Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

My gal Grechen recently posted about the importance of taking some time to focus on what you accomplished in 2014, rather than moving right on to 2015.  I completely agree.  I am so focused on what I want next that I never really appreciate or even recognize what I have right now.  As soon as I have it, I am on to the next thing.

2014 has brought some major changes to my life, and not just with my hair.  So rather than using the New Year to take stock of everything I want to change about myself or my life in the next year, I want to take stock of where the past year has taken me.  Here are the things I am proud to have achieved this year: 

  • Moved to Minnesota.  Honestly, the verdict is still out as to whether I am actually all that happy about this decision.  Minnesota and I are taking it day by day.  But I am really proud that I had the guts to do it.  We really loved Chicago, our condo, and all of our friends there, and giving that up was pretty scary.  Not to mention the fact that I moved by myself to Minnesota in the middle of winter, knowing just about no one.  I basically lived my entire life on one chair - for 3 months.  It was tough and lonely, but I made it!  
  • Shifted careers.  I gave up a really comfortable job in Chicago.  I now work much harder, have no clue what I am doing approximately 40% of the time, and make a little less.   Okay, this is really not sounding like an achievement on paper.  But I still think it was the right move for me.  There was zero growth potential and little variety in my old job, and my new job offers constant opportunity for advancement and change.  I'm proud that I am willing to deal with a little short term discomfort in order to get on a career path that will definitely make me happier in the long run.
  • Started doing things I didn't already know how to do.  I never really considered myself a perfectionist until I realized that I avoid doing anything I don't already know how to do.  I can't stand the idea of doing something wrong, so I don't do it at all.  I have whole lists of things that I just "don't" do.  For example, it took me years to even try cooking anything besides pasta, because I "didn't" cook.  Really, I just didn't know how, and was too scared of being terrible to start.  I feel like I have really started to overcome it this year.  I learned how to hand quilt, went showshoeing,  cooked at LEAST five things I didn't already know how to cook, and started biking all over town.  In the next month alone, I will be taking classes in cross-country skiing, photography, and quilting (again. Remedial beginning quilting).  I mean, I still always have to take lessons from a professional, because I have to do it "the right way"... but, it's progress. 
  • Made some decisions about our wedding.  We've been engaged for over a year now, and there is no wedding date on the horizon.  It's not because either of us has any doubts about the marriage.  In fact, I really wish that we were already married.  So, what's the hold up?  This is an extremely unpopular opinion, but: I think the typical wedding these days is both boring AND basically insane (I have happily been a bridesmaid many times, but I will never force anyone to be one for me for all the reasons laid out here).  Plus, while I am hardly shy, I am SO uncomfortable with the kind of non-stop attention you get around your wedding.   Everyone suggests just doing something tiny.  Even keeping it small, a wedding involves approximately 4000 decisions I am just not interested in making- how can we decide who to include, do we still need to set up hotel arrangements for everyone, do I still have a shower / bachelorette / rehearsal dinner?  Combine that anxiety spiral with my parents' divorce, our move to Minnesota, and a new job, and I have basically felt paralyzed.  Well no more.  We are doing exactly what we want to do and ignoring all the "shoulds" that come along with wedding.  For us, a big trip feels like the way to celebrate our marriage, rather than an expensive party.  So, Step 1: booking a mega, blowout honeymoon for this time next year (almost done!).  Step 2: get married sometime beforehand.  Details TBD. 

Looking back at my 2014, I am seeing a capacity to change and adapt that I never knew I had.  I hope 2015 is a little more settled, but this whole exercise makes me feel so ready for the next year and anything it might bring.  Before you go resolving to change everything in 2015, be sure to give yourself some credit for 2014. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

New Hair Megapost

I did it!  I finally cut my hair into the updated Meg Ryan that Michelle Williams and Julianne Hough have been sporting.  I mentioned it in my last post, but here's the full scoop.

(Warning, I really mean the FULL scoop, i.e. a monologue of every thought I have had about this haircut, ever.  Take pity on my loved ones, who have to hear these thoughts out loud and at least pretend to take them seriously.)

These were the photos I showed my stylist.  I told her that I wanted it to be short, messy, and piecey like Julianne and Michelle, but nothing like Posh... even though Posh's hair is also short, messy, and piecey.  So what's the difference?  My stylist pointed out that what makes the Pob look so dated is the dramatic difference in length between the front and the back.

This crucial difference didn't really register to me at first, but now I totally see it.  If you are thinking of a short cut, be sure to tell your stylist to keep the front and back relatively even, lengthwise.  Otherwise, you will be headed straight to Pob territory.

So, with that fear addressed, I was ready to go for it.  Ta da!  

I had her keep me a little longer just so I can be sure I like it.  I will definitely go a bit shorter next time, especially in the back, but probably still not into full on pixie territory.

  You can be sure that I grilled her for tips on how to style it.  I myself am not the best person to be giving advice since I have not been able to make it look the same twice, but here are the musts, straight from my stylist:

1. Blow dry it forward (straight forward, seriously), 
2. using a paddle brush, and 
3. use tons of product afterwards.  

The only way I've been able to get that Michelle Williams texture is to use the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, followed by a lot of hairspray.  For a slightly calmer look, I have had good results using Bumble and Bumble Sumotech (which is what I used in those pics, since the Oribe costs a small fortune and I am out).

Overall, I love it!  I can style it more conservatively for work and then mess it up with more product later, and always looks better the second day.  Plus, short hair makes you dress a little differently, even compared with a bob.  I can't necessarily wear all drapey everything anymore, but basics become more of a "look" with short hair, and it makes some of my girlier clothes look a little cooler. 

