The Best Things I’ve Spent Money on This Year

Okay, so by this year, I mean 1/1/19 to present. As I may have previously mentioned, I took a really prolonged break from spending money so that I could (successfully!) pay off ALL of my credit card debt. I also refinanced my student loans and got a lower interest rate on my car loan, so despite the fact that I absolutely was not making a living wage, I managed to kick some serious financial ass. I would not have been able to do any of this without my amazing husband and my in-laws—they’re so supportive and generous.

The crazy thing is, I went through and tallied up what I spent on everything on this list, and it’s roughly equivalent to what I spent on copays and medication for the year. Not trying to be controversh, but I shouldn’t be able to get an enormous tattoo, furniture, and an iPhone for less money than basic healthcare. In the spirit of that sentiment, please join DSA and consider volunteering for the Bernie Sanders campaign /end rant.

It’s also worth mentioning that a couple of the things mentioned below are from truly evil corporations that I, as a feminist socialist, do not want to continue supporting. Disengaging with major retailers is hard work, and participating in capitalism at all means that we all have the “damn’d spot*” on our hands. Next year, I hope this list is all small businesses and sustainable retailers, but all I can do is try my best. So without further ado, here are the purchases I made last year that were absolutely worth every penny:

iPhone 11

Owning this device has kind of ruined my life, to be honest. I was already pretty addicted to my phone, but the size of this screen and sleekness of the device have me hooked. The best feature, by far, is the fact that I can more easily do the New York Times crossword on this screen, which is truly the only thing I care about in this life. And I have to admit, I love the facial recognition. I know Apple is probably conspiring with the government and stealing my identity or whatever, but the level of convenience of opening things with Face ID is…almost worth it? Saying this really feels like the Chrissy Teigen tweet about Airpods, don’t cancel me.

Casetify Phone Case

This thing is indestructible, and comes in about a billion designs. I, of course, went with the sunflower pattern. I got a discount code from a podcast for 20% off, but I’d absolutely pay full price for another one.

AirPods

I finally did it. I caved and bought AirPods. I was going to buy them through Apple, but I found the same ones on Amazon for considerably cheaper (I bought this silicone protective case too). I…love them. I can’t believe I didn’t buy them sooner.

Magnetic Car Mount

A lot of phone shit, I know. but I’ve tried every type of car mount on the market, and this is by a mile the best. The magnet is super strong, and you can just stick it inside your case so you don’t have a big ugly sticker on the back. The best part is, for only $6, it’s a 2-pack, so you can give one to your significant other. My husband is still rocking an iPhone 6+, but the gear’s ready for him whenever he decides to upgrade.

The Comfiest Cardigan

Target has really been coming thruuuu with cute clothes and décor lately. This cardigan, from their A New Day line, is legitimately the coziest garment I own. I love it so much, I went back for another one.

The Best Earrings in the Game

Okay, so I’m wildly biased, because creator and entrepreneur Shelly Harper is my cousin, but damned if I don’t love her work. She is a fucking artist. Harp Designs is a woman-owned, woman-made brand out of Oakland, CA, and it makes the jewelry at retailers like Madewell look like an absolute lil’ bitch. Everything she makes is outstanding, but these earrings are so fun that I had to have them in gold and silver.

A Kitchen Table

The pub table in my kitchen had been rickety for a while, but for the ~$100 I paid for it, it certainly served its purpose. Helping my mother shop for her new home, I stumbled across this beauty, basically a dupe of my old table, except cuter, and I simply had to have it. It could be a little sturdier, but to its credit, I built it, so…

Savage Lovecast Magnum Edition

IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO ME, OKAY! I’m done with podcast ads, they’ve been my undoing! This podcast is my must-listen of my week, and I respect Dan so much for evolving and growing and doing everything in his power to get progressive ideas into the mainstream dialogue. Nobody’s perfect, but I’ve never not enjoyed an episode of this show. I also subscribed to Slate Plus for Dear Prudence and Stitcher Premium for Groceries, and I have zero regrets (except for the fact that Stitcher is quite possibly the ugliest, least user-friendly app on the planet). The Stitcher subscription won’t last, but ad-free podcasts were absolutely the highlight of 2019 for me.

