=^._.^= roomy dress + sensible oxfords + obnoxious necklace =^._.^=

We've finally started watching the dystopian Handmaid's Tale and, as folks have mentioned in their reviews, it's eerily current, especially as we get the flashbacks detailing how Offred's life went from exactly like ours to being a captive fertile vessel. We also watched Prohibition via Netflix (it's on PBS too) and the immigration issues, nationalist angle and situational political party stuff including using the courts to right power was also oddly current. (I didn't finish because I kept falling asleep but that's more a reflection on my life than how interesting Prohibition is.) And I've finally started Note to Self's Privacy Paradox, a 5 day podcast and email chain that focuses on online security and feels significantly related. If you've done it, let me know as I'm curious to hear what people got out of it. I enlisted a few friends to do it along with me so we have each other to turn to as we learn exactly how we've sold our soul to Dots and Meitu.

In addition to watching television, I've also been working. I know, this is getting exciting! I promise I won't detail my sleep as well. I was at a conference last week and had decent selfie-lighting near my full-length mirror at the hotel and therefore:

I definitely have a uniform: roomy dress + sensible oxfords + obnoxious necklace

I wouldn't have it any other way. (On the left is a Po-em day dress, Tatty Devine necklace and Insecta shoes and on the right is a Make It Good dress, Maggie's Organics leggings, Buried Diamond necklace & the very same shoes.)

I also attempted yet again to reduce my plastic footprint while traveling but I did not do a phenomenal job. Or even a good job! Brought my snacks for the plane so I didn't have to get food at the airport on the way in. I did use my spork...but only at the airport on the way back home. (I managed to forget it for all of the conference-catered meals that were served with plastic utensils.) I did manage to drag my travel mug with me almost everywhere so that saved some plastic. And, of course, the Fig Bars I brought came in wrappers (though so did the Earth Balance cheddar squares I packed though a full box is less plastic I guess). And I forgot to ask for my drinks without a goddamn turtle-killing straw every single time. Thrice I got the straw full wrapped so I was able to give it back. It was a good lesson in humility if nothing else. Also why do I love those Fig Bars so much? It's inexplicable and I keep hearing the same thing from other people. Are they doped up?

In better news: hey, this is happening outdoors in some places. That's a thing.

I'm in the process of deciding if I want to end every future post on this mostly dead hobby blog with a cat emoji, like so:

=^._.^= ∫


Life Lately

Still feeling a little rough around the edges, I was weirdly comforted by seeing that the #Trump10** is a documented trend. Not only have I been eating as a "feel better" measure but also buying stuff and watching a lot of tv. It takes a lot of somethings to take the edge off of reading WTF Happened Today, trying to stay on top of a few longer form news pieces a day and trying to get my ass to organizing/support/training events. 

First, what have I been doing?

While I still believe in peaceful protest (and I believe in keeping our right to peaceful protest ABSOLUTE-freaking-LUTELY), I have been trying to focus on getting myself to organizing meetings. In north Brooklyn, there is a large organizing group I am trying to plug into. This past week I went to one of their training meetings on what citizens can do when ICE is in areas where people are at risk of deportation. And I have been keeping in touch with a small group of friends who are trying to support each other in showing up to events and trainings. 

I ran into these cans on a shelf at Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. and thought they were the perfect combination of what I need for now (and for the next 4 years) though I didn't buy them. Alternate symbols for what we need to summon: the praying hands and the fist. It's here. We're at Balrog time -- and we better be coming back as Gandalf the Better. 

I have also been zoning out. 

We are on season 2 of Fargo and I listened to all of S-Town in about 2 days' worth of subway rides. (S-Town is problematic for all the reasons they go into here which I didn't see until after I'd finished the podcast. While listening, I wasn't sure how if-y I thought it was until the very last two episodes. The wrap-up felt rushed, unfinished and irresponsible. And I felt both sad and heartbroken for the person we'd met through the podcast but also like a giant creep who heard a lot of stuff she shouldn't have. Thanks for that, Brian Reed.)

I have also been watching The Great British Bake Off, which is strangely relaxing and so freaking pleasant. I have learned almost nothing but I still enjoy it. 

And I have been buying things. 

New glasses! And an as-always expensive visit to Bhoomki - 2 shirts and hundreds of dollars later. 

new glasses, vintage shirt, Buried Diamond necklace, 
sweatshop plastic jacket - sorry, world (esp. oceans)

And I have been really focused on food.

I've been roasting vegetables with garlic, making batches of rice and beans in my beloved Instant Pot, finding a local store that sells an amazing vegan tres leches cake. (After attempting one of these for a vegan potluck, I have a new appreciation for the complexity of tres leches cakes.) I've made carrot raisin muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance and banana berry scones from Isa Does It. And I even made homemade veggie burgers out of necessity. (A batch of beans we bought were lackluster on their own but fine pureed into bean burgers. The recipe was from Veganomicon. I am chuffed that I didn't waste food and I managed to make it better than it was. 50 gold stars, Jesse.) Also, I've been eating every version of Sjaak's Organic Chocolates Easter candy available like it's my job. (They are on Food Empowerment Project's okay chocolate listThis link explains their criteria for inclusion.)

