Thrift Share Monday: Reigning it in

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It's true. I'm reigning in my thifting. Trying to get it under control. In reality, I spend way more money thrifting that I likely would if I just bought things new--that's how much stuff I buy that I don't need. And it's not sustainable, or admirable, or financially wise. So I've made some new rules for myself when it comes to hitting the thrift stores.
1. Only buy things for yourself/your household if you see an immediate use for them. Picture where they are going to go and what they're going to be used for, and if you come up blank, but it back.
2. Only buy gifts if you have a specific idea of who it will be for and for what occasion. No "that'll make a good gift for somebody."
3. Only buy things for other people if they have been specifically requested. No "I bet X would love this!"
4. Do not thrift to re-sell.

Obviously, these rules wouldn't work for everyone. A lot of people come out ahead when thrifting for re-sale. Those people are for more disciplined and knowledgeable than I am.

Yesterday, on my birthday, I set out to Unique with my new rules in mind, but no budget. The first thing I picked up was something that I originally would have thought I was buying for re-sale. Knowing that was against my rules now, I picked it up thinking, "hey, I know X would love this." And she would. But was it something I would actually get together and send at an appropriate time for a gift? I wasn't sure. I put it down. A few minutes, I returned and picked it up again, having realized that I actually wanted to keep it for myself, and could see where it would sit in my house quite clearly. As a bonus I knew Mark would love it. So I put it in the cart.

The mystery object? This perfect condition, vintage-with-original-tags dark green faux croc ice bucket. I paid $5.49 for it and really, how could I possibly have left it there?

ice bucket

As I browsed through the rest of the housewares, I picked things up and then returned them to the shelves several times, realizing each time that the item was not one I needed or really even wanted to have in my house. Then, in the toy section, I spotted another interesting object, this one a clear gift. It met my rules easily--I knew exactly who it would be for, and when. For $1.91, there was no need for much argument and it went into the cart. (And won't be revealed here, in case the intended recipient is a reader.)

After I'd been through all of the housewares and books, I hit clothes. I usually start with skirts and dresses, since those are what I'd most like to find. I found a gorgeous 100% silk dress with the Macy's tag advertising the $109 price tag still on it, but it fit me like a nightshirt, so it was a no-go. Great find for someone else. The skirts all seemed to be bum-length. Undeterred, I decided to have a gander at the jeans, since fall is on its way and I could really use some new ones. I was rewarded--a pair of Eddie Bauer curvy fit trouser jeans, dark wash, barely worn (if worn at all), in a size 14L. These are jeans I was 95% sure would fit, I loved the style and the wash, and they aren't a duplicate of something else I already have. Easy peasy. $6.49, and I was right, they fit perfectly.

Lastly, as always, I looked at the jewelry case. I've been really into thrifted jewelry lately. I've been really into jewelry in general, actually, and thrifting is my favorite way to get it--less expensive and more interesting stuff. Still, I was trying to be prudent, so I knew I'd have to be a bit picky. With a bit of birthday luck, though, I spotted something I'd had my eye out for--a multi-strand seed bead necklace. I've been admiring these for a bit, and had decided I really wanted a vintage one. The one I got? In perfect condition, from the late 70s or early 80s (I think), and baby pink. Perfect. At $9.99 it was a bit more than I usually pay for thrifted jewelry, but totally worth it.

jeans and necklace.jpg

I left the store having spent only about $26, which is, I am embarrassed to tell you, quite a bit lower than my usual thrift store bill. I bought only things I am 100% sure I like and have a use for, and I feel great about my purchases. Hopefully every trip under the new rules will be as great as this one!

Don't forget to go to Apron Thrift Girl and Southern Hospitality and see all the rest of the participants in Thrift Share Monday!

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Birthday suit

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31st birthday
I don't generally post my outfits much anymore, but I was so pleased with my birthday dinner ensemble, and have lately been so into reading style blogs, I thought I'd show y'all what I wore.

