The royal wedding: what I would have worn


I don't like weddings. I also don't like royalty. The whole magic-day-becomes-a-princess thing turns my stomach.

But you know what I do like? Hats. Love hats. And so, in the spirit of hats, I present a possibility of what I would have worn to Westminister Abbey today, had Will and Kate not forgotten to mail my invite:

Rochas short sleeve dress
$1,820 -

Christian Dior platform pumps
$680 -

Cathy waterman jewelry
$5,370 -

Gabrielle Sanchez pearl jewelry
$2,550 -

Gold bangle
$3,000 -

Play along--what would you have worn?


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A few words about Alzheimer's


Recently, I've noticed more and more of my friends and acquaintances being forced to confront the age and even the mortality of their parents. Though my parents are on the young side, given my age, they, too, are getting older. And so, I worry. I worry obviously about all the big scaries--cancer, strokes, heart attacks--but there is one worry that crowds all others out in my mind:


My great-grandmother had Alzheimer's. I was in high school and college at the time, and didn't see her all that often, but I remember the disease's progression very clearly. I remember how it killed her. And I remember how it stole her entire self first. It was one of the most brutal, horrifying things I can imagine.

All of this is why I decided to take part in a PSA campaign from the Alzheimer's Association, Generation Alzheimer's. Basically, the Alzheimer's Association is working to make my parents' generation, who are in their 50s and 60s now, aware of their increased risk for Alzheimer's as they get older. Since the disease cannot be cured, but can be managed (to some degree) in its early stages, early diagnosis and intervention is key. As horrible as it is to contemplate, Alzheimer's is also a disease that needs to be planned for if possible--people with it can live for years or even decades in need of full-time care.

The Alzheimer's Association has prepared a report, "Generation Alzheimer's: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers," to shed light on this subject. It can be downloaded for free here.

Another thing to do, if you are so moved, is put your money where your worry is. Go here to donate to the Alzheimer's Association. As per the organization's website, 70% of donation funds are used for research awareness, and advocacy. Charity Navigator gives them 3/4 stars.


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How bloggers make me better


I was asked, recently, for the first time in quite a while, why I read blogs. Not why I write one--my desire to hear myself talk is apparently self-explanatory--but why I read them. In particular, my questioner was curious as to why I read personal blogs, since those are my favorites. I don't read political blogs, and the single-topic blogs I read (mostly fashion blogs) are far outweighed by personal ones. Why? Isn't it just voyeurism, a legitimized way to peek in on other people's lives?

Sometimes, it is. I own that. I love posts that show the contents of someone else's handbag or closet or fridge. There is something incredibly satisfying about seeing the mundane details of other people's realities. But there's something beyond that, too. And one part of it is that I am inspired by the bloggers I read. When other people blog about their own paths, their struggles, the ways in which they are trying to better themselves and live their best lives, it inspires me to do the same thing.

In the hopes that I can share a little piece of that with all of you, as well as thanking some of my favorite bloggers for what they are teaching me, I thought I'd give some examples:

Walk Slowly, Live Wildly: Walk Slowly, Live Wildly is written by Sara, a dread-headed, unschooling, Jesus-loving mama to two little girls who spent a large part of the last few years traveling the country with her family in a veggie-oil powered RV. Sara and I are very, very different. I rarely come away from reading her blog, however, without feeling better about life. Sara creates beauty wherever she is, both externally (her photos of her living spaces blow me away) and from within. Sara inspires me to cultivate beauty in my life.

Chookooloonks: I've told you before how much I love Karen, the blogger behind Chookooloonks. Probably more than any other single blogger, Karen inspires me to be better. She writes so honestly about her own journey that I can't help but try harder in my own life. I am struck by Karen's constant state of grace, both in person and in her writing and photography. There is a peace and serenity about her, an inherent kindness, towards which I am absolutely inspired to strive. I pretty much want to be Karen when I grow up.

Surrender, Dorothy: I saw Surrender, Dorothy's Rita speak at BlogHer last year, and I was immediately a fan girl. There is something so completely endearing about her, and it comes through in her blog as well as in her speaking. Rita is honest about the ways in which her life is hard, about the ways in which she is unsure, and about the things with which she has trouble. Her courage in facing these things, which may seem incidental but are so not, on a public forum like a blog inspires me every time I read one of her posts.

Suburban Bliss: I've been reading Melissa's blog, Suburban Bliss, for a long time. It is one of the few of the original "mommy blogs" I started reading that is still in my reader. Why? Because Melissa moves me. She approaches her life, including its trials, with levity. Even when things are hard, they are still absurd, still funny. Her posts make me laugh, and also inspire me to focus on finding the humor in my own trying situations.

The Adventures of Leelo and His Potty-Mouthed Mom: Shannon's is another blog I've been reading for years, and it's probably my #1 most recommended blog to other people. Shannon is absolutely a force of nature, with energy and intelligence and compassion that we could all use just a fraction of. She's one of my very biggest inspirations when I think about what it means to be a good mother. I strive to engage the world with even a part of her ferocity.

So there it is--my answer, for now, for why I spend a good chunk of every day reading other people's self-published words. Because it makes me better.


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Shoe love: Aerosoles


So I'm aware, vaguely, of "hot" brands of shoes. There are the ridiculously expensive ones, like Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik, and there are the less expensive but still terribly fashionable ones, like Miss Sixty and Nine West. Got it. Even if I were willing to spend that kind of cash on shoes, though, none of those brands would really work for me--the huge feet limits me quite a bit as far as brand.

So, I'm going to tell you a secret. A brand nobody would associate with cute shoes, that I love.


Seriously. They're a "comfort" line that comes in big sizes, but they make CUTE shoes!

I'll prove it. Some things from the Aerosoles spring line:

The Platform in Green Leather

The Well Wisher in Red Faux Leather

The Raw Hedge in Gray Leather Combo

The Younique in Purple Snake

It's not just this spring, either. I've had my eye on Aerosoles for a while. I love these older styles:

The Benefit in Red Mini Polka

The Prolific in Blue Leather

The Rolling Hills in Blue Green Leather

The best part? These shoes are all under $100, most of them well under, and if my experience is any indication, they'll all be comfortable!

