Thursday, January 30, 2014

january in review.

so, i think im bringing back my "month in review" feature. i havent done it in a couple months and ive missed it. i really did like re-visiting all the highlights of the past month, and this also seems like an appropriate time to check in on my monthly wishes. 

so heres some cool stuff that happened january, theres the real-life things, like: 

alice made her first sculpture:

i gave her some of those biodegradable packing peanuts and showed her how to lick them and stick them together. she made that crazy piece, which she named "snowman" (note: right now everything is a snowman). 

alice is back in ballet class:

announced that im going back to school, AND we celebrated our two-year anniversary of moving to california

alices friend quinn had a superhero themed birthday party and asked everyone to dress up as their favorite hero, so naturally we did our first ever family cosplay in a doctor who theme, with james dressed as the eleventh doctor:

alice as the tardis:

and me as amy pond (admittedly, not nearly as good of a costume as james and alice):

james and i went to the namm show

and we had our first disneyland day of 2014:

and then theres the blog/shop things, like:

i completely changed both how i approach writing content for this blog AND how i market it and the results have been INCREDIBLE. i mean, the month isnt even over yet and all my stats have surpassed every record high, AND my reader engagement (tweets, comments etc.) has gone through the roof (SO many new blog friends! i love it!). it was an AWESOME start to the new year in blog land. 

i guest posted on the art of balance, and in my (totally biased) opinion i think its some of my best work yet.

i didnt get as much time to sew as id like (ive been working at joanns a bit more than usual), BUT i did manage to get a couple of new skirts in the shop, with a new (BIG!) batch coming very soon. 

i changed the way we photograph my shop listings, and i think it looks much more professional. 

and most importantly, ive put a MUCH bigger focus on running poverty luxe like a business, mainly meaning that im sticking to my completely insane business model, and that i raised my prices, so that i now have a wide enough profit margin to BOTH pay myself fairly and finance some major business growth. 

now what about januarys monthly wishes? well, in case you dont remember, this months theme was fresh, and my goal for the month was to incorporate that theme into four different areas: our diet (more fresh foods), my attitude (a fresh outlook on life), the shop (fresh product), and the blog (fresh content). 

and how did i do?

as far as our diet, great! were totally back on the weekly meal planning wagon, eating way more fruit, veggies and fish, and havent been keeping any junk in the house (plus! i havent had any soda in a whole month!). 

as far as the blog, also great! ive already talked a quite a bit about the new content, and it seems to be going over REALLY well. 

as far as the shop, i think i did ok, but i could have done better if work wasnt so busy. i didnt get as much new product IN the shop as i had hoped, but i DID start a new batch of skirts AND for the first time in ages ive been researching and prototyping some new products for spring/summer AND fall/winter. 

now as far as my attitude, that one i did really bad with. see, this month has been really, really, REALLY hard as far as daily life is concerned. remember this post where i was all excited for james working three days in a row? well it turned out those were the only three days he worked all month. and on top of being stuck at home, bored out of our minds, and totally stressed out about being almost completely out of savings, my health seems to have taken a turn for the worse (im totally having hyperthyroid symptoms, but theres nothing showing up in my blood work to suggest that my thyroid is actually up to no good). obviously tensions have been high and nine times out of ten ive let it get to me. ive been impatient with alice and ive been mean to james and ive withdrawn from my friends and ive done exactly the opposite of what i was supposed to be doing. i feel like a total failure. 

well actually, not really. this is actually the reason that ive decided to bring back the "month in review" post. because, even though a lot about this month sucked, and i really sucked this month, a lot of GREAT stuff happened and january wasnt a total loss. 

taking a step back and looking at the month as a whole has been really encouraging. january was tough, and it most certainly did NOT go the way that i had hoped, BUT looking at the big picture, all things considered it was actually a pretty great month. 

ill just have to continue working on my attitude probably forever (it wasnt really my strong suit anyway). 

dont forget to stay tuned for next month theme (im talking about it on monday!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ten topics you (probably) wont see on poverty luxe.

as you probably noticed by now, ive done a MAJOR overhaul on this little blog as far as content is concerned, and so far its been really great! in just one month, ive very much gotten out of my blogging rut, im excited to write again AND i constantly have new ideas of things to share with you guys. im much, much happier with the direction that poverty luxe is headed in for the future, and looking at my stats (which, ill admit i obsess over WAY more than i should), it seems that everyone else agrees. awesome. 

