Sunday, June 26, 2016

How I Shop

A lot.


For five years I've worn a uniform Monday-Friday. My weekend clothes are casual - San Antonio is very hot, very casual, and little people are trying to wipe excreta on me constantly. A couple of years ago I got fed up with the overall mediocrity and lack of cohesion of my wardrobe and set about being more deliberate, considered, and responsible.  Sending boxes and boxes of unworn clothes and shoes to my sister in law has also been informative. Lessons there:

1) Don't buy heels, Julie. You don't wear them. Ever.
2) Don't buy aspirational items - nothing for events I don't attend with a body I don't have, etc.
3) Limit prints. These items get marooned. Restrict the fun to scarves and jewelry and eyeliner.
4) Don't buy anything that doesn't immediately go with 3 other items that you already own (exception: buying a capsule of 3-6 pieces at once that go together).
5) No cheap shoes.
6) Don't buy anything you're not genuinely excited to wear out of the store.

Another turning point was the documentary The True Cost.

The older I get and the more I learn the more I realize every dollar spent is a political act. I'm attempting to make the most sustainable and ethical choices available in clothing manufacture, sourcing of meat and seafood, et cetera. (This is a privilege I'm thankful for and don't take lightly). These concepts inform my shopping mindset:

Fewer but better.

Durability, not disposability.

Cohesion and curation - not trend.

Don't waste time (aspiration outfits are a major distraction - and a cause of anxiety as they hang there, unworn).

If you wouldn't buy it full price, don't buy it on sale.

Cotton sweaters decay faster than my interest in bikram yoga. On the no-buy list along with anything requiring special underwear or that is difficult to sit in.

The development of a uniform: not the same pieces daily, but cultivation of a uniform formality, tone, style. (Remember, this is me. Some people like glam days and down days. I like a forecast of 100% chance of drapey tees).

That is how I approach shopping. The breakthrough, however, was in cultivating a relationship with local boutique Grove Hill. Grove Hill is a mile from my house, has a playroom for the girls, and salespeople who know my name, what I'm looking for, and what is important to me. I say, "Kay, I need navy pants," and she collects ten pairs and I try them on. No wandering. As I write this I'm wearing a long sleeve gray tee (made in USA) and white jeans (made in USA) from Grove Hill. Exciting? Not really. Ethically sourced? Yes. Comfortable? Yes. Perfectly suited to my lifestyle with my partners in grime? Yes. So I bought this shirt in three colors. My newest brand-love from Grove Hill is Amour Vert (made in USA), also sold at Nordstrom - because after all this soul-searching, I'm just a woman who loves to wear tee shirts (ps you would not believe how soft this shirt is).

Because I value customer service and need guidance and direction, I shop at Nordstrom and Grove Hill. Nordstrom's free personal stylist service is a wonderful resource and a lot of fun. By limiting my choices (which each have hundreds and thousands of options), the anxiety of SHOPPING THE ENTIRE INTERNET is gone. (I do occasionally purchase from Zappos, the Hautelook app, or Amazon but almost always it's an item I've scouted at Nordie's but my size is sold out or a brand I'm familiar with -- for instance I stalk Paul Green shoes, Amour Vert, Nordstrom's house workwear line Classiques Entier, and Acrobat (their silk tunics are perfect) on Haute Look).

Would love to hear your thoughts, friends! A little bit of a break from the self-congratulation... :)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Fifth Anniversary

All The Whiskey in Heaven

Not for all the whiskey in heaven
Not for all the flies in Vermont
Not for all the tears in the basement
Not for a million trips to Mars

Not if you paid me in diamonds
Not if you paid me in pearls
Not if you gave me your pinky ring
Not if you gave me your curls

Not for all the fire in hell
Not for all the blue in the sky
Not for an empire of my own
Not even for peace of mind

No, never, I’ll never stop loving you
Not till my heart beats its last
And even then in my words and my songs
I will love you all over again

Charles Bernstein

Anniversaries 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Lasers Pew Pew Pew

About eight months ago during a Chicago visit I saw my friend Quenby at her cosmetic dermatology office for facial laser treatments. Here are the results!

