Lizzloves's Blog

Spreading love and sisterhood…

LizzLoves Rehab Addict Nicole Curtis February 24, 2014

NicoleCurtis

This past weekend, my to-do list had two home improvement projects that made me a little nervous: treat newly uncovered hardwood floors and fix a broken toilet.

 

Now, I’ve been doing or overseeing several projects over the past 9 months, but sometimes the beginning of a new one still makes a whisper of doubt pop into my head. But this time I smiled and got over myself when I remembered one of my new heroines: Nicole Curtis of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict.” 

 

Nicole is a Minneapolis-based flipper — she buys old homes, restores them to their original splendor and then sells them. But don’t get it twisted, she doesn’t just oversee and call the shots — she’s a hands-on part of executing everything. Self-taught in her craft, Nicole is always ready with her goggles, tools and work boots, diving headfirst into all the projects. And she’s damn good at it. You might not guess it by her size, but she’s not shy about wielding any power tool or scared to try a new method to ensure the integrity of a project.

 

I admire Nicole’s style and the quality of her work, but most of all, I love that she’s savvy and smart with her approach — from the extensive historical research that she puts into all her homes, to the efforts she makes to keep the work budget-friendly and authentic. She goes to great lengths to preserve the finishes that set  historical homes apart. She makes sure that she and her crew use all available original materials that are found in the house, but when that resource is exhausted, she makes regular trips to salvage yards and antique stores to find materials that will match the era of the home. Vintage, reclaimed, repurposed…Nicole gets creative, but lives up to her self-proclaimed title of preservationist.

 

She’s admitted in the past that she gets very emotionally attached to her projects, but all I see is some serious passion at work. Even if your home decor/design taste is more modern, you won’t be able to ignore her spitfire energy and can-do attitude.

 

So, the next time I get nervous about a home improvement project, I’m going to just picture Nicole fearlessly taking a sledgehammer to a wall. If she can do that, then I can, too…or at least I can try! 🙂

PS: The hardwood floors look great! 

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LizzLoves MineforNine August 21, 2013

Photo courtesy of minefornine.com

Right now, I have at least FIVE friends who are pregnant or who have very recently given birth. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a lot to me! But what’s even more shocking for me is that all of them manage to stay looking cute and stylish. I can imagine that it’s a huge challenge for an expectant mother to dress her newly unpredictable and ever-changing body…not to mention the cost! ($$)

Some of my friends only grew in the tummy area, so they could keep using a lot of their old clothes for a while. Experienced mamas knew what to expect because it wasn’t their first baby and they had clothes set aside. Other lucky ladies were able to borrow key clothing items—like belly bands, stretchy pants, and tunics—from their sisters or girlfriends.

But what happens to those women who don’t have those resources or have a tight budget? Well, one solution is a cool shopping site I found called Mine for Nine, which allows pregnant women to borrow clothing for the duration of their pregnancy, and return it when they’re done. So, for example, if you can no longer button your winter coat over your immense circumference, then you can borrow winter coat that fits you better! Borrowing clothing from Mine for Nine only costs a portion of buying it outright, but there is also an option to buy if you fall in love with something, or feel like you would like to use it for future pregnancies. There is a wide range of brands, styles and prices.

Mine for Nine was conceived (pun intended) by Marisa B. Moss and her two friends in 2008. The three of them, one expecting at the time and the other a brand new mom, were discussing the limited selection and high cost of maternity clothes. So they put together their years of marketing, business and technology experience to launch a online business that would help women find the right fit for them.

I also love that when a clothing item is still in good condition, but no longer fit for multiple “borrows,” Mine for Nine donates the dress to organizations like Dress for Success. Nice work, Mine for Nine!

Expectant mamas: what other creative solutions do you use for your clothing challenges?

 

LizzLoves Aqua Modesta August 14, 2013

Photo courtesy of Aqua Modesta

Last week, I was reading a book on the beach when, behind me in the distance, I could hear a large group of people approaching. I could hear the bubbly voices of a handful of older women, mostly drowned out by the happy shrieks from several children of many ages. When they finally came into view, I saw that there were four Muslim women, smiling despite the many bundles and supplies they were carrying, and about seven children.

