7 Quick Takes: Just Checking In

1 02 2013

Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting the Quick Takes and giving this blog some structure.


So, life’s been kind of crazy.  There have been curveballs these last couple of weeks.  When isn’t that the case?  For whatever reason, these more recent curves have seemed more overwhelming.  I won’t get into the depressing details, but I think a lot of my perception comes down to the heavy self-analysis I’ve been doing lately.

Is that just another way of saying I’m being neurotic?  Eh, who knows.


I think that first take was really a way of introducing the fact that I’m declaring a redo on my New Year’s Resolutions.  I have, in the past, made something of a to-do about the antagonistic relationship I have with the month of February, but I find myself oddly relieved at its arrival here in 2013.  I have decided that the first of February is a much better start date than the first of the year.  In fact, we’ll just go ahead and declare January a non-month that didn’t really happen.  At least in terms of writing and closet organization.

Now, though, I’m ready to go.  I not only have postcards and other nifty stationery, I have stamps!  I bought a whole bunch at the post office the other day.

So this is a good time to email me your addresses if you think there’s even the smallest chance that I don’t have it.  I will take that as a hint that I should send you a postcard.


One good thing to come out of the non-month of January is that I finally made it out to a local coffee place I’ve been meaning to spend time at.  Cup of Hope is a fair trade coffee shop run by nuns.  It’s a component of the HOPES Center, a social services outreach of the Racine Dominicans.  I think it’s very quickly going to become one of my favorite hangouts.


Speaking of things I’ve been meaning to do, my boyfriend finally persuaded me to watch Downton Abbey with him.  I use the word “finally” because of all the chatter & persuasion I had heard previously.  My guy didn’t actually have to push very hard.  By the time he’s suggesting a television show for me to watch, it is way past overdue.

We’ve been watching together in between all of our other various activities when we manage to be in the same place.  While we have made it into the current season, we are still several episodes behind.  It’s cool, though.  I already know all of the spoilers.  That’s just how the Internet works.


On my own I’ve been watching some Warehouse 13.  This has helped to fill some of the Eureka-shaped hole in my heart.  Yes, the show is almost unbearably goofy at times, but so much of my favorite sci-fi is.  There’s something about the aesthetic that appeals to my imagination.  It’s very steampunk, but not in an overwhelming way.  The in-world rules seem to favor technological explanations, but there is a magical sort of mystery to the way things work that seems to become more and more prominent as the series progresses.  I think, above all, that I love to picture this secret world of excitement and magic and advanced-yet-outdated tech intertwined with the normal world I have to live in.

I also thought they showed some very pretty pictures of Detroit in the episode that took place there.


I first heard this song on one of those episodes of Warehouse 13, and I’ve had it on repeat pretty much ever since.  It’s very sad, but it’s so lovely.


So, this is for mature audiences only, but I am really, really loving The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and highly recommend them to anyone who has ever even considered reading Pride and Prejudice.  This is a fantastically interesting and well-done project fashioning Jane Austen’s classic novel into a modern, Internet-based setting.  The main show is the video blog of  Lizzie Bennet, a communications grad student, but it’s complemented and enhanced by other video series and social media accounts stretching throughout several sites and belonging to various characters.  The actors are all ridiculously talented and the writers are inspiring.  The adaptation is incredibly clever.  The Bennets are in danger of losing their home to foreclosure, Mr. Collins proposes a business partnership, Darcy is the CEO of Pemberley Digital and George Wickham has ensnared Lydia in a truly shocking and horrifying way.  Check out lizziebennet.com for the scoop.

Love Thee

18 01 2013

I will be (one of) the first to admit that my reactions to certain situations can be overly-emotional.  This is especially the case when I am tired, sick or stressed, or if the subject at hand is one of a special few: criticism (real or imagined), my love life and Notre Dame football.

Let’s just say that when it comes to my emotions, 2013 has been a real doozy.

