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Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidyingtumblr_nh0c3gGpVl1r5wz8zo1_1280

The book by Kondo Marie

Books claim to be enlightening, mind-opening and life-changing all the damn time. In fiction, in histories, in science books, I’ll readily believe that my perspective on something will be different by the end of a read. On a self-help book, on a lifestyle book, I’m more doubtful. Aren’t they just trying to sell themselves? However, this one I’ve read and applied has so far proven influential for at least one big sweep. It’s one of the best turns my lifestyle has taken, and I’m working on making it last.

As the title indicates, the book is about making your living space clean and organized (and how it will greatly and positively impact the rest of your life). Keeping any space organized has never really been my thing. Clothes and hairties and socks and cups and random things everywhere! Slightly better when I have a roommate, but only for courtesy’s sake. Not in my nature to keep thins in visual order, right?

Wrong, according to Kondo Marie. She might be right.

In her book, she goes through her personal journey in discovering her foolproof method of tidying, and then describes gently how to use this KonMari method. It’s not a long read, and the tone is light and unassuming. I lent the book to my neighbor and recent best friend as soon as I finished it.

p22-odonoghue-marie-kondo-a-20141012The method boils down to this essential–as you go through every object you own (there’s a system for this–again, I recommend reading the book!!). Hold it in your hands. If if gives you joy and fulfills you in the now–not once upon a time, and not in some hypothetical future, then keep it.

Anything you don’t specifically choose to keep, say thank you to it for fulfilling your life at one point (especially for sentimental objects that you kept for no other reason) and throw/donate it out. It’s done its job.

What’s left is a living space of only objects and ideas that specifically pertain to your current self–which is a lot less /STUFF/ than before, most likely. At that point, you assign places to things and things to places and let them live in their peaceful homes, homes that they go back to after they do their jobs for the day.

It’s one big event, by the way, not a “spend five minutes each day of your life on decluttering your home”. The throw-things-out party is one, big emotionally-draining project that may span days, perhaps weeks. Mine–just a single-person studio, living initially out of a suitcase, abroad–took nearly two weeks. I was stunned at the sheer amount of clothes I donated.

Here’s an article from the Wall Street Journal about her book:

and an interview:

I haven’t had the chance to watch it, but she had a Google talk as well!

Well worth the read, well worth the change. Give it a try!

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Review: Basic Five Toes by Tabbisocks

These fit women’s 6-10 according to SockDreams, so I do fall out of the range by half a shoe size (again! but then, when do I not?). There is indeed some extra material sticking out of the heel but it’s negligible.

(Not my feet)

They’re very comfortable, although not as much so as the Injinji especially in terms of material. They are lower-coverage, though, so these actually pass as no-show in more shoe designs. The toe compartments seem to fit a little better than Injinji, size-wise.

Image from SockDreams

The sticker says US 5-10, but because of the extra material I’m inclined to believe Sock Dreams’ judgment. There’s also materials information on there as well.

basic-five-toes-beige-os

Here’s another point for SockDreams: When I first looked at these socks, they were out of stock. However, right there on the page was a box offering email notification if/when that sock came back, whether in a specific size/color or just in general. No registration necessary, just the email to which the notification needed to be sent. Sure enough, I got an email as soon as it came back in stock! This is definitely a great way to help customers and to encourage well-deserved loyalty.

Review: Injinji Lightweight RUN Toe Socks

I’m very easily drawn to very high-tech sounding things, so sports-oriented clothing and socks get my attention extremely quickly. They keep my attention if they’re high quality, and that attention turns to loyalty if they treat me well 🙂 The socks that I first went for in my quest for toe-protecting toe socks were Injinji‘s “Performance 2.0 RUN” socks. They come in different weights (thicknesses) and heights, and I got lightweight (the thinnest) at a no-show length.

The Injinji socks are made in four sizes: S, M, L and XL. I got my socks in S, and the packaging they come in states that they fit women’s sizes 6-8.5. Now, I bought this knowing that my shoe size fell outside of the range (I have inconveniently 5.5-sized feet), but seeing as how the company doesn’t actually manufacture an XS, and it’s not that far out anyway, any issues I personally have that result from sizing are absolutely minimal and do not detract from how happy these socks make me.

