You’d think, being from Tennessee, that moving back to the USA would be a piece of cake. I feel like I should burst that bubble right now, despite having only been back a week. It’s been a nonstop, fully hectic, how much can I possibly cram into a week, kind of week. The insane laundry list of things we had to get done was unreal — and being the type who wants things NOW, presented its own challenges. I miss certain aspects of Irish life daily, and sometimes want to just sit in the floor and cry. Will I be able to fully re-acclimate? Of course. Am I struggling hourly right now? Absofeckinglutely.

I wish moving home had been as simple as stepping off a plane and it being like I’d never left. While all the buildings might look the same, roads might be in the same place, and people might all sound similar to me, I assure you it is NOT that simple..

Let’s start with jet lag. I don’t usually get jet lag when time is gained. For some reason though, jet lag hit me with the force of a ton of bricks and for four solid days I felt like a zombie. The most dull, annoying pain I’ve ever had settled into my head each afternoon about 2 PM and could only be cured by 800 mg of Advil. I’d be ready to fall asleep by 4 PM but had to force myself to stay awake until at least 11 PM. Every morning, like clockwork, I’d be wide awake at 4:01 AM and it would take me about 2 hours to fall back asleep. It wasn’t until copious amounts of alcohol were consumed over the weekend which forced me to stay awake until 3 AM (with a subsequent 8 AM wake-up for football) did my body finally decide to reset. And hey, there was football to watch! So, tip number one: when traveling, drink lots of booze and stay up way past when you think you can!

Blue MoFo

Say hello to the Blue Mo Fo. I have no idea why it’s called that or what’s in it…but, like a LIT, it’s STRONG.

Lemon Drop Shot

Lemon Drop gone wrong — for some reason the bartender thinks a Lemon Drop is simply Citrus Vodka. BLEH.

Twins!

My dear friend, whom I haven’t seen since December. Nope, we didn’t coordinate in advance of the game, but, great fashion minds think alike when it comes to UT football!

UT in Athens - 9.28.14

Panorama of Sanford Stadium in Athens. If you look closely, you can see the TN section in the lower level near the other end zone :)

 

Then there’s the “I have to deal with 8 suitcases, an art tube, and two backpacks in a hotel room for three weeks until our apartment is ready” fiasco. I don’t even want to know what goes through housekeeping’s head every day as they clean the room and see our pile of luggage! Hurry up inspectors, is all I can wish for here.

Moving Day

There was also the issue of buying a car. We were fortunate to have a rental car for a week, and we left my car behind when we moved, but with my husband going back to work on the Wednesday of our arrival, we had only one day to shop around together before I was getting bombarded by sales people on my own. But wouldn’t you know you can’t buy a car in Georgia without a Georgia driver’s license. And, as is the case with Ireland, you cannot get anything converted until you have proof of residency. And, well, since I’m homeless until mid-October, you can see where the problem lies! (Don’t worry, we figured out a solution, because I’m a problem solving genius.)

I swore I'd never own another BMW after the last one... but alas, this was the only car out of about 50 I test drove I actually loved. BMW iDrive X3

I swore I’d never own another BMW after the last one… but alas, this was the only car out of about 50 I test drove I actually loved. BMW iDrive X3

 

Those are just a few of the things you might expect to be a pain from an international move. But what about the day-to-day little things, like grocery shopping and driving?

Well, I won’t say I was overwhelmed by the grocery store, because Ireland did have a few massive stores that I visited every now and again, but I was overwhelmed by the lack of quality food. How can such a MASSIVE store carry so little that is actually healthy & good for you? I’m living in a hotel so making my own food from the fresh items just isn’t an option right now, so I’m having to find alternatives. Oh, you’re telling me to go to the natural aisle? OK, I did that. Have you looked at any labels lately? I assure you that almost everything in that “natural” aisle still has sugar added to it along with preservatives. You don’t get that kind of shelf life without it. Even the all natural smoothies you can buy are still insanely high in sugar & carbs, because apparently the American nation cannot eat or drink something that isn’t loaded with a ridiculous amount of sugars. (i.e. calories) No wonder our nation can’t seem to get their health in check! And it is those preservatives and lack of fresh foods that my body is absolutely rejecting. I can eat beef again, which is great for my anemia, but… we’ll just say I cannot wait for my apartment to be move-in ready so I can actually cook something and get my body back on track!

