Monday, March 30, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and My Spring Project

I chose The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as my most recent pick.  It is that spring cleaning, I-want-to-reorganize-everything-I-own time of year, and I was game to try something new,.  At first I was skeptical, as I listened to Marie Kondo define her method of organizing your home.  It was a bit drastic.  This is not a room-by-room type of project.  This is balls out, take everything you own of a certain category, and dump it onto your floor in a particular order.  By the end of the book, I was excited to test it out.  So I went to Target and picked up a hard copy.  I needed to start flagging the important pages.

I admit, I am one of those people that has a closet full of clothing and nothing to wear.  The first step in this book is closet organization, so I figured I had nothing to lose.  I took every single item of clothing I had and dumped it onto my bed.  Since I had nothing to wear, I didn't think this would take very long.  I was wrong.  I was very wrong.

This is part of my pile on the bed.  It was a lot of stuff.  The rules are as follows: pick up every piece of clothing and decide if it brings you joy.  You must touch each item. When you wake up tomorrow, would you be excited to put it on?  No guilt from keeping gifts other people have bought for you.  No guilt in keeping items that still had the tags on them.  The book rationalizes why (and it worked for me).

When I was about halfway through, I was exhausted.  Why did I own this much crap?  Would I be happier wearing a few things that I love a lot, rather than a lot of things that I was only wearing because they were clean and in my closet?  

I started this project on Saturday, and by Sunday night, I had completed maybe 75%.  I had five trash bags ready for donation, and one trash bag full of things that were garbage.  I still needed to go through my purses and random bags that hang out on the shelves of my closet.

I am hoping that I can keep trying to go through my belongings throughout the week and purge more items that do not suit me.  As I have been doing this exercise, I have been keeping a list of items I need to repurchase (either because the ones I have been hanging on to are worn out or just don't spark any kind of joy in me).  After I complete this exercise, I need to move on to cleaning out my books.  I hope I can get there soon.  It will definitely be easier to purge items that are mine alone, and do not need my husband to also go through.

This book is definitely worth picking up if you are at all interested in a major spring cleaning purge. It offers some new ideas and new ways of looking at items that are not working for the life that you have.  Five enthusiastic stars from me.  Now that I have some momentum going, I really want to keep it up.  I would love to only be surrounded with things that are loved or are in some way useful.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Confessions of a Stationery Hoarder

The notebooks in the picture above are really cute, huh?  I was digging through the stationery section at TJ Maxx last summer when I found them.  I maybe paid $6 for the three of them and was really excited to bring these back to my office to be used (my office is not a very formal place).  Only it is close to a year later, and they all remain untouched    

I've tried to use them many times, but I can't bring myself to mark up the pristine pages.  I end up putting a smaller white notepad inside of the book and writing on that.  I realize how silly this sounds, and that they are meant to be written in.  I can't seem to just jot down my deliverables from the latest meeting I attended.  I feel like I am waiting for something magnificent to write on the first page, but the words never come.  

I would love to say that I didn't have other kinds of stationery sitting in a desk drawer, waiting to be used.  Don't even get me started on the wonder that is the Target Dollar Spot.  Cutest Post-its and notepads ever (and they are each a dollar).  I may need some kind of intervention here.  

Do you have something that you collect and like so much, you can't bring yourself to use it?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

All of the Fringy Things

I have loved all things fringe since I was a child.  I am so happy to see it in stores as a trend for spring.  I am definitely going to pick up a pair of fringe sandals first, but honestly, I don't see myself stopping there.  Not with all of the cute bags and shorts and dresses that are out now.  I especially love those Valentino fringe boots below, but they may be slightly out of my price range this year.  And by slightly I mean way the heck out of.  Such is life.

What trend are you looking forward to trying out this spring?

