Writing a better year

orange rose

The single orange rose is from a full bouquet of them I got for Valentine’s Day. Z knows I’m not fond of red roses. In fact, I like any color except red for roses. Coral/orange, light purple and peach ones are my favorite.

I’ve been writing a lot more to help de-stress and as I mentioned in a previous post, even the most seriously depressing stuff can be put into perspective when it’s outside of me – or better yet – adorned with cutesy stickers.

In fact, my home diary writing has affected my work bullet journal as well. I kept going back and forth between wondering if I should be using one journal for home and one for work, but realized I very much need to keep them separated. The professional Moleskine I use at work isn’t really cutting it anymore for organizing myself since I tend to be lazy and spiteful when it comes to certain work things. As a result, I ordered a Hobonichi Techo Weeks planner (April start). I’m forcing myself to trudge through working with my Moleskine until April comes to start  using the Hobonichi. I’m also really curious about the famous Tomoe River paper. If it turns out to be as mind-blowing as every review states, then when I’m done with my Midori MD diary (in photos) I may consider getting the A5 Hobonichi Cousin. Earlier this week I ordered a cover for my Midori, but then cancelled it since I figured it would be best to wait and see which I like better for writing. The Weeks planner I got has the spring Ochitsuke front.

journaling

One thing I need to curb – my new found sticker addiction. Z got me a really cute Animal Crossing kids book with 800 stickers inside of it for V-Day as well and that combined to the many I’ve already gotten… it would seem I have a problem. It’s a good thing they are cheap.

stickers

I also ordered a couple more pens because my favorite one for work broke. The body of the Pentel Clara Ener-gel couldn’t stand up to always being knocked around in my purse, on desks, etc… and the plastic cracked just below the rubber grip. This made the screw-on part of it useless so one day the ink cartridge went flying out and the whole pen fall apart on the shop floor. I couldn’t find the inner spring so that’s useless now. I did keep the ink cartridge to use with my other Pentel Clara I write with at home (shown in photos).

FYI, watching journaling videos on JetPens and the Hobonichi sites is very soothing (for me). There’s something so lulling about it, especially when muted, that makes me wonder if this is how cat’s feel when they are pet. And I’ll just end this post with that really awkward comment.

Thank you…denim shirt

"denim shirt"

It was the mid 2000s and suddenly a type of button-down shirt made tsunamis across the fashion world: chambray.

Chambray is the classic denim looking shirt that’s softer and was at the time oh-so-chic. Ever fashion blogger I was following back then fawned over this and that brand’s chambray shirts and when they got their hands on on (or many) there was alway a review, gloating about the suppleness of the material and how it literally goes with everything. Everyone who wanted to be anyone should have a chambray shirt. Oh and props for being old-school if you also had a denim shirt, but while it’s not as comfortable it’s still pretty cool. Older denim shirts that looked nearly threadbare through use were just as prized since they were similar to chambray in the looks department.

BR

I’d bought my blue shirt from Banana Republic just before the flood gates opened on the fashion event for the next 5 years. When you see words popping up here and there, it’s easy to tell when a Trend is coming. My shirt was on sale and while it didn’t look half as nice as the coveted lighter blue J Crew chambray, it was at least a blue denim-ish looking shirt. I was in the ballpark.

For a while I felt some resentment because clearly my blue shirt didn’t have the Chambray title, nor was it the right Chambray color (usually a lighter blue), but I got over it and wore my shirt. I usually flip up the sleeve cuffs. Sometimes I would even iron it, but I got used to the wrinkled look and now own it like a badge of honor. See how that button flap curls on the right hand side in the above photo? That is the shirt’s character I came to embrace. It defies me even when I do iron it, so I let it be.

seams

This shirt is probably in the 15 year age range at least and as I was photographing it, I was amazed at how the seams are still all together. Wrinkled, but still together. It’s faded over time, which I like. There’s still tags on the inside that look newer than the shirt itself because the tags are polyester, but they say 100% cotton and dark blue. The buttons have yet to become loose. Despite its faded, wrinkled state this shirt is built like a tank.

wrinkled

I don’t even know if this counts as a denim shirt. I’m not versed enough in fabric knowledge to know if what I’m looking at is the cross-hatch weave that apparently dictates a denim shirt versus the long weave stitch of a chambray. It’s just a blue cotton button-down shirt I’ve worn for 15 or so years and will wear for many more.

