Burgers, Fries, and Sunny Skies

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Jean Jacket: Levi’s (similar) Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Choker: Topshop (similar)

It’s almost summer, and I can’t wait for the sunny days and warm nights that are coming our way (especially with all the rain and clouds we’ve had lately)! This week I’m sharing a classic summer food: burgers and sliders. Though let’s be real–I’ll eat at either of these restaurants no matter the season because they make my favorite burgers and sliders in all of Portland!

I’m pictured above, truly happy as can be, because I’m eating at one of my all-time faves: PDX Sliders. This highly-rated, local restaurant started as a food cart back in 2014, but now has two brick and mortar locations in southeast Portland. My personal slider of choice is the Tilikum, made of buttermilk fried chicken, topped with BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and aioli. Their PDX fries are amazing (fresh, crispy, and tossed in truffle salt).

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I’m also a huge fan of Little Big Burger! There are multiple locations in the Portland area and the surrounding suburbs, and they’ve even expanded with a few locations in other states. These fresh burgers are small but mighty (and oh so tasty!). The chain’s title explains what they’re famous for: small burgers a bit larger than your average slider, with a big beef patty. The chain uses Camden’s Catsup (made locally here in Portland), and it’s the perfect complement to their fries, which are cooked to perfection in white truffle oil.

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With sun and hot weather thankfully on the horizon, I stumbled across this lovely poem, full of beautiful imagery and eloquent wisdom, and just had to share it.

The Summer Day 

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Both my siblings are graduating (one from high school and one from college), and this poem captured the fleeting nature of youth, of summer days, of life. I love how Mary Oliver asks those big existential questions: “Who made the world?” “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?” Yet she also hones in on those small moments too–kneeling in grass, strolling through fields, the grasshopper eating sugar from her hand.

Yet it is the last four lines that struck me the most. The poet tells us she’s been outside all day, clearly enjoying herself. And she asks the reader a very poignant question, “what else should I have done?” What should she have done with her day, when–as she points out in the following line–we all have such limited time here in this world? In other words, she’s advising us to stop and notice the small things, to have those “idle and blessed” days doing what brings us joy.

The final two lines are inspiring and will stay with me for a long time: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Wild and precious aren’t words I often see in the same sentence, but the contrast they create is so perfect–“wild” evokes ideas of freedom and abandon, while “precious” brings to mind something delicate and sacred. And the notion of one’s life encompassing all those things? That’s how I, for one, aspire to live.

So go ahead. Eat the burger, the fries, or whatever your version of that might be. As I was reminded so vividly this week, we grow up, we graduate, we move on to new places and phases. Life is short, precious, and waits for no one.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Travel Series: London Town

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“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” –Samuel Johnson

London is definitely one of those cities I will visit as many times as I can in my life. From the lively theatre scene in the West End to the cultural significance of Westminster to the grand tradition of afternoon tea, the sights and sounds of this historic city captivated my heart. Being an English major and a lifelong fan of British lit, I was truly inspired.

Like last week’s travel post on Paris, this is not intended to be a comprehensive guide; instead I’ll be sharing specific insights, experiences, and things that I enjoyed. Also, in honor of the Royal Wedding this weekend, I will be sharing our visit to Windsor Castle, which is where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be married.

Theatre

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First of all, it had always been bucket list for me to see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (pictured above). We saw Much Ado About Nothing and absolutely loved it (for more info on this play, check out my first blog post).

A bit of advice: I studied quite a bit of Shakespeare in college, whereas my husband, who majored in the sciences, hadn’t been exposed to any Shakespeare since high school. So in order to prepare for the play, we read it together before our trip and also watched the Kenneth Branagh film adaptation. Since Elizabethan English is quite different from modern English, I highly recommend doing this, unless you’re a Shakespeare expert or quite familiar with the play you’re going to see.

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We also saw Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre and Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Both musicals are longtime favorites of mine. I admit that I cried at the end of Les Mis, despite that I know the story and songs very well. And though I’d seen Phantom live in the US on four previous occasions, it was an entirely new experience to sit under the famous chandelier when it drops.

We would’ve loved to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well, and even though we tried to buy tickets months and months in advance, they are so hard to get! However, we did have a magical (pun intended!) Harry Potter experience at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.

Harry Potter Studio Tour

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Growing up, I was a Harry Potter fanatic (hmmm where was my Hogwarts letter?). When each new installment was published, my parents would drive me at midnight to a nearby bookstore so I could be among the first to read the latest book (I would definitely be a Ravenclaw).

