Personal

It’s a Wonderful Tradition

by Lindsey

Friends (if you’re the Christmas-celebrating type) it’s that time of year again. Happy Christmas Eve! We Left/Right sisters interrupt this evening to talk a little about our holiday traditions.

I think traditions are most important to me during this time of year. I take comfort in routine on a daily basis, so the extra special routines in which my whole family participates are a huge bonus for me. So what are those Christmas Eve/Christmas traditions we hold so dear?

Christmas Eve “oyster” soup: For some reason (we’ve heard differing), the Solomon side of our family always makes oyster soup for Christmas Eve. We “kids” (anyone under the age of 35) do not like oyster soup. We like barbecue. We eat barbecue instead. The tradition is slowly shifting…

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You can’t tell, but that’s It’s a Wonderful Life on the TV.

It’s a Wonderful Life: We always always have to watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. I typically fall asleep a third of the way through and wake up for the happy ending. Kelsey has developed a fascinating theory that Potter isn’t really the villain of the story, but it’s Uncle Billy that causes all the trouble. If he were more competent, he could have taken over the Building and Loan. He also wouldn’t have lost all the money. Oh, we hate you Uncle Billy. (But I love you, Jimmy Stewart. Hot dog!)

Kelsey’s recitation of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”: Kelsey memorized this famed poem sometime in elementary school, and she’s been showing off every Christmas Eve since. Just kidding. Her memory is pretty great. I can sing the preamble to the Constitution, but no one wants to hear that.

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Cousins, Christmas 2012

Family, family, family: For me, the best part of the holidays is family time. We get to catch up with all of our cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. We drink wine, we play games, and we generally have a fantastic time. It’s the best.

So, from the Solomon sisters to you fine folk: happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/any other holiday with traditions you love! We’ll see you next year.

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When to Spend

by Lindsey and Kelsey

There comes a time in every (non-trust fund supported) adult’s life, when he or she must start looking at price tags. When we start paying for things with our own money, strange things start to happen. Maybe you keep buying Tide detergent because it’s what your mom always bought without ever thinking, “Hmm, Squeaky McBubbles detergent is much cheaper, so maybe I should give it a whirl.” There’s a certain kind of comfort in familiar packaging. Or, if you’re price conscious, maybe you’ve frequently ventured into the generic or store brand product world. Spending less on a product of equal quality can be oh, so satisfying.

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This is our cousin’s cat, Maz. He’s a big spender.

While we Left/Right ladies encourage your thrifty explorations, there are some household and toiletry products for which we’re not willing to compromise. Some of these are generics that have tried and failed to woo us, and some are the “just nopes” that we can’t bring ourselves to sacrifice. We all make choices. These are ours.

Lindsey

Frozen Waffles

When I got out of grad school, it was 2010 and nonprofit jobs were hard to come by. I worked for a little under a year at a college library, which paid…well, not much. I scrimped and saved and tried all kinds of cheap food. Some were good. Some were bad. Storebrand/offbrand frozen waffles – a staple in my freezer for quick breakfasts or lazy dinners – fell into the latter bad category. Nothing compares to Eggo brand waffles. Nothing. Trust me.

Lipstick/BalmRed

As a youngster, I bought ALL the makeup. Hot pink blush. Teal eyeliner. I tried it all. Experimental was my middle name. (Now it’s just Shea.) Anyway, as an adult I’ve settled into a low maintenance beauty routine. Moisturizer only on lazy days. Light foundation, blush and neutral shadow to work. Mascara and eyeliner only on special occasions. The one constant every day? Lipstick or lip balm. If that’s main the makeup category where I spend my money, I want the good stuff.  Current favorites (from most color to least) are: NARS Fire Down Below, Clinique Whole Lotta Honey, Fresh Sugar Rosé Tinted Lip Treatment and Smith’s Rosebud Salve. If you want one lip product, pick Smith’s. I want to be buried with it.

Kelsey

Coffee

My name is Kelsey, and I’m a coffee snob. But, let’s be honest, I really don’t feel any shame about this fact. I’ve always enjoyed coffee, but ever since I landed myself a grown-up job, a coffee beverage has become an integral part of my leisurely morning. I will get up early, just so I can laze around for an extra 30 minutes casually sipping my soy latte. I grind my own coffee, and I order whole beans from Stumptown (in Portland) about once a month. It’s so worth it.

