Laters

silver boxesold ornamentssanta blobs

Yesterday we cleaned the house and put away most of the holiday decorations. I normally keep the tree up well past New Year’s but for some reason I wanted to have it all cleaned up early. This holiday season has been exhausting for me so I guess I’m ready to see it all end and have life be somewhat normal again.

snowmangarland

Today we are going to see The Shape of Water and then run some errands. This evening we are going to a friend’s house for a New Year’s party. In all honesty, I’d kinda rather stay home and play Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The hubs and I bought a Nintendo Switch on Boxing Day and have been playing together each night. It’s been the one relaxing thing I’ve done over the past two days. Playing video games may not sound too relaxing to some, but it’s a sign of normalcy for me. Now that we are done playing Hollow Knight, we can immerse ourselves into Zelda and it looks like it’ll take us a very long time to complete.

birdszhivago bird

I don’t like making New Year’s resolutions, but I do like having a few goals to work towards. Starting them on New Year’s sounds fitting.

  1. Be better at money. There are several “last minute not necessary but I’m going to buy them anyway” items because it’ll help me clear my head for starting off fresh tomorrow. I’m not actually bad at money at all right now, but there’s always room for improvement. I need to figure out where I’m wasting the most money and develop a better system for my discretionary spending.
  2. Be better at pull ups and exercising in general so I’ll be in better shape when I get this effing boot off. Even after scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning floors, de-pilling sweaters, and cleaning the kitchen yesterday I still forced myself to work out. I did pull ups and have fallen back behind in my reps again because I’ve not exercised in over a week.
  3. Hone in on my style more. This year I was very experimental and a lot of my spending most likely came from that. I think I’ve gone to extremes and now looking at some outfit photos, I think my style right now is some degree of weird schizophrenic. I wear both fitted clothes and those that make me look like colorful potato sacks. I don’t regret any purchases because it’s been a learning experience for me and I’ve been thinking of ways to work with what I have to make some items work better for me.

I’ve read many blogs about style this year and I’m starting to get a better idea of what I like and what I don’t. Sustainable fashion trended a lot this year and being more selective of fabric types and construction also made lots of waves in blogs.

Many blogs talk about the importance of fabric and how natural fibers are the best. Looking at a few work horse pieces in my wardrobe say otherwise. If an item is well made and if I take care of it properly, then does the fabric really matter? I don’t think so. My acrylic sweaters may pill more, my polyester shirts might get a few loose strings on them faster, but in general those are not make-or-break problems for me when it comes to my enjoying them. Yes, natural fibers are very nice and may last a little longer, but I do think a lot of what makes clothing last is how I take care of it. I’ve been ironing clothes more this year and paying attention to how often they are cleaned and how they are cleaned.

After reading about where clothing was made and how that makes a huge difference in it’s quality, I went to the mall and decided to test this. The only sort of “high end” store near me is Bloomingdale’s at the mall. I went there and looked at the more expensive clothing designers available. Some of the silk shirts were amazing and made me think my Everlane silk shirt was more Wal-mart quality in comparison. The heft and drape of the silk was incredible and even the stitching made Everlane and Grana look horrible. I think I confused a few SAs who constantly asked if I needed anything because I was taking clothes off the hangers and turning them inside out to look at the stitching and tugging a little at fabrics and checking tags. I was a bit skeptical about the quality because I know that a lot of big name shops have designer clothing that’s specifically made for them: Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, etc….. Although what I gleaned from it all was a mixed bag. For example, the brand Theory had lots of items that said “made especially for Bloomingdales” on them. All of those items were made in China. The few items that didn’t have that notice were made in USA. I checked the stitching and tried to gauge the general fabric quality of both and both were well made. Another brand, Hobbs of London, had almost every item made in China and some clothes were well made with good stitching and some not so much, but the pricing was generally even.

The only thing I managed to get from all of this experience and reading was that being a conscious fashion shopper is nigh impossible. Yes, shopping at stores that have transparent policies and who use sustainable fabrics is best, but the likelihood of finding the best of both worlds like that isn’t all that probable. And for the few places it is, it’s not very economical for most people. For me, the best I can do is be a hell of a lot more discerning with my clothing choices and decide: do I care about the fabric type? Only if it’s well made. Do I care about the quality? Hell yes, the better made an item is the better it will last [caveat] as long as I take care of it. Does expensive clothing equal better clothing? Generally, yes. However, that’s not a set in stone rule. Clothing that has better construction will last longer and it does take longer to make an item that way so the pricing should reflect that. I’d much rather make sure the person who made my clothes gets paid properly for doing the extra work to ensure it’s durability.

