Month: September 2015

{How To:} Revamp your social life

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Last week I told you how I revamped my closet. This week, I wanted to tell you about the amazing idea my sister had a few months ago to revamp my social life.

I have been going through a phase where I really want to build my friendships and get more close girlfriends – I am so used to having a big group of awesome girlfriends from being in college and grad school. Once I moved to Santa Barbara and started working, I had just a couple here and there – some are super busy and hard to hang out with regularly, some moved away – but I am lucky to have a handful that I see regularly. I wrote about this on a post a while back – I was feeling a little insecure and stunted in that category and wanted to meet more people.

Then I talked to my sister, who had a great idea. We were talking about how hard it is to get something going with a new friend you like. So you meet a new neighbor – what do you do, invite them over for dinner? Sounds nice – but a little intense and pressure-y, from my introverted perspective. We were talking about it and I said “I wish there was just a casual way to just see people and get to know them better without having to make a big deal about it.”

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Then she was like – wait, duh. I used to do this in college. You just make a day where you all meet at the same place every week for beers – then you can invite whoever you want, and it’s no big deal. They had Woodstocks Wednesdays in downtown San Luis Obispo, and it was an awesome social hub to fall back on every week. Then I remembered – I had one in college, too! It was Family Dinner Night – every Thursday (I think…) at my friends’ house. We would have a potluck and catch up and everyone would bring new people all the time.

So we thought – this does not need to just be a college thing. And Yellow Belly Tuesday was born.

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As it turns out, Anthony and I and our two friends were meeting at Yellow Belly about once a week anyway, just to catch up during the week. It’s perfect, because it’s walking distance from our house and we are regulars already. Yellow Belly opened sometime last winter I think, and everyone loves the great food and beer. We started calling it our dining room, since our place doesn’t really have one, and we eat there so much.

It was the perfect place for our weekly gathering. Our first Yellow Belly Tuesday was on July 7th, and it has been a hit ever since. I feel like I see people regularly that I wouldn’t otherwise, and I have gotten to know some acquaintances a lot better – and now I can call them my friends. I think it was the perfect solution to my new friend slump – if you are having one too, I highly recommend giving your social life a face lift and starting your own.

Set up your own weekly gathering:

Choose a place.

For us, it was a no-brainer. And honestly, we were pretty selfish about it… since we were starting it, we got to choose our favorite place. But if your favorite place is a super romantic Italian tiny restaurant with candles and white tablecloths, it’s not the best choice. Ask yourself a couple of questions when choosing a place:

  • Is it big enough to accommodate the number of people you want to come?
  • Is it casual?
  • Does it have food?
  • Does it have a menu that most people could choose from?
  • Is it out of the way or in the middle of town?

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Choose a day and time.

We wanted it to be during the week, to break things up and to have something to look forward to. You probably won’t want to have it on the weekend, since a lot of people go out of town or will have other stuff planned. This way you can catch up with a mix of people during the week, and have the weekend to hang out with your typical group and relax. We wanted to choose something mid-week and landed on Tuesday to avoid Anthony’s ensemble’s rehearsals that typically happen Wednesdays and Thursdays. Think about who will probably be the regulars and take a poll with your core group to see what day is most convenient for most people.

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Even if Tuesdays aren’t great for some people, we end up staying so long that most people can at least swing by on their way to or from something else if they wanted to. Ours goes from 6:15-9ish usually. It might sound like a big investment and way too long to be at a restaurant – but it actually happens naturally that way. Even before we started YBT, we ended up staying until around nine just with friends. Consider if you could hang out at this place for that long, or if there would be a changing set of people that would be there for an extended period of time – it’s nice to have a big window to see the most people around their schedule.

Invite people!

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We use Facebook to spread the word, every week. It’s nice to remind people (even those that come all the time) and make posts about that week – for example, if it’s someone’s birthday and we’re celebrating, or if we need to let anyone know that we (the core members who started this whole thing) can’t make it.

Facebook doesn’t let you set up recurring events (if I’m wrong let me know!) so we update the date every week until it doesn’t let us anymore, then we create a new one and start over. Facebook works for us because we can make it public and people can invite their friends on their own. If you choose to use Facebook, make sure to add a few people as the admin so they can update the event if you can’t.

Facetune

Engage with your new place.

Tell the waitstaff about your weekly meet up and tag their social media pages when you take photos or check in. It’s always nice to have connections with a local place that you love.

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I know you are already super pumped about this – but just to seal the deal… Here are a few benefits of this kind of set up:

  • Friend dating someone new? This is a super casual way for you to meet and get to know them.
  • Do you have a friend-crush on someone in the office, but don’t know how to be friends with them in real life? Invite them as you’re leaving work so you can integrate them into your friend group.
  • Want to meet more people? Encourage everyone to bring their office friend crush, their boyfriend/girlfriend and their friends, etc – your friend network can potentially grow exponentially.