Dress: vintage, thrifted
Belt: Betsey Johnson via Ross
Shoes: Sofft via 6pm.com
Purse: Chinese Laundry, thrifted
Earrings: Wild Rose Jewels on Etsy

31st birthday

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On this day, 31 years ago...

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I was born. At 2:59 in the afternoon (Pacific Time), in Cottage Grove, Oregon. I looked like this:
newborn.jpg

From what I know of it, my birth was fast and painful. I was two weeks late and healthy, if a bit on the hairy and pointy-headed side.

As I grew, I got cuter.

3 months:
3 months.jpg

6 months:
6 months.jpg

11 months:
11 months.jpg

And then, at about a year old, I became a monster. I was still cute, though.

14 months:
14 months.jpg

2 years:
2 years.jpg

3 years:
3 years.jpg

After that, I started getting less cute, and becoming more of a pain in the ass. Which lasted until...well, now, really.

And today, I am 31. A pretty long way from that cute little blonde girl. But I still see her, underneath my gray hair and my need for glasses and my mid-aged makeup-reliance. She's still here.

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Living out Loud 20: You won't read this anywhere...

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This month, Genie's Living Out Loud challenge was just too tempting to pass up.

Tell us some of your rules. Maybe it's how the toilet paper goes on the roll. Maybe it's something about finding the perfect mate. Maybe it's some lesson that involves hiring J. Walter Weatherman to teach your children a lesson about leaving notes. It could be one really important rule or a list of guidelines for living. But the best part is they're your rules.

Rules, y'all. I have a few. However, the real rule master at my house is Mark. Mark has tons of rules. In particular, Mark has Food Rules. Important Food Rules. Food Rules that he frowns deeply upon being broken. And, as they are a lot more amusing, and a lot easier for me to poke fun at, that my own rules, I'm going to share those with you instead.

Mark's Food Rules


  1. Cheese and seafood shall never, ever, ever mix. No exceptions.

  2. It doesn't matter how similar pie and cake are to pastry, the former two are desserts and the last is breakfast food.

  3. Bacon may be eaten at any time of the day or night.

  4. Tea and coffee are to be consumed altered to tooth-aching sweetness.

  5. If it costs less than $1, it is not food.

  6. There are cookies and there are biscuits. Biscuits are for tea-time, with tea, cookies are for before bed, with milk.

  7. Convenience foods Mark enjoys (Chips Ahoy, pretzels, Snickers bars) are fine. Convenience foods that Grace enjoys (snack cakes of all kinds, Doritos, McDonalds) are disgusting.

  8. Never eat anywhere with a drive thru.

  9. Unaltered fruit is suspect. To alleviate suspicion, it must be macerated, poached, or at least sauced in some way.

  10. Never eat anything that has been touched by a pickle. Pickles are from Satan.

  11. There is a difference between a pickle and a cornichon.

  12. There is absolutely no reason to make a simple version of anything if you have access to za'tar.

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The ring

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AAAAAtE_9JIAAAAAASLOZQ.jpgI can deal with it all except that goddamn ring.

He still wears his. Always has, I guess. It's on his pinky finger, a silver band with markings that don't mean much, unless you recognize it for what it is. They're used for wedding bands, for God's sake--I didn't realize that until I Googled the image. Song of Solomon. Calling me his, and him mine. That has to have been weird even at the time.

He wears it, he says, as a self-referential joke. The ultimate narcissism, and a sign of his sense of humor. He is his own beloved. And even though I get it, I don't think it's all that funny.

I still have mine. I could pretend I don't know where it is, but if I stretch my mind out, I can see the envelope it's in, the box of mementos. I remember where it is. What I don't remember is wearing it. I have no memory of which finger it fit, or of the day I decided to take it off. I scan through old pictures and finally spot it, on the middle finger of a clenched fist. Even with the visual prompt, it seems wrong. When I close my eyes to imagine it, I see it only on his finger, his hands always in motion, flipping a pen around in a way I tried for years to copy and have never been able to emulate.

