how-to

How-To: Things I Want to Learn

There are a lot of how-to’s I can already do, or sorta know how to do. This rendition, however, is a list of things I vie to know how-to and hopefully can share my learned skills with y’all along the way. And let’s be honest, share those super fails, too.

1. Sew. Let’s start with the basic button.

2. Recall how to tie a tie… because I used to be baller at it.

3. Handle the hardware aspects of home decor, like anchoring screws in the wall, etc.

4. Weaving for decorative purposes, like this awesome negative space piece!

5. Start making 75% of my beauty products at home, like these coconut oil products, and eventually sell them!

6. To get my damn lipstick to stop smudging.

What are your goals right meow? Let me know in the comments!

How-To: Live Together

Cohabitation ain’t easy. It really brings out your inner control-freak diva (both of ya’s) and some tension can form. But if you love each other and you love the space, that eventually fades away. In fact, I think living with a man (and preparing to do so again) taught me a lot of important lessons on how to live in general.

1. You really don’t need all of those clothes.
I know it’s hard to imagine your closet less-than-overflowing or (GASP!) partially empty, but it’s really for the best. My man used to laugh at the sheer volume of clothing in my possession, but I would just retaliate by pointing out that I never, ever had to do laundry. Eventually I realized something about it really was funny, but maybe not in such a good way. Do I really need 5 dresses that don’t fit me anymore? Do I need 10 shirts that are just “okay?” No, no I don’t. I’d much rather launder my special, oft-used pieces than stare in disdain at a 50% lackluster wardrobe. Quality, not quantity. (And god bless the Goodwill trucks!)

2. Organization isn’t just about cleanliness, it’s about efficiency.
I love being organized. (If you’ve ever read this blog, you know I have an inner-voice that might, in reality, be OCD.) I love it because I like the way a space looks when it is in order. However, if aesthetics take precedence over functionality, there’s not much point to organizing at all. A kitchen might look amazing with stacks of rainbow ceramics stacked along the countertop, but what do you really need there? Probably something like a cutting board, not another cute vintage vase. At the end of the day, it’s wasted space if it doesn’t make sense for how you live in it.

3. Neutral isn’t bad.

In fact, neutral is amazing. You might start out with earth tones to please one another, but if you really put in the time, you can makes some beautiful spaces that never cross the color-war border. (I’m still of the school that all colors have at least one hue everyone can love, but that’s a whole other entry, y’all!)

(via flickr)
4. Woman caves are more important than man caves. (Or “Don’t Be Greedy”)

At the end of the day, I would rather have one room all to myself than fight over the rest of the house. Why? Because having one beautiful, perfect space is more important to me and certainly more than enough. Besides the sheer labor required when trying to cram two strong designs into a whole house full of rooms, it’s just greedy. Each person should get their own, independent space to decorate where they can be completely themselves. The rest of the shared house space can be that easy, clean, and beautiful neutral I mentioned a minute ago.

5. Compromise.

Contrary to a bad stereotype, not all men have poor taste. In fact, some of them have pretty amazing input. The only problem is when two people have strong opinions, sometimes things get messy or left undone in order to end the design debate. The tried and true art of compromising is really all you can do. I’ve learned that I don’t need to control as much of a design as I’d thought. I’ve learned that I don’t necessarily have the best ideas out of all the ideas all the time. I’ve learned that purging yourself of things is good and all it does is make way for better things. Compromising can teach you a lot about your partner, but most importantly, it teaches you about yourself.

Thanks to a headstrong partner, I’ve come to the table with a very clear vision of what I love, and a much better grasp on flexibility, simplicity, and form.

 
What did you do when you moved in with your partner? Any better tips out there? 

How-To: Get Back to Yourself

Life throws us loops. Some are amazing, while others are absolutely devastating, but most loops fall in the massive, massive gray area in between. Regardless of where they lie on the scale, all these changes can take us out of ourselves. We start freaking out about something great happening two months away or we stress about where we’ll find money tomorrow. It’s like an anxiety record playing on a loop constantly, and eventually, it’ll catch up. My own stress, good and bad, has caught up to me big time. I think it’s important to remind you and I of all the best ways we can get back to being ourselves.

1. Take a day. Hell, I don’t care. Take 3 days. Take as many days as you need to feel like you’re not a live wire fallen in the middle of a rainy road. Do whatever your body tells you to do those days, and most of the time, it will tell you to sleep and drink a lot of water.

2. Do something you love without apology. Have a movie marathon. Read lots of books. Take a long walk alone. Sing at the top of your lungs to Beyonce. Combine all of these things at the same time. Whatever it is, do it only if you love it, and do it for you.

3. TREAT YO’ SELF! This doesn’t have to be a lucrative purchase, but on the other hand, it can be. You call the shots! Take yourself out to a movie or get your hair done. Go shopping with your friends. Make yourself realize you’re worth it.

4. Start some lists. You should at least make a list of things you enjoy doing and are good at doing — these won’t necessarily intersect, so make sure you’ve got two columns or some fancy Venn diagram. Next up: to-do lists, goals to achieve, goals for those goals, etc.