 

Please tell me if you already have something like this that you do (weekly bookclubs maybe? Too bad I only read in random phases – beer is more of a constant in my life) and what you like or dislike about it. If you end up launching one of your own weekly hangouts, let me know how it goes!

 

Amazing photos taken by my talented sister, Mary, at Two Happy Lambs Photography

 

 

5 Ways to Revamp Your Closet

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Hello all you lovely people. I have been wanting to do this post for a while now, but dang this whole summer thing has kept me busy. Isn’t summer supposed to be the time to relax and unwind and have free time? Mine has been full of travel, work disasters, trying to buy a car, birthdays and road trips. It has been fun, but it has kept me away from this lovely blogging thing we have going.

Anyway – I, as you may know already, love clothes. I love over-analyzing outfits, shopping, scrolling through the women’s clothing section of Pinterest for hours, sending texts with pictures of my outfits to girlfriends, and just obsessing about fashion in general.

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I am no high-fashion student, and I don’t know designer names or what happened at fashion week. I love thrift shopping, and I get inspired more by friends than celebrities. I even have trouble reading fashion blogs because usually the blogger has no problem dropping $200 on a dress (I definitely have a big problem with that – it’s called my checking account). If you have any suggestions for fashion blogs that you are into, let me know in the comments!

I do enjoy following new trends (not all – overalls? Seriously??) and re-imagining my sense of style. I love thinking about what kind of style I want to have and what it would take to get there. This requires a lot of standing in front of my closet, tilting my head to one side then another, plucking at the fabric of a top and sighing, kicking a pair of shoes on the floor, and then closing the door to go shopping for a more acceptable wardrobe.

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I don’t, however, want to become a hoarder – so I need to purge more often than I binge. Since I shop mostly at thrift stores, it’s not a big deal to have a pile of things I have just HAD IT with and toss them in the car to donate – since I’m most likely going there already.

I started really cleaning out my closet when I gained weight. I was tired of feeling shitty that something didn’t fit me and then putting it back in the closet until the next time I wanted to feel shitty. I started pulling out things that didn’t feel flattering on me, even if I loved them. I gave them to friends or donated them, and now I feel so much better about choosing something out of my closet in the morning.

Then my bff did a huge purge of her closet before she moved, and looked into capsule wardrobes and read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She whittled her closet down to the bare essentials and things she absolutely adored, and she loves it.

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I don’t know if I could do exactly what she did – I like a ton of variety – but it really made me want to do a total closet overhaul. If you want to spruce up your closet, and are obsessive about your clothes like me, here are the steps I recommend:

1. Start with a big purge.

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You may be like me and donate things continually when they stop fitting or start looking like they’ve seen better days. Even so, wait until you are so sick of your clothes that you want to burn them in the driveway – we need you in a ruthless, badass, won’t-take-any-more-bullshit mood. Then go through everything. Take a piece out. Look at it. Then ask yourself these questions:

Does my heart skip I beat when I see this?

Would I buy this, right now, if I saw it in a store? (this includes considering how new it looks)

Does this represent my style, or what I want my style to be someday?

Is it completely functional? (For example, it fits right, doesn’t have any rips/holes/stains, all zippers/buttons work, I can wear it on a moments notice (it doesn’t need a tank top underneath that I don’t own), I’m not “waiting on the perfect belt that will make this top AWESOME”, etc.)

Do I wear this regularly? -OR- Do I have a VERY good reason to keep this if I don’t wear this regularly? (don’t think about seasonal stuff, we’ll get to that)

Is this adding something to my wardrobe? (For example, is this your fifth blue and white polka dot t-shirt? Maybe explore what’s going on there and give a few up.)

If you answer yes to these questions, then keep that sucka and rejoice. If you’re like “erm, um, maybe, no, sorta”, then chuck that thing in the donate/lucky friend pile.

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Look for duplicates, things that were part of a style that is now outdated for you, and things that DON’T FIT. I’m serious – I’ll allow you ONE pair of jeans that you can stare at and say, “one day when I’m the size I was freshman year…” but that’s it. That shit is torture. If you start wearing only things that fit you, I promise you will feel so much hotter and put together. Live your life.

2. Get black hangers.

Sounds random, but I LOVE it. Emily told me about it and I was like, well, maybe when I care THAT much… that time came sooner than I thought, and let me tell you, I wish I had done it sooner. They can be whatever type of hanger you want, but make ’em black. I personally like these because they are thinner than the round plastic hangers I had before, and it really makes a difference visually:

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It just – makes things look less chaotic, and you actually SEE your clothes. I had a mixture of blue, teal, pink, white and black hangers, and I didn’t realize it, but it was distracting.

