Wednesday, October 24, 2012


It's no secret that I've been editing my wardrobe lately ("lately" loosely encompassing the past year and a half...or more) and I am excited to announce: mission completed! Interestingly, purging and organizing has only opened up a new challenge to me, which would be defining my personal style. (This is #10 on my list of resolutions this year, ahem). At first, I thought this would be relatively simple. Look at my wardrobe champions, describe them, and voila! Then I realized, not so much.

Here are a few words that describe the clothing in my closet:
-floral prints
-lace details
-dresses, dresses, dresses
-understated, I'm-in-the-background pants

Okay......that is not making much of a statement. Those words are not making my heart (and style) SIIING! (Sing a pretty, high note whilst reading that). So I am going to approach this from a different angle and ask myself, "How would I like others to describe my personal style?" This starts with a list of elements that goes more like....
-feminine (first and foremost! I am not a girly-girl necessarily (as I type this with a Barbie-pink manicure, wearing a skirt at 9pm, describing my closet of lacy floral print dresses) but I DEFINITELY am super feminine)
-sheer layers
-conversational prints
-a few whimsical details
-bright jewel tones
-dark slim bootcut pants
-A-line/ fit and flare
-statement necklaces
-a slight hint of new-age-y-ness (yes that's a word...think quartz pendants and crystal stud earrings)

I do not know where this basic, basic mish-mashy list of elements will take me but I think it somehow gets me a little closer to curating a more succinct style. I feel like this process will help highlight the things I'm doing right and the areas where I can honestly assess my daily look and see if I'm projecting what I want to visually project into the world. If that makes sense. I've not done it before, but perhaps a goal is to start photographing my outfits and using those to sort out what's working REALLY WELL and what's...not. I feel like defining my style will always be a process for me but hopefully it will get easier with time.

One last note, I totally picked up a pair of tan suede booties with fringe on them today. Calm down, no not these, but THESE. Fringe is completely unlike me, in any form or fashion, so this is exceedingly unusual. I am, however, planning to wear them tomorrow as part of a (lovely! elevated! sophisticated!) ensemble I put together for a work event. For extra incentive and as proof I can make these work, I promise to post a photo of said outfit be on the lookout...eeep.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A little something

Just a little "hello!" to announce that I have not fallen off the face of the earth, as much as it may seem so. I've been incredibly busy lately, but still have a goal of writing more/ updating more frequently, so hang in there with me, please?

This weekend has been fairly typical of a working weekend for me. I had Friday off and used the time to clean my apartment, run random errands, and grocery shop. I made a gigantic vat of vegetable soup. I also nursed my baby kitten who went in Thursday for The Big Snip-Snip. When I brought her home she acted as though she'd been in a cage for 24 hours (which she had, essentially), which means she tore around the house incessantly for oh, four hours. At least she didn't make pity-me eyes.

My sweet boyfriend came to visit me yesterday. I worked from 7am to 4pm, and ran out the door as soon as I could to go meet him at my place. The plan was to hit a local Halloween festival but in the end I was just too tired so we ate Indian food, cozied up on the couch, and ate pumpkin ice cream whilst watching "An American Werewolf in London," one of his favorite movies. I will admit, it was pretty good. Tonight I'm going to attempt to finish "Don't Look Now" while crafting a bazillion tissue paper tassels for a little something I have up my sleeve. Have I mentioned my new passion for garlands of every make and sort? I could make a million garlands, hang them all, and be very pleased for quite some time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I like to think of myself as a go-with-the-flow, let-the-day-take-you-where-it-may kind of gal. I realize that there are many people who would not describe me in this way at all, so please don't laugh if you are one of these people! I kinda like to have an agenda when entertaining out-of-town guests, I want to know all the options of a movie's start times, and I feel better knowing what's on the dinner menu. I am a Planner.

