Friday, January 31, 2014

where dwell the brave at heart

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
Roald Dahl

When I was little, the highlights of my life were the moments of uninterrupted imagination.
Why deny it? I loved stories, and I still do.

My dad was the most wonderful storyteller. He was a visionary, molding us into an epic adventure straight from our bedsides. I would bolt downstairs into the territory of my three brothers, and we would all gather around to hear the latest tales of us. Our magical encounters, terrifying battles, beautiful friendships. Wizards and dragons and flying treehouses, oh my!

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

Albert Einstein

What a beautiful time that was. How extraordinary is the imagination? 

Ask the brothers who played with a small toy helicopter as children, which sparked their interest in flying. Who later closely observed the wings of birds in flight, and applied that to the invention of the airplane. 

Ask the young boy whose curiosity for the world made him naturally sensitive to poetry, art and music, which was encouraged by his mother. And later, when his mother began to go deaf, he learned alternative ways to communicate with her -- eventually studying acoustics and inventing the telephone.

Ask the boy who moved constantly as a child, but preoccupied himself with lessons led by his mother, such as drawing plants and trees and studying languages, specifically Latin. Who learned how to read and write at age four, and continued to write one of the most celebrated high fantasy series of all time.

Really, ask any teacher, adventurer, artist, writer, photographer, inventor...
And anyone who has ever been in contact with, influenced by, or inspired because of them.
That's everyone, people. All of you crazy wonderful beings with the God-given ability to imagine. 

gate at versailles

Parents and adults can create such an astounding magic when they say the right thing at the right time in a child's life. When they play, cultivating a child's mind by providing opportunities to develop the wondrous muscles of their imaginative worlds.

Did you know that imagination is contagious?

A child's heart and mind is so easily reached and influenced through the boulevard of make-believe.
They can make something dry and empty into something charming, engaging, humorous and alive. 
They are at the peak of their imaginative strength -- stretching their muscles of discovery and creativity like a lamb in its gambols. 
From the daydreams of the young and innocent may come the revolutionary, amazing, transcendent accomplishments of the adult.

No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.

R.A. Salvatore

I suppose I'm saying all of this for you make-believe naysayers, the ones who tell children they're liars if they say they spent all day playing in a fairy forest with a grizzly bear whose favorite ice cream is strawberry.
For the people that send kids to time out for having an imaginary friend.
For the people that put Winnie the Pooh on the Banned Books list.
And, okay, I may as well say it: for those that condemn books like Harry Potter without even opening the pages, unable to see the love, friendship, courage, victory, and truth that is prevalent throughout.

For the people that misunderstand the purpose of the imagination, and what a beautiful and powerful gift it is.

This post is for the souls out there who need to be touched by the magic of storytelling - even if you think you've outgrown it, even if you think you don't need it -- that probably just means you need it more than anyone else in the world.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


This week has been so cold I've even had cold-related nightmares. I can't escape it.
The lake right next to the new library has been half-frozen and occasionally sprinkled in snow, like the wicked white witch from Narnia is slowly casting a spell on it.
I know, I know -- you all are tired of hearing about how cold it is. I get it.
But I would just like to say that when I got up this morning it was 3 degrees, and I had to seriously evaluate my priorities before I made myself get out of those warm covers. I consider myself extremely brave for that.

I know people have it much worse, negative temperatures and freezing snow, but I'd like to think I'm still Arizonan enough to be nearly killed by 3 degree weather.

Dress: Ruche, Sweater: LOFT, Booties: Urbanog, Hat/Coat: Zulily

Yesterday I got a hot brewed coffee from Starbucks with hazelnut and cream.
Dusty and I purchased the special January tumblers that allow us to get free coffee for this entire month -- today and tomorrow are the last days and I think I'm going to be devastated come February 1st. Life has been so very coffee-filled -- it's the only time I'm ever warm!! I know I'm an addict at this point and I'm nervous about the withdrawals.

Anyway -- I got the hazelnut flavor, and as soon as I took a sip it was, WHOOSH! Memories.

Sweet and subtle but sweeping, I was in college again, working the early shift at the campus coffee shop. I was late for class. I was meeting a friend. I was smiling. I was getting that triple shot because today I really needed it.