5. Hone in on “your things.” The point of all those lists is to try to rediscover what your happiest self enjoys doing, both for hobby and for money. Once you find these things again, focus on them intensely and deeply in an effort not to lose sight of the elements that leave you fulfilled and essentially yourself.

6. Plan and schedule. In order to keep your head about you after taking time for yourself and rediscovering your passions, try to plan and schedule not only your goals and happy activities, but time for yourself to recharge so you won’t burn out again… at least not any time soon.

7. Organize and purge. Once you have a plan and goals, make sure you don’t have any obstacles — physical or mental — in the way. Organize your desk, dump toxic people. Basically, clean house in every meaning of the phrase.

8. Slowly emerge back into society. If it wasn’t clear, steps 1-7 should all be done alone. These are things that shape YOUR life and no one else’s, so you should be solo for a while. However, it is important to incorporate your loved ones back in as soon as you’re done being a self-growth vampire.

9. If you’re still struggling, get advice. NOW is the time to ask your pals for a word or two. Seek answers from your parents or a therapist. Use the magic of online forums. Whatever it is you choose, just make sure you are 100% sure about where you’ll be going from here on out because…

10. Do “your thing(s).” …in order to properly do your things, aka LIVE YOUR LIFE, you need to be sure in yourself and your decisions, at least for the moment. You can tweak your plan, but only after you’ve begun to execute one.

If you’re a visual person, this is basically what the plan looks like:

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Regular Monet, right?

How-To: 4th of July

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How we spend Fourth of July in America:

1. Getting wasted on shitty beer.

2. Eating horrible food (preferably as fatty as possible).

3. Shooting off questionably beautiful fireworks.

4. General troublesome shenanigans.

5. If you’re in the South, things like buttered watermelon contests exist on this day, too.

6. Maybe carnivals? Maybe parades? Maybe country clubs? Maybe beach retreats? IT ALL DEPENDS!

7. Scream “‘MURICA!” and other patriotic fake words all day.

8. Watch Independence Day.

How to ACTUALLY spend Fourth of July in America:

1. Wake up early and spend some time by a body of water.

2. Wait to drink until at least noon, and maybe up the ante, even if the ante is just PBR to Fat Tire and Oscar Mayer to locally raised.

3. Enjoy the loveliness of sparklers and let the professionals do the fireworks shows.

4. Celebrate our independence with people we love without, like, knocking over mailboxes ‘n’ shit.

5. Okay, buttered watermelon contests are actually kind of fun.

6. So are carnivals, parades, country clubs, and beach parties. I GUESS SOME OF OUR TRADITIONS ARE ACTUALLY MAGICAL AND TIMELESS, OKAY?!

7. Damn, now I’m regretting everything. Spend 4th of July however you please. IT’S ABOUT FREEDOM, BABY! ‘MURICA!!!

8. Watch Independence Day.

How-To: Thrifting

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Thrift finds from Ann Taylor & Calvin Klein

Long ago, I realized I had a sort of love affair with fashion. I read all the blogs, kept up with the new sartorial-based social media, and vied for things I would never be able to afford, even if I won the lottery. However, I struggled with two big roadblocks for many fashion fiends: money and a distinct lack of personal style.

Right around 25, I realized I needed to quit messing around and really put an effort into my passion for fashion (ha, RHYMES!). Before I tackled the financial aspect of my coveted wardrobe, I decided I needed to discover what I wanted for myself when it came to dressing every day. This meant a lot of things: ditching bags upon boxes upon more bags of items that were essentially crap; trying on every item I owned for sure-fit confidence; and making a looooong list of what I really, really needed so as not to get distracted by what I wanted. Along the way, I encountered a lot of bad turns, including blahful or trainwreckish trends, shitty fabrics, and WAY too much spending on items that did not stay in my closet long enough to make it worth it. Eventually, though, I found a baseline for my own personal style… though it’ll be evolving until I have that revered “perfect” closet.

After finding the “me” in the barrage of the fashion business, I needed to find a way to cut costs so I could sustain my passion while still having the savings stash I needed when I came across a very high quality (and very expensive) lifelong staple during my style journey. Enter: thrifting.

I’ve always had a love for vintage and things of days past, but my new-found love for seeking the beautiful amongst the discards really began after I helped my friend S with her clothing boutique. She shared a few tricks of the trade with me that I then combined with my new personal style and tips from C, the thrifting queen.

After over a solid year of hitting the local consignments and thrifts, as well as the good ol’ staples like Goodwill, I feel like I’m in a solid place to finally share my best how-to’s of thrifting.

– – –

1. Don’t think you’re too good for used merchandise.
We’ve all, poor or rich, been in a place and thought “I am too above this place. I should leave;” it’s a weird ego defense. The thing is, no one is too good to save money on beautiful clothes. If you think you are, you’re not only missing over some great pieces, you’re being… well, kind of a dick.