I won't lie. I did enjoy this donut!

I won’t lie. I did enjoy this doughnut!

 

Driving… I think driving in this city is quite possibly as bad as L.A. I was on the interstate the other day and I counted 9 lanes of traffic. NINE. I haven’t driven in 10 months and I landed myself in a city that has average commute times over an hour while navigating at least 6-8 lanes of traffic on any interstate route. It’s not easy people. Before I got a new phone, I was using a prepaid SIM card, which afforded me no data. And I can promise you I drove in circles on more than one occasion trying to get from point A to point B. I will just count my blessings that I haven’t ended up in a part of town I don’t belong in. But I certainly wanted to pull my hair out!

Pulling Hair Out

What exactly am I trying to drive home here? Moving home: where everything is new, yet unknown. New city, new car, new phone, new job, new apartment (literally, half of the building is still under construction), new life chapter, new, new, new. And while new isn’t bad, it’ll just take a little more of an adjustment than the last week has allowed. Here’s to this new beginning.

Until next time. XOXO – K

 

Last week I was browsing on Pinterest and I came across an absolutely unbelievable look. It was the embodiment of Autumn/Winter. It was absolute perfection. The femininity of the cable-knit jumper contrasted against the leather leggings brought me to my knees; It was love at first sight.

Have a look at the original blog post for yourself and tell me you don’t also fall head-over-heels in love with this look! From the talent over at Could I Have That, “Underestimated” is the title of her post and although it may be from winter 2014, it is such a timeless, classic look that it NEEDS to be a staple in every wardrobe! (Perfect title for a blog too, huh?)

And so today, I set out to create a similar look of my own, both one that every gal could afford, as well as the lavish one that every gal dreams about. (Because hey, it’s nice to have dreams, right?)

I hope you find the look as captivating as I did! And of course, if you fall in love with anything you see, click on the photo and head over to Polyvore to source the site for purchase.

 

Fall Faves - Budget vs High Fashion

How do you plan to style your Autumn/Winter wardrobe? Did you love the look? Shoot me a tweet!

Until next time,
XOXO – K

A Mile is A Mile

I was out for a 15 mile run on Tuesday and somewhere around the 10 mile mark, it dawned on me just how far my running has come since I moved to Dublin. And so today, I want to focus my efforts on those things that have made me a better runner, in hopes that my sharing them with you will also help you to become a better runner for yourself.

1. Off days are OK, but you do have to power through them

You talk yourself up for your run all day; You get changed and lace up; And thirty seconds to a minute and a half into your run you think to yourself, “Oh. My. Gosh. Why am I doing this again?” It’s in stark contrast to those days that just seem effortless and easy, right? Trust me, this happens to everyone. And it’s utterly important that you keep going on those days because you have to teach your body that it can, and it will keep going.

2. Rain, heat, cold, or shine

Weather is a fickle creature, and I know all too well how easy it is to use the weather as an excuse to not go for a run. Strike that mentality. You HAVE to do it, and you know why? Because there is never a race-day weather guarantee.

Autumn Weather3. Set goals, and stick to them 

For me, it’s easier to keep myself motivated and running when I have an end-game in mind, and a financial commitment. And so, I run for races. If you can set goals for yourself and stick to them, you’ll see the improvements — they don’t always have to require a financial commitment of course.

