Weekend update

So as expected this weekend was quite fabulous.  Not only did all the traditional activities such as outlet mall shopping, cooking, laughing, talking, etc happen, but Sunday was a perfect sunny day in the 80s which allowed us to have the best pool/beach day we have had yet.  Because I am a firm believer in the concept a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some of the highlights (or here is the link for the full set.

Jess readies the bacon

Jess makes even raw meat sexy

Tiny white dots

Pretty flowers I found during a walk down to the lake

Steph

The following photos are all good demonstrations of how I have gorgeous friends.

Crystal

Crystal is such a great story-teller.

Miriam enjoys a tall frosty glass

Miriam enjoys a tall frosty glass of a mystery liquid that may or may not be Steph's incredible mojitos

Doing our best Posh Spice poses

The line-up

Jess

Jess in her perfect cocktail dress

Katie

I swear this woman is a secret spy for possibly the Russians, or more likely the French

The cottage

Our home for the weekend

Favorite!

Miriam and Becca

Best Outtake ever

This one makes me laugh every time, I love everyone's expressions!

Happy girls!

Happiness in photo form

Oh and before I forget, the interview on Tuesday went well and I should hear by the end of the week if I am moving on to the next stage or not.  Keep your fingers (and toes) crossed!

What I packed for Spring Break

So last time I went on a longer trip to Seattle, I got really into packing and planning my outfits.  You can read all about that experience in my post here, or see the outfit pictures here.  When I went to Seattle in January, it was only for a weekend and I was rather preoccupied with other things to put a lot of time into packing.

Now, I have never really loved packing and heading into this most recent trip, I had a really busy week, so I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to hem and haw on Thursday night while packing my suitcase.  So I decided to make myself a packing list, which ended up evolving into this:

https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?hl=en&hl=en&key=0AlITWgPpocRadGNVMEg2VEJrVUNUaG9SNDZGdGdyMXc&output=html

I think part of the appeal of this kind of organization is that this kind of capsule organization rarely happens in the broader strokes of my life.  If you looked at the current state of my desk right now you would be surprised indeed that I sometimes make packing spreadsheets.  Although part of that is also due to the never-ending work of job applications and needing to have about 5 different file folders nearby at all times.  But anyways while I never actually got around to photographing any of the complete outfits I wore on the trip, here is what the packing process looked like:

The Packing Process

Here are all the parts of the spreadsheet (at least the clothing related ones) laid out on my bed. I tried to stick with a someone related color scheme, but mainly just packed things that I thought looked nice together.

Packing

This is what my suitcase looks like when I pack a tin full of cookies in addition to rainboots and clothes.

Unfortunately I never got around to taking photos of my outfits, but overall I found putting in the work of creating a spreadsheet of packing as opposed to my more typical random assortment was quite helpful when spending a week in different location.

day 24 – Outfit Post Wednesday

I seriously need to clean my mirror! Although I think some of the scratches may be of old age origin and not just dust, but still I should give the mirror the benefit of the doubt.  Anyways this outfit was in large part to feeling ridiculously underdressed at student teaching Monday.  It was parent-teacher conferences, so I knew there would be no students and therefore assumed, “oh, work day, therefore wear comfy jeans and a get ready to put up a bulletin board!”.  Fortunately I at least wore a nice cardigan to cover up my grubby tee-shirt, but none the less, I felt distinctly out of place amidst all the teachers and staff in their nicest pantsuits, all prepared to meet with the parents of the Northshore.  So Tuesday was my attempt to make up for that oversight on my part.  As usually head over to Flickr to see the details of the outfit, although I will say I think this outfit says a lot about my closet in that it is both 50% thrifted and showcases my boots which were an investment to say the least.  Although I have to say my favorite part of this outfit was my hair, which I learned how to do by watching a neat tutorial on YouTube.  I think this may become a go to hair style for me, fairly simple and actually lasts throughout the day, even without hair spray (which I have always hated!)

In other news, the drive from Evanston to Lafayette and then to Goshen went well today and Jonathan and I safely arrived in Goshen.  Since then I have baked one pie, made cranberry sauce and stuffing and had supper with my parents.  Jonathan is busy down in his “workshop” playing with robotics (because that is what he does for fun!), Mom is setting the table for tomorrow, Dad is picking Tim and Charletta up from the train and in a little while I am going to head out to have a catch-up drink with Steph.  I hope you all have happy thanksgivings and tomorrow I will share more details about the dishes I have cooked and maybe even the meal in general.

day 17 – Outfit Wednesday

As is the pattern here, this is what I wore yesterday when I actually had time to grab a photo of myself.  So the brief run-down of this outfit is listed under the photo over on Flickr, so if you find that kind of thing fascinating go take a look there.  Other than that I have to say this was a pretty comfortable outfit to wear, largely due to the shoes.  However I did find that with all the sitting on the floor (elementary school library day!) I had to watch the front slit on this skirt some.  But all in all I love this cardigan and shirt combo and wore it in a slightly different outfit during Steph’s visit last month, as you can see below.

