Friday, October 30, 2009

one great tip for your marriage

I don't usually like to link to other blog posts about articles, but in this case one of my favorite blogs extrapolated a gem from a NYT article about the Obamas' marriage that I thought was spot-on:

" Just as one's accomplishments shouldn't be limited by birth, marriage isn't about who you are, it's about what you do."

People spend a lot of time considering who they are, how they're defined, and trying to define themselves in a lot of different ways. But when it comes to relationships, your actions and choices are what matters, and this is how to make or break a marriage.

The Obamas actually paint a pretty unglamorous portrait of their marriage, but it works because they're both committed to making the choices that are necessary to keep it together. What a great, unselfish example of commitment!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Degrees of Success: Automating Finances

Remi Sethi has a great chart laying out what fully automated finances would look like.

While I really aspire to reach that level of automation, I'm really happy with a *nearly* automated system that's been about a year in the making.

What is Automated
  • income is direct-deposited into our checking account, monthly for me and weekly for the hubby
  • my retirement contributions (15%) are automatically deducted from my check before I ever see it
  • savings is scheduled once a month from my check (12%) and once a week from hubby's check (7%)
  • started a Roth IRA for hubby with small monthly scheduled deposit, will ramp up when the truck is paid off
  • most of the bills are automatically paid: electric, gas, cell, student loan, child support, truck loan
  • credit cards are automatically paid in full at the beginning of the month

What is Not Automated
  • some bills are manually entered into billpay because the amounts change from month-to-month or they are not delivered electronically: cable, water, insurance, mortgage
  • union dues for the hubby are paid by mailing a physical check and are due monthly
  • church tithes are paid with a physical check each week
Our savings aren't broken out into several sub-goals yet. There are currently two piles, emergency savings (untouchable) and regular savings (spendable). The goals I'd like to set up as separate funds are: next car, gifts, and home improvement. I'll try and set those up in my Ing account soon and report back with the math for setting those goals.

Julie Pickett-Hall

You also might be interested in:
- another post from Remi on how to set up sub-goal accounts using your Ing account
- comment or email me to get a $25 bonus when you sign up a new Ing account

Sick Leave, and Why I Fail to Use the Closet

Wow, I was really sick last week and missed a few days of work. Since I'm mostly working on my wardrobe challenge, this didn't leave me much to blog about (since I wasn't dressing for anything other than sleeping on the couch).

The break from the challenge was nice, and it's also made me think that maybe I'm beyond the big wins at this point. My work clothes fit in the closet and I've sorted and culled dramatically. I'm also starting to recycle clothes that I've already posted about!

My main challenge right now is keeping my clothes hanging in the closet. I consistently fail to hang my clothes back up every night, until I have a large pile of clothes in a basket at the foot of the bed. This is because I have a bad bed-time routine.

I pile my clothes up at the end of the night because I've gotten distracted by something or maybe even fallen asleep on the couch while watching tv or reading. So by the time I go to bed, I rush to the bathroom, brush my teeth, and then pile up my clothes and crawl into bed. I don't want to turn on the light or mess with the closet because I don't want to wake up the hubby, who goes to bed early.

By the time I'm up in the morning, I'm rushed to get to work and leave the pile where it was last night with it's additional layer of yesterday's clothes on top.

I don't really have a good solution to this at the moment, but I'll think it over and look for a usable alternative. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

wardrobe challenge weekend update

I really have to share about this weekend and the challenge. On Saturday morning I took *4* bags of clothes and a box of jeans to the mission store in town. To think that I had so many clothes, much less ones I don't wear or like very much, was very inspiring. All of my work clothes now fit in the closet since I decided to attack my collection of pants that morning. I ended up keeping 3 jeans for work, 3 jeans for weekends, and only the nicest of my dress pants.

I did not manage to find any jackets to donate this weekend other than blazers from my work clothes, so I may have failed on that count :P

The woman at the mission store really liked a lot of the clothes I brought in, and gave me a good deal on the items I picked out while I was there: a cute grey wool cardigan, a butter-yellow wrap sweater that I loved, a flattering knee-length jean skirt, and a basic red long-sleeved tee. I also grabbed a few jeans for the hubby to wear to work.

I also finally received a blue cardigan I had ordered online with a coupon as well as the dark pink wrap-scarf that I was able to get free at the same time. I completely love them both and have been wearing them since. The scarf goes nicely with both of my coats, and the cardigan is lightweight and a great color. It's so nice to have things that I really like to wear! Now I just have to be careful to not get carried away and blow my clothes budget filling in wardrobe gaps.


Yesterday was my first wedding anniversary with the Dear Hubby. We didn't end up having either of his kids for dinner (customary on Mondays), so we went out. The dinner wasn't actually all that great, but it was nice to do something together. Afterwards I went and helped paint a friend's nursery for a while, then went home where Hubby and I had some champagne and year-old frozen cake.

The cake wasn't that bad. The frosting still tastes good, but there was a metallic aftertaste to the whole concoction, probably from being frozen for a year.

