So first off is a little update on my job and some random photos I’ve worked on since I last posted. If you just want to jump to the favorite things part of this post, scroll down until you get there. 😉 Here we go!
This was an attempt to take a photo in front of a green screen and then mask it out later to replace it with a more interesting background (in this case, a background of the stained-glass windows at the Ruah chapel). I’m not impressed with how it turned out.
June has been an unexpectedly busy month for me – I tend to still operate on “teacher time,” meaning my year ends in May, and starts in August, with June and July as off months where not much happens. But as a tutor, June and July are months where, if I am working with any students, they require a lot more planning and preparation on my part than they do during the school year, when I can just follow the lesson plans of their classroom teachers and help them with their work.
This was an attempt to take a pic of myself in ponytails. I’m not impressed with how this one turned out, either. But I am impressed with that necklace – it’s Hermes, and is actually a silk scarf accordion-folded and rolled into necklace form.
All of the kids I was working with by the end of May have stayed on for the summer, which is good of course (with the exception of one student I felt needed more help than I could give; I found her a specialist to work with instead), but the increased workload took me by surprise. I knew I would keep tutoring in the summer, but subconsciously I was looking forward to a summer break anyway; 14 years in public education have trained me to anticipate the summer months as ones of rest and recharging. I’ve also picked up two new clients recently, so that’s added to the workload. It’s still a completely manageable workload, mind you, so not having the summer as a work-break is more of an interesting surprise than an actual problem.
Re-worked photo from an old shoot
July is shaping up to be more calm. One of my longest clients (the second one I picked up back in September of last year) is taking the whole month off to travel with his family, and another one will be gone for at least half the month due to travel as well. So, that will free things up a bit – in fact, it will give me just about the right amount of time to get a bit of a breather without getting bored or feeling panicked that I’m losing business. One of those students I intend to cut loose at the end of summer anyway; he’s much younger than the usual age I tutor, and I’ve decided to focus solely on students at the secondary or college level. I’ve also decided to fine-tune my services to focus on advanced-level students such as Honors or AP and college preparatory work. It sounds like snobbery, I know, but in working with the various kids I have in the past year, I have really found this is where my strengths are. For example, the two kids with reading deficits I worked with in the spring still failed their state exams (which is why I found them a specialist) but the Honors-level middle-schooler I tutor improved his state reading scores by 50 points. And the juniors and seniors I worked with on literary analysis and essay writing last year all saw their grades go up at least ten points after working with me, while my elementary kids saw little improvement at all. So the evidence is pretty conclusive at this point.
I definitely overdid the editing on this one. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.
But enough about my job, let’s talk about pants. But before we do, let me just add that I fully intended to include photos of me wearing the different pants I’m going to talk about, but there’s really only one or two areas of the house that are good for me to take full-length shots unless I’m going to set up for an entire shoot, and there are people working on various aspects of our house right now and I both cannot get to the easy places to shoot quickly OR move my office around to set up for a full shoot. So, stock photos are going to have to suffice this time. Sorry.
And by pants, I mean jeans. I love jeans. One of the things I love about jeans is that they go with everything, so you only need a few pair to be set for your wardrobe, if you’re someone who can get away with wearing jeans every day, which I now can do. However, that doesn’t stop me from buying WAY MORE of them than I need; even though I could get away with only two good pair of jeans and be set, I have instead become obsessed with finding the most awesome jeans possible and then, acquiring more.
A pair Stitch Fix sent me about a year ago that I did not keep; these were by Kut From the Kloth, which I do mention a few paragraphs below. Now that I’m looking at these, I wish I’d kept them!
My requirements for labeling a pair of jeans ‘good’ can be pretty particular. I do not like heavy or stiff denim; the lighter, stretchier, and softer the better, as far as I’m concerned. And for the most part, I am not a huge fan of dark washes, even though I know they are more flattering for my body type (pear shape, meaning light colors widen me up top and dark colors make me appear slimmer down below). And I love my denim ripped, torn, frayed, and full of holes – I can’t help it, I’ve always been drawn to beat-up jeans.
Jumping for jeans! Although these are not beat-up in any way. I don’t even remember which ones these were; this photo is a few years old.
