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Rebecca Collected

What is "old" clothing anymore?

Sunday, July 12, 2020
I watch a lot of videos from various content creators on YouTube. Some fashion specific, some more lifestyle based and many who are focused a lot on sustainability. I've noticed that a lot of them have been referring to clothes as "really old" when in fact they mean no more than 3 or 4, sometimes even one 1 year(s) old. That surprises me.  

Is this concept of "old" clothing being under 5 years old unique to them because they all work in world where by nature anything older than a year is outdated or is that something that most people think these days? I understand that you constantly have to be evolving on social media and looking at what is on topic now in order to stay afloat, but even some of the more sustainably minded content creators refer to their not-so-old-to-me clothes as old, so maybe it's more of a widespread thing? Maybe it's only "old" relative to other content creators' clothing? 

I'm currently wearing my sister's old tank top that is at the very least 14 years old. My underwear is probably at least 10 years old. My shorts are around 5-6 years old. Am I just disgusting? It all still cleans up just fine! Perhaps my family just raised my sister and I in a bit of a stranger way than I realized...  

I worry a lot about shopping at less than sustainable companies because unfortunately we don't have any storefronts here that stock sustainable brands and sometimes you just need to see things in person (or...did before a pandemic I guess). Is shopping at fast fashion houses still "fast" if you end up wearing the pieces for decades at a time? Aside from the obvious ethical problems of these institutions, when does the sustainability of the product in the consumer's wardrobe outweigh the overall sustainability of the corporation? And if we don't believe we can participate in a system without taking on the whole of the ethical responsibility, are we ever really able to consider ourselves as individuals more sustainable while still living in the capitalist society that we do?  

A lot of thoughts for a Sunday morning. Time for some coffee.

.... *queue existential dread stemming from coffee consumption*.

The great boxed vegan mac cook-off

Sunday, July 5, 2020
We've had some extra time on our hands lately (*ahem*) and we're getting reaaaaaaally tired of cooking everyday, so what better time than now to try out the FOUR WHOLE OPTIONS of boxed vegan mac that our grocery store offers? Four. How is this real?

Let's introduce our contenders!

First on the podium is Annie's Organic Vegan Mac with "Creamy Sauce." While she's been around for awhile longer than our other competitors, she doesn't win any points for her marketing. That name could use some work.

Next up, the first from the Modern Table team, good old "Classic Cheddar Style" mac. 

Warming up behind her, we've got her teammate "White Cheddar Style."

And finally, pulling up the rear but still itching to win, the last Modern Table contestant -- "Southwest." Southwest of what, nobody knows.

All four contenders weigh in around 6 ounces so this should be an equal fight. We'll have to take up the issue of this teeny, tiny weight class with the producers. We're not quite sure why they think 6 ounces is enough food for anyone, especially when we're talking mac and cheese, but that's a discussion for another time.

As the contest gets started we notice that all three members of the Modern Table team seem to get really foamy when cooking. In fact, their boxes even warn you of this phenomenon. Strange, but not unmanageable. The lone contender from team Annie's doesn't appear to cook much differently than a "normal" pasta. We're also noticing that all four entrants are reaching the finish line a lot faster than their published race times on the box. There is no way we're cooking these as prescribed or we'll end up with mushy, over-tired pasta. Faster time to finished mac is not a problem for me.

After a quick drain in the colander, we're onto the final stages now. It's time to see how the powder packets stack up with the support of Oatly oat milk and Earth Balance butter.

As the packets of powder are opened, the judges seem to be signaling an initial preference for the smell of the Modern Table competitors. Team Annie seems to have elicited a rather strange reaction from some of the judges -- hopefully her smell isn't too overpowering.

As the mac and cheese comes together, all competitors appear to have a similar consistency. Everyone is creamy, with an even texture. No graininess to be seen. Things are looking promising for all entrants. 

Now for the final taste tests. Let's turn the mic over to our judges.

Annie's - Organic Vegan Mac with "Creamy Sauce" 
While Annie's pulled ahead early because of her more refined cooking style, she fell later in the smell test and ultimately disappointed in the taste test. We were surprised that something with such a strange smell uncooked could lack much of any flavor when fully prepared. We give Annie's a 5/10.