We also tried to make our own kombucha from an older starter kit but I think that failed. *womp womp* But making my own fire cider worked out pretty well so I am proud of that. Now I have way too much fire cider -- but better too much than not enough.

** Re the Trump10 -- gaining weight, being any weight at all and eating should not be a loaded topic. I just know I have been stress eating as a behavior and I feel less alone to see others doing the same stress-induced habit for the very same reason. For me, stress eating is probably one of the better stress-related habits to pick up and I don't actually care about some extra weight.


Putting the gratitude in my attitude (a makeup post)

I started this thing with my friend where we text each other gratitude lists each night, to both help right my viciously negative attitude about life and humans (mostly humans) and so I can dutifully follow along with all lifehack blogs' conventional wisdom about happiness. Far be it from me to leave some self-improvement method left untried. 

As I kept texting my lists, I realized how much of it was just the little things. Little stupid perks. There's the regular things like my cats, my partner, my job - the bigger things. But the less rote ones are all things like food, makeup or uh, toys. Then, Lifehacker threw me for a loop and noted you get more out of a gratitude list if you note why you're grateful for something. (And I believe 75% of what I read on lifehack websites, so...) Some of it is obvious: food is delicious and possibly nourishing! Coffee is great - delicious and caffeinated! Being healthy is great, especially when you've just gotten over a cold - extra grats! But when I got to some of the more consumer-ish stuff, it was harder to pin down an actual why

Here is an example. I am grateful for this e.l.f. lip color. It's a slightly pumped up neutral that is easy to wear and makes me look more put together than clear lip balm. And then it veers into...so I can look a certain way? But I have to admit it's the truth. I honestly enjoy this measly tube of lip stuff because it's a flattering neutral and I care about my appearance enough to be grateful for it.

But that was not a natural why to come to. Why?

Same with this Wet n Wild megalength mascara. It was one of my "I survived another week of crappy shoulder appointments" rewards. If we're IG friends, you've seen this already. I was grateful for it because it's vegan, not tested on animals and works well. I replaced my $20+ Lily Lolo mascara with this. I'm grateful because it helps me look like I have pronounced eyelashes and is at least vegan and cruelty-free. I'm grateful for something that enhances my appearance and is fun to use, is cheap and is at least slightly in alignment with my animal welfare values. 

It's interesting to see this theme pop up within the dozens of items I list every week. Obviously most of the anchors on my gratitude list are more weighty than the above examples and their presence in my life is very important, but I think adding the why to some of the "lighter" items gives me some insight as to how often I am pleased by something that I think improves my appearance and also is something else (vegan, not tested on animals, not expensive, made with good labor standards, comfortable). 

I think everyone thinks about their appearance and wants to look a certain way (whatever their preference is) so I have no shame about that. And I am also fine with wearing makeup despite it being a form of "choice feminism" and understanding that it, and every single thing I do is framed in a patriarchal system. But for some reason the why for these items is harder to spell out than the others. 

Is it because we're not used to copping to caring what we look like? In this world? That seems strange. 

Is it the opposite of overconfidence? I don't want to admit that I think I look good? That seems strange too. I've never felt unattractive (thusly I've always felt attractive, generally). 

Is it because I dislike my habits of buying stuff? While I can cop to over-buying when it comes to makeup (#progressnotperfection #hopefullysomeprogresstho), I don't think that would get in the way of why I appreciate a certain item. I don't begrudge myself buying makeup in general. 

I'm not really sure what it is that makes the why I'm grateful for this stuff such a challenge, but it's there. 


Drowning in chia seeds? Fruit chia seed pudding!

I don't usually do food posts because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but recently I decided I wanted to get really into making chia seed pudding to wean myself off the expensive (and plastic-encapsulated) Fresh & Co versions I had become accustomed to buying as part of my lunch in midtown Manhattan. Turns out, I hated all the versions I tried to make and was left with a giant jar of chia seeds. Thumbs down, man. 

Not wanting them to go to waste, I crowd-sourced some ideas on Instagram but before I got a chance to try any of those, I came across this recipe in a VegNews email newsletter - Raspberry Vanilla Chia Jam. A misnomer - it's really just a fruit chia seed pudding. This is not like jam you'd use on bread. But it's pretty decent and so simple to make. So simple even I am willing to make it, which is really saying something because I lack the inspiration to boil water most days. (Instantpot for life!)

I've made it using frozen mixed berries, frozen mango and frozen strawberries already and all are decent options. Here is the mango chia seed pudding with some fruit and sliced almonds (and I think there's some homemade soy yogurt under there, hiding).

Fruit! Pretty cool, huh? But don't take my word for it - ask Dr. Steve Brule, your green grocer. (For your health!)



