Weekend Links

Hola, beloveds! This ended up being a rather grueling week, including a day and a half flat out sick and bed ridden, but the upside is that that I’m reading up a storm to start the year. It’s not all bad. Work continues to trend in the right way and in spite of feeling under the weather, I still was able to have a rather interesting PR day with a politician who, while I disagree with many of their positions, pleasantly surprised me by being a nice conversationalist and thoughtful speaker. Here’s to humanizing more of the talking heads we see on TV.

I’m having another weekend of moderate relaxing, but might hit up a food market and try to spend some time outdoors. It’s an unseasonably warm winter thus far (hi, scary climate trends!) so I’m getting much more sunlight that usual for this time of year, a welcome boon to my ongoing fight against depressive dips and anxiety attacks. Meds are a godsend, by way of your regular reminder.

The political world remains a dumpster fire, with ambassadors being stalked, criminals trying to flip, TV lawyers doing their absolute worst, impending price hikes for trade with the EU, tempests in teapots for the endless-ly infighting left, and general madness. In response, here’s a short but punchy burst of nice things for you to leaven the news with. Stay engaged and limber, kittens, we’ve got 11.5 months to get through. Humor will be our aid!

I’m adding basically all of these to my list of recipes to try.

God yes, more of this.


This story is awful and incredibly hard to read, but represents a lot of dedicated reporting in a community that is difficult to access. These stories need to be told. Systemic abuse isn’t broken otherwise.

Timely advice now that 2020 is upon us.

Why no, I’m not tired of good reporting on the property market and the disparity between the ultra rich and the most marginalized.

We stan a Cheese King.

I’m making Roberto next.

Whyever would they want a different life? Whomst can say?

This was included in a previous round up but the story evolved and got even weirder since I watched the initial Twitter meltdown via several authors and agents I follow.

If someone could buy me this, that’d be great, thanks.

Weekend Links

…What a week. I can’t summarize it, it was too nuts. Have a nice batch of weekend reading and take care of yourselves this weekend, minions. I’m going to read, cook, spend time with my partner, and do nothing else.

This is not unexpected, but it’s still pretty damn heinous. I read Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow recently, which documents a lot of similar tactics used to try and shame and silence his victims. It’s very detailed and very chilling. Harvey Weinstein can be fired into the sun as far as I’m concerned.

The only ranking I care about this week follow the wrapups of the previous decade.

Wow. An artist for our times.

Maybe I’m just a messy bitch who lives for drama (especially that which distracts me from Australia being on fire, Iran, et al.), but this is downright juicy. Honestly, GOOD FOR THEM. First off, the monarchy is looking to slim down in terms of “working” members of the family anyway – as much for a financial and PR exercise as anything, I imagine – and second, in a modern age there are few “needs” for additional royal family members. Frankly, a lot of other European royal families have been similarly downsizing and fading into the background for a long time, it’s not surprising to me to see Britain doing the same. They aren’t making alliances through marriage, the need to have multiple spare heirs is practically a thing of the past. If you aren’t the monarch or a monarch-in-waiting (such as the Prince of Wales or Duke of Cambridge), who have a specific role to fill as almost living icons (in the religious sense) and a human symbol of the state…what’s the point of your job? I’m not saying it’s worthless, but I am saying I respect people who can apparently examine that state, interrogate it, and make a conscious choice that the restrictions required are not worth the life they want. Not least of all when their current life is dogged by misogynistic and racist…everything. Good luck!

FURTHER UPDATE: interesting details. I’ll be blunt, the fact that the Duchess is getting “blamed” for this decision (at least by the right wing press and bevy of Twitter bots) says all you need to know about the story. There’s no way this wasn’t a joint decision, and frankly would not happen at all if the actual prince of the blood in question had the slightest hesitation about it. At the end of the day, this is his call. Prince Harry has been the face of any anger they feel over the (hideous) treatment of the British press towards her. He’s been talking for years about wanting a different role. He has gone on record many times, forcefully claiming the right to make personal decisions to protect his family, and he has been highly protective of her since day one. AS WELL HE SHOULD. May we all have partners unafraid to make unpopular decisions to center their family and best beloved in their lives.

Great, can we do this nationally already?

Fabulous profile of a scammer supreme. Alcatraz features.

This week in Mormon news is…not great.

If you have feature film length amounts of time, prominent YouTuber ContraPoints (who I’ve shared work from previously) has released a video that manages to be both an anatomy of “cancel culture” and an education on the intricacies of trans and nonbinary culture. I’m personally a fan of Ms. Points, who has been an entry point for a lot of information and education about communities that I still need to learn a lot about, and I really enjoy her content overall. In this case, however, I think she has something important to say about how the worst of internet culture behaves, and what the consequences of in-fighting (particularly on the left) can be. I’m not for one moment saying that HOW we conduct discourse isn’t vital and that we have many issues in our midst, but I agree that far more does (or at least) should unite us in allyship. As usual, disclaimer that she discusses sex and sexuality in extremely blunt and irreverent ways, which won’t be every reader’s cup o’ tea…but I think you should probably give it a shot anyway.

