On Rediscovering Stillness

I’ve started up my meditation practice again. I was having more and more trouble with sleeplessness and anxiety at night and it culminated in a few nights in a row of getting just a few hours’ sleep because I stayed awake for so long.

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And so I’ve found myself returning to my long-neglected meditation cushion. I should say, neglected by me, for it has become one of TweedCat’s favorite places to lounge on lazy days. I rise in the morning and make my way downstairs in the dim summer morning’s light, find a seat on the cushion, and start my practice. My legs are stiff, but eventually they find their familiar cross-legged position. Every so often, TweedCat comes over, as if to wonder at me stealing her seat. She has even hunkered down to sit next to me for a while.

I set my timer, or else choose a guided meditation. I love Insight Timer for this. The bells for the timer are the perfect way to go in and out of meditation. But lately, I’ve also been investigating the guided meditations. The meditations can be a nice way to get into meditation when you need a bit more help, or when you want to focus on a particular thing, rather than the Zen-instilled breath focus that is my default.

And the guided meditations have served me well for nights when I have trouble making it to sleep. I find that I can make myself relinquish social media in order to open up a guided meditation. I bid Mr. Tweed good night, and then put in my earbuds to listen while I drift off. The mark of a good meditation is that I never hear the end.

So that is how I’ve found myself returning to the practices of stillness that were such a regular part of my life years ago.

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A Week in the Life of a Non-Influencer

Or “Blogging for the Small Potato.”

Inspired by Tracy’s recent post at Fanserviced-B, I’ve been thinking a bit about what blogging means to me and what advice I would give to someone who was thinking about starting a blog. Because, you see, I’m a lot closer to where you would be than someone like Tracy is. While I have almost ten years’ worth of defunct blogs under my belt, I’ve only been at this space for a little over two years and have therefore built up two years’ worth of audience and “influence.”

And I’m just now starting to feel like a “blogger” rather than a person who happens to have a blog. That said, I don’t neglect much of my daily life in favor of blogging or social media. I don’t spend money on the blog, other than what I would already spend to “treat myself.” Because this isn’t strictly a beauty blog, I don’t have to keep a constant influx of product to maintain a review schedule. Honestly, I feel like I’m posting more beauty reviews that I would really like lately because I have a backlog of things I want to share with you because I’ve enjoyed them or because I have other opinions on them. And then there’s always tea. My goal is to post three posts a week, which has lately been one beauty review, one tea post, and one wildcard, but that has been known to change. Basically, I’m not making any money off this, not even to cover my costs, so I don’t feel terrible letting it fall by the wayside on weeks when life picks up.

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Here, I’ve decided to share what a week’s worth of blogging activities looks like for me, a small-time blogger. I have a full-time job and commute 2+ hours each day as well. After my week, I’ll also share some tips for the new blogger, from someone who hasn’t made it big.

Thursday:

On Thursdays, I telework, which means I wake up at 6-6:30 a.m. like normal, but I have a couple extra hours in the morning that I don’t spend commuting. I usually use this time for blog-related activities (although wedding planning has crept in at the edges sometimes).

Blogging: I usually try to post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so I looked at my blogging drafts and the photos I had and planned what I was going to post on Friday. I wrote the post reviewing my favorite deep conditioners and got it ready to post. I also took a bunch of photos while I had sun coming through the window.

Social Media: I actually joined an online course about increasing Instagram engagement since I’ve come to realize that Instagram is my preferred form of social media. But I need to be better about engaging with people myself.

Friday:

I managed to wake up on time and so I had some downtime in the morning before work to work on my blog post. In the evening, we took off to go to Philadelphia, which is halfway to New York City, where we planned to spend Saturday.

Blogging: I posted my review of hair masks.

Social Media: First Instagram lesson was optimizing your profile, so I updated my profile a bit. I also posted a bunch on my Story as we made our way up to Philly, plus my travel evening skin care routine.

Saturday:

Other than a few shares early in the morning (including a makeup routine selfie), I was largely radio silent on Saturday. We had our trip to the opera, which I talked about on Monday, but the main things were that 1.) our hostess didn’t like it when anyone pulled out a device during lunch (heavens forbid I’m that person with a phone out during the opera!), and 2.) no one else had their phones out to take photos, other than one family at the restaurant taking a family photo. I just felt gauche taking photos, even though I kept seeing things I wanted to share.