I’ve never really meant for this blog to cover such heavy topics in fashion, but in some ways it’s unavoidable. The more I delve into what clothes I like and why, I need to be better informed about them.

Lastly-  item of note in this long, rambling post:

handbags

New handbag: top (showcased next to the most important item in the house – my lint roller) vs old handbag: bottom.

There’s nothing wrong with my old Coach bag. I still love it. My mom surprised me with the new bag from Dooney & Burke for Christmas. It’s not anywhere near the style of bag I’d choose for myself and the colors are not my cup of tea either. That being said, I’ve started using it and I really like it. The pocket placement inside the bag is awesome and I feel more organized than ever using it. I didn’t think I’d like the little hand grips because I’ve always been more a shoulder style fan, but I have found it easier to grab the little handles when necessary. At first, I was thinking I’d say “thanks, but no thanks” and have her return it, but now… it’s actually grown on me due to it’s practicality. I’m still not crazy about the color scheme, but maybe it’s exactly what I need to break up my black cycle lately. (My inner goth is harump-ing right now and saying: we’ll see how long THAT LASTS.)

I hope everyone has a happy and save New Year!

A few financial thoughts

Part one of this holiday week is over. I knew I’d be too busy to post anything before, but things are starting to slow down and I can catch up on reading blogs and write a little more now.

We had a full house. My sister and brother-in-law came to visit from Scotland.  My parents also came up from Florida. My parents stayed at a hotel, but were at our house for most of the day while visiting. All of this started last Tuesday and today the last of the guests will be gone. My house has exploded and needs a thorough cleaning again. The cats got spoiled by all the attention, especially Yuki, who will curl up into any and every lap available. My fridge and pantry are full of foods we normally don’t eat, but will be eaten nevertheless because I can’t stand wasting food – even if it was all bought by my parents. (Aside: It really freaks me out how much the rest of my family worships Wegmans.) Each day I was drinking wine, scotch, and/or mixed drinks of some sort and I feel like I need to take a very long break from alcohol. I doubt I will drink much of anything on New Year’s.

Why are holidays so exhausting!? I’m more sleep deprived than ever and I’ve needed a ridiculous amount of caffeine to get me through the work day.

Anyway, the point of this post was to touch on a subject that’s been hovering in my head for a couple months now.

When I started this new job I took a look at my finances and realized I spend too much money on things I don’t need and I could be saving a lot more. I then doubled the amount of money that goes directly into my savings account and double my buy-in amount for my Vanguard Roth IRA, which has done gangbusters this year. I also just got notice I can set up a 401K at my job as well, which I need to set up.

My husband and I sat down and went over our monthly expenses and figured out who owes what and if the general prices of expenses has gone up. He and I are the oddball couple who primarily do not have joined accounts. We do have a joint checking account, but it’s only for house related items (emergency/upkeep/improvement) and “us” things like vacations and anniversary stuffs. He has his own checking, savings, IRA, 401, etc… and I also have my own completely separate accounts. We are very autonomous financially and prefer to keep things separate. It makes it easier for us to track our own purchasing and due to the huge difference in our salaries (68% him/32% me) it makes it easier to be accountable for our own things. We figure out percentage-wise who owes what and divvy up the shared utilities (gas/electric/sewer/water/insurance), mortgage and groceries for the month. He generally pays the mortgage and insurance and I generally pay the monthly utilities and we alternate who buys groceries because we go shopping twice a month.

When we updated everything and I included my own expenses (savings/IRA/car loan/ anime subscriptions/ phone bill/ car gas) I still came up with a lot of extra money. Btw, I always count money put in my savings/IRA as part of my personal monthly expenses – those two accounts must be paid like a bill. This way I will always have money going into those accounts and anything outside of that is extra. I then wondered – where the hell is all that extra money going!? I know some months the bills run more than others – like right now gas is up because we have a gas heater – but by law of averages I should still be seeing a general increase in my checking. However, I’m not, which means I’m spending more than I should be, which then offsets my averages and my checking goes down. I was shocked when I saw the amount that I general “waste” each month and realized I need to be more accountable.

