Small things: Home pedicures

Let me start off by just saying thank you to everyone who took the time to read through my last obtuse post and leave a comment. I'm still trying to soak in all the opinions and ideas bandied about and thinking of apt responses (even two months on, it remains at the back of my mind). I've had a follow-up post on draft for the last month, and I just need to actually put my jumbled thoughts into coherent words.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about ways to avoid thinking about clothes and to concentrate on the small things that make me happy and that I should use to occupy my time instead of spending more money on frivolous things. Of course, the notion of frivolous is dependent on the individual - I know plenty of people would find nail polish or candles frivolous, but if it makes you happy and distracts you from envy or mindless consumption, I say why not. Over the next few months, I'll be writing on some of the things I've mentioned in this post. I'm trying to embrace organic minimalism as opposed to consciously making lists, doing closet clean outs and talking about buying even more crap in some effort to conform to that black-white-grey stereotypical minimalist fashion blogger mold.

One of the things that makes me happy is being able to do things at home on the cheap and getting better results than having to spend money out. I go for bi-monthly pedicures because I can't seem to justify the cost and after hearing plenty of horror stories, I've decided to keep my visits to a minimum. I find that I can pretty much maintain decent looking tootsies at home with the right products. The fun thing about doing pedicures/foot soaks at home is that you can basically just do it anytime you want for pretty cheap. Sometimes I even use it as a form of procrastination but I think on average, I do my home pedicures every ten days or so.

The three main items that I really cannot live without are a Japanese soaking bucket, the Tweezerman callus stone and the Fig + Yarrow Foot Treatment Alpine Pumice Scrub; everything else is just complimentary.  I've tried one of those drugstore home pedicure jet tubs and they just slosh water around your ankles and hardly gets hot enough. It's much cheaper and better to get the soaking bucket because it's deep and wide enough so that the water comes up to mid-calf. A little trick I learned is to use two little massaging balls at the bottom of the bucket and roll your feet around when you're soaking. The  bucket is also great for carrying around the house and you can even set it out on the balcony while sipping tea. I usually add some Seaweed Bath Salt with a few drops of tea tree oil for detoxification and disinfection (I mean, take this with a grain of salt, no pun intended - who knows what detoxification even means). The bath salt smells a little like the ocean so it's pretty relaxing.

Sort of a frivolous thing, but I've been really enjoying Lotus Wei mists as part of my home spa experience. You can achieve the same thing by just using essential oils and distilled water, but I'm prone to spending money on silly things anyway. I find the Lotus Wei aromatherapy combinations really lovely, and my favorite is Quiet Mind, which is suppose to help with physical tension. 

The Tweezerman callus stone may be one of the best inventions ever, I like it better than a foot rasp and if you use it daily in the shower for a week, it sloughs off the ugliest and grossest patches from your feet. It's made from recycled ceramic and works extremely well for heels as well without the danger of scraping off too much skin. It's my secret weapon for summer feet all year round without actually needing to go to the nail salon. Actually, the only reason I even get pedicures at all is because I'm terrible at applying nail polish and shaping my nails.

I used the Fig + Yarrow scrub after a 20 minute soak and after rubbing my feet like a crazy person with the callus stone. On the Fig + Yarrow label, it says, "... this tingling treatment deliciously transforms callused peds into kitten paws." Let me tell you that this is no exaggeration. It's literally one of the best scrubs ever made for feet. If you're the kind of person that wants sexy feet, this is the magic potion. The ingredients are pretty simple but extremely effective. You can even make this at home by mixing pumice powder with olive oil and shea butter. However, I find that the Fig + Yarrow scrub actually lasts a long time and because they seem like such a decent company, it's worth the $28 spent.

My favorite spa-like towels are the  Scents and Feel Fouta Towel which have a surprising range of functions. I've been using them as beach blankets, as summer throws and more recently, to line my dog's bed because it's super absorbent and soft. Just in case you didn't already know, you have to make sure your feet is toweled dry especially between the toes before applying cream and nail polish to prevent fungal infections. I use the Alpha Hydrox Foot Cream generously, apply some Eve Lom cuticle cream and slip my feet into one of those free slippers you get from hotels. If I'm feeling saucy sometimes, I'll put on some Sally Hansen Cuticle Remover, push my cuticles back with an orange stick and slop on some nail polish. My favorite nail polish lately is a nude color (Lingerie) by Guerlain.

So there you have it, I love being able to use what I already have on hand, add a few additional items that will last a long time and create a pleasurable experience for myself at minimum cost.

Note: Some of the product links will provide me with a commission if you make a purchase. For the Scents & Feel towels, you can sometimes scoop up really good deals through Amazon. For the Lotus Wei mists, Spirit Beauty Lounge periodically has coupons/sales so I usually wait till then to stock up. You can probably find most of the other products at your local drugstore.

On the matter of "curating", the snob effect and jumping on the bandwagon


I bet you probably saw this coming, didn't you?

