Friday, October 2, 2020

A Mostly Shopping-Related Miscellarny

Today's post is a bit of a random grab bag of smaller, more light-hearted things. I'm... currently still staying off Twitter and limiting my consumption of the news to protect my mental health. I made an additional modest contribution to the Biden/Harris campaign on Wednesday morning, after the debate (which I understand was awful because our current President behaved exactly as poorly as expected). 

First, the new season of The Great British Baking Show, a.k.a. The Great British Bake Off ("GBBO"), just started last week! Since last season, Netflix has been getting the new episodes almost in real time, on Fridays a few days after the episodes first air on Channel 4 in the UK. The first episode of this season is absolutely hilarious, I hadn't laughed so hard about anything in months. The showstopper challenge at the end of the episode contained some of the most hilarious moments in the entire history of the series. Fun fact: They filmed this season in a locked-down COVID "bubble," with all contestants, hosts, and staff living together in a hotel away from the public during filming. 

Speaking of GBBO, I also really enjoy season six winner Nadiya Hussain's BBC show Time to Eat, which is also on Netflix. Nadiya's also done a bunch of other BBC shows, but sadly, those are not on Netflix. A few recipe clips from her other shows are available on YouTube, though.

Second, now that I've become a bit of a stationery and fountain pen collector, I find myself in need of a little more storage space, particularly for notebooks and bottled inks. The fountain pens themselves don't take up as much space, however, as they currently all fit in a cup I keep on my desk.

Whenever K and I contemplate acquiring any new item of even moderately significant size, we always need to think carefully about where we're going to put the new thing. Our moderately sized one-bedroom apartment - cabinets and closets included - is already perilously close to being at maximum capacity! We probably do have room for something like a small bookshelf right next to my desk in our living room/dining room/kitchen space, though. (Keeping in mind that the room in question is already cluttered-looking, and there's no real helping that, given the furniture we already have.) For context about how cramped things are, anytime one of us wants to do a workout on a yoga mat in either the bedroom or living area, we need to move furniture around to make enough room. 

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The current front-runner storage item I'm thinking of is a three-tiered, wheeled storage cart from Target. They have a number of very similar-looking ones available, but this "Made by Design" one seems to be the most affordable and popular. There's a question of whether we should get a more traditional bookshelf with no wheels instead, but I think this storage cart is a bit more versatile because it's easier to move around when full. I arguably got the idea from Kathy recently, though I think this type of storage cart is fairly common in various settings. For example, the stylists at my current hair salon have been using these for their supplies since they opened last year, as the carts can easily be wheeled from chair to chair to work on different clients. 

One other possible sticking point is that my current stationery and fountain pen ink collection is actually not big enough to fill the entire cart. (See this video from a stationery YouTuber to see the sheer quantity of things that can fit in another very similar cart.) I might actually only need one tier if I'm really aggressive about trying to organize things into as small a space as possible. We do have other items we could put in the remaining tiers, though, possibly including some pantry items or packaged snacks... As you might be able to guess, our storage situation at home is generally a bit chaotic due to the small size of our apartment.

Third, and also in the category of items for the home, I've been very taken by the idea of a cozy, fleece-textured throw blanket. Because we rarely have houseguests, we've been okay with using a worn-down old comforter as one of our main "throw blankets" on the couch for the past five years. We also have a more attractive throw blanket in white lambswool with tasseled edges - which I purchased in 2012  when I started law school - but it's a bit scratchy-feeling and isn't very comfortable. (Both are visible in a photo I posted recently.) Now that we're home all the time, however, I'd appreciate having a better-looking, cozier-feeling blanket. 

For this, I'm inclined to look at Wirecutter reviews for initial recommendations, and I've narrowed it down to two possible frontrunners. There's the Garnet Hill Plush Loft blanket, which has one quilted side and one fluffy, fleece-y side. There's also the L.L. Bean Wicked Cozy blanket, which has that fluffy, fleece texture on both sides. For either blanket, I think a dark blue color would be best, it would suit both our mostly neutral living room decor and beige couch or our mostly-blue bedding and neutral-colored bedroom furniture. 

Fourth - and I don't think any of these ideas will actually turn into actual purchases in the next month or two - but I've added a few items to my fashion shopping wishlist recently. 

First up - and somewhat in keeping with my recent thing for matching, monochromatic loungewear sets - I've had this notion that a matching ribbed-knit set in beige or oatmeal would be comfortable to wear at home and also look pretty chic in an understated way. (My original inspiration was one of Eva Chen's outfits, a set in this vein with a sweater and wide-legged pants.) I've done some half-hearted online window-shopping, but it was only recently that I saw something that mostly fit the bill: Eileen Fisher's crew neck top (also in a cropped version, but I'd prefer the longer one) and pencil skirt in ribbed merino wool. A few people on Instagram have posted photos of themselves wearing these items together. 

I don't think the Eileen Fisher set is something I'm ever likely to buy for myself, as the full retail price is a bit high for me and finding both pieces in the right color and size on sale at the same time is not that likely. Plus, I'm not sure if the material might be a bit thin or might cling to my curves oddly, such that it wouldn't be something I'd wear outside the house. (For similar reasons, I often don't like unstructured, slim-fitting and unstructured tee-shirt or sweater dresses, it's easy for such items to sit on my curves in a way I don't like the look of.)

Secondly, for the past few months, I've been really into the idea of a gold herringbone chain necklace, one that's on the more dainty side and is a bit longer than choker length, maybe 16 inches. Because this is a classic design, lots of retailers or jewelers make them. 

Fine jewelry-wise, generally in 14k gold: Mejuri has one (3.1 mm wide, 14 to 16 inches long); Aurate, another direct-to-consumer jewelry brand, also does one (2 or 3 mm wide, 16 inches); The Last Line, yet another direct-to-consumer jewelry brand, also has one (3mm or 4 mm wide, 16 inches); and a number of jewelers on Etsy can also make them to your specifications. I think the price of gold has gone up significantly since I first became interested in this type of necklace around April, so any fine jewelry version will be quite expensive. 

Costume jewelry-wise, there are also many options: Free People does one, as does Madewell (also sold at Nordstrom and Zappos), among many other brands. If I went the costume jewelry route to try out the design, I'd probably just stick with Madewell, since I've seen people vouch for their jewelry being of reasonable quality on Instagram and blogs before. And - based on quite a bit of personal experience - I've generally been satisfied with J.Crew jewelry, from the same family of companies. 

Anyone else watching the newest season of GBBO? Do you have a favorite throw blanket at home? Oh, and on the off chance that anyone has recommendations for a beige or oatmeal-colored set of ribbed-knit separates - whether with pants or a skirt - I'd also love to hear about that!

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