day 10 – Outfit Wednesday

Please excuse the blurry picture, but I have yet to find a good well-lit place, that also has a full length mirror, to take outfit pictures at.  This is a pretty regular outfit for me and I am mainly excited about it because I only rediscovered another trove of packed away sweaters Monday night and this lovely green one was amongst them.  I have worn this shirt/sweater combination several times and I love the slightly Jane Austin lines it forms.  Anyways this is actually what I wore yesterday,  but then if you read last week’s post you should be expecting that.  🙂

A quick note on today, book fairs are awesome and essentially a chance to both a) wonder around looking at new books all day and b) sell them to eager students with wads of cash from their rich parents.  Only downside is the incredible number it did to my lower back after standing ALL. DAY. LONG.

day 3 – Outfit Post Wednesday

Technically I wore this yesterday, but I think this may become the usual for Wednesdays considering I don't get home until around 10pm thanks to my class. Click on through to Flickr for a few more outfit details if that strikes your fancy.

So this picture doesn’t really do this skirt justice, because it is this lovely shade of dusky purple wool (not brown like the picture implies) and I am just so tickled about it because I thrifted it back in March, which was just a little late for skirts and tights weather, so I have been waiting to wear it for oh, about 8 months.  Although I may have somewhat missed my window, because apparently it is supposed to be getting colder quickly, but to that I just say (with my fingers stuck in my ears) “I’m not listening, I’m not listening, I’m not listening”.  This is my preferred way of welcoming in the winter months (at least until that moment when the first snow turns the whole neighborhood into a gleaming white paradise).

Anyways I think I might try to take one outfit picture a week and probably post in on Wednesdays.  So we’ll see how long this practice lasts, but one should also rightly assume that all outfits not pictured are either sublimely coordinated and reeking of class, or assorted variations of cardigans and jeans, depending on how well you know me in real life.

Belated Vacation Recap: Where I pretend to be a fashion blog

Starting a year or so ago, maybe more, I discovered this thing called a fashion blog. It started with Fashionist, picked up The Sartorialist along the way, got greatly inspired by Blue Collar Catwalk, loved the sophistication of Frocks & Frou Frou, had its eyes opened to the worlds of body acceptance by Sal of Already Pretty, felt a kindred spirit in Ashley of Yammering Muse‘s inspiring vintage ensembles and cheered on Gabi of Young, Fat & Fabulous.

Reading fashion blogs led me to start rethinking not only the way I choose my outfits, but also the way I view my own outward appearance.  Maintaining a positive body image has been a constant battle for me.  Growing up (especially in high school), I struggled with feeling beautiful and because I didn’t fit the molds of smaller sized women, I felt completely cut off from the opportunity to enjoy clothes.  Clothes shopping for me was all about finding a store that carried larger sizes and less about the clothes themselves. I still remember the revelation that was discovering Lane Bryant.  But even then, I felt like clothes were about fitting in and covering up enough of myself to feel normal, not about helping express my own preferences/taste/style or about helping me gain confidence in my outward appearance. Now I am not saying that clothes are the answer to low self-esteem, not at all.  But gaining confidence in my own sense of style and allowing myself to consider clothing options that I would have previously considered off-limits due to my size, has been hugely influential in the small inroads I have made to accepting and loving my own body.

The "pre-packing lay all my clothes out on the bed" routine

So where is this all leading too? Well, I decided to use my two week vacation to Seattle as a chance to challenge myself.  Instead of packing the usual hodge-podge of random clothes, I would try to pack in such a way that I would be able to produce 12 unique and fun outfits that would both work for vacation activities (you know walking around looking at things and sitting in coffeeshops) but would also be ones that made me feel positively about myself.

What the clothes looked like in the suitcase (although I had a few clothes in another layer on top of this).

Thanks in huge part to Becca, my willing photo taker, I fulfilled my daily outfit challenge, but I have to say it was harder than I thought it would be and not for the reasons I had expected.  Here is some of what I learned:

My outfit for a day trip to Vashon Island where burgers were eaten, lighthouses were climbed, tea/book shops were browsed and wine was tasted.

First, posing for daily pictures is hard! I was amazed how self-conscious it made me.  While I have done a decent job of getting over issues about not always being amazingly photogenic, the act of getting someone to take a picture of me EVERY day was hard.  I found that I tended to want to berate myself for being so egotistical as to want to photograph myself.  Who was I to be posing for pictures? What was everyone else thinking when they saw me posing for my pictures? Would they think I was full of myself? Would they judge my clothes, judge me? I find this to be interesting, considering how much I enjoy seeing other people’s daily outfit photos and appreciate the time they take to do so.  But for some reason when I tried it myself I was often left feeling awkward.  I think if I were to keep up this practice, I would eventually get over this issue, but for my 2 week experiment this was one of the hardest parts.

I wore this for shopping on the ave, the Underground tour and the cooking of a yummy meal.

Second, posing itself was also hard! In addition to the awkwardness of having someone take a photo of you every day, there is the what do I do with my hands, my feet, my head part. In other words how the heck do people pose so naturally in their shots, boy howdy!  I ended up doing variations of the same two poses for most of the week, but I definitely have a growing appreciation for people who make posing seem so natural and flawless.

