Hi! It’s been so long and I’m sorry for that. Life has gotten in the way – there’s been a lot going on the last few months, namely a new job, and new living arrangement and a rather spontaneous trip to New York! Don’t mind me, deciding to travel halfway around the world in two weeks time. NBD. (Of course I was dying inside as I tried to organise flights, accommodation, foreign currency, leave from my job, etc, etc).
To ease myself back into this whole blogging caper, here’s some reading for your Sunday:
1// Just finished reading Truly, Madly, Guilty, and The Singles Game, and onto what is probably the most anticipated book of the northern hemisphere’s summer – The Girls by Emma Cline. I’ll try to review Truly, Madly, Guilty and The Singles Game but so far, so good with The Girls!
2// Love reading how writers got their start in their careers – this one’s a goodie from a New York Times Style writer.
3// I replaced my much-loved white Converse this week. I did think about going for a pair of Stan Smith’s, but there’s something about how chunky they are that I don’t like on me, and I’m not sure how much longer the trend towards them will last. White canvas sneaks, however, are timeless.
As the weather turns and the leaves brown, the mornings have become crisp and the air fresh. I usually love summer and the warm weather, but recently I’ve been excited for the change of season. Autumn is cozy layers, warm tea and freshly baked treats, dark berry colours, the smell of slow cooked stew pervading the house, and long afternoons curled up with a book or Netflix. Bring. It. On.
The dawn of Autumn is also an excuse to shop, and I’ve been doing just that – stocking up on versatile pieces to see me through the colder months. Resisting the temptation to buy has been difficult lately, with all the sales on at my favourite stores. These pieces are all great for layering, and work well together. My aesthetic is generally one of simple layers in neutral colours, and this Autumn’s buys are no exception. I’ve been enjoying bringing them out one by one, working these pieces amongst the clothes I already own. When shopping for anything, I always try to consider how the item will fit into my existing wardrobe. Of course, some things I’ll just love and have to have, no matter how frivolous. But for the most part, I only buy something if I can see how it fits into what I already own.
I’ve also nabbed a couple of basics while sales have been on – in particular, the above Country Road black jeggings (my fourth pair – they wear well, but I wear them multiple times a week for work), and the Country Road singlets, which are useful for layering and extra warmth. I’m hoping this cut will work under racerback tops – will let you know how I go!
Anything you’ve got your eye on for the changing seasons – be it Autumn or Spring? x
Confession time though: I used to be a terrible cook. Like, really really bad. Luckily, there was something about being forced to cook for myself that meant I had to get better, and do it quick. I now consider myself pretty handy in the kitchen, and cook most of my meals myself. I don’t eat out that often and actually prefer my own cooking a lot of the time. The secret to success in the kitchen? Confidence, and practice.
Throwing together healthy meals shouldn’t be too time consuming or ridiculously expensive. Spend some time in the kitchen, understand what flavours work together and try to hit your macros with each meal – protein, carbs and healthy fats. I am forever adding extra veg to whatever I’m cooking, both to stretch the recipe further and to make it healthier. I’m no nutritionist, but I’ve always abided by the philosophy of the more veg I can cram in, the better.
Over the last few years, I’ve gotten my cooking routine down. I usually spend a solid chunk of Sunday afternoon cooking for the week to come, and I always make sure I’ve got something in the freezer ready to go for those nights when I’m stuck at the office late or want to spend some extra time at the gym. It’s become a relaxing ritual for me, and a way to make sure my weekend was semi-productive, even if it mostly consisted of Netflix or a hangover. These three easy recipes have been tried and tested over the years, and are now my Sunday cook up go-tos. Bon appetit!
Easy, filling and so delicious for autumn and winter. This works best when cooked slowly in the oven on a lower heat, but also works over the stove just gently simmering. Serve with cous cous and green beans.
I am a frittata fiend. It’s so simple yet so delicious. I also add grated zucchini to this one, just make sure you remove most of the moisture by squeezing the grated zucchini in paper towel. No one likes a watery frittata! This is a great base frittata recipe – the simplicity of eggs and cheese makes frittata a great vehicle for veggies and protein. Try pancetta, bacon or smoked salmon.
Do you watch TED Talks? I have dabbled in them in the past, but recently I’ve gotten into them in a big way.
I’d been going through a bit of a funk due to being very run down after a busy, busy summer, falling out of my exercise routine, finding out I have to move out of my house (yes, moving AGAIN), and a few other things besides. After having a fat whinge over the phone to my mum, she sent me a link to a TED Talk that I’d heard about but had never seen: Amy Cuddy’s talk on how body language shapes who we are. I then went on a TED Talk binge, mostly listening to talks from successful, influential and interesting women as a way to pep me up and motivate myself out of a lull. For this post, I’ve rounded up my favourites.
