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On Ringing in the Holidays

Tomorrow will mark the first holiday that Sawyer and I will not be at home with our families for.  While we are both a little sad to be away from our families, we’re excited to be spending this time together.  Our first holiday meal together seems (at least to me) to mark a special milestone.  That being said, I wanted to make this occasion memorable.

I’ll be honest here, I am not much of a cook.  Attempting to serve a full meal for Thanksgiving, then, will be a momentous enough occasion to make the day noteworthy (or haunting, depending on how the cooking goes…).  However, my father and I are looking forward to spending time on speakerphone with each other as he talks me through some of the family recipes.  I have already boiled the cranberries and set them on the counter to cool and it’s feeling more like the holidays already with the apartment smelling like the sugary cranberry sauce that I so enjoy.

Sawyer’s family doesn’t adhere to any holiday traditions (as far as he’s concerned), so my family’s traditions will be carried on in our little apartment.  My father’s side of my family has always prepared the Thanksgiving feast with homemade recipes passed down from my grandparents.  My father is, as I have mentioned, dedicated to the idea of my carrying on the family tradition when it comes to the food.

A quick trip to Joann’s Fabrics allowed me to create a lovely dual-layer table runner for the occasion.  I laid a quick and easy light green burlap beneath a pretty red velvet to add texture and interest to the table.  I avoided any expensive accoutrements to spare my nerves when it comes to mixing kittens with hopes of preservation.  A quick arrangement of red berry stems and green roses in three eye-catching vases intermingled with a couple of candles and voilà; a simple yet beautiful centerpiece.  Not to mention a hand-poured spiced cider candle creates a homey holiday aroma!  IMG_6733.jpg

In keeping with tradition, my mother has always broken out the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving day.  She loves decorating the tree with the whole family together.  Sawyer and I have gotten live trees in Christmases past, but with an apartment with a beautiful, rich blue rug, we opted for a 4’ artificial tree this year (which we got for a steal at Michael’s this past week).  Tomorrow, Sawyer and I will also be decorating our tree, to honor the family tradition.  We have many different holiday decorations to spread throughout the apartment, but we have a special place in our hearts for the Vermont-crafted painted gourd ornaments.

While it’s going to be a full day of food, fun, and memorable moments, and I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate another holiday season with our little family, I cannot forget what is important this holiday.  There are hundreds of people fighting for their basic human rights in North Dakota today, tomorrow, and – I expect – through the holidays next month as well.  Remember to keep those water protectors in your thoughts, as many of those peaceful protestors have roots tied to an essential role in the birth of this Thanksgiving tradition by sharing the gift of food – and life – to the pilgrims.  Give thanks for your gifts: clean water, a roof over our heads, a feast on our tables.  And if you can, give back to those who need our support, and who supported us when we needed it most.

 

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On Admiring Craftsmanship

There are many things I miss dearly about Vermont.  One of those things would be working in the local-artisans-only art gallery and craft center, Frog Hollow.  Recently, I’ve been receiving text messages from my old coworkers at the gallery with photos of themselves with some artwork and well-wishes.  I miss the camaraderie and atmosphere of the gallery significantly more than the beautiful work we safeguard there and cannot wait to visit when I’m back in the area.  So when I woke up this morning, on my first day off in five days, I made myself a cup of tea.  At the stove, I couldn’t help gazing at my only seasonal decoration that I’ve set out thus far – an Amy Felske doll named Pennywort that I bought from the gallery before I moved to Philly.

Pennywort has been a focal point in a couple of my more recent posts, especially as October 31st draws closer.  Today, though, Pennywort’s craftsmanship spoke to me.  In fact, I took her from her usual spot on the corner of my walnut cutting board (a beautiful gift from a friend) next to the stove to the kitchen table with me so that I could inspect her over my tea.

First of all, I have to say that I’ve never been a “doll person”.  As a little girl, my parents gave me American Girl Dolls to play with, but they didn’t see much use and primarily sat at the back of my closet, buried under a mound of clothes.  My younger sister was much more interested in dolls than I ever was.  After a trip to Shelburne Museum, where I mistakenly wandered into one of the old houses that had hundreds of century-old dolls encased in glass, dolls haven’t captured my interest.  In fact, I find that most dolls create in me a frightening reaction such as one generated by Chucky or Annabelle lore.  Thus, it took me by surprise that I so enjoyed Amy Felske’s work that I brought one of her dolls home with me.  Little did I know that this doll would become my autumn display centerpiece.

