Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Shopping

Ok. First month of 2015 and my new shopping goals. I originally wanted to do a no shopping month for January (come onnnnnn it's on my 30 before 30) but it didn't quite work out..

I'm not gonna lie. I did not do well. I did the opposite of well. But.. it's ok. I am 99% sure that once I get my 'capsule-ish' wardrobes completed and in rotation I won't need anything else. I did buy a bunch of pants from Loft, but sadly most of them didn't fit / weren't long enough.


Here's what I got:




1 - J Crew Factory houndstooth top

2 - J Crew Factory polka dot top - sold out, similar from Target
3 - Loft popover sweater
4 - Loft lace tank
5 - Aldo figode booties 
6 - Loft colour block top
7 - Loft layering tee
8 - Express Chunky Cover Up
9 - Loft teardrop necklace
10 - Loft accordion necklace
11 - Express Romper - sold out
12 - Loft tall pindot cuffed ankle pants (normal length)
13 - Erin Motz One Bad Yogi Tank
14 - Aldo graelia flats
15 - Express Barcelona Cami
16 - Loft tall quilted slim ankle pants (normal length)

I am really happy with all of my purchases. The express cardigan, the loft layering tee, the J Crew polka dot top and the figode booties are my favourites though - seriously, the booties are so comfortable, I am gonna wear the shit out of the cardi, the polka dot top is perfect for work and the layering tee is so versatile.


Outfit one: cardigan / layering tee / old navy jeans / bow flats
Outfit two: polka dot top / pants from Target (old and altered)
Outfit three: cardigan / sleeveless blouse (old) / nobody jeans (old) / figode booties 

I also bought a little something something off Etsy that I just had to have when I saw it - it made me cry happy tears when I saw it and I can't wait to show you all. 

So how did I do with my goals?


1. No impulse shopping.

Fail. I made all purchases the same day that I put them in my cart. The whole sale frenzy is what caused me to go well over budget and put other things in my cart to get free shipping, which is what I am trying to get away from.

2. No more than $100 a month.
I think it's pretty obvious I went over $100 - unless I got everything for a mega steal. I'm pretty embarrassed about the number, so I'm not sharing it - I did write it in my planner so I will remember and not do it again. 

3. No more cheap clothes that don't last.
I think Loft, Express and J Crew make pretty good quality clothes and I have never had an issue with their products. I've bought shoes from Aldo before with no issues. I hope Erin Motz's tank doesn't let me down.

4. No more getting sucked in by other bloggers.
Complete and utter fail. I bought a few of my items after seeing them on Tracy, though I definitely threw my own things in there as well. Then I bought the cardi after seeing it on Gina, and the boots after seeing them on Pamela and after Katie shared they were on sale.. It's no-one's fault but my own though, I'm the one who clicked checkout.

5. Fill holes in my closet rather than create new spots.
Just okay. I needed new work tops and new work pants. I didn't need necklaces but I think the ones I bought will actually get wear, unlike my cheapy ones that I don't love. I really didn't need the tank tops but I know I'll wear them - and the romper is my Derby outfit so special occasions... But I'd say it was like 50/50 needs vs wants this month.

6. Buy more house stuff, but no more projects until previous projects are done.
The thing I got off Etsy will be for the house, but it's something small. We got 2 'latte' mugs (set of 4 here) from Target - but KC is the one who said we should buy them so it doesn't count because that never happens. We also worked on one of my projects, it's not finished but that did cost a bit of money as well. 

Ok. So I'd say a solid fail for the month budget wise - I'm happy with all my purchases but not with how much I spent. Not to mention the other stuff I'm not tracking - makeup, eating out, birthday gifts - these are all things that should be tracked and budgeted for and I will get there one day. Regardless of what I got, it's not ok that I went so over budget. Way to start the year right Kristen.


At the end of the day, if we don't go to Europe or buy the pretty house things that I want.. it's my fault. Not only that, I'm the one who wants to do these things, and I am sabotaging myself. KC couldn't care less about home decor or a trip to Europe - it's me, and if we aren't able to, I am the one to blame.

