Skincare Update


Almost feels like there should be more, right?

Two week update from the last skincare routine post:  I’ve added an acid toner to my ritual (Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid Toner). I use this at night and Nars Skin Multi-Action Hydrating Toner in the morning. My skin feels like it’s kind of improving, but I’m hoping that by paying more attention and developing better habits, I’ll see the results down the road. If anything, I feel a little less overwhelmed by all the options.

Although the Rashida Jones post was the first time I saw Garance’s beauty minute, I hadn’t noticed that it was part of a series. Even better, the ladies that she showcases have all different skin types. Skincare tips for half Maori/half Japanese skin don’t exactly run rampant online. Even so, I’m pleased that I can get inspiration from ladies of all shades.

My next big skin focus will be improving what I eat. Nina Planck’s Real Food: What to Eat and Why was an inspiring/frustrating book about natural foods. I hope that, like the skincare routine, by just going for it I’ll be less intimidated.

Mustache Monday: Lifestyle Inflation

From as far back as I can remember till I was about 21 years old, I couldn’t wait to be a grown up. I imagined all of the adventures I would have and the accomplishments I would gain. I wanted to be a captain of industry. I wanted to travel the world and speak 6 languages. I wanted a lovely home and a lovelier family.

When I reached my early twenties, I did not want to be a grownup at all. I wanted to relax. I wanted to attend every worthwhile concert, watch every great movie, and just hang out with my friends.

The husband and I have worked hard to balance the dreams and the fun with our long term goals. Putting money into savings and accelerating our mortgage does not mean we deprive ourselves of treats or comforts.

I recently read an article MSN Money called Doing Well at $125K but still losing sleep about money. This article and its variations are a recycled topic. I like to call them “The dwindling middle class” articles.

These articles are always pretty tough for me to swallow. When the husband and I were looking at our mountain of debt, the last thing I wanted would have been strangers scolding me for my choices. The big thing that I would say goes back to perception or what I think of as lifestyle inflation.

Is the “beautiful home in Plano” worth it if you’re paying $440/month in utilities, a $2700 mortgage, $700/month in whatever “other home costs” means and still you have a commute where you spend $140/month in gas and tolls?

Also, the article does not break down the $3000/month credit card debt or $700/month student loans (beyond stating they paid down a $100K balance to $21K).

Who’s to say the expenses won’t increase, when the one spouse starts earning an income? I’ve heard so many talk about how much money is spent when kids come into the picture, and I’m sure that’s true to some degree. What makes me suspicious is that these same people are writing these articles, making just getting by seem so bleak and miserable.

I guess what I want to say is that I’m not afraid of the future.

General Women’s Meeting

I am often confronted with the very real lack of who I would like to be. The person I aspire to looks a little like me. She has shinier hair and flawless skin. She never trips over her words and always says the right thing at the right time. She is brave and confident. She is kind and empathetic to others. She extends herself to those in need and doesn’t feel deprived of anything. She is a taller me, both physically and emotionally.

The reality though, the real me is not like that. I try. I fail. I don’t mind most of the time in my failings, the trying is usually enough. When I watched the General Women’s Meeting yesterday, I was so happy, relieved even, to be reminded that the real me is okay. The me that I am, the me that I would like to be.

I was really moved by Sister Neil F. Marriott’s talk. She talked about strengthening our faith, being the kind of person that pushes away the darkness and being a person of truth and light. I was inspired enough to see that person so clearly. She is still not quite the real me, but I feel her closely. I feel that each day I can be more and more like her until I am her or that she is me.

Check out this video on Mormon Messages: You Never Know

Skeleton Twins Review


The lil sis and I watched Skeleton Twins tonight. I was looking forward to it as I wasn’t able to get tickets when it premiered at Sundance. It exceeded my already high expectations. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are Maggie and Milo Dean, siblings that haven’t seen each other in 10 years.

I love these quiet stories. They remind me how often life possesses a certain knack for not being what it’s supposed to be, what a disappointment it can feel like. And with all of that, how precious the connections we have with those people that make life a little less hard, less lonely. An unfailing partner for your lip sync cover band. Skeleton Twins balances the dark and the light themes so well.

The movie was wonderful, but it made me sad and contemplative. I went home and the lil sis nudged me out of my stupor with crispy bacon and a bowl full of carbs.

Is it weird that I immediately attributed it to losing Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy? Yesterday’s show was the first Cristina-less episode and there was a palpable lack in tone.  I’m basically as adrift as Mer is at the end of the episode when she goes for the tequila. As for the other Shondaland shows, I weeped when Abby and Olivia held hands and will wait to comment on How to Get Away With Murder once I figure out what the crap is going on.

TV Boyfriends and Gilmore Girls Glee

Can I just say how squee-fully excited I am about Gilmore Girls coming to Netflix October 1st? Vulture is doing a bunch of posts before this date including: Which Gilmore Girls Boyfriend Was The Best? and The Gilmore Girls Superfan Quiz.

First to the quiz, I’m embarrassed I scored a ‘Luke’. Dang, Vulture. Your Superfan Quizzes do not mess around.

As to the second, thanks to Margaret Lyons I will now be using the term “tough tacos” every chance I get. Reading the Gilmore roundtable made me miss my old roommate as we had similar discussions on this very subject. At the time I was totally Team Jess.

All of my TV boyfriends are OPJs to some degree. I blame this on Joshua Jackson or Pacey Witter aka my first TV boyfriend. The boy quickest to quip. The best banterer. The passionate intellectual. The consummate reader. The sweet gestures that peek through a troubled parentage. It’s like they see me coming.

I admit to major Pacey-Joey-Dawson fatigue, even though Pacey BOUGHT HER A WALL. I much preferred the Andie/Pacey ship where even though they would be relegated to highschool, they brought out the best in each other.

