Saturday, October 24, 2015

Inspiration to Be Chic and Positive

There is always something new to learn and discover, and there are always new ways to find inspiration.

After a busy summer, I've spent most of the early fall trying to catch up and get myself sorted out and back to good routines. Although I'm still not quite where I'd like to be in terms of routines, organization, and workload, I've been trying to stay calm and remain optimistic. Of course, this can be challenging even on normal days: stress and anxiety are unfortunately a normal part of life. However, I've made an effort to actively seek positivity and inspiration because, even if I'm struggling in my own routines, it is nice to read or listen to sources that are encouraging and that serve as reminders of what I want to cultivate in my own life. Here are three of my current sources of inspiration, including two brand new (to me), out-of-the-box genres: chic podcasts!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Staying Chic When You're between Sizes: Part 3

"Fat pants" are not for the chic, but fortunately there are alternatives for dressing well between sizes.

Hello again! Welcome to the third and final installment of my long-delayed series on how to dress well at any size. More than two whole years ago (!) I wrote the second installment on what I hoped would become a mini-series on "Staying Chic When You're between Sizes." This series is intended to address those of us who sometimes struggle to maintain appearances and dress well when we are in a period of physical transition, whether from weight gain, weight loss, exercise (or lack of), and/or maternity.

The first post (linked here) discussed the importance of fit: it is never chic to squeeze into something that one has clearly outgrown, or perhaps had never fit in to, to begin with! The second post discussed how important it is to be acquainted with a good tailor or seamstress. (Really, it's unfortunate that the only time most people use alternation services is when they're being fitted for wedding attire!)

Although the two-year time lapse between this series is really inexcusable, I have finally decided to share some observations on clothing pieces that I find are universally flattering. Regardless of one's size or shape, some style staples really do look good on anyone. Here are four pieces that seem to not only flatter all body types, but even better, these are versatile fashion pieces that never go out of style.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Simplifying the Handbag Collection

Handbags and purses should be reviewed and pared down periodically, just like any material items that accumulate in everyday life.

My personal style, maintenance habits, and income are in very different categories than they were 10 years ago, so it's time for me to gradually edit through my belongings to reflect that change. Today I took some time to go through my assortment of handbags. I've been keeping a storage tote on a shelf in my closet where I toss all of my handbags and purses*. Every few months, I will rotate through my collection and select a new bag to use for daily wear. (It's like going shopping in my own closet!) I've noticed that I seem to alternate between the same two or three handbags, depending on the season, but I also saw that, paradoxically, the storage tote was overflowing as it tottered on my closet shelf. Clearly, I had forgotten just how much stuff I had.

I made it my mission of the day to sort through this tote and immediately eliminate any unnecessary purses and/or bags. Decluttering and editing unnecessary stuff from my life is important to me; I like for things to be simpler and more streamlined in my home and in my life. It cuts down on so much wasted space, time, and energy. I wouldn't yet consider myself a minimalist, by any means, but I am gradually attempting to adopt a minimalist attitude as I try to simplify where (and what) I can. Although I must have had 20 different bags in my storage tote, I decided right away that I wasn't going to agonize or second-guess any decisions, but I would just get rid of what I could quickly and easily eliminate.

Some of the choices were obvious: two small totes that were actually part of the gift packaging for a set of lotions or bath products; a mint-colored handbag that I bought at a boutique near my old job nearly 10 years ago, the exterior and interior fabrics of which have since start to rip and peel; an ugly cream-colored clutch that I mistakenly bought for one-time use to bring to a family member's wedding reception. Only one choice made me hesitate, where I thought, Oh, this is cute, but I did eventually realize that I had really outgrown the $15 hounds-tooth hobo bag that I bought from from Payless a few years ago. What made that choice easier was only the fact that I had recently been given a similarly colored and structured handbag that was of a much better quality and of a more fashionable pattern.

It had been more than three or four years since I last used any of these bags, and some of them I had never used. So why had I kept them for so long? The two reasons why I kept these particular bags were: 1.) At one time, I did like some of these handbags very much; and 2.) Some were hardly (or never) used, so they were "still good" and to get rid of them would be wasteful. Here's how I processed those feelings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stain Removal to Save Your Favorite Clothes

Save money, time, and stress by learning how to remove stains from your favorite wardrobe pieces.