When his become mine

his pant

Z admits he’s a hoarder. He’s not reality TV show bad, but there have been many times when we’ve been looking for something and come across items that he received as gifts or bought that are still in their original packaging and he goes, “Oh yeah….” We clash quite a bit on whether or not to purge things and he likes to spite me since he knows I prefer to streamline our belongings and use only what we absolutely need. Since he’s an auto-nerd he’s got tons of single-use gadgets and tools for his vehicles. My compromise is – as long as it’s organized and doesn’t look horribly cluttered it’s fine.

The one area where I can get him to give in and purge is clothing – barely. He does keep old jeans and old shoes for yard work, which is fine. I recently went through a purge and when he saw a bag of clothes I had I told him to go through his as well. He was surprisingly compliant about it and ended up with his own bag of clothes that was bigger than mine. Now he’s maintaining a steady weight all of his smaller clothes don’t fit him anymore. He put folded up piles on the bed and I filled the bag. As I did I thought about the size of the smaller clothes and tried on a couple pairs of pants. One was far too faded in the knees, but the above pant in the photo fit me really well. They are a little big, but I hemmed in the waist a little and they do sit comfortably on my hips. So I adopted his old pant. He also gave me a shrunken merino wool sweater I’d bought him many years ago. He really liked that sweater but it went though a warm wash (oops) and shrunk a bit so while it was too small for him, it fit me. It is a bit baggy on me but not anymore so than the above ACNE sweater in the photo, so I decided to keep his old sweater as well.

Oddly enough I’d been looking at brown pants so when I saw the color of his I knew I wouldn’t have to bother with searching anymore if they fit. Hand-me-downs for the win!

 

Saying no – most of the time

Yuki is not impressed

It’s almost February and I thought I’d do a spending recap for this month.

  • Clothing: $90 – Everlane skinny jeans and Everlane long sleeve tee.
  • Amazon: $54.06 – Jane Iredale lip stain in pink and eye lash extender mascara.
  • Apple: $46.62 – Game app (my unhealthy relationship with Animal Crossing Pocket Camp has been affecting my spending lately with buying game items)

I’m not including the one time I’ve ordered UberEats nor the new pillows I ordered in this spending. I needed new pillows and sometimes take-out is just what we need for stressful work days – so I consider it a sort of mental health type of thing. The three bullets above are definitely things I did not need in the slightest, but I bought them. $190.68 cents worth of unnecessary items. I don’t regret any of them, but it is eye-opening for me to see the numbers like this. I didn’t even spend much this month. I know I’ve done much worse in the past, but seeing how those three bullets add up is really making me think I need to pay much more attention to my extraneous spending.

For some reason I’ve got it in my head I really need penny loafers as well. I’m not going to spend any more money this month, but for the past several weeks I keep looking at these from Bass:

The left one is the natural sole and the right is their easy sole, which just means it’s made out of rubber and is more flexible instead of the typical stacked leather. I like the look of the natural, but know the easy sole may be more comfortable because it’s more flexible. What got me thinking about penny loafers? To be brutally, stupidly honest – a character from an anime I really like. *head*desk* The character is a professional and she always wears the same black suit and penny loafers. I love the her wearing black and brown together. Seeing the loafers on her made me think when I wore penny loafers when I was younger. I had one pair I wore to death. They were the typical wine colored ones like these, but with a leather sole:

wine

I prefer the cognac or brownish kind more these days and I think they would go better with my current wardrobe than this traditional color. But I don’t really need them! Aside from idolizing Akane Tsunemori (the anime character), the classic look of penny loafers – along with the weather – got me thinking about wearing more of a uniform at work and sticking to basics, classics, comfortable jeans. A simple look to put on repeat. I came to the brutal realization lately that I really didn’t need to buy 90% of the clothes I’ve gotten over the past two years I’ve had my slightly more professional job. I can easily get away with wearing a nice top and the same jeans and that’s it. The one Yohji suit I got was a good investment for conferences and client visits, but most everything else… I could’ve easily done without. I don’t need penny loafers to make my ideal uniform in my head! Talk me out of this!