It all came rushing back. Senior year was the year of the hazelnut latte for me. I got one nearly every day, it seemed. Working at the coffee shop that first semester meant I could get a few lattes for free, either on my break or after work. It was the flavor of my year.
Dusty and I got married that January, so our last semester of college was spent together, with so many wonderful memories and a lot of hazelnutty days.

It's amazing how something that flavored my life so long ago can still flavor it today, taking me back to those feelings and so quickly reminding me of a time when it was so special.
It's a treasure chest of moments, really, all within my reach - sniffing a special bottle of perfume, ordering a certain latte, listening to a 90's boy band. It's the reason why I intentionally buy a new scent each time we travel to a new place. Paris Amour from Bath & Body Works is, well, Paris -- sexy little things from Victoria's Secret is Ireland.
They're all tied together into the bouquet of my lifetime.

Tastes, smells, sounds.
The strength of them can sometimes overwhelm me.
The strength of a hazelnutty day.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

i'm ready

This has been quite a powerful week for me.
Mostly because I've had a sort of epiphany of change, taking the steps that are necessary to be what I want to be.
Fit, healthy, long-nailed.

I stopped biting my nails towards the end of 2013. It just happened, like suddenly I realized that if I wanted to stop biting my nails, I should just stop biting them. What a crazy world. I've been biting and tearing my nails for my entire life (well, I don't know about little baby Caitlin, but most likely she was biting everything she could get her hands on, including her own hands). Why?

Here's the truth: Dusty bought me some amazing super-glitter OPI nail polishes for Christmas. So I started painting my nails pretty much every night, completely enamored with them, wanting to try different patterns and colors. And I stopped biting my nails because they were so pretty. 
I suddenly had the will and the reason to allow myself long, strong, beautiful nails. 

I'm never doubting the power of glitter again.

The other part of my epiphany is that I've started working out almost every day.
Why haven't I always been doing this?
The epiphany part is that I actually enjoy it. I enjoy it because I grabbed a friend to do it with me, and it's a game changer when you start looking forward to meeting up every night -- to laughing while you do jumping jacks to a cheesy workout video, to having awkwardly great conversations while running outside, wheezing and so out of breath, so cold that your tears are freezing to your cheeks.
Then you celebrate and feel amazing and grab your water bottle and say, "see you tomorrow!"
All the while knowing that your body is changing and getting stronger and is so sore the next day because of a job well done. What's more straight forward than that?

Dusty and I started doing Herbalife last year and have really been enjoying it, and it has helped us lose some weight and feel so great. It has also inspired us to eat better and eat out much less (I also have to thank eMeals for that, which I'm so happy with that I would gladly do a million commercials for it. It's on Groupon right now, go buy it ASAP! It'll change your life. You can thank me later.)
But being healthy and fit is more than that, it's intentional and it's active. 

I'm not gonna lie, I have fallen into the typical marriage weight gain category. Both Dusty and I have slowly but surely gotten further and further away from our little high school selves, when we first fell in love and we were just babies, petite and darling.
I think part of it stemmed from moving away from Arizona so soon after marriage, and being really homesick out here in Virginia -- there were a lot of Taco Bell nights, trying to cling on to something comforting and homey (and fatty). 
We look back to pictures of our first year or so out here in Virginia, and we just giggle in embarrassment. 

I'm not truly ashamed, though, nor do I regret those inevitable pounds.
Because they were well-earned. By date nights, cuddling, sleeping in on Saturdays. By happiness, contentedness, (alright, and definitely laziness). By TV-show marathons and pajama nights. 
By a time when all we had was each other and some cheese. 
What a glorious time it was, my friends. I remember, and I won't forget.

But now I'm ready -- I'm ready to be an adult, to give up Taco Bell, to be healthy, for myself and for my husband and for my future children. To keep up with things and go on those hikes and run around the park and be at my very best. To finally decide that all of it is worth it, and anything that used to keep me back was just silly. To find that glitter that inspires me to action. 

