Saturday, May 23, 2015

Let the 3 Day Lazing Commence

Pink and Silver--Saturday, 5/23/15

I loved how the bright pink contrasted against the grey polka dot shirt.  I also just really liked this polka dot shirt in general--the popover style of shirt is really appealing to me, even though I only own a couple of them myself.

From queeninbetween.blogspot.com

I thought my dark grey T with the metallic silver stripes would be a reasonable substitute.  And I was excited to wear my new bright pink ballet flats (from our mall trip a couple weeks ago) for the first time.


Grey metallic striped T (Kohls), $3.40/wear
Bright pink t-shirt knit cardigan (Lands End), $7.50/wear
Bootcut jeans (thrifted, JCP), $0.36/wear
*Bright pink ballet flats (Payless), $13.00/wear
Silver blob necklace (JNY), $2.70/wear

I've decided it's time to up my weekend outfit game.  For one thing, it'll be a lot easier to make it through my wardrobe if I don't default to the same 2 shirts every weekend.  Also, I have a lot of inspiration photos on Pinterest that I would like to get to before the styles shift so dramatically that wearing any of these outfits would make me look like I'm in costume.

Ballet flats better not go out of style any time soon...or I'll just be out of style, I guess, because I am a huge fan.  I've traditionally been more of a Mary Janes person, but in the last couple years, I have found myself more attracted to ballet flats.  Perhaps 25+ years of adhering so strongly to Mary Janes was enough that I was ready for a change.


The master bedroom suite in our apartment is pretty cool.  When you enter the door (which we have propped open with a bunny doorstop we happened to find at Target while looking for something else entirely, like you do, and which I've decorated with my bunny dress that I put there to dry hanging on the overdoor hook and then decided to leave so I could enjoy looking at it), you are facing the master bathroom (mine).  To the right is a short hallway with the walk-in closet on the left (door also propped open), then the bedroom itself.  To the right of the open initial (bunny dress) door, we've hung this ridiculously cute bunny poster.


In other news...Last night I spent 40+ minutes on my exercise bike, then 30 minutes lifting weights.  When I woke up this morning (blissfully, we went to bed at our normal time and woke up at 8, so I felt very well-rested), I was a bit sore in that "I did a bunch of exercise yesterday" way (so much better than the stiff, achy, body inflammation way) but otherwise felt really great.

We finished watching Mockingjay Part 1 last night--we had started it earlier in the week but only watched the first 30 minutes because it was so freaking slow/boring.  Luckily they picked up the pace after the initial stage-setting scenes and I liked the rest of it, though Katniss's guilt-pity-duty-love for Peeta is driving me crazy.  Get over it and get together with Gale now, before everybody is dead.

I have discovered that the fruit crumble recipe I tried a couple weeks ago is better when (1) I use less fruit with the same amount of topping (which is also better for my blood sugar levels) and (2) I cook it then let the flavors meld over night.  I tried it this week with a bag of frozen raspberries (which I thawed using the "run water over them in a colander" method but because I let the water get really hot, it was more like "cook them in a colander" method), and right out of the oven, it was pretty good but not great.  Leftovers the next day were fabulous.  I want to try the recipe with blackberries, with peaches, and maybe with apples (apples are iffy because it's so time-consuming to peel and slice apples compared to using berries or pre-sliced peaches).

Speaking of melding, after going through a cozy mystery phase, then a gothic phase, then a short adventure phase, I started reading a Star Trek (original characters) book yesterday.  

Do you have any plans for the three-day weekend?  I basically don't, which is how I like it.

I confess I've already gotten drawn into Memorial Day sales despite my best intentions.  But they (Kohls.com) have a bright pink/coral T-shirt with a tiger face on it!  And a big owl necklace!  And a navy floral scarf like I've been wanting for a year!  It looks like Jones New York is having a 40% off sale this weekend, which brings many of their sales items down to good prices, but not the awesome prices I'm holding out for.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Meow-zers

Double Dose of Cat Print--Friday, 5/22/15

If you can't wear mixed cat prints on casual Friday, when can you?  Well, I'd say any day of the week, but this time, it's on Friday.

My inspiration photo has exactly zero cat print.  But it has denim and green and black.  I can supply my own cat print.

From polyvore.com

Big cats (in this case, leopard) and small kitty cats play nicely...well, not together, but when separated by a large expanse of t-shirt and denim.