Anyway, visiting the gorgeous sets where the Harry Potter movies were filmed made me feel like I was ten years old again and seeing the movie for the very first time. They truly transport you to the Wizarding World and beautifully illustrate how the costumes, sets, and special effects make the magic come alive. Allow at least three hours here, especially because the line to get into the Great Hall, where the tour begins, can get quite long (even if you purchased tickets in advance like we did).

Pictured below is my husband staring up at the huge, intricate model of Hogwarts, which is what they used to film many of the panoramic shots of the castle.

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If you’re even a moderate fan of the Harry Potter universe, I still think you would enjoy this; if you’re like myself and are a Hermione-level expert of all things Harry Potter, then this is a must.

Westminster

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The area of Westminster includes the famous sites of Buckingham Palace, Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.

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In addition to watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, we were able to tour inside the State Rooms (no photos allowed inside, unfortunately). From late July through September you can purchase tickets for this tour. I’ve heard that the dates can vary slightly from year-to-year, based on the Queen’s summer travel plans (since it’s available to tour when she’s on holiday elsewhere). For more up-to-date info visit the Royal Collection Trust’s website.

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We purchased our Westminster Abbey tickets in advance and greatly enjoyed visiting this iconic church. When I was in college, Prince William and Kate Middleton were married there, and I remember staying up late to watch the beautiful ceremony and marvel at Kate’s stunning Alexander McQueen gown. I also very much enjoyed “Poet’s Corner,” where many renowned writers, poets, and playwrights have been buried or memorialized (Shakespeare, for example, has a monument there, though he was buried in his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon).

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The telephone booths in this area are also ideal for photo-ops!

Shopping at Harrods and Afternoon Tea

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Simply put, Harrods is shopping heaven. The exterior particularly dazzles at nighttime and beckons one inside to the opulent grandeur. Their gift shop is also a great spot to bring home souvenirs for yourself and for loved ones.

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My husband and I had afternoon tea at The Georgian, an elegant restaurant inside Harrods. I’ve always been more of a tea drinker than coffee, so this was a special treat for me (also: Pink champagne! Tea sandwiches! Pastries! Yay!). We booked our tea time on their website several days prior so we could get the exact time we wanted.

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Windsor

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This 11th century castle feels like something out of a fairy tale, and is one of the Queen’s official residences. We visited first thing in the morning when it opens and really enjoyed wandering the beautiful grounds and touring the State Apartments.

This Saturday Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be married at Windsor inside St. George’s Chapel. I will definitely be staying up late to watch it on TV, and I can’t wait to see her wedding gown!

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What to Pack

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Red Top: Pleione (similar here and here) Black Ponte Pants: Jolt (similar)  Striped Shirt: H&M (similar)  Lace Top: Rose and Olive (similar here and here)  Trench Coat: Ellen Tracy (similar here and here)  Bag: Longchamp Small Le Pliage Tote  Scarf: Burberry (similarUmbrella: Burberry (same style, but in red)  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster

As I’ve mentioned in my previous travel posts, staying within a neutral color palette is my personal preference for packing versatile outfits. Adding a dash of color helps mix things up (red and maroon tones always look great with black, white, and beige, as illustrated above).

The other way to add interest to an outfit is with textures and prints (lace and stripes are classics). For London, I brought both my Burberry scarf and umbrella, as the iconic print evokes timeless British style. Given their cloudy, damp climate, a water-resistant trench coat is vital.

P.S. Just wanted to mention that I had such a wonderful time viewing the rare books and manuscripts at the British Library Treasures (they have a copy of the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s First Folio, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other historical texts). If you’re a bookworm like me, this was a real treat.

I didn’t discuss any of the London museums we’ve visited, but the British Museum and the National Gallery are especially stunning and overwhelming. If you enjoy history, give yourself as much time as you can at the British Museum in particular. It’s MASSIVE. Next time I would really like to spend longer there.

(The photo below was taken just a few blocks from the National Gallery. I couldn’t resist a picture with those beautiful flowers!)

Are you going to be tuning in to the Royal Wedding this weekend? Let me know in the comments! Hope you all have a great week!

Endless Light

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Happy Mother’s Day Weekend to all the moms out there! Doing a special post today to share last-minute gift ideas and what I’ll be wearing for an afternoon of lunching and shopping with my mom and my grandma! I’m so thankful to have them both in my life–they are truly strong, intelligent, and kind women, and I wouldn’t be who I am without them.