Modern Table - Classic Cheddar Style
Classic Cheddar Style lost some points for it's rather strange cooking technique, but ultimately made a strong showing in terms of flavor and styling. There's no denying the importance of the classic orange mac and cheese for ultimate comfort and satisfaction. 9/10.

Modern Table - White Cheddar Style
While White Cheddar Style had a very similar showing to it's teammate, the white color and slightly less traditional flavor profile lost it a few more points. A solid effort and still satisfies. 8/10.

Modern Table - Southwest
Finally, the last Modern Table entrant made a bigger statement with it's flavor profile, and while we judges appreciated the variety, ultimately we do not believe the consumer would be looking for these flavors when craving the typical boxed mac and cheese. Good for a little fun, but not when you need mac and cheese the most. 7/10.

And there you have it! Modern Table stacks the podium! Better luck next time Annie's -- you might want a new training approach the compete with this new breed of competitor.  

Black Lives Matter.

Thursday, June 18, 2020
In 2014 my entire family and a friend from college drove packed together in a car from Lincoln to Chicago. The Ferguson protests were happening at the time. For the entirety of the 8 hour drive we talked about race.

Our group, comprised of six college-educated, liberal, well-off people, still managed to all have very different perspectives and experiences. Some of us were extremely outspoken and outraged despite having never been directly affected by racism, some were a little more quiet and apolitical but open. Some empathized with both the Black Lives Matter movement and the legal/government workers, excluding the officer that murdered Michael Brown, having had good relationships with the legal system themselves, while others listed off the rules their mothers had for them when they went out in public to avoid being unjustly targeted.

That was six years ago.

Over the last few weeks, we've been having the same conversations again. Our perspectives have all evolved. Everyone is louder now. The emotions more adamant, the ideas more radical. Even those that had previously been hesitant to make blanket statements about the police are starting to see that perhaps the political correctness of a more moderate reprimand directed only the officers and the jurisdictions in question is not enough.

While it's extraordinary frustrating that the same conversations we had years ago are still being held today and little having changed, I am reminded of how important it is to have these conversations frequently, and over time. With people you disagree with. With people that don't necessarily interact with people with different perspectives all that often. With people that live in heavily white, suburban, middle class areas. 

The system will not be fixed as it is today. The system must be overturned, thrown out, remade. 

People, however, aren't like that. They have to be challenged, made to see different perspectives, and made to feel and know the effects of systematic, institutionalized racism that they themselves don't experience. They need to finally see that the system of oppression does in fact exist. They need to develop empathy. Doing so happens over time and with great, persistent effort.

We all have internalized racism, no matter our backgrounds. Let's all begin and continue to do the work to unlearn and become true anti-racists. We have such a very long way to go together.

Don't forget to check out the Libby, Overdrive and Hoopla apps through your local library to see if you can checkout a copy of the many great books about race that all seem to be sold out right now!

My favorites from the coronavirus internet landscape

Friday, May 22, 2020

Free barre (and HIIT, yoga, meditation, etc) classes daily on Instagram Live. Bonus: they post a selection of the weekly classes on IGTV as well so you can go back and do them again! I love Rod's barre classes.

@carolinehirons's skincare IG lives (or on YouTube if you prefer)
If you don't know Caroline Hirons yet and you like skincare, prepare yourself. So much knowledge. She's been doing daily lives for several of the weeks we've been in lockdown, and they're loosely themed but let's be real, it rarely stays on track. 

This photographer in Provence, France created one photo for each of the 60 days they were in lockdown. My favorites are day 21, 25, 40 and 55.

I love dance music and they've been organizing a lot of weekend livestreams that last all weekend long.

Not a coronavirus phenomenon per se but they've featured heavily in our quarantine. 

I love these two content creators, and their weekly chats are so fun to listen to each week. Funny, relaxing, like hanging out with two friends. They switch accounts each week, and have recently started saving them to their IGTV afterwards.

Slightly crazier, really chill. Somehow it's even better now that everyone's stuck at home?