one really cool thing about this shift in content is that its had me looking at not only my own blog, but at all the other blogs that i read with a more critical eye. and i dont mean critical like im going around criticizing everyone for their content, i mean that any time id read a blog post about something that i wouldnt normally write about, id stop and ask myself a few questions, like:

is that something im interested in talking about?

if so, do i have a different take on it?

if i were talking about that, would i handle it differently?

is that something im comfortable sharing publicly?

etc. etc. etc. you get the picture. 

so far, its been a really educational experience. its really opened up my mind to some new topics, perspectives, areas of discussion that id never really considered before, while simultaneously helping me get at least a little bit closer to finding my blogging niche by narrowing down exactly what kinds of things i do and dont want to talk about.

and im really excited! because ive got a TON of new ideas that i think really fit with the flow of poverty luxe and what im trying to do here. 

but, of course, on the other hand, my careful study of the blog world and popular blog topics and my own personal take on blogging has also revealed some topics that definitely dont fit. 

lately ive been talking a lot about the things that you ARE going to see here, and i thought it would be fun to flip things around and take a few minutes to look at the things that you WONT see. 

because, ive learned recently, that just like in real life, if you want to figure out exactly what kind of blogger you are, you dont just need to know what you are, you also need to know what you arent. and heres a list of topics that i think ive determined are not for me:

(now, a little disclaimer here: i am NOT trying to bag on other bloggers that talk about certain things, nor am i talking about any one blogger in particular, i just thought it would be fun to take a look some things that *i* dont feel are a good fit for *this* blog, that is all)

1. subscription boxes. so, apparently these are a huge thing. and i dont get it. i mean, if i had $10, $20, $25 a month to spend on makeup/accessories/whatever comes in those boxes (which i dont), id spend it on things i actually get to pick. 

2. "bumpdates". now, i am not currently pregnant, and we currently have no idea when or if we will be adding any more babies to the meyers clan. but i do know one thing: i will not be posting all my gross pregnancy business out on the internet every week. there are approximately three surviving pictures of me while i was pregnant with alice, because you know what? im just not the kind of lady thats into pregnancy talk (or remembering how i used to look like a whale). 

3. exotic travel destinations. first off, were beyond broke, so traveling is a very far off dream for us. also, when it comes to travel, im more the "go to a different city and eat all the food and go to all the museums" type of traveler rather than the "go on a crazy mountain climbing safari adventure" type. 

4. any type of computer or design tutorial. yeah, i suck at computery things. i have to google how to do a screenshot every time i need a screenshot. i even took a five thousand dollar semester-long photoshop class at usc taught by a very famous photographer and my photo editing skills are still strictly limited to color correction and resizing. 

5. marriage advice. look, james and i have only been married for three years, and so far, were really bad at marriage. i see a LOT of (im sure well meaning) bloggers spouting off marriage advice like theyre experts when theyve only been married for a year or two. and.. yeah... not touching that one with a ten foot pole. 

6. anything having to do with buying a house. ok, so, remember how were poor? well, we also live in an area where a totally unimpressive two-bedroom condo costs about half a million dollars. im not joking. so, unless we decide to move to south central (which is actually very nice and i have considered it on more than one occasion) homeownership is not happening for us. 

7. decorating. i know ladies (especially those of us in the homemaking field) are supposed to be really into decorating. not me. im SO bad at decorating that i let my husband decorate our apartment. 

8. hair tutorials. i think ive mentioned this before that right now is the first time ive had long hair since i was about twelve. and i can do about four different things with it. ive only recently learned how to blow dry it correctly. so dont expect any hair advice from me. im the one that needs it. 

9. childbirth. this kind of goes with #2 in that its gross and i dont want to talk about it. also, i have no idea what childbirth is actually like because alice was breech and had to be c-sectioned out before i ever had a real contraction. 


10. anything about working out. i dont work out. ever. i mean, i go on walks and i stretch and stuff but because i have a lot health problems and deal with constant, chronic pain, actually working out is totally out of the question if i want to do anything else that day. or the next day. or the day after that. 

so, those are ten things that you probably wont see here on poverty luxe. 

but im curious, blogger friends, do YOU have any topics that you wont talk about? why or why not?