Monday morning. Here I've already had BBL treatment for red and brown spots and my face is covered in numbing cream in preparation for the Halo laser. I also have eyelash extensions and suddenly remember how much I miss them. Note to self: have tiny hairs glued to eyelids whilst reflecting on how strange womanhood is.

The BBL treatment was brief and consisted of very short, zinging staccato zaps.

Click here to see before and after photos of a long term followup study of BBL. (Caveat reader: the authors are affiliated with the laser manufacturer but hey science ain't free).

NOTE: I am not a dermatologist and not much acquainted with the different types of lasers, indications, etc. Get your information from a reputable source and visit a board-certified dermatologist -- this is not a Groupon-type procedure!

In contrast, the Halo treatment took about 45 minutes and was very painful, because it took a long time and consisted of drawing the wand across my face, section by section (instead of zap here, zap there as the BBL was). I am also melodramatic and have a low pain threshold. I don't like getting my teeth cleaned, can't bear to load weight on my kneecap during yoga, etc. I complain about discomfort so you can imagine how I carry on when in pain.

For an hour after the procedure my face felt very hot (this is normal). This photo is four hours post-laser. 

Tuesday morning.

Wednesday morning. This looks painful but was actually completely painless. My face felt a bit tender to the touch and my face was taut with swelling so smiling felt awkward, but not painful.

Thursday morning. You would think Clem would have said something about my face but she didn't -- she probably couldn't articulate it then.

Friday morning. Swelling going down, sloughing starting.

Saturday morning.

Pretty quickly back to normal after this - so much so I forgot to take photos. I went about my daily schedule this entire time -- I am vain enough to have this procedure but not self-conscious enough to stay home (no reason to). If you'd ever like to know how much no one is looking at you, walk around with a red-brown peeling face and swollen eyes and observe no one even giving a second glance. (At least that's how it felt, but again, I'm not very self-conscious and disfigured people are commonplace where I work - everyone is conditioned/too polite to even look). The men I work with said: WTF did you do to yourself?! and the women said TELL ME EVERYTHING! and there's more fodder for nature-of-womanhood reflection.

I wish I had taken a 'before' photo where I could recreate a same-lighting 'after' but I didn't think of it. I have an assessment photo in the dermatology office and look forward to the 12-18 month out comparison. My skin overall isn't quite where I want it because 1) I'm struggling to find the right retinoid-exfoliant routine -- lately my skin has been pink and irritated + broken out (thanks no thanks Mirena) and 2) I don't have a regular Botox schedule (coming soon). Botox and epidurals really make me happy to be alive in the modern era.

Here's the best 'after' I have:

 Whoops, it's a face swap with dad that is real nightmare fuel.

Thoughts: I'll get a BBL treatment annually or semi-annually for brown/red spots (did you see the results of that paper?! Small cohort but long term follow-up - impressive results.) The Halo was mucho painful (remember: wimp) and will not do again for a few years (my settings were also 'aggressive' because I wanted the most bang for my buck and wasn't concerned about cosmetic downtime). There is a brown spot between my eyebrows that is visible on the first photo - it darkened and flaked off. So satisfying. My overall skin tone is much more even and, amazingly, my pores are less noticeable.

Other laser treatments: Spider vein assessment led to diagnosis of incompetent leg veins (no surprise there - family history + pregnancy); I had laser ablation of the greater saphenous veins in December and March. Each procedure was quick and easy with very little post-op discomfort. Post-op instructions included wearing compression stockings, walking a prescribed amount, and forgoing heavy exercise for two weeks. Some people told me how much lighter their legs felt after the procedure but I never had any symptoms like leg heaviness or noticeable swelling by the end of the day. Hopefully I won't develop varicose veins now, bringing me to the theme of this post:

   πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯The best defense is an offense armed with a laser! πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯

(Really, it's all about sun avoidance. This year's Sun Safety kit from Sephora is available - $20 of the proceeds go to the Skin Cancer Foundation. I like all the products in it that I've tried so far (but, as always, am mystified by the inclusion of self-tanner, which promotes the beauty standard of tanned skin.))

