I've had so many interesting things this week that I've discovered and dived into, and projects for myself that I've been working on, that to do a single post about each of them would be time consuming and very short individually. So here's a short blurb about each of them.
First of all, I discovered the blog Mr. Money Mustache, which is a blog about personal finance and, mostly, financial independence. This guy and his wife saved as much money as possible during their 20s so that they were able to retire around age 30 so that they could then have a kid and both be there for him. Inspiring, right? It's what every (good) parent wishes, to have more time with your kid(s). Even if that's not your motivation, however, most of us don't want to work until we're 65 and then spend our "golden years" in retirement homes, too crippled to have fun because we didn't have enough time when we were younger to take care of ourselves. Most of us would also appreciate the security to not constantly be worrying about employment. So if that sounds like you, check it out. He also has environmental motivations for the things he talks about, which I love, and he's very frank about things. There's no quibbling about, "Well, you could do this..." He'll tell you straight out, "If you do this, I want you to punch yourself in the face for being an idiot."
One final note about the blog: his definition of "retirement" might not match yours. His wife still works part-time because she enjoys it and they get a few bonuses to help keep their living expenses low. He works as a freelance carpenter. So they haven't totally quit working, they're just now able to work on their own terms.
I started reading the blog back to front (from the first post, working my way toward the newest) and I highly recommend doing that.
On appearance: For a short time, I was starting to get sucked into the Pinterest idea that, hmm, maybe I should start wearing some makeup again. I talked with Shane about it and he essentially told me, "Makeup is fine for dates, once in a while, but why would you ever want to start wearing it every day? I like to actually be able to see you, not the makeup you're wearing." Well, that settles that then. My husband doesn't compliment often, but when he does it's both outside the norm (no generic, "You're pretty," from him) and incredibly sweet.
I did dye my hair, however. It's fun to do every once in a while. I always seem to need a change at this time of year and hair is one of the simplest (and cheapest) things to change. I used henna, which doesn't have any (or most) of the nasty chemicals which are in normal hair dye. Yeah, still a little bit of garbage so it's not zero waste, but it will also be part of my Halloween costume so it serves a dual purpose.
I've also been looking up how to cut my own hair on Youtube (wanting something different than just a straight cut) and that's been helpful. I might try it tonight, to give myself some time before the weekend in case I need to re-do it or something.
Being able to cut my own hair is a skill I very much enjoy having at least amateur status at. I once told a hairdresser that the last cut I'd had was one I gave myself and she exclaimed, "Don't ever cut your own hair!" Ridiculous. People have been cutting their own hair for thousands of years. Yep, having good tools helps and it is possible to damage your hair with bad ones. But other than that, I'm saving money and if I give myself a bad haircut the only person who's harmed is me. Haircuts are expensive, and I've had more bad professional haircuts than bad haircuts I've given myself.
I noticed that my wardrobe has been both shrinking (because I've given so much that I didn't really wear or like away) and because many of the shirts I wear all the time have been wearing out. My favorite plain black t-shirt has had a small but noticeable hole over my right boob for over a year now, thanks to my cat. Not such a huge deal since I generally wear a sweater over it but still annoying. Small things like that have been occurring in many of my favorite clothes: small holes from use, some stains, and just general shabbiness. One pair of jeans wore out (always near the crotch!) so I dragged a friend to the Fireweed Consignment Boutique, of which I've heard lots of good things. They didn't have a huge selection in my size at that location, but I still found some great things. One shirt (plain black, but a bit dressy for work, so I can retire the other as a "weekend" shirt), one sweater (dressy enough for work or a night out with friends), and one pair of jeans. And all for waaay less than the cost of buying these things new plus someone else in town made a few bucks from me, as well as supporting a local business. I brought in a few things of my own, but they only take donations on weekdays (except by appointment) so I'll have to do that another time.
I said a while ago that I was trying to come up with a good recipe or formula for my own face lotion. I think I got it last night. I used cocoa butter, aloe vera, vitamin E oil, and some tea tree oil. It smells...interesting (mostly of the cocoa butter and tea tree oil, which makes an odd combination) but it goes on smoothly and it immediately smoothed the two rough, dry patches that had been forming on my cheeks. Just be sure to add enough aloe vera gel and oils that the cocoa butter doesn't go all solid again, and you have to mix it a lot at first (I melted the cocoa butter before I mixed it all up), but it works very well.
On the bookshelf: I've been reading Caitlin Moran's book "How to be a Woman", which is absolutely hysterical. Loving it! She goes through pretty much every stage of her own puberty and uses it as a jumping off point for discussions about modern feminism and what it means to be a woman. So, she uses her first period to lead into her first discovering masturbation, into a surprisingly thoughtful (and yet still funny) discussion of pornography and what's wrong with it. Discovering her first pubic hairs leads into a discussion of the recent pressure on women not to have any pubic hair, ever, and the fact that, "It's actually costing us money just to have a vagina! Ladies, this is ridiculous!" I totally recommend this book.
On decluttering: I've been very much enjoying this blog about decluttering and simplifying. It, along with several discussions with Shane, have caused me to look around at my apartment and assess just how much shit we have that is totally unnecessary to our lives. Even with both of us trying to be careful about what comes into our house in the first place, it's not always easy. We're still getting mail for a roommate who moved out three years ago. It's been stacking up in a corner and when we disassembled its perch to make the cat's Recovery Palace, it ended up on the dining table. Thankfully, we saw him at a friend's house last weekend so I packed all that mail up in a bag and gave it to him. He promised to go through it and call places to give them his new address.
There's lots of stuff that's required to basically be a normal, functioning adult, however. Shane has been required to keep some paperwork for a job he worked three years ago and he finally decided that "a reasonable time" has passed so it's gone. Our marriage certificate has been sitting in an envelope on top of my desk for a year now, so I at least moved it to a drawer so that it's out of the way.
This frustration with all the junk in our house also motivated me to take out our recycling again. I think the last time I did that was around June? Some of it I can walk to work, but other stuff (such as glass) doesn't have a recycling bin anywhere near my office so it requires a special trip. We tend to hoard it all in the garage until we have enough to justify the car trip. But it was crowding my clothes-drying rack, and getting out of hand. Just doing that one thing made the apartment feel so much freer and cleaner!
We have lots of other projects waiting in the sidelines, and other things which I'm sure will build up between now and then. Decluttering is an ongoing process, but it does feel nice to get each of these things done. Even finding a new home for things which we need to keep, or which we can't get around to just yet, helps a lot.