Five Years Later, Part One

college graduation

Twenty-seven doesn’t feel old. It can’t even be considered old. Unless you’re ten because when I was ten I remember thinking that twenty-seven years old seemed ancient. But I suddenly felt old when I received an e-mail from my alma mater telling me “it’s time to celebrate your five year reunion at Homecoming 2014!” Seriously, has it been five years already?! How can it be just five years ago that I was dressing up in blue and white, cheering on our teams, and hopping from party to party? I remember how we joked about sneaking into the alumni tent because they had the “good stuff”. Now I can legally get into the alumni tent and I’m not sure I’m ready to go.

n26003728_31574474_573

Let me tell you a little bit about my college experience and be quite frank about it: it wasn’t the best four years of my life. Actually I contemplated transferring several times. It just wasn’t the college I thought I’d be at; I wanted football teams and guys in polo shirts and life in a big sorority house where everything would be pink. I watched a lot of movies before I went to college. And while I got some of that, there were also periods of loneliness and heartbreak and doubt. Looking back, sometimes I wish I went to another more “traditional” school with a football team instead of an intercollegiate rugby team and a losing soccer team. I would have loved to spend homecoming at real tailgates instead of in the basement of a rented off-campus house. I wish I had been less anonymous and created deeper friendships instead of being the out-of-state girl in a sea of locals who all went to rival high schools. Even if it wasn’t the sparkly, Elle Woods experience it still taught me a lot. I learned how to be alone, how to heal a broken heart, how to create confidence, how to pretend to have confidence even when you don’t. Not having the “perfect” college experience prepared me to have a not so perfect post-college experience.

100_6170

Did you imagine that when you graduated from college you’d get that perfect entry level position? The one that was a lot of work but it was fulfilling and you had an amazing boss and a great group of work friends who loved to go for happy hour. There would also be the perfect apartment that you didn’t have to share anyone because you deserved not to after a slew of horrible college roommates. And if you weren’t attached, a great guy would bump into you in the coffee shop around the corner and then, well, happily ever after. Did I mention before that I watch a lot of movies? When I walked up to the university president and shook her hand and received my diploma, I didn’t have a plan  but I was sure that it was all going to work out alright. I was right about that, it did work out alright, but not the way I ever thought it would.

Five years later, I can put those five years into perspective. While I thought I grew a lot in college that was nothing compared to post-grad life. I struggled to find a job and when I did find a job, I struggled to make ends meet even living at home. Just like college, it was nothing like what I thought it would be. Unlike college it was so much more. Five years later I have grown from being a naive, insecure, freshly minted grad who in hindsight was deeply insecure and totally unprepared to being a confident, happy professional teacher who is getting married in a little under a year (oh my goodness!). The end of my college journey was the beginning of another journey which has been tough sometimes but is mostly absolutely amazing and has brought me to a place five years later I never imagined, or hoped, I would be.

 

But more on that Thursday…

Monday Links to Love

IMG_0870

* Watch this video of second graders enjoying a $220 tasting menu at one of the best restaurants in NYC, it’s fantastic!

* Naturally straight hair? Yes please!

* I know it’s trendy to like donuts right now but if you ask Nick, I’ve been a donut girl for a long time. If you’re in the Philly area, here are the best places to grab a round one in the city

* October is Mural Arts month in Philly. Get out there and enjoy some free fabulous public art!

* Great interview with Leandra Medine and pictures of Man Repeller’s office

* Instagram is such a great medium for design and artistic interpretation of the every day. I’m loving the new series on Glitter Guide talking to some great instagrammers like Amy Stone

 

Wearing: Floating on a Cloud

Wearing a Cloud: The Perfect Ruffled Tank

Wearing a Cloud: The Perfect Ruffled Tank

a touch of French charm

Wearing a Cloud: The Perfect Ruffled Tank

tank: anthropologie, jeans and necklace: f21, cardigan: new york and co.

I always have the worst time coming up with a title for my outfit posts but not this one. As soon as I saw the photos I thought “this is my “cloud” outfit” because that white ruffle paired with the prettiest shade of pale blue reminds me of the sky on a perfect day. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to start talking about the weather again in my outfit post but it seems I can’t help it. Clothes and weather just seem to go together. Plus I’ve been pretty into the weather since I was in elementary school. I used to sit and wait for the weather to come on and then compare the weather across the country and track the weather for the week. Maybe I liked having a little extra knowledge about my day. Maybe I liked trying to make sense and order out of the unpredictable. Or maybe watching the weather is way more entertaining than the news any day of the week.

