Friday, August 29, 2014

milkmaid braids

outfit: gifted // the shopaholic, earrings: chelsea girl designs on etsy,
sunglasses (remixed): ruche

Happy Friday, friendlies!
I'm incredibly excited for this weekend. My husband and I have planned an extravagant camping trip. I haven't been camping since I was a kid! Turns out most people hate camping (cue shocked exhales and shouts), which I find a crying shame. We had hoped to go gallivanting through the woods and around the lake with a fun group of people, but it has dwindled down to just us and my little brother. I'm actually fine with that, though. We bought a hippie canvas hammock and I plan on logging many hours in it with a good book in hand. 

On Tuesday I caught a glimpse of a milkmaid braid tutorial over at The Clothes Horse, so I decided to add that to this week's to-do list (also on my to-do list: find friends who like camping). 
I've always wanted to be more creative with my hair. In fact, for my birthday in October I was thinking about doing a "26 before 27" list (a list of 26 things I want to do over the next year, before I turn 27), and one of the things on that list is to learn how to french braid my own hair. 
I have yet to master the perfect ponytail, too. I'm lacking in the hair skill department. Maybe I should just take a class. Do they have hair handling classes?
Anyway. I washed my hair on Wednesday morning, and while it was still wet, I simply divided my hair into pigtails and pulled them across the top of my head. It was so much easier than I thought it would be! I was really excited. Such a quick and easy hairstyle for the week. I got a lot of compliments at work.

The only down side?

I was also asked to yodel, and called Bertha. One lady at work gasped because she thought I had chopped all my hair off. 
So, the jury's still out on this one. 

I personally love this style. Which is probably all that really matters. One of my favorite bloggers, Mara of M Loves M, wears her hair like this a lot, and every time I see styles like it I get all misty-eyed and jealous, and find myself wishing I could accomplish cute up-dos like that. Well, I have tried and conquered, so I'll keep trying my hand at new hairstyles!

Meanwhile, I'll be shamelessly milkmaiding it. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

the ugly button-up

This week has been rather record-breaking when it comes to skies-that-make-me-love-arizona. 
Big, never-ending, whimsical expanses of blue and puffy white. Several times this week I've had to pull over on my way home from work just to take a second and look at the sky, wide-eyed, without crashing the car. 
I'm sure the sky here has always been this humongous. I think I just treasure it a little more, it catches my attention a lot easier. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that jazz. 
It's definitely a main reason why I love Arizona, and specifically this hometown of mine. I don't think I'm meant for city life. I just love the sky too much. I love the space, the land, the desert wildlife. They're all my peeps. 

In other news, this entire outfit is from another batch of shopaholic gifting. 
We went up to her apartment this week for a night of fun-hopping. We went and saw What If with Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, which was positively delightful, by the way. It's going on the rotation for sure. We then went out for sushi. But before all that, we were at the apartment, and she dives in to her room for a sec and emerges with a large pile of clothes for me. Including a dress she bought on her birthday weekend in May. I was there. 
I'm not kidding when I say this entire outfit, either. Shoes, skirt, blouse, sweater. 

When I pulled this denim top out of the pile, I wrinkled my nose a tad. The shirt is sleeveless, and it's so long I almost mistook it for a dress. I hopped up and put it on over my shirt, which revealed that the hem hits me right below my bum, and showcases quite an extensive amount of my underarm area. The armholes are excessive. 
My shopaholic friend burst out laughing. "Oh man, I don't know. I'm not sure what I was thinking with that one!"

I don't know what that means to you, but to me it was like, challenge accepted. I knew right then that I had to try and wear it and make it work. It'd an odd little reject of a shirt, but the patterned denim is really cute, and I can already imagine the sweaters I can layer over it in the winter with the collar peeking out. 

I feel like maybe there's a life lesson in here somewhere. People and things can always surprise you, don't throw out the baby with the bathwater, keep your mind open to potential, shoot for the moon, etc. I think it's really a gift to see things for what they could be. Like a rundown shack turned dream home. Live your life like the Property Brothers. 

Besides, no one has to know that if I yanked my skirt down in this outfit I'd be ready for a hoe-down version of a Risky Business dance number. 
Have to save that for a rainy day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

wanderlust wednesday

Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan. Summer of 2009.

