The Top 10 Posts of 2012

You guys! I’ve totally been dropping the ball on my end-of-the-year traditions. As my long-time readers can attest, I always do a round-up of the top 10 posts along with my yearly sum-uppance. I’ve just been a little thrown off with all this time off work/working from home. Clearly I’m a girl who needs a schedule.

Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know that I have not forsaken you at the end of 2012. So without further ado, THE TOP 10 POSTS OF 2012:

weddingattire

10. Wedding Guest Attire. AND BEYOND!: Remember that time I obsessed about what to wear to a wedding for about a month? (In my defense, I was working a really boring job at the time. I had a lot of time on my hands.) Well, when I finally got my lifeoutfit together, you guys were either pleased with the result or just that I had stopped talking about it.

9. Don’t starve. Learn to cook.: I still incorporate at least one of these four easy cooking tips in just about everything I make. You should too.

maidenhair

8. 6 Super-Easy Summer Hairstyles: It’s mildly reassuring that you guys don’t hate when I write about my hair. But seriously, who doesn’t need updo ideas when it’s too humid to even bother doing your hair, amiright?

7. 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Have a Movie-Themed Wedding: I actually pissed people off with this post. Which, if you’re familiar with how innocuous my blog usually is, is saying something. Of course, this was also a post published on Huffington Post Weddings, so that obviously increased my usual reach. (Confession: I still haven’t read the comments on the HuffPo piece. People can be mean, y’all.)

6. How to: Skip Washing Your Hair for 6 Days: Remember that time I got all greasy for you guys? I have to admit, I haven’t gone this long without washing my hair since I wrote this post, but I do try to go at least three days at a time. Think you’re ready for the long haul? Click the link to learn how it’s done.

photo

5. Check Me Out: That time I lost 30 pounds and got to be in Glamour magazine. A heart-warming tale for the ages.

4. How to: Paint a Metal File Cabinet: Want to hear a cute story about this post? A girl I went to college with for about a year (before she moved and we lost touch) actually found me again when she found this post on Pinterest. Isn’t that neat? Also, I still love this cabinet, and the paint job has held up really well. So…you should all learn from this tutorial.

20121219-072137.jpg

3. How to: Nutella Hot Chocolate: I don’t know why I’m so surprised this did well (I mean, everyone loves Nutella, right?), but I still can’t get over it. I hope you’re all drinking a delicious mug of my Nutella Hot Chocolate right now.

2. The 3 Most Annoying Things About Pinterest: I still stand behind all of these statements, and apparently y’all agree.

skirtbeadedtank

1. What to Wear to a Concert: Okay. Listen. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this post doing so well. On one hand, it’s really reassuring that I am not the only human who has NO IDEA how to answer this question. On the other, I feel like a total cop-out because I didn’t even put together those outfit boards. I just compiled them. So…I get credit for being a curator? (Ugh…) Whatever. At least now we all feel a little less stupid the next time our musically-savvy friend invites us to see the latest boy band.

So there you have it! Now that you (and I) have seen what it is you liked, I’m curious: What types of posts would you like to see more of in 2013?

Advertisements

The things that scare me.

I know I said a while back I was DONE apologizing for long gaps between posts (apologizing for having a life? sorry I’m not sorry), but even I have to admit I’ve been a little MIA.

At first, I just didn’t have that much going on. Then, I got super busy and didn’t have time to sort out my thoughts about what I was doing into why it would make a good post. (And, usually if you have to think that hard, it wouldn’t.)

Anyway.

One common thread over the last couple of weeks has been my new-found love of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.

In general, I’m a creature of habit. I eat every three hours (promptly). I shop at the same kind of stores. I stick to what I know because it’s safer, you guys.

In the last couple of years, I’ve started to adapt to the idea that you can’t plan everything or expect everything to go according to plan. Things change, and you have to deal. I like to think I’ve gotten a lot better at dealing. I don’t panic (too) easy anymore.

So, in an effort to continue to be the type of person who doesn’t panic easy, I’ve started trying more things that scare me.

I mean, I’m not petting june bugs or anything (ughhhhh I can’t even type those words without shuddering). But I am putting myself in situations that make me uncomfortable.

For example, about a week ago, I had texted my friend Danneille to see if she wanted to grab dinner one night. She replied asking if I would want to join her at her weekly gymnastics class after we ate.

