Friday, August 29, 2014

New splurge

I'd been putting off buying a new nighttime face lotion for ages because there are so many options, at so many price points and the research is just a pain. And then the internet worked for me* and I finally found one with almost no effort. It's officially the best face lotion I've ever tried.

rose day cream
{rose day cream}

It's called day cream, but I only use it at night, because it doesn't have SPF in it. It's very, very thick, and my dry skin loves it. I massage it in gently and it takes a minute to absorb. My skin feels a million times better since I started using it and I think it looks better as well. 

I was initially uncertain because it seemed expensive ($35 for 1 oz) but I've been using it nightly for the last two months and I haven't put much of a dent in the tube. I'm guessing I'll get 4 - 6 months out of it, and I can certainly live with that cost. 

It smells lightly of roses, so you'll either love it or it will remind you of old ladies. That's just a personal preference. I'm team roses.

*Emily posted a link to an article about Keri Russell's skin care regime and this is the lotion mentioned.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Closet strategy

So you've all been hearing about capsule wardrobes forever, right? Only using 30ish pieces of clothing or something like that? This is really appealing to me because I'm a terrible shopper and I'm finally realizing that the issue is that I don't like shopping very much most of the time*. You'd think this would mean I have less clothing, but no. It just means I have oddly assorted clothing and then wear the same things over and over again. Back in January I decided I needed to come up with a better system that would be more uniform-y and efficient. So now it's August ...

before
{before}

I was initially planning a pretty drastic overhaul. I wanted to cut my wardrobe down to 35 pieces (including shoes and clothes, everything except underwear and workout gear). I read through the guide at Unfancy and it seemed fairly doable (note - I've linked to the wardrobe planner but you'll need to poke around a little to get more information from her site about how she pieces out her wardrobe). I liked that it at least gave me a solid outline of how I'd want my closet allocated and what pieces I might need. I strategized quite a bit. 

But strategizing is not the same as executing. When I actually went to tackle my closet it became clear that getting down to 35 pieces all at once was going to be a huge mental effort and I was probably going to burn out my decision making power before I was done. This has happened in the past and it gets ugly. Sometimes I give up and put everything back in the closet. Sometimes I give up and toss out all my long sleeved shirts because I haven't worn them in months (ignoring the fact that it's summer) and then in October I have nothing to wear. I took a modified approach instead. 

I worked methodically, pulling out everything from one section at a time. I spread it all out and sorted into categories (tops, bottoms, special occasion, etc) to get an idea of what I had. Some pieces I knew needed to go - I didn't care about them and I hadn't worn them in forever. Some pieces were clear keepers (I'd worn them multiple times in the last few weeks). Then there were all the in-between things. Stuff I loved but hadn't worn in a long time. Pieces that could potentially be really useful (or used to be useful) but I didn't love that much. 

I started to feel overwhelmed with the decision making process so I decided to set up a clothing purgatory. Anything I wasn't sure about I marked with a piece of yellow ribbon, either knotted on the hanger or pinned on the tag. If I wear something and feel good about it, I'll take off the yellow ribbon. In a few months I'll revisit my closet and anything that still has a yellow ribbon will go. 

I also have a few purple tags, which are for pieces of clothing I do wear a lot but would like to replace with a better version soon. This way I'll know to keep my eye out for those staples. 

hanging
{hanging}

I think the marking system is what made it possible for me to get through everything without feeling overly stressed out. It's worth noting that I did not try anything on. I felt like that would just get distracting (and possibly depressing) and I was pretty sure I wouldn't finish. I'm just spreading it out a bit, since I'll eventually try these things on when I'm deciding what to wear. I think I can handle it better in small doses. 

in progress
{in progress}

In addition I set aside a couple of boxes and stashed them on my top shelf. One has my winter/holiday clothing and one has clothing I'm not quite fitting into right now. It's been a rough year, guys. I'm not going to beat myself up about it, but there's a good 5 - 10 pounds standing between me and my usual jeans. I figure if I'm still here in another six months, I can just give the whole box away in one go. 