I'm ready.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

real style talk

This is currently the background on my desktop at work.
I remember seeing this last year and just thinking, yes. 
Honestly, style is hard to explain. Is there a true definition? I'm not sure. There's fashion, sure. Trends, seasons, the ever-changing currents of the industry. But a person's style is...personal.

I once had a conversation with a dear friend who was asking me what was so important about makeup and clothes and hairstyles, and why it had to define a woman so much.
She was feeling pressure from people to look a certain way or shop for certain things - to fix her hair and dress more feminine.
It was kind of a soul-searching moment for me, because I love that kind of thing. I enjoy getting my nails done, I love shopping and picking out clothes. I get excited about outfits that just work in my mind, that I really love wearing.

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I hadn't begun blogging yet at the time of our conversation, which occurred somewhere around late high school. But I had always enjoyed those girlish activities of getting ready each morning and wearing perfume and wanting to feel pretty each day.
I'm not sure I answered her well, or if I really edified her in that moment. While I can't remember exactly what I said or what "wisdom" I tried to offer, it was probably something along the lines of "I'll take you shopping! I'll show you how fun it is!!!"

This conversation has been something I've thought about often.
I don't think style should be something that's expected or designed to be a certain way, it's just how you express yourself. It's being yourself on purpose. 
I have my own personal thoughts on what that should mean (including a degree of modesty, etc.), but really it's just about being comfortable and free in the way you look. I think the reason why so many women care so much about the way they look is because of the way it makes them feel.
For me, it's a culmination of my creativity. It's an exciting outlet for me. I can attest that many a time people have disagreed heartily with things I choose to wear, certain combinations or prints or what have you. Usually I just go ahead and wear it anyway. Maybe I'll regret it later, but in that moment, it's my work of art and I'll show the world at my own risk.

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It has been exciting for me to see my friend find what things she enjoys over time, things that are personal and creative. Things she never knew she could love. Her hair, her clothes. They're not the end all but they do affect you. Material things and things of beauty do not a life make, but they are a part of living, and can mean so many things. Confidence, expression, creativity, delight, comfort, community.
Finding joy in something as small as a beautiful scarf. For me, these things are wrapped into the moments of friendship that come from chatting at the nail salon, knowing someone's favorite color, treating a friend to their favorite kind of jewelry. Having the smell of my junior high perfume bring swift memories to my mind.
Shopping together at a favorite store, picking out things you love and being excited about a necklace you thought was gone but was still there waiting for you. Being with my mom on long shopping days where we just browse and browse and snack and browse -- finding a prom dress for $40. Feeling like a princess.

These things are important the way a special dessert is important -- the way coffee, birthdays, a favorite book, a pretty painting, a road trip, an inside joke, are all important.
It's intentional, and it's worth it. Caring about the way you look in terms of being healthy and choosing life, choosing to be yourself on purpose. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

winter wishes

Jacket (shop on sale!): Ruche, Top (shop!): LOFT, Dress (shop!): Modcloth
Earrings (shop!): Francesca's, Booties (shop!): Urbanog

Winter sales have me dreaming about what I could be wearing on this chilly day.
As I left my apartment this morning, it was 10 degrees. I realized and spoke aloud with foggy breath that it was a terrible choice to wear flats. 

I'm about to run downstairs to get another mug full of coffee, but before I do so, I am sharing my favorite things from Ruche's Winter Sale!

I love the jacket above. It's funky and cool. I love the pairing of navy and black, like it just doesn't care. 
The leather sleeves give it a bit of an edge, and as I was looking at it I realized I'd probably pair it with something a bit more feminine underneath. A pale dress, pink maybe, with an interesting top to layer beneath it, some sparkly earrings, and some tights and booties.
Of course, it would also go great with skinny jeans and boots. It's a do-watcha-want jacket.

Sweater (shop on sale!): Ruche, Dress (shop!): Modcloth

I also adore this bedazzled sweater. It's the perfect bit of sparkle! Just enough to flirt around with the feeling that you're wearing rhinestones (you know the feeling -- it's the same one you got when you bought that bedazzler in middle school and started stapling studs and sparkly things to all of your jeans), but still classic and refined.
But because I love wild prints, I'd definitely pair it with a crazy dress or skirt underneath it. And, of course, because it's 10 degrees and I can't imagine not doing so, I'd add tights (or maybe double tights) and boots.

