Saturday, January 31, 2015

Apartment Update: Bathroom

With the arrival from Amazon of my cute animal storage bins, and the subsequent placement of well-thought-out piles of stuff into said bins, my bathroom is pretty much ready to go.  I am considering buying some new bath towels because mine have started fading, are a too-small size, or never matched my color scheme anyway.  But for now, all is good.

One thing that may not be apparent from the photos is that my bathroom (the master bathroom; Robert is using the somewhat smaller guest bathroom across the hall) is big.  The small blue rug that I used to have in my bathroom in Snow City?  Way too small.  I gave that one to Robert (and really it's kind of small for his bathroom too, but not as ridiculously so) and put the matching full sized blue area rug (what? 5' x 7' maybe?) that used to be in the living room in Snow City in my bathroom and it fit perfectly, while leaving enough space next to the bathtub for a normal wash-every-week cloth bath mat.  So no cold feet for me.

Here's my storage area next to the door.  (There is storage under the sink but not enough and I get light-headed from bending down to get things from low places.  I saved that space for cleaning supplies, etc.)  In Snow City, our bathroom had a built-in closet with shelving in this position, but at our new place, we needed to supply our own storage.  We first thought of buying a white wooden storage closet with doors and shelves inside that we found at Lowe's, but it looked like a bitch to put together and it was too big to fit in Robert's car.  Then I remembered how in Austin I used to have a metal shelving rack in the bathroom (which we still have, serving as a pantry area in our last several apartments).  So I found the grey, red, and cream colored bins in several sizes at Lowe's and we bought them along with this rack that Robert put together quite easily.  But I still needed a couple more big bins, and I was disappointed not to have any blue bins to match my rug.  A little exploration on Amazon revealed these delightful animal ones from 3Sprouts and my heart went pitter-pat.  (The designs looked sorta familiar and then I saw that this company also made the big-ass raccoon storage bin that Robert and I bought for his mom.)

Here you can see the bath area and a corner of the rug.  In Snow City, both bathrooms had glass doors, so I was like, Aw, man, I'm going to have to buy a shower curtain!  (For the first two days in our new place, we were screwed--on day 1, I took a shower at our old apartment while we were there to pick up the last of our things and on day 2, I took a shallow bath in the new tub.)  But Robert was convinced that my old shower curtain was packed away somewhere...and he was right.  We even had the rings to attach it.  I bought a plastic liner at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and it was good to go.  Robert didn't have a shower curtain for his bath, but picked out a handsome navy one in a waffle fabric that doesn't need rings (it has built-in rings that split to go around the shower rod) and has a built-in liner that can be detached and washed--pretty fancy.

I had a nice metal over-the-shower-door hanging rack for all my bottles, but of course that doesn't work with a shower curtain.  But at Target I found a simple 3 level metal rack that fits on the (very generous) corner of the tub and that seems to be working well.

It has double sinks, but I've closed up the plug on the left one (so I do not drop any jewelry down it when I lean over to put on an earring or whatever) and am only using the right one.  I've filled the drawers down the center of the vanity with the same stuff I had in the same drawers in my Snow City apartment (I had packed away those drawers by putting everything together into different plastic grocery bags, which made it easy to take things out and refill the drawers again). 

I didn't photograph this, but to the right of the sink is the toilet.  I have the same metal rack over it that I've had in my last few apartments to hold Kleenex, a clear plastic bin of washcloths, etc.

The only thing missing at this point is that I have bare walls that I need to cover up with interesting things in frames.  We haven't even opened our art boxes yet.  I expect that will happen near the end of this process, once we see how much wall space we have.  My strong expectation is that we have more wall space than at our old apartment, so I'll be picking out some new stuff to supplement what we already have.  To me, it makes sense to see what the wall space in the whole apartment looks like, allocate art to those spaces, and then decide what to get to fill in the blanks...and to do this all at once, not piecemeal.  I'm already missing my Big Wall o' Rabbits in my office, so maybe the desire to get something up to cover these boring white/cream textured walls will be the kick in the pants I need to spend the time getting our place into shape.

I didn't do much today because it took me a long time to get my clothes for the week sorted (more on this later) and I was feeling sick.  Robert was at it, though, building bookcases, getting air filters changed out and running...I mean, the man has even filled one entire bookcase in his mini-office in the dining room, including putting out his collection of little animal sculptures along the top!  This being said, the dining room table is now an official disaster zone with stuff he's taken out of boxes but doesn't have a place to put yet. 

Tomorrow is another (for me, hopefully more productive) day.

The Worst Photos Ever!

Yes, I have now reached a new low for outfit photos on this blog.  Cloudy days, terrible indoor lighting, my mirror precariously balanced on the sofa...these factors, along with very low skill, yield bad photos.

This was my first day back to work after our move.  The closet got about 90% sorted over the weekend and I did not have the problem that one of my co-workers had of not being able to find her pants after moving to a new place.  I found my pants.  I even found my iron and ironing board.  But I have yet to find the will to use the latter so I was a little uncharacteristically wrinkly this week.

Pattern Challenge Day 18: Stripes #1 -- Tuesday, 1/27/15

Stripes are a favorite of mine, so it's no challenge finding them in my wardrobe or putting together outfits with this pattern. 

*Grey/blue striped wool pullover sweater (thrifted, Gap)
Blue button up shirt (Eddie Bauer)
"Denim" pants (Kohls)
Navy ankle boots by Seychelles
Chunky silver necklace (JNY)

Apparently I like wearing this necklace over a button up and a wool pullover sweater with stripes in dull colors.  Hmm.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cost Per Use

I enjoyed this cost per use analysis (via Already Pretty).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Whimsical Winter Birds

Bird Barbie -- Thursday, 11/22/15 1/22/15 (no, my wearing a pair of brown pinstriped pants did not actually make me into a Time Lord capable of traveling into the future -- that was a straight up typo)

Another secret sweater vest. Bright pink. Pattern mixing. Sweet birdies. All of the above.

It astonishes me that it took this long for me to pair this black/white blazer with the bright pink pants.  White, black, and hot pink are just an obvious and delightfully bright combination.  (It's even more obvious when you realize that the jacket is lined under the collar with bright pink fabric.)  I grounded this with the even brighter but aviarally (OK, I guess that's not a word) seasonally-appropriate silk sparrow scarf.

I definitely needed something to pump me up to get through my last day at work before the move!

I am still spinning a bit from the fact that my sister and I have moved to new residences on the same exact day (a Friday, about 3/4 of the way through the month, so not exactly an obviously popular time).  Jen and me: separated by space, joined by time.

This will also be my first entry in my new style challenge -- the Behind the Leopard Glasses Pattern Challenge, Day 21: Grid.  Yep, this is happening way out of order because I sort of serendipitously used the primary pieces I had previously been eying for that style challenge in creating this outfit.  No wonder it came together so easily.

Continuing with that style challenge will be interesting because many of the ideas I'd had for it are not fully appropriate to a Snow City....ahem, I mean, Coldville....winter -- because many of the patterned pieces are short sleeved tops.  We'll see.

