Februblah

After 1st snowfall of the month.

This month has been rough.

We had three major snowstorms and the temps remained so cold that after all this snow fell on February 1st it is STILL on the ground here on February 28th. It’s been melting a lot finally over the past few days, but it’s been rather surreal having snow on the ground for a solid month. Everything being white and grey and cold has really taken a toll on me – and our bank account.

  • 1st – snowfall
  • 2nd – more snow – continuation from previous day – really slow moving storm started Sunday and finally let up early Wednesday morning after a mix of snow/sleet. Total 14 inches. It was an 8 inch layer of powder over the rest being crusty, snowy, ice.
  • 11th – more snow – only 3-5 inches expected – we got 10!
  • 15th – Water company, who had been working on replacing the water lines in our neighborhood for a month came to the door to say we were being switched to the new system now. Two hours later we noticed our heater wasn’t working and there was a moat in our basement. Both the hot water heater/ furnace died on us and a severe cold snap was two days away.
  • 16th – Nearly $3K later both water heater/furnace were fixed
  • 17th – insanely cold weather
  • 18th – more snow – another 8 inches
  • 19th – 1st vet visit for Yuki, who has been limping since January. Nothing seemingly wrong, so an anti-inflammatory drug was given and makes Yuki bounce-of-the-walls bonkers. Her limp doesn’t get better because she’s crazy.
  • 25th – 2nd vet visit with x-rays and blood work taken – Dr said nothing is showing wrong, so maybe it’s a pinched nerve in her back or slipped disc since she’s showing no symptoms on her legs at all. Change of medicine so now she’s in a coma all day versus cracked-out hyper. Total vet costs + meds: $900+.

I’ve not run even half as much as I did in January. The brutal cold of this month wiped me out mentally/emotionally that I had no desire to even attempt taking care of myself physically.

Although we took a huge hit financially this month, my personal spending was next to nil. I spent around $26 buying breakfast sandwiches/donuts/coffee for Z and myself earlier this week after dropping off Yuki for her x-ray visit. I don’t really count “joint” or “family” related expenses against my personal account since these are issues that would have to be taken care of no matter what. They are necessary expenses and are paid for by our joint account. The breakfast expense is going against my No-Buy since we really didn’t need it. It was an instant-gratification-EFF-this-awful-month meal. We also bought pizza this weekend, but Z paid for that.

Having our water heater and furnace die on the same day and going a night in the cold was really upsetting. I can’t say we were in any dire situation like the people in Texas at the time, who had no power nor even water for much longer than us, but the pervasive cold weather after our little crisis here kept me on edge. I’ve felt like I can’t get warm no matter how many layers I put on. It’s already back up to 80F in Texas. It finally reach 40F this week and felt like a damn heat wave.

We don’t blame the water company for what happened to our hot water heater. We may very well have had a small leak already and the water pressure change being switched to the new system was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back in the case of our heater and caused the leak to get much worse. The fact that the furnace died the same day seems like the two are completely related. That being said – there’s nothing that indicated in any way the water affected the furnace because all of the wiring, circuit boards, etc are elevated in it and weren’t touching the water at all. The only thing we can think of is the fact that both were replaced by the previous owners at the same time so both are around 10 years old, which is near expiration territory. Z still thinks somehow the incidents were related and one caused the other. The furnace just needed a new power board, which the heating company charged $900+ for when the board itself only costs around $170 (Z looked it up online). He was pissed off he paid so much for what amounted to a 15 minute visit when he knew he could’ve replaced it himself. However, we were in a time crunch due to the next storm heading our way and we didn’t want to another night without heat and risk our pipes freezing. Since we didn’t have any guarantee we could get a circuit board as fast as the heating company could, we just bit the bullet on it financially.

It’s been raining all day here and although most of the snow is melted, it’ll probably be a few more days before it’s all gone. I really hope this is it for this winter and we don’t get any freak storms in March or April. Historically, that’s been known to happen with winters like this. Every 5 years we get dumped on – repeatedly.

I’ve also had a lot of work stress as well with projects. It’s been an incredibly crap month all around.

