Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How did this become such a mess?

I never thought that buying a house would be simple or straightforward, but each passing second feels like I'm standing in front of a firing squad, wondering if this shot will finally be the one that makes contact. Will it be the bank or the seller's that deal the final blow? Who knows, but at this point, I'm sick of being blindfolded and metaphorically shot at.

We applied for pre-approval for a home loan on June 10th, almost three weeks ago. They told us seven to ten business days. So, after waiting and hoping for seven business days, a loan processor person got in touch with us. She told us that we would have an answer by that Friday, the two week mark.
Friday came and went and no news. By Saturday morning, we started to worry so we called our loan officer. He told us flat out that we were 99% approved and they just needed the official paperwork and it was in the mail. If no one got in touch with us by Monday at 3PM, call him.

Like clockwork, 3PM on Monday came and went and no word. We tried to call the loan officer and he wouldn't pick up. We tried to get a hold of him for two days and absolutely nothing. Then, come Wednesday, we got an email from the loan processor, one week after she first got a hold of us and told us two days. She sent us a long list of paperwork she needed and, oh yeah, she needed it by tomorrow. Oh, and to make things more fun, it was ALL stuff we'd given our loan officer. After frantically finding tax papers that Dan had apparently hidden before leaving for his business trip (yep, handling all this by myself) and sneaking into the print room at work to scan them, writing an explanation letter as to why we did not in fact live at that address because if you used your eyes you'd see that the same address was listed three lines down without the typo, and five other things, it's officially been declared ridiculous. If we weren't so far into the process with both our time and money, we'd walk away from this debacle, but it's too late now. If we don't get approved, I can't imagine attempting this whole damn thing again.

Add to the perfect storm: putting an offer in on a house. There's been this one house we've had our eye on and since the loan approval was supposed to come through last Friday, we got more serious about putting in an offer. And when Dan's business trip popped up and we heard from our realtor that two other people were interested, we decided we needed to put in an offer ASAP. Our realtor reassured us that, even though the pre-approval wasn't technically finished, it wouldn't really be necessary until a prcie was settled.

Even though it's an amazing house, the owner's are very attached to it and have overpriced it by about $70,000. We made an offer $15,000 below what it's worth to open lines of communication and to see how serious they were about selling. Our realtor told us that unless the counter-offer was at least $40,000 lower, the seller wasn't really serious about our offer.

We got the counter-offer today.

Only $17,000 lower.

We weren't prepared for that. I don't think it's fully sunk in. We might not get this house. We might not buy this house. I knew we'd only be able to make an offer on a house we were in love with, but this just seems cruel now.

We plan on making a counter-offer, but at this point, it wouldn't be realistic to expect them to come down much more.

So I stand here now, blind, wondering what will be thrown at me next and if the hit will be fatal this time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Best Saved By the Bell Circle

It all started when Justin Bieber wore a Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen) shirt to the MuchMusic awards in Canada.

Image Courtesy of Hollywood Gossip

So then Kelly Kapowski replied with this tribute:

Image Courtesy of New York Mag

 Well, Screech (Dustin Diamond) couldn't be left out of all the fun...

Image Courtesy of The Frisky

And it's not a party until AC Slater (Mario Lopez) gets in on it...

Image Courtesy of Buzzfeed

To top them all, Mr. Belding even pulled in people who weren't involved 

Image Courtesy of The Frisky

It makes me so happy. Now, if only Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Elizabeth Berkeley get in on it, I think my universe would explode.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Update: Garage Sale Pile

After two days of nagging, my wonderful husband finally started to pull the things he wanted to keep out of the guest room. Once we started going through the piles of clutter we had thrown in that room, there was actually a lot of stuff we decided to hang on to. The justifications went something like this:

"Well, once we move, we might actually have cabinet space for a wok..."

"A butterfly chair may come in handy when we have a housewarming party at our new house..."

"I bet we could get some money for those lamps on Craig's List..."

