Thursday, October 31, 2013

Being Late, Being Too Busy, Or Being 'Cool'?

In the last few days, this article about being late, from Greg Savage on the Huffington Post blog, has made the rounds on social media almost everywhere I have looked. The question at hand as made obvious by the headline-- How did it get to be 'ok' for people to be late for everything?

Savage hits the nail on the head with something that I have noticed with growing annoyance. People showing up half an hour late for meetings, friends always running behind for a dinner meetup while I'm sitting solo at the bar waiting for them, and having to purposely schedule dinner parties to start a bit early, knowing that the guests won't arrive on time. Am I guilty of some of these things too? Absolutely, but I don't make a habit out of it, nor do I continue on without apologizing first. And, in most instances, I strive to be a few minutes early because the thought of being late induces incredibly anxieties.

While Savage discusses the routine lateness as being rude, he doesn't delve much deeper into the reasoning as to why this is a growing trend. I stopped to think about why this might be, and thought about the instances in which I was late. In the past couple years, I would say that the majority of my lateness occurred with weekend plans with the same couple that are good friends of ours. Unfortunately, and horrifyingly, the lateness always occurred with them. It had nothing to do with them as people (we love hanging out with them!), but all about the events leading up to whatever it was that we were doing with them.

via Hairbrained Schemes

I have found that in instances of recent lateness, our schedule for the day was so full of things that we thought we could (or rather Andrew thought he could) fit into one day, but in reality was just too much. I'm not one to try to fit everything in. It's too hectic and intense for the introvert in me. Andrew, on the other hand, is like a motor that doesn't stop. If he has an idea, he'll add it to the list of things to do, or start in on it because he thinks he can squeeze it in before we leave.

In our last instance of lateness, were were 45 minutes late to the aforementioned friends' house because an hour before we were supposed to leave, Andrew started waxing his car. He thought he would get it finished in an hour despite my suggestions for him to save it for another day. As we hopped into a freshly waxed car, 25 minutes after the time we were supposed to have arrived, I remember saying over and over again, "I can't believe we're going to be so late! I hate being late!"

This makes me wonder, is our lateness due to the fact that we are leading lives that are too busy? Should we be taking this lateness trend as a sign to slow down? What if we just got rid of one or two things a day in our busy schedule to be done at a later date? What if we said no sometimes instead of yes?

Thinking from the other side of the fence, I have been in the shoes of those who are waiting for late friends or colleagues. Some are apologetic and sincere, and others come racing in, smart phone in hand, and a quick "Oh my god, I am just so busy these days!" which is their sort of version of an apology.

For the latter, I think being late is cool. You're cool when you're late because it shows that you are busy. If you're busy, then you must be super duper cool because all of those people and places need you. This, I think, may be one of the greatest reasons for lateness being "ok." It is almost like common knowledge these days that the "it" people are just simply so awesome that they are always busy and because they are so awesome that makes it ok.

When did the number of activities, meetings, events, dates, and all of those wonderful things bring about a social status that makes one friend better than the other? And when did the busy lifestyle trump being on time and respecting the time of others?

via minthouse
In general, Savage's article really provoked a new idea of living a happy lifestyle. It made me embrace the fact that I like slowing down, and that in a society where we stress to live every day to the fullest, maybe we have gotten carried away by our daily lives a little too much. When I think about my day to day life, I'd rather spend an hour at lunch with a friend, arriving on time, rather than dealing with the stress of trying to cram one more thing in beforehand, in hopes that I'll save time later. The reality is, slowing down and taking a breather just might make us all a little happier, especially if that means being on time becomes the new cool.

How do you feel about people being late? What are your reasons for being late? Do you think we should all slow down too?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Style: Wedding Edition

As you know, this past August, Andrew and I got married. We decided that a big wedding just wasn't us, and opted for a short and sweet courthouse wedding with a close friend in tow as our witness. After our wedding, we decided to take an epic trip to Australia instead. For us, traveling seemed to make much more sense in terms of where to spend our money. Travel is something that we both enjoy immensely and we knew a trip would make us a lot happier than a wedding that would be over in just a few short hours.

However, despite our quick wedding affair, we still decided to have fun and be a little classy. Many people commented on our wedding photos and loved our color theme and attire, and some even asked me to do this post (you know who you are...). To be truthful, we always travel on a budget, and our wedding attire was also on a budget... ok, except maybe not the shoes. Buuuuut, would you expect any less from me? So without further ado, here's the breakdown.

