Weekend Links

“But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.” 
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

Happy weekend, ducklings, we made it through another week.

This week was bonkers in the world of work as I’ve had to work on some of the most high-profile stuff I’ve ever done that wasn’t consumer facing…I loved it. It was stressful and fast-paced, but I enjoyed the opportunity a lot. Now, however, all I want to do is sleep and stave off the migraine attack that’s threatening to strike after a week of all too much coffee and not enough healthy food.

Jeff’s birthday was this week so we’re celebrating that this weekend, and starting to plan for the holidays which kick off next week with Thanksgiving. I cannot believe how quickly November is rushing by.

Here is a nice batch of links to get you through the weekend, share what you enjoyed in the comments!

Relevant to my…well, not interests so much as poor habits.

Answering a political question I have never thought to ask: what happens to all that campaign merch?!

I really loved this piece about charm–a highly underrated thing in this day and age.

This piece is a couple of weeks old, but is still worth a read. What does it say that some of the leading tech and platform developers work hard to limit their own children’s access to the things they helped to build?

Move fast and break democracy. (I am the millionth person to make this joke, by the way.) Joking aside, I think we’ve proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Facebook may not be an evil organisation, but it’s far too powerful for what it is and it’s a mistake to not consider its lasting implications and impact which have had a global scale. No organization is blameless or perfect, but why does a company this ubiquitous, rich and powerful keep getting to screw up on the scale it does without consequences?

Surprising literally no one at this point.

What a wild ride!

Big headline, great profile.

Alex Trebrek is a figure of my childhood and I loved this profile piece.

An interesting piece at Politico about how Republican gerrymandering works…for a party system that no longer exists in the post-2016 world. For better or worse they have a new party leader who has promised new policies and commitments that no Republican would have espoused a decade ago. 2018 has shown how that may cost them future elected positions.

This week in Mormon News, a podcast recommendation and a bit of background reading from the incomparable C. Jane Kendrick. A link to the episode of This American Life in question can be found in her post. She sums up many of my feminist struggles with a patriarchal faith masterfully, “My problem is with the system…it is the power dynamics that I refuse. I refuse men in power and authority over women. I don’t care where it comes from. I refuse it… I believe you could put in a thousand checks to this system, you could go and sit with your child through every interview, you could teach your daughters to be the most feminist, but this system–designed to cultivate absolute obedience–will always seep in.”

This piece by The Cut feels like a good follow up to that. It’s hard, but necessary to read.

Also relevant, this piece by Monica Lewinsky for Vanity Fair. “If you want to know what power looks like, watch a man safely, even smugly, do interviews for decades, without ever worrying whether he will be asked the questions he doesn’t want to answer.”

PUNK’D.

This week in misogynistic nonsense…

Lady Washington is all, “Who the **** is Carol, George?!” But seriously, this thread is amazing.

Copy/paste will kill us all.

Yeah…this feels correct…

It’s the Lester Holt/James Comey thing all over again. Nothing is new and neither is the lack of robust response.

A sad week for pop culture with two losses: Stan Lee and William Goldman.

Brexit. What a shit show.

Speaks for itself:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

This is the Year I Bought Jewelry

“Big girls need big diamonds.” 
― Elizabeth Taylor

Let’s talk about jewelry, because this is something I thought about this past year. I don’t own a lot. My father gave me a set of pearls for my 16th birthday, and my mother gave me a peridot set for a birthday as well. My wedding jewelry is hands down the nicest jewelry I own; Jeff bought my engagement and wedding rings, and I purchased some earrings myself–which hilariously, I forgot to put in for a good portion of the day. That’s because I’ve never actually been a big jewelry wearer!

Some women are good at accessories, I am not. I often feel very unsure or awkward about wearing them, even though I know objectively that individual items are incredibly stylish or cute. It’s when I try to put them on myself that this becomes an issue! However I’ve become convinced that this is mostly a confidence problem and just because I’m not used to seeing a lot of accessories on myself in the mirror doesn’t mean I look bad in them. Ditto jewelry, whether nice or costume.