The other site going around the internet wasn't working for me, but this one did! Made for a really fun Friday evening Zoom session with friends.

Notes from isolation: Week 10

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The amount of dishes remains unreal.

All this grey weather is making it a lot harder. When the sun was shining and it was warm enough to sit outside this all seemed a lot easier.  Also, exercising at home is hard, but when it's rainy and cold it's definitely not happening.

I still don't feel the need to see people though. Am I just broken in that sense?

As a person that doesn't normally worry about the 'point' of life, I've been doing that a lot more. Now that I don't have things to distract me, I have a lot more time to sit around and wonder what is actually meaningful in this world (hint: it's not capitalism), what my strengths actually are, what I like doing, etc.

Am I a soft summer or a soft autumn??

I can't bring myself to read books that don't feature a female protagonist. 🤷‍♀️

I've never baked more in my life.

What do you think businesses will do with all their pandemic supplies when this is all over? Like the plastic screens, masks, gloves, even the signs they've made explaining how their business operates now. Do they keep that for future pandemics? Ugh.

I'm fed up with only consuming. I want to do something, but at the same time I don't have the motivation or attention span for anything. This middle ground is hard.

Watching other countries and states start to open back up when we haven't even peaked yet is scary. That world seems so far away from our current reality.

I've discovered a new love of having dance puzzle parties. Find your favorite dj's livestream, brew some tea and dance around while trying to finish that puzzle you've had going since January...


Wednesday, April 8, 2020
@shotfromthestreet #shotfromthetheme
theme - orange

Notes from isolation: Week 2

Saturday, March 28, 2020
It's amazing how many dishes you make when eating all your meals at home.

Dining room chairs from the 80's do not make good office chairs. Old French textbooks help raise your monitor to still-terrible-but-not-as-bad height.

Social media is a godsend. Most of my friendships were already long-distance and so I've always relied on social media and texting/chat to keep up with people, but now more than ever it's been nice to see what other people are up to.

Vlogs are my solace. I could watch people putter around at home for days.

I'm so lucky to work somewhere that's relatively stable, even when our industry (travel) is in shambles.

I feel rebellious going outside for walks.

Cooking is a lot less arduous when you have super simple meals.

My cats are annoying. And adorable and lovely.

No commute is amazing. Even if my commute is usually only about 7 minutes.

My house has never been tidier.

I should call my grandma more.

I certainly think I should do a lot more things than I actually want to do.

Reading is hard to do right now. My brain just can't concentrate, even though I'm normally quite a reader.

Counting my stuff

So, true to my pattern as of late, I'm back with another report on an experiment I did thanks to Hannah Louise Poston.

Hannah recently started her new project for the year which she is calling her year of less stuff. The whole goal of which is to end 2020 with less things than she started with.

Plain and simple.

Part of doing her project entails counting and then sharing those total counts of everything she currently owns in each of her self-assigned categories. After watching all her videos and hearing her talk about how surprising and motivating the process was, I wanted to give it a try myself.

I chose to count my makeup, skincare, nail and hair products, perfumes, jewelry and clothing.

Now, to be completely honest, I'm motivated to try this, but also thoroughly lazy. And for that reason, I didn't include all of my clothes because I couldn't be bothered to go up into the attic and unpack all the spring/summer clothes I have stashed away in my suitcases. Fortunately for this experiment, I am actually very short on warm-weather clothes so I know that whatever that total may be, it won't be anything I'd feel is inappropriate. Win for the lazy column! I also excluded my loungewear because, again, I have very little and didn't care to dismantle the cupboard it's all stored in.

Let's dive into my totals!