Calming Inspiration

So far 2021 has felt like 2020 version 2.0, but with a new anime season airing. I’m trying to find relaxing things to do in my off time. Bujo-ing has been part of that because I’m writing most days. I’ve also been crocheting more. I’m determined to finish my scarf – even if it’s past winter when I’d actually wear it. I’ve got a few crochet projects and will finish at least one of them this year. (Mini goal)

Aside from that I’ve become a little addicted to watching relaxing videos on youtube about homebodies, singles & marrieds in their home life, sewing videos, cat spa days, wild terrariums, and various crafts. It’s inspiring to see what people can make with very limited tools and a small budget or a lots of fancy tools and a garage/workspace. I also learned how to make drip coffee – the proper way. I’d been sort of doing my own thing, but after watching some videos and changing my methods I think I’m getting much better at it. What new/different/odd habits have you picked up to cope with?

Channels I’ve been watching for those interested:

XiaoQuianFeng – She makes lots of things that aren’t necessarily practical, but definitely fun and obviously makes her happy, which is a huge part of why this is so entrancing. I think she’s Chinese, living in Netherlands.

nyangsoop – This channel started my downward spiral into youtube videos. It’s very calming. Basic, everyday life in South Korea. It seems very rustic, but of course has all the niceties of modern life.

Choki – This is just like the above, but in Japan in an apartment complex. I think the above one she’s got a space attached to the main residence b/c she says she lives with her family. This one is more about really living alone.

Hayao – Same as above, but from single male perspective.

Her 86m2 – Vietnamese family living in Germany. Everyday life, some DIYs, wellness type stuffs.

DinLife – Sewing. It’s extremely soothing to watch and makes me want to be better at sewing. I’ve got a list of projects mapped out to work on this year.

Hanabira – Miniature maker. I’ve almost fallen asleep due to how relaxing this is and even the youtuber has asked, “fallen asleep yet?” in some videos because they can be long. The final products are really amazing.

Bear Soongnyoong – Cat spa videos. These are hilarious and cute and make me sleepy in a good way as well. The mother does all the acting with the cats and the daughter films, edits, and adds witty/funny comments about the scene or her mom.

This is just a sampling of the videos I’ve been watching. I like these the most because the majority of them do not have people talking in them, only music or ASMR ambience. The exception is the cat spa videos because the mom talks throughout them, but in a very hushed tone. Plus she’s really funny.

For an American, it seems I like a ton of asian videos and again, that’s mostly because they don’t have people talking and use subtitles. The background family noise doesn’t bother me because it’s not the focus of the videos. Most western style videos of the same vein have people explaining/talking/justifying everything and I find it tedious to listen to when the action in the video speaks for itself. If I find more western style ones without so much talking I’d definitely watch them. I’ve watched Girl in Calico, Fairyland Cottage, etc… but I end up muting them or turning them off part of the way through because all the talking kinda ruins the soothing aspect of the videos. My enjoyment from all of this started more in the ASMR area where you listen to everyday life happening in these videos. It really helped calm me down during some stressful times last year. At some point I noticed a lot more music being put in them, but I didn’t mind it too much because it was soothing as long as it was instrumental. Sometimes the vocal music is a bit jarring though and I wish it wasn’t there.

If anyone has videos to recommend, let me know!

Habits (are hard)

So far so good this year. We no longer have a Tyrannical Orange Nightmare Clown in charge and even avoided civil war – barely. I read an article this morning stating had social media sites not kicked the TONC’s accounts to the curb we’d probably be facing a very different country right now and I’m inclined to agree. It’s rather scary to think about.

I also got good news from my mom (finally). She’s been acquitted on almost every charge and the remaining ones were kicked back to the lower courts to duke out. Since those were based off a lot of information in the other charges she was acquitted from, which can no longer be used, prosecution has a wet paper to work with for rebuilding a case. Also, the head prosecutor is no longer working so their main bulldog is out of the picture as well. While this may sound like smooth sailing, we are still holding our breaths. This has been going on for 12+ years and everything that had gone wrong – did. So while this seems like the light at the end of the tunnel and the heavens opening up and shining down – we’re still only looking through clouds at a speck of light. That speck may flicker for another couple years as well since we don’t know what the DOJ will try pulling out of their sleeves, let alone how long they’ll take to do it.

So 2021 is… hopeful. That’s about all. I saw a meme of a crop duster plane with a caption of what people in 2021 need. The white powder coming from the plane was captioned “Xanax”. So true.

For now, I’m enjoying WFH again. I’ve been doing so pretty much since Thanksgiving. We had a spike in covid cases at work, so I flat out NOPE’d going back into the office anytime soon and my boss is ok with that. While he gets on my nerves about a LOT of things, I’ve always been grateful for how lenient he is when it comes to personal life and doing what is comfortable for people around him. He checks in with me, but otherwise lets me work at my pace and do my own thing.

