Sleep Revolution

When I was a baby, whenever my parents had people over, they would ask "Are you sure that she's alright?" - apparently, a baby that sleeps whenever and wherever is a rarity. But it's true: I slept through the night very early, and as soon as you put me down, I passed out.

At around age 8, I started having my first nightmares (that I can remember). A closet that took up the entire wall in our bedroom threw a weird shadow on the opposite wall so that I was convinced it was a bad man crouching down, waiting for me to fall asleep so he could grab me and steal me away. This meant I had trouble falling asleep, and then whenever I woke up in the middle of the night, I was really scared. 

As a teenager, I developed some of the bad sleeping habits I have now (staying up later than necessary, having cell phone and laptop in bed, drinking alcohol & snacking late in the evening), and its also the first time my anxiety reared its head.

Strangely, things normalized again at university; while I did my share of partying, I was opposed to all-night cram sessions, rather going to bed and then getting up a little bit earlier, always convinced this was more effective. Whenever I was depressed or feeling lonely, I instinctively did the right thing and curled up in bed.

For the last few years, however, my sleep pattern has been all over the place. I have become an early riser, never being able to sleep in longer than 8 AM. I still have those bad sleeping habits, and on top of that, my anxiety is a lot worse than it was a few years ago. Most nights, I am awake at least an hour before I finally have my brain calmed down enough to fall asleep. I am restless, waking up a few times per night and then tossing and turning, trying to go back to sleep; all of that combined adds up to around 4-5 hours of sleep per night, which is simply not enough.

This year, I have the goal of reading 17 books - we're already 6 months in, and I've finally managed to read my third! After Hannah Brencher's "If you find this Letter" and Lily Collins' "Unfiltered", I finally got around to Arianna Huffington's "The Sleep Revolution".

For a non-fiction book, this one was a real page turner for me. Insightful, full of personal anecdotes, and very well researched, "The Sleep Revolution" clearly shows just how much not sleeping enough can impact our health, and gives great tools for making sleep more of a priority in our lives. Did you know, for example, that just a few nights of less than 8 hours of sleep have the same effect on your body as if you were constantly drunk?

If you've ever had trouble with sleep, or getting to sleep, I can really recommend this book. In fact, after you read it, I encourage you to come back here and join me in making your own sleep resolutions! Maybe if we all decide that sleep is just as important as all our other goals for the year, we can finally all get enough of it.

My Sleep Resolutions

  • stop feeling bad/old for going to bed early - if you get up early, you should go to bed early!
  • turn off devices 30 minutes before sleeping, even if it means not finishing the episode
  • create a bedtime routine (incl. skin care, outfit planning, maybe journaling)
  • change sheets more often, because there's nothing better than fresh, crisp sheets
  • have seperate sleep & chill-out clothes to signal to the body that it's now time for bed
  • continue to work on healthy snacking & be more firm with not drinking during the week
  • try meditation | tea | reading | yoga before bed to relax
  • work out twice a week
  • be patient with myself as I implement these changes

Photo by Redd Angelo on Unsplash

Thoughts on Defining your Style

Ever since I was little, I have had a very distinct sense of style, and a great love of fashion. Sometimes, people would ask my mother why in the world she let me wear some of the very wild outfits that I ran around in, and she would simply shrug and tell people that I was insistent when it came to choosing my own clothes. As long as I was dressed appropriately for the weather conditions, who cares, right?

Whether it was the Pippi Langstrumpf-inspired clash of colorful prints when I was younger, the orange-pink-red-combo phase of middle school, the baggy trousers and neon blue eyeshadow of my teens, or the emo phase I went through toward the end of high school: I was always sure of what I wanted to wear.

Lately, however, I find myself struggling with personal style. The trend of the "capsule wardrobe" and "minimal closet" all look inspiring when you see them beautifully photographed and enthusiastically described, but when I think about applying them to my own life, it seems unrealistic and not all that desirable. I've been following Franziska from Franish for ages, and inspired by her started keeping a tab on what I buy each month and counting the items in my closet each year. But while those two things are very practical (and at times eye-opening), they didn't really help when I sat down to define what my style is.

Adina over at Blue Collar Red Lipstick  has also dedicated a number of grest posts on this topic (here and here), as has probably every other fashion blogger & magazine. After collecting all those bits and pieces of information, this is what I started with:

Not-My-Style List

What are things that I don't like wearing or feel uncomfortable in? Or maybe just don't enjoy from an aesthetic standpoint? In click-bait speak,  these are the things I wouldn't be caught dead in: 
  • Heels
  • White (tops & bottoms) or black (tops)
  • Anything shorter than tshirt sleeves
  • Harem/cropped/low-sitting/baggy/bell bottom trousers
  • Hoop earrings
  • Things that aren’t meant to be see-through but are
  • Satin/pleather/silk
  • Hot pants
  • Deep v-necks, back cutouts where you can't wear a bra, busy necklines
  • Mini skirts
  • Bow embellishments
  • Weirdly over- or under-sized parts (sleeves, belts, purses, hats, etc.)
  • Neon
  • Pointy shoes