Makeup (79 items)
3 foundations
3 primers
4 concealers
1 powder
9 blushes (4 in a palette)
2 brozers (1 in a palette)
3 highlighters (1 in a palette)
6 mascaras
1 contour
2 brow products
1 eye primer
3 eyeshadow palettes
2 single eyeshadows
6 eyeliners
3 lip masks
4 lip balms
3 lip pencils
2 lip liners
1 lip gloss
10 lip sticks
10 brushes

Skincare (60 items)
3 oils
8 masks
13 sheet masks
5 moisturizers (4 backups)
2 cleansers (2 backups)
2 sunscreens
7 actives (5 backups)
6 body care products
3 self-tanners

Nail products (20 items)
2 removers
18 polishes

Hair products (23 items)
23 products

Perfumes (16 items)
16 perfumes

Jewelry (46 items)
9 necklaces
17 pairs of earrings
2 ear cuffs
10 bracelets
4 rings
1 hair pin
1 barette
2 watches

Clothing (210 items)
55 pairs of socks
56 pairs of undies
7 pairs of jeans
2 fabric pants
14 sweaters
3 cardigans
1 blazer
6 shirts
8 long sleeve t-shirts
7 t-shirts
8 dresses
1 jumpsuit
4 tank tops
4 shorts
7 bras
7 workout leggings
4 sports bras
2 workout crop tops
1 workout jacket
2 workout long sleeve pullovers
6 workout tank tops
5 workout shorts

Shoes (26 items)
1 tall boot
2 ankle boots
1 snow boots
4 sneakers
1 loafers
1 gym shoes
2 hiking boots
1 oxfords
5 sandals
1 flats
4 heels
3 gardening/outdoor shoes

Phew. Got all that?

So, in total, that's 480 items.

If you had asked me to guess, I definitely would not have guessed anything close to 500 items. I probably would have estimated I had somewhere around 250 to 300 items. That's kind of the point of this exercise though, right?

My initial thoughts go immediately to the socks and undies. Clearly one person and her two feet and one bum does not need that many pairs, especially because I know so many of those items are de-elasticated, pushing 10 years old or not something I'd pay money for now (tons of my undies are free from old Victoria's Secret coupons). I can very easily downsize those categories, make my socks and undies drawer a lot more easily manageable and feel next to no loss.

Similarly, I have a ton of beauty products that are far too old to be holding onto, but haven't been tossed yet just because they're out of sight and out of mind. I know for a fact that I've only purchased 2 mascaras in the last year, so those other 4 are probably old enough to have been with me since my bachelorette life. Yikes. Nail polish is the same. 18 polishes and I can only recall purchasing 1 of those within a reasonable timeframe. Time to get out of my life.

Another category of items is the "I used to use this a lot but now I no longer do" category. Lip products like lipstick, liners, pencils, glosses or balms top this list. My lips have been far too dry to wear any of this for years now. I also used to wear earrings a lot more often, but these days I've been living in my Mejuri mini hoops and only wearing a few other pairs a couple times a year. I need to pare down my collection to the stuff I absolutely love and face the fact that I just don't get glammed up that much anymore. I also seem to have a lot of things that I thought I would use when I bought them, but it as it turns out, I never actually did. Foundations, most of my hair products, bracelets, heels -- all of these things have been mostly wunworn or unused so I should re-home them.

Lastly I have several categories of things that I love but that I simply have far too many of. Perfumes. Who needs 16 perfumes? Granted several of those are sample sizes, but still. I need to use them up, or pass them on. They're doing no good just getting older and laying around my drawers. Self tanners are another thing. I have 3, and while I like them all, I only need one. I'm very pale and I'm fine with that so having one around seems reasonable for those odd times I want a bit more of a glow, but that's plenty.

Now that I've done all this counting and really examined what I have, I definitely want to follow up with a good declutter. For the things I still like and want to keep I think I'm going to work on using them up in a focused manner. This way nothing will go to waste and I'll get my money's worth out of things, but I'll still be able to reduce the amount of crap I'm keeping around me. Luckily (?) we've got all kinds of time on our hands right now so this will give me something to focus on. 

I hope this was at least mildly entertaining or enlightening to you and that you're staying safe and home. If you count any of your things, let me know how it goes for you in the comments!

2020 Bullet Journal setup

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Ok so somehow it's March.

And the whole world has shutdown.

It's fine, everything's totally cool.

Regardless, hello! It's been awhile. Here I am. Back to talk about my Bullet Journal, once again.  Even though we're practically done with the first quarter, I thought I'd take a second to share my Bullet Journal setup for the year. As you all know from previous posts in years prior, I start a new Bullet Journal every year. I always have a few annual-level pages that I include prior to the January pages, and this is the post that I ramble on about them to you. So, without further ado, enjoy!

