April Budget

I’ve bought a lot of clothes this month.  I do think it was a good mix of things I needed and impulse buys.  I also went down to visit my parents for a couple of weeks and a lot of the impulse buys happened then – thrift prices are so much cheaper in AZ!  I also made a visit to Nordstrom Last Chance (which I love) and bought several pairs of shoes…

  • Strappy silk blouse – this was an impulse buy, but I have a hard time resisting pretty silk shells.
  • Sleeveless blouse – another impulse buy, but I’ve been wanted a navy sleeveless top and this fits wonderfully
  • Bandeau (similar) – I’ve been looking for something to wear under my lower cut tops that wouldn’t be as warm as a full camisole.  I sized way up so that it would fit over my regular strapless bra.
  • Slips (this and this) – I wear a lot of skirt and dresses.  I already have several slips, but I needed slightly longer tan and black ones.
  • Purse (similar) – I usually have a winter purse and a summer purse that I rotate throughout the year.  I bought a new winter purse last year and had to get a new summer one because my old one was developing holes.
  • Button down shirt (similar in grey) – I know I always go on about how much I dislike my button downs, but really, I think I just don’t like collars.  This one has a banded collar and a lovely bright print so I think it will actually get worn.
  • Sleeveless silk blouse – another impulse buy, but it’s such a soft silk.
  • Black strapless dress – this is a lovely cotton/silk blend (it has clearly been a warm spring and I’m day dreaming about how gross and hot summer is going to be.  I need more breezy clothes!).  This dress is somewhat over sized (I needed more length and chest room than the dress that fit my waist would have provided) but I should be able to make it perfect with easy alterations (something like this tutorial)
  • Grey cotton tank dress – lovely cotton that is thick enough to not show all my undergarments.  It had this ugly ruff around the back neckline but that was super easy to remove
  • Light sweater dress (gap outlet) – this was on super clearance and is a lovely light knit that will be perfect spring/fall (once I’m back in OR).  The stripes are adorable
  • Navy blue cardigan (gap outlet) – I already own a heavy-ish, longer navy cardigan, so this was very much an impulse buy due to super clearance.  It will be nice to have another for rotation so I don’t wear the other one (which I like more) out.
  • Olive linen/silk dress (j jill) – impulse buy due to the ridiculous hot weather in Phoenix.  This is magically machine washable, which I love.  Not the most adorable on the hanger, but lovely on.
  • Cotton floral skirt (ann taylor) – another weather caused impulse buy. It’s so hot I want to wear nothing but cotton/linen/silk.  I have no idea how people stand to wear polyester when it’s 90+ out.
  • Adorable black flat mary janes (these) – these are lovely soft leather and are very comfy.  However, now I want them in silver.

Really, all the clothing purchases were pretty much impulse buys.

I also had my winter wools dry cleaned before they were stored away for the season, so that was a good piece of my clothing-related budget (dry cleaning and tailoring are added to my budget because I think it’s important for me to remember that my clothing purchases sometimes cost more than just the price on the tag)

April total:

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Reading this week

Recently finished:

  • Tales from the 7000 Isles – I’m really glad I finally got around to reading this.  I really think folk tales help give me a very different picture of a country than I would get from a traditional history book.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Writings – I am so pleased to be done with this.  I do want to read either his Ethics or The Cost of Discipleship.  I do think I’d get a better feel for his theology in something more weighty than these little snippets.
  • The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum – This is my April book club book.  I forgot to grab a copy from the library, so I ended up listening to it as an audiobook during a couple of nature walks.  I’ll probably still grab it in physical form just so I can quote out of it better.  I’m still really confused about why killing beetles and mice is heartless, but beheading multitudes of creatures is totally okay.
  • The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke- I liked this well enough. I’m not sure if I’ll pick up book two, but my library has it in downloadable audiobook, so I might listen to it.

Currently reading:

  • Doing Our Own Thing by John McWhorter – this is still really interesting, but I haven’t made much progress.  I’m not bringing it with me on my trip, so this will be on hold till May.
  • Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett – this book can’t be renewed from the library and is due back before I’ll be home again.  My goal is to power through it today.  Sometimes I have a hard time getting into newer Discworld books, but I have high hopes for this one.

