Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Favorites for Fall

I try to spend a lot of time outside when it's warm out. As the temperature drops, though, I shift to a lot more indoor activities. I have really bad circulation and get cold SO easily, so my favorite things to do during the fall and beyond are things that I can do while I'm still warm and cozy.

This post is also a reminder to me that I will survive the colder months, and I won't be miserable the whole time, either. In writing this, I realized that a lot of my favorite things to do are totally fall friendly. And I'm not even including Netflix binge-watching on my list... mostly because I do that year-round, anyway.
Cozying up at a coffeeshop
In the summer, I'm all about getting my drink to-go and finding an outdoor spot to enjoy it. But when it's chillier, I love meeting a friend and grabbing a table at the coffeeshop. It's the best way to catch up and relax - especially if there's a fireplace in the shop, which is my personal favorite.

Having a movie night
Either a movie night at home or out at a movie theater works! Movies are my ultimate weekend activity when its cold - I equally enjoy snuggling up with a blanket and my dog at home, or going out to the theater and buying delicious buttery popcorn and watching something new.

Visiting a museum
Pittsburgh has so many amazing museums, and sometimes I think that I take them a bit for granted. Obviously I'm a fan of The Warhol, but the art/natural history museums are also excellent, and I consider the Frick mansion a museum of sorts, too. Visiting any of those is the perfect indoor fall activity.

Getting lost in a book
This is my ideal activity for almost any time of the year, but there's something extra lovely about doing it under a fuzzy blanket when there's a chill in the air (or, in my case, a fuzzy blanket AND a space heater). It's so peaceful!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Getting Organized: Shoe Storage

I don't have a ton of storage space in my bedroom - my closet is generally packed full, as is my dresser. There's just not a lot of places to put things. I always struggled the most with shoe storage - I had a shoe rack that lived under my desk, and while it fit nicely, it collected a LOT of cat hair because it was so open and near the floor.

When I was browsing The Container Store's website the other day (is that not how most people spend their free time?), I came upon these shoe boxes. I bought the small size, but they have a larger size as well. I loved that they were closed (no more cat hair), clear so that you can see what's inside them, and they have a door that swings down! I decided to order 12 (2 cases of 6) of them to start, and then see if I wanted to add more.
I put them together this weekend. I went through all of my shoes - and got rid of a ton that I haven't worn in years - and then replaced the old storage with the new. It looks so much nicer and cleaner! The new boxes definitely take up more space than the old rack, so I cant fit quite as many shoes under my desk as I used to. (You can see a picture of what it used to look like below!) I also need to buy a few more boxes now - I didn't want to overbuy before I knew that I liked them.
To deal with the issue of less space, I decided to keep my most worn shoes out here under my desk, and then put the rest in my closet for now. I'll switch some of them out with the seasons, but most of these I actually wear year-round. And because I got rid of lots of boots and shoes that I haven't worn in years, I have more room in my closet for the shoes I don't wear as frequently.

I've been trying to tackle things one by one in my room to get it back into order. Last week was some of my closet, this time it was my shoes. My desk needs to be one of the next things - it's really gotten out of control - but it's so overwhelming that I keep putting it off! So little by little, I'm getting things back under control.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Friday Favorites

It's been quite the week. It's officially started to feel like fall - the colors are all changing, and everything looks so pretty. I might not love the cold, but I do love how beautiful everything looks right now. On the downside, though, my caregiving issues that I mentioned in this post have still not been figured out, and it just makes everything so much more difficult and stressful. Hopefully I can use some of my weekend time to de-stress a bit.

Since it's the last Friday Favorites post of October (HOW is that even possible?!) I thought I'd share some of my favorite purchases from the last month mixed in with my favorites from this week.
 ONE - Comfy fall dress
I now own the short sleeved AND long sleeved versions of this Amazon dress that I'm wearing in my picture! It's just so comfortable and easy, and can look really cute when it's dressed up with a scarf. It's definitely on the thin side, so it won't work when the temperatures drop, but it's perfect for now.

TWO - Hot Ones with Paul Rudd
I've mentioned the Hot Ones interview series before - it's an interview show mixed with a hot wings challenge. I love watching each week's new episode, and Paul Rudd's is especially great!

THREE - Dog Costume
I don't really "do" Halloween, but I absolutely get Lily a costume each year. She's kind of weird about costumes and clothes - if you put something on her head, she acts like she's frozen and will just sit/stand in place until you take it off. Needless to say, she will not be wearing the headpiece that goes with this costume, but how cute is the rest of it?!

