April 23rd, 2014

outfit no. 72

Jared and I are in the midst of a deep spring clean. In order to better coordinate our downsizing to move across the country endeavor, we’re getting rid of the majority of our furniture, any duplicate kitchenware, as well as various odds and ends. This whole experience has really given my inner minimalist a kick in the butt and I am excited to get rid of the “stuff” we have accumulated in the many corners of a space that is far too big for just us. This past weekend, I tackled the task of cleaning out my closet. I keep prematurely thinking that I’ve completed the project, only to find that I still have much more to accomplish. I dive back in and eliminate several more bags of stuff (intended for donation), resurfacing an hour or so later to preen slightly over my accomplishments. Although I have not purchased any real additions to my closet this year, I’m still aggressively trying to rid myself of things I don’t wear and focus on creating a more cohesive style. I will, at some point, be sharing my thoughts on this with you I’m sure. Related query: how do I still have so much stuff?

I wore the following outfit to an Easter brunch gathering with my family last Sunday. For some reason, this dress struck me as the obvious choice for Easter + brunch. I rarely switch purses because I often forget something in the transition from one handbag to another, leaving me without my RayBans or favorite lipstick — which is the entire point of having a purse in the first place. However, I did decide to feature this funky yellow bag for an added bit of spring flair. It left me considering the merits of switching purses more often, but I can’t make any promises.

Dress: eShakti // Shoes: Anthropologie // Purse: Sam Moon

April 21st, 2014

our next adventure // san francisco.

So, I have some news for y’all that I’ve been trying to keep on the downlow while I sorted out my own emotions and opinions about the whole enterprise — but, I can’t keep it inside anymore. This Texan is moving to San Francisco!

Over the past year, I’ve experienced a lot of self-doubt. Doubt about the direction my life / career / creativity had taken. Life post-Korea was confusing and the Texas suburbs, although perfectly comfortable, felt bland in comparison to the bright lights of Seoul. I spent many days alone, staring dispassionately at a host of possibilities, not wanting to make a choice or reach a finite decision. I worked temporary jobs and hung out with temporary friends. Over time, I became complacent and let the days of my life flow around me rather than allowing myself to actively swim through them. I took a walk one day in early February when the weather was uncharacteristically warm. I walked for a long time. And somewhere between home and eternity I realized, life is simply one great possibility.

I made a decision that day to begin taking real, actionable steps toward my goals. I sat down at my laptop and sent out resumes. I researched schools that I was really interested in working at; I wanted to find a place where I could be a functional part of their community. I looked for co-workers who could inspire me and school populations where I could truly help. I sent out several resumes to a highly selective (according to my personal preferences, of course) list. And then I waited.

Within a week I heard back from an international school in San Francisco that was ranked quite high on the aforementioned personal list. I did a phone interview and a Google Hangout interview and another phone interview over the course of several weeks. At the end of March, I was officially offered the job. I was (and am) absolutely elated! This opportunity means so much to me, I feel very honored to have been chosen, and I am overwhelmingly excited to be teaching high school English again. Just, all the happiness!!

However, this decision meant that Jared, Sherman and I would be packing our bags for California –  a place I’ve actually never been before. My entire perception of California is primarily based off movies and hearsay. We discussed it, and decided this change was precisely what we had both been looking for. Previously, when we went to Korea, I rented my house. This time, I wanted to make our move more permanent. I wanted to remove the safety net, so to speak. The idea is that we have to succeed because we have no other options! So, I decided to put my house on the market — and then it sold (for my asking price) in 24 hours! This unexpected turn of events has pressed the fast forward button on our adventure timeline considerably, as we have to be vacated from our homestead by May 1st.

Everyone keeps asking what our “plan” is — I must confide, there is no plan. We in no way planned any of this. However, we do intend to drive ourselves from Houston to San Francisco by May 15th. No, we don’t have a place yet, but we are actively looking and hopeful. Just in case, we are bringing a tent and our foraging abilities (sort of joking). Yes, we know it’s expensive. Yes, we know apartment hunting is extremely competitive (and even moreso with a dog). Yes, we know California has earthquakes. We are going anyway, because it’s going to be a grand adventure.

April 17th, 2014

outfit no. 71

Okay, how amazing are cocoon cardigans? I am having a serious moment with these things. Although I am fully aware that they might not be everyone’s particular cup of tea, I think they are the absolute coziest. Also, I just want to brag for a minute about these boots from Old Navy. They are a knockoff version of Chelsea boots, and I am enamored of them. I’ve been on the hunt for a pair of flat, black ankle boots to offset the brown Zara ones I always wear, and I’d seen this Old Navy pair featured on Kendi’s blog a while back. Recently, while hunting a petite maxi dress for work, I came across these boots again (they no longer have them in black) — this time in my size and on sale, for $11. I received them yesterday and wore them out to meet Jared for drinks (he’s been out of town working, I missed him a lot) — but they don’t even seem to need any real breaking in. There was much rejoicing! Unrelated to ankle boots — exciting things are happening in my world right now and, although I am playing the details a little close to the chest, I feel waves of optimism about my future. And whenever I feel happy, I wear my yelling cat dress. Obviously.

