Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Happy New Things

Mindy Kaling used to have a blog called Things I Bought That I Love and that's pretty much what's happening here. After buttoning down on all spending in April and May (and slicing our average credit card bills in half for both months, which helped substantially in balancing out the sudden closure of the swim school during that time), I loosened up a little in June and searched out a few things I'd had on my window shopping list for a few months.

Online Shopping Helpers

Jeans: It's been years since I had a pair of dark denim jeans that were comfortable and fit well (and were long enough!!) and I decided to make it my June mission. I tried pairs from Old Navy, Target, and Amazon and these were my top two:
- Signature by Levi Pull-On Skinny Jeans, Size 4-Long, Amazon, $24. These were great and came highly recommended in my law mom group. Unfortunately, to fit me correctly in the hips (and thus, stay up and not create what James lovingly refers to as my fabric hip flaps) they dug in more in my belly than I prefer for my stay-at-home life, so I sent them back. But I highly recommend them to anyone who isn't built like an upside down triangle!
- Women's Low-Rise Jegging Jeans, Size 4-Long, Target, $25. Ultimately my wider waist and super narrow hips led me to this now elusive pair of low-rise jeans (oh yes, bringing the 90's back!). I like them a lot (though I could do with a little more length; always), but they're pretty true to size and very comfortable. These are my new jeans.

Tees: Now that I live at home and wear pajamas almost all the time I decided I needed a couple basic tees in my wardrobe (something I weirdly didn't have? I have exercise tanks, dressy/work shirts, and SPF tees, but I was lacking the basic "I can wear this in front of other people but it also could be pj's" type of t-shirt). I tried Target but didn't love theirs.
- Amazon Essentials Classic Fit Crew-Neck Tee, Amazon, 2 for $16. These from Amazon are perfection. I think they run slightly large, so the small is a perfect "fitted but not tight" fit on me (normally I'd look to a Medium for that). I bought the white + navy pack and the dark grey + lilac. I'm wearing one right now (I should note that I started this draft a week ago but I am in fact wearing one again now as I type).

Kimono cardigan: Yes! I have ventured out in a HUGE stay-at-home chic kind of way. I have purchased and worn a kimono and I lurve it. It's so light and airy and pretty and I wear it with my new t-shirts! Because I have t-shirts now and can layer it under something! It is light and airy and pretty and makes jean shorts and a t-shirt look very stylish on a video call. I also have a navy swim suit I can wear it with by the pool or beach. All in all I'm very pleased with what felt like a big leap in my wardrobe choices.

Kitchen Tools: I cook a LOT and realized I was reaching over some things in my kitchen drawer every time in order to get my hands on other, somewhat worn out items. So I cleaned out the drawer and got rid of a few things I just never used and replaced 2-3 things that I used constantly and were showing their wear. So I purchased:
- Blender, Costco, $70. I was re-stocking our freezer and pantry at Costco two weeks ago when I realized we didn't own a blender AND I was never going to get to drink a frozen margarita in a restaurant again, so this little guy found its way into my cart/heart. It blends ice very well and makes margaritas that almost make me think I'm not at home when I drink them.
- OXO Flat Wire Whisk, Amazon, $8. Love this thing for a pan sauce and my old cheap one had separated from its handle a year ago.
- Offset Spatula, Crate & Barrel, $8. One of my faves, my old one had a painted handle that started flaking off.
- Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer, Amazon, $16 (with Cut-Resistant Gloves, Amazon, $10). A totally new item for me and it is SO fun. I now keep a glass container of sliced raw veggies in the fridge at all times that the kids snack on like chips.

What are your favorite kitchen tools? I also love my metal flex turner spatula, medium-size cookie scoop, Silpat pan liners, garlic press, big flexible spatulas.

Baking Dishes: Similar to the cooking tools I emptied my cabinets and evaluated my baking and casserole dishes, donating a few I just don't use and purchasing these two new ones:
- Extra Large Potluck Baking Dish, Crate and Barrel, $37. We eat a LOT and I 1.5x or 2x every single recipe. Now I can mostly bake our meals in one big dish instead of dividing it between two. I also like the lid as an option instead of using foil I just throw away.
- Silpat Silicone Muffin Tray, Williams Sonoma, $50. My biggest splurge on a tough day of working and momming. I love baking but my loathing for cleaning out muffin tins is matched only by my children's love of eating muffins. I adore my Silpat baking pan liners and was overwhelmed with joy upon spotting this little miracle worker. Now I can bake all the muffins, grease nothing, pop them out when they're done, and toss this on the top rack of our dishwasher on top of the cups. WINNING.

