A Family Weekend

On Friday night, my mom and dad came to town. It was a significant time for many reasons. One being, it was the first time my parents have ever visited me/us in DC together. They have both visited separately, several times, but this was the first time they were able to come together, and after Eric and I were married.
Here are a few highlights of their stay:
On Saturday morning, we started the day with breakfast before heading off to Eastern Market to soak up the oddly perfect weather for August in DC, and taste every sample the market made available.
If it looks like we had ribs and pizza for breakfast, allow me to explain that what you are probably seeing is bacon and a divvied up dutch baby (not as scandalous as it sounds). We had coffee, too, which is not pictured due to the fact that it had already been consumed. In my family, we don’t skip coffee.

Eric has started a series of pictures on facebook he is calling “The Idiot”. In this picture he is attempting to add another photo to that collection, but he is still working on his subtle form. In my family, taking yourself too seriously is a cardinal sin. 

The purchase of this print is significant because I have wanted it for a while now. I wanted it because it captures exactly my glossy-eyed view of this city I just so happen to love so much. Aside from the piled up placement of all the historic sights, the color of the woman’s hair, the power suit, and the time period, this picture pretty much encapsulates my arrival to DC four years ago (I even emerged from a train with that exact facial expression). 

Lemonade, crepes, homemade donuts that melt in your mouth followed a morning of perusing the market, and visiting the best used bookstore ever where my parents both bought reading material for their flight home. The bookstore deserves a blog post all to itself. Maybe that will happen one day…

I was too busy sampling goat’s milk gelato, heirloom tomatoes, pickles, white nectarines, yellow peaches, ginger gold apples, and a variety of cheeses to take many pictures of the produce and delightful treats being sold. But these peaches are a nice sampling of the beauty that surrounded us. In my family, our fun days revolve around what delicious food we will eat.

After we had our fill of Eastern Market, we headed to Dumbarton Oaks–the previous home of Robert and Mildred Bliss, bequeathed to Harvard University in 1940 (I’ve mentioned it before). The home is now a museum, and the couple’s exquisite gardens are open all year long (and stunning in every season, I might add).

The rose garden smelled like perfume! I guess that is not surprising.

I really can’t get over the pool.

If you are wondering where Eric is, he, sadly got called into work and missed this part of the day. 

On Sunday, we went to church, followed by brunch, and then had to say goodbye to my parents after such a quick trip. Eric and I had a really great weekend being tourists and playing hosts to my parents. They were such good sports sleeping on blow-up beds in our tiny living room. I hope they decide to come back and see us soon.

P.S. I posted a picture of this flour-less chocolate cake we ate on instagram, and thought I would share the recipe in hopes that you too get to indulge in the heavenly substance. Don’t get mad at me if you eat more than you bargained for. Or have dreams about it. Or can’t think of anything else. Et cetera. Just…make it.

Click here for the recipe.

P.P.S. A few of you have told me you have not been seeing my blog updates in your feed. Thank you for telling me! I ended up changing my url back to the blogspot address (jenericgeneration.blogspot.com), and that should fix the problem. Let me know if you do still have technical difficulties…

How to Have a Minimalist Wardrobe

If there is one thing having a small apartment has taught me, it is that I hate (oh, and I mean hate) having more stuff than I need. I have to tell you that I sometimes don’t buy things I need because I would rather not suffer the anxiety of bringing it into our home. Our kitchen has one drawer. One drawer. Let that soak in.
Not that I am complaining! In fact, I often remark to myself how nice it is that I have so little space to clean. Usually right before that I am cursing the fact that we have nowhere to put anything, but still. 
Honestly, though, I prefer it this way. For now. We make it work well, I think.
Having said that, and having told you we have one solitary drawer in our kitchen, you can imagine how small our closet is. If I have something in there taking up space that I do not use, it kind of drives me crazy. 
These feelings of craziness over “stuff”, however, work well with the idea of the capsule wardrobe. I was intrigued by the concept the first time I heard of it (from this lovely lady, to be exact!). If you are unfamiliar, it is basically just the idea that you keep a limited amount of quality pieces in your closet. This means no Forever 21, H&M, etc. GASP. I know, the idea will take your breath away. No H&M was hard for me, too. In fact, so difficult that I have not quite given it up. But, I am limiting myself. I am looking for quality items of clothing that I know I will wear and love for years to come. I just really love the idea of not feeling like I have to go on a shopping spree every few months. I love that idea.
If you want to make this philosophical, you could also say that having a limited wardrobe protects you from consumerism, and that horrible feeling of discontentment with everything you own when you walk into a clothing store.
So I decided to do a little experiment where I take out ten items from my closet, and see how many outfits I can make from them. My work wardrobe is naturally pretty small anyway, but I wanted to stretch myself, so I started there. Do you want to see the results of my experiment?
Side note, I took these pictures before I got bangs. I look totally different now.
So here are the rules for a ten-item wardrobe (also referred to as a minimalist wardrobe): Go to your closet and pick out ten items you love. I chose 5 tops, 2 bottoms (one skirt, one pair of cropped pants), 2 dresses, and 1 cardigan. The goal is to get as creative as you can with the ten items that you choose, and see how many outfits you can create without getting bored. 
What I like about this fashion experiment is: it is free, it helps get you out of any style ruts you may be in, and it makes you see your closet differently. Limitation inspires creativity. That’s what I always say.
Please take note: since this post is about outfits, I ask that you focus on those things alone. To be more specific, that means please overlook a) the hideous TV in the background of these photos, b) the fact that I wasn’t sure what to do with my face and came up with this neutral, “I can’t seeeee you” expression, and c) the quality of these photos. Sometimes you can’t get everything you want in life.
w9 copy 
And look what we did with our ten items! That’s 16 outfits, friends. I could potentially make ten items work for over two weeks at the office. I even made one pair of shoes work with every outfit. Just think what would happen if you added in another pair of shoes, or another skirt. The possibilities are seemingly endless! Or at least, more than you would think. Chances are we all have more than ten items in our wardrobe. How many outfits would that make?
Want more about my ten-item wardrobe? Read my article for xojane.com here.
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A Left-Brain Chat on Style