Hold the phone. I mean, like most American children, I took a few gymnastics classes. When I was six. And it really couldn’t have been for more than a few months. Danneille, on the other hand, took them for years on top of being a legit ballerina. We were not, how you say, on the same level here.

But before I knew what I was doing (and after Danneille had promised there would be a lot of other beginners), I found myself agreeing.

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that my greatest fear is looking stupid in front of other people. SO WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG IN A CLASS WHERE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO LOOK GRACEFUL AND COULD RATHER EASILY FALL ON YOUR FACE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE???

Everything. The answer you’re looking for is “everything.”

But I had given my word, so that Thursday I dutifully schlepped myself and my sports bra and stretch pants to Queens for the class.

To say I was terrified is putting it mildly. I watched kids a few years younger than me and women in their 40s bounding across the matted floors, flipping and contorting their bodies in ways I have never been able to do. Beginners class my (inflexible) behind.

As the class went on, though, my feelings started to change. The teacher, Gus, was probably one of the nicest, most encouraging people I’ve ever met (you would stand up correctly and he would be all, “That was SO GOOD!”), and Danneille literally cheered for me every time I didn’t fall down. Plus, I actually managed to turn a not-quite-horrible cartwheel and apparently showed a lot of control on the trampoline. Plus, I did this:

Kinda cool, right?

Then, over Christmas break, Joey and our friends Bryan and Brittany (don’t ya just love an alliterative couple?) decided to take a snowboarding trip to Vermont.

Now, I have snowboarded before. Once. About five years ago. And I was okay. I mean, I fell a lot, but I kept getting back up, and the girl who I went with told me that I did a good job for a beginner. (She may have just been being nice. I prefer to just take the compliment and run with it.)

I did remember that I mostly enjoyed the experience, despite being the sorest I have ever been after physical activity the next day. So I was excited to try it again.

I was also terrified.

I don’t know if you realize this, but snowboarding is rife with potential to get injured. And it involves hurtling down a mountain on a thin piece of plastic and managing to steer with your legs somehow. So I was a wee bit intimidated.

IMG_2758

But Joey very patiently took me out in the morning and we went up and down the bunny hill a few times until I had a bit of confidence before moving to the more-intimidating lift hill. Fortunately, it was Christmas, so the mountain was pretty empty (cutting down on the chance that I would smack into an innocent tourist), and by that afternoon, I had(mostly) gotten the hang of heel side. (Toe side is still scary, but I’m trying.)

I finished the afternoon exhausted but exhilarated that I had faced my fear and just done it.

So now I’m hoping to keep the momentum going. I’m hoping my new-found bravery helps me speak up more, be more out-going, and generally continue to not let silly fears hold me back from having great experiences. We can add that to my list of “not really resolutions.” (Along with finally stopping picking at my face and cuticles when I’m stressed.)

What was the last thing you did that scared you?

Word vomit.

I really want to write you guys a blog post. I DO. Mean it.

But…I mean, I just can’t. It’s the last day of work before holiday break. It’s all I can do to sit in this chair. I certainly can’t be expected to come up with something clever to blog about.

I’M SORRY.

I actually have a blog post about a gymnastics class I took on Wednesday sort of written, but it’s not good enough yet, you guys. And I truly can’t focus enough to make it better. So…it has to wait.

Here’s what I need: a trip to the gym, a shower, and to get dressed up and do something fun. Fortunately, all those things will happen to some degree tonight. As soon as I get out of work.

Did I mention it’s the last day of work before break?

But seriously. I need outa here.

And that’s why you’re getting this cracked out post instead of something good. Again, my apologies.

Hope everyone has a LOVELY break from school/work/whatever it is you do when you’re not on holiday break.

The Nutella Hot Chocolate Follow-Up

So guess what. Turns out you guys really like Nutella. Who knew?

It was so cool for me yesterday to have three friends send me photos of how they had made my Nutella Hot Chocolate (and at least two others said they were going to make it the first chance they got):

20121219-072137.jpg

20121219-072146.jpg

20121219-072151.jpg

How fun is that? If anyone else tries it, I’d love to see. You can either post to Instagram and tag me (@justinelorelle) or post them to my Facebook page.

Come on, didn’t your parents teach you how to share?

