“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
Over the past two years, I have slowly culled my wardrobe. Before I purchase anything knew, I think long and hard about what my wardrobe is missing, what I would use most and what I would be willing to shell out more $$ for.
I don’t wear out clothes very often (except those that have already been relegated to “barn” status b/c they are too small/large), so investing in pieces that are a little more pricey, but fit perfectly, are of good quality, and are very useful? That I think I can do. I’ll have them for years. (In fact, I have some clothes that I got when I was 16, and shoes I’ve had even longer than that.)
I’ve gotten rid of anything that doesn’t fit right: too small, too large, too short, too wide, too loose, too tight. I’ve gotten rid of anything I don’t like (duh!). And anything I like, but don’t wear (usually because I don’t like the feel of the fabric). I’ve paired down on things I do like and wear, because, really, who needs 15 ribbed tank tops? Or 20 t-shirts from various activities/places that remind me of college? And do I need to mention the college hoodies?
When we thought we’d have to move in December, I packed nearly all my clothes, just leaving out one set of pjs, a pair of yoga pants, 2 pairs of jeans (flare and skinny), a pair of cords (cause I LOVE me some cords in winter), a long sleeve t-shirt, and my sweaters and slacks for work.
I’ve been living on roughly that amount of clothing for weeks now. And, while I miss certain things, I’m realizing just how few clothes I need. And maybe, just maybe, I can donate/consign some more clothes, even if I like them and they fit, to make my life a little more simple. It’s a revelation.
Meanwhile, I made a few select purchases: a pair of tan cords (I’d been dreaming about these for months and found a pair on sale for $25), a lightweight base layer (definitely needed this with how much outdoors stuff we do, on sale for $22), and a Northface yoga sweatshirt (again, I’d been dreaming of this for about three years and saw one in the outlet, didn’t buy it, regretted not buying it, then saw it on sale at REI for $68). Normally, I wouldn’t spend more than $10 on a pair of pants or $15 on a sweatshirt, BUT I’m realizing that quality matters. And that one Northface sweatshirt that fits so well and is so comfortable? That means I can finally say goodbye to numerous college hoodies. And it’s not all expensive. I’d identified a need for “casual Friday” jeans for work and desired something in a dark wash, without any whiskering or anything. I found a pair of Quick Silver jeans at TJ Maxx on clearance for $7, and they are even long enough to be worn with heeled boots. Score.
Curating isn’t necessarily about getting rid of everything, just like frugality isn’t always about being cheap. Sometimes, purchasing select items is important and quality can trump cost.
My Year with Eleanor was a recent book club pick. I like memoirs, so I was excited to read this one, and I mostly enjoyed it. There were ways in which I identified with the author, and other ways I didn’t. I enjoyed some of her witticisms, but tired of some of her sarcasm. I liked her reflections, but was at times bored with her first-person narrative of events.
Recently laid off, Noelle Hancock takes a year to face her fears, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” She tackles tiny fears and big ones, diving with sharks, silence, skydiving, flying, hiking Kilimanjaro, and more. Through the process she learns a lot about herself, her life, and the people around her.
As I read this book, I enjoyed learning some things I never knew about FDR and Eleanor, although there perhaps wasn’t quite as much historical context as I would have liked. I was inspired by Eleanor, and by Noelle’s own interpretation of her sayings. I wasn’t quite as inspired by Noelle’s life, although some of what she had to say certainly struck a chord and enticed me to examine my own life.
I think the scariest part of this book (no pun intended) was reading the following while sitting in front of a phone at telethon hoping against hope that my line wouldn’t ring…
I winced. I never liked calling strangers — a ridiculous admission for a former reporter, I know. Even as a kid, it had taken years before I could comfortably order a pizza. It got much better as I got older; then e-mail and testing arrived like manna from heaven for the telephone-challenged. In the last few years, especially, as my life shifted even more toward writing and the Internet, I’d regressed to being the child who wished I could ask a parent to call on my behalf.
I will admit that I skipped over two parts of this book and cannot comment on them: the portion on her stand-up comedy routine that I had been warned is raunchy and the section in which she shadows workers at a funeral home (a little too soon after losing Michael to read that).
Overall, while I mostly enjoyed the book, I don’t see myself re-reading it.
So I’m taking the plunge.
For years, I’ve heard how horrible shampoo is for curly hair. And like most girls with curls, I’ve searched endlessly for the perfect product that will kill the frizz and create perfectly formed curls.
So when the handbook for curly hair went on sale (e-book for under $3), I thought I’d give it a try. I quickly read through the instructions and decided to try out some significant (and some not-so-significant) changes to my routine, at least for a month.
Before photo (what my hair generally looks like — sorry for the terrible photo):
Day 1 (1/8): I stopped using shampoo, and instead relied on good old friction and water. I did use conditioner, and switched to drying my hair with one of my husband’s old undershirts (I will be ordering a microfiber hair towel). I used a combination of products that kind of resembled a gel since I don’t have any gel yet. And I let it mostly air dry before using a diffuser on it before heading out the door to work. The results were okay. Not greasy or anything, just not as full of body and bounce as usual, but the curls might be more defined, which is a good thing.
