Modern Pieces

I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but lately my clothes just don’t feel modern to me.

While I love, love, love a bold statement necklace and wearing scarves, those looks aren’t feeling fresh to me any more.

Photographic evidence from the blog of my statement necklace/scarf fixation:

Maybe it’s because I’ve been following Unfancy, a minimalist wardrobe blog, or perhaps I’ve just spent too much time browsing at Jenni Kayne.

Regardless, the looks I’m gravitating to lately skew like this:

The above is all from the Spring 2017 M.M. LaFleur collection.

Here’s Everlane.

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Speaking of Everlane, how fabulous are these shoes?

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I put myself on the waitlist for these. 

 

 

Orangetheory Fitness and Me

I recently started attending classes at Orangetheory Fitness.

Here’s a description of the workout from the Orangetheory website:

Our heart-rate monitored, high-intensity workout is scientifically designed to keep heart rates in a target zone that spikes metabolism and increases energy.

Here’s my take: This is a killer workout that uses heart rate monitors to force you to your breaking point.

The ostensible goal is to get 12-20 minutes per workout in the “Orange Zone,” where you are working at 84-91% of your maximum heart rate.

Ok, this is really hard to do.

The hour-ish long workouts combine running (or walking) on a treadmill, rowing and calisthenic exercises, usually with hand held weights.

Participants spend about half of the workout on the treadmills and rowing machines, and the other half in the weight area. The cardio time consists of stints of working at Base Pace (which is what I would consider my normal running pace, maybe 6.3-6.5 MPH, or a 9:30-9:10 minute pace per mile), Push Pace (1-2 MPH over Base Pace), and All Out Intervals, where you just go nuts and run until you feel like your heart will explode.

Why I decided to try this:

  • I love running and have been working hard for the past six months or so to get faster. Speed work – which the Orangetheory workouts naturally include – are a necessary pain to achieve that goal.
  • I secretly have always wanted to be a rower. Spouse was on the crew team in college and later taught me to row. I regret not trying it earlier, especially in college because I think I would have been pretty damn good at it.
  • While I love to do cardio, I hate to lift weights. Without the pressure of a personal trainer or a group, I just won’t do it. And I know weight lifting is important to overall conditioning.

Here’s a dirty secret about Orangetheory: if you’re already in good cardiovascular shape when you join, it’s going to be really, really challenging to get 12-20 minutes in the magic Orange Zone during the class.

For me, getting to the Orange Zone requires running on the treadmill at a speed of at least 7.5-8 MPH, which is waaaaaaay faster than my normal pace.

And it is super uncomfortable to do so.

On the flip side, if you’re not in good cardiovascular shape, you could easily get to the Orange Zone just by briskly walking on the treadmill at a modest incline.

I routinely see people get 20+ minutes in the Orange Zone, whereas it is a struggle for me to reach 12. This is humbling. It is hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that while I am working extremely hard, I need to work harder. Part of me always wants to throw in the towel and feel Good Enough with what I’m doing, which is often a lot more treadmill work than the person next to me.

But I guess that’s the whole point of Orangetheory. Push. Push. Push.

Yesterday was particularly humbling: I went to a class and got zero Orange Zone minutes.

My heart rate monitor read a steady 112 BPM even when I was running 8 MPH at a 5% incline.

Something was not right.

At the end of the class, I approached the (very fit) front desk worker and said that my heart rate monitor did not seem to be working. He asked me to show him how I was wearing it, which prompted lifting my shirt and providing an embarrassing display of my abdomen to the entire studio.

Turns out, I was wearing the heart rate monitor upside down, and it will definitely not work properly that way. Whoops.

Big sigh for my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D’Orsay Oxfords by Fortress of Inca

While browsing Amour Vert over the weekend, I found these interesting D’Orsay oxfords by Austin, TX, brand Fortress of Inca:

 

The colors are definitely on trend for spring and these shoes seem to partially solve the question of whether mules are appropriate for work. These get the breezy feeling of mules right but keep the heels covered, which is still the point that makes me pause about wearing mules in the office.

Amour Vert is selling these shoes for $210, which is reasonable since they are handmade.

 

Sometimes You Need Bubbles

 

Points of this weekend were too much.

Open House.

No buyers.

Driving three hours round trip for 20 minutes of work (worth it, for the record).

A Sunday night work commitment that is a cool opportunity (guest on a live radio show) but throwing a wrench into the routine here.