Cardigan: UO // Dress: H&M // Tights: ModCloth // Boots: Old Navy

April 14th, 2014

outfit no. 70

As soon as I begin extolling the virtues of our current weather situation, it turns on me entirely — today was utterly gloomy and complete with frigid wind and drizzle. The situation outdoors only served to amplify my recent desire to wear all black attire. Every time I reach into my closet these days, I seem to pull out something dark grey, navy blue or, more often than not, pure black. I don’t think my mood has tended toward the macabre or melancholy, but I just can’t shake the desire to dress darker.

Today, I decided to infuse my otherwise black outfit with lavender pants. The spring-inspired denim, paired with my other wardrobe items (particularly the spiked headband) left me feeling a bit like a goth macaroon — not an entirely unfortunate comparison. Then, to fight off the weather, I wore my thrifted, all-weather poncho. I am pretty sure this oversized poncho is actually intended for the male subset, but it made me look like a wizard, so I bought it.

Shirt: Swapdom // Pants: H&M // Shoes: Ross // Poncho: thrifted // Headband: Korea

April 11th, 2014

outfit no. 69

I wore this outfit to both host a Blogging 101 workshop at the writing center (where I work) and, later on that evening, to an Arcade Fire concert (amazing). I am not sure that I can write some long-winded essay extolling the virtues of being able to transition an outfit seamlessly from day to night, but I did it with this one nonetheless. Also, I really like this blouse. It reminds me of a 1970′s couch, but in the best way.

Shirt & Tights: ModCloth // Skirt: StitchFix // Boots: Zara

In other news, I was the featured Lady Geek of the Week over at Being Geek Chic. Huzzah! I was so flattered and excited that they asked me to be a part of the interview series — I talked about everything from teaching to my tattoos to which Star Trek character I’d like to share a bottle of wine with. Excerpted below.

Q: When did you discover you were “geeky?”

A: When I was 11 or 12, my parents got the Internet. And I am talking straight dial-up that took hours to load each individual pixel of an image and tended toward disconnection rather than expediency. I’d had a computer previously (which I’d primarily used to play Oregon Trail) but this new Internet gig seemed pretty interesting. Over time, I discovered message boards, adoptable html pets and personal websites. Once I realized that I could own my own little piece of the Internet for the generous price of simply knowing how to develop a Tripod or Angelfire username, I was hooked. I went to the public library and checked out every single book I could find on html, read them, and proceeded to build and develop my own website. I think I called it “Abby’s Lair” and gave it a dragon-related theme, complete with dungeon midi and burning torch .gifs. I was really too young to ascribe “geeky” to what I’d done — it was really more of an obsessive interest in a new topic, which I think tends to be the broadest definition of geekiness.

Read the rest here.


April 9th, 2014

the dogwood parade // a texas adventure.

I love fairs, carnivals, festivals and parades. Like, I love them A LOT. In Texas the festivals tend to take place during the interim seasons (autumn and spring) and in turn are often accompanied by beautiful weather and bursts of natural color. Spring is also bluebonnet and wisteria season in Texas; the aromatic scent of flowers perpetually perfumes the air. I’m not sure that everyone is aware of this, but it’s actually illegal to pick or mow over bluebonnets; so everyone whose yard is peppered with the cerulean blooms must landscape around them until they die of natural causes. As you drive along the road, people will be pulled over photographing themselves in the copious fields of Texas wildflowers (there’s even a pooping on bluebonnets tumblr). Cliche though it may be, I have a special affinity for these flowers as well — I suppose I am merely a product of my environment.

I mentioned the Dogwood Parade in my last outfit post, but I didn’t elaborate on it much. It’s a small town parade in which the entire town turns up and people, who have long since moved on, return. There are strong handshakes and friendly claps on the back as people who haven’t seen each other in years catch up on lost time. Stalls are erected all up and down the main streets and filled with everything from kettle corn to Pinterest-inspired country crafts. Though to be honest, I think most of these women were crafting pre-Pinterest. There is a classic car show as well as some cutesy carnival games. The craft and food spectacle begins around ten AM and the parade starts promptly at two.

During the parade the local high schools (of which there are several, and whose populations are quite small) present their chosen “princesses” via elaborate, hand crafted floats or the aforementioned classic cars. Similarly, many of the local ” mom and pop” stores turn up with their own floats as well. I’ve actually never seen such float dedication before! Of course, there are cheerleaders on fourwheelers and a girl in a prom dress holding a baby goat, because this is Texas after all.