Green long-sleeved T (Macy's), $5.49/wear +
Black cat scarf (?), $4.00/wear +
Trouser jeans (thrifted, JCP), $0.71/wear
*Olive leopard ballet flats (Nordstrom Rack), $29.97/wear [they're new, OK!] +

I'm so glad Robert had the idea for us to try Nordstrom Rack for shoes while we were at the Mall that Ate Cincinnati a couple weeks ago.  Not only did he find a comfy pair of black Skechers, which gave me the brilliant inspiration to buy my mom Skechers for Mother's Day (which are apparently working out very well so far), but I found these absolutely perfect shoes.  I had been looking for green ballet flats all day, and even though I did not have any kind of notion of olive green leopard ballet flats, they turned out to be the green ballet flats I was looking for. 


I have surprisingly little cat artwork in my apartment, but this poster with two black cats and one purple cat among the red flowers and foliage is an old favorite (now residing on the bathroom wall above the metal shelving unit with the cute bunny and snake boxes).

The other print is Edvard Munch's Girls on a Jetty, which Robert and I saw at the Kimbell in Fort Worth.  (This is a special piece because Jen, her best friend C.V., and I had traveled back in time to pose for that piece when we were in junior/senior high school.  This is a little known fact.) 


In other news...What would your name be if you were born today? (Via Capitol Hill Style)


And now a three day weekend!  I'm excited.  Not about anything in particular I have planned, but just the idea of sleeping in (you know, past 6:15 a.m.) for an extra day is something to be happy about.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

With a Waistcoat

Waiter!--Thursday, 5/21/15

On a Goodwill trip, lost to the reaches of time, I purchased a cute black suit vest, which I thought would be a useful layering piece.  And it sat untouched in my closet for months because I never really had any good ideas for wearing it and I did not want to do a "Sally dresses up like a waiter" outfit.  (Now with my current uncertain job situation, I especially do not feel like tempting fate.) 

So it was nice to see this outfit, in which our color-addicted blogger Christine models a distinctly not-waiter-esque look using a black suit vest.

From work-it-blog.blogspot.com

I love the red, but not having red pants, I turned to my spectacular blurple/burple/whatever pants.  Uncharacteristically, I preferred the outfit with the top tucked in.



Black and white paisley knit top (thrifted, Rafaella), $2.00/wear +
*Black suit vest (thrifted, JCP), $4.00/wear +
Purple pants (JCP), $8.00/wear +
Black pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom), $3.84/wear
Silver chain link necklace (gift from Mom), free +

One thing I noticed after taking these pictures is that my little vest has an affinity for random fuzz.  I have now gone at this thing with one of those roller-tape doohickeys and spiffed that vest up.


Speaking of spiffing up, here is what our dining room table used to look like, before we hired a cleaning service to come every two weeks.  As my mom had assured me, knowing that your house cleaner is going to come in the next day does motivate you to clean up your junk.  Although our dining room is by no means pristine these days, it definitely no longer looks like the local pharmacy and the archives of The Economist vomited all over it.

But note that I still have that old dinette set of my uncle's that was being stored in my grandmother's downstairs apartment--the one that my mom and I infamously absolutely refused to kill ourselves cleaning.  Mom, you'll not be surprised to hear that I haven't polished the chrome since that day in grandma's yard.  It's still looking good, though.

I guess this dark photo also attests to the efficacy of the blinds in our apartment at blocking out light.  These days, we usually keep the long blinds against the door to the balcony (which is behind my chair, the one with the yellow placemat) open, except when it is truly bright outside and Robert (sitting at the chair with the blue placemat) has a migraine.


You know, "vest" is a funny word.  In British English, a vest is tank top.  They call the thing I'm wearing a "waistcoat," which of course every Alice fan knows because in the third sentence of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the White Rabbit "actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it...."  In the first minutes of the Disney film Alice in Wonderland, Alice explains to her cat, "Oh Dinah, it's just a rabbit with a waistcoat...and a watch!"

You know, it really surprised me that I do not have a print of the White Rabbit wearing his classic waistcoat on my walls.

In other news....Are you playing Google Feud?  Good times, my friends.

Driving to work this morning, I saw a bunny at the edge of a residential area about half a block away from our offices!  Today was the first time I'd noticed that on this one corner (an empty lot--the houses are across the street), there is a lot of greenery that has grown up--all kinds of grasses and it looked like thistle.  The bunny was very interesting--clearly a wild (not feral) rabbit, a cottontail, but with a lot more white in his coat than I am used to.  But if you look at a bunch of photos of cottontail rabbits, you'll see that some do have a fair amount of white in their fur.  I was able to stop my car and watch the bunny for about a minute before he hopped into the greenery and disappeared from view.  When I got to work, I emailed Tam that this bunny sighting seemed like a good omen. 

