Monthly Archives: November 2012

Used vs New Clothing

I don’t how y’all feel about it, but I’m a big fan of second hand clothing. It keeps things out of the landfill, my money doesn’t have to directly support companies I’m not always a fan of, I get to support local charities and best of all, it’s super cheap! And this normally shopping phobic girl loves finding high quality treasures on the rack that you would never guess aren’t brand new. Most of my clothing purchases since starting grad school, even pajamas, have been at thrift or consignment shops, but I do have a few things I refuse to buy used.

Underwear: I think to most people this is a big “duh.” And while sometimes Goodwill has panties, bras and socks that still have their original price tag, but the ick factor is too high.

Workout Clothes: I’m not talking about old cotton tees and sweats here, which I do occasionally pick up to use as work clothes; I’m talking about fancy wicking “technical” workout clothing. I don’t know about you, but when I look at that stuff, all I think about is sweat and dirt. Not to mention that type of material seems to hang onto body odors despite repeated washings. Smelling myself while working out is bad enough, I don’t want to smell anybody else.


Everyday Shoes: I know there are people who voluntarily buy all their shoes second hand but they must have either better luck or knees and back than I do. I’m a big walker: it’s a rare day when I don’t cover at least three miles, usually five so I need high quality shoes that are comfortable. I’ve found secondhand shoes that meet those requirements exactly twice. Everything else is super cheap or on the point of falling apart. If I find dress shoes with minimal or no wear and tear I’ll buy those, however it’s hard to find them in my freakishly small size.

What’s your policy on used clothes and shoes?


Filed under Style, Thrifting

“I Complete You” November Update

I doubt any of you guys will be surprised to find out that while I used up stuff this month, I added even more to my list. In my defense I only voluntarily added a small amount of products: the rest were totally not my fault.

Up first, the products I used. I liked the cleanser, moisturizer and serum from Riversol: they left my skin soft and clean and didn’t have a heavy perfume smell. If they weren’t so ridiculously expensive, I’d consider using them again. Next up was something more in my budget: the Eucerin lotion which lived up to it’s promise of being good for extremely dry skin and fragrance free. The Arbonne foot cream was effective, but buying a full size would involve interacting with home sales ladies and is way more than I’d spend on lotion. Finally, I love love love the Cud-Zu Goat Farm soap. I used to buy this stuff when I lived in North Carolina and right now I have my fingers crossed that my mother will stick another bar in my Christmas stocking next month.

Now, I confess that I willingly signed up for the Target Beauty Bag and I solemnly swear that I will use up these products soon!

Then I pet sat for a friend for free one weekend so she could go to a fancy benefit with her mother. Her mother went a little crazy on the silent auction and insisted on sending a gift basket to share with me. Among a variety of pampering products, there were a number of things that definitely count as products and they’re full sized. Oops!

At least my addiction leaves me clean and fresh smelling?

Anyways, for the entire (and newly expanded) “I Complete You” Product Challenge list, check it out on its own page!

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Filed under I Complete You

Pantry Staples

Last night I reached into my vegetable drawer only to find a pile of yuck: apparently something rotted and decided to take everything thing else out with it. However after some gagging and making faces I got to work making dinner with kitchen staples. Fortunately, long ago I realized that my life was easier if I always had certain foods in my kitchen so that I always have a Plan B.

Grains: brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, popcorn

Proteins: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, eggs, raw almonds (freezer), cheddar and mozzarella cheeses (freezer)

Vegetables: onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, carrots, celery, frozen spinach, frozen broccoli

With these ingredients, some cooking oil and a few spices, I can come up with a healthy meal or snack from almost any culture in no time.

What are your kitchen staples?

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Filed under House and Garden

Salsa Soup

So last week, I managed to celebrate with food every single day and there are still leftovers in my fridge. This week I wanted some kind of dish that might use up some of those leftovers, would be nice and light but still warm and filling on cold (for NorCal) fall nights. I came up with this all from my kitchen staples, which happens tastes great and is good for you. However, just to ease myself back into this health food thing, I added a blob of sour cream, but nonfat Greek yogurt would also be tasty. And for the record, this would be really easy to throw in the crockpot for later.

Salsa Soup

  • 4 cups cooked pinto beans or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups corn
  • 1 box frozen spinach or 1 bag baby spinach

Combine beans, broth, salsa and onions in a soup pot. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until onions are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in corn and spinach and cook until hot, about 5 minutes. Serves 6.


Filed under Recipe

An Un-Black Friday

I hope all of my American readers had a great Thanksgiving! I spent a great afternoon with friends eating a delicious homemade dinner (that I didn’t have to make!) and watching an 80s movie marathon. Tonight I’m co-hosting a second Thanksgiving dinner for all our medical/veterinarian friends who worked yesterday. The crack pie is in the oven, later on I’ll be making some sides, including the classic green bean casserole made entirely from canned foods.