FOUR - Office Ladies Podcast
The Office is one of my favorite shows. I actually didn't watch it when it aired originally - I thought that it wasn't my thing - but I gave it a try on Netflix and quickly found out how wrong I was. I was so excited to learn that Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey were starting a podcast about the show. It's so fun to hear the behind-the-scenes info!

Lots of Amazon purchases this month! My sister actually found this first, and I liked it so much that I bought one of my own. I'm always looking for layering pieces that I can still move around it easily - I can't take a jacket on/off by myself, so I need things that have warmth and style. This sweater/coat combo fits the bill perfectly.
amazon sweater

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Trying Out eShakti

 I've mentioned (probably many times) before that I have a hard time finding things that fit. I love wearing dresses, but the sizing can be really difficult - I could wear kids sizes sometimes, but they can be much too short, and then the adult sizing is just too big overall. Even a size XXS in adult can be on the long side for me, and with midi styles being in right now, it quickly becomes a maxi on me.
Recently, someone recommended eShakti to me. I'd heard of them years ago, but had forgotten all about them. Basically, all of the styles they offer are customizable. Not only can you enter all of your measurements, but you can also change the neckline, sleeve style/length, and overall length of the dress (or pants, or shirt). I knew that I needed to try it!
I decided to start off by ordering two dresses - one is sold out, but this one is still available. I think I may have gotten some of my my measurements slightly off (it's hard to measure your hips when you can't stand!), but it was pretty smooth. I changed basically every aspect of the dresses, too - the neckline, the sleeve length, and the length, plus taking away pockets, which only get in the way when you're always sitting. eShakti will customize the dress to your height for free, but any other customizations you request cost $10. The quoted shipping time is 9-14 days, but mine unfortunately got stuck in customs for a few days (the clothes come from India). However, eShakti sent me a code for $20 off my next purchase to apologize, which I think is great customer service.

Overall, I was really happy! It wasn't a 100% perfect fit for me, but I also had a shoulder width measurement that was smaller than the smallest they offer, so I didn't expect it to be. It was still a much better fit than a lot of the things that I buy, and I have a very difficult body to shop for. I'm already planning out my next few purchases - I want to try some long sleeves, and maybe some tops in addition to dresses!

If you want to try eShakti (and I think that you should), you can click here and enter the code HEATHERTOMKO in the "Gift Coupon Box" at checkout to get 33% off plus free customizations on your first order.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Warhol Museum Silver Anniversary

This weekend was one of the most amazing that I've had in quite a long time. I was recently asked to join the Board of Directors of the Andy Warhol Museum here in Pittsburgh - while he might be best known for his time in New York, he was actually born here. The museum is one of my favorite in the city - it has a great mix of Warhol works, and works by Warhol inspired or adjacent artists. They've also been one of the most inclusive cultural institutions in the city for years, which is really exciting to me.
The Warhol recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, and had an incredible gala to celebrate. They transformed their parking lot into the most amazing space - if I hadn't known it was a parking lot, I never would have guessed. They also had not one, but two stages, where we were treated to performances by Matthew Morrison (!!) and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (!!!!). It is still so surreal and I can't believe that I basically got treated to two private concerts in one night. It was such an amazing night, and it's so wonderful to see how much support there is for the Warhol, from within the city and beyond.
Of course, since I'm me, I put a LOT of thought into what I'd wear. It was a silver, black, and white theme, and I couldn't resist a little nod to Warholian pop art with splashes of color. The sequin fringes on my dress reminded me of Studio 54, and these heels (which are SO comfortable!) added the pop of color that I was looking for. I found earrings on Shopbop and was instantly obsessed - they were fun and different and like nothing that I've seen before (the silver are sold out, but the gold are still available here).
My favorite part of my outfit, though, was the clutch from Scenery. They're a small business who takes the backdrops/drapes from Broadway and other theater productions and turns them into clutches and pouches. I love the sustainability aspect, and I love owning something unique with such a cool history! The clutch that I bought (from a perfectly pop art production of Veremonda) is sold out, but you should definitely check out their site here and see what other shows they have bags from!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What I've Been Reading

Now that I'm back to taking classes, my time to read is definitely cut down. I have been trying to find time where I can, though. I really LOVE to read, but sometimes turning on the TV just seems easier, even if I don't enjoy mindlessly watching something as much as I enjoy getting lost in a book. I have finished a few books since my last post, so I wanted to share.
What the Eyes Don't See
I actually had to read this for my class this semester, and I'm so glad it was assigned. I got so invested that I started and finished it the same day! It's about the Flint, Michigan water crisis (lead in the water), but it's written in a really person, approachable way. I highly recommend this, even if you know nothing about public health.

Fleishman is in Trouble
This book came to me via a Twitter recommendation - someone I follow said that when she finished it, she threw it across the room because it was that good. I totally get the reaction! It really is SO good. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say it's about a troubled marriage, but it's not what you think. It's not exactly a light read, but it's incredibly good.