Hopefully February will be better, budget wise. I have my first Stitch Fix planned, but other than that I am going to try really hard not to buy anything. So stop posting cute outfits, guys! Just kidding. Need to work on my willpower. It's my issue, no-one elses. 


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Look what we DIY'd!

Sometimes I get fidgety and restless and just want to 'do something'. This normally means travel somewhere or buying something for myself or the house. For KC, it's wanting to do something sensible around the house or to our cars. A couple of weekends ago, he decides he wants to do something and was down to work on one of the projects I had waiting for him. I jumped at the opportunity and we started working on it the next day. We aren't made of money (who is?) so we don't get to do a lot around the house often, especially if we want to do things like travel, so it's little baby steps and things like this that make it all come together. It's easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged with how much you have to do (or want to do, more like it) but just focusing on the baby steps makes me feel better. Anyway, I couldn't wait to share it, but first a back story!

Right now we have a couch that has recliners on the ends, and end tables next to it. We have never had the need for a coffee table, or ottoman. However, I kinda hate our couch with a passion and one day we will be replacing it with either 2 couches or a sectional.. One day. When we do that, we won't have the recliners anymore, and since we both love to put our feet up, I thought an ottoman was the way to go. However, I really love the idea of a coffee table for storage.

And then I saw this pretty little thing:

buy here, if you're a billionaire
Unfortunately, the price tag - not so pretty. Funnily enough, I found it when I was googling ottoman / coffee table and the link lead me to Kristi's blog where she basically made her own. Totally badass, and you can check it out here.

I am not as badass, but I thought we could take some parts of the tutorial to make it work for us. I pinned it, thinking it would be ages before we would get around to it because we didn't actually need it immediately. But then I found the perfect coffee table on craigslist for $15. So, I had to get it. KC was not on board with this project or driving 30 minutes to pick up it up. We had to wait like 20 minutes for the guy and KC was not happy - the guy finally arrived, we put the coffee table in the truck and KC said "holy crap, this is a great piece of furniture. Great find babe!" which never happens so I felt like I should share it with the world. It has some nicks and marks, but overall in great condition for what we needed, not to mention $15.

ignore the marker, I was trying to show KC what we were going to do

Anyway, I'm not gonna do a tutorial because there are a zillion of those around, plus we basically followed Kristi's to a tee, tufting wise anyway.


The tufting is definitely not perfect, but I kinda love it. It's just resting on top in that photo, it's not finished yet, and I haven't done the buttons. The 'fabric' is a $15 drop cloth from Home Depot. Overall, it cost about $100 total - coffee table, foam, plywood, supplies... We have a lot of things left over, like the plywood, that we'll be able to use for future projects.

So it's not completely finished - I'm not sure what to do with the coffee table part. Stain it? Paint it white? My first instinct was to paint it white. We have white bookcases, and one day will have a white TV stand.. we have a black entry table, and a black computer desk that will not stay in the living room forever. Or should I do an off white, or a lighter wood like the inspiration picture? Or 'distressed'?

The reason I'm hesitant about staining it is the floors - will it clash? We need a rug, but that's a bit further down the line. And can you have 3 different things in one room? White, wood and black? I want to replace our end tables one day (they are currently black) but not sure what with yet.

Would love to hear your opinions about what to do with the coffee table part! Help!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Happy Birthday Pride & Prejudice!

Hello, my name is Kristen and I've got a problem.

Well, I probably have 99, but this is definitely one.

I am a hoarder. Of Pride & Prejudice books. This spills over into other Austens, and sequels and variations as well.

And what do we do with problems in blogland? We share them. And I also wanted to let you all know that 202 years ago today (!!) Pride & Prejudice was published. Isn't that amazing?



These are my two favourite copies. The one on the left is my oldest copy - almost 10 years old.  I still remember where I bought it - Angus & Robertson in Blacktown. And it was only $8 - that's pretty good for Australia! The one on the right is from Target, I think it was in their $1 section and I bought it on a whim in 2012 - I brought only my kindle when I moved here, thinking it wouldn't be long before I was reunited with my beloved books. These two have definitely been read the most.