 

All of the women were wearing hijabs (headscarves) and long sleeves. As I watched the ladies unpack and settle in, I thought to myself, “Oh man, what a shame that they don’t get to feel the sun on their skin and hair…” Well, of course, that was a silly way to think of it. There is plenty to enjoy about the beach without letting it all hang out in a teensy bikini—from the ocean views and salty breeze to wiggling toes in the sand.

 

But for one of the women, the fun didn’t stop there. I was so impressed when I discovered that one of the women (who also appeared to be the matriarch) was wearing a full coverage bathing suit—it included a headscarf, leggings, and a swim dress with long sleeves…all in bathing suit material!

 

This moment of awesomeness reminded me of a story I heard on WNYC radio about a year ago about religiously conservative women (such as Muslims and Orthodox Jews) who were struggling to find places where they could work out in the privacy of an all-women environment. The journalist, Arun Venugopal, interviewed several women, including Regina Tessone, an FIT graduate and Orthodox Jew who founded Aqua Modesta, a line of swimwear to “help women feel more comfortable in mixed-sex settings.”

 

However, because the style differed from Aqua Modesta, I think the swimsuit on the woman I saw on the beach was most likely from another swimwear line I found, Primo Moda. I also think that one of the pre-teen girls in their family might have been wearing something from another line called Simply Modest, which features swimshirts and leggings.

 

I really do love that Regina Tessone and other women like her are finding ways to help their sisters enjoy swimming and sports, while still maintaining their comfort level and religious practices! Brava!

 

LizzLoves Paperback Exchange in Belmar July 8, 2013

Filed under: books,business — lizzloves @ 5:20 pm
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Paperback Exchange, Belmar NJAs I’ve been settling into my new home in central Jersey, near the beach, many family memories have been floating into my mind. One fond one I have is an image of my mom cozied up in a beach chair, with a towel as a blanket. She is happily devouring a paperback novel, with her toes wiggling in the sand.

 

To this day, when I pick up an old paperback book, the smell of the pages reminds me of those summers at the beach with my family. So, it’s no wonder that, when I recently came across Paper Exchange in Belmar, NJ, I was instantly taken back to my childhood. This adorable shop—tucked into a little plaza in this shore community—not only sells used books at a healthy discount, but it also allows customers to trade in their used books for store credit.

 

If you’re a book worm like me, then just walking into this place will bring a smile to your face. The owner, Sharon, is ready with an inviting face and a helping hand. She knows the store like the back of her hand and can easily help you find a book if she has it. From YA novels and children’s books, to classics, thrillers and chick lit, this floor-to-ceiling collection has it all!

 

So, if you’re planning on hitting the Jersey Shore this summer, then make sure you add a visit to this spot to your list of things to bring to the beach:

  • Sunscreen (check!)
  • Chair & umbrella (check!)
  • Snacks (check!)
  • An fun read from Paperback Exchange…(check!)

 

Take my word for it: leave the iPad at home and take it back to the old school with an actual book 🙂 Plus, it can’t hurt to support a local store that has been in the community since the ’80s!

Happy summer reading! 

 

LizzLoves Surf With Amigas June 26, 2013

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The other day I spent an evening on the beach at the Jersey Shore, wiggling my toes in the sand and taking in the sights, particularly the wetsuit-clad surfers who were braving the chilly waters. Suddenly in the distance I saw another surfer join the wave riders. From afar, I could see the figure was much smaller than the other surfers and the surfboard was almost twice the size of the person.

As they got closer, I realized…it was a woman! I was so excited, I stayed to cheer her on (in my head, at least!). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see her catch a wave before I had to leave, but I was giddy watching a girl holding court among the guys.

That surfer girl made me recall a very cool woman, Holly Beck, who I saw on episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters International.” Holly, a former pro surfer, was searching for a place to launch her dream of starting a surfing school in Nicaragua, especially for women. She knows, first hand, that it can be tough as a woman on the waves. As a kid, Holly was told that surfing was for boys, so it’s a good thing she didn’t listen. She now makes it her business, literally, to inspire women to hang ten with confidence and a sense of adventure. Now the school, Surf With Amigas, is so successful that they’ve even expanded to offering retreats in El Salvador and the Philippines.  As part of their program, SWA also offers yoga, local outings, hikes, and, most importantly, a unique sense of supportive sisterhood.