All The Fringy Things

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I Learned How To Make Homemade Irish Cream

Hello and happy St. Patrick's Day!  I have been trying to eat (mostly) healthy things lately, but I cannot let a chance to make homemade Irish Cream pass!  Turns out that it only takes six ingredients to make this concoction for yourself at home.  I highly recommend using Tillamore DEW Irish Whiskey. It has a mellow flavor, which is absolutely delicious.  I halved the recipe shown here, but added additional chocolate syrup to taste.  I had a bottle of Baileys on hand, and compared the two until I had a slightly less-cloying version.  In this homemade form, you can really taste both the chocolate and the coffee.

After mixing the ingredients together
Priming the ingredients for the perfect St. Paddy's Day cocktail.
So now you have your homemade Irish Cream and you are wondering what to do with it.  Well, make an Irish Car Bomb if you are so inclined. You will also need Guinness and Jameson Irish Whiskey for this.  Bonus: they are so much fun to make.

An Irish Car Bomb in action.
I hope you have a fun St. Patrick's Day, however you are celebrating. If you have any special food/drinks you like to make, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Few Pictures From My Weekend

The Bay Area had unseasonably warm weather this weekend, so we decided to take a drive down to San Jose.  It is about an hour away from our house, so we grabbed some lunch while we were there.  I wore shorts and sandals (which is only considered bragging if you live in a place still covered in snow).  Hello, spring!

We stopped off at Konjoe, our current favorite burger joint, located in San Pedro Market Square.  They have fantastic Asian-inspired burgers, hand-cut fries, and a different flavor of lemonade every time we go.  This time it was guava. They also make their own aiolli and ketchup, and have special buns made that compliment the taste of the burgers.  I am getting hungry just writing about it.

Our next stop was our favorite fish store.  My husband is really into raising colorful shrimp.  While he was picking a few out, I was looking at all of the beautiful tanks.

I had been wanting an electric blue ram for my tank for a long time.  I think they are one of the prettiest freshwater fish there is.  It was hard to pick just one.  

I finally finished my #100HappyDays album for 2014.  I really enjoyed documenting this so much that I think I am going to do this all over again in 2015.  It really made me think about all of the good in my life, even on the days when everything seems to be going wrong.

I hope you had a nice weekend too!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Recent Reads

Here is what I have been reading so far in 2015.

The Girl on the Train:  Rachel rides the train home every day.  It reliably stops at the same signal, in front of the same house, where Rachel watches the same couple every day.  She begins to idealize them as having the perfect life, and even gives them names. Then one day she witnesses something that shatters this fantasy, and the next day someone turns up missing.   Rachel only has bits and pieces of a memory from that night, but as she tries to piece it together, villains and heroes walk a very blurry line.

I am giving this book five stars.  If you enjoyed Gone Girl, you will not be able to put this down. The narrators aren't reliable and nobody is really likable.  This is not a bad thing.  The secrets and truths are unveiled slowly and keep you guessing until the very end.  

Paper Towns:  One night, Margo Roth Spiegelman climbs in through Quentin (Q) Jacobsen's window, and invites him on an adventure.  They spend the night driving around Orlando and righting some of the wrongs in their lives.  The next day Margo doesn't show up for school.  She has disappeared, but has left some clues that Q and his friends use to try to track her down.  Where did she go, why did she leave, and is she is still alive?  

I did not enjoy this book as mush as The Fault In Our Stars, but it was still a fun read.  I would give it 4 stars.  John Green is a fantastic author and really develops his characters in a way that they feel familiar to you.  However, the ending was left a bit ambiguous, and I would have liked to have known more about what happens next.  I am looking forward to the movie version coming out this summer.  I think Cara Delevingne is going to be a perfect Margo.       

The Beginning of Everything:   Ezra Faulkner has had a rough year.  His girlfriend cheated on him and he was in a car accident that left him injured, and unable to continue as the star of his school's tennis team.  His senior year is just beginning, so he reverts back to old friendships and joins the debate team. He also falls in love with Cassidy Thorpe, and that is when things get complicated.  

