My Goal of a Personal Uniform

Uniforms, I had one when I was in elementary school. Then, I didn’t love it, but I respected its utility. It was nice to not have to make an additional decision when you woke up in the morning. It was simple: On Mondays and Thursdays, I wore a red polo with khakis, on Wednesdays I wore a white button down shirt with a jumper, and on Tuesdays and Fridays, I wore my gym shorts and a khaki skirt. It was simple and easy. Then middle school came and nothing was easy, especially the intricate calculus required for getting dressed for school each morning. 

By the time 8th grade rolled around, I had established a uniform for myself – jeans, boots, and a sweater (usually some type of wool). It was comfortable and put together. Then, in ninth grade one of my friends told me I dressed “like a suburban soccer mom”. OUCH 

At the time what she said hurt my feelings – a lot, but I did come away with an important takeaway – my clothes weren’t flattering my body type. I have broad shoulders, a large bust, no hips, medium sized thighs, and huge calves. I’m still learning to love my body, but I love all that my body allows me to do: hike, read, write, bake, drink coffee, and so much more. Anyways, that conversation set me down a path of discovering what worked best for my body. I realized that a v-neck sweater with skinny jeans and ankle sneakers (like these) are a great option for my body type. I also really like long sleeve v-neck t-shirts with a vest (like this fluffy Patagonia one or this quilted one) with skinny jeans and ankle sneakers are a similarly good option for me and my body. 

I don’t need to have a super fancy wardrobe with many different pieces. I just need a few basics that I can mix and match. Yes, I realize I’m just describing a capsule wardrobe, but that’s a bit more complicated than what I have in mind. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • 4-5 nice cashmere sweaters
    • I have 2 turtle necks, 2 crew necks, and a couple v-necks. 
  • 2-3 nice crewneck sweaters 
  • 2-3 cotton cable knit sweaters
  • 4-5 nice, comfortable v-neck t-shirts
  • 5-7 pairs of skinny jeans 
  • 1-2 pairs of dress pants
  • 1-2 outerwear vests 
  • Winter boots
  • Summer sneakers
  • A good belt

This can scaled up or down depending on your laundering preferences and budget. This is the wardrobe I’m working towards. I like to do laundry every two weeks, so I tend to have more clothes so I can be extra lazy. The two main ideas behind this “systematic wardrobe” is to 1) eliminate decision fatigue because all of your outfits are more or less the same and 2) only wear pieces you feel comfortable and put-together in. I really love a good sweater, mid-rise skinny jeans and some comfy sneakers. This is what I need to feel put together and comfy. I don’t need to make a fashion statement with my everyday clothes. I don’t need to make a fashion statement at all. I just need to wear clothes that are well-made, durable, comfortable, and sustainably and humanely made and sourced. That’s all you need too. Don’t let others tell you what you should and shouldn’t wear. Wear what makes you comfortable! 

Next week, I’ll show you my favorite for each of the categories I mentioned above. Stay tuned!

Sincerely, 

Marie

My Favorite College Youtubers!

As a high school senior, I am deeply into the throughs of college youtubers. I just love watching “Day In My Life” videos. It just feels so nice to immerse yourself into someone else’s life.

//ONE// Gracie O’Connor

I don’t even remember when I started watching Gracie’s video. She’s just such a bundle of joy. I really enjoy her bubbly personality. I aspire to have Gracie’s positive outlook on life. Gracie goes to University of Alabama.

//TWO// Lottie Smalley

I have been watching Lottie’s videos since 2014. I love her videos so much!! She definitely posts inconsistently, but I just love her so much! I’ve literally just grown up watching her videos. Lottie just graduated from UGA, but she’s going to grad school!

//THREE// Meghan Kelleher

I just discovered Meghan this year, but she’s super fun! I love her sense of humor. She’s just so relatable. I love her clean/declutter with me videos. She cleans like she’s from the SOUTH. If you know, you know. Meghan goes to UVA.

//FOUR// Paige Kaiser

Paige is super fun! She and her roommate, Nadine, are just such a meme together. I also really like her style – I totally steal elements of her outfits to make my outfits more trendy and fun. Also, Paige goes to American University which is a school I’m definitely applying to!

