Friday, January 30, 2015

my funny valentine

One of my favorite things to do is shop around the internet for the best possible gifts for people. I love haunting Etsy and trolling around online boutiques, adding things to my wishlists for later use. Sometimes the things end up being on my personal wishlist, but I'm equally excited to find superb presents for my favorite people in life.

I recently went down that rabbit hole of window-shopping, as it were, and decided to share a few of my finds with you in honor of Valentine's Day coming up! The less conventional the better, in my opinion. I adore thoughtful, quirky presents that supersede the norm. Flowers and chocolates are always welcome, of course, but if you're looking to really find something unique and special this February to celebrate the month of love, I'd start here:

Matchboxes // Harry Potter Sweatshirt // Embroidered Bouquet Necklace
Lunar Phase Necklace // Heart Clip // Irresistible Card // Swedish Magnets
Cameo Pendant // Molasses Print // Old Book Candle // Floral Dress
Fantastic Mr. Fox Card // Bee Knuckle Ring // Cat Lady Tattoos // Heart Dress

I shop for clothes way too often, but it always takes me pleasantly by surprise when someone buys clothes for me. I love being fashionally thought of, so if someone were to give me a Valentine gift bag that included a colorful Harry Potter sweatshirt, I'd basically be bonded to them for life.

Adorable magnets, sweet prints, funny cards, temporary cat tattoos, heart-related just can't go wrong with those things.

Perhaps my favorite things on this entire list are:

  1. The "Old Books" scented candle because yes, please. This Etsy shop, Frostbeard, has some of the best candles I've ever seen in my life (including scents like Sherlock's Study, Cliffs of Insanity, The Shire...).   
  2. Book Cover Matchboxes. Forget just Valentine's Day, friends, this is the perfect gift for any occasion. Think bridesmaid gifts, book club favors, birthdays...the event opportunities are endless, and Matchmakers has the matches for them all. 
  3. The Lunar Phase Necklace. Lorena of the Etsy shop Gemagenta has a gorgeous collection of fine jewelry, but her Lunar Phase collection is (quite literally) out of this world. You tell her a specific date (your date of birth? your wedding anniversary?) and she looks up the lunar phase on that exact date in time and crafts the moon from that day for you to wear. Necklace, ring, bracelet...your choice! They're gorgeous. 

It's hard to believe that January is already coming to a close, but February is tapping on the door and has me thinking of bright bouquets and pretty trinkets. What are your favorite places to find special gifts for the people you love? What are your favorite entries above?

Happy Friday!

Friday, January 23, 2015

coming face-to-face

Dress (shop!)(floral version!): GapCardigan: Francesca'sWatch (shop!): Rumba

Happy Friday, friends. 

As I sit here typing, my arm muscles are protesting angrily due to the rigorous P90x3 workout we did yesterday in the name of New Year's Resolutions. Two weeks in, though, and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm only hoping that this spaghetti-noodle arm syndrome turns into stronger muscles. Otherwise, why on earth do humans do this?

This past Wednesday we went up to a bookstore in Tempe to meet our favorite author, Brandon Sanderson. I have a small handful of favorite authors, but he has most definitely been my favorite for the past 2-3 years. In that time I have read 10 of his books (follow me on Goodreads!). I felt stupid with giddiness, because how often do you get to gather with a flock of nerds to meet someone who has written some of the most awe-inspiring fiction you've ever read? His mind is a crazy tangle of brilliance. Although I have favorites among his work (The Way of Kings wins everything), I want to read everything he writes. He is a constant inspiration for me to keep writing

We were able to hear his thoughts on writing and creativity, as well as a reading from one of his unpublished works called Perfect State. It should be coming out sometime this year. As he read, I felt nervous on his behalf. He was reading to a room packed full of people, words and characters that he created - I was keenly aware that he is a real person, a vulnerable person. The fact that he is also a professor must help his confidence in situations like these, but I honestly can't imagine that feeling. Normally an author doesn't get that kind of instant reaction to their writing. Their books go all around the world to faceless readers, and they can only hope that their books are enjoyed and understood. But reading it out loud? I get a cold sweat just thinking about it. 

Overall it was pretty sobering, coming face-to-face with someone who has created a myriad of characters that seem as real to me as he is. We were able to get a few of our hardcovers signed, and I was able to ask him some questions about his writing process and glean some magical knowledge from his supernatural brain. (He recently wrote two books "on accident" while he was supposed to be writing something else. He's a robot). Dusty also asked him my bookish questions, which was fun. The book he would memorize is the Bible (or the Dictionary), which seems pretty practical for a writer. If he could become a book on a bookshelf it would probably be his own The Way of Kings, and the book he would recommend to absolutely anyone would be Harry Potter or Les Mis, which is his favorite classic. 

The entire evening was one of excitement and revelation. Dusty and I talked at length about the plot of my book, and I have pretty much started from scratch. With Dusty (and Sanderson) to help me work out all of the plot-holes and kinks, I can make my way through the writing of my rough draft with more clarity and confidence. Dusty is the logical one, the outliner and the plotter. Apparently I'm a pantser (a writer that plans nothing, and simply flies by the seat of their pants, so to speak). I'm constantly surprised when I write, and the story comes alive as I go. Unfortunately that means that by the time I've written for any amount of time, earlier segments can begin to unravel. 

So. With Dusty's structure, Sanderson's example, and my ideas, we should be able to come up with something pretty great. It was just such a cool experience to meet an author I revere and idolize, and to actually say to him, "So, I'm writing a book....". It has given me a fresh dose of motivation to push forward -- word by word. 