An odd tradition, but worth it in the end if it gives us any amount of luck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

wardrobe challenge update 10/15/09

The wardrobe challenge is going so well! Tuesday night I went through the upstairs closet, brutally culling skirts and dresses. I babied a few of the printed skirts momentarily, thinking of possible ways to wear them... until I tried them on and they didn't fit. Duh, maybe I should have tried some of this stuff on years ago.

In the end I saved 2 black skirts: an A-line heavy velvety skirt good for church, and a suit-like skirt for work. How simple! They are now in my actual closet, ready for wearing instead of hiding upstairs. I packed everything else up in a bag, along with the first round of discarded shoes. Either Friday or Saturday morning I'll take the bag to the local mission. It has begun!

I was in such a mood that I gave away a nice winter coat to a friend who stopped by. I love the coat, but I have several and don't need it... so I gave it away right then and there. It felt fabulous.

I'm starting to think that my goal should be to have at least all work clothes (if not all clothes) hanging in my half of our bedroom closet. That's more than enough room for a work wardrobe. I've also inspired the Dear Hubby to cull his massive collection of t-shirts.

As for my outfitting the past few days:

Wednesday I really wanted to wear my vibrant pinkish trapeze top, but it's sleeveless so I had to find something to coordinate on top. I'd just worn my black cardigan the day before, so that was a no-go. In the end, I wore a blue pinstriped blazer that I don't feel great in, and should probably go in the giveaway pile. I also wore my tall dark jeans and blue ballet crocs for the rainy conditions. Not very flattering shoes, but invaluable in my walk to and from rehearsal in the drizzle. My red mary jane crocs are much better, and I should have just held off on the awesome top until I could coordinate it better a cardigan and shoes. Maybe the blue ballet crocs need a new home, as well.

Today turned out much better! I'm wearing a dark blue cable-knit sweater over a white collared polo. I started wearing this last year and it's a nice look. The sweater is lightweight and fitted. Also wearing my tall dark jeans (others are in the wash as we speak), my green wedges, and silver hoops. I've also refreshed my gunmetal silver nail-job, and it all works pretty nicely. I wish I had thought to grab my silver peace bracelet this morning.

All-in-all things are moving along. I'm figuring out that I should only keep the things I really love to wear... hopefully I have clothes left at the end!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

to do this week

In the interest of picking the low-hanging fruit of decluttering useless clothing, I vow to do these things this week:

1) Find the rest of my shoes and cull them. There are some in the hallway, a few upstairs, and some hiding in the closet. I only need a few pair of tennis shoes, a few pair of workhorse shoes, and my shoes for work. I don't need 10 pair of dress shoes hanging around that I can't wear to work, and I don't need another 10 pairs of shoes I only wear at home for working out/gardening/walking the dog.

2) Go through the closet in L's room and cull all the skirts I haven't worn in years. They're not my style, and I'm never going to wear them. The only exceptions are costume-worthy things like belly-dance skirts.

3) Track down my coat collection, pile it all in one place, and give away 70% of it. I hate this one, but it must be done. For the sake of my marriage, this one really matters. Maybe when I get this done, I can look for a trench coat without provoking certain ire.

wardrobe update (looooong)

I need to quickly catch up on my outfits, thereby noting what clothes I actually wear and should keep.

Last week:

Thursday I tried to get a little creative. I wore a turquoise blue jersey dress, with black leggings and my black tall boots. I also wore a black cardigan, since it's chilly here. I don't normally wear dresses to work, but this effectively dressed it down for me. I added a very long silver chain dotted with pearls and pearl-stud earrings to keep it nice but simple. I realized that only having a black cardigan kind of limits me... I have a black jersey dress that I could more easily wear if I had anything to wear over it, and it would be nice to change things up, so I used a B1G1 free coupon online to order a long-sleeved cardigan in blue and a bright wrap-scarf that should get a lot of use this winter.

Friday I decided to wear a blazer, so I paired an eggplant-purpley tank underneath a navy and white damask patterned blazer that has an awesome fit. It was nice to be a little bold and this is probably the only pattern I've worn all week. I also wore my dark bootcut jeans and my dark brown pointy-toed low heels. I bought these heels at the local thrift store for $3 and wear them to death. Accessories were my silver hoops and a silver-toned stone medallion necklace.

The weekend:

Weekends are not immune to wardrobe doldrums, and I have a lot of clothes that I categorize as ostensibly "weekend" clothes that I probably don't wear. So I'll be noting them here as well.

Saturday was a busy day, and a lot of it was spent outside at the downtown street fair, so I had to hit the layers and keep it flattering. For most of the day, I wore my go-to long-sleeved gray shirt under a dark red hooded sweater jacket. The sleeves are nice and long and can be cuffed, and the hood has a faux-fur trim. I also wore my dark bootcut jeans with gray woolly socks and brown mary-jane Dr Martins. As it got colder in the evening, I added my blue corduroy peacoat.

After dark we left the fair to go to a birthday party out of town, so I ran home and swapped out my docs for the brown pointy-toed heels, and my gray shirt for a white strapless top leaving the dark red sweater over. After the party I went straight uptown to hang out with a few friends. I wore my silver hoops all day.