The top book in the below photo is perfect for a, ahem, collector like myself - shows a lot of the covers of Austen's books over the years.


The top one is 4 of the books - Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma and Persuasion. If it had Northanger Abbey, it would have all my favourites! It was only $8 I think, and so freaking heavy. The extra pretty one was a fabulous find, if I do say so myself. The yellow copy is the penguin clothbound classics - I will get the entire collection in these, and other classics as well (not just Austen? Gasp!).


I love the annotated version in the photo below - it's my favourite to just grab and peruse for hours. The one below is Jane Austen's complete novels, a gift from my bestie last christmas.



The green copy in the photo below is the 200th Anniversary edition, it was only $5 so how could I say no. The one next to it is the manga version, KC got it for me last christmas. The one on the end is my oldest, published in 1961. 



The first book in the second row in the below photo is the lizzie bennet diaries edition, and the Emma next to it was another gift from my bestie last christmas. It has a bunch of quotes on it, it's so pretty I definitely want to see if I can find a P&P in the same collection.



I bought the BBC version in London in 2007. I love the idea of collecting them on my travels.




My dream copy would be the White's Fine edition, unfortunately they went out of business and you'd think the pages are made of gold because they are like $300. Just putting it out there, if anyone ever sees one in a used bookstore and it's reasonably priced.... I would love you forever (and pay you back)! But other than that, I am trying very hard not to buy any more copies - even I can see I'm running out of room it's getting a bit ridiculous.


You know what they say about hoarders, if you can carry your whole collection, it's not a problem.*


Oops. Well, on a scale from one to crazy, I would say I'm at least a little nuts. And now I want to read Pride & Prejudice, the only problem is - which one?

*totally made that up.
Image Map

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Running Tips for Beginners (& my expativersary)

Before we get started, I just wanted to talk about me (what?!) for a little bit. Three years ago today (ok technically yesterday, stupid time difference) I hopped on a plane for the other side of the world. The day before was Australia Day and I spent the entire day with my mum, doing Australian things - eating good food and relaxing at the beach. I wanted my last day to be all about family and Australia. It was perfect. The day I left, it took me about 2 hours to say goodbye to my mum & little brother - we hugged and cried, hugged and cried... I didn't want to go. But I did. It was so hard, but so easy.  The Sydney airport is set up so that you go round a corner and through some doors and you cannot get back out, you can't see the people you just said goodbye to.. It's brilliant, really - I have been in airports where my mum stood outside the security line for an hour waving goodbye. I cried the entire time. So, I love those doors.

via
Once I was in those doors, I was ok. The person who walked in behind me gave me a knowing smile and a pat on the back. He asked me how long I'd be gone - and I told him "less than a year. Time will fly by. I'll be home before I know it."

I know I talk about Australia a freaking lot, and how much I miss it, and how hard being an expat is.. and it is hard. It sucks sometimes. I miss my home and my family, and the food - bloody hell, I miss the food. But most of the time it doesn't suck, I have family here, and the food is okay as well. Because even with all the homesickness.. it was the best decision I ever made and I wouldn't change a damn thing. I would take my life with KC with a side of homesickness all day every day. Happy life.


Happy expativersary, Kristen.

Moving on...

I don't really feel like talking about my progress today, so I thought I would take a different approach to Training for Tuesday. So, I give you... my running tips for beginners. Now, I know what you're thinking - Kristen, there are approximately 1 billion other posts and articles about how to start running. Do you really need to add your 2 cents? Why yes, yes I do. Thanks for asking.


Here is my advice on how to start running:

One foot. Move it in front of the other. Then move the foot you left behind in front of the one that just advanced. Repeat a few times, going a little faster than walking.

Ok, in all seriousness. Running does not have to be complicated. It really doesn't. Some seasoned, serious, hardcore runners might smack me for the stuff I am about to say - but I know how daunting it can be to think about shoes, heart rate monitors, fartleks, foam rollers, cross training, races and paces... No wonder so many people are just like nope, not for me.

Here's the thing though - I am almost 100% positive that 90% of the world would love running if they gave it a real, honest, I'm-actually-doing-this go of it. Yes, it's hard, yes you feel like you're dying. You need to be patient, and believe in yourself, and  go easy on yourself.. But you can do this. I firmly believe most everyone can - barring injuries or whatever.

