F/W Season (of Discontent)

It's mid-November. Leaves turn the color of Tang and Kool-Aid and then just brown and gone. I hate the early darkness. The pull towards blankets and slippers and tea and chocolate is strong. If I can't hibernate, I will be displeased. (So, mostly, I'm displeased.)

As with times of displeasure, I want. I want a lot of stuff. A parka. Some stupid warm cozy vegan fake Uggs for when I inevitably stop caring about looks this winter. Dress after dress. Necklaces. Sneakers. Sandals for next summer. And frankly, I've already overspent plenty. And none of this is going to make me love fall or winter or fix the issues I'm dealing with right now.

But it's very hard to get back on the right track. To find gratitude in nature when all you see is dying and death and pain and hurt, both seasonally and with the world at large. It's hard to find faith in the equilibrium of the world and in Mr. Rogers posthumously advising you to look for the people who are helping. And sometimes it's hard to know how to help. Especially when I want to cocoon and be a misathrope (misandrist?). There is something about the winter that really takes the "helper" out of me. It doesn't take my empathy - which I have in spades. But the ability to show up and participate and to feel connected and grateful.

You can see why a new parka, left unexamined, would seem like an easier fix, right? But it's not. And so I have to figure out how to reconnect -- against biology and brain chemistry and all that can downward spiral. That's what the fix is. Hugs. People. Cats. Warmth. Soup. Candles. The power in people who are good. That's what's actually important.


Hacks I learned on the internet: pastel hair dye

If you've ever bleached your hair and dyed it any of the Manic Panic-range of unnatural colors, you'll know they fade pretty fast. The blues and greens more so than the reds and pinks but they all fade, especially the more you wash your hair. Since I've been doing these kinds of colors with the front of my hair for a while I end up with the color I actually want for about 1 week out of a month. The first two weeks are way too bright for my liking, then I hit a nice pastel week.  The fourth week I'm down to kind of white with unfortunate undertones of the color I used to have. The kind of week where you hope you don't run into anyone who is that professionally important to you.

Recently I heard a rumor online that you can mix dye in with your conditioner to give the color a boost when it's fading - or to create a more pastel and less vivid color overall. I was at the end of my dye cycle so I tried it. And it worked.

^ This was white with lilac (read: green) undertones before. This was 50/50 conditioner and shampoo for under 10 minutes. Yes, even my pajamas are striped.

^ This is the color I used. When you use this with the proper directions, it comes out way more vivid than I actually want. 

The verdict: Not only did it work but there was so much less to clean up; I just rinsed the dye and conditioner out together and I didn't need to use gloves or a dye brush for application. 

Manic Panic: I prefer Manic Panic because they've always been staunchly against animal testing, they label their products as vegan and they're made in the USA. I just found out that Manic Panic carries a Pastelizer for their hair dyes (you mix it with their current colors), so that's good to know. I'm not sure if it would last longer than the conditioner/dye method but I'm glad to know there's something else to try if this fades too fast. 


Happy belated Halloween, love, your horrible blogger friend, Jesse

I know it's not even the day after Halloween but the day after the day after Halloween - so I'm pretty late in posting a Halloween post but, as procrastinators love to say, "Better late than never." aka #tardy4life

My costume this year - Andy Warhol. And I didn't even have to carry around a Campbell's soup can all night. I usually try to avoid buying a bunch of Halloween-specific stuff for my costumes so the fact that I only needed to buy a vintage Polaroid Swinger was appealing. I was going for non-suit Andy and I already had a) a black turtleneck or striped shirt, b) a blazer, c) Ray Bans or clear frames, d) dark pants and dark shoes. I avoided wearing stuff I wear all the time (striped shirts) so the costume would look less like me.  (Word to the wise: I neglected to get a Polaroid that had a neckstrap -- don't they all have them, for f's sake!? --  so I ended up duct-taping ribbon down the back, which failed on me twice that night but was good enough. But you should get one with camera strap loops already.)