My weekend plans involve a whole lot of picture taking. Nick and I are getting our engagement photos taken this weekend and I’m both nervous and excited. I’m excited to have photos to document this very special time in our lives and to have professional photos taken for the first time since my graduation portrait in high school. I’m nervous because I’m used to just having Nick take my photos. I get nervous around other people but the nice thing about this photo session is that it will give us a chance to become more comfortable with our wedding photographers. We’re going to wander around Philly and hopefully get some fantastic shots in the city we love.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

The Anatomy of a Street Festival

Winter has twinkle lights and snow storms. Spring has blooming flowers and rain showers. Summer has fireworks and carnival rides. Fall, fall has a lot of things from leaves to pumpkin beers to digging out those boots and knits. Fall also means it’s festival season. You already knew I was going to say that? Yup, I’m all about those fall festivals.

Nick and I have made it our goal this fall to spend time at many of our favorite new and old fall festivals. I can’t say that our tour of festivals was extensive; we’re busy creatures after all! But we did get to quite a few and that got us thinking: what makes a festival a good festival? Believe it or not, not all festivals are created equal and there’s definitely an art to creating the perfect fall festival.

1. Bring on the crowds. This is probably the one and only time you will see me excited about crowds. The less people I interact with on the weekends the better but a good fall festival should definitely bring in a crowd. Bring in a few overly excited types to hype up the crowd and say, “OMG, this is SO much FUN!” so that people start thinking, “yea, this is great!” A little excitement and few extra people never killed anyone.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

2. Make it more than one block. If your festival is not taking up a street, don’t even talk to me. Street festivals are the best, especially if you’re over 21 and are not stroller-prohibited (though I’m pretty sure that’s not going to stop me when the time comes). Farm festivals are great for the under 10 set but real festivals happen in the street. Make it more than one block and you’re golden.

3. Delicious food and drinks for the masses. I am not about to get myself out of bed and dressed up for an art festival unless Henri Matisse himself strolls down the street. Nope, I need food and drinks and plenty of both. There’s something about eating in the street that makes my fall day that much better.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

4. Weather perfection. This is a tricky one; you simply cannot control the weather. But I’ll be totally honest that the weather makes the festival. Sunny skies, a gentle breeze, and some orange leaves make me say, yay fall! Then I start thinking I never want to leave and five hours later when the sun is going down behind the buildings I have spent all my cash and eaten my weight in soft pretzels and gourmet tacos.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

5. Entertain me! When I first became a frequent visitor of fall festivals a few years back I did not want music. It clogged up the street and usually it was pretty crappy music. Someone somewhere read my thoughts and found some musical acts that sound fantastic. I’ve heard nothing but good music this year and my ears are happy.

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

6. Keep it free…but not too free. I love free stuff but when it comes to fall festivals, there is a fine line. I am still young enough that I get apprehensive about buying a ticket to a street fair but I am old enough to realize that anything that offers totally free entertainment or drinks or food can bring in a totally different element. So there needs to be a good split; admission should be free but food and drinks might require some cash. It keeps the festival from being overrun with sketchy people just looking for freebies. Keep that in college people!

‘Til next year, fall festivals!

The Anatomy of a Fall Festival

The Writing Reality: Some Thoughts on Teaching and Doing

IMG_0064

Lately at work there’s been one academic area that we debate over and over again. It’s a constant bone of contention between how we want to teach, how others think we should teach it, and the best way to teach it. This subject is writing and, considering that I get on my computer most nights of the week and attempt to write here, I feel like I have a unique perspective when it comes to writing. I started to reflect on how teaching kids to be writers is a lot like being a blogger. What it also stirred up were a few questions: is everyone meant to be a writer? How do you judge “good” writing? And how can I make others believe in the power of writing?

Obviously as a teacher I encourage my students to be writers. We work on writing every day and I address them as my “community of writers”. But for all the encouragement I provide as their writing teacher, some of my students will never be, or even want to be, writers. Sometimes I wonder if that’s my fault. Am I not encouraging enough? Have I not done enough to reveal the purpose and passion of writing? I tend to put the pressure of kids wanting to write on myself. I worry about what I can do to make it happen, to make my most reluctant writers write. But if I really start to think about it, is every kid really meant to write? In the back of my mind I think that maybe forcing writing and believing that everyone is meant to write is a falsehood perpetuated by educators like myself.