Felske is meticulous to a fault.  The strawberry blonde yarns that she utilized for Pennywort’s hair is not only twisted and twirled for texture, but thinned in places, and thickened in others.  Her hands have individual fingers, and her right hand is clutching an iconic broomstick.  Her eyes have pupils and emote a certain manic witchy glee that brings her to life, in a sense.img_6723

As I sat sipping my tea and looking at Pennywort, I began to notice small intricacies that I hadn’t seen before.  For example, Felske lined the rim of the felted witches hat with beads set at understated intervals to add texture and interest.  Each tiny bristle of her broomstick is cut at an individual length and attached to the stem of the broom, made from a twig that Felske most likely picked up on a walk through the woods.  She sanded the twig, removing the bark and roughness so that it looked more like the polished wooden brooms that folklore is so fond of pairing with witches.

The outfit that Pennywort has donned is another gorgeous addition to an already spectacular work of art.  She has a base layer skirt which is part of the foundation that allows Pennywort to stand upright, covered by two lovely layers of skirts in different earthy browns.  Felske then tops her work off with a whimsically witchy brown shawl, held in place by a purple beaded broach.  img_6725

But the feature that I find loveliest, out of all the spectacular detail, is Pennywort’s nose.  More specifically, the wart on the nose, characterized further with a single thread poking out to symbolize a hair growing from it.  Witches have forever been stereotyped with large noses and warts, and the attention to detail that Felske demonstrates in this piece is remarkable.   img_6728

With all of this wonderful detail created by a talented local Vermont artist, I haven’t felt the need to acquire any other autumnal decorations.  As I wrote about in my last post, I used to bedeck my space with cheap plastic decor, only to throw it away at the end of the season.  But with the addition of Pennywort to my little apartment, I have no need for those easily acquired and more easily discarded items.  It has been a wonderful reminder of Vermont, craftsmanship, artistry, and a little touch of fantasy each day that Pennywort has been standing on my countertop.

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On October & Halloween Celebrations

October is one of my favorite months for many different reasons.  The weather is starting to really cool down and the leaves are beginning to change to those vibrant oranges, yellows and reds that everyone loves to admire while both on the trees and on the sidewalks.  Fire pits seem to give off an extra special something when people are burning them and the smokey wafts on the air is a trademark of October.  All of my spooky favorites are back on Netflix for binge-watching after work curled up in a snuggly sweater that had been locked away for the last handful of months.  October is also – for me – the beginning of the holiday season, because Halloween is a chance to shine when it comes to creativity (and we all know I love a good dress-to-impress get-together as well as a chance to get my hands on some fun arts and crafts projects).

As a child during the month of October, my parents put me on a Halloween float with the neighborhood kids that trooped around the town center as we threw candy to passer’s-by and those who lined up to see the parade.  I can remember the costumes I showcased on that hay bail float – from Dorothy (with a stuffed animal likeness of Toto in my basket) to a cheerleader to a penguin (which many people mistook for a skunk even though my mother put in the hours to create adorable webbed orange feet).  I would go trick-or-treating with my younger sister under the watchful eye of my father around our neighborhood circle when I was younger, and with my sister and a few friends once we were old enough.  My mother always went the extra mile during Halloween time, stretching spider webbing across the entire face of my childhood home, putting scary figures in the windows and playing spooky music to really set the mood.  My neighborhood often put on a Haunted Forest the week or so before Halloween where all the neighborhood kids set up a station throughout the wooded path through the middle of our community.  I was always the first station (The Witches’ Brew) with my childhood best friend.  We handed out spooky treats like Cauldron Cakes and Monster Eyes for people to nibble on as they explored the woods.  I have extremely fond memories of October.