I do have some standards, though; while I have no problem wearing a pair of lighter wash denim with a few strategically-placed rips and tears to a tutoring session (I didn’t get into this self-employment gig to follow a dress code) I do draw the line at something completely faded, worn and torn. But the fact that I can wear faded, worn and torn jeans more often than I could when I worked in a school (where jeans were often allowed but had to be hole-free) has encouraged me to buy some seriously busted ones lately, like these:
These jeans are just insane, and I honestly don’t wear them out of the house much because of that, but they are ridiculously comfortable, and in spite of the fact that they make me look like an oompah-loompah I love them. I love them so much that when I bought them in a size 28 and discovered they were WAY too big, I decided to keep those to wear around the house and got a second pair in a 27 for those times I felt adventurous enough to wear them out. I love having a pair of jeans to wear at home that feel every bit as comfortable as my sweatpants, and these suckers are so soft and light that I can do everything in them that I can do in sweats – workout, do chores, work in the yard – I can even do yoga in them without feeling constricted. Wearing them out of the house, however, is a real challenge; I found I needed a few very simple, snug tee shirts I could tuck in to make these work; anything flowy up top that I leave untucked makes me look like the Michelin Tire Man. They’re still weird with the tucked-in tee – there’s no way around the fact that the harem cut means my crotch not only hangs down to the floor but also tends to poke out strangely when I stand still – and while I wouldn’t say these jeans get compliments, they do get looks. And those holes come quite close to being too revealing, but whatever. I make it work. And sometimes in life you just gotta wear the harem jeans, even when you know other people will think you’re a disaster when you do.
Now, these jeans were a surprise for sure – I bought them for two reasons: 1) So many reviews online claimed they ran big and fit weird, and jeans that fit this description almost always look good on me; and 2) they were on sale for $60 down from the original $98. These are actual, honest-to- God Levi’s, which I haven’t worn since the nineties, and I never found the brand to fit me all that well back then. These were also 100% cotton, which for me is never ideal. I like stretch in my denim for the most part. Since these were full-on cotton of a fairly heavy weight, I went with my larger size – 28 – especially since this was called a ‘boyfriend’ cut, which is a cut that not once has ever worked on me. Well, these worked surprisingly well; on me, the waist is still a bit too big, but not enough that I have bothered to get them tailored, and other than that, they are just the right amount of loose without being shapeless. They are also ridiculously comfy, and they’ve quickly become my one of my go-to pairs, as I feel they are nice enough to wear to tutoring sessions where I might encounter parents.
Kut From the Kloth is a brand I’ve tried on a lot but never purchased before; this past winter I tried on a great pair of skinny cords from them that I liked but never bought (mostly because it never felt cold enough to need more corduroy) so I’ve kept the brand in mind. I was wandering the Galleria one morning when I stumbled across these and tried them on; I tried them in a size 4 since that was the size of the cords I tried on earlier, and they really looked frumpy and odd. I was relieved I didn’t like them, because they were $99 and I really did not need another pair of light wash holey jeans, but when the saleswoman suggested I try the 2 they looked smashing (I’m telling you, the right fit does make all the difference). I held off, though, because I still wasn’t convinced I needed them, but over the coming weeks they kept coming to mind, so I figured I probably did. They’re stretchy, and although the patches underneath the holes mean they’re on the heavy side, they are still comfortable, and they’re actually quite flattering on. I’m also surprised at the length on these; usually ankle-length is horrible on me but maybe because of the added cuff at the bottom, these seem to work. I do also love the frayed hem here; in fact, frayed hems are my new thing – which has gotten me into trouble a few times, unfortunately, with another new jean obsession – FLARES!
No, not these kinds of flares – although I love them, too
Free People has consistently sold flares, boot cuts, and bell bottoms throughout the entire skinny jean craze that still rules the runways and shopping malls, and many of their styles are well done. The truth is, as a pear shape, a bootcut or wide-leg jean will always be more flattering on me than a straight or skinny style, but the downside is (aside from possibly being off-trend) my short legs always require me to tailor a wide-leg jean because they’re always way too long. With skinny jeans this doesn’t matter, especially when so many are now cut to ankle length anyway, but an ankle-length flare is not a good look on anyone, and it seems such jeans are always made ridiculously long even on women with legs of a more proportional length. I mention this because, in buying a few pair of flares this spring, I mistakenly thought the whole frayed-hem trend meant I could just grab some scissors and snip these jeans wherever I saw fit to trim the length, and I’ve now realized why that’s not a good idea. Even the frayed hems you buy from a store have an actual hem, it’s just frayed beneath it, and when one just whacks off the denim without adding a hem, the jeans fold or roll up at the bottom instead of lying flat. Perhaps part of that has to do with the fact that the denim has stretch and is fairly light; I seem to remember being able to whack off the hems of my Levi’s back in the day without ever having to worry about adding a hem, but that was before denim had lycra or spandex or any stretch in them and was generally rather heavy. So now I have two pair of flares with jacked-up hems that I’m not sure I can repair; I cut them exactly where I wanted them, length-wise, so trying to hem them now might make them too short. Boo. On the plus side, for both pair of flares I purchased, I ended up with them in two sizes (I often buy a 27 and a 28 when I buy online because I’m never sure which one will fit) and when I jacked up the hem on one pair, I was able to salvage the other (and even with the jacked-up hems, I can get away with wearing them).
Anyway, in spite of that little snafu, I am loving both pair of flares I bought recently. The denim is super-stretchy and the cuts are really fun and flattering. I thought the first pair above had a pretty radical flare to it before I saw these ‘super flares’ online later; I decided because these were so crazy I’d go for a darker wash, and I actually really like them in this color.