Before I moved for grad school, my week was very structured and unchanging. I was always off on Sundays and Thursdays, and I spent Sundays relaxing and Thursdays Getting Stuff Done. I loved this arrangement, but I hated not having weekends to spend with my friends and family. I missed so many cookouts, brunches, camping trips, and community events and it was such a bummer. I vowed when I started grad school I'd be done with wonky schedules (well, and retail, but that's a story for another day). Little did I know how wonky a schedule could get!

Moving, starting a new job, and beginning a graduate program all together created a Defining Moment of my twenties. It was lucky I was so energized by the prospect of meeting new people, trying my hand at a different work pace, and taking supercool classes because...I never slept. A few months of this and I was officially best friends with my tidy moleskin planner. (This is the time in my life when I started sprouting gray hairs). I am very proud of myself for pushing through this awful adjustment and keeping most of my wits about me!

Last semester I was taking more classes than before (and still working full time with haphazard scheduling) and went a little nuts organizing my schedule. I basically began planning every minute of every day in an attempt to control the chaos around me, and ultimately would be left feeling low about myself for not sticking to the plan. I would even schedule in "breaks" and meals and showers, and list suggestion times for going to bed at night depending on what time I was to be at work! Before you start thinking I am some sort of control freak, you have to understand some days I go to work at 7am, some days at 9am, some days at noon, and some days at 6am. All in one week! Add to that a full-time class load with all the reading, writing, and physical in-class time. So!

I decided to take this semester off and focus on my actual work, my personal goals, cultivating my relationships, and...not being so busy! Best decision ever. But I'm still over here a-planning!

I like structure. I love checking things off my list. And I LOVE reaching a goal! A month or so ago I realized I am at my best and can achieve my goals faster with a little forethought. So far, so good! More on this later!

One of the things I now do is create a chalkboard calendar at the beginning of every month, and the first thing I put down is my work schedule. After that, I have a clear picture of where my free time is and then plan from there how to spend that time, which is so much more fun when I don't have to account for classes or studying! Whee! It's also helpful in showing where I have time to plan for visits with the boyfriend, who lives out of town. I cannot even begin to describe how huge it is for me to be able to visually see when we're next going to be able to spend time together!

This was intended to be a short, generalized post about planning. Someone else can quote  "To a Mouse" and finish this out for me.

Friday, September 21, 2012

On Kitten-Gettin'


A coworker's cat had kittens. Lots and lots of kittens. They were adorable. And furry. And she became a Kitten Pusher. Although I am a Cat Person through and through, I have shied away from getting one for several years for many reasons, the biggest reason being that I am allergic to cats. Boo. But Ms. Kitten Pusher was quietly persistent. She texted me photos. She invited me over to play with them. And in the end, I brought a kitten home. 

I theorized that maybe this allergy to cats would relent if it was a kitten I could get used to. I had cats growing up and didn't have an issue being around them until I was in my twenties (strange, huh?). Ms. Kitten Pusher agreed to let me bring the kitten back to her if the allergies became unbearable. So, it was settled. I was finally getting a cat! At first I thought I might take the feisty-looking one above, second from the left.  The redhead. I named her Tippy Canoe and waited for her to hurry up and get old enough to bring home. But then we realized she was a he. And super aggressive. Feistier than we'd all imagined. I wanted a sweet cuddler, not a wild beast hell-bent on destroying my knickknacks (it's apparent I hadn't given a lot of thought to the nature of cats in general). So, I thought a little more. Ms. Kitten Pusher suggested the gray tabby second from the right. I agreed. We set a date. 

I wanted to pick up my new kitten at just the right time. I didn't want her to have to be all alone while I was at work, so the plan was to wait until the weekend so I could be home and the boyfriend would be around for moral and emotional support (trust me, I needed the emotional support...I got all "Am I equipped mentally to take care of another living thing? What if I make her life miserable?!" about it...this doesn't bode well for me having children if I got like this over a CAT). But then I got a wild hair and ran to the pet supply store after work one day. I picked up a litter box, litter, kitten food, cat toys, and a scratchy post. And a feather wand thinger. I was so ready for this. As I was driving to Ms. Kitten Pusher's, a sudden wild storm rose up, unleashing hail and thunder and gallons of rain. I had a mini panic attack, convinced this was a Sign. I forged ahead, Ms. Kitten Pusher put a kitten in a crate, and home we went.

who are you, and why are you talking to me like that?

