House updates!

At this time in my life I have lots of grad school debt and a low-paying job, so I live with my parents because they are nice enough to let me. They’ve owned this house since 2001 and after some initial updates upon move in, they haven’t done anything else to it. But let the angels sing because they recently decided to put some money towards getting this stuck in the early 2000s house up to date! I’ll take pictures of rooms and stuff when I can so I can talk about what we are planning and have some (hopefully) great before and afters to share!

In the meantime, we’re talking paint colors. One of the updates we did when we first moved in was have the whole house painted. Most of the house is painted a pretty inoffensive but also pretty boring off-white neutral. The living room is more of a golden tan, and the upstairs bedrooms are easter egg colors. And then the bathrooms are all horrible, peeling wallpaper. So item #1 on our list is to remove the wallpaper and paint the bathrooms, and repaint the upstairs bedrooms. Here is our color scheme now:

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Yikes! So the tan represents the living room (and a lighter version of that is basically everything else), the robin’s egg blue is the guest room, the Pepto pink is the office/craft room (aka where all my boxes live aka where I’m typing this right now), and the purple is my bedroom. No. Just no.

This is more of the direction we are going:

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We’re probably not painting the common areas yet, but we’re looking to see what options we might like for down the road. I’ll share more on what we’re thinking for each space and color when I write a post on that specific space. Anyway, Cedar Key is a nice looking greige that goes more towards the beige side. I think it’s a a pretty safe choice in our traditional home, but so much more current than our off-white that we have now, which just reminds me a little of rental apartments.

collage - london fogThis is the same colors except I changed the common area color to London Fog. I think this look is a bit more cohesive, but London Fog is more on the grey side of greige which I think is a little less of a safe choice in a traditional, suburban home.

Oh, and all these colors are by Benjamin Moore. Just FYI.

So that’s it for now, but I hope that next week I can share some before pictures! I also have another Stitch Fix update and TWO Birchboxes to share with you (whoever you are).

Anyway, I’m way more into this than my parents and I think they’re already having regrets about letting me be involved in this process. I’ve been carrying around my paint chips like a teddy bear for days.

I went to New York City!

I think I alluded this was happening in my post about my disappointing Stitch Fix. The good news is my own clothes were totally good enough for a trip. Why do I doubt my ability to pick out clothes I love and dress myself? Anyway, it had been at least six years since I’d been in New York, and we used to go a lot, so it felt like a pretty big deal to go back. My uncle and his family in New Jersey bought an apartment in Manhattan so I saved my pennies for a flight and took off to visit!

Since I’ve already seen the super touristy things, I tried to do things I hadn’t done before, while of course visiting some old favorites. If I share all the details I’ll get wordy too fast, so here are pictures!

Central Park – In all my family’s past trips to New York, we’d only cut through the park as a shortcut, and briefly visited Strawberry Fields. I was on my own on Friday morning so I used that time to explore the park. At one point I saw a sign pointing me towards a castle, and I ended up at Belvedere Castle, seen in the last picture.

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Pippin on Broadway - I first saw Pippin ten years ago at a local high school and it became one of my favorite musicals, despite having never seen it performed by professionals. Well, I can’t say that anymore! This is probably tied with seeing Cabaret at Studio 54 back in 2004 as my favorite musical theater experience.

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The High Line – This is new since my last trip to New York! Basically this was an abandoned, elevated rail line that has been converted into a park. It wasn’t too crowded, there were a few vendors selling treats (including my strawberry ginger popsicle from People’s Pops), lots of flowers, and unique views of the city.

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American Museum of Natural History – This is one of my old favorite places in New York. As a kid I loved this museum, and in high school Holden Caulfield’s description of it made me love it even more. These are my three favorite things in the museum: the Great Canoe (which has been elevated and the Native Americans removed since my last visit), the Giant Sequoia (which has historical events from its 1400 years of life written on it), and the 94-foot long blue whale in the Hall of Ocean Life.

ny11ny12ny13The Metropolitan Museum of Art – This place is huge and has so much famous art. My cousin Adam took an art history class in college and actually learned so much (this surprises me because I learned exactly nothing in my college art history class). This is just a selfie of me, my cousin, and Van Gogh.

