Monthly Archives: August 2015

Back In My Day…

Maybe a plant would help? (Image from www.usnews.com)

Maybe a plant would help? (Image from www.usnews.com)

My girl crush Light By Coco recently posted a video about maintaining a minimalist lifestyle while in college. I’ve been thinking about the video a lot lately because I love the idea of jetting off for an extended period of time with just the essentials…while also keeping a home base with everything else!

I believe I would be better at “living light” at this point in my life–ahem, in my thirties–than I would have been when I was in college. When I was young and starting over fresh in a brand-new place, I depended so much on my clothes, posters, photos, and other “stuff” to introduce myself to others (and to feel more comfortable in an alien place!). The stuff functioned as a kind of shorthand to quickly define myself to classmates and find some “safe,” like-minded people to hang out with (at least initially).

One of the reasons for going to college, though, is getting to know different kinds of people and trying new things, so maybe it would be good if everyone started with a fairly blank slate. In her video, Coco said that she could probably go off to college today with a only a carry-on bag! Can you imagine? That sounds so light and free. Like most college students, I moved at least once every year, and it was a royal pain to drag around all my books, clothes, and decorative stuff each time.

Coco’s video made me think about all the ways it would seem easier to “live light” if I were going to college today. I know myself better and am more confident, for starters, so I don’t think I would feel so dependent on certain clothes and decorations and whatnot to impress other people. Plus, there are so many ways that the internet would make minimalist college living easier. This makes me sound so old, but the internet is way different today than it was when I was in college, and it provides a kind of reach-back support that my peers and I didn’t have. Consider, for example:

Books. All of my college textbooks were expensive, bulky, and heavy. I bought used textbooks whenever I could, but they were still insanely expensive. You could sell your books at the end of the semester, but the bookstore only paid you like 10 to 20% of your original purchase price. It was (and is) a total racket. I usually kept my books, too, because I thought I might need to refer back to them. Today, though, the internet makes the textbook market much bigger and more competitive, and there are options for cheaply renting books or buying electronic books–options that I didn’t have when I was in college. Plus, the internet has all the information you could possibly need to refer back to, so there’s no need to maintain your own personal library.

Shopping. If you needed anything special when I was in school, you had to line up a ride to a store (freshmen couldn’t have cars) or ask your parents to send it. Today, you can order anything online and have it sent directly to you–often with free shipping! This didn’t really exist when I was in college. I remember, for example, having to scramble around town with my aunt one night to get a formal dress and shoes for some event. It was insane. Today, you could just order a few dresses and return the ones that don’t fit…OR rent formal dresses from sites like Rent the Runway…OR call up a cheap Uber ride!

Identity. Today, people define and identify themselves by their online presence in a way that hadn’t really taken root yet when I was college. Instead of looking at someone’s dorm room decorations or CD rack (yep!) to get an idea of their personality and interests, today you would just look them up on Instagram or YouTube.

There are tons of other ways that computers make it easier to live a minimal lifestyle in college today, too–just think about banking, record keeping, and entertainment, for example. Hmm. Looking over this post makes me realize, though, that many of these points don’t only apply to college life…so why am I still hanging onto so many books and files and stuff?! 🙂

– Angela

A Fancy Lady

Only the finest Band-Aids for me, you see...

Only the finest adhesive bandages for me, you see…

I have a few quirks.  (Shocking, I know.)  I’m particularly weird about stockpiling an excessive amount of household paper goods and personal care products–stuff like toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, and Q-tips.

I also like to hoard Band-Aids. I can’t remember the last time I actually used a Band-Aid, but I like to keep several boxes on hand. And not just any Band-Aids–designer Band-Aids!

I can’t afford luxury clothes, fine leather goods, or fancy housewares, dammit, but I WILL have brand-name Band-Aids commissioned by REAL designers! (Hey, remember this post?)

I’ve been thinking about my Band-Aid obsession lately because I’ve been trying to get my hands on a box of Oh Joy! Band-Aids for months–that is, bandages created by the designer/blogger Joy Cho. They’re only available at Target and my local store was always sold out, but I finally snagged a box this past weekend. Huzzah!

This recent acquisiton brings my stable of designers to three:

Cynthia Rowley Band-Aids

Cynthia Rowley – my picks for fall

Cynthia Rowley — The CR Band-Aids are the best. They’re printed with sequins, lace, gold chains, jewels, and mini photos of runway models. Squee!

Isaac Mizrahi Band-Aids

Affordable Isaac Mizrahi

Isaac Mizrahi — These are cute, too–with hearts and flowers and graphic text and even girly camouflage.

