Week Three: Let’s Try This Again

They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I made it seven. If week two was me falling off the picking wagon, week three was me landing in a pile of horse manure under the wagon. I mean, I went at it – and my skin has the lumps and dry, quasi-scabbed marks to prove it. Awesome.

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Can adults have do-overs? Is that a thing? Because that’s what I’m going to need and, since I’m pretty much making the rules up as I go, that’s what I’m going to do. Starting this Thursday, February 1st, I’m going to start over and try this again.

No picking. No exceptions.

Now for motivation, the promise of fancy skin care wasn’t enough to keep me clean (pun intended) – although I did try and really like the Rodan and Fields scrub my sister generously hooked me up with – so I’m going to need to aim for something else. V and I have some great plans later in the month, so having clearer skin in time for those events is going to be my motivation. After all, selfies are significantly easier to take if you don’t have to hide the lower half of your face.

Until next time, wish me luck…

Shopping for Closet Staples

After a long period of editing and purging, I’m able to finally get some clear perspective on my wardrobe. The items that aren’t a good fit and/or are made of fabric that makes me uncomfortable before I even get to the office are almost all gone (almost, I’m still a sentimentalist, people). The items that I love and feel great in are finally getting the attention they deserve, and I’ve even rediscovered some old favorites.

As I pay closer attention to the clothes and accessories that I continuously go back to, I’m noticing something else – some of these items are in serious need of replacing.

First up is the convertible black vegan Deux Lux bag. This is my go-to running-around bag. It may very well be the most versatile bag I have ever purchased; not only did it come with two detachable straps (a short chain one for a dressier look and a long faux-leather strap for cross-body use), it’s also expandable. I bought from Gilt or RueLaLa ages ago and it’s held up remarkably well. I would keep using it if it weren’t for the fact that the synthetic fabric that it’s made of has started to peel at the edges.

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Don’t think I haven’t thought about coloring those spots in with a Sharpie to get a few more months out of it.

Then there’s camel driving coat I bought from Forever 21. Initially I wondered if it was my style, but now I don’t know how I would live without it. I wear this coat everywhere. It’s a great weight, a perfect layering piece, and a really love shade of camel. I do wish it had pockets (the ones you see are just for show), so there is room to improve on this one. I thought for sure I would be able to replace it with a lovely J. Crew version, but I think this is the first season in an eternity that they haven’t offered a coat like this. I’m keeping an eye out for one on Poshmark or even eBay, but no luck just yet.

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The bottom line is, now it’s time to invest. I love these things, I wear them constantly, I want to find upgraded versions that I know will last so I don’t have to keep replacing them every few years.

Thankfully, I enjoy the hunt for these things almost as much as I enjoy the actual item. Shopping for essentials is miserable for a lot of people, but not me. Give me lots of options and let me agonize over each and every detail until the people in my life are like, ‘just buy it already!’

Yup, this is going to be fun.

Week Two: Epic Fail

After passing week one without picking at my face at all, I was feeling really good about myself. I had will power. I had self restraint. I had… a week that followed that was super stressful and I caved under the pressure and started picking again.

It started innocently enough, as I told myself I’d only go for ones that were at the surface. Once I realized how many clogged pores were ready to go I realized that I would need to put a limit on this. Three. I would only let myself pick at three (I mean, they basically squeezed themselves).

The next night, once I had used my allotted three, I decided to up the number to five. And never in the same area… or at least not on the same side of my chin.

You can guess how the rest of the week went. Not only had I fallen off the wagon, I had proceeded to drag myself further into the adjacent ditch and lay there without sunscreen. Now I have not one, but two very hard, painful lumps on my chin which I have 100% brought on myself. They’re not as visibly as your standard whitehead, they are sensitive to the touch, which is super fun.

So here I am, back at square one. Let’s see if I can’t stay on the straight and narrow this time.

Kicking the Habit

We were in a hotel bathroom in Puerto Rico the first time I tried it. Under the yellow glow of neon lights my older sisters showed me how best to approach it. I got as close to the mirror as I could and started with my nose, applying pressure with my finger nails until I felt the release. The first little batch of blackheads squirted forth from my skin and, immediately, I was hooked — I was a picker.