Audrey Hepburn
“Why change? Everyone has his own style. When you have found it, 
you should stick to it.” -Audrey Hepburn

This has been a tough post for me. Since my last post, I have started and stopped this post several times. Re-typing, re-thinking, and otherwise suffering from a severe case of monomania. Then Eric and I went to the beach and I subsequently got a second-degree sunburn on my face from which I have been convalescing all week. It has given me time to think, less feverishly, about what it is I mean to write about. So let’s get started. I’m going to get a cup of coffee first. You might also like to grab a favorite beverage.

Let’s first revisit my questions, and ask a few new ones, just to make sure we are on the same page: 

What is personal style? It is something every person has, regardless of their knowledge, lack of knowledge, effort, or lack of effort. If you wear clothes (and even if you don’t), you have personal style. 

Why is it important? It isn’t. In the grand scheme of things, you can survive in this world wearing the same outfit every day. But if you want to do more than survive, I think the way you dress is very important.

Is there a formula for attaining good personal style? Kind of, I think. It goes like this: know what flatters your body and stick to it, shop smart, and don’t wear anything you cannot wear with confidence.

The thing I have been thinking about is this: we get dressed every day, and whatever we put on our bodies, despite how much thought we put into it, says something about us. And quite frankly, that is what makes clothing important.  We can’t always use our words and actions to show people who we are. But we all make judgments about other people based on the way they look. Without knowing it, we do make assertions about people simply by the way they present themselves. 

Little thought into how we dress means there is a good chance we are giving people the wrong impression of ourselves. How we dress says a lot about how we think we should be treated, and how we treat others. I have always thought that sloppy dressing, even while going grocery shopping, looks as though a person doesn’t care about total strangers. Call me old-fashioned (or plain crazy), but I really do think that dressing well, even when you won’t see anyone you know, is a way of saying, “I don’t know you at all, but I respect the fact that you are a human being”. 

Some might call it superficial, and maybe it is at some level. But how we treat total strangers is a pretty good reflection of where our society is at. I’m just sayin’. 

What I think has been getting to me, and demanding answers, is: are any of us exempt from personal style? And I think the answer is “no”. And if the answer is no, then what now? The fun part, that’s what! The part where the left brain gets to take a back seat, and right brain gets a turn at the wheel! Yay, and good riddance!

Jackie Kennedy

Allow me to share a small excerpt from my personal experiences. Not as an authority on the subject, but as a fellow, understanding woman surrounded by the same billion fashion choices as everyone else. When I was younger, I would read books and magazines that had lists of “wardrobe item staples”. I did not believe in them. Staples?? Are they trying to tell me there are things that will never go out of style? How can this be so? 

Like most American children and teenagers, my wardrobe lasted a season and no more. There were a few things I could keep from the year before, if they still fit, that didn’t make me look completely outdated. Every new season that arrived, I felt like there were fifty new trends I had to adopt, and as fun as it was, my clothing budget was not endless. 

It really did take me up until just a few years ago to realize that I was a slave to trends. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily, but it explained why I felt so overwhelmed every time I went shopping. There were so many things that I loved…but I wasn’t sure if I would love them next year. How was I supposed to make a smart purchase? Truly, I felt liberated when I told myself: you do not have to wear every trend you love in order to be fashionable. In fact, you do not have to wear any trends at all to be stylish. Mind blown.

The more I started noticing what stylish ladies of the past had worn, and what stylish women today are wearing (not just my peers), the more I began to believe that there were things I could keep in my closet that would work for me for years to come. Those books I had read as a kid were right, after all. There were some things that never went out of style! This was ground breaking in so many ways. It started to become clear to me that having less to choose from actually meant more creativity. Just like in art and poetry: boundaries and rules inspire. 

Coco Chanel, 1929
“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember 
the woman.” -Coco Chanel

When all is said and done, knowing your flaws, embracing them, and dressing to flatter your body are crucial to presenting the truest version of yourself. The most beautiful women to me are the ones who aren’t perfect. They have more flattering angles, they have better hair days. But they work with what they have, and they are grateful for what they have. And that confidence, which is a kind of gratitude, makes them stand out. This makes fashion liberating. Accessible  Personal. Interesting. Exciting. 

If we have to get dressed every day (thanks, Adam and Eve), we might as well put some thought into it. We make choices about a hundred other things during the day: what we eat, what we read, what we watch on TV, who we spend time with, etc. Clothing is no different. And as a bonus, figuring out what looks great, what we love, and what helps us perform our best, just happens to be a lot of fun. But more on this later…