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Washington Square Park – I am 99% sure that’s where I was. Monday was my last day in New York and again, I was on my own. I took the subway down to the West Village and then meandered over to Greenwich Village. What I think is so great about New York and that you can just wander around and suddenly find yourself in someplace beautiful and historically significant. Anyway, I sat on a bench and talked to my mom on the phone, and this was my view.

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Brooklyn Bridge - One of my friends probably told me a dozen times that I should walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Genius me decided to walk from Greenwich Village even though I had no idea where I was going, rather than take a cab or the subway. I eventually made it and it was pretty great! I wish the weather had been better. There’s a really cool old subway entrance nearby, and I gasped audibly when I saw the Statue of Liberty from the bridge (I kind of forgot she lived there?).

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Going Home – I took a shuttle to LaGuardia, where it started storming. My flight was delayed a bit, and then they said it was oversold and offered $300 in travel vouchers to three people willing to give up their seats. So I did it. I didn’t have any reason to get back to Houston immediately, I love traveling but can’t really afford it, and I didn’t love the idea of flying through the storm. So I did it! They put me in a hotel near the airport for free and booked me on a flight the next day. Of course, I’d checked my bag and it was too late to get it back, so I didn’t look too great the next day!

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Overall it was a lovely trip, and now I have a way to go back sooner than expected! What do you love to do in New York?

Stitch Fix #3

Back in April I scheduled my third Stitch Fix and requested dresses and a blazer for work. Then I got laid off (don’t worry, I have a new job!) and decided to cancel it. Then I got $50 in referral credit and thought I’d schedule a fix for some cool clothes for my upcoming trip to New York City. I requested casual tops and dresses with a Gossip Girl vibe, and even wrote customer service to make sure that even though my profile was geared towards work clothes, I exclusively wanted casual clothes for my trip in this box.

When my box shipped I cheated and looked at what I was getting (there aren’t pictures but a quick Google search helps with that!). Trousers, a knee-length skirt, a tight dress, a shirt that looks like something my mom would wear, and a tank top I couldn’t find a picture of. I was worried.

Sure enough when my box arrived, the note from my stylist was all about clothes for the office, plus the dress for going out and the tank top for weekends. I wrote to customer service again and my stylist replied, apologizing but also not offering to fix the problem, only offering me tips on how this fix could work in New York. She did say that if I ended up not keeping any of it, she could work something out. I wrote back to say it wasn’t looking good and got $25 more credit. Not sure if that’s from her or another referral since I haven’t gotten a reply yet (but it’s a holiday so I wasn’t expecting one).

Anyway, I had my mom take pictures for this post but my camera was set up manual focus and she didn’t notice. So they’re blurry. And I think the fact that I’m not reshooting goes to show how little I care for this fix. :(

First Impressions: This is definitely not what I wanted for New York. But maybe something will work for me. The colors are gorgeous, definitely my colors.

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1. Darcy Weave Jersey T-Shirt Dress by Pomelo – $68

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This dress is pretty great actually! It fits well and is flattering. When I saw it online I was very skeptical of the weave effect but once it’s on, it doesn’t look weird. It is very lightweight and comfortable and hides imperfections. Ultimately I decided not to keep it because it just fits closer to my body than what I normally wear and I thought that if I kept it, I would end up not wearing it all that much. I also felt like the weaves sometimes sat funny and I had to readjust. See?

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2. Emer High Waisted Cropped Trouser by Margaret M – $98

IMG_0266I have never been into the colored pants trend but consider me a convert! Anyway, I was also skeptical about these pants because a) how could they possibly fit me and b) high waisted??? But really, they are great. They are pull-on and have a tummy panel and feel like yoga pants. They’re expensive, but I will pay for comfortable work clothes. I did a Pinterest search for outfit ideas and was so inspired. Ultimately I am sending these back as well. They kind of make my butt look big! I’m really hoping I can find some emerald skinny jeans though because I send these back with a heavy heart.

3. Jessika Linen Solid Swing Skirt – $68

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First of all, you already sent me a much cuter skirt this color. Second, I could make sew this myself, it is not unique or interesting at all. Third, I felt like a school marm in this. Fourth, it is too big. Sent it back.