From Injinji’s facebook page. I think those are my exact colors! Also a very thought-provoking catchphrase 🙂

Despite being lightweight, the first thing I noticed was the high quality of the fabric. It just feels so good! It’s sturdy and solid, but also really soft and cuddly (as much as you like to cuddle socks). They’re incredibly comfortable too: I’m not sure how they make this really strange feeling work but the socks feel really secure and somewhat invincible but still really light and airy. It’s definitely a sock to wick away sweat and heat. My toes actually got a little chilly! I guess they’re used to squeezing together for warmth.

Some extra information about the design of the sock from the packaging:

There’s a band of specially compressing material around the top edge to keep the sock in place. Have to admit that I don’t really wear high enough socks to have them fall very often.

The material provides maximum ventilation. Yup.

Reinforced heel and toes. This is very good because I wear my socks so hard they often get holes in those very places. As well as along the balls of my feet. I probably should take better care of my socks.

The area around the arch is also specially designed to provide a bit of support. I’m guessing this is by compression? It’s not a huge amount of support (it’s a sock) but it does feel pretty good. It might be psychological after having read about its existence.

There’s also a fun little tab in the back to prevent blisters that form from rubbing the top edge of your shoes. Now that I think about it… huh. I guess I do get blisters there sometimes. Nice!

Other reviewers who have written about injinji’s new line are actually runners, so they have a more professional, athletic perspective on how these socks do or don’t work well for their actual intended consumers (spoiler: they do) but I’m just a person with feet who walks a lot, and I like them. I’ll definitely take particular care of them (meaning I’ll match them first when I’m folding my clean laundry) and pull them out for more active days.

What about those minimal fit issues I mentioned earlier? The toes are actually a pretty okay length; a few are a bit long by one or two millimeters. Eh. The heel does stick out and ride a bit up if I’m pulled all the way to the front of the sock. Also, eh.

Appearance-wise? I think they look better than all my ratty socks (because they’re new!). But honestly, the outfitted toes don’t look bad at all! And they feel so very comfortable that I don’t think I’d mind even if they did look bad. Which they don’t.

My feet! In socks!

Check it out guys, I’ve finally uploaded a picture of a personal body part on my blog! I guess the extra material doesn’t look bad at all. It feels like much more than it looks but going down a hypothetical size might be too much.

I’ve had these socks for less than two weeks and already I’ve worn them, washed them, worn them again, shown them off, and intrigued my mom with them. In fact, she showed these socks to her friend while I was out watching Star Trek. Not sure if weird.

Review: zulily

Zulily, like Totsy, is a flash sale site targeted at new families looking to outfit their babies, selves and home. Thanks to reddit lurkingtimes, I was alerted to (another) Affinitas sale and thought I’d try this one out since I like my first two Parfait bras so much.

I ordered the Donna, and, as the site is designed to encourage you to do, wandered into some other sales and bought a few items from another event.

Timeline:

  1. Ordered on Jan 23.
  2. Both events ended Jan 25.
  3. Event 1 (not Affinitas) shipped to zulily on Jan 31.
  4. Event 2 (Affinitas) shipped to zulily on Feb 1.
  5. Event 2 shipped to me on Feb 2.
  6. Event 1 shipped to me on Feb 4.
  7. Event 2 arrived on Feb 5.
  8. Event 1 arrived on Feb 7.

Some brief comments about the Donna:

Again, a 30-band. This is MUCH looser than the Kimberly and the Honey. The Donna might be a true 30. The cups are still molded but not nearly as thick as the Kimberly/Honey bras. The top of the cups don’t seem to come up as high. It’s a good solid-color bra. Yay for finally getting a plain solid black bra! Boo for it being loose in the band! If I don’t get much wear out of it, I may just try to pass it on to someone who actually needs a 30G.

Review: Parfait by Affinitas, Kimberly and Honey

Totsy

Remember that Totsy sale and how I wanted to try Affinitas despite their bands ending at 30? I went through with it, received the bras and have introduced them into my rotation.

