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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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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