4. Don’t forget your core! 

When I ran my first two half marathons, I relied solely on my lower half to get me through. It wasn’t until late last Autumn when I began a series of upper body & core workouts that I noticed HUGE strides in my running pace and endurance. You use your arms while running as much as your legs. You also rely on your core muscles to carry you along, so do yourself a solid and focus on the whole you, not just the legs.

Spiders

Yep, that’s me attempting spider push-ups. (I have wrist issues, so to combat that, I use yoga blocks for intense floor work)

 

5. You have to, and I mean absolutely HAVE to, cross-train your lower half.

As important as core strength is, your legs are what carry you through a race. All too often, runners think they can’t run because of their various problems. “Oh, my knees are bad” or “I get shin splints every time I run”. Did you know that most knee problems are due to weak hip flexors and IT bands? Did you also know that shin splints are generally a product of poor footwear or  running form? I have battled through these exact same issues — and I’ve come out ahead because I opted to begin cross-training. (Luckily, the at-home workouts I do for core, also focus on lower half strength.) IT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD and I simply cannot stress that enough.

6. Music matters

Running Playlist

Have a play list, and a power song. And make sure your power song is in your playlist a few times (depending on your race length). And train with this play list — so you can tweak and edit before race day. At some point in your race you won’t even be hearing words, just beats, so be picky with your songs and make sure your feet can run to those beats! You’ll be pleasantly surprised when your power song changes over time…I certainly have!

My current favorites?
Eminem – Lose Yourself
Kenny Loggins – Footloose
The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony

7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

I all too often take hydration for granted. I’ve pushed myself a few times and can easily drink a pot of coffee then run 5-6 miles an hour later and be fine — but that’s not always been the case. And I certainly can’t push myself to run 12-15 miles without proper fluids. And even when I think I’ve had enough fluids, I land in bed with a migraine anyway. You need water. You need electrolytes. PERIOD.

8. Run with a friends.

You don’t realize how important running with a group of people is until you look down at your watch and you’ve run 5 miles without batting an eye because you were preoccupied with chatting. The best thing I ever did was find a group of people who pushed my limits, tested my endurance, and all around helped me become a faster runner simply by talking to me while we ran. Some days I didn’t think I’d make it through the runs, but those were the days my group mattered most (and goes hand in hand with #1 above)

Running Friends

9. Don’t fall victim to “carb loading”.

Don’t get me wrong, carbs are über important for runners, but you do not want to eat a heaping plate of pasta for lunch the day before a race and follow it with a large pizza for dinner. The carbs will process into sugar overnight and will leave you feeling sluggish on race day.

Consume your carbs evenly throughout the week of a race, and be sure you are eating the good carbs — sweet potatoes, whole grains, and legumes. I find quinoa is the absolute best before a race, as it is both a whole grain & protein packed. Stay away from processed and bleached carbs if possible.

10. Listen to your body.

I cannot stress the importance of this one enough. Your body knows best, so pay attention to what it is saying! If your ankle hurts, take a day off from running and try some yoga. If you are hungry, EAT. The longer and further you run, the more your metabolism kicks in and needs fuel to continue and repair muscles. You only get one body, so take care of it.

Race

These are all the things I’ve learned about myself as a runner over the last 18 months. You can do anything you put your mind to, and here’s my proof: In September of 2013 I was a 12-13 minute mile distance runner (10K +) and a 10 minute mile short distance runner (+/- 5K). Today, I am a 9 1/2 minute mile distance runner and a 7 1/2 minute mile short distance runner. And now you know my secrets.

Until next time,

XOXO – K

In early July, my husband and I found out our time in Ireland was coming to an end earlier than expected. I’d like to tell you together we consciously made the decision to cut our time here short, but that would be a lie. What happened really isn’t important, but just know the world ultimately had different plans from our own wishes, and there was nothing we could do but embrace what was shortly to come.

