Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010


Christmas…

Was wonderful! Not quite as relaxing as I would have liked, but still really nice. Our family outdid themselves with wonderful presents, and I feel a bit guilty about that. Everyone got wedding pictures from us, so that was easy, but it felt a bit self-serving. Oh well, the family seemed to like them anyway!
The socks were finished a good hour before their recipient arrived. All the cooking we did turned out splendidly – Julia Child’s beef bourguignon for Christmas Eve, cranberry coffee cake for Christmas morning, mince pie as our contribution to the family Christmas Dinner (pictured above). Bing Crosby playing in the car as we made the rounds of the family. All was cozy and bright.
I’m glad the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, but I can understand why some people celebrate 12 days of Christmas. I could do with a bit more merry-making – well, as long as someone else could do the cooking! Fortunately, my sister gets married on Saturday, so more festivity is just around the corner.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Performance Review

Today I did something that, for me, was incredibly bold, scary, and risk-taking. I not only asked my boss for a raise, I also suggested that a new position be created in our department AND I suggested that I be the one to fill said position.

Now, if you knew me, you would know how huge this is. I’m not assertive or demanding at all, ever. I hate rocking the boat.

But at the same time, I am feeling burned out and bored at my current job. My pay is ten cents an hour above the very bottom of the range for my position. I’ve been doing the same thing for five and half years, so clearly, something had to change.

The new position I suggested would be an asset to our company and our department and our employees. I’m already doing parts of it, anyway, and there is much that needs to be improved, just no time to work the improvements since I’m also busy with other stuff. So this would be really, really huge.

But it’s also really, really scary. What if they create this new position and I’m a total failure? What if there really isn’t enough to keep me busy? What if I hate it? What if they create the job and give it to someone else? And on and on.

Regardless of what happens, I’m glad I asked. I might get a raise out of it, and holy cow, how awesome would that be??? I might get a completely new position– who knows? And also, nothing might happen. I’m okay with that to. I decided that I needed to start asking for what I want, because if I don’t, I’ll never get anything. Part of the reason that women are still paid 70something cents for every dollar paid to a man is that we don’t ask for more. So, I asked.

And boy does it ever feel good!!

(yes, I’m still plugging away on the sock. Only five more inches to go!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Sock

My plan of paring down my to do list to one or two items per day hasn’t really panned out. There’s the small matter of Christmas coming up, which, despite my best intentions, is still a bit stressful in the present-making department. When will I learn to start Christmas gifts in July, not Thanksgiving weekend?? Also, the week after Christmas we’re traveling for a family wedding in which I am the honor person (I’m not old enough to be “matron of honor”, dammit!). So, needless to say, my must-do list is huge.

Around thanksgiving time, I decided it would be great to make my dad a pair of socks for Christmas. The first sock was completed two weeks ago. The second sock? Well, I discovered that thinking about knitting doesn’t correspond to an actual finished knitted product. The sock sat there, mocking me with its measely 2” of ribbing – for a week!

I decided that, no matter what, that sock is getting finished. Life has now narrowed to two things: work, and knitting. I knit when I eat my breakfast. I knit at lunchtime. I drink caffeine in the afternoon, just for the express purpose of staying awake long enough at night to crank out more knitting.

And you know what? It’s working! The sock is (as of this morning) at 5 3/4 inches! Only 16 more inches to go.

Oh, and just a warning to other sock knitters out there: men’s socks take WAY, WAY more time than women’s socks. And they’re boring, because let’s face it, most men don’t want fancy cables or lace on their socks. So men’s socks are inches and inches of plain ribbing, in a boring color…for EVER. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas!


(ooh, look - a picture! One of our adorable vintage bird ornaments)

Even though I try really hard to simplify Christmas as much as possible, and even though I started my Christmas shopping well before Thanksgiving, I’m still finding myself with a mile-long list of projects to complete in the next two weeks. Some of those projects have sapped all of my creative juices, so I haven’t had much energy left to blog. Heck, I haven’t had much energy, period. In fact, I was so tired last night that I sat down to knit at 8pm and promptly started drifting off with needles still in hand. Since I haven’t figured out a way to knit in my sleep, I figured giving into the sleepies would be better than charging forward and making mistakes. So, I was asleep by 8:30 last night and it felt wonderful. My to do list, however, is not so wonderful, since I *have* figured out how to add to that while sleeping.
Sigh. Merry Christmas, though, to those who celebrate it. And Happy Everything to everyone else.
(As a side note, you don't even want to know how long it took me to get the picture above. We're talking days, people. Days. So embarrassing!)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Developing a Personal Style

I’ve never been particularly fashion-conscious, and I hate to shop. That means that a lot of my wardrobe has been put together as I make my semi-annual run through a department store or two, hoping desperately to find enough stuff that fits so that I’m not going to work naked. This “method” has resulted in countless mornings of frustration as I (almost) literally have nothing to wear.