More than anything, that's what I hate. Trying to remember this piece of my own past and being able to see it only through the lens of him. I don't have any idea how I felt when he gave me that ring, if I was excited, if I thought it was romantic. I don't have any idea how it felt to wear it, or to take it off. All I know is the irony he's turned his into. My history is erased.

Our entire interaction is like that, really. I listen while he talks, and I watch that ring flash, and I feel the pieces of who I am slip away like they're in low gravity. Nothing that comes out of my mouth sounds right, and it's like I'm watching myself, watching this scene between these awkward people. Why are these people having dinner, a drink? What do they hope to gain from spending this time? Are they telling themselves they are friends?

Every year, I forget a little more about the time we were "together"--whatever together meant then. I don't want him back; he's not the one who got away. Seeing him doesn't bring any of that up. It feels, instead, like I am an amnesiac being introduced to someone who was important in her life once, provided with objects that should prompt memories, and coming up blank. As if all I really know about that time--what should have been such an important time--is what he's telling me. And I should believe it. He still has that ring on. That proves something, right?

If life had easy cinematic symbolism, it would mean something that he still wears that ring and that mine is in a box. But it doesn't, and I believe him when he says that he wears it because he likes the way it looks, and the joke it makes. After all these years, it shouldn't bother me that the joke is at my expense. It underscores, though, the strangeness of an evening spent with him. While he's in front of me, I'm amused, smiling and laughing until my cheeks ache. Afterward, I'm cold. I can't remember anything he said, or even tell you how he looked, how he's aging. All I can see is that goddamn ring, and the only memory I can call up is a brutal one, ending in my rejection. I was sitting on a washing machine, in what I only now realize is a bookend to the washing machine I sat on the night we got together. I feel again as if this is being staged, and I'm walking ignorantly through my part, bumping into stuff. I search for a word for this feeling and can come up only with inadequate.

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12 Books, 12 Months

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I've recently started to re-focus on reading ink on paper, as my friend Nonny calls it. I have always been a reader, but in recent years it's become something I have to do intentionally, rather than something that I do naturally, which I frankly do not like. I want to return to being a natural reader. Anyway, today's blog reader perusing (and yes, I realize that my voracious blog consumption is probably partially to blame for not reading as many books as I used to) led me to my friend Jenny's post on 12 Books, 12 Months, a challenge from The Latter Day Bohemian. The idea is simple--make a list of 12 books that are already in your to-be read pile and commit to read them over the next 12 months. The rules are like so:
12 Books, 12 Months Challenge
* Pick 12 titles from your To Read Pile. These should be titles you currently own in whatever format you prefer.
* Acquisition of other formats or translations is permitted. So, if you have a paperback but want to read on your Kindle, you can get a Kindle copy. If you have a library copy but want to buy your own, that's kosher. Heck, if you own a copy and want to check another out from the library, I'm not gonna stop you.
* Post your list in your public space of choice by September 1, 2010. If you prefer not to post, you can just leave a comment with your list.
* Read all 12 titles between now and September 5, 2011. Might as well tack on an extra long weekend at the end for cramming.
* When you finish a title on your list, post about it in your public space of choice. If you prefer not to post, you can just leave a comment with your review.
* Once a month, I'll post a round-up of the reviews posted from that month so that we all know what everyone else has read.

I'm in! Between this and the Indiespensable book club from Powell's, maybe I'll get some actual reading done in the next year!

My 12 Books:


  1. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami: gift from my friend Hala, who swears I'll love it

  2. Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology by Jennifer K. Stuller: gift from my friend and co-blogger Skye. A couple of our reviews at Heroine Content are actually cited in this book, and I have been looking at it longingly for months.

  3. Our Bodies, Ourselves and the Work of Writing by Susan Wells: I was so excited about this coming out that I pre-ordered it and waited for it with baited breath, and since it's arrival it hasn't even been cracked. Embarrassing.

  4. Young, White, and Miserable: Growing Up Female in the Fifties by Wini Breines: this has been on my bookshelf for years. I have no idea where it came from, but it keeps getting passed over.