Books: None of my authors are publishing new things which is killing me (Kresley Cole and Larissa Ione WHERE ARE YOU??), but I re-read every single Ilona Andrews book and I continue to just adore all of them.
- Nalini Singh put out a new one in her Changeling series (Alpha Night) which I appreciated very much.
- I really like Jeaniene Frost's spin-off series about Ian and Veritas and re-read the two she's published so far.
- I adored Sarah Maas's Throne of Glass series and enjoyed the Court of Thorns and Roses series (I didn't like that one as much as Throne of Glass? Loved the two main characters, particularly the male lead, and loved the side characters, but hated the initial main male character and that whole relationship; the series isn't finished though so maybe it will grow to be as great for me as ToG did).
- Gena Showalter had a semi-new book in her Lords of the Underworld series that was fun, but maybe not as great as the earlier books (a theme, I often find).
- I even dipped a toe back in my OG historical romance with some Lisa Kleypas and Sarah Maclean. Nora Roberts finished her The One trilogy which was better than most of what she's published in the last decade (she has some older books I still adore) but I thought book 3 wasn't nearly as good as books 1 and 2.
- I also re-read a bunch of Patricia Briggs and the latest Mercy Thompson book which was good, though she's re-treading some plot lines too.

So if you have a book, author, or preferably a long juicy series you recommend please let me know! Magic, action, paranormal elements, smart characters and dialogue, and amazing world-building HUGE pluses.

On a different literary note I bought this book for Claire a few weeks ago after some anxiety issues were ballooning beyond her (and my) ability to cope and it was really wonderful: What to Do When You Worry Too Much. We worked through a chapter a night, one time through with James, and then again with me and it opened a lot of conversations and gave great terminology and ways to re-frame and manage anxiety. It was maybe slightly young for her at a mature age 10, but still very relevant and she really liked working through it with both of us.

We continue to work on the master bedroom and I can't wait for the whole project to be done, though now that the swim school is back open, I'm not sure when James will have time to paint the walls and ceiling. My work also gave us a telework stipend and I used mine to buy an office chair and inexpensive desk that just arrived today. No more folding table and dining room chair and no more blocking our bedroom's french doors to the patio that have been inaccessible since March. My new desk should fit in the corner by his side of the bed and allow us to function a little more normally in what is now the new normal.

(Also normal: these two sleeping next to me while I work, often facing opposite directions.)

Have you bought anything that you love? Have any books to recommend? I would still love a pair of comfortable lounge pants that I could wear comfortably while seated all day (alllll day) but also wear outside on a Maggie pee break without it looking like I'm in pajamas. Frankly lately I find leggings too restricting. Similarly, I'm in the market for a comfortable, wireless bra that is similar to a non-tight sports bra with light padding and support. Something like this, I think? But in a nude color offering and comfortable for a 34DD. Like the desk and chair taking a permanent spot in my bedroom, this is my new daily normal, so I might as well embrace a new wardrobe for it. And maybe wrap up those pretty but constricting work clothes hanging in my closet in plastic or something...

(*Blogger note: I'm getting hit with a HUGE amount of spam comments. Deeply inappropriate disturbing spam comments that James happened to read over my shoulder last night and was like holy crap wtf is that. I have no idea how to stop them, but disallowing Anonymous comments has seemed to help. So if you were someone who preferred to comment without logging in to google or blogger, I am deeply sorry that you can no longer do so, but until I understand more about blogger, and perhaps the internet generally (oy; it's all pure magic to me), I don't know how else to get out of this spam pool I seem to be in.)


  1. I did a round of similar purchases in April, and re-bought a few items in other colors because I loved them.

    First, Aerie real soft joggers. They're shaped like flattering sweatpants with a fold down waist, but are very thin. They will likely be too short for you, but you can pull them up to under your knees for capri length. They're way more breathable than leggings! And $26!

    Also from Aerie - seamless chill padded bralette, $18. The fabric is more soft than a lot of others, and it has just enough padding for nip coverage, but not terraforming.

  2. Book rec: Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. The series on Starz/Netflix is great too.

    1. I was just going to suggest Outlander. Bonus for multiple very LONG books.

  3. Bitten (otherworld series)

  4. For cozy clothes, I really like the Stars Above line from Target! I have the “Beautifully Soft Leggings” but wouldn’t really call them leggings, they’re very soft and more like slim fit, very thin sweatpants.