Day 2 (1/9): Repeated Day 1, except I diffused my hair immediately after putting some product in it (about 75% of the way dry). Not too crazy about my hair today. I think I need to buy some real gel and come up with something to replace my shampoo, I think my hair is going through withdrawl. Unfortunately, since it’s short I can’t just pull it back, and since I work, I can’t just hide until things work themselves out. Oh well. I’m also trying very hard not to touch my hair throughout the day. Hard, but I’m sure this is why my curls lose their definition.
Day 3 (1/10): I’m still concerned about shampoo withdrawl. I brought a hat to work with me today just in case…meanwhile, I ordered the DevaCare No Poo cleanser.
Day 4 (1/11): Scalp a little itchy.
Day 5 (1/12): A comment from someone at church: “Are those your natural curls?!”
Day 6 (1/13): A comment from a coworker: “I love your hair today!”
My curls are definitely more defined and I’m starting to get regular comments on my hair. However, I’m still not entirely satisfied. I haven’t started using the sulfate free cleanser (which should help clean my scalp better than good old friction and water). Also, I confess that I’m not using gel as recommended. I’m using some curl creams that I had just purchased and will continue to do so until I finish them, can’t afford to waste perfectly good product! I’ve been diffusing my hair about 50% dry and letting the heat in my car take care of the rest, then scrunching the curls slightly before heading into work. It seems to be working pretty well, but I’m not sure what I’ll do once winter is over… A coworker mentioned that she just might have to try the no shampoo method after seeing what it’s done for my hair =).
Day 9 (1/17): I used the sulfate-free cleanser on my scalp for the first time. Honestly, I’m not sure it made a difference. I’ll probably continue to use it (just to be sure I don’t get a build up) but since I didn’t notice much of a difference, I’ll likely only use it twice a week or so and make it last a long time. I also used a microfiber hair towel for the first time (this one), I’m astonished at the absorbency (and softness of the towel!). I think I might have actually over-dried my hair with the towel, so this is going to take a bit of practice.
Day 11 (1/19): I used gel for the first time (purchased at a huge discount at a thrift store), I’m not sure it made much of a difference as compared to my regular styling products, so this will require more research.
Day 23 (1/31): I’m experimenting with putting product in my hair while it’s still rather drippy before it has the chance to air dry much. I’ve also begun to experiment with clipping my curls as they dry, not sure I really have the hang of it yet though.
In conclusion: After one month of the no shampoo method, I’m a convert. In part, I’m convinced that my curls are better defined than when I started. Additionally, I’ve at least proven to myself that I don’t need shampoo, and it is one more expense I can remove from my budget. And, it cuts down on my morning shower time, which means an extra 2 minutes under the covers.
I think one of the biggest pieces of this new routine is the idea of just not touching my hair. This makes the most difference. Don’t touch while it’s drying. Scrunch to remove the gel cast. Then don’t touch, all. day. long. It’s still hard =).
We always celebrated Valentine’s Day in our home, although it wasn’t at all about romance and it was completely about love and the people we love.
We would do the traditional boxes of valentines for school, and my dad always gave me a real, store-bought, Hallmark card (which was VERY special). My mom would bake the greatest heart cookies. I would set the table with the best china and real silver, a piece of chocolate at everyone’s place. And we would eat a fancy meal together, the finale being Cherries Jubilee for dessert. (Granted, Mom didn’t flambé the whole thing, just a single sugar cube on the top of each, but setting our food on fire was a huge highlight.)
Valentine’s Day was a family holiday. A special day to show those we love just how much we care. A time in the middle of a normal (even dreary) month to be together and celebrate togetherness.
I think I like that part best.
Apparently it’s a February tradition, we make a whirlwind weekend trip to DC to visit family and see the sights. I wish we could do it more often, but once a year is better than none. This time, we hit the National Zoo, Eden Center (for Vietnamese food), a couple REIs, LL Bean and Ikea, and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve.
There’s so much more to do and see in DC. I can’t wait for the next visit…
So I’m declaring February a personal non-consumer month. It isn’t so much that I’m 100% anti-consumerism. It doesn’t have anything to do with the commercialism of Valentine’s Day. And it isn’t entirely because of a restrictive budget (although that is part of it). And, really, it has nothing at all to do with February.
This is a new month, and it seems a good time to start an experiment. With a tight budget and plans to purchase a home, spending creates more problems than it fixes. We aren’t big spenders, we’re not compulsive. We’re actually rather frugal, and myself even moreso than Husband. HOWEVER…
We, like most Americans, are in a habit of buying. We want/like/need/would use something and we have the means? It’s a done deal.
Instead, this month, I want to challenge myself to do without. Without spending. Without buying. Without needing that one more thing.
Because really, what more do I need?
This doesn’t mean we won’t be purchasing food or medicine or toothpaste (which we’re out of at the moment), but it will extend to some of my regular purchases, like make-up (I don’t wear much to begin with, but since I’m out as of this morning, I won’t be buying any this month), yarn, candy bars, books, etc.
I just want to reset my habits. I want to carefully consider purchases, mull over them, and only make a selected few. But that’s not my mindset right now. So I’m going to start over, wipe the slate clean, and retrain my thinking.
So, February = no consumerism.
This might be hard, we’ll see…