After forcing a rule that anything that stayed had to have a place to go, the room is finally clean! Just in time for the in-laws later in the week.




I'm glad to have conquered the room, but now I just keep finding random crap around the house that Dan has migrated. I guess everything is technically "put away", but they are sure in some weird spots.

It's a Ridiculously Small World After All

My sister has always had more style than me. Fashion, home decor, you name it, she's got a better eye.

Over the last couple of weeks, especially with the focus on moving into our own house, I've been trying to develop my eye for style. With a relatively free Saturday morning, the vintage stores were calling my name. I took my camera and planned just a reconnaissance mission. If there was a chair or lamp I couldn't live without, I'd just go back during the week when my husband is away on a business trip so he couldn't say no (I'm a horrible person).

Since my eye isn't that strong, I hit up my sister's favorite places. First stop, Razzle Dazzle. While Razzle Dazzle is great for vintage clothing, their furniture selection has been lacking since they moved. There just isn't the space, I suppose. After wandering for twenty minutes, I'd drooled over a lot of costume jewelry but no pieces of furniture.

My second store was one I'd never actually been to before. I've driven past Copper Country for years and never stopped in . My sister swears by it though so I figured it might be worth a shot. After wandering the outside trying to find the front door, I literally gasped when I walked inside. This place was

 GIGANTIC!

I felt so inspired as I gaped at almost everything. This store was amazing. It actually had a full size T-Rex skull cast. 


This place was astounding. The selection was not only incredible, but everything was in relatively good quality. And the prices were reasonable. I hate when you fall in love with a piece and it costs $1000+. 

Although it was my plan just to look, I walked out with an endtable. When you find a two-tiered solid wood endtable for $15, you don't walk away from that. 


And apparently the entire aisle was 10% off, so it only cost me $14.73. With a good sanding and a fresh coat of paint (which I have a coupon for), it'll look gorgeous in our new house, wherever that will be. I found quite a few additional pieces that I may take Dan back to see.




Once I got home, I went to their website, originally hoping to find a menu for the restaurant in the middle of the antique mall (yes, this store is so huge that it houses a restaurant in the center). Although there was no menu, I was clicking around the rest of the site, hoping to find images of some of their inventory, and I clicked on a tab titled "Real Estate". 

First of all, why an antique mall's website has a real estate tab, I don't know. But when I clicked the tab, I was suddenly staring down a picture of my high school French teacher! He became a realtor my senior year of high school and left being a teacher behind. He and I never really got along since language is not my forte so it was more than a little creepy to be surprised by his face.

I'm always shocked by the people who come back into my life. It's never the people I would expect to come back around. Tucson is really a large city with a small town feel. In a city of over a million, somehow, everyone knows everyone else.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Guess who came to dinner?!

While I was making dinner tonight, I looked out into the backyard and saw something moving. My eyes focused on the movement.

"Turtle!" I shouted. I ran for my shoes and by the time I made it to the spot where I could have sworn I saw him, he was gone. After a couple of frantic seconds of searching and wondering how a turtle outran me, I found him hiding under a bush, against the back wall.


I love Turtle. A Desert Tortoise is an awesome pet for me. I researched plants that they like to eat and landscaped the backyard with them, we built a house for him out of cinder blocks and dirt, and he sleeps for six months out of the year. 


Although it's June and he should have been awake for a couple of months now, I've only seen him a handful of times. I worry about him quite a lot so the fact that he's popped up twice in the last week is a huge comfort to me.

I'll feel like a much better momma once the rains come and he cleans up a bit. I don't have the heart to spray him with the hose.

Fan of Friday: Week of 6/24/2011

Bangles!

If you were to look at my collection of jewelry, you’d probably assume that I’m fairly fluent in accessories. I’ve got dozens of necklaces, three racks full of earrings, and a handful of bracelets. Things like hats, belts, and scarves are slowly starting to multiply in my wardrobe, but that’s still got a ways to go (my goal this weekend is to find some place to wear the big, floppy hat I inherited from my little sister).

