Wednesday, February 3, 2016

7 Dresses for Valentines Day (+ A Few Date Ideas That Don't Suck)

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Pictured: For Love & Lemons mini dress (shop here) / Asos pink lace crop set / Red eyelet dress / Asos flutter back dress / Asos crochet midi dress / Red crochet dress / Free People white lace mini dress (shop here) / Enamel pins (options here) / Heart sunglasses / Valentine's cards / 'Girls' handbag / iPhone case (options here) / Playing card clutch

My favorite Valentine's Day date of all time took place at a monster truck rally in Pittsburgh. No dinner, no movie, no romantic candles, just giant trucks crushing other trucks shooting flames. Also nachos. It was awesome, and ever since, Chris and I have made a point to seek out something different to do on February 14th. This year, we're thinking of checking out the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention.

Now, just because I choose to eschew the typical doesn't mean I consider myself to be one of those Valentine's cynics grumbling about the holiday being invented by Hallmark -- frankly I don't care -- I actually really love it. In the middle of an otherwise blustery, cold month, I'll take any reason to celebrate, dress in pink and red, and proclaim my love for friends and family. And it's not that I have anything against dinner and a movie, or any other strain of "traditional" dates, it's just that I'd rather not be surrounded by a bunch of other couples, cloaked in a cloud of expectations and pressures of ROMANCE. I'd much rather seek out something beyond the ordinary, something we haven't done yet or seen yet, that we'll continue to talk about long after the day passes ("Hey, remember the time we finally got to see Gravedigger? Yeah, that was awesome.") Plus, there's the whole process of simply discovering the out of the box events and things to do happening around you. Who knows where the day will take you -- a demolition derby? A unique museum? Whatever you plan, you're sure to leave with a story and some new friends (after that demolition derby we went out for dinner -- and by "dinner" I mean hotdogs... -- only to realize mid-way through how absolutely, laughably, horrifically filthy we were. Completely covered in dust.)

Even though I might shy away from the traditionally romantic, I still love dressing up for the occasion. A little lace, a new dress... really, deep down I'm just looking for an excuse to add something pretty and heart-shaped to my closet. Another way to brighten up an otherwise gloomy month (love Valentines Day, not such a fan of February). I've had my eye on a few pretty things lately, and today I'm sharing a few of my favorites. Heart shaped glasses, a sweet card, a little lace, maybe add a funny bag... and you'll be sure to steal hearts.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Here & There 1.31

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January 31st, I can't believe you're here so soon. Slowly and then all at once. I'm fresh into the first five days of being 32 and have spent most of the weekend decompressing and generally being lazy -- if you count running countless errands on Saturday and gearing up for a work-filled Sunday afternoon lazy. This past month was all about coming down from December, thoughtfully taking it easy on my days off. Highly recommend it, if you can swing it, but maybe not so good when it comes to getting started on my goals for the year. Of those, I'm pathetically behind. There's always February, right?

This vintage silk scarf would look great peeking out from the collar of a denim shirt

I just blasted through this book in three days -- so good.

This coat would be perfect for spring

Etsy faves: This mermaid print, this bucket bag, these dainty earrings, and this kitty tote

Hollywood cinemagraphs

These sunglasses would be perfect for Valentine's Day (+ a cute card and my favorite candle)

The first woman to complete the Appalachian Trail was 67 years old -- and she did it twice!

This fruity sweater is so cute!

A 28 day creative project... project

Chris gave me this tiger's eye perfume for my birthday and I'm in loooove

The most popular reader comments on the New York Times

Asos is having a big sale! love this mint biker jacket and these classic booties

Would you match your hair to a Picasso?

