Friday, September 25, 2015

Seven days in New York City: Packing minimally for fall

I'm sitting here all giddy-- one, because I bought Space Bags for the first time and two, because in 21 days my husband and I will be on our way to New York City for the first time (side-note, this will be his first time on a plane, so that should be fun). Only 20 days until I become a wife and I'm feeling every emotion imaginable, so I figured being almost completely packed for our honeymoon would calm the nerves-- it did, but only briefly. But hey, one more thing crossed off the list.

Let me start by saying SPACE BAGS ARE THE GREATEST INVESTMENT EVER. FOR REALS. We bought two boxes of three large bags for $13.00 each at Target. I have done quite a bit of traveling in my 22 years and I never thought to use Space Bags for traveling, but now I don't plan on packing without them.

With a little research and my own travel knowledge I have come up with a minimalist NY City packing guide that will save you money, space and time, and help you look less like a tourist:

+Choose a neutral colored wardrobe, consisting mostly of blacks and grays. Dark neutrals help you (and any food spills/street dirt) blend in, make an outfit look effortlessly put-together and are easy to pair. 
+Choose pieces that all work together-- this way you can bring less clothes and mix and match. 
+ Choose no more than two pairs of shoes-- one for the plane, one for your suitcase.
+ Choose no more than two jackets/coats.
+ Choose no more than three non-clothing items, excluding toiletries (e.g. book, journal, camera). 

+ Choose a mix of thin and thick material that can be layered or shed. 
+ Choose knit sweaters-- they can be layered over shirts and dresses.
+ Choose scarves and hats-- they keep you warm and help an outfit look put-together. 

+ Again, choosing mostly a black wardrobe will make this effortless. 
+ Choose dresses and skirts. I don't mean dresses/skirts made out of tight or stiff material. Looser or stretchy dresses/skirts paired with tights are more freeing to walk miles in when you are sight-seeing all day. 
+ Choose the jeans you feel the most comfortable and confident in. I chose my black stretchy skinny jeans and my loose high-waisted Calvin Klein's.
+ Choose to test out your shoes. If you aren't sure how comfortable they will be test them before your trip by wearing them on a day you will be doing a lot of walking/standing. I tested my tall gray boots by wearing them all day at work-- I work retail where I stand and walk all day.

Pack a suitcase or duffle-bag (with wheels) that is small enough to bring as your carry-on.
+ Choose to check your airlines carry-on measurement regulations. Most airlines allow small suitcases on the plane and if they can't fit in the over-head compartment the flight attendant will have it put in a compartment on the side of the plane.
   + You'll avoid a luggage check fee-- extra coffee & food money. 
   + There's no chance your luggage can go missing. 
   + Saves you time-- no need to wait for your luggage to arrive when you land.

Space Bags!!! We all know how excited I am about these. Conserve suitcase space by packing with a large Space Bag. Here's how:
+ Divide your clothes into a top and bottom section inside the bag, leaving a space in the middle (see below). 
+ Vacuum that sucker until it's packed tight. 
+ Fold the bag in half, only made possible by leaving a space in the middle. You will not be able to fold a full Space Bag-- it's physically impossible.
+ Stick your vacuum packed clothes into your luggage and revel in the goodness. Oooo awww, so much extra space-- MAGIC. I put one boot on each side of the clothes and there was still plenty of extra space. 
It may be quiet around here for a bit, but I promise I won't come back empty handed. I will return with wedding and New York photos, accompanied by plenty of words-- I'm sure. Just give me time, I have a feeling I'm going to be exhausted. But what is life without too much coffee and jetlag?  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The write attire

Lace bralette: Victoria's Secret (similar)  // Skirt: H&M (similar) // Journal: Target 

I have always believed your attire influences your mood, just as the art in a home does. And so when you are doing what you love, what you want to get better at, what you want to take chances with, why wouldn't you wear what makes you feel inspired, what makes you feel whole, what makes you feel like you?

When I write I zone in on my memories, emotions and senses. The process of writing, or rather creating in general, requires me to intentionally feel deeply, which is often heavy, so I want my clothing to feel light, airy and natural. I desire my writing to express my femininity, because I am proud to be a woman. I desire my writing to express vulnerability, because I am thankful I am alive. I desire my writing to express truth, because I am continually being molded by God.  

A lace bralette paired with a thin cotton skirt is my go-to "write attire." I feel feminine, whole, the most like me. For me, it is vital to feel these things while writing. Most of my writing takes place in my home, but when I need to go outside or to a coffee shop for inspiration I'll throw a thin cotton top over my bralette (ya know, keeping it classy), and in the fall a cozy knit sweater. 

It is also vital to surround yourself with what inspires you. Although I love nature I am a home body, so I bring pieces of nature into my writing space: plants, pine cones, flowers, feathers. The traces of nature help me focus on the rawness of my words. My aunt Michele made the beautiful flower crown (you see above) for my bridal shower, which is now an art piece on my wall.

I'd love to hear what your go-to outfit is and what things keep you inspired. What attire makes you feel most like you? What do you surround yourself with?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Empty-handed and free

Top: H&M (similar)// Lace cardigan: Azkara (similar)// Pants: Kohl's (similar)

Since May, when I walked off stage with my cap and gown, life has felt out of control. Everything I try to get a grip on feels too heavy (even my iPhone, which took a plunge to the cement-- now sporting chips and cracks). And yet, with clenched fists, I keep trying to hold on to it all. Over and over, I do this and I am left exhausted and frustrated-- my hands and heart aching. 