  5. Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman by Sharon Rudahl: this one actually breaks the rules, since I don't already have it. However, it has been on my "MUST BUY" list forever, so I'm going to use this excuse to get it.

  6. Mama, Ph.D.: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life by Caroline Grant: Another one that I just *had* to have and then it sat on the shelf for a year or more. Sensing a pattern?

  7. The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penney: And again. Had to have it, didn't read it.

  8. Cherry and Lit by Mary Karr: I bought Mary Karr's whole memoir trilogy this year, but I only actually read The Liar's Club. I enjoyed it, though, so I'd probably be well-served to read the other two books.

  9. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout: my mom gave me this for Christmas last year and has asked at least a half dozen times since then if I've read it yet, so I'd better read it.

  10. Diary by Chuck Palahniuk: another one that has been sitting around at my house for quite a while, and I've never picked it up.

  11. Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood by Julie Gregory: I thrifted this back when I was in a "horrible memoirs" period, then the phase ended and I didn't read it. I should either read it or get rid of it.

Anybody else want to join in?

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I've mentioned my love for classic country music before. I am a complete sucker for that sound--Waylon, Willie, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, you name it. Good lyrics about hard lives with a twanging guitar. Gets me every time.

So, flipping channels a few weeks ago, I stopped when I saw Shooter Jennings. I like Shooter Jennings--don't love him, haven't bought an album, but have been interested in what I've heard. And then I saw that he was singing with another man. A bearded dude who reminded me a whole lot of a country version of a younger James Hetfield. They were singing a song about "between Jennings and Jones." And two verses in, I was hooked.

Jamey Johnson is the first musician I've heard since the day I was introduced to Grace Potter & the Nocturnals several years ago that has really struck any cord at all with me. And as I listened to him swap songs with Shooter, I liked him more every time he opened his mouth. That gravel voice, soft Alabama accent, no-bullshit guitar. Wonderful.

5678a2bc-543a-4114-be02-e940b9d39578.jpgAs soon as the show was over, I hopped on iTunes and looked for the album with the Jennings and Jones song on it. I found out it was Johnson's first studio album, "That Lonesome Song", and decided to take a chance, spend my $10, and buy the whole record.

Every song on it is good. And a few of them are great. I think my favorite is Mary Go Round, but I'd probably tell you different on another day. The lyrics are poetic, but straightforward, and the music is all traditional country, with an occasional moment that makes you think a bit of southern rock (think Skynyrd). The influences are pretty clear--I can't help but hear Merle Haggard in The Cost of Living High and Waylon himself on Between Jennings and Jones, and the pun of Mary Go Round is all Kristofferson--but this is a tribute more than an impersonation, and Johnson's original songs are so good I didn't for a second wish he would just give up and do covers (which tends to be the case whenever I hear anybody with a good classic country voice).

So, now that I have That Lonesome Song more or less memorized, I'm going to buy Johnson's second studio album, the double "The Guitar Song" as soon as it comes out in September. And these are the first records I've bought in years, y'all. Even with Grace Potter, I was satisfied to buy one. This is a big endorsement coming from me.

So if you like classic country, here's what I want you to do. Go here and watch the video for "In Color" or here to watch "Mowin' Down the Roses." Look how cute he is! Listen to how great those songs are! Then run out and buy his CD or his MP3s. Then come back and thank me.

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I still like Barack Obama

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620053_f260.jpgI don't watch CNN at home. I don't have a particular issue with it, I just don't care for it. At my parents' house, however, it is often on. Today, I watched a segment about Barack Obama's faith (hint: he's not Muslim!). And it reminded me of something.

I really like Barack Obama. I haven't been thrilled with his presidency so far--he's made some decisions with which I disagree, and hasn't made the kind of gains my wildest dreams would dictate. But I really honestly like him. When I see him speak, I am neither disgusted nor irritated. Mostly, I agree with what he says, and even when I don't, I like the way he says it. I like his smile. I believe that he seems, to the degree possible for his position, to mean well.