Well, we had a staff meeting today in which our department head updated us on the budget situation (will not be finalized until June) and mentioned a couple of the other departments that had deep personnel cuts.  She did not mention anything about our department.  So I think at this point, she does not think that we will have any.  Things could change, but this seems like another good omen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Introducing an Inexpensive Green Sweater

Smoking Leopards, Batman!--Wednesday, 5/20/15

Getting somewhat back to normal May weather with a forecast high of 61 F.  Maybe it's still just cool enough to give my new ($5.22!) pullover sweater from JNY a spin.

Erin shows us that a green sweater and brown pants make a simple, professional combination.

From looplooks.net

Leopard print shoes and a beige topper are also nice additions.

From somevelvetmorningblog.com

Of course in my case, it's gotta be the leopard smoking slippers instead of any kind of spindly heels.  (I know that smoking isn't good for any cat's health regardless of its size (i.e., "big cat" or little cat).  If your cat smokes, check out these resources.) 


*Bright green V-neck pullover sweater (JNY), $5.22/wear +
Brown wide leg pants (thrifted, Nicole), $2.50/wear +
Beige knit blazer (Nordstrom), $8.85/wear [working on it] +
Leopard smoking slippers by Clarks, $2.78/wear 
Tortoiseshell/gold necklace (Macy's), $4.16/wear +

I also added a tortoiseshell/gold statement necklace for a bit of fun.


My sister gave me this Matisse-inspired work, painted with coffee.  I kid you not.


In other news....The latest I've heard on our budget situation is this: Today I was reading an article in the paper about our budget that suggested that some people in the community know what the preliminary budget is (and came to complain to our leadership about it), and I mentioned this to my office mate and asked if she has seen the preliminary budget because I haven't and I'm surprised that other people have.  She told me some things, the relevant point of which was that at a meeting (that I guess I was sick that day and didn't attend), our department head said that she had received our budget numbers for next year and that she wasn't expecting any personnel cuts but that everything else in the budget was going to be tighter.  So!  Sounds unambiguously hopeful to me.  This isn't like take it to the bank certainty but it's a reason for optimism.  Also, man, I sure picked a bad day to be sick.  I would have loved to have heard this weeks ago when everyone else did.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Stripes Is All It Is

Well, Stripes and Tardis Blue--Tuesday, 5/19/15

I liked the idea of wearing a black and white striped top with a cobalt blue skirt.

From happinessatmidlife.com

I liked it even better when I realized that I had a black and white striped top with a cobalt blue part at the top!  I was initially going to wear this with a new cardigan I recently purchased, but the subtle print of the cardigan didn't work with the bold stripes, so I went with a solid black knit blazer to maintain the graphical integrity of the outfit.

I was just now like, Wait, what?  Graphical integrity?  Where did that come from?  Googling...and, oh, yeah, of course.  Maybe I meant graphic integrity?  In any event, let's focus on the vivid stripey goodness of this top untarnished by any other (weak-ass) patterns.


Black ponte knit blazer (Target), $3.12/wear
Cobalt blue skirt (eShakti), $17.50/wear
Black and white striped T with blue top (Macy's), $2.93/wear +
Black/white necklace from Mom, gift +
Black tights (Kohls), $1.39/wear
Black button shoes (thrifted, Franco Sarto), $1.67/wear +

(I decided to retire these shoes today.  They are just ever so slightly too short such that my big toe rubs a bit against the end of the shoe.  These are old enough that even though I've only worn them 3 times since 4/20/13, I have definitely gotten their lifetime cost per wear down to the $1 range, so I feel like they were a good buy.  I'll donate them back so someone who is a true 8 1/2 in a round-toed shoe can take them from here.)

An entire outfit made out of knits is so comfy.  I mean, it's not exactly like wearing pajamas all day.  Well, for one thing, I don't own any knit pajamas.  Do you like knit pajamas?  I like to wear a t-shirt to sleep in but I greatly prefer my pajama pants to be made out of a woven fabric.  I feel like the knit ones get twisted up weird when I sleep.

Have you ever shot an elephant in your pajamas?

Sorry, that's entirely irrelephant to what I was talking about.  I was talking about being comfortable wearing an outfit in knit fabric with stripes whose relative size is directly proportional to how funny Groucho Marx is.


Hence the corner of my living room (behind the exercise bike and treadmill) is a Marx Brothers shrine.  (Duck Soup poster and Groucho cutout from Robert.  Groucho doll from Tam.)
 


In other news...I've had a stomach ache on and off again today.  Grrrr.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Raisin in the...Unseasonably Cool Weather?