Black lace-trimmed T (thrifted, Coldwater Creek)
Black sweater vest (thrifted, Foxcroft)
Black/white windowpane blazer (thrifted, Target)
Bright pink Dockers
Pink silk bird scarf (Nordstrom?)
Black ankle boots by Sam Edelman

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Wear a Stealth Sweater Vest

In a Brown Study -- Wednesday, 1/21/15

I am unaccountably in love with these pants.  Maybe because they look like the ones worn by David Tennant's (I always want to call him David Tarrant) Doctor Who.  Now if only I had a pair of beige Converse All Stars...

But lacking the sneakers, the matching suit jacket, or the general panache of Doctor Who, I put together yet another brown and beige outfit with these pants.  Oh, and I wore Chelsea boots -- invented for Queen Victoria, popularized by the Beatles.  So if the quintessential British science fiction guy can wear classic American sneakers, this American can wear classic British boots.  It all balances out in the end.

Brown crinkly button up shirt (thrifted, Kohls)
*Brown sweater vest (thrifted, August Silk)
Brown pinstripe pants (thrifted, Chaps)
Beige knit blazer (Nordstrom)
Brown ankle boots by LifeStrides
Gold/clear collar necklace (already forgot!)

Oy, you say, I can't see a sweater vest in your photo.  Ah, that's because it's a stealth sweater vest, in a shade of brown that matches the button up shirt so well that you basically can't tell it's there, except for how a bit of the crinkly shirt fabric extends from the hem of it.

The stealth effect is enhanced with the placement of the necklace at the point where the vest and shirt meet at the neck. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Another pre-move post...

What to Wear After a 3 Day Weekend of Hacking and Packing -- Tuesday, 1/20/15

Really, it was a good weekend in many ways.  We got a ton of packing done on Saturday and Sunday, and Monday I stayed home for MLK Day.  But I pulled an exhaustion trifecta on Monday -- sleepy from insomnia, spent from the physical work of packing all weekend, and that deep body fatigue and ache that comes with illness (a sinus infection).  I wasn't actually hacking too much past Saturday morning (Friday was the worst of that) but I kept the Kimberley-Clark company in the black with the number of Kleenex I used.

So today I was like, Really, I have to go to work?  I was so tired I wanted to cry.  But two things did help -- my car was gorgeous and clean from a marathon scrubbing session on Monday morning (another source of fatigue, of course, but so worth it to see the bright red paint gleaming out from under the winter road grime of Snow City) and I brought some caffeinated tea with me to work.  Oh, and Tam sent me photos of kittens smooshed against glass, and kittens = awesome.

It would have been nice to have an easier project to work on than the one I had, but being so mentally challenged made the day fly by in a good kind of way, even if I was experiencing significant cognitive fatigue by the time I left for home (and had started yawning around 4:00).

But my energy levels revived again after eating dinner and having a conversation with Robert about our weird data issues at work and an article about CLEP tests in Sunday's newspaper. 

Above freezing temperatures over the weekend melted almost all of the snow on our parking lot at work, which is awesome, but I'm still wearing my snow boots and carrying my other shoes with me so that my nice shoes stay super spiffy.  These snakeskin patterned suede ankle boots are still absolutely pristine because I have yet to wear them outdoors at all.  This outfit was precisely warm enough without being at all too warm for wearing in my office -- it was so perfectly calibrated to the temperature as to be noticeably pleasant (odd as that seems).

White long-sleeved T (Walmart)
Cream cashmere pullover (Macy's)
Grey striped pants (thrifted, Dockers)
Grey/coral scarf (Target)
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles

Monday, January 26, 2015

Live from Coldville!

Woo, Robert and I have successfully moved to Coldville!  Maybe I'll talk more about it when I have more time, but suffice to say, it is a continuing work in progress.  We have closets (mostly--I still have some sweaters/jeans that didn't fit in my closet so I need to get another chest of drawers for them, and there are some things I haven't found yet), we have a kitchen, we have computers with Internet set up, we have one bathroom in enough order to shower in, we have mattresses on the floor to sleep on....but we're very, very far from truly moved in.

It was a tough move because I was feeling really sick on Friday with a migraine and a sinus infection.  Even not doing any of the actual moving of boxes, it was exhausting because I spent from 8 a.m. to almost 5 p.m. on my feet or sitting in a kitchen chair or on my stability ball while the moving happened--not crashed out in my bed, on my sofa, or in my reclining chair as I would have wanted.  In the afternoon, once we were at the new apartment, I was so tired that I lay down on the carpet with my coat over me and took a nap for about half an hour. I was absolutely frigid all day.  Even when it was 70 degrees inside, I had my ankle-length wool coat on and was still shivering.  But a lot of the day it was quite a bit colder inside because the movers opened the windows while they were working (and getting overheated, which I totally get).

I'm feeling better today and finally a little less tired as I got a full night's sleep plus a couple extra hours sleeping on-and-off before finally getting out of bed around 9:30 this morning.  Robert decided he needed to go to work today but I decided to stay home with a personal day, as originally planned, even if I don't get a lot of the serious unpacking done.  Getting caught up with laundry, cooking, and all the normal weekend chores before starting a new work week is going to keep me pretty busy anyway.

Now for the previously scheduled post:

Friday Before a Three Day Weekend and I'm Wearing a Suit Jacket -- Friday, 1/16/15

But that's only because I felt weird about dressing down on the day we were having user orientation on our new data software (even though I wasn't presenting anything and the users were all in jeans and whatnot) and because I really did want to try out another of my 88 cent bargains from the thrift shop.

Yep, we went live with our project, exactly according to schedule, which is kind of a miracle in itself.  The data aren't really quite right (long story) but I get it that for our department head, we needed the credibility with executive management that we could deliver on time more than we needed to get every kink in the problematic data process sorted out before going live with it.  (After all, she was able to tell our phase one users today that we're still working some things out so they shouldn't go to the bank with the numbers quite yet.)  Our department head was pretty much in the very best mood I've ever seen her today after our user orientation session.  What a relief to her to have reached this critical milestone.

Anybody out there have experience with "agile development"?  This is the model we're using, and I definitely have some questions about it.  It's kind of team comprises the "developers," and I guess that's what we are, but I don't think any of us really have experience with anything that people like my sister would recognize as a development project.

So you might be able to tell from the relatively high stance of this blazer, and its somewhat pronounced shoulder pads, it's an older, no, let's call it "vintage" suit jacket, and probably a size larger than I would usually buy.  But for 88 cents, I loved the subtle maroon/black pattern and thought I could rock an 80's style slightly oversized blazer well enough.  And the color matched my awesome ankle boots, so what's a girl to do?

*Black/black striped T (thrifted, Talbots)
*Maroon suit jacket (thrifted, Le Suit, 88 cents)
Black/black striped pants (thrifted, JCP)
Black tooth/claw necklace (Outfit Additions)
Maroon ankle boots by Dolce Vita

Here's a close up of the jacket and top.  Oh what a difference some light makes.  See, it's not black as the photo above would suggest!

I enjoyed wearing basic black pieces with subtle black-on-black stripes -- horizontal on the top, vertical on the pants.  I love the thin fabric of this knit top; I think it will be perfect for wearing under a sleeveless dress once it's a big warmer.  And these boots basically always make me feel like a bad-ass.  Put the boots with the tooth/claw necklace on this outfit and I think I'm out of the primary "matronly and horribly outdated" zone where this blazer would otherwise be perfectly happy to gravitate to.