Joy Cho (Oh Joy!) Band-Aids

Compromised epidermis has never been more Oh Joy!-ful…

Oh Joy! — Yay! Cute and colorful! Like abstract watercolor prints!
J. Crew has also designed a set of Band-Aids, so those are next on my list. There’s a kid version (meh) and this adult version:

The only thing at J. Crew that will(might?) fit me...

The only thing at J. Crew that might fit me…

Now I just have to remember to USE some of these cute Band-Aids!

— Angela

P.S. I hoard paper and personal care products, yet I don’t keep a supply of food or water stocked for a rainy day. I’m screwed in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I don’t think there will be much of a bartering market for makeup sponges and organic hair conditioner.

CHOMP!

This is a blurry pictures but you get the idea.

This is a blurry picture but you get the idea.

I’m back on the glass locket trend!

I know, I know–I’m way behind on charm bracelet trends. And yes, there ARE “charm bracelet trends.” For example, the Alex & Ani charm bracelets are still going fairly strong right now, but I never got into those. And remember Italian charm bracelets? And how those were followed by Pandora bracelets? I feel like the glass locket trend came after the Pandora trend but before the Alex & Ani trend…

Anyway, I wore my “favorite things” Origami Owl locket a few times this past winter before setting it aside for a while. I picked it back up recently and found that the back window had completely fallen off the locket and my charms were floating loose in my jewelry box. Boo! I looked online and it seems that this is a common problem for Origami Owl lockets–the lockets are expensive and notorious for breaking, but they’re only covered by a short-fuse warranty. I’m lucky that my locket broke in my jewelry box rather than when wearing it. It would be a bummer to possibly lose all my charms.

Anyway, looking at the locket stuff got me excited again about all the cute little charms out in the world. I also own a generic locket bracelet from a local gift store (which was cheaper than an Origami Owl bracelet and probably much sturdier), so I ordered myself a new set of charms to celebrate the upcoming…

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON!

Whoo-hoo! Go Gators! 🙂

I found a ready-made set of University of Florida charms on Etsy that included:

  • An Albert mascot
  • An oval Gators logo
  • A rectangular Gators logo
  • An orange “Gators” script logo
  • A blue letter “F”
  • An orange crystal heart
  • A blue crystal heart
  • And a football!

The set also came with three more charms: a “2015” text charm, a “best” text charm, and a letter “U” charm. Meh. These didn’t excite me, so I didn’t add them to my (already full) locket. Plus, having the “F” and “U” together looked more like “Eff You” than “UF”…

I kinda want to make an autumn-themed locket now, too–maybe leaves and crystals in red, orange, and yellow mixed with a pumpkin or two. Squee! I also plan to order a locket for my mom’s birthday. Somebody stop me!

Here’s the thing, though–you can find great and very inexpensive charms and lockets on eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. Many of the charms can be purchased individually and shipped for around $2 or less, or purchased and shipped in various sets or configurations for less than $1 each. I got ELEVEN great (albeit bootleg) UF charms on Etsy for about $7, which is what I expect Origami Owl will charge for ONE of its officially licensed college charms when they’re released in the fall. Granted, the coloring and detail on the Origami Owl charms will probably be better than mine, but that’s not worth the price difference to me for a trendy little thing that will fade away sooner rather than later.

My #1 tip when shopping for glass lockets and charms: If you find a locket or charm that you like, search for it at all three major retail sites (eBay, Etsy, and Amazon) to find the best price. Also, complete a general search for “floating charms” at each site, which will often lead you to sellers who allow you to pick and choose a certain number of charms from an extensive menu for one low fixed price.

Go Gators!

– Angela

Mangomini

Cute Bookworm Style by Cindy Mangomini.  (Ignore the numbers.)

Cute Bookworm Style by Cindy Mangomini. (Ignore the numbers.)

I was toodling around the interwebs yesterday looking for Kanako pictures when I stumbled across the work of another great illustrator: Cindy Mangomini.  She draws themed collages of adorable clothes, accessories, and other objects.  Everything is so detailed and cute and it’s right up my alley.  Check out all of her work here!

How to be Parisian by Cindy Mangomini.  Oui oui!

How to be Parisian by Cindy Mangomini. Oui!

How to Prepare for a Job Interview by Cindy Mangomini.  Get it, gurls!

How to Prepare for a Job Interview by Cindy Mangomini. Get it, girl!

Remembering The Baby-Sitters Club

Hmm. Not her best outfit.

Hmm. Not her best outfit.

I recently took this BuzzFeed quiz and it rekindled my long-dormant memories of The Baby-Sitters Club book series!

I LOVED The Baby-Sitters Club (BSC!) books when I was a kid, and just seeing the characters’ handwriting reproduced in the quiz made me so nostalgic. I earned a perfect score, but my correct answers were less about remembering the plot lines (which must be from books released after I outgrew the series) and more about remembering which handwriting belonged to which character (the books always included snippets of handwritten text from each girl).