Obviously this style isn't for everyone--if you want a narrow heel, for example, a brand like Aerosoles is probably never going to deliver for you. For me, though, these are a perfect conflation of style, affordability, and availability in my size! Score.


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Dress You Up #8: C.


How excited am that I get to dress a dude this week? Men are so rarely interested in my style ideas for them.

My friend S., sent the follow missive in regards to her husband, C.:

My husband has finally realized that he needs some new work clothes. Since he wears his work clothes for years, I am not opposed to buying them new. However I would also like him to end up with some slightly more interesting looks than another collection of solid color shirts and solid color pants. Since he has a red beard, though, patterns can be tricky. His office is business casual, so no ties are required, thank goodness.Can you help us?

Sure! Let's have a look at the mister, shall we?

cody 2.jpg

cody 1.jpg

He's cute! This isn't going to be hard!

Business casual clothing for men suffers from the capacity for extreme yawnworthiness. There are just only a few options: slacks in basic colors and shirts with collars. Very few accessories, and even the patterns are really limited. That said, there are a few things men can do to jazz things up.

(Note: C. and I have very different ideas about what constitutes an appropriate pair of shoes, and he will not be swayed, so these ideas are all going to be shoe-less.)

The first thing I think is worth addressing is color and pattern in shirts. There is nothing about a red beard that means you can't wear pattern! I'd stay away from Hawaiian print shirts, but a check of various types, a nice small floral, etc, would be totally fine, and look tons more interesting with plain khaki pants than a plain shirt does. How about one of these?

Another option, though it won't work in the current season where C. lives, is to liven things up with a colored sweater. Looking outside the typical "male" colors is a good idea, especially with C.'s coloring. This nice plum, for example, would be great on him:

A slightly more weather appropriate upgrade, which I love beyond reason, is the vest. More men should wear vests. The first one shown here is a more casual vest-based look:

The vest can also go dressier! (And tell me C. wouldn't look fantastic in that fedora!)

Because mens' clothes tend to be so much simpler than women's, quality is of an even greater importance. Cheap women's clothes can look trendy or off, but cheaply made men's clothes have a tendency to come off really sloppy. So, my #1 piece of advice for C. is to invest in good quality things. Specifically:

1. A belt. I cannot abide chinzy men's belts. If you're going to wear something every day, make it something nice! In most cases, I'd recommend a very nice leather option, but since I know C. avoids animal products, here are some vegan alternatives:

What won't work? Canvas. Novelty buckles. Belts that are clearly made of old tires. We're going for professional, here.

Once he has a belt to hold them up, C. is going to need some pants. My advice here to find a style or a couple of styles he likes and stick with them, as different cuts aren't going to be all that important to him. What he's going to want in his pants wardrobe are different weights and colors/patterns. So, saw C. went to Banana Republic and decided, via trying things on, that the Gavin fit was the perfect pair of pants for him? He could then get several pairs, which would see him through all his needs:

Men's Apparel: chinos | Banana Republic
$50 -

New straight Gavin fit chino
$50 -

These are basically all the same pair of pants. The outer two pairs are drapier "dress" pant fabric, one in navy pinstripe and one in dark gray. The inner two are chinos, one in lighter khaki and one in darker brown. With these four pairs of pants, C. would be able to wear just about any shirt/sweater/vest combination I could come up with and look put together.

The shirts are where the fun comes in. For men who don't wear ties, shirts are really the only creative dressing opportunity there is. C. should absolutely try to break out of his solid neutral comfort zone and try out new patterns and colors. A few I'd like to see:

There is a wide, wide world of men's shirts out there. They can be very expensive, but they don't have to be. They are also, if you are of average size like C., very thriftable. My advice is to go for slightly higher-end brands (not Thomas Pink or Charles Tywitt, necessarily, more like J Crew and Banana Republic) and for C. choose patterns and colors that he might not automatically gravitate towards. Small plaids/ginghams, narrow stripes, and small polka dots are all really good starts. I'd also avoid lighter pastel shades and focus on darker tones, but that's more personal preference than anything else.

The expectations for a well-dressed man versus a well-dressed woman are extremely different, and something I could expound upon at length, but I'll spare you. In a nutshell, though, I think men appear well-dressed when their clothes are in good repair (iron or dry-clean, there's no way around it), are appropriate to the situation (no cargo shorts in the office, please) and fit them. Compared to what is expected of women, that's not all that difficult. That said, men have a lot less opportunity for creativity, so, in order to avoid looking like a drone, it's important to open yourself up to color and pattern where appropriate. Good luck, C!


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Who wears short skirts?


There is really no point in being a wanna-be fashion blogger if you don't occasionally step outside your comfort zone, right? Well, for me, the comfort zone begins at the knees. I don't wear above-the-knee skirts. Ever. And so, in celebration of finally having some much-needed warm weather, now seemed like a good time to give it a try. What do you think?




Bonus weird action shot:


I'm wearing:
-navy with floral skirt, St. John's Bay (thrifted)
-dark green Old Navy ruched v-neck tee
-wide tan elastic belt (thrifted)
-Coldwater Creek blue and green stone and brass necklace (thrifted)
-Aerosoles South Role in "Mid-Green Leather"


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The gift my mother gave me


I have a really, really wonderful mom. I don't know how much of it was natural for her and how much of it was her willingness to learn how to parent the kid she had, but she did a great job. Often, when I am asked about some good trait I have, I can draw a straight line from it right back to her. I think of these traits, in general, as the gifts she gave me.

One of those gifts, perhaps not the most important one, but the one that I am lately feeling the most thankful for, is an appreciation for lyric. My mom is a music lover, but more than anything, she's a lyric lover. She can't play an instrument, she can't sing (but don't tell her that, because it doesn't stop her), and she can't dance. She's into music for the words. And I am exactly the same way. I don't get much out of a song with no lyrics, and I can't necessarily tell one bass line from another, but I always know the words.

Some of my earliest memories are of my mom singing along with albums (and yeah, at that point, they were literally albums--I'm old). She had a varied collection, but the ones I remember the most clearly are these:



(Lest you think mom's taste was country specific, the other album I remember clearly, which I can't find online anywhere, was a live Holly Near record.)

