August 24, 2016

A Decade Old Jacket

I sometimes feel this urge to only buy expensive clothing because I've had such good success with buying higher end jeans this year (basically every pair of jeans in my closet that isn't FrameDL1961, and Madewell Skinny Skinny never gets touched) or sandals, like my Sam Edelmans that I've worn almost daily for the past two summers.

But then I grab something out of my closet that I've had for years and years that didn't cost very much and I still love it as much as I did when I bought it back in 2006.

This Old Navy denim jacket is one of those things. It cost me about $30 and I've been wearing it every fall, winter, and spring for a decade now (plus in the summer in Texas and Arizona where the air conditioning in every theater and restaurant is set to "Arctic"). I think that's pretty good cost per wear.

I love this one because it's such a classic style that it's never gone out of fashion (in fact, Old Navy still sells the identical one, ten years later).

That's encouraging because it means you don't have to spend a fortune to find pieces for your closet that will hold up.

It's also nice because it means I can afford to buy more than two new items of clothing per year.

Although if all my clothing lasted a decade, I wouldn't need more than about two items a year anyway, I guess.

August 23, 2016

3 Trivial Products That Are Making My Life Better This Year

Last year, I had something of an epiphany: if there were little things about my life that was consistently annoying me, I could probably fix it.

For the record, I am terrible at this kind of thing. I hate spending money on little things, and I tend to have a high tolerance for inconvenience, so I can go a long time without dealing with little issues.

For example, Bart's car came with two clickers (you know, the little fobs that let you remotely lock or unlock your door, plus, best of all, a red button that draws your toddler's attention like a homing beacon so that you're quietly preparing dinner and then suddenly your car alarm starts blaring out of nowhere).

But that was four years ago, and both of the clickers had died sometime last year.

Since Bart mainly drives that car, it wasn't a huge deal, but anytime I have to drive that car with the girls, it is an enormous pain (you know, assuming your life is extremely easy and first-worldly) because I have to get all the girls out, then go back around to the driver's door and lock the whole car.

Anyway, I end up driving his car every month or two for one reason or another, and I always loathe it because of that clicker situation.

Last week, I had to drive his car the entire week because my car's rear window locked/broke rolled down, and with the August weather in Phoenix, it was absolutely impossible to keep the car even remotely cool when you can't close the windows and it seemed quite unkind to make Star drive inside a blow dryer for a week. Not to mention the fact that your odds of getting robbed or your car stolen are ten thousand times better when your window is hanging completely open.

Bart said, "Let's look at clickers and see how much they cost to replace."

We hopped on Amazon, and do you know how much it cost to buy two replacement fobs? EIGHT DOLLARS.

And do you know how long it took Bart to program them when they arrived? TWO MINUTES.

I'm so glad that I saved that two minutes and eight dollars for the past year and made my life way more inconvenient than it needed to be.

Anyway, all of that is to say that I'm trying to be better about identifying things that are an annoyance to me and solving them quickly and inexpensively if I can.

These three products have done just that for me.

1. Sunless Tanner. I am naturally very fair-skinned, and not only do I not like to sit out in the sun, I also live in fear of skin cancer. Plus, wear jeans basically every day and then when Sunday rolls around and I wear a skirt or dress, my legs are just so white because they NEVER see the sun. This has really annoyed me for several years, but I did exactly nothing about it until just before I went to Mom 2.0 in California this spring, I posted a picture on Instagram in a dress and someone said, "You need some self-tanner, pronto." Happily, Merrick saw that comment and when I stayed at her house two days later, there was a bottle of her favorite brand on the guest bed waiting for me. I've used it all summer and I love it. It's quick to put on (I can do my whole body in about 5 minutes), non-streaky, and I do it two or three times a week. I'm not trying to look super tan, I just don't want my glowing white legs to be the focal point anytime I wear a skirt. I ran out of the bottle Merrick gave me a few weeks ago, and just ordered a replacement bottle - I looked around and it's half the price on Amazon that it is from Ulta.

2. A better blowdryer. When we went to visit Merrick in December, I used her blow dryer and my brain basically exploded over how much faster and better her blow dryer was than mine (considering I bought mine at Wal-mart for $10 five years ago, this shouldn't have come as a shock, but it did). So when my blow dryer died in the spring, I decided to not buy the cheapest one at Wal-mart. I asked the girl who cuts my hair for a recommendation and she suggested this one, but considering I only blow-dry my hair about once every eight days, I wasn't ready to fork out $140 for one. I ended up going with the Hot Tools Turbo dryer which was "only" $50 and had killer reviews. And I've loved it. It's so much faster, doesn't smell like it's going to explode when I use it, and my hair doesn't look all frizzy afterward. I love that thing. Also, it makes me happy that it's purple.

3. A curling wand. Last year, I wrote about making the change to a better shampoo, and a few months later, one of my friends texted and said, "What do you think about that shampoo?" I like it, but I really think the biggest difference for my hair has been switching from a curling iron to a curling wand. Bart bought me one for my birthday last year and I've had more good hair days this year than my entire life combined (excepting that glorious stretch where I had this amazing random curling iron in London (which I left there, since it's not U.S. compatible) combined with the best pregnancy hair of my life). I don't have an expensive one (it's only $25), but it works perfectly and I use it on the highest setting, which was 410 degrees.

(Also, I recognize that this all makes me sound like the shallowest person on the face of the planet. So it goes).

And if you have any products you super-duper love, I'd love to hear what they are.

August 19, 2016

The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

The perfect read-aloud book for kindergarteners through third grade. .So sweet!

My mom sent Ella The Children of Noisy Village for her birthday last month, and it was new to me.

Not only had I never read it, I'm not sure I'd ever even heard of it. 

I immediately recognized Astrid Lindgren's name, since she's the author of Pippi Longstocking, but this series was new to me. 

I'll admit that I was a little worried because we tried Pippi Longstocking last year, and after about two chapters, Ella politely asked if we could read something else instead. 

But The Children of Noisy Village was 100% delightful and we flew through it in a few weeks.

It's narrated by Lisa, one of the six children who lives in Noisy Village, which is a set of three farms all built close together.

Lisa has two brothers, another farm has one boy, and the third farm has two sisters. And the book is basically a year in their life in Noisy Village, from school to crayfish catching to Christmas to running errands in the big village for their mothers. 

I love that the children are mainly well-behaved and get along, but they also are real children that come up with some pretty ridiculous ideas and sometimes get on each others' nerves. There isn't too much teasing or unkindness, but mainly good-spirited fun and lots of imaginative games. 

About half way through, Ella said, "This book is mostly just little stories, while Time at the Top is one long story." And she was just right - every chapter basically stands on its own, and gives you a little glimpse into every day life in these Swedish families. 

And it's just so sweet! It has that simple old-fashioned feel that I really love, and it's full of hilariously little-kid adventures. 

Each chapter is pretty short, so we could read just one before bedtime or cruise through two or three during school. 

Ella loved every page, and Ani enjoyed coming over to look at the pictures or listening while she colored or played with Legos. Star just wanted to point out every time a dog or kitty appeared in an illustration which, fortunately for her, was about every third page. 

If you have a child between about four and eight, I think this is a perfect pick. I can't believe I've never read it, but you can bet I immediately went and requested Happy Times in Noisy Village, because I'm not ready to leave behind these stories. 

And apparently there is a Christmas book (it's a picture book, rather than a novel), which is making me so anxious for the holidays I can hardly stand it. 


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