So, this was the year I decided to try and figure it out. Similar to my closet, I’ve done several rounds of edits and have ended up donating a lot of my cheap costume jewelry over the past year to really reduce the amount of unused, unloved stuff that was taking up space in my jewelry box, and then I got thoughtful and intentional about the gaps that I saw remaining when it came to my professional or day-to-day style. I’ve bought seven items in total this past year, here’s what they were:

Cheap and cheerful

Over the years I’ve either purchased or received some semi-precious items, but most of what I owned was costume jewelry. This is the year that I cleared out some cheap and fairly crappy items, and sold better quality pieces that I never wore and didn’t suit my style. As a result, what I still own I use more regularly and looks nicer, even if it’s super cheap! I bought a couple of rings for about a £1.50 each, and a silver collar style necklace for about £10 at an antiques market. Antiques shops, markets, and vintage shopping are fantastic ways to get unique items at decent prices. I also bought a pair of chunky gold hoops for a couple of pounds which were very on trend for this past year.

 

Mid-range (for me at least)

One of my 101 in 1001 goals was to buy a right hand ring, which always felt to me like an achievement for a grown woman. I treasure and value every single item I’ve been gifted over the years and the love and affection that they symbolize–I fully intend to gift them in turn to children, friends, or relatives someday in return–but the idea of buying a piece for myself that I had picked out and chosen for myself felt like a good goal to work for. I knew I wanted an antique piece (of course) because it would enable to me to find something that felt unique and not mass produced, and also because there are certain styles I know I love, and because savvy antique shopping can get you good value for money. I’ve been looking for the right ring for a long time and knew I wasn’t going to buy anything that didn’t hit the sweet spot of style and price. I found it at the Bermondsey Antiques Fair and I’m thrilled.

I beatiful bought these vintage pearl earrings which I shouted out in my April favorites and adore.

I also bought a delicate gold chain from a Canada based brand that I love and that does very simple jewelry across price points. It’s so slight that it’s easy to miss, but that’s exactly why I wanted it. It’s hand hammered so the links catch and reflect the light very subtly and helps make even the laziest outfit look a bit more intentional. I also got it in a shorter length so it sits higher around my neck that most chains and therefore allows me to layer it with other pieces–when I can be bothered!

None of these items are what I would call “expensive,” but they took thought and planning that I simply didn’t need for something like a £1.50 ring. In these cases, I used my personal cash budget to pay for them.

 

 

Investment

This was the year I bought a piece of jewelry that cost over £100–but as it was a sort of partial birthday, partial Christmas, and partial career celebration gift, I felt I could justify it. Also, like unto my ring, it was an item that I wanted to buy for myself. I’d long wanted a chunky, gold necklace of some kind and wanted it to feel special or unique in some way. A super vague brief! However, when I discovered this second hand and vintage designer costume jewelry seller, I started stalking her social media and shop extensively until I found the necklace I knew I wanted to get. It’s a costume piece by Chanel from the 1980s and I love it. It’s just a bit too much but I’ve wear it almost every day since buying it and whether it’s a formal work outfit or a t-shirt, it seems to work with almost everything. Another benefit of buying second hand is the ability to work with sellers. In the case of my ring, I haggled and bargained and in the case of my necklace, I agreed a payment plan to spread the costs out over a long period of time. This didn’t make the item less expensive, obviously, but it allowed me to build it into my personal monthly budget plan in a sensible way.

Et voila. That’s how this became the year that I started buying (and wearing!) jewelry properly. I’m absolutely tickled about every single item, none of them were casual purchases (not even the market rings) and all of them feel good. By which I mean, they feel like things that fit my life and style. Some of it’s cheap, some of it’s more expensive. Some of it’s sleek and modern, some of it is a bit over the top. That feels about right.

A lot of what I’ve gotten rid of and pared back over the past two years have been items purchased when I was still figuring out who I was going to be, how that person was going to dress, or even what that person actually liked (as opposed to what she felt like she should like). Similar to my closet, I own fewer pieces overall than I used to, but I actually wear almost every piece of jewelry I do own regularly (some of them every day).

I don’t intend to buy any jewelry for myself in the coming year, I’m happy with what I’ve got…even if I’m not above asking for a nice ten year wedding anniversary present!