It’s been really nice being able to take breaks and walk in the (frigid) cold around the neighborhood. I also take “bake breaks” and will whip up something quickly in between conference calls.

I know this won’t last forever, so I need to soak it all in now. Savor every moment of it until the old-fashioned corporate world says: “Get back here now!” I foresee many annoying cross country business trips in my future already.

Like many others, I’ve been treating 2021 as a sort of “new start”, although it feels more like the steamed towelette fancy restaurants give to patrons before a big meal. It’s warm and nice at first, but it’s just a formality and in order to keep the momentum of that good mood is going to take a lot of personal effort. Here is my list of personal efforts:

  • I’ve started a BuJo. I’ll admit, I had no idea what a real bujo was until I properly looked it up. I thought it was a fancy art journal because a lot of people have turned bujo-ing into a lucrative art form and/or popularity contest via ‘gram and/or youtube. Once I understood there truly is a practical purpose behind it, I figured I’d give it a try. I’d been using a Hobonichi Techo for 2020, which I greatly liked, but wanted to start anew. Creating my own planner format was daunting, but I’m really liking it now. I’ve already gone through a few certified bujo methods, but am realizing I’m making up my own more and more to suit my needs. I have my weekly sections and then use the rest for my long-form journal writing and then will start over each month. I thought I’d miss using a pre-laid-out planner, but I hardly miss it at all. I’m also using a rather unorthodox journal – it’s completely blank. No lines. No dots. No grids. I’ve not gone crazy using a ruler either. I know my writing slants a certain way and it’ll be messy, but having my bujo be so free-form – literally – has been the best way for me to start. It’s been emotionally liberating to see my slanted, sloppy entries and think: This is how I am and that’s ok. I think using a bujo will be the easiest habit for me this year.
  • I’m really doing a No-Buy year. No really. It’s for real this time. I won’t forget. I’ve made a page in my bujo specifically for tracking any errant purchases with monthly totals and even wrote out the rules of what’s acceptable or not on that page. I have already broken it, but I think the purchases I made will be my Best Purchases of the Year and it’s only January. That’s because they have nothing to do with frivolity and everything to do with improving my standard of living. I bought a 3″ foam topper to replace the flimsy 1.5″ egg create style one we’d been using. I also got a padded cotton mattress cover to go over the topper. I now sleep on a marshmallow and it is wonderful. (The new, thicker linen sheets I bought in 2020 add to the luxury aspect.) I’m not sweating like a pig anymore with the old “waterproof” mattress cover I grabbed without thinking at Target years ago. It’s crinkly and polyester and it slid all over so the sheets were always bunched under me. That doesn’t happen now and I feel much more supported. Last November I caved into the rampant advertising on my social media sites and bought Italeau boots that were on backorder. I finally got them in 2021 and didn’t like them at all. So I returned those and then bought the bed items. The boots alone were over $200 (even with a lot of sale coupons) and the bed items cost $130. I think I’m still in the clear for my No-Buy year if I look at it purely from a numbers side because with the return I’ve got more money coming in than out for 2021. Any other little items I’ve wanted that are under my No-Buy rules have been bought under gift cards I’ve received, so that’s an exception. I’m also now scrutinizing my purchases quite heavily so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my gift cards.
  • I’m running again. Right now it’s just on the treadmill, which I hate, but I’m making more of an effort. I have a mini Midori habit tracker and mark off each day I exercise and each day I run. The goal is to run at least 3 miles per week. So far, I’ve averaged 4 miles per week, but this is only week 3 of the year. Some days I’ll run 2 miles and then run one more day to get my 3 done for the week and sometimes I’m motivated to run as much as possible each day. The first week I ran 7+ miles. My current total distance for the year is 16.2 miles.
  • I’m also making an effort to use my NuFace device at least 5 times a week. I don’t expect to see dramatic results because after all the research I’ve done on it, it’s really not too much in the grand scheme of things. That being said, I do like the tightening I feel in my skin afterwards. It’s not a dry tightening, but more like a bouncy muscle kind if that makes sense. I know that at the least it’ll improve the natural contours of my face, which is what I’m after. I don’t expect wrinkles to disappear or to suddenly look 10 years younger. It’s clearly a routine you have to do consistently – for life – to reap benefits from. It’s like brushing your teeth. You may not always like to do it, but you do because you need to in order to keep your mouth in good shape. You also don’t see the benefits of brushing your teeth per se, but they are there. (I treat exercise the same way. If I can spend 2 minutes brushing my teeth for mouth maintenance then I can spend at least 30 minutes exercising my full body for maintenance.) One immediate plus I’ve noticed is the little bumps/blackheads that always plagued my chin area are gone already. I’ve read the gel is fantastic for skin and some people nix the device and just use the gel, which I can understand. I’m not sure if I’d get the same results without the device, but I’m not going to try experimenting with that anytime soon. The goal is to use the damn expensive device I purchased over a year ago that pretty much sat idle for most of 2020. A lot of people also complain about how expensive the gel is, which makes me laugh a little when people are willing to spend $200 on a 3 oz jar of some popular cream that lasts 6 months, but spending $200 on a year’s worth of 2.5 oz gels is considered highway robbery. (I don’t know the exact numbers, so I’m guessing there.) I’ve not had to get a new bottle since I started yet and I think I use less than recommended amount, but I plan on buying more and tracking those purchases. They will not count against my No-Buy because they are for personal maintenance. That being said, I will look at how many I buy at the end of the year to determine if the maintenance is worth the cost.