In keeping with the Paris theme this week from my travel series, I wanted to start out with a book recommendation. If your mom loves to curl up with a phenomenal book and enjoys historical fiction, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot Seewould make a wonderful gift. I mentioned in an earlier post that this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was on my spring reading list. I finished it recently, and there is so much to say about this moving story, I scarcely know where to start! I don’t want to give away the ending for anyone who has yet to read it, so instead I’ll share a quote, a major theme, and my overall impression.

“Color–that’s another thing people don’t expect. In her imaginations, in her dreams, everything has color… Bees are silver. The huge cypress trees she and her father pass on their morning walk are shimmering kaleidoscopes, each needle a polygon of light. Her father radiates a thousand colors, opal, strawberry red, deep russet, wild green… He glows sapphire when he sits over his work bench in the evenings, humming almost inaudibly as he works, the tip of his cigarette gleaming a prismatic blue.” 

The reason I chose this particular passage (especially when there are SO many gems to choose from) is because light is such a recurring theme in this novel; it truly is at the center of this World War II story, the thing that everything revolves around. Light is in the title, of course, but it’s also a constant presence.

Two big reasons for that have to do with the novel’s protagonists: Marie-Laure and Werner. Marie-Laure is a blind Parisian girl, who flees the City of Light with her father upon the German occupation of France. Even though she is physically incapable of seeing light, her mind imagines the world in the most vibrant of colors (as illustrated in the above quote). Throughout the novel, her intelligence, perception, and intuition make her notice things that others often don’t.

In contrast, Werner grows up facing a different kind of darkness. He’s a German orphan boy who grows up in a small coal-mining town, and in his early teens, he’s sent to a school that trains Nazi soldiers. The terrible darkness that he faces is the spread of Naziism in Germany and Europe, and the horrendous realities of World War II.

This novel spans the course of several decades and explores the darkness in this world– but also the ever-persisting light. It asks us to think about the things that can’t be seen literally, but still exist: love, strength, hope, bravery, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Doerr’s elegant writing style and mastery of metaphors paint the most vivid story that is equal parts beautiful and heart-wrenching. The contrast between his eloquent, graceful syntax and the dark subject matter is truly memorable and poignant.

Another Paris-inspired novel that I just delved into is Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop. It was gifted to me by my mother-in-law, and the story’s premise captivated me instantly. It’s the tale of a man who owns a bookstore on a boat that sails on the Seine in Paris. He’s a literary doctor of sorts and prescribes specific books to those who are in need of them. I’m really excited to see where this charming story goes, and I’ll share a more detailed review in a future post when I finish reading it!

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Here are some more gift ideas for the moms in your lives!

Does your mom have a favorite perfume? My mom loves the original Juicy Couture scent (pictured above), and my brother and I take turns replenishing her stash for her birthdays and holidays. My grandma and I both adore Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, and I know a lot of ladies who really enjoy this fresh, floral scent.

My mom is a big coffee drinker, so my brother and I often give her adorable mugs! I love getting mugs at TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and Target, and I’ve linked some great options (the following mugs from Target are online and available in store at select locations: “Monogrammed Floral,” “Mama Needs Some Coffee,” and “Mom’s the Boss“).

My mom and I are huge fans of the candles from Bath and Body Works. Our all-time favorite is the Mahogany Teakwood candle and is perfect for those who love woodsy scents. Yet lately a candle we’ve been loving is their Watermelon Lemonade–it’s a yummy, fruity scent that’s perfect for spring and summer!

Another great gift idea (or to wear yourself to brunch, or shopping, or on vacation!) is a striped dress. I love black-and-white stripes because it’s such a timeless color combo (I own several because they’re so versatile–knee length, maxi, jumpsuit, long-sleeve, sleeveless, etc). There are so many silhouettes out there for a variety of tastes and personal styles. The one I’m wearing was a TJ Maxx find (have you guys noticed yet how much I love TJ Maxx?), so I’ve linked some stylish options that are all currently on sale.

