Born in the USA

I’m writing on my iPhone in San Francisco, while Buzz wanders happily around the Cartoon Art Museum, so please forgive any stilted language or typos.

We’ve been on honeymoon for a week today, and off work for a fortnight tomorrow, and boy could I get used to this! The most luxurious thing is spending 24 hours anday with my husband, who I practice calling my husband at every available opportunity. Sass (at sassiest.wordpress.com – I can’t seem to linky on this)once said that the best thing about being married is that it really is happily ever after, and she was right. Being married is different and very special and now I’m getting soppy.

So let’s ditch the dewy-eyed mooning and get on to the important stuff. The shopping here is fabulous. Cheap as chips, plentiful, competitive, fanatic service (pay heed DJs and Myer), and one of the best things about Buzz is that he loves to shop too. Yes blah blah we’re doing cultural things and seeing the sights, but we are also enjoying our shared hobby.

I came with a wishlist, which I’ve mostly fulfilled. I wanted some ‘good’ jeans of brands thy we can’t get in Australia (or for which we pay an utterly absurd amount which I refuse to do); a fun chunky watch to complement my good Raymond Weil watch; a right hand ring (I had set my sights on New York’s diamond district but got waylaid – more on that later); and sunnies for the same reasons of variety and price. Check! I adore everything I’ve bought and will show you it all later on. Let me just say: Fellow Australians! Take to the skies! Or the Interwebs! Spend your dollar where it buys better! Pay what Our American cousins pay and reject the price-gouging! No import tax, no shipping costs and certainly no retail costs can justify a 150% markup (especially when the same goods are shipped from China).

A fully photographed, annotated post to follow.

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Highway to Hell

Our entrance into our reception to the rocking strains of ACDC’s Highway to Hell.

I’ll be on blogging hiatus for a while as my husband (!!) and I honeymoon in the States. Stay tuned!

A Little Ray of Sunshine (in my cutlery drawer).

Ooooh! Buzz and I received a very gorgeous, exciting and cheerful wedding present today from one of my beautiful bridesmaids. I am just thrilled to bits by them!

My lovely set! Sorry about the iPhone quality pics, but check out that rainbow!

Bumblebees.

Sassiest wrote a very interesting piece on the provenance of the Laguiole style of knifemaking, and as a history buff I was intrigued by the detail and attention to quality inherent in this artisan craft. However, as a bone handle and a hearty steak knife aren’t top of my personal cutlery priority list, I know I will just be shivering with excitement to use these colourful darlings! How could you not open the cutlery drawer and feel just a little bit cheerier than you did before you soaked up these rays of sunshine.

 

A more profesh shot.

 

Look at that rainbow!

 

Now I'm just uploading these for fun.

Thank you, thank you, my gorgeous Jose. May there be lunches and picnics and tea parties and long boozy dinners with these lovelies, all with you, for many years to come.

A plan, a deep dark secret, and a challenge. Intrigued?

My house is a little out of control at the moment. It happens to me too! But I have a plan …

No not that plan!

Not that plan! (Although it’s often a good one) …

Not even that one either ....

 

This is the plan!

It helps that I genuinely cleaning up, and when my house is tidy I feel relaxed and content. When my home is less than sparkling I feel overwhelmed, confused, repulsed and deeply uncomfortable – on some occasions I’d even say distressed.  Clutter makes me want to wrap my arms around myself and stand very very still in the midst of the chaos before launching into a spectacular decluttering frenzy (obviously not in anyone else’s house!). In fact, even if I loathed cleaning and tidying, I am so reliant on the calm and structure that an orderly environment brings me that I’d do it all the time anyway.

I can't bear to look.

The thing with having an organised home is that when things get off track and bit messy, you just need to correct it rather than start from scratch. For example, if I have some stuff lying around on my coffee table where it doesn’t belong, because everything already has a designated home it’s as simple as me taking it back there. I don’t need to engage in long discussions with myself about where each item should go, whether I need to clear out a new space for it, what else needs to be ditched to make room, or if it’s just easier to leave it there.

So here’s my plan for when I get home this evening to have a sparkling clean house by dinnertime! (I should note that Buzz will be working tonight; this is not a household in which women do the cleanin’ and the cookin’ while the menfolk do the drinkin’! We also try to have an hour each weekend when we clean at the same time to get on top of things, but with wedding preparations in full swing our recent weekends have been chockablock full of dance lessons, fittings and meetings, so we’ve had to let it slide).

This is our equal opportunity (to do housework) household!

 

Let’s get to it!

  • If I have laundry or wash or a full dishwasher, I put these on first so they can do their thing while I’m doing mine – I like my house to multitask with me!
  • As everything I have has its own home, a first step to cleaning up for me is always to do a walk-around. I simply move from room to room, picking up things that don’t belong and replacing things that do. Sometimes it takes me a couple of laps of the house to get everything back in its home if I can’t carry it all at once, but it’s a simple and quick process to scan to room, identify what doesn’t belong, pick it up and when I reach the room in which it should live, pop it back in its place.
  • Next I like to do specific tasks, such as emptying the dishwasher, taking clothes out of the washer or dryer or collecting clothes that need to be put away. Doing these things first allows me to clean last with clear surfaces and everything in its place – I run cleaning cloths and dusting cloths over surfaces including benchtops, tables, window sills and furniture – and anything that is dropped on to the floor is lastly picked up by a sweep or a vacuum (vacuuming is Buzz’s special job – I really, truly hate this task. I traded him the grocery shopping, which I love doing and he can’t stand – now that is marital cooperation at work!). I rarely have to thoroughly clean the kitchen as I do it every night, but I like to give the microwave a little attention and maybe even wipe down the fridge and empty out the crisper.
  • Finally – I tackle my clothes. This is my deep dark secret: I am terrible at putting my clothes away. I can’t go to bed until I’ve cleaned the kitchen, but a pile of clothes on a chair doesn’t keep me up at night. This is totally my problem area and one that I am constantly working on! I quite like folding the clean washing (creating order from chaos etc; very soothing!) but I have a real mental block about returning clothes to their place. I am really quite surprised by this as I love my clothes and I love seeing them all hanging up neatly and ready to be worn, but my treatment of them doesn’t really reflect this.

