Style Sunday

Today we’re featuring a very special guest on the blog: my husband. Recently, he lost some weight and none of his jeans seemed to fit right anymore. Yeah, he only went from a 32″ waist to a 30″ waist, but that meant suddenly we had to order all his clothes online. It’s pretty hard to find pants measuring 30″x34″! J is also starting his professional career, so it was time for him to move on in his style choices anyway. I let him loose on a few of my favorite clothing sites, and here’s what he came up with:

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Shirt: XS, asos (thrifted)
Pants: 30″ waist, Forever 21
Shoes: 11, Rue 21

Altogether, this look cost around $30. The pants seem to be high quality (better quality than most of the jeans I’ve bought from F21, what gives?) and they fit perfectly, even though he was too tall to fit the whole look into a photo.

J has been wearing this outfit to a lot of events at the school he works for, and I have to say I think he looks pretty suave! I might start letting him shop for himself soon.

Grocery Bar, Chattanooga, TN

Southside in Chattanooga, Tennessee, used to be a food desert. To fight the influx of fast food restaurants and convenience stores moving in to take advantage of the lack of healthy food, Enzo’s Grocery was born. Enzo’s enjoyed moderate success as a neighborhood grocery, but attracted few customers outside of the area. In June, it was announced that my favorite grocery was closing it’s doors. Luckily for Enzo’s- and for me- a group of investors stepped in and Enzo’s rebranded itself as Grocery Bar.

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Grocery Bar is a neighborhood grocery driven and directed by chefs. Although they still have a grocery section, the real focus here is on prepared foods. Between a sushi bar, a sandwich and pizza bar, a juice bar, and cold and hot deli selections, there appears to be something for everyone at this new Southside staple.

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I’ve been to Grocery Bar twice since it opened under the new name, and I’ve been impressed both times.

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My husband and I stopped at Grocery Bar to pick up some food for a date night picnic. We were short on time, so we didn’t order from the kitchen, although I want to check out the juice bar soon. We headed straight for the hot and cold deli foods. Grocery Bar has the ingredients of each dish labeled and indicates if the item is gluten free, vegan, or vegetarian. It also indicates which, if any, of the ingredients are local.

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Food at the Grocery Bar is $8.99/lb from any of the self-serve stands, which is the same as the Whole Foods across town. However, Whole Foods doesn’t source their food locally, which is always a source of contention when the store is surrounded by so many great farms.

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Isn’t that beet salad gorgeous? We left with four pounds of food and devoured all of it.

If you’re into deli style food, or are looking for something to grab for a picnic, check out the Grocery Bar. While you’re there, try the samples of local produce and cheeses that are set up around the store.

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I look forward to seeing where Grocery Bar goes in the future and I wish it continued success. However, wishing is not enough for small groceries like this, so I will be spending my money here as well.

Friday Five!

Is it that time of the week again? The end of the week, and the end of August- time seems to be flying this year!

As with every Friday, it’s time to share the things I loved this week. So here’s the best of the best of the week!

1. My Keurig Mini

I was impressed with my Keurig. I wrote about it before. But then I ordered a variety pack of tea, cider, and other speciality drinks for it. Now? This is the best invention ever!

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I’m really digging herbal teas, as too much caffeine seems to be irritating a bunch of symptoms that aren’t really blog appropriate. However, these hot cocoas and the cappuccino flavors rock!

2. Aviary Photo-editing App

This free app offers in-app purchases to beef up the already impressive editing capabilities. I’ve purchased a few extra sticker packs and borders to play with, just for fun, but even without them, this is the editing app I keep returning to. It’s easy to use and has some cool effects.

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Be careful though, it’s easy to get caught up in what you can do and over edit your photos.

3. Pur Minerals Lip Gloss Sticks

I found one of these in my makeup drawer, completely unused. It was in a pretty coral color that matched what I was wearing, so I figured I would give it a try. The result? Loving it! A touch of color and completely non-drying. Perfect for my summer sunburnt lips!

4. The Sporty Look

So, I finally figured out how to style my Joggers. For a summer-to-fall transition look, I’m loving joggers with fun sneakers and a classic tee. For errands or just to look a little more fancy, I’m pairing peplum with my Joggers for a really neat look. But as much as I love the peplum+joggers? I just keep coming back to the sporty look.