American Royals
Now, this one is a lighter read, but that doesn't mean that I enjoyed it any less. It imagines what America would be like if we were a monarchy rather than a democracy, and follows the lives of the current royals. It's really fun and cute and I can't wait to read the sequel.

Tell Me Everything
I loved the twisty turns this book took that I never, ever saw coming. It's been compared to A Secret History by Donna Tartt, which I also loved, and I agree with the comparison. It follows a group of friends in college, but this isn't a fluffy, rom-com of the book - it's more psychological, and I love books like that.

The Ensemble
I never realized how much I enjoy books that are more character-driven until I started writing these posts! This one follows different members of an orchestra ensemble, but focuses on the characters and their lives and the decisions that they make. It really drew me in to the characters lives, which is always the sign of a good book for me.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Treading Water

I think that I mentioned this in passing in one of last week's posts, but it's felt like I've had a lot going on lately. It's basically felt like treading water - I just can't seem to ever get ahead, or to feel like I'm getting on top of things. Each time I get something done, it's like there's a neverending list of things right behind it, and I never really feel like I'm making actual progress.
It's been a constant cycle of waking up, going to work, going to class if it's a class day, coming home, doing OTHER work, going to bed, and repeating the next day. Even my weekends have been fairly packed. Even if I'm not going anywhere, I'm not just reading or watching TV, either. I'm exhausted, both because I'm busy and because of the repetition and not having the chance for a real break.

When things start to get like this, everything in my life starts to feel a little bit chaotic. And that's not the way that I like to operate! While my spaces might always be a bit of "organized chaos," I don't like to feel like that mentally. I like to be able to know what I'm doing, when, and to have the satisfaction of checking things off my to do list.

So when I had an early-morning meeting this Saturday that ended right around when I usually wake up on the weekend, I decided to take advantage of the "bonus" time to get my life in order. I spent some time just making lists and feeling like I was getting things under control. I went through some of my closet and did a MAJOR overhaul. I even got back to planning some blog post content, so that I don't feel like I'm scrambling to come up with things to share. I never realize how much the chaos affects me until I start to get it under control, and then I breathe an internal sigh of relief. It just feels so much better when I have a handle on things.

So I'm getting there.... slowly.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday Favorites

I'm not usually someone who likes to go to "events" on weeknights. I know, I sound so old saying that, but after school/work I'm usually pretty exhausted by the end of the day. This week, though, I broke my rule and went to see Hugh Jackman. I didn't exactly know what to expect, but it was a really fun show. He did a mix of his songs from The Greatest Showman, plus some other musicals and medleys of other classic songs. Keala Settle, who played the Bearded Lady in The Greatest Showman, made an appearance to sing "This is Me" and one of her own original songs. She was INCREDIBLE! I definitely made the right decision in breaking my rule and going to the show.
Before I share my favorites this week, I have one more thing that I want to mention. On Wednesday, November 13, I'll be sharing "the story behind my story" for the article about accessibility I wrote for Public Source, along with other storytellers. If you're interested in coming, you can buy tickets here. It should be a great night!

Now, onto my favorites.

ONE - MacOS Updates
I have to make sure to back up my computer before I install the newest MacOS update, but I think they have some really great changes lined up. Not only are they implementing MAJOR accessibility updates, but they're also giving you the ability to use your iPad as a second computer screen. Really looking forward to trying out these features.

TWO - Sinéad Burke
I love this article that Teen Vogue has on Sinéad Burke. She's an incredible activist for broadening diversity in fashion, and is really compelling when she talks about the constant need to validate her own existence. I can definitely relate!

THREE - This Beautiful Office
I love when things are neat and organized, even if I sometimes get overwhelmed in my attempt to make things that way myself. Look at how beautiful this office is!!

FOUR - Dog Perks
I certainly don't need to be convinced that there are benefits to having a dog, but I still love hearing it. Apparently, the evidence is clearly in my favor.

FIVE - Prince Harry and Ed Sheeran
Such an important video about the importance of mental health! We're really biased towards the importance of physical health, and even when we consider mental health we often don't think about it holistically. Mental and physical health are both importance, and really tied up in each other. I'm glad two huge names joined together to talk about its importance!

Monday, October 7, 2019

On Bathrooms

Over the weekend, my sister and I went to a conference held at CMU on intersectionality. It was a day-long thing, so we had to figure out the normal logistics - since our mom was dropping us off and picking us up, we had to figure out the timing of  that, and then we also had to figure out when we'd be able to use the bathroom.
Using the bathroom as a wheelchair user isn't something that I've talked about much, because it's a private thing, and because I haven't really felt the need. But something happened on Saturday that I want to talk about.