Blogging: None

Social Media: Posted in the morning and evening on my Instagram Story, plus posts of my makeup and a philosophical post after finishing a book. Instagram lesson was about cohesion of my feed, so I thought about how to tighten the visual theme of my images. I also started trying to increase my commenting on Instagram.

Sunday:

We were up early and on the road before 9 a.m., getting home before noon, but we were supposed to help out a friend who’d recently moved, so my afternoon was filled with that. Plus I was just dying of allergies.

Blogging: Sketched out the posts I wanted to put up for the week, including starting to write my opera review. Too dark to take photos by the time I got to blogging in the evening, though.

Social Media: Instagram lesson was about strategy, which I thought about. Decided to actually make an effort to post 1-3 times a day, spaced by at least eight hours.

Monday:

Teleworking again because of subway construction, so I had extra time to devote during the day.

Blogging: I used my extra time to finish my opera post and write a post for Wednesday. I also took photos while I had morning light.

Social Media: Instagram lesson was about focus, which I lack, both in my blog and my Instagram feed. I actually made the decision to write a general lifestyle/personal blog, rather than just writing a beauty blog or just writing a tea blog because this blog is a personal labor of love, not an attempt at starting a business. So I guess a little lack of focus is to be expected. But I’m hoping I can try to tie things together a little neater.

Tuesday:

Slept in because seasonal allergies are the pits. But I had some free time later in the day after work.

Blogging: Polished my Matchaeologist review and did some blog housekeeping. The Matchaeologist review made me break the seal on affiliate links, so I added an Affiliate and Referrals page and put up some referral links from other places that I frequent.

Social Media: Instagram lesson today was about using Instagram to sell products, which isn’t really useful to me right now. But hey, if there are any brands itching to do a collaboration, I put up a contact page so you know where to find me. Most of my progress was just keeping up the engagement. I should do an “Instagram Engagement for Introverts” post because I find it really hard to comment on other people’s posts because I get into my head and worry that no one cares what I have to say. Maybe they don’t, but it’s nice to get comment replies. I also discovered that standing on the platform waiting for the train is a great time to fit in some Instagram commenting. I also shared my blog page on my personal (i.e., non-pseudonymed) Facebook page, which was actually a big step. So now at least I know my mom reads my blog. After more than two years.

Wednesday:

Wednesday was a particularly big blog post day because I was posting a review of something I got at a discount in exchange for a review. Now, I’m a small-time blogger. I don’t get brands knocking on my email to offer my promotional products. Every free or discounted item I have ever gotten to review I have gotten by asking the brand’s PR team if they would send me something. This is a touchy subject among bloggers, so I’ll say this: The trick to asking for free stuff is to be gracious and accepting no matter what the response is. When I asked Matchaeologist, they said they could offer me a deep discount, but not something for free. And you know what? I probably would have bought something anyway because it was a thing I was interested in.

Blogging: Published my Matchaeologist review.

Social Media: Wednesday is the day when I get up at 5:30 a.m. and go to barre class, so I posted my early morning on my Story. Instagram lesson was about sounding like an authority, which I’m oddly good at, considering I’m not much of an authority about anything I blog about.

So that was my week. It’s far less exciting than an actual influencer, but it gives a little idea about what blogging is like for mere mortals. This will probably never be a career for me, and I don’t expect it to, but I’ve seen a creep in my traffic over the last two years, without really doing much of anything but write about what interests me. So I guess I’ll leave you with my tips for novice bloggers:

  1. Remember that the bloggers that inspire you have been at this for a while. It’ll probably take two to five years build the following they have, unless you want to play games with clickbait titles and topics.
  2. Do this because you enjoy it, at least at first. Especially since it’s going to be costing you way more money than it makes you.
  3. Use what you already have and supplement sparingly. Instead of buying a DSLR right away, see where your iPhone will get you. Or try to find an inexpensive camera to get started. When I started thinking about doing more videos, I bought a tripod for my phone, rather than a new video camera. It’s not the absolute best quality, but I’d rather spend $14 to see if I enjoy something rather than $600 to discover that I hate it.
  4. If you’re planning on doing reviews, make a plan for the products you review. Know how long you’re going to test them and when the review will come out. That way you’ll avoid having a backlog to work through and can try to budget your beauty purchases.
  5. Give it some time to figure out your voice. Things will change. You will look back on old posts and cringe. We all go through it.