Anyway, even though I’ve got all kinds of jewelry, it all falls into two categories: stuff that looks exactly the same that I know how to wear and the pretty stuff people gave to me that I have no idea how to wear. The only three necklaces I wear are pendants with an aqua stone dangling off a silver chain. My wrists are usually nude because a watch or bracelet would interfere with working at my laptop all day. Although my collection of dangly earrings is huge, I wear the same pair of rhinestones, unless I get crazy and switch them out for some cheap, “silver” hoops.

I’ve become very aware of how little I wear my jewelry when I moved in with Dan. I have almost half a dozen jewelry racks or boxes, but the accessories I decorate myself with never really change.

My strategy has been three fold: cleaning out the jewelry that I have never worn and will never wear, planning my outfits the night before based on an accessory, and expanding the collection with accessories that can go with almost any outfit. While I love my R2D2 watch and my teapot necklace, it takes severe forethought to include them in an outfit (and tends to be impossible to do for work).

While the cleaning still has work to do, which will have to get done before Thursday when the in-laws visit for the first time since I’ve moved in, the outfit planning has been going great. My outfit today is very cute, mostly functional, and I’m quite proud of myself. (I didn’t wear those shoes to work, but ideally I would have at least worn it with a cute pair of sandals. Ahh, the joys of being an engineer and not being able to wear sandals in the lab…).


Thirdly, I went on a bit of a spree at Forever 21. They had sets of bangles and I thought to myself, “I could pull of bangles.” And I do, usually at my desk when I’m working, but I do put them back on when I get up. Anywho, I bought a pack in silver, gold, and some that are pastel enamel. I feel so fancy when I wear them. I can throw them on with jeans or my Calvin Klein thrift store dress that I wear to weddings. And I tinkle! Like a fairy!

So I know people have been wearing bangles for decades now, but I just found them and I LOVE them. (Sidenote: how does anyone spend like $100 a bangle? The ones I got from Forever 21 were $4.80 for a dozen. I can’t imagine blowing $1200 on bangles.) These are the ones I bought, in both silver and gold, but I couldn’t find the gold ones. I couldn’t find a picture of the enamel ones either, but these are pretty close. 

Image courtesy of Forever 21


Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to: Organize a Bookcase

My big task for the week, in addition to finally cleaning out the guest room and mailing out the last of the thank you notes from the wedding (I know it’s been four months, don’t judge me), was to organize the bookshelf in the living room. I’d bought it for my closet at my apartment because I had a weird three foot long segment that was only eight inches deep due to the electrical box being on the opposite side of the wall. This bookshelf I found at Ikea was the perfect fit, so I took my first Ikea roadtrip up to Phoenix to pick it up.


Image courtesy of Ikea

The only way it would fit in the car was to lay it in the front seat so I slept curled up under it in the back seat the entire drive home.

I was so excited once we set it up in my closet. I finally had a place to put my Buddha collection, my picture frames, and the few novels I wasn't storing at my parent’s house.

Once I moved in with Dan, the bookcase kind of became an afterthought. We put it in the living room because it was the only place with the extra wall space and the picture frames and knickknack migrated to different parts of the house. It became a sad, empty shell of what it was to me.

But I had one shining light: all my books that I’d hauled out of my childhood bedroom. I was so excited to load up my bookcase, but I didn’t know where to start because an ugly, poorly organized bookcase isn’t something I want to see first thing I come home every day. So here are the strategies I found:

Pick out the objects you want the put on the shelves
Don’t just throw things on the shelves you have sitting around. Organize a pile of the things you’d like on the shelves. Mine is mostly my Nancy Drew books, picture frames, and my favorite knickknacks. This will also help in determining the look of the space. Do you want it to be clean and minimalistic with only a handful of special objects with a common thread? Do you want it to be a hodge-podge of your favorite pieces? Do you want to show off a collection?