Then, in no particular order, we have Ephram Brown from Everwood, Damon Salvatore from Vampire Diaries, Zane Donovan from Eureka, Peter Bishop from Fringe (Pacey, again!) and Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl. And finally, the original OPJ himself, Logan Echolls, who had me at ‘anthropomorphic’.

For the record, he was Aiden boring, but I would choose Max Medina as the best Gilmore boyfriend. Tough tacos, Luke. I will never forgive you for April (or you Amy Sherman-Palladino).

New Tunes

I vacillate between several listening sources at work when my music library starts to feel a little stale. I’ve included the following go to’s for when I need to keep my energy up or to just drone out office background:

Mustache Monday: Time Value of Money

Like I mentioned last week, the husband and I accumulated debt when we were first married and it took almost three years to completely pay it off. Once that was finished, we were left with the not-terrible-but-still-challenging task of deciding what to do with the money we had previously been shoveling towards debt.

This was when Mr Money Mustache really helped. See, paying debt turned into a kind of game. Little by little, we could see all the credit card balances and loan balances shrink and the feeling excited my little nerd heart. Less excitement came from watching my savings account gain an abysmal <1% interest. What I needed was a why. Why did the idea of no debt leave with me with such a freeing feeling? Why couldn’t I capture that through saving?

Around this time, the idea of FU money started circulating online. I realized walking away, or at least the freedom to walk away from a career or vocation was just the attraction I needed to keep from reverting back to our spendy ways. MMM brought the philosophy and energy that I needed to hear.

We started saving towards a down payment on a house. Once we submitted our first mortgage payment, we made sure we had 20% down. Now we’re in a kind of long range forecast. This is the point in the finance articles and blog posts where it gets a little vague. Everyone has different versions of their own personal FU scenario.

If our calculations are aligned with MMM, it should take the husband and I 15 years to become financial independent. We’re hoping to do it in 10 with the house paid off in 6. We’re making every effort to keep our expenses steady each year and not increase with our incomes. We don’t monitor our expenses as meticulously as in the pants-on-fire days of debt, but we make sure our spending categories on Mint and Personal Capital keep to the average.

Since I feel so “in it”, it can be difficult to see the horizon. To remember the why. But so many times I look around at my life and feel this surge of contentment. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but I can be happy right now.

Goodreads 2014 Challenge

Every year I set out to read 50 books by the end of the year. I open myself up to possible online shaming by posting this goal on Goodreads. I started these challenges in 2011 and have yet to accomplish one once. The failings haven’t hit too hard though. I committed myself to the challenge after I realized that I hadn’t finished one single book over a couple of years.

Since then, my average book reading hovers around 30 each year. The only limitation for the Goodreads tracking is that they don’t include books I’ve already read and I’m a big believer of the reread. 2014 has not exactly been a banner year for reading in the Ria house. Every rationale spills out of my mouth like cheap excuses so I’ll just say my 2014 reading is at 18. Gulp. I am in the middle of several books right now and have over 3 months for redemption from feeling a little less wretched.

An article popped up on my reader via Joy the Baker reminding me why I started the challenge in the first place. Also, every year I invariably fall in love with a new book(s).

Here are the books I’m currently reading:

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: This is a very buzzy book and I adored Donna Tartt’s writing since The Secret History. So far, I am not disappointed.

Dylan Thomas: Collected Poems: My guidelines for “book” are less stringent than just novels and after reading The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas, this felt like a natural next.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: This was September’s book club book and I’ve only read the first page. Oops. Must finish.

Neuromancer by William Gibson: After reading Idoru and Pattern Recognition, I thought I’d be ready for Neuromancer. Nope. I have not given up because I’m stubborn. But 62 pages in and I have no idea what’s going on.

Doctor Who “Listen”

doctor who peter Steven Moffat is like the Doctor. He takes you away from your otherwise dull reality and transports you into something that’s magic. It’s maddening too. Occasionally, erratic. He is cleverer than you, but he lies. You trust in his goodness though. You trust that by choosing you for this adventure, he sees the brilliance in you that you only hope is there. Somewhere.

The trick is that watching Doctor Who can feel like magic and other times you’re reminded that it’s just a television show. No madman exists in a blue box. A curtain pulls back and all you see are blundering plots or a weak tag line disguised as a story.

Last week’s “Listen” revolved around the Doctor and Clara exploring the monster underneath the bed. It turned into an examination of fear. Clara says fear is a companion to us all. Being afraid isolates us. And yet sometimes it reminds us to listen to a kind and familiar voice telling us we are afraid, but we are not lost. We can be strong. We can face the monsters or the darkness. We can be brilliant and clever and more like those people we always thought we could be.

Office Space Ideas

The husband and I moved into our home at the beginning of the year. We were immediately bowled over by the urban style of the main level with its loft ceilings, expansive kitchen and brick wall. When we moved in we poured most of our attention to that space.

Which means the top and bottom levels felt a little unfinished. All of the necessary living stuffs are here, the furniture and major appliances. My books, my record player have homes. I really just need to stop fantasizing about the delicious rooms in Elle Decor. Currently, I am crushing hard on Emily Henderson and Jenny Komenda’s DIY styles. Both ladies are not afraid of color, which is a constant struggle for my neutral default.

There are so many ideas I have and so little time and money that I can devote. For now, I’d like to focus on the office.

My two inspirations are Ikea hacks. The second hack was from Kelli Anderson and I am much too intimidated by it to try to DIY that business. So gorgeous.

My hope is to complete something a bit more satisfying by Christmas. For now, I’m a little too embarrassed to post a Before photo until I have an inkling of an After.