All of the above are dependent upon my current lifestyle of WFH. I won’t deny the convenience of everything I’m capable of up keeping right now due to that fact. Once I’m dragged kicking and screaming (again) back to the office I’m sure productivity on these things (and a few other little ones I’ve not listed) will tank to some degree. Having to get up earlier in the mornings to get ready and travel time will make me feel the pinch of my days slipping out of my grasp. I noticed it the last time I went from WFH 5 months last year to going back into the office only part time towards the end of the year. The pain of going back will most likely hit me again. I’m hoping to turn these habits in more muscle memory type of things I do so that when the transition hits I won’t be hating life.

The above photo is one of the first ones I’ve taken in 2021. All the others above were from 2020. For breakfast on NYD I made apple cinnamon rolls. Prep was all done the day before so we just had to do the final rise/bake that morning. I used the Alton Brown cinnamon roll recipe I’ve always used. For the apples, I used a corer/slicer that give up to 16 slices and then I sliced them all again. I used two apples and then put them in a pan with cinnamon, butter, and maple syrup until they were tender and flimsy. This made layering them and rolling them in the dough much easier. Plus I have to make sure the apples are fully cooked through because of Zach’s allergy to most fruits.

Happy New Year everyone.

This is fine.

mornings

I’ve had a lot of thoughts swirling in my head and originally thought this post might be the longest post I would ever write. Then I uploaded photos from my camera and realized I had better things to write about. All of the swirling thoughts disappeared and what became important was right in front of me. So I’m just going to talk about these photos with a few random thoughts thrown in for good measure.

The above photo is my messy desk now. Every day I seem to have less space on it. Actually since this photo is over a month old, there’s even more stuff on my desk now. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about here. In this photo is a mug of cappuccino. I start off every work day now with a homemade cappuccino of coffee from my favorite roasters and unsweetened almond milk. I put in a teaspoon of sugar. It’s my new ritual after I’ve logged in for the workday. It’s one of the most comforting things I do daily during the week now. I usually use the spoon to stir the foam down a bit as I drink the coffee and then use the same spoon for my oatmeal + blueberries + honey breakfast.

blossoms and bokeh

These blossoms are already gone from the tree outside our dining room window, but I’m really glad I got to capture them this year. It was a beautiful day outside. In fact, the majority of all these photos in this post are from April 28th.

swirls

Even the weeds and annoying plants in my yard are beautiful.

puffs

When the dandelions started popping up everywhere Z would pick up the puffs on our neighborhood walks and blow them or have me blow on them. Now, we sneeze too much due to allergies to even think about doing that. I’ve had two sneezing fits while writing this entry.

lily of the valley

I got to capture these fleeting beauties on the side of our garage that faces a fence. We hardly ever go to that side of the garage since it’s next to the properly line and there’s not much there. But these lilies of the valley grow back every year and sometimes we’ll get wafts of them through open windows or when Z is doing car work outside.

azaleas

This azalea bush was 1000x larger than it is now. It took over that whole side of the garage and hid the lilies from us the first two years we lived here. When we chopped the bush down we realized there were lots of pretty flowers in the back and now I keep this bush trimmed down. I’m also not a huge fan of azaleas in general. They can be pretty, but they’re everywhere and can be very unruly if not cut back regularly.

Mr Bento

This was the day I walked Bento on a leash in the backyard! I did not renew my wordpress plan so I’ve got the basic one again and therefore can’t add videos, but if anyone would like to see me walking Bento, let me know and I can email the quicktime video Z took on his phone. It wasn’t far, but after so many years of trying to get him to go outside and walk he finally did it on his own!

