Tag: New Year

Weekend Links:

“Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer.” 
― Sir Walter Scott

Hey there, kittens. I’m back and WOOF there was a lot of news whilst I was away. I shan’t attempt to recap it here, let’s just pick up fresh and lean into the fact that Lizzo has released a new song and there are tons of more women elected to representative office in the US. I can be happy all weekend off of that! It’s 2019 and there is much to do and celebrate.

Let’s kick off with one hell of a Girl Gang Good News Minute: Hannah’s book is coming out this year and you guys need to read it!

The third season of The Trump Show has premiered and right on target there is an old rival from a previous season (a certain senator-elect from the Beehive State), fresh new antagonists (in the form of dozens of new congresswomen and senators), and a disappointing and lackluster character has been written out (hand over the gavel, Ryan). I kid, I kid! I would never think of our government in terms of reality television!

A quick editorial note generally: we aren’t allowing ridiculous comments about a then-teenage woman having fun with a viral sensation or a grown woman’s “likability” distract us. Misogyny is very 2016, guys. We’re on to you and we’re not having it.

The plight of rural America and why a country that is so unevenly resourced with fair wage opportunities is a problem for everyone.

More end of year lists!

Ah yes, content that was meant for me, specifically, to consume.

This. Is. Spectacular.

The essay that made a lot of people (including me) cry recently.

I’d come expecting to meet fierce partisans, die-hard right-wingers, guys who were truly preparing to fight the real-life battle everyone in the media seems so sure is coming and that a few lunatics are clearly trying to spark. Instead, everyone seemed kind of horrified by the idea.”

THIS is a headline.

Never mind the US government, who the hell is running its Twitter feeds?!

Speaking of, Politico makes the case that our Tweeter-in-Chief is actually getting worse at Twitter. Seeing as how it’s probably the medium most responsible for his”political” career, what does it mean that he’s no longer really a master of the medium and has been supplanted by younger native users and more adept wielders?

Demanding better of men is our mood for 2019.

My goodness, I want these jewels fiercely.

Another gorgeous piece from over the Christmas holiday to make you feel all the feels.

For all intents and purposes, we’re only 35 years into a 75- or 80-year process of moving from analog to digital,” said Tim Bajarin, a longtime tech consultant to companies including Apple, IBM and Microsoft. “The image of Silicon Valley as Nirvana has certainly taken a hit, but the reality is that we the consumers are constantly voting for them.”


A little something to make you think.

God damn it…I’m not crying, you’re crying:


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.

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

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.


Quick Poll: Do You Have Resolutions This Year?

“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ”
― Anaïs Nin

Minions, a query. Are you doing New Year’s Resolutions? I’m seeing an interesting micro trend in my various media feeds about people purposefully declining to do them this year. Generally this has to do with positive attitude about not wanting to set goals by the calendar, committing to growth whatever the season, and so forth. All of which I heartily endorse, for the record.

As someone who’s decided on a theme rather than specific resolutions (mostly because I already have a pretty extensive list of To Dos I’m working through and I thought more would provide a touch of unnecessary overwhelm), I’m wondering if the idea of committing to new goals on January 1st is losing a bit of its pop culture luster. Is fear of the stereotypical fall off rate providing determent? Are people just tired from last year and resolving to go easier on themselves (Man Repeller queries that here)? Or is the aforementioned positivity and all the overall wellness trends in our zeitgeist genuinely providing a better way to look at goal setting than affixing it to a specific date?

Lend me your thoughts, or observations from the field!

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My family dog clearly has resolved to live her best life in 2017 and is already making headway by doing as little as canine-ly possible. 