Sometimes you do things even when you know it's not the best decision. Most of the stuff in this picture comes with no ethical labor standards or eco brags attached to it. (Aside from being animal-free. Which, granted, is my #1 requirement, but still.) I did get the navy anchor scarf secondhand in Vancouver but that's about it.

The coat? An acrylic sweatshop car coat I bought on my way between appointments one cold, blustery, under-dressed day, even after I'd read about plastic fibers in our waterways due to washing. It ticked all the boxes of what I wanted and had been looking for and I was freezing that day. I wear it a lot.

And my ubiquitous black jeans are BDG - previous versions I had were made in the USA but then they switched manufacturing. However, I knew they worked for me and I wear them so frequently that I just kept replacing them with the same exact brand and the same exact cut.

Sauconys? Helpful when I was in treatment for PF and have a lot of vegan options. I know they work and I don't need to worry about breaking them in or whether they work for my feet. I know they will work. I've been wearing this brand for about 20 years now.

Polarized Polaroid sunglasses? Impulse buy at the eye doctor. Previously a pair of found polarized Ray-Bans impressed me enough with their polarization but the giant scratch in them tested both my patience and eyesight so I stopped wearing them. When I saw these, I picked them up and we've been together ever since. (I also have some promo sunglasses that I wear from time to time as well.) 

These are the kind of buys I'm more at peace with these days, though they make me feel a little defeated and embarrassed given that I have the means to try better. I will work on finding replacements for the jeans and the sneakers at some point (I've been through a bunch of jeans and sneakers already to no avail). But I also hope that I'll wear these all to death and hopefully that will be years from now. 


Where to buy leggings now that American Apparel is sunk

I know American Apparel had a lot of issues but I did still use them for some basics (explained here back in 2011).  It took them 6 years to officially sink. And now I find myself down to just one option for leggings (and bike shorts, to wear to my acupuncture and chiro appointments) so I'm sharing it with you guys since a lot of us are probably in the same boat, though you guys probably wear bike shorts for less geriatric reasons. 

I don't need to replace bike shorts or leggings that often, but when I do, I use Maggie's Organics. I find most of their apparel not something I'd wear. Too many ruched things and skirted leggings for me. But! Their basic ankle-length leggings and bike shorts are good. (You guys are on your own with the printed leggings and calf-length leggings, though.) Also their cotton socks are great. 

I have all the reasons I'm happy to shop at Maggie's Organics on my "Where I Buy" page here.

If you shopped at American Apparel for your basics (or non-basics), what did you guys buy there and where are you planning on getting those things instead?


Nowadays: Matt & Nat, Petit Vour lipstick samples, '90s music

For some reason (definitely wanting to crawl back in time), I've been into listening to a lot of 1991-1997 music. The same music I listened to between the very first Lollapalooza and 5 years after that. Recently I've had Longtime by EMF stuck in my head. It starts with a sample of a guy talking who says, "This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. Not with a band." Apropos. Now, excuse me while I regress a few decades. 

It's still winter here (obviously) and I'm trying to make sure I wear some of the stuff I normally pass over in my closet. This past week it was these Matt & Nat shoes that slip off my heel and make me feel like I'm wearing slides. They're real shoes - they just don't fit like real shoes so I had to put those little heel bumpers in. It's fine but I get a little dramatic about having to purchase shoe aides from the drugstore. There's something really...human about it? 

Last week I was back to wearing my Vaute Couture Emily coat and my daily Matt & Nat cross-body bag. Adding the Matt & Nat shoes in made it a little matchy-matchy, brand-wise. And thankfully my shoulder is still messed up so I could selfie in my chiropractor's full length bathroom mirror. *insert praying hands emoji* also #oldpeople.

The bag is my go-to and I use it daily but it is PVC (albeit with a recycled plastic bottle liner). M&N's site says they use both PVC and PU but that PU is "definitely preferred" but then they don't label which bags are PVC. They only seems to label the bags that are PU. (Or they don't label either at all. I can't tell.) As you might imagine this grinds my gears and led to a purchase I probably would have skipped. But I bought it, it's here and I'll use it. 

I'll try to wear these suckers more often and if I can't, it probably means they don't belong with me. Unfortunately Oona got her claws on them, literally so I'm sure anyone else who might want them would consider this a significant deterrent if I need to rehome them. 

I mean, this is how much she loves shoes so I can't be all angry at her:

In other news, did you guys know you can order lipstick samples from Petit Vour? It's a little extra plastic but I find it helpful in knowing what colors I might actually use. And less packaging than if I'd purchased a whole tube I won't use. I struck out on both the reds here, but I don't mind the purple layered over a base pink. (I tend to layer Lush's Santa Baby under everything because it's got sick staying power, though it's too bright and pink for me on it's own. You're welcome for knowing that level of detail about my lipstick regimen.) Yeah, I know I swore off buying new lip stuff until I used what I had but...there we are.