Feline Noir: Losing & finding Minino

Crunching in the darkness through leaf-cluttered backyards, quietly opening and closing gates, we tip-toed through the neighborhood, supercharged with adrenaline.

“Minino!” We called and called and called. Our flashlights violated the private corridors of our neighborhood: dense town-homes or apartment buildings (obsessed with security) crowding in on older Craftsman homes with sizable yards and flimsy screen doors.

I’ve never been so determined to find anything or anyone. The hours disappeared like the flicker of his florescent eyes — bright, visible, certain and then suddenly nowhere to be found. He seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time, taunting us with his ability to transcend property lines by jumping from the top of one fence to another.

Certain we’d find him, we returned home in morning light defeated and exhausted.

The following day we oscillated between hopelessness and determination. Dutifully (and tearfully), we duct-taped bright flyers to heavily-stapled telephone poles — this gesture a brutal reminder of our desperation.

So when a (cat) lady named Patti responded to one of our LOST CAT Craigslist posts with a laundry list of cat-finding methods, we took her very seriously. “Some people have had success creating a scent trail back to their home by spraying their own urine around the neighborhood,” she wrote. Bingo.

Instead of spending the next night searching, we laid the groundwork for OPERATION MININO FIND YOUR OWN WAY BACK! We mixed one-part Brenton’s pee with one-part fresh spring water in a large spray bottle and went to TOWN. We also strategically placed Brenton’s dirty socks by our home. Finally, we left our backyard open with a bowl of canned food and water for his return.

To our delight (and initial disbelief), he was found sleeping peacefully in our backyard when I tip-toed downstairs to check outside at 4am. There in all his physical preciousness, contained and domestic, looking once again like OUR cat instead of a the wild beast we pursued the night before. ❤

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The Case for Plain Clothing: My Simple Uniform

There’s a great scene in It Might Get Loud in which Jack White talks about his views on creativity.  He says: “Opportunity doesn’t do anything for creativity. Yeah, it makes things easier and you can get home sooner, but it doesn’t make you a more creative person.” He talks about how limitations make us more creative … and that really resonated with me.

The cycle of buying and neglecting clothing had become boring (and impractical). I had too many disparate choices. I wanted limitations. I wanted to create a uniform–something simple, super comfortable and understated.

The first place I looked for inspiration was husband Brenton’s well-organized closet. His clothing was formulaic — the same silhouettes for his button-downs, t-shirts, pants, etc. His wardrobe was endlessly mix-and-matchable. My wardrobe, on the other hand, was rife with contingencies. Certain things only paired with other specific items, and often none of it made any sense for practical needs like staying warm (or comfortable).

I decided I wanted to replicate this menswear approach in my womanswear closet: staple items that were endlessly mix-and-matchable. And then about a year ago, I first heard the idea of a capsule wardrobe.

Over the next few months, I donated or gave away or altered my clothes (having a sewing machine is the ultimate wardrobe creativity tool!). I whittled and whittled and whittled. Here’s what I learned through the process:

1. Easy layering can elevate an otherwise casual look

This has been a wonderful revelation because I love to look put-together, but I *hate* uncomfortable dressy clothing.

Dark jeans and a tailored tee with sneaks are the perfect basic outfit. Add a necklace and block-heel sandals for a slightly dressier option. Get dressy AF by donning a structured blush blazer. When it’s time to relax, I just swap out jeans for yoga pants, ditch the blazer and we’re ready to do some pre-bed stretching. 😉

This has been incredibly helpful for me, since I need a slightly dressier look for work. Although, to be honest, I’ve found myself wearing the first look (t-shirt, jeans + sneaks) to work because it’s so athleisure-chic.

Casual AFDressierDressier Blazer

2. A limited color palette works wonders

Blue, gray, black and occasionally blush. That’s pretty much all I own … and I’m so smitten with this color palette. It’s delightfully understated, calming and chic! I have no use for patterns, unless we’re talking about stripes. 😉 Limiting patterns has been a HUGE relief. I realized that I have to be in a certain mood for most patterns and there’s only room for frequent-flyers in my closet these days.

3. Shoe silhouettes matter, a lot!

You know something most men never do? Wear uncomfortable shoes. I’ve been avidly avoiding treacherous heels for years now. My heel heigh limit is around 2.5 inches. Anything above that height makes my ankles and my toes hurt … and there’s nothing cute or necessary about that.