2017 – A Year of Less, But Better

“I don’t believe in a lot of baggage. It’s such a nuisance. Life’s too short to fuss with it. And it isn’t really necessary”
― Hugh Lofting, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

2016, you have flown by…and you know where the door is to keep flying straight on through. Bye! You have been an absolutely ludicrous year. But in spite of the crazy (and occasional heartache), there have been some high points too and I am grateful for them. Though the double whammy of Carrie Fischer and Debbie Reynolds was, frankly, a bit of a low blow to end on, don’t you think? Anyway, I’m willing to set that aside in the interest of the new year as there is a lot of work to do.

There’s a lot I want to accomplish in 2017. I’ve got work goals, life goals, weird and wacky goals, but on trying to figure out how I wanted to frame my thoughts I kept coming back to the idea of “less.” 2016 was a full on year with a lot of change, a lot of big emotions, big decisions, and big achievements. I’m not looking to undo or scale back on any progress, but in looking forward I realized that I want to consume less, narrow my priorities, and focus my attention to fewer things at a time.

Don’t expect extreme deprivation, I’m not looking to make a contest in asceticism out of this thought exercise, but I am going to try and be more considered in my consumption of stuff and my commitments.

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I did the first of three shopping bans last year as part of my 101 in 1001 2.0 challenge at the end of last year. It came to a close just in time for Black Friday…and I ended up getting a grand total of two jumpers and a couple of beauty purchases. I didn’t really want, much less need, anything else. I’ve never been an emotional shopper, but I really feel as if the ban was a bit of a reset button for me and clothing in particular–which was already under pretty good control.  The truth is, it’s taken a few years of thoughtful effort, but I’m pretty happy with where my wardrobe is. There are no major gaps and no major needs, both for a personal or professional life. Ditto my makeup stash which has also taken a while to put together and edit, but with which I am really happy. I use and wear everything I own regularly and don’t feel anything is wasted. I will indulge the odd purchase of something that is simply wanted, but don’t expect any major spending this year in the looks department. Less stuff, better quality will continue to be my watch cry.

On that note, I want to be more mindful of my day-to-day spending and consumption. Making my morning coffee at home rather than catching it (and paying for it) on the run, prepped lunches, sticking to grocery lists, not tossing that unplanned item in my basket when at Boots, exploring different travel options in the city, walk more, etc.. I’ve got a few posts lined up on this topic this month, so stay tuned.

Food wise, we now have the thing we’ve wanted for seven years: a proper kitchen. And I am going to be better about stocking and using it. Obviously this will require a bit of spend to get the things we need (we currently own a single small pot, for instance), but I think that committing to cooking more and eating out less will be a good thing. We aren’t overindulgent at the moment, but do give in to laziness and cheap, less healthy food more than we should. I want to be less lazy and more intentional about eating this year.

In the related field of health, the decision to consult and freelance was a good one in that it (surprisingly) reduced the amount of professional stress in my life. A freelancer always has to hustle and I’m certainly making less than I was, but going back on the freelance grind has allowed me to regain a sense of control and purpose that had slipped from my grasp a bit. I want to take this more balanced work mindset with me moving forward, whatever I do. Less unhelpful stress, more intelligent career growth.

Less fretting. I’ve developed some low level anxiety in the past couple of years that I want to get on top of. Things like changing up my work have helped tremendously, but whether through wellness or other means, I intend on letting go of a lot of baggage that I seem to cart around needlessly.

Less time online. I actually want to branch out on the site this year, try a few new things, blog more frequently, and a few other experiments, so never fear about me vanishing from round these parts. But in terms of time wasting, it’s alarming how much time I lose just mucking about on the internet while not actually doing or accomplishing anything. I’m not sure how to roll this goal out, but I’ll try and put some more intelligent thoughts together.

Overall, I think if I can come up with a theme for 2017, it would be, “Less, but better.” I’m curious to see what form this takes.

How about you, kittens? How are you approaching a fresh year? Do you have any resolutions, or other ways to frame it? Talk to me!