First tip: Ignoring my rant about everyone should run - if you don't want to do it - don't. Simple. Stop reading. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Do not do something you do not want to do.

But first, let me show you this:
mizuna

Ok, so you want to do this? Then let's do it.

First up, what do you even need?

Some shoes - I've had 3 pairs in my 'running career'. 2 pairs of asics and 1 (currently using) pair of Brooks which I love. Here's the thing, I did not get fitted or anything until 2012 and I started running in 2009. I never got fitted, I just grabbed the cute purple shoes made for netball and went at it. And I was fine. When I moved here, I went to a local running store and tried a bunch with some help from the friendly staff. These are without a doubt the best running shoes I have ever owned and yes I am still using them. I did 'fine' with my asics, but I am glad I have these. So it is up to you. Some people will be lucky and be fine with any old shoes to start - like myself. KC never got fitted or anything, he ran in the nike frees but then moved to those 5 fingers and ended up injuring himself so badly that he hasn't run since 2010. So, maybe start easy and slow on whichever shoes you have, and then if you like it go to a running store to be fitted. Tip: if you like your toenails, size up. 

Something to wear - I don't know about you, but I love a cute exercise outfit. New workout clothes always make me want to actually workout. However, more often than not, I grab the same nike shorts and a grungy old tank in summer, and tights and a nike jumper in the winter. I have a very small chest so I wear cheap, simple under armour sports bras, but if you need more support I've heard that this is an area you shouldn't skimp on. My Lorna Jane tights were $90 each and they are still going strong after 5 years - you do not need to spend this much. Sure, they last longer but to start off, go to Old Navy or Target. As for the other stuff.. I rarely wear sunglasses, or beanies, or headbands (they never fit!), or gloves or face mask thingys. If you want to, go right ahead. 

tank / shorts / tee / half zip pullover / capris / tights

Something to listen to, or not - I am a weirdo, and sometimes I like to listen to my feet hitting the pavement, or an audiobook, or sometimes music. You don't have to listen to what everyone says are 'the best running songs you MUST have on your playlist' - listen to whatever you want. It does help the time go faster. But who knows, you might be like me and dig the silence. I use $10 earbuds from Target. When I started, I used those horrible ones that came with the iPhone and fell out every damn 5 minutes, but I survived.

Something to tell you how far & fast you are going - sure, you can buy a hella fancy Garmin and I am super excited to get one for my birthday (OMG it arrived yesterday and I am super excited, can I have it now please?) - but like I said, I've been doing this for 5 and a half years and I did just fine without it. I recommend the nike running app, it's free and tracks your pace and GPS, it just doesn't tell you while you're running like the Garmin does. But it is also zero dollars. I've also used the Map my run one - I just prefer the nike one.

via / lots of info about running apps here
Somewhere to run - Outside, treadmill, on the spot. Ok, the last one - not so good.

Someone to say 'good job!' when you're done - a significant other, a running buddy, a bloggy buddy in another state who you can text, your dailymile friends. It's nice. 


Somewhere to stretch - stretching is important. I have never used a foam roller but I know plenty of people who love them, so that's up to you. But busting out a 15 minute yoga video (which I now know by memory and can do at the gym) after a run has helped me a ridiculous amount. I never used to stretch after runs and I'd be sore for a couple of days - now, I could run every day if I wanted to (but I don't).

Ok, now that you have all that you 'need' where do you start??

Download the couch to 5k app. If you are a beginner beginner, this app is legit. I think I have used it like 4 or 5 times over my running career, because I haven't been running the whole time and I had to start again more than I'd like. It's like $2 and if you don't want to pay that (I get it) you can literally get the same plan here - you can just print it and look at it before you go for your run, or have it in front of you on the treadmill. When I very very very first started, I would run 15 seconds (yes, seriously) and walk a minute. Then I upped the running to 30 seconds, then a minute, then 2 minutes.. and so on and so forth.

