Ready to Spring Fling

Words that I never thought would come out of my mouth, winter is my favorite season but this one has been too much. With the extreme cold, dangerous driving conditions and just all around gloomy atmosphere, I am ready for some milder weather even if that means spring. I hate spring; pastels, allergies, that manure smell that permeates farm country when everything starts melting, the dirty brown snow, the completely asinine amount of litter before the road crews get out, never quite knowing what to wear. I hate it but I am actually kinda’ looking forward to it as well. I even got myself a spring’ish manicure this weekend. I am still loving the dip powder, it lasts longer and my nails looks really nice.

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Feeling further inspired to get into spring, I put out the few Easter decorations that I own. I’ve never been a huge fan of Easter and spring decor, probably the aversion to pastels thing but this pig with bunny ears is the cutest thing.

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I also started melting lilac and gardenia waxes, my apartment smells like a delightful garden. I think that the kitties are also ready to have the windows open again so they can keep an eye on the birds. They are not amused.

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I can’t wait to go to the farmers’ market, go for a bike ride, sit on the deck and read – spring will be welcome indeed. But that reminds me that I should probably get my allergy meds filled 😛 Are you ready for spring, has the winter been awful where you are? We aren’t even through March yet, I fully anticipate a giant snow storm before we’re in the clear!

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A Wild Hair to Grow My Hair

Ah yes, here we are – roughly a year after I decided to cut my hair off, I have a hankering to grow it back out. I don’t even know where this is coming from because I like my short hair, other people like my short hair, it suits me, it’s very easy to take care of, I use like 1/4 the amount of shampoo that I did when I had long hair and I have a feeling that I am going to want to cut it off the second that it grows. Just recently, I have major hair envy when I see a gal with luscious locks and I want hair that I can curl and style again. Also though, I’m probably going to get fed up with it in no time so I’m looking at some lobs that won’t take too much effort or time to grow out.

I think part of my issue is that I don’t feel pretty with short hair, I don’t feel totally put together since my hair just kind of does it’s own thing rather than needing a curl or style. Which sounds completely silly but I just feel the need for some hair recently. I grew up in a household where long hair was a requirement and though I don’t think that influences my hair choice today, I do feel more feminine with long hair. Something tells me that I am being influenced by societal expectations on the subliminal level but whatever it is, it’s working. Also, I feel like I am missing out on the return of the scrunchie! Had I known that they were coming back, I wouldn’t have cut my damn hair.

What are your thoughts on short hair vs. long hair? Do you get bored with your hair often? Should I grow it, should I cut, should I dye it purple 😛

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The Lost Man: A Teaser

Jane Harper’s first standalone was an intense slow burn of a thriller set in the striking vastness of the outback. When I found out that this was no an Aaron Falk case, I was a bit disappointed but the characters in this novel were equally as endearing with their character flaws, secrets and histories – none more so than the man found dead of dehydration only feet away from the safety of his vehicle at the very start of the book.

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Cameron Bright is a father of two with a beautiful wife, prosperous land and seemingly the best put together of the three Bright brothers. When his older brother Nathan starts to dig deeper into the mysterious death, events from the past and the secret life of Cameron starts to unravel. On the whole, the family is shocked at the unexpected death and can’t fathom what would drive a man to walk out into the desert to his demise. There are members of the household that hint at Cameron’s unstable mental state in the days leading up to his disappearance but there are whispers of something more sinister when a woman who accused Cam of taking advantage of her in their youth makes mysterious phone calls to the house. She wasn’t believed at the time but as the adults who were there start to recount the story, we find out that there are those who did believe her and suspect that Cam’s father drove the girl out of town.

With the police reaching the conclusion that it was a suicide, Nathan, the black sheep of the family who lives in exile starts to dig into who Cam really was as an adult and what secrets his wife and kids might be keeping. It’s pretty clear from the start that he knows that his brother has demons, having been raised in an abusive household and starts to wonder just how stable he really is. What he uncovers is a history of domestic abuse, a wife with an exit plan, adultery and a murder that was committed for love.

What I love about Harper’s books is the atmosphere, being set in an environment as hostile as the outback further augments the intensity and mystery of the story-line as you never know what’s hiding out there. You could fall victim to a killer on the loose or simply getting a flat tire and getting stranded in the elements. The setting creates an urgency that can’t be sated. Her books make me want to immediately experience the vast wilderness of the outback while also never, ever setting foot there at the same time. I could not stop listening to this book, I finished it over the course of two days and was so shocked by the ending that I had to go back and listen to it a second time to see if I missed anything. Even though this is a standalone, there are some references to her debut novel The Dry that I felt were very clever and helped to flesh out some of the character’s stories. It’s a fantastic book, the ending was tragic and unsettling but poetic in its own right. I’m sure that the book is just as good read but if you have a chance to listen to the audio version, Stephen Shanahan is awesome. I loved it, I will listen to it again and again. Have you read any of Harper’s novels? What’s your fave? I think mine is The Dry followed by this one with Force of Nature coming in last but still being very good!