How to: Nutella Hot Chocolate

Joey had to work late last night, which made last night as good a time as any to try out a new Single Girl Meal (SGM).

Well, maybe not a meal exactly (I ate a quesadilla), but definitely a Single Girl Dessert.

And that’s how Nutella Hot Chocolate was born.

20121217-231326.jpg

Per the SGM code, this treat had to be easy to make and require only ingredients you are likely to already have on hand.

Well, if a single girl doesn’t have a jar of Nutella on hand, she’s doing something wrong.

Here we go:

Nutella Hot Chocolate Recipe

Ingredients:
1-2 tablespoons of Nutella (or other chocolate hazelnut sauce…I guess)
1-1 1/2 cups almond milk (or regular milk…I guess)
Dash of cinnamon

1. Put Nutella in small sauce pan on medium heat. As soon as chocolate reaches a slightly melty texture, add milk.

20121217-231857.jpg

2. Stir continually until chocolate and milk are heated.

20121217-231939.jpg

3. Add a dash of cinnamon. Continue to stir until all ingredients are heated through.

4. Pour into mug. DRINK.

20121217-232021.jpg

Also goes well with two Oreos. OR SO I’VE READ.

So that’s it! As if you needed another reason to eat (or drink) Nutella, amiright?

Enjoy!

The woman I want to be, part 2

I don’t know what’s going on this week, you guys, but I am in a fantastic mood.

Maybe it’s because I finally got a handle on the bangs situation? Maybe because I’ve kind of been killing at work? Maybe because it’s the season of fun after-work activities and I’m actually taking advantage of the amazing city I live in? Maybe because we’re this close to time off of work?

I really can’t say the reason, but whatever it is, I like it.

The last couple of months, I’ve sort of been in a funk. I think we all go through those times, right? I was adjusting to a new job, a longer commute, and some personal life difficulties. I was feeling out of place and not sure where I wanted to live or what I wanted to do.

But somewhere in the last couple of weeks, things shifted. I’m feeling more confident in what I’m doing, I’ve made a few new friends, and we’re gearing up for an exciting move closer to the city in the spring. Plus, I’ve been picking up a lot more freelance work lately, which has removed a lot of financial stress. (Side note: The company that I thought had forsaken me finally got in touch, and they are sending me checks and more work. And that is why you don’t trash-talk companies online.)

Basically, I’m feeling good.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of resolutions, mostly because the girl who sits next to me at work, Taylor, recently wrote a post for our blog about our editors’ resolutions. I don’t officially make resolutions for New Year’s, but I do like to set goals for myself every month or so. (As the long-time readers of this blog can attest.)

This year, my goal is sort of difficult to describe, but basically, my goal is to be the person I admire.

Like I said, kind of weird to explain. It goes back to two quotes:

20121213-074536.jpg

20121213-074541.jpg

The DVF quote I’ve posted before, but the Oscar Wilde one has just really been resonating with me lately. It all goes back to being a key player in your own life, and your own happiness. Which, as anyone who has read my Happiness Project post knows, I firmly believe is crucial to mental well-being.

Basically, I want to stop looking at other people and bloggers and lives and thinking, ugh, how do they do that? Why can’t I do that?

And, instead, just do it. I want to be a smart, put-together, kind person with a cute, organized apartment, a fun, challenging job, great relationships with the important people in my life, and a positive, content outlook on everything. Oh, and if I was always healthy and always wearing cute clothes, that wouldn’t hurt either.

So…I want to be perfect? It kind of sounds like that. But really, I just want to live more deliberately. Does that make more sense?

Maybe it just makes sense in my brain. But honestly, I’m in too good of a mood to really worry about it.

What are your goals for 2013? Hopefully they’re easier to understand than mine…

Got a brand-new bang.

So I guess I forgot something in my State of Justine Address from yesterday. Something anyone who has ever taken the plunge would probably admit can be a kind of major thing.

I got bangs.

Just so we’re all on the same page, here’s what that means visually:

20121210-231840.jpg

Ok? We see the difference?

Even though I got them cut on Saturday, I held off posting about it because, well, partly because it’s sort of awkward to talk about your looks. I try to tackle that subject from time to time because I feel like this blog is a place of honest self-assessment on all fronts, and I’ve experienced first-hand how our own assessments of our looks can affect every other part of our lives.