On the horizon:

  • Lots of magazines – I don’t have any magazine subscriptions, so it’s always a treat/splurge/guilty pleasure to buy copies of Lucky and InStyle to read at the airport.
  • I have 22 other unread books on my library bookshelf.  I haven’t decided which if any are going with me to Phoenix.  I might just wait and see what’s unread on the bookshelves down there.  This would also be a good time to re-read some old favorites.
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Random quotations

I’ve barely been doing this blogging thing for a month and my brain is already tired and having difficulties thinking of things to talk about (that’s not entirely true.  I have several ideas, but I’m letting them linger until I have something less rambly to say about them).  Instead, here are some quotations I’ve jotted down in the last few months:

The function of imagination is not to make strange things settled, so much as to make settled things strange, not so much to make wonders facts as to make facts wonders.
– GK Chesterton, The Defendant

The test of all happiness is gratitude.
– GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Realism is simply Romanticism that has lost its reason… Romance means a holy donkey going to the temple. Realism means a lost donkey going nowhere.
– GK Chesterton, Alarms and Discussions

I could quote Chesterton for days.

She knew the thing which had upset her about Mary’s shocking remark was not the words, but the way Mary had said it in order to shock her.
– Diana Wynne Jones, Fire and Hemlock

It’s on my (forever long) to do list to re-read more Diana Wynne Jones books.

Marketing succeeds by purposely exploiting children’s vulnerabilities. Therefore, what you see as its “worst” effect will depend on your child’s weaknesses or predilections.
– Susan Linn, Consuming Kids

We can’t escape values – our own or those belonging to other people. Whether we’re aware of it or note, whatever we voluntarily choose to do, say or create communicates our values. The converse is true as well. Inactivity, silence, and acts of destruction also reflect and express our values.
– Susan Linn, Consuming Kids

I’m still thinking about parts of this book which is what I love about reading. I love the way words can linger with me and encourage me to reflect about myself and the world around me.

And I think that’s it for today.

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What I’m reading

Last week, I had said I was going to read lots of my library books to clear off my bookshelf.  How well did I do?

Recently finished:

  • The Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs by Daniel Abraham – I enjoyed it as a fantastical Sherlock pastiche.  I have to confess that I’ve never actually read a Sherlock Homes story (the author wrote about some of the motivation for writing these stories, and apparently I skipped the period in my youth for colonialist fiction), but I liked this and would be willing to read a full novel.  I might be willing to give in against my dislike of ebooks and get the other two stories.
  • The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye – this is another book that I apparently missed during my childhood.  This would have been a good one for my book club, because we all enjoy talking about childhood and fantasy.  I love stories that play on fairy tale storylines and outcomes.
  • Wolf Tower by Tanith Lee – This book was fine.  I liked the beginning world building.  I’m curious about the history of the world.  I liked the way the book didn’t end the way one might have expected from the beginning.  But I didn’t really like Claudi and her role in the story. Until the very end, she seemed very reactive to everything going on around her, which just wasn’t very interesting to read.  I might have liked this book more when I was a teen because I liked “journeying and learning about the world around you” stories more back then.

Three books.  Three fairly short books.  I rediscovered the ability to watch full episodes on hgtv.com and then got distracted watching old episodes of Property Virgins instead of reading. Oops?

Currently reading:

  •  Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Writings – I have a strong memory of someone telling me that Bonhoeffer was a theologian that everyone should read.  I thought these excerpts would be an easy introduction to his writings.  According to Goodreads, I’ve been reading this since February.  It’s interesting, but I think I would have done better with just reading The Cost of Discipleship, which would have given me more motivation to read more than a short section at a time.  On page 77 (of127).
  • The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke – I’m liking this one.  Maybe I’m finally past my YA fantasy slump.  I thought the beginning was a bit abrupt, but as I get further in the book, the universe is fleshing out and Ananna is terrific.  On page 155 (of 295).
  • Doing Our Own Thing by John McWhorter – I’m not entirely sure why I picked this one up (probably an impulsive recommendation) but I’m finding it really interesting.  I enjoy the connections I’m finding between books about language (like Spell It Out) and books about change in culture (like Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns).  I’m beginning to think I’m getting better at seeing the connectivity of different subjects (or else I’m reading more books about the same sorts of things).  On page 97 (of 254)

On the horizon:

  • Francis of Assisi – Assuming I ever finish the Bonhoeffer book, this is next on my list of religious writings I’d like to read.
  • Tales from the 7000 Isles – I love world folklore and I love hearing about the Philippines.  I’ve had this book on my shelf for a few months and periodically flick through to read a quick story, but I need to buckle down and read through it before I have to return it to the library.
  • Raising Steam – I love Discworld.  I’ve been a bit disappointed by some of the more recent books, but this one looks really good.