This talk could not have come my way at a more appropriate time. I’ve always subscribed to the motto of ‘fake it till you make i’t, but Amy Cuddy takes it one step further to ‘fake it till you become it.’ There’s some really interesting insights in how the way we subconsciously behave influences our perceptions of both ourselves and others. I’ve got her book on my ‘to read’ pile.
I loved this one so much that I went out and bought Shonda’s book. I’m a massive fan of all things Shondaland – so that’s Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, previously, Private Practice. This talk and Shonda’s book are both call outs to saying yes to the things that scare us. It doesn’t hurt that they sound and read just like a Meredith Grey or Olivia Pope monologue.
I remember reading Eat, Pray, Love as an older teenager and just not getting what all the fuss was about. Some lady went to Italy and ate, India and prayed, and Bali and found love – big deal. Looking back, I was just too young for Elizabeth Gilbert’s story to mean anything to me, and now it’s become a cliche. However, with her follow up novel, The Signature of All Things, Gilbert proved that she did indeed have creative and writing chops. Now, her manifesto on creativity, Big Love, is a much adored bestseller. This talk is a really interesting take on how everyone is creative, and how to access latent creativity. I really think she’s onto something.
Do you have a favourite TED Talk? I’m on the lookout for recommendations! x
As I sat down to write this post, I got really nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and I’m not really sure why that is. To be totally honest, I’m writing this from my bed at 1.30 on a Sunday afternoon, on the first real autumn day we’ve had. My room is a mess, I’m still wearing my pyjamas (and trust me, they are not the matching perfect blogger set), I just ate peanut butter on toast in bed, and I’m pretty sure I’m still wearing eyeliner from last night that just did. not. budge. Damn you Stila, and your long wear eyeliner. There’s no #goals to be looking at here.
Now that you’ve got that pretty mental image, there’s some blogging related stuff I’ve been thinking about lately, and it’s time we had a chat about it. This blog has always filled a gap for me, been a place to be creative, practice writing, get personal and belong to an awesome community. But at the same time, blogging in the way I do it is weird – just flat out peculiar. You make a decision to let the world into your life and your mind, to judge your tastes and style and your thoughts. Even though I think about this blog through the lens of the Girl for Granted character, at the end of the day it’s still me who writes and makes the decisions and has the thoughts that go out there. It’s terrifying, but also bloody exciting. I love it, and I’m scared of it but we have to do the things that scare us, right?
Somewhere along the way though, my love for blogging evaporated. The hate didn’t grow, but the love evaporated and left behind a fog of ambivalence that grew and grew into a massive cloud, and the length of time since I’d written and the ensuing pressure to blog eventually overtook what I really enjoy about this whole blogging thing. Girl for Granted fell by the wayside. The excuses were always that I was busy, and it was summer and who wants to be cooped up inside in front of a computer? And I couldn’t take a million photos in public to Instagram because who wants to be that girl? (A more legit excuse was that when you work in front of a computer all day, the last thing you want to do when you come home is sit in front of another screen – something I really do struggle with when it comes to blogging).
(Oh and now it’s raining and my bed sits under a broken window so I am getting wet. Again, #goals.)
Let me be clear here that the pressure for me to blog has only ever come from me. Sure, some of my friends would ask why I hadn’t posted in a while, but the question has always been accompanied with a compliment on how much they enjoyed reading what I was putting together. And those questions and compliments always come from people that I never thought would read what I write, or even notice I was doing it. But I think what they don’t realise is how time consuming blogging is. This is not me complaining about that time commitment for one second. I fully understand that choosing to blog is choosing to spend time in that way. However, running a blog is so much more than jotting down some thoughts, finding a pretty photo and hitting publish – at least, in the way I want to do it. When I do something, I go all in. It’s just who I am. Go hard or go home; if you’re going to do something then do it properly; half-done is not done; the harder you work, the luckier you get. These are all things I tell myself on a regular basis, this has always been my approach to life. But it’s not actually the best approach to a hobby, especially a hobby that you LOVE.