Determine the height of the shelves or the height of the objects
My bookcase is nice because the shelf height can be adjusted. If you can, move the shelves so they best frame the objects you want to put on them. You don’t want to cast a shadow on the shelf below because they are too close together, but at the same time, you don’t want an eight inch gap of unused height. If you can’t change the height, change how you place things in the shelves, which leads me to…

Don’t think that objects have to have a certain orientation
Most people store books so that the spine is vertical. Who says you have to do that? If I only did that with my Nancy Drew books and had the shelves evenly spaced, I’d have at least six inches of unused space between each shelf. Since I don’t read these books every day and probably won’t need much access to them, why can’t I just stack them? Additionally, because they are hardcover, once they’re stacked I have a nice little platform for something else, like my giant blue polar bear eraser.


It allows you to play with the height and the line of the shelf so that everything isn’t coincident with the line of the shelf. And there’s also no reason why you can’t store books conventionally and still use them as a platform. I love seeing the piggybank my sister got my in Chinatown in NYC for Chinese New Year atop my first edition Nancy Drews (can you tell I’m a collector?).


Group similar objects
Even if the objects don’t all go together, I still like to group similar things. Pictures of my parent’s wedding with my grandparent’s wedding, all my 50’s Nancy Drews together, all my 80’s Nancy Drews together, etc. Everything on the bookcase my not go together, but I think it’s less random if similar things are together. Also, for the most appealing visual, arrange books by height or by color. I always think bookshelves look sloppy when the books don’t look like they go together. If they are drastically different sizes, just put them in different parts of the bookcase.

You can use the top as a shelf too

So here’s the final product. It may not seem like much, but I’m pretty proud of it.


Home Sweet House


Buying a house is a really disorienting process. Not that I expected it to be easy but sometimes I’m in awe of the swimming in my head. Between banks, realtors, open houses, and trying to compromise with new husband about what we’re looking for, it’s just become all-consuming.

I firmly believe that no one really understands all the lingo. We just all smile and nod and pretend like we know what it all means. When I was in high school, I worked as a receptionist at a family services organization that held classes for low income first time home buyers. I would sit at my desk between answering phones and try to learn about the process while assembling the homework packets for the people in the class. It was worse than trying to teach myself a foreign language but I didn’t worry over it because I figured when it was time to buy a house, some would explain it to me or I’d somehow know by then. Like it’s a skill you develop in college or something.

It isn’t. Or maybe I was sick that day.

My bank could just make up terms, tell me what it costs, and then reel me in by telling me that it’ll be waived because I’m already a member and I would have no idea.

On that note, I hate banks and the loan process. Our realtor says that they ask for everything but your blood type. If giving them my blood type, or a gallon of my blood for that matter, made the process go any smoother, here, drain my veins!

Technology works against us in the whole loan process. If it were fifteen years ago, any bank would look at our application and just throw pre-qualifications at us. We are in awesome financial shape. We pay all our bills on time, have enough money for the down payment, and have no debt. But the computer sees that we each only have two forms of credit, not three, and puts a big red X on our names.

It doesn’t mean we can’t get a loan, we just have to go through the entire pre-approval process before we can put in an offer. After filling out a million forms, writing exemption letter after exemption letter to explain why were are awesome, and paying $400, we still haven’t heard back. We’re supposed to know by tomorrow. Ugh, I’m so sick of waiting.

Once we know about the loan (and fingers crossed we can get a conventional loan), we’re putting an offer in on a house. Done.