So I guess that’s what I have to say about blogging, as a small-time blogger. I think it’s important to see both sides, especially when you’re starting a new blog, because chances are you’ll be a lot more like me than like someone like Tracy, at least at first. Good luck!

Welcome, Fifty Shades of Snail Readers!

Hello and welcome! You may have found this blog today through my guest post on Fifty Shades of Snail. I’m so grateful to Jude for working with me and I hope you’ll take a second to look around and get to know me.

First of all, ceci n’est pas un <<beauty blog>>. It may look like a beauty blog, but though I write often about beauty and skin care, the blog as a whole is more eclectic and varied. See my “About” page for details.

If you’re interested in my thoughts about beauty and skin care, you could take a look at my current hair care routine, or my basic makeup routine. I haven’t updated my skin care routine post in a long time, but in the meantime, take a look at my skin care routine for when life gets hectic. Also, if you, like me, find the current offerings of cleansing balms on the market lacking, check out my homemade emulsifying cleansing balm.

Other than that, I like to blog about tea. I’m a great drinker and lover of teas, and you will often find my thoughts about some new tea or other. I also post mini-reviews of teas I’m enjoying on my Instagram page. You may also find the occasional blog or Instagram post about my cat, TweedCat.

While I am not exactly a vintage blogger, I take a lot of my personal style from vintage fashion, and I like to pass the time in old-fashioned ways, by crocheting or by cooking and baking or even by brewing my own mead and hard cider. And I also talk about life in general. I’m thirty-four years old and recently wrote a two-part musing about looking and acting one’s age, something that I’m sure Asian beauty enthusiasts consider as the glow confuses people.

Whatever your interests, welcome!

Weekend Wanderings

If you follow my Instagram, you may have noticed that this weekend was my birthday. It was a lovely weekend, full of celebrating with family and friends. My mother took me out to afternoon tea at our favorite tiny tea shop on Friday afternoon and Fiancé took me out for soup dumplings and noodles Saturday night. I even had a little celebration during my Saturday morning rehearsal with the cast of the show I’m currently in. And the director gave me a lovely little potted plant a card because she’s a dear friend of mine as well.

But by Sunday, most of the festivities were over and things were quiet. It was a lovely day and I had nothing planned after getting coffee with Fiancé at our favorite little shop. So I decided to go to a barre class downtown.

Now, the last couple of weeks have been an upheaval in my barre schedule because my regular instructor is out of town and the gym seemed to have trouble getting a substitute for my normal early-morning Tuesday time slot. So I had actually gone more two weeks without a barre class. Needless to say, I was missing it, so it didn’t seem a hardship to take some time out of a Sunday and squeeze a class in.

I discovered that the second location of my gym happens to be only a short walk from a train station that is closer to my home than the one I usually go to. So I took the opportunity to get in a little walk in the sunshine while I went to my class. I walked through a neighborhood I don’t usually see. After a few blocks of small restaurants and nail salons, I found myself on a block of row houses that was quiet. But nestled in with the homes, on the corner of one block, I found the most adorable little Japanese market.

It’s called “Hana” Japanese Market, which means flower, so I took that as a sign that it was meant for me to stop in on my walk. I was still a bit early for class and only had another five minutes on my walk, so I had the time to dawdle a bit and explore. Inside, it was cramped and amazing. Tall wire shelves held treasures of prepared foods, candies, and even a tiny section of beauty products. I explored some lotions and creams from a brand that uses fermented soy as a star ingredient, as well as some multi-packs of daily face masks. But it was at the back of the store that I found my true quarry: Green Tea KitKat.

Now green tea KitKat was something I resisted for a long time. Of course, I’ve never been to Japan, so it wasn’t readily available anyway, but apart from that, I had conflicted feelings about it. You see, as much as I love all things tea, I am a staunch believer in chocolate. Real chocolate. Proper chocolate. With actual cocoa in it. And white chocolate, to my mind, is not chocolate. So green tea KitKat combined one thing I love (green tea) and one thing I do not (white “chocolate”). And that left me very confused. I was perfectly happy not to seek them out and address that confusion.

Then, my future sister-in-law and her boyfriend went to Japan to visit his family and came back with treats for Christmas. And everyone got a green tea KitKat in their stockings. Of course, Fiancé immediately turned his nose up at it, so I had two green tea KitKats! And they were glorious. Creamy and sweet, but with a pronounced green tea bitterness. Yum. Of course, they’re not easy to get if you don’t live near a Japanese market. I idly considered ordering some off Amazon, but I have a strange mental block about ordering food from Amazon (and the god-awful crumpets my mother ordered did nothing to dispel this).