I hope you guys like these YouTubers – they’re super fun. Also, I’m totally looking for more black college YouTubers if you know any. I used to watch Kai Foster’s videos, but she dropped out… so no longer a college YouTuber.

Sincerely,

Marie

Why I Love My Peloton

shoes | look delta cleats | shorts (TTS) | water bottle | shirt (similar)

So, I meant to write this post about a month ago. Then, I got stitches on my knee and couldn’t do any “strenuous exercise” for two weeks. Then, I was so intimidated by the bike and the thought of my hard workout distressed me. And I was totally afraid of busting my stitches wide open. I mean, that’s the stuff of nightmares, at least it is for me. 

Today I rode in a little over a month. It felt really good. I can feel my body getting stronger. I’m feeling good. 

Peloton has given me an ultra convenient way to do cardio.

I’ve been wanting to increase my cardio for the various health benefits: increasing lung capacity, lowering chance of contracting dementia or heart disease, having a banging body! (Not a health benefit, but still!) Also, I’m asthmatic, so improving my lung capacity is important to me. The Peloton bike is always there – I just have to hop on and take advantage of all it has to offer. If it’s 11pm and I want to ride, then I can – it’s just that easy. I think this is a really great way to introduce yourself to cardio workouts. 

It’s a low stress way to exercise. 

There’s no one to compare yourself to, unless you want that (in that case, use the leaderboard feature). You can just focus on yourself and not worry about who is doing better than you. It’s just you, the bike, and instructor. I really love not wondering what I look like to the cars driving past or the woman walking her dog. I always feel super self conscious when exercising, so I appreciate being able to work out in the privacy of my own home. 

It’s an encouraging way to push your limits.

One of my issues when running is that I hate it and spend the vast majority of my time thinking about how hard it is and how much I would rather be doing anything else. I don’t have that problem (as much) when riding. This is because the instructor is just constantly encouraging you and reaffirming your decision to start this exercise. It also helps that they’re talking you through the intervals – 2 minutes left, 1 minute left, 30 seconds, etc. – there’s always an end in sight. Also, I finish the ride, and I don’t want to crawl into a hole and die. When I finish a run, I tend to want to crawl into a hole and die. 

It’s a really, really good sweat. 

I’ve never sweated more than when I’m working out on the Peloton. I’m usually dripping when I finish a ride. Just remember to bring a towel!

Ultimately, this is a method of exercising that I enjoy. I love the way my body feels after a challenging workout. It clears my mind and provides me with that lovely post-workout dopamine rush. Honestly, I had a crappy morning, but this ride has made me feel so much better. You should know that I’ve never been the kind of person who works out when stressed or someone who just loves to exercise. I am not that person. I do enjoy doing active things: kayaking, hiking, skiing (badly), but I’m not a gym rat. The fact that I’ve found an actually enjoyable way to do cardio is astounding to me, but here we are! 🙂 2020 the year of surprises…

Full Disclosure: I didn’t purchase a Peloton with my own money. My dad bought one after he had knee surgery and needed a low-impact option for cardio, so I just use his. 

Sincerely,

A sweaty Marie

Shopping Ban Update No.2

First, some updates about Marie Speaks. Posting 3 times per week isn’t super feasible for me right now, so for the time being I’m only going to post once per week on Wednesdays! Thank you so much for reading, and I appreciate your time!

I’m about a month into my “shopping ban”. Honestly, I’m really over buying stuff in general. Like I’m tired of shopping. I have bought  a couple of essentials so far. 

Bras

In my original list of approved purchases bras were one of them. Recently, I’ve worn out a couple of my bras, so it was necessary to replace them. I got two of this style

Whitelines Notebook

This is the only school supplies purchase I’m making this year. This was also an approved purchase. I’m planning to use this notebook for my calculus class this year. I’ve used graph paper notebooks since freshman year, and I really like them. However, Staples changed their graph notebooks and now the lines are too dark, and I can’t make out my writings in pencil. That’s why I’m trying Whitelines this year. 