All of these things we got to experience because we are at home. We have more time now to enjoy them. Z power washed the siding of the house that was getting moldy and cleaned the windows. He also washed and waxed my car! I’m still very much working every weekday so I don’t have as much time as Z to do things. Some days are more busy than others. On the days that are less busy I keep an eye on my email while playing Animal Crossing. Last week was a bit brutal and this week already feels like hell even though it’s a short week. I had two rather stressful conference calls today – Wednesdays are the worst. That being said, I still have time each day to take a few walks in the neighborhood as long as the weather is decent. I do a morning walk after the first round of work emails (if there are any) or before I need to start a project. It helps clear my head. I try to walk around noon and then mid afternoon as well, but usually some work stuff builds up by then. I’ll also try to take an evening walk, but am starting to transition those into my running time since the weather is getting warmer and it’s easier to run in the cooler evenings.

When I drove to work during springtime in the past I always lamented I couldn’t be at home taking a walk in the neighborhood or go to a park – after leisurely waking up without an alarm clock and eating a nice breakfast. The cool morning air, the silence, and the emptiness is comforting. I’ve been able to experience that now (generally – I still have to use the alarm clock so I clock in for work at a decent time) and I can honestly say: I’m fine with this.

Am I fine with the general state of affairs in this country? Fuck no. Of course not. There’s plenty going all sorts of wrong right now, but that’s not what I wanted to focus on. I have more time for myself, for my husband, my cats, my own well being and not going bonkers in the office or dealing with sexist, racist assholes I can’t stand there. Sure there’s stress every time I see Z leave the house with a mask and gloves to go grocery shopping and quite honestly going to a park nowadays is more if not just as dangerous as going to a store. Aside from that, which is the new “normal” at the moment, I realized I’m very fortunate right now to be able to enjoy all of this extra time at home while I can – so that’s what I mean when I say this is fine.

What is fine for you right now?

Abnormalize

tea

Z: Are you ok with a crowded desk for a while?

Me: I have to be.

This past Wednesday I went into the office to go get my plants and grab an extra monitor to use with my laptop at home. My personal computer is an iMac and I can’t get licenses for the software we use at work on it (limited & expensive) so I’ve been mostly using my little work laptop and only using my mac for the web-based email. Now I have another screen and my once nice desk area now looks crowded and cluttered with another monitor and my laptop precariously hanging off the edge. But this is what I have to do to work and I’m very lucky right now to be able to do so – so there’s absolutely nothing to complain about.

This is a time for letting our self-righteousness go and having people STFU with their entitlement. Forget aesthetics and minimalism and sustainability and all the other pop cultural keywords of the past decade. Right now, the only thing we need to be worried about is surviving. We are all in this together if we expect to get through it.

dumb people

A friend posted the above image on Facebook and I laughed. Use this argument if you come across any dumb people about the coronavirus. In fact, I really hope the government mandates a nationwide shut down and even enforces a curfew. It’s going to be the only way to truly “flatten the curve”. It may sound Draconian to our privileged, 1st world entitled sensibilities, but being harsh and realistic and strict will be the best way of getting us out of this crisis. It’ll help end the spread and relieve our overworked emergency services so they can focus on keeping alive those most at risk.

There’s nothing normal going on and nothing will be after this. So we better get used to it fast and figure out better ways of functioning as a society for the better of ALL people. I whole-heartedly agreed with Leah‘s post about this.

 

 

Upheaval of every kind

Everything is closing or closed. The markets are scary looking ghostly places with empty shelves. There was so little traffic this morning I felt a chill. This was slower than a holiday. It truly seemed post-apocalyptic in a way. 50, no, only 10 people are allowed to congregate now! But, what about business?

Tomorrow I get to work from home, but maybe not Wednesday or Thursday. I’ve already scheduled off Friday. All of the managers are confused and have no idea how to handle this or what to do. The day shift at the shop has 100 people working in it. Will we have to close? We have measures in place to stop people getting in (sort of), but what about those already inside? My office is in a different building up a slight hill from the main shop, but I can’t go to the main building for meetings: A) because I’ve recently been ill and B) I’d scare the bloody hell out of anyone down there who heard me coughing. People are skittish now and on edge.

Even our home life has been thrown into disarray.

coffee table dinner

Behold, our dining room table for the past three days. It’s our coffee table.