I'm good with what I've got

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Myth of Work/Life Balance

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Pictured: Mon Cahier planner + 'Leigh' card holder from Moorea Seal

A few years ago, when I was working as a copy writer at ModCloth, a coworker of mine shared something that changed my entire perspective on the idea of “work/life balance”. Up until that point, I had been on a never-ending quest to strike the perfect balance between my home and work life. After a soul-crushing stint as a visual merchandiser at American Apparel, and then working multiple jobs at a time between 2010 and 2011 (at one point I had four, plus a volunteer position), I wanted my life back. I wanted to find balance. But somehow, it continued to elude me. In my brain I pictured scales, like the scales of freakin' justice, always a little off balance. Things began to feel slightly more even when I made the move to Pittsburgh in 2011, trading in the three jobs I was working at the time for the myth of the 9 to 5. Suddenly, with just one schedule to contend with, I felt like I had time again. I even gave a few talks on the subject of finding work/life balance. Except there was one glaring problem: in my heart, I still felt as though I was constantly running myself ragged. Turns out, when you write for a living, and you write for your blog, and you take photos for a living, and you take photos for your blog, it’s really, really easy to suddenly find yourself completely burned out and exhausted, with no balance in sight. And something tells me the same rings true for every. other. job. out there.

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So, back to Molly, my coworker at ModCloth. At some point she gave a sort of mini talk (I think? Could have just been her talking over her computer at me...) on the myth of work/life balance. And it completely shifted the way I approached these things in my life. To paraphrase (and probably butcher): “There is no balance, there is only fit.”

“There is no balance, there is only fit.”

The idea being, that you fit your work and your life together. You fit the things you care about into your life because you care about them, while being conscious of the fact that work often overlaps. That work part, it's best to accept it and move on. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces often aren’t symmetrical. They’re funny looking and oddly shaped. One piece extends into another and vice versa. This was a radical shift in the way I visualized my time (if you can't tell by now, I'm a visual person), and I’m so thankful to have learned this before moving to Philly for my next job. Because, despite the fact that I had this new depth of knowledge to draw from, I was still shit at putting it to practice. Because while fit is important, boundaries are as well.

So, where is all this coming from? Last month, Jen asked for tips on how I manage work/life/self care. And I have to say, my knee jerk answer would be, “very, very carefully."

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The truth is, in my early days at FP, I ran myself just as ragged. A new job with new demands and lessons learned from my time at MC swimming through my head meant that I was often up well past midnight working, answering emails, and fretting over all that had to be done. I have a tendency to let past failures haunt me, which means I push myself hard to prove to myself that I can. But one look at photos of myself from that time and it’s easy to see just how exhausted I’d become. The bags under my eyes were darker than ever, and I was puffy from lack of sleep and eating things I normally steer clear from. I’m not sure when the turning point came, but at a certain point I had to loosen the reigns a little or else I was going to fall right off the (figurative) cliff. It was baby steps at first – turning my email notifications on my phone to vibrate, rather than a bell. Not checking email after 11 pm. Making time at the gym a priority again. And finally, admitting to myself that I had to cut back on the number of times per week I was posting on this blog. The changes were subtle at first, but over a year later, it's made an enormous difference in my quality of life. 

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Now, I realize things vary from person to person and job to job. but over time I've continued to shift and adjust my time and how I use it. Work is (obviously) still a huge and very important part of my life (I think that's pretty obvious), but I've been slowly learning how to make time for what's important to me and to make time for myself.

A few more things that have helped me strike some sort of equilibrium (notice how I'm not using the word balance)...

Email notifications went from vibrate to none at all because I’ve completely removed email from my phone. A brazen move for sure, and to be clear, I can still check it on the internet browser on my phone (and I do, at specific times), but I no longer have those unread messages staring me in the face and new message dings keeping me up at all hours. I’m thankful to have an amazing editor and coworkers who don’t shy away from texting  if something is urgent. This has, by far, made the largest difference in my stress levels. While I understand having your email on your phone is a necessity for some people, if you’re feeling stressed, ask yourself if it’s really, truly necessary and try taking a break from it for awhile, even just a few days.

If I have to work on the weekend, I get up early and get it out of the way first thing. I write best in the early morning anyway, and getting it out of the way means I don't have to think about for the remainder of Saturday and Sunday.

Conversely, sometimes it's just worth it to stay late at the office on a Friday night to get it out of the way and just get it done.

I am conscious about making time for myself. Rather than pushing aside the things that make me feel human -- reading, baking, getting outside, painting my nails -- I have to constantly remind myself to just do it. To slow down and breathe and make times for the things outside of blogging and work and blogging for work.