Yarn

For my brother’s seventh birthday, he asked me to crochet him a blanket. So I bought 5 skeins of the Bernat blanket yarn in Crimson. I’m really excited to start this project. I’m planning on using this pattern from Daisy Farm Crafts, my favorite crochet website. 

Tennis Skorts

This one is a bit of a sketchy purchase. Like did I really need it?!? I’ve been taking golf lessons every weekend and going to the driving range once a week, so I needed some golf club appropriate apparel. Also, this skort is $15 and adorable! Academy Sporting Goods is my favorite store of all time!! When I lived in Texas, I did a solid 75% of my shopping there. 

Co-Wash

I recently ran out of hair conditioner. I’m looking to replace my typical shampoo with a co-wash. Of course, I’ll still shampoo but less often and use this co-wash instead. Honestly, as I’m writing this, I’m realizing I still haven’t gotten any conditioner… whoops!

Belt

My grandma offered to buy me some clothes for back to school. I know I’ll likely need another pair of jeans, but I’m waiting until it gets closer to the fall to get them. But I did get this belt which is cute, and I think will go well with my sweaters. Again, this is kinda a sketchy purchase, but my grandma did buy it for me, so I guess I didn’t break my shopping ban?!?

Masks

I got these *adorable* masks from the Gap. Originally, my school was going to do hybrid, so I needed to have enough for every day of the week. Now my school has switched to remote learning which I’m actually pretty happy about. I think it’ll be nice to have the options though for when I do go out. I’m hoping that once a week or so I can go out to Starbucks or something. There’s one walking distance from my house. Also, I think this glass tumbler from Target is super cute!

Face Countured Masks

Pleated Masks

Athleta Masks

So, there you have it folks! What I’ve bought so far. I’m proud to report that I haven’t bought any stationery or unnecessary clothes thus far! I’m doing this, and I am going to be successful. Or at least I hope.

I Broke My Shopping Ban

I have a confession.

I broke my shopping ban. 

Am I surprised? No, not really. 

Am I disappointed? Yes. 

Here’s what happened 

The First Time

My dear friend, Ben, came to visit and we purchased matching sweatshirts. I still think the sweatshirt is adorable, and it reminds me of good times. I don’t regret this purchase at all. Now, I definitely don’t need any more sweatshirts, but I love the reminder of my friend and the memories we made. Although souvenirs can just be wastes of money, resources, and space, I really like this one and think it’ll contribute positively to my life.  Pro Tip: don’t feel pressured to buy a souvenir for every trip you go on. If you see something you like and it’s practical, then I think you should get it. For example, when I went to Europe for the first time (a big deal for me), I didn’t actually bring back any souvenirs, and I don’t regret it at all. But for a simple trip, I got a sweatshirt. You do you! 

The Second Time

I made another impulse purchase of clothing. This time it was a dress from Target. Ultimately, I ended up wearing the dress (twice so far), and I really like it. It actually did fill a gap I had in my wardrobe for a comfortable, easy to wear dress that I actually enjoy wearing. I know I got caught up in a scarcity mindset because the dress kept selling out, so I let my brain trick me into thinking “I have to get this dress immediately before it sells out again!” Overall, I’m not proud of myself for succumbing to impulse buying, but I’m happy with my purchase. 

The Third Time

I was shopping for some double sided tape and kraft paper for my high school memories scrapbook that I’m making. Those were approved purchases, but my buying a 0.5 Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pen was not. This is the purchase I’m the most disappointed in myself in even though it was the cheapest. I have no need for another black gel pen. At this point, it’s just excessive. The worst part is that I haven’t even touched the new pen! In line with what I told myself earlier this month, I will not be purchasing anything from JetPens next month.

The Fourth Time

The last time I broke my shopping ban was buying these adorable greeting cards from Target. I literally have no excuse for myself. I was upset over an argument with my mom, and I let myself get tricked into emotional spending. I have made use of the cards by writing letters to my friends, but I really didn’t need these. 

The Takeaway

I am far from perfect (ofc) and still working on being a mindful consumer. I want to do and be better, and I’m working towards that. Part of that, is being very specific about my needs. For example, if I have a random thought for example “remember to purchase dish soap” then I add it to my running shopping list in my notes app. That way I always know exactly what I need to buy, so when I’m shopping whether that be online or in person, I can do my business then leave ASAP. This is all in effort to lessen my temptation to buy unnecessary items by decreasing my time shopping and browsing. 