We all know the premise of the BSC books, right? A group of middle school friends joins together to form a babysitting collective. They advertise (with flyers!) and meet at the same time and place each week to receive (landline!) phone calls from neighborhood parents looking to schedule responsible, affordable babysitters. The girls live in fictional Stoneybrook, Connecticut—a super-safe, super-idyllic, and super-WASP-y suburb. The BSC books are all about the girls’ adolescent adventures in this sweet, perfect bubble of a world. Each character was unique so readers could quickly identify with or aspire to one or more of the babysitters—Kristy was the sporty firecracker, Claudia was the artsy free spirit, Mary Anne was the shy Victorian bookworm, Dawn was the hippie chick, etc.

My favorite babysitter was Stacey McGill. The word used to describe Stacey in every book was “sophisticated,” and she had a certain kind of pre-teen glamour. She had grown up in New York City, where she was allowed to take cabs and trains without an adult (and this was before Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the place). Stacey had fluffy blond hair (probably feathered, now that I think about it) and she wore makeup and had the most stylish clothes. Maybe she even had her ears pierced twice? (Like I said—GLAMOUR.) Stacey moved to Stoneybrook when her parents divorced, I think.

Stacey had diabetes, too, which added another layer of exoticism and maturity to her character. She kept a strict diet, managed her own medicine regimen, and went to fancy city doctors. I loved going to the doctor as a kid, so I think this aspect of Stacey’s identity made her even more attractive to me. I only had asthma and allergies, but I loved the special, important feeling that a doctor’s visit gave me—conferring with this respected, educated man, being out alone with my mom, and maybe going out for lunch together after my appointment.

I read the BSC books in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, so I can only imagine how far diabetes treatment has come in the last two decades. I remember an especially poignant scene in the books when Stacey is babysitting her favorite charge—a quiet, sweet little girl named Charlotte—and they visit a candy shop. The store is beautiful and bursting with colorful candy, including fancy individual chocolates set out on silver trays. Charlotte begs for a treat—”Just one? One each?”—and Stacey feels in her pocket and realizes that she has “more than enough money for two pieces of candy.” Stacey’s sorely tempted, and she goes so far as to pull out her money and place it on the glass case, but then she makes the right decision. She can’t afford the extra sugar, and Charlotte can’t ruin her dinner, so they leave the store empty-handed and disappointed.

Ugh. I can’t even. Just imagine not being able to eat a single piece of candy for fear of derailing an entire delicate balance of glucose and insulin! The unfairness! The grave responsibility! The perfectly coiffed exterior belying deprivation and severe illness!

So I especially loved tragic, beautiful Stacey, but I loved everything about the BSC. The girls were so organized and they had a surprisingly strong grasp of parliamentary procedure for their age. They had formal titles (president, vice president, etc.), fulfilled clearly defined roles and responsibilities, kept attendance and meeting minutes, called for discussion of new and old business, kept a master schedule, etc. They also collected monthly dues from each member, and the money was used for advertising (flyers), communications (Claudia’s personal landline—the height of privilege in that time), and inventory—that is, outfitting their “Kid Kits,” the boxes of craft supplies, small toys, and other goodies that they would take to babysitting jobs to entertain the kids.

GAH. All of that order and independence and responsibility just SPEAKS TO ME, then and now. These girls were making and managing their own money, organizing their own time, and handling their own affairs. What could they have accomplished with business degrees? Syncing calendar apps? Or even driver’s licenses?! It boggles the mind.

All of that organization and wholesomeness may sound boring, but it wasn’t—at least not to me. The girls had their interpersonal issues, family dramas (divorce, remarriage, death, sibling rivalry), babysitting challenges, and some limited romantic experiences. And when things got too calm and predictable in Stoneybrook, you could always read one of the BSC Super Specials. These books were extra-long and usually followed the girls on some kind of vacation or adventure. They worked as camp counselors in one Super Special, went on a cruise in another, and visited Disney World in another.  My family couldn’t afford to go on any fancy trips like these, so I loved taking in every detail about the amenities and attractions.

I kinda want to re-read the BSC books after writing about all of this, but I’m afraid that re-reading them might ruin my good memories. I don’t want the books to seem flat and trite, and I don’t want pesky facts to mar whatever impressions or memories I have. (In a similar way, I don’t plan to read Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. I love Atticus and Scout just as they are in my head.)

So—did YOU ever read the BSC books? Which babysitter was YOUR favorite?

P.S. Stacey’s handwriting was cute and bubbly and she dotted her lowercase i’s with hearts. Totes adorbs, of course.

P.P.S. So I took this quiz, too, and got Logan Bruno. Weird.