I can't use the bathroom independently. So if I'm out in public and need to go to the bathroom, I have to figure out the logistics of when and where I can meet my mom. Because I need help, I prefer to use the single stall/unisex/all gender bathrooms. I don't have to worry about whether or not the handicapped stall will be taken, and I don't have to feel awkward and like I have to whisper while I talk to my mom as she's helping me. It's just more comfortable overall.

So on Saturday, my mom had stopped by CMU during the conference lunch break so that my sister and I could use the bathroom. My sister and my mom were waiting outside the one single stall bathroom that we could find, waiting for it to be available. As the door opened, another woman rushed past the two of them and ran into the bathroom. When they explained to her that they had been waiting, she just said that she was about to pee her pants and that this was the closest bathroom, and closed the door behind her.

Now - I understand that I don't know her exact circumstances, so I don't want to make this post all about her. But it was an incredibly frustrating situation, and I was upset. Because just like I don't know her situation, she also doesn't know ours. To her, that bathroom was just the closest and most convenient; to us, it was the only one on that floor of our buildings that met our needs. And while I'm not doubting her need to use the bathroom, she probably didn't think about the fact that it had been over 4 hours since my sister or I had peed.

I don't want you to come away from this just thinking about her behavior. That bathroom line cut might have been the most outrageous I've ever experienced, but the everyday things get the be almost as annoying. I get it - the single stall bathrooms offer privacy, and everyone prefers that to a bathroom stall lined up next to 5 other people all going at the same time. But a single stall, accessible bathroom is not meant to be used as your personal changing room, or your own private bathroom for when you need some extra time. If you have the option between a single stall restroom and anything else, please leave the single stall option for someone who really needs it (whether they need it because of a physical disability or otherwise). While the added space and privacy in those bathrooms are a luxury for most, they're an absolute necessity for others.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Friday Favorites

By Wednesday this week it felt like it should be Friday, so that's a sign of how this week has been going for me. It's seemed like each time I'm able to check something off my to-do list lately, five more things get added on. I'm not really complaining, because most of them are things that I want to do, but... it has felt a lot like treading water lately, just trying to get by to the next thing! I'm not sure there's any resolution ahead, but the only way out is through, right?
My favorites from this week...

ONE - Get your flu shot
My annual reminder to please, please remember to get your flu shot. You can't get the flu from the shot, and it can help protect you and others who might be at risk for more serious side effects. Now is a great time to do it - it takes a few weeks to fully go into effect, so don't wait too long.

TWO - Vienna by Ben Platt
I started (and finished) The Politician on Netflix last weekend. In my defense, there are only 8 episodes, so really not that bad - or that impressive, depending on how you look at it. In one episode, Ben Platt covers Vienna by Billy Joel, one of my absolute favorite songs. As soon as I finished the show, I went directly to YouTube to see if the song was there so that I could listen over and over. The good news is that I can, and you can too!

THREE - Accessible Museum
I loved this NYTimes article on what they're saying might be the most accessible museum in the world. I am so happy to see more spotlights on accessibility and inclusion of disabilities!

FOUR - Floral Silk Scarf
After I posted about my newfound love of scarves earlier this week, someone on Twitter shared the scarves from Equal Entrance with me. I love that at least 10% of their proceeds go towards charitable causes supporting women, and I also love this grey floral silk scarf.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Scarves for Fall

"Scarves for fall... how groundbreaking." Okay, so I took a little bit of liberty with that quote (from one of my favorite movies!), but I think the general sentiment is the same. Except, for me, it's not - I never thought that I was a "scarf person." Maybe you don't have this issue, but I just never felt like I could pull off a scarf. Obviously, I've worn scarves to keep warm in the winter, but it's different than wearing one as part of an outfit. That's what I never felt sure about - kind of like I was playing dress up whenever I tried one out.
I think, though, that I'm officially a convert. I actually texted my friend earlier this week "I think I'm a scarf person now." I've worn a scarf with my outfit twice in the past week! When you add that to the leopard cape (that I showed in this post), I think that's enough to make it official. This is the new me, I guess, and I'm not upset about it.

It definitely doesn't add warmth in the same way that a cape does, but it does add another layer of dressiness and style to an outfit. I think it makes it so much more of a complete look - especially when all I'm wearing otherwise is a simple t-shirt dress. The leopard scarf I'm wearing here is super old (and actually borrowed from my sister...) but this one is really similar. It totally makes the outfit, in my opinion!

If you want to be a scarf person - or you already are one! - I've picked out some new favorites below. Now I just have to keep myself from buying them all...