This has never been true for me before. I remember presidents back to Reagan, and never before have I felt any particular affinity for the POTUS. And, having never liked the president, I never realized that liking the president would be so nice. Obama doesn't embarrass me. I'm proud to live in the nation for which he serves as leader. Even if he doesn't do a quarter of what I'd hoped he would (and, at this point, I don't think he will), he'll have given me the gift of a president I could stand.

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Not unwound

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Logging job

I am in beautiful rural Oregon, at my parents' house. With the exception of one-probably brief-conference call tomorrow, I have no work obligations. I have no real social obligations. I could, probably, turn off my computer now and not have any pressing reason to turn it back on for the rest of the week.

This is the time I've been desperately needing to unwind. I've been traveling and working two jobs for months and I'm a tense, paranoid, ball of stress. I'm not eating right, exercising, or sleeping well. I'm irritable, panicky, and burst into tears easily. Life isn't bad--it's just busier than I can apparently handle.

And yet, I'm not unwound. I have the constant feeling that I should be doing something and I'm not. I'm still not sleeping well or eating right. My stomach is giving me a lot of problems. Last night, I had mystery hives. I'm worried all the time that there is someone I should be seeing, some obligation I haven't met.

My hope is that a couple more days of enforced down time (and less online time, which I've been pretty good about since we got here on Friday) will mediate whatever switch in my head is stuck on overdrive. By the time I head home, I really want to feel centered and competent again. This place, I know, is pure peace. I just have to figure out how to let it in.

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Post BlogHer swag giveaway winners up!

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Go over to the review blog and see if you won!

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Measure twice

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Let me just warn you at the outset: this is going to be a post about my boobs.

Now then.

I have long complained, often and loudly, about bras. They cut, they dig in, they aren't comfortable, and my GOD how can you wear one with a wire? It was beyond me. And I always end the rant with a little thankful prayer that my chest is small enough not to have to wear a bra every day, or ever wear one with a wire. The wonder of being flat-chested.

The last time I went down this particular path, someone stopped me. "But," she said, "you're not flat-chested! I've seen you!"

"I am," I assured her. "I wear a 36B. And I'm a big girl. That's pretty flat on this body."

And even though she was online, I could hear her laughing. "I think," she said, "that you should get measured."

I was indignant. I've BEEN measured. I headed the grrl-power advice years ago, going to a department store with a big group of friends and all getting measured. That's how I knew I was a 36B.

And already I suspect you know the punchline. "Years ago?" she asked. "How many years? Which years? Your breasts can grow well up into your twenties."

How many years, indeed. Nearly six, as it turns out. And those formative, 24-30 ones. With at least a ten pound weight gain each year. So I tromped out and had my chest measured.

I'm sure it surprises nobody who has read this far that I was wearing the wrong size bra. Wrong band size, wrong cup size. And when I started trying on bras in the correct size, they did, magically, seem to become far less irritating garments.

The really weird part, though, is not how someone so relatively intelligent could not think of the fact that her size might change over time (just like her sizes in everything else, including shoes, have). The weird part is how I feel differently about myself. I have the exact same boobs I did when I was wearing smaller bras, but they feel heavier now, fuller, bigger. They don't feel like a flat chest. They feel like substantial, adult boobs.

I'm 30 and I think I just finished puberty.

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Per-fekt skin perfection gel, I will marry you

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P119802_hero.jpgI hate it when this happens. I have once again fallen in love with a stupidly expensive beauty product.

On a whim, I purchased the sample size of Per-fekt Beauty Skin Perfection Gel on my last Sephora trip. I thought it was a bit ridiculous that the small one (.25 oz) was $17.50, but it promised to go on smoothly and be completely non-oily, making my skin a perfect baby's ass or something. I'll go pretty far for baby butt skin, so I bought it.

It's amazing, y'all. It looks more or less like gel-ish foundation but goes on almost as a powder. It's not heavy duty cover up or anything, but it smooths everything out and gives me that porcelain doll look. It lasts all day (and I'm talking long days), even through sweating, and I can skip everything else (powder and blush or bronzer) if I want and still look polished. Score on all fronts. Plus it doesn't smell. I didn't realize how much smelly cosmetics pissed me off until I realized there was another option.