Verdict:  This jacket isn't going to be one I go to all the time, but I found it both comfy and just a little bit dressed up as well as very easy to wear with black, and there are times that's just what you're looking for.  I feel like I've already gotten my 88 cents worth out of this purchase; it's all extra from here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What to Wear When Giving Your Boss a Heart Attack

All About the Scarf -- Thursday, 1/15/14

I woke up and felt like crap -- a developing sinus infection, I think -- and really did not want to go to work.  But I did because I needed to meet with some people to figure out what we're doing at a training session the next day.

This was a remarkably simple and comfortable outfit to wear in our over 30 degrees F (!!) weather.  A long-sleeved T, a jacket, a silk sweater, no base layer.  Amazing.

I cannot get over how much I love this scarf.  I love the pattern, which has an Art Deco-esque feel to me (not that I really know what that means, to be fair) and the color combination.  And it's the perfect length for a casual-yet-classy drape around the neck look.  (Not so long it drapes into the sink when you brush your teeth after lunch, either.)

*Light blue long-sleeved T (Kohls)
Brown quilted jacket (thrifted)
Light brown trousers (Kohls)
Brown/black/blue silk scarf (thrifted)
Brown ankle boots by LifeStrides

Oh, as for the boss heart attack -- our department director came by when my group was strategizing in the late afternoon about the training on Friday and said how awesome it is that we have our project up and running, etc., and how great all the visualizations look, and said in a lighthearted way, maybe we should copywrite these.  And I said, Yeah, before [the consultant company we're all unhappy with, who provided those terrible visualizations of two circles, etc.] steals them!  I was joking and, the idea that after all the crap we (and especially she) has put up with from those people, and how bad their stuff has been, and everything...the idea that they would piggyback on our work really got to her.  She was like, If that happened, after everything, I'd come down on them like... and she couldn't even finish the sentence.  In that moment I realized that she is not just unhappy but a couple steps away from a Taz out / Hulk Smash on those guys.  And since she is not a generally rageful person from what I've seen over the past 9+ months, the situation with the consultant is likely even worse than I thought.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What to Wear in a Long Meeting

Stripes and Florals AGAIN -- Wednesday, 1/14/15

OK, the meeting was only 3 hours, but that's still quite a bit of time.  I was warm enough and quite comfy in an outfit that's basically jeans, T, and cardigan.  (The warmth factor was helped significantly by the fact that it got up to 20 degrees F!  Yes, 20 degrees above zero.  The Festivus miracles just don't stop.)

I had an unexpected bonding moment with a co-worker over how much we both hate wearing turtlenecks, although he doesn't mind ties and I like scarves -- the critical aspect being that both of these can be adjusted and loosened.

Oh, a funny thing.  We spent quite a bit of time in the meeting convincing our project manager that we could have an emergency around the data to our new visualization software project that could require an immediate intervention from our IT department.  The project manager also updated us that one of the IT people supporting the project was deeply unhappy with the SQL written by our consultant because it was very vulnerable to hiccups.

Then we tried looking at one of our visualizations and the data didn't appear, which was weird because my officemate and I had just been working with it the previous afternoon and it was working fine.  Turns out that due to a combination of a 3 minute interruption in server connectivity overnight while the SQL was running to update our data and the poorly written/vulnerable code supplied by our consultant, two variables were not written to our dataset, which broke the visualization.  Have I mentioned our go-live date is tomorrow??

So how's that for a great example of the shoddy work from our consultant creating an emergency which the IT department needs to immediately step in and fix.  And kudos to them, they did.

I don't know whether I've mentioned that the visualizations developed by the consultant were so crappy that we (most of whom have had no training or experience in the software) have been developing our own from scratch rather than try to salvage their junk.  I kid you not when I say that several of the consultant's visualizations are one circle representing the percentage of our population who are Whatever and another circle representing the percentage who are Not Whatever.  Yep, just two circles sitting next to each other.  ARGH!

That's pretty much what they look like, for reals

So it's now become clear that both the visualization side and the data side of this consultant's work has been sub-par.  Sad.

But I'm not sad to have worn stripes and floral print together to work again.  If it ain't broke....wait and the overnight data refresh will break it.  Until then, pattern mix to your heart's content.

*White/grey floral T (Kohls)
Grey/black striped cardigan (Kohls)
Grey 5 pocket pants (Rafaella)
Black scarf (Target)
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles

Monday, January 19, 2015

More Stripey Fun

Florals and Stripes, Together Again -- Tuesday, 1/13/14

I really didn't want to go to work.  I woke up tired, with a headache, and it was like -10 degrees outside.  Bah.  But with a flask of caffeinated iced tea in my bag, I headed off and made it through the day.  However, our group had 3 of 15 people out sick.  If I'd called in, we would have been at an over 25% sick absence rate.  Surely that would be very silly.  And I managed to actually get some work done (despite my headache being a come and go thing all day) so I guess that was good.

Robert and I even spent 30 minutes on a short packing blitz after dinner.  Every little bit helps, right?

Last time (the only time?) I wore this jacket, I wore it with the same scarf (though I did tie it differently).  That scarf is just crazy useful because it has black, white, cobalt blue, white blue, green-ish blue, and blue-ish green, thus making any outfit with various shades of blue and/or teal look a little more cohesive.  But next time, yeah, time to wear the jacket with a different scarf....or a necklace, if I want to get really wild.

*Navy/teal striped T (Kohls)
Navy Dockers
Teal jacket (thrifted, Coldwater Creek)
Green/blue floral/paisley scarf (Target)
Navy ankle boots by Seychelles

Oh, and it's hard to see that the shirt is striped in that photo, so here's my close up.

The texture of the jacket gives a sort of faux-stripe look to go with the actual stripes of the shirt.  I'm all over that, naturally.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rocking the 88 Cent Jacket

Another Christmas vacation tradition is the last Friday of the month 88 cent sale at the thrift store, and once again, I accompanied my mom and her sister in search of crazy ass bargains.  I came home with a paper bag full of goodies.  I'm in the position where I don't really need anything but for 88 cents, come on!  Even wearing something once, I feel like I'll get my money's worth out of it.

Winter Brights -- Monday, 1/12/14

A versatile, if memorable, piece, this comfy warm blazer features white, black, pink, orange, blue, and green in the pattern.  A good item to build a layered outfit around for the continuing below-zero temperatures.  It was a sunny day, so my office might have been a bit warmer than usual, but still...I found myself at one point this afternoon feeling almost too warm.  Almost.  So, yeah, freezation averted in a cheerful bright jacket and vest combo.

*Black/bright tweed jacket (thrifted, Sag Harbor, 88 cents)
White/black striped button up shirt (thrifted, Old Navy)
Pink sweater vest (thrifted, Fieldgear)
Black pants (thrifted, Macy's)
Black buckle flats by Me Too

Over the previous weekend, I had put together the last 8 work outfits I needed before our move (!!) so I could put the rest of my clothes into wardrobe boxes.  (Well, I also kept out two pairs of jeans, my puffy leopard vest, my Skyrim-office-approved big white "outrageously warm cardigan," and some long-sleeved shirts for the non-work days before the move.)  You're going to see a lot of ankle boots in the days to come, since these black flats are the only shoes I have out that aren't ankle boots or my short snow boots (for commuting) or a pair of cold weather mocs (for moving day in the event of little/no snow) or my bunny slippers (for general stay-at-home awesomeness).