The thought of scrubbing away at stains and memorizing a long list of rescue products (club soda for this, baking soda for that) always seemed very daunting to me. Before I became more conscious of investing in quality pieces, if a stain couldn't be removed by a regular washing machine, then that piece of clothing went in the trash or the back of a drawer, never to be seen again. Doing laundry is time-consuming enough, so complicated stain removal methods simply did not seem worth the trouble.

That is, until I got paint on my favorite summer pants last week.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Organizing the Dresser

 I finally solved my dresser dilemma and improved my daily regimen after struggling to keep my makeup and jewelry organized.

Just like how a nice robe can be the start and end of one's daily ensemble, the dressing table is the piece of furniture that is faced daily with the task of getting its owner ready for the day and ready for bed at night. Perhaps the hardest-working piece of furniture in the bedroom (second only to the bed), a dresser is where people without the luxury of a vanity or walk-in closet begin to get dressed in the morning, then undressed at night. For a long time my dresser showed signs of struggle with this burden: it was messy, cluttered, chaotic, and disorganized. Just looking at it made me feel overwhelmed. See?

Before: The cluttered dresser. (After photo to follow! I'm saving the best for last.)

So how did I finally get this situation under control? Believe it or not, it was easier than I thought!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reading List for the New Year

Though I haven't been writing much, I am thrilled that I've been reading a bit this winter.


More than two years since its creation, my little blog is still here. I like to think of it as a testament to the "slow and steady" motto. I may not update frequently (though I would like to), but this is a little project of mine that has become too dear to abandon. So, here we are, with a monthly update.

Fortunately, things have calmed down quite a bit since before and during the holiday season. I like to think that February is really when life starts getting back to normal, and the stress and pressure of the holidays and the new year's resolutions have either taken firm hold, or have been forgotten entirely. My own resolution to maintain balance has thus far been working. One of the things I've been making "me time" for is to read. I have a broad range of interests, so I tend to be reading several things at one time. Here is a list of what I've been reading this winter.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year! (2015 Edition!)

Catfish makes time to enjoy the Christmas spirit.

After a long and busy hiatus from blogging, I am ready to start 2015 with renewed focus and balance.

When I began this blog two (!) years ago, it started as a little hobby that gave me a chance to flex my writing muscles while occupying my time during the day when I was working evenings/nights. Over the past two years, my life has become progressively busier since I began a career in teaching. Unlike my former desk jobs, teaching requires a lot of hours working from home: grading papers, planning lessons, and responding to students' emails! I've always felt that I've done a good job managing stress and general busyness, but the past semester has been exceptionally challenging since my teaching schedule had suddenly doubled. Although working so much gave me valuable experience and new opportunities, it also took a toll on my personal life and passions-- as evidenced by the sharp drop-off in my blog posts!

I once read somewhere that, "It's only in America that people go around bragging about how busy they are." Wouldn't it be nice if instead, people went around bragging about how happy they are? Or how much time they enjoyed spending with their family? Or about the delicious meal that they prepared from scratch? Or the great book that they finished? Any and all of the pursuits sound much more enjoyable than discussing how many emails one answered, or how late somebody stayed at the office, or how someone worked through her lunch break. I now realize that "keeping up with the Joneses" is not only limited to material possessions, but also to our general attitudes and feelings about working and home life. People are expected to prioritize work and sacrifice their home life for reasons that often have little or nothing to do with financial stability-- it again goes back to our competitive nature to "keep up with the Joneses." After several months of working in this fashion, I've definitely decided that this is not how I want to live my life.

Like the recovery from a holiday's hangover, my recovery from 2014 has been slow, but not without reflection and the accompanying regret. Looking back at my resolution from last year, I realized that I didn't really make a lot of time for myself, as I had promised myself that I would. I was just too busy! However, I've learned something about myself over the years: I am a person who strives to be busy, whether it's from working too much, volunteering too much, or finding multiple projects for me to occupy my time (alas, like blogging). Whatever it is, for whatever reason, I just have a tendency to overextend myself to the point where I no longer take joy from whatever it is that I am doing at the moment. This is so absurd! Unfortunately, this is also a reflection of my exact thoughts at this time last year; apparently, I didn't progress as much as I had hoped in 2014. Although I know that I am someone who likes to stay occupied, I think the past year has been a wake-up call for me to strive to achieve balance between being busy and not. Although being busy has its benefits. we all know that too much of a good thing is certainly bad.

Although my resolution from 2014 failed, it's never too late to try, try again. Here's to another chance at finding balance and joy during 2015. Wishing my readers a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year! How was 2014 for you? What are you looking forward to in 2015?