rec: challenge accepted

This is probably brand new shocking information for most of you, but I have a little bit of a procrastination problem. One only has to take a look at my history of blog posting (or dish-doing...) to realize the sad truth. I'm a procrastinator. I put stuff off, then I feel guilty for putting stuff off, and then I put stuff off more because I feel guilty about it and I don't want to face it, and et cetra et cetra the vicious cycle continues. I know a lot of folks have the same problem (especially internet folks - big ups to Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, all of you beautiful timesucks), and I'm happy to say that I can recommend a website that's helped me a lot:

Challenge Accepted/ is awesome. The concept: earn EXP for completing tasks and level up, just like you would do in a role-playing game. It seems simple, but for me, at least, it really works! The points don't "mean" anything, but having a tangible reward (seeing the points add up and getting to a new level) is super motivating for me. Suddenly, cleaning the bathroom doesn't just get me a clean bathroom - it gets me points! Much like an arcade, where many hours and many quarters would net you enough tickets to receive some plastic trinket that you could probably buy for a single quarter, it's not really the prize that motivates you; it's the escalating success and the feeling of accomplishment.
The site is also super intuitive and easy to use. There are three nested categories: Tasks, Quests, and Odysseys. You can do a solitary task list or create a sweeping plan with multiple layers. Personally, I have a bit of a mix; I have a "Chores" Quest to which I'm constantly adding tasks. I also have a "House Snark" Odyssey with separate quests for each room/DIY projects/etc. so I can keep running track of things that I want to do. I have a quest for writing that rewards me every time I get another thousand words done (I also get points for making blog posts, which might explain the upturn...), one for fun so I can still reap the rewards of succeeding at recreational tasks like beating Super Mario for Wii, one for beauty/fashion since I get lazy and forget how much I like doing little things to stay fabulous (I got points for getting my bangs, and this week I get points for wearing makeup everyday). Basically, the possibilities are endless! You can categorize each task with a "skill" or "attribute" (most of mine fall under "Cleansing," "Adulting," "Wordsmithing," and "Drudgery") but it's optional. You also get to decide the level of difficulty of each task, and you'll be awarded points accordingly.
There are still a lot of exciting things coming down the pipeline; I follow the creators' Tumblr, and I'm pumped for a lot of the upcoming changes (especially an expanded social system). It's both interesting and cool to be getting into a site that's still so new; I was one of the first 600 people to sign up, I believe, and they've already blown past 1000 and are still growing. I highly recommend checking the site out; if you're a nerd who tends to put off everyday tasks but could grind for hours to get your character levelled up, it's practically mandatory.

Now if you excuse me, I need to go check off "write blog post"!


Once again, the cat was out of the bag on instagram before I came to announce it here...

I got bangs! Also had my hair colored, but really the bangs are the big news. I've never had bangs before in my whole entire life. But I've been wanting to do something different with my hair/look, and some thick blunt bangs were always something that I'd yearned for. Call me a hipster, but there's something about a fringe of hair just brushing the tops of chunky black frames that makes me say "brava!" (The color is more of a deep red in person, and it should lighten up in the next week or so.)

With bonus Historical Disney Belle print in the background
I love them! It's going to be a bit of an adjustment for me, since I need to blow dry them straight and I usually just let my hair air dry with...pretty much no input from me. It does what it wants! But I'm willing to give it a go for the sake of fashion. Also on the table is the products I use in my hair. I asked my stylist about my shampoo/conditioner woes and I got a wrinkled nose in response to the brand I'm currently using. Obviously, they'd like to promote their own products, but I do think it might be time to bite the bullet and buy something salon-quality. I have notoriously uncooperative hair, which somehow is always an inch away from being dried out AND an inch away from looking slimy and weighed down fresh out of the shower. I'm also interested in trying a product without sulfates and parabens. Right now, I think I'll probably stop by the salon and pick up travel-sized versions of the products the stylist recommended to try out - but I'd love any suggestions you guys might have (especially if your hair is a ridiculous prima donna like mine).

What do you use in your hair? What was your last big change-up?

boots boots boots

Let's get some shoes! As many of you know, I've been on a quest for boots. "But Jenny," my mom says when I tell her I need to go boot shopping, "didn't you just buy boots last year?" Yeah, mom - last year! But, really, my boots from last year are still kicking...the problem is that they're heeled boots, which are fine, fresh, AND fierce, but not really suited to long days of walking on the frozen tundra. I think that my mom may be a convert though; when we went shopping, she was the one who got the fanciest pair of boots! I must be rubbing off on her...

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a certificate for a pair of boots and, quelle suprise, my sister got the same thing! (In an entirely unrelated incident, Dad gifted Mom the "boots of her choice" as well! It was a Very Merry Bootmas in the Zowie household.) So off we ladies set for DSW, my current favorite source for all things footwear related.