Netflix & Hulu (no commercials!) Subscriptions

To be fair, I’ve had these for a lot longer than a year, but when you’re trying to live that homebody life and save money, these services are indispensable! We got rid of cable about a year ago, so this is the only way I can keep up with my programmes. For the combined total of $20.98/month, I get more TV than I could ever find the time to consume. Beautiful.

Monthly Charitable Donations

I’ve been donating $5/month to the ACLU & Planned Parenthood since the day after the 2016 election. It’s not much, but the number of donors to these organizations is often as important a metric as the amount donated. Planned Parenthood is an organization which is particularly near and dear to my heart, and from whose services I have personally benefitted. I also give to WERS, which is the local radio station out of Emerson College, because independent radio is important, and for my money, it’s the only radio station in the Greater Boston Area that plays anything I’d ever want to listen to.

A Tattoo

Hell yeah. So, here’s the story from A to Z—when I was 21, and towards the end of my last pre-husband relationship, I impulsively got a matching tattoo of (gag) Minnie Mouse on my ribs with my ex-boyfriend. That was in July…we broke up in November. So, for nearly 7 years, I’ve been living with this incredibly stupid-looking reminder of the guy I started dating when I was 18. No shade to him—I truly hope he’s living his best life, he’s a great guy—but it also seems psycho to have this permanently etched on my body. So, I put out some feelers on Facebook (I know…) and my friend Lauren hipped me to her shop. After perusing the various portfolios of the recommended shops, Famous Tattoos in Dartmouth won out. It’s clean, not too far away, and the work speaks for itself. Cut to a few months later—it was the best body art experience of my life. Ryan Vidinha is incredibly talented and so skillful with the tattoo needles. I sat for a cumulative 6 hours between two sessions, and he made it an absolute pleasure. And SO REASONABLY PRICED for what he was able to accomplish. My shop 4 life. Having a beautiful piece of art in place of what used to be an embarrassing blemish is so freeing. Best money I’ve ever spent.

Oh, and I got another tattoo, whilst I was on vacation in Florida. Gaze upon it. Apparently I wore the exact same outfit to both.

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Laser Tattoo Removal

I know, I just got an enormous cover-up tattoo. Why wouldn’t I just do the same in this case? Look, I tried. Because of the placement of my wrist tattoo, and how heavily the line-work was done, it’d be nearly impossible to do a cover-up that wasn’t giant and blobby to cover the black. Luckily, I discovered Disappearing Inc. Utter pros. Tattoo removal is a long, expensive process, and I’m so lucky to have Jenna as my technician. The tattoo is 3 stars (from the corner of the pages of Harry Potter, I truly was an absolute dumb bitch as a youth) and they’re so poorly done. They never healed correctly. I’ve cringed looking at them for years, and I’m so excited to see them slowly fade away. Read up on how tattoo removal works—it’s nuts and fascinating!

So it’s been a wrap-wrap-wrap up, a 12-month wrap-up. Thanks for tuning in!

*You know a bitch got out her 1973 edition of the Riverside Shakespeare to make sure she typed that correctly. Act V, scene i of MacBeth, my fave play 4 life.

Shout Out Sunday 3.17.19

I’ve been MIA for a minute, for which I apologize profusely. I’m going to try to get back into the swing of writing, but ask any writer—it’s the hardest thing on earth.

My husband and I went to Syracuse last weekend to see a Bowie tribute show, which is exciting—Syracuse is a really cool city! Every time we visit, we hit up my favorite restaurant, Strong Hearts Café, which is totally vegan! The best part is that they have a huge menu of different vegan milkshakes which are soooo delicious. I mean, it’s always exciting to see our Syracuse friends, but Strong Hearts, tho.

My No-Spend Year is still going strong! The No-Spend has been such an amazing, eye-opening experience. I am so much happier than I was when I was spending frivolously, and I appreciate the things that I do buy so much more. I’ve managed to knock out over $2,000 in debt in less than a month! I honestly don’t even know how that’s even possible since that’s more than I bring home in income! It’s amazing how resourceful you can be when you’re on a mission.