Things that should leave me with joy, leave me drained: graduating college, planning a wedding, getting a job, even . . .writing. We have a vision of how things will look and go, but eventually that vision begins to blur. Mid May was the start of my vision's blur and now I'm left with a smudge I can barely make out. But it's this smudge and my slipping grip that's saving me. I was never suppose to hold onto anything. When I finally listen I hear God saying, "Child I hold everything, including you, release your grip. It is okay. Release your grip."

It is okay to just be. It is okay to write only a few words when that's all you want to say. It is okay for your vision to blur.  

And so, I am releasing everything-- letting it all hit the ground and shatter into pieces. Pieces I know I cannot make out, which is both terrifying and freeing. I tried so hard to be in control by holding on, as if it that showed I wasn't giving up. But here I am empty-handed, knowing I am weak and I have never felt more free. Because those pieces are not left to be walked over or stepped on, but picked up by the one who holds everything. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

August reading list & an ode to books: diversify your reading

Crisp and crinkled pages, scribbled notes in margins, underlined words to remember the sentences that destroyed you in the loveliest ways, coffee stains on the pages that became a part of you, tattered covers of the books you took everywhere, even to that one party in college-- just in case. 

Books are not words on pages, or simply stories written down, but reminders long forgotten, wisdom found, discoveries made, places traveled, hurts healed, truths told and reassurance you aren't the only crazy one-- you aren't alone. And I think everyone, no matter what they've been through, where they come from, or what they hold as true, wants to know they aren't alone-- wants to be understood.  

Healing is found through books, usually paired with salty tears, snorting laughter, or a thrown book across a room-- perhaps all three. It's something else, to feel understood by someone you've never met. The connective power of books is a strange and beautiful thing. And so, for all of these reasons and more, I will keep on reading. 

I've recently read three books that are all very different from one another, and my current read too differs entirely to the other three. I am learning more and more the immense value in reading a diverse range of genres and styles. I am an old soul with trust issues, so I prefer to stay in my reliable comfort zone: classic novels. I believe everyone should read the classics, but there are other books worthy of equal love -- I'm preaching to myself, because I'm still working on this. But I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and pick a book you usually wouldn't. 

For me that book was Eat, Pray, Love. I am fairly resistant to jumping on reading bandwagons, and by "fairly" I mean very. Especially when the bandwagon contains a book made popular through a movie. So leave it to me to pick up a novel five years after all the hype and still feel I am getting out of my comfort zone-- I'm working on it, okay? I will admit I couldn't leave out classics entirely, but four out of nine books is a good mile or two out of my comfort zone. 

Diversifying your genres helps you see things from multiple perspectives, and reading different writing styles will not only help writers, but all artists improve their craft. Read intentionally: observe how the artist forms sentences, develops characters and events, and provokes your emotions -- great lessons of discipline, courage, patience and creative freedom will be gleaned. 

And to show I am a paradox, I have never read Pride and Prejudice-- oddly enough I was quite resistant to it as well, because this classic is coated, and forever will be, in girly hype. But I've always been a romantic in denial and I know this book is much more than a romance. I'm also overly excited about the cover design of the copy I found at Goodwill.  

And so as July comes to a close here is a reading list for the fresh month of August:
Bold titles I read this month // I'm currently reading The Man Who Was Thursday.  

- Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley 
- A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
Recommended by a dear friend. 
- The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton
I started reading Chesterton my last semester of college and fell in love with his paradoxical writing style. His writing is one that takes time to process-- my margins are full of notes. This short novel is a good introduction to his writing style/philosophy/theology.  
- The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
Recommended by another dear friend. I found a lovely copy at a quaint coastal bookshop in Monterey, California, which also contains a diverse range of Wilde's other works. $5 well spent. 
- Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
This 20-something's poetry is the epitome of what I mentioned earlier-- being destroyed in the loveliest ways. This is her first published book-- I encourage everyone to support new authors. 
- A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest and I go way back, as in I've loved him for three years now. I believe everyone should read this book, but especially you fellow writers.
- Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
- Relentless by Rachel Treu
Another brave 20-something's first book. She also has a blog  full of beautiful, sassy and authentic words. 
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

So, what's your go-to genre? What genre do you want to venture into? 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Featured on Alaska Mellifluous: Small victories, not so small after all

Today my writing is featured on Alaska Mellifluous and what a privilege it is.

I wrote about celebrating small victories and being patient with yourself. Head over to Adriana's blog to check it out, and stay awhile to explore, because her words are lovely. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

To think of all those years missed

And now at 22
I'm learning to
 stand naked 
in front of the 

And slowly love 
what I see. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Homemade blended coconut-cinnamon coffee

Published on

I've been consuming an awful lot of iced coffee this month and I don't regret it one bit, because it's all been homemade. 

I decided to change it up and make blended coffee with some of my favorite ingredients: cinnamon & coconut oil. Man, was it good. And incredibly simple. I drank the whole jar in an embarrassingly short time. 

So, here's what you need: 
- ice, 1 cup
- chilled brewed coffee, 2 cups
- creamer or milk, 1/3 cup
- cinnamon, 1 teaspoon 
- coconut oil, 2 teaspoons 

- pour ice & coffee in a blender, blend until smooth
- add cinnamon, creamer, & coconut oil, blend again for 15 seconds. 
- pour into a cup & garnish with extra cinnamon.
- Sip & smile. 

Makes enough for two. But I definitely drank it all, oops.