High on my list of petty, gentrified annoyances is that no one in the UK carries Bite Beauty – my favorite lipstick brand. They have just launched a new reformulation to their lip products AND launched some complexion products. Someone please indulge and report back to the minion coterie? (ETA, I’m such a nerd I Tweeted the brand and they confirmed they’ve updated their shipping to go international!)


I don’t see myself ever giving up meat, but I am trying to reduce my overall consumption and make what I eat much more ethically sourced. I’m also deeply interested in the various kinds of lab meats or alternatives science seems to be working on, as well as the various moral, er, contretempts that spring up over various diet choices. Ergo, this piece was right up my alley!

Friend of the blog Caitlin Kelly has finally dropped her piece, titled “What Medicare For All Really Looks Like,” which is an in depth dive into the Canadian health system. I can’t imagine a more timely piece of reporting for a domestic issue for North Americans which continues to top most voters’ worry lists. As she often does, she’s also done a write up on the journalist process of reporting a story like this, which is a great read for any writers, veteran or aspiring.

Some options to help out our Australian friends.

Some options to help out our (if your American like me) fellow citizens in Puerto Rico, still under onslaught from Mother Nature in a bad way.

January Moodboard

This month I’m going cliche and leaning into 20s tropes–aided by the fact that I mainlined Peaky Blinders over the Christmas break and have wanted to do nothing but smoky eyeshadow ever since. It’s such a grungy yet stylish show! Given my fairly basic wardrobe for the month, injecting drama via makeup feels like the right course of action.

I’m definitely not looking to whiskey swilling thugs for health inspiration though; it’s all salads and self-denial in other arenas!

Weekend Links: 2020 Begins Edition

Beloveds, 2020 is upon us! And my god, we’re only three days in. I’ve honestly been trying to muster up some positivity for the new year, as I normally enjoy fresh slates and clean starts, but I’m struggling. 2019 was hard on a personal level and scary on a macro one, and 2020 is…ah…seeming to start as it means to go on.

However, on a long and delightful call with X the other day we discussed the wonderful motivating power of SPITE. So join me, poppets, in declaring at the outset, that we are not going to give in to despair or undue cynicism–for no other reason than that our collective antagonists are hoping for just that. Get hydrated, caffeine up, register to vote, pick a small handful of causes that you care about deeply to devote your energies to, decide whose good opinion and love is actually important to you and prioritize your life according, and hug a dog. We’re going to get through this year and we’re going to do it with aplomb.

Here is a nice batch of weekend reading to look back fondly on the good, catch up on some things you may have missed, and ground yourself for what we’re likely going to deal with in 2020.

The year in memes.

The year in fashion.

The year in podcasts.

I bet you didn’t know you needed a deep dive into the world of lingerie, but you do.

I’m glad that the news media seems final able to confront some of their failings, particularly the areas that fall in talking head and “opini-tainment” as Jon Stewart once called it. I also think that for it to have taken this long denotes something more disappointing if not sinister.

Anatomy of a radicalization.

At this point, reporting that does not do the connecting work of white nationalism and other political views is doing an active disservice to us. I’m grateful to see this changing.

I’m also grateful to see the discourse on climate change improving, but it’s horrifically late.

Let’s hear it for the girls.

This is a fantastic round up of culture “moments” of the past year, and a good list of things to try and catch up on if you’ve thus far missed out.

Behold a goddamned headline!

People who are anti-immigration in my country can’t do math.

I could read a whole book on how “fan culture” has taken over everything from politics to pop culture, and what this means for us as a society. I spend an inordinate time thinking about it. In the meanwhile, this article is a great starting point.

Romance is a genre I used to morally eschew, then read in shameful secret, and now revel in openly. There is some seriously good writing to be found in its pages, too often dismissed because the target audience is women and the main topic is feelings. That’s a rant for another day…what you need to know is that some major DRAMA went down in the Romance world this week. I watched it unfold in real time on Twitter, but for those who need a primer, Lois Beckett from The Guardian is here to help!

Relatedly to all of the above mess, let’s all diversify our reading this year, shall we?

Oh. So that’s why witnesses are being blocked. Shock, surprise.

Oh. So that’s why the secrecy. More shock, surprise.

We had a fascinating debate in my office about this! It spiraled into the differences between religious and “philosophical” belief systems, and how we chose to allocate protections.