To this day, I know every song on either of those records, and on the Kristofferson one, I can still remember the places were the album skipped. I remember very clearly my mom asking tiny me (maybe I was five or so?) if I didn't think the following was the most beautiful thing ever:

I have seen the morning burning golden on the mountains in the skies.
Achin' with the feelin' of the freedom of an eagle when she flies.
Turnin' on the world the way she smiled upon my soul as I lay dying.
Healin' as the colours in the sunshine and the shadows of her eyes.

Yeah. I do. I still do.

I absolutely believe that this early, constant exposure to poetry, in the form of songs, is why I'm a writer. I know it's more likely to be about the books she read me or exposed me to (this is same mom who let me read Sophie's Choice when I was about 12). But that doesn't resonate with me the way the lyrics do. I knew, from such an early age, that you could take a few pretty words, twist them so they meant exactly what you were feeling, put them to a beat, and make people feel it with you. There is incredible power in that.

I've written before about how I found my own music taste, reaching into heavy metal, pop, and even electronic music in high school and college (I have a brief, embarrassing memory of trying to get my mom to recognize the genius of Faith No More at some point). And I still don't quite have the same taste as Mom does (I just don't get Jimmy Buffett, for example)--but I've always come back to those early albums. I never, for a minute, stopped loving Kris Kristofferson. When Mark was excited about A3's version of "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness," I argued with him for days about its inferiority to John Prine's original (though I really do love A3). I've been known to quote song lyrics at length (though I don't share Mom's habit of breaking into singing them whenever anything brings them to mind). And every time I discover a new artist who strikes that cord (most recently Jamey Johnson, before that Dale Watson--it doesn't happen very often), my mom is the first person I tell about it.

I've written here before about classic country music as part of my legacy, my heritage. This is more than that. It's not necessarily even about country, it's about paying attention to the words. My mom taught me to do that. And every time I write a line that doesn't suck, a little piece of my heart thanks her for it.


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Songs that make me cry


The other day, I got into a conversation about songs that make people cry. So, I asked my FB peeps what songs made them cry, talked about it with some other people, and came up with my own playlist. On days when you just need a good cry, this should do it.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

The contenders:

1. Simon & Garfunkel, "America (Kathy's Song)"

This song has always really gotten to me. A lot of S&G's songs do, but there is just something in this one that is so bleak.

The line that starts the waterworks: "'Kathy, I'm lost,' I said, though I knew she was sleeping. 'I'm empty and aching and I don't know why.'"

2. Warren Zevon, "Keep Me In Your Heart."

I think this one gets me because I connect it to the saddest part of Joan of Arcadia. I had heard it before then, but it wasn't something that had stuck in my mind.

The line that starts the waterworks: "These wheels keep turnin', but they're runnin' out of steam. Keep me in your heart for awhile."

3. Stephen Trask, "The Origin of Love" (from Hedwig & the Angry Inch)

I cried the first time I heard this, and if I pay attention when it's on, I'll cry every time. It's just such a sad, beautiful story.

The line that starts the waterworks: "And the storm clouds gathered above, into great balls of fire." If that doesn't do it? "The last time I saw you, we were just split in two. You was lookin' at me, I was lookin' at you. You had a way so familiar, I could not recognize, cuz you had blood in your face. I had blood in my eyes."

4. Counting Crows, "Anna Begins"

This one is, I'm sure, partially nostalgia. This is a big high school album for me, and though none of the actual events that took place make me feel sad anymore, the feeling is still there.

The line that starts the waterworks: "She can't stop shaking, and I can't stop touching her. And this time, when the kindness falls like rain, it washes her away. And Anna begins to change her mind."

5. Kris Kristofferson, "Casey's Last Ride"

There are a ton of Kristofferson songs I could have added to this list--the man is a tearjerker--but this one is so haunting. And the line that makes me cry is seriously like turning on a faucet.

The line that starts the waterworks: "Oh,' she said, 'I suppose you seldom think about me.' 'Now,' she said, 'now that you've a family of your own.' 'Still,' she said, 'it's so blessed good to feel your body.' 'Lord,' she said,' Casey it's a shame to be alone.'"

6. Johnny Cash, "Hurt"

This one is a no-brainer. And if you think it won't make you cry, watch the video. I can't even think about it...

The line that starts the waterworks: "What have I become, my sweetest friend? Everyone I know goes away in the end."

7. Sarah McLaughlin, "Full of Grace"

Sarah McLaughlin is another one who has lots of tearjerkers. This one is the most poignant to me, though, for TV reasons. Every time I hear it, I see Buffy pulling away on the bus during the last episode of Season 2. So heartbreaking.

The line that starts the waterworks: "I know I could love you much better than this. Full of grace. It's better this way." or "I'm pulled down by the undertow. Never thought I could feel so low. Oh, darkness, I feel like letting go."

8. The Pogues, "And the Band Played Waltzing Mathilda"

Too cliched? Too bad.

Where I start crying: "And the band played 'Waltzing Mathilda," as we stopped to bury our slain. We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs, and then we started all over again."

9. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

The original of this song never did anything for me, but this version slays me. I heard a special on NPR once about the sad and beautiful life of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, and I've gotten misty eyed every time I've heard it since then.

Where it gets me: When he breaks into the "What a Wonderful World" part.

10. Jim Croce, "Time in a Bottle"

Another gimme. This one was meant to make people cry, I think. And the older I get, the sadder it gets.

The crying part: The chorus. "There never seems to be enough time to do things you want to do once you find them. I've looked around enough to know that you're the one I want to go through time with."

11. Tim McGraw, "Angry All the Time"

I'm not a Tim McGraw fan or anything, but this song breaks my heart. So much bitterness and wasted time. Gah. It kills me.

The line where I start crying: "Our boys are strong, the spitting image of you when you were young. I hope someday they can see past what you have become. I remember every time I said I'd never leave. But what I can't live with is memories of the way you used to be."

12. Stevie Nicks, "Landslide"

Another fairly classic choice. Stevie Nicks' voice is spooky anyway, and this song is just so desperate and hopeful.