Multitasking is the name of the game!

 

And here is my challenge to myself: Every night for a week I will make sure that clean washing is folded and put away, and that any clothes that don’t need to be washed are also put away before bed. They can stay airing n the bedroom chair for a few hours, but if I’m in bed, they are too!

And I’m going to challenge you too! What is your ‘mental block’ task? What can’t you quite bring yourself to do? Will you challenge yourself to make it happen this week?

Basics.

Classic of all classics. Mine is a grey-blue and ancient.

A wise woman – Lisette Oliver of Sorted! – once said that investing in basics was never a waste. I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agree!

You use your basics every day. It makes sense to me that the things that you surround yourself with the most should be the things that you love and value the most, and the things that will do the best job for you. This doesn’t mean spending a fortune; it just means making sure that your most-used possessions are also the ones which are least likely to break, most likely to work, and happen to give you a little frisson every time you use them!

I am a very ‘basics’ wardrobe girl. I like to rotate favourites that I know make me look and feel good, and once I find something that does that I am a multiple-colour buyer! Here are some of my favourite basics that make each day a little bit happier.

Denim

Bettina Liano Curvy Fit Skinnies

What is better than a great-fitting pair of jeans? Just about nothing I reckon. They’re my all-time wardrobe staple and my latest loves are Bettina Liano (hope the administration doesn’t lead to bankruptcy) Curvy Fit Skinnies. Don’t be fooled by the Curvy Fit name; it just means not a waiflike teenager. These jeans are a little higher in the waist than I’m used to, but the backside is stupendous and when you are short-waisted like me, a little bit higher in the zip doesn’t visually stumpify you as you’d expect, but actually enhances the length that you do have.

Bardot jeans with trademark curvy butt swirls.

I’m also having a teenage moment with Bardot. For $80 they’re a steal and I find they sit really nicely. Put me down for two!

Shoesies

My name is Rachel and I am a recovering shoeaholic.

I used to have a serious addiction to shoes, and working during uni in the largest shoe reserve in the Southern Hemisphere did not help.

When I went vegan I no longer wanted to wear leather or suede, and suddenly all my lovingly collected footwear became … just stuff. I had no shoes and started again.

I’ve since had to satiate my ongoing shoe obsession with non-animal materials, and although it’s not easy to find decent quality (I admit I’ve mostly given up on great quality) shoes I have had some small successes and amassed a carefully curated collection.

I don’t think you can go past a good pair of Havaianas. Cheap, comfortable, versatile and by far the best thong (stop sniggering US and UK readers; it means flip-flop) on the market, I have hiked up the island of Capri to Anacapri in them, wandered around New York in humidity and freakish storms in them, and traipsed across three continents in them – and they never missed a beat.

Rubbery goodness.

A perennial favourite that has seen me through my grungy teens, student 20s and professional 30s is the ultimate sandshoe, the Chuck Taylor. These shoes are both the archetypal runner: classic, ubiquitous, pedigreed; and the anti-runner: lo-tech, cheap, just the same as they’ve always been. I love white and low-profile, and that I can dress them up or down (and that I can replace them for under a hundred).

My Con of choice: Optical White Light Lo.

A more recent discovery is Melissa, a Brazillian company that makes fun, enviro-friendly shoes and often collaborates with designers including Vivienne Westwood (ooh!) and Jean Paul Gaultier (eee!). The Ultragirl style fits my wide feet perfectly and they are a cute comfy flat for running about and going out.

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania for Melissa - love the gold bows! These ones are old trusties.

 

My new purchases for going overseas - the pattern will hide the dirt!

Now do we see a pattern here? I like a white shoe. I used to think they were the very end of all tackiness, but now I like something a bit bright on my feet. Must be getting older. It’s not even after Labour Day.

Tops

I couldn’t find a picture, but I live in a series of cheap, replaceable cotton-lycra singlets from Target. Under anything they keep away the chill, add a peek of colour, and provide a little structure underneath. Best bought in bulk and on sale as they’re not great quality, but they are cheap’n’cheerful and worth keeping a stack of.

I have also recently re-discovered Kookai and their excellent basics. Great quality cotton, on-trend colours and reasonably priced – we’ll see how they last now!

Not these ones – no wool for this little vegan! – but prettypretty anyway.

I love, love, love a good blazer. Maybe it was all those years at a girls’ school, and my tendency to school-captain it up, but a blazer makes me feel pulled together and ready to go anywhere. My favourite kind has a slight stripe, involves some navy (school again!), and is cut for women with a nipped in waist and maybe a little shoulder action. This is where it really is worth splashing some cash – good tailoring is always worth the price. Current wardrobe loves come from Jigsaw, Cue and Guess (of all places!).

Love the white endging, and the overall darker colour is great if, like me, you tend to end up wearing at least some of each meal.

 

Your basics will ensure you always have something on hand that you know makes you feel just a little bit spesh, and if bought carefully and treated well, will provide you with years of faithful service. Surround yourself with what you love!