Also, I have a cookbook on my shelf (The Best Recipe) and I’m having difficulty determining when a cookbook counts as “read.”  I’ve flipped through it, made note of recipes that sounded good, read bits of advice on how to cook better, and made a couple of recipes.  It’s not like I’ve read the whole thing cover to cover, but I’m also not likely to read much more than I’ve already done.  Reference books are hard.

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Closet progress

I was going to do a “What I wore this week” post to show the progress I’m making on identifying what I wear and what I hate in my closet.  I was particularly lazy and didn’t get dressed several days this week, so that would be a really boring picture collage (“Here’s me in some jammies!”  “This was the day I put on yoga clothes, did 15 minutes of yoga, and then didn’t change for the rest of the day!” “This is my college hoodie, which I will always keep in my closet for those cold rainy icky days”).  Instead, I have updates about various closet related projects.

1: thredUP bag

I sent a bag to thredUP last month and recently got my payout info (see my bag).  I’m pleased with the payout for each individual item, but I’m a little bummed that they didn’t accept very many of my items.  I’ve requested a bag from Twice, but I’ve heard they’re really picky about only paying for newish nice clothes (which makes sense, don’t get me wrong).  I’ve also requested another thredUP bag to send my discount brand clothes (I’m hoping sheer quantity will add up)

2: Clothes under the bed

I was sorting through the clothes that don’t fit and I keep under my bed (to see if there was anything I’m not really attached to and could get rid of) and I discovered I now fit in one of the dresses and a pair of shorts (another pair of shorts, from the same brand, in the same size, purchased the same summer, can barely button.  Oh sizing, you’re so silly.)
They fit!

3: Clothes I’m getting rid of

From under my bed, I identified two skirts (both from Banana Republic, which has never fit me well) and a pair of capris (I’m not emotionally attached to them, they haven’t fit in awhile, and I think I could do better). From my actual closet, I’m getting rid of a pair of pants (which has never been terribly flattering), a silk shell (which matches a cardigan I like, but I remembered that I’ve never worn a twinset as a twinset and I doubt that will change, particularly since I don’t like the shell on its own), a sweater (cute, but bulky.  I’ve had it three years and worn it maybe once), and two blouses (don’t fit well, I could do better).
March clean out

4: Seamstress skills

I’m slowly working through my pile of clothes that need minor alterations.  I’ve gotten through the clothes that can be fixed mostly by hand.  At this point, I only have a few things that need to be taken to the tailor (because I am not actually any good at even vaguely difficult alterations) and a couple of skirts that need to be hemmed.  I don’t really have anywhere to set up my sewing machine because my main table has an incomplete puzzle on it.

Thus far, I have successfully: sewn up holes in PJ pants and leggings; removed the “belt” and ugly cuffs on a dress; removed sleeves from a dress; stitched up holes in some shirt hems.  I’m pretty pleased with myself.

I would have a picture here, but I forgot to take a picture while there actually was light so the pictures I took with my cheapy point-and-shoot were terrible (even worse than the pictures I’m willing post).  I probably could have taken a better picture with my phone (how sad is that?) but it didn’t occur to me.  I only recently joined this generation of fancy phone having, so I’m not used to using it in everyday situations.

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Books read in 2014: first quarter

I’ve read 30 books thus far this year (or so says my spreadsheet.  GoodReads only lists 29 books, but I’m too lazy to check for whatever book I missed).  I’m well on track to finish 100 books this year (my arbitrary yearly goal).

If I was better at periodically blogging about the books I would have longer reviews and such to link to, but I don’t.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.

