Yes, it has been quite a bit since I last posted. Truth be told, I am in a reading slump. I read a few back-to-back excellent books then the last one I felt indifferent about.  I thought I could re-set my reading flow by reading another royalty biography, but even that is a slow go.

And I am OK with that.

If you are a reader then you may understand that not reading for a long stretch of time feels like you are failing in a way. Like a body builder who enters and wins a fitness competition and then stops working out and indulges on all the food she deprived herself of during competition prep. It is all a matter of allowing time, allowing yourself to explore other aspects of your interests and not holding yourself to a standard.

Instead, I have been watching Reign on Netflix. I have a deep interest in history and European history. I used to watch Game of Thrones but it got to be way too violent and some of the characters bored me to tears. Image result for reignFor me Reign satisfies my need for a story, royalty and history all in one. I can tell it is for a younger audience, but it is really well done.

While I haven’t been reading, I’ve been getting my stories from many places: podcasts, television shows, YouTube, etc.  I am a Reader but even people like me get reading fatigue. And while at first I was not OK with this, I am now. I know the right book will come along and reignite my passion, but for now the reading pilot light is weak.

 

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WHAT I HAVE BEEN ENJOYING LATELY

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  • Discovering “new” music: my father is a huge music fan and while I have always listened to the music he loves, I’ve been exploring it more deeply.  I have been consumed with the song “Soon” by YES.
  • Cooking: Exploring other culture’s cuisine and making them in the kitchen. Last night I prepared dough to make a Polish dumpling. And this weekend I will be making an Irish potato and cabbage meal.
  • House Hunting: My husband and I are looking to move into a new home so I am researching what I want in a house.
  • Walking and Rebounding: I workout several times a week but I noticed that I was losing my drive (just as I am with reading). I have not been as consistent as usual and after a while I decided I needed to mix it up again. I’ve been more into the outdoors and more cardio than doing strength training. I do have to keep my strength training, but listening to my body is what will keep me going. Forcing my body and mind to do what it doesn’t want to only makes me avoid it.

 

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN ENJOYING LATELY?

to my favorite yoga pants.

I was inspired to ditch these much loved, much adored, much used yoga pants by Kacy Paide of The Inspired Office. Her series on minimalism goes through a items one by one and explains why it is time to part ways. If she can part with 31 items, I can too.

I am not someone who has a tough time tossing things.  In fact, in 2016 I got all of my keepsakes down to a single box. [Read about it here!] Where my issue is when something has to be replaced when I feel like what I have is good enough. And replacing something you love so much is a challenge. Each time I’ve tried, I’ve talked myself out of the purchase because the pants could see just one more day…or one more week. OK, another month.

Last night, I made the executive decision my yoga pants must move on and I from them.

 

Image result for victoria's secret classic yoga pant

It started a few months ago. The in seam started to separate and I sewed them up. I’m not a great sewer so it is not sightly. These pants have been splattered with vacuum cleaner dust. They have had face wash dropped on them. Toothpaste, dog slobber, and I am sure some coffee has made its way on to the fabric at some point. They have been washed and washed and washed. I love them and keep them because they are so soft and so comfortable! They are well-worn to say the least.

Last night my husband noticed the poor sew-job on the inseam. He pointed to the exposed loops – yes loopS – and laughed. Then, last night, I went to pump out some of my face wash and a huge spray of it squirted right onto them. It is a gel cleanser so it got right in. I wiped them down with a wet rag in an attempt to salvage them for the night, but alas…. I decided it was time.

So goodbye, discontinued Victoria’s Secret classic yoga pant. We’ve spent a lot of good times together and a lot more messy times. It is time for us to part ways. Thanks for the memories….

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This post is inspired by The $1,000 Project.

 

I started by own $1,000 Project on October 24th. At about full month in and I have saved quite a bit of cash I otherwise would have spent. I was also able to add to my sinking funds for our quarterly HOA with the left over unspent cash from last month’s “budget.” (I use budget in quotes for a reason I will discuss later).

 

I learned to cut my own hair — This plan was more out of necessity than money saving. My one hair stylist moved to Florida and the other was on maternity leave. Since I had not had a cut since February, I needed a cut pronto. A haircut for me can easily set me back $80.00. I do not do color or a complicated style, my hair is long and straight and my cuts are generally just thinning, trimming the ends and layers.  I combined the amateur methods and found a professional video and established with my own method. I bought professional scissors and a razor comb (like in the video) and went to work. It turned out perfectly.  All I need to get down is layering and I am set for life.

A Lunch Packed is $10 saved — Lunches are expensive these days. I’ve spent up to $12 on a single lunch meal. It seems like lunches are just as pricey as dinners and have not gotten any bigger, more filling, or more complex. Inspired by the $1,000 Project concept, I kept track of the days I packed my lunch and added that to my total saved. So far this month I have saved $140.00 in lunch money by packing my lunch. I keep track by week so my average is buying lunch 1 to 2 days a week.

A Night in versus a Night Out  — Like most people, I love to go out to dinner and  walk around a store afterward. Early this month I wanted to do just that: go out with my husband to a dinner and then to the bookstore. Instead, I made a meal at home and we watched a movie on Netflix. Easily saved $100.00.

Cut Back on the perceived essentials  — Over the last few years I slowly reduced the amount of “essentials” to get my makeup routine down to a 5-7 minute Le No Makeup Look . My makeup now involves: CC Cream, Powder (also what I carry for touch ups), brow pencil, bronzer and mascara. Make up is expensive so find your absolutely favorites and stick to them, keep it as simple as possible.