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Panama Hat: J. Crew  Striped Dress: Monteau (great striped options all on sale: here, here, here, and herePurse: Chanel Classic Flap (similar structure/style here and hereMules: Topshop (similar here and hereWatch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similarSunglasses: Chanel (similar) Lip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte

For this particular look, I paired my striped dress with a classic Panama hat (mine is from J. Crew and is a constant warm weather companion). I also wore a pair of mules that are by Topshop and are a recent purchase from Nordstrom Rack (I linked some comparable styles). I’m so happy mules are trendy again! My sunglasses I’ve had for awhile and are Chanel, so I’ve linked a similarly shaped option.

Continuing the Parisian theme this week, my Chanel classic flap bag was purchased at the flagship boutique on 31 Rue Cambon (which Gabrielle Chanel first opened in 1918). It’s such a timeless and elegant style and has been a dream bag of mine for many years. I’ve also linked some fabulous black purses with a similar structure and aesthetic to the Chanel classic flap.

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Happy Friday! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend celebrating the moms, grandmas, step-moms, mothers-in-law, and honorary moms in your lives. My mom and my grandma are such sources of light and love in my life, and I truly cherish the time I get to spend with them (below: one of my favorite pictures of the three of us from my wedding).

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No Such Thing

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“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” –Oscar Wilde

It’s been a hectic week so I’m keeping things simple and sharing this beloved quote by literary master Oscar Wilde, a quote that I’ve lived by ever since I first heard it. These words also relate to why I started this blog: having a space where I could explore my love of fashion and literature–where I could share what I love to wear and the countless things that literature continues to teach me.

Wilde is asserting that the notion of being “overdressed or overeducated” is impossible. Wear what you want, dress how you please–and whether others might consider it “overdressed” doesn’t matter. Fashion is a form of self-expression and an outward manifestation of individuality. I always aim to wear what makes me happy and confident.

I mentioned in a previous post that I believe in being a lifelong learner. As much as I loved school and college, I wholeheartedly believe that knowledge can be found in so many places–in travel, in people we meet, in life experiences, in books, in art… The list is truly endless. So being overeducated? No such thing.

In a way, this quote also asserts the concept of being your own person–that no matter what people may say about you (whether it be overdressed, overeducated, or a thousand other things), you are only defined by the opinions of others if you allow yourself to be.

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Kimono: Band of Gypsies (similar here, here, and here)  Tank: Paris Sunday (similar here)  Jeans: Lucky (similar here)  Boots:Blondo  Purse:Prada  Necklaces:6th Borough Boutique  Sunglasses:Ray-Ban  Slip Dress (shown below): Topshop (similar here and here)  Heels: Breckelle’s (similar here) Lip Color:Primrose by Smashbox

Today I’m sharing how to wear a statement piece (this lovely floral kimono by Band of Gypsies!) for two different occasions: casual or dressy. The above casual look was perfect for a breezy afternoon in downtown Portland with my sister. The easy layers were stylish yet comfortable. Spring weather is so temperamental here in Oregon; while it was warm in the sunshine, the wind often picked up, and I was glad to have something covering my shoulders! This particular kimono I bought at TJ Maxx recently, so I’ve linked some similar options.

I love partnering with 6th Borough Boutique; their gold necklaces layer together so beautifully and add that extra chic detail to both the casual look and the dressy version (shown below).

To elevate this outfit for a dressier occasion, I simply swapped out the jeans, tank, and boots with a little black slip dress from Topshop. I also wore a classic pair of ankle-strap heels that were a Nordstrom Rack find from last year, and I kept my necklaces and sunglasses the same.

Statement pieces like this floral kimono are so versatile because they effortlessly go from casual to dressy. Such items are also ideal for travel because they can be worn for a variety of situations. This is especially useful for someone like me, a notorious over-packer!

Speaking of travel: as we head into summer vacation season, for the months of May and June I’ll be doing a travel series—places I’ve been, favorite cities and sites, recommendations, what to pack, and where I can’t wait to go back!

Happy Friday! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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Golden Hours

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Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I’m sharing a short Frost poem this week, but don’t assume that its brevity makes it simplistic. These brief lines are filled with beautiful symbolism about youth, life, and the impermanence of things.

In the first five lines Frost asserts that the beautiful golden colors we see in nature are fleeting; I’m instantly reminded of the gorgeous oranges we see during fall here in Oregon, or the bright yellow tulips currently in bloom in my yard.

Yet I also think that he’s not only discussing nature–these images are metaphors for youth and time. Just as the hardest shade for nature to hold onto is gold, the blissful, golden days of childhood have that same quickness, that same elusiveness. He then mentions the Garden of Eden and how that paradise didn’t last forever either, much in the way that the sun rises, ending the beauty of first morning light.

