Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review.

so, i had totally intended on jumping right back into my "normal" posting schedule as soon as christmas was over, completely ignoring the fact that just because december 26th rolls by, no matter how badly i want the holidays to be over (remember, in our house "the holidays basically start in september when we hit a rapid succession of anniversarybirthdaybirthdayhalloweenthanksgivingchristmasnewyear), it does not mean the holidays are over. 

this fact really slapped me in the face this weekend, because, despite spending thursday and friday thoroughly de-christmassing and making all sorts of plans to get back into real life (get back on the chore rotation! stop buying soda! register a domain name! make a list of 400 blog post ideas!), our weekend was essentially booked solid with more christmassing. 

im not complaining though, we did have a really nice lunch with my dad and stepmom on saturday (and alice got a new djembe thats really fun), and sunday involved BOTH a sister shopping date AND a family barbecue (my uncle and cousins were visiting from out of town). it was exhausting, but, you know, a fun kind of exhausting. 

also this happened:

which was basically cute enough to justify all the non-productivity of the weekend. 

so, long story short, the end-of-the-year posts i had planned on doing over the weekend didnt get done the way id hoped to get them done. and because i suffer from what my mom calls "defeated perfectionist syndrome" (basically meaning that if i dont think i can do something absolutely perfectly i wont even try so as to avoid failing), i was considering not even doing them at all. actually that was a lie, i was considering quitting this blog forever, just because ive had a couple bad weeks (which happened to be christmas, when everyones blogs kind of suck). and maybe that was just a tad bit overdramatic. 

now i wanted to do two separate year-end posts, one focusing on our challenges and accomplishments over the past year and one focusing on our goals for the upcoming year. aaaannnnddd here we are on december 31st and ive done next to no prep work on this, so i can safely say that thats not going to happen. BUT, like i mentioned earlier, ive realized today that quitting this whole blog thing because one project wasnt panning out was a teeny little bit drastic. i could find a happy middle ground. 

like, how about a shorter, less photo-heavy post reviewing our life in 2013? and how about since i just made a big list of personal goals for my birthday that im still working on, lets not put so much weight on new years resolutions? that sounds nice, and totally doable for today. so lets go:

2013 in review:

2013 was a record year in james and i being normal, responsible adults, for the first time ever we have lived in one place for a whole year AND have (both!) kept the same, totally legitimate job (hooray for being able to do our taxes by myself! and health insurance!), AND paid all our bills on time AND bought a new (well, 1997) ford hatchback that suits our needs much better than my old (totally falling apart) chevy sedan. also, we (and by we i mostly mean i) implemented a fairly successful budget plan and have gone the whole year without overdrawing any accounts OR completely eating our savings (also, we have a savings account). i know this is total basic adult stuff but if you knew us for the first two years of our marriage youd be as stoked as i am about this. 

that being said, 2013 was also BY FAR the most difficult year weve had financially, because even though weve both maintained stable legitimate employment all year, both of our positions have been... how do i put this delicately? lets say turbulent. yes, i like that word. our jobs have been turbulent. to the point where im kind of dreading getting our w2s next week and seeing just how far below the poverty line we actually are. but im not really complaining here because with all the budgeting and not moving (seriously, moving every six months is literally THE most expensive lifestyle i can imagine), it hasnt actually been that bad. 

what i will complain about though is that this spring i was diagnosed with celiac disease and ive been on the stupidest diet ever and i hate it. that was definitely not awesome. 

but you know what was awesome? alice. alice was super totally awesome this year. she turned twowe had an awesome adventure time birthday party for her, shes totally potty trained, speaks in completely understandable sentences, AND finally has enough hair that strangers have stopped calling her a boy. oh, and the other night she did this: 

so, 2013 was definitely a really great year to be alice. 

also, it was a really great year for having fun. this year we really made a conscious effort to stop being bummed out about not being able to afford to go on vacation and start taking advantage of the fact that we freaking live on vacation. so that meant lots and lots of time at disneyland:

and the beach:

and the park, pier, library, museums, pool, friends houses, etc. SO much fun was had this year. definitely our very best year as far as fun having is concerned. 