Not everything has to be a blog post. I picked up an art book recently, the cover emblazoned with the phrase "Today is a blog post waiting to be written" and I use it as a sort of anti-mantra. In the constant search for content for work, it's very, very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of constantly taking photos and constantly thinking of copy. I intentionally leave my camera at home sometimes and often go light on social media, especially after work and on the weekends. Life is there, live it.

How about you? How do you find time in your life to do everything you do?

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

WORN: Vintage Levi's 501s + ThredUp

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Two phrases I never thought would ever escape my lips: I love mom jeans and ...oh, these jeans? I picked them up in Paris. But here we are. In the words of the Beibs, never say never, baby. (Also, the irony isn't lost on me that I had to go overseas to finally find the perfect pair of American-made vintage jeans.) Fashion and your own tastes can surprise you, and while these jeans would have been (and very much were) the bane of my existence as a pre-teen, I love them now.

Like any good closet staples, these vintage Levi's 501s and sweet ballet flats from Repetto have been on heavy rotation lately. The shoes were a score from ThredUp. Arrived brand new in their box, which still had the original price tag on it... but I'll get to that in a second. If you're unfamiliar with ThredUp, it's an online destination for gently used women's clothing. ThredUp is chock full of great pieces at prices similar to that of a higher end thrift store or consignment shop. You can buy and sell, which makes it a nice option for offloading pieces from your closet you no longer need or want, and there are often discount codes available and free shipping at certain thresholds... phew! Which means these gorgeous little leather flats ended up being just over $50. A very far cry from their original price from Bergdorf's, which was marked with the original sticker on the box at $350. Seriously... This is why I love thrift shopping, guys.

I learned early on in life that taking the time to scour the racks at thrift and secondhand stores will often reward you with pieces that you might not typically be able to afford, along with giving you complete creative control of your wardrobe. I have a collection of classic Coach and Dooney & Bourke bags as proof (all priced under $20, thank you very much). And one-of-a-kind vintage. And multiple items crafted from high end fabrics that would normally be laughably out of my price range. Plus, the satisfaction that comes with saying "oh, this old thing? I thrifted it for $6 bucks" really can't be beat. The time taken to comb through racks and drive to far-off Salvation Armies is far more rewarding to me than just popping into the mall to get exactly the thing I'm looking for. I like a challenge. I like to let the universe help me out a bit. And this year, I'm taking control of my closet and rediscovering my love for thrifting and secondhand in all its iterations, both online and IRL. It took awhile to comb through ThredUp to find a piece that fit my criteria (a piece my closet is currently lacking, well made, good condition, could work with multiple outfits and more than one season), but I approached it as I would any other secondhand shopping trip. You're not always going to find something, but eventually you will. And it'll be great. And sure enough, on my third site visit, there they were. The pair of walkable, go-with-just-about-everything shoes I've been looking for. And for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Resolution realized. Control taken. Secondhand forever.

Get the look: Schott NYC 'Ex-Boyfriend' Jacket // H&M Sweater // Vintage Levi's 501 jeans // Repetto "Camille" ballet flats via ThredUp // Zodiac 'Aquarius' ring via Moorea Seal

Note: A portion of the cost of shoes + shipping was provided by ThredUp. All opinions are my own.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Here & There 1.22

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Happy snowstorm's eve guys! Are you ready for it? Judging by every Target, Whole Foods, and other location from which to purchase food in this city, Philly is preparing for the apocalypse. Whole Foods had an hour and a half wait time for the registers yesterday! How insane is that? We just got back from a wine and beer run, so I'd say we're set. Chris's work was cancelled for tomorrow so we're looking forward to walking though the snow and enjoying it before it turns into a grey mess, but until then, I'm curled up on the couch watching one of my favorite movies, Death Proof.

This Indian cotton dress is what supper dreams are made of

This is the funniest (and extremely inappropriate) weather report I've ever seen (read the comments, they're better than the actual article)

SoleSociety is having a huge sale, just got these and am in love

How to ask for a raise

The most perfect hat and a cute necklace to go with it

So obsessed with these affordable chelsea boots (love this velvet pair, too)

Because politics can be exhausting... Hot Heads of State

The sneaker obsession continues: Love this vintage-style pair, these gold Air Max 1's, and this leopard print pair

Really cool cinemagraphs

This shop has so many cute dresses for spring!

