Remember those years when we didn’t buy any clothes?

Axel and Malia

In the last four and a half months I have spent $91.41 on clothes, shoes, and accessories. You can see the items listed below. For me that is an incredibly low amount (that’s an average of $20.31/month). One of my main hobbies used to be thrift store shopping – I relished paying $20 for last year’s Tahari or Ann Taylor (judge away my hipster friends – these clothes are built to last). But if you buy enough $20 dresses you still end up spending $100 for an afternoon diversion. This is what I refer to as The Paradox of Thrift.

Last fall I relocated and became the sole breadwinner of my newly formed little household. The BF is getting his MBA and I am dutifully footing the bill for two years of living expenses. If any of you cringed at that last sentence I don’t blame you, it doesn’t sound too smart typed out on the screen. But don’t worry – we have a plan. And a large part of that plan is keeping costs down for the next few, and possibly several, years while he finishes his education and I continue to pay off my grad school loans.

We’ve taken many steps in order to trim our budget – line drying our clothes year-round, keeping the heat down and triple insulating the windows in our 100 year old apartment, no cable, no landline, no cell phone insurance. And no clothing budget.

Logically this shouldn’t be an issue, since I have tons of clothes, or at least that’s what it seemed like when moved them all across the country in a UHaul. Plus I work from home, which realistically means that I wear yoga pants on a good day and pajama pants on the not so good days. The problem is not that I don’t have enough clothes to physically cover my body. The issue is that I am bored with my options. You can only wear black or grey sweaters with jeans to so many events before it really starts to seem like déjà vu. Champagne problems, right?

But I recently did the math, and at my current (ambitious for me) rate I will finish paying off my student loans roughly on my 32nd birthday. For a degree that I have yet to use except to impress people with the fact that I went to the same school as Mick Jagger. And that thought is sobering enough to scare me away from all but the most essential of clothing purchases. Looking on the bright side, the next time we move, the number of boxes marked “Malia’s clothes” should be much less. Only 16 months to go.

Date Item Store Amount
2014.11.01 1 thermal long underwear long sleeve T-Shirt Costco 8.99
2014.11.01 1 pair thermal long underwear leggings Costco 15.99
2014.12.30 1 Grey BCBG dress (New Year’s Eve) (see above photo) Clothes Mentor 25.00
2015.01.09 1 Pair New Balance Shoes DSW 41.96
Total = 91.94

Neighborhoods Galore

I love neighborhoods. That sounds like a strange thing to have a passion for, but hey – it’s cheaper than a caviar obsession. The main thing that I really like about neighborhoods, real neighborhoods, is that there are no two exactly the same. The great thing about living in Pittsburgh is that I’m surrounded by distinct urban areas all with their own personality. Pittsburgh is made up of roughly 90 neighborhoods, many of which have their own main streets with all the features of a small town; post office, hair salon, bakery, library – all within a walkable area.

Last year I lived in a very clean nice suburb of Minneapolis, and I was bored out of my mind. But in Squirrel Hill (which actually is Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood) all I have to do is step out my front door and into the community. We honest to goodness live above a coffee shop and a bakery and I can walk to yoga, the post office, the library, the park, the movie theater, the bar, and plenty of restaurants. I can go days without driving, and I love it. And we live in just one of Pittsburgh’s many vibrant neighborhoods.

Today I had brunch in Highland Park, which was adorable, and coffee in Lawrenceville, which I found to be quite eclectic and energizing. These field trips remind me of when I would choose random tube stops in London to walk around with my camera discovering new things. I thought I’d given up that sense of exploration when I moved back to the US, but as it turns out I’m just getting started.

Here are a few of my pics from a walk around Squirrel Hill:

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Poppies

I’ve said it before and I will say it every year until I die – I LOVE Summertime.

It is by far the best time of year for me. I cannot relate to those who complain about the heat. For once I don’t have to always carry a sweater with me. Socks are optional. Sun dresses. Pedicures. Barbecues with friends. Walking without gloves. Green. Thunderstorms. Farmer’s Markets. Birds singing.

I could go on and on about how Summertime is the best time.

Today I spent an hour watering my parent’s gardens. I took a long walk on the trails by their house. And then I took a nap with the windows open during a thunderstorm. Did the rain completely cancel out the need for me to water? Yes, but I don’t even care – I got the best of both worlds all in one day. Summer sun AND summer rain.

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Pyrex-1 / Malia-0

I’ve always loved Pyrex containers. For logical reasons, like that they last a long time and don’t leach chemicals into my food. But also because having a set of Pyrex containers makes me feel undeniably like an adult.  I received them as a gift on a trip home to Minnesota my first year out of college and brought them back to Hawaii in my checked baggage. A few moves and storage units later we have been reunited and it feels so good. Until last night that is.

Last night I was absentmindedly packing my lunch for the next day and one of the 16 oz. Pyrex glass containers slipped out of my hand and its corner edge landed right on my big toe. Immediately the entire nail flooded purple and after a night trying to (wo)man-up I had to get a doctor to drain the blood from the by now completely blackened nail bed.

A toe is just a toe. Until it’s your toe – and it’s hurt – in which case it becomes THE most important part of your body.

This strange twist of fate has made me reconsider plans for this weekend that rather depended on my feet being pain-free; namely hiking/nature photography and yoga.  But because I am human, knowing that I won’t be able to perform these activities has simply increased my desire to pursue them.

Xingping – Guangdong Province, China

Not very much is very old in China, especially not in Shenzhen. Towers made of mirrored glass scrape the low hanging smog. But a mere sleeper bus ride away (read: being stuffed into a shaking smelly coffin spooning strangers) lies the countryside of Guangdong province, where the “Ancient Village” of Xingping maintains a semblance of history, with traditional architecture and classic red doors. There didn’t seem to be much going on, but I guess that’s why we went to an ancient village anyways.

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Winter in the Window – Minnesota

It’s like living in an ice cave, these frozen windows. Due to the thick layer of ice on glass we can’t see outside. Most days I have to check the weather on my phone due to the lack of the visibility from our second floor perch.  But these double panes do keep us warm and they also provide some photographic entertainment.

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