My skin has always been sensitive — fragrant products and stress bring on break-outs and my pale complexion makes sunblock a year-round necessity — but the picking is really where my issues come from. Since high school I have been prone to cystic acne and all of my poking and prodding makes mountains out of mole hills on my freckled epidermis. Even so, I’ve been fairly fortunate. Others struggle with much more visible skin issues, ones that steal their confidence and make them feel less than beautiful. To damage my skin when others are unable to repair theirs just seems selfish.

So why not stop picking? Because after twenty year it’s not just a habit, it’s part of my everyday life. Each week I spend countless minutes in front of mirrors expelling the build-up of oils and dead cells from my pores. There are nights when I could be in bed a full hour earlier if it weren’t for this compulsion. I start off telling myself, I’ll just get this one… and before I know it the skin on my face is a tortured, blotchy — sometimes bleeding — mess. It’s bad for me and I know it, but something about it feels good and — unlike those pesky blackheads and whiteheads — I just can’t put my finger on it.

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One day in and a fresh whitehead decided to make an appearance.

Last week I decided to use the New Year as an excuse to quit the habit. It’s been hard, I had been really going at it in the weeks prior and that, combined with unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, meant that my skin was in especially bad shape but what better time to go cold turkey than after a binge?

Until I start to see some of the rewards, I’m working on a system for positive reenforcement. For my first week without picking, I plan on allowing myself to splurge on a fancy exfoliant (my sister generously gave me some of her Rodin+Fields Enhancements Micro-dermabrasion Paste to try out, I’ll let you know how that goes). If I make it to a month, I’m going to treat myself to a facial.

At the time of posting I have gone seven days without picking. There have been moments of temptation, but I’m keeping my eyes on the prize. In addition to breaking a bad habit and working towards clearer skin, I’m also hoping to learn more about my motivation for doing this — what about it brings me that feeling of calm? And why do I find it so hard to stop once I’ve started? If anyone reading this is a fellow picker (active or reformed), I would love it if you would share your stories in the comments.

Until next time,

Kimbo

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One week in and I’m feeling better already

Connecting to Christmas Through Craft

 

Earlier today a fellow creative (the wonderful Glady Ann of Heart Take the Wheel) asked her Instagram followers how they get into the Christmas spirit and it made me pause. I wanted to give a really thoughtful answer because ‘getting into the spirit’ is something I’ve struggled with for the past couple of years. In addition to work and the general chaos of the season, my family has suffered the loss of some exceptional people, people who I was missing, but had not taken the time to grieve the loss of since their respective passings. These losses are something that I only recently sought counseling for and, through that journey, I’ve realized that I had been throwing myself into work and generally just powering through the individual days rather than addressing the profound sadness that had taken up residence in both my heart and mind and was impacting my daily behavior.

Throwing myself into work has long been a crutch of mine, which was one thing when I worked for a family business, but has taken on quite a different energy in my current position. I have come to the realization that I am the only one who will tell myself that enough is enough, because I am doing quality work, and I deserve to disconnect at the end of the day. I deserve to leave work at work and not bring it home with me. It is not only my right, but my responsibility to decline work requests during my time off, and to push back when work is impacting my physical and mental health.

It is these realizations that led me to take every last bit of vacation time that was owed to me this year. My superiors wanted to know where I was going and what I had planned. I happily informed them that I would be spending my time off with friends and family. Working in Manhattan can be wonderful at times, but it can also be a massive time-suck. When all is said and done, my commute takes three hours, door-to-door, and it can be difficult to match schedules with those who don’t work in the city or muster the energy to keep plans with the ones that do. All that being said, I needed to take this time to recharge and, hopefully, get into that ‘spirit’ I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

I’m not going to lie, it was really hard to disconnect and unwind. My first official day ‘off’ I woke up 6:30AM panicked that I had overslept. My heart racing and my muscles tense with anxiety, I forced myself to breath deeply and concentrated on relaxing so that I could go back to sleep until a reasonable vacation waking time. Also, I’d made a long-overdue doctor’s appointment, so I needed to be up in time for that.

After a few work-related interruptions in my first two days off, I finally began to relax. I worked out (running is a major stress-reliever for me), I spent time with my parents, and I took time to think about what I wanted to do – not what I felt like I should be doing (shout out to V for telling me that I need not worry about cooking dinner every night just because I was off from work – love you, Handsome!).