Monday, January 27, 2014

the time we went to the namm show (an outfit post + weekly wishes)

 happy monday!!! did everybody have a nice weekend?

we had one of those weird, drawn out, busy weekends that start on thursday and are for some reason still going on monday, and im not really sure how i feel about it. i mean, on the one hand, we did some really fun stuff, but on the other hand, im REALLY tired and cranky and not at all in control of my emotions right now (sorry james). 

but! its all over and now its monday and we can get right back to work, right? wrong. actually we went to disneyland because weve all gone a little winter stir-crazy. look, i never said i was any good at being a responsible adult. 

anyway, on thursday james and i got to go to the namm show (basically the biggest convention ever for musical instruments):

now, any music industry folks know that namm is specifically for important music industry types and isnt exactly easy to get a badge for and not just anyone gets to waltz around touching ten thousand dollar guitars (or in my case, collecting free candy and tote bags), and anyone that knows us knows that james is a carpenter and im a knitting teacher/stay at home mom. we arent exactly the kind of folks who are supposed to be there. but we were.

because, theres something you probably didnt know about my dad. see, my dad isnt just a regular dad that lives in glendale and sells locks and plays golf (although those things are all true). my dad is also an extremely talented drummer and spent many years in the music sales business. he goes to the namm show every year like its no big deal.

lately hes been doing some work with a new, small drum manufacturer called rbh drums, and this year he was able to get badges for me and james. 

heres a picture of him trying to sell james a $10,000 drum set:

(please note that my dad is roughly twice as filipino as i am and im not lying about being half asian)

anyway, namm isnt really my favorite thing (its crowded and loud, and im a super spoiled music snob thats gone twice before), but, the badges were free, it was at the anaheim convention center (meaning, we could use our disneyland passes to park there for free), i REALLY wanted james to get a chance to go (hes MUCH more into music than i am) AND james and i hadnt left the house without alice in approximately three months. 

so, it was kind of like a date. the kind of date where we dress up cute and i follow james around while he looks at a bunch of stuff that i dont know what it is until all the noise and flashing lights make me seasick and we have to leave (which took exactly three hours, by the way). maybe i made it sound like i wasnt having fun but i do really like people watching and learning about things i dont already know about so i did have a good time. 

oh and did i mention it was completely free? cause that part was really nice too. 

anyway since this was the first grown-up outing weve gone on in what seems like forever, i thought id do an outfit post:

outfit details:

top: h&m
jeans: levis
jacket: dickies (very old, cant find a similar one online)
boots: hot topic
necklace: vintage (estate sale)
glasses: zenni optical

this is an outfit that i was really, really happy about. it was put-together enough that i looked like an adult that belonged at a music convention, but was still very much my style. i also really liked that i was able to blend some brand new pieces (like the top) with some really, REALLY old ones (i bought that jacket when i was fifteen. FIFTEEN.)

i dont know, i dont really have any cool stories to go with this outfit (other than that ive only bought the exact same pair of levis in different colors for over three years and this particular pair is fading in a weird acid wash pattern), but as a person thats really, REALLY been struggling (for a long time) to find a definitive personal style that feels right, i really like this one. 

oh! i suppose that you probably did want to know if we saw/met anyone famous/important at the namm show. well, from what i hear the big day for appearances is saturday, and we were there on thursday, so we didnt see anyone important. wellll we saw matt bellamy but he was doing a signing we didnt want to get in line for so no, nobody important. 

and weekly wishes! dont think i forgot!

i DID get februarys editorial calendar done (and have some ideas down for march!) and i started to clean out the car (but never managed to finish), so i did ok on last weeks wishes. 

whats up for this week?

prep everything to file our taxes this weekend. i wont get my w2 till friday night, BUT this year we have really easy taxes so i want to do them myself (meaning, i need to figure out which software/website im going to use). 

so.... anyone out there do their own taxes? what do you use? im open to any suggestions!

have a great week!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

honey glazed carrot recipe.