I'll bet that you've been wondering what the heck I'm doing with my endless Instagram posts of clothing and home goods and food and purchases and all the while espousing some terrible spiel about consuming less and more discerningly. Yes, I confess I've fallen off the high horse and I've given in to keeping up with the endless pictures of flowers, brunch and shoes. I've been trying to keep up with the holidays, and artisanal jewelry and the artfully arranged coffee cups, and Kinfolk magazines (well, in my defense, I don't do the Kinfolk magazine bit because I find it slightly insulting to anyone with an ability to read, but that's a different story altogether).

Either way, I admit that I've been sucked into the vortex of false pretenses and keeping up with the Joneses who earn about 10x as much as I do through affiliate links. Why? I don't really know. Maybe it's the fact that I'm 30 (ish) and still in school, the fact that I will never be tall enough or rich enough or thin enough or know enough obscure artists or pottery makers. Maybe it's the fact that towards the end of my mid-life, all I have is a rented house and few pairs of designer shoes and the ability to name all The Beatles albums in chronological order, sing along to every single Morrissey song and quote 'Back to The Future' word for word ('McFly! Hoverboards don't work on water... unless you've got power!!!'). It's not a bad thing, being regular - except that nowadays, social media makes you feel like you're really just not good enough.

Over the past year or so, I've had the opportunity to travel to a few lower income countries. It has been a simultaneously interesting and depressing experience, mostly because the pace of globalization and development far outweighs the ability of the general population and the environment to prevail. While I'm glad that more people have access to clean water and education and healthcare (okay, I guess Pakistan is an exception), I've been extremely dispirited with the rate that the most fragile amongst us are being left behind, and the rate at which we seem to be plundering the earth whilst feeling that it's some sort of entitlement for merely being part of the human species. 

When you travel to Bhutan or Brazil as a tourist, all you see are the nice and sugar-coated things; you see the new architecture and the beautiful scenery and the remnants of an odd, bygone culture. You taste the churrasco at DOM, get foot massages at the Aman and profess how great the nightlife in São Paulo is. It irks me that people think that being peasants and having working-class communal dinners is trendy, without addressing the fact that most peasants and/or working-class people don't really have access to $10 beeswax candles and overpriced dinnerware or time to enjoy a communal dinner of haddock and freshly-picked mushrooms.  When you live in Bhutan or Brazil, you see how farmlands and hillslopes and villages are destroyed for mining and dams and World Cup stadiums. You see how hard people work for measly wages and for things that we in the higher income countries take for granted. You see how a piece of meat and homemade cheese and homegrown chilli peppers from your yard in the village will make the most delicious meal because you've worked so hard and don't get to see your family for years on end.

What I've found amusing lately is this new fangled obsession with "curation" - a term that yupsters with time for leisurely pursuits seem to throw around as if they've spend years in training learning the fine art of slapping together several Futagami trivets and Ann Demeulemeester jackets.  It used to be that being a curator meant that you had a degree in the fine arts, or history or something meaningful that allowed you to defend your choices in the matter you "curated".  If you were a curator in a Museum of Modern Art, it meant that you needed to be learned in the works and life of Sebastião Selgado or Joseph Beuys. I'm not even sure if most people know who Oji Masanori is or that Ann Demeulemeester left the company last year. The new direction of "curation" these days veer towards the spartan and heritage and the Japanese. In some bizarre twist of fate, the Japanese who invented the whole wabi-sabi aesthetic is falling for this scheme; Kinfolk magazine is so wildly popular in Japan, the good folks at Kinfolk had to create a Japanese-language magazine and a peasantry-based set of clothing just for them.  The funny thing also, is that the well-curated stores are almost always similar - minimalist website design, quirky item descriptions, the same Japanese household items or the same line of clothing by certain people known for prints and dresses Made in India etc., etc. The only thing different is the timeline of when things go on sale and the prices.

I bring this up because I'm no less guilty of trying to "curate" my life - from the coffee I drink to the dishware I use and the rugs I own. It used to be that people just called it good taste; these days, choosing the right paraphernalia for your home or your body is supposedly a skilled artistry. Some people even choose the skincare they use based on the packaging and how it looks in their bathroom (hint: Aesop). The New York Times ran an article a few years ago on how the word curate may be a reflection of self-inflation (ironically, the article was written by the spouse of a well-known online lifestyle "curator"). I find it particularly true that most people who swing the word "curate" around nonchalantly seem to be the ones that are most pretentious and judgmental

In 1950, Leibenstein wrote about the snob effect and the bandwagon effect which are essentially microeconomic theories on consumer demand and preference. It seems to me that more than ever these days, that people tend to display both social phenomenons. I'm not entirely sure if it's social media enabling the bandwagon effect but snobs seem to garner copycats and followers almost instantaneously. Everyone always seems to be going on about something that isn't really even that good, and only because someone else said it was good. Maybe I'm the judgmental asshole who thinks that everything isn't good enough. Anyhow, I'll give the example of the quality of a certain well-known Japanese linen company that has its products sold in every "well-curated" store known to man. While cheaper than other brands, the quality just doesn't hold up to the ones from Libeco (Belgian linen) or Brahms Mount (woven in the USA, source slightly shady) or the ones that Alder & Co. sells that are manufactured in France. Thorstein Veblen argued in 'The Theory of the Leisure Class' that lower-status members of a society tended to emulate the higher-status class in order to move up in status. Anyone who disagrees with this theory need only look toward Instagram and the mass infiltration of the same pictures with the same coffee cups and magazines over and over again.