I’m working on being more mindful. I encourage you to do so too!

Sincerely, 

Marie

I Just Discovered Classical Country Music, and I Think I’m In Love

 

Sony Music Masterworks YOYOMA-album-cover

Not Our First Goat Rodeo, by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile

A few weeks ago, I had the house to myself. And as one does, I asked Alexa to play classical music.

Background: I’ve been really into classical music lately. Since quarantine, I’ve been listening to SO much music – but the constant flow of lyrics was beginning to feel oppressive. It felt like sensory overload – I wanted to listen to music but sans words. Words were too much; they required too much brain power. I can’t be the only one who occasionally feels this way.

Anyways, back to the original story, on like the third or fourth song, Alexa played “Waltz Whitman” by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. The song can best be described as blue grass classic … I think? Honestly, I don’t know the official genre, but I love this song SO MUCH!

It’s just really good. When the song picks up tempo, my heart soars along with it. It reminds me of texting a crush – that rush of dopamine when they text you. It’s just really good! So good.

Also, this is the *perfect* study music. It’s upbeat to keep one from falling asleep and has no lyrics to not distract one. Okay, but have you been writing an essay and ended up writing down the lyrics of the song instead of your actual, you know, essay?!? Cuz, um, same. This is why I try to avoid music with lyrics when studying. 

I looked around some more, and Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O’Connor, and Edgar Meyer actually made another album together.

Appalachia Waltz, by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Mark O’Connor

I love these albums because it’s still beautiful instrumental music AND it isn’t reminiscent of the classical music I was conditioned to sleep from my years in daycare.

Sincerely,

Marie

Book Review: The Year of Less

IMG_2159.jpg

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

Rating: ★★★★☆

This book convinced me to stop buying sh*t. That in and of itself is an accomplishment. Really. If you don’t believe me, you should see my amazon account … Yikes.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this book. One, I *love* memoirs that are narrated by the author. It just feel that authors know exactly where to put the emphasis and it just works. Ya know? I’m a big fan.

Since lockdown, I’ve been doing a lot more chores. Normally, during the school year, I barely have time to sleep, so my parents are pretty lax about my not doing chores. In lockdown, my parents have tasked me with doing the dishes most nights after dinner considering my school basically gave up on remote learning. I used to HATE doing the dishes, but oddly enough, now, I kinda like it when I’m listening to a good audiobook. Sometimes I also listen to more narrative based podcasts like Lore or This American Life. So far, I’ve listened to Make Trouble by Cecile Richards, The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, and now Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Anyways, this book actually made me kinda look forward to doing the dishes. Crazy! I know, but let that show as a testament to how good this book is.

Anyway, moving on from my tangent, I just found this book to have some, dare I say, profound insights. One of my favorite ideas Flanders talks about is asking yourself “Am I buying this for the person I am or the person I want to be?” After listening to this, I didn’t think much of it, but now I realize – this is such an important idea. I can’t tell you how many shirts, pens, and books I’ve bought thinking to myself “this is what ideal me would wear/use/read”. Like do I really want to read Pride and Prejudice? No, not really.

Here’s a tidbit of information from The Year of Less I want to share with you all: a shopping ban is more like a browsing ban. Think about all the notifications you receive from your favorite stores. I get an email at least twice a week from LL Bean. I almost always scroll through it, imagining myself as a savvy outdoors-woman. It made me all the more inclined to purchase whatever they were advertising. The solution: stop browsing, stop window shopping (IRL and online), unsubscribe, and unfollow.

Cait totally convinced me to try a shopping ban. I’ll be writing more about that here. She also encouraged me to start decluttering. I will be headed off to college in the fall of 2021, so I want to gradually start decluttering to avoid the massive pain of rapid decluttering.