I have carried my love of Halloween and October with me each year, and each year I find ways to make the month special.  I’ve posted a couple of photos of my witch doll, Pennywort – created by Vermont artist Amy Felske – before, and I even got into the holiday spirit with my choice of cabernet.  Now that I’ve left my teens and young twenties behind, I’ve also tried to leave behind the cheap plastics that can be found in all types of spooky forms around this time of year.  No plastic cauldrons, instead, glass beverage dispensers or pitchers filled with sangria.  No more glittery plastic pumpkin decorations, instead, gourds and mini pumpkins from the local co-op.  When it comes to Halloween (and the following holidays), I don’t play in the minor leagues anymore.  I want to be as opulent, grandiose, and fabulous as my parents made Halloween for my sister and I as children.  img_6717

So when Sawyer told me he didn’t have any ideas as to what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween this year, I immediately went to the drawing board.  Last year, we teamed up to become a steampunk version of the Mad Hatter and Alice, so this year I thought a duo, or “couples” costume, was also a good idea.  As a child, I adored Disney movies.  My favorite of all these Disney movies – and I know this as fact, you can confirm with my mother – was Beauty & the Beast (so I can’t tell you how excited I am about the live-action version that’s coming out next year!), but a close second to that must have been 101 Dalmatians, because my fascination with Cruella De Vil has been, seemingly, life-long.  You could not believe how excited I was to find out that faux fur is back in fashion for the fall!

“I’m going to be Cruella de Vil and you’ll be a dalmatian!” I told him animatedly.  While he wasn’t thrilled about the idea to begin with, I think it’s been growing on him.  He has been interested in all the thoughtfulness I’ve been putting into the items I’ll be utilizing in my costume.

How is your Halloween simple, then? you may ask.  Well, not only have I cut down on the trash output I create by reusing beautiful decorations year after year rather than buying new plastic ones each season, but I also try to create costumes from clothing and accessories I already own the majority of.  When buying Halloween costume goodies, I tend toward locally owned thrift stores and independent markets, as well as supporting artists who hand-crafted their items like so many wonderful people with Etsy shops (I am an Etsy fanatic when it comes to hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind decor and accessories).

To keep my costume simple, I try to stick to items that will live up to more than one wear.  If I’m only going to wear a spandex catsuit for Halloween, there is no need to purchase it.  To emulate Cruella’s trademark black and white hairstyle, I am thinking of wearing a black feather hairpiece and pulling the rest of my hair to one side.  A fashion-forward LBD (little black dress)?  No problem, I’ll look in my closet.  It is part of the fun to use what I already have to create something eccentric, unique, and electrifying for the occasion.  img_6718

I know I’ve been hitting you all over the head with this Reduce Reuse Recycle mantra, but it truly does create and maintain a simpler, more thoughtful lifestyle.  I have not felt hampered at all when it comes to more extravagant occasions.  The thought you put into styling your space for a get together is more important than them money you could spent to create a quick set up.

I would love to hear stories of Halloween get-togethers past or costume ideas and successes!  Please do comment here, it would definitely get the creative juices flowing for all of us as this wonderful holiday approaches.

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A Confession

It has been 22 days since I last posted here.  It’s not easy for me to fess up to things, especially digitally.  Maybe it’s because I’ve always been the older sibling when things that needed confessions came up.  It could be because I’ve been told that the only forgiveness I truly need would be from God, and I can achieve that in the confessional.  Alas, putting aside those ideas, here I am with a confession: it has been difficult to land on my feet here in Philadelphia.

I love my new little apartment, my wonderful family of four here (two people and two fur babies), and the life we are building.  I enjoy my job and – as of this morning – working toward completing more applications for grad school.  I have dreams, a mission, a goal in mind.  Before today, though, I found it difficult to breach the safe haven of my new little life and venture out into the city, or elsewhere.  On certain days or in certain moods, that door seemed more like bars to a comfortable cell than a portal to the outside world.

Perhaps it was my misadventure into Center City alone for an interview – where I got lost due to a wrong turn off the train platform, construction work, and buildings so tall I couldn’t access a GPS signal to guide me to my destination.  It might be the simple fact that, out of 12 doorways in my apartment building, I’ve only met one other person who lives in my complex, and I haven’t seen her since that initial meeting.  Could be that I miss the easy routine of my life in Vermont as I struggle to create a new schedule here in Philadelphia.  Whatever the cause, I had become afraid.