All these point to "curate" being the new terminology for the "snob effect". I suspect that coffee, brass trivets and hand-sewn shoes are becoming Veblen goods even though the shoes don't quite fit right or the trivets leave scratches on your table. Why settle for local roasters that charge $12/lb of Yirgacheffe when it makes you that much more pretentious to buy from microroasters that charge $22/lb for the very same beans albeit in a "minimalist" packaging? Can you really taste the finer nuances of melon and strawberries or are you going by what the package says? Which brings me back to my obtuse story about traveling to Brazil. The family I stayed with owned a coffee plantation and could tell the price and quality of the coffee just looking at the raw beans. When I asked if I could get whole, fresh roasted beans so I could lovingly grind it in my Hario Skerton which I lugged all the way across the continent in my carry-on, they laughed in my face and said, "Who has time for that?!"

And maybe that's why I find this whole thing about curating so irksome, that some people have taken what is really an upper-class, slightly elitist terminology and applying to consumer goods meant for the middle-class plebs. We're all pretending to be part of the leisure class when the we're really just at the higher percentile of the income curve with some time to waste. I don't know about you, but the bohemian mothers and the Brooklyn hipsters with the same sheepskin rugs (guilty!) and Eames chairs (guilty!) and the Kaico pans (guilty!) and Chemex coffeemakers (guilty!) don't exactly scream high class to me. It just says that we all kind of like the same items, can afford nice thing, have access to same goddamned websites, and follow the same people on social media. We also probably have a knack for procrastination and a tendency to argue on forums while we pound away on computers for work. Say we have good tastes, say we like the finer things in life, say we like artisan goods but don't say we "curate" our homes or we shop from "finely-curated" stores because it doesn't really mean anything and we're just really jumping on the bandwagon.

P.S.: I feel like I've contradicted myself somewhere but I'm not entirely sure. Also, I apologize for my lack of cohesion in the above rant. My lack of reading of any useful material lately has definitely taken a toll on my ability to reason logically.

Random Snippets

I recently bought a new walkabout camera lens and I'm trying to actually work a little bit more at brushing up on my photography skills. I know that everyone and their grandmother wields a DSLR now and it can get quite aggravating when you're constantly bombarded by a slew of badly composed and edited photos that have no context. I know I posted recently about taking a 6 month break from blogging, but considering that I need some form of escapism from the drudgery of a thesis, and I haven't particularly been inspired to post of late, I thought a photo series would be a good way to update everyone with little snippets of what's going on in my life - if you care enough, and lest you think I've gone (further) off the deep end. I think it's also a particularly good way to improve on my photography - I'm starting to think more about composition than just "spraying and praying". While I spend an inordinate amount of time on Instagram, I find that taking pictures through a larger, sharper lens gives one a different perspective on things and helps bring about a profound appreciation of life in general.

The second picture below is one of my favorites of the 108 Stupas in Dochula Pass that was taken on my trip to Bhutan last year. I drafted a whole post about visiting developing countries and its profound effect on the way I view consumerism now, but I think I'll come back to the post when I'm less pessimistic about the world...

The rest of the photos are just pretty-fied versions of the regular stuff - coffee, dinners alone, home scents and the perfunctory dog portrait. I hope you've had a good year so far, I can't believe it's already April!

On a hiatus

I need to finish this last leg of my dissertation and have made the New Year's resolution to abstain from procrastinating on the Internet. I'll be back in about six months with hopefully a more positive attitude and a bunch of cynical stories to share. Wish me luck.

ETA (01/23/14): Last year, this blog made $127.55 through affiliate linking. Once I receive payment, it will be going to the Oregon Dachshund Rescue in the name of Readers of Assembled Hazardly. Thanks everyone!  My pup Dieter, an ODR graduate, appreciates all the great help.

Acquisitions & A Few Favorites

Top row (L-R): Akiko's Pottery Mini Colander ($42) and Ambatalia Bento Bags ($17) from Art & Article; Shino Takeda ceramics; Ray Morales Pottery Mugs ($25) Second row (L-R): Wooden utensils from Richard Rose Culinary; Walnut cutting boards from A Sunny Afternoon ($69); Kaico Enamel Milk Pan from Anaise ($72); Mud Australia Teapot in Slate ($185) Third row (L-R):  Vintage Cocktails; The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook; The Roberts Court by Marcia Coyle; 50 Mile Bouquet by Debra Prinzing Bottom row (L-R): Astier de Villate incense ($40); Mad et Len candles ($80); Kashmir Body Balm from In Fiore ($80); The Lip Slip by Sara Happ ($24)

I think the idea of holiday gift guide is a little redundant since everyone has different likes and budgets. I don't presume to think that everyone can afford $80 chocolates and $200 sweaters. I also don't presume to know better than most people about the best thing to give their friends and family. I mean, with the ease of online shopping, the multitude of "gift guides" and the ubiquitous sales and promotions, I'm sure most people will be able to find the perfect gift quite easily.