I was lucky enough to travel with a group across the globe to a little place called Tokyo, Japan the summer after my sophomore year of college. I was absolutely elated. It was my school's third or fourth year sending a music team to Japan, and my team was incredibly excited to be continuing that legacy. We were just a ragtag bunch of dreamers.

There were eight of us, not counting our two adult leaders. We were a young music group hand-chosen for this particular ISP (International Service Project) trip. We were all singers, and our goal was actually to go and sing to the Japanese people. We would sing on street corners, in schools, at train stations, in parks. We would meet students and practice English with them, building relationships. We would eventually connect our new friends with the longterm missionaries that we were working with over there, and they would continue those relationships after we were gone. We were there for three weeks. It was an incredible experience.
Japan is an amazing place. At times it feels unreal, like a colorful cartoon. The people were as animated as their multi-level arcades, full of games and wonder and fun. Tokyo especially is busy, bright, fluttering with light and motion at all times. It was overwhelming and exciting, impossible to take it all in.

There is also mystery and darkness, though, and tragedy. Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Even while we were there, a student hanged himself in a school library the day before we arrived there. It was stunning. We were beside ourselves, but no one else at the school seemed affected by it. It was too normal, too accepted. The cultural attitude toward suicide seemed tolerant, at best. Perhaps originating with that samurai concept of suicidal glory way back in Japan's imperial days, the idea of an honorable death by suicide is still prevalent. It's often still seen as the responsible or noble thing to do. Suicide pacts, "romantic" double suicides. Many deaths in Japan are attributed to "responsibility-driven" suicide, owing to the high pressure on men to be successful financially.

There are so many lonely people. So many desperate, scared, overwhelmed, lost people.

We learned a lot during our time in Japan, and the memories I have from my time there are mostly good. Despite the occasional struggles and glimpses of darkness, it was an inspirational, encouraging, eye-opening journey. I hope to go back someday. I was enamored with the young people there, and the food and especially the beverages -- they had vending machines on every corner stocked full with the strangest drinks, most of which I couldn't even read or understand until I took a sip. One time I bought one and went to take a drink, and it was actually a cold can of grape jello stuff. It plopped into my mouth and I practically choked on it.
Then there was that time time I accidentally ordered a fried bread ball full of squid and mayonnaise. It pretty much scarred me for life. Mayonnaise is on my hit list forever, I think.

But milk tea, oh my word. And some other canned drink that we simply called heaven's nectar, a creamy peach liquid that was life-changing. We had pastries almost every day at Choco Cro, a chain pastry shop that serves the most innovative baked goods and super strong iced coffee served with cream and gum syrup instead of sugar. And obviously, giant bowls of ramen and plates of dumplings were plentiful. You could duck into any little street restaurant and pay hardly anything for a big meal of noodles and warm broth.
We were able to go to the beach one day, and we even went to Disney Sea, one of Tokyo's Disney parks. We also went to a baseball game, where everyone held team-specific umbrellas and lifted them into the air when their team would score. I need to remind myself to look that up. So many mysteries.

The best part was meeting the students. The young Japanese boys and girls, with their crazy collections of phone charms and their love of Britney Spears. They loved speaking with us, practicing their English. When we would go to schools to sing we would often be chased down the hallways by girls who wanted our autographs. It was the craziest experience. They were so precious and curious and wonderful. They also made fun of my poor chopsticks-usage, and I'm sad to say I don't think I've improved at all since then.
Some of my favorite memories include going to the arcades with them, where they would take a ton of photos in their intense photo booths that basically anime-d you. Me and another guy on my team also got to go eat dinner once with a couple of students at this tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant (the door was a curtain) where you sat on the bamboo floor around a tiny stove-topped table. They would bring the food and drop it on the table, and you ate it as it cooked. My legs were asleep the entire time, but it was invigorating.

A lot of really amazing memories. It's part of why I love travel so much, being challenged and tested and my mind stretched. I changed a lot on that trip, and a little piece of me stayed there, loving on the people and the culture and that gosh darn milk tea.