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Being left-handed, I’m obsessed with nearly any writing utensil that makes pushing my pen/pencil across the page a little easier to manage (vs. lucky right-handers that glide right with ease). This action almost always results in a fine patina of graphite or ink on the side of my hand (left-handed shout out: I know that you all know what I’m talking about). That said, I also write very small and precisely, so I prefer a .3 or .5 engineering pencil (faves: GraphGear 1000 ; rOtring 600 ) as well as fine point felt-tipped pens, as they dry quickly (faves: Le Pen ; Sakura Micron ). Fountain pens are also included in my pen indulgences (fave: Lamy).

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Toilet Paper

So, we split the “both” category between us, and I, Lindsey, ended up with toilet paper. I’m kind of stoked about it, to be honest. This is a product we all use every day. Every. single. day. I cannot scrimp on an item so important to daily life. That thin, hotel grade slop? No thank you. Not only is comfort an issue, but say you want to grab a square to sneeze or blot your lipstick? It won’t work, I tell you. If you’re going to splurge, treat your booty to the best. Oh, and for the record, Kelsey and I differ on what’s best. I prefer Cottonelle Clean Care, while the kid buys Charmin Ultra Soft. The choice is yours.

Skincare

Whereas I (Kelsey) save all the money on makeup compared to my sisterface (because I don’t wear it), I make up for that (get it?) by my obnoxious number of skincare products. Funny thing is that while my skin was never that rebellious as a teenager, you can still get acne for the first time in your twenties (stress is real, you guys). The best thing that I have found for my at-the-moment angry skin is a retinoid cream. You can find this stuff OTC, but you may also procure a prescription for a stronger variety. It has SO MANY BENEFITS from helping with acne to reducing/preventing wrinkles etc. etc. Moving on,  Lindsey and I have recently been using the same Clinique moisturizer with SPF, that we adore. If you need any encouragement to use SPF on a daily basis, see here. Finally, a shout-out to Kiehl’s for having an amazing alcohol-free toner.

What about you, dear readers? Anything you’d add to the list?

Body Positive

by Lindsey

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while. This seemed like the right week – a week filled with nude magazine covers and advertising debacles (both of which are happening more frequently) – to share the mental notes I’ve been collecting for the past few weeks. This post is personal, and I imagine it will be for many of you reading it. Let’s just dive in to the self-esteem/body image pool of doubt together, shall we?

First, I’ll tell you a little about me, just to get my baggage out of the way. Mmmm, baggage.

Since puberty, I’ve been chubby (though I prefer the term curvy). I’ve never seen my abs. My thighs have never had a gap. My face is round. My hips and breasts are full. I don’t look like the rest of my family, including my co-blogger Kelsey, who is 6’1″ and thin

We Solomon sisters, in all our diverse-bodied glory.

Solomon sisters, in our diverse-bodied glory

(though she often doesn’t believe me when I say that). I’m told I resemble more bosomy great aunts, but they aren’t around for comparison. I’ve always loved food and hated working out, but I try to eat semi-healthfully and exercise a couple of times a week. In the past year, I was put on a medicine that made me gain quite a bit of weight rather quickly, so that’s also fantastic.

I also come from a family ripe with their own insecurities, which I’m sure is common. And this is no fault of theirs, it’s just to make the point that we learn from our surroundings. My parents have fluctuated in weight all their lives, and they talk often about gains and losses. At big family holidays with my dad’s family, my very thin uncle will drink half a beer to avoid calories and needle my dad in a brotherly way about his weight, though he’s (currently) in the normal range. My aunts compare gym tips and talk fiber and how they look great for their ages (which they absolutely do). I am the only – and have always been the only – overweight cousin in our tight knit group of seven. The difference is there, but the negative feelings I internalize about those differences are my own doing.