Writing is something I love to do. But ask other people and you’ll find mixed feelings on writing. When you think about it, lots of people dislike writing. Why do they dislike writing? Writing is a lot of work. Not everyone has a blog or writes bestsellers or works in publishing because it takes time and effort and you have to love it. You have to wake up passionate about it because otherwise people will see right through you. Can we fake passion for writing? That’s certainly what it seems like I’m teaching my students. I’m trying to get them excited about writing which is a great thing but that’s not going to make them a “good” writer. Good writers make us stop and think. Good writers make me want to continue to plug away at this blog thing, even if nobody ever reads. Good writers have a heart and soul that we can see.

I think that the writing reality is that, whether you’re a student or a blogger or a writer, you have to believe in what you’re writing. You have to find something you enjoy about the process and find a topic you love. As a teacher and a blogger I want to let everyone know that you may not think you’re a great writer and you may not actually be the greatest writer in reality. But if you have a story to tell, tell it. Writing is going to be hard and difficult but it’s important to say what you want to say. It doesn’t have to be perfect or win awards or be shared across the internet a million times. You have to love what you’re writing about and be happy with it. Of course this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to have a really good blog or that that one reluctant writer will finally publish a piece that I haven’t edited to pieces. I think the writing reality is you have to write for you.

Who’s That Girl? inspired by The New Girl

Who's That Girl?: inspired by Fox's The New Girl

Who's That Girl?: inspired by Fox's The New Girl

Who's That Girl?: inspired by Fox's The New Girl

dress: vintage, wedges: dsw

My tv viewing is decidedly eclectic; on Sunday I indulge in the blood and gore and decaying flesh that is The Walking Dead and by Tuesday I plop myself down to be entertained by some funny Los Angeles friends on my favorite weeknight show The New Girl. I started watching New Girl from the start because, well, Zooey Deschanel. Say what you will about her rainbows-and-sunshine attitude, the girl is fun to watch. Her character Jess is the perfect antidote to the stress of my work week and I absolutely love the dynamic of her loft mates Winston, Nick, and Schmidt (and now Coach too). Also if they ever decide to do a Schmidt spin-off I would watch it ALL DAY, SON. Even though it can get a bit goofy, there is always something endearing about Jess and her friends and the struggle to becoming an adult when you actually don’t feel like being an adult.

While I love the back and forth will-they-won’t-they of Nick and Jess’s relationship, Winston’s strange quirks, and Schmidt’s ladies’ man personality, I have fallen head-over-heels for Jess’s wardrobe. Full skirts and cardigans, quirky patterned dresses, and bow flats for days, it is my dream to have a closet half as cute as Jess’s. Sadly I’m not bold enough for her look; I tend to be much more conservative rather than girly. Unless you count my bicycle skirt and circus dress. It’s also amazing how many vintage-inspired looks the costume designers are able to adapt to an every day look. A few years ago I was collecting vintage dresses but stopped because I was just not able to fit them into my every day life. While dressing in vintage may work for a tv teacher, it definitely does not work for this real life teacher. Maybe one day when I have more confidence and am not constantly kneeling/sitting on the floor, my vintage dresses will see the light of day.

Monday Links to Love

don't forget to be awesome graffiti hills

This Monday morning posting is brought to you by Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America which thankfully gives most teachers and students a free day off halfway through October. Otherwise I’m not sure even a link posting would be possible. My Monday is dragging courtesy of an Eagles win and The Walking Dead season premiere. Way too much goodness was packed in one evening and I’m slowly recovering. If you need me today, you’ll most likely find me in my temporary “office” at Starbucks with a grande chai and a breakfast sandwich. Hope you had as good of a weekend as I did and have a very happy Monday!

* Been bitten by the baking bug this fall and can’t resist the temptation of these treats. Come on, pumpkin magic bars!!!