You might guess what happened next. Nothing. She acclimated. She cried a bit at first but soon took to batting around her toys, peeing in the appropriate places, and following me around everywhere I went. It's been smooth sailing ever since. And that cat allergy? So far my theory has been correct.

loves sunny spots

It took some time to come up with the perfect name. I eventually decided on Tiger Lily. It fits her pretty well. Recently it's been shortened a bit to Tilly, which rolls off the tongue better when she's busy knocking over my houseplants. She is Such a Bad sometimes. At first she got into the habit of attacking me at night while I slept, and then she started burrowing under the covers in order to bite me more precisely. At this point, she's pretty good about letting me sleep, though yesterday she woke me up by running across my face multiple times. She tries to eat anything I'm eating and drink anything I'm drinking. One time, she shockingly ate pizza right off the boyfriend's plate while he was holding it. What a Bad.

Such a Bad.

Happily Ever After <3
 Overall, I am so happy I ended up taking her. She's a little snuggle beast, and who doesn't want one of those? Plus, she doesn't mind watching The Ghost Whisperer with me. Did I just admit to that? That will have to be a post for another day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mid-September Traditions

Oh, how I love the beginning of Autumn! Articles, tweets, and blog posts abound praising the high season of layering and the coziness of approaching winter. Fall feels like the beginning of a great cycle rather than the approach of the end of a year... I'll blame being raised in a "school year" for this. So we have fashion, cooler weather, football season, and-well!-Halloween on the brain.

I work in a creative atmosphere where we have a meeting every morning to discuss the day's business and tasks, with the additional interest of inspiring each in attendance. Yesterday morning I posed the question: What are your fall traditions? My crowd just looked at me. Sometimes, I can tell they think my thought process is kooky, and this was one of those times. It's still in the 90's here, so none of the "I broke out tights for the first time!" or "I took inventory of my sweater collection!" Also, traditions? As in...baking pie? Caroling??

Very late last year, I looked up and Christmas was over. I'd been so focused on work and grad school that I'd COMPLETELY MISSED the entire season of fall and, well, the holidays. They happened, I definitely dressed up for Halloween, ate a giant meal on Thanksgiving, and bought Christmas presents. But I didn't really FEEL it...I did not connect with the specialness of the season. This year I am committed to slowing down and really enjoying the "little's" of fall. Yesterday, I ate my first slice of pumpkin bread of the season. And today I dashed a little nutmeg into my coffee. I count these as mindful successes....:)

A list of other early-season traditions (some contributed by my team, who warmed quickly to my question after a bit of coaxing!)

-Decorate with pumpkins...sophisticated pumpkins. Our group cheered when one member mentioned that our grocer had "cinderella pumpkins" in stock!
-Craft a fall wreath! (one fun idea over here on A Beautiful Mess)
-Go to a high school football game (school colors, something with which to spike the hot chocolate, and pompoms optional)
-Tailgate! I'm not much for football and "my" team is going to have a dismal season, but hey! I love snacks and friends!
-Load up on tights (patterned, printed, opaque solids, tights over tights, knits...this season, mix it all up!)
-Make chili--my go-to is this sweet potato recipe!
-Order a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks...I decided yesterday I would wait until October 1 to tick this off the's all downhill after one! I am considering whipping up a substitute using almond milk and pumpkin pie spice...will let you know how this turns out...
-Start brainstorming your Halloween costume. Give yourself time to work out the amazing details so you can win that "Best Costume" prize...don't forget to work in an elastic waistband for that candy-eating contest...
-Knit yourself a turban ear-warmer! Or, have someone else provide the knitting..Cute! I'll be snapping up this lovely on payday for sure! I just love cold-weather accessories!
-Collect a stack of books for fall reading. I'll take suggestions on this one, if you've got them!
-Snag a new planner! This might be replacing my trusty moleskin when the time is right!
-Review your yearly resolutions, if you made any. How close are you to your goal? What have you accomplished? Choose the goals that are still relevant and make a plan to achieve them! And if you have to reset your goal date so it falls later than 12.31? It's okay. You can do it!
What are your little traditions? How are you celebrating fall this year?