Stripes and Stripes

Double the Stripes, Double the Fun -- Friday, 1/9/15

It's Friday.  You've finished your first week back at work after a two week vacation and you're in the midst of pre-move packing exhaustion.  Put on a bunch of different comfortable grey colored clothing items and call it done.

Oh, and put on some socks, too, because it's only gonna be 6 degrees again today.  Even the high school girls are wearing socks!

*Grey/white striped T (Kohls) -- I'm loving these
Grey striped Dockers (thrifted)
Chunky grey cardigan (thrifted, JCP)
Grey leopard flats by Fergilicious
Chunky silvery necklace (JNY)
Not pictured: Grey houndstooth trouser socks (Sock Dreams)

I haven't written a book review in a while because (1) I didn't read much on my vacation (except the excellent Christmas edition of The Economist, which I read at Robert's mom's house) and (2) what little I have read recently were random books I borrowed from my mom and hurriedly packed up to return to her when I visited over Christmas.  I took her 2 paper sacks full of books, I think, and I returned with 3 paper sacks full of books.  I packed those sacks of books in a box, sealed it, and about 16 hours later opened it again as I realized that my plan to not play Oblivion again until after the move (it's just too time/mentally intensive and I can't really handle having that going on in my life right now) meant that I had a bit more time to fall down in my comfy chair (after work/packing/etc.) and read.  I've been enjoying this extra reading time a lot, but I doubt I will post any more book reviews (and we all know this chorus by now so sing along) "until after the move."

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Loving Cashmere, Part 2

Repurposing a Christmas Gift -- Thursday, 1/8/15

Robert's mom gave me a nice plaid scarf for Christmas, just the thing for wearing with your coat on the way to work on a cold day, right?

WRONG.  It's for wearing to your cold office (with another self-gifted cashmere sweater).

I really wanted to wear this sweater by itself (I mean, without a jacket over it) but that just wasn't happening on a day with a high of 8 degrees.  I stood there all Waaaaaah, but this needs a red blazer to match the scarf and I don't have one and ... oh wait, I do, actually.

I hope you can appreciate the artistry in leaving the light wood drying rack in this photo, to coordinate with the beige scarf.  It's these little touches that elevate this blog from "what I wore mirror selfies in poor lighting" to "what I wore mirror selfies in poor lighting with random shit in the background demonstrating what a mess my apartment always is."

*Cream silky T (thrifted)
*Cream cashmere pullover sweater (Macy's)
Maroon blazer (Lands End)
Black striped pants (thrifted, JCP)
Leopard smoking slippers by Clarks
*Beige plaid scarf (gift)

Friday, January 16, 2015

That Was Weird...

When I posted my "Loving Cashmere Part 1" post, it put it under yesterday's post, and it took me a moment to realize that for some reason Blogger thought today was the 15th, not the 16th.  I think I've managed to fix that now but what the hell, Blogger?

Loving Cashmere, Part 1

Great news!  The paper based on my first year research project at My Masters University has been officially accepted by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.  (JESP is an "A" journal in my field.)  My advisor has been working to get this published for a couple years now, so I was happy to give him first authorship (which most advisors in his position would have taken for himself from day one) as a reflection of how much effort he's put into pushing this paper through the review process.

And now back to our regularly scheduled post.

Red and Blue Again -- Wednesday, 1/7/15

I really don't know what year it is.  I typed "18" above and it took a second to realize why that was wrong was not because it's 2016.

This week was a bit crazy because our assistant director was suddenly like, Oh yeah, because of This Big Event I Wasn't Aware Of on Saturday, we really should have These Two Reports I Thought I Might Eventually Do But That Were On Indefinite Hold posted on our website by Friday.  I started scrambling around a bit frantically but after a while, I realized with amazement that the Excel fu I used in generating the previous iterations of these reports meant that I could just cut and paste in the new SPSS output and everything BOOM updated correctly in Excel, just like it was supposed to (but that so often doesn't work out without all kinds of annoying fiddling).  So I turned those reports around like a boss.

But on Wednesday morning, I was still feeling a bit anxious about this whole thing.

However, I wasn't feeling cold because I was wearing one of the new cashmere pullovers I bought at Macy's Christmas sale for $40...even though it was so cold that several school districts in the area, including Snow City but not Coldville, canceled school.  It was expected to be about -35 F wind chill in the morning -- Coldville's policy is to cancel when it is -40 F wind chill and Snow City's policy is to cancel when it's -35 F wind chill.  (As it turned out, it wasn't quite that cold.)

The media (including social media) was full of discussion about the fact that Coldville didn't cancel school, and I think maybe my favorite visual was a newspaper photo of two girls coming out of a high school at the end of the day, one wearing her hoodie under her jacket up, neither wearing a hat, gloves, or real coats, both looking completely miserable.  WTF PEOPLE???  This is the kind of idiocy I expect of people who don't know from cold.  Meanwhile, I'm wearing a heavy, ankle-length wool coat, short snow boots, and a fleece hat, gloves, and scarf every day just to walk less than 5 minutes from my car to the building.  If I were walking or waiting for the bus, I'd have my giant green puffer coat or my giant purple "stadium" coat (even if it did make me look like Grimace) on with my serious mittens and hat with the ear flaps.  But I'm an old person.  What do I know?

I know how to stay warm in the winter in the frozen north, that's what.

*Red cashmere pullover sweater (Macy's)
Navy Dockers
Navy ponte blazer (Target)
Red/blue fish scarf (Target)
Navy ankle boots by Seychelles

Thursday, January 15, 2015

In Which Sweaters Are Appreciated

Yep I'm tired today (1/15) -- First I published the post with the number in the title, then realized that was the wrong post anyway, so I published the right post....with the number in the title.  Bah!  

Purple All Over -- Tuesday, 1/6/15

OK, maybe not all over but I'm wearing a purple pullover sweater and purple shoes and a purple necklace and I do not bear a striking resemblance to Grimace while doing it, so I declare victory and move on.

Purple/pink striped button up shirt (thrifted, Bass)
*Purple pullover sweater (Kohls)
Grey trousers (Kohls)
Purple "gumdrop" necklace (Target)
Purple suede pumps (thrifted)

What's weird is that I feel like "What's blah blah and purple all over?" is some kind of standard joke, but I can't remember the rest of it, and google isn't helping me here.  So my mind goes to Grimace.

Did you know Grimace has a great-great grandma named Jenny Grimace?  Now you do!  And here you worried that my leaving grad school would lower the intellectual tone of this blog.  Silly you.

This week is pretty much the Week of New Pullover Sweaters, in which I feel totally smug about feeling warm enough in my clothes at work to almost never use my ass-heating-pad.  The heated seat in my car after work, though?  That puppy is ON.  There is something about getting into the car after work (especially on days when you first have to brush a few inches of snow off it with a giant brush that looks like something out of Star Wars)...and having it immediately beep to draw your attention to the fact that the car is 1 F...and realizing you have at least a 45-60 minute commute home ahead of be glad your car has heated seats.  And to be glad you're moving closer to work soon.  And to be glad that winter will, eventually, end so that you can transition to bitching about the heat.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Layer of Snow on the Northern Forest

On my return from the Christmas vacation, I kind of forgot about my style challenges, but keeping warm when the wind chill is -30 F or below outside and your workplace is seriously under-heated is a challenge in itself.