So, I should really be a 28-only now but the Totsy sale put these gems up for about $18 each, which is even cheaper than typical cheap bras, and with free shipping (first purchase deal). It was a pretty low-risk gamble and I’m so glad I took it.

First Impressions

I got the package about a month after my order. My first reaction upon unwrapping the bras: “Oh dude these cups are HUGE.”

Then I tried them on: “Oh dude these cups FIT. What’s going on?”

And then… I caught a glance at one of the tags and was promptly struck speechless.

Affinitas

Affinitas is rumored to run one band size small and one cup size small, which is theoretically perfect for me because those are the exact dimensions and directions by which I size out of their range. However, I find that the bras are a bit more true to size. The 30 band is tighter than other 30 bands but is nowhere near a 28, and an ever-so-slightly larger cup would not be amiss. I’d say that my bras run about half a size out in those directions. The bra bands are okay for now, but they’ll stretch very quickly, and I expect (with a sad sad face) that they’ll be too loose sooner than usual. So at the moment, they’re both under special treatment in that I wear them as a deliberate pampering factor 🙂

The Honey and Kimberly have, to my delight, three hooks. They are also thickly lined (or lightly padded) and molded, which I didn’t realize I liked so much. They feel so soft and smooth, and they’re supportive without being scratchy, which is something that grumps me out about wearing unlined bras all the time.

Another thing I noticed, this time about both of these Affinitas bras; they’re squeaky! I haven’t found this problem with any other bras before, and it’s not so much loud and disruptive but startling and slightly annoying. Also, I’m a little sensitive to these raw *eeeeek*ish sounds (like scratching and styrofoam) so I pick up on these a bit more than other people might. I wonder why they’re squeaking at all.

Honey

This bra is a bit different from my recent preferences; I’ve realized that most of my bras are rather loud/dark colors. For some reason I’ve stayed away from muted and/or cute colors. Even for my Honey purchase I was hmming over the color, but I decided that I might as well splurge all the way through to the pastel color as well! Although now that I think about it, pastel colors seemed to be the only options. The only other color I remember is a pastel purple.

The one I bought is a really soft pink (soft but still having personality~) and it’s definitely my “cutest” color bra.

It has a nice thick lining (someday I will research and properly use the difference between lining and padding. Not today.) which I’ve really missed. The cups are totally comfortable and don’t show up at all under clothing.

The Honey is packaged with ruffled straps by default; that seems to be one of the highlighted features. However, I found the ruffles to be a little too thin and scratchy and rough for my taste. I would have preferred something thicker and softer and flowier. I’ve been wearing the bra with the alternate, ruffle-less straps that were provided.

(See the Affinitas general comment for band size comments.)

Here are some other opinions: Bratabase (only one review); one review on Amazon.com (sounds like I’m not the only one finding the default straps uncomfortable!); mixed reviews from Her Room customers; and a review of the babydoll version on Invest in Your Chest.

Kimberly

This bra may beat out the narue Princess in terms of my favorite bra, looks-wise. It looked great in pictures but is absolutely fantastic in (on?) person. I love how it looks so modern and classy. The stripes, the colors and design really work well together. Affinitas has someone genius in their midst.

The Kimberly came in two different styles: “Molded Padded Bra” (above) and “Balconet[te] Padded Bra” (below; seems to function also a strapless). Both colors were available in both styles, but the black one looks much sleeker and cooler to me. (This is where my mom scoffs at a bra-buying decision being made on account of how cool it looks.)

Regarding the past tense: The Kimberly is probably not being produced anymore. Its information is no longer accessible directly on the Affinitas website. If you found and followed my secret link in the preceding paragraph, you’ll notice that it’s in a directory named “_old”. So sad! I hope they put more products out along this trend.

(See the Affinitas general comment for band size comments.)

The dangling portrait (“cameo charm”) on the gore is pretty distinctive, but I honestly don’t notice or spaz over it as much as other reviewers.

Here are some other opinions: Bratabase page (they don’t seem to really like this); and Leah from Hourglassy (who actually tried both versions).