* Though you couldn’t possibly experience the loveliness of Philly in just 24 hours, the Design Spong 24 hour guide to Philly does a pretty good job, probably because it’s written by the bloggers behind Free People’s BLDG 25 blog

* From a new-to-me, fabulous blog, She Is Fierce: On Forcing Creativity

* Never leave home without my eyeliner

* An easy fall fashion project: DIY leather bracelets via a beautiful mess

* Finally! The Philadelphia Craft Beer Trail

* A beautifully written post about changing and evolving from Dani Hampton at Sometimes Sweet

* A must have for my mornings: cut down your blow drying time with these simple tricks

* I love my Nook but prefer reading and holding real books…and that’s a good thing

* As a former aspiring museum professional and current lover of museums, I agree with every one of these tips for making the most of your museum trip

* If you follow me on Twitter, you may have figured out that I L-O-V-E the Walking Dead and especially love Beth, a.k.a Emily Kinney. Even fi you’re not a Walking Dead fan, you can still appreciate Refinery 29’s beauty interview with Emily

Wearing: The In Between Fashion

The In Between Fashion: Going From Summer to Fall

The In Between Fashion: Going From Summer to Fall

shirt: f21, jeans: target, sandals: blowfish, necklace: madewell, belt: american eagle

September and early October are weird times for getting dressed. When I leave my house with the rising sun on my way to work, I’m layered up with a cardigan and jacket. When I emerge, blinking the late afternoon sunlight, I have to strip off all the layers since the temperature has risen a good fifteen degrees and now I’m sweating. This time is what I like to refer to as the lovely “in between time” for fashion. In between fashion time is both good and bad: the cool to hot temperatures means getting dressed is a gamble BUT you get to dip into both summer and fall closets. I do have to say that the above outfit is one of my favorite “in between time” outfits. Sandals with jeans are my favorite staples for September and October and these distressed boyfriend jeans are just perfect with all the pairs I own. Anyone else jumping on the distressed jeans/boyfriend jeans bandwagon? I can’t get enough of these jeans, just ask Nick.

I don’t know where you are but the weather is slowly cooling around here and I’m finally getting to break out all those sale sweaters I bought in March and April. Budget-savvy is my middle name but I can’t tell you how hard it is to wait to wear something. I was the kid who had to use/play/wear whatever Christmas presents she got right that day. Patience has slowly developed over time but it was still really difficult to pack away something with tags on it. So far weekend plans are pretty laid back (except for some serious Walking Dead viewing on Sunday) but we might hit up another festival or two. Festival season and perfect weather are what makes this in between time perfect.

Prey for the Dead, inspired by The Walking Dead

Prey for the Dead: Walking Dead Fashion

Prey for the Dead: Walking Dead Fashion

flannel: gap, shirt: abercrombie, pants: target, boots: minnetonka

Four days. Four days until the best show on television starts again. In case you’re not aware of which show is considered the best show then I’ll make it simple: The Walking Dead Season Five starts in four days. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, The Walking Dead is a show about a group of people trying to survive in the zombie apocalypse. Okay, I’ll admit that when I first heard about The Walking Dead I was skeptical; it’s a show based on a comic book after all. But all it took was a boring Friday night last October to flip to AMC and I was hooked in one episode. It’s not just about zombies and killing zombies (though there are a lot of zombies). It poses the question: what kind of person you would you become if it took everything you have just to survive?

This post is the first in a (very short) series of outfits based on the return of my favorite fall shows. When I started to put together my Walking Dead outfit I knew I didn’t want something cheesy or costume-y, a.k.a no fake blood and no fake guns or knives. This is not a costume but something I could see myself wearing after some worldwide disaster. Is that weird to say? After watching the first few seasons of this show I’ve thought a lot about what would I do if the world was turned upside down. I think the first thing I would do would be to find my family. To me that’s the saddest part of the show: when someone’s family dies or when they get separated from their newly adopted family.

My predictions for this new season? Someone’s going to die. Okay, that’s usually a given and I’m already sick to my stomach waiting to see who it will be. I also feel like there will be some promises made between characters that can’t be kept, like Rick’s promise to keep everyone together and get them out of this Terminus mess alive. I am also hoping that the characters make it back to a more urban environment this season. It’s great to see the Georgia countryside and to have all these different areas to hide but, being in a pretty urban/suburban area, I want to see how this zombie apocalypse affected these areas.

Remember: hunt or be hunted.

Monday Links to Love

October farm

* Thinking about investing in a donut pan with all the donut recipes I’ve been pinning lately. Here’s my favorite: beach sprinkle donuts

* How cool: using an Instagram-like video program to get young girls interested in coding. Wish we had this kind of technology when I was growing up!

* Glad to know I’m not alone in my love of being “overdressed”

* In that same vein: making that destroyed denim chic

* Instagram has been my go-to social media outlet (say hi to me here!) and now I’m going to work on my photo skills with these tips