its been quite some time since ive done a recipe, hasnt it? well, that was sort of intentional. as part of the new content direction ive been working on ive decided that im going to be taking a step back with recipes, and only post the ones that are really, really exceptional. 

like these glazed carrots. 

i threw them together a few weeks ago when we were running low on produce based on what i vaguely remember my aunt saying she put on her carrots at thanksgiving, and oh my goodness, they came out amazing. 

so amazing, in fact, that james said i can just stop making all other roasted vegetables forever and just make these every night. 

the best part is, theyre super cheap (i mean, organic carrots are 99 cents a pound at sprouts), super easy, AND im willing to bet you have everything you need to make them in your pantry right now if you wanted to. 

which im sure you will, because, i mean, look at them:

heres what youll need:

carrots (obviously the amount really depends on how many people youre feeding, we do like a pound or so for the two of us)
olive oil
garlic powder
dried thyme

heres what you do:

preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

wash, peel, and chop your carrots into whatever shape your heart desires (i do sticks because its faster, but if you really want circles i wont stop you). 

arrange cut carrots in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet (this is where my mom would probably make some kind of comment about how i put them in straight lines), and drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat all of the carrots. 

next, lightly drizzle the carrots with honey (not too much, we want this to be more savory than sweet), and then sprinkle with the salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme to your liking. 

bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping once about halfway if you feel like it (not entirely necessary, i usually dont). 

and thats it! super simple, but super delicious!

if you try this one out, please let me know how you like it!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

the top ten things i hate about being gluten free.

(note: the language of this post is intentionally hyperbolic in nature and is intended to be at least somewhat humorous, however that does not negate the seriousness in which i hate being gluten free)

first things first, just in case we have any new readers here, id like to start with a little background here: i have celiac disease, which is a stupid, stupid autoimmune disorder that means i can never, never eat anything thats even touched something containing wheat or wheat by-products or wheat residue ever again in my entire life. 
and i hate it. 


because, like any human being thats worth hanging out with I FREAKING LOVE BREAD. and not just the crappy american sandwich bread that comes in bags at the grocery store, real bread. breads with fancy names like pain rustique and rosemary demi batard. heck, i like bread more than i like most people. 

but you know what else i hate about this whole thing?

just let this soak in for a minute. 

the internet, which is chock full of people with problems, is making me feel like im the only person with this problem. 

now, i could spend several days detailing my hatred for the gluten free lifestyle, but that wouldnt be very fun, would it? instead ive compiled a list of the ten things i hate most about being gluten free:

1. going out is both incredibly difficult AND makes me look like a total jerk. ok, so eating gluten free is super serious business and basically if i want to be able to know if a food is safe i have to either a. make it myself, or b. it has to come out of a box marked "gluten free". obviously i want to leave my house sometimes and doing so means doing things like bringing my own food to parties, bringing my own soy sauce to sushi restaurants, and making sure everyone at thanksgiving knows that they CAN NOT MIX THE UTENSILS and all kinds of things that are so embarrassingly high maintenance. 

2. im hungry ALL THE TIME. seriously, no amount of fish, or quinoa, or rice crackers, or plain vegetables can satiate me. you know what could? bread. 

3. as a result, im angry ALL THE TIME. and i dont mean like, mildly irritated. i mean like, screaming at my husband for literally no reason angry. because ive been hungry for about eight months straight. 

4. its expensive. you know how normal tortillas are like $2 a bag of like, ten? gluten free tortillas are $4 for a bag of SIX. and theyre not even good. 

5. there is no such thing as "fast food". im not just talking about drive throughs here (though, thats also a problem), i mean like, if i want to eat lunch real quick before going to work or whatever. i cant just make a peanut butter sandwich or microwave a burrito. the closest thing i get to a "quick lunch" is dropping everything to make some tuna salad and carrot sticks. 

6. i literally CAN NOT tolerate beans anymore. so, beans are cheap, and nutritious, and fairly filling. but the thing is ive been eating beans almost every day for i dont know how long and anything more than a garnish of beans makes me gag. 

7. i fantasize about bread. ive basically turned into liz lemon. this is an actual thing that i said to james at the church christmas party last month "can you please keep spreading butter on that bread, i really like watching you spreading butter on that bread" and i cant believe i just admitted that i said that. 