The real low point of my self-esteem issues happened not at my heaviest, but at my most insecure. I spent years – that’s not an exaggeration – feeling like I wasn’t good enough to even attempt a move on one particular guy because I was heavier than him. That’s the honest truth. I would make excuses to myself and others, saying, “Oh, he just doesn’t like me that way” or “I don’t want to ruin our friendship.” Both of those statements were (I believe) true, but it doesn’t change the fact that the biggest thing holding me back from the attempt was my belief that I was big. As a feminist, nay, as a person, I’m ashamed to admit this act of self-esteem-based cowardice.

So, that’s me. I know I talk a lot about family and fitting in, but we all know that’s not the real problem. We’ve all been trained to think a certain way about beauty. Look at the most recent Victoria’s Secret “The Perfect ‘Body'” controversy, in which an advertisement with that slogan featured ten thin, “perfect bodied” models in Body by Victoria bras. It certainly did not represent every body, let alone even a smattering of body diversity. Luckily, VS got the memo, but, as they only changed the words of the ad, it still looks much like they only care about dressing those blessed with society’s favorite beauty standards. I appreciate brands like Dear Kate who have responded with a more diverse representation of models.

(Side note: I once went to a yoga class titled “Yoga for every body!” I thought it was a beginner class. People were doing inversions within the first fifteen minutes of the class, so Victoria’s Secret isn’t the first to pull a switcheroo with this particular turn of phrase. The class should have been called yoga for people who are already really good at headstands. But I digress…)

When I tweeted something about said controversial ad, someone accused me of shaming the models for being thin and working hard for their bodies. Calling attention to the blatant irony of the image and phrasing is not thin-shaming, which is just another side to the multi-faceted body-shaming coin of misery. Even women I’ve met in the real world who look as close to model-esque as I’ve ever seen often don’t feel like they look like models. The thing that I’ve learned from my thinner friends, or, well, just my friends in general, is that we all have our hang-ups.

Honestly, if anything deserves shaming, it’s the overuse of Photoshop. I’ve looked at fashion magazines since I was very young, and I don’t blame anyone for wanting to look their best on a glossy cover. It’s when those general standards of brushing off zits moves to enhancing waists and cleavage and butts and lips that things go too far for me. Let’s look to two celebrities in contrast, both of whom don’t need editing. Keira Knightly recently went topless in a photoshoot to counteract all of the enhancements that had been made to her body over the years, showing her small breasts as they are. In contrast, Kim Kardashian showed off her very heavily Photoshopped assets (pun intended) on the cover of a magazine, offering up the kind of Disney-princess trimmed waist that is all but unattainable. They’re both beautiful, and I have no problem with nudity. They both look really great in their respective photographs. The contrast between their approaches deserves attention, however, in that one is actively fighting against the Photoshopped mainstream, while the other builds her brand around “perfection.”

Speaking of celebrities, I was taken aback with I found out Diplo was shaming Taylor Swift’s booty on Twitter today. (And I was taken to laughing when I saw Lorde’s response.) There’s a special kind of meanness that comes with insulting a person’s appearance. I’m not saying I’m above it – we’re all mean to each other. I’ve made comments I regret. You’ve made comments you regret. We’re probably the meanest to ourselves. To quote Lena Dunham’s Hannah on Girls: ““Any mean thing someone’s going to think of to say about me, I’ve already said to me, about me, probably in the last half hour!” And this is where we get to the part about making things a little better for ourselves and others.

As much as we all struggle with our self-image, self-esteem, self-pity, etc., we have to remember that things are changing. The fact that images like the one from Dear Kate exist is a testament to that. That there was such an outcry against Victoria’s Secret over their mislabeled ad is a point in that direction, too.  Slowly, clothing brands are taking notice that we aren’t all straight sizes – we are curvy, tall, petite and everything in between. It’s not that we don’t have a long way to go, but things are moving forward toward inclusion.

Another personal step in the right direction is to expose yourself to the many body types that exist in the world. I find Instagram especially useful for this. I follow accounts from models and actresses, yes. I also follow accounts that are all about showing body positive examples of all shapes and sizes. One of my current favorites is self-proclaimed “self-love advocate” @honorcurves, who started the #HonorMyCurves hashtag. It may sound hokey (and sometimes it is), but you can’t read some of her posts without being inspired by the beauty of your own body and the bodies of others.