And the last line–the poem’s title, the summary of it all–is that nothing precious can remain as it is. That’s part of why spring is so beautiful and childhood is so special. In Oregon, for example, we so cherish our sunny days because we get months of constant rain. Some things can’t last, and that’s precisely what makes them meaningful–truly what makes life itself meaningful. After all, if we could live forever or flowers could always bloom, we wouldn’t appreciate them as much, for we couldn’t grasp the true effect of time.

Remember those beautiful pink flowers from my post several weeks ago? Already falling off the bush and wilting! But, on the bright side, at least that means we’re heading towards summer.

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Top: J. Crew  Jeans: Vigoss (similar here and here)  Boots: Blondo  Bag: Chanel (similarly-sized black totes herehere, and here)

The coming week promises warmer temps and festive spring attire, but until then, I’ve been wearing some favorite basics during this transitional weather (in Oregon that means clouds, sun, rain, repeat–sometimes all in the same hour!).

My top is from J. Crew and currently on sale on their website for under $15! It’s soft and breathable and is a great layering piece for those cooler spring days. J. Crew has such quality staples, and they last season after season.

My jeans are Vigoss and I’ve had them for awhile, but I found some really similar options by the same brand on Nordstrom Rack’s website. I’ve been wearing these Blondo ankle boots nonstop lately–the pointy-toe adds a little edge, and the shiny leather has broken in so well!

The Chanel Medallion Tote I’ve had for a long time and is a beloved piece of mine. It’s a smaller tote that still carries everything I need for day-to-day. I love the shape, the iconic quilting, and the gold medallion zipper. When it comes to handbags, like a lot of bloggers and fashion editors, I’m more willing to invest in a classic style from a high-end brand because I know it will withstand the test of time. And it’s no secret that Chanel bags are my favorite! I linked some similarly-sized black totes in a variety of price points (since Chanel stopped producing the Medallion Tote around 2012, you would nowadays only be able to find it on eBay or in vintage/consignment shops).

Looking forward to sunshine here the next few days! I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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April Showers and Wallflowers

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“And there are people who forget what it’s like to be sixteen when they turn seventeen. I know these will all be stories some day, and our pictures will become old photographs. We all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening…. You are alive. And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song, and that drive with the people who you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.”

–From The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

We drove down to my alma mater over the weekend to watch my younger sister compete in the Oregon Relays. It was a gray, blustery Saturday, but the University of Oregon campus is especially lovely during spring, and I always enjoy seeing the places I used to frequent–the beautiful Knight Library, my old dorm at Barnhart, and great local cafes where I would meet up with my best friend. Some buildings are new, some restaurants have closed, but the feeling I get when I walk around campus is much the same.

I always loved school–maybe it’s cliche but I loved being surrounded by knowledge and the people in pursuit of it. I personally believe in being a lifelong learner and that knowledge can be gained in so many places and experiences (not just in books or universities). But for me, there was something special about college–not only was I figuring out what I wanted in life and who I wanted to be, I was also fortunate enough to study a subject I truly enjoyed.

Walking around campus usually makes me pretty wistful, and this Chbosky passage came to mind. It’s one I often come back to, even though I first read this novel when I was a junior in high school. It’s a perceptive, coming-of-age story of a boy named Charlie, who is something of a wallflower (hence the title), and the people he meets who end up changing his life for the better.

I love this quote in particular because it’s ageless–it doesn’t just apply to sixteen or seventeen year olds. The experiences we have now will all be stories one day, stories we recall with our old college friends or stories we tell our kids around a campfire. It also eloquently describes this modern notion of “living in the moment”–particularly being present in a way we were when we were younger, when an experience was fresh and brand new.

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of a single moment making you feel infinite–you’re well aware that the moment will pass and will become part of that story you tell, but for a second? For just a second, that moment is all that you have.

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Hat: Portland Gear  Vest: Nike (similar here and here)  Sweater: H&M (similar here and here)  Jeans: Hudson  Boots: Blondo  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster  Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs (almost identical option here)

We’ve had downpours, drizzles, and wind these past few weeks, and I dressed accordingly over the weekend, knowing that we’d be outside for much of it. If you can’t tell by now, I love black and white outfits–whether dressy or casual–and this look kept me cozy and comfortable while we watched my sister compete.