Books of note this season (listed vaguely in the order I read them):

Flora Segunda and Flora’s Dare by Ysabeau Wilce – I had been feeling really blah about the teen fantasy I was reading, so it was delightful to stumble upon these books.  I really enjoyed the first half of the first book.  And liked it enough to finish the book and read the second.  I’m not sure if/when I’ll read book 3 (is it a trilogy?  If it is, I’ll definitely read Flora’s Fury, but if it’s just an open series, I probably won’t.  I just checked – GoodReads tells me it’s a trilogy).  It really was nice to read a book where I really cared about what happened next.  And then it got really busy and I got confused about what was going on and why.  I think I have a reading attention problem when I can’t keep track of what’s going on in a teen fantasy book…

The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle – this was a very successful book club book.  We had all meant to read it at some point in our childhood and never gotten around to it.  I really liked this book and we had some fun discussions about magic 🙂

The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier – another fantasy book I really enjoyed.  I had read her House of Shadows and loved it, although I was only eh about her Griffin trilogy.  I think I might just not be in a series mood.

Consuming Kids by Susan Lynn –  I had previously read about the psych/soc side of things, but it was interesting to get more insight in how the marketing side of things uses that research.  Definitely making me aware of what/how I gift my nephew.

Bad Science and Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre – these were really interesting.  I’ve always been interested in science (in a reading about it sort of way) and these had really good examples/anecdotes/data about why people need to take scientific research more seriously.

Constellation 2 by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller – I love the Liad books and I love all these short stories.  I already owned a couple of the chapbooks and I was thrilled they released all the stories in a couple of bigger volumes.

Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns by T. David Gordon – I have strong feelings about the songs sung during church services and this book mostly agreed with my feelings.  I have a fondness for reading books that agree with what I already think and provide me with new ways to talk about it with other people.

Touch by Michelle Sagara – I had really been looking forward to this book and now I’m looking forward to the next book.  I know I just said I’m over series but I’m really really interested in what happens next.  This is weird for me because I’m not really interested in ghost/destiny/tragic-teen-romances, but these books are really good.  I had tried to read some other book by this author (maybe Hunter’s Oath as Michelle West?) back in high school and wasn’t really into it.  I probably should give her other books another try – Cast in Shadow is on my bookshelf.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – another book club book.  I’m glad I finally got around to reading it, but I was pretty eh about it.  It was very male-chick-lit (which the internet is telling me is called “dick lit”) in the sense that it focused primarily on male relationships and male roles in society, but I’m not crazy about the style or worldview in the novel.  Maybe I would have liked it more if I had read it before seeing to movie?  Or back when I was a disaffected youth?

I like how my list of notable reads was 1/3 of the books I read.  And the other 2/3s were also really good (Fire and Hemlock made me hunt down different versions of Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin! The Book of Three isn’t quite as good as I remembered, but I still really liked it! I made recipes out of Food Matters!) but I didn’t feel up to babbling about all of them.

I’m doing better at eventually finishing books I start, although I’ve been lingering over the Bonhoeffer book for months now (I really am committed to finishing it!) I don’t count books as abandoned when I only read a dozen pages before I quit, because that’s just a prolonged deciding whether I want to read a book or not.

A book I started this quarter and abandoned after trying it for a considerable bit?  Another Insane Devotion by Peter Trachtenburg. I must have completely misread the blurb because I thought it was going to be a story of a guy who lost his cat and was estranged from his wife and then his journey to find them.  It was going to be filled will random stories and facts about cats and memories of happier family times.  Instead, it was much more  crass and pretentious than the type of memoirs I generally prefer to read.  I brought it with me on my work commute for a couple of days and I just never cared.

I’m pretty sure misunderstanding the book’s intent is all on me though.  I had read Cats Are Not Peas by Laura Gould several years ago and thought it was delightful and I was looking forward to reading another cat-centered book.

I have 35 books out from the library and will be out of town for the last two weeks of April.  I’m trying to read the handful of books that can’t be renewed (currently: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Tales from the 7000 Isles, Francis of Assisi in His Own Words, and Raising Steam) and then the fairly short books (Balfour and Meriwether, The Ordinary Princess, King of Elfland’ Daughter, the High King, Weather of the Heart and Wolf Tower) to try to clear out my shelves at least a little bit before my trip.