oh, and something else happened this year that was kind of a big deal. i started this blog. and while ill do a more in-depth post about my learning experience with blogging when we get a bit closer to the one year of blogging mark (in march!) i think we can all say that this little blogs come a heck of a long way from where it first started. and actually, thats not all, i also started chasing my dream of self employment again by reopening my (very much improved, i think) etsy shop

so was 2013 a good year? as i look back over the post i just wrote, yeah i guess it was. it was just, really difficult in a lot a ways and definitely wasnt one id care to repeat if given the option (my, wasnt that diplomatic of me). 

also, weve got some big ideas for 2014. bring it on. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

today i want to talk about my completely insane business model.

today i want to talk about something that ive been meaning to talk about for a very, very long time and never got around to. 

my business model. 
no, not that kind of business model. 

i mean like, the rules i made when i started poverty luxe that were supposed to keep me on track as a legitimate responsible business owner and not just a flakey artsy type trying to justify having an expensive hobby. 

because ive been there. i was stuck there. for years. and it sucked. it really, really sucked. no matter how much i sold (and to be completely honest, sometimes it was quite a bit) i never seemed to have enough money to grow my brand beyond wherever it was at the time and somehow, i never, EVER saw where all the "profit" that my little ledger notebook said i had made went. and when i looked back on my past work, it was, well, all over the place. to the point where i couldnt even give a quick answer to questions like "what do you make?". 

so when i took the long, long hiatus from etsy after alice was born, i decided i wasnt going to start back up again unless i could do two things, one, refine the vision and direction for my line into something that i could describe in a sentence, and two, i was going to treat it like a business. and if i couldnt do both of those things, then selling on etsy wasnt going to happen ever again. 

for probably most of 2012 i really believed that i wasnt going to be able to make it work and gave up on my dreams and settled into my not-unpleasant-but-not-fulfilling corporate job. that was a bad time.  

thankfully somewhere earlier this year it clicked. i could still have my dream of self-employment and we could make a nice life for ourselves if i just did those two things i mentioned earlier and stopped complaining about how nothings happening. 

i couldnt do it the "normal" way, though, where i put in a bunch of money up front to get started and go from there, because we didnt have any money. but what i didnt have in money, i did have in an extensive stash of vintage fabrics and elastics and half-made skirts from the time i tried to rebrand my previous shop. 

and after lots and lots of careful consideration of what i wanted to do and where i had failed in my previous shop, i came up with this:

the most absolutely completely and utterly insane business model ever written. 

it went like this: 

1. there can be absolutely NO capital investment of any kind, the shops initial inventory must come entirely from materials i already own. 

2. all business related purchases must be made with money that ive already made from the shop, keeping business and personal money separate at all times. 

3. all prices must reflect cost of goods, hourly wage for me, and profit to grow the business. 

4. all designs must fit a cohesive style to form a recognizable brand. 

i knew that with this model any sort of growth would be painfully slow, but i also knew that if i stuck with the plan, at least we wouldnt go broke trying to make poverty luxe happen. 

and so far, its working. financially, poverty luxe is 100% in the black. i feel really, really good about my products and the brands direction as a whole. as of right now, poverty luxe is 100% in the black. and while i havent had a whole lot of revenue, i have been able to turn that little bit around into vastly improving what i have to offer. 

but one thing hasnt happened, im not paying myself that hourly wage id promised to. because i really didnt put a whole lot of effort into coming up with prices that reflected cost of materials AND hourly pay AND profit. 

so starting in 2014, the prices on newly listed items are going to be a tad higher. BUT this is something that i need to do. my dreams of self-employment are never going to happen if every penny i bring in just goes right back into the business. this really wasnt my favorite change to make, but this one little change means that your purchases will not only help support poverty luxe the business, but also the meyers family who run it. 

(p.s. in the interest of fairness, the prices on the existing shop items will remain the same). 

well, that turned into a MUCH longer post than i had originally intended, but i really hope you stuck with me all the way down to the end, because i also have some really good news: ive finally added international shipping to the shop!!! right now im only offering priority mail international, as ive had some difficulties mailing orders to other countries in the past, but im always willing to make special accommodations if you ask ahead of time. 

also, if youve had youre eye on anything lately, now would be a really great time to place an order, since im for sure going to the post office on monday. just saying....