Finally – and this is the ultimate kicker – we have to work to own our own bodies, our own shapes. Though I’ve definitely not overcome my hangups completely, I’m not trying to hide who I am. I’ll wear what I want to wear, horizontal stripes be damned. I’ll buy the size that fits me, not worrying about whether the smaller number makes me feel better about the physical space I take up. I’ll try to exercise more for the sake of health, not weight loss. I’ll work not to attach my worth to my waist size. Most of all, I’ll try to be kinder to others and especially myself.

Thoughts on Growing Up

by Kelsey

Growing up is hard, y’know? Here are some notes/thoughts on it:

  • The majority of my pictures now have frames around them.
  • Early is not 8 AM. Early is 4:00-5:00 AM. I am now a morning person. Not an early riser? Judgment.
  • At some point, you will need to stop eating trash and fill your body with things it needs. They will become things you want.
  • That said, no amount of healthy eating will prevent sickness or death. Indulgences are okay.
  • You will never leave Target without spending at least $50. Ever.
  • Children hate naps but need them. College students love naps and need them. Adults may or may not need naps, but they want them. But naps give adults “nap hangovers” — pounding headache, sensitivity to movement, nausea. Day sleep = no night sleep. You are not a cat.
  • The majority of your adult morning will be spent procuring caffeine (or talking about that pursuit with your co-workers).
  • Also, break room coffee isn’t coffee. Don’t trust anyone who says otherwise.
  • Leisurely mornings are the best things in the world. The. Best.
  • Making my bed is not optional.
  • Friendships will never be as effortless as they were before.
  • Everyone is biologically predetermined to “like” water. It keeps you alive. Drink it, you’ll feel better. (And don’t contaminate it with those BS flavor packs).
  • Cleanliness is a form of self-care (may have stolen this one from The Killing).
  • Skincare regimes are now a thing.
  • The first ten years after college will be the hardest years of your life.
  • Walk in the door -> Sweatpants.

 

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Good luck out there, Everyone.

Fall Vibes

by Lindsey

Fall is less than a month away. Living in Tennessee means the cool weather hasn’t yet arrived, but I know it’s coming. I see you, crispy leaves. Come at me.

I know most girls (and boys) get excited about a change in the seasons, so consider this my homage. Behold: The things I love about fall, and the things I want to do/accomplish during this marvelous time of year.


Loves

Fall Dressing: One word: cozy. Tights and boots and sweaters and jackets and scarves and every other cuddly piece of clothing I own will be put to great use. I’m one of those people who sleeps best cocooned under the weight of five blankets pulled to my chin, so I feel very comfortable dressing for chilly weather. Plus, I feel like I dress better in the fall. Layering is my game, and it’s a hard game to win in the hotter months. When the cool breezes start blowing, no one will judge my choice to wear a denim jacket. (I do wear denim in summer. It’s called personal style, dad.)

Return to Academia: I miss school. I really do. Fall reminds me of the time in my life where my ultimate goal was to learn. (It still is, but less formally so.) I think that’s why college Homecomings often happen in the fall. It’s nostalgia on steroids. New school supplies are a thing of beauty, too, yeah? To quote my favorite Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie:

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

If a man ever sent me a bouquet of pencils, I’d probably swoon and lose an eye. Take note, gentlemen.

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Halloween 2013. With hat, witch. Without hat, Stevie Nicks. Good either way.

Holidays Ahoy: The best holidays take place in fall/winter. Halloween has candy and frights. The Halloween episodes of television shows are just the BEST. Everyone is listening to spooky podcasts and reading scary books, too, right? Just me? Then, Thanksgiving has family and warm fuzzies. My mom makes the best dressing (or stuffing baked outside of the turkey for those readers not living in the South). Finally, we head into Christmas with all the festivities that entails. Woot!