Verdict

Do I recommend Affinitas/Parfait by Affinitas? Absolutely, if you’re in their range! I vote that people wearing usual 28 bands won’t find the 30 tight enough, though. Best if you can try it on first, of course, since their sizing is under dispute by our population. Across the board they’re said to run tight and small; I’m finding them more true to size than not.

Stay tuned for yet another post about Affinitas; I wrote to them and received a reply from a representative, and would like to share my first experience with writing to a bra company!

Review: figleaves.com Update

I took Windiegardie’s advice and went ahead with the returns process for getting the Meg back to figleaves. They’d provided a sticker label for the return address to their office in Virginia, so I paid about a dollar and a half for first class domestic postage. Figleaves must have a system for processing and forwarding these US returns to the UK. I got an email yesterday saying they received my return in the UK and were now processing in the accounts department. The refund hasn’t appeared yet, but for the moment everything seems to have gone swimmingly!

Update: Refund is in! A smooth couple of weeks.

Review: Freya Crystal Plunge

Hate to start out with bad news, but I feel that it’s important news and has a time and place up top.

Hearts and thoughts to the victims and their families in Connecticut, US, and Henan, China. For those who haven’t heard, there were two extreme cases of mass violence. Both took place in elementary schools. In both cases, the majority of the victims were young children. Gun violence in Connecticut, knife violence in Henan. I’m just hoping, for the US at least, that there’ll be some immediate action this time around.

Sorry for the sad start. Review!

There is another review on this same bra on undressedtoimpress here.

Apparently, this is basically another version of the much-loved Freya Deco (…which I do not have and have never seen. *sniffle*).

I bought this quite a while ago, so it’s a 30 band. I wanted to attribute my buying a plunge to it being “a while ago” but I kind of realized how much I don’t want/need/ever have use for a plunge bra because of the Crystal Plunge.

Feely-wise, it’s very comfortable, but I find the band really stretchy. The cups are super molded and would probably hold their shape if I found a truck to run them over with. I think this was also my first time with a molded bra so we’ll chalk up the “*slouch* hey what’s my bra doing?” to my inexperience. The color is really nice, kind of a dark teal with light blue dots. The outline and the straps have the reverse color scheme.

The strap are very thick, and I guess the pattern pretties it up a bit, but I wouldn’t be comfortable having these show under my clothes. It might work for a very deliberate cutesy look. I don’t really do very deliberate cutesy looks, so I’ll defer definitive judgment to someone who does.

For fashion advice of the cute variety, I think whoever put this outfit together would give much better advice. Not that I know who that would be. And look, the pedals are peeking out of the piano. How adorable!

A VS Success Story?

A disclaimer, to prevent the post from getting too misleading from the beginning: I did not purchase any bras. Okey yes cool now?

I was at the mall today because Macy’s was having a good sale and I thought I’d give it another try. I’m notoriously horrible at shopping, but guess what? I did get stuff! My goal was tops because I need more than the two I’m rotating for work, so I tried a bunch on but no-go. However, I finally learned what I need for jeans! There are, in fact, not only “petite” jeans but also “petite short” jeans. One guess as to which of these two species fits, and is much harder to find. (Also: they can just make the crushing blow to my totally existent ego a bit more direct by saying “petite” and “petiter” or something… what’s with “petite short”?!) Still, I was able to buy three (three!!) pairs of jeans, at 50% off plus my coupon discount, that hopefully I’ll never have to hem or put painful darts in at the waist.

(Finally getting to the success story now)

Since I was at the mall anyway, I decided to drop into VS to use a $10 off coupon they’d sent me in the mail. The employees there, as I pointed out previously, are really friendly and offer to help all the time. I was there just to buy some comfy undies (I got a megaload of them for $15 with my coupon!) and–here is the “success”–when the salesperson asked if I wanted to get fitted, I (yes, me, the pushover!) told them that VS does not make bras in my bandsize. Here’s the conversation:

(prelude about clarifying no-minimum-y-ness for my coupon)
VS: When was the last time you got fitted?
A: It was a while ago, but I wear a 28 band. I don’t think Victoria’s Secret makes bras in that band…
VS: No, there aren’t any 28 bands. We can give you something else to try though. Are you looking for something specific? A push-up?
A: No, that’s okay, I was just going to look at the underwear.
VS: Okay. I’ll be around to check on you.