ND Athletics... breaking my heart since the Bush Push of 05

ND Athletics… breaking my heart since the Bush Push of 05

That’s not to say I haven’t been put through the wringer before.  I was a student at Notre Dame during the horrifically bad 2007 football season.  Despite this, I have thrown myself whole-heartedly into the fandom.  Whole-heartedly.   It’s so much more than just a football team to me.  It’s also a hockey team.

In all seriousness, Notre Dame athletics are about so much more than the games themselves to me.  They’re a way of connecting back to a really fantastic time in my life.  They’re a part of my family in so many ways, for so many generations.  They’re a way of connecting to so many people who are important to me and so many people I haven’t met yet.  So sometimes I put a little too much into it.

While you could say I’ve been over-invested in Notre Dame football ever since I arrived on campus, I took it to a new level this past season.

I really fell in love with the team.  I read ND football blogs every single day, making Her Loyal Sons my first stop online for weeks at a time.  I skipped other social opportunities to watch the games on my laptop alone in my apartment.  I stood through the whole Michigan game, despite being on crutches with a sprained ankle.

I’ve gone through a rough patch recently.  The unexpectedly thrilling football season has really helped me through it.  I get that this is a silly thing.  I really do.  But I still loved every win.  Every win made the week that followed better.

The loss to Alabama, however, was rough.  It was a difficult thing to process after such an amazing season.  Still, I dealt with it.  It has been a fantastic ride and I’m just glad that I still get to talk about ND football in January.

What happened on Wednesday, though?  With Manti Te’o?  That I’m not talking about.

There is just no way for me to process that.  So I’m just going to move on from it, with prayers for everyone involved, and a great deal of admiration for Jack Swarbrick.

I’ve heard a lot of implications over the past few days, not just about the people involved, but about ME and how I should feel now about Notre Dame and Notre Dame football.  You know what?  I am confused as all get out about what happened between Manti and the Internet, but I’m not confused about how I feel about my Alma Mater.  There’s still a lot to celebrate, and I do.

Love Thee Notre Dame

Love Thee Notre Dame

Too Much of Myself

15 01 2013

All of that bravado about resolutions and new spark, and what do I do?  I get distracted by life and forget to blog.

You will have to forgive me.

Some of that time was spent with a brief bout of a flu-like illness.  It was blissfully brief, but horrible for its short duration.  So we won’t talk about that.

Some of that time was spent on a much more exciting project.

Vibrant Versatility

Vibrant Versatility

If you are acquainted with me in real life, you have probably heard me gush about ModCloth, home to so many wonderful, vintage-inspired clothes.  I especially love the dresses, and I spend a lot of daydream time imagining how I’d wear them.

I am a style junkie, although you wouldn’t necessarily know it to look at me recently.  I love putting together outfits that are unique but flattering.  I love colors, individually and together.  I really love texture.  And yes, I admit it, I like it when I go out somewhere and people look at me.

Most of all, when I put effort into my appearance, I feel better.  I feel calmer and I feel happier.  I roll with the punches more easily.

In some ways, then, it was like a new year’s resolution that I entered ModCloth’s year of dresses contest.  I recognize that my chances of winning are virtually nil, even though there are three winners, only one of whom is selected by popular vote.  I recognize that I entered the contest too late to really even attract the same kind of attention as some of the earlier entries.

But I can’t quite squash my hope.  I am proud of that photograph above, weird though it was to put together.  It was a very narcissistic experience.  I almost started to get sick of looking at myself…almost.  There is something about getting into the nitty-gritty of detailed photo alteration that consumes me.  I think I did a really good job of designing the different looks, and a passably good job of cobbling the thing together.

Like all situations, though, it is the writing that really ties it together for me.  ModCloth asked three questions of each entrant.

  1. In 200 words or less, what’s your Year of Dresses mission statement? Why do you want to spend 12 months sharing your style with our community?
  2. If you had to pick one, what’s your favorite ModCloth item ever?
  3. What’s the best fashion or style advice you ever received?

Here is my answer, in the paragraphs I wrote it in (instead of the giant, impenetrable block of text it went up as).  If you like it even a little, please, please, PLEASE, inflate my hopes a little longer and vote for me.