The sprinkler starts at: "But time makes you bolder. Children get older. I'm getting older, too."

13. Pearl Jam, "Black"

Another piece of nostalgia, but seriously, listen to the words! It's so painful.

The part that makes me cry the fastest: "And all I taught her was everything."

14. Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah"

I've mentioned here before that this is my favorite song. This is not my favorite version, but it's the most tear-jerking version. The words are heartbreaking in that special, Cohen way, and it also makes me remember that sad sad sad episode of The West Wing.

Saddest part: "I've seen your flag on the marble arch, and love is not a victory march. It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah."

15. Michelle Branch, "Goodbye to You"

This one is all about Buffy. At the end of "Tabula Rosa," when Tara moves out and Giles leaves. You just know it's only the beginning of shit going really really bad.

The crying part: "And it hurts to want everything and nothing at the same time. I want what's yours and I want what's mine. I want you, but I'm not giving in this time."

16. Brad Paisley & Allison Krauss, "Whiskey Lullaby"

I have no personal associations with this song, I just find it exceptionally sad. There's something particularly poignant about people drinking themselves to death. Such a slow, humiliating suicide.

The tears start at: "Life is short, but this time it was bigger. Than the strength he had to get up off his knees."

17. Eric Clapton "Tears in Heaven"

Confession: I went through a phase where I was obsessed with the film "Rush." Since then, this incredibly typical song has torn me up.

The part that kills: "I'll find my way, through night and day. Cuz I know I just can't stay here in heaven."

18. Bonnie Raitt, "I Can't Make You Love Me"

Yet another one with TV ties, but these ones are really vague. I believe I heard this song the first time on General Hospital. I have no idea what the context was, but I remember being just so broken up about the hopelessness and the way the singer is conceding to defeat. So sad.

The lyric that gets to me the most: The part where her voice gets softer and she says "and you don't."

19. Portishead, "Roads"

Some of the songs on the list are high school, this one is immediately post-college. God, it makes a lump rise in my throat just to think about that time.

The faucet starts at: "Ooh, can't anybody see? We've got a war to fight. Never find our way. Regardless of what they say. How can it feel...this wrong?" (And yes, that is the very first line.)

20. Hollies, "He Aint' Heavy, He's My Brother"

I have no context for this song. I don't remember when I first heard it. But the lyrics just blow me away. It's so simple, and so moving.

I cry when: they sing the chorus.

21. George Jones, "He Stopped Lovin' Her Today"

Country music is all about the sad song, but it doesn't come a whole lot sadder than this one. I actually get misty when I heard "It's Been a Good Year for the Roses," too, but I didn't want to feature George Jones on the list twice.

The line that gets to me: "I went to see him just today, but I didn't see no tears. All dressed up to go away. First time I'd seen him smile in years," and then it goes into the first chorus.

22. The Sundays, "Wild Horses"

Yet ANOTHER Buffy song! This one's from the Prom episode, which was the first time Buffy had me in tears (though certainly not the last). I am such a sucker.

The lyric that gets me started: "Faith has been broken. Tears must be cried.Let's do some living after we die."

23. Jim McCann, "From Clare to Here"

I don't think there is any version of this song that won't make me cry if I am already feeling homesick. It's my ultimate homesickness song.

Line that gets to me the most: The chorus. "It's a long long way. It gets further by the day. It's a long way from Clare to here."

24. John Prine, "Sam Stone"

A song about an addicted vet? How's that gonna not make you well up?

The waterworks start with: The first "there's a hole in Daddy's arm where the money goes. Jesus Christ died for nothin, I suppose."

25. Willie Nelson, "He Was a Friend of Mine"

I put the Cat Power version on this list, since I couldn't access Willie's, but it's really the one Willie does, featured in Brokeback Mountain, that gets me. It's just so freaking...sad.

I start crying: at the very beginning and then the whole way through.


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Movies I love...and you probably don't


I have a pattern of intense love for movies that are generally looked down upon. For some reason, I find this to be a source of both pride and amusement. Understand that these aren't movies that were supposed to be bad, they're movies that take themselves seriously, which I also take seriously. But nobody else seems to. I thought you might like to know about a few of them.

The 2005 film Constantine, with Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weiss, is a favorite of mine. I love the way it is shot, I love the characters (especially Tilda Swinton's turn as the androgynous angel Gabriel). I love the premise (which sounds so stupid to type out that I won't bother doing it). I even, God help me, love Keanu Reeves. Rotten Tomatoes shows a critical rating of Constantine of 47% (though the users kinda liked it, with 75%). I gave it 5 stars on Netflix.

The Fall

the fall.jpg
I loved Tarsem Singh's The Fall. Not only was it incredibly visually stunning, but the story, of a drug-addicted stuntman recooperating in a hospital (Lee Pace) telling fantastical tales to a little girl to get her to procure drugs for him (Catinca Untaru) is amazing. The critics were less impressed, leaving it with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 59% (again, the audience rating was much higher, 85%).

3000 Miles to Graceland
300 miles to graceland.jpg
I am honestly not sure if 3000 Miles to Graceland, a 2001 film that features Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell as Elvis-impersonating casino robbers, is intended to be a farce or not. I love it either way--it's hilarious, yet moving. It was also nominated for Golden Raspberry and has an amazing Rotten Tomatoes rating of 14%.

Cecil B. DeMented
cecil b demented.jpg
Cecil B. DeMented (2000) is a John Waters film starring Melanie Griffith and Stephen Dorff. As far as I can tell, even people who love John Waters don't like it. It's about an "outlaw" film crew kidnapping a famous actress and forcing her to star in their b-movie. I loved it so much.

I could go on, but I believe you are getting the drift. Tell me--what movies do you love that everybody else hates?