Friday, December 27, 2013

christmas with the meyers family.

happy friday everyone! so, i had originally scheduled a nice long break from blogging for after christmas, but since i ended up taking a (longer than intended) break before christmas, ive decided that im back. 

and today im talking about our super crazy exhausting christmas festivities. 

christmas for us started on monday (they day before christmas eve) when we drove down to san diego to jamess grandparents house (which btw, is where we got married). jamess grandma throws a giant christmas eve dinner every year, and this year he wanted to go down early so that we could hang out for a while before the big party. 

as much as i hate, hate, hate sleeping at other peoples houses, this ended up working out perfectly, because once the party started, there was absolutely no relaxing happening with alice running around with her bigger cousins:

and tackling and almost seriously injuring her only smaller cousin (alice loves babies, but unfortunately hasnt learned how to love babies gently). by the end of the night they were best friends though:

there was also lots and lots of (some very serious) dancing:

before alice totally flipped out about santa (great-grandpa) coming to deliver everyones presents (which is especially funny because she LOVES jamess grandpa, but, we dont do santa at home so i guess she thinks hes scary):

thankfully she calmed down for presents, which was a little overwhelming (for me) because while she only got a couple toys, she also got approximately three hundred pairs of shoes from jamess mom (though i suppose thats way better than if she had gotten say, three hundred stuffed animals):

then once the party was over we made the very long drive back home to do it all over again at our house:

alice was really excited about her new rairity pony (surprisingly hard to find for a mass-produced toy, now we just need to find an applejack and well have the whole mane six):

but then when i tried to take a picture of her with her cinderella doll she gave me this cheesy fake smile:

after we cleaned up presents we had cinnamon rolls for breakfast (kind of a tradition in my family):

because of going to san diego and my stupid stupid celiac disease, we werent able to have the homemade cinnabon cinnabon rolls that my mom always makes, but the udis makes a frozen cinnamon roll, that when topped with homemade frosting, is pretty satisfactory. no homemade cinnabon, of course, but satisfactory. 

THEN in the afternoon we went to my moms for even MORE christmas:

(alice was not amused at the pajama pants hat my sister made for her):

and now comes the part where everyone gets mad and hates me forever:

my mom made a beautiful prime rib and salmon dinner, with baked potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts (my contribution), and homemade bread:

which we ate outside. on a beautiful sunny 80 degree day. with most of us barefoot. winters here are brutal

then once it got dark we (along with my sisters) went for a drive through out local "christmas lights neighborhood" or whatever you want to call it:

alices favorite part? the giant jack skellington, obviously:

so needles to say after all that im pooped, and really, really, really glad that next christmas is a very, very long time away. 

how was your christmas? what did you do this year?

Monday, December 23, 2013

merry christmas!

hope everyones having a happy and fun holiday this year!

i really wish i could send a real christmas card to all my lovely blog friends, but stamps are like, eleven dollars each these days, so this will have to do:

what are you doing for christmas this year?

were spending christmas eve with jamess family in san diego, then having christmas day at our house/my moms. its going to be a pretty exhausting few days for me, so it may take a few days for me to recover and get back to blogging full-speed, but i promise, ill be back!

cant wait to share all the new plans im working on for the new year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 church christmas party part two: the actual party.

let me tell you a little something about my mom: she is the best at parties. also, she wont admit that shes any good at parties (she always says she just copies stuff she sees in magazines/pinterest) and never wants anyone to draw attention to the fact that shes the best at parties. especially the decorating part (a gift which i very much did not inherit). 

so basically my entire motivation behind this post is to draw attention to my moms awesome party throwing against her will. obviously its going to be a different type of post than youd normally find over here, but somebody needs to draw attention to the wonderful job she did (because she sure as heck isnt going to). 

our church christmas party is usually exactly what youd expect from the words "church christmas party", its held at church, at christmas time, and generally features a catered meal, dessert, and christmas themed entertainment (usually the sunday school classes singing and/or somebody reading the christmas story out of luke).  

but this year my mom was in charge and she did things a little differently. first off, she hired a choir for the entertainment:

which was awesome

she also magically transformed our church into a lovely christmas dinner party. which is a totally huge deal because our church is in a really ugly office building and really takes a lot to look like anything other than a really ugly office building. 

from what i can remember my mom telling me, there were a couple things she didnt do (that were still super cute), like the foyer:

and the drink table:

(my favorite part was the cute little hot cocoa bar):

the main motif for the centerpieces were these painted wine bottles:

accented with candles, ornaments, and pine cones:

which were also used to mark the table numbers:

but the best, best, BEST part of the decor were these insanely awesome banners that she made using lyrics from the songs that the choir sang:

i mean, is that not the greatest thing youve ever seen? (also the most extremely difficult to photograph thing youve ever seen). so please, if you know my mom in real life, please make a big deal about how perfect the church christmas party was. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 church christmas party part one: my outfit.

so.... i disappeared again. and im sorry. but not feeling good on monday and not being home all day tuesday turned into "i think im actually getting sick" wednesday to "yep, i definitely have strep throat" yesterday and now its friday and i havent done crap all week (seriously yesterday it took me 45 minutes to write a short email) and theres like two days till christmas and im freaking out about how much stuff i have to do (oh and now james wants to go down to san diego a day earlier? cue multiple panic attacks). 

oh, and i had a really good week of blog posts planned. and its just not going to be possible to catch them all up and still be ready for christmas, so, ive had to make some adjustments to the schedule. 

but the good news is im feeling much better! and while i cant catch everything up, i can finish my posts about the church christmas party that was on saturday, and all the time ive spent in bed unable to work on bloggy things ive done a lot of thinking about this blogs direction in 2014. im excited. 

now obviously i cant go hugely into detail about all the changes i have planned for the new year (thats an entirely different blog post for another day) one things for sure, theres going to be a lot more outfit posts. 

starting right now, with my church christmas party outfit:

outfit details:

dress: knitted dove (i got mine at a sample sale, but it was available from modcloth)
shoes:  thrifted (but originally from target)
necklace: macys (bridal shower gift, heres a similar one)
glasses: zenni optical
bracelet: vintage (you can read the funny story about how i got it here)

ok seriously, this dress. im just going to add another picture of it because its the best dress ever (even though i realize the whole curtsy thing is only cute when alice does it):

this dress. i got it at a sample sale when we went out for my birthday. it was $20. it retails for $100 more than that. best $20 ive ever spent. ever. i mean, do i even have to go into detail to describe its awesomeness? i dont think so (though maybe i should add that it even has pockets!)

and those shoes. i love them. theres a thrift store near my old house in lomita and for like, the whole time i was in college there must have been a lady with my exact taste in shoes and size because basically all of my fancy shoes are from that thrift store. i hardly ever wear these (for obvious, toddler having reasons), so id forgotten that theyre really comfortable. 

honestly my only complaint is that the neckline is a little high and i only have an 18 inch pearl necklace and not a 16 inch one (i feel like a proper lady would have pearl necklaces in all the sizes to go with all her dresses) and maybe the necklace situation wasnt ideal. 

im also really proud of the fact that i did my hair fancy without a tutorial (im terrible at doing my hair):

and it wasnt even hard! this style only took 10ish minutes (most of which was making the teeny little braids), and for a lady that never learned how to do an updo till her mid 20s, i feel like i did a pretty good job. 

also, funny story about my lipstick. basically ive worn my makeup exactly the same every day since i was like 15 (maybe one day ill do a post about my makeup routine), and as far as lips go its either nothing or mac you say tomato (which i just found out is discontinued but heres a similar one). well as i was getting ready i though "you know what would be perfect for christmas? a berry lip stain. its really too bad i dont have anything like that", but i looked in the vintage hatbox i keep my extra makeup in just in case, and lo and behold, there was the exact color lip stain i was thinking of:

so that was my christmas party outfit. stay tuned for tomorrow when i talk about the actual party!

Monday, December 16, 2013

today didnt exactly go as planned...

for the first time in who knows how long, we had a weekend that actually felt like a weekend. followed by a monday that actually felt like a monday (which is a good thing, because remember im insane and i love mondays). 

so i had every intention on getting all the chores done early and editing all the pictures from saturday nights church christmas party and doing a bunch of blog posts so that id have the whole rest of the week free for sewing. 

except, both alice and i were feeling pretty crappy today. alice is right in the middle of getting her two-year molars (and shes the slowest teether ever), and i seem to be having one of my weird fibro flare/low fever/swollen lymph node combinations that i get now and again. 