My black cap is from Portland Gear, a wonderful local company that makes hats, apparel, and souvenirs. My black puffy vest is Nike; only one size was left in this same style, so I also linked some similar options as well (also, fun fact for those of you who don’t know: Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, is a University of Oregon alumni). My striped sweater I purchased recently from H&M during their spring sale, and I found comparable styles (linked above). My distressed black jeans are by Hudson, my black pointy boots are by Blondo, and my sunglasses are my favorite Ray-Bans.

My black crossbody purse I’ve had for several years and is Marc by Marc Jacobs. Since 2016 the Marc by Marc Jacobs brand was combined with Marc Jacobs Collection (all items since that time have been under the label “Marc Jacobs”). That being said, I was able to find a Marc Jacobs purse almost identical in style to the one I have, and it’s on sale for under $70 on Nordstrom Rack’s website!

The flowers are in bloom but the weather hasn’t quite yet gotten the memo. Hoping for more sun in the days to come! Have a great week everyone, thank you for stopping by!

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Hope Is Where the Heart Is

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“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
 
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
 
 
This is one of Dickinson’s more famous poems, and it’s short and sweet. It utilizes a simple–yet beautiful–extended metaphor: hope is a bird. And this bird, she claims, resides in our souls and never stops singing its melody. The bird’s song is sweetest during harsh winds and storms, signifying that difficult days are when hope truly means the most.
 
She’s heard the bird in the worst of times (“in the chillest land” and “on the strangest sea”), and yet this bird has never “asked a crumb” of her, has never demanded to be fed. It’s self-sustaining and sings on in our hearts, warming us from the inside out, even in our darkest hours.
 
I love literature that explores the resilience of the human spirit, the stories or poems that ponder: where do we get our hope? Where do we get the strength to journey on? Despite this poem’s brevity, it explores those very questions.
 
However, I’ll be honest; I struggle a bit with the last two lines–the notion that hope demands nothing of us. The Oxford English Dictionary defines hope as the “desire for a particular thing to happen.” It’s a desire for something that isn’t concrete or hasn’t yet come to pass.
 
And sure–I love the image of a resilient little bird singing in our souls, rooting us on, keeping our spirits up. But we’ve all been there, haven’t we? A time in our life when something felt hopeless?
 
When I was nine years old, my dad was in a horrific car accident. He hit black ice and went over an embankment. He was ejected from his vehicle, broke his neck in two places, ruptured organs, and was close to death. At first the doctors said that if he lived, he’d likely be a quadriplegic. And of course I wanted him to live more than anything, but I couldn’t imagine him not doing all the things he loved ever again–playing in his basketball league, waterskiing in the summer, going on runs while I rode my little pink bike just ahead of him. At nine years old, those were thoughts that filled my head, because those things were such a huge part of who he was, the things that made him my dad.
 
Months went by, and he had numerous complications. But his neck surgery had been a success, and he slowly learned to walk again. There were so many times when things felt hopeless, but something I admire most about my dad is that he never gives up. He’s stubborn to a fault, and he never loses hope. Yet it’s a choice he makes every day, even now–years and years later–to carry on with a hopeful heart in spite of his chronic pain and ongoing health issues.
 
This is exactly why I would assert that maintaining hope and continuing onward in one’s endeavor, whatever it may be, is an act of courage–because that elusive thing we yearn for is not certain or guaranteed. Though the bird may always be singing, we still have to hear it and choose to embrace its song.
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Jumpsuit: Monteau (similar here, here, and hereBlazer: Philosophy (similar here and hereHeels: Nine West (similar here and hereEarrings: Chanel Lip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte
 
I really loved the colorful jumpsuit I wore on Easter Sunday! It was chilly here in Portland and–though I briefly contemplated wearing a dress–I was so glad I chose something that kept my legs warm.
 
I’m a big fan of jumpsuits–they have a certain cool factor for sure, but probably what I enjoy most is I feel like I’m wearing pajamas! Granted, some of the more form-fitting ones can be a bit constricting, but the wide-legged variety like the one I wore on Easter is so comfortable. When you can merge comfort and fashion, it’s truly a win-win. This particular one was a TJ Maxx find, so I linked several similar striped options above.
 
I think jumpsuits can be a great alternative to dresses for events like bridal showers, birthday brunches, and tropical getaways. They come in so many fabrics and silhouettes that there are countless options available. Since it’s a one-piece, my advice from personal experience is to move around in it before you decide to buy it. I have a long torso for example, and sometimes I have to size up to accommodate that.
 