Monday, January 2, 2012


Ah! We have a new year and to celebrate I uploaded a user photo of me just as the clock was striking midnight on New Year's Eve. I had a smallish party at my home that must have been loads of fun (I mean, I definitely had a blast) because the last guests left at around five in the morning. At one point some of my guests let me know some guests of the party downstairs were being lured up so I went down to try to talk to the neighbor I knew, but he was no where in sight. I ended up speaking to someone else and while talking to him was rather gripped by a strange clairvoyance and decided to to let him know this year would be much, much better for him. This started a chain reaction and in the end I had guests from downstairs coming up, wanting to talk to me about their futures--as in, they wanted my "psychic" advice and to know what 2012 holds for them! One girl was lovesick over a man in Spain, and one guy just wanted to know if he was doing the right things in his life to gain the successes he wants. I think these are fairly common feelings (well...we should all be so lucky to be lovesick over Spaniards!) and I hope they found the answers they wanted to hear.

One of my favorite moments of the evening was when the photo referenced above was taken. I wanted to really say goodbye to the past year, which wasn't my best. I snipped pieces of paper and passed them around to everyone, instructing them to write on the paper the things they were happy to leave in the past as we moved forward into the future. Some decided to share what they wrote and some kept their disappointments to themselves. When we were ready, we tossed them into the kitchen sink and lit them on fire! It was fantastic! Just as they turned to ash, someone noticed it was midnight and we all cheered, poured champagne, then ran to the front windows to watch the fireworks going off over downtown. I missed having some of my very dear, old friends there (most of them live out of state), but I do feel very lucky to have started the year with fun, positive, open-minded friends.

Speaking of the past year not being my best, for one of the first times in my life I have crafted a list of resolutions. And I intend to stick to them! They touch on a variety of things in my life but I think they're mostly habits I want to grow into, like getting a solid eight hours of sleep every night or keeping my place a little tidier on the regular. So without further adieu, a list (long, I know) written in second person, of things I'm challenging myself to get into the habit of over the next 12 months:

1. Write more. Write every day, at least a little. Start a blog (hello!). Write stories. Write about your life. Write about your ideas. Write poems. Write songs.

2. Stick to an exercise program.

3. Make a commitment to eating a greater number of healthy foods and fewer unhealthy ones. Look again at portion controls, plan ahead for meals and stick to your plans. (Perhaps will track my eating habits for a few weeks to notice patterns?)

4. Try to cook at least one new dish a month. Attempt ingredients and dishes that are slightly intimidating.

5. Keep your relationships healthy. Write more letters; spend little time with people who are not uplifting.

6. Keep creating! Try new modes of expression (painting, songwriting, photography, carpentry, sculpting, etc!)

7. Keep your surroundings uncluttered and clean. Messy bed=messy head!

8. This one is a little too personal for me to share right now, but perhaps down the line I'll write about it!

9. Take better care of your skin. Remove makeup before going to sleep, use moisturizer and sunscreen daily, and don't actively sun this year. (I have a horrible habit of letting myself get dark in the sun over the summer--I love lying in the sun and being on the water!)

10. Get a solid eight hours of sleep most every night, even if that means being in bed at 9:30pm on the weekends sometimes.

And the last one! Something I've been meaning to do for ages!!

11. Hone fashion aesthetic and what looks good on you. Purge closet of every unflattering item and do not introduce new unflattering items! Keep a log (at some point) for 30 days of what you are wearing, how you feel while wearing it, and what others say about the outfit (i.e. "that color looks nice on you," "that blouse is so you," etc), and photograph the outfit!