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4. Corinne Striped Knit Tank by Olive & Oak – $44

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This is cute and totally my style, so much so that I already have a shirt almost just like it. The only difference is the white ribbon going down the front goes down the sides. Also this shirt is too big.

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Oh I took a mirror selfie in this one, in case you want to see it non-blurry.

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5. Juliano Chevron Print Twist Shoulder Cowl Neck Top – $88

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Oh my gosh, just no. This looks like my mom’s shirt. If my mom did Stitch Fix and they sent this to her, I would totally get it. But no. Just no. The colors are awesome but other than that I have nothing good to say. The print is way too much, it’s too big on the top, the cowl neck/twist shoulder is just too much. The fabric is soft and feels nice but it’s also kind of heavy. Just NO.

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Maybe you like it and want a non-blurry version?

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Overall: I didn’t keep any of it. I feel some twinges of regret about the pants, but I’m hoping I can find something at the mall that looks better on me and maybe is a lower price. I’m glad I got them though because I never would have tried on bright green pants otherwise! Currently I have $55 worth of credit so I’m going to do another fix, but I feel like my faith in this company just went way down. If you’re still interested in trying, use my referral link and I can keep trying!

 

Life List: Pet a Giraffe

Giraffes became my favorite animal in the spring of 2011. I was a high school teacher then, and we took the students on a field trip to the Houston Zoo. It was then I learned that for a mere $5, you can feed the giraffes three pieces of lettuce. I’d never cared for giraffes one way or another until then, but something about being so close to them just won me over and I was in love.

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Since then, I’ve fed the giraffes a LOT. I also started learning more and more about them and I just realized everything they do is weird! Their tongues, the way they fight, the way they sleep, the way they have to drink water… So now when people think of me, they think giraffes.

Anyway, for my 28th birthday my parents got me a behind the scenes tour of the giraffe barn at the zoo! It took a couple of months but I recruited a friend to go with me and we scheduled the tour for June 3 (almost a month ago!). Here’s how it all went down.

We met the tour guide near the front of the zoo just before noon. There were 6 people total on the tour and the guide said that was a good number because we’d get more giraffe time. We met the keepers at the barn and they led us up to the second story platform to meet the giraffes!

giraffe2First we fed them lettuce, and then came the giraffe kisses, which is when you put a piece of sweet potato in your mouth and let the giraffe take it from you. “The closer you get, the less tongue they use,” said the keepers.

giraffe3The giraffes that were bottle raised, like Miles, like to be pet.

giraffe4One of the giraffes definitely got a little tongue in my mouth too, so that was pretty gross (and it was caught on video!).

Basically it was like the $5 feeding you can do most days, except there’s no line behind you to rush you and you can pet them! It was such a relaxed environment and the keepers kept using the word “intimate” when comparing it to the standard feeding. I couldn’t agree more and I really REALLY want to do it again!

Click here to see the options available for tours at the zoo. They cost $75 for non-members and $50 for members. It is so worth it! My uncle wants us to do the lion/tiger tour so look for a post on that someday!

More posts coming soon…

Oh hey. It’s been a while.

Whenever I decide to blog, I immediately have all these plans of all the things I will write about. I will have features, and they will be regular, and I will write so consistently. Basically I start out with the expectation that my blog will read and look like this is my job. But it’s not.

I also get too personal. I want this to be a personal blog, but this is the Internet, so I don’t need to post every detail. Just the things that I think are fun and that I don’t mind the world knowing.

So I’m going to write again but I don’t know how often. Most likely there will be weeks when I post like 5 times and then months when I don’t post at all. And that’s ok.

I’m working on a real post for later today or tomorrow, and I’m also going back through my old posts and deciding which ones to make public again and which ones to delete for good. So sorry in advance if your blog reader makes it seem like I have 20 new posts when really I’m just making some old ones public again.

Stitch Fix #2

I got my second Stitch Fix about two weeks ago! I know I said I was waiting until September, but then I could some graduation money and couldn’t resist. If you’re not sure what Stitch Fix is, you can read my first post about it here. Also be sure to check out my first box here! But to summarize: You fill out an extensive style profile, you pay $20, a Stitch Fix personal stylist picks out five pieces for you, it comes in the mail, you try them on, pay for what you want to keep and mail the rest back. It’s a pretty fun service that’s helped me get some pieces that I wouldn’t normally pick out myself.