I also didn’t post about it earlier because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how I felt.

At first, I was a little freaked out when my stylist made the first serious cut.

I mean, I was excited about getting my hair cut. (Just ask the girl who sits next to me at work and who had to hear about my impending trip all week.) and I’ve had bangs for most of my life.

See?

20121210-231851.jpg

20121210-231858.jpg

{Ohh those sexy middle school years. Why yes, that is a flute in my hand. And yes, I am at a solo competition. Thank you for noticing. But sorry, no, that skirt is no longer available. I know, you’re devastated.}

In fact, not having bangs anymore was sort of a spontaneous decision (that took a year to carry out…). And I’ve always sort of felt like my face needs bangs. I mean, I have a big head (thanks, Dad), which, especially in photos, can translate to a big face. It’s a lot of flesh, and a little hair curtain over a quarter of it doesn’t hurt anything.

The point is, bangs should not have been a shocking change.

Except, when the stylist finished blowing out my hair and a took my first look in the mirror, a was a bit taken aback. Because there, staring back at me, was myself in high school.

20121210-231905.jpg

{Actual me in high school. I’m using a picture of me and my high school (and middle school, really) friend Joe because he is kind enough to read my blog fairly regularly and I know this type of post really doesn’t interest him that much. So, in return, I give you pseudo fame on the blog. (I know, not much, but admit it: You’re a little more interested in this post now.)}

In the weirdest way, I suddenly felt seventeen and wracked with a 17-year-old’s insecurities. Did this hairstyle make my face look fat? Did it make me look like a baby? Did it remove any sex appeal I had managed to garner (by the skin of my teeth, folks) in the last eight years, replacing it instead with that (at times) back-handed adjective “cute”?

It was a moment wracked with emotions.

So, I did what any other insecurity-ridden girl would do and posted a photo to Instagram to get everyone’s assessment of me.

As predicted, I was cute. And the next day, someone else pronounced how young I looked. And therein lies the crux of my concern.

My mind flitted back longingly to the inches of blonde hair wafting to the salon floor. I swallowed hair and fiddled with my hair some more, hoping that simply shifting its position could somehow make it look like it had before I’d cut it.

I know this sounds like the ultimate #humblebrag to whine about being described as “cute”, but I swear, I’m being serious. Not everyone will get it, but any girl who has been “cute” for most of her life (and I say “most” because we all saw that flute picture) has grown weary of the term at some point. I mean, we’d rather be cute than nothing at all, but sometimes you just want a more grown-up descriptor. We want to be sexy. We want to be hot. We want to be stunning. Just once. (Which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate those of you who called my haircut cute. I know you had good intentions!)

Anyway, I wasn’t completely decided that I didn’t like the bangs. For the most part, everyone was being complimentary in their commentary. My parents (while, admittedly, not the most objective source) loved them. My husband has always liked me with bangs. (He has a theory that they give a girl a sense if mystery.)(He’s weird.) And, honestly, I never had that much sex appeal anyway, so I was willing to embrace the mantle of “cute” for the rest of my life if necessary. (Poor me, right?)

But yesterday at work, something was different. I don’t know if my hair just fell in a different way or I just got better at styling it or I just decided to embrace my face and my hair no matter what they looked like, but my bangs started to look a little less school-girl, a bit more, I don’t know, intentional. I felt a bit more grown-up. And while, sure, a few people called them cute, one of my coworkers stopped me in the hall and said, “Your hair is looking foxy today; did you do something different with it?”

Side note: “foxy” is now my new favorite adjective from now until the end if time. We’re bringing it back, folks.

The point is, I think I finally got to the point where I’m wearing the hair instead of vice-versa. I’ve said a million times that your hair has an emotional effect on your outlook, and I like to think it’s a sign of self-assuredness that I’m slowly getting over that. (Slowly. Ever so slowly.)

So when my friend Madison asked me for a post about the new hair over Twitter yesterday, I finally felt ready to talk about it.

And you know what? I feel good about this. I feel like I actually look like I have a hairstyle instead of the hair just sitting there in my head, and I think once the bangs grow out a bit, I’ll feel even less like my high school self.

And just because Madison also requested lots of photos, here’s one more for ya. I mean, at the very least we can say I’ve improved from the flute days, right?

20121211-085532.jpg