We were notified our new cabinet doors would be installed March 17th, so we only had this past weekend to accomplish one thing: paint the cabinets. Since we are not getting a full remodel – only new doors and some drawers put in – we are responsible for making sure the kitchen is ready. Saturday my recovering ass was put to work. Z did the majority of the heavy lifting by sanding all of the cabinets and painting the upper areas. My job was to help with a little prep (taping, wiping things down) and sitting on the floor to paint the lower cabinets. That little bit of exertion wiped me out and I slept better than I had all week. Sunday I did a thorough cleaning of the kitchen, which had me utterly exhausted by night. The cabinet company emailed customers today saying they will honor their appointments – unless the people don’t want them coming into their houses. We want them to come! We want our new doors so we can have our house back in order!

kitchen

This is currently our kitchen. We put some things back in for ease of use for the past 48 hours, but all of this needs to cleared out because the installer comes tomorrow from 8-9 am. The drawer on the right side of the photo is the old, yellow-ish color. We put the utensil drawer back in temporarily.

mock kitchen

This is our dining room where everything in the kitchen is being held. It’s been strange to look at a cabinet and know something should be there, but when I need a spice or dish I then have to stop and remember where I placed everything in the dining room.

glassware

All of the glassware is on the bureau, which I realized later was a bad idea. Bento loves that window sill and even though it’s covered, he’s found a way to jump his big butt up there and then carefully jump down. Whenever he does the glasses jingle and I’m stressed out waiting to hear them crash to the floor. Since our floors are old and creaky and uneven, even walking past this room makes all of the glasses jingle.

roses

Tomorrow I work from home, but the installer also comes. But I have a lot work to get done because today felt like a bust just trying to figure out what to do about everything and hear from the managers. But I know I’ll be distracted by the installer and need to give input for the hardware we bought for the new doors. But what about keeping Bento and Yuki out of the kitchen?

I went to the store to buy onions and a loaf of baked bread to have with chili I made tonight. I couldn’t help myself when I saw these roses. I needed something cheerful and calming. I also bought Z a dark chocolate Lindt bunny and bought myself a cute large iced bunny cookie.

It’s the little things right now.

A different kind of illness

I am still sick. I’ve been sick since last Friday. I don’t have the coronavirus (that I know of), but what I can tell you is this is one of the worst sinus infections I’ve had in many years. It crept up on me very suddenly and that scares me. We had little to no winter at all this year. No snow and the temperature barely stayed below freezing for more than a day or two at a time before jumping up again into the 40s or 50s.

Considering I have acute chronic sinusitis this scares me because I can’t afford to have illnesses this severe as I get older. It’ll take longer to get over them and they weaken my immune system. Right now, I am highly susceptible to getting COVID-19 because of how ill I’ve been this week. Am I worried about getting it? Not really. Other than the morning hours on Tuesday where I holed myself in my office, I’ve hardly been outside at all. I went home midday Tuesday and worked from home yesterday. When I talked to my boss about possibly coming in late today he said, “Don’t come in at all! Stay home!” He said I sounded horrible – I do. He then told me to stay home and don’t come in at all this week. I’ve been banned from the office. I am still getting work done though since I have my laptop with me.

Aside from the super stuffy sinuses, which has made breathing its own sort of game of chance (especially when trying to sleep at night), it’s now in my chest and the congestion is making me cough all time time. My throat is now more sore from coughing than from the post-nasal drip. I still can’t hear all that well due to the pressure in my head. I’ve experienced this all before, but it’s very easy to take for granted that it won’t happen again when I’m feeling better.

I hadn’t been listening to any news, which is what I normally do on my drive in to work each day. When I dragged myself in on Tuesday, I heard that the stock indexes were at their worst the day before. Everyone is worried about recession now. Interest rates on houses have plummeted to the same when Z and I bought our house (we got ours just before the rebound upswing). One of my emails was about the cancellation of the largest orthopedic conference in the world, AAOS. It’s a show we always exhibit at. Last year I was in Vegas at this time and spent nearly a full week there talking with clients, staying up late for business dinners and happy hours. Z told me two of his spring events were postponed to the autumn. Events are being cancelled all over. E3 was cancelled, so there was no news or teasers of games.

It’s strange how a different illness – one of paranoia – has taken over. Z went to the store to get some cough medicine for me and noticed a sign on the door: They are all wiped out of masks, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer. It seems like we are all in a sort of lock-down of our own free will. But is it?

I’ve read about people prohibiting hand-shaking. My coworker said she heard of business people giving each other “welcome kicks” instead, which I said was a liability in itself. How about we just respectfully bow to each other the way the Japanese do. I would like to see that sort of shift away from the happy-go-lucky, touchy-feely American way going to something a bit more respectful of people’s personal space and unnecessary touching.