Fear is a powerful thing.  It can prevent the strongest of people from acting on the simplest of whims.  It suddenly felt like a frightening task not only to venture into Center City, but also to go to the grocery store, or even to walk down to the garbage cans with my trash and recycling.  It became energy-exhausting to respond to texts from my friends back in Vermont (and I apologize profusely to those of you who worked so hard to reach out to me during this period of fear and depression).  I stopped writing – not only for my blog, but in general; the sun had been obscured by clouds.  Slowly, the apartment I have grown to love as my own began to unravel around me as clutter and dirt began to build up on every surface.  As someone who has suffered through clinical depression before, I can say with honesty and certainty that my fear had pushed me into a minor depressive episode.  There has been a trademark to every depressive episode I have struggled through: clutter, an overwhelming build up of things until it seems impossible to manage. I am a woman who keeps a clean, minimalistic space – when I have no energy to maintain my space in the way I work for and enjoy, I know something is wrong.

There are things I could’ve done differently, yes.  There were steps I could’ve taken to prevent falling into such a rut, for sure.  There were ways to overcome the irrational fear that I harbored, no doubt.  Yet, here I am, writing about how it affected my life and where I am now because of it.   Thankfully, there were always rays of sunshine poking their way through the holes in the clouds.  I don’t know where I would have been if my parents hadn’t expressed how happy and excited they were for me and my developing life in Philadelphia every time I caught them on the phone.  I had, and still have the pillars in my life that are Sawyer, the kittens, and my best friends on the end of the telephone wire back in Vermont.  And even when I had no words to write down, I had music.

These realizations came crashing down on me during yesterday’s commute home from work.  I had spent the day in the office working on a visual project (Anthropologie’s stores are known for their stunning in-store visual displays) that I couldn’t have been more excited about. But, by the end of the day, I was tired.  I wanted to be home.  Stuck in traffic on a Sunday, I felt a little lost.  As I began to sink into this feeling, however, music came to the rescue.  It is impossible to settle on one musical group as my “favorite band” – music in general is something that influences me deeply – but the String Cheese Incident is a band I’ve always loved, have seen live, and continue to follow to this day.  My favorite song by SCI came on the radio, miraculously, and suddenly, the traffic dispersed and there was clear road in front of me.  I turned the sound up, rolled the windows down and drove.  As I did, the sinking feeling I had felt so often this past month whisked out the open window with the breeze. screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-10-23-36-am

When I got home, I turned on more music and cleaned the stack of dishes in the sink.  Then I cleared out the fridge of food that had gone bad only to wait too long to be cleared away.  After that, I reclaimed my marble counters and soaped them down.  Then, I relaxed.  I ate leftovers for dinner and went to bed at 10.  How amazing, the power of music!

I confess to you that fear weighed me down.  I confess that my transition to life in Philadelphia could’ve been easier, that I had hoped it’d be smoother.  I confess also that without these challenges, I wouldn’t be standing where I am – a woman who has conquered her fear and her depressive episode.

Today, I woke up with a previously unimaginable feeling – weightless in my bed.  The heft of my depression had finally disbursed.  This morning, I have written, I have contacted my friends at home in Vermont, and I have collected the scattered about cat toys.  Once I finish this piece, I will vacuum.  I will make the bed, fluff the pillows, fold the throw blanket.  With the windows open and music turned up, I will clear away the clutter of my episode.

Then, I think I’ll venture out for some groceries.

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On Friends, as Allies

Moving to Philadelphia seems like a tired excuse, but I know it’s part of the reason behind my less-than-motivated blogging this past week.  Now that I’m back at the keyboard again, it’s important to relay how I was able to refocus my energies into my writing.  I want to thank my close friends back in Vermont for allowing me to vent my frustrations, commiserate with me over the less-than’s in my life, and – most importantly – help me in rebuilding myself mentally when it comes to my lifestyle, writing, and sharing what I’ve learned.

Friends are allies.  When I was making the transition from my old lifestyle into the more simplified version that I sport today, my friends were my greatest cheerleaders.  My family didn’t quite understand the drive to become more minimalistic at first – the feeling of being uninformed is an uncomfortable one at best, and I completely understand their confusion – but become pillars of support entwined with my friends’ support systems when I was able to explain my change of heart to them.  I achieve a mental resilience that I wouldn’t otherwise procure because of the people in my life who offer me strength, comfort, and wisdom each and every day.