(see all wanderlust wednesday posts)

Monday, August 25, 2014

remix: floral and stripes

original posts: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

One of my top favorite outfit combos. Floral and stripes. I think it's irresistible, I constantly find myself drawn to the two patterns in stores and catalogs and fashion blogs.
Black and white stripes are the chic lady's neutral. Think Kate Spade.
Luckily for me, I just came across a whole new host of floral patterns to add to my wardrobe (the shopaholic has struck again). This will be a busy week at work, so I'm excited to have some fun with my office attire.

PS: listening like crazy to Ingrid Michaelson's CD Lights Out. I'm loving all of the duets! Have you listened to it? It's a great soundtrack to chase away the Monday blues.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

summer mint recipes

Have you ever had something define your summer?
Maybe a certain scent, or a particular playlist, or even a group of people.
I love summers because every single one is totally unique. Sure, you could say that about every season, but there's something about summer that is different. I think probably because summer is the season of play.

Maybe it's because I'm from Arizona, but summer is the most creative, most inspirational, most exuberant season of all. The heat is so intense you have to be innovative to enjoy your days; it forces you to dress differently, plan your days differently, break out new ideas. Some of those ideas include travel and road trips to better weather, which means a lot of beach and mountains and road trip music. Pool parties, sunflowers, iced drinks, bubbles, bikinis, bright colors, new sunnies, outdoor misters, porch lights, movie nights.
Summer also brings with it a host of new recipes and for me, this summer has been all about mint. 

My favorite mint recipes this summer have been the mint watermelon appetizer with goat cheese, the grilled zucchini and walnut salad with mint from M loves M, and of course a few yummy drinks from Starbucks, like the low-calorie cool lime refresher (ask to get it fizzed! yum!) and the blackberry mojito iced tea lemonade

You can also get really creative with infused water! I love cucumber/lime/fresh mint water. If you wanna kick your water up a notch, fill up your glass with ice and infused water and add an herbal tea bag to the mix. I added a raspberry tea to my cucumber/lime/mint water this morning, so refreshing!

I'd highly recommend trying out a watermelon and mint combo. I'm going to share with you a really simple and delicious recipe that my dad created after having something similar at an upscale restaurant in Phoenix.

Mint Watermelon Appetizer with Goat Cheese

·         Watermelon, cut into bite-sized cubes
·         Goat Cheese
·         Citrus Ponzu Sauce
·         Fresh Mint
·         Toothpicks for serving!


Easy peasy! Grab a bowl and toss the watermelon, goat cheese crumbles, and fresh mint (lightly shredded/torn) together. Then lightly spritz the concoction with ponzu sauce, and hand out the toothpicks!

You could also serve them a bit fancier on a platter, separated into individual portions. Watermelon cube topped with the goat cheese and a leaf of mint, finished off with a dash with ponzu sauce. 
Get fancy with it!

I'd love to hear more tried and true mint recipes. If you have any, send them my way!
Also let me know if you try any of these minty delights. They all have my stamp of approval.
Hope you're having a uniquely wonderful summer. It's quickly coming to an end!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

wanderlust wednesday

I've got London on my mind.

A cold day in London is lazy, clouds overhead and people meandering.
You leave your flat with coat and scarf, your boots clapping on the pavement. Should you walk or take the tube? You could sit on benches all throughout the city just to listen to Londoners talk. Maybe the queen is home, whom they call "mother". Maybe a local pub can warm that latent chill in your fingertips from the light morning snow. A foamy cappuccino will do; that's the ticket.
The breeze is damp but your coat is thick, everything smells like rain in the most pleasant way. It's a Saturday, so you stumble on a hidden collection of market tents, the smell of warm bread and curry drifting out to you. You peruse the cheese tables and observe the crowds, everyone is jovial because food unites us.
The cold may banish a number of tourists, but it certainly doesn't deter the brave street performers or the die-hard wanderers. The streets are still full of people, locals and tourists alike. The silent buildings observe the sullen city streets, ancient and dull in the muted skylight. The old and the new sit side by side, chipped brick and stone to glass skyscraper.
The little bit of sun begins to vanish altogether, the evening peaks through and the chill deepens. Time for fish and chips and warm glow, time to unravel your layers and let your fingertips out to grasp the glass of cider.
The night lights begin to flicker on to illuminate your way, Big Ben shimmering green along the rim of his hat.

Sweet London town.

(see all london posts)
(see all wanderlust wednesday posts)