We have several house projects we want to do, but don’t have nearly enough in the joint account for them. So part of my goal for this year is to curb the extra spending (once I figure out where it’s going) and start putting money into the joint account the same way I do my savings/IRA – treat it like a monthly expense that must be paid. Btw, after I tallied up all  my expenses I still had just a little less than half my monthly paycheck available to me. Goal: figure out where the hell I’m spending that much money and shut it down!

 

Exhaustion and Star Wars

This week I’ve felt like sleep is something other people do and I only have the scant privilege of experiencing on occasion.

tuesday

Tuesday: Everlane sweater and Sacai Luck pants.

wednesday

Wednesday: Banana Republic top and Yohji Yamamoto pants.

thursday

Thursday: Everlane top and Brass Clothing pants.

friday

Fri-yay: J Crew top and Grana jeans while drinking my favorite cocktail.

First and foremost, the cocktail in today’s photo:

Blackout Manhattan: 1 oz Rye, 1 oz Pims, 1 oz Averna – dashes of orange and walnut bitters with a dirty cherry.

I’ve made many variations of this drink. Today I used my husband’s bourbon because I’m out of Rye whisky. The “dirty cherry” is just a Bada Bing cherry, which you can get in a jar from the grocery store. It’s not one of those disgusting Maraschino cherries that taste like plastic. These are real cherries brined in syrup. Orange bitters are easy to find at most liquor stores and even some grocery stores, walnut bitters can easily be found on Amazon, which is where I got mine.

Also, I want to note that two blogs I follow had amazing posts this week:

Work from Home Wardrobe – Navel gazes and I found myself nodding: It’s as issue that aging women all deal with but rarely talk about. I want to hear from more women about this. This also had me thinking: what the hell does “aging gracefully” even mean? Discuss.

Dr It Girl  – The misogyny of minimalism – I was fist pumping about this. It’s SO TRUE.

This week I’ve feel pulled in twenty different directions. Finish shopping for the holidays, get house prepped for 2 weeks of guests, social engagements, work being… WORK and then some…

Wednesday night after dinner I was driving around to stores for a few things thinking the crowds wouldn’t be bad. Wow was I wrong. Anyway, I was standing in line at Macy’s to get a few gifts and a couple near me were also buying gifts and the woman asked if I found really soft PJs because she saw me looking in the same stacks they were. Then she and her husband were trying to figure out if they bought enough just to use a 15% off coupon and realized they didn’t so she got upset and said that holiday shopping was nothing but a racket to make people buy more junk. I smiled at that and enjoyed their bantering on the subject. She was overjoyed one minute at finding a nice present for her daughter but then cursing holiday shopping the next minute. Holiday shopping really brings out extremes in people.

Last night the hubs and I met up with a group of friends to go see Star Wars. Non-spoiler-very-generic-review: it was good, but I felt it didn’t throw the emotional punches it could have to make it great. The dialogue had me wondering if they got Lucas to write parts of it (that’s a sarcastic way of saying it felt very stilted). There was a lot of comedy in it as well that felt a little out of place – like it was trying to be a Marvel movie. In general I did enjoy it a lot and was glad I got to see it opening night. I know there are lots of people who hate movie crowds and such, but some movies really are better when you experience them with a large crowd of like-minded fans who all “AHHHHHH” and “Awwwww” and gasp and cheer at the same time. Mark Hamil does a lot of voice-over work and is famously known for his Joker voice he’s done for the Batman cartoon series for so long ( and all the video games – Arkham Asylum, etc..) so when I first heard him on screen all I could think is: the Joker is a Jedi! It took me a while to adjust and hear him as Luke Skywalker instead of waiting for a cackling laugh a la Joker style.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

So I didn’t mean to go silent for two weeks, but I ended up being insanely busy. And when I wasn’t busy I was relishing in the few moments I had to do nothing. I did take outfit photos and looking at two weeks worth of them was really eye opening. I wear the same stuff over and over. I always knew that, but seeing it in photos really drove home the face that I don’t have a huge wardrobe at all. That’s not a bad thing. It’s simply an observation.