Goals

Makeup Shake-up: Honestly, I don’t wear much makeup, and I’ve been wearing less and less of late. Really, If I have a lipgloss or balm, I’m good to go. I’ve come a long way from my middle school days of purple lipstick and hot pink blush. However, I want to start taking better care of my skin this fall. I’m currently eyeing this combo SPF cream. Also, I’ve always wanted to be one of girls that can wear red lipstick during the day without anyone blinking an eye. So, you know what? I’m going to be that girl. I’ve purchased Fire Down Below from NARS, a deep blood red. Basically, I’m majorly inspired by Jamie Beck’s no-fuss, classic look. (She even has me considering oxfords. No small feat.)

IMG_4217Copy Starbucks: You thought I was going to talk about pumpkin spice lattes, didn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong. I spend waaay too much money on Starbucks’ matcha green tea lattes. I’m addicted. This fall, I intend to learn a copycat recipe. Buying matcha is expensive, but there must be a way!

Plan Better: I’ll make this short and sweet. I haven’t been using my planner and I should. Lame, right? Well, I need to better track my time. Also, I’m a homebody, and I’m perfectly okay with that. However, with all the fun fall things? I need to plan to get out of the house.

Fall, y’all! What are your plans?

Fear of Flight

By Lindsey

If you know Kelsey and I well, you know we like to travel. We actually make for really great travel companions. We we both believe that after a tiring day of cultural attractions, one should get dinner to go and eat in hotel beds whilst wearing jammies. (I know you’re excited about our future travel posts.)

Plane - LindseySAnyway, we sisters share another travel tendency: we both fear flying. By fear, I mean almost panic-attack inducing, stomach jumping, seat-neighbor asking if you’re okay kind of scared. For me, I hate take-offs and landings. Once I’m in the air (assuming that air is smooth as silk), I like to see the tiny houses and colorful patterns of farmland far below. For Kelsey, it’s the opposite. She feels trapped while on the flight and loves watching the plane inch closer and closer to the ground. Maybe we both like control. Maybe we haven’t flown enough. Maybe everyone is born with fears, and this is our shared space in which we try not to barf and cry.

Some of you may be thinking, “What wimps! I love to fly!” Well, for those of you who lack natural empathy and call names, this Buzzfeed post should give you a little insight into the terror we experience.

Why am I posting this now, you might wonder? Well, this Friday I’m flying for the first time in almost a year. I’ve been trying to mentally prepare. This means I:

  1. Don’t watch the news. Unsurprisingly, disasters make me even more nervous.
  2. Download great podcasts. My current favorites are Slumber Party with Alie and Georgia, Welcome to Night Vale and Radiolab.
  3. Wear comfy clothes. I have a giant cardigan picked out already.
  4. Have plenty of reading material on hand. I read magazines during take-offs and landings, Kindle books the rest of the flight. I’m just going to air my shame and say this: I downloaded the Fifty Shades of Gray Trilogy to keep me busy. There’s nothing like poorly written sexy books to keep the mind off crashing! (I also downloaded this book and this book to make up for that choice…maybe.)
  5. Keep a prescription anxiety pill in my purse just in case. I’ve never actually had to take an emergency pill, but knowing it’s there makes me feel better, like a tiny, chemical security blanket.

For those of you who also hate high-speed trips through the air, I thought I’d share some more resources from around the web.

Any other tips for me? Wish me luck.

Oh, hi.

by Lindsey and Kelsey

Welcome, reader. First off, you are looking fabulous.

Next, you may be wondering, what is the Left/Right Blog? What kind of content will I see here? Why should I stick around?

Well, we – Kelsey and Lindsey – are sisters and writers who aren’t among the lucky few that get to feed our creative sides during our 9-5 jobs. Enter the Left/Right Blog, a place where we hope to nourish both sides of our brains, all while sharing and creating community (with you lovely folk). We’re planning content that runs the creative gauntlet including:

  • delicious recipes and drink concoctions (because no shame)
  • book recommendations
  • travel plans/wishful thinking
  • contemporary and classical movie reviews
  • TV show round-ups (the legit good and the guilty pleasures)
  • links and discussions on the latest tech and science developments (Fun science, you guys. Be cool.)
  • cats
  • and more!

Basically, we plan to share insights into the lifestyles of the young and the introverted. While we’re very different people, we hope our shared interests will inspire and entertain you. We’re glad you’re here.


Want to know more? Visit our About K/L page.