Tag: 2018

The Best Things I Bought Last Year

“Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping.” 
― Karl Lagerfeld

Inspired by Janssen over at Everyday Reading, I thought I’d run through a few things that I spent money on last year that sparked a lot of joy. Budgeting continues to be a big thing in the Small Dog residence this year and posts on this theme will continue to flow as I continue to think about consumption and responsible consumerism, as well as debt management. All of which I’m sure you guys find riveting.

That’s right, ducklings, come for the political angst, stay for the sensible money talk!

So, while I’m in the midst of a three month-long personal spending freeze to kick off the new year, here are the best things I bought in 2017.

Vintage Chairs

We took an apartment at the upper end of our budget when we moved into this place, negotiating a better rent rate in exchange for furnishing it ourselves rather than asking our landlord to do so. This has had tradeoffs. We live in the nicest place of our married life but have had to curtail spending elsewhere as a result; we have an amazing home, but are taking literal years in putting it together and saving up for big buys one at a time. But both of us were in agreement when we saw this pair of vintages chairs show up at one of our favorite antique stores that we wanted them. They were our only big budget item for our house this year but they’ve leant our place charm, personality, color, and a much needed place for people to actually sit. I love them.

Party Dress

It had been years since I bought a party dress that didn’t come in the LBD variety, but this past holiday season I had enough events to go to (with a broad range of dress codes) that an update to the wardrobe was justifiable. This dress was in my December favorites post, but deserves another shout out because I have definitely gotten my money’s worth out of this thing.

Lea Stein Brooch 

I picked this up on our long weekend trip to Paris with the glorious Caitlin and her lovely husband Jose. I fell in love with Lea Stein designs years ago and stumbled across an amazing shop in the Rue Jacob that sells vintage costume purely by accident. This was the only purchase that came home from Paris this year and it’s a wonderful bit of treasure.

Greek Vacation

Without fail, the best thing we spent money to me this past year was a week in Greece just the two of us. I’m very bad at relaxing, and this trip was a much needed reset. Even though we were crazy and flew into and out of Athens in less than 24 hours, we had a wonderful day in the city and an amazing six further days on Santorini with hiking, sailing, and an awful lot of food. It was amazing and has really helped me remember to prioritize time off better than I have before.

How do we feel about social media these days?

“Distracted from distraction by distraction” 
― T.S. Eliot

A genuine question, kittens. I ask because Katarina and I had a delightful hour and a half long conversation on the topic the other day and I have not been able to get the conversation out of my head. I joked about it when I mused what I’d like to give up in 2018 because I didn’t quite mean it…but didn’t quite not mean it either.

Last year I started logging out of Facebook for extended periods of time. I don’t really enjoy it as a platform and haven’t for years, but I’ve kept it because it’s an easy way for people all over the world to keep in touch with me. A military brat and an expat, my friends and acquaintances are scattered across the globe and I justify keeping my Facebook account to make it easy to connect with them…but maybe I need to be more honest about the fact that most of the friends I keep in touch with regularly, I keep in touch with through other means. My best friends and I talk, text and email weekly. I have a lively correspondent base and Facebook isn’t how I keep in touch with them. I’m holding on to it for a purpose that I don’t actually use in real life. My logic is flawed.

Less personally, I don’t really like Facebook anymore. My feed is a constant stream of advertisements and wannabe viral videos and memes. For a long while I watched and uptick in people sharing content I didn’t like or agree with (this was a few years ago) so I started culling my list of “friends” until it actually represented friends. From 2014-2106 the content turned political and the tone turn downright vicious so I went through another culling period and started muting people whose views troubled or angered me.

In other words, I became part of the problem so routinely ascribed to Facebook these days: that it shows us content we already agree or align with, reinforcing our views.

I’m now trying actively to correct this by widening how I consume media, and Facebook is not the way I do that. I’ve subscribed to newspapers that I previously enjoyed mostly for free (got to support journalism now more than ever), and I make a deliberate effort to read commentators and platforms or publications that represent different views than me. I might not share them as much because, hey: my blog, my rules, but I do read them.

Instagram is a platform I still enjoy, even though it’s owned by Facebook and I haven’t liked a lot of the changes that have been made to it as a platform (a non-chronological feed for one thing). But it’s a place where I find beautiful images and interesting people and so it’s still a fun thing for me. I follow friends, a lot of beauty and style editors and writers, vintage sellers, some bloggers who I either know or have interacted with in some way over the years, and a few theme feeds that give me a much needed daily dose of pretty.