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Frugal Thirties: Spend or Save

I had a realization a few months ago while looking at my monthly budget, I used to live and survive on a lot less money. I worked a minimum wage job all through college, I had my own apartment (a $400 studio but still a place to live), I took the bus a lot more instead of driving, I still ate well and honestly, I never felt stressed out about money. I didn’t have a lot of money but I also didn’t need a lot of money. Flash forward to starting my career, slowly climbing the ladder, getting promoted, etc. which ultimately means more money and I’ve never felt more stressed out about it! Why can’t I live like I did in my 20’s and just stack cash?! Unfortunately, it’s the human condition to consume things – we gotta’ eat, have a place to live, transportation, medication, emergencies, treating yo’ self – no matter how much we argue that our existence isn’t tied to money, it is. Our existence is in fact so tied to money that people are even arguing for collecting a wage simply for existing, it’s a sad but inescapable reality. Anyway, I only have about 30 more years in my working life to save money (if anyone my age will get to retire) and I find myself trying to be a lot choosier with where my money goes. Some things, I like to spend on but other things I’d rather not – it’s all about having a balance, or so I keep trying to convince myself.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I don’t think that there are a lot of ways to save money when it comes to having a place to live, especially in a metro area. I’m a little snotty when it comes to where I live, I don’t want to be bothered, I don’t want to live around bullshit, I want to have a short commute and I want to live in a nice building with moderate amenities. All of that costs money but I love my apartment and I don’t see myself moving unless it’s a deal that I absolutely couldn’t refuse.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I’m only one person, it’s not hard for me to save on groceries. I buy a lot of bulk, fresh fruits & veggies, little to no pre-packaged snack foods or otherwise and this keeps my grocery bill low. When I splurge on food, it might be for a fancy baguette or this green olive spread that I am addicted to but most anything can be made at home for much less than purchasing it prepared.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I don’t purchase cheap clothing, I do have some splurge items in my closet but on the whole, I thrift shop a lot. I also live in the vicinity of a lot of yuppies and elitists so the thrift stores in my area are amazing. To all of the bored housewives buying clothes they don’t need or really want and then get rid of after wearing once, thank you so much, keep doing you.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

My theory here is that by investing in really well-made furniture and other large home items, they will last longer. I won’t need another furniture set in my lifetime, barring any unforeseen events.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I will always drive a vehicle that I own outright, it just doesn’t matter to me to drive a nice vehicle and throw money away on something like interest. As long as it is reliable, I don’t care what it looks like. Also, I don’t mind taking public transportation to save on fuel, I think Americans have gotten much too used to these cheap fuel prices and should live more like we did when a gallon of gas cost your $4.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

I could just stop paying for frivolous salon services and save a ton of money but that’s probably not going to happen. I don’t mind paying a little more for a salon service that I am happy with and that will last me a good few weeks instead of saving money, not being happy with the service and potentially needing to get it corrected. Now, are all expensive salon services good? Absolutely not (see my lash extension saga), I am lucky to have salons that I’ve been going to for years that aren’t terribly spendy where I receive really quality services.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

It depends on what I am doing really, if I am going out to eat then it’s a treat and I will probably splurge since I rarely eat out. If I see a movie, then I prefer to go to a matinee rather than pay full price.

It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.

Unfortunately, I have very finicky skin and have to purchase spendier products. I think I am literally the only person ever who breaks out from using CeraVe which sucks because it makes my skin feel perfectly moisturized. Also, I might only purchase new, staple products every one to two months and this is easy to budget for.

I believe that my system mostly works well as long as I stick to it. I still don’t understand how I spend more money simply because I make more money, it’s really annoying. Have you found that you live more or less frugally since being on your own? Where do you like to save your pennies?

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February Reads

How’s your February going? Sticking to all of those New Year resolutions? Me neither, mostly because I didn’t make any, I’m just making small talk 😛 I haven’t been listening to a lot of books recently and can’t believe that I haven’t even started a single book this month! I usually don’t have an issue with listening to books since I can still do most anything while enjoying one but I just haven’t done it. February is packed with new releases from some of my favorite authors, I have a few books that I plan to make time for this month.