Oh wait, is anything in this process ever that simple? Nope. It took us months of going to open houses and looking at dozens of houses that weren’t anything we wanted until we compromised on one. It’s actually an amazing house (and I’m not bragging but I totally found it without the realtor. Points for me!) and I can’t imagine living anywhere else now (not like I’m getting my hopes up or anything). But before we put in an offer, we want both sets of our parents to see it. Just to have a new set of eyes see everything in case we’re blind to something glaring. Scheduling has become a pain though, as his parents live five hours away and my parents are driving five hours away this weekend. So next weekend, entertaining the in-laws and being critical of the house we love. Yay…

The most frustrating about this process is that I know we’re still relatively early on in it. I just want to sign some more papers, fork over the entire contents of my savings account, pack up all my crap that I just finished unpacking, and live somewhere new. I want to lie on the floor in my own house, in the sunlight from the big, beautiful windows (maybe I’m part cat…) and feel at home.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summertime and the Living Should be Less Easy

Today is the first "official" day of summer. In Tucson, it's been summer for almost two months now. I think we measure the beginning of the first half of summer by the first day to be over 100F and the first day of the second half is when the dark storm clouds roll over the city in the afternoon for the first monsoon. The smell of the dry earth being pelted by fat rain drops and the cicadas screeching at 7:50 in the morning on the walk into work mark summer for me.

Even though the cicadas are still underground and the skies are still clear (minus the smoke from the fact that the majority of the state is on fire), I'll go with the Earth's tilt and call it summer. And since it's summer, it will be filled with my old favorites of summer, as well as some new grown-up things that I can't wait to dive into. In no particular order:

- Buy a house
We're waiting to hear back from our bank about a home loan. I'll write more about all the "fun" of trying to buy a house tomorrow.

- Start a new exercise activity
I'm in an exercise rut. I run on the treadmill. I do workout videos. I workout three to five times a week and eat healthy and I'm still slowly put on weight. My thought is that my body has adapted and it needs a new challenge. I keep looking at dance classes and researching roller derby, but I haven't just sucked it up and tried anything new.

- Take some time off
I've got a bunch of vacation time saved up and Dan doesn't really have any left since he had to use his on our honeymoon (I hadn't started my job yet so it didn't burn any of mine). I need to plan a staycation and have an adventure around town, by myself, on a Tuesday or something. Or I need to blow it on unpacking once we move.

- Sit outside on the porch and watch the storms roll in

- Buying my motorcycle boots
We've been on a pretty strict budget during all this house craziness. Once we have a house, the things I've pined for and dreamed about will come to fruition. Motorcycle boots, the female engineer's dream shoe...

- Be productive on weekends
My weekends are usually pretty lazy and once Sunday evening rolls around, I feel like I haven't gotten much done. I need to get out of my pajamas and my house on Saturday mornings. 

- Going on more adventures
So much goes on in Tucson in the summers at night. Although I'm usually exhausted when I leave work, there's so much to take advantage of: munching outside at Lindy's on 4th Avenue, window shopping at La Encantada, concerts at the park, outdoor movies downtown. I need to get out of my rut of leaving work, dinner, computer games, workout, shower, sleep.

- Eat more Eegee's
Well, that's just kind of a year-round thing that makes more sense in the summer.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Task of the Week: Garage Sale Pile

So when I moved into Dan's rental house three months ago, between the two of us, we have a lot of crap. A LOT. After basically unpacking and reorganizing for a month, the entire month of April, we called it good enough. The problem is now that we have a huge pile of stuff to sell at the garage sale.

If you can do the math, this puts us in May with a huge pile of crap we needed to get rid of at a garage sale. Who wants to have a garage sale in May? Weekends got busy and it kept getting postponed a week at a time until we planned to do it this upcoming weekend. What's worse than having a garage sale in May in Tucson? Having one in June.

As we contemplated getting up early on both a Saturday and Sunday, sitting on a slanted driveway for 6 hours while strangers poked through our stuff., we quickly changed our minds. I've never had a garage sale and this isn't an easy one to start with.

Well, that just leaves us with one little problem: all of this



This is all the crap we have no idea what to do with. It's invaded our guestroom like a zombie disease. We keep avoiding inviting my husband's parents to visit because, well, where would they sleep?

So my goal this week, get rid of it all. Hopefully I'll have the "After" pictures to post by Saturday. I miss my green chaise buried under all of it. And my nude lady lamp. I love lamp...