Still developing as I finish up this post but…this feels horribly huge. The consequences are already starting. Mar-al-ago guests and Russian diplomats knew about the attack before the appropriate members of congress did. I remember this all too well from 20 years ago. The performative hawkishness and patriotism, the propaganda to circle the wagons around the government, the othering of whole nations and cultures with a long tail of hideous racism that we are still dealing with. 20 years later, thousands of Americans and allies dead, hundreds of thousands of civilians dead, no clear gains, no increased stability, recent revelations that there was no fucking plan in the first place…NO. NOT AGAIN. Not to appease ideologues, not to distract from domestic scrutiny, not for anything.

A Winter Capsule Wardrobe

Last summer I did my first capsule wardrobe project in preparation for our apartment move. I figured the new year and a refreshed emphasis on intentions and frugality was as good a time as any to do its cold weather equivalent.

I’m already two weeks in (admittedly lounging about for the Christmas holidays made this a fairly easy project to start) and already finding similar benefits as to last time. Having done several wardrobe culls this past year, I feel that my closet is more sharply edited than it was prior to our move and most of what I own is a much better reflection of what I like and actually wear.

I pulled 16 items from my closet (leaving four “wildcard” slots that I can fill in later if I find an unfilled need) and am seeing if I can make two months worth of outfits using just them and accessories. Without really intending it, I noticed when typing this up that many of these items are considered “basics” in and of themselves–lots of neutrals, simple silhouettes, and a couple of prints just to shake things up.


Chunky black and camel sweater (& Other Stories)

Black turtleneck (J. Crew)

Gray turtleneck sweater (Uniqlo)

Camel crew sweater (Uniqlo)

Striped pullover top (Everlane)

Printed silk shirt (Joy)

White shirt (Everlane)



Blue jeans (Everlane)

Black jeans (J. Crew)

Leather trousers (vintage/thrifted)

Leather skirt (?)

Black trousers (Gap)



Cashmere knit dress, navy (The White Company, thrifted)

Striped knit dress (J. Crew)

Leopard print dress (& Other Stories)

Black dress (M.M. LaFleur)


Emotional spending has long been my bug bear (I’ve already had to sit on my hands a few times in the last few months to avoid temptation) but short self challenges like capsule wardrobes or spending challenges that you track can be great ways to help check impulses. My very old-school approach to tracking progress is to literally tick off a day in a notebook–a dinky but useful way to view my project history in a single place.

And do you know what, it helps! While tempted, I’ve not given in to a single post-Christmas sale and the only money we’ve moved is to pay down another chunk of credit card. By the time this project is done, we should be able to pay off another credit card (our third) in full and then turning our attention to our final, largest card. As I’ve written, that’s one of my big money goals for this year. For the moment, that’s what my closet represents and no temptation is stronger than that.

Have you ever done a capsule wardrobe project, or something similar? What was your motivation? Did it change your behaviors or habits in any way?

2020: The Year of Back to Basics

Truth telling time, I struggled in trying to visualize this year’s theme and I’ve been wrestling with how to frame it for more than a month. A lot of my previous yearly themes have been about achievement and “leveling up,” but in trying to think about what I wanted to accomplish in 2020, what I really want to do in the coming year is to come back down to earth and ground myself.

I 100% attribute this to recent conversations with friends (and a doctor) about what has actually happened in my life over the several years: a faith collapse, career changes, international immigration, health issues…every single year in recent memory has had some kind of dramatic and deeply changing set of events in it. Some of these have been very empowering and good, some have been the most humbling and painful experiences of my life.

It’s a strange thing, and not very au courant to admit, but achievement isn’t as high on my list this year as much as centering on what I already know is good for me. My aspirations are…oddly basic.

Money Basics

I wrote a bit about this in my wrap up post, but I want to build on the financial progress of last year. I’ve spent years breaking bad money habits and building better ones, and this is the year I plan to see them (literal) pay off. I’ve given myself some measurable goals around savings and shopping, to recap:

  1. Achieve my first “fuck off fund” goal and have three months of living expenses set aside permanently
  2. Pay off our largest credit card in full
  3. Begin investing properly and proactively instead of allowing my work conditions to manage it for me – this means consolidating my historic pension information and opening a portfolio
  4. I’m going to try and only purchase 20 personal items in 2020. This doesn’t necessarily include basic items like replacing socks or everyday toiletries, but it will include all purchases made strictly by me, for me, based on wants rather than needs.

And the way I’m going to achieve a lot of the above is by “going back to basics.” I’m going to prioritize cooking food rather than buying it (something that I did way too much of this year and which adds up scarily quickly). I’m going to continue my “no buy/low buy” challenges for personal shopping and blog transparently about what I do purchase this year to hold myself accountable.

Ultimately, the most basic thing of all, I want to begin saving up to purchase property. I’m officially moving into my “mid 30s” this year and I’m tired of having no net worth. While I have no illusions that we can save enough for any kind of deposit or down payment in a single year, I do know that having a “big goal” to work towards helps me maintain a vision and make lots of smaller, everyday choices that add up. Part of my transparency will include broad updates about our savings milestones and debt repayment, with this big ambition in mind. By the end of 2020, I want to be able to visualize and work towards a definite path towards property ownership.