I’ve been playing a lot closer attention to the silhouette of my shoes this year. I prefer neutral shoes that have a really clean outline and I’m a big fan of the block-heel look (comfy, too!). This summer, I’m wearing two main sandals. On casual days, park-visits, or walking the dogs, I choose between two sneaks (same style in different colors). And I wore two boots in similar silhouettes all last winter and that worked swimmingly! Simplicity is a beautiful thing.

Sandals

Sneaks

Boots

4. I only really need a few pieces of jewelry

For the past year, I’ve primarily worn this matte gold lava-stone necklace and hexagon studs. On days when I need a little extra pizazz, I’ll wear these matte gold leaf studs. I never thought I could wear the same jewelry every single day … but it’s surprisingly very satisfying when the pieces are this simple and pretty.

I do own a few other pieces, but these are my every day staples.

Jewelry.JPG

I haven’t gone as extreme as some folks (my wardrobe isn’t quite as small as 30-some items, and I haven’t tried Project 333), but I’ve radically pared down with a restricted color palette and predictable, chic silhouettes that can be endlessly layered.

I’ve been surprised with how this this shift has also allowed me to come to terms with my natural essence. I quit dyeing my hair last November, I put my blow-dryer in storage, and I broke up with nail polish (on my fingers) earlier this year. Seeking simplicity in my wardrobe has unshackled me from the need to alter my other attributes.

Plain and simple never felt so gratifying.

A slow weekend in Victoria, BC

In celebration of Brenton’s birthday (which happens to be today), we took a voyage north, by boat, to Victoria, BC. First time traveling anywhere of significant distance by water! And I must say, it was pretty magnificent to be cutting through the massive waters, zooming by nondescript landmasses (Port Townsend, San Juans), and seeing the occasional lighthouse, seemingly the only trace of human life. All else was refreshingly desolate, just wild land and big sky and the Puget Sound.

Traveling to Victoria was a breeze. The Clipper is chill, you just want to make sure you get seats on the second level — preferably a seat with a table!

We decided early on that we only wanted to travel by foot (although we did take a water taxi a couple of times), so that meant lots and lots of wandering.

Here’s Victoria in a nutshell:

  • Full of charm
  • Eminently walkable
  • Tasty food with lots of healthy (albeit spendy) options
  • Lots of shopping – Canadians are hella stylish, btw
  • Endless coast, lovely mountain & water vistas

Victoria is perfect for an easy getaway, but it’s definitely rife with tourists. It feels like one of those towns that has been preserved for tourism. However, it’s doesn’t feel fake. The locavore vibe, healthy hip joints, and luscious Beacon Hill park make me feel like I could imagine being a local there.

What I loved most:

  • The walking! Felt *so* good to not even step foot in a car all weekend
  • Sult Pierogi Bar was absurdly good. I forgot how much I adore perogies.
  • Beacon Hill Park! So incredibly varied and completely massive (200 acres)! Easy to spend half a day wandering.
  • Being by the water. It’s just so relaxing and beautiful
  • Brenton’s favorite thing was probably the chocolate-dipped ice cream from Chocolats Favoris 😉

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Wake up, baby. Wakeup!: A Spotify Playlist

For me, waking up is no easy feat. It’s an every-morning struggle between time and perception, between intention and action, between drowsiness and any wisps of wakefulness. For a split-second when I’m jolted awake by my alarm, I truly believe that I’m going to stay awake and that my body will spring to life. And day after day, I immediately fall back to sleep for another 30 minutes.

I’ve been like this my whole life. Sleep washes over me with an incredible force and it doesn’t give up easily when morning comes. In high school, I forged so many late notes that I got called to the principal’s office. They told me doctor’s-only notes from there on out. But I didn’t wake up earlier! Instead, I found ways to shave off minutes here and there during my morning routine and commute.

And here I am, about to be 30 and I’m still struggling to wake up. So my current quest is to find a balance between letting myself enjoy all the sleep it clearly wants, while waking up early enough to have some me-time and not stressing about getting to work.

I wrote recently about my current quick, low-maintenance hair routine, which has gifted me so much more time in the morning! I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t do this forever.

Last night, I realized I need an energizing, dance-worthy playlist to wake up to. So I made one. It features Solange, Neon Indian, NxWorries & Hot Chip, and it’s like audio caffeine. These particular songs just make me want to mooooove.

If you’ve got any tips for how to make mornings easier, I’m all ears. 🙂

  

Listen to Wake up, baby. Wake up!

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Or listen here:

 

  

 

Original artwork consists of Photoshopped photos by Jaclyn LaBrie.