So back to the question of how to get into the Christmas spirit. Beyond all of my usual methods of shopping, listening to Christmas music, and watching movies with Christmas scenes (not necessarily Christmas movies, per se), I decided to create a meaningful Christmas craft with the help of my mother. Growing up, she made personally crafted stockings for every member of our immediate family. Each one was a different print, hand-selected by her, with our name handwritten in her “Catholic-school-script.” Those stockings are, to this day, one of my favorite things about Christmas img_2783and I wanted to carry on that tradition in my own home, so I asked my mother to carve a little time out of her own very busy schedule to help me make V and I our own stockings. Three hours (and one very late-in-the-evening celebratory glass of wine) later, we had completed the beautiful, one-of-a-kind stockings you see here.

Using my hands to physically create something helped me connect to the holiday in a very concrete way. Doing that with my mother, who I love, appreciate and have a fabulous time with, made it all the more special.

So that’s what I recommend to get in the spirit. Take time for you. Be present. Create something – whether it’s decorating your own wreath, making a stocking or ornament for yourself or a loved one, or just selecting fresh flowers and greenery for a festive arrangement – and then give yourself the luxury of time to appreciate it. In fact, that’s what I’m going to do tonight as soon as V gets home.

Wishing you a very merry and relaxing Christmas.

-XO, Kimbo

Current Addiction: Ballz

Have you ever lost hours of your life to something that you chose to do and thought, “I don’t even know if I enjoyed that?” That’s how I feel about Ballz. V told me about and said it was addictive and, after noticing him playing several times, I finally gave it a shot. At first I declared that it was “kind of stupid” …and then I got better.

Now, I am not a competitive person by nature, but I do enjoy being good at things. So much, in fact, that being halfway decent at something straight out of the gate can sustain my interest in that thing for an exponential amount of time.

It also helps when I can justify this otherwise useless new interest. In the case of Ballz, it was that we were low on data and playing this game in airplane mode helped pass the time on my commute. Sure, I could read a book or a magazine, but that would add weight to my already overstuffed work bag (Is professional rationalizer a thing? If so, I would be really good at it. V does often say that I should have been a lawyer…).

This week I realized that I was losing a solid 1-2 hours a day on this game. And that’s when I realized I needed to kick the habit. There are dozens of things I could be doing with that time (even while observing my no talking on commuter trains rule) and that is how I find myself here, writing a long overdue blogpost.

I’ve got quite a few topics in the queue and a bunch of new segment ideas. I’ll be increasing the frequency of my posts and shining a bit more light on Long Island, as it looks like V and I may finally have more free time soon (pretty sure we couldn’t have less). As they used to say on the Mickey Mouse Club, “see ya real soon!”

They Call Them Fixtures for a Reason

Of all of the design decisions I’ve had to make in the new house, I agonized over the light fixtures the most. We only needed them for the bedrooms, which you would think would make it easier, but of course I had to overthink it. 

You see, growing up I never had a ceiling light, which made me really want one. The idea of walking into my room and flipping a switch on the wall to turn on the light seemed positively luxurious. Instead I had a standard floor lamp with one of those mini thumb wheel cord switches (yes, that is the technical name, I looked it up). 

In addition to having strange aversions towards certain things (i.e. the aforementioned mini thumb wheel cord switches), I also get weirdly cheap about things. V has to remind me regularly that, sometimes, it’s money well spent and I just need to get over it. Light fixtures were one of those things. All that being said, I am obsessed with the ones we went with. 

V picked this midcentury number for our home office. All of the furniture in there is cherry wood and we got a great indoor/outdoor rug from Ikea that has an architectural vibe. 

I picked the fixture with the black shade, which I affectionately refer to as my Sia light fixture. We put it in the front bedroom which is where I get ready and I just love the drama that it adds to the space. 

But the overall room decor is not the point of the post (I’ll save that for another day). The point is this, life is short, buy the light fixtures. 

Both light fixtures were purchased from Rejuvenation.