When I began my journey toward thoughtful simplification, I found it difficult.  I became frustrated with simple tasks and overwhelmed by the self-imposed workload.  When I shared my burden with my friends, Sawyer, and my family, the negative energy that had begun to pile itself on my shoulders began to lift.  With support and encouragement, I was able to continue down the path I had chosen – I was able to begin a new chapter in life thanks to the kindness and willingness of people to listen, commiserate, and offer guidance to their fellow human.

Today, on the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I find it comforting to revel in the love and support that I feel from my friends and family.  The people who have become active participants in my life – both near and far – are the cornerstones of my life.  Donna Roberts, a senior economist for the US Department of Agriculture, has penned a way to interpret the feelings I have toward those I love and cherish in a more articulate manner than I could hope to accomplish in three times as many words: A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.

On a day such as today, it is important to take note, relish, and respect the many connections that human life is built upon.  Sometimes it is difficult to realize just how much you’ve accomplished simply because your parents, your siblings, your family and friends, believed in you and your abilities.  This blog post is dedicated to all those people who support, inspire, and guide me, as well as acting as testament to how much I love and appreciate them for all that they are and what they have helped me accomplish.  We are never alone unless we choose to be, and even then, solitude is difficult to achieve.

In my own space, I love to keep an area dedicated to appreciating human connection.  I fill that space with photographs of friends, family members, and loved ones.  It allows me to feel more connected to those people, even if there is distance between us.  Honoring the human network is part of my daily routine, as I don’t go a single day without glancing at those photos.

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I would love to hear stories about how friends and family have supported you throughout your own endeavors, so please feel free to share your experiences with me!

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On Subscription Box Services

Two months ago, Sawyer signed up to receive Bespoke Post.  Bespoke is a subscription service specifically geared toward men, and Sawyer decided to sign up to branch out and try things he wouldn’t ordinarily do.  This month – our first month in Philly – he received a Bespoke Post box called “Over Easy”, packed full with a skillet, organic whole wheat pancake mix, Bushwick Kitchen (Brooklyn NY) jalepeno-infused maple syrup, and The Real Dill (Denver CO) Bloody Mary mix.

Yesterday morning, we made pancakes for the first time, thanks to Bespoke Post.  Sawyer looks forward to these boxes, so much so that I wanted to try it for myself!  Bespoke is specifically tailored for men, and I’m not someone who would particularly enjoy receiving clothing that I didn’t choose for myself – therefore any women’s clothing subscription boxes are out (such as Stitch Fix or Fabletics – no offense meant to those who love these services!).  As an English major and confessed bibliophile, I went with a subscription box from Book of the Month.

My book will ship out to me on September 3rd, this Saturday (strange shipping date…).  Subscribers are able to choose from a handful of selected books one the first of each month.  I chose A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, and I couldn’t be more excited to receive it.  The website gives you a detailed description of the book as well as the personal opinions of the judges for each months’ selections.  BOTM offers free shipping, and I didn’t feel like I went into this new experience without any knowledge of what I was getting myself into.  To top all of that, my first month (the value of up to a $40 book and shipping) only cost $5 with a coupon!  I figured there was no harm in trying something new and seeing how it turns out, similar to Sawyer’s experience with Bespoke Post.  While I don’t intend to use this again after this month when there are wonderful independent bookstores that I adore just down the road, I must admit that I am excited for the book I’ve chosen and am looking forward to early mornings with a cup of tea and my book at the table.

I must admit that I had never contemplated using subscription services before moving in with Sawyer.  Both of us considered using the Blue Apron service to help us save a bit of money at the grocery store and force us to prep meals rather than nuke them in a microwave, but with all the imminent move to Philadelphia on our horizon, we decided we’d wait until we moved here and reconsider the possibility then.  On that front, I have found a wonderful co-op one neighborhood over that I like to shop at, but a helping hand each week wouldn’t be too terrible.  We’ve also looked at the possibility of taking out a subscription from Turntable Kitchen – a little less dependent on ingredients sent (we can buy our own) and a little more fun during prep time – which we think that might be more up our alley!