  5. I would second Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series. I'm on a reread and it holds up from when I started reading it 15 years ago. I lost interest in Darynda Jone's Grave series but her new series that starts with A Bad Day for Sunshine was really good. I don't think I've seen you mention Faith Hunter and I have loved her Jane Yellowrock series as well as the Soulwood series (you'll want to start with Jane Yellowrock as there will be spoilers for Soulwood). Kalayna Price's Alex Craft series is something I'd get from the library rather than buy but is fun and pretty breezy. And finally, it isn't paranormal but we like a lot of the same things, so let me put in a plug for Sherry Thomas's Lady Sherlock series. It is a historical mystery series but it's phenomenal.

  6. These might lean too close to pjs but I have a similar pair and they are great https://athleta.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=447244002&vid=1&tid=atpl000037&kwid=1&ap=7&gclid=Cj0KCQjw0rr4BRCtARIsAB0_48NLyTpp3YS9XWBb4z7NAUBqSJDlucCJroqfNl9_SyODbPE17RRf2s0aAnTyEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds#pdp-page-content

  7. Hi! I’ve been reading your posts forever via RSS, and it seems like you have truncated your feed now? I wanted to let you know in case it was a mistake; I am guessing I am not the only person who reads via RSS. I’ll almost certainly continue to read all your posts by clicking to your live site, but it does mean an extra step and given that you’re (probably) not relying on traffic numbers for advertisers it is a little bit more inconvenient. I also wanted to say thank you for writing your blog; I have three kids as well (my youngest ias 12) and am amazed at your kids’ energy and activity. I’ve gotten a ton of great recipes from you and very much enjoy your thoughts on life in general, especially during the past few months and years of our currrent catastrophe.

  8. Books:
    N.K. Jemisin- awesome WOC author
    Chloe Neill- Chicagoland vampires series, attorney in the midwest who writes vampire books too
    Christelle Dabos, the Mirror Visitor Quartet, warning, only two are translated from French so far.

  9. I was going to say, I hope you’re not wearing jeans while you wth. So uncomfortable!! Get some joggers. I got a pair from lululemon last year and the fabric is so soft and stretchy and they are very flattering. Do not be afraid to size up (this is a thing for you)! Normally I am a 4-6 but I had to get an 8 in this pant so it was loose enough not to give me camel toe. Athleta also has this style For less $, and I’ve been thinking of trying them.

    Agree fully on the amazon basics tees. They are outstanding.

  10. Sorry that should say wfh (shame on me for typing without my glasses)!

  11. I am going to try the Amazon basics tees, as I also need t-shirts.
    Someone above mentioned the Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill. I started on those this spring and like them a lot. The only thing that annoys me is that the later books are still $12.99, which is really too much for an e-book from 2013. Oh, and Seressia Glass's Shadow series is one I recently discovered that I'm really liking.

  12. I loved the Kelley Armstrong Bitten series, all of them. For a really comfy wireless bra, try the Knix Evolution bra. I bought one and was an instant convert.

  13. I have the True and Co bras. I know they have a line at Target but I bought them from the brand before they did and they are life. They are so comfy. I wear them basically all the time because they are so good!!! I am so sorry to hear you were getting tons of spam comments. That is the worst! Thanks for continuing to bring joy and happiness to my life by blogging.

    1. Should add I'm the same bra size and they work!

  14. Highly recommend Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings saga - there are at least 15 books in there, mostly grouped into trilogies. Start with the Farseer Trilogy (Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin's Quest) and then there's an ideal reading order that you can Google. So good!

  15. I loved This is How you Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone, and also The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. Both were not what I normally read but were amazing reads and stuck with me for a long time. I tend to read 150+ books a year, in addition to being a part-time grad student/mom/WFH, and those are still my top books of the year so far even after all the other reading I've done.

    1. I second The House in the Cerulean Sea! I read it on my Kindle and then immediately bought my 12 year old a copy for her birthday- it's a sweet, delightful story that hits so hard during this crazy time!

  16. Love seeing what items people use often and love. The Instagram account Things I Bought and Loved is my favorite!! I am also taking the plunge in some work from home pieces that are comfortable as well as presentable.

  17. I really like The Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet. It’s a trilogy full of magic, romance, found family and lots of girl power feels.

  18. I splurged on two pairs of Vuori joggers this spring, and they are amazingly soft and comfortable!

  19. I love my Vuori joggers for all-day WFH, but admittedly they're a splurge item. Also this bra: Aerie Real Sunnie Wireless Lightly Lined Bra (from ae.com)

  20. Yay, for book posts! Last summer I went though a big list of yours and I did more reading than I’ve done since having kids (10,12 🤣) and I’ve found myself going back for the Psy/Changeling series to take breaks from real life news, currently. Have you read the Parasol Protectorate series? It’s quite fun, especially in audiobook format.

  21. Third ing the vuori joggers. Be careful though...I got addicted to many of their products. Worth the splurge though if one can afford it.

