Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Winter 10x10 Challenge... Halfway Done!

After the first five days of my #winter10X10 challenge (read more about it here) – which, I admit starting two days late due to a terrible allergy attack – I have a few thoughts about the experience:

1) If you think about it, 10 items to wear is A LOT. If you have three tops and three pants, you theoretically already have nine outfits at your disposal!

2) While I have not done come up with an outfit that I would consider terribly creative – not yet, anyway – I at least really like the combinations I’ve built so far. All of them are worthy of repeating, even after the challenge is up. I especially like that I included white jeans in the mix, because I think they are an underrated winter clothing item that I would typically dismiss.

3) I’m slightly worried that I didn’t give myself the ability to do a ton of layering. These five days have been relatively easy to create, but I’m worried I’ve burned through the best combinations. We’ll see how next week goes.

Apologies for the poor iPhone photos. I can only blame laziness. What's really sad is that these are done WITH some enhancements to spruce things up. Yikes. Yes, I really am that pale.

Scroll down for outfit details and links to items that are still available.

Day 1
Camel Sleeveless Cardigan
J.Crew Factory (Faux) Calf-Hair Pointed-Toe Mules

Day 2
Laila Jayde Burgundy Dolman-Sleeve Top (via Stitch Fix)
Just Black White Jeans (via Stitch Fix)
J.Crew Factory (Faux) Calf-Hair Pointed-Toe Mules

Day 3
Market & Spruce Olive Button-Up Back-Split Shirt (via Stitch Fix)
Just Black White Jeans (via Stitch Fix)
J.Crew Factory (Faux) Calf-Hair Pointed-Toe Mules

Day 4
Market & Spruce Olive Button-Up Back-Split Shirt (via Stitch Fix)

Day 5
Laila Jayde Burgundy Dolman-Sleeve Top (via Stitch Fix)
Kut from the Kloth Jean Trousers (via Stitch Fix)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trash Report: Week 2

In the adventures of decluttering, this week I focused on some low-hanging fruit in my closet. Here’s what I got threw out, sold, or donated:

1) About six pairs of disgusting old shoes. The organisms living in these shoes were probably wearing shoes themselves.
2) An old coat that I told myself I would take to the dry cleaners… five years ago.
3) A paint-stained work shirt… WHY DO I KEEP THINGS THAT ARE GROSS?!
4) An old North Face fleece jacket in a rad, 80s magenta color.
5) A neon purple dress that I should have bought to go clubbing but actually wore to a bridal shower when I was 20-something. Bless my heart. 

That's it -- a short and sweet report for this week. Are you tackling any specific cluttered areas of your house? I need ideas to stay ahead of this project!

Image result for gilmore girls AND rummage sale

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Winter 10x10 Challenge

I have been living with a capsule wardrobe for about a year and a half (pretty much ever since I went back to work after having Walter), and I can’t sing its praises enough. There are several different ways to approach capsule wardrobes, but the gist is you divide your wardrobe into capsules (I have four, for example), and when you take one capsule out and hang all the clothes from it in your closet, you put all the others away. You only dress from the current capsule, and when you are ready to replace it with the next capsule, that’s also the time you edit down your wardrobe (i.e. get rid of things you never wore) or make minor additions to it. Capsuling is great to curb mindless spending and become intentional with your wardrobe budget, get creative with the clothes you already have, and appreciate your wardrobe by loving every piece in your capsule.

Because capsuling is so focused on quality over quantity, I admit I work with fewer clothes in each of my capsules, but the ones I do have are ones that I love. They make me feel comfortable and great about this new post-baby mom bod I’m sporting.

With the start of the new year, I thought it would be fun to participate in an online challenge called #winter10x10, which essentially encourages participants to create a mini 10-piece capsule (including shoes) from which you select all your outfits for 10 consecutive days. This challenge is co-led by the blogger who firstintroduced me to capsule wardrobes, Caroline of Un-Fancy. (That last sentence makes it sound like I *know* Caroline, so to clear up any confusion, I don’t know her personally. I just stalk follow her like I would any fashion blogger, OK? I’m not a monster.)  

I’ll divide my 10 outfits into two separate blog posts to come within the next week or so, but for now, here’s a photo of all 10 pieces side by side, so you can see the types of clothing I chose for this challenge. Unintentionally, there is quite a bit of color going on here. That may end up being a great idea or a terrible one! You’ll just have to wait and see! I'm drunk with power (...and pinot noir, if I'm being honest).