My first question when Sawyer signed up for Bespoke Post was a simple one: how does a subscription box service fit in with a simple lifestyle?  There are a couple of answers to this question.  On the less-than-optimistic side, “it doesn’t”.  We’re allowing a box of foreign objects to enter our home without knowing what will be useful and what won’t be useful.  And no, we don’t necessarily need some of the objects we receive in the boxes – we could have bought pancake mix, drink mixers, and maple syrup at the co-op down the street (probably not the same brands, however), but the skillet has become invaluable.  There is also all that cardboard and packaging to keep everything in its place that we must consider (mailing a skillet alongside a glass jar of maple syrup as well as a container of bloody Mary mix is no easy feat).  We receive the box and then, just as quickly, send that box and its packaging to the recycling bin, which will then be transported to a sorting hub, classified, and then rehashed for another job somewhere else.  Our carbon footprint is expanding by using a subscription box service, that is guaranteed.

On the other hand, however, we’re receiving objects that are aiding in our growth as rounded human beings – yes, we probably would have attempted pancakes at one time or another without Bespoke Post, but we tried them immediately, and enjoyed the time we spent together doing it.  What’s great about subscription box services is that if you aren’t going to use something that was sent to you, there isn’t much guilt in giving it away (either to a friend who would get more use out of it, or to places such as Goodwill) – the value we receive is much greater than the money we funneled into it.  If you get two bum months, cancel your subscription – it isn’t the end-all be-all of mailing services.  Subscription box services are not something that we see ourselves using forever, either, we’ll get a couple months out of it before we call it quits.  It’s something new and exciting to try, and then we’ll refocus ourselves and enjoy the gifts we’ve received over the past couple of months in new ways.  And since I spent so much time speaking about the drawbacks of the cardboard that comes along with subscription services, I should point out that the boxes we’ve received are definitely enjoying a long shelf life: we’ve witnessed many days of happy kittens curling up in them for afternoon naps and using them as fortresses during playtime.  It’s almost as upsetting to us as it is to Gatsby and Penelope when it’s finally – after weeks, mind you – time to put them in the recycling bin.IMG_6702.jpg

When I first thought about subscription box services, there were a lot of negative traits about it.  However, after my experience with Sawyer’s Bespoke Post boxes, I must say I might be coming around to them.  We certainly won’t use them forever – a simple lifestyle doesn’t need the clutter that months upon months of boxes would create – but we are definitely reaping the benefits at the moment while enjoying new experiences and learning new things about ourselves and each other (new knowledge: Sawyer’s a wonderful breakfast chef)!

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Cultivating a Deliberate Wardrobe : Interview Ready!

Resume?: Check!

Cover Letter?: Check!

GPS?: Check!

Can-Do Attitude?: Check!

Now that I’ve set myself up a life here in Philadelphia, it’s time to find employment (I know, the fun part…)!  It has felt strange to be out of work for a couple of weeks – I have enjoyed the rejuvenation time, of course – but now it’s time to jump back into the saddle and go, go, go!

When I came to Philadelphia, I had a couple ideas as to what I would like to apply for and which companies I would enjoy being affiliated with.  After sending countless cover letters, resumes, and emails as well as a handful of phone calls, the interviews began.  And when the interviews began, my bedroom soon resembled my bedroom of yesteryear, as though the teenaged Amber was suddenly back in full swing as I tossed outfit after outfit from my closet onto the bed, armchair, ground…

I am certain that most of you have skimmed what Google search has to offer for “what to wear for an interview” and “what not to wear for a job interview”, so I’ll try to avoid the bare bones that those articles are so good at underlining.  Women have a vast amount of options when it comes to dressing for an interview and I know from personal experience that sometimes those options are overwhelming to the point of anxiety.  With this post, I’ll highlight what has always worked for me when it comes to choosing clothing for an interview.

I’m a creative person (people tend to tell me this, at least), and creatives tend to dress with their hearts on their sleeves.  I have no problems with this, and I went through quite a binge clothing stage (in fact there many have been a couple of those stages) in order to put forward a projection of the person I wanted the world to see.  However, now that I’ve simplified my life – including my closet – it’s more difficult to wear the clothing that would reflect what I’m feeling that day.  Instead, I’ve taken to cultivating neutrals, as discussed here.

I see neutrals as a palette to work with.  I see them as a fresh canvas.  I have found that dressing simply allows a sparkly personality to shine.  Neutrals, especially for an interview situation, are a perfect way to showcase one’s personality and skills without being encumbered by flashy or distracting clothing.