Tough decision that I would probably cancel running in my favorite race next month for financial considerations.

Driving around for two hours with dog (and laundry) in car to avoid prospective buyers at open house.

Went for family walk and son (with scooter) had unfortunate direct contact with pavement.

Sigh.

Sometimes you need to blow bubbles. So we did.

(Trixie said I looked like I was smoking here. I am not).

 

 

I hope you’re having a magical weekend.

 

 

 

 

A Surprising Place to Get a Great Deal on Bliss Products

During an early Saturday morning bout of insomnia – really, this is getting to be too, too much, waking up routinely at 2 A.M. and not being able to return to sleep until after 5 A.M. – I discovered the following:

  • There’s nothing good on T.V. during these hours. I ended up mindlessly watching two episodes of a show called “Four Weddings,” where four brides attend and snarkily judge each others’ weddings, points are given and a winner ultimately is selected to receive a free honeymoon “trip to paradise.” It’s not worth your time, even at 4 A.M.
  • I am remarkably thirsty in the middle of the night, and La Croix water really hits the spot.
  • Few of your friends will be active on Facebook, and if they are, that really makes you wonder why they are up in the middle of the night. Of course they are feeling the same way about you.
  • And, drumroll: there is a surprisingly good place to get great deals on Bliss products: Kohl’s.

Kohl’s is not a place where I usually shop. I don’t mind the brands they sell, but there is something about how they display their merchandise that makes me find it hard to browse. Also, I despise the giant mesh tote bags that customers are supposed to use to hold their merchandise (do they even still have these?), and checkout has historically been a nightmare.

So I don’t go there. Ever.

I’m not sure how I even stumbled upon the fact that Kohls.com sells Bliss products, but boy, do they ever.

Right now Bliss products on the Kohl’s site at typically more than half off retail. Because Bliss is considered a prestige brand, the products aren’t eligible for further discounts – and endless sales seems to be another thing Kohl’s does All.The.Time. – but the regular prices are already too good to pass up.

Here’s what I bought:

That’s Incredi-‘Peel’ glycolic resurfacing pads. These are $49 at Bliss and only $22.05 at Kohl’s. I bought two boxes since this was such a steal.

Clog Dissolving Cleansing Milk. $28 at Bliss; $12.60 at Kohl’s. I already have one new one waiting in my bathroom cupboard, so I just ordered one of these.

Daily Detoxifying Facial Toner. Another steal: $11.70 versus $26. Again, I doubled up.

While the range of products is extensive, Kohl’s does not carry my favorite Bliss product, Peeling Groovy Serum. Unfortunately, I think Peeling Groovy’s days are numbered, since this is not readily available at Bliss, either.

Kohl’s even offers Bliss cosmetics, which are hard to find. I tried them last year and wasn’t overly impressed by the quality, but I am pretty loyal to Bobbi Brown in the make-up department.

If you’re curious about Bliss or already loyal, check out these deals ASAP, since I’m not sure how long they’ll last.

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Estate Waiting Game

And it’s happening: Fancy Pants Ranch is on the market.

A little background: when Spouse and I were first married – nearly 19 years ago – we lived in an outdated 600 square foot apartment that we jokingly dubbed “Fancy Pants Ranch.”

The name stuck with every place we’ve lived since.

(For my birthday a year or two ago, Spouse had this logo created through an online contest for graphic designers. There were hundreds of entries but this is the one we selected as the winner).

We’ve been in the current iteration of Fancy Pants Ranch since 2008. When we moved to this city, we planned to be here three years (which morphed into nine) and then move on. We’re finally getting around to that plan.

Our house buying process in 2008 was hurried. We needed a place to live. This house was available. It was a new spec house built by a local contractor. After being burned in the past by long, traffick-y commutes (Hello, San Antonio!) and a decrepit old house that was beyond repair (our first stab at home ownership, a tiny brick cottage in Denver, CO, that we owned from 2002-2005), we wanted proximity to work and something new, new, new. 

This fit the bill. Mostly.

For one thing, this house is not really our style. Spouse and I like modern. This is traditional.

Still, we stayed. We have great neighbors. There wasn’t a compelling reason to move to another house in the same city. We’re fundamentally lazy, and let’s face it, moving is a pretty awful process.

But now it’s time to go.