I will probably not be returning to style challenges until after our move in a couple weeks.  Until then, "wearing appropriate clothes to work" will be a victory.

But serendipitously, it appears that I finished the 31 Days, 31 Ways challenge before my vacation.  So, yay for that! I have a couple ideas of which one I will do next, but until then, I'm just wearing clothes in combinations that I hope are reasonable.

New, New, New -- Monday, 1/5/14

My mom has talked recently about how she doesn't tend to like wearing a cardigan in a lighter shade than her shirt (though she did this once while I was visiting her, an exception that tested the rule -- in this particular instance, we agreed it looked good).  So of course I immediately noticed (cue frequency illusion/Baader Meinhoff phenomenon) someone else writing about finding this look unflattering on herself.  I haven't really thought about this before -- how I like this combination on myself or on anyone else -- but this outfit that I had planned before my Christmas vacation (and before the arrival of the bitter cold to Snow City) gives me an opportunity to consider it.

Verdict: I think I liked this outfit better when I tried it on than when I wore it all day.  The very light cardigan against the very dark shirt did feel a little iffy (perhaps only because that idea was on my mind), but mostly it was a matter of how the t-shirt and cardigan played together.  They seemed to be fighting each other a fair bit.  It might be unfair to the cardigan to make this attribution, but it seems that the cardigan caused the neckline of the shirt to ride up a bit oddly in the front during the day so I found myself pulling the shirt down at the front hem (a la Jean-Luc Picard) when I stood up from my desk.  I think I will wait to try this cardigan again with a different type of top -- perhaps it will be happier with a short sleeve shirt?  I might try this shirt with my other cream cardigan (the lace front one from Nordstrom) and see if I like that better.  Or maybe I'll just learn to rock the sartorial Picard Maneuver when I wear this combination.

In any case, I was happy that the three major items of this ensemble were pieces that I was wearing for the first time!

*Forest green floral knit top (Kohls)
*Cream cardigan (thrifted, JNY)
*Brown trousers (thrifted, JCP)
Light brown ankle boots by East Spirit
Gold shelled pea necklace (Target)

And I can retroactively make it fit the theme of "Fuck Me, It's COLD Outside" -- hence this post title.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What To Wear Packing Up Your House

This shirt has been in heavy rotation (along with the French lapin in a beret shirt) as my go-to weekend weekends full of packing, packing, eating, packing, and more packing.

And yes, it's written in looking grass script because Year of Alice, people. (Cuddle bunny)

This past Sunday (1/11) I wore it with jeans and my new bunny slippers I bought for my birthday (have I posted these yet? oh well, here they are again in all their rabbit glory).

I needed all the bunny-ness I could get on this exhausting day of packing.

I think I leveled several times in Taping Boxes (even though I started from a high level due to all the boxes I put together for the state park surveys back in the day).  I think I'm about 100 boxes away from the highly desired perk of Never-Ending Packing Tape Roll, which functions like the Expert Armorer perk in Oblivion --- one tape roll lasts forever.  However desirable that would be, I am glad that I won't be reaching that threshold on this move.  Robert's taping skill is still at the novice level, but he can assemble wardrobe boxes and schlunk them around pretty well now.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Christmas Break

It was kind of nice to take a break from outfit photos over the holidays while I was on vacation.  This time I packed a very simple color scheme (black, white, red, and one green shirt plus my forest green jacket), which made pretty much everything go together.

But I did take one photo of this necklace my mom gave me as part of my birthday gift.  It's a necklace she bought for herself a really long time ago but didn't wear.  I had it in heavy rotation during my vacation because it is simple and understated yet not too delicate -- and thus it is very flexible.  (I mean, it's a chain -- that's always flexible, right?)

Instead of taking outfit photos, I kept busy petting the cat, spoiling the cat with Robert's leftover beef brisket, cursing the cat for howling loudly in the middle of the night and early in the morning, watching the cat watch the birds at the bird feeders, and shooing the cat off my suitcases.

Oh, and there were people there, too.  My mom and I finished three computer games while I was there (adventure/hidden object games from Big Fish), which I think is a Christmas week record.  My dad told this extended joke about a genetically engineered snail that took my mom and me in at first because it started with "I saw this article on" (a German-language tabloid website that apparently has all kinds of crazy stories, a couple of which he had already told us about) -- it was a real triumph.  Robert played a hell of a lot of Tetris on his tablet.  We had several Skip-Bo evenings and I think the overall record was almost perfectly split between the teams of Mom and Dad vs. Robert and me.  And of course, no Christmas visit to my parents would be complete without seeing a festive holiday movie, in this case the last Hobbit movie.  Next year's movie: the new Star Wars, of course.

My mom, Robert, and I went birding at the lake and saw a bunch of ducks, including several canvasbacks, which were a life bird for my mom.  We later saw a kestrel in the backyard, which I believe was another life bird for her.  I enjoyed the (relatively) warm weather and seeing birds, even if I cannot expect to get any life birds out of it at this point.

Perhaps the single weirdest moment of the vacation occurred in the park between the high school and my parents house, where Robert and I were finishing up a walk around town with my uncle and his dog, Ginger.  Ginger is an extremely fast dog, so even though I kept thinking we were leaving her behind, she'd suddenly appear out of nowhere and take the lead.  One time this happened, I saw she had a stick or branch in her mouth as she ran past me.  Then I realized, WTF that branch has a hoof?!  It turned out she'd found a deer leg and, being a dog, decided to pick it up and run around with it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Alice in Wonderland's 150th Anniversary

Getting a Jump on Celebrating the Wonders of Wonderland -- Friday, 12/19/14

I read in The Economist recently that there's a bunch of stuff in the works to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the incomparable Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  So clearly my personal style challenge for this Friday was wearing my Alice in Wonderland scarf to work. OK, actually, I'd already chosen this style challenge before reading about the anniversary, but cause and effect don't have to work in that traditional straightforward linear fashion, do they?  Not in Wonderland!

Like the Alice stories, my stripes-and-polka dots combination might seem initially absurd or nonsensical, but ultimately brilliant to a discerning audience.

Debbie once asked whether wearing long scarves that dangle down get in the way/etc. and I said, Nope, totally fine!  But then I tried wearing this scarf, made from a moderately thick t-shirt fabric, in this style (to quote the Hatter's hat tag) and it was too cumbersome.  So I ended up folding it in half and tucking the ends into the loop to shorten it significantly once I got to work. But this photo gives you the best looking-glass mirror image of the iconic Cheshire Cat scene with the words "We're all mad here."  Just right for a Friday at work.

*Black/grey stripe cardigan (Kohls)
*Grey/black polka dot knit pencil skirt (Kohls)
Black long-sleeved T (Walmart) -- see, told you I was going to start wearing these to work regularly and I am
Alice in Wonderland scarf (NerdAlertCreations on Etsy)
Grey leggings (Kohls)
Grey tall boots by Fitzwell

BONUS!  BONUS!  On the same day I wore this outfit, the Already Pretty blog linked to this delightful recitation of Jabberwocky by Neil Gaiman.  He even finds a tulgey wood to stage his performance.  LOVE.