Friday Links (First of 2015 Edition)

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Well, hey there, well-beloved-but-desperately-neglected minions! We’re back from the States, back at work, and back at the grindstone. Let’s catch up. Jeff has dived straight into studying for his next round of exams (we’re down to less than a year of this slog), and I’m back freelancing and in the world of London luxury development. The first couple of week of a new year are always a bit hectic, but we might be setting a new record for post-holiday self-destruction. Luckily, there a few things keeping us sane.

We finally coughed up the money for a shiny new laptop that is causing me to coo, “the precious…” every time I open its sleek lid. It’s long overdue. I’ve been using a refurbished laptop we bought for about $400 at least three years ago that’s been getting increasingly clunky and hard to manage over the last year. When I couldn’t have two windows open at the same time without the whole thing freezing, I knew it was time to let Marvin go to his rest. Let’s just hope all my image and music files transfer over alright.

The intrepid Caitlin Kelly is in town and crashing at our place this week as she journeys around the city, conducts research and interview for assignments, and generally puts us all to shame with her pace. Last weekend, completely backward due to jetlag, we all went out on the town and had some much needed adventuring. We ate good food, had great conversations, and did some truly impressive vintage shopping. Caitlin’s got the touch for spotting a deal, let me tell you!

Less immediately important, but still pretty vital, I finally got my local library card and might actually have made headway in getting a British bank account. Long story, will rant later. In the meantime, I’m putting together budget proposals of numbers so high as to give me a nosebleed, working with a grade-A creative team and a world class illustrator, and checking off new items from my list with satisfying ticks. Here are your links, catch me up on your holidays and tell me what you’re up to this weekend in the comments!

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Enjoy a shot from me on assignment in Notting Hill. Much as I whine, life’s pretty decent, kittens.


Some people have more…something…than sense. Not sure it’s money.

You lucky ducks, Caitlin is blogging her adventures (plus tips on renting flats in Paris).

Unsure about the background of Tolkien’s mythology? CPG Grey is here to help.

Jezebel gives a pretty good account of the “fluffication” of this history surrounding Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

Headline of the week, I feel.

I barely use my iPod for music anymore, it’s all podcasts through and through, so this list from Medium about interesting podcasts from 2014 (minus Serial, because obviously) hooked me.

Women’s issue news worth sharing and a cause worth supporting.

Since I’m still working in London housing, this is fascinating.

Ah, journalism.

Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail forever.

A response that moved me on the attack in Paris, a city where Caitlin is just visiting us from and returning to at the weekend. Thoughts for safety all around, please.

An 18th century time capsule opening.

In Which Lack of Planning Turns Out Alright

“Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer.”
― Sir Walter Scott

Throughout December, both of us made noises along the lines of, “We should do something for New Year’s Eve,” whereupon the other would say something to the effect of, “Indeed we should!” After which we would go back to working/munching/watching British quiz game shows/goofing off. For two usually highly organized people we largely took the holidays easy this year – with the exceptions of dinner and the service (which were both planned weeks if not months in advance).

The trouble is that in a city like London, you have to have a plan for New Year’s or the chances of you getting trampled, mobbed, or left out in the cold are pretty high. But almost everything is pricey and booked well in advance. So by New Year’s Eve, just as we were emerging from our food and nap induced sluggery and ready to go out and do something, we realized that our chances of a nice night out were slim.

Nevertheless, we both dressed up and headed to our favorite restaurant in Covent Garden, hoping against hope that most people would be waiting until later to start their festivities and/or heavy drinking and space would be available. As it happened, we got a prime spot at the bar and the universe missed its chance to teach us a lesson in responsibility. Ha ha!

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I still heartily endorse the elderflower presse. Mocktail of champions.

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We ate delicious and artfully prepared food.

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And we got delicious deserts which were so incredible that they actually made my phone’s camera to spontaneously readjust its own lighting feature…I think. I’m not a photographer, people. Interestingly, popcorn has had a bit of a fad year here in London, so apparently I’m trendier than I realized!