In keeping up with my last post on cataloging purchases, I feel it's a better idea to list a few things that I've purchased this year and tell you why I love them while hopefully making a case for why you should own them too. Most of the items come from independent stores that stock plenty of unique artisanal products. If you click through any one of these stores, you'll find that they also have a ton of other great products at varying price points. I'm going to encourage you to shop responsibly and to buy something that is, to put in quite clichéd terms, an "heirloom". I've linked to some of the items using affiliate referrals, which will yield a small commission for me if you purchase an item. However, in case you don't want to click on an affiliate link, I've also listed the stores you can purchase the items at (where applicable).  All commissions are donated to the Oregon Dachshund Rescue (where my rascally dachshund Mr. Dieter was adopted from).

1. Akiko's Pottery Mini Colander & Ambatalia Bento Bags from Art & Article
One of my favorite online discoveries this year is Michele's store, Art & Article which stocks a small but very unique selection of home goods including Akiko's Pottery ceramics and Ambatalia bags. I've been a huge fan of Akiko's Pottery for a few years now after visiting her studio in West Seattle. I use my Ambatalia bags for wrapping bread, toting fruits and vegetables and for bring my lunchbox to work. The added bonus is that it's all made in San Francisco of organic cotton, linen and hemp. 

2. Shino Takeda Ceramics
New York-based Shino Takeda's ceramics is every yupster's must-have. I particularly like her style of multi-color glazing and hand-pinched clay which results in really extraordinary shapes and textures. They tend to be slightly expensive (in my opinion), but the several dishes I have from her have been conversation pieces at the dining table.
3. Ray Morales Mugs
The person who makes my favorite morning coffee mugs is Ray Morales, who is a ceramics professor at Miami-Dade. I particularly like his mugs for the way they feel in hand, the handles are extremely comfortable and sturdy for when you're still bleary-eyed. His pottery is also well-made enough to hold up to everyday abuse and comes in beautiful shino glazes. 

4. Richard Rose Culinary
Rick Odea runs Richard Rose Culinary (formerly known as Phoenix Culinary Products and the other half of Ozark West). I first noticed a lot of Rick's beautiful wooden utensils being used on Giada De Laurentiis' cooking shows and I finally purchased a pair of salad hands and a few spoons this year. I can't really convey how beautifully made these utensils are, from the luminous sheen of beeswax on walnut, the wavy carvings, the way the wood fits perfectly in your hand and the subtle elegance, it's a wonder anyone buys wooden utensils from anywhere else.

5. Cutting boards from A Sunny Afternoon
This year, I also discovered beautiful cutting boards made by Sarah Sherman Samuel and her father at A Sunny Afternoon. I love the cutting boards particularly because they have such interesting shapes, have a good heft to them and are made from my favorite kind of wood - the American black walnut. And... I kind of have a crush on Sarah, who is possibly one of the most beautiful bloggers ever (other than Jenny Gordy, but that's a different story). 

6. Kaico Enamel Milk Pan
I use my Kaico enamel milk pan for hot chocolate, morning porridge and for making very small amounts of sauce. Having bought the saucepan based on some idealized online photos, I'm actually quite surprise that the pan has managed to stay pretty clean for the most part even though I make my caramelized sweet soy sauce in it quite often. I bought the pan at Alder & Co. but I'm linking to Renee's store since it's slightly cheaper there.

7. Mud Australia Teapot
This teapot was a nice wedding anniversary gift from my husband and having owned Mud Australia ceramics for many years, I must say that Shelley Simpson's company has really upped their game by making their ceramics much more durable than before and in more exquisite colors. Customer service at the Mud store in New York is also top notch.  My teapot is in the 2-cup size and it's just perfect enough for a pot of good Wuyi Oolong when you want to class things up.

8. Vintage Cocktails by Laziz Hamani & Brian Van Flandern
Vintage Cocktails has been my go to recipe book lately (I drink more than I cook these days), and the six or so drinks I've made from it have actually been able to rival some of the fanciest cocktail bars and pseudo-speakeasies I've been to. It's part of my effort to go out less and spend too much money on craft cocktails. After all, the amount you pay for a "mixologist" to hand you a French 75 is equivalent to two bottles of Prosecco at home.

9.  The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook by Josh Kilmer-Purcell & Brent Ridge
Ever since I came across a cardamom cake recipe from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, I've been a fan. I highly recommend the cookbook for all your holiday baking needs (and more), I'm making their fruitcake laced with my personal touch pf Single Malt scotch for Christmas this year. The few other recipes (Ginger cake, cinnamon buns, etc.) I've tried from the book have turned out beautifully.

10. The Roberts Court by Marcia Coyle
I am sad to report that I haven't really been reading much this year, but in the small amount of free time I've had to actually curl up with a book,  Marcia Coyle's detailed insight into 'The Roberts' Court' has been one of my favorites. It's simultaneously depressing, eye-opening and an indispensable book for anyone interested in the current state of American politics. Marcia Coyle writes for the National Law Journal and appears periodically on the PBS Newshour, talking about SCOTUS decisions and cases. She has a uncanny knack for explaining things in really concise and intellectual manner and this book is a reflection of that ability.

