Thursday, November 22, 2018

Things I Liked Lately: Holiday Season 2018

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who's celebrating! This post is inspired by Sophie's monthly updates. Lately, my writing style has shifted towards longer and more introspective posts because that's what I enjoy writing right now, but I've also collected some smaller, quicker thoughts that I also wanted to share. So here are five things I liked (and one I disliked) recently.

Oh, and I just joined Twitter again despite being somewhat intimidated by it. (It can be scary sometimes!) We'll see if I'm able to learn how to use it effectively this time around, unlike the last time I joined way back in 2008 or 2009. At the very least, I can use it to follow certain journalists who do a lot of good commentary on legal issues. I'd already been going to their pages daily, sometimes multiple times a day when the news cycle is particularly lively, so really, I should have made an account sooner!

1. // Way back in the day, someone here recommended Muji passport cases as being particularly well-designed and functional. I ended up buying one not long after, though it was not until my recent trip to Taiwan and Japan that I finally got a chance to use it.

I must say, that recommendation was right on the money! I love my new Muji passport case and found it super-functional. It's the exact right size, and has a good number of internal pockets and credit card slots, enough to store my passport, hotel room key, boarding pass, train tickets, and foreign currency in an organized and easy to find way. It may not be as pretty as the Cuyana Classic Passport Case I was thinking about last year, but the Muji one is definitely more affordable. It's also likely to be more practical because it zips up and has more pockets.

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2. // For the first time in around two and a half months, J.Crew is finally running a sale (possibly expiring tonight, according to their website, though they've indicated in emails that it'll last through Black Friday) that allows for a significant discount on that Juliette Collarless Sweater Blazer I'm so fond of (40% to be precise, the same discount as when I ordered it the first time in early September). I'd ordered both burgundy and gray, and decided to keep just the gray, only to find that I couldn't get over wanting the burgundy one too. I'm a little embarrassed that I've been tracking J.Crew's sales so closely, enough that I'm certain this is the first time since I got back from my trip that a better than 15% discount was available on this specific item. Often, the Juliette sweater blazer was excluded entirely from whatever promotion they were running.

3.  // I'd been looking on and off for a new jewelry storage solution for a few months (it's what I was actually looking for at Muji when I ended up at the Deciem store near Bryant Park). I'd gotten really tired of having my jewelry stored all over, some in their original boxes on my dresser, some tucked away into separate pouches in one corner of one of my dresser drawers. I wanted to store everything I owned in one box, or as close to it as possible. I was open to trying either a set of stackable acrylic drawers with velour inserts (something like this, now that Muji stores here no longer seems to stock velour drawer inserts), or a more traditional fabric-covered or wood jewelry box (Pottery Barn makes fancy ones, but that was outside of my price range). I was very particular about wanting it to have a close to ideal configuration of compartments for my collection. I have very few earrings or rings, and nothing else that's particularly small. Most options I looked at devoted too much space to compartments for rings and earrings. I also needed several larger-than-average compartments for the things I kept from my statement necklace days.

I finally picked out this stackable tray-style jewelry box on Amazon because, although I didn't think it would be perfect, it was the most suitable one I'd seen, with most of the trays devoted to larger compartments. As I suspected, the box isn't quite big enough for all my jewelry. Those statement necklaces I'm still keeping tend to be bulky, including that secondhand J.Crew crystal snowflake necklace that was one of the first purchases I tracked here, such that even some of the largest jewelry boxes I looked at wouldn't generally have enough large compartments for all of them. Each of the trays is only about 1.25 inches deep inside when the lid or one of the other trays is stacked on top, which isn't enough space for at least one important piece, a statement-making Kate Spade starfish cocktail ring that was a long-ago gift from a close friend. Still, I'm satisfied that it's as close as I was going to get to an ideal jewelry box for my needs, particularly if, er, I make good on my tentative plans to buy a second one, take two of the trays with larger compartments, and find someone to give away the other two trays and lid to.

4. // If left entirely to my own devices, I'd barely do any Christmas shopping at all. When it comes to gift-giving, my family observes the unconventional and unsentimental practice of letting the recipient choose and even order their own gifts, with the giver to reimburse them, and we're perfectly happy that way. K's family, on the other hand, prefers doing Christmas gifts the more traditional way, and I also join in on the fun. Alas, my success at picking out gifts is quite mixed. In general, I only seem to have two settings when it comes to picking gifts for people, either its perfect and thoughtful and I notice them putting it to good use throughout the subsequent months (maybe 40% of the time, at best), or it goes over like a lead balloon (the other 60% of the time) and I realize belatedly that, darn, whatever I picked was an odd choice.

One of the best gifts I've ever picked out for K is this Bloomingdales brand men's cashmere half-zip sweater with a suede accent at the zipper. He wears it to work, he wears it on the weekend, it's pretty much the only sweater he needs from late fall through early spring. (This does have the unfortunate side effect of pushing a previous Christmas gift, a similar J.Crew sweater, almost completely out of his wardrobe rotation.) He likes that it's a thin, non-bulky sweater. Apparently that works better for layering over his dress shirts than a thicker, heavier sweater would (like me, he also works at a business casual firm, so he doesn't typically wear jackets to the office).

5. // I often get inspired to hunt down extremely specific items (like the Coach Rogue, similar, earlier this year, instead of the Mansur Gavriel tote I had been thinking about) after catching a glimpse, sometimes just from the corner of my eye, of that item being worn by a stylish stranger. (I also did the same thing with the discontinued Cuyana Tall Tote this year.) This time, my sudden obsession is with a genre of item, not something I can identify as being from a particular brand.

I saw someone wearing a perfect, intentionally oversized coat with slightly dropped shoulders in a lovely hunter green shade. I'm really going to try not to shop for one, because now is so not the right time for me to buy coats, but it was beautiful. It's also a fairly difficult type of item to find: I scoured the online selections at Nordstrom and Bloomingdales and only found two current options that were remotely close to the coat I saw: one from Halogen at Nordstrom and one from, er, Kendall and Kylie Jenner's brand at Bloomingdales.

6.  // I'm devastated that Starbucks discontinued the Holiday Spice Flat White this year. It was a tasty, not overly sweet drink (I think all the holiday spice flavor came from spices mixed in to the ground coffee beans for the espresso), and I was extremely fond of it. Ah well, there's one small upside. I'm far less likely to make too many weekday trips to coffee shops this holiday season! 

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