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Black and red all over


Since I wore the same color palette out to dinner at friends' house on Saturday night and to work on Monday, and reused the shoes and belt, I thought I'd show you both looks:

Saturday night:



Black dolman tunic: The Limited
Skinny jeans: NY & Company
Wedges: Antia
Red belt: Lucky (thrifted)
Silver concentric circles necklace: Ebay




Black a-line skirt: Josephine Chaus via Ross
Black, red, white, and gray print top: Ann Taylor Outlet
Cropped red and black cardigan: Charter Club (thrifted)
Wedges: Antia
Red belt: Lucky (thrifted)
Charm bracelet: Ebay
Typewriter key necklace: Uncommon Objects (gift)

I love black and red so much. It's probably my very favorite combination.


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Thrift Share Monday


I've been failing at thrifting clothes for myself recently. It took me a while to realize why, but I finally figured it out--I've gotten picky. It's not the style or brand or color that I've gotten pickier about, but the fit. Once upon a time, anything that wasn't too small for me was something I considered fitting. Now, as I pay more attention to how I dress, I'm realizing that a lot of what I had been wearing was simply too big. There shouldn't be 18s and 2Xs in my closet. This reduces the already small number of items to choose from a given thrift store.

Still, I was able to find a few things this weekend:

A new looking pair of black Eddie Bauer pants in the elusive 14 Tall, a new looking sleeveless black shirt from Ann Taylor, and a new with tags coral top from Lizwear (I just liked the color, mainly).

A vintage half-slip and vintage pettipants.

My more exciting finds, though, weren't for my closet. My friend E. is about to have twins, and I am finally allowing myself to thrift for them, now that they are viable. I may have gone a little bit overboard for one trip:

Two new with tags onesies.

A matched set of new without tags onesies.

Four gently used sleepers, all from Gymboree.

The final thing I bought falls into the "I don't know what these are, but they seem cool" category:

Turns out these are cross-stitch kits from the Danish company Eva Rosenstand. The writing is all non-English (Danish, German, and French, I think), so I can't identify what patterns the kits are actually for, but they seem really cool. Anybody know anything about them?


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Gettin' my Big Lots on


big lots stuff.jpg

Woohoo! Big Lots trip! I love that there are at least a few of you out there who support my bizarre addiction to Big Lots. There's just something pleasantly voyeuristic about seeing other people's shopping, isn't there?

This trip, I got:
A 3-pack of Scotch-Brite sponges, $3 (regular price $3.79)
A 24-count box of Ziploc gallon storage bags, $1.80 (regular price $3)
A 12-count box of Little Debbie's Cosmic Brownies, $3 (regular price $3.49)
Four bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies (Milano, Nantucket, Catalina, and Santa Cruz), $2 each (regular price $3.49 each)
A box of Fresh Bites ginger mint dental dog treats, $2.50 (regular price $6)
A package of sourdough Wasa crispbread, $1.80 (regular price $2.97)
Two boxes of Ritz cheddar and bacon Crackerfuls, $1.80 each (regular price $3.50)
Six 16-oz bottles of Boylan's root beer, $.75 each (regular price $1.49 each)
Two 8-count boxes of Gatorade powder, $2 each (regular price $4)
An Eco2Go insulated chiller travel cup, $5 (regular price $9.99)
A package of Hartz Crunch 'n Clean cat treats, $1 (regular price $2)
A package of Whiskas Temptations cat treats, $1 (regular price $1.69)
A package of Purina Whisker Lickin's cat treats, $1 (regular price $1)
A bottle of Dawn Pure Essentials hypoallergenic dish soap, $1 (regular price $2.99)
2 Degree Pure Satin deodorants, $2 each (regular price $3.39)
A pot of Maybelline Dream Mousse concealer, $3 (regular price $5)
A 2-pack of Sally Hansen Hard as Nails strengthener, $2.50 (regular price $3.39)
A 10-pack of Ziploc Zip 'n Steam bags, $2 (regular price $3.19)
A 4-pack of Colgate Plus toothbrushes, $4 (regular price $4)

My major purpose in going was to re-stock my snack cupboard at work, and I got a few things for that (Crackerfuls, Wasa crisps). They also had a decent selection of animal treats, which is always good, and the Pepperidge Farm cookies were a nice find--Mark loves them. My biggest excitement, though, was the Gatorade powder--I know it sounds dorky, but I've been using that in my water post-workout, and it does seem to help me regain balance or something after exercising.

Things I was disappointed not to see included self-tanning lotion (don't judge!) and rubber gloves. I was also hoping to snag a box of K-cups to stow in my office for when we're out of everything but flavored coffee, but they didn't have that today.

Anybody else hit their Big Lots lately?


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Hey, look what I'm wearing!


You have no idea how much it feeds my ego when folks tell me they want me to go back to doing daily outfit posts. I'm not going to do it daily--that would require consistently getting up earlier, and that's just a non-starter--but I will try to do it at least once a week. Starting today. It is spring-like here today, so I made the most of it.

Outfit 4/14/11 2

Outfit 4/14/11 3

What's up with this posture?
Outfit 4/14/11

The camera catches me trying to rub my lips together to distribute my lipstick:
Outfit 4/14/11 4

What I've got on:
-orange and white spirograph skirt (thrifted)
-black ruffle front Loft tank (thrifted)
-H&M cropped cardigan
-Sofft platform sandals (Nordstrom Rack)
-Steve Madden elastic belt with leather buckle (TJ Maxx)
-Superhero necklace

I'm also wearing this lipstick I bought at the Bare Escentuals outlet, in "Wearable Coral," and I really love. Coral is a tough one for someone with my complexion, but it seems to work well.


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Checking in on the pack


Julia has been asking me to post about my pets. I don't know why I don't post about them very often anymore. I think it may have something to do with Leo. I still miss him more than I can properly articulate.

But the rest of the crew is doing well! Atticus' autoimmune disorder is so far easily manageable with low-dose steroids, and we're hoping that will continue to be the case. it is amazing what sickness has done to his personality--he's a whole different cat than he used to be. He's very cuddly and spends the best part of most evenings on either my lap or Mark's, where he seems content. Esme continues to be the most cat-like of our cats, showing us affection only occasionally and only on her terms, but she sleeps on our bed every night, which I like (and Mark hates). Illy is as odd as ever, and is still refusing to be brushed and developing new dreads that will likely result in another shaving before too long. Which I don't mind--I thought she was adorable shaved. She's still jumpy and I think she'll always be just a little bit feral, but she's calmed down a lot. I'm still struck fairly regularly at what a pretty cat she is.