Her /// Dress - Nordstrom, $148 // Sandals - Kate Spade, $228 (splurge!) // Clutch - Milo and Molly, gift (similar) // Earrings - Target

Him /// Pants - Express, $59.90 // Shirt - Michael Kors via TJ Maxx, $19.99 // Tie - Macy's, $49.50

The total new cost of our attire was $445.49, which was half due to my splurge for shoes. We had a little money left over from our budgeted travel expenses, and Andrew insisted that I get the shoes and dress that I wanted. He knew that the shoes would be worn more than once and get some good use, so despite my qualms, he insisted I get them. This in itself is amazing as he most recently was heard saying, "You already have too many shoes!" as we browsed the new DSW that opened up nearby. I also say "new cost" because Andrew already owned the pants as part of his work clothes wardrobe.

I chose the mint cork wedges and tie to compliment the clutch that Kristen made for me as a wedding gift. I had initially found a mint dress at Nordstrom Rack that I was going to wear, but in a last minute fit of wedding panic (I say this jokingly of course, as this was the most stressful part of our wedding and it wasn't even really stressful!), I decided it'd be more fun to do a traditional white dress.

For me, this was a bit more than I wanted to spend on our wedding, but at the same time I realize that our entire ensemble cost less than all of the actual "wedding" dresses I looked at. I'm not sure why they can charge more just because it is dubbed as a wedding dress! And with a mere $15 needed to use the courthouse for 10 minutes, why not splurge a little?

Were you on a tight budget for your wedding? Anyone else out there do a courthouse wedding like us? What were your splurge items for your wedding attire?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Food Frustrations

Food is obviously one of the most important aspects in our daily lives. Without it, we cannot sustain life. For me, food has become not only something of importance for living, but for for other aspects of life as well. Food is what everything pivots around-- conversation and company of good friends and family, exploration in travel, and just enjoying the basic element of life. Savoring food slows us down and brings us away from the daily grind. Enjoying time in the kitchen at the end of the day is something that Andrew and I do together almost daily. There is a joy in that companionship, over discovering new flavors, and challenging ourselves to new and innovative recipes.

My love for not just food, but good food comes directly from my mother, without a doubt. I think back to time with my mom's side of the family sitting at the dinner table for hours, eating, drinking, laughing, conversing, and just enjoying. I remember coming home from elementary school to a house filled with the smell of fresh French bread, ripping off a piece of bread from a baguette, and devouring it just as is because it was just that good. I think of hours over time spent sitting with my dad at my mom's bakery enjoying a flavorful afternoon cup of coffee along with one of my favorite cookies or pastries.

Food is not just food.

via Old English Company

In the past years, I have begun to see a startling trend. Food becomes restricted, becomes the enemy. Clearly, to be healthy individuals it becomes necessary to restrict the amount of food that we consume. It does no one any good to overeat. However, restricting food in other ways by excluding things from your diet is a trend that I will understand the least. Every few years it seems that we're "supposed" to exclude yet another thing from our diets or we will be deemed as unhealthy or simply not caring about what we put into our bodies. And then, the next year, it's fine again to eat that, but we need to exclude something else.

These food trends sadden and frustrate me. After all, we only live once, so why not enjoy all that there is to offer, but eat with moderation to remain healthy? Recently, the trend that has cropped up is the gluten-free diet. It is very possible that I'll get myself in trouble for posting my opinions on food trends, but it seems that these days no one can share their opinion without being considered offensive. Sure, there are benefits for some people in which a gluten-free diet makes most sense. However, studies show these benefits are not proven to make any difference for the majority of people's health. (Yes, I'm sure that there are articles that would say the opposite, but isn't that how the media always dictates food trends? I mean last year coffee was bad for you, and this year it's good for you!) In addition, most people who have gone gluten-free are self-diagnosed which in itself can be dangerous. In the majority of cases, when we exclude things from our diets, we lose out on important vitamins, fibers, fats, sugars, nutrients, etc.