Mondays for the past 3 weeks. Latest photo taken today. I won’t bother writing what the items are that I wore because all of it has been worn before with one exception that I’ll get to in a bit:

Tuesdays:

Wednesdays: This is where I wear something NEW. Last Wednesday I wore a new pair of pants I got in the mail (second photo below). They are from Sacai Luck 2014 runway (I think) and fully lined solid wool beauties. Yes, the liner comes up to a funky drawstring above the waist button. It’s quirky and I like it and these pants are insanely warm and comfortable. I will be living in them this winter.

Thursdays: Oh look, both Thursdays I wore the Sacai Luck pants again. I meant it when I said I’d live in them.

Fridays:

I really do wear navy and black 90% of the time, don’t I?

Seeing these outfits like this makes me realize this blog might be pretty boring to look at for outfit photos since I tend to wear the same thing over and over.

In between these weeks have been two weekends. The first was an insane marathon of bathroom painting hell. The paint in our main bathroom was chipping and I tried sanding it off while I was unemployed, but just made a splotchy mess. It was going to take a LOT more work. I got maybe 25% of the walls cleared and then gave up. Since my relatives will be staying with us for the Christmas holiday we realized we really need to get that bathroom in shape. Saturday we scraped and sanded the rest of the walls. It took all day. The husband and I took shifts scraping and sanding while the other recovered from arms turning into jello. Sunday we sanded more (mostly to even out the spackling we’d done at 9 pm the night before) and then painted… and then cleaned. And finally at 7 pm Sunday night the bathroom was normal again and our arms had fallen off and we were exhausted and crying that we needed a weekend from our weekend. Monday I was a wreck. I didn’t bother doing my usual exercising again until Wednesday and even then my arms were screaming at me: why do you hate us! as I did chin ups.

But now at least the bathroom looks nice. Because the tile in there is awful 1950s salmon with black trim we kept the walls totally white. The grout is white in the tile so it looks somewhat decent that way. We also got a new shower head, light fixture and shower curtains. Everything is white except that awful tile and it looks nice and bright, but I feel like a vampire being blasted by the sun each morning when I get ready for work.

This past weekend I did nothing. Both days I spent lounging on the sofa playing games or catching up on anime. It snowed Saturday and neither the hubs nor I felt like doing anything and relished a well-earned break. We did get a Christmas tree last Friday night and decorated it Saturday while it snowed, but that was the extent of our sloth-like weekend of relaxation.

Black textures

monday

Monday: Everlane sweater, Brass Clothing pants, Shoe: Vince.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop wearing blue and black together. Remember the old saying that navy and black don’t go together? Well, screw that. That combination is my favorite. Anyway, wearing a new Everlane sweater since my red lux one got a big hole in it. This one feels a bit more substantial and I like the tight crop neck on it. The sweater is cropped a bit, but I like it that way. The sleeves do feel a bit long, even for a small.

tuesday

Tuesday: striped linen long sleeve tee – Yesstyle, Uniqlo pant, Land’s End cardigan. Oh hey, it’s my old favorite cardigan again that doesn’t really go with anything but I wear it with everything regardless.

wednesday

Wednesday: Everlane sweater; Yohji skirt/pant, (Girlfriend Collective workout leggings on underneath). This was my favorite and most comfortable outfit of the week. It’s hard to tell in the photos but I really liked the texture combination of the washed out black cotton sweater with the black velvet with linen trims. The suede on the Vince shoe for another texture plus. Wearing my workout leggings on the days I need to workout really helps kick my butt into doing so when I get home.

In general, I wear a lot of black in the winter months, so I think I need to change up the textures more so I don’t look like a black hole.

I didn’t take photos for Thursday (Thanksgiving) or Friday. I wore the same outfit both days and it was just jeans and a sweater. We had the hub’s immediate family over for the holiday so it was very casual and small.

Yesterday we put up our xmas lights outside. This might be the last year we do the roof line lights because the hubs is much more afraid of being on the roof than he realizes. I always have to play the psych doctor and positive-talk him through the whole thing and then give him gentle, explicit directions on how to get down.

I’m trying to up my exercise days now that I’m wearing the boot and I can’t do my barbell squats or dead lifts or weighted lunges. Ugh. I kinda failed this week, but I’ll just blame the holiday (yeah I know it’s really my own fault) and get back to it next week.

I also caved in and got Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. I can’t resist the Animal Crossing games. Pocket Camp is really cute and the graphics are amazing compared to the 3DS games. I prefer playing it on my iPad though instead of my tiny phone screen.

pocket camp

Here is my ID if anyone else plays it and wants to add more friends.