Sunday for church I wore my dark blue twill skirt with black tall boots, and a light pink boatneck sweater. Didn't love this outfit, but I was in a hurry. When I got home, I changed into my black yoga pants and pulled my gray long-sleeved shirt back on over a pink tank top. This looked fine for lounging and errands for the rest of the day.

This week:

Monday was cold, so I wore a dark brown cowl-neck sweater over a black tank and my long dark jeans. I also wore brown leather mary janes with a chunky heel and added some gold dangly earrings that looked nice with the brown sweater. The neckline of the sweater paired really well with my blue peacoat, which was handy when I stopped by the football game after work. I also switched purses to the red leather one I snagged at the church rummage sale. My green and white purse is a little summery for now, so I'll pack it away for a while.

Today (finally!) I wanted to represent one of my go-to outfits that I've worn a lot this year, so I chose a funky top with a small black, teal, and pink print (almost stripes) that also has a placket of ruffles. It's a sleeveless, lightweight top that I chose on a whim for summer, and then somehow ended up wearing quite a bit. This pairs really easily with my black cardigan, so I wore that as well. I'm wearing my wide-legged trouser pants and some black heeled loafers, and finished off with some nice silver earrings I won in a drawing and my chunky silver stone bracelet.

That's it for now! That seems like a lot of clothes, and I'm not quite to a week yet! When I do laundry I'll start setting these clothes aside and see how many outfits I can make. After a few weeks, I should have enough clothes for 99% of my needs, and can start thinking about the hard stuff.... what to give away.

In the meantime, all I've managed to sort thus far is some shoes. I'm going to bag them up and stash them in the truck so I can give them away.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wardrobe Inspiration Challenge

I love watching "What Not to Wear", and I love the new part that they've added at the end where you see everything that the woman is taking home. They spread it all out on two clothes racks, and it looks like the woman has like, 27 articles of clothing, tops. But then they list what they've got and tell you how many outfits they can make.

That's the really inspiring thing to me... They usually have around 20 outfits to take home. It doesn't sound like much, but how awesome would it be to have 20 outfits that you *LOVED* to choose from when you get up in the morning? Your choices are limited enough that you don't tear your hair out coming up with something, but then 20 outfits is a whole month's worth of clothing, work-wise. Who really needs more than that?

I also found this great article that's really inspiring me to toss things that just do not fit my style anymore, mostly things from college:

So here's the challenge:

Part A) I'm going to work on paring down and giving away things that I really will *never* wear again. This is a process, and will take me a little while to finish since I don't get a lot of time at home or in the closet to do this all at once.

Part B) I'm going to log my favorite outfits over the next several weeks, trying to only wear things that I really love. This way I'll have a list of outfits that work whenever I'm drawing a blank, and also I'll know what to keep!

What I've worn this week:
Monday, I wore my mauve boatneck sweater, since it was a little chilly. I've been wearing this with my ivory lace cami lately, but decided to change it up and layer a dark blue collared shirt underneath instead. The short collar stood up and had a little bit of ruffly-feminine detail. I paired this with my nice khaki pants and my pointy-toed dark brown shoes (about a 1/2 inch heel). I don't remember what jewelry I wore. This was a simple look, with an unexpected combination on top. I don't know that I would put those two tops together again, but it looked sharp with the tan pants.

Tuesday, I wore my favorite Ann Taylor button-up shirt, long-sleeved, white with faint scattered stripes. Over this I wore my kelly green lightweight cashmere v-neck sweater. It's starting to pill under the arms a little, so I need to fix that, but I love this combo. I also wore my wide-leg London Blue trouser jeans, which are completely flattering, as well as my AE green wedges. These are my go-to shoes for anything that needs a little height. I topped it off with some generally uninspiring gold-toned dangly earrings with green stones and a gold drop-necklace. The nice thing about this look is that was able to run around town with lovely L after work and feel like a well-dressed mom. Not overdressed, just put-together and professional.

Wednesday, I'm wearing a bright blue button up shirt, 3/4 length sleeves, with my awesome grey vest. I love this combo as well, it's a really classic menswear color/texture combination, but with very flattering fit. I'm also wearing dark slouch boot-cut jeans with shiny silver flats. I painted my nails a very posh silver last night, so I went with it, adding some good-sized silver hoops and a fairly bold bracelet with strands of silver stones. No necklace today, to change it up from yesterday's uninspired jewelry pick. Loving today's look a lot, and my hair looks nice.

I also bought a pair of gorgeous short-heeled sandals at the vintage shop today. They're a dark blue-grey in an almost crushed-velvet material, with a tulle and jeweled detail on the strap. No idea what I'll use them for, but for $9 and exactly my size I can come up with a reason to wear them eventually. I'm going to set these on the bed until I've purged all the old, cheap, unflattering shoes I need to get rid of. These shoes are heretofore my inspiring symbol of not accepting haphazard, make-it-work style anymore.