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3. Keep track of what you “need”.

I always try to remember the holes in my wardrobe for when I go shopping, so I don’t keep cursing myself for not having a basic blank tank and then coming home with bags full of new shoes.

If you are a pinning addict like me, check out my post on managing your wardrobe with Pinterest. I explain how to make a board for items you need so you always have a running list. The great thing about this is it comes with you to the store, so there are no excuses. Whip out your phone when you first walk in so you can keep a look out for the things you actually need.

Another way I’ve kept track of my wishlist items is by using my mirror on my closet door. I found a dry erase pen and just started jotting things down in the moment so I don’t forget. That way I can put it on my list right when I think of it. Looking at it every day also helps keep these things in mind for when, let’s say, you’re online shopping at work….

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4. Use an app.

I recently discovered Cluise and it’s pretty fun. If you have a night alone, grab a bottle of wine, your fully charged phone, and put on a marathon of some girly show on Amazon (my choices: The Good Wife, Awkward). Then grab each little pretty thing out of your closet and take a picture of it. Cluise helps you label it and you move on to the next piece. It sounds like a lot of work, but I really enjoyed it. At the end, you have your entire closet at your fingertips. Great for scrolling through in bed when you are trying to figure out what to wear the next day.

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You can of course make outfits and save those too – Cluise even puts outfit ideas together for you, based on your local weather (!!!) or on one piece you want to wear. Here’s one it made for me that I hadn’t thought of before:

 

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I recommend using the same backdrop for every piece. It was easy enough for me – I just threw everything on the floor, and the wood actually looks nice. You can also add a photo of yourself wearing the outfit and share it with other users. Cluise has its own kind of Pinterest-y feed that’s fun to go through. When you see a picture of a user wearing their outfit, you can swipe left to see the individual garmets, and like and follow them. If you get the app and like it, check out my profile at Stephanie @ Miss Mélange.

 

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5. Archive clothes you’re not using.

Off-season clothes:

This was something that blew my mind. Why didn’t I think of it before??!! Why have coats and sweaters all in your face when it’s July? If you have a place to store them, having your off-season wardrobe out of your way will make your closet feel so much roomier. I put mine in a big trunk we have at the end of our bed – other people, like normal people with a garage or guest room closets – can use a labeled bin that’s totally out of their way for months on end.

Bonus: it gets you super excited for the new season. “I forgot how CUTE my sweaters are! I can’t wait til it gets cold enough to wear my peacoat!” (where I live, this will never happen, but I can dream.)

Clothes you love, but you aren’t in love with:

This was another thing my bff told me about and I was pretty into it. If you have a TON of clothes and are struggling to have them all in your closet at once, this might be something to think about. Personally, I was totally going to do this, but actually ended up with a lot of room after the seasonal archive, so I didn’t have to. But I definitely recommend it for those who are still trying to free up space.

Go through your closet (after archiving your non-seasonal stuff) and see if you can make even more room, for the ultimate zen experience when you open that door. Take out things that you like, and don’t want to give away…but it’s not exactly the hotness right now. Think about your closet as your Spotify or iTunes library – take out everything that you are not obsessed with – leave everything that lifts your mood every time it comes on. It’s not like you’ll never want to listen to the other stuff again, but let’s make your wardrobe AMAZING whenever you go to pick something out. Go through each thing and ask: “Am I in love with this?” If yes, leave it in. Then, voilà – you’ll end up with a closet full of things you are completely in love with.

Now, put the clothes you took out in a pretty accessible place. The non-seasonal stuff can be tucked somewhere that’s not as easy to get to, since you’ll only grab it a few times a year. But you’ll want to have these clothes close by in case you want to swap some things out or need something specific for an outfit. When I was thinking of doing this, I used some drawers in my closet and rolled the clothes up for maximum space and visibility (these drawers were freed up after my purge – turns out I didn’t need 5 sweatshirts! – and the seasonal archive):

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Hopefully this method will allow you to fall in love with your clothes again and again. When you first get it set up, getting dressed in the morning will be so much easier, since you love everything in front of you. Once you start getting sick of everything and bored again, bring out your other clothes and switch what’s in your closet with what you put away. You’ll have a fresh new wardrobe like you just went on What Not to Wear.

(If you never get bored of the stuff you kept hanging up, and you never really feel like wearing the things you put away, then you know what to do – throw that shit out. You never wear it, and it’s taking up space.)

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What do you do to revamp your closet? Do you have a different seasonal process? Do you have a way that you keep your closet fresh and up to date with what you are into?

Please share – my closet is always a work in progress.  :)

 

 

 

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