On Easter morning when the weather was even cooler, I paired it with a crisp white blazer (shown below), which I think is such a versatile piece for spring and summer. (Also, if anyone is wondering, the bunny ears are from Target!)
 
I’m excited about the next several blog posts I have in the works–I’ll be sharing some great local restaurants, what I wore to the theatre, and a new jewelry partnership! Stay tuned, and I wish you all a wonderful week!
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Stop and Smell the Flowers

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Today by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

 

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

 

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

 

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

 

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

 

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

 

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

 

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

 

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

 

The blooming flowers and scattered sunshine have me in great spirits this week! I feel like I’ve shared some rather melancholy poems in past posts; so to mix things up a bit, I found this merry, contemporary gem by two-time US Poet Laureate Billy Collins to celebrate the beauty of springtime.

The first element I enjoy about this poem is its structure (or lack thereof)–it’s one joyful sentence lauding a perfect spring day. The fact that it’s one continuous sentence mimics the way a person might speak when he/she is happy or excited, as each thought and phrase is a lively run-on into the next.

The imagery further captures that exuberance with phrases like “throw open the windows,” “rip the little door”, and “garden bursting with peonies.” The verbs in those phrases are very active and specific, which of course, is the hallmark of a great writer.

However, the image I love most is from the 6th stanza to the end, where Collins speaks of hammering open that “glass paperweight” (aka a snowglobe) and freeing the little figurines that live inside. The notion of releasing them into our world, “this larger dome of blue and white,” is a beautiful, poignant one.

To me, it’s a metaphor for the way we feel at the end of winter, after we’ve been cooped up inside our own little worlds for months and with spring we are reborn–we are welcomed once again into the outside world, full of bright sunlight, warm air, and bursting gardens.

Another interpretation of that metaphor has a lot to do with the poem’s overarching themes of freedom and wonder. In our day and age people talk a lot about being present, and that’s something I think that occurs when we break free of our metaphorical snowglobes–when we notice and enjoy the people and things that surround us. Or, to use the age-old adage: when we stop and smell the flowers.

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Lace Top: (similar here and here)  Floral Skirt: Faith and Joy (similar here and here)  Trench Coat: DKNY (similar here and here)  Heels: Nine West (similar here)  Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar hereBracelets: Natasha Accessories (similar here)  Lip Color: Marcia by BH Cosmetics

With Easter nearly upon us, I donned two of my favorite springtime pieces: lace blouses and floral prints. I love a great floral print, and this ensemble would also be perfect for occasions such as bridal showers or birthday brunches. My top and skirt were TJ Maxx finds, so I linked similar versions above. It’s still fairly chilly most days here in Portland, so I also wanted to showcase this look when paired with a gray trench–my DKNY one (shown below) is a few years old, but I linked two lovely options in a similar color palette.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week! Thank you for stopping by!

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Girl About Town

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“There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere–and those evil-minded observers, dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken in and deceived than the parties themselves.”

The incomparable Jane Austen has countless words of wisdom throughout her stories and letters. This one ranks high on my list, as it celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and our ability to start anew. It’s from the novel Mansfield Park, which tells the tale of a young girl who goes to live with her mother’s wealthy relatives on their country estate. In a way, it’s a bit of a Cinderella story–a girl who is often mistreated for her lack of status and not valued for her true worth (and I won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t read it!).

Amidst the schemes for advantageous connections and romantic affections, an overarching theme of the novel is something that the above passage illustrates well. We can’t fear things not turning out the way we hope they will: “if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better.” We learn, we make changes, and we try again.

Though I’m only about 6 weeks in, it’s been such a positive experience for me thus far with Shakespeare Loves Chanel. I’ve enjoyed writing regularly again and sharing my thoughts on books I’m reading or poems I’m revisiting; it’s something I’ve truly missed since finishing up grad school. I’ve also loved styling outfits and choosing locations for photos, and it’s been great connecting with new people who share similar interests.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned conquering my fears–when the fear of not pursuing a dream or a goal outweighs the fear of failure. A big part of that fear has to do with what Austin speaks of in this passage. She calls them “those evil-minded observers.”

In that regard, the internet and social media can be a daunting place, when anyone anywhere can criticize your work and simply hide behind a computer screen. Yet Austin’s counter to that is truly just as applicable now as it was in 19th century England: such observers make “much of a little.” Or, in other words, they make a big deal out of nothing. They deceive themselves with their own judgments and assumptions, which is precisely why we can’t let their opinions dictate our lives.