My mission for a Year of Dresses can be summed up with “Vibrant Versatility.” Like so many young women, I am living an unsettled life. I anticipate many changes for 2013, possibly including relocation to another time zone, career shifts, more education, deepening relationships and bright, new perspectives. I could be afraid of the uncertainty, but I choose to embrace the opportunities. After all, I know that my style can fit all kinds of occasions, formal or professional, casual or glam, indoor, outdoor and all weather. Wherever life takes me, I can find a dress that fits and I will use that dress to brighten up my day — and yours.

My favorite ModCloth item ever is the deliciously purple “Grape Kelly Dress” I’m wearing in the lower left corner of my picture. I can dress it up for a night out or dress it down for a day at work. The filigree design on the bodice compliments some of my favorite Celtic knotwork jewelry. I threw a warm gray sweater over the dress for Christmas this year and it worked perfectly with the pewter knotwork barrette from my boyfriend (and the earrings I bought as a gift to myself!).

The best style advice I ever received was to invest in quality for the foundations of my outfit. Quality undergarments and tailoring make all the difference in how a dress fits. High caliber makeup and jewelry that doesn’t irritate my skin makes the whole look more polished. The more faith I have in the foundations of my look, the more confident I can be in how I pull it off.


So Good to Be Home

6 01 2013

It’s been a long day with a lengthy bus ride, but it’s been pretty good overall.

Grandma dropped me off at the Megabus stop in Chicago this morning with a full travel mug of coffee. One of the best things about staying with Grandma is how easy it is to have coffee in the morning.  Yes, it is easy to have coffee when I’m on my own in my apartment, but it’s a hassle and a half here with my parents.  They do not drink coffee, so the coffee pot is buried in the cupboards.  Then there’s the discussion about whether I NEED coffee or just WANT it.  Since I don’t NEED coffee, and often don’t drink it on a normal day in my apartment, I usually don’t drink it at home.

I almost always drink coffee at Grandma’s, though, because we drink it together.  Also, I tend to leave her place early in the morning to travel somewhere else.  In those cases, it’s often nice to take some coffee with me.  This morning saw me waiting outdoors for over half an hour for a bus.  The coffee was still warm when I got there, and definitely helped keep my mood cheerful.  Thank goodness for Grandmas.


Really cold!

Also thank goodness for winter hats. It was cold waiting out there.

So yes.  I am home now with my family for another break-like weekend.  My sister is going back to Virginia soon.  My mother is teaching me how to use the sewing machine I got for Christmas.  My dad is watching football with me.  We’re all gearing up for the big game on Monday (Go Irish).  It is so good to be home and to really feel like a part of a family.  I miss this when I’m in my beautiful, spacious apartment.

7 Quick Takes: New Year

4 01 2013


I was going to post this in the morning.  Oh well.  So much to do, so little time, such divided attention I have!  My brain is admittedly focused on all the things I WANT to do today, rather than on the things I said I would do, or the things I am responsible for.  Never before in my life has there been such a gulf between what I am doing and what I want to be doing.

When I think about it, really, for most of my life I had what I wanted.  I didn’t particularly LIKE high school, but I weathered it well.  I was involved with activities that filled me with purpose, joy and strength.  I met and fell head over heels for the guy I am dating now.  And not to brag, but I was killing it in the classroom.   Even at Notre Dame, battling mono, I still felt like I was on top of the world most of the time.  At the very least, I felt like I was living my life the best I could, and that my life was better than it had ever been.  I felt loved, and stressed as I was (like ALL THE TIME), I felt strong.  In truth, maybe that stress MADE me feel strong.  I felt like I was doing something and moving forward.


I’m going to cut that last take off before it gets too serious and gloomy.  It deserves a real post of its own, especially if I really address the angst I am attempting to overcome and the hope I feel at the prospect (Post for over the weekend?  We’ll see.).  In the meantime, here are my new year’s resolutions.