To end this dour stream-of-consciousness post, another form of illness I have is definitely addiction. It’s in the form of Animal Crossing because there’s 9 days left until New Horizons is out. Then, I won’t care about being self-quarantined. It’ll be heaven to stay in and hang out on my virtual desert island.

animal-crossing-new-horizons.900x

Start Date: Shopping Ban

light

After carefully writing out what I felt was necessary to achieve a shopping ban I felt comfortable with yesterday, plenty of other things came to mind today. Therein lies the problem: at what point do you restrict yourself? I will stick with what I wrote down, but will add a few cautionary items that I should be able to control by observing monthly spending.

The general goal is to not spend any money on clothing or shoes for the rest of the year. That being said, I have given myself some allowances. I created a specific wishlist of sorts and IF I happen to find something that falls in the specific wishlist category, I will allow myself that indulgence. I’m not going to disclose the wishlist here, but it’s very small and consists of a few items I’d been thinking a lot about but haven’t found what I truly want for those items yet. Instead of stressing out that I’ll find them once the ban starts, I’ve made them as exceptions. Other exceptions include an extra pair of exercise shoes and socks – but only if I need them. So far, I’m good on both and should be for several more months. If my exercise routine improves (here’s to hoping I keep up with my habit tracker), then I may need another pair of shoes by autumn. The socks also fall into the exercise category since they are thin, no-show kind and I tend to go through those rather quickly.

sweaters

Since the ban is predominantly about my wardrobe, I can see where I might slide into binging on other areas, which I should keep track of:

  1. In-game purchases (I need to stop being a slave to this)
  2. Plants and accessories (I can see this becoming a surrogate spending area to replace clothes quite easily)
  3. Journaling accessories (ditto on this one being dangerous for my wallet)

I’m hoping that exercising, habit tracking, journaling, and the new Animal Crossing game that comes out in 19 days will keep me busy enough to not bother with wanting to shop for anything or even bother looking for items on my wishlist like I have been. We’ll see.

Oh and just to geek out a little – I am that person who took off the game day for when I get Animal Crossing New Horizons so I get a three-day weekend to play it.

February Spending

sapphire

This month was significantly more expensive than last month. There are some things I’m leaving off because the biggest thing I’m trying to curb is my wardrobe spending, so most other things get a pass – to a degree.

  • Bass penny loafers – $67.99: Yep, I bought a pair. They had a sale on the factory outlet site that had the right color of brown with a rubber sole. Still breaking them in a bit, but I think they’ll be good slip-ons in time.
  • Muji clothes – $151.25 : Returned everything and lost money (shipping to me and shipping back). Doing returns for Muji feels horribly antiquated compared to most every other company. They don’t have a return website, you literally just mail back the items after hand-writing a note on the packing slip. WTF? Get with the program Muji – create a damn return page. I’ll most likely not be buying clothes again from them.
  • Lo & Sons Waverly 2 bag – $173.60: Returned this as well. Even though the dimensions on the site made it sound like I could fit my A5 size notebook in it, the bag didn’t come close to opening the zipper pockets all the way. Plus I couldn’t snap the inner pocket closed when my XR iPhone was in a slide pocket. So that was a total NOPE.
  • Italic wallet & candle – $92.00: Liking the smaller wallet a lot. It’s forced me to only keep what few cards I actually need and I don’t carry change anymore and now know I never really needed a coin section to begin with.
  • Norstrom Rack – $33.94: Bought two bras, but am going to return one because it was too small.
  • JetPens journal accessories – $79.64: While I’m not counting my Hobonichi purchase this month because I’m considering that a very good and worthwhile investment I’m using quite a bit already, I am going to dig myself financially for buying a bunch of stickers, stencils and washi tapes for decorative purposes.
  • Apple (in-game purchase) -$33.90: I’m still bad at buying Leaf Tickets for Animal Crossing Pocket Camp.
  • Etsy – $142.15: I bought myself a sapphire ring. I got a bonus so I used some of that to pay for the ring. I’d been wanting to get myself a nice simple ring with my birthstone for a while and when the KHIM shop had a good sale going on I jumped on it. My ring is with white gold, so it’s the bottom one from the photo above.

Total spent: $774.47.  Returned: $327.85. Actual monthly spent: $446.62.