Have you ever bought yourself jewelry? How did you select it? What’s the most meaningful piece you own? What about the cheapest? Let’s talk bling in the comments, whether gems or rhinestones!

 

Weekend Links: 100 Years

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
– In Flanders Fields, John McCrae

Happy Saturday, kittens! What a week this has been…the midterms, the après midterms, the long anticipated catapulting of Mr. Sessions from the ranks of the Trump cabinet–which is not an uniformly good thing, shockingly. Another mass shooting in the US, another flurry of Brexit shenanigans in the UK. It’s all quite a lot to take in and the news that Notorious RGB broke a rib literally caused me to clutch mine in fear.

We are commemorating the centennial of the Armistice in WWI tomorrow, which is a much bigger deal and more solemn occasion here in Europe than in the States; here the scars of the war are still present on the landscape. Britain has been filled with events, exhibitions, memorials, art, commentary, and remembrance services for a year in the lead up to this Remembrance Sunday, which have been deeply moving.

In other words, the world is filled with highminded thoughts and low brow dark humor, as always. And so, I’m bringing you a links post with a nice mix of important and decidedly lighthearted pickings from around the internet this past week to help you thrill with triumph at humanity, or steel yourself to contend against its darker impulses. Whichever you need this weekend.

Through a glass (or the 18th century) darkly.

Hot damn, this stuff makes me happy!

It’s absurd how expensive this dress is…and how much I’m drooling over it!

This piece at The Atlantic, about the economy of human attention, how we spend ours and how it gets hijacked, was an interesting read.

No shit, Sherlock.

This story is everything I love: Tudor history, gore, historic items discovered in attics–it’s perfect.

Shock. Surprise. Whomever could have guessed. /sarcasm

Whoa, slow down, news!

Obviously.

Consent is sexy! 

This was quite an endeavor…and a recap….

One of my favorite up and coming artists gave a beautiful performance on SNL last week if you are so inclined.

What a wild ride of a tale!

We still have not forgotten the Blake Shelton fiasco, People, but this will do nicely to rectifying your shameful lapse.

That’s one hell of a mis-sent invite, trolls. But thanks!

Meditating on this piece this week.

Let me sing you the song of my people.

About that horrific mass shooting, you’d never guess that mental illness and sexism played a role, huh? Just kidding. Also, more horrifically, it transpires that among the survivors are individuals who also survived the Las Vegas mass shooting earlier this year.

We need to talk bout the overabundance of neutrals in the ethical fashion space. My kingdom for a jewel tone…

EVERYONE ELSE WRITING TWEETS AND HEADLINES CAN GO HOME.

Join me in fangirling over Gillian Flynn some more. Rage, complex femininity, difficult characters…this profile has everything. This is relevant mostly because Katarina and I had a fab conversation about authors adapting their work for the screen and we both talked about how much we liked her work in all its iterations.

This one made me laugh aloud. Brilliant!

Scatological American history.

The only post-election reading I heartily recommend.

Overcoming the Sunk Cost Fallacy

“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.” 
― Noam Chomsky

This year I have thrown away or donated literally hundreds of dollars worth of stuff. Wherever possible I have given away and donated things that I don’t want or don’t use. My little sister has benefited from the regular reorganization of my bathroom shelves and closet. I’ve given unloved items to coworkers and friends, and my preferred charity shops have received several drop offs. But stuff has also ended up in the trash where I couldn’t reasonably or ethically unload it.

I sort of cringe to type that, but it’s the truth and I’m continuing to try and be radically transparent about my money choices. Hi, I’m C. and I have (metaphorically) tossed money in the garbage in 2018.

In thinking about what I’ve gotten rid of in the last year in a bit of depth, I realized how much of being able to reduce my possessions and luxuries to a more reasonable level has come from a breakthrough about a concept that is well established in the economics world and drives a surprising amount of consumerism in my opinion. Let me explain…

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

The Sunk Cost Fallacy is an economic and business concept which can be explained in a lot of very complex and intelligent ways but can be boiled down pretty simply: a sunk cost is money that you have either spent or lost and that there is no way to get back. The fallacy part happens when human biology and psychology kicks in. There is some pretty good scientific reporting out there about how, as a species, we are designed to try and maximize our investment of time, energy, or resources. Unfortunately, there is also good scientific reporting to show that we can also be pretty dumb about calculating our return on this investment. Where we have spent time, energy, or resources on a thing, the more we have put into that thing, the less likely we are of being able to walk away from it, even if the results are bad.