If you know anyone who wants an old industrial vacuum or a set of three lamps from an 80's formal living room, I'm your gal! I'll give you a good deal, you just have to let me put a piece of masking tape with the price on it, set it out on the driveway, and pretend I made a garage sale sale!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

With my sister being out of the country all summer, the responsibility of making it a kick-ass Father's Day for my dad fell squarely on my shoulders. And with a PS3 that Dan found on sale at Target and Duke Nukem Forever from my mom, I think it was just that. He's spent the last two hours trying to learn a new system, adapt to a gaming system that has a hard drive and connects to the internet, and master the controls for a game 14 years in development. It brings back such odd memories from my childhood as he frantic runs around as giant aliens shoot at him, I shout directions that he doesn't listen to, and my mom just screams every time they hit him.

Once we have multiple controllers and can run around and shoot each other, that's when the real fun beings. Especially when we can convince my mom to be the fourth player amongst myself, my dad, and my sister. Poor thing tends to gets stuck staring at the ceiling in corners and it's no challenge to sneak up behind her and giggle for a while before finishing her off. This is why she refuses to play with us most of the time.

My dad's more excited for the fact that with the PS3, he may never have to stand up again. Wireless controller that can turn the system on and off and the ability to buy games over the internet? He's sold. He's already been asking about other games he should buy. This might have actually been the perfect Father's Day gift for the man who is impossible to shop for.

So, in honor of my dad today, "Hail to the king, baby."

  Image courtesy of 3D Realms

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ants in My Pants

When I was driving home from work yesterday, I was a bit of a zombie. After driving on the highway during rush hour traffic on a Friday, I was just thinking about getting home. Inching closer to my refrigerator as the salad I had for lunch wasn't holding its own anymore. Even with the air conditioning on, there's no real way to beat the Arizona sun coming in through the driver's side window in June. The radio only seemed to by playing the same Katy Perry and Black Eyed Peas songs that had been on constant rotation since they were released months ago. My brain was officially out.

I finally found my off ramp, coasted along the frontage road, and sighed with relief that I only had about another five minutes of driving left.

My moment of relief was rudely interrupted when something suddenly stabbed me in the stomach. I thought maybe there had been a twig on my shirt and I shifted and it poked me, but then my skin on my belly started to tingle. I lifted up my shirt at a red light and found a big red welt.

Somehow, in the middle of traffic on a Friday afternoon, an ant had gotten in my car and bitten my belly.

The worst part was that I was still in traffic, five minutes from home, and I had no idea with there were somehow more ants in my car. I started freaking out, constantly wiggling and scratching so even if there were more, they couldn't get me!

Once I got home, stripped off my clothes, and inspected myself, I was lucky to only have the one bite. The major downside to this stupid bite, though, is that I am now acutely aware of how tight my clothes are and how often they rub on my stomach. My run this morning was mis-er-a-ble. And I am really not looking forward to forcing myself into Spanx for the wedding I'm going to this evening, ugh.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fan of Friday: Week of 6/17/2011

The point of my Friday posts will be to say what made me happy this week.

This week, as meta as it sounds, I love blogging.

I frequent at least half dozen blogs and websites on a daily basis. My morning just hasn't started until I've checked in with my favorites to see if there's anything new posted. I can't really explain why I like blogs so much, but I just do.

However, most of the time when I read my blogs, I think to myself, I could do this. I like to make sporatic ramblings and advice and lists. Over the past couple weeks, every time I have that thought it's followed by, well, why don't you? Why don't you try it and see how good of a blogger you could be.

So far, I'd have to say I suck as a blogger. Honestly, I was wrong, this isn't easy (and I'm only on my third post). I have all these ideas of what I could write about swimming between my ears but I just can't seem to catch any of them. I keep thinking, what do I know? Why do I think anyone will give a hoot about anything I have to say? And how do people post so often? It takes me hours just to cultivate an idea into an actual post.