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5. Beets

I thought I hated beets, I really did. But after trying a local best salad from Grocery Bar, I’m a convert. They’re earthy, they’re pretty, and they’re perfect with goat cheese. Plus they’re inexpensive and readily available. Really, what more can you ask for in a root vegetable?

So what are you loving this week?

Living, Not Surviving

Sometimes, with chronic illness, it seems like I’m using all my energy just to survive. Just eating, showering, and feeding the pets can take an entire day’s worth of energy. I felt so down about it, I started comparing myself to my healthy friends- look at them, in college, working, living on their own. But after I talked to them? It seemed they were just as stuck as I was.

They were stuck in a routine, doing the same things day after day to get by. Beyond their college classes and their day jobs, they had no clue what to do with their life, or what really made them happy.

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It seems that I wasn’t the only one unhappy with my life! It seems like a lot of people don’t actually know themselves, what they want, or what makes them happy. For me? I’ve found now that good food, travel, and writing make me happy. So does makeup, my pets, and educating about chronic illness. That’s why I started regularly posting on this blog- it’s fun!

So if you’re in a rut, I challenge you this: do one thing for yourself each week and don’t feel bad about it. It can be as simple as ordering a coffee with whole milk when you think you should get skim (but you really want that full fat latte) or as grand as signing up for a cooking class or a vacation!

Find out what makes you shine.

Personally, I find that my mental health improves tremendously when I’m doing things for myself. My mental health, in turn, helps my physical health. I know this won’t work for everyone but in a lot of cases, it’s worth a try.

Simple Make-up Look

I don’t do make-up every day, partly because I work from home and seriously, my dog is not impressed with a full face of makeup and some beautifully curled hair. But recently, I went to a dinner celebrating my best friend returning home from a college trip to Mexico, and I wanted to look a little special.

Here I am pre-makeup!

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Not too bad, not too bad, but nothing special. So let’s see after.

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Much more appropriate for the occasion! For this simple look, I used a beauty blender to apply elf mineral primer, then elf BB cream. Then I tightlined half of my upper lids with NYX very black eyeliner pencil. I used Billion Dollar Brows brow pencil in brown and clear brow gel on my brows. Then, I swept elf baked highlighter in blush gems in a figure 8 motion around my eyes.

After that, all I did was apply some elf baked blush in peachy cheeky to the apples of my cheeks and top the look off with Covergirl Bombshell Curvaceous Mascara in Very Black. I’m in love with this mascara, guys. It has mixed reviews but personally I use it almost daily!

So that’s all for my simple, casual makeup look. What do you use for a casual dinner out?

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

One thing any illness needs is awareness. We’re all pretty aware of various cancers now, and for good reason. Millions of people have cancer, and there are some really good awareness campaigns out there. (There are some not so good ones out there too but let’s focus on the good for this post.)

You know about pink for breast cancer. Red for heart disease. You might even have heard about butterflies for lupus. But when was the last time, before the Ice Bucket Challenge, that you heard about ALS?

ALS is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It’s a neurodegenerative disease that affects the spinal cord and brain. As the disease progresses, people with ALS lose muscle control, eventually becoming entirely paralyzed. The only end in sight for the disease is death, as there is currently no cure.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is working to change that! By making people aware of the disease using videos you want to watch- I have seem some funny challenges, some heartbreaking challenges, and some just plain weird challenges- and encouraging donations, the Ice Bucket Challenge is providing a lot of press and money for ALS. Donations are at an all time high!

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This is fantastic, and as someone else with a chronic illness, I wish the charity continued luck and donations. In fact, my husband was recently challenged! We didn’t have $100 dollars, the amount you should donate if you refuse the challenge, so he dumped ice water on himself and we made a smaller donation.

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Are you taking the challenge? Are you donating?

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I personally can’t take the challenge, as temperature changes like pouring ice water on myself tend to make me pass out, but I would love to see more of my family and friends donating and raising awareness!

A Southern Celiac is now on Facebook!

Heads up, guys! A Southern Celiac is growing! I now have my own Facebook page, here! Check it out and support me as I continue to improve my blog and share my story!