There was much trying on, not a little angsting about beauties that didn't come in my size, and even some unrealistic lusting over a pair of bright red boots (I still love them! You can't change me!) But in the end, we all ended up with what we needed. My boot shopping requirements were pretty simple - they couldn't be brown, since my other boots are brown; they needed to be easy to get on and off (zippers were a big plus); and, of course, they had to be mader for walkin'.

I already shared shots of the beauties who came home with me on Instagram, but here they are:

Why yes, I do now own a pair of shiny silver boots. Thank you for asking! I love both of my new pairs of boots, and I especially love the fact that, along with a well-timed sale and the DSW Rewards certificates I had squirreled away, I got both pairs under the limits of my Christmas gift! Merry Bootmas to me!

Because it's been a long (looong) time since I made Polyvore sets, I thought I would whip up some outfit options for my boots.

preview booties

For my silver babies, I went with a day look which is actually pretty similar to how I actually wore them. They look great with slim fit colored pants, either for tucking in or going over the top. I totally fell in love with this owl sweater, and thought the neutral tones went really well with colored pants and a scarf. The bag was just too cute, and the whole quirky casual ensemble is topped off with some funky earrings.

fido bootie

I've always loved mixing hard and soft. My family will tell you that the Christmas I got my first pair of combat boots, I wore them to Christmas dinner with a red velvet dress. TRUE STORY. So, to pay homage to one of my first adventurous ensembles, I paired my new combat booties with a slightly more sophisticated red dress. A pair of patterned tights adds some interest and another element of soft, along with some pretty sparkly earrings and bracelet. For a last touch of "hard," I couldn't resist this brass knuckles-inspired spiked clutch. Fierce (literally)!

starting off right

One of my general goals for the year is to be better at stuff. And blogging is stuff! So, right on the heels of my year in review post, this is what I did over the long weekend!

As mentioned in the previous post, my fabulous artist friend and first-ever houseguest Claire came down from her shanty in the wild woods of Minnesota to ring in the new year Milwaukee-style. (Note: she does not actually live in a shanty. Or the woods. But she does live in Minnesota.) We had a lovely time - we took a trip to the Milwaukee Pubic Museum, which I hadn't been to in years. It was fun to see the new stuff and all the exhibits that fascinated me in my youth. We ate at the Milwaukee Public Market (always a favorite spot!) and brunched at Cafe Centraal, which is right in my new neighborhood! It wasn't all downtown treks and fine dining, though - we also spent plenty of time playing video games, watching funny videos on Youtube, making butterbeers, and just talking about everything. Basically all the stuff you need your best bros for. We rang in the new year with mimosas and thoughts and dreams for the new year. And before Claire had to go back to her shanty on New Year's Day, we helped my roomie Disdainbrook fulfill one of her 2013 wishes.

We dyed her hair! It was my first time being on the begloved end of a dyeing session, and it went quite well! We only did the underside of her hair (with Atomic Turquoise from Manic Panic) and somehow managed to keep from getting dye on anything in our bathroom, including our big white tub. Great success! It definitely gave me the itch to get my hair dyed again. I'm way overdue for a coloring, but I still have to decide what I want to go with. I'm going to stick with red, but I might go with something a little deeper than before. We'll see what swatches sing to me next time I'm at the salon. Although there's something wonderful about dyeing hair in a little bathroom with a white tub, two friends with gloved hands and a tupperware to do a cold rinse in. It's hands-on, gives you a sense of shared purpose and community. But it does also make everything smell like dye, so. You can't win 'em all.

a year in the life

Happy 2013! The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. Like, for example, how a year has just ended! I really like having time to reflect back on the year behind me and to look at the year ahead.

In 2012, I:

  • got out of my retail job and into a full-time temp gig
  • got a permanent (though part-time) job in my field 
  • had my face in a nationally circulated magazine
  • moved out of my parents' house (and in with my best friend)
  • attended my first convention (LeakyCon!)
  • hosted my first houseguest (who is here now! Hi Claire!)
  • read more books for pleasure than I have since before college
  • learned how to pick up a cat
  • opened a bottle of champagne with no injuries (New Year's Eve, just squeaked by!)
  • survived a suburbs-to-downtown commute (every day!)
  • bought my first piece of furniture 
  • handled a plumber
  • tried two different kinds of Butterbeer
  • ate brunch downtown
  • got a book signed in person by an author I admire
As for 2013, I don't really believe in "resolutions." It seems like a way to set yourself up to fail, making sweeping declarations and plans that will fade when you get back to everyday life and probably be a bust within the month, which is a bummer when you have a brand spankin' new year to explore. But I do believe in goals and my goal for 2013 achieve more goals. Basically, I want to do things, things that I've never done, or things that I've been afraid to do. I might make an actual list, but either way, I sort of feel like my adult life has really "begun" now (with a job, car, apartment, even a cat running around!) and with all the serious building blocks in place, it's time to enjoy some extracurriculars. I want to write more, I want to explore my new(ish) city, I want to make things and share things and accomplish things. My goal is to nurture my confidence, my creativity, and my relationships with family and friends.

Happy New Year! May we all enjoy happiness and success in the coming year.


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