Then, there’s the food. Multiple stands offer up their version of barbeque, funnel cakes, hand-squeezed lemonade and hand pies. The trick is to be in the “know” on whose is the best. Surprisingly, it’s not always the booth with the longest line. And just because you’re friends, doesn’t mean they make the best barbeque. You have to be serious about this decision. I made a bee-line for the Indian (as in Native American) tacos from the Alabama Coushatta tribe’s booth — a good choice on my end. Plus, let’s be real, red velvet funnel cake is officially the greatest food-thing ever.

I think I’ve come to a point in my life where I can no longer imagine a year without at least one street festival. We even went to one in Korea, although there they called them “night markets.” Over this weekend filled with bluebonnets, old (and new) friends, the floats and eating all the food, I managed to experience enough Texas-love to fill a book about. No matter what happens in my life, or what transient turn it might take, I know that Texas is always the place I’ll call home. I am not sure if other people feel this way about their home states (I just assume they do) but if I am ever homesick for a deep-fried Oreo or an 18-wheeler parade, I know just where to go.

April 7th, 2014

outfit no. 68

Jared is from a super small town in Texas, and every spring they host a Dogwood Festival and parade complete with floats, a Dogwood Princess, a high school marching band, funnel cakes, deep fried everything and this uncommon nostalgia that can only be captured by a town that shuts down for their hometown parade. I, of course, used the fabulous spring weather as an excuse to wear my favorite, but not oft worn, dress. As an unabashed sucker for a bold pattern and back cutouts, it’s really not a huge wonder that I love this particularly loud frock.

Dress: ModCloth (super old) // Shoes: Zara

April 4th, 2014

outfit no. 67

One of my ESL students told me I “wear my fashion well” in regard to today’s outfit — so I am going to call that a win. This skirt was originally in my “donate” pile upon returning from Korea, but I put it on one day and just re-fell in love with it. Isn’t it funny how that works with clothes? Sometimes I’ll be hunting for something particular to wear, only to realize that I had long ago sent that item off to the great thrift store in the sky. I find that my stylistic tastes are as cyclical as anything else in life and there are certain things I’ll return to time and again. I think this skirt’s uneven hem endears it to me — it’s a look that I really liked in the 90′s, and one I don’t often find in modern trends. The fabulous scarf was rescued from a blog-friend’s car trunk on my Richmond trip, and it took me a while to figure out how to style it, but I think I’ve got it under control now.

Shirt: ModCloth // Scarf: Megan // Skirt: F21 // Shoes: Korean street stall

April 2nd, 2014

outfit no. 66

Things have been happening quickly these days. There are a lot of to-do lists coupled with bank account avoidance, because seriously it’s just getting depressing in there. I’ve also been dressing more casually than normal for work — in part because of the warm one minute, cool the next weather we’re having, but also because if I can make a comfortable outfit work appropriate — then I am going to, dammit!

I do have a couple of closet staples I’ve found to be the epitome of making comfortable look casual-chic. First, the blazer. This blazer is actually a stretchy, soft material that wears more like a shirt, a perfect light layer. Second, the jeans. I tend toward dark skinny jeans when I am going to work. I bought this particular pair three years ago on sale for 9.99 at Urban Outfitters — they have outlasted all my other jeans, surviving even our Korean washing machine, and remain my current favorite pair. Plus, now they are nice and worn in.

Blazer: Ross // Top: Old Navy // Jeans: UO // Shoes: Toms

March 31st, 2014

frugal & fabulous // kimberly from penny pincher fashion.

This is the March edition of my Frugal & Fabulous series which focuses on dressing fashionably with fewer items, remixing, and being an overall thrifty lady. This interview is with Kimberly from Penny Pincher Fashion. Kimberly is a mom and full-time blogger whose main focus is on being stylish without breaking the bank. Her blog has some great infographics and how-to posts for frugal ladies, such as How To: Closet Purge and she can rock a bold look like no other.

How many pieces of clothing do you own?
I’ve never actually counted, but if you include outerwear, I’m sure it’s over 100.

In what ways do you maintain a frugal lifestyle? Do you ever thrift or make your own clothes?
I love thrift shopping! Every Monday, the Savers store nearby has 25% off everything in the store so I try to go on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I’ve found the best pieces there – a leather pencil skirt for $8 and an authentic Salvatore Ferragamo bag for under $15!

What is your personal style philosophy?
Everything you wear should make you feel amazing!

What is one piece that you feel you could build an entire wardrobe around?
A tailored blazer – easy to dress up or down & instantly adds polish to any look.

How often do you purchase new pieces for your wardrobe?
I only allow myself to buy new clothes using money that I’ve made selling old clothes on PoshMark & eBay, so if I don’t sell anything one month then I can’t buy something new.

What do you do to keep your closet interesting without constantly adding more items?
I gather lots of inspiration from Pinterest for remixing pieces I already own. And I also love making small changes to items I’ve had for a while to create something new – example: I dyed a khaki blazer navy blue & changed out the buttons; I removed the sleeves from a short trench coat to make a vest & I distressed a pair of old Levi’s.

Don’t forget to check out Penny Pincher Fashion!