The Lost Man – Jane Harper: This is a standalone thriller, I really enjoy the Aaron Falk character but am still excited to revisit the Outback with some new characters. A husband and father of two is found dead in the elements, the reason for his demise is not immediately known.

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Redemption Point – Candace Fox: This is Fox’s second book featuring disgraced detective Ted Conkaffey. When we left Conkaffey at Crimson Lake, there were hints that his innocence could substantiated, I can’t wait to see what happens next and what case he and his bizarre partner are working on. I have been waiting for this book for ages, it finally comes out in March so I guess this will be on my March TBR as well.

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The Reckoning – Yrsa Sigurdardottir: I got hooked on this author’s moody, atmospheric thrillers and though the Children’s House series is a bit of a departure, the first installment was insane. I hope this book fleshes out some of the characters that we met in the first book, I have no doubt that the plot will be awesome.

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The Stranger Beside Me – Ann Rule: Not to jump on the Bundy bandwagon but after finishing the Netflix documentary my curiosity is piqued. I better limit this one to listening only at work otherwise, I’ll be up for for days like the time I listened to a Manson family book.

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I think I can get through these (minus the March release) before the end of the month, I just downloaded The Lost Man and forgot what a fantastic narrator Stephen Shanahan is! Let me know what’s on your list or what books you’ve been loving lately!

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The Drunk Elephant Diaries P.I

What a crisp winter morning, it’s about 15 below outside and there are six inches of snow on the ground. If this was a Monday morning, I would be pretty annoyed but seeing as how I have nowhere to be, I am soaking in every bit of it. I think I will bust out the snowshoes later and see what the trails are looking like. Winter is truly my season, I just don’t like it when it gets scary like it has been the last two weeks. Also, can we talk about how tired of talking about the weather I am? Yet, here I am, yammering on about it. This post might be a bit rambling as I am still on the search for sustainable/clean beauty and replacing my beauty/skincare items has been the last part of my lifestyle change. Reason being, I had so much to use up that I didn’t want to purchase anything new and it’s a really daunting task. I’m nowhere near at a point where I need any new makeup and am just doing preliminary research on what brands to switch to. The reason that I have found this process to be so difficult is that there are so many trends and fads and buzzwords, it’s almost impossible to know what to invest in. Not to mention, some of these labels that brands use don’t have any industry regulation to back them up, not that they need to but it definitely makes things tricky. I don’t even love using the terms clean or green beauty because the standards are all over the place. But I had to start somewhere and when I set out, I had a few requirements in mind; simple ingredients, minimal packaging, sustainably/ethically sourced ingredients and accessibility. And apparently, real clever marketing because I got totally sucked into Drunk Elephant.

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So let’s talk about the brand, is it sustainable, effective, worth the hype, worth the freaking coin? To start, DE only has seventeen products and for a mass-produced brand that is available at Sephora, I think that is refreshing. Instead of constantly releasing trendy products to generate profit, they offer a small collection of products that claim to be the remedy to all skin woes. Now, the origin story got major eye rolls from me. The founder wasn’t able to find products that worked for her skin, she identified 6 ingredients that she calls the ‘Suspicious 6′ and started making her own skincare void of the Sus’ 6. If it was really that easy wouldn’t we all just be whipping up our own skin regimen? In the brand’s philosophy they state that ‘natural doesn’t automatically mean good’ and I really appreciate that because it’s so true, they also touch on the shortcomings of industry regulations. While the products are mostly natural, you will find some synthetic ingredients as well that are still safe and effective. Their ‘Break the Cycle’ mantra promotes a less is more beauty routine and overall, I find it fits well with my desire to have a more pared down skincare regimen. Let’s get to some of the products that I have been using.