Job Update:  The day came and went and I did not hear anything at all about my job so if the newspaper can be trusted (iffy), perhaps I am not being laid off after all.  I did have opportunities to get laid off today.  I had a meeting with an HR person this morning (about data that she is putting together for me) and I sat in on my department head and my supervisor presenting some results (from an analysis I had conducted) to our executive management team, including the head of HR, the CEO, and the CEO's boss.  So I wasn't hiding in the bathroom from my boss and the HR department.  Anyway, it would be so great if I manage to keep my job because I basically love it.

88 Cent Floral Top and Pencil Skirt Revisited--Monday, 5/18/15

Today's outfit (thankfully not the last one at my job) has two inspirations.

(1)  When I wore this outfit in February, my mom commented that I should try it again.  I wanted to pair the top with a pencil skirt again, but try something slightly different.

Worn 2/17/15

(2) I liked the spring-y pink/burgundy/floral combination combination in this outfit.

From savvy-southern.blogspot.com

I flipped the burgundy and bright pink around so that I could wear my new JNY tipped blazer in a color that they call "raisin."  I added tights and ankle boots because we are expecting a high of 44 F, which is well below the average high of 71 F for the date, and I don't do bare legs below about 65-70 F.


*Burgundy tipped blazer (JNY), $27.25/wear +
Purple/pink floral top with ribbon neckline (thrifted, JCP, 88 cents), $0.44/wear +
Bright pink pencil skirt (JCP), $4.51/wear +
Pink drop necklace (Outfit Additions), $3.71/wear +
Grey sweater tights (Target), $2.00/wear +
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles, $12.73/wear +

I was happy of the opportunity to get another wear of my cool suede ankle boots in before the weather is just too warm for them.  At $12.73 per wear, they seem shockingly expensive, but when you buy a pair of really nice boots (for $140), it takes a while to get the cost per wear down.  But I foresee these boots lasting a long time (in part because I wear my rain boots to work and carry in my other shoes when there's a chance of rain).  Look at that faux snakeskin texture on the suede--are they awesome or what?


I've had this flower print since I was in high school and I continue to enjoy it.  This is the other side of the long-ish hallway, opposite the Wall o' Matisse.


In other news....Based on what Debbie said on my Life Style post about using bathroom breaks as exercise breaks, I started using the bathroom on the first floor today (my office is on the third floor), taking the stairs up and down.  I was a bit embarrassed to realize that walking up two flights of stairs at a decent clip elevated my heart rate and that I was feeling a little out of breath at the top.  Whoa.  But as Tam and I discussed recently, one of the awesome things about exercise is that doing more of it makes you want to do more of it, and doing more of it makes doing it easier.  (Which is like the opposite of dieting/weight loss.)  I'm looking forward at some future point to running up two flights of stairs at work without being winded. 

Bird Feeder Update:  This weekend, Robert and I saw a male house finch flirting (as Robert called it) with a female house finch on our balcony rail--the two birds were next to each other and the male started dancing at her, flapping his wings and bouncing his butt around.  I had never noticed before that male house finches have a red patch on the ass--it's usually covered or mostly covered by their wing feathers when they are at rest but his dance popped that red patch out there.  I couldn't tell whether the female bird was impressed, but I was.  That dude's got moves like Jagger.  And we all know how well that worked out for Jagger in exactly the arena of life that our bird friend is concerned about right now.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Life Style Challenge Week 11

This was a sort of weird week.

Life Style Challenge Week 10 Review:

(1)  No bread, no pasta, no rice
(2)  Cardio exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days a week (T, Th, Sat--though this often gets pushed to W, F, Sun lately, which is perfectly OK)
(3)  Strength training exercise for 10 minutes, 2 days a week
(4)  Average 2 or fewer Triscuits per day
(5)  Restart flaxseed oil regimen AGAIN and add cod liver oil
(6)  Make wilted spinach and chocolate "cake" recipes

I was sick a couple times this week, so my eating was a little bit off, but overall, it was OK.  I have discovered that the combination of flaxseed/cod liver oil + almond butter on the same day is a mistake.  I think I did my oil regimen about 4x this week, which was satisfactory.  I'm still just trying to do it as much I can and not worry too much if I miss sometimes.

The wilted spinach recipe was fantastic!  And it's very easy, too.

Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins:  Toast 2 T. pine nuts for about 5 minutes over low heat in a large skillet.  Remove pine nuts.  Add 1 T. olive oil, 4 cups baby spinach, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover for about 2 minutes.  Stir the spinach and cook until it's wilted.  Top with toasted pine nuts and 2 T. golden raisins.  Serves 2 (or 1, really--spinach cooks down to almost nothing).