My first super-flare pair was a size 27 and is a touch too tight, but I found them on eBay for cheap so I’m not too bothered by it. The second pair is a size 28 and fit me better, but I haven’t trimmed or hemmed them yet and the length is ridiculous. I want to take them to my tailor to get them hemmed but I feel a bit embarassed about it; I know she’s going to think I am crazy for wearing a pair of jeans with a flare like this and I do think they kind of make me look insane – but in a good way, right?
Simon agrees, I do look insane.
That’s about all on the jeans front, so what other faves are floating my boat this summer? Well, first of all, to go with my new cut and color I decided I wanted a funkier pair of glasses. Enter Zenni online, as usual, with a really affordable pair of fun cat-eyes:
These are a much more dramatic shape than I’ve ever done before; I honestly think they’re a little wide up top for me and may make me look slightly cross-eyed, but other than that I do love them (I seem to have an I-really-love-this-but-it-makes-me-look-insane thing going on today, don’t I). I also decided to try the 1.74 index lenses instead of the usual 1.67 Zenni always recommends; the 1.74 index is a bit thinner and lighter than the others, but not so much that I think anyone other than me would notice. I do think they’re a little lighter, though, and I feel like my vision is good in them. The only down side, other than the cost being more per lens, is that this lens is more reflective and I definitely see more light reflections in them when I look in the mirror. Not a big deal, and probably not noticeable to anyone else, but it is something I’ve noticed. As I’ve mentioned before when it comes to Zenni, a pair of glasses at a Lenscrafters would, for me, cost around $700, but at Zenni these only cost me $160. Sure, it’s a bit of a crapshoot to buy frames online, but I’ve found that once you find a frame you really like and get the measurements for those down, you can easily find similar measurements in other styles, which for me has done the trick. And I’ve never had trouble with the prescription being bad whenever I’ve ordered from them (which I’ve done A LOT; I’m always switching between several pairs and also have prescription sunglasses).
And by the way, since we’re speaking of favorite things here, I still LOVE my Voloom.
Now, take a look at my lipstick in the photo above (see, there’s more than one reason why I added that pic), because that’s my next new obsession: Kylie Jenner’s metallic lipstick in a color called King K; it’s the color I’m wearing in the Zenni shot above, also. I saw a waitress in a restaurant wearing this shade a few months ago and it looked so great on her I chased her down to ask what it was; I had no idea Kylie Jenner had a cosmetic line, so it was news to me. The lipstick is one of those paint-on kinds that come in a liquid form that dries onto your lips and is long-wearing; I generally dislike the feel of such lipsticks as they are very dry, and adding any gloss to it to moisturize them, of course, makes them rub off. Although I am not a fan of how such lipsticks feel, I’m not opposed to wearing them; Lime Crime has come out with an extensive line of them over the years and I’ve liked some of them just fine, and back in the day Cover Girl made a shade that I loved and wore for years (that one had an included clear gloss that you could put over it, which was very helpful). So, I’m not all that jazzed about the formulation, but the COLOR, y’all. The color is everything. This is my perfect color, and I have become so obsessed with this shade that I am afraid it’s some sort of limited edition which will run out soon, and I’ve already bought four extra tubes of it and am considering more. I have not worn anything else since trying it.
King K by Kylie Jenner
I’ve always been a sucker for a metallic, bronze-y brown, even though my skin tone and hair color seem to dictate I should look better in pinks and reds. In fact, I see olive-skinned dark-haired women wearing red lipstick all the time and I think they all look amazing, but I simply hate it on me. And trust me, y’all, I have tried. For at least 15 years, MAC made a color called Coconutty that was all I needed, and when they finally discontinued it I was heartbroken. Then I found a color called Almondine by Estee Lauder that’s really close to it – I still love that one (and unlike the King K, it’s very moisturizing) but since finding the Kylie Jenner lipstick I haven’t worn the Lauder once. The King K just has a touch more copper sparkle to it that has me in love with it right now, and I”m willing to put up with the dryness to wear it. I loved it so much, I thought I’d try out a few more of Kylie’s lipstick shades, but I had the same problem with them I have with Lime Crime’s long wearing colors – all the earth and neutral tones turn a shade on my lips I’d describe as “greige” (some combination of gray and beige), and all the red shades turn the tackiest coral red ever. Plus, these longwearing, dry formulations are usually matte, and matte never looks great on thin, dry lips like mine; as a metallic, the King K takes care of that with the added sparkle.
OK, to close this post off, here’s a random shot of my pets – not a great photo, but I liked the triangle they created:
By the way, Simon’s tail really is short and stumpy like that; he came to us that way. The shelter said he’d had an injury as a kitten and it was easier to shorten it than try to fix the problem. On the flip side, Violet’s tail is crazy long; you can see it peeking out from under the cat castle. Maybe it’s actually a normal length but being used to Simon’s wee little stump it just seems long? I’m not sure.