As for Black Friday, I’ve been stalking a pair of boots for 2 months now and last night with various Black Friday discounts, I scored them online for half off. Other than that, I’m staying away from shopping this holiday season. I’ve got homemade or second hand gifts for my family and plan on baking cookies for everybody else.

Did any of you brave the chaos or crowds to score a great deal?

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Filed under Checking-In

November 19 Weekly Update

Hey guys! Sorry about the disappearing act: let’s just say I over extended myself a little bit. Last weekend for the long weekend I went to book club, girls night out, painted my living room and went on a pumpkin marathon with some friends: we made pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin syrup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. All this before a ridiculous work week and organizing a cocktail party.

This Saturday I ran a half marathon in high winds and pouring cold rain then threw myself a birthday party and paraded around in stilettos tonight. Not surprisingly I spent Sunday on the couch in my pj’s watching old movies and reruns of Gilmore Girls, but it was totally worth it.


Spending: I might have gone a little overboard with food and drinks for my party but nothing that I didn’t budget for. I could have made the celebration a potluck or done something more low key, but a girl only turns 30 (!) once and I love to entertain.

Gifts!: I definitely didn’t make money this week, but my very sweet friends brought me lots of fun presents. Clearly they know me well since it mostly consisted of old vine zinfandels and proseccos (California has turned me into a wine snob) and Starbucks gift cards. However, my favorite gifts might have been the set of tea cups decorated with the chemical structure of caffeine and the enormous wine glass covered with zebra stripes and rhinestones and emblazoned with the words “Wine Diva.” Now I’m a little worried that my friends only think of me as an alcoholic caffeine fiend but, hey, that’s what grad school does to a girl.


For my writing class I have to do a conference-style presentation in two weeks and hand in a journal style article a week after that. Since I will be presenting this at a conference in January and hope to submit the article to a real journal around the same time I’m working hard to make this as polished and presentable as possible now. In the meantime I’m trying to wrap up loose ends on the project I’m stepping down on so I can hand it over to somebody else.

Health and Fitness

I ran a half marathon and set a personal record! Not bad for not having trained nearly enough. I think the cruddy weather conditions pushed me on because I just wanted the race to be over so I could dry off and warm up. While I’m doing great on the cardio front, I looked at the pictures from the party and it was a harsh realization that I still have got to lose some weight.

I’m feel a little disheartened about my weight and frustrated with myself since I post goals here every week and never meet them. I eat really healthy meals, but fall apart with too many “treats”, typically desserts and alcohol. And heading into the holiday season those treats are going be around more than ever. Any suggestions?


Lunches: Brown rice, black beans, salsa and guacamole for the work days.

Suppers: Between more birthday celebrating and multiple Thanksgivings, I’ll be at other people’s homes for dinner every single night this week.


Filed under Checking-In, Goals

Lavender Neck Roll

When I was a kid, my mother had a lavender neck roll: a long skinny pillow filled with rice and lavender. When you had a headache, she would put it in the microwave then wrap it around your neck. It was perfect for soothing tense muscles and the smell was heavenly. It was also fantastic for keeping you warm on a chilly winter’s evening, so one of my brothers and I would fake headaches to be able to use it. Since I’m prone to headaches, I decided to buy one for myself. However, everything I found online was at least $20, which thought was a bit much. So, I decided to dig through my stash of fabric and come up with my own version. Fortunately I have a ton of lavender from my garden this summer. Don’t have access to lavender or don’t like it? Use another herb, like chamomile or mint, or infuse your rice with the essential oil of your choice.


  • 30 in by 9 in strip of fabric (flannel would be fabulous here)
  • 2x 9 inch piece of cotton webbing
  • 7 cups of rice or rice/herb mixture
  • needle, thread and straight pins

Start with a 30 in by 9 in piece of fabric.

Fold long ways so good side faces inward, pin long raw edges together, and mark 1/4 in.

Sew along that edge, then turn right side out and fold the edges of one of the short ends inward.

Tuck in the ends of one piece of webbing and sew them down while closing the end of the tube. You could probably leave the webbing off, but I like it because this thing gets really hot.

Next fill the tube with your rice mixture. I went with almost half and half rice and lavender, and it’s pretty powerful, which I love. You don’t want to completely stuff the pillow, because you want it to be able to curve around your neck.

Close the other short end by repeating the steps above.

Now that your neck roll is done, simply pop it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes and enjoy. These things make great presents. I actually made two and sent one to my sister for her birthday and she loves it!




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Filed under DIY