So we return to the present scene: Lady Elizabeth on her quest, having found the display of green tea KitKat. Cue the triumphant music. I snagged two bags of the little green gems and paid, conversing lightly with the thoroughly pleasant woman running the cash register. Now that I know this market is here and so adorable, and now that I know the walk to this gym location is not only short, but enjoyable, I’m sure I shall return.

I hope everyone had happy weekends!

On Wedding Brain and Bridal Solidarity

Last week, I made more progress towards planning my wedding. I met with our caterer and his assistants at our venue and went through the logistics. And we got our license (less than six months away!). It was exciting to see things start coming together, and it gave me an excuse to take an entire day off work and think about nothing but wedding, which is important for a bride planning an event.

Then, I also learned that a coworker had gotten engaged, so of course, I went by her desk to congratulate her. But I also offered her the support of a sympathetic ear if she ever wants to obsess about wedding planning and it seems like everyone else around her is sick of it. Because this struggle is real.

I really never thought I would be *that* bride, the one who was obsessed with swatches and decorations and everything. But here we are. I’ve even planned a wedding before, but it was a much smaller event and took place rather quickly (four months from proposal to wedding). Plus, I was in school at the time, so I didn’t have as much mental free energy to waste.

This time around, I have all the mental energy to waste on it. And I’m planning a more elaborate event. And, of course, second-guessing every choice I make. For example: I recently decided what would actually be my “dream” wedding and it’s pretty far from what we’re planning.

My Dream: We wake up in the morning, put on nice clothes, and drive out to a little vintage chapel near our house, where we can have a simple, humanist ceremony, with whoever is up to join us. Then, we come back to the house and host a big luncheon/open house for friends and family, mostly in our back yard, with the option of squeezing inside if it rains. Simple, classic, and very old-fashioned.

Instead: The only concrete input Fiancé has given in terms of what he wants (it’s his first marriage) is that he wants to have a dance party for his friends. So dancing is a must. Given that, we have to rent a hall. And, honestly, we first met and became close going to dance lessons together, so it makes sense. We dance at everyone else’s weddings; of course we’re going to dance at our own.

So there I go again. Before I devolve into discussing caterers and music equipment, I’m going to stop myself. Wedding brain is real. It occupies prime mental real estate. And I know I’ve annoyed even the most wedding-obsessed of my non-planning friends.

So I’ve extended the branch of wedding brain acceptance to another woman going through it, in the hope that we can support each other. Forming a grand sisterhood of the wedding brain. And isn’t that what support is all about?

Life with Cat

It has been over two months since the lovely people at the local rescue brought TweedCat to our house. She’s certainly settling in nicely. And so are we. It’s made me realize just how different living with one’s own cat is. I’ve had dogs in the past, and I’ve lived with other people’s cats in the past, but I’ve never had a cat of my own.

I am a determined cat person. I’ve wanted a cat since I was a small child. My mother taught me that I couldn’t have a cat while I was at home because everyone else in my family is allergic. But she would asked me “When can you have a kitty?” from the time I was small, and I would answer “When I have a place of my own.” And that’s how it always was. When I had my own place, I would have a cat. That was always assumed. I even included my hypothetical future cat when I wrote an essay in the fifth grade about what I thought my life would be like when I was thirty (NB: I was an anthropologist living alone in an apartment with a cat).

And then, I went away to college. But even though I had a place of my own, I knew it was temporary. I wasn’t planning on staying in my college town past graduation, and most of the local rescues wouldn’t adopt pets to college students anyway. A wise choice, in my book. So I had the place, but not the cat. And then, in graduate school, I first lived with a woman who had her own cat. From there, I moved in with the man who would become my first husband. And who is allergic to cats. So we got a dog. And I thought for a while that maybe I was actually a dog person.

After my divorce, I lived in a string of shared housing again. And finally, I settled in a house with Fiancé. Of course, the lease on the house stated no pets. So when we were considering moving, we talked about it with our landlady and she gladly amended it.

Again, we looked at getting a dog. But dogs require time that we don’t necessarily have to give. And cats are a little more solitary. So I broached the subject with Fiancé: Why don’t we go look at cats. And we did. And I met TweedCat. And completely fell in love, and the rest is history.