now the chores did get done bright and early, but alice and i basically spent the rest of the day watching movies and taking a very long afternoon nap. it was great. 

unfortunately that means that the computer was occupied all day and no work was done until after alice went to bed (as in, right now). thing is, alices crib is in the living room right behind the computer (remember, we live in a one-bedroom apartment) so i really need to stop because shes not going to sleep with me making noise. 

also, our power is going to be out all day tomorrow so nothings getting done tomorrow, either. 

so what does this mean? well, it means this week im skipping out on weekly wishes (which is fine because i totally sucked at all three of last weeks goals), and i probably wont have any of the posts i had planned for this week up until wednesday. maybe even later. 

but in the mean time heres a ridiculously adorable picture of alice in her christmas dress:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

weekend update #9

hey guys! its saturday! you know what that means? 

time for your weekly poverty luxe shop update! 

so whats going on this week? a couple things, actually. first, you still have two days left to get 20% off our order (and guaranteed delivery before christmas) in the shop. just use the code CHRISTMAS2013 at checkout. 

and second, i was finally able to order a new roll of elastic (poverty luxe is running under some kind of silly financial rules in an attempt to be more businessey and professional, ill explain more about that next week), so new skirts are coming soon!

and not just any new skirts, skirts made from these amazing fabrics that ive been hanging on to for i dont know how long:

yes, those are powerpuff girls, rambo AND battlestar galactica fabrics. it is going to be SO hard not to keep everything that im about to make (though that would be terribly unprofessional and not businessey at all, so i wont). 

oh, and if you were hoping for more of the pretty vintage florals, theres lots of that coming too, dont worry. 

its just. battlestar galactica skirts. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

some imaginary christmas shopping.

if youre on the internet at all this time of year (which im assuming you are, because, well, youre reading this), youve probably noticed that everyone and their mom is posting some kind of christmas shopping guide or gift inspiration or whatever. 

and if youve been following this blog for any length of time (which im also assuming you have, again because, youre here), youve also probably noticed that we dont have any extra money for christmas. this year (like every year, if were being completely honest here) our gift-giving list is pretty short, and (spoiler alert) everyone on it is getting something small and/or handmade. 

but the cool thing about the internet is that you can pretend anything you want to, and today i feel like pretending that i have infinite christmas money. sounds fun, right?

here are a few things i would buy if my bank account were magically switched switched with a rich persons (note: this is by no means an all-inclusive list so please dont thing that if you didnt make a personalized appearance on this list that i wouldnt get you something nice, because i totally would). 

for james:

source: urban outfitters

several new dress shirts, because right now, he has like, two. i like this one from urban outfitters because its can be fancy, but its not too fancy, you know?

for alice: 

source: musicians friend

a real ukelele. lately shes been really interested in playing our guitars, which i really dont like her doing, so it would be AWESOME for her to have her own instrument to play, a real one. because if my musician dad has taught me anything in life, its that toy musical instruments are a waste of money. 

for my sister:

source: modcloth
if anyone on the entire earth loves cats more than i do (which i doubt is even possible) its my sister emily. this AMAZING cat dress from modcloth would be perfect for her (actually, since were using imaginary money here, i think this would also be perfect for my other sister and myself too, and then we could all go out to lunch in our matching cat dresses because thats not weird at all...)

for my brother:

source: brotherworks on etsy
a leather bound journal for his dungeons and dragons stuff. because apparently hes a wizard, and wizards need to write down their spells? 

for my mom:

source: macys
my mom really loves cooking (which is awesome because shes absolutely fantastic at it), and she also really loves having matching sets of things. i think a nice new set of calphalon pans would be a good combination of the two. 

for alices friends:

source: cotton on kids

lots and lots of leggings from cotton on kids. they have the BEST prints ive ever seen for kids leggings, i seriously want to buy all of them every time i go to the mall, and that would be totally ok if they were for all alices friends, right?

 for myself:

source: asos
you didnt think i was going to do all this imaginary shopping without rewarding myself for all that hard work, did you? i totally dont need a new bathing suit (even for living next to the ocean i think i have too many) but how stinking cute is this one from asos? 

well that ended up being a heck of a lot more fun than i thought it would, for me at least... hope you had fun too!

what would you get your family/friends/self this christmas if money wasnt an issue? id love to hear your imaginary gift lists!