At the same time, I keep finding myself leaning negative. My random tangential thoughts focus on the less than ideal things in my life right now. If anyone does actually read my blog, I don't want to come across as a completely pessimistic person. I'm not (at least not 100%). My brain lately just seems to stick on these sorts of things.

With all that being said, how has this blog been the thing I love most about this week? Because I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop taking notes on what I'm doing, the stories and conversations around me, and the things I want to be doing. It's made me much more aware of my life. I've been stuck in a rut and this mind just be the change I need to shake things up a bit.

Hopefully stories of my future adventures will soon follow...

Carolyn

How to: Buy Jeans without Crying

Since I’m a mechanical engineer, I basically live in jeans. Any pants other than jeans are usually considered overdressed as I spend my days deep inside fairly large, dirt-covered robots, repairing them. However, you never know when you’ll have a client touring the lab or a sudden meeting with a vendor that’s in town so I still need my jeans to look good. My jeans need to be functional but not make me look like I paint houses on the side.

My problem is that my jeans always wear out quick. I had an embarrassing incident at work a couple of weeks ago when I didn’t realize one of my pairs in rotation had a quarter-size hole two inches south of the crotch. I spent all day walking around with my knees fused hoping no one see it. It was time to brave the mall in a quest for jeans and here are the rules I live by so that I don’t end up sobbing in a dressing room:

Your Body and Mind:
There are certain times you don’t want to try to force your body into a pair of pants that may shake your self-esteem to the core. Say, the previous night you dinner consisted of Super Nachos, a half pound of peanut M&M’s, and a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich. Don’t try to buy jeans. If you’ve recently gained five pounds and think you can quickly shake it. Don’t try to buy jeans. You’re on the most bloated day of your cycle. Don’t try to buy jeans. You’re on the most hormonal day of your cycle. Don’t try to buy jeans.

That being said, don’t try to buy jeans if you aren’t mentally prepared for it. Make a plan to buy jeans, don’t do it spontaneously. Finding a good pair of jeans while you’re window shopping or shopping as a form of therapy is a very dangerous idea. Tops, accessories, shoes, those are all safe, but risking your sanity by trying on jeans is just dumb. In order to find a good pair of jeans with minimal amount of pain and suffering, you need to have a strategy.

Your Appearance: 
You need a good foundation in the rest of your outfit before facing the bad angles and horrible lighting in a dressing room. It’s na├»ve to expect jeans to look good on you when the rest of your look is schlubby. Style your hair, break out your favorite jewelry, and make yourself pretty.

To pick the jeans that will best fit with the rest of your wardrobe, your outfit needs to reflect the majority of your favorite pieces. Wear a shirt that hits you at a comfortable length. I have a long torso and its bad enough when a pair of jeans gives you a muffin top, but it’s so much worse when your shirt is too short and displays it to the world. Also, some jeans look great and fit great, but once you layer a shirt on top, you can see every line of the jeans.

Your shoes should be a height you want to wear with the jeans. If you plan on wearing them dancing in 4” heels, wear 4” heels. I know it sounds dumb to say, but I’ve tried it before. I’ve tried on pants with flats hoping they would be long enough with heels because they were too long in the flats. Nope, a couple of inches too short. Also, as a side note, wear shoes that are easy to get on and off. A horrible experience can be made that much more stressful when you’re trapped in a dressing room, staring down the jeans that crushed your spirit as you rush to try and tie your shoes back up. Velcro, elastic, and slip-ons are your friend.

Depending on which body part of yours does most of the fighting when trying to fit into a new pair of pants, your choice in underwear can have a huge effect. Similarly to heel height, don’t try on jeans in a thong and hope there’s enough room so that the standard cotton bikinis you were all the time won’t show through. You need to know if your jeans will distinguish panty lines, whether they be along your bum from the bottom of the panties or along your hips from the indent of your thong. The thickness of the denim needs to work for you.

