Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My One Hundred Item Wardrobe

Imagine walking around a room quietly, watching people take a test. Walk. Watch. Walk. Watch. Look awake, but don't bother anyone, they're taking a test. Walk. Watch. It's called proctoring and I used to do it for extra money. I do it now for regular money. And since I enjoy people watching, it's quite an interesting job for me. It gives me lots of time to think of very deep, soul-searching topics that I can meditate on while moving quietly about the room. Thoughts such as:

"If I got home and all my clothes had been somehow destroyed in a small and highly contained natural disaster in my closet, how much would it cost to replace them? All of them."

I came up with the figure of $1000, because let's face it, proctoring pays OK but it's not like performing brain surgery. With that wad of money, I would step into my favorite thrift store, flash my thousand dollars around and ask to see every single Talbots, Jones of New York and Ann Taylor item in the place. I may shop at thrift stores, but that doesn't mean I can't be a brand snob.

"If I had $1000 to spend, I wonder how many clothes that would buy?"

Assuming (thrift store prices here) jackets are $12, dresses $10, suits $20, coats $15, tops $8 etc., I came up with the number. 100 items of clothing.

"Forget the money, forget the closet disaster, can I whittle my clothes down to just 100 items?" 

So after proctoring a 12 hour day, I came home and took everything out of my closet and sorted it according to categories. I had a burst of energy that lasted all the way thru the skirts. While I hate summer, it became apparent that I love summer skirts, because I had quite a few. Mostly Talbots. But instead of following the rule from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up of Does it spark joy? I decided on another brilliant criterion.

Does it fit?
Does it look good on me? 
If I took off the Talbots label would I still like it?

I eventually tried on every single item in my wardrobe. And then I stood in front of the mirror, because really, that's a big part of the trying-on process. I got another mirror and did the Does it still spark joy from behind? test also. Lots of clothes went bye-bye.

I got my wardrobe down to 96 items, including the pants I like to refer to as loungewear rather than yoga pants, jeans and other things I would wear in public if need be. I was so jazzed, there was room for four more summer skirts! Then my husband started riffling through my discard pile and pulled out 3 tossed tiems that were making his lower lip stick out with sadness, not joy. I relented and took them back into the fold, because I was still under the Life Changing Number of One Hundred. Then I remembered my four coats in the hall closet. Drats! I was at 103 items in my wardrobe. There is positively nothing magical about the number 103. It has no flow, no style. But that's where I'm at, 103.

The Spring/Summer Keeps!

I was ruthless last Fall with footwear, so shoes were easy.

The Blue Bags of Shame, off to be donated.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Windy City Eats

We don't eat out much. Between our strict plant-based diet, our strict budget and the fact that I enjoy cooking (most nights), we probably eat home-cooked meals 95% of the time, if not more.

We try our best to eat on the cheap and healthy when away from home too, and that creates some challenges. Let's see, what are our options?

Chipotle has vegan beans, yippee! Some Mexican food places can deal with our tweaks, which means hold the cheese, the meat, the sour cream and hey, do you have any whole wheat tortillas by any chance? Another option is Thai, most restaurants can accommodate my husband's need to keep his food from being drenched in oil. So that puts us where? Bean and bean burritos with a side of beans, and some Thai dishes served with brown rice, but please hold the salt. It sure isn't easy, and travel adds a bit more baggage to the question of What's for dinner? 

At the beginning of the month we were off to Chicago for another work weekend at the McCormick Center. This was the sixth time for me, the fourth time for my husband. I don't count the time he flew there with me to enjoy the hotel room, the city and the sights, while I limped around proctoring for days on end. No, I don't count that time. 

Working the job we have there has its advantages. There's the fact we get paid, and the hours do add up. We get to stay in a great hotel, work with some super people and see more and more of Chicago each time. There's just one minor detail that makes it hard. It's those horrid wake-up times for the days we work. I didn't get the rooster gene, so any alarm set before 5:30 AM seems positively barbaric. 

Gulp! That's 1:45 AM Sacramento time.

But I get through it. The food helps. It really helps.

Even though we live in the Farm to Fork Capital, Chicago has it all over Sacramento when it comes to vegan food options. A regular Mexican restaurant that has an entire section of the menu devoted to vegan food? Chicago has it. None of this, "Can I have some extra beans on my nachos to make up for the fact I'm not having cheese and sour cream?" La Cantina Grill has a menu that makes us swoon. While Ernst is making his more serious dietary issues known to the server, I'm just going hog wild ordering off the plant-based menu.

Oh. My. Word.
Chili rellenos stuffed with vegan cheese. It made that 3:45AM wake up call all better.

"Meat" tacos.
It didn't taste like meat. That's not the point. It just tasted wonderful.

We were in Chicago for four nights. We went to the Cantina Grill twice. One night we ordered three entrees between us. Let's see - two people, two visits, five entrees. Yep, we love this place!

Our friend Lorena also did her homework for us, and brought us to some great places. One was The Chicago Diner - Meat Free Since '83. This place didn't just have one page of choices, the whole menu was plant-based. Well, maybe that's a stretch, I'm sure some of the entrees had stuff that we would never eat at home. But when in Rome and all that.

My yummy sweet potato burger.

Ernst had the "meat loaf".
He was a happy boy.

I kept myself to only one entree.
But I did order the "milk" shake.
I was a happy girl.

The highlight of our resturant adventures in Chicago was definitely a visit to Revolution Brewing. We planned on just stopping in briefly for a tasting and a brewery tour and then we were headed with Lorena to a vegan-friendly Costa Rican place she'd found. While Ernst and Lorena were going to look for parking, they dropped me off street side. "Beware of the man in the red cape" our hostess warned me as I exited the vehicle. And sure enough, a very interesting man in a red cape was walking down the street. When he entered the brewery ahead of me, I had no idea what was in store inside.

I walked into a brewery full of people in red capes! We had come to the place on a pre-Comicon Kickoff Night, and it was full of interesting characters. It was hilarious fun! There were people in all kinds of costumes, there was a drawing for prizes, and best of all, there was a buffet! A free buffet, or at least we think it was free. And they had vegan burgers in this seemingly free buffet. We never made it to the Costa Rican place.

Beware of the man in the red cape!

Lorena, Hop Head Woman, Ernst and me.
Chicago, we will be back.
We still need to try the Costa Rican place.