Now for something I did buy, which shocked me:

Even though I returned the last pair of Everlane jeans and swore off the brand for jeans entirely I still couldn’t quit the idea that maybe, somehow, there was an Everlane jean that would work for me. I finally found it in the “authentic-stretch” skinny jean. I don’t know what the heck “authentic stretch” means, but the contents of the jeans are basically more stretch than the other pairs I’ve tried. They are thinner than my trusty Grana Japanese slim style ones ( I really wish Grana would bring those back), but they are nice enough. I do like the mid-rise is higher up on me than my Grana’s. That being said, I don’t think I’ll ever need another pair. Between the trusty Grana’s in blue and the new skinnies in washed black I’m covered for jeans. I also got another long sleeve tee in the new green color that just came out. I have a black one that’s horribly faded, but the fit and softness can’t be beat, so I caved when I saw they came out with a green color. Lately I want everything green and brown.

Another item that’s been catching my eye is the teddy-bear looking cardigan. Almost every brand has a version of it now whether it’s fleece or polyester or whatever – it basically looks like someone skinned a teddy bear. Some of them look meh, but a few have me thinking maybe I’d like one – but I already have three perfectly good cardigans already and I honestly don’t wear them too much! I’m saying no to the poor fleeced teddy bear.

bleh

Yuki is not amused at my first-world-shopping-problem plight.

 

Winter hardships

lilly

This is the time of year when greenery is rare (except indoors) and warmth is fleeting. Since I’m not taking any outfit photos I chose a few I took last March at Longwood Gardens to cheer up this post. They are more or less visual breaks in an otherwise completely random post of thoughts.

I’ve only been wearing one pair of jeans with a regular rotation of 4 or 5 sweaters. Winter = no fuss, uniform wear. I feel the need to purge in winter because the weather forces me to look at only what’s easy and warm. Everything else is extraneous. I know I’ll feel differently when the weather warms up, but I am considering more of a uniform in general for the whole year.

peony

We’ve ordered new cabinet doors and will soon have to paint the main cupboards before the doors arrive. I’m not looking forward to the huge task of prepping the whole kitchen for painting, but I am wanting to have the end result sooner than later.

red

Getting back into a consistent exercise routine is so extremely hard in winter. It’s hard when I’m near my menstrual cycle. It’s hard after being out drinking with friends. It’s hard after an awful day at work (especially several hard days in a row). It’s hard when I’ve eaten something off and my body doesn’t want to do anything because it’s revolting against me, which seems to be the case more often than not. How did I get to be so sensitive to so many foods? I drag myself on the treadmill at the least. Today I managed to do a few sets of chin-ups as well.

Year of the house

desk

This is my new desk. For the time being I’m using an extra dining room table chair since the ottoman I was using before was too short. I actually like the dining room chair since it forces me to correct my posture. I know most computer chairs are ergonomic to help posture in general, but I kinda think that’s the lazy way to go about it when you have something doing the work for you. Granted, I don’t sit at my desk for hours at a time so for now, this simple straight back chair works fine for me. It’s the right height and I feel conscious of my posture and when I get tired I get up, which usually means it’s time to step away from the computer.