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March Clothing Budget

I like the idea of doing a monthly budgeting post because keeping track of the money I spend is the best way to keep from spending more than I realize (like how keeping an honest food diary, which I do periodically, stops me from rounding down how many pieces of licorice I ate that day).   However I’m also concerned about whether comparative budgeting posts are just another form of brag post (look at all the awesome things I bought this month!)  and if trying to find the best deals actually encourages me to do more shopping that I otherwise would (keeping clothes on my wishlist for the long term to wait to buy it when it goes under a certain price point or when a really good coupon pops up.  If I just wrote it off as too expensive, maybe I’d forget about some of it and move on to the next thing?  And if I really loved it, I would be willing to save up for it.)  When I also think about how impossible it would be for me to compare to bloggers with larger budgets, it just doesn’t seem all that useful.  (Random question – gift cards won in contests and free stuff given by companies are taxable income.  Do bloggers-who-get-free-stuff consider the increased tax liability of free stuff when calculating their budget?  I’m also curious about whether tailoring, shipping, and taxes count in most people’s budgets.)

I really want my clothing budget to reflect my wardrobe goals. While I don’t want to spend a huge amount of my income on clothes, I also want each item in my closet to be something I want to wear and not something that I bought because it was cheap or I thought I should own it (button-downs, I’m looking at you).  Really what I think I’m trying to say is that I’m tired of buying new clothes and still reaching for the same old things I wore last year.  I want to buy clothes to wear now and in the future.

I went back through and looked at the clothes I had bought for 2013.  I bought 95 items of clothing (omg, that’s a lot), of which 15 I don’t really like (poor fit, annoying to wash, bad stand-ins for the items I really wanted but talked myself out of…) and 18 I haven’t really worn (accessories/tights/shoes I didn’t really need, various items that don’t really work with my life) which means I’m meh about a third of the clothes I bought last year.  I want to re-think the way I’m buying things.

Yet with all these thoughts rumbling in my head, I did buy plenty of clothes this month (I’m not going to deny that I enjoy looking at pretty clothes and buying things).

Clothes bought in March:

Skirt – white floral cotton [similar to this but floral].  This is a little shorter than many of my skirts.   I bought it because I don’t really have many casual weekend skirts.  Most of my wardrobe these days had been taken over by my work attire, which hasn’t been worn much these last few weeks.  This skirt also has pockets, which I love.  I’ve already worn it a couple of times and like it thus far.

Skirt – purple herringbone wool/rayon [kinda this shaped].  This fits beautifully, and it’s nice to have clothes in colors.  It’s a good weight of wool and length for winter.  I’m not going to get a chance to wear this again before my winter clothes get stored for the summer.  Hopefully I still love this in October when they come back down (off season clothes live in a box on the shelf in the back of my closet).

Heels – burgundy leather [I think mine are these but in this cordovan color].  I really wanted a non black or brown shoe.  This is a fairly comfortable mid-heel, real leather, and was on super clearance.  I don’t really wear heels much, so this may end up being a “eh” purchase unless my next job requires more business clothes.

Skirt – purple polka dots, merino wool [grey & green version on ebay].  This is really soft.  It’s a gorgeous sweater knit.  I had never hear of the brand (Krimson Klover) but I checked out their website they seem lovely.  I haven’t yet decided whether this is going to have to be put away for summer.  Summers are pretty chilly in the PNW, and this skirt is short-ish and not too thick.

Cardigan – it’s a pretty teal flowy cardigan.  This was very much an impulse purchase because I really just wanted a flowy cardigan and this has a great shape.

Blazer – black with pinstripes.  I don’t wear the blazers I already own, so I wasn’t really looking for another one.  But I stumbled upon this in my size, and it matches a pencil skirt I already own.  I was vaguely looking for a proper interview suit (which pinstripes would not be my first choice) but this might work as a second interview or just to switch things up.  Are interview suits still a required thing?  I think I wore a black/grey tweedy skirt and black blazer at my last interview.

Sports bra – comfy and does what it’s supposed to, which is all I require.

Shirt – navy and black polka dots, cotton/poly [this one].  Impulse buy.  It’s comfy and navy & blue which I’ve already identified as two of my three (+ grey) preferred neutrals.  It’s styled like a sweatshirt, but it’s really just a long-sleeved tee.

Henley – blue stripes, poly/cotton/rayon [this one]. Impulse buy to replace a white + blue striped shirt I’ve had for a few years because I noticed it has several holes (and then I splattered spaghetti sauce all over it…).

– spent $54.50

I meant to take a picture of my clothes bought (that’s what bloggers do, right?) but I forgot and now the blazer and wool skirt are at the dry cleaners.  Oh well.

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