The perfect backpack

The perfect little wedding dress (this one would be pretty, too)

The first Instagram masterpiece - this was interesting

Such a sweet little jewelry dish

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Worn: Goldenrod Vintage Coat

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It's funny how clothing can transport you to another time and place. Calling to mind memories both mundane and important. This coat was one of the first vintage pieces I thrifted in Pittsburgh. Before I really got to know many people there -- and even afterwards, if we're being honest -- I spent most weekends alone and would fill the time basically wandering and trying see what I could see, all while hunting out thrift stores. An odd hobby, and maybe not the best use of time, but it garnered some pretty spectacular pieces. Like this coat. Which I believe goes with everything, and is deceptively warm. Perfect for those days when winter decides to show up. Paired with a vintage sweater -- also thrifted in PGH, as a matter of fact -- and the perfect pair of Levi's 501's, I was toasty for a trip to Honey's for breakfast and a wander through Rittenhouse for some window shopping.

Also, those buttons. I'll never turn down a good sparkly 1960s button.

I like to keep things relatively simple on the weekends -- you know, if I'm not in yoga leggings and a sweatshirt (honestly, I think this is what I wear 80% of the time). Usually a casual outfit I wore earlier that week, and simple, comfortable jewelry. I'm loving this little sterling midi ring from The Bluebeard these days, a little piece of texture and a simple compliment to my other jewels.

Get the look: Vintage coat // Vintage sweater  // Levi's 501 CT jeans // Similar black chelsea boots // Vintage Coach bag (same / similar) // 'Pitayaha' midi ring from The Bluebeard //

Friday, January 15, 2016

Here & There 1.15

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What a week guys. Frankly, I'm glad it's over. The news of David Bowie's passing first thing Monday morning made for a rather gloomy, downtrodden few days. Even the BBC reporter seemed skeptical of whether the news of his death was true or not. But it was, and I'd say the only upside was hearing his music everywhere over the past several days. In Philly, all over New York, all across the internet. Wherever I went, there it was, causing me to linger just a bit longer in shops and cafes. He meant something different to everyone, which makes sense considering his constant reinvention and multiple personas. Bowie was larger than life, which is perhaps why his death came as such a shock. Could someone of his caliber actually succumb to something so mundane as death? I wrote something a bit more eloquent here, but you get me. And then Alan Rickman. And this, not two weeks after Lemmy. Three idols, gone. So HAPPY Friday, guys! Haha. Someone please rescue me from this Bowie-hole I've clearly fallen into.

Now that I have us all feeling shiny and happy -- what do you have planned for the weekend? Chris has a rare weekend day off tomorrow, so we're planning to go somewhere outside of the city. I could stand a change of environment, and it's been a minute since we've done anything beyond the outskirts of Philly.

All hail Jess, queen of vintage... I mean, this might just be the raddest vintage kimono ever

Completely obsessed with... these rad enamel pins (need those lips), these incredible hair accessories (that antler crown! the feather barrette!), everyday classics, and some gorgeous jewels.

Starman, a playlist

You guys - Free People SALE is on SALE (like, major): Take an extra 40% off through monday. My picks: This chambray jacket (I have it, so warm), and this sweater.

These modern cross stitches are so cool!

These are the cutest lace-up heels... love these too

The Guerilla Girls were on the Late Show and it was fantastic

This would make a gorgeous (and wearable!) bridesmaid dress

Love this gorgeous kimono jacket... and this gorgeous white dress (so perfect for a chill bride or spring date night!)

There's a new Degrassi. And I'm really excited. (have you ever watched the absolute original? It's amazing)

A Stevie Nicks-approved necklace

Yum - these look amazing

Um, hi. This is the cutest.

I just ordered this cookbook - have you tried it? I'm obsessed with this recipe.

This story about a British woman and her Syrian lodger was really interesting

A great bag for a weekend away

10 ways you're making you life harder than it has to be