The hair. This was a combination of Batiste and talc plus hair spray. I was basically off-gassing Batiste and hairspray aerosol all night. (Plus fake-dandruff shedding.) I tried to get better ideas for how to create white hair without having to buy scary-chemical Halloween hair spray but the talc/hairspray combo was the best DIY I found online. I am usually impressed with DIY stuff I find online but this was an exception. I found makeup message board where the author of the white hair quandary was unaware that scary-chemical Halloween hairspray existed and was delighted there was an answer to all of her problems. And hey guys, don't judge her for being really daring and wanting white hair for you know, a wacky choice like a Bride of Frankenstein costume. Please don't let me digress into the insecurity of women to not be something conventionally attractive for Halloween. Let's cue Lindsey Lohan as zombie bride in Mean Girls and move on.  Summary: this was the best I came up with but if I had to do it again, I'd try a little harder to figure out white hair that doesn't shed.

As for wins on the internet DIY front, these pepper jack-o-lantern dip holders were my favorite. As per usual with most of the foodstuffs-with-faces I like, they are recommended for children in the original blog post. The dip kind of smooshed out of their faces a little bit but whatevs, it's Halloween. (The big white things are hearts of palm.)

We also carved pumpkins this year. (I like Halloween and all but we have friends who really like Halloween so all of this stuff was for those events.) I picked a tiny one, mostly because I hate scooping the guts out and also because they're just going to get composted anyway. Oh, and also because I'm an underachiever I know my limits. Another bonus: my pumpkin was less than $2. As expected by all, I created a teeny tiny cat-o-lantern while my boyfriend free-styled a complex jack-o-lantern that looked flawless in essentially the same amount of time. 

Turns out the teeny tiny cat-o-lantern was a sound decision, though. As soon as we put our pumpkins outside, they began their race to the death and my smaller pumpkin was more structurally sound. Sorry, Better Pumpkin.

Mother Nature truly gets the last laugh. We need to scrape the flattened pumpkin bodies off our fire escape and get them to the city composting drop off next week. Good one, Nature.


Life Lately

I feel like I've done a lot of running around lately, so much that I've had conversations about down time (or "me time") with a few people. My new ideal is always having one open weekend day where I don't have structured plans so I can do whatever I want. Or whatever I feel needs to be done, anyway.

Here's what I have been doing lately (some are Instagram rehashes) - most recent to least recent:

^^ Chopped my hair off. Well, Fringe Salon did anyway. {American Apparel black chambray dress - just filed Chapter 11 today! Which means Dov Charney no longer has a huge stake!; necklace was a gift} Ollie is sleeping on the bed, per usual.

 ^^ Hat season! This is the vegan Askida hat I ordered last year. It doesn't have a chin strap and catches some air while windy. After consulting the internet, I learned that you can use a bandana or headband around the inside of the hat to keep it fitting snug on your head. Or I will just DIY some chinstraps soon. {vegan, handmade}

^^ It's denim vest season. This was a kids' denim jacket that I lopped the arms off of to make a denim vest. Vintage brooches and 1" buttons either from my youth or thrift shops. 

^^ At the Ethical Writes CO clothing & accessories swap. I got 2 dresses, a pair of ankle/capri pants, a bracelet & a scarf. It was a good size, everyone was super nice and it was nice to see others leave with stuff I brought. 

^^ Finally got my LA Eyeworks frames filled with my prescription; immediately started dressing like everyone's favorite art teacher aunt/Advanced Style ladies. The glasses were made in Itlay & the leopard sweatshirt is a re-use buy.

^^ At my best friend's kid's birthday party. The kids were pretty cute too but I'm only posting goat pictures here. Some of these buddies were more interested in people than others...

^^ So, goat time was a little short-lived with some of these buddies but we got a lot of time with other animals, too. It was really amazing seeing kids interact with these rescued farmed animals.