Some of the recent arguments that I hear for a gluten-free diet have to do with digestive issues. Certainly there is a connection here, as we know that gluten affects those with Celiac disease. However, we seem to have forgotten that indigestion can be caused by other aspects-- processed foods, stress and anxiety, and an unbalanced diet-- all things that seem to plague the American society as a whole. As a nation, we eat a lot of junk, we don't slow down to eat, we cram too much to do into the day, and we teach our children that good food and water is gross as we feed them McDonald's and soft drinks. However, at the end of the day, each person can choose what they want to put into their bodies-- that is a personal choice that we all make.

via Hero Design Studio
I choose to eat gluten. I would be lost without bread (among many other things such as beer), and bread has flour which contains gluten. And you know what? I feel healthy. I also feel healthy because I eat in moderation, make sure to eat fruits and veggies along with my grains, dairy, and protein, and try to maintain an active lifestyle. It just works for me. However, if that doesn't work for you, I wish you would stop making my choice in gluten sound as though I am choosing a death sentence. Recently I've heard and read the terms nasty, horrible, bad, unhealthy, poisonous, harmful, and toxic as descriptors of bread or wheat. I feel as if those who have made the choice to go gluten-free continue to hammer on the idea that if I chose to eat gluten I am damaging my body. Not so here. I am perfectly fine and healthy when I eat gluten and would attest to that fact by divulging that in the past at least 10 years, I've only had to go to the doctor twice due to illness.

Often, I liken this trend to any other trend. The way I feel a bit awkward wearing boot cut jeans in a crowd of skinny jeans. The way Wegmans made me feel dirty for purchasing regular yogurt instead of Chobani after they demoted the regular yogurt to the bottom corner of a shelf and filled the rest of it with Greek yogurt. The way people looked at me as if I was crazy when I declared that I hated Lady Gaga when she was first all the rage.

The point is that we all make our own choices, and eating ALL foods is one that I've made. Let me enjoy my food. Don't make me feel bad about that when I shouldn't have to feel that way.

What do you think about food trends? Are they really as healthy as the media makes them out to be? Do you follow food trends?

Thursday, October 24, 2013


It's taken me quite a while to get through all of our photos from Australia. Setting aside time just to sort through them all is hard to do, and then once I have the time, choosing the ones that I like the most becomes quite the chore! On our first full day in Sydney, we took a ferry to Watson's Bay for some lunch and then took the bus to Bondi. (You know you want to click that link. I was only singing this song in my head the whole way there...)

Bondi is home to one of the most popular city beaches and was a place I often went to just to relax and chill out. When we arrived, it was cloudy, which made me a bit sad. However, as we stayed for a little while, the sun came out and the weather warmed and we were able to enjoy a beer while watching all of the surfers take on the waves.

Our first full day in Sydney was busy as we took in the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Sydney Opera House before heading to Bondi, but we knew we were short on time for our entire trip. There was no better way to get over our jetlag than to just jump right in with all of the adventures.

Up next, I'll share some photos from our second day before we headed out to the red center.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Holiday Cards Are Here!

It has been a crazy few weeks in my home studio as I've had one of the busiest months this year and have also been working diligently on my new holiday line. After several weeks of work, I'm happy to say that the full line of holiday cards is officially here! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah combined, there's a bit of everything-- some simple, some funny, a few naughty, a couple bright and fun, and a lot of eco-friendliness going on in there too. Many of these cards are 100% recycled paper content, something I've been striving for recently. While not all of the cards are listed in sets, I am happy to do sets for you if need be, so feel free to get in touch with those sorts of requests! Now, here's a look at the full line of cards. You can click through the photos to find them in my shop!

What do you think of the new holiday line? Which are your favorites? It is hard for me to choose which ones I like the best because they all turned out just as I had envisioned, which is a super exciting thing! Are you preparing for the holidays yet?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A to Z Book Survey

There has been a lot of discussion in my world about reading lately, mostly because I've recently been getting back into reading. Now that I have spare time to actually sit down with a book since I'm not teaching anymore, I've been reading a lot more. Recently, both Paige and Kristen posted this A to Z Book Survey, so I thought I'd join in with my own responses. I'm interested in what others are reading these days because I want to add to that list of books to read!
Author you've read the most books from:

Gertrude Chandler Warner. Who the hell is that?! I know that's what you're asking yourself, but let's face it, when I was a kid, I read just about every Boxcar Children book that existed. If we're counting adult books, probably Sherman Alexie.

Best sequel ever:

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. I know this is going back to my childhood again, but the entire series of books by Mildred D. Taylor is incredibly moving. I would still recommend reading this and the others (Song of the Trees, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, The Road to Memphis, and The Land) as an adult. I read these around 4th and 5th grade, though they actually deal with fairly adult material, and I tended to read books several years before my peers. (I know, I was an advanced reader aka nerd.) Either way, incredibly compelling books that need to be read!