2. Used retail is very often lightly used, if used at all.
I have only come across a handful of items in the past year that really should not have been offered for sale. If you think about the scheme of time, that’s a truly small number. What’s more, I’ve more often than not come across brand new items that still have the ORIGINAL tag on them! Don’t think thrifts and consignments hold rag-tag material you’d never wear; this stuff is like woven gold!

3. Find the RIGHT stores with the RIGHT specials.
Obviously not all stores are created equal. Maybe there ARE some stores out there that essentially try to peddle garbage, but don’t let that stop you from second-hand shopping. Keep searching. Ask around. Use Google. Drive around new shopping centers. My thrift stores came to me through foot work and questioning comrades, and I could not be more thrilled with the places that have become my regular haunts as they often boast tag or bag sale days every week!

4. Make your lists and your budgets.
Before you go, make a list of what you need and how much you’re willing to spend. Very often, you will spend far less than the budget you set up for yourself, but you should still set a budget nonetheless. Before I got a new job this year, I made a list of workplace items I needed in order to keep the blinders on and get ONLY what I needed. The best part about thrifting is that I ended up finding FIVE of everything I needed for the cost of less than ONE!

5. Ensure you have a partner piece (or five) at home if you see something not originally on your list or within your budget.
Let’s be real: we all see that one item we don’t need, but would give a toe or three to have. When you are thrifting and see one of these items, you have a lot more freedom in your wallet area to dare to try it on. OF COURSE it will look awesome, so you’ll have to buy it. STOP! Before you get out of that dressing room, MAKE SURE you have, at the very least, ONE WHOLE (and comfortable) OUTFIT you can create with the new item using something you already own. Bonus if you have more than one item you can pair with it, especially if you can make it work-friendly!

5. Don’t solely seek name brands.
Don’t go into a store looking for only Banana Republic or Valentino (yes, Valentino can be found at consignment stores). You’ll very often miss beautiful, high-quality staples that you could potentially utilize for years, all in the name of being a label queen. I have go-to brands I do look for because I know they fit me perfectly, but I WILL stop at that Mossimo shirt while I’m poking through racks if it catches my eye!

6. That being said, quite the handful of name brands are higher quality, and if you are willing to dig, they are ABUNDANT.
I will be honest: brands like J.Crew, Calvin Klein, Anthro, and more really do spring for higher quality fabrics and hems. If you can find a pair of CK jeans for $2.99 like I have, GO FOR IT! They will last forever and ever, amen.

7. Take care of your garments.***
I cannot stress this enough. People very often make fun of me because I hand wash baskets of clothes until my hands are red and my arms are aching, but my favorite silk pieces and high-quality dresses still look brand new because of it! Follow the directions on your clothes. If there are none because someone has ripped out the care tag, look up phrases like “How to care for cashmere,” etc. Yes, this does take time, but you know what else it does? Saves you money, and saves the item of clothing that makes you feel truly confident, sexy, and beautiful whenever you slide it on. Spending a bit on a tailor or a local, green dry cleaner is worth it now and then for those items you can imagine keeping around for a decade. Invest in a good iron and steamer, too! It’s like your body: choose to take care of it now for the long haul, or replace it with cheap synthetics every year or three until you die. YOUR CHOICE!

8. Bask in the glory of your beautiful new clothes that cost you 90% less than original price.
Seriously. I just bought a pair of wide-leg elevenses by Anthropologie pants for $9. They still had the remnants of a tag on them, aka NOT WORN MUCH IF AT ALL!! I came home and did my research. Do you know how much they run? Between $118-$128 dollars.

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THE PLEATS! Aren’t they to die?

Do yourself (and your wallet) a favor and explore the world of thrifting!

Any readers have any tips I missed or simply to add? Comment below!

www. Wednesday

First and foremost, glad to be back! It’s been a whirlwind of a time, with moving on top of my already-full plate: work/school/studying for two GIANT comp tests. Somehow I’m still awake, but we’ll see how that turns out come Sunday evening when I’m buried under a pile of papers to grade.

Now for the exciting news! You might have noticed, especially if you have the old blog page bookmarked, that now you come DIRECTLY to this page through the magic of coding. Make sure you get the new one if you follow using something like Bloglovin, lest you miss these super compelling blog posts.

Now onward to the second edition of www. Wednesday:

+ If you haven’t seen the glory of this episode of Between Two Ferns featuring POTUS, you’re going to need to head over for laughs galore ASAP.

+ On the prowl for easy DIYs for the new place, I came across this clean and do-able shelving idea from Scandi. I’ll have to update with photos of the masterpiece (or master mess) when I finish.

+ Case of the Mondays (even though it’s Wednesday)? Read this inspiring little blog entry.

+ As someone who has been dealing with depression and is still working on overcoming it, I give you the only accurate article to come from Cosmopolitan in decades: 10 Things NOT to Say to Someone With Depression.

+ An important how-to guide to building the perfect wardrobe aka YOU NEED TO READ THIS!

+ And if you, too, are currently rocking yourself back and forth in your oversized chair, trying to quell the beast of your sugar addiction, just give up already and eat this deliciously easy Cheesecake in a Mug because mid-week pick-me-up, right?!

Happy 300th-blog-post Wednesday!