Double up — My hair products are simple: Shampoo, Conditioner ; a deep conditioner (which I double as shaving cream); detangler (doubles as a heat protector); Smoothing cream and a blow dry spray, and hair oil.  (The blow dry spray I will not repurchase because I prefer the smoothing cream.)  Cutting back on these things can really save a lot of money.

Use it Up and Use What You Have — Raise your hand if you go out and buy another cosmetic well before what you have is empty. That is a massive money suck. Unless you absolutely hate it or it causes an allergic reaction, use it all up before buying another.  Also, think if you would buy it again. This also goes for food items and cleaning supplies. Get creative as to what you can use to fill a need. I am a sucker for notebooks so when I get a fresh new idea I want to buy a new one. I decluttered quite a bit of notebooks and I use them for various reasons. Use those cover to cover.

 

What creative ways can you save money?

Not to sound cliche, but this Fall has been one of transitions. At the end of September, there were some things churning in my brain and spirit craving a reformation. I hit a point of feeling like a failure and without any map to tell me how to get out of the detour.  And I did what I usually do: [pit]bulldoze past it on the outside, but on the inside there was a nagging voice, tugging at my heart saying, “There’s got to be more…”

After a few weeks of trying to ignore that voice thinking it wasn’t worth listening to, I had an intervention with myself. I signed up for an 8-week Mindfulness & Stress Reduction Class, I set out a goal to find a new job by December 31st, to really take my meditation seriously, in order to get out of this funk. One of the sources of my funk was being turned down for a role with my company. I was told I was perfect in every aspect but missing a key piece of experience.  Needless to say, I was bummed. My goal of December 31st was ripped out from under me and I had to redirect. After about 2 weeks of that usual self-pitty, I picked myself up and kept going.

I dedicated more effort to my mindfulness practice – on and off the cushion or yoga mat – and really worked hard to know and believe that being turned down for this role was opening the door to another. That my “job” was to be happy.

A few days later I got a call from a person within the company who I was working with on a project. He said he suggested me to another person for an open role. After 3 interviews and a lesson in patience, I am happy to report I was offered another, even better position at my current company that I start December 16th.

Which leads me to my first favorite; Kundalini Meditation and Yoga. I did the following meditation every day for 40-days and it really helped me mentally. It wasn’t about me “getting something” but more about getting to feeling good in general. I highly suggest you try it. It is only 11 minutes and I swear you will feel so much better.

Image result for sa ta na ma meditation instructions

 

Speaking of Feeling Better, I also listened to the reading of Just Be Glad. This was written and published in 1912. Here is the audio reading that I used. It is so inspiring and reminds you that “all things gather where life is a song.”

 

As the 40-day Kirtan Kriya came to a close, I wanted more. I searched and found some excellent You Tube channels and play lists of Kundalini Yoga. Below are my current favorites. I am doing the 40-day program with Kundalini Lounge: along with Kimilla’s.  Both are excellent!

On another note, in 2016 I discovered the phenomenon of Minimalism and Simple Living. Now, I’m not a huge fan of the empty room, white walls and all white furniture, dishes and rugs, but I do love the idea of only keeping what you love and keeping a clean open space. It’s more of the lifestyle rather than the decor that I like so much. With that I have culled my makeup routine down to 4 steps. Yes, four.

my favorite foundation is IT Cosmetics CC cream and the powder to set. i’ve been using this since early this year and it is by far the best I have ever tried!

Image result for it cosmetics cc creamImage result for it cosmetics cc+ airbrush perfecting powder spf50+Image result for it cosmetics airbrush brush

 

 

What are your current favorites?

This weekend was my husband’s birthday and our 1 year wedding anniversary. We decided to bypass the plane rides and the one-week vacation plan and do a getaway to Virginia. The plan was to visit Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and find a place to stay around there and have the park be our main attraction. I leave vacation planning to my husband because he’s really great at finding awesome places and vacation planning. It is one thing I do not like. I’d rather pick a place, then you tell me when and where to be there. In the last 11 years we’ve been together, he’s always been able to find beautiful places. This time was no exception.

 

We stayed at the Wayside Inn which is the oldest continuously operating Inn in the country, opened in 1797! A beautiful place full of American Civil War history and charm. They say it is haunted, but I can’t say I had any experiences.

guestbook

Hotel Registry Going back to 1910s!

 

First up was the National Park.

We got engaged at the Acadia National Park in Maine so going back to another for our one year anniversary was like coming full circle.

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 What did I pack?

Most women travel with a massive load of outfits, make-up, and “what if” items. I’m much simpler than that. The odds of me needed a ballgown, more than 1 pair of shoes, or a cosmetic counter full of make up possibilities is beyond slim. I manged to get everything I needed into a single Jansport backpack that I’ve owned since High School. (still going strong!)

 

Cosmetics & Toiletries:

cosmetics

From left: Toothpaste, tooth brush, floss, Caudalie night moisturizer, Caudalie Cleansing Water, Vasseur Skincare Day Moisturizer, Deoderant, Blow Dryer, Hair clamp and tie, Peter Thomas Roth travel shampoo and conditioner, Wet Hair Brush (This thing is magic), Real Techniques brush (for bronzer), IT Cosmetics foundation brush, No.7 mascara, eye lash curler, Anastasia brow definer and Too Faced Chocolate Bronzer.

Clothes:

clothes

The far left is what I wore on the ride down and the first night/day.

Two shirts, One pair of Sketches (these are the most comfortable walking shoes), a tank top for sleeping and a pair of sleep shorts and pants as I was not sure what would be more comfortable.

I also took 1 book which I won’t list because I did not like it at all. It started off good enough but then just went no where. Having a disappointing book is one thing, but having it as your only read on a vacation is quite another…