Color Palette

For me, this is by far the easiest part - I have a color palette from the style consultation I received as an 18th birthday present. I'm a fall, and in the "classic" color theory here in Europe,  there is no warm, soft, whatever variation; you're simply one of the four seasons. I have added in navy, a blue-tinged gray, and maroon because I find they work well with all my actual colors, and it's nice to have a more muted background to let the other colors shine.

basics: navy, cobalt, khaki, cream | neutrals: gray, dark brown, camel | accents: turquoise, olive, mustard, maroon

Core Silhouettes

Disclaimer: you're going to feel very silly when you do this. Because sitting down and thinking about what you normally throw together on any given day and then trying to break that down into formulas is weird. But! Once you do, it is a very helpful tool to have on hand, especially when you're a) needing to get dressed in a hurry,  or b) out shopping trying to decide if something will work in your wardrobe. But please know, this is not an exact science (or really any type of science): just go with what you generally wear together. No one will know if you add a random cardigan or statement necklace to the mix on any given day, I promise.

  • cardigan + t-shirt + skinny trousers + birkenstock flats
  • midi dress + loafers
  • longsleeve tee + midi skirt + converse
  • blazer + blouse + skinny trousers + loafers
  • leather jacket + printed t-shirt + skinny trousers + biker boots
  • long coat + longblouse + distressed jeans + biker boots

Pretty good so far, right? For everyday-getting-dressed and buying items that will work well with my existing pieces, this is a great place to start.

However, style has always felt like it was so much more than "just getting dressed"; your look is the first impression people have of you, and for that reason it is this BIGIMPORTANTTHING in my head. For the last few years,  it's been a little bit of a struggle to remove that "need" to make a statement and try to bring back the "it looks good because I like it" mentality when it comes to getting dressed. To change the equation from me = my look to (me)+(my clothes)=a look, which is just a nerdy (and probably mathematically incorrect) way of saying that it is hard for me to accept that someone may not like my clothes but that does not mean they don't like me.

A question that I asked myself in an endeavor to become more relaxed and less anxious about personal style is how do I feel in the outfits I enjoy wearing the most? And how do I want to feel in the clothes that I wear?

The answer to the first question is pretty easy: in the outfits which I most enjoy wearing, I feel like myself. Whether that self is a preppy college student, a grunge-inspired streetwear lover, a slinky, velvety aristocrat, or a polished professional: my favorite clothes make me feel like I am showing the world a true, honest part of who I am, with the added bonus that there are almost as many fashion styles as there are facets to me.

To identify the way I want to feel in what I'm wearing,  I took to Pinterest (and my friend Nina's gorgeous blog You Rock My Life) to find my style icons. What do I admire about their looks? How can I apply that to my life? What feelings does their style evoke that I would like to capture in my own?

Emma Watson 

Jessica Alba

Nina from You Rock My Life 

Jessica Biel

Rosier Huntington-Whiteley

The words that describe all these ladies: clean-cut, interesting, sophisticated, effortless. That's what I really want my style to reflect, which is oftentimes a struggle to merge with my ever-present need to be comfortable. But now that I have a clear idea in my head of what I want to feel like, combined with the more practical tools above, I think I'm on a good path to finally find MY style. I'll be sure to keep you posted :)

Who is your style icon? How do you define your style?

Word of the Year 2017

There have been many words this year.

First, there was adventure.

Adventure is your favorite celebrity who encourages you to dream big. He wants you to break free from your everyday routines and try something new. Adventure knows that you don't like uncertainty, but that you need a little bit of it in your life.

Adventure says: "2017 will be a defining year in your life. You will either change or you won't."

Then, there was self-love.

Self-love is a friend who insists you focus on yourself. She makes you look inward, and forces you to confront all the things you would maybe rather choose to ignore. Self-love knows that you want to support your family & friends, but that you need to be selfish sometimes.

Self-love says: " You are the center of your universe. Treat yourself accordingly."

At some point, nourish chimed in.

Nourish is a personal trainer who asks you to take care of yourself in a way that is healthy & good for you. He asks you to divide your energy up between yourself and the people you care about, to focus on all the different parts of your life that matter. Nourish knows that you have a hard time choosing your priorities, but that you are happier when you do.

Nourish says: "You have to feed the things that matter to you. Everything else is just noise"

Finally, along came balance.

Balance is the wise older aunt who has seen some shit. She wants you to be happy, and to feel at peace. Balance knows that too much is not good, but too little isn't great, either.

Balance says: "You know instinctively what you need. All things in moderation."

All of them have things that I need, but for 2017, I am asking balance to sit at my table. When I think of where I am, where I want to be, and how I want to feel, that's what I crave in my life right now: balance.

Balance between

life and work,
body and mind,
indulgence and health,
adventure and calm,
travel and home,
spending and saving,
new things and old favorites.

Finally found my word of the year! What it is, and why I chose it on the blog today | ©JohannaDocumented

What's your theme for the year?