So one thing that’s blatantly obvious to me in the photo above is how much we need new flooring (and how I need to better handle the wiring situ behind my desk). It is on the list of Things To Do this year:

  • New countertops (we just got them last Friday. I came home from the bar after seeing a coworker off to a new job and was confused when I noticed our kitchen looked… different. It confused the crap out of me and Z just laughed. He kept it secret that he’d taken the day off work to be home for the installers. I thought we were still a week away from getting it done.)
  • Update and repaint cabinets because the new countertops make them look horribly outdated- we have our first estimate tomorrow after work.
  • Update floors – the carpet paste that’s always existed in my study and the unfinished floor trim have been tolerated long enough. It’s time to get estimates and make things more US now.
  • New front door – because ours is old, warped and the trim was broken by the movers when we bought the house 4 years ago…
  • Bathroom upgrade – most likely will not happen this year due to budget reasons, but I can’t wait to get rid of the salmon and black trim tiling in there and get a glass shower door. I fight with the shower curtain every. single. day. because we leave the door open since we don’t have a proper vent and opening the window doesn’t always help with alleviating the steam. I’m thinking of entirely nixing the tub and just doing a walk-in shower. I never take baths and due to the limited space I’d rather have a larger shower.

Today was ridiculously warm for January. Both Saturday and Sunday were 65+ degrees. While we cleaned we had the windows open throughout the whole house to air it out. It felt very odd to be doing this when normally there would be snow. I did enjoy taking a long walk this afternoon and not having to bundle up so much.

The need for nothing

Happy New Year. Winter is here and so is my Busy Season.

winter white

winter

I think this is the first year in a long time that I did not get one single item of clothing for Christmas or purchase clothing between Christmas and New Year’s.

That’s not a bad thing.

After the failed ban last year and my splurges on the latter half of 2019 I feel like something’s clicked. Sure there are some things I’d like, but when I’ve actively gone out looking for them I end up leaving empty-handed with an “eh” kinda feeling. Of course that doesn’t mean I won’t buy something later, but right now I’m liking my devil-may-care attitude that I don’t need anything.

Despite the few things that I think I may like, I’m quite stable and happy with what I have and rotate out everything regularly. Granted, it’s been a mild winter so far, which may be factoring into why I’m ok with everything as is.

So far this year I have made other purchases than clothing. I bought new pillows and am waiting for them to arrive. They are nice hotel-style pillows so they were more expensive than the average pillow. Although I’m not entirely certain what “average” pricing is for a pillow since I’ve not bought any in several years. $20? $30? The ones I got were on sale. Hopefully they’ll work out for me.

I’m also waiting on a new desk. I’ve been journal writing a lot more lately and want to set up a proper space for myself to write. I got a Polaroid mobile printer for Christmas that makes little picture stickers from photos on my phone (or photos I took with my camera that are on my phone via iCloud…) Having little 2×3 photos to add to my journal entries is nice. It’s like adding photos to a blog, but I’m literally adding them to my private journal. For a while I thought: then why don’t I just blog more? Well, I realized I need a place to write strictly for myself. Adding some visuals helps keep me motivated. Also, I bought a ton of stickers. I don’t even care how silly it is that a 44 year old woman picks out stickers to add to her journal entries. Even when I write about depressing or angering things there’s something hilarious about adding a frowny face sticker or stickers of clouds to put the reality of what I’m writing into perspective. And that’s what I think I need more than anything else. Put it down – outside of myself – but don’t try to treat any of it like the end of the world.

I’m in for a whole world of hurt coming up at work. It’ll be hell for at least two months and I think I’m mentally preparing myself by creating a safe haven for myself to write and keep my sanity.

I have realized one thing so far this year – I already spend way too much money on Amazon purchases. It’s too easy because I have prime membership. That’ll be something to curb this year. In order to do so I think I’ll do monthly spending tracking posts. That ought to be rather eye-opening.

I do need to buy a chair for my new desk. Right now my desk is a ten year old IKEA Ingo dining room table. My current “chair” is an Ikea storage ottoman with a pillow on top for added cushioning. Once I get the new desk with a better height for writing I’ll definitely need a better chair. Any suggestions? While I know a computer chair is the standard, I’m more open to other options. Also, I’m trying to stay away from getting a black chair.

 

Hits and Misses

Considering I started off 2019 with a shopping ban, I ended up purchasing a lot of items when I broke the ban and let the flood gates open to buying whatever the hell I wanted. Granted, I did have very specific things in mind and ironically those things ended up only being “meh” for the most part. What surprised me were the items I randomly bought that have ended up being staples and complete wardrobe game changers for me.