I guess the essence of this post is that I took a break because I was blogging for the wrong reasons. When asked to give advice, “successful” bloggers always say not to do it for the wrong reasons – blog because you love it, because it lets you get creative, because you love to write or photograph or draw or whatever the hell creative pursuit you showcase on your blog. Don’t do it because you think you should, or because of the potential to make money or the audience numbers. There’s no quicker way to fall out of love with blogging than that. Don’t go into it thinking you’ll create a business. Let your hobby become your business, by all means. But don’t let the rest of the shit (analytics, social media, criticism) that comes with blogging let you forget why you’re here in the first place. For me, that means writing, being part of a community of incredible women who motivate, inspire (I hate that word), and support each other, and showcasing what I can do beyond my 9-5 business led job in a creative environment. Does that make sense? I also have some thoughts on the insecurities of being a blogger, but I think that’s a separate post.
From here on in, I’m going to blog more because I genuinely do love it. The time away from it has reinvigorated me; allowed me to realise that I’m not here for any grand delusions of making millions of dollars and becoming famous. Fuck that. I’m blogging because I want to, and because if you don’t care or don’t want to hear what I have to say, you won’t read – which is fine, by the way. Also the song I’m listening to is building to a climax so my typing and writing is getting more and more furious hence my lack of commas in this sentence.
So take this as my pledge to only do this blogging thing because I genuinely enjoy it. If opportunities come along as a result, great. If not, so be it. I’m going to make more time for it because I LOVE it, I love the satisfaction of owning and creating something and I’ve missed blogging. But right now, I think should probably get out of bed and maybe put on some real clothes. Those right there are #goals, my friends.
Spring has definitely hit in Sydney. The jacarandas are blossoming, the scent of jasmine fills the air at night, and the days are seemingly longer than even before. I’m even ok with the spring storms. However, the change of seasons means that all I want to do it go shopping. Oh boy do I want new stuff. Do you ever get the feeling that everything you own is just wrong? Perhaps it’s just the change in seasons, or maybe it’s a getting older thing, but all of my clothes feel wrong – outdated, ill fitting, not in line with my tastes anymore. I want to replace everything but as I’m getting older I’m really starting to appreciate quality. I’m happy to pay for quality too, but I definitely have champagne taste on a beer budget. I’m not necessarily talking designer, but rather really well cut pieces in quality fabrics. Hot tips, please.
Some reading for your perusal…
1// A new to me blog (but apparently its rather large? I don’t know) – Isaac Likes.
3// A couple of weekends ago I saw The Intern. If like me, you loved it, check out Nancy Meyer’s Pinterest board for the film. Repinning everything now.
4// I recently finished reading Crazy Rich Asians and loved it. I’d seen it in so many bookstores and knew that it was a best seller, but didn’t pick it up a few weeks ago. I was unexpectedly sucked in and even read the sequel.
5// Live alone, want to live alone, or spend lots of time alone? Read this, relate, and lol.
6// I’ve been thinking about the Cecilie Copenhagen O Neck Shirt for months now, and I think I’m finally ready to take the plunge. But now, which colour?
7// More than a little obsessed with the new Adele tune. Surely I’m not the only person who was partly hoping she would sing ‘Is it me you’re looking for?’ after the first ‘Hello’??
8// With birthday parties rolling on, Spring Racing in full swing and Christmas parties right around the corner, it seemed only sensible to invest in a new party dress. This C/meo Collective red number (on sale!) should see me right through.
9// The Draper James store has firmly cemented Nashville’s position on my wanderlust list. That blue and white colour palette, Southern homestead style, and the fact that the brand is owned and run by Reese Witherspoon doesn’t hurt.
10// I’ve made a big effort to start working out more regularly. I’ve always been pretty consistent with exercise but now I’m making it a habit. Problem is, I’m running out of decent pump up playlists. Any suggestions?
I’ve always had a complex about reading what you’re “supposed” to read. Ie, huge literary tomes, the classics, major lit prize winners etc etc etc. These are all well and good, and in many cases, excellent reads. But sometimes, I just can’t deal with them. All too often, I’ve tried to read the prizewinners and the critically acclaimed and battled in a big way. Not because these novels aren’t well written or engaging, but because they’re just too much. Of course there are times when I want to stretch myself, challenge my opinions and engage in a world different to my own. However, I find that reading is the best kind of escape and I don’t always want it to feel like work. This year, I’ve stopped stopping myself from reading what I really want to – sometimes you just need to indulge yourself and lose some time in someone’s fictional romantic escapades, ala Bridget Jones.
I’ve long had a soft spot for chick lit, but always wanted to hide it. No more though! For the uninitiated, chick lit is essentially a romantic comedy in novel form. Pure, fluffy, escapism, also known as beach reads. I’ve certainly read my share of chick lit/beach reads over the years, and consider myself something of an expert in the matter. A lot of novels in this genre are forgettable, and easily replaced by the next one to come along. The good ones though, stick with you. These are five of the best beach reads that I’ve returned to, or have shared with friends or just generally enjoyed too much not to share.
Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a massive girl crush on Zoe Foster-Blake. Her novels are funny, smart, easy to read and the absolute antithesis to the snotty literary fiction I usually push my way through. Start anywhere with her novels, but The Younger Man is my favourite for it’s sassy protagonist, fun trio of best friends and delightful eponymous younger man.
Do not read this unless you are happy to cry. I finished this one on a sunny winter’s day last year. I just happened to be sitting in the law school courtyard between classes, and I totally lost it. Had I been alone, there would have been ugly crying. I had to go home and sort myself out before returning for class. Embarrassing, but true. While it’s chick lit, it will also make you think and question your thoughts around some pointy social and legal issues. For bonus points, read it before the film adaptation comes out, and follow up with the recenty release sequel, After You.
This is basically the story of Prince William and Kate Middleton – except she’s American and it’s super cute. Take it and enjoy it for what it is, preferably when you’ve got nowhere to be and nothing but a day stretched out in front of you.
I’ve returned to this gem a few times, I’ll admit. I think this was one of the first Maggie Alderson novels I read, and still my favourite of the bunch. When a novel starts on the French Riviera, you know you’re in for a good time. Plus the characters are great – stylish, big, and fun. The story isn’t too soppy or corny, but it’s just enough to leave you with a smile. If you’re part of a big family, or just wish you were, you’ll relate in so many ways.
I read this recently off the back of a recommendation somewhere (can’t remember who or where, sadly). I had a night time bus trip down to Canberra and knew from past experience that sometimes the reading lights don’t work, so I loaded this one onto my iPad in lieu of taking a paper book, and started reading. Over the course of the return trip, I was sucked in a finished right as the bus pulled back into Sydney – the perfect ending to a weekend with my gals. There’s a ballsy girl boss architect, a hot former Olympian swimmer, a Texan setting, and so. much. tension. Enjoy.
I’m always on the look out for new books, especially coming into summer. Hit me up with your favourite beach reads! x
Happy long weekend! This long weekend I’ve been out at the family home, soaking up some much needed family time, getting lots (and lots) of sleep, reading, having an evening beer and playing with the puppy. Bliss. It’s back to Sydney tonight for a short but jam packed work week, then a girl’s night on Saturday. Obviously, I’m already planning what I’ll wear. Though I hope you’re outside making the most of the sunshine and not having to go to work on a Monday, it seems like too good an opportunity to pass up sharing some fun reading.
Summer is almost here, so get stuck in with a cold beverage in hand.
3// Have you read F*ck Yes, or No? If not, hop to it. Ostensibly this philosophy is for your dating life, but it really applies to anything and I find myself using it when making all kinds of decisions.
4// Two people who may or may not be good mates of mine have started a new blog, Half Decent Banter, where they tell us their thoughts about issues with a slight gender bent, from both his side and hers. Hilarious and so simple. Love it.
5// I loved Molly’s take on modern dating. I’m kind of in the same boat – not willing to be on dating apps, on the receiving end of people telling me to go on The Bachelor, sick of people telling me it will all happen when I least expect it. My philosophy and Molly’s are similar – just live your life and take it as it comes, because youjust don’t know.
6// Annie’s take on why she needed a break from blogging, how it’s changed her life, and the good and the bad of chronicling your life online and on social media really resonated with me. I’ve been quieter on the blog front lately in favour of spending time offline and living properly. When you stare at a computer screen all day at work, sometimes the last thing you want to do when you get home after a ten or eleven hour day is spend another couple of hours thinking intently, typing, and staring at a screen. It’s usually worth it, but god it’s hard work.
7// I love me an acai bowl, so I was pretty stoked to come across this recipe that Anne shared.
8// Got a spring engagement party, wedding or the races coming up? I bought this skirt a couple of weeks ago, and it has quickly become one of my favourites. Team it with navy, white or blue.
If you’ve been anywhere near Instagram in the last forever, you’ll have gotten the sense that typography and hand written lettering is ubiquitous at the moment. Some of the quotations are super corny, but every now and then I’ll stumble upon a favourite song lyric in beautiful handwriting, or a more obscure lyric or phrase that when isolated, really makes me stop and think.
For this gorgeous Monday morning, I’ve pulled out some of my favourites. These ladies are incredibly talented, and deserve all the credit in the world : @penheartspaper and @jasminedowling. There are many, many more incredible creators out there but I’m consistently blown away by the talent of these two. Also I have to go to work now, so I didn’t have time to trawl through all the amazing lettering on Instagram. Girl’s gotta collect a paycheque.