From left to right: Three tops, two pairs of shoes, three pants, a knit dress and a heavy sleeveless long cardigan.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Trash Report: Week 1

One of the new year’s resolutions I committed to earlier last week was to de-clutter by removing at least one un-needed item from the house each day. I don’t have a lot of “rules” around this resolution, except that I literally force myself to take the item(s) out of the house. I can’t put it in a pile with the intent to donate it all later. (I already have those piles in different closets all over the house. Feel free to come over and peruse them. Looking for the September 2009 issue of Vogue? Got it.) In an effort to share what I’ve thrown out (or sold through our neighborhood “Buy & Sell” Facebook group) – whether to inspire you or just give you a laugh – here’s this past week’s list of trash:

1) About 20 cinnamon-scented pine cones that I bought for $5 at Michael’s three years ago for a Christmas mantle decoration. When I opened them up in late November to place on the mantle, I couldn’t help but notice they did not, in fact, smell like cinnamon. More like dead bugs.

2) Twenty pounds (a conservative guess, in my estimation) of junk and expired food from our laundry room pantry where we keep kitchen appliances, bulk food, and some cleaning supplies. This garbage came from a major reorganization of the entire closet. The funniest thing to go was half of a 48-pack of low-sodium canned V8 juice that Andy bought me during a pregnancy-induced tomato juice kick in 2015. RIP, V8.

I didn’t take a photo of the “before” state of this closet, but to give you an idea, it closely resembled this:

Image result for landfill

3) A bunch of crummy wire hangers from past dry cleaning trips. We are moving on to the greener pastures of clothes hanging, which means it’s all plastic for us, baby! Living. Large.

4) Last year’s day planner. (This may seem like a gimme, but I strangely hang on to stuff like this for years after I need it.)

5) A book I read a couple years ago and hated (and therefore would never pick up and read again), and a cookbook that I never, ever use, mainly because it’s not titled, “How to Lose 15 Pounds by Only Eating Cheese”.  

Have you thrown out anything interesting in the spirit of the new year?     

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Welcome, 2017

Well, sugarplums, 2016 has come to an end, and I’m not terribly sad to see it gone. It feels like every celebrity has passed away, and the only one still standing is now our President-Elect.

I do need to acknowledge that on a personal level, the year was good to us. Walter celebrated his first birthday in the Spring, and I think I am finally at a point where I’m *sort of* convinced I can *maybe* be a decent parent and raise him right. (Honestly, though, who knows?) I was fortunate enough to take the first steps into a new (teaching) career, and Andy continues to kill it in his role at work and with his marathon running. Plus, my brother moved to Austin in early Fall, and it’s been lovely to see him more often.

And now it’s the beginning of a new year, so this is the requisite blog post where I tell the four of you reading this what my goals and resolutions are; then, I make a really bold statement about blogging much more this year than I ever have. (Soon it will be June and time for my subsequent blog post. It’s nice to have traditions, isn’t it?)

On Monday, I opened up an extra notebook I had laying around and jotted down a few goals for myself in 2017. Nothing crazy, and all fell in the realm of taking better care of myself, my family, and my home – and doing so moderately, over time, with small steps focused on a bigger outcome. But then something funny happened. Without much thought, I began writing this Bridget-Jones's-Diary-type log of what I had done that day to address each of my goals. Instead of writing what I weighed in the morning and what I ate that day and how many “units” of alcohol I drank (Oh Bridget, you silly so-‘n-so!), my diary listed what type of exercise I completed, or what clutter I had removed from my house. I did the same thing the next day. And the next. And today, as well. We’ll see how long I can keep this up, but I admit there is something so gratifying about seeing these bits of progress in print, and I feel oddly accountable to myself to have something to record at the end of the day.

Until next time!

xoxo, Jenn      

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Top Five Favorite Books :: Set in New York City

I recently finished a book called The Object of My Affection by Stephen McCauley, which was the inspiration of the 1998 movie of the same name, starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd (in his first big role after Clueless.) The movie was one of my favorites during my high school and college years, but I can’t really tell you why. It wasn’t a movie starring any teens, and it wasn’t written for teens, but my VHS copy was worn down with consistent use; in fact, that VHS has survived half a dozen moves and is still at my house today… and I watched it about six months ago.

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When I realized the movie was actually based on a book written a decade prior, I quickly ordered it without another thought. And while I enjoyed the book as much as the movie (although there are MAJOR plot differences), what really struck me as I read it was just how many novels I’ve finished that are set in New York City. Manhattan is by far one of my favorite places in the world, and while I have decided many times over that I don’t think I could actually live there permanently, I still get a crazy rush anytime I visit. I suppose reading books that are set in New York allows me to mentally pop in and out as I please.