Businesses fall prey to this, and so do people. If you’ve ever stayed in a movie theatre watching a film you hated, if you have ever extended a relationship of any kind even as it turned toxic, if you have ever continued to throw money at an idea or business even as the likelihood of your success shrinks, if you have ever kept eating a meal after you are full simply because you’ve paid for it, you have fallen into the SCF. Obviously these things are not at all on the same scale as one another, but the principle is the same.

Once you awaken to the SCF, I mean really awaken to it and its effects in your life rather than just being aware of it as a concept, you start seeing it everywhere. Learning to realize and accept my own SCF thinking when it comes to my spending has been a process for me over the past couple of years. A small, irrational part of me used to try to justify my bad money choices–which I think is a fairly common experience. If I hold on to this item, I may use it some day. It may fit. I may like it more. It may be useful.

I’m facing up to this because, speaking only for my own case, this has been categorically bullshit.

A makeup or skincare item that breaks you out or you hate the look of on your face is no less expensive or more valuable for sitting on your shelves for months because you refuse to either re-home it or throw it away.

A piece of clothing that you never wear or lingers in the closet (possibly with the tags on) did not cost you less because you are holding on it.

An item that doesn’t function the way you need it to will not function better for taking up space in your drawer, and you probably will not use it more over time.

When you buy something, in almost every single case, the damage has been done. The cost of labor, construction, and transportation has already been incurred. Your wallet has taken the hit. And unless you come to your senses and return the item quickly, you are not getting your money back. This is why certain items have ended up in the donation pile or in the bin this past year. I had done the financial damage, the choice was not the best one, and I had to find an intelligent way forward.

Managing your bad money choices.

So, how have I coped with this uncomfortable tally in the past year? A few ways.

I put myself on certain restrictions, and documented them publicly to keep myself honest. I didn’t quite meet my goals, but by writing and talking about them, I am convinced I mitigated damage. Did I spend money on makeup this year, even though I had a goal not to? Yes. Would I have spent more without my goals? Almost assuredly yes. Did I buy more than 18 personal items this year? Yes. Would I have bought more without the mental check of knowing I was making myself publicly accountable for them? Definitely. All told, I spent less than 4% of our disposable income on personal shopping this year and I feel good about, even though in terms of sheer numbers I know I could have used that money better.

I made a little extra money by reselling some items. Did I recoup all money I spent in the first instance? No, but I did get some cash back by reselling items through trusted consignment dealers and listing them online, and I cleared out space in my closet as a result.

Where I couldn’t sell, I donated plenty of items to shops where 100% of the proceeds go to charity. Does it make up for money spent or environmental production costs? Nope. Did it help make anything even a tiny bit better in the world? I like to think so.

I did (actually) practice some delayed gratification. I would like a much more “finished” and decorated home than we have, but I decided to be okay with our fairly spare furniture and blank walls for a while longer. We bought some art for our home for our anniversary this past year and one of my 2019 projects will be spending money on getting things framed. I bought one piece for the front room and I’d like to buy one or two furniture pieces next year if I’m happy with our financial progress as well, but I’m going to play it by ear.

So, what can I take away from a year of trying to be more honest and intentional about what I buy?

 

The only cure for poor spending choices is the discipline of good ones.

That means making budgets and sticking to it.

That means planning your purchases in advance, with thought and intention, and not giving into impulses. Food, travel, clothes, random shit…it all matters.

That means building a wardrobe slowly, intentionally, and thoughtfully.

That means delayed gratification in saving up for big ticket items for your self, home, or family rather than slapping down a credit card.

None of this is groundbreaking or radical stuff, but it is important to reiterate until it becomes gospel to you.