And so, our time in Ireland will come to a close in mid-September, two days after I run the Dublin Half Marathon. It has been an emotional roller coaster and I’ve cycled through all of the 7 stages (or 10 or however many there are — it was a lot, either way) — but we’ve come to grips with the time we have left and have spent every minute trying to savour it. And even though it has been a challenging road, this living abroad thing, it has been one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

And so, this post is about the journey; that reflection; the last 18 months.

There has been coffee.

Coffee

There has been adventure.

Adventure - Flying

There have been tears — lots and lots of tears; Which has led to wine — lots and lots of wine (and tequila).

Wine

Tequila!

There has been food — so much food!

Seafood

There has been laughter.

Laughter

There has been dancing.

Dancing

There has been running.

Running

There have been fashion firsts.

Fashion

There have been friends — friends from every corner of the world.

Friends 1

Friends 2

Friends 3

Friends 4

(It just dawned on me that in EVERY SINGLE PHOTO under this section I’m wearing pink. Even in the black & white photo, I know my dress is pink…. hmmmm… Seriously, look out Elle Woods!)

But perhaps, most importantly, there have been memories; And no one can ever take away the memories, even if the world alters the path a little. Our Irish chapter is coming to an end, but the book is far from finished; And memories last a lifetime.

So, as they say, when one door closes, look for an open window:

Closed Door

(Just make sure the window isn’t barred shut!)

America, I’ll be seeing you SOON.

Until next time, XOXO – K

About a week ago, my hair left a lot to be desired. From the windy streets of Dublin to the salty sea waters in Spain, my hair needed SERIOUS help. It was dull; it was frizzy; and most sadly of all, I had split ends.

I promptly made a hair appointment to snip off those dead ends, but my gal was away on holiday for another week, so in the mean time, I had to do something to revive my locks!

I was scrolling through pinterest, when I came across a pin from the Rawmazing blog. I found, what I thought was an awesome, easy, solution for my hair: a Rosemary, Avocado, & Coconut Oil recipe.

Coconut Oil & Avocado

If you are like me, you are always stocked with avocados (great in smoothies) and coconut oil (try it in your coffee). Yes, you really can put avocado in your hair!

Just do a little blending of the ingredients and you end up with what looks like green baby food.

Coconut Oil & Avocado Combined

You’re probably thinking that it has to be the messiest thing anyone could put in their hair right? NOPE. I’ve had more trouble with a baking soda paste (clarifying attempt) and box hair dye than this stuff. It’s thick enough to paint right on — and even though I was wearing an old t-shirt, I managed to keep it off the bathroom floor (and walls!).

If you’ve ever stored homemade guacamole overnight in the fridge, you know it easily turns brown — you know, oxidation and all. It’s really no different in hair. I put the mask on and before I could even snap a photo it was melting into my hair & oxidizing.

Coconut Oil & Avocado Hair Mask

Now, I didn’t have any of the smell-good stuff on hand so after about 15 minutes I could only smell avocado — and admittedly I wanted some tortilla chips! Don’t worry though, I powered through the full half an hour project and hopped into the shower to get the mask out of my hair.

I shampooed and conditioned as normal. I toweled my hair to remove the excess water, combed my locks, and went to sleep. I woke up to a hot mess the next morning! My hair still looked wet, so I attempted to use the hair dryer. NO LUCK. It wasn’t wet, it was greasy! I quickly realized that coconut oil is a disaster to get out of my hair — and I had zero time to re-shower that morning as I was already running late! I threw my hair into the infamous blogger bun and went to work.

Once I was able to fully remove all of the coconut oil from my hair that evening, it was soft & silky and the mask had actually given a little life back to my otherwise dull hair.

I’m not sure I would use the mask again, but if I do, I’ll be sure to shampoo twice! (And use water that is warmer maybe?) All in all it wasn’t a complete pinterest fail and I did find another use for the coconut oil in the pantry!

Have you used coconut oil in your hair? Have you had a similar experience? I’d love to chat.

XOXO – K