So, without further ado, here are my top five favorite books set in New York City:

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5) The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
For the Downton Abbey-loving crowd, The Age of Innocence is a great read, although it's set almost 50 years prior. The story centers on a couple about to be married and the delicate unravelling of their relationship once the bride-to-be’s cousin shows up. If subtle satire is your thing, give this book a try. Despite the publish date, I sped through it. 

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4) The Ghost of Greenwich Village by Lorna Graham
I bought this paperback at Target a few years ago for very superficial reasons; I liked the cover and the story sounded mildly interesting. In a nutshell, the protagonist (Eve) moves to NYC to follow in the footsteps of her mother, who lived there during the 1960s. Her apartment is haunted by a ghost from the same era, but by no means is this a scary story. This book is not going to win any awards, but I love the way it weaves in and out of present and past. 

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3) An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
I know virtually nothing about the art world, but this book written by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) is a love letter to paintings wrapped up in the chronicle of a young woman named Lacey living in Manhattan in the 1990s and early 2000s. What’s most intriguing about the story is that it’s told in first person through the eyes of Lacey’s friend; he teeters back and forth between loving and hating her; and as the reader, I did the same.

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2) A Cup of Tea by Amy Ephron
This novel is based on a 1922 short story of the same name by Katherine Mansfield. You can likely read the book in two hours or less, and the term “literary irony” doesn’t do the tale justice. A love triangle set during World War I, A Cup of Tea explores how one small decision can change the course of a person’s life forever. 

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1)      The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
Similar to An Object of Beauty, the lead character in this story is often unlikable. Nate is a writer who has just recently hit his professional stride and finds his love life gaining a boost in the process. Of all the books I’ve listed, this is the only one that takes place solely in present day, and I found Nate and his girlfriend, Hannah, to be written so unbelievably accurate as urban 20-somethings. If I was going to create a time capsule of this decade, I would add this book as a reflection of what dating is often like for young adults.

Any other New York City-based fiction I should check out?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Adventures in HEB Shopping

Last week, Andy left town to run his 55th marathon in Florida. (Why yes, he IS crazy.) When he’s away, I like to take the opportunity to eat a ton of junk food, stay up way too late, and watch bad movies. In other words, I pretend I’m 12 again.

So, in preparation for the weekend alone with the kiddo, I hit up HEB on my way home and had quite a good time in just 10 minutes. Allow me to document the events:

5:28 p.m. – Arrive at HEB, and make a beeline to the frozen foods section, where 99 percent of my bad decisions take place.

5:29 p.m. – Grab a cheese pizza, which was on sale – proof that I am responsible. Shuffle over to the ice cream section on the same aisle (good thinking, HEB!) and grab some salted caramel Greek frozen yogurt, which still baffles me as a concept. Shouldn’t Greek frozen yogurt stick to the core flavors at the risk of ruining the taste of the really yummy ones?

5:31 p.m. – Power-walk to the back of the store (getting my cardio in for the day!) where I grab a FAMILY SIZE container of macaroni and cheese WHICH I WILL EAT ALL BY MYSELF (#goals).

5:32 p.m. – Add some fancy cheese to my basket because I am fancy girl and a bottle of Malbec because I am also cultured. (Again, nice product placement, HEB. Everything is located in a very logical place around here.)

5:34 p.m. – Head to the cereal aisle to get my favorite cereal of all time, Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch, where the following conversation takes place:

Man: Geez, are there enough sugary cereal options or what!?
Me: Oh, I know! It’s so overwhelming!
Man: In my day, we stuck to the basics and there weren’t so many terrible options! But my kids love all this gross stuff! [grabs a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch]
Me: Yeah… Ha, mine too… [grab my box of Peanut Butter Crunch]

5:36 p.m. Run out of the aisle quickly, shamefaced, and vowing to never ever let Walter eat like me. I make my way to the medicine aisle to grab Claritin – and by Claritin, I mean the generic HEB kind (because not only do I care about my budget, I CARE DEEPLY ABOUT MY HEALTH).

5:38 p.m. – Realizing I forgot a bag*, I attempt to carry all my goods out of the store using just my hands. I assume I look like a very greedy – but very slow – thief.

In closing, I’d like to wonder aloud why I’m not losing as much weight as I should be on my Weight Watchers plan?

*Stores no longer supply plastic grocery bags within Austin city limits.