P.S. I'm in love with this dress, and a little bit obsessed with the jewel-faced watches from Rumba. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

green hair don't care

Dress (remixed 1, 2, 3, 4): Modcloth, Sweater (shop!): Gap

This past October, I created a to-do list for my 26th year of life. It's filled with silly and serious dreams and goals, and one of them was to dye the ends of my hair purple. Because why not?
I dyed my hair tips red last year, and after it inevitably began to fade to a golden blonde I began to think about other fun colors I'd like to eventually try. Purple won out in the end. I loved the dark purple, but after a few weeks, it began to turn into this strange, mermaid-inspired teal green. I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't bothered by it. I was totally fine with the seaweed locks, and even found a kindred spirit (Elizabeth over at Delightfully Tacky) with teal hair in the blogosphere. 

A week or two ago, though, I had a friend tell me that she really didn't like it. That it was probably time for it to go. It kind of took me back a little bit, because I somehow still manage to be surprised when people don't think the things I like are as awesome as I think they are (like my gold-capped molar, like my autographed Orlando Bloom headshot, like the Renaissance Festival...). Maybe I'm just super weird in a million different ways. But I reacted differently to the criticism this time around. I didn't shy back or try to people please or become embarrassed that something I like might be weird or nerdy or whatever else. I just said, "Oh, I like it!" and the conversation moved on. 

It wasn't a particularly life-changing moment, but it did cause me to think a little bit. Why do I make the choices that I do, in style and otherwise? Who are they for? Because if they're for me, then I can proudly wear that green hair don't care vibe and be unashamed by my loud galaxy-print dress and my gold molar and my handcrafted dragon statue made by a woman dressed like an apothecary's wife. I've been told by many various people over the course of my life that I am weird. That I'm nerdy, or "homeschooled". I have never been able to figure out the reasons for saying those things in a hurtful way, especially when the words are spoken by friends. What are they hoping to gain? My embarrassment, an apology, a change of personality? Who knows. 

I think it's really hard to be confident. I often find myself feeling out a group before voicing my opinions. Sometimes I even nod in agreement or change my answer based on the dialogue of others. Not about big things, of course, like God or Harry Potter. But the little things often slip away, out of cowardice and self doubt. I know I'm not the only one who does this, but it often leaves me feeling really frustrated with myself. Sometimes I'll blurt out the truth to my husband after we've been hanging out with friends, because it has been proven over the course of our relationship that he will love me in all things, to the bizarrest degree. I wish I could feel that strong all the time. 

I chopped my hair off this week, and the whole evening I was trying to decide why I was doing it. Was it because I had already been thinking about it, because my hair was dry and brittle from the dye? Or was it because of that friend's comment? I'm not sure. Either way, I love the new haircut and it feels much happier and healthier. And perhaps it's the first step toward that dream of a pixie cut

At the end of the day, I want what I do to be for me. Not in a selfish way, but in an intentional way. I wear the clothes that I do because I love the way I feel in them, and I love the creativity inherent in putting together unique combinations and in utilizing my clothes in new and unexpected ways. They're small but freeing choices that I'm proud of. I don't think there's any one secret to not caring what other people think - I think I'll always care. But I also think that I can practice confidence and claim joy. Those are worthy pursuits. So is Renaissance Festival pizza. Everyone else is just missing out. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

lean, mean, 2015

Some early thoughts on the new year:

New years have a bit of magic to them. What is it about January 1st that propels people to do things they've been wanting to do for a long time? To make promises and decisions and resolutions. I'm not quite sure, but there's something to it.

I've written about new year's resolutions before - I don't really put much stock into them. But I do know that this new year's day was special to us. For one, it was our fourth anniversary - and it brought with it a lot of decisions. Decisions about our marriage, about the future, about who we want to be and what we want to do. Decisions about love. It was like we had been butting our heads against a wall for the past six months, and somehow crossing over into 2015 led us straight to the doorway.

I don't quite understand that. I suppose the head-butting is necessary for growth, and the doorway was invisible for so long for a good reason. In any case, it feels great to be here. Of course we still have a lot more to go - we still have monumental decisions that aren't made, promises to fulfill, disappointments to deal with and a lot of waiting, waiting, waiting. In fact, I think anyone else on the outside could look and say, literally nothing has changed, you guys. But something within us has shifted. Our level of contentment, commitment, and resolve has changed. We finally talked things out and said things out loud that had been splintering us. It hurt a lot, but it also healed so much faster afterward.

Last night we sat together and just wrote out some goals. Financial, physical, and personal. Nothing insane or out-of-reach, but very basic goals that we're hoping to conquer this year. It was a time for us to sit and reflect and try to put into the words the things that we want as our priorities. To get our goals on the same page, and high-five, and give ourselves an extra boost of inspiration and teamwork.

I'm proud of us, and I'm really excited for the lean, mean, fighting machine that is 2015.
It's going to be a great year.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

remix: the basic shift

past posts: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

I am incredibly fond of dresses. While my favorite, most flattering style of dress is probably the fit and flare, if I was forced to choose one single dress to wear it'd have to be the basic shift. It's the dress I would recommend to everyone as a must-have. It's endlessly versatile and easily remixed. I have wide hips, which I think discourages most people (myself included) to buy shift or sheath dresses... because honestly, who wants a dress that's super tight around the hips, and loose everywhere else?

My advice would be to buy a size up, for a comfortable fit, and fall in love with the many ways to style this wonderfully basic dress. Belt it for the fit and flare that you love, or tuck it into a skirt. Wear it plain with a loose cardigan for a super cozy feel, or throw a sweater over it because it's so easy. 

I've been self-conscious in the past because of how much I wear this dress. But it never gets old (to me - I haven't polled my family and friends). God bless the shift dress.