And then there's Ata. Ata confounds me more every year. He is more and more than canine version of Mark, with piles of odd behaviors and neuroses. He loves walks, behaves nearly perfectly almost all the time, and spends most of the time laying around. He's more food motivated than he used to be, which would be good if we were trying to train him, but we've been too lazy to do much, given his natural state of good behavior. He still won't let you pet him with your feet--it's undignified.

This is what they're looking like these days:

Grace and Ata

Ata with the Christmas hedgehog

Atticus and Mark

Atticus and Esme

Esme and Atticus

Grace and Esme

Mark with kitties!

Illy with gingerbread toy

Illy in the new cat house


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Birchbox winners!


I am so excited to be giving away a three-month Birchbox subscription and a single May box!

The winners are:

Of a one-month Birchbox:

I really love the Dress Me Up's! I would love to see one that is in a sporty casual kind of look. I'm currently drooling over some pieces from athleta, like this Bodega skirt:
But then I stumble on what shoes and top would coordinate. So I would be thrilled by a Dress Me Up that hit this style.
Posted by Deborah | April 6, 2011 5:37 PM

Of a three-month Birchbox subscription:

...and posted on FB about it.
Posted by jen | April 6, 2011 1:24 PM

I'll be emailing you both for mailing details. Congratulations!!

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My life in fashion: a retrospective


Someone asked me the other day if I had always been stylish. After I stopped laughing, I starting thinking about the answer. I'm still not sure I'm stylish, at least not most days--I phone it in a lot of the time. However, I am definitely more stylish than I have been in the past. It's a learned behavior, at least for me. So I thought I'd share some of my less stylish moments.

Being only a few months old is no excuse for high waisted sweat pants and a corny message t-shirt.

A dirndl? really? I'm not even German.

Even in 1981, there was no reason for a wardrobe so heavily featuring rust.

Oh yes, gentle reader, THAT is a mullet.

And, later, a few really excellent perms.

Just thought you'd want to see that perm again. Plus, this was my favorite sweatshirt.

And then there were the New Kids On The Block years...

And my really excellent taste in formal wear...

Junior Prom, 1996 10-19-15
Which did not get any better as time went on.

All I can say about this haircut is that I was old enough to have known better.

Bald and skinny
What does it say about me that I kinda miss the underwear as outerwear days?

Me, Spring 2000
Nose piercing was ill-advised in my case.

I loved those plaid shorts.

Me showing off the tomatoes, summer 02
In closing, I never need to be blonde again.

Well...that was embarrassing!


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Dress You Up #7: An all-black wardrobe for El


The other day, I received the following email from my friend El:


I'm hopefully about to get a management job where I will unfortunately only be able to wear black. Would you like a challenge for your dress me up?...I have nothing black in my wardrobe, it washes me out. Makeup suggestions might even be helpful so I don't look like a zombie.

An all-black work wardrobe? That's harsh! Still, as far as uniforms go, I think I like this idea better than one involving a pleated skirt or a polo shirt, so let's see what we can do for El.

My first suggestion for El is to invest in a few black dresses. Why dresses? For one thing, they are the easiest business casual appropriate wear there is, not requiring you to match or put things together. More importantly for this case, though, they'll fade consistently. The biggest issue, to my mind, in wearing black tops and black bottoms together is uneven fading (or even uneven original dyeing with new pieces), which leaves one piece looking worn. With dresses, you don't have that issue.

I've picked five dresses to suggest for El. These dresses all have a similar, flattering basic shape. I think cotton jersey or ponte would make great choices, since she'll be able to launder those herself, and I'd go with at least one long sleeved and one short-sleeved option.

Oasis scoop neck dress
60 GBP -

Oasis short sleeve shirt dress
50 GBP -

Eyelet dress
$45 -

Dresses ruched dress
$43 -

Old navy dress
$27 -

Much as I love dresses, there are some days when you just want to wear pants. My suggestion is that El get 2-3 pair. I'd go with one straighter leg, one wider leg, and possibly a cropped pair if that's within dress code. If possible, she should go for synthetic, since it won't fade as quickly.

White House Black Market wide leg pants
$50 -

Calvin Klein flat front pants
$30 -

White House Black Market capri pants
$40 -

For skirts, I have much the same advice as dresses--I think El should go with hemlines around the knee for maximum versatility. She'll probably one want more fitted skirt and one fuller one, and she might consider some detailing for visual interest, like the seaming on the top left skirt and the buttons and slit on the bottom right one.

White House Black Market knee length black skirt
$40 -

White House Black Market knee length black skirt
$50 -

Jones New York black skirt
$79 -

White House Black Market black skirt
$20 -

Pure Simple black skirt
$45 -

On top, my main advice for El is to find as many shapes as possible and to look for interesting details around the necklines whenever she can. If possible, she should steer clear of jersey and other fast-fading fabrics. She should also try to get a mix of sleeveless (to be worn with cardigans and/or jackets), short, and long-sleeved options.

J Crew long sleeve top
$30 -

Calvin Klein cap sleeve shrug
$25 -

Kaliko sleeveless blouse
30 GBP -

Principles by Ben de Lisi black top
30 GBP -

Rocha John Rocha black blouse
13 GBP -

Old Navy ruffle tank
$23 -

Old Navy short sleeve top
$18 -

Shoulder top
16 GBP -

Dorothy Perkins black top
14 GBP -

Dorothy Perkins black top
14 GBP -

Black top
9.80 GBP -

For a lot of her outfits, El is going to want a jacket or cardigan as a top layer. Like other tops, my suggestion for these is that she get the widest variety of shapes possible. I'd try for one fitted cardigan, one fitted jacket, and one drapey cardigan, at the very least. A cropped cardi/shrug and a boyfriend style cardi would also be good choices.