11. The 50 Mile Bouquet  by Debra Prinzing
This year, I've also started to make myself a little bit happy by purchasing a floral arrangement every few weeks. One of my favorite sustainable florists in Seattle is Terrabella Flowers and 'The 50 Mile Bouquet' was recommended by the owner Melissa Feveyear. The book explores sustainable flower farming through stories and insights into the lives of growers and floral designers. If you're interested in the slow flower movement, whether by purchasing through a florist or growing your own, this is a really good read. 

12. Astier de Villatte Incense
I was first introduced to Astier de Villatte fragrance at Alder & Co. in Portland. I've come to the conclusion that I like their incenses more than their candles and my favorite scents are the mystical Namche Bazaar (reminisce of mountains and old Buddhist temples) and the rustic Aoyama. Great for burning during the winter.  

13. Mad et Len Candles
Mad et Len candles are hand-poured soy & vegetable wax candles made in the Grasse region. They may not be the most eco-friendly candles but the scents they come in are mind-blowing. My favorites so far have been the leathery Black Afghan and the smoky Nag Champa. The candles come in hefty cast iron molds and last a really long time. My everyday candles are beeswax ones by Big Dipper Waxworks, but for sitting by the fire with a glass of wine, Mad et Len lends that touch of luxury. I purchase my Mad et Len candles from Garde in LA, Mohawk General Store and online from Farfetch
14. Kashmir Body Balm by In Fiore
Most of you already know that I'm an In Fiore disciple so it's no surprise that one of my absolute favorite moisturizer is In Fiore's body balm. I love the sensual Kashmir scent, which is grapeseed, jojoba oil and beeswax infused with sandalwood and neroli. It's an excellent remedy for dry elbows and knees as well as healing cracked heels. I keep a jar on my nightstand and I find that the scent is a really good for putting me to sleep as well. 

15. The Lip Slip by Sara Happ
I bought this on a whim from Nordstrom a couple of months back after reading in a magazine about how great it was for severely chapped lips. It's been one of my favorite beauty products this year and while a little expensive, the jar has lasted quite a while. I find that after using The Lip Slip religiously for a week, slathering it on twice a day, I hardly even need to apply any other sort of lip balm. This is definitely one of the few hyped products that actually works.

On cataloging purchases


When I first started this blog in 2011, it was an experiment on cataloging my consumption habits and a lame attempt I had at just talking about random things that inspired me. Somehow or other, Assembled Hazardly evolved into a "style blog" of some sort, even though it was never really my intention. People and fellow bloggers who have met me can attest to two things: I'm probably not the most fashionable person in the world, and I have more food-related/household junk than clothing.

I talk about clothes because I like clothes. But then again, I like clothing as much as I like ceramics and pottery and artisan fish sauce and alpaca rugs and handmade planters - what I buy somehow reflects my  pretentious tastes and personality. I like clothing as much as much as I like liquor and books and music and movies but nobody really wants to hear about that. No one really wants to read about me waxing lyrical about the newest Foxygen album or the greatness of the second season of 'The West Wing' or how incredibly dull Nicholas Sparks' books are (I've only ever read one book and it made my brains bleed through my ears). No one (at least none that read my blog) is interested in my concoctions of brain-cell killing mixed-drinks or microbrews or how I meticulously plan my dog's raw food menu.

The posts that have received the most comments and traction on this blog have been the ones where I talk about personal finances, shopping habits and occasionally, ones where I launch into an existentialist diatribe. I guess I post on average once every two months because I really have nothing to say about style or fashion that hasn't already been said. I don't have any constructive advice on how one should dress because at the end of the day, I can barely dress myself and I've realized that it's tremendously obtuse to tell someone where and how they should shop based on some idiotic notion that only certain brands or labels or aesthetics are good enough. I mean, my collection of severely overpriced clothing have obviously not survived the chopping block and/or lasted any longer than things that cost half the price, so why should I think I'm authority on getting dressed? If someone wants to looks like a 90s grunge version of Pippi Longstocking, they're probably going to be able to shop more responsibly than someone who is into the whole Yohji/Sander aesthetic, minimalist or not.

I feel there is some need, after all my hoity-toity spiel about consuming more responsibly, to be held accountable to the things I buy. Someone commented recently that "minimalist blogs" such as mine tend to sweep purchases under rug and that we really still buy as much as run of the mill bloggers, which I guess to some extent is true. That being said, I've been inspired by the handful of blogs I still read on occasion to catalog my purchases as a way to reflect on my shopping habits (and I swear this is not a passive-aggressive way to address the aforementioned comment).