Probably my favorite outfit of the trip, we wondered around Fremont, met up for lunch and had a picnic supper this day.

Layers are your friend! Especially when trying to dress for the cool/warm combo that is a beautiful Seattle summer day. This outfit ended up being perfect for the entire day starting in the overcast morning and finishing with the cool after a sundown at Gasworks Park.  But as I also learned, keeping layers simple also lets fun pieces like this dress shine through.  I think the Menno in me loves the dress even more because it came from my new favorite thrift store, Unique.

I wore this outfit for a day of walking around Vancouver.

Finally, keep it simple! Sometimes the most basic outfits ended up being my favorite, for example this is just jeans and tee shirt, but with my hat and earrings it ended up feeling perfect for a day of walking around and exploring a new city.

So there you have it, my attempt at being a fashion blog and some of the things putting more effort into my clothing choices have taught me about myself.  While body acceptance and being comfortable in my own skin is a continual effort (and probably one I could get several more posts out of) this was a fun experiment in how taking time to consider my fashion, helps me gain confidence in my outward presentation to the world.  And as I have often experienced, confidence seems like a long spiral of “fake it, till you make it”.

Most of all I am interested in what you all think. What role does clothing play for you? Is fashion a possible source of confidence for you or something you try to ignore? Are there clothes that make you feel special when you wear them? I would love to hear what you think.

Things I have accomplished so far in 2010

  1. Made and went to a haircut appointment.  It rocked, Jenny at Steven Papageorge in Evanston is the best.  As for pictures, I took some yesterday, but probably won’t get them posted till tomorrow night.  For now let me say I have bangs, I have layers and I pretty much love it.
  2. Made an eye appointment, which I have been meaning to do for the past 6 months or so.
  3. Made annual check-up appointment, that I have been meaning to do for the past year or so.
  4. Updated parking sticker and license plate stickers on lovely but total junker of a car.  Which reminds me I will soon turn into a 1 year old car owner.
  5. Paid for another semester of Grad School, which thanks to student loans was not nearly as painful as I was anticipating.
  6. Successfully reversed annoying service fee from my new savings account and now am around halfway to new laptop, or one fifth of the way to new (as in reliably used) car fund.
  7. Finally paid the largest library fine of my life for the four books that I lost last fall.  While I would love to still find the books in order to get a partial refund, I am more over just completely curious as to how books could disappear.  I checked my room, my house, my car, my school library, my work library, the branch library, the main library (twice) and asked housemates and family members.  Crazy eh?  I mainly make it feel better by considering the 3 figure (I know, lost books suck, especially when they are new hardcovers) amount to be a donation to one of my favorite public institutions.

How about you, what have you done this year?

some thoughts about hair

Right now my hair is long, actually really long might be  a better description.  In fact it may be the longest it has been in my life, although my high school hair would probably give it a run for its money.  So right now I am really itching to do something different. I am facing some major decisions in my life right now of huge dimension and import.

  1. The first is, should I cut bangs? Right now my hair is pretty long, say 4ish inches beyond my shoulders and I haven’t really done anything crazy too it since I got permed it, grew it out a bit and then got a couple crazy haircuts in china.  Here is a picture from way back in college when my hair was short.  You can kind of see what longish side swept bangs would look like, but hopefully not quite so shaggy and untrimmed in appearance.  So what say you all, should I get bangs or is this a crazy idea?
  2. Second issue: length.  Here are some pictures to demonstrate different options I am considering.

    This is by far the shortest option I am considering and maybe it is just the inclination to change, change things up that makes this haircut fascinating. But I think about the time it would save, the way it would add curl and lift to my hair, I have to say this one is rather tempting in a crazy way.

  3. This is a slightly longer option, closer to a bob:

    This is a slightly less radical option, medium in length and probably fairly easy to style a happy medium between cutting it all off and keeping it long.

  4. These next options are variations on my current length with different amount of layers and probably different styling techniques:

    This would be the safest cut, similar to my current length and layers (long and long), however the big difference is that I have these odd curly bit at my temples which would make the straightness of this look hard to achieve.

  5. Option 5

    This would be closer to the haircut I got around 10 months ago, but longer in length. More layers and a more shaped looked, but still fairly similar to what I have now.

  6. Option 6
  7. A slightly shorter hair cut, this is both more layered and incorporates bangs. But I like the way the bangs are not obvious and transition well, into the rest of the hair.

  8. Option 7

    This is again slightly shorter in length, but has face framing layers instead of bangs.

So what do you all say, which option is your favorite, or do you have a completely different idea of what I should do with my hair?

Tights

A good pair of tights can be hard to find, too short, too tight or too full of holes are all issues that occur without warning.  What I look for are tights with a good opaque weave (these tend to last better), the perfect balance between control and give, and of course something to make them pop.  Hence my new favorite pair of tights:

That I wore as a part of this outfit:

It is kind of odd how much I like tights now, considering I remember absolutely hating them when I was younger.  At one point I declared them nothing more than knitted holes and completely pointless against Pennsylvania winters.  While my younger self is probably right, I have found they make the prefect addition to fall outfits.