            Happy first days of summer, friends! If you need me I'll be lurking in the shade.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Good Bones

Good Bones by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Make It Beautiful by Lucas Jack

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Luke: [trying to elicit the word 'milk'] Focus, Josie!
Clem, chiming in: Josie, you gotta pocus. You gotta learn how to talk it.

Background: we have Apple TV with a slim, iPod-like remote. Clem was looking her newly purchased iPad mini in the box and I asked, "what is that?" and she answered, "A big moh kentroh  [remote control]."

Regarding me clinically in the bathroom pre-shower: You gonna take a shower? Your head gonna get water on it? Your arm get water on it? Your hair-bottom?     πŸ˜³

What We Talk About When We Talk About Making Pancakes:

Playing the harmonica:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Murph Challenge

Memorial Day Murph Challenge at Alamo 180.

Originally Luke was busy so I scheduled a sitter but when he became available I asked him to accompany me to cheer me on and count my sets - one mile run, 100 pull ups*, 200 push ups, 300 air squats, and another mile run. I finished in under an hour! It was a very long 56 minutes.

*unnecessary clarification: with a band. I can't do a single unassisted pull up. 

I'll write more about this sometime but Alamo 180/the coaches/HIIT/weightlifting have been life-changing, and that's an overblown phrase I don't employ often.


PSA: I made these mix brownies for the post-challenge barbecue with avocado oil instead of vegetable oil - no difference.

Afterward we retrieved the girls for the party, complete with bouncy house. Whenever C talks about the gym she says "with the bouncy house? We go to the gym with the bouncy house? It has a bouncy house?"

What's Making Me Happy This Week

// Here's the Thing podcast with Alec Baldwin -- I've enjoyed every episode I've listened to, especially the Michael Pollan, Anthony Weiner, and Ellie Kemper episodes. AND THEN I found out that the most recent episode features Dean Strang, the moral center of "Making a Murderer". I started counting the minutes until I could get in my car and listen. And it was great! #strangandbuting2016

// Style Edit root concealer. Spray yer grays. This product is fantastic.

// Sukhi's tikka masala starter + organic chicken thighs = delicious.

// Seeing our friends in Houston, there for a quick trip. The girls ran around in the hotel room until 1:30 am and we made it out of town just before flash flooding, but we had a great time. Here's our last visit in Seattle - the younger girls are so different!

// Swim party at the Browns. Identifying "animals crackers" with Doug.

They've been talking for a while -- here's three years ago!

Josie's not a baby anymore!

// Catching up with two of the Flavor Savers in San Antonio in recent weeks. Clem said after Ian left "... he has to go home to Chicago, to his baby."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


// Luke asked Clem, who was running around in pants but sans underwear, where her panties were and she responded after a second "... I've got my bottom on."

// Clem drives to the park and Nordstrom. The end is really funny.

// I strike a bargain with her by saying "Is that a deal?" and she's started closing her counteroffers ("we go the park with the swings and the swide apper our nap") with "Is that's the deal? Is that's the deal, Mommy?"

// Stickers. She went on to sleep in this swimsuit, "the swimmin' suit with the little dresses [ruffles]."

// Josie's pigtails. She's added the words teeth, spicy, and Eh-wah (for Edward the Emu) recently. Curiously, she has no sound for "Clementine". Well, she does, it's just an ear-splitting scream-squeal.

From the Sweet & Sour Files

// Clem crossly corrected me this morning when I said, "Good morning, sweetie pie." --> "I'm not a sweetie pie, I'm a [loudly] HONEY. BUNNY."

// A couple of days ago I was home alone with the girls and meditating on our move, our time here, my new job, my new roles, what San Antonio means to me, all of it, and I started to cry. Clem walked over, draped her arms around my neck and hugged me. After a few seconds, she pulled away and said softly:

Did you bump your head?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Lucas Jack SATX Farewell Show

Scenes from Lucas Jack's SATX farewell show at Sam's Burger Joint.


Reading with Clementine

Clem likes to recite books once she's heard them a few times ("no I read it!"). Her favorite books right now are the last issue of Highlights (now torn to shreds and recycled), the Llama Llama books, and the Fern Hollow series.

 Reading Highlights. She whispers the cat cartoon just like we did.


Clem reading to Josie.


Llama Llama Mad at Mama. Her intonations crack me up.