  22. I love book talk!

    I saw Kelley Armstrong mentioned above a few times- her Omen's series is fantastic, so I'd add that to your list!

    If you're OK with gay romance (although these books are not explicit at all), check out the Wolfsong series by TJ Klune, they'll gut you. It's a 4 book series - the 4th and last book is being published in Oct. This series was recommended to me numerous times by the fantastic folks at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and I put them off forever and now I'm mad I sat on this for so long.

    Happy reading!

    1. Just thought of another author - Taylor Jenkins Reid. She doesn't do fantasy or action or really any other genre I usually read - but her books are *good*. Like ignore your kids, have 'em eat cereal for dinner good.

  23. Very interested in your bra findings!

  24. Really enjoyed "Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts" recently! Takes place in Boston, is a mystery, and has a touch of the paranormal. Very fun read!

  25. Athleta Farallon pants or the Trekkie joggers are great. Also the Athleta linen pants! Love them (and the Cabo linen shorts, but size way down).

    Soma sells a bra line called Embliss. I’m a 36B, so I’m not sure it’s great for larger breasts, but it probably is. They are so comfy, and like wearing a sports bra but one that isn’t uncomfortable all day.

  26. I find myself in the same respectable tee shirt situation! Workout clothes and work clothes with nothing in between. My bottoms are pretty much in the same dire straits - I rotate between 2 pairs of shorts on hot days, and a pair of yoga pants and sweat pants on cooler days (both which are about 9 years old). I'm afraid I don't have any bra suggestions because, well, I've just stopped wearing one. My only video meetings are court hearings, so I put on a real blouse and blazer over my grungy bottoms and take them off as soon as we're done. Overall I'd rather work in the office, but I don't miss any of my work clothes!

  27. This bra from Soma is everything https://www.soma.com/store/product/Enbliss-Wireless-Bralette/570222599?color=345&CMP=csc_goog_pla&gclid=EAIaIQobChMImMqN3KfT6gIVZOW1Ch1FzQrREAQYBSABEgLl1vD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

  28. Based on the authors you like, I feel like you might enjoy Seanan McGuire, especially the Incryptid Series (starts with Discount Armageddon) and the October Daye (starts with Rosemary and Rue) series.

  29. Aerie has some awesome comfy bralette options, many with DD options. Even in the padded ones, the padding is removable if that's not your thing. This one is my favorite, but definitely check out the others. https://www.ae.com/us/en/p/aerie/bralettes/classic-strap-bralettes/aerie-eyelash-lace-plunge-bralette/1697_2664_395?nvid=pdp%3A1697_2664_097?menu=cat4840006

  30. Ok, I second the whole Where In The World Is Kresley Cole thing. I having been waiting for the last Arcana Chronicles for forever!!

    But I have lots of recs for you:

    1. The Elemental Witch/The Coven series by Chandelle LaVaun (and subsequent series) - Upper YA with a great story and fabulous side characters.

    Adult books:
    2. Rylee Adamson Series by Shannon Mayer
    3. The Desert Cursed Series by Shannon Mayer
    4. K.F. Breene - Demon Days, Vampire Nights Series
    5. Zodiac Academy Series - Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti
    6. The Sundance Series - J. P. Rider
    7. The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy by Hailey Edwards (And the follow-up Potentate of Atlanta series which isn't finished yet)
    8. Linsey Hall - basically all of them. I started in the middle unknowingly, but then went back to read them all.

    If you are ok with Reverse Harem, I love:
    1. Curse of the Gods Series by Jayne Washington and Jaymin Eve
    2. The Dark Side Series by Kristy Cunning
    3. Cupidity Series by Raven Kennedy
    (Raven's Pack of Misfits Series is also fun, but only at 3 books right now)
    4. The Lost Sentinel Series by Ivy Asher

    Contemporary Romance:
    1. Start with Mister McHottie by Pippa Grant and then just keep going with all the books that she writes in that world/series. It gets better and better. The characters (especially the females) are too good and I laughed so hard.
    2. Bootleg Springs Series by Claire Kingsley and Lucy Score
    3. Shortcake by Lucy Watson
    4. Author Mariana Zapata - I think my favorite is "Wait For It", but I have loved all of her books so far. I have read them all at least twice, which is saying something.
    5. Stroked Series by Meghan Quinn (It's about swimmers, I think you'd like it)

  31. I loved Harry‘s Trees and just started Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series- her writing is smart!

  32. Have you read Uprooted? It is so good. Also recommend Broken Earth series, Bear and Nightingale trilogy, and Daevabad Trilogy. All are women authors.