8. there just isnt a good substitute. yeah, ive found some gluten free pastas and cookies and stuff that are ok, but even the best gluten free bread isnt even CLOSE to the real thing. not even a little bit. 

9. i CAN NOT gain weight. as of right now im eating potato chips, ice cream, and mayonnaise EVERY DAY and i can not get myself past the weight i was when i was in high school, vegan, AND AN INCH SHORTER. the only time ive ever weight less than i do right now is when i was 19 and my thyroid almost killed me. 

and finally, 

10. i literally do not feel even a little bit better. i mean, im NOT having random surprise childbirth-level stomach cramps on a weekly basis, so thats nice. but you know all those things gluten free people brag about like extra energy and clearer thinking and less joint pain/inflammation? yeah, that has NOT happened for me. those things are all about the same, on a good day. 

ok, so maybe that was a lot of venting, but you know what? it was necessary, because if theres just ONE person out there who feels like theyre the only person that hates being gluten free, and they just so happen to stumble upon this little blog post and maybe for a few minutes i can help them forget how hangry (hungry+angry) they are because they know theyre not alone, then im happy. 

and if that one person is you, right now, can we PLEASE be best friends?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

two years in california.

so far, today is just like any other day: i had to go get some blood drawn first thing in the morning, and then i came home and we all ate breakfast and did chores and ran errands and then came home for lunch and now alice is going down for her nap and im trying to quietly get some work done before having to go to my real job this evening. 

but, today is also very much not just like any other day. 

today just so happens to be the two-year anniversary of us moving back to the south bay (my hometown) after living in prescott, arizona for the first 16 months of our marriage. 

heres a picture of us then (a few days after getting here we took alice to the beach for the first time):

and here we are today:

now, im still not really ready to talk much about our move from prescott, or living in prescott, because, well, i still cant talk about it without getting all ranty and emotional and calling certain people (mostly pastors and pastors wives) some very bad names. what i can say though is living there was a lot like living alexanders terrible, horrible, no good very bad day for almost a year and a half and that i am very, VERY happy that we escaped.

and i am so, SO thankful to live near my family, to have a church that treats us like human beings and isnt run by a bunch of bullys, to have friends that actually care about us that we dont have to censor ourselves around, to be able to do fun things without spending $50 on gas, to both have jobs (and opportunity for better jobs!) and most importantly, that alice has dozens of kids her age to play with (i dont know if i ever mentioned this, but alice was literally the ONLY BABY at our church in arizona). 

moving back here was hard, starting all over with everything. our home, our jobs, our friends, our relationship, everything was back at square one. 

and two years later, its still a struggle. but im SO glad we did it. 

maybe one day ill talk more about the transition, about how bad things were and how much  better they are now, but like i said, im not ready.

Monday, January 20, 2014

ive got a question for you:

do i look like im in college?

heres a photo of me from a few minutes ago for reference:

actually based on every conversation ive ever had with a stranger i can deduce that the answer is a unanimous "yes, either that or still in high school, definitely not a married housewife". 

but the reason i bring this up, is because, as of this week, I AM!!! this past saturday was technically the start of my first semester back at school! i say technically because the classes im starting with are 8 week classes and dont start till the end of march. 

but this is still a really huge deal and i cant keep it a secret anymore!

see, im going back to my old community college (good old el camino in torrance) to fulfill my lifelong dream of getting an A.S. in fashion design and production!

obviously, this wasnt a decision i just made last week, its a pretty hefty life change that took james and i a very, very long time to make, but after lots and lots of thinking, talking, and praying in the last few months its become clear that its the right move for our family. for a LOT of reasons, and im SO excited about starting this new adventure!

now, ive stayed pretty tight-lipped about this decision for quite some time (i mean, i started the enrollment process sometime in october) , the only people who really knew about it were the people who have been helping me make it (james, my mom, aunt, sister, etc.) and a couple of my very, very closest friends. and i had a couple reasons for this:

one, there were a LOT of circumstances and variables involved and i really wasnt sure this was actually going to work out until only a few weeks ago and i didnt want to get excited and make a big deal about something only to have it not happen. 