Splendid cardigan
38 EUR -

Windsmoor shrug cardigan
59 GBP -

John Lewis black v neck cardigan
56 GBP -

Old navy cardigan
$25 -

Drape cardigan
23 GBP -

Windsmoor black jacket
49 GBP -

Black cotton jacket
35 GBP -

Black jacket
25 GBP -

Shoes are the single most important thing El is going to need to buy. She's going to be on her feet all day, so comfort is absolutely a must. Beyond that, though, with the limited clothing options available, her shoes are going to be more noticeable than they would be if they had a really interesting color or pattern to compete with. My suggestion is that she focus the majority of her budget on shoes and concentrate on what will be most comfortable. I'd look for supportive flats and wedges.

Sofft maryjane pumps
$55 -

TopShop loafer shoes
$100 -

Wedge heel shoes
$98 -

Ego and Greed leather shoes
$26 -

Franco sarto sandal
$79 -

Jessica Simpson flat shoes
$59 -

Me Too flat shoes
$53 -

Luckily, non-black jewelry is allowed at El's new job. I say run with that! The all-black palette will make jewelry really stand out, and necklaces, especially, can add color near El's face, which will be good if she's worried about being washed out. As far as jewelry is concerned, there's really no wrong here--El could do pretty much anything she likes. The following are just some ideas, using the clothes I've suggested above.

Dresses draped dress
$43 -

Windsmoor shrug top
59 GBP -

Me Too flat shoes
$53 -

White House Black Market metal jewelry
$35 -

Coral jewelry
18 GBP -

White House Black Market wide leg pants
$50 -

Dorothy perkin
14 GBP -

Wedge heels
$98 -

Juicy Couture post earring
$42 -

Forever21 filigree bracelet
$7.80 -

John Lewis black v neck cardigan
56 GBP -

White House Black Market pencil skirt
$20 -

Sofft shoes
$55 -

Nine West feather earring
$24 -

Turquoise ring
$9.50 -

Kaliko black top
30 GBP -

Sateen jacket
35 GBP -

White House Black Market full pleated skirt
$40 -

Jessica Simpson black shoes
$59 -

Vintage looking jewelry
$30 -

TopShop stretch jewelry
$28 -

Eyelet dress
$45 -

Black cardigan
23 GBP -

Franco Sarto black wedge
$79 -

TopShop enamel ring
$20 -

Charm gold pendant
$17 -

Good luck with the new job, El!


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Dress You Up #6: M.


I've got a great Dress You Up for you this week! One look at M. and I'm thinking SUPERMODEL! Don't you agree?

melissa face.jpgmelissa body.jpg

Those great bones, that slim frame--there is so much she could wear!

Here's what M. had to say:

I'm a 26 year old mom to 2 kids and I run a charity. And I'm tired of looking and feeling like a slump. The problem? I have 0 fashion sense and even more I don't even have a clue on what size I wear. I've never actually bought clothes new that aren't too big. I've spent my whole life being told I'm not attractive and I want to look nice to feel nice about myself. I'm thin with almost no shape and so most of what I wear just looks like an ill fitting sack. I like wearing layers because I'm always too hot or too cold. I'm most comfortable in dressy casual clothes and bright colors. I like to express myself with colors.

I am simply horrified that M. has spent her life thinking she's not attractive. That's just a bold-faced lie. One thing that is true, though, is that ill-fitting clothes don't do ANYBODY any favors. I can't tell what size M. is from photographs, but my first and strongest recommendation for her is that she take the time to try lots of things on and find sizes that actually fit her.

When I started thinking about what kinds of clothes would suit M.'s face and frame best, two celebrity images popped into my mind, both of women I think are gorgeous, who are built similarly to M. I decided to start there:

Tilda Swinton in Berlin (image via Zimbio)

Tilda Swinton at the BAFTA Awards, image via CelebrtiFi)

I think Tilda Swinton is really, really beautiful. She's significantly older than M., but they share thin frames, short hair, and strong bone structure. Tilda tends towards androgyny, wearing a lot of menswear inspired clothes, and I think M. would look great in those styles as well.

Cate Blanchett in red (image via Blippitt)

Cate Blanchett in purple (image via Gossip Rocks)

Even more than Tilda Swinton, I think M. resembles the extremely beautiful Cate Blanchett. Though Blanchett occasionally adopts androygnous dress, she also looks beautiful in saturated colors and more fitted feminine styles.

Between the inspirations I found and the things M. mentioned, I am going to focus on the following when creating looks for her:
1. Use a lot of color.
2. Use layers.
3. Incorporate menswear influenced pieces.
4. Incorporate fitted styles.

The first thing I want to recommend for M. is wide legged trousers. If they fit correctly in the butt/waist/upper legs, I think a nice wide-legged pant would flatter her slim frame very well. Two possible ways to style them:

Flutter sleeve blouse
$35 -

GAP wide leg pants
$50 -

Caron flower shoes
$40 -

Satchel handbag
$28 -

French Connection cotton scarve
$7.99 -

$26 -

This casual, flowy look is based on use of lots of color. The wide belt, which could be worn at the waist of the shirt under the cardigan, or over both of them, will create some curve for M. so she doesn't feel like she's wearing "an ill fitting sack."

Another option is a more monotone palette, with M.'s all-important bright colors coming in pops. I like the style of this striped tee in particular for M., as the wide boatneck will add some width to her shoulders and make the best of her slim frame. This look also reminds me a little bit of an old-fashioned sailor, feminized by the jewelry and sandals.

Aerie oversized top
$25 -

GAP slim fit pants
$50 -

Dollhouse sandal
$30 -

Canvas army bag
$15 -

Coral jewelry
$40 -

Rachel roy jewelry
$34 -

Another shape I really think M. should try is a short shift dress. These are so cute, so mod, and so hard for those who are not very thin to wear. M. has the perfect build for them. They also dress up or down really easily, and can be very comfortable, especially if they're made of jersey fabric or similar.

Organic cotton dress
$74 -

Old navy cardigan
$25 -

Ballerina shoes
$40 -

Flap handbag
$30 -

Beaded bangle
$13 -

French Connection floral scarve
$48 -

Based around a comfy dress from Athleta, this outfit is all about unapologetic color. With the scarf adding another layer and tying everything together, it would be perfect for a springtime mom like M.