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On the Facebook page there will be tips, posts, and positivity exclusive to the Facebook page, so check it out if you’re interested. Thanks for the support so far!

Rue 21 Mini Haul

I had some rueBucks this past week that needed to be spent. I’ve already talked about how much I love Joggers, so is it any wonder that I took the opportunity to get $20 off $40 and buy some cute ones? Here’s what I got.

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These are the orange tribal chevron Joggers and the black and grey chevron Joggers. They’re both made of a thin terrycloth material, much like a beach cover up. When I tried them on, they were both comfy, and not too warm. They’ll be perfect for fall!

I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to style these, so I should probably stop buying Joggers until I figure out how I’m going to wear them. Other than that dilemma, the only thing I don’t like is that I’m currently I between sizes at Rue21. I ordered an XL but probably could have gone with a L instead. It seems like at Rue 21 and Forever 21, every single pair of pants fits differently. If I weren’t so into online shopping, I would try on every single thing I bought from Rue.

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Joggers are starting at $16.99 for both girls and guys right now, so they’re a great price compared to other places with similar items. Forever 21 has a few pairs starting at $13, but they’re thinner than the ones I got from Rue and show some serious panty lines!

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Are you loving or hating the jogger trend this year? How are you styling your Joggers?

Convenience in the Kitchen

I like easy. I inherited this trait from my mom, who loves kitchen shortcuts. They all seem to work for her. I have fond memories of homemade egg rolls, curries, and pasta sauces that she whipped up with seeming ease. The same shortcuts and gadgets that she used with such success seem to be lost on me. I can burn brownies, break blenders, and ruin meals like nobody’s business. Because of this unlucky characteristic, my mom and husband have spent the past two years building me a “kitchen for dummies.” It has gadgets even I can use, and meals I can make even when my POTS is flaring and I can barely stand. So, what’s in my kitchen?

1. Pre-cut everything

I’m the worst about dislocating my fingers. Whether it’s from rampant texting, picking up kittens, or chopping vegetables, my hands are in a constant state of pain and dislocation. Because of this, I buy as many things pre-chopped and pre-shredded as possible.

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At best, the pre-chopped and pre-shredded foods become ingredients for a simple meal. At worst, I dip them in hummus and call it brunch. Yeah, I’m paying more for convenience, but it saves money on ER visits to get things shoved back into socket.

2. Green juices and Meal Replacements

Sometimes you can’t stand long enough to make a meal without passing out. Especially when it’s hot outside and opossums have chewed through the air conditioner wiring. On days like that, or on days when we have to rush out the door, meal replacement shakes and green juices come in handy. They keep my blood sugar from crashing until I can find some real food!

3. A rice cooker

Two rice cookers, in fact, because Target wouldn’t update our registry after people bought from it. Not to worry though, rice cookers come in handy. Not only can you make some perfect rice, there are plenty of other recipes you can try in them too!

4. A Keurig

Guess how many coffee making gadgets we have in our kitchen. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

If you guessed 10+, you’re correct. My husband and grandpa are coffee addicts, and my husband has tried just about every way to brew coffee that he could find. Me? I stick to my Keurig. Since I can’t have too much caffeine, I mostly use it to make tea and hot chocolate.

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A hot drink in 90 seconds? That’s what I’m talking about. Even I can handle that. (My Keurig was a gift from my mom and is probably one of the best kitchen gifts I’ve ever gotten.)

5. A Filter Pitcher

Better for the environment than bottled water, this is also a lot more convenient. No more late night runs for bottled water because your tap water tastes gross. No more wishing you had remembered to put your glass water bottle in the fridge after filling it, instead of setting it beside you and forgetting about it.

I have a lot more gadgets in my kitchen, but these are my top five. What’s in your kitchen?

So When Am I Having Kids?

When you announce your engagement, everyone’s mind turns to one thing, and one thing only. Sure, you’ll get a few questions about your registry, the wedding, and how he proposed, but most people are dying to ask the bigger question. So, when are you having kids?

Not only is it a loaded question, but depending on your answer, it’s an awkward conversation for everyone involved. When I tell people I’m not having kids, suddenly the peaceful conversation becomes an interrogation. I usually mumble something about not being ready for that step and extricate myself from the situation. But what I wish I could say is…

10. I Can Barely Even Dress Myself.

Look, when you have kids you have to know how to dress them. Sure, sometimes I pull out all the stops and look stylish, but more often than not I’m inappropriately dressed for the weather.