two, this was a big, scary, overwhelming decision that even *I* wasnt sure about most of the time and i knew that the more people that i told, the more opinions of what i should or shouldnt do id have to hear and that would NOT have helped. i am terrible at decision making, and having too many options/factors to process would have caused me to just shut down and do nothing (or just do what the majority of people said i should do which is how i ended up at usc and that was a terrible decision). 

and three, i didnt want to make a big announcement until i could also make something very, very clear:

this does NOT mean that i am "going back to work" or that im in any way, shape, or form "done" being a stay at home mom. 

because actually, its quite the opposite. 

in every serious conversation that james and i have had about what we want for our life long-term, it always boils down to this: we both want me to be home (and there are many, many reasons for this that perhaps i will discuss at another time). thats what both of us want and feel is the best for our family. 

but the thing is, we also really need a second income. and my part time job at joanns is NOT working out. i mean, its not bad, sometimes its really fun. but you know what, it causes a LOT of stress around here because it im gone a lot of nights and most weekends which takes away from how much i can do at home and the hours are inconsistent and the pay isnt great and it really isnt a job with any opportunity to grow. its hourly, and i dont have a lot of hours i can work outside the home, and aside from a 20 cent raise every july 20th, theres no more money to be had beyond what im making right now. 

i really hate to say it, but its just not a good fit for our long term plans. 

what we need is for me to be doing something from home, that i can do while taking care of alice/james/the house, that has a somewhat infinite possibility of income. 

thankfully running an independent handmade clothing label is exactly all of those things AND just so happens to be my entire lifes dream. 

but, in order for me to really do this well, and actually succed i need to learn as much as i can about two things: business (accounting, taxes, marketing, etc), and clothing design (sewing, pattern making, correctly using a serger). 

now the business side, i can learn LOTS about that from books, the internet, friends and family that run businesses (and hopefully eventually i can hire someone to do that kind of stuff for me), but the design part, well, that im going to need some formal training in (and, thats not something i can really outsource). 

so since we really, really need this to work, im starting the fashion program at my local community college (which, happens to be two blocks from my apartment!). im only able to go part time, so my degree is going to take forever, but thats ok, because this really isnt about getting the degree so much as building the skills i need to have my dream job. 

and its going to be awesome. i hope.  

oh yeah, its monday too, so how did i do on last weeks wishes? pretty meh. i did finish my guest post and i did brainstorm some new blog posts, but i didnt clean out my car or finish februarys editorial calendar. 

so this weeks wishes are just that: clean out the car and finish the editorial calendar

what are your wishes for this week?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

spiral lace slouch hat (free pattern!)

so, ive been thinking about my knitting patterns a lot lately. 

you know, the ones i wouldnt shut up about a couple months ago that you havent heard about in a very long time?

well, as much as i love knitting and crocheting and am SO grateful that i get paid to teach what i love to so many people, i dont really think "knitwear designer" is a hat that i feel comfortable wearing right now (you see what i did there?). 

because me and knitting patterns dont exactly have the healthiest of relationships right now. 

see, ive had this little notebook of patterns that ive been writing for AGES, and ive always wanted to publish and share them but i wasnt sure how, and then i finally learned how and it seemed like a really great side project for poverty luxe and might make a good source of passive income because thats like a really important business thing and maybe i got a little too carried away and didnt realize that writing and developing and testing patterns was as labor intensive and time consuming as it is and the patterns became a huge distraction from the work i really needed to be focusing on like blog content and sewing inventory for the shop. 

so we need to take a break. 

but the thing is, ive worked really, REALLY hard on these patterns and i just HAVE to share them with as many people as possible. i just cant give up on my babies. 

and since this month im changing, oh, i dont know, everything about how things work over here at poverty luxe....

ive decided to offer my knitting patterns for free on the blog. and if you just so happen to REALLY want a pdf copy to save to your kindle or ipad or whatever (or you just, really want to be nice), theyre only $2 in the shop

so without any further ado, here is how to make a spiral lace slouch hat (the first knitting pattern i ever wrote entirely on my own!):

i even included a handy-dandy list of abbreviations for you!

quick side note: vannas choice by lion brand is probably my favorite yarn to use for this hat. also, it looks really cute in stripes. 

i hope you get a chance to try this pattern out, and if you do, PLEASE send me a picture of your cute hats! id love to see what you do with this pattern!

happy weekend!