Calvin Klein sapphire dress
$89 -

Forever21 black pump shoes
$20 -

Wristlet handbag
$32 -

Nine West pave jewelry
$30 -

Cluster jewelry
$14 -

This conservative look is less in-keeping with M.'s current style, but I think the ruffled Calvin Klein dress would look spectacular on her, and keeping the shoes and accessories all in the same palette really lets the beautiful sapphire dress speak for itself.

For super casual wear, I love the idea of baggyish "boyfriend" jeans for M. These are a style I love and can't wear myself. With layered, visually interesting tees, a fun bag, sneakers, and cool jewelry, how casual and comfy and cool would she be?

J Crew long sleeve tee
$20 -

Hive Honey knit top
$29 -

Asics sneaker
$44 -

TopShop cotton shoulder bag
$25 -

$6.33 -

M. could easily go the other direction with jeans as well. I think she'd rock some skinnies and a tunic style top. Given the plethora of available stripes right now, how about a striped one?

Twisted shoes
$19 -

Tote bag
$30 -

Bohemian jewelry
$24 -

Floral belt
$20 -

Striped Tunic Top
$9.90 -

Denim skirts are a classic casual spring staple, and one I think a short, straight variety would suit M.'s figure fantastically. I encourage her to hike up her hemline and show off her legs. Paired with a tank, cardi, and wedge sandals, it would be easy and cute. I really like how the cardigan's v-neck allows the cute ruffles from the tank top to peek out (though personally, I'd lose the flower).

Hollister Co deep v neck top
$50 -

Printed top
$30 -

Old Navy style pencil skirt
$22 -

Rampage sandal
$40 -

Old Navy tote bag
$23 -

Wooden jewelry
$13 -

Another current trend I think M. could easily rock is the short full skirts I'm seeing everywhere. I've made this one a wee bit Western, with a denim jacket and short cowboy boots, but it could be worn with sandals, flats, or heels just as easily.

J Crew vintage tank top
$35 -

Old Navy denim jacket
$30 -

Floral print skirt
$35 -

Miz Mooz cowboy boot
$100 -

Messenger bag
$40 -

TopShop metal ring
$12 -

Trouve handcrafted necklace
$38 -

So how about remixes?


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Birchbox review and giveaway, part 2!


Back in September, I reviewed and gave away a Birchbox. For those who can't be bothered to click, a Birchbox is a lovely little box, arriving at your door each month, full of beauty-related samples. In September, I loved the one I reviewed.

In April, I'm a convert. I've had a subscription since September, and I have been impressed every month. These boxes are great. These aren't your "free from Sephora one-time use" samples. They are good amounts of great products. Some of which I am now using regularly. My favorites:

From the November box, a large sample sized (still using it now) NARS The Multiple in South Beach:

From the December box, a large sample sized (still using it now) Stila Lip Glaze in Kitten:

From the January box, a sample sized (but very potent, I just ran out) Oscar Blandi Olio di Jasmine Hair Serum:

From the February box, a large sample sized NARS Orgasm Illuminator:

From the March box, a full-sized(!) Sue Devitt Eye Intensifier Pencil in Bangalore:

It is no exaggeration to say that I can't wait to see what this month's box brings! At only $10/month (or $110 if you get a 12-month subscription), these boxes strike me as a huge bargain--there hasn't yet been one I didn't get far more than $10 worth of product out of, not to mention the fun of being introduced to new stuff I wouldn't necessarily try and getting mail!

I love these so much, I REALLY think you all should try them. So let's do a giveaway! Here's how you enter:
1. Leave me a comment on this post telling me something you'd like to see here at WINOW.
2. Tweet, FB, or otherwise spread the word of my blog and this contest and leave me a comment to tell me you did it!

I will be picking TWO winners. Second place will receive one Birchbox (April's, if they are still in-stock). First place will receive a THREE MONTH subscription to Birchbox!

Winners will be picked via random number drawing one week from now. GO!


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Thrift Share Monday


After a couple of busy non-thrifting weeks, I finally got back to the thrift store this past weekend! It wasn't a best ever trip, but it was satisfying. I was looking for some jeans for friends' kids, and did well on that count, which makes me happy, since I love picking up useful things for people. I struck out on clothes for myself, but that's OK. And I also brought home the following:

A counties of Ireland tea towel (I am getting huge into the funky tea towels) and a Jamie Oliver cookbook for M. (who is reading it as I type this)

An etching by Alec Stern. I've never heard of the artist, but I very much liked the etching, and it was unlike anything else we have AND came matted!

This funny little bowl--does anybody remember what these are called? I remember when everybody's mom had them, but I don't see them much anymore.

A (sadly incomplete, but still cool) set of vintage (70s?) mini forks in their box.

A new in package set of cool block-printed notecards.

Also, something I thrifted a while ago but I don't know if showed you. This piece is in great condition and it is, I think, a limited edition or promotional piece from Pyrex. I don't know what I am going to do with it. Anybody collect these?


Don't forget to hit Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl to see what treasures others have found this week!


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2011 Goals Check-In #3


Look at me, doing this month's goals check-in on time!

1. Read 30 books.
In March, I only managed to get through one book, Whedonistas (reviewed on Heroine Content). That puts me at 10/30 books in the first three months of the year. Still on-track.

2. Get at least one new stamp on my passport.

3. Blog 5 times a week.
I blogged 33 times in March's 31 days, so I'm good on this goal.

4. Journal every day.
Yeah. Not so much.

5. Cook dinner at least once a week.
Failed on this one, too. Don't think I've cooked even once this month.

6. Fully fund my 401k.
Opened the account this week and set it to automatically withdraw 6% of my paycheck!

7. Save $15,000.
Credit cards are all paid off and this one is underway. Current savings balance: $1,164.77.

8. Excel at my new job.
Things are still going well!

9. Make one positive health change per month.
I don't know if I can honestly say I met March's goal. I tracked on some days, on others I didn't. But I'm doing a "Biggest Loser" type challenge with some friends in April and May, so hopefully that will help me get my weight-loss butt in gear.

10. Re-institute monthly date night.
Failed on this count in March--things were just too crazy. We'll try again in April.

Again, a mixed bag. But I feel like I'm making slow progress, and that's something!


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