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Then, because we are old fogies, we walked home across Waterloo Bridge past the throngs of people already camping out for the fireworks show. This year the organizers went in for a multi-sensory experience combining flavored and scented aspects with the already well hyped, traditional exploding. It sounded intriguing, but frankly not enough to stay up in the freezing cold and inevitable bad weather when…


…we got to watch them from the comfort of our own sofa while drinking tea and cuddling.

And that was how we rang in 2014. We might do something more ambitious some other year, but this year, it was just right.

Friday Links (Kicking Off 2014 Edition)

“There will be always something old in the New Year!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Was it a holiday but two days ago? Did I really take the majority of last week off? Judging by my work To Do List…yes. It’s back to the grindstone, kittens. Jeff has homestudy and I have a scary amount of projects. After which we need to do some food shopping because our leftovers have officially run out, clean the house for the first time since Christmas, etc. It’s time to be civilized again, alas! Here are your weekly links, first of the New Year, and tell me what you’re getting up to this weekend.

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A preview of some of our holiday adventures…

Elizabeth Taylor (an actress whom I really like, every time her name is said I get a craving for the Taylor/Burton Taming of the Shrew), and a letter she once wrote to her cat.

Beautiful nature photos.

It’s pretty well documented that pregnancy, childbirth, etc. terrifies the heck out of me and I’d be happy to avoid it all by adopting a herd of orphans, but even I found Mary Helen Bowers’ pregnancy/ballet balance pretty awesome. I remember being flexible once…

Although, once she has that thing, good luck to her because it’s a minefield!

I have no trouble admitted that I am but a freelancing child and have largely only seen the good side of the industry. So much darkness to look forward to.

I know I would not be able to do what this guy did after losing his vision.

I’m not sure Rodgers is a profession. Does Woodland imply we’re going to live remotely in the forest, because I can tell you that we are NOT.

I have to admit I love the xoVain beauty site, but I think this “Smaug” inspired beauty post is a particularly nerdy favorite. I mean, Smaug is clearly the greatest character in The Hobbit – to quote Lois Long, “I will fight anyone who says differently,” – but the combination of fun makeup artistry with the story of the author’s exceptionally cool dad is a winner. My parents read The Hobbit to me as well, a vitally important childhood memory.

A great glimpse of 1970s kitchens, for the design minded amongst you.

Interesting parenting experiment, opening this one up to the minion commentary because I’m curious as to the thoughts of the parents in the readership. We always had plenty of toys growing up, but our habit of moving frequently meant that we routinely donated and reorganized the surplus and never really accumulated too much. At one point, my parents even significantly downsized Christmas (which I happened to like and plan on replicating with any hypothetical children) and while we are attached to our treasures, we’re not very attached to “stuff.” It’s what allowed me to go to university, and eventually move to London, with just two suitcases to my name each time.

Tumblr find of the week, theses boiled down to one sentence.

2013 In Review

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

The lesson of this year has been: just go for it. You’ll be amazed at what happens. (via)

I’ve been taking the holidays off of writing and even some time off work, but I’m looking forward to diving straight back into work next year – AKA tomorrow. I’ve got some great adventure tales coming your way! In the meantime I’m goofing off with Jeff during his vacation days, reveling in the unseasonably bright and clear weather, and eating the massive amounts of leftovers from our Christmas cooking.

2013 was a big year. First and foremost, we made it to London after years of work and planning finally paid off, Jeff started his job in the City, and I’m working for myself as a writer – the dream literally since I was a child. Frankly I have no idea what 2014 will hold, I’m not sure how the past couple of years can possibly be topped…but if I know the sneaky universe, they will. In spectacular style. So, here’s 2013 in review.

Early this year, we were thrown a massive wrench when we were told Jeff’s start date was not going to be in April…but in September. We rallied, but it did shake up the first quarter!

Even though I was really looking forward to moving onto the next thing, the last few months of my unintentional first career in law enforcement support afforded me a few opportunities to speak bluntly about some issues that need better and less sensationalized coverage than they often get.