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It’s 90 degrees outside, but Mother Nature can’t tell me what to do. I’m going to wear pants until I pass out! Which I will because my body sucks at temperature regulation.

9. I Hate Homework.

I’m pretty sure part of having a kid is making sure they turn their homework in on time. Considering that I made it several years of school without turning in a single piece of work actually done at home, I’m not a great role model for this.

8. The Dog Hates Children.

He was here first, kids…

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He’s old and set in his ways. He likes to bite children. Children don’t like to be bitten. It’s not a winning combination.

7. Puke Grosses Me Out.

I still can’t see someone puke without becoming a vomiting mess myself. I’ve been told it’s different when it’s your own kid, but I’m not exactly ready to test that hypothesis.

6. I Eat Like a Toddler.

How am I supposed to introduce my kids to a healthy diet? Sure, I don’t eat many starches and I’ve tried just about every trendy diet for stomach issues and autoimmune disorders ever, but when it comes down to it, I’m still the pre-teen that literally caused an oven explosion.

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Last time I was left in charge of children, I fed them junk food until they told their parents that they wanted to come live with me. There’s something about a steady diet of macaroni, icees, and cupcakes that wins a child’s heart. However, it also winds them up and leaves them crashing from simple sugars, so I appreciate the ability to give them back to their parents.

6. I Suck at Being Encouraging.

One of the best things about my parents is the way they always encouraged me to follow my dreams, even when my dreams were kind of silly. For example, when I was in preschool and wanted to be a garbage collector, my parents told me that I would be the best garbage collector ever.

Now, encouraging your kids is so important. Seriously! Which is a good reason for me not to try to raise any. I try, I really do. But when people want encouragement, my brain freezes. I wind up patting people on the back awkwardly and nodding in what I hope is a sympathetic manner. Even if I don’t need to be sympathetic.

5. I’m Scared I’ll Mess Up.

Babies are so fragile. Especially if they’re birthed by someone who has a hereditary genetic disorder. Just thinking about all the injuries my brother and I had as children, despite being closely watched and practically wrapped in bubble wrap, scares me.

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There’s so much that could go wrong, and as I learned with Fuzzy, if anything did go wrong, even the smallest thing, it would crush me. I’m the type of person who takes her cats for massages when they’re stressed. Can you imagine me as a parent??

4. I’m a Terrible Disciplinarian.

I’ve worked with kids several times, and let me tell you, they love me. You wanna know why they love me? Because I can’t bring myself to punish them. Sure, I can sometimes ward off bad behavior with my scary “Teacher Face,” which I inherited from my mom. But if pre-emptive measures don’t work? I got nothing.

3. I Can’t Even Have Them.

I’m a little bitter about this. But I have come to terms with it, using humor to hide any anger I may still have about the issues. However, the truth of the matter is, between my reproductive issues and my Ehlers Danlos, I really can’t have kids.

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My family has had a lot of issues with having babies. My mom and grandma struggled to have kids and they’ve passed their issues down. It’s not exactly the kind of information I pass around to people casually asking about my life plan. But it’s one of the most serious reasons I’m not having kids.

2. Medical Bills.

Having kids is expensive. So are the thousands of medical bills I rack up every year. When I think of all the medical bills I would rack up while trying to have kids, it makes me shudder. When I think about the medical bills my kids would rack up if I passed my illness down? That’s just sad.

1. I’m Too Sick.

There are some amazing spoonie mamas out there. I respect and admire you so much! You work so hard to take care of both your kids and your health. It’s like having two full time jobs you can never get a break from. You’re practically Super Mom!

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As for me? Until I get some proper pain management and a little help for the constant dizziness, I don’t have the resources to give a child what they deserve. Add in the guilt I would feel if I passed any of my illnesses down to my kid, and it’s just not the right choice for me and my husband.

That doesn’t mean it’s not right for everyone, and please don’t be like some people I’ve encountered who assume I’m a kid-hating curmudgeon! Just think before the next time you ask someone when they’re planning on having kids. Unless you know them well, you never know what kind of can of worms you are opening!