- Johnstons Cashmere Sweater (sale)
- Hope Stay Jeans
- Hope Has Tee in Black
- A.P.C. Wedge Sandals
- Wood Wood Germaine Pants
- Engineered Garments Field Jacket
- Rancourt & Co Chukkas
 Hope Has Tee in Black
- A.P.C. Black Sandals (on sale)
- Peter Jensen Pleat Front Shorts ( sale)
- Nike Free 5.0+ 
- Kletterwerks Backpack
- Shoes Like Pottery sneakers
- Hope Has Tee in navy (sale)
- Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses
- Bottega Veneta purse
- Hope Has Tee in beige (sale)
- Comme des Garcons black pouch
- A.P.C. black sandals (sale)
- Wood Wood Germain Pants (sale)
- Jil Sander bag (sale)


- Arcteryx Beta LT Jacket
- Saucony running shoes
- Comme des Garcons sweatshirt
- The North Face running jacket

- Dries van Noten Sunglasses (on sale)

I seem to have purchased a great amount of things in April and May, but only because I was doing extensive traveling from April to July. I needed comfortable shoes, a large-ish backpack and some easily washable short-sleeve t-shirts. I'm trying to be much more responsible with the things I buy in that I want to make sure that (a) I'll use the heck out of them and (b) they're actually well-made enough to last a while. I wear those Hope t-shirts a lot because they wash and dry really well in hotel bathroom sinks and don't seem to unravel quite as fast as other cotton tees I've owned. I've tried hunting down organic, locally-made t-shirts to no avail - Archival Clothing and Organic by John Patrick makes some really good t-shirts but they don't come with the easy slouchiness that I desire.

I've also been slowly amassing a small collection of Arc'teryx and Engineered Garments clothing because the fit and construction is top notch. I know that the aesthetics of athletic workwear is not what many people who read blogs like mine aspire to, but as I've said before, I think I've finally come to a point where I really don't care anymore. I'd rather be warm and dry and comfortable enough to swallow two pints of beers than hobbling around in suede shoes that need babying.

Most of the other items listed seem to have been purchases that were warranted. I bought a tiny Bottega wallet to replace a larger CdG one that I just didn't need, the Jil Sander bag was purchased because I I'm need a small-ish sling bag and the running gear... well, I needed them because I'm trying to get back into exercising. The items bought on whim are the A.P.C. sandals and the Dries van Noten sunglasses which I just bought yesterday after a bout of online browsing. I really need to stop filling my boredom and anxiety with dicking around on the online shops - they nearly always end in some regrettable impulse buy.

Obviously, if you follow me on Instagram, you'll realize that I do buy more than just clothes - I'm thinking about cataloging monthly purchases that include A.P.C. quilts, books and random home purchases as well (like Maja and Kali). You can read here about my budget from about two years ago and it's remained pretty much the same except now I spend more on skincare and flowers. I think a good way to keep this blog going is to keep myself continuously liable and have readers tell me off if I'm being a moron or a hypocrite (hopefully very politely). It's a good way to keep me in line with being a responsible consumer.

P/S: I've started food blogging again, so hopefully that will take some edge away from spending all my time browsing the Internet!

The Wardrobe Inventory

Breton (Long Sleeves)
Hope Byronesse (black/natural)
Marimekko (navy/white)
Petit Bateau (navy/white)
A.P.C. (blue/white)
Saint James (navy/white)
CdG Play (cobalt/white)

Breton (Short Sleeves) 
Hope Has Tee (black/white)
Hope Has Tee (navy/white)
Hope Has Tee (beige/white)
Wood Wood Abril Tee (navy/white)

Other tees
Hope Byronesse (black)
Hope Byronesse (white)
J. Crew linen tee (white)

A.P.C. Oxford (blue)
Steven Alan Linen L/S (blue)
Chimala Work Shirt (chambray)
Madewell L/S shirt (floral)
YMC L/S (plaid)
Dries van Noten L/S (white)

A.P.C. Floral S/S (white)
A.P.C. Eyelet S/S (white)
Madewell Silk L/S (white)
Girl. by Band of Outsiders L/S (white)

Hope Wood Sweater (gray)
Johnstons Cashmere Pullover (gray)
CdG Shirt Cardigan (navy)
Rachel Comey Pullover (gray)
Primoeza Cardigan (beige)
Derek Lam Cashmere Pullover (black)
Acne Ruth Chunky Sweater (navy)


Gloverall Duffle (navy)
Arc'teryx  Atom LT (black)
Arc'teryx Gamma MX (cobalt)
FWK Engineered Garments Field Jacket (navy)
Hope Flight Jacket (navy)
See By Chloe Peacoat (navy)

Acne Flex (Basement)
Acne Flex (Black)
MiH Oslo (Blue)
Hope Nice (Dark Blue)

J.Crew Elan Trousers (black)
Wood Wood Germaine Trousers (black)
Wood Wood Germain Trousers (beige)

Peter Jensen Pleat Front (black)
Vanessa Bruno Athe (cobalt/white)
Girl. by Band of Outsiders (black)

SC X LV (cobalt)
Jil Sander Crossbody (navy)
MM6 Tote (black)
Comme des Garcons Luxury Pouch (black)
A.P.C. Sac (navy)

Oliver Goldsmith Sophia Sunglasses
Raen Optics Ryko Sunglasses

Hope Guys Brogues (black)
Hope Soft Shoe (black)
A.P.C. Wedge Sandals (navy)
Miu Miu Mary Jane Pumps (cobalt)
Marni Mary Jane Pumps (black)
Nike Free 5.0+ (black/white)
Shoes Like Pottery (black)
Hope Chy Boots (black)
Hope Speaker Boot (brown)
A.P.C. ankle boots (brown)
NDC Made By Hand Boots (black)
Ferragamo Vara Pumps (black)
Tod's Degas Flats (black)
Robert Clergerie Valof (black)

*Updated list as of 05 Feb. 2014

I've been procrastinating a little this week, seeing as we have a heat wave warning over here in Seattle and I've been sitting next to a fan and eating ice cream all day.  Ever so often on this blog I talk about a closet purge and this summer,  my frivolous procrastination tool is a substantial re-evaluation of my current wardrobe.