I am excited by the prospect of an explosion of All Things Alice in 2015.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Never Before Used: Rabbit Tarot

For my birthday last year, Robert bought me as part of his "cute rabbit stuff" gift a set of rabbit tarot cards.  Adorable and perfect, right?  I had admired them but not used them until my birthday this year.  I totally played the "it's my birthday!" card (ahem) to get Robert to consent to having his fortune read on the rabbit tarot cards.

Through sheer dumb luck amazing mystical power, Robert generated one of the best and most appropriate arrangements of 10 tarot cards that I've ever seen.

I was fully prepared to bring my narrative-building skillz to bear on an ambiguous, nonsensical, negative, etc., set of cards to develop a reasonably upbeat and coherent message.  But perhaps the gods were feeling generous because they knew I am out of practice reading tarot cards because his cards were just logical and awesome.

Here are his cards (click to enlarge):

 Go ahead and squee for a while at the overwhelming cuteness on display.  I'll wait.

You can't see the first one in this photo so here it is:

There are 6 major arcana, 2 face cards, and 2 numbered cards in his layout.  (The deck contains 22 major arcana, 16 face cards, and 40 numbered cards.)  This high number of major arcana is considered evidence of a "strong" reading.  (Bonus question:  What is the probability of getting 6 or more major arcana when drawing 10 cards from this deck?  Do we get a probability less than .05 and reject the null hypothesis?)

I interpreted the cards using my classic tarot book, but I will include here, in blue, the text from the materials supplied by the creator of the cards. (I am looking at her notes now for the first time.)  I will also comment on how it differs from my more traditional reading if the difference is significant.

Card 1: Present Condition - Strength

Strength is a subtle and powerful rabbit. Courageous, determined and mindful, Strength indicates physical strength, fortitude, and conquest over adversity. It can indicate accomplishment or attainment after difficulty. Strength takes charge of a situation or responsibility for actions. 
Traditional reading -- similar.

This is a great card to represent one's current condition. (I thought the drawing had a bit of a, "I've got the fox, now what the hell do I do with him?" feel that is not entirely inappropriate to the situation.)

Card 2: Immediate Influence - 8 of Pentacles (Daisies)

There can be feelings of disappointment. The Eight of Daisies often points to a misunderstanding, and a need for more information.

Traditional reading -- "Apprenticeship. Craftsmanship. Fast to learn. Candor. Frankness. Modesty. Handiwork. Personal effort."

This card is widely interpreted as the card of apprenticeship, so I don't understand the rabbit tarot reading. I interpret the effort, candor, and learning aspects as key here.

Card 3: Goal or Destiny - The Fool

This foolish rabbit is impulsive and unrestrained. This card often signifies irrational people or actions that are not thought out. It sometimes heralds a new and sometimes risky venture, a flight of fancy, or an act of carelessness. Though possibly a lot of fun, the Fool is not to be taken too seriously, and signifies impulsive joy, excitement or play without thought to consequences.

Traditional reading -- similar, though greater emphasis on adventure and enthusiasm (IMO)

A "strength" type person might very readily wish for a life with a bit more fun and excitement and turning down the conscientiousness meter.  I know I certainly value Robert's silliness.

Card 4: Distant Past Foundation - The Hierophant

The Hierophant is a mysterious and wise rabbit. His advice can be inspired, yet oftentimes hard to hear or understand. This card can also indicate actions with far reaching consequences, small steps towards bigger efforts that may not be obvious.

Traditional reading -- "Ritualism. Ceremonies. Mercy. Humilities. Kindness. Goodness. Forgiveness. Inspiration. Alliance. Compassion. Servitude. Inactivity. Lack of conviction. Timidity. Overt reserve. Captivity to one's own ideas. A person to whom one has recourse. Conformity. A religious or spiritual leader. At times this person is inept in adapting to new cirumstances and changing conditions. Tendency to cling to former ideas and principles even if outdated. A person with a deep sense of historical importance and a sincere appreciation for past heritage."

Robert and I both glommed onto the latter part of that traditional description.  Robert was like, "So in the distant past, I had an appreciation for the distant past. True."  But I also like the sense of the rabbit tarot that the distant past was building a foundation for the future without him realizing it.

Card 5: Recent Past Events - 6 of Cups (Tulips)

The Six of Tulips is a card of memories and nostalgia. There may be feelings of regret due to paths not taken. The Six of Tulips sometimes refers to childhood events or a turning point in the past.
Traditional reading -- similar.

Robert was like, "So in the recent past, I have been thinking about the past.  OK."

Card 6: Future Influence - The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune is the rabbit of change. Fate, destiny, kismet and luck are all tied into the pivotal points of the wheel, and pulling this card indicates a turning point, literally. There may be a coming together of people or an event that precipitates change.

Traditional reading -- similar.

Robert was like, "So my future will be affected by fate, and things will happen in the future."

I loved turning over the next four cards (the previous ones were shown one by one) and quickly seeing, Ooooh, these are all good ones!

Card 7: The Questioner - King of Pentacles (Daisies)

The King of Daisies is an experienced leader or respected man. He is moral but not very social or
easy to understand. The King of Daisies is often in a position of some authority or in command of some wealth, but not extravagant or showy. He can be somewhat cold and logical, but capable of generosity in the right circumstances. He is also hard to deceive and impatient at times with emotional matters.

Traditional reading -- similar but with details I liked a lot for Robert: "An experienced and successful leader. A person of character and intelligence. Business acumen. Mathematical ability. Loyal friend. Reliable in marriage. Successful businessman. Wise investments. Affinity to acquire money and valuable possessions."

This along with Strength makes two really, um, strong cards to represent Robert.  Even the more negative aspects of the rabbit tarot reading are apt: not very social, can be (or seem) cold and logical.

Card 8: Environmental Factors (both influence of questioner on others and others on questioner) - Judgment

The Judgment rabbit is a wake up call. The blast of the horn symbolizes awakening, and
can also be a call to action. It can indicate an important opportunity or decision and also announce a coming event of some significance.

Traditional reading -- "Atonement. Judgment. The need to repent and forgive. The moment to account for the manner in which we have used our opportunities. The possibility that present conduct toward other people is unfair and unkind. Rejuvenation. Rebirth. Improvement. Development. Promotion. The desire for immortality. The possibility exists that someone is taking unfair advantage of you and will be sorry in the future. Legal judgment in one's favor. The outcome of a lawsuit or personal conflict. One should carefully consider present actions as they affect other persons. Success will come easier if you are honest with yourself."

Robert was like, "So for my influence on other people, I should consider my influence on other people.  And think about how others are influencing me."

Card 9: Inner Emotions (and inner hopes) - King of Wands (Sticks)

The King of Sticks is an honest and thoughtful man. He is fair in his dealings and careful in handling
money, friendships and practical matters. He is open to different matters of opinion, and enjoys a debate about politics and religion. Emotionally he may not be passionate, but does feel things deeply even if he doesn’t always express them.

Traditional reading -- "This card denotes an honest and conscientious person. Mature. Wise. Devoted. Friendly. Sympathetic. Educated. A gentleman. Generally married. Fatherly."

Even Robert's secret inner self is a totally stand-up dude.  Robert was like, "So I secretly want to be honest."

Several cards have alluded to Robert's generosity and sympathy along with reservedness and not-social-ness, and this rings true to me.  Hence people often can't really tell if Robert likes them or not, but animals are all, "Oh, he's so nice!  He really likes me!  This is one of the best humans in the world!"  (And, well, Robert might argue that he just likes animals more than he does people, and I wouldn't disagree.)