Just for good measure, here is an ensemble of some more of my favorite Ruche Winter Sale finds!
What are some of yours?

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I suppose I should have mentioned in my dramatic last post, I did buy that cute striped sweater that said Bonjour! Because why not?

When Dusty and I went to Paris last March, I managed to avoid buying anything cheesily Paris-themed, like an eiffel tower t-shirt or something like that. Obviously I was tempted, but now at least I can buy things like this sweater in the states with the excuse that I've been there and have clumsily said bonjour! in real life.

Sweater: LOFT outlet, Top (similar, similar): Ruche, Booties: Urbanog

Announcement: we're going on another adventure.
I suppose March is our month to travel, because in less than two months we'll be jumping on a plane to Italy!
I wonder if I could wear this Bonjour! sweater there? I should probably find one that says Ciao!

In the meantime, I am going to be dreaming about gelato and bruschetta and all the best sights!
We'll be hitting Istanbul for a day, then moving on to Rome, Florence, and Venice.

If any of you have been there and have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them!
Oh darling, let's be adventurers!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

the last crystal

Destiny seems like a strong word when you're talking about a small token of desire. A token like a necklace.
But I don't really know how else to describe a series of events like this one....

In November we went to the mountains with another couple. It was such a beautiful fall, and we couldn't wait to spend a little time away!
Her family owns a beautiful house in Blowing Rock, NC -- there's really not much to say about the weekend except that it was absolute perfection
Board games by the fire, leaves turning, stunning vistas, ice cream, coffee, shopping.

In town there's a great strip of outlet stores, and we decided to go there on our last day. 
This may be a huge shocker, but us girls wanted to shop a lot longer than the boys wanted to...their patience was growing a little thin. Right around the time they started dozing off on the couches in LOFT. 

I was, of course, the last one to be rushing to finish up -- I ended up getting only one pair of pants because I was in panic-mode and didn't want to buy stuff I wasn't even sure I wanted. I'm guilty of that way too often!
With Dusty following close behind, shielding my eyes from any further distractions, he cowed me into the checkout line and I hastily flung the pants onto the counter.
Once the cashier rang me up, I went to pay and suddenly noticed her ensemble. So cute! A LOFT sweater, of course. It was nearing the official time to be sparkly and festive, and she was wearing a maroon sweater with the most amazing necklace ever. It was so sparkly on her, I just had to comment : I love your necklace!
She smiled, I think it's actually right behind you!

Oh yes. There it was. Hanging in the jewelry section that I hadn't had time to browse.
It's such a horrible feeling, regret.
I saw it hanging there, the little tag sticking up. $8.00. 

I think Dusty saw the look in my eye because he seemed to raise in stature and his eyes said, don't you dare. Our friends were waiting by the door and I started to sweat.

We got in the car and I seriously considered yelling apologies as I ran back into the store before anyone could stop me. But, alas, it was too late. I had surrendered.
We went back to the cabin to enjoy our last few hours, then drove back to Virginia and bid farewell to an amazing mountain weekend.
Non-buyer's guilt is real, though. It's real. 

Obviously the story doesn't really end there.
The first weekend in January we went back with our friends to the mountains, (and almost died in a crazy snowstorm, but that's a different story), went back to the outlet mall, and I walked back into LOFT and that feeling of sadness still lingered.
Of course, it's an outlet store. Things come and go and change and filter out like crazy. There was a cute new striped sweater in the window that said Bonjour, so I decided it would be my fun purchase for the day if I could find it. The necklace was something from my past that I wasn't going to let ruin my day.
I kept it simple, tried some things on, and was the first at the cash register. My friend was still shopping so I felt at ease browsing the jewelry section.
I saw a few cute necklaces, but was suddenly blinded by something shocking and beautiful.
There. Behind a stack of other unremarkable necklaces. Was the necklace. 
It was there! After all this time, one little straggler was left behind, perused but never bought, considered but never taken home. It was there waiting for me.
The last necklace.


It was destiny.