Currently reading:

Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser. I bought this for vacation reading while in Australia and am still reading it. It's a long one!

Drink of choice while reading:

Wine. I read the most during the fall and winter, and I often read at night or after dinner and often bring my glass of red wine from dinner with me while I read.

E-reader or physical book:

I have a Kindle and use that a lot simply because books are more affordable in that format. However, I really enjoy being able to have the physical book in hand much more so than an electronic device. Every now and then, I still splurge and buy the physical book for that very reason. Sometimes I read a really good book on my Kindle and then instantly regret not being able to add it to my physical library.

Fictional character you would have actually dated in high school:

Hmmm. I can't think of any. I'm not one to get all gushy about characters in either books or movies, so I can't even think of one!

Glad you gave this book a chance:

The Hunger Games. I thought it was going to annoy me, but a friend convinced me to read it anyway. I ended up reading the majority of it in a day while I sat in jury duty and then decided to teach it to my students a month after I read it. The adult themes of a dystopian society as well as the issues of desensitization were enough to hook me amid the sappiness of the romance. I will admit, however, that I still have a few chapters left to go in Catching Fire and I still haven't read Mockingjay. So, that being said, it didn't hold my attention as much as I thought it was supposed to.

Hidden gem book:

The Black Crusade by Richard Harland. Harland is an Australia author, and I picked up this book for a literature class I was taking while living in Australia. This novel is a darkly satirical statement about they way our world works-- very cynical and right up my alley.

Important moment in your reading life:

When I was a kid, I always made sure that I was the first to get the newspaper. I'd hear it hit the porch and then I would immediately run out to get it. Our public library was only a block from our house, so I have memories of walking there with my mom and sister during the summer and carrying home a huge pile of books. We'd go back then next week or in a few days and restock. On super hot days, we would just stay at the library and read for hours to escape our hot house without air conditioning.

Goshen Public Library
Just finished:

The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I've always like Louise Erdrich, but this one just depressed me. I had a hard time getting through it for that very reason. My mom, who has also been a fan of Erdrich's books,  mentioned something about Erdrich recently dealing with some fairly depressing situations in her life, so maybe she carried that with her into this latest book of hers. I'm not quite sure.

Kinds of books you won't read:

Most science fiction, sappy romance novels, and horror-ish books (if you know what I mean). I don't read a lot of non-fiction either-- it has to be a really good read for me to get into it (i.e. Fast Food Nation, Savage Inequalities). I also don't really do many of the classics. They bore me. (I know! Gasp!)

Longest book you've read:

Questions of Travel is almost 600 pages. Also, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver was up there. I'm not really sure. I think I read a lot of 500+ page books to be quite honest!

Major book hangover because of:

Any story line that makes me think beyond just the story will really get to me. I find myself deconstructing texts to find meaning in themes and symbolism and then having to go back and reread sections in order to understand that bigger picture. Maybe that's the English major in me. It's hard for me not to analyze literature in that way since I spent four years doing it in college and another six teaching my students how to do the same.

Number of bookcases you own:

Only one small one at the moment. We don't have enough space in our tiny row house. We did install built in shelving in our basement though so I guess I started putting a few books there. At our old apartment, we had an entire wall of built in shelving where I stored my book collection. I had to trim down the collection and sell a lot of them and now others are stored in milk crates and boxes in a closet. :(

One book you have read multiple times:

The Book Thief. I've read it probably about five times. There are so many new things that I pick up or notice each time I read it.

Preferred place to read:

I like to curl up in one of our big sofa chairs with a blanket.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read:

Uhhhhh. I don't do well with these kinds of questions. I don't go for specific quotes, though I know there have been plenty of times where the writing that I was reading was just so perfect that it made me smile and gave me shivers.

Reading regret:

Can't say I've had one yet. I try to steer clear of the books I know I'll regret reading!

Series you started and need to finish (all books in series are out):

Considering my admission about The Hunger Games series, I suppose that'd be a good answer for this one.

Three of your all-time favorite books:

Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.

Unapologetic fangirl for:

Anything by Sherman Alexie or Nick Hornby. Their wit and humor get me every time! I get excited when either of them come out with a new novel, especially Alexie.

Very excited for this release more than all the others:

I usually snatch up the new Sherman Alexie books as soon as I can. He doesn't have anything new out at the moment (his last was a collection of short stories from about a year ago), but he publishes fairly regularly so I can only hope!