I’ll start with the most mind blowing purchases first…

cocoona skinwearsilk brassilk underwear

Silk underwear by Cocoona Skinwear. The silk reminds me of some Eileen Fisher silk shirts I’ve seen where the fabric is durable but still almost sheer and has a bit of give to it. It is not a size inclusive company by any means because… Japan. Their sizes are literally small and smaller according to US standards, but in Japan these come in “medium” and “large”. I purchased the larger size of all the underwear and while I could’ve gotten away with the medium, I’m perfectly happy with the extra give on the large. The colors are neutral and gorgeous. The material is incredibly soft and feels like it could rip easily in my hands. That being said, this underwear has held up really well. It’s expensive – on par with Victoria’s Secret when not on sale, but after I bought two pairs of bottoms I was immediately hooked and made more purchases of it over a few months to replace all of my old nylon underwear I’d worn for at least 6 years.

I agonized over the purchases because they were pricey, but also because I kept telling myself I can find something like this in the US. There has to be a company that can make this sort of awesomeness here, right? I waited a few months even before purchasing the first items, doing extensive research online. I scoured Etsy and tried looking at all independent and sustainable companies I could find. While doing so I realized something that I greatly dislike about western advertising: it’s all about showing off women. The advertising for the Cocoona items was so simple and straight forward and even prudish it made me feel more comfortable purchasing it – for as odd as that sounds. In the end, I couldn’t find anything even close to Cocoona here or anywhere. To view the pages for the bras and underwear go here and here. There used to be an English translation of the pages on the site, but they’ve since taken it down so I don’t know if they are still selling outside of Japan.

The fit is “granny style” and even bags a tiny bit. However, that’s not a negative. In fact, it made me wonder if I’d been wearing the wrong size underwear for a long time. With some items of clothing there is VPL, but due to how much coverage I get with these, it’s hardly an issue and I’ve given up on trying to hide any VPL anymore. I just want to be comfortable and this underwear is the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. The bras are more like bralettes because due to the fabric. There are no wires and the padding is removable. This is by no means at all a one-fit-for-everyone kind of underwear, but it is perfect for me and I’m glad I found it.

Now that I’ve posted far more than necessary on underwear, here are some other really good purchases I’ve made this year….

cotton silk sweater

Cotton silk sweater from Muji. I bought this over the summer on sale and it’s become one of my go-to sweaters.

cotton waffle sweater

Cotton waffle sweater from Muji – bought the same day as the above sweater during the summer and on sale. I had no intention of buying either of these, but I love them both. The waffle sweater I wear at least twice a week now that the temps have dipped below 40F. Next to my forest green lambswool sweater, this waffle one is the warmest sweater I have and very easy to style.

The beige Uniqlo pant in the above photo is also new and another amazing-but-not-planned purchase. Uniqlo has upped the styling on their e-z ankle pant. I have a navy pair of the older edition and can wear them year round. The beige ones are definitely a step up in styling and will become an easy year-round staple as well.

merino wool turtleneck

Merino wool turtleneck sweater from COS. I fell in love with the color and bought it. It’s not my favorite out of all of these, but I find myself reaching for it more often than not because it’s easy to wear. The long ribbed cuffs are a bit awkward feeling when I first put the sweater on, but I get used to it throughout the day. In general, I’m glad to see more true forest green colors instead the usual army-ish olive-like color that most companies pass off as green.

BTW, the blue pant above are the older Uniqlo e-z pant I’ve had for years.

wool turtleneck

Wool turtleneck sweater from Pas de Calais. I bought this on a massive sale and it’s by far the softest sweater I own. It feels softer than the cashmere sweater my mom bought me a couple years ago. The size is very loose and the wool is so thin it’s a bit sheer so I have to wear a nude bra underneath. Despite being so gauze-like it is extremely warm.

The cardigan over it is the cotton one from Everlane. I generally don’t tie up the sash on it and am thinking of just taking it off entirely. This has also been a good layering piece when the temperature got cooler.