^^ Pit stop at Lagusta's in New Paltz. Although they don't have tea, they did have chocolate and Miyoko's cashew cheese.

^^ Delicious Miyoko's cashew cheese, wrapped in fig leaves.

^^ Trying to remember that sometimes I do still love NYC. At any rate, I can't figure out where else I want to live, but I think everyone gets like that at year 15.

^^ I've had so much vegan pizza lately. This is the Larry Tate veganized at Two Boots. Housemade ricotta!

^^ New shirt by Amanda Moekel via her Etsy store, Considering Animals. This was screen printed on a second-life thick black boxy tee and it's pretty much perfect. I love the design and the shirt, both. 

 ^^ Berry banana scones from Isa Does It. Easy and delicious. These were for a cookbook potluck we had with friends.


Hacks I learned on the internet

Pinterest Fails is one of my favorite sites for validation. (Clothing! Hair! Nails!) While I love the world of DIYs and hacks for their lofty promises, I also love when people out them as the farce they sometimes are. Thankfully they do work sometimes, though, if you're really talented or you picked stupid-easy ones. I picked two stupid-easy ones.

The first --- keeping head scarves in place!  I tried this Refinery 29 trick to keep your scarves from slipping when you use them as a headband. I used the elastic-based grippy headband they mention. (They also have another one for headband scarves that worked somewhat, but not all that well. This one involves tying a knot at the top of your head and then the final knot at your neck.)

It worked! Previously I've never been able to keep fake silk scarves on my head and now they stay on with no fuss.

The second--- saving a broken lipstick - is really a reverse-tutorial success. I had an e.l.f. lipstick** that became dislodged from it's holder and was no longer usable. I planned to put the lipstick itself in a smaller container so I could still use it albeit with a brush and figured I'd check out broken lipstick DIYs for containers ideas or tips on how to do it neatly -- and instead I found a bunch of tutorials that had a million steps, heat sources and stuff like makeup palette spatulas involved. After reality-checking myself over at the For the Love of Vegan Makeup FB community, I proceeded with my original plan of dislodging all remaining lipstick with something sharp and pointy, putting all lipstuff in a new container and pressing it down. It worked and it took all of 30 seconds.

Both were ridiculously easy and both help me use things I already have. I'm trying to cultivate a mindset of using what I have and not dismissing things because they're cheap (e.l.f. lipstick) or easy to procure (so many cheap vintage scarves in the world). I'm hoping that talking about it will help me do so.

Let me know if you've picked up any super simple hacks you want to share. I like road testing the really easy stuff.

**I've recently found out the e.l.f. has crappy palm oil practices so I'm phasing out my use, and will eventually replace my makeup with stuff with better practices.) I have not yet wrapped my mind around palm oil in foods - I still use Earth Balance and eat crappy accidentally-vegan junkfood like Nutter Butters, which both have palm oil. Progress, not perfection. It is a long road.


OMG #konmari (not entirely a love story)

I dutifully read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo after so many people IRL and online said they loved it. And so many people said it was changing their life. (Goop has video tutorials of the #konmari folding methods, even.) I usually go in for stuff like this - yes, Tim Gunn, show me how to cull my wardrobe. Yes, 33 items. Yes, minimalist capsule wardrobe. Yes, "if I have't worn it in a year" rule. But it hit me at a time where I was burned out on people telling me what to do with my crap and most of my stuff is fairly well organized and pared down. There were only a few areas where I felt I had too much stuff (paper! kitchen!) and I was just too lazy to do anything about it. It didn't hurt enough...yet. But when it does I assume I'll be able to organize those things like a functional human being.

I dug into the slim book assuming I'd find a bunch of lists and on one hand, there are. There are a bunch of detailed steps for you to complete in order. 