Such a state of affairs was not making me happy. I have no desire to be a fashionista or anything, and I’d (ideally) do most of my buying on line, which is tricky when shopping for clothing. But, at the same time, I do like to look nice and appropriately dressed wherever I am- work, casual family dinner, or just hanging out at home, and that does require some planning.

So, one of my “life list” items is to develop a personal style. I started reading some fashion bloggers in the last six months or so, and that’s helping a bit. I was daring enough to purchase some bright blue tights, and I wore grey shoes with black tights one day. I’m pretty picky about the bloggers I read, too, since I don’t want to get bombarded by the “buy meeeee” thing that I see on a lot of blogs. It’s been super inspirational to see other people’s outfits, and I’m trying to incorporate some of their ideas without slavishly copying a style that’s clearly not going to work for me (belts, I’m looking at you!!).

Today I got the brilliant idea to write a list of what I’m going for in the clothing that I purchase and wear. Ideally, I’d like a high quality “core” wardrobe into which I mix the occasional trendy or thrifted item. In terms of style, I came up with the following:

I love vintage looks - pencil skirts, cardigans, ultra-feminine dresses with heels and pearls, etc

I also love awesome shoes, and I want to work on work on getting good, leather shoes that will last a while in classic/vintage shapes (either mary jane style, or pointy toed pump style). Supplement with trendy, cheaper shoes - but core shoes should be good quality. Would be awesome if I could have a pair of good shoes in each color of the rainbow, plus black, brown, and grey and excluding yellow, because I never wear yellow and don't like it.

Wear wide legged trousers/jeans with heels, when possible.

Collect interesting accessories and learn to wear them well, but simply. Have a well-edited collection (since I don’t like clutter!)

Try to go for a somewhat minimalist wardrobe, but functional as well

Work on developing a good core wardrobe of basic pieces, and supplement as necessary - but have those core pieces that I wear to death and then replace as necessary

Try to get high quality items - wool, leather, etc - and learn to care for them to make them last longer.

I tend to like solid colors. So, work on 1. incorporating more prints into wardrobe; 2. coming up with good/fun color combos; 3. keeping outfits fairly simple and adding statement jewelry

Work on vintage details – wear my pearls more, heels, skirts with interesting details

Learn to iron...and find a tailor

Figure out good lounge wear and cute pj’s. Dave sees me in my comfies most often, and while I don’t subscribe to the belief that one has to be perfectly dressed, coiffed, and made up while with her man, I’d like him to see me in something other than old workout pants and a minimally stained t-shirt!

Purchase good quality underwear and bras and learn to take care of them appropriately (as much as I loathe hand washing…). Replace when necessary, 1-2x/year.

I’ve found the following blogs helpful and inspirational – and maybe you will too!

www.alreadypretty.com – great advice on style along with fab links and feminist commentary
www.fabfindsunder50.com – awesome, budget friendly clothes. I wish I could wear belts and scarves the way she does!
http://fashion4economicallychallenged.blogspot.com/ - budget friendly workwear
www.blogforbettersewing.com – this fabulous lady makes me want to bust out my sewing machine! And, uh, learn to use it. Love her vintage style.
http://myslifeoflife.blogspot.com/ - love this blogger’s simple but fashionable look. And she wears skirts exclusively – even though I like my pants, I love the skirt inspiration!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Getting Overwhelmed by Pretties

I subscribe to a lot of blogs – blogs about books, blogs about fashion, blogs about weddings, blogs about sewing, blogs about knitting, blogs about cooking. Somehow, I also started subscribing to blogs that basically feature pictures of pretty things. I love seeing the pretties – Christmas trees, ornaments, shoes, awesome Etsy stuff, paper goods – but I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed by it these days. I like opening my google reader and finding beautiful pictures, or a list of really good books to check out, or a sewing tutorial…and then I remember. I have 25 books on my Kindle I haven’t read yet. I don’t, actually, sew. My free time right now is taken up with creating Christmas gifts for family members or cleaning the house. So…I don’t feel like I have time to just bask in pretty.

I think I also dislike some of the materialism that is presented by focusing on the pretties. Sure, they might come from a totally awesome Etsy seller, but it’s still something to buy buy buy. Or something to pretty to consume (I’m looking at you, Pioneer Woman!). Maybe it’s just the season, and the fact that I’m getting millions of BUY ME!!!! emails from all over the place too, but it’s turning me into a real Scrooge. I get that some blog writers want to share the pretty things they’ve discovered with others, and that’s cool, it just seems that I’m getting bombarded by them. Also, it’s fun to troll Etsy myself and find cool things – not have them spoon-fed to me.

I think I also need to spend time focusing on the pretties in my own life that I don’t have to buy – the smoothness of my knitting yarn, the color of cranberries, the aroma of the chili I’ll be making next week. Maybe then I’ll be less of a Scrooge and more of a Bob Crachit.