Weekend Links: VOTE

“Despotism, which in its nature is fearful, sees the most certain guarantee of its own duration in the isolation of men, and it ordinarily puts all its care into isolating them. There is no vice in the human heart that agrees with it as much as selfishness: a despot readily pardons the governed for not loving him, provided they do not love each other. He does not ask them to aid him in leading the state; it is enough that they do not aspire to direct it themselves. He calls those who aspire to unite their efforts to create common prosperity turbulent and restive spirits, and changing the natural sense of words, he names those who confine themselves narrowly to themselves good citizens.” – Alexis de Tocqueville The US midterms elections are next week and the news is appropriately…hectic. Oprah’s out knocking doors, and Trump is releasing racist ads and whipping up fear over a group of refugees over a thousand miles away. I have appreciated the viral moment from the gubernatorial debate between Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Gillum because I think it encapsulates a much bigger debate, and one I wish we would stop having. Much ink has been been spilled as to whether one person or political or another is racist. I think it is more useful to look at the company they keep. I care less than I used to whether Mr. Trump is personally racist or antisemitic. I know that self-avowed racists and antisemites think he is, or at least will protect them. I vote accordingly. If you’re a US citizen, make sure to cast your ballot this week. If there is one good thing coming out of this administration, it’s heightened engagement in our collective government. Last weekend capped a week of bigoted crimes and violence with an act of horrific antisemitism that took my breath away. Like anti-black racism, I was among the comfortable and stupid who assumed this particular bigotry was on the decline. I have been heartsick and ashamed to realize the shallowness and depths of that ignorance, and to watch it surge back into the mainstream. I do not hold Mr. Trump personally responsible for the acts of other people. I do hold him responsible for elevating nationalism, conspiracy thinking, and bigotry to as “acceptable” by either disregarding or failing to understand the importance of his office. He has deliberately normalized, cheered, and even politically accepted benefit from what it is his duty to denounce and hold at bay. I could extrapolate this to a lot of other party leaders as well who may not hold these views themselves, but are perfectly willing to capitalize on people who do. Too many people have winked or ignored what should not be ignored. Conspiracy theories are not harmless, words have consequences. He’s awful. I’m sorry, but he is. This seems like a good week to recall our first president’s words on and to the Jewish community in our newly formed republic. AGAIN. WORDS MEAN THINGS. I had a kneejerk reaction to this news, but I’m comforted by the knowledge that the actual Constitution cannot be amended by tweet or executive order. I think. Who knows any more. People are trash. (The internet being what it is, quite a lot of information started coming out from the person who really instigated the rumor mongering in the first instance. Mostly that he’s bad at faking stuff.) Surprise surprise, more trash people are potentially involved. Here’s a good summary of this bonkers news piece. An evergreen question: are they (all of the people in this orbit) bad geniuses or just lying, dumb, and lucky? Okay, let’s have a palate cleanser from the political news with this trailer which did not make me tear up in the slightest, no sir. One of the most important-to-me artists and albums. Cliche, maybe, but still true. This is too accurate… Summarizing our current political and cultural world through the lens of Kanye West, professional wrestling, and YouTube drama. Seriously. This piece at Politco offers some cold consolation: many celebrities of alt-right have not been able to ride the coattails of that popularity to true power and many are disillusioned with a president they once championed. These self-aggrandizing (mostly) men have inflamed some of the worst of our nation’s impulses and bigotries and enshrined malignant chauvinism and narcissism as the dominant force in our government…but sorry you lost your book deal! (/sarcasm) Oh, Venice! …This is…a headlineWhoops. A longer piece on exactly how we got…here (waves hands at world in general). Relevant to my London interests! Simone Biles is a badass. An evergreen statement, really, but doubly true this week. This headline! From the FT: we’ve got a waste crisis and we’re out of ways to hide from it or try to make it someone else’s problem. GIRL GANG GOOD NEWS MINUTE: https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

October Accountability

“Unshined shoes are the end of civilization.”
– Diana Vreeland

It’s that time again, time for some radical accountability in exchange for my beloved cabinet purchase of earlier this year.