This isn't quite everything - my dresses are hanging in the coat closet but I sorted through them with the same system. 

So I didn't exactly achieve my goal (I have no idea how many pieces of clothing I still own) but I think I'm heading in the right direction. I'm going to see how it goes and hopefully I can make this an ongoing process over the next several months. I want to be in a place where getting dressed is easy and I'm happy with all my clothes. 


* Once I realized this it was nice because I mostly stopped shopping. But it's lead to the secondary situation I'm in now, where I've worn through every pair of everyday shoes and now I need to buy sandals, flats and sneakers and it's a nightmare, because I hate shoe shopping more than anything else. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The weekend, briefly

pancakes
{pancakes}

sorting
{sorting}

lazy afternoon
{lazy afternoon}

baby girl
{baby girl}

I had a pretty productive weekend. We had D's little brother up so I made pancakes for us. I'm still looking for the perfect buttermilk-esque pancake recipe. I usually use this one (subbing lemon juice for the vinegar) but this weekend I had buttermilk so I tried a new one. They're both great, not sure that one is better than the other. I might keep testing.

The boys went to FYF fest and I settled in for a marathon closet session. More on that later - it's something I've been putting off for months. After six solid hours of work I stopped and spent the rest of the evening watching Scandal and drinking rosé and trying to convince Circe to be social. She's mostly only interested in snuggling at night and she prefers to spend most of the day alone in the closet in our bedroom (I know, she's a weird one). 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

LACBC year 5

A couple weekends ago it was the fifth annual LA Craft Beer Crawl and it was pretty great. I write the same things about it every year, but it's that good. D and I threw a mild wrench in the works by getting mono a couple months ago (I know! I thought it was just for 13 year olds too!) and because I couldn't definitively figure out how long you're contagious we opted to not share drinks with anyone. We still managed to taste quite a bit by asking for half pours all afternoon and it worked out pretty well.

preparing! - LACBC 5
{preparing!}

casey's - LACBC 5
{kinetic at casey's}

the varnish - LACBC 5
{the varnish}

seven grand - LACBC 5
{seven grand}

las perlas - LACBC 5
{las perlas}

My very favorite beer this year was Neddles from Allagash. It's a slightly sour wild ale brewed in rum barrels. The Bruery had a great showing with a coconut and pineapple riff on their Sour in the Rye (sounds horrifying, isn't AT ALL). Deschute's Fresh Squeezed IPA was hoppy and not too citrusy and BONUS it's readily available (we found it at a random liquor store last week). Los Angeles Ale Works, a newcomer, has a winner with their Lievre Saison, served both regular and on cask. The on cask version was amazing, if you can get your hands on it. I also really enjoyed the Enter the Future IPA from Highland Park Brewery, which operates out of the Hermosillo. We were really bummed that we didn't make it in time to taste their Lazy Susan, which was getting a lot of buzz.

There are so many great places popping up and I keep thinking that I should do a run down on the different LA breweries. Maybe a little series? Is that hoping for too much, given that I'm barely managing to post a couple times a month?

Recaps of all LACBC to date - 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

P.S. - So many thanks for all the sweet sympathy re: my annoying dry eyes. I'm going to do a quick post very soon on what I'm doing (although I've seriously had two days this week where I couldn't see anything that was more than 3 inches away from my face, so I'm not claiming to be an expert) and pull together some of the excellent advice in the comments as well. Hate that so many of us are dealing with this!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fresh grout

Taking those last pictures was the straw that broke the camel's back, re: me and our kitchen grout. I had issues with our grout. Namely, the fact that it hadn't been redone since the 1930s and most of it was missing. At some point someone came along and attempted a quick fix by running large amounts of painting caulk along the more obvious gaps. I'm almost positive this didn't improve the situation.

One Sunday I couldn't stand it anymore so I did what any rational person would do - decided on the spur of the moment that I was going to re-grout the kitchen instead of taking care of the laundry, meal planning and grocery shopping that actually needed to get done.

scraping
{scraping}

un-grouting
{un-grouting}

I went through an insane number of razor blades before we gave in and went to Home Depot. Not sure why we didn't go sooner because we were obviously going to have to buy grout anyways. I think I was hoping I could get away without the scraper. We'd watched this video which is really all you need to do to prepare.