Looking at those numbers is slightly terrifying and giving me a serious reality check. And that’s not even including the Adagio teas, the Hobonichi Techo Weeks, and a few other items that I’ve mentally put in my: “I would buy these things no matter what” category.

Part of me also knew this month would be bad because I’d been taking a hard look at things I’ve got and realized I am ready now to do a proper shopping ban. Knowing that I let myself got a bit wild spending to get it out of my system. I’m still working out the parameters of the ban so I’ll post about it later, but for now I’m realizing that this monthly spending report is a good way for me to kick myself in the ass and get my financial bearings back.

 

Oddly coincidental

I’ve had to ask myself the big questions lately: With regards to the one seemingly necessary women’s accessory – the handbag – am I one of those fancy tote-carrying types or do I prefer to be as casual as possible?

For the past month I’ve been on the hunt for a new handbag. The only thing I knew was it had to be a crossbody style. I want to be hands-free. Would it be leather? Would it be waxed canvas? (I was thinking extreme weather conditions.) How many compartments would it need? What would I carry? Do I really even need to carry half the stuff I do or think I’ll need?

What really drove home the need to get something ASAP was two-fold: A) I’m starting another shopping ban on March 1st [more on that later] and, B) I got really sick and tired of carrying multiple bags around for the past two weeks.

The admin at work was out on medical leave so I had to double-time as  her job and my job. I was swamped at work with new projects and clients coming in among other things and got very irritated by carrying my large, heavy Dooney & Burke purse along with my insulated lunch bag and then my laptop bag. This past Monday I had a breakthrough and remembered I bought a backpack for myself for business trips. It’s a very casual canvas bag, but it worked well enough for the few trips I’ve taken it on and it helped me out a lot this week. I don’t take my laptop home every day so some days it felt funny to be lugging a backpack with just my notebooks and wallet, but it was still lighter than the large leather purse and I could put my lunch bag inside so in the end I was still only carrying one bag.

bags

So then I thought, but what about weekends and when I don’t want to lug everything around? Well, duh Jen – you always use your little Baggu crossbody bag. It’s lightweight and fits what I need for running a few errands.

It sorta hit me: I really don’t like fussing with fancy things and carrying around more than I have to. So I put the D&B purse in my closet with my old Coach purse (thinking about selling them now) and I’ve only been  using the backpack I bought from Amazon and my Baggu crossbody purse. I honestly DGAF how I look when dressed up and carrying a frumpy canvas bag instead of a fancy leather tote or designer handbag. Practicality always wins me over in the end. My “search” for a new bag ended with my using what I already had. Today I went to the craft store and bought some magnetic buttons and velcro since the pockets in both backpack and purse are loose and are sometimes difficult for me to get things in and out of them.  The velcro now keeps the larger pockets in the backpack shut and the magnetic buttons keep my cards put in the purse.

The only issue I have now is my wallet. I’ve been using a $5 large wallet I got from Nordstrom Rack a couple years ago. It’s fine for the backpack, but it’s too big for the Baggu purse. My usual routine is to take out my DL and a few cards for the weekends.  Xin’s many posts of mini wallets to the rescue! I’ve seen so many on her site I knew I’d probably find something decent through her links and I ended up getting the Albee leather zip card case by Italic. I almost went with the green because I’ve been on a green color kick, but decided to stay with a classic color and got the saffianno leather one in tan.

hobonichi techo

Today I got my Hobonichi Techo Weeks. I’ve already written down some work items in the monthly planner section and a few other things. The paper is actually as amazing as reviews says it is. Since I’ve always used an A5 size notebook, the slim size Techo will take some getting used to, but I’m already a fan of how the weeks are organized. Some days I don’t have any notes at all or only one or two lines, so instead of wasting a whole page doing a one-a-day style with my old A5 Moleskine, I can look at the whole week and notes at a glance across two slim pages.

planner toys

I bought a cover for it so I’d have a pen holder and indulged in some planner stickers and stencils.

When the planner arrived in the mail I was so happy to look through it but then so sad because I knew it was a spring starting planner (April). But wait, what? The first page of the weekly planner section begins with FEBRUARY 24th! Meaning I can start using it for this coming week! There’s a hundred memes about stars and planets aligning that would work for how I felt realizing this, but google search is failing me right now in images to exemplify that feeling for this post. It felt seriously eerie and dare I say like some black magic was a work that I’d get the planner today and it just so happens to start on the following Monday.

his hand-me-downs

Lastly, a blurry outfit photo from this week. Other than the shoes and necklace, my entire outfit is Z’s hand-me-downs.