My Year With Jamie

Ever since I was little, I have loved cooking. And ever since I discovered Jamie Oliver, I have loved Jamie Oliver. When I was able to eat at his Fifteen restaurant in 2015, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far. This year, one of my goals is to reconnect with the things that really make me happy: reading, photography, and cooking. 

When I was thinking about how to go about taking cooking from something utilitarian - what can I make quickly, that is mostly healthy, fits all of our dietary restrictions, and will keep well for my lunches during the work week - back to something pleasant that brings me joy & respite, I thought about the movie Julie & Julia. In real life, Julia Childs was not a fan of blogger Julie Powell's project, but I liked the idea of commiting to something for an entire year (plus you can't beat Meryl Streep).

This year, I've decided that I will complete 52 recipes from Jamie Oliver. I'll be using the ones I cut out of the Jamie Magazine subscription I had this year, plus recipes from five cookbooks:

  • Jamie's Italy
  • Cook With Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook
  • Jamie does... Spain, Italy, Sweden, Morocco, Greece, France
  • Jamie's Comfort Food
  • Everyday Super Food

Some weeks, I probably won't get around to making a recipe, or it simply won't fit in with our schedule and requirements that week. Other weeks, I might combine a couple of recipes to make a full meal. You can follow along on Instagram, where everything will be documented using the hashtag #myyearwithjamie. Periodically, I'll be updating the list below with my progress, as well as a tiny review of how the recipe worked out/tasted.

I'm really looking forward to this challenge. Some of the recipes are quite intricate, some are very simple, and some are old favorites, but all of them make me incredibly excited to get into the kitchen & create a few messes.

Are you planning any major creative projects this year?
I'd love to hear about them!

Recipes (in no particular order):

  1. Baked Egg in Beans (Everyday Superfood, p. 16)
  2. Toasted Oats (Everyday Superfood, p. 62)
  3. Cheese & Corn Pancakes (Everyday Superfood, p. 74)
  4. Healthy Chicken Caesar Salad (Everyday Superfood, p. 94)
  5. Corn & Quinoa Salad (Everyday Superfood, p. 152)
  6. Beetroot Winter Salad (Cook With Jamie, p. 36)
  7. Homemade Pasta Dough + Oozy Egg Ravioli (Cook With Jamie, p. 84/106)
  8. Schnitzel with Watercress & Homemade Applesauce (Cook With Jamie, p. 182)
  9. Chicken Tikka Masala (Comfort Foods, p. 16)
  10. Classic Porridge (Comfort Foods, p. 84)
  11. Insanity Burger (Comfort Foods, p. 94)
  12. Superfood Salad (Comfort Foods, p. 174)
  13. Saffron Risotto (Comfort Foods, p. 246)
  14. Eggs Benedict (Comfort Foods, p. 302)
  15. Tarte Tatin (Comfort Foods, p. 378)
  16. Stuffed Courgette Flowers (Jamie Does..., p. 78)
  17. Minestrone (Jamie Does..., p. 92)
  18. Swedish Meatballs (Jamie Does..., p. 130)
  19. Split Pea Soup (Jamie Does..., p. 132)
  20. Chicken, Olive, and Preserved Lemon Tagine (Jamie Does..., p. 208)
  21. Greek Salad (Jamie Does..., p. 238)
  22. Gigantes Plaka (Jamie Does..., p. 266)
  23. Chicken & Bean Soup (Jamie Does..., p. 310)
  24. Fried Ricotta (Jamie's Italy, p. 12) 
  25. Spaghetti Fritters (Jamie's Italy, p. 36)
  26. Fried Pizza (Jamie's Italy, p. 59)
  27. Pea Soup (Jamie's Italy, p. 80)
  28. Baked Pasta (Jamie's Italy, p. 114)
  29. Spring Veggie Stew (Jamie's Italy, p. 251)
  30. Farro with Tomatoes and Garlic
  31. Basic Stew with Mash Topping
  32. Baby Back Ribs with Grilled Corn
  33. Spiced Meatballs with Noodles and Pickled Watermelon
  34. Pot-roast Chicken
  35. Asparagus Carbonara
  36. Pappardelle with Fennel-Sausage Ragout
  37. Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup
  38. Watercress and Pork Balls Noodle Soup
  39. Poached Chicken and Asparagus Soup
  40. Bone Broth Brodo
  41. Blueberry Pancakes with Honeycomb and Bacon Butter
  42. Classic Crumpets
  43. Appel and Sorrel Granita
  44. Apple Bourdelot
  45. Lemon and Pistacchio Marble Cake
  46. Pavlova with Hibiscus-poached Pears
  47. Lemon Tart
  48. Sweetcorn Panacotta with Caramel Popcorn
  49. Coconut, Beef, and Potato Curry
  50. Wild Garlic, Mushroom, and Ricotta Tortellini
  51. Alpahabet Soup
  52. Citrus Trifle with Lemon Curd, Lime Sponge, and Orange Blossom Jelly