January in Review

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Every aspect of my life seems to have some aspect of cleaning in it. My mom passed at the end of September, and my sister and I are working on cleaning out her home. Last week, I cleaned out her car to sell it. I am cleaning out my home to make space for that which she owned that I want to keep. It's the time of year when I go through my closet, consider the winter items I have yet to wear, and determine if they should be kept or passed on to a new owner. And in the middle of all this, I decided to do a bit of a blog renovation.

January 2024 in Review

This blog renovation has me revisiting old content and updating it for 2024. Some get minor edits, some get a complete overhaul like this January in Review post from 2020. All the previous content was irrelevant four years later, so I decided to replace it with how January was for me in 2024.

a woman in the living room of a lake house, lying on a sofa. She is wearing a navy and white striped shirt and jeans. Her eyes are closed, her arms crossed over her stomach. She is lying on her back and a toy fox terrier dog is sitting between her knees looking up at the camera
R&R at Lake Anna

Ringing in the New Year

We rang in the new year at a rental house on Lake Anna, Virginia. We have held this tradition for several years with a family we are close friends with. Our kids are close in age, we've known the parents for decades, and we all get along quite well. This getaway was as great as years past; so good we already booked our Airbnb for the next NYE!

three women standing together in front of the Le Diplomate restaurant in Washington, D.C. It is snowing and they are smiling.
A tradition: Le Diplomate for the January Babies birthday. This year it snowed!

Birthdays and Birthdays and Birthdays

January is my daughter's birthday, my sister's birthday, my mom's birthday, and my own birthday. Mine is the last of the month (this past Sunday), and by the time it rolls around, I am birthday-ed out. But this year, my loved ones knew that and planned for me.

a wood dining table covered with plates of varying sizes with different middle eastern and mediterranean foods on them.

The night before my birthday, my two best friends took me to Maydan, a delicious restaurant where reservations are hard to get. My friend had been there the week prior and said it was dark with pulsing music, very cool vibe. I decided it was my birthday, I'm going glam and wore my tan satin pantsuit from Ann Taylor with a leopard print corset/longline bra I found at Bare Necessities.

woman in a slouchy tan satin pantsuit with a tan leopard print satin corset underneath. She is standing in front of a building with old paneled windows, her hands are in her pants pockets and she is looking away from the camera

I felt very sassy, but it was pouring rain, and the outfit didn't really get seen. So, when I came home after a phenomenal meal with phenomenal women, I made this video to show the look off!

The next day, I didn't have an alarm set. My daughter was at a sleepover, so I had no need to be anywhere or care for anyone. My husband brought me breakfast in bed and I finished the book I was reading (will share in this Saturday's Weekend Reads). One of my besties who also has a Peloton asked if I wanted to do a ride and that sounded like a great idea. We did a '90s music ride which was a fun throwback; we're the same age so we were texting one another little thoughts about the playlist.

A woman and man in winter coats walking to the door of the restaurant St. Anselm in DC

That evening, my husband and daughter took me to dinner at St. Anselm. I only went to this restaurant once many years ago for an event with Universal Standard, but it was in a private room, and I didn't get the full menu or experience. It was delicious and cozy, and Union Market is so convenient from where we live in Maryland.

woman with curly brown hair wearing a black cropped wrap top with bell sleeves and black high waisted cropped wide leg trousers. She has styled the look with a Balenciaga city bag and red suede cross-strap platform heels

As for what I wore, I chose an ELOQUII wrap top I've had for years (here is the first time I wore it on the blog) and paired it with my black M.M.LaFleur Zhou culottes. I carried my vintage Balenciaga city bag, and on my feet, I wore the Ros Hommerson “Pammy” heels I featured in my list of comfort dress shoes. Red lips to match the shoes, natch! (Certainly Red by Revlon)

The next day, I went to lunch with another friend. She had been out of the country for months, and catching up was lovely. We ended up at the restaurant for over three hours! As for what I wore, it was a casual place, so it was just one of my many striped sweaters, jeans, and sneakers!

Caring for My Mom's Estate

My sister and I did very little for my mom's estate between our Thanksgiving trip to Curaçao and our trip to Lake Anna. We closed accounts and made an estate bank account, but spent a lot of that time tying up end of the year loose ends at work and being sick (we both got Covid over Christmas).

With the start of the new year and the six-month estate accounting date just a few weeks away, we ramped back up. We met with a realtor, we made lots of phone calls, and sent lots of PDF packets. On her birthday, an appraiser came to check out the content of her house and tell us they weren't worth too much. So many copies of her death certificate (a perk to Lockdown is now most places will take a PDF or copy when before originals were almost always needed).

the back of a red Toyota Matrix with an Obama Biden bumper sticker

Grief hits you at the most unexpected times over the most unexpected things. This past week, we sold my mom's car. My husband and I gathered the contents of my mom's car and put them in our own. Once home, I went through her car contents to decide what to keep and what to trash. And that may have been the most devastating task so far since she died.