Taking a leaf out of Dead Fleurette's wardrobe inventory post from a couple of years ago, I took everything out of my closet and chest of drawers and whittled things down into two categories: (a)  general clothing - which I've listed above and (b) travel/athletic/lounge clothing. Of course there are overlaps between the sets, but the latter is made up of a stockpile of Champion running tights, Eddie Bauer travel pants, fleece sweaters and tattered Marks & Sparks tank tops, so in the interest of sanity, I'm not going to list those things out except to say that I'm pretty ashamed that there's so much of them.

The inventory above are things I wear on a regular basis and a combination of any of them basically makes up my "uniform". Making this list has actually made me realize that I have more clothing than I thought although I do wear every item (except the dresses) on an endless rotation. I have no idea why I've amassed such an insane number of Hope tees except that they travel and wash really well. I also realize that I need a white shirt (Acne Patti) and a blazer (J.Crew Ludlow) and a pair of slouchy pants in navy but other than that, most things should last me a good while. Most items (barring a slew of new shoes) have been with me for a couple of years (e.g. most of the breton tees, shirts, blouses and dresses) and I guess in retrospect, maybe these are the things I should stock up on at the next opportunity. I know that my wardrobe seems to have a dearth of business/work friendly pieces, but I don't think I'll ever be working at a job that requires horrifyingly uncomfortable pantsuits, so a nice blazer and a pair of jeans should suffice.

I think it's pretty obvious that there's a few brands and color schemes I tend to stick to - Hope and the color gray being the major one.  I've mentioned before that there are only a selected amount of places I shop at,  and I absolutely hate going into stores and finding new things. I don't know if it's shallow or boastful (and I certainly don't wish to come across that way) that I'm listing the brands of my clothing, but I thought it might be helpful to those who are looking to curate their wardrobes carefully to have a list of brands/stores that I find myself constantly going back to simply because they make such simple and functional clothing.

I read a few months back about how minimalist style blogs seem to be peddling the notion of restraint while simultaneously hiding a shopping addiction by periodically purging. I found it somewhat sobering, given the fact that I never seem to be short of clothing to get rid off. It's strange how after two and the half years of babbling about simple, ethical living etc., I have more mass produced junk than ever before. I also seem to keep buying stuff I have no intention of keeping, which may signal a need to return to a therapist's chair.

In restrospect; thoughts on blogs and blogging

Lately, I've been thinking of upping and deleting this blog or maybe leaving it to spiral into the darkness of the world wide web abyss. I've realized also that I sound like a broken record, with posts usually going in this sequence - apologies for not blogging, I'm fat and lazy, let's buy clothes that fit and I'm tired of shopping.

Blogging feels empty a lot of times, even more frivolous than web surfing. I started to blog mostly because I felt passionately about buying ethical, well-made clothing and I loathed the fact that my indulgence was contributing in some tangential way to climate change, human rights abuses and all the things wrong in the world; things that have played out in frightening reality over the last few months and that have been discussed eloquently in quite a few blogs. I sometimes want to hit people over the head for their ignorance on current affairs and for continuing irresponsible habits. But the truth is that people have different priorities, income and tastes. We all agree that ethically-made clothing is expensive and terribly difficult to obtain and not everyone has the time or money or willpower to seek out these things. In fact, like eating organic food or buying artisanal cheeses or single-origin coffee, ethical-clothing is a luxury that a lot of us want but can't justify.

I've grown rather apathetic and exhausted just looking at blogs and magazines that seem to continually push a certain alternate reality - one where it seems that you can make printed art and pressed flowers all day and still afford vintage Boro rugs, Eames chairs and a closet full of APC. I mean, most days I get up, work until I look like a disaster at 3pm and continuing plowing on with a jug of coffee in my belly, and I mean literally a 33.8oz Stelton jug full of intensely over-caffeinated coffee (I also have a  theory that's how the Zombie Apocalypse will start). I run errands, do chores, feed one hungry dog and one overworked husband, and by the end of the day, when all the good lighting that bloggers go on and on about is gone, I just want to sleep, play Candy Crush or watch a movie - sometimes all three at once. Despite all that, I make pocket change and leech off of my husband. Life is already exhausting and unfulfilling, I really don't need looking at blogs and magazines to make me feel worse about myself.

Sure, I still want to buy nice clothes because my self-confidence is inextricably and embarrassingly linked to how good I look. But growing older has made me realized that some days, I'm too tired to care. There's so many more things to think about or to spend my money on e.g. traveling, buying a house, building a chicken coop, donating to spineless Democrats, etc., etc. Most days, I just want to feel warm, be comfortable and not have to worry about scuffing my shoes or setting my bag down in mud. I want to be able to go from field work to lunch to a walk with my dog to cleaning the yard without having to change or to use protective leather spray. Do you really think a pair of clippity-clop Dicker boots and hernia-inducing skinny jeans is going to help me achieve that seamlessly? I've taken to looking like a mountain-climbing lumberjack, wearing an endless rotation of the same 5 pieces that don't make me feel bloated. In fact, I wear these 5 pieces so often, I'm thinking of stocking up on multiples of them. The rest of the clothes that I have apparently so carefully "curated", lie unfolded and unironed in a giant pile in the back of the closet. I've garnered so much expensive, unused crap over the years that I get violently nauseated just looking at it. And that, dear readers, is not something that I want to blog about.