Twitter I’m torn over. I didn’t really use Twitter all that regularly until the 2016 campaign and now I feel a bit like a junkie who needs it to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I subscribe mostly to journalists, editors, writers, bloggers, and podcasters whose content I enjoy, and politicians whose views are relevant to mine or to my life. But let’s be honest, as a whole, Twitter is a hilariously overly-dramatic place. If you acknowledge it and don’t believe everything you read, you can enjoy the ride. But if, like me, you’re a person who tends to take a lot of things very (or too) seriously, it will convince you that the world is on the brink of self-destruction or that people are mostly garbage if you give it too much of your time. It’s not a platform that encourages good mental health or stress management.

As for all the other social media platforms, I’m either barely or not at all active on them. Bad blogger!

I’m not sure what this thinking will coalesce into but it’s an idea I can’t really get out of my head. Katarina and I had a lively discussion about whether social media will stay as relevant or how it may change in coming years. I don’t think you can write it off entirely, especially given the current political landscape of the world, but it’s been interesting to watch how it’s been leveraged or monetized past the point of authenticity for so many people. We also chatted about blogging and how that medium has changed over the past decade, but that’s another rambling post altogether!

I think I’m going to keep off of Facebook for as long as I can avoid logging in. Other platforms I’m still up in the air about. How about you guys, how do you use social media and how has your use changed over recent year? Is it weird I’m thinking about this so much, or do you guys ponder this stuff to? Lend me your thoughts!

2018 Pre-Gaming

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.” 
― Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

I am already hyped about a few things this year that I thought were worth listing. What are you looking forward to this year, kittens? Let’s start 2018 on a hopeful or at least ambitious note.

Hamilton 
Did I buy tickets nearly a whole year in advance? You’re goddamn right I did.

Travel
Jeff and I want to try and hit at least two dream destinations this year, finances permitting. In a perfect work we’ll make it to Amsterdam, Iceland, and Morocco. In reality, who knows!

My Next No Buy Challenge
We had a fairly modest Christmas with a nice present each, and are back on austerity again. Jeff is experimenting with our household budget and we are both tracking our spending the way I did for my Money Month project this time last year. We’re continuing to focus on paying off remaining debt and being more aggressive about building our savings. I’ve come to enjoy these challenges and this, my third of four, will hopefully be the easiest one yet.

More Reading
I’m probably not going to read 100 books again this year…but you never know, a girl can be ambitious.

Makeup Challenges
Believe it or not, I’ve committed to not buying any new makeup this year, unless I’m replacing something I’ve used up. Longtime readers will know that this…is going to take some focus for me. Beauty is my thing. It’s my safety blanket, the most potent hit of dopamine my brain can get. That’s precisely why I’m limiting myself this year and committing to use up what I already own. I used up a whole bullet of lipstick last month and it was so satisfying, that’s the consumer high I’d like to chase this year instead. I’ll occasionally do empties posts and will report back at the end of the year as to how well I do in curbing my spending, and how much I use up.

Visits To/From Friends
Because I’m totally pressuring Katarina to come to London this year. After having X for a week, I’ve decided I need more time with my girls, I miss them dreadfully.

Hilarious cartoon by the great and good Sarah Andersen.

 

Giving Up

A short list of things I’d like to give up in 2018:

Responding, “Busy,” whenever anyone asks how I am doing. It’s not a badge of honor, and frankly my inability to switch off is not making me better at my job, my mental health, or my personal life.

Hitting the snooze function of my alarm several times every morning.

Avoidance as a coping method. I was easy on myself this past year and gave myself permission to avoid or cut out things, people, or scenarios that were contributing to my anxiety and minor depressive episodes. I’ve had loving and patient people in my life allow me to do this because they agreed it was good for me and were willing to be generous with me. Guess what? It worked, and I’m feeling resilient and balanced again. That means it’s time to toughen up and stop using this as an option in the face of confrontation, stress, pressure, discomfort, or negative emotions. It also means I need to pay it back to the people who allowed me to lean on them by taking my turn being available to lean on.

Freaking out over stupid stuff. I am alarmingly good at this.

Being lazy. This is also something I gave myself permission to do in 2017 after a rough year. It’s also worked, which means it’s time to pivot back to energy and effort, lest self care become permanent and unhealthy self-indulgence.

Social media. There is obviously no hope of this, but I’m pretty well convinced that Twitter doesn’t make me happy.

Guilt about writing. I don’t blog nearly as much as I’d like, but I’ve decided that the only cure for that is probably more frequent, shorter, and sillier posts like this one (hi, team!). I also don’t work on my fiction projects to the degree I’d like (and a lot of this in the past year has been about that avoidance and laziness I mentioned…) but I think small but steady chipping away at this will also help. In the meantime, I’m going to stop shouting at myself in my head for not being published yet.

You know. All super easy and basic things.