I didn't ride in her car often; she got it in 2010, and by then, I was a mom with a car seat and a bigger vehicle, so I was usually the driver. But she quickly made her car kid-friendly with car seats and snacks and toys for when she would babysit, have her weekly sleepover at grandma's, and, once in school, pick her up once a week and take her to piano lessons.

And fragments from that time were all over that car. And other things, like a towel I stole from my sorority house my Junior year of college, a zip-up hoodie from the family camp we attended when I was in middle and high school, the same blanket we had in our car growing up… it was surprisingly emotional.

I plan to write more about this experience after the blog is settled and properly functioning. I hope my experience can help those of you who may deal with similar, or when thinking about your own life and possessions.

Blog Makeover

The blog is still under construction, but I'm getting through my punch list. Keep the feedback coming! Thanks to you, I have fixed a few bugs on pages and posts, enlarged and darkened the feed, added a plugin to help make this site more accessible, rearranged sections, corrected typos, added a link of chronological blog posts to the menus, and more.

The whole point of this makeover is to make Wardrobe Oxygen a better resource, so your feedback will be taken seriously. Even if I don't act on your suggestion, I am writing it down to see how analytics look in a few months and, depending on the results, may implement it.

These HOKAs Were Made for Walking

I am finding a lot of benefit to walking. I am walking outside and indoors and it's helping my mood, helping me navigate grief, help my mind slow down, helping me sleep, and helping me feel connected to my neighborhood.

a woman's foot wearing a sneaker moving on a walking pad. It shows that she has already gone 32.5 minutes on the mini treadmill

My husband got me this walking pad for Christmas; he chose it because it has a longer tread better for tall folks like him so. we all can use it. It's not fun per se, but it's so convenient. No need to get all gussied up in winter wear; I can even wear my pajamas and get in some movement. Instead of sitting on the couch, I walk while watching TV. I don't have a standing desk, so it's in our living room and slides right out of space.

But my true favorite is walking outdoors. Unless there's black ice all over, I am going out at any temperature. I put in my AirPods (on transparent) and listen to bilateral music. My therapist recommended it; it's popular with those dealing with PTSD, anxiety, ADHD, and trauma. I saw a video where someone described it as “dental floss for your brain,” and it feels like that, as the music goes from one ear to the other. Googling the term “bilateral music” will bring up lots of articles and studies about it.

woman in a gray swater fleece pullover from L.L.Bean and a black baseball cap with the LTK logo on it. She is wearing black oversized aviator sunglasses from Ray-Ban and AirPods in her ears. She is outside on a walking path

I like that I start the walk thinking wow, I have to do X, Y, and Z. I hope so-and-so isn't mad at me for what I said. Do I need to go to the grocery store today? I need to take that return to the UPS Store. Does the car need gas? I need to help E with that assignment. When is that brand campaign due? Then I get about three minutes listening to the music, and everything else washes away.

I see the trees, I see the reflections in puddles. I see birds, and squirrels, and how that neighbor painted their door a new color. I feel my leg muscles and notice my shoulders are near my ears and bring them back down. I notice how it feels walking on asphalt, walking on concrete, walking on the dirt path around the lake, and the forest floor paths through the woods.

woman in a yellow vest, gray sweater fleece, navy thermal leggings, and white sneakers. She is holding a black backpack in her hand and is standing on a wood bridge

I've been walking to my office, which depending on my route, is half a mile to a bit over a mile in length. I fill my insulated water bottle, pack up my large Macbook and supplies and it's 10-18 pounds of weight in my large Dagne Dover Dakota backpack. My husband is into rucking; this feels like a similar concept.

I just bought a weighted vest to wear on my walks. Weight-bearing exercise is good for us over 40, and if like me you never find the time or desire for a session at the gym or in your basement with your hand weights, this is an option. I got this one because it's from a woman-owned company and designed for those of us with the boobage. I'm starting with 8 lbs and if I get really into it, I'll upgrade. And since folks will ask:

Eye Update

As I shared in this blog post, I had holes in both of my retinas and had to have emergency sclera buckle surgery Labor Day weekend. Several weeks later, the doctor lasered the holes in the other eye. And a few weeks after that, they found more holes in the eye that had the surgery and lasered them. I currently have 20/60 vision in my right eye, and am back to 20/20 in my left.

woman sitting in an exam chair at a retina specialist's office with the laser and magnifying tool behind her.x

I was going to appointments with my retina specialist bi-weekly, then in December, she said she didn't need to see me until January. And then, at my early January appointment, I was told I don't need to come back until March. I'm so thrilled and can't wait until things are settled and I can get a corrective lens (not sure if it will be classes or one contact lens) so I can see clearly again!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. It sounds like a whirlwind of a month. I’m glad your friends and family showed up for you in such a big way to celebrate your birthday, especially as you’re going through a tough time.

    Your outfits are en fuego, as always. Thanks for the weighted vest tip! I love walking my ridiculous hounds for hours and hope this will help with my stability and bone density. Ordered the one you recommended directly from your link 🙂

    1. I hope you like it! K also wears it, it’s pretty comfy but it does provide a workout. I wore it while putting away laundry and doing chores and I got the same strain score on my SHOOP tracker as a 30-minute Peloton bike ride!