Lastly, Cait really made me think critically about myself and my finances. Like I said earlier, I’m about to go to college. That means for the most part, I’m going to be responsible for my own finances. My parents have agreed to give me a small monthly stipend for expenses when I’m away, but I still have to be a fiscally responsible *gasp* adult. Because of this honestly scary revelation, I have started tracking all of my purchases whether I spend my own money on it or not. I’m planning to do another post about this. Ultimately, my goal is to be more conscious and mindful about what I’m spending and why.

“The ban uncovered the truth, which was that when you decide to want less, you can buy less and, ultimately, need less money.”

– Cait Flanders, The Year of Less

Honestly, everyone needs to read this book. I think “seeing” someone else do it helps you feel like you can do it – you can want less, buy less, and save more.

I’m beginning a 3 month long shopping ban. I’m hoping to extend it to 12 months, but I’m starting small!

Wish me luck!

Sincerely,

Marie

the year of less

Simplicity at Its Finest

There are some things that are super simple, but when they’re made well – it makes a world of a difference. In this post, I’m rounding up totally random items that I use every day that are just super thoughtfully designed and well-made.

Pomelo Pill Dispenser

My doctor recommended keeping my meds by alarm clock so I could take them as soon as I woke up. I wanted something cute and functional – this is that. 

Kindle

I love my kindle! I’ve had mine since 6th grade – it’s the 2013 2nd Generation Kindle Paperwhite. It’s so old you can’t even buy it anymore. Kindles are amazing! If you enjoy reading, you shoud have a Kindle. They’re relatively inexpensive and last FOREVER. Reading on a phone doesn’t even compare. 

Aukey Table Lamp

I bought this lamp go on my bedside table. I needed a lamp that would cast a soft and warm light for reading at night before bed. This lamp is great for that purpose and many others. You can change the color, and when it’s set to the basic white light, you can change the brightness. Overall, this is a just a nice lamp that does it job well. Mine is in the size, large. 

Bic Cristal Pens

These pens are a classic and for good reason! They write smoothly, don’t smear or bleed. They’re great pens, and they cost like 10 cents apiece. You literally can’t go wrong.

Homtime Alarm Clock

I actually discovered this alarm clock while staying at a friend’s house. I really appreciated how easy it was to set the alarm. There was none of the constant pushing the minutes button then pushing the hour button. All you had to do is turn the dial – it’s so easy! I also like how I can change the brightness of the clock, so it doesn’t distract me when I’m trying to fall asleep. Also, it comes with 2 USB ports in the back. Bonus: you can also add batteries so if your power were to go out over night, your alarm clock would still work in the morning. 

Speck iPhone Case

Since 2016, I have used a Speck case. Sometimes, I switched to a different brand, but for the most part I’ve used Speck. They have the best slimmer cases for the price. They often have sales on their website, and often on Amazon. I drop my phone a lot, and this case has protected my phone the best and stayed intact. Honestly, if you have a phone, get a Speck case. You won’t regret it!

Leuchtturm Notebook

I started out bullet journaling using a TERRIBLE Walmart Exceed brand dotted notebook. It was a horrible, no good, very bad experience. 0/10 would recommend. My dad brought home a Leuchttrum from a conference where he received it in a swag bag. I told myself that I would wait for at least a new school year if not a calendar year to begin using the Leuchttrum. Spoiler: I didn’t wait, and I’m so glad I made that decision. Using a well-made journal made a huge difference. If you are using something every day, make sure it’s a quality item.

Oral B Genius Toothbrush

Would I have spent $130 on a toothbrush? No! Would I take a $130 toothbrush as a part of my dad’s new company insurance? Heck yes! This toothbrush is the item I never knew I needed. I have struggled with maintaining good oral hygiene. Having a toothbrush that really cleans my teeth was a total game changer for me. My teeth just feel cleaner. I love it! I would recommend a sonic toothbrush to anyone and everyone. I will never go bad to manual toothbrushes. Also, according to my dentist, you should buy one that has a built in timer and pressure alert to make sure you’re not being too harsh on your gums and teeth – so no need to shell out $100+ dollars on a toothbrush. 