Card 10: Final Result - The Lovers

The Lovers are a close pair of rabbits. This card speaks to the heart, love, relationships and the significant other. The Lovers are often an indication of happiness and closeness, physical beauty, emotional fulfillment and passion.

Traditional reading -- similar.

What's better than a bunny?  Two bunnies together!  This is an outcome card to warm a mate's heart.

I mean, look at this card!

Looking at this card and the Strength card, it appears that Robert is the white rabbit and I'm the fox/Dutch rabbit (which he thought was about right).

I thought it funny and appropriate that the literal reading of several of these cards -- the distant past, the past, the future, environmental influences -- fit their positions so perfectly and in some cases, axiomatically: "The future will be influenced by future outcomes!"  If I had handed Robert the tarot deck and the book of card descriptions, these would have been the cards he would have picked to represent those positions because they just make such straightforward sense.

What a fun and gratifyingly upbeat reading for the rabbit tarot's debut!

Friday, January 9, 2015

What to Wear to a Work Holiday Party

Festive Red, Of Course -- Thursday, 12/18/14

A couple of co-workers commented on how festive I looked in this outfit, and I felt fairly festive, too.  Well, there's more to that.  I was actually dreading the party because there was food being served that I couldn't eat (all pasta-based) and I wasn't hungry (I usually eat around 1:00 or 1:30 and the party started at 12:30) and I was just like waaah, what do I do?  I finally decided around 12:45, Screw it, at least I have the good pepper steak to eat, I'll eat that and then go to the party.  So I did.  And it worked out fine.  Everybody was seated, ready for the white elephant exchange to commence shortly (eek), but several people from my group were at the table right next to the door and there were a couple of empty seats (whew) so there was no awkwardness in joining the party already in progress.  I timed it just about right to miss the meal but catch everything else.

And seriously, that pepper steak was so good, I didn't care that I missed out on a free lunch.

*Red/black "scroll/floral" twin set (thrifted, Kohls)
Black fold pencil skirt (JCP)
Black tights (Kohls)
Red buckle flats by Me Too
Gold link chain necklace (Ann Taylor)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

In Opposition

Day 27: Opposites Attract -- Wednesday, 12/17/14

Getting into the final stretch before my two week winter vacation but I was keeping up the energy for the 31 Days, 31 Ways challenge.  My take on opposites was actually a kind of three-fold contrast: girly (pearls and pencil skirt), casual (striped T), and a little bit edgy (my ankle boots with the zipper edge).  I thought it all worked.

But I have to disagree with her that peanut butter and Oreos are complete opposites.  Nope.  Peanut butter and bacon, though?  Yeah.  That's a combination that I can't get my head around but that people like Robert swear is magic.  Actually, I cannot fathom Robert referring to anything as "magic" other than in a situation like someone asking, "So what's up with that big glowing ball thing in the university in Skyrim?"  "It's magic."

So instead of magic, let's say:  That people like Robert swear is awesome.

You know what else is awesome?  Star Trek novels.  I know, it seems like they should kind of suck but they don't.  I just finished reading the Star Trek: Next Generation book Contamination and I was pretty much blown away by how fun and satisfying it was.  It was not great literature, but I enjoyed it a lot, and sometimes that's exactly what you want from a book.  Of course, a few weeks earlier, I had been pondering how weird it is that you never find books that combine the science fiction and mystery genres, and I was like, Man, that's a genre that I would consume like peanut butter and Oreos because they are two genres that fit together so naturally.  And then, after packing almost all of my books (including most of the small number of unread books borrowed from my mom last Christmas), I finally finished The Edge of Eternity (and some other random book I wasn't very impressed by and have already forgotten) and had no library books except one that I don't want to read, I think, and I was like...OK, I guess it's this random ass looking Star Trek book for which I have no high expectations.  And I'll be damned, it was a hybrid science fiction mystery!  With the familiar and beloved Next Generation characters!  Woot! 

*Black/white striped long-sleeved T (Kohls) -- it was like $5, so even though I recently bought another similar shirt with the black quilted shoulders (which would have been more Star Trek like to wear), I got this one too.  I heart stripes.
Black travel cardigan (thrifted, Chicos)
Burgundy pencil skirt (Nordstrom)
Black tights
Black ankle boots by Sam Edelman
Double strand pearls (Macy's)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Stuck in Neutral

Day 28: All Neutrals -- Tuesday, 12/16/14

My monster headache had lessened to mere beast levels by Tuesday morning, so back to work I went.  It was not good times, but it was OK.

At least I was dressed in a very easy, comfortable outfit (more stripes!) that kept me warm while I drank iced tea, stared at SPSS syntax and Excel spreadsheets, and tried not to whimper out loud (at which endeavor I believe I succeeded).

And if I recall correctly, that evening Robert and I made an amazingly delicious yet simple pepper steak recipe using some sirloins we had discovered over the weekend during our Great Freezer Cleanout with red/yellow/orange bell peppers, white onions, and copious butter.  Oh. My. God.  It was actually grossing me out a bit while we were cooking it, but the next day at lunch, I was swooning.  It was so good that I ate it for lunch and then again for dinner and then again for lunch the next day!

*Black/grey/cream pullover (thrifted, Dress Barn)
White long-sleeved T (Walmart)
Grey 5 pocket pants (Rafaella)
Cream scarf (thrifted)
Black/grey/white argyle socks (Sock Dreams)
Grey leopard flats by Fergilicious

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It Took an Eternity

Book Review: The Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett

4 stars

This is not a perfect book, but it was surprisingly good and engaging to read.  Given the time period it covered (the 1960s-1990s), I didn't think I'd be all that into it, but it was the third book of a trilogy I had enjoyed up to this point, so I girded my loins and picked up this freaking monstrously gigantic book and started to read.  And read.  And read.  If you have been wondering why book reviews have been sparse lately on this blog, it's not just because I've been playing so much Oblivion -- this book took quite a bit of time to get through, even though I kept at it pretty steadily.

But if you aren't scared off by its somewhat intimidating size, it was a very interesting recounting of a period of American history (from a decidedly left-wing point of view) that I at least never studied in school.  I found the civil rights era material the most engaging because it just boggles the mind to think about these things happening so recently, and so many people getting assassinated, and the cops taking part in beating up protesters...and then I think about all the black guys (and kids!) being shot/choked to death in this country right now, and maybe I shouldn't be so shocked.

I also laughed that one of the point of view characters is Jack Kennedy's mistress.  Hah, of course!

The main criticisms on Amazon seem to be (1) too leftist and (2) too much sex.  Often these complaints came from the same people (Spock brow).  I will say that it is undeniably, unapologetically from a left-wing perspective, but I found that interesting.  You do not have to take this as some kind of historical gospel.  If anything, it's a useful contrast to the rah-rah conservative take on these events that is dominant.  As for the sex -- yes, there was sex.  It was not gratuitous...or stupid (like in 9,999,984 of the last 10,000,000 "romantic thrillers" etc. published).  It seemed very reasonable for the context.

Winter is Not an Eternity -- Sunday, 12/14/14

Robert and I spent some time going through closets (including the Harry Potter room), throwing away junk (good-bye 99% of the crap from my grad school career!), and packing boxes of books and such.  It was a somewhat warm day (highs in the 50s), made warmer by all this activity, so I wore a lightweight long-sleeved T and ballet flats!  That's right -- no socks, people.  Don't despair -- it got cold again soon enough, but there was a magical day there where we were reminded that winter won't last forever.  We got a small taste of the spring to another four months or so.