All in all, we cannot fear mistakes, disappointments, or criticisms–instead we must have the courage to keep on growing.

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Blazer: Zara (similar here and here)   Boots: Blondo  Scarf: Burberry (similar here and here)  Purse: Prada (similar here and here)  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban (similar here and here)

I’m a girl who loves pairing classic pieces with statement accessories, and on this particular cloudy spring day, I stuck to some beloved wardrobe staples. I am a huge fan of mixing affordable items with high end investment ones; those in the fashion world call that high/low dressing, and you’ll see it on countless bloggers and celebrities. As such, I’ve linked designer items and some affordable options above.

I wore this look when my husband and I were out and about downtown, though it would also be perfect for a casual business setting. My wool blazer is from Zara (sidenote: hooray, Zara is finally coming to Portland!). My knee-high suede boots are from Blondo and–like all their boots–are waterproof!  Those boots are currently on sale at Nordstrom. My silk Burberry scarf I’ve had for four years but it has held up tremendously well, and I’ll continue to love it for seasons to come. My black Prada purse is made of a beautiful textured saffiano leather. It’s a special piece to me because it was purchased on our honeymoon in Italy. The Ray-Bans you’ll recognize from my last post (and you’ll probably see me wear them a lot in the coming sunny months).

The next few weeks I’ll be sharing more spring-specific looks that are perfect for events like Easter, bridal showers, and brunch. Thank you for visiting, and I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

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Reading Lists and Sun Slips

28340528_unknownToday, I’m sharing my spring reading list! I very much enjoy historical fiction, and my step-sister, best friend, and I are all reading Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel All the Light We Cannot See. His prose is lyrical and precise, and it’s filled with beautiful metaphors and symbolism that are powerfully juxtaposed against the harsh realities of WWII. It primarily follows two protagonists–a blind French girl and a German orphan boy–throughout childhood and adolescence. We’re about halfway through and the pair have yet to meet, but I’m really looking forward to seeing their stories converge. I’ll likely do a full post on this novel in a few weeks.

I’ve also started Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, a fictitious account of Ernest Hemingway’s love affair with his first wife Hadley, told from her point of view. I’ve always been fascinated by the Roaring 20’s and have long been a fan of Hemingway’s works, and this novel imagines what the famed novelist was like in his youth and how it might have been to be that first woman who captured his heart.

Speaking of Hemingway, I would like to revisit a novel I haven’t read since my first semester of grad school (has that been 5 years already?): A Farewell to Arms. I have the Hemingway Library Edition that showcases early drafts and how he wrote 47 different endings before finally settling on one! It inspires me that even someone as brilliant as Hemingway did numerous rewrites on his journey to the final product.

We had lovely weather earlier this week, and I was able to spend time outside reading–give me a good book and some sun, and I will be happy for hours! What are you all reading this spring?

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I personally am not a huge fan of all the 90’s trends that have cropped up the last couple years (though I do like some crop tops–pun intended–you won’t see me in “mom jeans” anytime soon). However, one style I am thrilled that has resurfaced from the depths of the 90’s? The slip dress. The slip dress is super versatile, as it’s available in an array of prints, fabrics, lengths, and price points–from velvet options for winter to classic LBD’s for nights out.

This micro-floral print by Billabong is a Nordstrom Rack find from several months ago (still available in a few sizes on Billabong’s website and currently on sale for less than $25!) and is perfect for spring and summer. I plan on wearing lots of slip dresses in the months to come, and I love the lightweight fabric and super flattering midi-length of this one.

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Slip Dress: Billabong  Denim Jacket: Levi’s (similar here)  Sneakers: Jack Purcell   Heels: Nine West (similar here and here Sunglasses: Ray-Ban  Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar here and hereLip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte

The great thing about a slip dress–and this floral print in particular–is the ability to dress it up or down. I paired it with a lace-up pair of Nine West heels for a dressier vibe, though I also enjoy the laid back feel when worn with a classic pair of Jack Purcell sneakers.

As it was mostly in the high 60’s on our sunnier days this week, I threw my beloved Levi’s denim jacket on top. My Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses and gold Marc by Marc Jacobs watch finished off this cheerful spring look.

Thank you for stopping by, and I’d love to hear what’s on your spring reading list!