This is a young adult novel, and if that is not your thing, you will probably not enjoy this book. I had been hearing a lot of buzz about it, so I decided to give it a listen.  I wasn't expecting much, but I really ended up enjoying the story.  I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.  It was a fun ride and the ending really tied up all its lose ends.  This is my favorite quote from the novel that really sums it all up: 

“Sometimes I think that everyone has a tragedy waiting for them, that the people buying milk in their pajamas or picking their noses at stoplights could be only moments away from disaster. That everyone's life, no matter how unremarkable, has a moment when it will become extraordinary - a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen.” 
― Robyn SchneiderThe Beginning of Everything

Wonder & The Julian Chapter:  I am going to start off this review by stating that I think everyone should read this book.  It really touched me deeply.  Auggie Pullman is going to school for the first time in his life.  He has been home-schooled until now, the beginning of 5th grade.  He is an ordinary kid, who just wants to be treated like everyone else.  However his face looks different, and some of this kids in his school don't know how to deal with this fact.  This story follows Auggie through his first year at Beecher Prep, and the highs and lows of being accepted for who you are on the inside.

This book tells the story from many different viewpoints: Auggie, his sister Via, her boyfriend Justin, her childhood friend Miranda, his friend Summer, and his friend Jack.  The companion story The Julian Chapter also tells the story from his bully Julian's viewpoint, and is definitely worth picking up as well, because it really does complete the story.  Sometimes you will be fighting back tears and sometimes you will want to stand up and cheer.  In the end, you will reflect back on all of the precepts you have learned (that will make more sense once you read the book).     

My Story:  It amazes me, what the human spirit can endure.  That is what I was thinking the entire time I was reading this book.  I remember when the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping was a national news story.  I also remember the collective sign of relief that was felt when she returned to her family nine months later.  This story tells you what happened during the time she was gone. 

This book also gets five stars from me.  It was not always easy to read. but sometimes the truth isn't pretty.  Elizabeth held strong to her faith and to her will to live.  She is a true survivor.  You finish the book in awe of the person she has become today.  

What should I add to my reading list?  Let me know if you have read any good books lately.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Santana Row & Sino

There is a really cute shopping area in San Jose called Santana Row.  On nice warm days, I love to explore its many shops, restaurants, day spas, and salons (there is also a movie theater and a boutique hotel).  It is a very pretty place to walk around, take a few pictures, and rack up the steps on my Fitbit. It also doesn't hurt that there is a cupcake shop.  I keep hoping that I will one day grow tired of the cupcake trend, but I do not see that happening any time in the near future.

I met up with a a girlfriend for lunch, and we decided to try Sino in Santana Row.  We sat at the bar and ordered off of their dim sum menu.  The food was Asian fusion and really good.  My favorite dish was the won ton soup, which had won tons filled with shrimp.  It was hard to just choose a few dishes to share, and I am looking forward to going back and trying the rest some more. The bartender also made a mean cocktail.  If you are in the area, this place is worth dropping by.

This is not a sponsored post.

Monday, March 9, 2015

My Garden In Early Spring

It has been a long time since I have done a post about my garden.  We had a bad drought in Northern California last year, so we kept the things we planted to a minimum.  It rained here pretty much the entire month of December, however, it was not enough to end the drought.  I don't know how much we will end up planting this year, but here are a few things that are now in progress.

These tiny blooms will be blueberries in a few short months.
And these will be plums.
My first fuchsia bloom of the spring.
Roma tomatoes
Chocolate and Yellow Wonder bell peppers
To me, freesia is the best smelling flower there is.  I have them planted in multiple places around my yard so I can just stand outside in the spring and breathe them in.  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What I Need...Now (Spring Lust List)

I haven't done much shopping since Christmastime, and I am looking to make a few updates. I am finding myself very drawn to fringe, rose gold, cobalt blue, and bucket bags.  I desperately need to put a proper cover on my iPhone, and I finally found a case that I like.  I am also really looking forward to reading Gretchen Rubin's latest book. I always find her so inspiring, and spring seems to be the time when I like to make changes.

What do you have your eye on this spring?

Spring Lust List

I'm Erin

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Hi, I'm Erin. I am living back on the east coast after 15 years out west. Currently readjusting to humidity and mosquitos. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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