And now for the not so great purchases…

wide leg jeans

The Chimala wide-leg jeans that are not advertised as being wide-leg anywhere at all. In fact, from any listings I’ve seen of these jeans, they don’t have any indicator of “straight” or “wide” or anything. If I’d known, I probably would not have bought them. They are much tighter in the waist than I thought and I’m realizing I’m not a fan at all of high-waist jeans. I don’t think they look good on me and have a hard time styling them. The verdict is out on what I plan to do with this rather expensive blunder item.

pinkish shoes

Pink-ish Moma shoes. I was having a weird moment where I was very tempted by pastels for a while. The shoes weren’t all that expensive since I got them on a major sale, but I’m wondering how much mileage I’ll really get out of them. Maybe I’ll crave them more in the spring? They deliberately look a bit beaten up by design.

The linen items I bought that were the initial reason for breaking my shopping ban this year are still in rotation. The heavy linen pant get worn a lot on the weekends. They are warm and easy to throw on for when I want to go out and not look too lazy. The dress is waiting for warmer weather and so is the button-down green shirt. It’s amusing to me that those were the things I looked forward to the most and now they are just… there.

While this doesn’t cover all the things I bought, this highlights what helped me understand what I want in my own styling a lot better. I’m definitely a uniform type of person for winter wear. Other seasons tend to be a mixed bag of mood swings though…

I don’t have any planned purchases. The last purchase I made was over the weekend for a new pair of running shoes. I’ve been a bit more vigilant in exercising regularly – until I got food poisoning a few days ago…. Anyway, I’ve been much better about writing down what exercise goals I have and keeping to them. They are very simple:

  • Run 1 mile
  • Dumbbell squats
  • Overhead press
  • Chin-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Monster walk (this is done using a tied theraband around my ankles)
  • Dumbbell balance (a single leg balance exercise made more difficult with weight)

While that’s not all that I do, that’s just a sample and I only do 4 when I exercise with the mile run always being one of them. I’m not worried about reps or weight amounts right now. I’m just trying to get a regular routine in place first. I put a Bosu ball on my wishlist because I really do need to work on balancing more. The last two trips I took  had a Bosu ball I used in the gyms and realized it’s quite handy. I have terrible balance in general and I’m stubborn enough to keep at it if I have something to work with so an exercise device for that is best for me.

Reading: First Principles by Herbert Spencer. It’s been a long time since I read an older book so putting my Ye-Olde-Speaketh-Much-More-Than-Seemingly-Necessary-to-Reach-Thine-Theoretical-Point-Supposedly hat on reminded me of how rusty I’ve gotten. 18th and 19th century classics were my jam many many years ago, but since I’ve switched to manga I feel as though I’m trying to learn how to breath again. I forgot how amazingly long some sentences can get in these old tomes. Ten years ago Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, William Makepeace Thackeray, Dostoevsky, and Strachey were read religiously. Now – not so much, but it’s made me all the more aware of how we’ve collectively inherited ADD. We’ll see how well I get through this book.

So I guess this is my end-of-year update of sorts. I hope all who read this – especially this far – have very Happy Holidays.

Itching for something different

The end of the year brings tension, excitement and expectations of something “different” about to happen. Resolutions come to mind. Will new goals penned down stick? Lately I’ve been rewatching some old anime shows and reminding myself of how much I learn from the characters. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if it’s anime, a tv show or a movie. Resonance with a character always brings to mind: What would I do in this situation? How would this character act if they were in mine?

I’ve had many fluttering thoughts about changes and wonder if I can make them or if they are worth considering at all?

  • Can I try another shopping ban this year? Is it necessary considering the “itch” I had this year when I tried to do one came undone. Is the itch over? Have I learned from it? Since I’m not remotely tempted by anything and feel the need to change my focus, would it even be beneficial to chain myself down to doing one anyway?
  • Should I try making a more structured routine to my life in general? Will this help me get my exercising and eating habits back on track? Will I fall off the wagon again like I did before because I achieved my goal previously and didn’t know where to go afterwards? Am I even capable of having a more regimented routine when I’ve been notoriously slovenly and disdainful of anything disrupting my freedom to do whatever I want – even if I’ve self-imposed my own rules? I’ve always done what I want when I wanted. I am spoiled and privileged. Perhaps I need that structure now more than ever.