It was a good money month. We negotiated with our landlord for reduced rent whilst we deal with the gaping hole in our ceiling, but even before that we met our goal of keeping several hundred additional pounds in the bank for savings and debt payments. We’ve cut way back on discretionary spending on food, and I’ve been mindful about packing and taking lunches to work most days. When I don’t, I’ve switched up my habits and have been spending my cash budget on healthy options at a grocery store rather than a more expensive option. Small habit changes, bit results in our monthly cashflow!

My sanctioned purchases this month were replacement underwear and athletic shoes–acceptable and necessary given that I’d literally worn their predecessors to shreds. Unsexy but true.

I did have a naughty moment and pick up a blazer this month, kittens, but I don’t feel bad about it. A navy blazer was on my shopping list for 2019, and I found a beautiful vintage Aquascutum wool one in a vintage pop up for £45 which is a bargain (literally a tenth of the price I would end up paying for a current season jacket). I also had to replace another pair of work heels this month as I lost another set to the cobblestones of London and the heels were more torn up than a cobbler could deal with. I am not beating myself up about this too much either, as being well-shod is a requirement in this city. Finally I had a gift card that allowed me to pick up a pair of trousers which might be bending the letter of the law, but does not break it. Ha!

And other than that, nada! I had to replace some beauty and hygiene items but I did that with drugstore equivalents and have discovered some major gems. My next empties blog post is going to be a doozy as I’m blazing my way through products lately and slowly finding a few cheaper alternatives to more expensive items, and in some cases verifying that some things really are worth the money. Alas, however, that I cannot replace a few major makeup items until I’ve also used up their like-for-like equivalents already in my stash.

Tell me of your own small victories this past month in the comments, kittens!

13 By Halloween Panning Challenge Report

“Crying is for plain women. Pretty women go shopping.” 
― Oscar Wilde

Back in July I subscribed to the 13 By Halloween Challenge, to try and use up 13 beauty products before the end of October and I have to say I’m delighted with my success. Against my original list here’s what I’ve been able to either use to the last drop, or hit my usage goal on:

Where we started…

No 7 Cleanser
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution
The Ordinary Rosehip Oil
Etude House Suncreen
Sleepy Lotion, by Lush
Kiehl’s Facial Cream
Glossier Stretch Concealer (make significant progress)
Verbenna lipstick, by Bite Beauty
Rosehip lipstick, by Bite Beauty
Red Square lip pencil, by Nars
Honey Bronzer, by The Body Shop (hit pan)
Rose Silence perfume sample, by Millier Harris
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Skincare I run through in pretty decent time so I’m not surprised to have got through the items that I did, but it bears repeating how long it can take to use up makeup products! A self-confessed junkie, I definitely let my shopping outrun my need a few years ago and I’ve been working on correcting that imbalance for a long time. Challenges where I use up what I already own instead of shopping for more stuff have been a big part of this.

I’m going to say that I made good progress on my concealer but it’s nowhere near done. And as for bronzer, my god, this stuff is never ending.

So far this year I have managed to use up several lipsticks, which is no mean feat for a girl with my size of arsenal. I absolutely love Bite lipsticks but as Sephora is no longer shipping to the UK, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to purchase them in the future. Not that I can, of course! Luckily I have a fistful of Bite bullets left and good friends in the States who will be able to supply me when I’m at liberty to shop for them again. I also managed to use up my Giorgio Armani foundation which is an absolute star of a product. I also intend to repurchase it in the future, but first I have to use up any other similar products and then, under the rules of my Faustian Furniture Pact, I have to make do with a drugstore alternative until June of next year. As I said, I didn’t use up my concealer, but I didn’t really expect to and I will be happy to see this product last as long as I can make it into 2019. I still don’t like rose scented perfumes that much more than I did before, but I was very happy to use and use up my Millier Harris sample, as well as a few other scent samples I had lying around. And I can’t show you the bottle because I left it in a hotel bathroom on a work trip like a numpty.

I will be doing another “empties” style post before the end of the year, because who doesn’t enjoy the experience of nosing through someone else’s bathroom cabinet, but I’m downright giddy with what I’ve been able to use up in the past few months. Slowly but surely I am culling my beauty collection down to what I know works and what I enjoy using. I have a few more confessional style posts coming on the topic in November so watch this space.