Living in Construction

Back when V and I first embarked on our house hunt, we talked about the idea of buying a true fixer-upper. As is the case with most couples, we were watching a lot of HGTV and our heads were filled with images of farmhouse-chic mudrooms, exposed beams, and on-suites. During our nightly (and daily) joint searches of the new listings in our area we would rationalize all sorts of pitfalls in listings and grossly over exaggerate how far the money we saved would take us. I remember V saying to me, “you have to be okay with living in construction” and I confidently assured him that I would be.

The very first house we put in an offer on needed a tremendous amount of work; it was a small, traditional cape and the previous owner had been using the main floor as a yoga studio and the upstairs as her apartment. The kitchen needed to be relocated to the main floor – and that was just the tip of the iceberg – but it was reasonably priced and located in a very desirable neighborhood walking distance from the train, so we were sold.

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Tiny Cape, big problems

My parents came over to see the house and after a quick (and mostly silent) walk-through my Dad famously told V, ‘this house is a tear-down. You need to start at the street and work your way back. You two don’t have time to blow your nose and wipe it – when are you going to do all of these renovations?’

He was right, between work, family, and friends, we just didn’t have the time to dedicate to a complete gut renovation.

Those blunt words from one of our biggest supporters helped to keep us grounded (and make us laugh, sorry, Dad) throughout our search, which went on for over a year. We saw everything from total gut-jobs and tear-downs to newly flipped remodels and we slowly realized that we wanted something in between, which is exactly what we wound up with.

That being said, we have been living in construction now for over a month and, true to my word, I am indeed fine with it. In fact, I’m more than fine with it because this is our house! I’m learning so much. Between painting and refinishing the floors I’ve kept myself quite busy. So far I’ve left the power tools to V and my father-in-law, but I’m confident that a tool belt is in my future.

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Our bed, temporarily housed in our living room, while we refinished the wood floors in all three bedrooms

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Down to the studs

Also, decorating is hard, you guys. It all seems like fun and games until you have to make a financial commitment to a light fixture you’ve never event met. So, clearly there is lots more to come on this front and I can’t wait to share it with you. Remember, sharing goes both ways, so feel free to leave tips and tales of your own house hunt and renovation struggles (or triumphs, hooray for triumphs!) in the comments.

It’s a beautiful life, let’s make it well-lived.

Forever Home, Found

Right now I am sitting in our new kitchen. The kitchen we dreamt about while falling all over each other in the miserable (and, regardless of how frequently or thoroughly I cleaned it, icky) kitchen of our little one bedroom apartment, the kitchen in the forever home we thought we would never find.

Everything in this kitchen makes me happy. Right now it’s raining and the sound of the rain on the skylights is seriously soothing (the glass of Sauvignon Blanc I’m enjoying doesn’t hurt either). When I wake up in the morning and have my orange juice in here, it is the perfect start to my day. And each night when V and I have dinner at our oversized island, that is the perfect end to it.

Full disclosure, the other reason I love the kitchen is because we are currently living in construction and this is one of the only rooms we haven’t had to touch. We started off saying, “we’re not going to do much,” but – as all of our homeowner friends have told us – everyone starts off saying that. So here we are with our bed in the living room and the polyurethane curing on the floors in the bedrooms and about 1/4 of our belongings moved in, but, even still, I am loving it. Do I get frustrated? Sure. But the bottom line is, we have a house, and every time I come through our door or walk into a room I feel from the bottom of my soul that it is the exact house we were supposed to find.

Tonight at dinner I asked V if he would be alright with me sharing our journey as new homeowners here on the blog and, of course, he said yes. So, dear readers, it looks like we are about to embark upon a new adventure together. I hope you enjoy home renovation and interior design as much as you enjoy personal style, heaven knows I do.  And, since I have been given the green light, here is your first peek at our new forever home.

Made with the Prisma app using the realtor’s photo… I don’t want to give too much away up front!

 

The House Hunting Chronicles: New Year, New Listings

House hunting is hard, so let’s pretend we live here, yeah?

The start of 2017 marks 6 months that V and I have been searching for our forever home. The first week of the new year brought a promising number of new listings – we saw eight houses the first weekend of the new year – but that quickly died down. This weekend it was back to a trickle and the one house we did see, while charming, wasn’t a real contender. 


And so we wait… and while we do I look at old images of dreamy showrooms (like the image of the Ochre showroom at the start of this post), I pin paint colors and decorating ideas, and I think about a time a few weeks from now when history tells us the listings will pick up again.