The recipe calls for dried currants but I used golden raisins like the restaurant in San Fransisco does in the dish that inspired the recipe.  I used 1 bag of baby spinach but that really wasn't enough for the amount of oil and nuts/raisins, in my opinion--I think a bag contains 3 cups, maybe?  Next time I'll use more spinach (and/or less of the other stuff.)

The chocolate "cake" recipe--god, the less said the better.  It smelled good but the texture was so gross (simultaneously runny and gritty) that I couldn't face it.  (I don't even like genuine custards so this nasty fake custard like product was out of bounds.)  I could not even make myself taste it, nor could Robert.  From pan to cake to trash.  It doesn't get any healthier than that, I guess, but the cost/effort per serving is depressing.

This week I also made some roasted sweet potatoes using the pre-peeled and chopped potato pieces that come in a bag.  Have you tried that?  God, so convenient!  For me, it's too much time/effort to peel and chop a sweet potato to have freshly roasted sweet potatoes after work, but with the ones that are already cut up, I had them oiled and spiced and in the oven in a couple minutes.  About 30-35 minutes later, they were ready to eat...and they were great!  I tried a specific recipe this time.

Sweet and Savory Potatoes:  2 c. chopped sweet potato, 1 T. olive oil, 1/4 t. onion powder, 1/4 t. garlic powder, 1/2 t. cinnamon, and salt/pepper to taste.  Bake on a baking sheet in 375 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes.  Serves 2.

Robert likes eating his baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon but I've never tried them roasted that way.  I can definitely recommend this seasoning blend.  I also think that a person with an appetite will want more than 1 c. of sweet potato but that depends on how big/caloric your entree is.  I had my potatoes with fish so I ate more than half the recipe (and left the pathetic remnant, perhaps 1/2 cup potato, for Robert to taste and declare good).

Life Style Challenge Week 11:

(1)  No bread, no pasta, no rice
(2)  Cardio exercise for 30 minutes, 3 4 days a week
(3)  Strength training exercise for 10 minutes, 2 days a week
(4)  Average 2 or fewer Triscuits per day
(5)  Continue flaxseed oil/cod liver oil regimen
(6)  Identify recipes/ideas for snacks/desserts that can substitute for my old standbys, almond butter and/or dark chocolate

Robert and I are upping our exercise game this week to four days of cardio.  I'm also going to get more serious about making sure I do the strength training.  I'd really like to do it for 10 minutes, 3 days a week, which is easily doable.  The TV shows we watch are about 43 minutes per episode, so it's straightforward to do 30 minutes cardio, then 10 minutes of weights.  I just don't always remember to wrap up the cardio until the show is over.

The other initiative for me is that I want to cut back on my almond butter/dark chocolate consumption so I need to figure out what I can eat as snacks/dessert/meal supplementation/etc. that is:
--Paleo "enough"/generally a good fit for my exotic animal eating needs
--Tasty enough that I'll eat it
--Does not require very much (preferably, any) prep time/effort
--Does not require being eaten within a couple days of purchase
--Is not some kind of meat jerky or fish from a can (see second bullet point)

I use almond butter and/or dark chocolate as the general purpose "something else to eat" a LOT and I really want to cut back on this.

I don't mind if some things require a bit of prep work, and it's OK if a few things are quickly perishable, but I really need to match, or at least approach, the convenience offered by shelf-stable almond butter and dark chocolate that can be eaten directly with no preparation.  It's not that I don't have enough time or that I don't think putting time into preparing healthy food is "worth it" or whatever--it's just that realistically, if it's not almost as easy as what I'm doing now, the substitution isn't going to happen with enough consistency to create new eating habits.

Fortunately, Robert is a total rock star who is willing to stop at the grocery store on the way home if I do need to replenish my supplies more often than the once a week we're doing now.  And you'll notice that price is not one of my criteria.  I mean, I'm not going to take up a daily caviar habit or anything (because, ewwwwwwww) but I can afford to eat whatever it makes sense for me to eat.

Any suggestions?  I know it feels risky to put ideas out there when the requester has such idiosyncratic needs and preferences, but I'm curious what you guys think, what you've tried, non-grain-based convenience foods you like...hell, or just how you have handled similar requirements for yourself, with whatever idiosyncratic preferences and needs you have.  Even if I'm like, Yeah, I don't think the daily lemon-pineapple-peanut butter-tofu smoothie after work is a great option for me, or, Fritos from the work vending machine every afternoon seems like the opposite of what I need to do, or, There's no way I'm really going to start an organic vegetable garden on my balcony--it might make me think of something else.  Do you have any go-to places you look for food ideas?