Alpha Gel Kurutoga Mechanical Pencil

When I started my summer tutoring in math, I rewarded myself by buying this pencil. I have a death grip when it comes to holding pens and pencils, so I try to buy ergonomic writing utensils. I loved my original Kurutoga pencil, but the hard, unforgiving grip was incompatible with long homework sessions. I bought this pencil, and now it feels like I can write indefinitely with this pencil. Seriously, though, I don’t think my hand has cramped once when I’ve used this pencil. 

Camelbak Water Bottle

I use this water bottle everyday. When I thought I had lost it, I almost had a panic attack – that’s how attached I am to this water bottle. It suits my need perfectly! 32oz is the perfect amount – it’s not too much so that the water bottle is too heavy, yet it’s just enough so you’re not constantly refilling. 10/10 would recommend!

Sometimes, it the simple, well-made things that make all the difference.

Sincerely,

Marie

What I’ve Been Reading No. 1

I’ve been reading a lot lately.

//ONE//  The Results Are In for Remote Learning: It Didn’t Work

Wall Street Journal

I thought it was super interesting to hear about other parents’ and students’ experiences with home based learning. I haven’t enjoyed it, but it is nice to have more freedom in choosing when and how I want to work. On the other hand, though, I miss having instruction and lectures from my teachers. Without their teaching, I get so lost so quickly in my school work.

//TWO//  The New World Disorder

The Economist

I’m a big fan of the UN. I keep a miniature UN flag on my desk. I definitely agree with the stance of this article. The basic thesis is in the wake of US abdication of global leadership, middling countries such as Japan, Germany, France, Australia, and Canada should pick up the slack to prevent China increasing its global hegemony.

The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell.

If other countries do not act, the system will come to reflect China’s expansive views of national sovereignty and resistance to intervention, even in the face of gross human-rights violations.

//THREE//  Is Taiwan the Next Hong Kong?

Foreign Affairs

I’ve been really interested in Taiwan and generally China’s expansion since 10th grade when I got the Extemp question “How should the international community react to China’s renewed threats of forced reunification with Taiwan?” – or it least it was something like that. Since then, I’ve been following the conflicts happening in the South China Sea, the internment of the Uighurs, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Honestly, China’s growing hegemony terrifies me. One thing I really liked about this article was that it laid out specific solutions and policy recommendations. My annual $30 student subscription to Foreign Affairs is definitely one of the best purchases I’ve made.

//FOUR// Scientists Accidentally Bred the Fish Version of a Liger

New York Times

A “sturddlefish,” a hybrid of Russian sturgeon and American paddlefish, accidentally bred in a nursery in Hungary.

This is up there on the list of moderately disturbing weird things I’ve seen. It’s just uncomfy, ya know? Anyways, I thought this was a super fun read, and I really enjoyed it – definitely out of the realm of my normal reading.

Have you read anything interesting lately?

Sincerely,

Marie

The Skincare Tip that Changed the Game

The skincare tip that Changed the game

I’m new to this whole skincare game. I learned a lot of new things for example:

  1. You can’t use salicylic acid and retinol together.
  2. You shouldn’t use cleansers with microbeads

Anyway, this has been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve been reading a lot to learn more. One tip totally changed the way I thought about washing my face.

You can wash your face twice in a row!

OK, hear me out. I have combination, acne prone skin. Gross, I know! I have super oily spots – hello T-zone! and super dry spots – around my chin and lips. It’s an interesting combination.

When I finished washing my face, I felt like my face wasn’t clean enough. I felt like my face was still oily and gunky. I felt inclined to use a harsher cleanser – something with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. But after doing some internet digging, I learned you can totally wash your face twice with a gentle cleanser like the one I use.

If after cleansing my face for the first time, I still feel dirty – then I just wash my face again. This was such a game changer for me, but I realized I didn’t need all of these fancy face brush for washing my face or harsh cleansers. I just needed to wash my face once more than usual.

After washing my face (once or twice – never more than that), I apply toner and moisturizer. Make sure you don’t end up cleaning your skin for longer than 45 seconds to 1:30 minutes.

This is so much better for my sensitive skin because I’m using far less harsh chemical and not introducing any new chemicals.

I’ll be sure to keep you all updated as I struggle through developing my skincare routine.

Sincerely,

Marie