Firstly, my future log. I don't think I've changed this layout since 2017. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, etc. Luckily the Leuchtturm medium notebook has exactly enough dots across to make the whole year fit in 4 pages, with 3 months per page. It's simple, not toooooo terrible to write out every year, and lets me highlight important dates each month above any run-of-the-mill stuff like meetings, dentist appointments, etc.

Next up, a reflection of the prior year. I started doing this back in 2018 and talked a bit more about it here. In short, I list my highs, lows, accomplishments, failures, good habits, bad habits, my best time investment and my worst. Like I talked about in my last post on my 2020 goals, I start here as a reference point for how things are going now, then turn my focus to the future and how I'd like things to be ideally, leading into the next page -- my vision spread.

My vision page is literally just random idealizations of different facets of life. No planning, just dreaming. To be quite honest, I struggle with this. I'm more a live in the moment kind of person and definitely don't envision my future easily, or have very clear visions of things I desperately want. Ambition is definitely not one of my Gallup strengths. But I do it anyway, and even if some of those "dreams" are small, it's good practice.

In theory, from all this dreaming would come a 5 year plan. I wrote out a spread for a 5 year plan. And then I promptly ignored it. Maybe this won't make the cut next year. 😂

After the bleak and empty future I've laid out for myself, we have my 2020 goals. Again, theoretically these goals would be things that would get you closer to your five year goals, but as I apparently have none, my 2020 goals will just keep me alive. I think that's pretty par for the course of this year. I've already outlined my goals here if you want to go check them out.

Okay, enough with all the goal setting. Now we're onto trackers and whatnot. First up, my finances tracker. I've been tracking my 401k and IRA contributions in a page like this for a couple years (nerrrrddddddd), but this year we have a new addition -- a simply tracker to make sure we do our little budgeting activity each pay period. Since I got married last year my own budgeting process has changed and subsequently this is the first year I haven't had a budgeting page each month in my Bullet Journal. Instead, this little guy appears.

One to track my career goal of reading 4 tech books and doing one learning tutorial a month over various topics, one to track my period (which I apparently can't spell), one to track when I do workouts and yoga, and a chore tracker. I think you can figure those ones out pretty easily.

Lastly I have two spreads to keep track of some thoughts over the course of the year. I have a spread to write down any gift ideas I have throughout the year in the hopes that holiday time won't be so stressful (lol, right) and that someday I'll turn into that person that just gives gifts spontaneously throughout the year. And finally I have a page to note what kinds of things worked well in my wardrobe each season, what I might be missing and what is just not working out at all.

And that's that! My 2020 Bullet Journal annual spreads. Hope you enjoyed and that you're all staying safe during these crazy, scary times! See you next time.

2020 goals

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Okay, so it's already a month into the year because time seems to have gotten away from me, but I thought I'd share some of my goals for the year nonetheless.

Better late than never apparently.

I had a really nice couple of days off work around the new year and despite being unable to really write in my bullet journal thanks to an unfortunate encounter with a paring knife I did get to spend a good amount of time doing some goal setting and reflection. I know not everyone likes setting goals this time of year but I love it. I like the demarkation of time and the chance to stop and reassess how things are going and what direction I'm headed in. I especially love the time it gives me to think about a new bullet journal setup, but more on that later.

Quick note on how I do my goal-setting (and more here if you're interested). I start off the whole process by reflecting on how last year went. What were the highs, lows, accomplishments, failures, good habits, bad habits, my best time investment and my worst. Doing this gives me a chance to catch up to life and actually tune into how I'm feeling, because let's be honest, I'm usually just barely keeping my head above water. Once I've done some reflection then I spend time envisioning my ideal life to give me a sense of focus. After all this I feel more prepared to come up with a roadmap for the year.

This year I decided to break down my life into five main focus areas -- health & fitness, fun, finance, home and career. For each area I come up with a few things I want to accomplish, a small statement about why I want to accomplish it, and then a couple things I can do or track to help me accomplish the bigger goal.

Finally, having said all that, here are my 2020 goals for the year!