We started by meeting with a realtor about two weeks ago. This was a different realtor than the one who sold us the house in 2008, and that was by choice. We thought our original realtor was nice and did a good job at the time of purchase, but looking back, there were warning signs. For one thing, she drove an old Buick. I don’t know much about being a realtor – and I would love to have realtors chime in – but my cursory study seems to suggest that having a flashy car is important to project success, especially when you spend a lot of time driving clients around in it. Our new realtor has shown up in two different Mercedes on the two visits she’s made to our house. That seems optimistic.

During her first visit, our new realtor informed us that the real estate market is on fire for sellers, we should have already listed our home two weeks ago, and she predicted it would sell for full price in one day.

Then came the pain: we needed to replace several windows ($26,000), and refinish several others ($1800), repaint several rooms ($1000), clean the carpets ($350), buy a new dishwasher ($700), buy a new dryer ($500), mitigate radon (unsure of price tag at this point, and side note: is this a new scam? I swear it is), do some electrical work (price unknown), do some yard work ($2500), find a dog sitter ($20/day), and declutter/deep clean/pack and organize to within an inch of our lives. 

(A word about the window situation, which is really the most disappointing thing: apparently there is a common, well-known problem with houses similar in age to ours, namely that the windows can collect moisture and rot the wood. Our new realtor told us that we narrowly missed the warranty period for the windows – and we are talking either a matter of a few months or possibly even weeks – that may have let us replace them for free. She told us that our original realtor should have clearly informed us about the warranties, etc, which is something we never knew about. This $26,000 oversight is one of the reasons we are not using the original realtor again. Huge sigh).

We were also given a deadline of a little over a week to get things in order. We worked like crazy, hiring painters, carpet cleaners, a home inspector, junk haulers and had two of our college aged nephews over for a weekend of packing and organizing.

We got it done.

The master bedroom closet alone required about 10 hours of sorting, eight plastic totes of clothes and shoes placed in storage, three bags of garbage and two trips worth of donations to Goodwill. 

And here’s what happened: nothing.

The day the listing went live (last Wednesday), I held my breath. Before we left for work, Spouse and I both got sweaty getting everything to the immaculate state that a showing required.

When none materialized, I thought that a weekend sale seemed likely. Friday rolled around. No showings. Saturday dawned. We re-scrubbed and rubbed and prepped the place to perfection, then took the whole crew – dog included – to my mom’s lake place for the weekend, because surely, many interested buyers would be stopping by.

<<< Crickets. >>>

Finally on Sunday afternoon, we got two requests for showings. Both were inconveniently late in the day, but we accepted the times without question and pushed back our return home. The first showing was with our own realtor, showing the house to another client. The second was with a different agency.

On Monday, we had another showing during the day.

<<< More crickets. >>>

On Tuesday, our realtor said that she wanted to have an open house this weekend. We agreed.

We also received feedback that one buyer from Sunday (the one from the other agency) was considering several other houses. The Monday showing said that they were not interested, and that both the husband and wife commented that our master bedroom lacked natural light. Funnily enough (well, actually not funny), Spouse and I had recently had a similar conversation, that this house is too dark. But it’s that old situation where you can complain about something that is uniquely yours (like your family), but when an outsider does it, it stings and makes you defensive.

Here’s where I’m at with this situation right now:

  • Against my better judgment, a big part of me really believed the realtor when she said that the house would sell ASAP. That might sound ridiculous, but I had hope. It made me reflect on the long odds that some of my patients face in trying to build their families, and I thought about something I’ve said to patients many times:

As humans, we need hope to survive. Hope is what keeps us getting out of bed in the morning. Hope keeps us going when times are tough, because eventually we will most likely succeed if we keep moving forward.

And now I desperately need to take my own advice.

  • I can’t believe how much we got done in such short order. Wow. A week – and many extra hands – can work miracles. Everyone should do a mini version of this process every year. Is that what other people describe as spring cleaning? I wouldn’t know.
  • Selling a house is surprisingly expensive. If you’ve been keeping a tally, we’ve spent more than $30,000 to get the house ready. This unplanned expenditure, in the midst of all of the other expenses and challenges we are currently facing, is unwelcome.
  • I’m already sick of the buying and selling process. Like so many things in my life, it’s been humbling. Life lessons always seem to come to me in the not-easiest path.
  • When we move, we are NOT buying a house. I don’t want to feel the pressure to Just Buy NOW that we experienced when we came here. We want to take our time and get it right, even though that means living in a rental for a year or more. And if living in a rental means that I don’t have to wake up 45 minutes early each day to get it in pristine, model-home condition, all the better.

Please wish us luck in selling the Ranch.