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installation at the high museum, atlanta, georgia

Okay, without further ado, here’s the week in Chelsea:

  1. CATASTROPHE IS BACK.
  2. After years and years I finally caved and started watching Game of Thrones with my husband, and I regret to inform you that I love it. I know enough about the series to not get attached to most of the characters, so I feel very prepared to take it on. We’re at the start of season three. I do have some issues with the show (they’re way too exploitative and gleeful about rape, for instance), but it is indeed very entertaining television.
  3. I started the Neapolitan novels! I borrowed My Brilliant Friend while I was in Florida last month and I loved it! I bought the second one on Kindle because I couldn’t wait, but I’m going to check my local library for the other two.
  4. Barry on HBO is back March 31! This is seriously the best new show I’ve seen in years. Bill Hader is truly one of our finest actors. If you haven’t watched it, steal someone’s hbogo password and get on it!
  5. I watched The Feels on Netflix this weekend, and while it’s very poorly rated, it also stars Constance Wu as a lesbian so how could I not have watched it?
  6. I want to watch Leaving Neverland but I’m also afraid that if I do I’ll never sleep at night? I remember, as a kid, when all the Michael Jackson allegations were going on, I found it so completely distressing and disgusting. So many abusers are protected from consequences by their fame or money and it’s a disgrace. Anyone who’d jump to Michael Jackson’s defense can moonwalk the fuck out of here.
  7. This nursery tour is everything. I feel like my whole life has just become a countdown clock to having a baby of my own!
  8. These leggings are great. I love finding good quality clothes at a great price!
  9. The new season of Friends From College is great, btw.
  10. I saved the best for last, kids. Today, not only did my The Home Edit book come today, but JENNY LEWIS’S NEW ALBUM, ON THE LINE, IS OUT TODAY*.

*Okay, so my pre-order just came early and it’s not out until Friday but EITHER WAY!

I hope some of these recommendations freak your week!

-chels

 

Sunday Kind of Love xii

Welcome back to another installment of my link roundup! I had to get new tires for my car this week, so I’m broke, but I’ll be fantasizing about all of these wonderful things:

I’m re-reading The Hobbit for my Oxford Fantasists class this July, and it’s so, so cute to read as an adult. It’s so clear how much Tolkien loved medieval lit.

Anyone else super excited to see SOLO?

I can’t stop listening to Margo Price‘s All American Made. She is the second coming of Dolly Parton, and this album is so, so good.

Give me all of the Caboodles. ’90s kid 5ever.

Cannot wait to watch Ibiza! Phoebe Robinson and Vanessa Bayer are my faves!

I want this light fixture like you wouldn’t freaking believe. This is on my purchase list for when I finally get a “grown-up job.”

I haven’t started The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 yet, but I’ve heard it’s amazing (and super dark). Dare I take the plunge?

I’m thinking of doing this to all the drawers in my house. Too much? #neverenoughorganization

I can’t seem to get enough of this song right now. Belle & Sebastian forever!

Not to get all downer-y on ya, but I started using this app a couple of days ago and I’m really liking it so far. Great for keeping yourself accountable!

 

catch u nxt wk!

-c

Sunday Kind of Love xi

Well, summer lasted for about a week. Now we’re back to gloomy 50 degree days, because, apparently, life is a rich tapestry. Why do I always start these posts by talking about the weather? Because I’m from New England and that’s the most exciting thing we have? Probably.

In any case, here’s what’s been going on with me, since you asked:

I went on vacation to Tallahassee last week, and I brought way, way too many outfits, courtesy of my Away luggage. The carry-ons are inspired—they charge your damn phone! I bought a massive one for my trip to England in July! I know buying stuff they advertise on podcasts is basic, but these suitcases are by far the best I’ve ever owned, and I’m not getting paid to say it!

I’m reading Not That Bad, a collection of essays curated and edited by Roxane Gay and MAN OH MAN is it a fun romp for the whole family. Just kidding, it’s a living nightmare! Girls and women and transfolk endure so much—it’s hard to read about, but so important. The thesis of the collection, in short, is that, as women*, we’re taught to internalize our abuse, to rationalize with ourselves that what we experienced was “not that bad,” when truthfully, any assault is “that bad.” Minimizing our pain and not holding abusers accountable contributes to the perpetuation of rape culture. But you should read Roxane explain it much more eloquently than I ever could. TW rape and sexual assault.