  2. I love how bright your pink & purple are against the snow! Your birthday outfits are also great – glad we got to appreciate them 🙂

    I’m sorry about your mum, but I find it comforting to remember that grief does not work in a straight line – like the Buddhist concept of self-improvement, it’s more of a spiral up a mountain (where you will pass a similar point multiple times on your journey, but may end up interpret it differently depending on where exactly you are in your evolution right now).

    PS – Thank you for adding the chronological blog posts link to your menu, it really helps! (It’s under the ‘Home’ tab, in case anyone else is looking for it).

  3. Thanks for this review Alison. As always so honest and detailed and with such good recommendations. I am listening to the therapist recommended music now and it’s so peaceful I shall use it in my mindfulness sessions.
    I have been reading your blog for years and years now( one of the few I’ve stuck with) and While I dont always read every single post or agree with everything you write, as we have very different lifestyles – I live in the country in the UK and I’m over 70- I truly think you have so much to offer to such a wide range of people. And this is because you choose your topics wisely, make sure they’re interesting and are honest with us. I have taken up many of your recommendations from the Ever X dress ( love it) to everyday beauty products, make up and books, and lots more so THANK YOU. You work hard and deserve your success.
    I wish you and your family joy and happiness in 2024 and hope you come to accept the loss of your lovely mum in a positive and healing way.

  4. OK, never comment in general, but since nobody else said it, I will…the black birthday outfit with red accents? Absolute FIRE! Easily my fave thing you’ve ever styled! I get a lot out of your hard work and representation, so thank you very much and Happy Birthday!

  5. Happy (belated) birthday! Looking at you with your sister and daughter, my first thought was all 3 of you have such infectious smiles – just gorgeous! I’m very intrigued about the walking pad and would love to hear your thoughts about belt width (looks quite narrow??), general sturdiness and typical length of a walking session. I’m concerned I’d walk right off the thing if I wasn’t looking down. Some reviews mentioned the motor didn’t seem “tolerant” of longer sessions (nearing the 1 hour mark.). Wishing you a happy, healthy, joyful new year and hoping you and your family continue to work through your grief.

    1. I haven’t been on it longer than a half hour. This is a less than $200 treadmill and it’s not made for hard work. The belt is a bit narrow; I don’t like going too fast or I do walk off the edge. There are walking pads out there that have wider belts and stronger motors, but the price increases. Thank you so much Staci!

  6. I hear you abt the cleaning. Ugh. It leads to a constant need for “Swedish death cleaning,” an idea I totally subscribe to.

    Feedback about the new design: Can you get rid of that annoying ribbon that pops up at the top of the page every time you scroll up or down with your mouse wheel, on a desktop computer? It appears and disappears with every move. At the moment, it says, “2017 in Review, 2013 Music in review, Week Recap, January 2013 — A Recap,” etc.

    1. Yeah I also find it annoying. I have it there because changes are happening to how ads are served to those who visit websites and blogs. It’s important to keep folks on a site and clicking to get their “personality” and have them click on more. But it drives me batty too. I am going to remove it and see how things go. Thank you for this feedback!

  7. Great piece on The Plum! How exciting to be able to expand your audience and explorations into the Writing Game. Fingers crossed for continued success!

  8. I am one of your loyal followers who bought the Bioderma body wash and scrubby wash cloth. I used them for the first time last night and holy crap, they are a game changer! I have never felt more alive coming out of the shower! Thanks again for another fabulous recommendation. 🙂

  9. Congratulations on such a great January! I have a cashmere question: how do you wash your Everlane cashmere sweater? I got one for Christmas & haven’t washed it yet. Your story about the Talbots sweater makes me nervous! I have a few cashmere sweaters from J Crew, and I will confess, I’ve washed them in sweater bags on the delicate cycle in my washing machine. It’s bad, I know, but they’ve been ok, although, I do notice they are a bit fluffier. Ahhh, I’m having a moment here—I probably need to quit being lazy & hand wash them all, yes?

    On a lighter note, I agree that J Crew has such good graphic tees! I just received the “Love” one on the navy background with red letters. I still have one from a few years back that is a washed navy with “Love” in white. It’s still a favorite! Have a fantastic day!

    1. Hi Lee! I wash them inside out in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle and line dry. It does make them fluffier, but I don’t have the patience for hand washing and rolling to squeeze out moisture and I have nowhere in my house to dry flat. If my sweater has any embellishment, I’ll hand wash. But yeah, I’m lazy too 🙂

  10. Looking forward to seeing extended sizes from Cabi – I always love your stylings but have been unable to purchase…

    1. It’s been something that has bothered me for a while and I am so glad they extended to 20 and XXL. It’s not the whole collection but if this does well I think they’ll keep adding looks!

  11. Congratulations! Are you planning to do a spring Cabi wardrobe capsule? I always get great ideas from you about what to purchase!

  12. What a great month you’ve had, and so well-deserved! Your blog is smart, entertaining, and I have learned so much from you. Thank you especially for being a woman of integrity!

  13. Congratulations on a sucessful Jan…looking forward to seeing how your hard work in Jan plays out as the rest of the year rolls out

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