With blonde hair and a (very) fair complexion, I tend to lean toward black when dealing with monochromes.  Flattering and straightforward, the black clothing in my wardrobe is my go-to when interviewing.  It’s easily dressed up with a pretty pair of heels and a lovely necklace or bracelet.  Today’s interviews took place in near 90-degree weather, so I opted for a pretty black tunic-tank top from Ann Taylor and Prima black pants with salmon colored Jeffery Campbell heels as an accent piece.  Today I wore simple jewelry so as not to distract from the overall simplicity of the outfit – a sterling silver necklace Sawyer got me for our anniversary with the longitude and latitude of Burlington VT engraved on the front, an embossed bracelet depicting the Little Dipper that I received from Katie as a going-away gift, and a pair of stone inlay rings (one for each hand).  Last week, I wore a black knit top from Joah Brown, black suit pants from Express, and a chunky but beautiful necklace with black hightop heels.  IMG_6688.jpg

When you’re appreciated for something other than your appearance, you feel more accomplished than when receiving the absent minded “I like your blouse” or “you look nice today”.  With a neutral palette, one can actually force the attention of another to focus on the interaction with, rather than the appearance of, the person they’re speaking with.  As college degrees become less and less distinguished and “who the person is” continues to claim the power seat, forced focus on your psychological rather than physical attributes has certainly led me to more successes than failures when it comes to the interview process.

You don’t need to lead a minimalistic lifestyle to create a deliberate interview-ready wardrobe.  If you think neutral, simple attire, you will be able to mix together a selection that will not only allow your skills and personality to lead the way, you’ll also feel comfortable taking the spotlight knowing that you’ve made a choice to highlight your character rather than your fashion sense.

Neutrals don’t work for everyone, nor do they need to.  I’d love to hear what you’ve worn to interviews to feel confident and in control!

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My Week in Commodities

Our second full week as happy residents of Philadelphia has come to a close!  Here are some of our favorite commodities this week!


 

A housewarming gift from Sawyer’s sister, Brie, makes a wonderful addition to our decorIMG_6669


 

Finally, the bedroom is starting to look a little more put together – especially this cozy reading nookIMG_6672.jpg


 

This adorable card sent from a friend in transition from Burlington VT to Boston MA (best of luck, Hannah! & see you soon!)IMG_6670


 

National Dog Day was this week and what better to remember my old pal Zeeka than his photo on my refrigerator?IMG_6671.jpg


 

This reminder of loveIMG_6675.jpg


 

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On Returning to Simplicity & Birthday Celebrations!

This past Thursday was Sawyer’s birthday.  Both yesterday and Thursday were a return to the simplistic lifestyle we enjoy.  He was busy at school all day on Thursday and we didn’t get to do much in the way of celebrating his special day, but he enjoyed it nonetheless.  He did have a good time playing pool with a couple of his friends while in between classes and homework.  Yesterday, however, was a wonderful celebration.

We woke up late.  Had breakfast together.  Went for a walk.  Enjoyed having lunch with his mother and sister who were in town visiting relatives and were able to stop by (they seemed to really appreciate the beauty of our new little apartment, which made me incredibly happy).  We had a relaxing night in on the couch with a new television series we’ve been meaning to start but haven’t had the time (or maybe the motivation).  We went to bed late but fell asleep quickly.

There was something special about slowing down yesterday that seemed celebratory.  Not only were we celebrating Sawyer, we were also celebrating our transition into our new home, our small victories such as school and job searching.  We were able to move slow enough that we could truly appreciate the minute details that are often lost in the busy weekday schedule.  We appreciated just how lucky we are, and when we were able to do that – a great weight was lifted off our shoulders.  We began to settle down.  The stress of our move from Burlington to Philadelphia was finally cast aside and we are now able – two weeks later – to truly begin our lives in our new home.

My family grew up celebrating birthdays like kings and queens, whereas Sawyer’s family doesn’t make too much noise about their birthdays.  I am happy to say that we have found a happy medium between the two that works just right for us.  He received a card from me and a simple gift that I’d saved from my time at my previous job in the art gallery in Burlington, with a thoughtful, handmade gift on the way (it may take another week or so to be completed).  I am thankful that we’ve found a means of celebration that makes both of us feel cherished, loved, and special.IMG_6667.jpg