I know what you are all thinking - all I ever do is whine and moan and be utterly immature. Blogs aren't real! Just live vicariously through them! Magazines are aspirational! Nobody wants to read about your whining! We need better gun control laws! (see what I did there)? In all serious-ness though, I know these things. My point is that I sometimes feel as if I am personal failure when it comes to blogging - I don't have a purpose or a goal, sometimes I rant about conscious emption, other times I go on and on about shoes and clothing and wishlists and spending more money. As I've come more and more into figuring out exactly what I am trying achieve in my personal style, blogging has become more mundane and disappointing, bordering on futile. There are so many great blogs out there that post erudite discussions on the sustainability and ethics of fashion more eloquently than I can (Empty Emptor and The Nife in L'Air come to mind), other blogs do a better job of pointing you to the latest deals or the latest trends or the latest five-points to looking French. All of which leads to my blog being simultaneously unimportant and banal - the only thing that seems to keep it going is my perpetual rage and existentialism and a polite audience of loyal readers.

I spend most of my time these days dreaming about houses, cooking a lot (as evidenced by my Instagram) and working my arse off to get the hell out of grad school. I don't know if that's part of growing older or if that's just the siren bells of giving up and resigning to a suburban life, but the ennui stemming from style blogging is one that's been simmering for a while. I think that as I start realizing the tremendous responsibilities that adulthood brings, clothing and all the preposterously self-indulgent things in life seem so trivial. And maybe it's the sense of maturity and the process of maturing is what will finally lead one towards actual responsible consumerism.

Recipe: Tangelo & Almond Cake

A good many of you have asked for this recipe after seeing it on my Instagram, so I thought that I would post this in lieu of a write up whining about the state of affairs. This is my adaptation of Nigella Lawson's Clementine Cake. It's a very basic and easy flourless cake originated in the Mediterranean; best of all, flourless means gluten-free (if you're into that sort of thing)! You can use any kind of citrus fruit on hand, depending on the season.  I used tangelos because I had a whole bunch of them from my CSA box, but I reckon this will taste equally good, if not marvelously beautiful with Spanish blood oranges. I ate half of this with a glass (okay, several glasses) of Prosecco and I am now thinking that this would make for a lovely Mother's Day brunch dessert. Note of caution, if you are not a fan of marmalade, this may throw you off somewhat since the cake is quite literally bittersweet.

I promise to be back with some circuitous post about de-cluttering, new purchases from Hope, etc. but in the meantime, go get thee some eggs and maketh this recipe.

Tangelo & Almond Cake
Adapted from Nigella Lawson

3 tangelos (or about 3/4lb of citrus)
6 eggs
2 1/3 cups fine almond meal
1 1/4 cups granulated (caster) sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp Grand Marnier
1 tsp vanilla extract

Marmalade Glaze
1/4 cup really good marmalade (I cannot stress the really good part enough)
1tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sugar
1tbsp Grand Marnier

Optional: Crème fraîche to serve

1. Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds. Then finely chop the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor (or by hand, of course).

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Nigella used 375F but I think that's too high)

3. Butter and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

4. Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines.

5. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, when a skewer will come out clean; If the top if browning too fast, cover with foil after the 40 minute mark.

6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack.

7. To make the marmalade glaze, heat all the ingredients in a saucepan and mix well. Poke a few holes in the cake with a skewer and pour the warm glaze all over the top. Let set for a few minutes and it's ready to be served with some  crème fraîche.

*This cake can be wrapped in foil and frozen. To serve after it's frozen, just nuke it in the microwave for 30 seconds or let thaw to room temperature.

Public Service Announcement

In case you're wondering, I've been neglecting my blog because I'm spending more time doing frivolous shite like updating my Instagram with pictures of my dog and tea breaks. Lest I become one of those bloggers that do "My Day/Week/Month/Year/Hour/Minute/Decade in Instagram Recaps", I will just point you towards that direction even though I'm probably jumping on the bandwagon a tad too late. I received one of those new Apple toys for Christmas and I'm slowly becoming an iLemming even though a certain person in this household works for the opposing team.

That being said, I find that because I'm constantly looking for ways to share what I actually enjoy in real life sans the need to elaborate, expand upon and purchase, I'm actually spending much less time doing online shopping! I've been getting back into the groove of cooking, eating better and brushing up on my photography skills (merely so I can show it off on Instagram because seriously, it's really just Flickr for a phone). I think the ability to capture minute details of your day in an instance makes one appreciate (slightly) the beauty of everyday life. I've also been enjoying other people's posts of kids (!!!), puppies and cheese immensely.

If you have an Instagram account, please leave a comment! I'd love a nosy glimpse into your life. :-) Or you can add me @assembledhazardly