Now, my mornings are different than they were. I still wake up early, before Fiancé, and make my cup of tea. But now, I also feed TweedCat. She certainly makes sure I know that’s part of the routine. And when I get home, I have a sweet kitty who’s happy to see me. And sometimes, especially early in the morning, when I’m sitting quietly, usually on my computer or maybe watching TV, drinking a cup of tea, I’ll look down, and there will be a little face staring up at me from the floor at the foot of my seat. I’ll pat the chair and she’ll hop up. And then she’ll curl up in my lap and purr. And it’s very nice.

Cats that aren’t your cat don’t necessarily do that. I had plenty of my housemates’ cats jump up and sit next to me or let me pet them or beg me for food. But none of them ever treated me like their person. Because I wasn’t. Now, I have a cat of my own. And I’ve become somecat’s person. And it’s lovely.

On Acting One’s Age

I posted on Friday about looking one’s age and about how I don’t, apparently, though I think I do and I think I’d really rather look my age than not have it show how much life I’ve lived. I thought I’d do a companion piece in a similar vein about acting one’s age.

First of all, what does that even mean, acting your age? When I was a kid, my dad would say “Act your age, not your shoe size,” which I suppose meant that I was being particularly immature. And I suppose that’s a bit of it. I mean, we all have a pretty clear idea of what a child should act like as opposed to an adult. But it’s all rather vague and imprecise.

I mean, when you’re a teenager, where does that leave you? I suppose if one really wanted to act like a teenager, one would affect a rebellious and surly attitude (I don’t mock; I was a moderately surly teenager myself).

But what does “acting your age” mean when you’re an adult? What does it mean to act like a 20-year-old vs. a 30-year-old? Or a 40-year-old? Does it keep going? Is there a standard of comportment throughout the decades?

I really think not. And this is what I consider when I think about acting my age. The single biggest thing that has happened with how I act as I’ve gotten older is my increase in confidence. I’ve heard older women talk about it all the time, how they wish they had the confidence that they have now when they were as young as they wish they looked. But really, part of it for me is accepting my looks, accepting compliments, and accepting that people who decide to react negatively to my appearance are probably not worth my time.

For me, acting my age is about asserting myself for myself and for others who aren’t as assertive. It’s being able to get noticed to be served at a bar, but to point out others near me who haven’t been noticed despite being their longer.

Most of all, acting my age has involved a certain development of personal style. I call this “acting my age” and not “looking my age” because the confidence that comes with getting older is how I’ve found the self-awareness to know what is really my preference, versus someone else telling me what’s chic, as well as the necessary stylish elan to carry it off and look creative and personal rather than just odd. Although a certain amount of odd does belong in my personal style.

So I suppose, in short, acting my age has meant coming into my own and as I get older, acting like myself.

On Becoming the Zen Master of Wedding Planning

So I’m planning a wedding. This is not known for being one of the most meditative and relaxing practices. And I’ve been married before, so I have that minefield to walk. As a result, I’ve found myself reading my share of wedding planning websites and message boards. And I’ve noticed that when I respond to threads with advice, my voice is starting to sound more and more like some Jedi-Zen-monk-bride. While I can be a very perfectionist person in my day-to-day life, I’m turning out to be a surprisingly chill bride.

The starting point of my wedding planning philosophy is pretty well summed up in this article. No matter what you do or how much you try to please everyone, someone will be offended and complain about your wedding. So rather than waste energy trying to dance around potential offense, I’ve decided not to care. I’m having the wedding I’m having. I try not to be mean-spirited or deliberately exclusive, but other than that, I’m going to do what I’m going to do.

And that means saying no to things. No, we’re not sending announcements to people who aren’t invited. No, we’re not having a small gift registry just in case someone really can’t bring themselves to show up empty handed. No. Just no.

What I’ve learned from all this is that it is a lot easier to plan a wedding as a self-actualized thirty-something woman than as a mid-twenties student. I’m a lot more confident about saying no to things that I don’t want (or legitimately make me uncomfortable). And the flip side is that I’m finding it easier to say yes to things even though they’re expensive and frivolous. We have the money for it, so I’m going to have my vintage venue and catered brunch with staff to help set up and serve. And flowers. I love flowers. And a photographer to take amazing professional photos at a fair price for his skill and training.