On the other hand, I was surprised to find an incredibly sad narrative of a little kid-to-adult and some obsessive behavior around cleaning. Like, your family tells you to leave their stuff alone after you've tried to clean it a bunch of times already and instead you cull and discard it and then deny it -- and you're like 12. You've been focused on cleaning and organizing since you're 5. Literally crying over shower slime on your shampoo bottle. When I say "sad narrative" it's not a judgement of fault -- something is not right with most of our kidhoods. I have terrible control issues over certain things that I for sure know are around childhood issues. But the control issues it manifested in this person just happened to come out in tidying -- and then it was put into a book. For the public to read. Later in the book Marie Kondo does mention where her tidying obsession came from, and admits it was rooted in emotional family stuff but I wish she did that at the start of the book. I spent most of the book trying to figure out what her self-awareness was around her behaviors -- because in order to teach others sustainable tidying habits that work for them she can't have the assumption that her starting point is the average starting point. I kept asking myself what in this book was borne of her learned skill and experience with what works for others and what was just a gift of her natural compulsion that people who don't think like her would not be able to sustain.

The premise - as you likely have read 100x elsewhere - is that you go through your place focusing on one type of thing at a time (clothing, books, papers, etc) and keep what you need or what sparks joy, find places for that stuff and discard the rest. The thought is that by analyzing what you love and what you got rid of, you'll learn what works for you and the lifestyle you want.  And while you will need to clean, you won't need to tidy. (I think the semantics around those two words are interesting and I do wonder if some people are so jazzed about this book because they think she means you won't have to clean again.) The idea is that once this process is done, you'll know exactly what to buy (or not buy) in the future and you will keep up on routine cleaning because everything has a place.

Did I like any of it? Yes:

- I like the idea of keeping what sparks joy for you

- Learn from your mistake buys

- Everything has its place

- I liked her ideas around folding! 

- Her ideas around paper organizing (planning to implement these)

- Thanking your possessions - Hear me out on this one. When she first describes taking off her jacket when she gets home and thanking it for doing a good job as she hangs it up, I balked. Whaaaat? Thanks anyway, I'm not talking to my clothes. But I jokingly tried it out - just to see! - and it does help reinforce that the stuff you has is valuable and is worth care and it also helps foster a feeling of "abundance" (to use a self-help buzzword)

^    #konmari -folded sweaters for the win!   ^ 

Did I hate any of it it? Yes:

- She says not to "downgrade" clothes from wearing out of the house to wearing around the house but I disagree on some points; I have a ton of graphic t-shirts I just never wore and they work as gym shirts just fine (better than the boring plain shirts I wore previously) and I have some yoga pants that didn't work out for yoga and ended up being loungewear or PJs -- I am into repurposing whenever possible!

- She really focuses on getting rid of stuff but not how to do it in a way that's at all ecologically responsible. Thankfully it seems a lot of people are pushing their stuff to consignment while using her process (this uptick in consignment is credited to #konmari) but I shudder to think of what other people are doing. How much is ending up at thrift shops that sell overseas and not at consignment or swaps? I think people should get rid of what they don't wear and learn from it - so that's all fine by me and stuff I do myself - but I think to encourage such a massive cull and not actually factor in personal responsibility for getting that stuff to where it will most likely be used is crappy. The book is so completely centered on self with a pretty minimal self-awareness that I'm not really surprised. I'm glad she wants people to have enough awareness to learn what works for them but I think self awareness is missing on this point - and another I'll get into next. {Marie Kondo mentions here to get rid of items in a way that "sparks joy" for you so while that could constitute as aligning with your strongest values, I'm not sure it's the same thing. There are many things I do that I feel strongly about and most proud of but they don't actually spark joy. Anyway, I don't remember reading anything similar in her book.}

Interestingly, when I was reading this book I also listened to Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast (the "Cleaning Liz's Closet" episode) and they discussed how it was so much easier for Liz to let go of the stuff from her closet when she knew where it was going and she was sure it was supporting a good cause. I thought that was an interesting perspective -- and it certainly resonated with me.