I also inhaled about 300 pounds of dust and got a sinus headache that turned into a migraine and kept me home on Monday.  I almost never do this, but my head was so bad that I ended up eating an early lunch and crashing in bed around noon and sleeping for about 4.5 hours.  (I woke up a few times in a daze to roll over and go back to sleep immediately.)  I could tell that this was the kind of illness sleep that "doesn't count" in some way because I was tired at my normal time Monday night and was thankful to go to bed and fall asleep almost immediately and sleep the whole night long. 

I spent the whole next week battling the aftermath of this onslaught on my sinuses with recurring sinus headaches and an earache at one point.  Bah!  But like 95% of my books are packed, so at least I'm suffering for a higher purpose.

*Grey/silver striped T (Kohls)
Grey jeans (Kohls)
Rose gold ballet flats (thrifted, Old Navy)
Rose/grey pearly "planet" necklace (...? I forget)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Golems and Polka Dots

Book Review:  The Golem of Hollywood by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

4.5 stars

I like Jonathan Kellerman's series of books featuring the psychologist-sleuth Alex Delaware, but this was an unexpectedly fascinating supernatural detective mystery.  Very unusual subject matter and settings.  More like this one, please, publishing industry!

I am really surprised by how many bad reviews the book gets on Amazon.  I guess the religious/supernatural elements and the way-old back story that parallels the action in the current day was just too bizarre and unexpected for some people.  I loved it that it did not resemble what I have learned to expect from Jonathan Kellerman except for the whole being awesomely entertaining part.

Purple Polka Dot Kid -- Saturday, 12/13/14

I love, love, love the polka dot and striped long-sleeved Ts I bought from Kohls over the Black Friday weekend.  The polka dot ones are lined with striped fabric, and vice versa, so that you can roll up the sleeves for built-in pattern mixing.  This is my kind of shirt!

*Purple polka dot T (Kohls)
Grey jeans (Kohls)
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles
*Purple/gold necklace (Macy's)

Less than a week later, I saw another take on purple polka dots with grey jeans on Putting Me Together.  Great minds.  I, however, will avoid mustard like the plague it is to my hair and skin colors.  That's just a no-go for me, completely. But adding a navy jacket? I could see that.

From Putting Me Together

Also, I feel compelled to point out, she's wearing grey jeans with cognac boots.  It's so totally a thing.  Just not my thing.

And yeah, her photographs are 1000 times better than mine.  I mean, you actually see the colors she's wearing!  Sigh.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ambitious Friday Outfit

I am featuring a complex style challenge: 2 personal challenges plus Debbie's two scarf challenge.  Friday, 12/12/14.

Personal Challenge #1: Wear my black skinny-ish ankle pants with a normal length top to work.

I had felt comfortable wearing them with a longer tunic or cardigan, but could I rock them with, say, a pullover sweater?  They are actual pants -- not leggings -- so this is a totally legit combo but a bit out of my comfort zone.

Personal Challenge #2: Wear black pants tucked into tall cognac boots.  I'm good with wearing brown and black together but I've been a bit boggled at the popularity of black pants with tall brown boots -- almost always, when I see these outfits, I think: Huh, I would wear black boots instead.  But what the hell, you know?  I have a new pair of tall cognac boots I've been wanting to wear.

Two Scarf Challenge: My first stab at this involved pairing two lightweight scarves (black/white cat scarf and black/polka dot scarf) together, but I found the result distinctly meh.  Then I had the idea to combine the polka dot scarf as an accent to a plain black scarf of a normal winter weight and voila!  I used the mint green dots on the scarf to rationalize wearing my new olive green cable knit cotton sweater.

*Olive pullover sweater (Kohls)
Black ankle pants (thrifted, Eileen Fisher)
*Cognac riding boots by Sam Edelman
Black scarf + black polka dot scarf (Target x2)


#1: This is a doable combination with tops that are moderately long or are layered under/over a longer top.  Putting this together proved harder than I initially thought because I had forgotten that the pants are rather loose in the waist and low rise, so there is a tendency for a normal length top to ride up and show my belly circa 2004 (or whenever that was popular).  But this is precisely the situation in which my too-long black T from Target shows its worth.  The black blends into the pants and averts the risk of belly-flashing my coworkers.

#2: The cognac boots looked OK, and I was happy to test them out, but I am a black-on-black girl at heart.  I'll probably not do this combination again.  The inclusion of the orange dots on the black scarf helped justify/rationalize the choice of (orangey) brown boots and made it look a bit intentional, not "I only have brown boots so that's what I wore even though they totally don't go with this outfit."  But I just don't love this kind of high contrast on my legs.  I could, though, more easily see wearing the brown boots with blue jeans or a skirt and tights/leggings in a different color -- blue, burgundy, olive green...but probably not grey or black.

#3:  Muahahahaha, I pwned the 2 scarf challenge here.

Also: Damn, this is a comfy sweater.  I'm glad I also bought a purple one.

True to my "lagging indicator" status, now that I have hesitantly tipped my toe into the skinny-ish pants water, it's time for the skinny silhouette to be replaced at the dominant style.  (Actually, in jeans, boyfriend jeans -- which naturally I do not own -- probably have already eclipsed skinnies.)  Welcome back, wide legs and boot cuts!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Slinky and Sparkly

After taking a couple weeks off work (man, vacation, what a great thing that is) to visit family for the holidays, I've fallen even farther behind on my posts.  But being a planner, I prepared a bunch of posts in advance before I left so that I could come home, PANIC, then spend time digging into this whole "packing up my entire apartment to move about 11 miles" thing.  Then panicking some more.  I'm pretty much going to be on a Work, Pack, PANIC, Eat Chocolate cycle for the next few weeks.

Day 22: Resourceful Top -- 12/11/14

This is an odd garment.  It's acrylic, so it's pretty warm, but it has 3/4 length sleeves (not ideal for winter).  And it's short and too small around and in the sleeves to wear as a cardigan over anything but a very thin knit top.  It looks better buttoned than open, but the buttons tend to gape.  So basically, it's like a shrunken, warm yet arm-baring pullover sweater with buttons on the front.  Let's work with that.

Step 1: Try out my new black Lands End base layer tank underneath.  It's long-ish but the same color as the sweater so maybe it will help visually lengthen it/cover up my midsection.

Step 2: Although perhaps it would be most obvious to layer a sweater under a jacket/blazer rather than a cardigan, I added my black "travel" cardigan, made from a fancy anti-wrinkle distinctly non-sweater-type fabric that goes well with the high tech tank top material and the slippery knit grey skirt.

Step 3: This sweater is blinged out so I should tone it down with...fuck it, even more sparkle.  It's the holiday season.  Get into the spirit.

Challenge idea used: cardigan sweater buttoned to look more like a normal sweater.

Black/grey sparkle cardigan as regular sweater (thrifted, Unity World Wear)
Black travel cardigan (thrifted, Chicos)
Black base layer tank (Lands End)
Grey knit skirt (Target)
Grey tights (Kohls)
Tall grey boots by LifeStride
Black sparkle necklace (Kohls)