February 2014: What I bought, watched and read
FAVOURITE BLOG OF THE MONTH
(I even love the name)
I love that she’s an older blogger (and a role model!), and her style is not so perfect, prissy or polished like some of those other style bloggers out there. I can think of at least 3 mainstream bloggers who are like this, and it is just not practical to run around in 4″ heels all day with your hair perfectly coiffed and not a single item mismatched or out of place.
It just isn’t.
Nothing is super perfect and there are days when you don’t want to look perfect.
She’s not a very girly blogger so there’s no pink, glitter, bows.. anything that kind of makes you think: UGH this is way too sweet to wear without it being a sartorial joke on fashion, which is completely up my alley.
(Yes I am specifically thinking of ONE fashion blogger who basically loves bows, glittery things, pink and things that make me gag.)
Anyway, while I don’t love ALL of the outfits she wears, I like them all, and hate very.. very.. few of them.
WHAT I WATCHED
I had to. I’m pregnant.
It’s REALLy interesting, and you even get to see creepy 4D ultrasounds of a baby, along with the actual birth of a baby girl (literally… the ACTUAL birth, with the birth canal crowning shot and everything).
Anyway, I watched it to know what my baby has been feeling for the past while inside my womb, and I can now understand or at least vicariously feel how a baby might feel coming out into a cold, bright, kind of annoyingly loud world after being in such a warm, comfortable cocoon.
This does not make all the painful kicking the baby is doing to my body inside feel any better, but I am a lot calmer now that I kind of know what to expect and am reassured that it’s a sign of a very healthy, active baby.
[ SOCIAL COMMENTARY BETWEEN EUROPE AND U.S. / CAREER / LIFE / PERSONAL FINANCE ]
To all my European readers (and American Europhiles) who are interested, this is a fantastic book for you to read as it is from an American perspective.
An excellent, extremely interesting book that contrasts between Europe and the U.S. written from a perspective of an American who claims to not be a Europhile, yet the whole book contrasts all the things wrong and right in America versus Europe.
Surprisingly, it had a personal finance twist, comparing the living situation of a woman in Europe versus a woman in the U.S. He has a bit of a “why are we spending so much money on crap we don’t want to feel better about our horrible lives that we can’t seem to enjoy living?” commentary that I’ve come to realize over the past decade of consumption (being a shopaholic) and turning into whatever I am today.
Topics he writes about that contrast between the U.S. and Europe (specifically Germany, and to a lesser extent, France):
- Consumption / Spending — Enough said.
- Healthcare — a HUGE problem in the U.S., even I was shocked at this
- Working conditions — another massive problem in the U.S. especially with at-will employment*
- Childcare — I’m envious of their government daycares in Europe
- Time spent working — He has a great chart that shows Europeans working 1500 hours and Americans at 2400 hours
- Fear of the workplace — Goes with working conditions, but Americans have a fear of being fired (my aunt worries about this a lot)
- Education — Filtering and quality of education is far superior in Europe in my opinion; he actually validated my assumption for me
..really, REALLY fascinating. It isn’t dry in the slightest and he gives real-life examples of people he meets as well as conversations, and lots of great data to back it all up.
*The American At-Will Employment Explanation for Europeans
This is something that shocked me in the U.S., but basically some states let you fire an employee just because they want to fire you, for any reason at all such as they don’t like the colour of your tie or their husband doesn’t like you.
Employers do not need a “valid” reason and this really surprised me as a Canadian that it was still allowed.
No wonder Americans live in fear of losing their jobs, work a lot, take no vacations, and have a lot of stress.
A great book that would go quite nicely with this other book I read last year:
Basically it is kind of ridiculous that Americans work so hard.
My aunt is 76 and STILL working in a factory because she never made much money her entire life, her husband was a bit of a bum and her stepchildren hate her. She only has about $40,000 saved in Social Security and is scared to death of losing her job.
CLICK TO EMBIGGEN
Anyway.. long story short, it’s a great book.
This book was lent to me (in paperback format.. how retro!) by a friend who is planning her wedding. I read through it and loved that it basically resonated with why I don’t want to have a big wedding (let alone get married to begin with).
The first half of the book was way more interesting than the second half for me, because it goes through how wedding consultants sell to you, what it costs, how they ‘close’ on a newly engaged bride and so on.
Then it also talks about the cost of making a wedding dress (it’s a SERIOUS business), and later on, goes into wedding venues that are destination weddings and how the dream of a perfect, big American wedding is costing a lot of people a lot of money and is a big business.
What I find interesting is that when I mentioned some of these facts to BF while reading the book, he looked at me bemused and said:
North American weddings are a scam.
In Europe, particularly in France, we do not have such ideas.
At least.. not when my friends were getting married.
They could go directly to the vineyard and buy crates of wine from the producer to have at their wedding rather than paying corking fees and buying the wine through the venue.
Food was also a really good deal and a REAL meal in France, unlike here in North America where they cook some cheap pasta and throw a can of sauce on top and call it a dish.
It was an even better deal before the EUR came in because in francs, it was a steal!!
PETER RABBIT BABY BOOK = $11.80 (used points for $5 off)
Printed in Italy on eco-friendly inks and papers.
I really don’t like paper in general, but I truly appreciated that my mother created a memory book for me when I was a baby. Even though she half-heartedly filled in the pages with random notes (she didn’t really do the job!!) she still made an effort and I still enjoyed flipping through it as an adult.
I’m keeping ultrasounds in here, anything people give me in terms of cards and making notes.
It only goes through the first year, and frankly that’s all I need or really want.
Some people want a baby book that goes up to 5 or 10 years, but frankly who has time with a baby to write all that stuff in!? Not me.
Sure, it would have been cute to have later years but it is a lot of work and I want to do this for every one of my children so no one feels left out, so I need to keep this simple and up to the first birthday is good enough for me.
This is a book I am going to use to start the baby off on learning piano. I can already play and love playing it, so this will be easy to teach for a starting course.
If the baby enjoys it and wants to progress then we’ll pay for lessons but if it’s something they don’t seem to be interested in at the end, then at least I will have only spent about $9 finding it out.
Of course, this is way in the future.. but I like being prepared.
WHAT I WANTED TO BUY
!! BUT DIDN’T !!!
…’Cuz I am starting to run low on my “free and not invested” emergency fund cash (down to my last $13,000 because I put $5500 of it to max out my TFSAs for 2014) and I am also on a retail shopping ban.
Anyway, in lieu of what I actually bought, this is what I’ve been eying lustfully.
OLIVE GREEN COAT FROM BURBERRY – $950
This gorgeous Olive Green coat from Burberry that was marked down from $1300 to $950.. (a steal I tell you)…
I wanted it because.. uhhh… wait, do I even need a reason? It’s a WANT.
A LUST for a coat I do not own in that colour or style. Plus olive green looks particularly good on me.. in my opinion.
Not that I’d ever actually splash out $3400 CAD on a DRESS but a girl can dream and window shop online when she isn’t spending money, right?
My goodness it’s gorgeous.
THESE MAKEUP PALETTES
I am basically waiting for a Sephora VIB sale for 20% off to buy these palettes, and I think the sale comes in November…
Matte, neutral eyeshadows I can wear to work. Sold.
MAYYYBE —> URBAN DECAY NAKED #3 PALETTE
This one is a maybe because it has shiny colours in it.. and I kind of really liked the first palette the best, although the second Naked #2 palette was way too grey for my skintone.
I hear it makes your skin look amazing a la Arianne of Glitter Geek. I’m willing to give it a shot although at $52, could I get a sample first?