And you know what? This philosophy might look different to you. Staying true to your vision might mean letting your mother have more say because it’s more important to you that she feels intimately involved than to have exactly the decorations you dreamed of. Or it might mean something else entirely. It might involve a church. And that’s okay. The only thing that’s not okay is expecting the world to share and approve of and fund your vision. Also, being mean to people for the sake of being mean kind of sucks. But the are plenty of situations where wedding compromises might come off as mean on the surface. Forgive yourself, move on, and have the event that will make you deliriously happy.

Just remember that at the end of the day, the most important thing is the person you are marrying and the fact that you’re planning on spending the rest of your life together. Just because you have a vision doesn’t mean everything will go to plan. It will rain. Someone you don’t expect may show up. A flight may get canceled. The dress might not come in time. But ultimately, none of that really matters if you love each other. You could get married in a refrigerator box and as long as it’s legal, your wedding was a success.

So for someone who has trouble doing just this, I’m finding it easier to relax about the wedding, comparatively. And I hope any soon-to-be-brides can join in as we Zen our way to our wedding days — bugs, rain, and all!

How Playing Pokemon Go Led Me To Mordor

Hi! I’m Elizabeth, and I’m an adult woman that plays Pokemon. Or rather, I did play Pokemon, for a couple months at least. You see, when I returned from a business trip, I found that Boyfriend (oops, Fiancé) had discovered this new game that he thought we should try playing together. He plays a lot of computer and video games and has tried to get me interested in the past, but this one was different: this one makes you go outside. And I love going outside. I found it actually strengthened our relationship because we went on long walks together and then some of the time we spent lounging on the couch on our smartphones we were actually interacting and discussing the game.

Plus, I found a wild Pikachu on my walk to work and they’re adorable.

Now, I walk 3 miles to and from work every day and try to get in a little more besides that. But on days I work from home, or on weekends, I find it hard to get off the couch. Pokemon became a great motivator to walk on normally-sedentary days. I liked the fact that I was walking for a purpose, rather than just for the sake of walking. Walking with a goal in mind. It made me feel rather like an adventurer from one of the fantasy books I read. I couldn’t get where I needed to go other than by walking, so I walked all over the place.

And then Fiancé and I went to Montreal and we REALLY walked. Like, 10 miles a day. We fell out of the habit of playing Pokemon because we didn’t want to be distracted by our phones in an unfamiliar area, but we walked a lot. And it got me thinking about what I really liked about Pokemon Go: the idea of walking for a purpose.

That brought up a memory of a walking challenge I’d heard of a while ago called the Eowyn Challenge, where you log your daily walking and as it adds up, you set goals in terms of the landmarks in the journeys of the characters in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. So you can virtually follow Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mordor by showing how your daily mileage adds up. So rather than going back to trying to catch seven gajillion Magikarp near the lake near my house, I decided to log my daily miles in terms of a walk to Rivendell. And then Lothlorien. And onwards. I know that if I walk an average of 5 miles a day, it’ll get me to Rivendell in about three months, so that’s a good start, and it inspires me to add walks in, and plan longer walks to bump up my average mileage.

It also helps reinforce walking as a mode of transportation for me. When I’m in an unfamiliar city, I walk a lot more, simply because I don’t have a car, and I’m not familiar with the public transit. I’d rather walk a few miles than try to figure out the bus system sometimes. Especially when doing so involves testing my confidence in my French language skills. But in my own town, I default to driving or taking the train a little longer to walk a little less. Why do that? Why not try walking a couple miles to that lunch place I like on my work-from-home day? Why not walk to my favorite coffee shop when I have the time on the weekend? And along the way, I get to pretend I’m a Tolkeinian adventurer, albeit with less hirsute feet.

On Major Life Events, Planning, and Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

As those of you who follow me on Instagram know, I have a bit of a reason for not blogging for a month.

Boyfriend is no longer Boyfriend. Instead, he is Fiancé. He asked me to marry him just before our vacation at the beginning of August. So I have spent the last month, yes, in Montreal for a week, but also in a flurry of preparation. Since we have just booked our venue, I hope I can calm down and devote mental energy to other things.

Just don’t bet on it.

In the meantime, here is the ring, in case you missed in on Instagram:

Because Fiancé knows me very well, he found a simple, vintage ring from the early 20th century in rosy gold with two moonstones, in a setting called “Toi et Moi,” or “You and Me.” It’s simple, lovely, and just a bit old-fashioned, while also seeming very different from many engagement rings I see so often.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last month. While I still have plenty of planning yet to do, hopefully, I find some time to update this space a bit more regularly.