If you’re not up for a trip to Nicaragua, then there are a few other awesome women-run, women-focused surf schools out there, like Surf Diva (California & Costa Rica) and Las Olas Surf Safaris (Mexico). Surf’s up, ladies!

 

LizzLoves Latino Reading for Youth December 10, 2012

Filed under: books,business,culture,parenting,youth — lizzloves @ 5:24 am

maswired.com

A week ago, an article was released in The New York Times that hit home for me. The piece confirmed the sinking feeling I had been having when I looked at the current literary landscape: Latino students are not seeing enough leading characters in the books they read that look, sound and act like them.

 

Despite the ever-growing Latino population in our country, we are still seeing a majority of white characters in main character roles in books that our young people are reading. Some might say, so what—reading is reading, right? Others might argue, why should it matter if characters are Latino or multi-ethnic?

 

Jane Fleming, an assistant professor at the Erikson Institute, a graduate school in early childhood development in Chicago, told The New York Times, “Kids do have a different kind of connection when they see a character that looks like them or they experience a plot or a theme that relates to something they’ve experienced in their lives.” And that connection leads to an engaging learning experience.

 

And while this article does address the derth in Latino characters, it also highlights a few authors who are dedicated to giving Latino characters leading roles in their writing, like Pat Muñoz Ryan, Julia Alvarez, Gary Soto, and Alma Flor Ada. And I would personally like to add two others, Malín Alegria and Sofia Quintero, who both create relatable and real teenage Latino characters in their young adult novels.

 

The Times article also points out the importance of creating characters and stories about Latinos in everyday life, not just around holidays like Cinco de Mayo. “It should be as natural reading about these characters as white characters,” Julia Alvarez told the Times.

 

I’m personally very thankful to authors who are already making efforts to organically weave Latinos into their tomes. I smile when I can picture myself, and someday, my children in their stories. I will do my best to support them, and I hope you will, too. And for those of you who are thinking about writing the “great American novel,” remember that Latinos are an important thread in the fabric of our nation’s culture.

 

So this holiday, give the gift of reading to the young people in your life and support Latino authors, who are featuring young Latinos in their works, at the same time. A quick tip for an easy and fun way to find some of them: visit Latino bookstore, La Casa Azul in El Barrio, where you can find an amazing collection of Latino literature, from the classics to up-and-coming voices. Owner Aurora Anaya-Cerda joyfully brings her passion for Latino literature to NYC’s most famous Latino neighborhood.

 

 

LizzLoves Cook For Your Life November 26, 2012

cookforyourlife.orgAs I feasted on my 3rd installment of Thanksgiving leftovers tonight, I was thankful for the mix of flavors, from the tangy sweetness of cranberry sauce to the salty, peppery meat stuffing. This year, however, I had to be extra grateful for something simple: the ability to taste.

Lately, taste and the ability to enjoy food has been on my mind a lot. As a bit of a foodie, I can’t imagine what it would be like to suddenly lose my sense of taste or to not be excited about a delicious meal. Unfortunately, that’s what my very best friend in the world, who is fighting breast cancer, has been going through. As if chemotherapy didn’t already suck, one of the crappy side effects can be a loss or change in your ability to taste. Imagine having a strong craving and then when you get that supposedly yummy item…it tastes weird, awful, or worse, like nothing?

Well, Ann Ogden, founder of the nonprofit, Cook For Your Life, knows a lot about how that feels. As a cook, Ann loves food, but as a two-time cancer survivor, she also knows what it’s like to have chemo give your taste buds a one-two punch. As she told DailyWorth, “After recovering from treatment, I started to crave hot, spicy foods to knock the taste of chemo out of my mouth: Indian, Korean, Mexican.”

So, Ann found healthy and delicious ways to work with her struggling taste buds during chemo. But that wasn’t enough. She realized that there must be people everywhere who shared a need for this culinary comfort, and she wanted to pass it on. Ann left behind a career in the fashion industry to launch her site, Cook For Your Life, which teaches healthy cooking to people touched by cancer. The recipe search gives options for people who are going through chemotherapy and radiation, and even gives some food remedies for combatting symptoms like nausea and fatigue.

I hope that I can visit my friend again soon so we can cook up something from the Cook For Your Life collection together. Thank you, Ann Ogden, for spreading your knowledge, love and compassion for your fellow fighters and survivors!