- There seems to be this assumption that people will absolutely learn what not to buy in the future and won't end up with unwanted stuff. I don't know about you but I know what I wear and what I like and I try stuff on and I have stuff tailored and still - some stuff just doesn't work. Same with housewares. I can have the best intentions and end up with a dud. So I personally find that "tidying" needs to be on-going and not just a 1-time life event.

- There also seems to be an assumption that whatever habits that had you buying stuff that doesn't work for you will just be lifted. People accumulate items for a very complex set of reasons - some happenstance, some emotional - and different emotional reasons at different times. I feel like it's asking a lot of people to just learn from their mistake buys and their cherished buys and from that be able to reset these emotional habits -- every day, every minute, every mood -- to only the things that work best for them. It's taken me years of looking at what I buy, when and why to get anywhere on this one. And it's always a work in progress.

- Also there's an assumption that what best fits someone's needs won't change? Maybe I missed it but there was nothing I saw that addressed shifting tastes or shifting needs and repeating a "life changing" cull. Your life is going to change. I can't imagine how some fairly surface lessons learned ages ago is going to support that successfully.

In summary: Overall, I liked some of the tips from this book. I kind of wish it wasn't sold as a life-changing process because I think it lacks the emotional intelligence spectrum it needs to actually look at habits around lifestyle and consumption. I don't know - the skeptic in me is annoyed that this has been put forth as such a panacea. (There is a claim in the book that some people have lost weight and become healthier after tidying...for real.) Who knows, maybe a year from now people will still have completely changed lives due to her book and all their stuff is still pared down and no bad buys have been made and they're still totally on top of stuff and if so, I'm happy to be proven wrong.

I really loved some of the tips and I think they'll be really helpful. (Or so far I think they have been helpful - like the folding!) I liked the overall premise of keeping what sparks joy and intuitively trusting yourself to know what those things are instead of using an arbitrary list of staples or investment pieces everyone must have. It was so nice to not see a list of "10 staples every closet should have" including a white button-down and trench coat as the guiding light on the wardrobe front. That means you also have to trust yourself in getting rid of stuff and learn to be okay with getting rid of things that logically should work for you and yet, don't.

While I'm not sure I think all the promises this book makes will come true, I think the steps she talks about are worth doing in the areas you need. And hopefully you won't end up like this


In but not for the sake of being in

This summer shoes that I would normally not be caught dead in came back in style. I feel like this has happened before. Heels, Birks, certain sneakers or boots. And I've been able to resist wearing ugly things that I hate. Somehow. This year, however, comfort and urban hoofing really took priority. There is a trade off for walking miles each day on cement and asphalt and that trade off feels like fallen angels. Or fallen arches, whatever.

This year I purchased 2 hideously ugly pairs of "shoes" in the name of comfort but also gave myself a pass and barked at anyone who questioned them:  "BUT TEVAS AND BIRKS ARE IN THIS YEAR! THEY ARE." Normally I couldn't give two f's about what's in but it was my minuscule consolation prize for having broken down and becoming the owner of the ugliest pairs of "shoes" known to man (besides 95% of Fleuvogs and every single Uggs...Ugg?).

Anyway, before summer is over I figure out I should out myself for wearing these guys most days. The silver "Birks" I got were an impulse buy driven by hobbling around NYC in pain. They were knock-off Birks, vegan, silver and had a comfortable foot bed but no decent labor standards to speak of. (Birks themselves don't ship their vegan versions to the US of A - not sure if it's because they hate us or love us?)

The Tevas actually do come with an ethical supply chain and labor standards cited -- I found them by poking around on their site and seeing Ethical Supply Chain hidden as an afterthought at the bottom of the Customer Service page (but not FAQs). That essentially links you here. Thanks for hiding it really well, Tevas! That was a fun game. So glad you're really proud of it!

Urban Renewal dress
Tevas sandals
Cheap sweatshop necklace I caved on at Beacon's Closet