The larger size, which is actually only 1 oz, costs a hefty $57.50. That's a "wait for a coupon price" for me. I mean, really? However, I'm realizing as I use it more that I can get away with a fairly small amount. The .25 oz size looks like it's a weekend tube, and it's probably more a two-week or three-week tube. That makes the full size tube a two or three month supply (for the daily makeup user), which is still a bit ridiculous, but this stuff is so magical I think I'll shell out.

It comes in four colors, plus clear. The lightest shade, "Luminous" is perfect for me. After a long day, it looks like this:
per-fekt.JPG

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Post BlogHer swag giveaway!

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I have lots and lots to tell you about BlogHer. However, let's get first thing out of the way first. I have a BlogHer swag giveaway! It's an adult giveaway, so no link clicking if you are going to be embarrassed (or, you know, in trouble) about what you find!

Enter now!

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The writing on the...rack

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Though I thought the pictures looked pretty, I never really got the appeal of having someone paint words on your body and take photographs of it. I've seen a few people do it on their blogs (like here), but never had any desire to try it myself.

So, tonight, when I saw that Karen Walrond (yeah, I know, I'm her fangirl) was painting words on folks' bodies at a BlogHer art event, I didn't think a whole lot of it. Cool, not interested. But after a bit, walking around and seeing people and reading what they had chosen, I decided to give it a try. Karen wasn't doing the writing anymore, but another lovely woman (whose name I so sadly did not get) was. I thought of a word, got painted.

And felt fucking great for the rest of the evening. There's something to this.

Photo 172.jpg

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My best to those who built this house

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So I'm sitting here at BlogHer '10, and I am in serious awe.

This is not sarcasm. I'm not starting a post in which I am going to go on to complain about sexist t-shirts or mommy hegemony bad wi-fi or anything else. I'm honest-to-God floored.

This is my third BlogHer conference. Th first one, in 2007, had, I think, a few hundred attendees. The second one, last year, had more, but I'm not sure how many more. This year, there are 2,400 people, 95% of whom have to be women. 2,400 women, who write and take photos and talk and advertise and who are heard, all here together. As I sat at breakfast this morning and listened to BlogHer founders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page, and Jory Des Jardins speak about the state of the blogosphere, it hit me. These three women built this. Starting from what I understand was very, very little in 2005, they made this. And no matter how uncomfortable I am around this many people, no matter how much I prefer small groups and all of that crap, I am in so impressed with them, so in awe of them, and so fucking grateful to them for doing it.

I can't promise I won't log some complaints later, but really, there is nothing that could happen here to lessen how impressed I am. I've met all three of the BlogHer founders, though none of them for more than a second, and I've never had the chance to tell any of them how much I appreciate the impact they've made. This will have to do. Lisa, Elisa, and Jory--thanks.

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One more post about packing: toiletries and makeup

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I can't resist--I'm a sucker for completion (except for with that whole cleaning my house thing). These are the contents of my toiletries and makeup bags:

From top left: Downy Wrinkle Release spray, Arbonne Intelligence Self-Adjusting shampoo and conditioner, Tom's of Maine Crystal Confidence deodorant in Citrus-Zest, Giovanni Cleanse body wash in Grapefruit Sky, Clinique liquid facial soap, Scope Outlast mouthwash, custom Diablo Canyon perfume blend from Violette Market, rosemary mint body scrub from Flutterby Beauty, Tide To-Go Instant Stain Remover pen, Neutrogena acne spot treatment pen, Crest Extra White Plus Scope Outlast toothpaste , Target brand toothbrush, Yes to Carrots Deliciously Rich body butter, Clinique Youth Surge SPF 15 Age Decelerating moisturizer.