My second box was pretty different from my first one. I tweaked my style profile a little bit so that it reflected my taste more accurately (no beige or white, more fitted tops) and I specifically requested bright colors, fun prints, and lightweight tops for summer. Each time you get a fix there’s a space to make specific requests like this:

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My stylist did pretty good, but I was disappointed to not see ANY cotton. Two of my tops were 100% polyester and were long sleeve, which is not super summery. But overall I was pretty happy. Anyway, you’ll see! (PS: I am not wearing make-up in these photos please do not judge me)

1. Brooke Dot Print Tab Sleeve Blouse by Ellison – $38
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Not off to a good start here. Yes, there is pattern. But it’s black and HEAVY polyester. Not remotely summer appropriate. It’s also very shapeless and not at all fitted. Umm, ok. Not really what I asked for. However, it looks nice tucked in, will work well when it gets cooler, fits my style well, and the price was right. So I’m keeping it, but for later in the year.

2. Diane Belted Colorblock Tank Dress by Kensie – $58
dianedress58This dress looks better in person than in this photo for sure. The color is great, it’s lightweight, great for summer. Decent price, good fit, can’t complain. Except I wish it had more pattern, the color block is less than thrilling.

3. Ruthie Cross-Front Side-Ruched Top by Dylan and Rose – $48
ruthietop48I feel like you can’t tell how skinny this shirt makes me look in the picture. As soon as I put this on my mother told me I had to keep it. Normally I would not spend $48 on what is basically a glorified t-shirt but I really look that good in it. And I figure anything that flattering is worth at least $48. It also looks good with a cami under it if I wanted to wear it to work. Oh and it’s bright red! Yay! Color!

4. Ashton Pleated Chiffon Skirt by Everly – $48
ashtonskirt48This isn’t something I would have picked out for myself, but it’s fun and summery and the color is pretty. It’s a little shorter than I normally like but it’s definitely not too short. There’s not much to say about it, it’s just a great little summer skirt and I don’t have many of those!

5. Giselle Striped Tab-Sleeve Blouse by Fun2Fun – $48
giselleshirt48Little stripes are hard to photograph! I should be wearing something under this shirt, I apologize for the sheer factor. Anyway this was the other long-sleeve polyester top that apparently Stitch Fix thinks is great for summer. I like it anyway though. The stripes are hot pink and turquoise and it’s a lighter poly than the polka dot shirt. I actually wore this one already and got a few compliments, so I guess it’s a winner!

Anyway if you can’t tell, I kept the whole box. When you keep all five pieces you get a 25% discount, and with my $20 pre-paid styling fee I only had to pay $165 for all of this. Which is $33 an item, which isn’t bad.

Overall though, I feel like while I liked everything in this box, I did not LOVE any of it. I’m not sure what else to do to get items that I really really really love. Maybe I will make a Pinterest board separate from my usual fashion one that is more specific to what I really want, but I’m skeptical that they spend much time on Pinterest when styling for us. Can they really have that much time? I will probably wait until fall to get another box just because it’s expensive and I don’t have a job.

If you’re ready to try Stitch Fix I would just love it if you’d use my referral link! I get a $25 credit that I can use to buy more clothes from my next box! Thanks in advance.

Thoughts on Memory Keeping

Warning: Long post ahead!

Scrapbooking has been on my mind lately. Like a lot. Like it’s literally keeping me up at night. Have I mentioned I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was 19? With obsessive-compulsive features. And a strong dose of perfectionism. That all comes into play when I think about scrapbooking.

My mom started scrapbooking when it was the highest art form of suburban moms. She made a really awesome baby book using photos that had been stored in boxes or plain albums for years. Eventually, scrapbooking’s popularity faded and my mom got tired of it and all the photos and supplies were put away. It’s no wonder she got tired of it and overwhelmed by it. Scrapbooking then was LEGIT. Here are some pages from my baby book:

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DO YOU SEE HOW TIME CONSUMING THAT WAS? Not only did each page have to be CUTE, it had to be different. She had to come up with the ideas for each page, cut pictures into various shapes, carefully cut paper, meticulously place stickers, etc. Do you see the second page there? She had to braid the paper basically! Insanity! So obviously, this was a tiring and overwhelming task. This book goes until I was two, so when she quit doing this, she was probably thinking “how can I do this for 16 more years of photos???”.