Our annual Oscar Gown Review brought out the usual minion debate – which I adore! Not sure how it’s going to work this year, but it’s going to happen.

I got a chance to participate in a storytelling event!

I dove into freelancing, and got a chance to look back as I looked forward.

We packed up and moved out of the flat we lived in since we got married on the first leg of our long awaited move to London.

I went to Virginia to mind the house while my mother did a course in ancient Greek, and spent summer with my family in the East Coast Countryside. I got to introduce the minions to my clan a bit more, and did we frolic!

I contributed to a story for the New York Times, and got my first major byline in the Grey Lady herself!

Finally – FINALLY – we moved to London. After a year of waiting and so many hiccups, we were finally here. We wasted no time in enjoying the city together before Jeff started his job.

We celebrated our 4th anniversary.

We kept exploring the city and I loved introducing some of the best finds to you guys.

And finally, settled down a bit, both working and finally in London, we enjoyed our first proper holiday season on our own.

It’s been a whirlwind, crazy up and down, roller coaster of a year. Thanks, kittens, for sticking around through it. 2014 beckons, tell me what you’ve accomplished this past year, and what 2014 will hold for you!

Come At Me, 2013!

“People need revelation, and then they need resolution.”
-Damian Lewis

I like resolutions, I just don’t always like New Year’s resolutions; anything with a culturally built in expectation of failure sort of annoys me.  But every year I make them – in more recent years I’ve kept them extremely well.  #humblebrag

A format I came across for resolutions that I really liked was by Carly at College Prep: she divided her coming year up by monthly goals and aspirations to work on one at a time.  Much nicer than listing all the things you want to work on, tackling them all at once, and collapsing in a heap in early February (likely stuffing yourself with chocolate cake, skipping that class you signed up for, and whipping yourself.  Literally or metaphorically, depending on your resolutions – no judgement here).  Since 2013 is going to be a bit touch and go, months aren’t quite feasible but quarters definitely are, so here’s what I’m thinking:

Q1: Work
As weird as it is to think about, I’ve got about two months left here at good old Nowhereford, Noneofyourbusinessshire University police.  I’ve learned a lot and am grateful for my what I’ve done here, but I am excited for new challenges and opportunities – one in particular that I’ll talk about soon!  My goal is to finish up my job well, leave it in a better state than I found it, and throw myself into new jobs with enthusiasm and and energy.

Q2: Document
We’re moving in Spring, which will require a lot of organization, creativity, and good humor.  I’ve jumped continents before and believe you me, it’s fun but it’s work!  But I still want to make an effort to be better about taking pictures, writing things down, blogging, and keeping in touch with people in the midst of the chaos.  Apart from anything else, it should provide you minions with a lot of amusement watching us scramble.  We live to serve.

Q3: Writing
Once we’ve settled, I’m jumping into writing again.  We’re still unsure of what my work status will be in Britain, I may only be allowed to be the National Gallery’s latest unpaid (but eager!) volunteer, but so be it.  I’m going to relearn how to pitch myself as a writer to US publications, print and online, work hard on this mysterious opportunity I’ve alluded to, and bloody find other chances.  They are out there and for the first time in a long time, I can stalk them.  Aggressively.

Q4: Travel
Travel makes me happy; seeing new places or even revisiting old ones, hearing new words, trying new foods, just getting up and going somewhere is like a cool breeze for the soul.  My soul could use some airing out.  Yes, yes, I know.  “Selfish, C., you were just in London this past summer!”  Fine.  I’m greedy.  Gluttonous, even.  Sue me.

Looking ahead to 2013, I have so much in store I’m almost dizzy thinking about it – and if I’m honest, a bit nervous to see if everything will work out, as my optimism has been rather strained over the last year.  But I believe in tenacity and how far it can get you if you grit your teeth and keep pushing for what you want, as long as you keep grinning.  I can’t wait to see where we get!