Do you have a favourite illustrator or typographer? I want more, more, more! x
One my favourite, recently instated features on the blog is Girl (For Granted) Talk. If you missed the first one with the gorgeous Annie Reeves (you should really go read it), you’re in for a treat today. The basic idea of this series that to bring you gals who I want to be friends with, or mine for advice, or just admire and think the world should see more of. Today, Jess Zimlich, of 26 and Not Counting is chatting to us. Jess’ blog is going from strength to strength, and I’ve really enjoyed watching her grow and becoming (admittedly only via email and social) blogging friends with her!
Your elevator pitch?
*elevator doors close*….kidding, your pitch can happen anywhere! Mine sounds a little something like this, “I work as a Corporate Communications Project Coordinator and dabble in freelance writing. I’ve also been running my lifestyle blog, 26 and Not Counting, for close to two years now where I cover everything from fashion to fitness and a hefty dose of life happenings. I really enjoy creating and sharing my experiences with the people who follow my blog and I’m excited to continue to nurture my corner of the web.”
I’m guilty of checking my social media channels before rolling out of bed and it definitely falls in the category of things I’m not proud of. However, I always, always start the morning with a big glass of ice water and a quick stretch to get my blood flowing.
White roses and ranunculus, please! You thought I was going to say pink peonies, didn’t you 😉
Your proudest blogging moment?
The posts I’m most proud of are usually the ones that are chock-full of my personal life happenings – that’s when I really feel like I connect with the people who read my blog. There was that one time I lost my job and the time I told the world that I used to be fat, but I’m also big on celebrating and I think 26 and Not Counting’s 2nd Anniversary is one to remember.
Aqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani.
Any tips for achieving work/life balance?
I set boundaries when it comes to work by letting the people I work with know when I’ll be available. If you’re answering emails into the wee hours of the morning, people are going to expect that you’re available at that time. When I leave work for the day, I’m completely checked out and that allows me to clear my head (focus on the million other things that make up my life) and come back the next day refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Your typical work day?
The glory of it is that no two days are the same and that keeps things interesting (bet you haven’t heard that before). I spend a hefty amount of time writing, editing and managing various projects. After that, it’s home to tidy up the apartment or run a few errands before I workout. Then I come back home to have dinner, work on my blog and any other projects I’ve taken on.
Books you always recommend – fiction and non fiction?
The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty are two of my favorites books, ever. I’m working my way through The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins right now and it hasn’t disappointed me yet, so I’ll more than likely be adding that to the list as well. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso was a quick, motivational read and proved to me that it’s okay to try and then try again to figure out where you’re meant to be when it comes to your career.
How do you get through your to-do list?
Slowly, but surely. No, but seriously, my lists have their own lists. I like to re-write mine at the end of the week and remove the things I accomplished so that the next time I come back to it I can clearly see what needs to be accomplished. I keep daily tasks written in my planner and then I have a larger “master” list, if you will, that highlights to-dos for the long-term. I also have a habit of emailing myself reminders. If it’s something that will take a quick second or two I’ll shoot myself an email to keep my to-do list from filling up with minuscule tasks.
Favourite way to spend Saturday?
I would wake up around 7:30 and head to a class at Health House KC, follow it up with brunch at The Farmhouse with my boyfriend, Pete, and then come home for a leisurely nap. At night we would meet our friends for dinner and drinks at The Westside Local and then see where the night takes us from there.
Any must have tools of your trade, or things that you couldn’t live without?
The Bloglovin’ app for reading my favorites on the go, the MyFitnessPal app for logging workouts and keeping track of what I’m eating and the Venmo app to quickly transfer money to friends and family (think brunch, cab fare or anything else where you’ll need to pay someone back).
Three beauty essentials?
A solid 8 hours of sleep, a great eye cream and enough H2O to have you running to the bathroom every hour, on the hour.
Your style in three words?
Work in progress. Does that count? My style is constantly evolving (thank god because I’ve had my fair share of “what was I thinking moments”) and I don’t see myself fitting into one category or another, but I do have one non-negotiable – I’ve gotta be comfortable!
Favourite piece of a) life advice, and b) career advice.
Take care of your body, because it’s the only one you’ve got. Some of my favorite career advice as of late came from Meg and Victoria over at The B Bar. You can read their posts here and here, but for those of you who want the cliff notes version: it’s okay if you don’t have a clear vision of what you’re meant to do or where you’re headed next.
What’s next for you?
I like to think the best of me is still hiding up my sleeves and if you care to follow along, I promise to share when I figure it out!
Thanks so much to Jess for chatting (well, emailing)! x