Well now I am 27 so it’s even worse. We have SO MANY PHOTOS to organize and get into books. Clearly, this traditional style of scrapbooking is not sustainable.

Then when I was in my last year of college I heard about digital memory books. I got a free book through a company called Inkubook, which no longer exists. I used this book to document the trip I went on with a band I was friends with. The book was fun and easy to make and I was pretty pleased with the quality. Here are some pictures:

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Not great, but not bad, either! I became pretty convinced that digital scrapbooking was the way to go and decided to make a book for every year. Unfortunately, I ran into some problems. First, even though digital scrapbooking is inexpensive compared to printing photos and buying materials for other memory keeping options, books still run about $50 at the least when you factor in shipping and stuff. Now that is a good price and I know it, but I still get nervous when it gets to check-out time. I haven’t actually purchased a single “yearbook” I’ve made.

The second problem is that I actually became a yearbook adviser when I was teaching! We went through Jostens and used their yearbook creation software. And it is awesome. You can make the photos and text boxes the exact size you want them to be. I mean down to the pixel! It is so easy to make your own layouts, or use pre-existing layouts and edit those to be exactly what you need. Digital scrapbooking sites such as Shutterfly or My Publisher are easy to use, for sure, but more often than not their layouts don’t exactly match what photos I have, and editing their layouts has just never worked out for me. They lack the precision of the Jostens software and I end up with misaligned photos or awkwardly placed text boxes. Having used such great software, it’s been frustrating to use something that’s just not as good.

My next effort was very different. I did not consider this to be a real or official scrapbook, just a place to store important and important-ish things. Like cards, photos I used to have framed and then replaced, letters of recommendation, etc. I went into this with the attitude that nothing had to be perfect or even chronological. Just add in things as I find them. I bought an album at Hobby Lobby when they were 50% off, pulled out my box of cards and photos, and got to work. I tried to group things by event or by person for the most part.

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I like how this is going for me and I will probably keep up with it randomly. Like right now I have a bunch of cards floating around so I should probably just go ahead and put them in. Because it’s okay if they are out of order. It’s okay.

So why is this on my mind so much now? Because about a week ago my mom pulled out a ton of her old supplies and some boxes of photos. Then she took me with her to what may be the last remaining scrapbooking store Katy. I showed her “pocket scrapbooking,” known to most by the brand Project Life. She loved it. I loved it. We decided once we get all the photos organized, this is how we would move forward. Just crop the photos to fit in the pockets, write on some journaling cards, call it a day. Or if we come across a group of photos that just doesn’t work in one of the pockets, they have full 12×12 page protectors too. So we could make some pages in the traditional way if we wanted to. Flexibility. Yes. Perfect for the boxes and boxes of photos we have in our spare room.

But what about the digital photos? I’m not sure if I want to put them in a Project Life style album or stick with digital. My obsessive-compulsive tendencies kick in and I want all the albums to match. So Project Life. Then I think about how much more compact the digital albums are. Digital. Then I think about how you can’t include things like ticket stubs in digital albums. Project Life. But then I get an idea to put a craft paper folder in the back of the digital album to put ticket stubs in. Digital. But then I think of how annoyed I get with the digital software. Project Life. But then I think about how with Project Life I’d have to choose photos, whereas with digital I could include more! Digital.

Regardless of all this over thinking, my choice has been made easy for me. I tried to order a digital album I’d made from My Publisher. With their “free extra pages” promotion, I was set to get two years worth of photos for only $50. BUT every time I tried to purchase, I got an error message. FOUR TIMES. So I gave up. I went and bought some Project Life page protectors and started printing photos from this year and slipping them into the pockets.

AND I LOVE IT.

I am waiting for my core kit to come in the mail so that I can use the journaling and filler cards, but I’ve already got photos in place for January through March, and it only took a couple of hours.

Seriously y’all… go get Project Life. It’s on Amazon or at Hobby Lobby or at Archivers. It’s not very expensive, it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s fun.

I’ll share some pictures once my core kit comes in!