I still struggle with finding the right jeans. I bought a pair of Everlane skinny jeans and returned them. It was disturbing how they fit. Perfectly at the waist, but even with the elastic in them the legs were too tight. And yet, when looking on the website one can view how those jeans fit on different body types – to a degree. The smaller sizes still stick to a specific body type. I have no doubt the larger ones do too. I bought size 27, which general equates to a US size 4 – and yet I felt like I was busting out of the legs. My legs are more muscular and did not fit the mould of skinny legs – my thighs were tight and my calves were trapped. I almost went into a panic trying to get the jeans off me since the ankles felt like vices. If I sized up then the waist would be too big. After returning the jeans I looked in the back of my closet and saw the dark blue Grana jeans I’d not worn in 6 months or so. Over the summer I told myself I would turn them into jean shorts. I’m glad I didn’t because they fit just fine. I wore them a few times this week and Z even asked if they were new. No, I’d just not worn them in a while. I’m glad I’m over the Mari Kondo phase because keeping those jeans helped me out this week.

Shopping feels tedious now. I’m not motivated at all by looking at pinterest for style inspiration or ideas. I’m not inspired by anything new now because I’ve started accepting everything I have and started wearing a sort of uniform this winter. Whenever I’ve been tempted by something, I’ve stopped and told myself – I already have x thing that’s just fine. I don’t need anything else or a replica or the newest version. Maybe I’m starting to learn how to truly appreciate what I have? Is this a temporary phase? I’ve become more preoccupied with enriching my mind and getting myself into better shape. No – “better shape” is the wrong phrase. There’s nothing wrong with my shape, but rather – I want to feel the strength I did a few years ago when the soreness of my muscles made me smile each day after a workout. Feeling the shape of muscle under my skin made me happy. Being able to do so much with so little effort due to my strength was invigorating. Shopping has been replaced with strengthening.  The caveat to all of this is I still suck at keeping a consistent routine, hence why I’m tempted to get a bit militant on myself.

Winter weather really is the best time to make one stop and consider what one has and whether or not it is enough. I’m not bothered at all by constantly wearing the same sweaters and pant combinations over and over. It’s comforting and it works. It helps that I’m so cold in the mornings I get dressed without thinking – I just need to put clothes on to keep warm. I’ve also given up taking any outfit photos because the lighting is horrible and even though I do have the studio light I wasn’t a fan of how those photos came out when I used it last year. Therefore outfit photos are on hiatus until spring!

The winter will be spent forcing myself to keep a routine, reading more in order to open up my head and attempt to undo inherited ADD due to social media and the fast pace of society in general. I’m also focusing on writing more for myself. That combined with exercise and fretting about keeping my plants alive should be more than plenty to deal with outside of work. Maybe I’ll have many more navel-gazing posts in the future.

For now, here are some photos I took from Thanksgiving break. Z had to work the Father Ted Village Turkey Trot again this year. While he worked I wandered around Balboa Park. We’d been there before, but much more was added and had changed from several years ago. Over half the Japanese Friendship Garden was closed then, so I got to see all the new sections. I have a thing for Japanese lanterns. I love them and we have one out front of our house and I want many more.

bonzai

This bonsai is roughly 45 years old. I saw the garden caretakers working on it with little clippers and tiny scissors and brushes.

bridgelantern and waterlanternsmall lanternsquat lanterntall lantern

 

Upgrades

Lately a theme of upgrades permeates my life.