Relationship Basics

This year I’m going to focus much more on cultivating my existing relationships, as well as trying to build new ones. A dark side of depression and anxiety is how self-centered and self-focused it makes you–you often are so trapped in your own head and experience that you lose the ability to see outside yourself. It’s a trait I’ve observed in loved ones who have struggled with mental health challenges and unfortunately, it’s something I’ve noticed in myself over the last couple of years. God bless my friends who have not just tolerated this extended period of selfishness, but actively helped me navigate it and are helping me out of it through good counsel and sheer love. In 2020 I plan on spending time and money to connect with friends and loved ones better. In addition to being a better friend to those I already have, I want to try and cultivate some new friendships. I don’t really have a “tribe” here in the UK, not even after years of living here, and that’s something I need to change.

I’ve also noted how my partnership has been affected by mutual career ambitions and time commitments. While this has often resulted in some really spectacular support in both directions, 2019 was a rough year for us both work-wise and it led to a lot of disconnection. It’s been good to talk this through as part of our year end wrap up, and identify the ways we want to challenge our defaults in 2020, including travel and work/life changes.

It’s a myth that good relationships of all stripes don’t take effort – the best ones usually are a result of the right kind of effort: love, empathy, support, and prioritization. And there is nothing more important in my life than the friends and loved ones who make it worth living. My behavior and choices this year are going to actively reflect that.


Basic Bitch…

Finally, and the most “basic” and shallow goal of all, I want to lose weight. I’m not about to frame this as a “health” challenge or anything else that’s particularly woke…it’s purely for vanity and self-esteem. I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time and, with the benefit of therapy, anti anxiety drugs, and hindsight, I can see how many other issues related to money and health have gotten tied up in body issues. FOR YEARS. It’s cliche and annoying…but it’s my reality.

2020 seems like it may be a more low-key year, but that may not be a bad thing.

End of Year Empties

As part of my “no buy/low buy” challenges I’ve been eschewing the buying of makeup for several months with two exceptions: the launch of the Victoria Beckham Beauty brand, and the Glossier pop up shop in London. The first was something I’ve been looking forward to for years and the second was a chance to try new products in person before making a call as to whether to purchase them or not. Both of these safely behind me, my wallet has been on lockdown and I’ve been focused on using up the plethora of products I already own.

You know where this is going…the last empties post of the year! Part I, Part II, and Part III here for your prurient pleasure.

Here’s everything I used up in the last few months!

Ignore the sloppy addition of the skincare item (Paula’s Choice Vitamin C, which is excellent), it’s due to idiocy on my part. I used up several makeup items in the last few months, which is always interesting and instructive to report. There is little to surprise here in terms of brands. I used up a bottle of Glossier Skin Perfector (which isn’t really worth the money unless you already have magnificent skin), another tube of Boy Brow (which is very much worth the coin) and their clear gloss (which is perfectly acceptable). I used up an entire compact of Charlotte Tilbury powder and a concealer, both of which are very good products, but I am trying to replace at lower price points…thus far without success. The powder is the very best I have yet tried and as soon as my current, cheaper option is done for, I’ll probably repurchase it. The lipstick is 1975 Red, which was a very lovely birthday present from former coworkers which I used to the last swipe. It’s limited edition, but the brand is pretty good when it comes to its lipsticks, so I’d never call even LE items bad for money. I also used up a lip gloss from Bite Beauty, and another tube of my favorite cheap mascara (which I absolutely picked up a handful of in the States when I was there for my brother’s wedding this summer). Finally, I polished off a Maybellline primer which was very nice, but which I haven’t been able to find again since finishing and so have replaced with a slightly more expensive option.

Oh look, my boring shower reliables.

A lot of additional reliable products which longtime readers will recognize, including the Thank You Farmer SPF and No 7 Gel Cleanser. I am trying to find a replacement for my Glossier moisturizer that costs less, and have been having luck with the Avene line thus far. Garnier is a good alternative to the Bioderma micellar water, and more easily found than the latter (even though it has now found its way to the UK through commonplace pharmacies). The Ordinary also continues to make really affordable and effective serums which I love and use regularly.

Et voila! The last empties report of the year is finished.

Per my 101/1001 goals, I’m going to attempt to use up $1,000 worth of items and blog about it in 2020–primarily because no one should own that much stuff of a perishable product in the first place and I want to significantly reduce my overall number of products, and second to get my literal money’s worth. I’m not proud of the fact that I own as much stuff as I do, and I’m curious how much I can use up in a year if I don’t purchase anything new to divert my attention. It’s a niche goal, admittedly, but in keeping with my aim of getting “Back to Basics.”