Baggy, Unflattering and Totally Content

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

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When I first saw these photos, "baggy" and "unflattering" were the words that came to mind. Guess it's a fair place to start when describing an over-sized dress and droopy cardigan to match. But if it was so unflattering, why did I bother? I had to remind myself why I even wanted photos of the outfit at all.

The day I actually wore this outfit, it was "cozy" and "comfortable." What's even better is that I was completely and totally content with it. It was less about the look, and more about the feel.

My philosophy on clothing and personal style has changed so much since college. I treated my walks to class like a fashion show. I was the girl who wore heels in the student union and a blazer during final exams. I loved the concept of "dressing to impress."

But these days? I want comfort, simplicity and no fuss. I want to focus on my clients and work, rather than keeping my outfit in place.

Dressing up in college used to give me confidence. But I think there's a whole new sort of confidence that comes from feeling comfortable and at home in the clothes I'm wearing. In post-grad life, I'm swapping my heels for flats, and my blazers for cozy sweaters. This LBD might not have been the most flatting thing hanging in my closet, but dammit, it is one of the most comfortable.

Outfit Details: Dress: Old Navy; Cardigan: Old Navy; Boots: Steve Madden.

Something Called The Whole30

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Starting the Whole30

I started the Whole30 on Friday. Heard of it?

Now before you call me crazy, let me explain. We can skip the discussion of weight loss and trendy Paleo culture. To be honest, I never would have looked twice at this program before. But three weeks ago, a routine doctor visit turned into blood tests and a serious talk about the digestive and stomach issues I'd been "tolerating" for the last 10 years.

We've been down the list of possibilities, everything from Crones to ulcers. But the one thing that never got discussed? Food allergies and food sensitivities. You want to talk about an "oh duh" moment? This was one of them.

These days, there's a fancy little blood test that can take all the guess work out of it. I'll spare you the gory details of it all, but I went for it. Essentially, my body hates 70 percent of the things I was putting into it — including all the old favorites like cheese, bread and more cheese.

That's how me and the Whole30 became acquainted. I needed a serious introduction to wholesome, healthy food, and the Whole30 had the goods. The program focuses on a clean and balanced diet for — you guessed it — 30 days. That means plenty of meats, fruits, veggies and anything else from this list. However, sugar, grains, dairy and alcohol get booted.

My personal health and nutrition just aren't topics I usually blog about. I'm always happy to highlight the copious amounts of coffee I consume, but rarely the bad food choices I make on the daily. But I'm finally ready to press the "restart" button on my eating habits. Not for the numbers of the scale, but for how I'm feeling each day. I owe my body at least 30 days — and it's worth documenting.

Day 1

Starting out the first day was almost exciting... even though I drove to the grocery store twice; my soul died a little when I couldn't find bacon without added sugar; and I'm still reeling from spending $10 on a bag of flaxseed. But the scariest thing? I'm already feeling it. Founders Melissa and Dallas talk about the "hangover" period that happens 2-3 days in... Expect my body definitely skipped ahead. This paragraph was typed between hot flashes and big yawns.

Day 2

There's no doubt my body is definitely feeling the starts of Whole30 — came in the form of an demanding grogginess throughout the day. Breakfast was a overflowing bowl of fruit with flaxseed. Lunch was a big helping of eggs, potatoes and this fancy organic Portland ketchup. I've been snacking on apples, almond butter and lemon water all day. Plenty of food, but not my usual carb-loaded meals. Thank goodness there's still coffee to combat the urge to curl back up in bed.

Have you every tried Whole30? I'd love any words of wisdom (or favorite recipes) you might have — leave a comment below!

Why I Almost Quit Blogging (But Didn’t)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why I Almost Quit Blogging (But Didn’t) Four weeks ago, I made the decision to take a hiatus from blogging… and at the time, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was coming back. 
If you’ve stuck with me the past four years, you know this blog has been a lot of things. I created Coffee and Cardigans in my sophomore year of college — undoubtedly on a late night whim after reading too much Kendi Everyday. It started as a personal style blog full of awkward outfit photos and weekend craft projects. Many of those outfits have since been retired and returned to the thrift store where they belong… because 20-year-old Callie really didn’t know how to dress herself. But between snapping outfit photos and dreaming put post titles, I fell in love with blogging.

Then came my junior year of college. So many of my professors were thrilled to know I had an established blog, but furrowed their brows when I told them exactly what I blogged about. “Do you want to work in fashion PR? Because those are the only people that will take this seriously.”

It was a comment I heard more than once — and I was stupid enough to listen. There was nothing wrong with the fashion industry; I had been the girl in high school with a plan to move to New York and become Andy Sachs. But it wasn’t the dream anymore — I was already two years into a public relations degree. So slowly, I shaped my content around the aspiring PR girl I wanted to be. If I wanted to be an “expert” in my field, I had to write about it… right?

So I abandoned my fashion blogger ways and committed myself to a new beat. I churned out content for a niche audience even though I didn’t understand (or even like) it. The change got me noticed in class and on campus; I beamed every time a professor mentioned reading a recent post of mine on professional networking or media relations. But the glee didn’t sustain me and things began to shift (again). Sitting down to blog left me frustrated and I usually ended walking away from my computer after hours with only an incomplete blog post to show for it. Even after a redesign last summer (thanks again, Melissa), there was still a deep, jagged gap I couldn’t bridge.

For the last year, I let that blogging discontentment fester, waffling back and forth between two extremes. Sometimes, I forced myself to commit. Though it didn't help that any post I was creating came from a sense of obligation to my editorial calendar. Other times, I let myself say "screw it." But of course, there was always self-imposed guilt to follow — especially as I started building my business over the summer.  

Either way I looked at it, blogging was a chore.

The word "hiatus" first came up in conversation in early September, sitting down to coffee one morning with a good friend and blogger. An extended vacation away from the passion project I'd come to loath? Sure, it was worth a shot. I went home that afternoon to hide old posts, type of the announcement and shout it to the world. Coffee and Cardigans was going on hiatus. Clicking the "publish" button, I knew there was a really good possibility I wasn't coming back.

I’ve loved watching Coffee and Cardigans grow, but at the same time, I hate what I let the blog become come. Through all the rebranding and restricting, I let the first (and most important) purpose of my blog get lost in translation. This was my blog — my creative outlet — to enjoy. It took me four weeks to really understand what I missed about blogging. It wasn’t the editorial calendar or traffic numbers or free products — it was the writing. I also missed you, the absurdly forgiving reader who has kept Coffee and Cardigans bookmarked to this day.

Those small realizations helped me make the big decision. I could either walk away... or start over. So here I am, starting over with a fresh appreciation and understanding of how Coffee and Cardigans fits into my life. I don't want writing to be a chore anymore. I want it to be something I love. So here is what I’m going to do:

  • I’m putting the editorial calendar away and publishing the words as inspiration strikes.
  • I'm focusing on the things in life that I really love — this isn't about monetizing.
  • I'm getting over my fear of saying the wrong thing and tiptoeing around topics.

If you're still reading this, thank you. I'm so excited to start the autumn season fresh — and blogging is just the top of my list. Coffee and Cardigans is still on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find me blogging about social media, digital strategy and business over here. I'd love to have you follow along.