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Like I said, I will never be one of those people for whom a jar of coconut oil will meet my every need but I don’t feel too bad about only having 5-6 staple products in my cabinet. I did purchase both moisturizers that they offer, the Protini Polypeptide Cream has become my daytime cream and the Lala Retro Whipped Cream I only use at night. I have read conflicting directions on how to use these from some major skincare authorities in the industry, each one can be used completely on their own per the brand’s website – don’t believe the beauty gurus. Protini is a lightweight gel formula which isn’t quite moisturizing enough for a night cream and Lala is a luxurious whipped blend of oils that doesn’t sit well under makeup which is why I have both. The Virgin Luxury Marula Face Oil I use both day and night since I have dry skin, it’s really nice and my skin just soaks it up. The ingredients of all three are what you’d expect from a self-proclaimed clean beauty brand but some of them do make me wonder about their sustainability. While the products are made in the USA, a number of the ingredients are internationally sourced. While they state that their ingredients are also ethically sourced, I still question if we should be using 6 rare African oils in skincare products. According to the brand, they do use sustainable farming and wind energy but there’s not a whole lot else about where the ingredients come from. I will be doing further research but I’d much prefer to purchase products that are made and sourced in the USA. The second strike against the brand is that their patented pump delivery systems make the components non-recyclable which is a total bummer. Finally, the cost of the products are definitely a barrier for some consumers and though I would rather support a US based company even if that means spending more it does make the brand less accessible. If one was to switch to a complete DE routine, the cost is nuts! The only redeeming factor here is that I am using less treatment products to manage breakouts and skin irritation, over time there could be some cost savings but the initial investment was painful.

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Does my skin look amazing? Yea, totally. Are there are many things to love about this brand and their mission? Of course, I think that they are definitely working to set an industry standard and are transparent about the faults in the current clean/green beauty trends. I will keep using the products and tracking down answers to some of my questions. Something else to note, the brand is cruelty-free but not all of their products are vegan, you can read more on that here. Final thoughts, I feel less guilty about supporting this brand than others currently on the market but there’s room for improvement. Let me know your thoughts on the whole clean/green beauty movement. Are we just being duped?

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Towards Zero-Waste, How to Get Started

Starting a zero-waste or minimal lifestyle can seem a daunting task, at least it did to me when I started researching it more and saw all of these beautiful blogs and Instagram accounts dedicated to more conscious living. One look around my abode and having no idea where to get started definitely put me off starting sooner than  I should have. That being said, I found that consistency and starting small helped me to find my rhythm. I started by seeking out sustainable options for everyday products that I already owned and then dived into the more complex stuff like fast fashion and sustainably sourced ingredients/materials. I found that a number of products that I purchase have accessible, more sustainable options and some things that weren’t necessities I just quit purchasing. These are easy examples, I don’t know if I will ever be one of those people who can use a jar of coconut oil for a million different uses but something to aspire to 🙂

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I am a home scent junkie and this one pained me a little but I never reused the glass jars, I have switched to wax melts instead which often come in little to no packaging.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

This is a new swap for me and was inspired by Neutrogena releasing those individually wrapped wipes, are you kidding me?! Anyway, Pinterest is rife with DIY makeup wipes using various oils and reusable cloths. You can choose whatever concoction you like and they are very effective at removing makeup. One of the only candle jars that I ever reused holds my wipes.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I have as many dishes as I will ever need in my lifetime. Entertaining can be tricky but I usually pick up compostable dinnerware, I am also a capricorn so not having enough dishes is a good excuse for not inviting anyone into my space 😛

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

A reusable tupperware works just as well.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I know this isn’t an ideal swap but I can’t with reusable toilet paper cloths, good thing recycled toilet paper is pretty readily available.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I have swapped these out for reusable cloth rounds, you can find these on Etsy.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I have started using reusable shammies, I also don’t have a ton of messes in my life and this one might not be ideal for all households. I also douse a shammy in cleaner and snap it onto my Swiffer handle so no need to purchase those wipes anymore!

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

The Method brand offers quite a few all-purpose clean refill bags and I have replaced my plastic squirt bottles with glass ones. Grove Collaborative offers some really lovely glass squirt bottles.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

Again, I have enough throw pillows to last my entire lifetime and this includes the ones that I donated. Throw pillows are one of those things that one doesn’t really need but I still like a few to make my rooms feel cozy.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

This was more in spite of Starbucks and their ridiculous prices but it’s a lot more sustainable and cheaper to just fill my own thermos with coffee at home before I leave for the day.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I know that pre-cut foods can be useful for some people but for me, it’s not necessary since I can cut and wash my own produce. Also, I recall reading on a box of lettuce that it was ‘triple-washed’ and that sounds like a huge waste of water.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

Books, movies and music can all be purchased digitally and I find that I don’t need a physical copy. That being said, I do still get gifted a lot of books and I just donate them once I have finished reading them.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I don’t paint my nails at home but kept purchasing nail polish because every girl needs nail polish, right? Wrong, I chucked out so much it was embarrassing.

Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

I was skeptical about those wool balls but they actually work just as well!

I guess my advice is to start small and do some research but don’t feel like you have to get it all figured out overnight. It takes some getting the hang of and I probably still consume too much to be a true minimalist but getting started is what matters! I hope that my list of swaps/no buys continues to grow as time goes on.

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