My flight to Miami this week was upgraded to first class on a large plane. I had a seat that nearly lay completely flat. After two glasses of merlot with dinner I laid down and slept. It was the best beginning to a business trip ever. I even worked out in the gym at the hotel that night.

tinted moisturizer

My tube of Dr. Jart Day Tint is empty, which put me in panic mode when I looked online to reorder because I kept running across the word “discontinued”. I’ve used it for many years. I think this was my fourth tube? I dragged myself to Sephora scoping out tinted moisturizer and saw the Laura Mercier. I didn’t want to drop nearly $50 on it when I wasn’t certain if I’d like. Bless the Sephora business model that allows customers to get samples of damn near everything in the store. I got a little container to try out for a few days and ended up hooked. Higher SPF, less greasiness by the end of the day plus the light coverage never looked like it melted away. Looking it up made me feel a bit derpy. It’s apparently a holy grail product for a lot of women. Consider me a convert. I’ve now got a new daily tinted moisturizer with better SPF.

new driveway

Miffed by the fact that the pavers called while we were on vacation and grumbling that we’d probably have to wait until spring, I was confused when I couldn’t park in my driveway when I got home from my business trip. Apparently they called late Tuesday and showed up early Wednesday. I got home that night to a completely torn up and blocked off driveway. It was finished yesterday. We have much more room now!

porch posts

The 6:30-7am early construction mornings continued today with the contractor who showed up to replace our back porch posts. The post in the back of the photo was so rotted the guy said it’s good we did it before the snows because we’d most likely have a problem. Half of the old post was rotted through. I could put my fist in the hole before. Now we have new posts with vinyl coverings.

More upgrades to come in the future. I’ve also added some plant additions – because I have a problem with collecting them…

dead bouquet

A few weeks ago I cleaned up most of the flower beds – as seen in previous porch post photo. There are usually many more plants there in the summer and I trim them all down each autumn. As I cleaned up I noticed several plants showing pretty dead leaves or seed pods and gathered them up to make a dead autumn bouquet. RIP hydrangea bushes that gave me the dead flowers because both were torn up in the driveway repaving.

polka dot plant

Last weekend Z took me on a special surprise trip. We first stopped at a cute tea house where we both had amazing breakfasts and pots of delicious tea. I had apple crisp green tea and he had an amazing English breakfast that tasted much better than any other I’ve ever had. Afterwards we went to Otts’s Exotic Plants. It’s a huge nursery with its own arboretum with a two-story waterfall. The amount of variegated plants made my head spin and while Z just wanted to surprise me with a pretty nursery visit, he may have made a monster out of me because I’m already planning what to buy on my next visit. Pink princess and Red vine philodendrons! Hello!

string of beads

For the most part, I “behaved” this trip. I bought the pretty little tricolor polka dot plant above and several planters I’d been needing.

My once nearly dead string of beads is back and it looked amazing over the summer, but it’s starting to look a little dull now that daylight savings and cold weather have hit. I got a hanging planter for it and hope it’ll survive this winter better than the past.

philodendron brazil

I loved the amount of wall planters at Ott’s. One side is flat with a hole for a hanging device. Several cuttings of my philodendron brazil lived in a stemless wine glass for a long time. The massive roots are now planted on my bedroom wall so I can see it when I wake up.

philodendron swiss cheese

I couldn’t resist the philodendron swiss cheese plants also at Ott’s. There were so many of them I had to take one home. Figuring out where to put this and my Monstera when it gets bigger may prove challenging.

african violet

Lastly I got a wee African violet plant. My last one died so I thought I’d retry with this tiny one.

dark mystery pilea

While the contractor worked on our posts this morning I was out early to Target and Lowe’s. How can the parking lot at Target at 10 am be just as full as at 1 or 2 pm?! Maybe it’s our location since it’s always swamped. Next door to Lowe’s I was sidetracked by plants – as always. I was looking for plant stands, but apparently they’ve all been put away for the season at both places. I knew I should’ve bought the one I saw at IKEA two weeks ago! Instead of plant stands, I came home with decorative pillows, a candleholder, and the above Dark Mystery Pilea (that’s the actual common name for it). I instantly fell in love with the dark leaves.

elephant plant

This elephant plant spoke to me as well. The last one confused me greatly as to what it needed and died. Since this was on sale and is much smaller I thought I’d try again and see if I can figure it out this time.

kitty spooning

What better way to end a post than with kitty spooning?