I start class on Tuesday, again (does she ever stop doing school?), so I just spent a small fortune on books. It’s a Recent British Short Fiction class, and we’re reading all things A.S. Byatt and J.G. Ballard. Brits really love going by their initials, huh? (cough J.K. Rowling cough) Because I love you, here’s a pdf of Ballard’s complete short stories—my personal fave is “The Smile.”

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This casita is too much. I would simply die to have a guest house. Maybe I should finish my own home renovation before I start expanding…

I am so excited to see this movie that I can hardly breathe. One more week!

My girl Courtney Barnett put out a new album on Friday and it is so freaking good! Plus, the deluxe edition (which hubby definitely bought for me yesterday at Newbury Comics) comes with an adorable tote bag!

A cluttered house is a cluttered mind. I’ve linked to these babes before, but seriously, The Home Edit is pure, unadulterated organization porn. The older I get, the more of an anal-retentive organization freak I become. Don’t let me into your house if you don’t want it cleaned!

I am truly offended that none of you has bought this for me yet.

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image via rolling stone

I caaaaannnnn’t stop listening to Cardi B‘s Invasion of Privacy. I need to go to Cardi B rehab. My favorite of her songs? Gosh, thanks for asking! Toss up between “I Like It” and “Moneybag.” I mean, come on with this line: “I said bae, it’s a snack / he said it’s a entrée / with them pretty-ass twins you look like Beyoncé.” INSPIRED.

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I didn’t wake up to watch the Royal Wedding, because 4am is too goddamn early, but don’t get it twisted—I’m all in. From the pics I’ve seen, I know Oprah and Serena Williams were there, the hats were fierce AF, and Rev. Michael Curry took everybody to church.

 

See you next week!

-c

Sunday Kind of Love ix

Hi there, just checking in from New England! It’s 46 degrees outside as I write this, y’know, at the end of April. 2018 was certainly not the coldest or snowiest winter of my lifetime, but it sure as hell feels like the longest. Here are a few things keeping me sane (or driving me crazy).

  1. Spring’s not coming. Here is a series of jean jackets that I may not have a chance to wear this year: this one, this one, and this one.
  2. I just started using New Wash and I’m NEVER going back! Pricey, worth it.
  3. Give me overalls or give me death: gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme.
  4. I think I should do Dry January again…Dry May? I loved the feeling of being free of vices—it’s easier to do in the dead of winter, since everyone is cooped up at home!
  5. Hello, hello, Opalhouse is in the building. I’ve been laboring under the suspicion that Target is trying to bankrupt me for quite some time, but this is egregious. So g-d, m-f–ing cute! You KNOW I bought this dish towel. #EastCoast
  6. Have we talked about the new Decemberists album yet? So good!
  7. I have had this song stuck in my head for a solid week and I think I’m having a psychotic break.
  8. Isn’t it just too predictable that I have this?
  9. Michael and I started watching The Office from the beginning and it is even better than I remembered.
  10. I recently cut all my hair off (it was super dead) and now I’m browsing all of the bobs & lobs!

Peace out, cub scouts!

-c

Sunday Kind of Love

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My vacation in Florida this weekend was cancelled due to a f***ing Nor’easter, so of course, instead of enjoying myself in the sun, I’m bundled up in the Boston suburbs, miserably freezing my butt off. I did, however, give myself the gift of an extra-long weekend and a bottle of Rosé to comfort me in this dark time. So, when I have to, in the words of poet laureate Marshall Mathers, snap back to reality on Monday, here’s what I’ll be thinking about.