Most of these are not actually things I use at home. I use all of these types of products, but not these specific brands. However, I have some sort of constitutional issue with decanting my regular products into little plastic bottles to travel, so I have a collection of travel sized products that I raid for trips. These come from three places: free samples that come with Sephora orders, bags of unopened goodies I buy at thrift stores (both the Arbonne and the Clinique stuff I'm bringing on this trip were procured that way), or Target (the natural-ish beauty stuff section has great miniatures--the Yes to Carrots and Giovanni stuff comes from there). I actually like using different-than-usual stuff when I travel, based on what I can find in travel size, as it occasionally introduces me to something I really like and start using at home.

As a travel-by-bus bonus for this trip, I tossed all this stuff in my large makeup bag, rather than having fit it in a Ziploc. Yay!

On the cosmetic side, I'm bringing:

From top left: Blinc Kiss Me mascara in Black, Per-fekt Skin Perfection Gel in Luminous, Lorac Perfectly Lit Oil-Free Luminizing Powder in Luminous, Benefit Georgia powder, powder brush, blush brush, angled eyeliner brush, eye shadow brush, tweezers, Tarte LipSurgence Natural Matte Lip Stain in Hope, Buxom lip gloss in Brandi, Buxom lip gloss in Krystal, Smashbox Limitless Long Wear Lip Gloss in Forever, Nars blush in Orgasm, Benefit Lemon Aid eye concealer/primer, Sephora eye shadow duo #8, Stila eye shadow in Kitten, Benefit Boi-ing concealer in Light, Stila Smudge Pots eyeliner/shadow in Black, and Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner in Stiletto.

This is complete day and night makeup for me, with a few lip color options because I'm fickle that way. Unlike toiletries, I don't have separate travel makeup--the are my regular products. The Per-fekt gel, Tarte lip stain, and Stila Smudge Pot are all new and I'm looking forward to trying them out.

And now you've got the whole picture--everything I'm bringing to BlogHer. Well, aside from the electronics that will be in my shoulder bag: MacBook Pro, iPhone, Canon Powershot digital camera.

Now, the more interesting question--what will I be bringing home?

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More thoughts on packing: BlogHer!

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I've been reading quite a few blog posts recently about packing. Partially, it's a search for decent tips, since I've been traveling so much, and partially it's a side effect of reading a lot of clothing/fashion blogs. I'm fascinated by how fashionable people pack. My favorite posts, I think, have been from Maggie Mason, who has a series called "Packing Light" that I've really enjoyed. Maggie and I have pretty different styles, but I freaking love the way she puts things together.

So, since I've been enjoying looking in on other people's packing (and, of course, reading the blog posts popping up every day about what to wear at BlogHer), I decided to have a go at telling you all my current packing routine. If I can swing it, I'll take pictures of my outfits while I'm gone and show you what I actually wore out of what I packed.

The trip is thusly: BlogHer, in New York, from Thursday-Sunday, plus a two-day pre-BlogHer detour to New Haven to visit a VERY stylish friend. Weather is supposed to be warm bordering on extremely damn hot, with the caveat that the conference is in a big hotel and those are always overly air-conditioned. I'm traveling by MegaBus, so I can only bring one suitcase, but don't have any airline-type regulations. So, I need to get everything I need into a regular carry-on type roller bag, plus my laptop/shoulder bag.

My first step is list-making. I know some people are list people and some aren't. I am a list person. Even if you aren't a list person, though, I don't see how you can pack for a trip of any length without list. Things just get left behind. So I always make a list. For this trip, the list was as follows:

Carry-on bag

  • Wednesday casual outfit

  • Thursday casual outfit

  • Thursday night party outfit

  • Friday casual outfit

  • Friday night party outfit

  • Saturday casual outfit

  • Saturday night party outfit

  • Sunday casual outfit

  • PJs

  • Underwear/bras

  • Swimsuit

  • Evening bag

  • Toiletries

  • Makeup

  • Accessories/jewelry

  • Brush

Laptop bag

  • Laptop & cord

  • Camera & cord

  • iPhone & cord

  • Business cards & case

  • Sunglasses

  • Medications

Looking at the list, I decided I needed four day outfits, two party outfits, and a couple of extra tops. Between those and what I wear to travel, I should easily be able to make up three party outfits and five day outfits. First, I went through my closet and took out all the pieces I knew I wanted to bring, either because they have worked well in similar situations (lightweight black wrap cardigan, denim skirt, purple maxi dress) or because I am really into them right now (black geometric tank, white off-shoulder Moroccan top, black Swiss dot shirt). I piled those up on the bed:

Starting with those things, I began to make outfits. The maxi dress is good for one day outfit, the denim skirt and black and white geometric tank are another, the white off-shoulder shirt can be paired with my skinny jeans (add those to the pile) for a third. For a fourth, I went downstairs to the laundry room and grabbed my new lime green eShakti skirt--I'm loving wearing that in hot weather, and paired it with a fitted black tank. Easy!

Party clothes were a bit harder. I have a lot of dresses I'd love to wear, but they tend to be of the crisp cotton variety these days (I'm loving a shirt dress), and those do NOT pack well. I decided I'd wear one of those on the bus tomorrow (bus wrinkling being probably a bit better than suitcase wrinkling) and picked out two of my non-cotton, packable dresses that will work for parties. Neither are my favorite, but both are fine, and an unwrinkled non-favorite is a better bet than a super-wrinkled favorite.

Looking at the outfits I'd amassed, I checked to make sure they'd all work with my black wrap cardigan. The dresses wouldn't, so I added my shorter black embroidered cardigan for those. Then I added two or three extra plain tank tops, which can be used to layer or worn alone with any of the bottom I'd packed.

Next came underwear, bras, and pajamas. I added those to the pile on the bed. Then shoes. I decided that everything I was bringing would work with either my black wedge heeled sandals and or my flat silver sandals. Since I know I'll be walking a lot tomorrow, I decided to wear those and give up a bit of suitcase space to pack the wedges.

Looking back at the list, I saw that I was missing my swimsuit and an evening bag, so I tossed my suit and my favorite little black and white wristlet on the bed.

Finally, I picked out jewelry to go with the outfits I'd chosen and packed it into my little divided box. Worked out perfectly!

OK, moment of truth time. I rolled it all up and put it in my suitcase. And...it fits! With plenty of room left for my toiletries and makeup and hairbrush, which I'll add after I get ready in the morning!

How'd I do?

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Let's hear it for the obvious solution

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I've been traveling quite a bit this summer. The more traveling I do, the better I get at it--I have a better idea of what to pack, know which advice to take (e.g. "pack all your clothes around one neutral so that anything can be worn with anything else" is NOT good advice for me), which space eaters are worth it (extra shoes) and which aren't (extra books), etc. There is one packing issue that I've never found a good solution for, though, and it's bothered me for years--jewelry. I pretty much always wear jewelry, and am especially fond of necklaces, so I always want to pack jewelry when I travel. However, all previous attempts at packing it have ended up with my spending precious vacation time untangling a wad of necklaces, and I've broken more than one. I knew there had to be as simple solution for how to keep this from happening, but short of putting each individual necklace in a Ziploc (which I considered, but seemed too wasteful and anal retentive), I couldn't come up with anything.

Until the extremely obvious finally occurred to me.

Those plastic boxes with dividers, used for tackle, beads, embroidery floss, etc. They make small ones. Big, huge, duh.

So today I went to Michael's, headed to the beading section, and purchased the perfect solution for less than $3. It's a smallish box, about 4.5" square, with two levels. One level is separated into two compartments (perfect for chunky necklaces), the other into eight smaller compartments (perfect for earrings, rings, and smaller necklaces). The box itself is small enough not to take up a ton of luggage space, and I'll be able to bring plenty of jewelry options without tangling anything up.

Taking the DUH factor one step further, I also purchased several of the bigger divided bead boxes. A necklace in each cubby in my jewelry drawer (yes, I have a jewelry drawer, like I said, it's kinda my thing) means no more at-home tangles, either.

I love solutions this simple and obvious. Just wish it had occurred to me a lot sooner. Hopefully my mentioning it will help someone else who has been irritated by this one in the past.

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