five of literature’s worst potential girlfriends, and why you should steer clear if you ever pop into a literary universe.

The Weekend Five: Worst Girlfriends in Literature

1. Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote).
If you’re a long-time reader or we’ve met in person, you’ll probably know that I’m a huge Audrey Hepburn fan, and that Holly Golightly is easily one of my favorite literary characters. The film version is more of a rom-com than the actual book, but even if your only point of reference is the movie, you can see that beyond the Givenchy dress and the Tiffany jewelry, Holly is kind of a mess. Forget the whole call-girl thing – Miss Golightly can’t commit to one thing, not even her cat (“poor slob without a name”). She drifts from man to man and, while engaging to listen to, is more interested in a man’s money and prestige than anything else. (She’s also tied to a seedy racketeer in the Sing Sing prison!)

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2. Catherine Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë).
I included Heathcliff on the worst boyfriend list, so it’s only natural that Catherine appears here — their relationship screams dysfunctional! When Heathcliff marries another woman, Cathy becomes completely insane, locks herself up and stops eating, even though she’s already married to a perfectly nice guy. She’s cruel to the man she loves because of their different stations in life, and she continues to haunt him even in death. Theirs is one of the most doomed love stories of all time, which is not something to aim for in a functional relationship.

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thesunalsorises3. Brett Ashley (The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway).
Lady Brett Ashley has a wandering eye and very little motivation. The socialite can’t stick to one man and at one point, winds up with a 19-year-old bullfighter. Although she is in love with Jake Barnes, the novel’s protagonist, she refuses to commit to him because his war injuries have rendered him impotent. When he asks if they could simply live together, she says no because she knows she wouldn’t be able to remain faithful. While her concerns are understandable (and at least she’s honest!), she doesn’t seem to have much luck with her other relationships.

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4. Alaska (Looking for Alaska by John Green).
Although Looking for Alaska is one of my favorite novels, I’ll be the first to admit that most of John Green’s female characters are manic pixie dream girls. Although beautiful and intelligent, Alaska is self-destructive and emotionally unstable. The main character Miles can’t help but fall in love with her, even though she has a boyfriend and doesn’t always treat him well. Alaska is a great character, but definitely not ready to settle down.

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5. Most of the female characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s female characters are often selfish and superficial, and only with their male love interests for the money. From Gloria of The Beautiful and Damned, who has no ambitions other than acquiring her husband’s inheritance, to the famous Daisy Buchanan of The Great Gatsby, these characters have few accomplishments or positive qualities. (In fact, don’t date anyone from any of his books – they are all shallow!)

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Which female literary characters do you think would make the worst literary girlfriends?

The Weekend Five: Literary Characters I’d Invite to Dinner

As an avid reader and semi-lit nerd (I say “semi” because I don’t want to offend any English majors who read like it’s nobody’s business), I constantly find myself drawn to new characters. In fact, characterization is one of my favorite parts of reading and writing — I love watching new personalities come to life on the page!

Recently, when an essay question asked me to write about a person (dead or alive) who I would want to eat dinner with, my mind reverted back to the piles of books I’d read throughout the past sixteen years or so, and I couldn’t help but ask myself which fictional characters I would want to have dinner with. While I ultimately did not write about those characters in my essay, I did realize that I would be unable to narrow it down to one character. I would have to host an entire dinner party! 🙂

The Friday Five: Literary Characters I’d Invite to Dinner

1. Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
Lizzy’s story may have taken place in the early 1800s, but everyone who has read Pride and Prejudice will recognize that she’s really a modern girl at heart. One of the most intellectual female characters in any book I’ve ever read, Elizabeth Bennett would likely contribute a spirited commentary on a particular social convention from her time. (Remind you of anyone? 😉 Maybe I should stop trying to flatter myself!) It would be interesting to hear her thoughts on women’s roles in society and the institution of marriage, especially compared to what we see in the world today.

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2. Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)
Having been a crazy Harry Potter fanatic since third grade, I couldn’t have a party and not invite Hogwarts’ greatest Headmaster of all time. “Call me Al,” he’d instruct us, before either bestowing upon us some great wisdom or comparing the main course to an earwax-coated Bertie Bott Every Flavour Bean. Dumbledore would bring some much-needed eccentricity to the table, and perhaps when the meal was over, he would try to teach us all a few spells!

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3. Lord Henry Wotton (The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde)
No fancy dinner party is complete without its resident troublemaker. Lord Henry Wotton — the same man who more or less convinced Dorian Gray to sell his soul for eternal youth, beauty, and gluttony — would indulge us with the cattiest of gossip and witty one-liners like “The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties,” and “It is only the intellectually lost who never argue,” and “To be popular one must be a mediocrity.” He and I might not see eye to eye on everything, but he’d certainly be entertaining to listen to!

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4. Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote)
First, I would ask her where she bought her outfit, because she would clearly be the most fashionable person in the room (possibly excluding Dumbledore, depending on what robes he decided to wear). Then, after recognizing that I would be unable to afford the little black Givenchy dress or Tiffany’s jewelry, I would let Holly do the talking. One of my favorite literary characters portrayed by one of my favorite actresses, Holly would have countless socialite adventures to share, regaling us with stories of her visits to Sing Sing jail, her former farm life as Lula Mae, and more.