A few points:

  • This is the main pro of the conversation: the girl did not at all refute or ignore my being a 28 back or my remark that VS doesn’t make 28s.
  • Yeah, she did offer to put me in a non-28 band, but this, after all, is a business and she didn’t push too hard with something like “I’m sure we can find something that’ll fit”.
  • I actually split before she got around to “checking on me” but another point for good service and sweet personality.
  • I wonder what her response would’ve been if I’d told her my full bra size.
  • Dude the last thing I want is a push-up 😦

And then on my way home, I bought even more stuff. (Massive shopping points! This is good for me, kind of.) I found out that Rite-Aid had the N.Y.C. cosmetics I’ve been hurting for (the local CVSs don’t carry it and there are no local Kmarts) and I bought granola bars and bananas at Safeway. Mmm bananas…

Next post, either tomorrow or the day after, will be another review. Probably the Freya Crystal Plunge.

Review: Panache Harmony Balconette

This was one of the first 30 bands I bought for myself. The Harmony balconette is really touted as a great first well-fitting bra for beginners who have only just had their bra-piphany (oh yeah I just went there. Actually, I might have seen it somewhere else before.).

Strangely, it has some terrible reviews on Bravissimo. This and its out-of-stockness in my size make me sad.

I agree that it’s great to start out with. It’s really comfortable, it’s very normal (but still elegant), and the fact that it’s not molded will help along anyone who might be going “oh hold on that size looks terrifying!”. I also feel particularly secure in this bra, although I have no idea why. It’s not super snug, but it’s like someone sewed a sense of safeness into my bra. Maybe that’s the secret?

It comes in a couple of different colors. Mine is beige. I can’t find any mention of Harmony (balconette or full-cup) on Panache’s website, but there are still plenty around.

Here is a review of the same Harmony balconette from Bras I Hate. She says (and I believe her) that its design helps make breasts look more compact. The gist is that there are a few factors (breast shape, position, etc) that might send a few people away from the Harmony balconette but overall it’s a very very good bra.

Review: figleaves.com and Meg

My figleaves order came in today! I’ll smash together my quick review of the ordering experience and my overall impression of the two Cleos in this one post. I’ll do a more detailed review of the Lucy after I’ve spent some time with her.

Ordering: Was pretty easy! Unfortunately, my size doesn’t have as prolific a selection as other sizes, but this is the case everywhere. Signing up, adding things and paying were straightforward; they take Paypal, which I like. The timeline was a little startling though. It took them some time to process; I placed my order Sunday night but it was not processed and shipped until Wednesday morning. Not terrible, but I’m spoiled and have gotten used to a 24 business hour turnover. The package came today, Tuesday, which puts them at six days for an international delivery.

I was especially looking forward to the Meg because Windie and everyone has raved about her.

Initial impression: Aw darn it, they’re unlined. My bad for not paying closer attention, but the Meg seriously looked lined in reviews. And Meg, oh Meg! I think this is a case of they-screwed-up-trying-to-bring-up-the-size. There is so much extra fabric in the cup… there’s absolutely no way I could fill them. I mean, yay for the exciting first time in my life where the cup is too big, but it’s just so completely different from the 28GG Lucy! Lucy fits perfectly; they’re the same size, the same Cleo family… what’s going on here?

A definite keeper!

I’m keeping the Lucy for sure (because right now it brings the number of decently-fitting bras I own up to five-ish) but I can’t keep the Meg. I’m not sure about trying the return game with figleaves; I’ve heard some horror stories about refunds and communication. Is it time for an ebay adventure?

In other news, I found out about a fantastic sale on totsy.com. For the next two days, Affinitas and Affinitas Parfait are going for $15-$20 a bra; I love that they’re beautiful and I love that they’re lined and I love that they’re cheap right now, but they only go down to 30! I’m seriously considering buying the 30 and equivalent cup, and then altering them (either at home or finding a tailor). I think I’m doing it. (Too much spending of the monies lately ahhhh!!!!)

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