A few hours later, we had a freshly grouted kitchen. I was so excited that I also filled in a few gaps in the bathroom later.

sweet potato
{sweet potato on new grout}

This is the randomest picture to show, but apparently I didn't bother to take an official after picture so instead you get this shot of tiny roasted sweet potatoes, aka the cheapest gluten-free dog treats you can find. It's how we give Circe her pills every day.

There's nothing we can do about the fact that the glazing on the old tile is getting patchy, but I can't tell you how relieved I am to see actual grout in there. I swear our whole kitchen seems brighter.

And yes, we rent. And I'm guessing they're going to re-do the kitchen after we leave anyways so this might seem sort of pointless. But our counters are small so this project took just a few hours of active time (plus not being able to use the sink for 36 hours) and cost about $35 in supplies, most of which we can re-use in the future. It was totally worth it and I'm only sorry I didn't do it months earlier.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

On the homefront

Actual documentation of small amounts of cooking! An oven-baked meal is a rare beast right about now. I honestly only bothered with this because we were having company. Our kitchen just gets blisteringly hot during the summer so I'm not always willing to go for it.

lasagna in process
{lasagna in process}

bread + spread
{bread + spread}

caesar dressing
{caesar dressing}

classic caesar
{classic caesar}

contemplative
{contemplative}

Is it weird that I don't use a recipe for lasagna? I always eyeball it. I mix ricotta with a few eggs, salt, pepper, chopped basil and Parmesan. Then I just layer sauce, noodles, ricotta mix, mozzarella, repeat a couple times. I've finally started not pre-cooking my noodles and it's awesome. I hate wrangling cooked noodles. I do lay them out in the pan, pour boiling water over them and let them soak for 5 minutes but that probably isn't even necessary.

I made the garlic bread by whipping together salted butter and a few cloves of pressed garlic. I sliced the bread almost all the way through, slathered the butter between the slices and wrapped the whole thing in aluminum foil to bake for a bit. You don't get the lovely browned tops, but it's a lot easier.

I pulled the Caesar salad recipe directly from Bon Appétit and it was perfect - super traditional. I did chop the romaine because I personally hate unchopped salads. They look pretty but I just don't want to have to cut up slippery lettuce while trying to hold a conversation.

And if you're wondering what Circe is waiting for in that last picture ...

romaine nubs
{romaine nubs}

She sticks pretty close while we're cooking because we're terrible and will feed her scraps of food. We're super strict about never feeding her from our plates (which is amazing because she's learned not to beg and she just leaves the room if we start eating) but it's so nice to have her in the kitchen while we work that we bribe her. Romaine hearts are her fave.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A minor detour

There weren't any homemade popsicles this weekend because we ended up driving up to Northern California to help my sister and her husband get settled in their new place. It was a super last minute decision and it made the weekend a crazy whirlwind, but I'm glad we were able to do it.

into the fog
{into the fog}

staring
{staring}

Drake's taps
{Drake's taps}

Drake's flight
{Drake's flight}

princess platform
{princess platform - aka the sadness of being too short to see out the car window and the kindness of an owner who will build you a viewing platform out of thermarests}

We normally zoom up the 5 but this time we were following the VW, so we took the coastal route and cruised at 50 miles an hour. It was actually a nice way to see the state for most of the drive. We left LA at 4:30 am and Circe, who is not normally a morning person, was beyond thrilled to have everyone up in the middle of the night and she loved the whole drive. I guess we need to take her on more road trips.

We went to Drake's almost immediately upon arrival. It's a great little brewery and I've been a big fan of their Aroma Coma since I first had it at the brew crawl a couple years ago.

We had to leave at 5 am on Sunday, but I'm hoping we'll be able to get back for a less crazy visit very soon.

P.S. - Why do our loved ones have to keep migrating north?!