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5. Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins)
Of course I would have to invite Katniss Everdeen, in honor of the release of the first Hunger Games film! Not only does Katniss have to compete in a televised fight-to-the-death with other teenagers, but she also has to compete against this guy she’s kind of falling for. She might not feel comfortable talking about the Hunger Games because they were a painful experience for her and her loved ones, but at the very least, she could enjoy a warm meal.

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If you enjoyed this post, tune in next week to find out who wasn’t on the invite list for this dinner party! Comment below to share YOUR favorite literary characters.

According To The Movies, True Love Is…

In keeping with our romantic comedy theme from yesterday’s post, I thought it would be entertaining to poke fun at some more of the film and television relationships we love. Before I continue, I have to admit that a few of these come from some of my favorite movies, but I love being able laugh about them all. Without further adieu:

According to the movies, true love is…

  • Vowing to turn the nerdy girl into a beautiful prom queen until you give her contact lenses and a haircut and then realize she was beautiful all along. (She’s All That)
  • Finding the one who will rescue your cat in the rain after you let it out of the car during a tantrum. (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
  • Lying about your age to your English teacher and making him think the girl he’s falling for is a high school senior when you’re actually 25 years old. (Never Been Kissed)
  • Trading your girlfriend for a hotel, sleeping with her arch-nemesis, and then asking her to prove her love for you atop the Empire State Building. (Gossip Girl)
  • Losing your ability to speak and then realizing that you can still win the prince’s heart with your looks. (The Little Mermaid)
  • Getting engaged to your employee to avoid getting deported to Canada and then marrying him anyway because you bonded with his crazy grandmother.  (The Proposal)
  • Knowing that your sometimes-enemy and business rival is also your anonymous email pen pal, but still asking her to meet you for a date in the park. (You’ve Got Mail)
  • Getting on a boat to Paris with the guy who tried to ship you off there in the first place. (Sabrina)
  • Inviting at least 20 young women (mainly account coordinators, dental assistants and aspiring models) to compete for your affections on TV over the course of several weeks and enjoying romantic moments with each before deciding that your “real feelings” are for the girl that audiences hate the most. (The Bachelor)

What has the media taught you about “true love?”

The Friday Five: Sweetest Chick Flick Endings

After my previous, less romantic post, I thought it would be nice to give this week a fairy-tale ending. Although I generally like to tear down those romantic comedy films because of the effects they have on (mostly female) audiences, I admit that they have always been a guilty pleasure. Maybe they aren’t realistic, but we are allowed to have hope from time to time, and so this week, I would like to present some of the more aww-worthy romantic comedy endings. (Feel free to call me a sap!)

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The Friday Five: Sweetest Chick Flick Endings

1. Never Been Kissed (1999)
A copy editor in her mid-twenties, the dorky Josie Geller longs for love, and – as the title of the movie suggests – has never even been kissed. Naturally, she ends up going undercover as a high school student in order to write an expose on the popular students’ lives, and falls in love with her English teacher. A little crazy and unethical, yes, but it takes place in the 90’s — a decade of really bad but still insanely adorable teen movies — so it’s all sort of forgivable. When she is revealed as an undercover reporter and declares her love for her teacher at a big baseball game, the following ensues. Even if you aren’t particularly moved by the illegalities of it all, you have to love the Beach Boys music playing in the background. “Don’t worry, baby…” 🙂

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2. You’ve Got Mail (1998)
In this remake of The Shop Around The Corner, Meg Ryan plays the owner of a small bookshop, who falls for a man with whom she has only corresponded by email. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks plans to build a huge chain bookstore across the street, which will be sure to put Ryan’s shop out of business, and so they develop an adversarial relationship. As fate would have it (of course!), Tom Hanks happens to be the mystery man she has been emailing. In the end, they manage to put their differences aside and admit their feelings for each other in real life.

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3. He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)
This is one of those ensemble cast movies that features several love stories, but smack dab in the middle of all of them is the story of Gigi, a sweet girl who overanalyzes potential relationships too often, and Alex, the uncommitted but friendly guy who helps her recognize all the lies she’s been telling herself about the world of dating. Although I don’t totally buy Alex’s profound realization in this end scene, I am a sucker for this ending. Maybe again this has something to do with the music in the background (Somewhere Only We Know happens to be one of my favorite songs) but I do think it was a clever — and sweet! — way to wrap up the characters’ story.

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4. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
What kind of list would this be if it didn’t feature multiple Meg Ryan films? (Trust me, there are plenty of other good ones that didn’t make the list but still deserve to be there.) Disregarding the big hair, it is one of my favorite movies of all time. It begs the question “Can a man and a woman be friends without sex getting in the way?” Harry and Sally grow close over a period of 11 years, but eventually their feelings do get in the way and we end the movie with this gem. Possibly the sweetest “grand gesture speech” I have ever heard in a movie. Although it may not be the most realistic at times, I think When Harry Met Sally is the kind of love story most people want to find in their own lives. Wouldn’t it be great if the perfect person for us was right under our nose all along?

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5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a “romantic comedy” or “chick flick,” but it does have those romantic elements and definitely the perfect ending, in spite of the fact that it differs from the novel. All iconic aspects of the movie aside, it has such a lovely Old Hollywood ending that current films just can’t duplicate, with great speeches from the characters and gorgeous visuals.

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What are your favorite movie endings?

Never Love a Wild Thing.

“You can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you’ll end up… if you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.” – Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s