Walking is okay - As noted above, I walked more than I ran when I first started. Heck, I still walk now sometimes. It is okay - not a big deal at all. Walk until you feel like you can run again. Even if your running is more like shuffling, it's okay. Running is hard, I will admit that - you think to yourself, I am dying - why am I doing this? It takes awhile for that feeling to pop up less and less, but it will. Until then, walk some.

Make it a habit - still to this day, thinking of running as a habit like brushing my teeth is better than thinking of it as exercise. At the very minimum, I tell myself to run 1 mile and I can be done. 1 is better than 0. I have never done just 1 but it helps to get me out there.

via
Go in the morning -You know how people say they are a morning person or a night owl? I'm neither. I'd love to sleep in every day and go to bed early at night. Heck, throw a nap in there and that's a party in my opinion. However, I can get up in the morning much easier than I can convince myself to go after work. Sometimes I will get changed in my gym gear and drive straight passed the gym.. by 'accident'. I sometimes go for a run around the neighbourhood after work but it has to be perfect weather - not too hot, not too cold. Not to mention I had to not have a stressful day at work and I had to have eaten what I consider 'healthy' as well. I know those reasons make no sense and actually running would help both of them (reduce stress, work off the bad food) but I didn't tell you I was logical. Anyway. Mornings are the bomb for workouts because you've gotten it out of the way and it sets you up to have a great day. If you really can't get up in the morning, whether it's for work or lazy reasons, whatever. Just a suggestion.

Reward yourself - whatever works for you. Maybe it's food, which doesn't work for me. Maybe it's shopping, or a 'me day'. Whatever - it's nice to have something to work towards and look forward to.


Set small goals - and I mean small! I cried happy tears the first time I ran a full minute, when I ran my first .5 km, when I ran my first full km and of course when I ran my first 5k. If I had set out trying to run 5k in one go (ahem, actually that was my very first run) I would have been disappointed and discouraged, most likely would have given up. Baby steps.

Be patient - it goes with the above. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen. I promise. You can't not get better.

Be nice to yourself - I used to try the mean thing, telling myself I was fat and if I wanted to not be fat, I'd have to run faster. That doesn't work. Whether you tell yourself in your mind, or out loud - repeat this - I am doing this. I have come so far. I am so proud of myself. Look how strong my body is! I am a runner.


Push yourself - ok, so maybe this should be know when to push yourself. Your second run? Probably not the best time to bust out that 8 minute mile, even if you 'can' do it. You can easily fall into a rut like comfort zone when you are running so knowing when to push it, push it real good, even for just a second, is important.

Don't worry or compare - don't compare yourself to anyone but yourself. But don't rely too much on that either - so your pace hasn't improved in a month, who cares? You're still doing it. Am I breathing through my nose or my mouth? Is my posture correct? Am I landing on my feet correctly? I worried so much about how my feet were landing that I gave myself an injury that thankfully didn't last very long. But after that, I just went out and ran, not focusing on anything. Your body is made to run, and you can worry about your posture and breathing later - chances are, it will come naturally to you in the end. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. In the words of ye olde Nike, Just do it.


Join daily mile, or have some other way to stay accountable - knowing I have to log my runs on daily mile makes me more likely to go running. I didn't say it was fool proof, but it helps. I could also say here to 'find a running buddy or group' like every running list thingy, but I've only ever enjoyed running with one person (and it really did help!) but other than that I'm all about the solo over here.

Sign up for a race - when you're sure you love it or at least enjoy the feeling when you're done, go for it. If you're like me, you don't like wasting money. Plus you get a free shirt.. and a banana.

RUNtelligence

The most important thing - running is not all or nothing. Find what works for you.  If it's never doing more than a 5k, running once or twice a week or running marathons. You do you! And when you do, make sure you link up with Alyssa and Tracy for Training for Tuesday each month - great way to put your goals and progress out there.

alyssagoesbang

So obviously I love running. It's awesome. Anyone can do it, it can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it, hypothetically the weather doesn't stop you going out for a run, you can do it anywhere and it's awesome. Did I mention it's awesome? I'm sure there are more tips and stuff, but this is what works for me. So.... you gonna go for a run now?