Worst bookish habit:

Not finishing books. Sometimes books just don't quite cut it for me so instead of giving it a chance, it just sits unfinished. Sometimes life gets in the way of a good book, so I just don't finish it. I need to make that stop.

X marks the spot: start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. The title also doubles as a music album title, so get your minds out of the gutter, people! ;)

Your latest book purchase:

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. I was looking forward to the release of this book. Can't wait to start reading it after I finish my current novel!

Zzzzz-snatcher (the last book that kept you up WAY late):

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I just couldn't put it down!

And now, I'm curious about you! What do you love/hate to read? Any really good books you have read lately? I'm a HUGE fan of contemporary literature-- not the stuff that isn't that great of writing, but sells. Rather, those authors of recent that just blow my mind away with incredibly surreal writing. The ones where you're like, where have you been all my life?! Suggestions? Please leave them in the comments!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Giveaway

Coming out of my spontaneous blogging absence to share a super fun giveaway for Halloween. I don't do giveaways very often, but thought it would be fun to do something for Halloween which is just right around the corner, so I teamed up with my friend Ayla to have a little fun. I'm giving away a set of Halloween pencils and two Halloween cards, and Ayla is giving away the cutest spider web pencil case (seriously, I really wish I could win it!) and a Halloween themed keychain.

The giveaway will end at 12pm on October 25, and the winner announced on October 26th just in time before Halloween! It is open to residents of the US and Canada only. There are lots of ways to enter, so enter away and hopefully you'll be the lucky winner! Good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sydney Opera House

We continued our first day in Sydney by making our way along Farm Cove and on to the Sydney Opera House. Andrew was in architect heaven. He walked amongst the sails scoping out all of the little details-- the materials used, the way seams in the building came together, that sort of thing. Even if the Opera House is that cliche tourist attraction that you MUST see, I have found that it never gets tiring to look at. It is an architectural beauty.

After a couple weeks of adventure elsewhere in Australia, we made our way back to Sydney for one more day. Our last night there, we took a night walk after dinner to take a few spectacular night shots. Day and night, this structure is impressive and paired with the Harbour Bridge, the two are a true icon of the city.

While the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are those natural icons we often think of when the name Australia comes to conversation, there are also plenty of other amazing things happening in this city. I'll be sure to share a few more photos from our time in Sydney before I move on to the red desert.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens

After our vacation, it has taken me a while to get back on my feet again in my shop. Catching up on emails, ordering supplies that I let get really low before we left, and just getting into the general swing of things again has taken me about a week. Yesterday, I was determined to start the week off right and I finally feel like I'm sort of back on my normal schedule. Slowly, but surely, I've also been making my way through all of our photos from vacation.

We left Baltimore on a Tuesday afternoon, flew to Dallas-Fort Worth, and then took off for Sydney around 10pm that Tuesday night. From there, a 15 hour flight ensued as we made our way to Sydney, finally arriving at 8:30am on Thursday. Missing a day is the strangest sensation. You feel like you've missed out on something at your final destination, but realize that you've missed nothing back home. You sort of feel like shouting across the Pacific, "Take that suckers! You still have to do Wednesday, and Thursday is a pretty damn good day!"

In Sydney, we rented a gorgeous apartment in Potts Point that had huge picture windows overlooking the Sydney skyline. After dropping off our bags and taking much needed showers, we managed to keep ourselves awake by stumbling through the neighborhood to explore, pick up some groceries for the next few days, grabbing a beer at a local pub, and organizing a plan for the next day.

On a side note, if anyone is planning on visiting Sydney anytime soon, I'll gladly give you the information for this gorgeous apartment. It was perfect! ;)

After a good night of sleep, we spent the day doing the normal touristy things that one should do, I suppose. We hopped a metro with the early morning commuters and then walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens. When I lived in Australia, I often took the train up to Sydney to spend time in the gardens enjoying the beautiful, lush flora while I would read and study for my classes. It's a beautiful haven that almost makes you forget you're in the city until you glimpse up at the skyline.

We enjoyed the rose garden first, made our way through the native tropical plants, and on to see the succulents before finally arriving along Farm Cove for a glimpse of the Opera House. And the white cockatoos! I'd missed the white cockatoos sitting, flying, squawking about everywhere!

These gardens are certainly beautiful and were a peaceful way for us to start our first early morning (thank you jetlag) in Sydney. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with more photos from Sydney!

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