Next, let's talk about blond.  I've already got a few weeks of roots, so it isn't quite as dramatic as it once was, but trust me.  It is real, real blond.  With one brief exception, I have been dying my hair since I was 15, so I know what I speak of... and when it comes to super blond hair, as with everything, you have to take the good with the bad.

The Good

VOLUME.  There is no product in the world that can thicken and texturize your hair like some heavy highlights.  Your hair will hold a curl better, stay where you pin it, and somehow gets less greasy (according to my stylist, the roughed up cuticle stops the grease's descent down the hair shaft.  Gross, but I believe it).  My hair is fine, limp, and greasy, so this is everything to me. 

Brightness.  If you have ashy light brown hair like me, the odds are that it is doing nothing whatsoever for your skin tone.  The right blond will make your skin look better and your whole face more vibrant. 

Cool factor.  Picture Michelle Williams' hair in a mousy brown.  So matronly.  But in a champagne blond?  It is beautiful and super cool.  The right color really affects how the cut "reads," especially with short cuts.  

The Bad

Damage.  You feel like you could use a trim every two weeks.  I personally would rather deal with dry hair, which I consider a fixable problem, as opposed to flat hair, which is frankly unfixable without a careful combination of hot tools, dry shampoo, and texturizing product.  

The cost.  This is one area where you get what you pay for.  This is just my theory, but good color requires a certain taste level along with the technical skills, whereas I think any technically proficient stylist should be able to give you a decent basic cut.   Not to mention, its permanent.  Sure, you could do an expensive color correction, but for the most part, the hair you bleach is going to stay bleached until you cut it off.  You don't want to get your color done at a SuperCuts, is all I am saying.

Weighing all that, I can see how the less vain among us are hesitant to spend hundreds to turn their hair the texture of straw, but for me, it is well worth it.   I feel brighter, prettier, and more like myself.  I know a lot of people are going super blond these days, and if you are on the fence, I say do it!  It is worth trying at least once in your life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


I turned another year older this last Sunday.  I am one of those tiresome people who gets a serious case of the mopes on their birthday and this year was no exception.... which is why we are all lucky it took me a week to get around to finishing this post.  So much melodrama lost to the delete key.

Matt knows the drill and kept me distracted all day.  We went to Grand Cafe for brunch, the Mall of America for Kiehl's and a rollercoaster ride, ice skating in downtown St. Paul, oysters and a pre-dinner warmup drink at Meritage, and dinner at 112 Eatery.
Let's get to the loot.  The Pamela Love Tribal Spike necklace!  I've wanted one of these forever.
Oh and my gift to myself- a new hairdo.  Super blond and super short!

Fleetwood Mac.  You may notice that Stevie looks a little odd in the crotch region... Matt claims he was trying to make her outfit look "drapesy."
Drapesy?  She looks like a hot water bottle.

Moneys from my Mom went to these Eileen Fisher booties.
Plus photo classes from my Dad and some workout clothes from my sister.... who accurately pointed out that I was wearing a sports bra from 7TH GRADE to yoga the last time she was here.  I didn't even try to deny it.

But do you know what would be MORE embarrassing than a 7th grade sports bra?  The dramatic post I had originally written.  This birthday was ridiculously wonderful.  I am 31 and spoiled rotten!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Uniform: Still Wearing It

The uniform had a nice little Thanksgiving trip to Boston.  Rode the T, saw some Franz Kline, artfully concealed the consumption of 3 slices of pie before 10am.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bean Boots vs. Sorels: WHY NOT BOTH

 Turns out L.L. Bean has snow boots that look almost exactly like the Sorel Caribous, without the ugly logo.  The clomp factor is definitely there, but that just ensures that you stay upright.  They are basically the perfect Bean-Sorel hybrid.  Plus, they are $30 cheaper.  Sold.  

I also learned that you can use something called AquaSeal to a patch a hole in rubber boots, so I am going to try to get my old Sorels through another winter.  This means that I can keep a pair by both the front and back doors... i.e. the absolute pinnacle of luxury in Minnesota.   No sloshy boot prints on the floor, always a warm pair at the ready.  I'm living proof you can have it all!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Living Room, in Lists

The Good 
Beautiful moldings, leaded glass windows, built-in shelves, and fireplace
The chrome coffee table and brass accessories
Loveseat from Home Depot (Cheap, kinda pleathery, but a perfect solution for a temporary space)
New marbleized lamps 

The Bad
The light- even though there are windows everywhere and a sunroom, we face east, so it is dim most of the day.
The light grey non-color on the walls.
The mantle styling.  Bad.  Just threw whatever I could find up there.
The art- love the black & white Kevin Russ print, but you can barely see it with the reflection from the hanging lamp.
Which reminds me- the hanging lamp.  I think it is some sort of historic reproduction.  Ugh. 

To Do
Reupholster the chairs flanking the fireplace.  Linen or maybe a velvet cotton.
Rearrange the art.
Plants on the shelves on either side of the fireplace mantle?  I need something less visually cluttered there.
Pillow and a throw for the loveseat.
A mirror over the mantle to bounce more of the light around.
Learn how to take better photos because oh my god these are terrible.  Sorry.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bean Boots vs. Sorels: A Rivalry for the Ages

The coat situation is still unresolved, but we had our first snow in Minneapolis and with it came the discovery that my Sorel boots have a hole in the heel.  Just as I was starting my search for a new pair of snow boots, my friend Amanda emailed me asking the same question I was asking myself: L.L. Bean Boots or Sorel Caribous?   I've had both, so I believe that I am in a good position to pick a winner.  But I can't!  Both lasted me two full winters, were super comfy, and kept my feet nice and warm.  Clearly, this is just one of those tough personal choices we all have to make.   

To aid in your decision-making, I've produced the following chart: 

I think I'm going Bean boot this time, if I can find a black pair (they seem to be sold out on the website).  

Have you already made your choice?  Please weigh in.