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  1. Should I give up paper towels? They’re my green cleaning vice, along with disposable sanitizing wipes.
  2. I’ve been consigning my clothes with thredUP this year, to amazing results. They make it so, so easy to purge your house and get a lil’ cashish in the process. I’ve made over $200 already, with almost no effort!
  3. I’ve been wishy-washy about this for well over a year. Should I finally actually try the Pomodoro Technique? I mean, it is named after the Italian word for tomato, so it’s right up my alley. Time management is NOT my strong suit.
  4. I went on a Society6 bath mat window-shopping spree. I have four in my cart right now: check them out here, here, here, and here. My new bathroom has a black-white-and-grey Parisian-inspired theme, but who says I can’t add tiny rugs to other parts of my house as well?
  5. Vacation is the best, but mostly because I get to read for pleasure! I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness this week. #YQY
  6. This article is #goals. I can’t walk out of Trader Joe’s without spending $150 on strange chip varieties.
  7. My level of jealously re: this closet is unacceptable.
  8. Full disclosure: I read Fifty Shades of Grey a few years ago when I was house-bound for a day. I watched the movie a year or so later, because it happened to be free on HBO. Now that the franchise has come to a close (probably), should I just read the other 2 books and watch the trilogy? I love trash, so I could probably spin it into my thesis topic or something.
  9. Did you all know that Ivy Park is still a thing at Nordstrom and TopShop? Now that I actually go to the gym, maybe it’s time…(Update: 100% just bought these.)

 

peace out, cub scouts! until next week,

c

Home Reno 911: Moodboards

I live in a warzone.

Let me back up.

I live in a construction zone—it just sounds like combat when the compressors are whirring. What are they “compressing” anyway?

Starting last summer, we’ve been getting an addition put onto our house courtesy of our Supreme Leaders, aka my in-laws. This is my first experience working with contractors, plumbers, and electricians, and let me tell you, it’s not fun! My father-in-law is doing a ton of the work himself, but as he is only a human man, needs occasional help.

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porch demolition, courtesy of joe & jp

The dig is that we lost our side porch (which was the main entrance we used to get into our house) and a few windows, but we’re gaining a bathroom, a large mudroom, a few extra feet of space in our living room, a pantry, and a built-in bookshelf. So, no complaints here! I’m so excited for all the changes to come!

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new house who dis

Where that giant rock pit is now, basically, is a brand-new house! The entire thing has been re-sided in a cream-colored vinyl (*insert apathy emoji*), but I have to admit it looks pretty snazzy. Pics to follow once Massachusetts is no longer covered in a thin layer of melted snow and filth.

I basically live on Pinterest now, planning our new digs. I get to build a bathroom, a mudroom, and a pantry from scratch! Below are some of the purchases I’ve already made, and a bunch of inspiration for my decorating moving forward!

Bathroom

These are a few of the items I’ve already purchased for our new bathroom. I’m going for an all black-and-white look, with occasional brass accents. The first picture is a Paris cafe print that I’m obsessed with—hopefully by the time the bathroom’s up and running, I’ll have actually been to Paris. I included two pictures of our vanity because a. it’s cute, and b. the other picture had a cactus in it, and that is the most me thing to ever happen. I love the matte black faucets we bought…I wanted to stay away from the traditional chrome (although our shower door handles will be chrome unless I can spray them to match).

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Bathroom Inspiration

I want the bathroom to be a super clean, modern space. I love the hexagonal tile above, but I’m also considering black and white penny tile. I am obsessed with the idea of a sliding barn door, since the bathroom is fairly small and the door would eliminate some wall space.

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Mudroom

I haven’t bought much for the mudroom yet, since we’ll have to make a few big storage purchases and the room isn’t even close to finished, but I did buy these prints, which are only mildly inaccurate, to be placed opposite the entrance, sharing a charcoal gray wall with the bathroom door. And the rainbow mat? C’mon. The cutest.

Mudroom Inspiration

I LOVE the idea of locker storage in the mudroom to help keep clutter off the floor. I want the entryway to be a bright, cheery space that welcomes us home every day. I plan to keep the area neutral and soothing. And I know I already have a mat, but that hedgehog one might be too cute to pass up!

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Pantry

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gwyneth freaking paltrow’s pantry

The pantry in question is still our current bathroom, and need to be gutted before it can be used. It probably won’t be functional for at least 6 months, but a girl can dream, right? My favorite chicas over at The Home Edit post THE best pantry inspiration. Now, if only I could afford to hire them to style my entire life…

Pantry Wishlist

I am already pretty psychotically organized, but anything to make my life MORE organized is welcome! I’m salivating over The Container Store‘s gear: I might actually invest in that gorgeous $350 pantry kit…it’s stunning. And finally having adequate storage for my beautiful kitchen appliances is a dream come true.

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Thanks for letting me dream and scheme! Follow along with my journey using the hashtag #homereno911 on Instagram!

xoxo,

c