  • A post a day!  Well… two posts a day, technically.  One here on the blog, and one postcard in the mail.  Subscribe here to keep up to date on the blog posts and send me word if you want to receive some snail mail.   I’m going to reevaluate the postcards after the first 100, so we’ll see if that stays.
  • Getting rid of at least half my wardrobe.  Not sure what the timeline on that will be, but I expect it to finish up in early Lent.
  • Working out every day.  I am running a marathon relay in May and I joined Jazzercise.  So I have multiple options.


In case any of those resolutions seem impressive, please understand that I’m failing at all of them.  As of right now, I haven’t even done laundry, let alone sorted through any clothing since the new year.  I also have not worked out once, or written a single postcard or a Christmas thank you note.  At least I have you, WordPress.  I operate on a soft start model when it comes to resolutions.  And pretty much life in general.


I start daydreaming a lot at the new year.  I am considering a career change and/or a physical relocation.  I would love to hear what people think I should do with my life and what skills haven’t rusted over.  As for location… Pittsburgh and Detroit/Ann Arbor, feel free to start fighting for me.  Shall I live by a lake or a river?


I have been discovering some wonderful music recently.  This week, I am grooving to Dala, a Canadian folk duo who sing beautiful harmonies.  I recommend “Northern Lights,” “Don’t Believe the Actress,” and current favorite “Alive”.

Yes, they are very Canadian.


Here is a picture from New Year’s Eve!

Flowers for the win!

We went to a party with an Old Las Vegas theme. Note the corsage he gave me.


Notre Dame football plays for the National Championship on Monday, and I have no idea how to handle it.  I want to scream from the rooftops and play the fight song on repeat and get into Twitter wars with Alabama people.

I’m also very hesitant, because hopeful though I am, I’ve been hurt before.  My beloved Irish are technically the underdogs, despite the undefeated season and top ranking.  I don’t want to build my excitement up, because I have a 6 hour car ride with my boyfriend the morning after the game.  That will go a lot smoother if I’m not sulking.

So let’s just watch this understated video to get in the mood.

…but let’s also pray that both Notre Dame and Green Bay win their games so that peace may reign on the road trip.



PS-  Please keep Jen Fulwiler, the Quick Takes host in your prayers as she recovers from bilateral pulmonary embolisms.  And see all of the Quick Takes over at Hallie Lord’s place this week.


4 01 2013

Strictly speaking, I missed posting “today”, or “yesterday”, or in “a 24-hour period”.

Some days don’t go the way you expect them to.

But I woke up this morning halfway home, and my grandmother made me the best eggs I have ever eaten for breakfast.  I got my new used car all the way back to Wisconsin, got my new contacts in the mail and found some delightful contests to enter so that I can have lovely ModCloth dresses without having to spend actual money.  Keep your fingers crossed, and look for the link when I ask your help with voting.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I may be flexible in my definition of a day, but that I’m trying to see flexible as a positive.  I’m trying to see everything as positive as I can.

It’s not a lot of posting tonight, but it’s enough to keep my writing muscles warm and active.  I have to flex them every little bit if I’m going to keep this resurgence of creativity going!  I treated myself to a voice recorder with my Christmas money so that I can keep track of the ideas I have in the car, so that I can keep playing with words and sounds and not worry about forgetting.  This is important.  The actual written word, though, has a whole other allure.  Writing for this blog, even brief little posts like this one, exercises a slightly different set of mental muscles.

Let’s see just how fit I can get this year!  Sleep for now, but Quick Takes in the morning.

2013: Welcome to an Odd Year

2 01 2013

Time to turn some lights on!  This blog has been dark for a while.

It’s late… about 10:45 already… and I have to be up early tomorrow, but in all of my darting to and fro this holiday season, I have already failed on my spur-of-the-moment post-a-day New Year’s resolutions.  It is in fact January 2nd, and I did not post on my blog on January 1st.

Nor did I follow through on my even more interesting post-a-day resolution.  My plan is to write (and ACTUALLY MAIL) a postcard every day in 2013.  Or, at least, every day until my 100 card pack of Pantone postcards runs out.  Then I will reevaluate.

As I said, it’s late, so I’m keeping this short tonight, but I am at least keeping it.  I wish all of you a happy and blessed new year.  Let me know if you want a postcard in the mail!