The Store:
The biggest revelation I had about how to buy jeans was my choice of stores. From about the ages of 14 to 21, I only shopped at Mervyn’s for jeans. I dreaded everytime I needed jeans. The biggest problem is that Mervyn’s carried dozens of designers and each type fit differently and they never seemed to carry the same brand twice. I would scour racks and haul dozens of pairs into the dressing room because I could be anywhere from a size 7 to a size 13. And on the miraculous chance I actually found a brand or pair that I liked, they had always vanished by the time I returned for a second pair.

My whole experience changed when I fell in love with a pair of jeans at Old Navy. And I went back to get a second pair. And they were still there! So I bought two more pairs. Actually, come to think of it, I’m wearing a pair of them right now. The best thing is that I can go back and know that the jeans that I like will be there.

So this piece of advice boils down to spend some time and find a store that carries one brand of jeans, and only one to eliminate any confusion between brands, that you love. It just makes all future shopping infinitely easier. I know that I can walk into Old Navy, grab couple of different styles in my size, and, odds are, I’ll walk out of there with a new pair of pants or two. Try stores like Old Navy, the Gap, and Banana Republic that carry in-store brands only. Once you find a brand you like, every other shopping trip has become a no-brainer.

Even with all these rules in place, I still managed to walk out of Old Navy yesterday with nothing. I know the cause of my failure though: admitting the truth. I refused to go up a size even though I’ve put on ten pounds in the last couple months. But I’ve told myself that if the weight wasn’t off by the end of the month, I’d go back, suck it up, and face my size fears.

However, I managed to not have a mental breakdown in the dressing room, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Brief Introduction

So I guess I need to answer the big question: why did I start a blog? Plain and simple. I really like reading blogs. I do. I could probably waste hours upon hours reading other people's blogs (I'll post links to the ones that I'm addicted to eventually). However, that being said, I don't think I've really stumbled across a blog that really represents me. Most bloggers are freelance writers living in tiny apartments killing time between the occasional magazine piece, hoping for their big break. That or the blog has a very specific purpose, like fashion, although interesting, don't really translate to my lifestyle.

About my lifestyle, you'd think with the amount of blogs that don't relate to me, I'd be some sort of freak of nature. I'm not. Ok, a little bit. I'm a 24 year old, married, female mechanical engineer living in Tucson. I don't have a Cosmopolitan life, going out every night with scarlet lips to tempt a piece of man candy back to my lair. I don't wear designer clothes because I spend my days repairing dirty, broken robots (That's right. I work with robots. And it is as awesome as it sounds). I don't spend my weekends hunting estate sales for antique furniture to paint and cover in Astroturf to decorate my lavish home. I'm a regular girl who works with robots and men at least 10 years older than me every day. I have a husband who loves to get himself into trouble. I've got a handful of friends and I care about them deeply.

I love to give advice and tips. I don't claim to be an authority on anything. Period. Anything I write here will be purely my opinion. It may be based on personal experience (which I will probably fiercely defend) or may be based on some random internet article I read four years ago (which I will probably still fiercely defend). My posts will be whatever is on my mind in that instance. Some opinions I have had bottled up for years and it's probably best for my health to get them off my chest. Some posts will be the imaginary counseling I've had with myself while wandering the halls at work, trying to get inspired to get back to work.

The only downside to my life is that I keep so much bottled up inside. I have all these opinions to share and advice to give and no one to listen to it. So I've chosen this as my outlet. We'll see how long it lasts, but hopefully a while. I guess this probably brings me to the most important question: why should I read this blog? Well, frankly, there isn't a good reason. Maybe you'll get something from it, or maybe you won't. Maybe you'll contribute something to it, or maybe you'll just enjoy the things others contribute. Maybe no one but my mom will contribute anything. That's not the point though. The point is that I need to contribute something. I need to do something and hope that someday someone other than myself will enjoy what I think.

Carolyn