1. Health and fitness
Get back into shape
-Exercise an average of 5 times a week
-Track calories

Eat a diverse diet
-Have a green with every meal

Manage anxiousness
-Start mediation practice
-Do yoga daily

2. Fun
Go camping

3. Financial
Increase retirement savings
-Increase 401k contribution percentage
Stick to a budget
-Create a budgeting spreadsheet that works for you
-Log expenses within 2 days of spending

4. Home
Feel settled
-Schedule a cleaning day once a week
-Complete 1 organizational task per quarter
-Complete 1 home improvement task per quarter

5. Career
Improve hard skills
-1 learning activity per month
-Read 4 technical books

My vegan prenatal supplement

Sunday, January 12, 2020

There have been four things I've been told to supplement with a vitamin -- two recommendations from my doctor, and two due to being vegan. My doctor recommends any sexually active woman of childbearing age to take a prenatal vitamin, regardless of whether or not they're trying to get pregnant because folic acid can help prevent birth defects that occur early on in a pregnancy if you do happen to accidentally get pregnant. She also supports and promotes the FDA recommendation of taking a vitamin D supplement, especially for people like me that spend 8-9 hours working in a basement with no natural light. The other two recommendations - B12 and Omega-3 - are hard to get in a vegan diet, at least without eating a lot of dirt and bacteria (B12) or algae (Omega-3). No thanks.

Previously, I had been taking four different vitamins. One prenatal vitamin from Target, one Omega-3 supplement from iWi and one vitamin D spray from Garden of Life, and one B12 supplement from Whole Foods. These were all fine, but having to take four different things every day was certainly a little obnoxious. Not to mention that each product was packaged in its own plastic package, so I felt really bad about that much plastic being added to the world every month.

Sometimes Instagram ads seem to pop at exactly the right moment and introduce me to a product that slots perfectly into my life and solves or streamlines a real problem I already have, rather than just providing something new to want just for the sake of wanting. Ritual vitamins fall under this category 100%. 

Normally I am very, very wary of monthly subscriptions. There are so many these days and it's easy for all your money to slip away quite quickly it small little automatic withdrawals for things you don't actually need or want. This service passed my skepticism test though, because I was already spending a lot of time finding, buying, opening millions of plastic bottles every day and still didn't feel totally in love with the whole situation. I decided to try them out about a month and a half ago, and I am very glad I did.

I signed up for the Prenatal vitamin which contains the following vitamins:
Folate 1000 mcg ✅
Omega-3 350 mg (vegan)  ✅
Vitamin B12 8 mcg ✅
Choline 55 mg
Iodine 150 mcg (another thing that's hard to get on a vegan diet if you don't used iodized salt)
Biotin 300 mcg (great for your hair and nails)
Vitamin D3 2000 IU (vegan)
Iron 18 mg
Boron 1 mg
Vitamin E 10 IU
Vitamin K2 90 mcg
Magnesium 30 mg

As you can see, all four checkmarks in one vitamin! Plus, the CEO of Ritual is vegan, so she made sure the whole vitamin is vegan and cruelty-free! It's seriously an answer to all my vitamin prayers. 

I've been taking them for a month and a half now. I was a little worried that they'd make my stomach hurt like several other vitamins I've taken that have Biotin have done, but so far they haven't at all! I take them at night anyway in case they did have that effect, but one or two days where I forgot the night before and had to take them in the morning hasn't caused me any issues at all. I absolutely love how it's only one bottle to mess around with and the pills themselves (2 per day) are pretty easy to swallow. 

As for the packaging, for the first month it's packaged in a box, with some additional info about the supplement. The subsequent months come in just a little mailer rather than a full box. The mailer and the first month cardboard box (obviously) are both recyclable and the pill bottle is made of BPA-free recyclable plastic. I even emailed their team to ask about any industrial recycling or reuse programs, and while they don't have any currently, they did say they were considering things like return mailers for used bottles or other similar programs. Fingers crossed.

So, if you're in the market for a supplement for any reason, definitely take a look at Ritual. I've enjoyed them so far and plan to continue using them for the foreseeable future!