May 28, 2012

crochet inspiration: Authur Animated

As you know I have been collecting a lot of inspiration to begin brainstorming fall accessories and wears. Most of these inspiration pieces have been pulled from books, magazines, or ideas I brainstorm. However, I have also been stumbling upon some pretty cool video inspiration, too! Too bad you can't print out a video and stick it in a binder! ;)

This video posted on vimeo by Jo Hamilton Art called "Arthur Animated" is so inspiring when it comes to focusing on how colors contribute to an overall piece. I admire that the artist does not use a pattern or a plan, they just crochet based upon the color pallet in front of them. This video has really made me want to pay closer attention to the colors that are in nature and how they contribute to an overall piece (especially floral prints)!

I hope you love this video as much as I do!

Know of any cool crochet videos? Post a link in the comments!

May 27, 2012


The last few weeks have been full of me trying to decompress, focus on quality time with Cory, and spend more time with myself. There haven't been too many social events or many short trips out of town, but in a way, it's nice being able to have the house to myself for a night or two and just do what I want to do (even if it means watching episodes of Gossip Girl back to back for hours ;)).

Now that PicMonkey has a collage feature (which is way better than picnik's, might I add) I decided to utilize it to let you take a peek into my life over the last few days! Here you go:


May 26, 2012

Simple Inspiration Photo Book DIY

Since school will be out for summer by this time next week (eek!), I have been day dreaming about all things summer: lunches downtown with Cory, lounging by the pool, and most importantly, dreaming of new crochet designs for the upcoming autumn season. Manipulating crochet isn't as easy as manipulating fabric or even knits, so I always need an extra amount of time to soak in some inspiration before I begin working with various yarns and textures. In order to get my inspiration organized before summer officially gets here next Friday, I needed to come up with a simple system that would be accessible and easy to alter.

During a recent trip to Target I picked up a pack of sheet protectors and a cheap 3-ring binder. I already had a huge stack of magazines at home, so without their individual costs, this DIY cost me less than $5.

I took an afternoon to sort through the magazines and rip out any spreads, articles, or color combinations that I found appealing and inspiring. I also noticed certain fabrics or accessories that could be easily transformed into crochet. After all, finding inspiration to transform into crochet was my main goal.

You'll notice that I included ads and articles from magazines ranging from Vogue to Urban Outfitters catalogs to Baltimore magazine. There was really no rhyme or reason as to how I found the inspiration--I just didn't want to limit myself to a certain style or certain brands.

I like this system because I can easily overlap inspiration photos within each page protector. I don't know if I'll ever empty them out, because I think it's important to keep tabs on your progress and trends in your inspiration over time. 

For now, this is the best way to keep myself organized and I love how simple it is, especially since I'm always looking for new ways to keep inspiration around me without creating more clutter!

How do you keep your inspiration organized?

May 20, 2012

Guilty Pleasure: Gossip Girl

As you know, Cory and I have been without any television service (no cable, no standard stations) since January. It's really working out well for us, plus we pinch a few pennies from not having to pay that $65+ bill a month. To help break the television silence, we do subscribe to Netflix, which is how I keep up with television shows that aren't available online.

To be honest, whenever Cory and I watch anything on the tube, he's usually the one to pick it out. Usually because I'm grading papers, cooking dinner, or crocheting on the couch, not giving the television my full attention. Now, when he's out of town, it's sort of like a free-for-all in Netflixland for me because I spend more time looking through what's available than what I would on any other time. After reading a few bloggers comment about Gossip Girl (Sometimes Sweet and Little Chief Honey Bee) and realizing that it's been a long time since I've submerged my brain into a cheesy sitcom about high schoolers who attend private prep schools in New York City. Oh wait. I've never submerged my brain into that place. But for some reason, that place just felt like the perfect way to spend my solo weekend.

Enter: Gossip Girl on Netflix. There are 87 episodes to feast upon throughout this transition from the end of the school year to summer bliss.

I've always been one for television shows that focus on high school. I have no idea why, but from Saved by the Bell, to Dawson's Creek, to One Tree Hill, to The OC, to Friday Night Lights, I'm the perfect fan. Gossip Girl is just the much more girly approach to the same format.

Other than the older-than-the-characters-they-play-so-they're-ridiculously-attractive cast, here are 4 reasons why I'm a smitten kitten when it comes to Gossip Girl.

1) It's fabulous. Everything about it is fabulous and over the top. To put it mildly, my life is anything but over the top or fabulous. So whenever I can see how the other side lives, I'm drawn into it. The clothes are great, the hair is great, the dialogue is beyond that of which most high school students are capable, and because of all those things, I love it.

2) The characters are mash-ups of my favorite characters.
Lyla Garrity (Friday Night Lights) + Summer Roberts (The O.C.) = Blair Waldorf

Joey Potter (Dawson's Creek) + Kelly Kapowski (Saved by the Bell) = Serena van der Woodsen

Matt Saracen (Friday Night Lights) + Luke Scott (One Tree Hill) = Dan Humphrey

3) Dan Humphrey's character is a dream boat. I should also add that throughout high school and college all I ever wanted in a guy was for him to be bookish and kind. I didn't date much in high school and I only dated one guy throughout college, but broke up with him in February of my senior year. So, my dating experience is pretty limited. After I graduated from school I only dated here and there, but nothing very serious. Fortunately, in the spring of my first year teaching I finally met the guy who was both bookish and kind: Cory!

4) It involves parent drama, too. This is my favorite element of this kind of series, and often allows for a little reality check for me, as I am probably far too old to be watching these shows (but so what!). The parents often contribute witty banter and otherwise smarter-than-teenager commentary that I have grown to appreciate.

It's been nice to have a go-to television show to watch while I'm busy working on odds and ends around the house. For example, I moved my laptop to the office so I could watch/listen while I cleaned and organized that space. It was really perfect. :)

Do you currently have any television obsessions or guilty pleasures?

May 18, 2012

Good Things.

It seems like the last two weeks have crawled by at a snails pace. The school days seem long and tedious and the weekends feel far too short and incomplete. We only have 2 more weeks of school remaining until summer (only 1 more full week!), and I'm pretty much counting down the days.

Since the sun is around a little later into the day, I've been making sure to drive more with the windows down, sleep with the windows up, and sit outside as much as possible. This transition into summer is my favorite time of year. There's something about the scent of fresh cut grass, the warmth of the air, and the longer sunset that feels rejuvenating. I've been feeling extremely inspired recently--to paint, to read, to write, to stitch--but have just been lacking on the time. I just keep telling myself that in 2 more weeks I'll have (mostly) all the time I'll need!

I've been working a lot on myself recently and am finally starting to see some change. It's nothing huge, but I've been trying to really adapt the "in the moment" mentality when handling stress, nervousness, and most importantly, when I've been feeling inadequate. It's pretty hard changing your frame of mind, there have been a few strategies and mantras I've gotten from this book that have really been working for me. For example, today I experienced a pretty excruciating situation at work that left me feeling pretty awful and negative about myself. Instead of over-analyzing it, I simply took a long walk back to my office and repeated the same phrase over and over again until I could find some kind of peace. I have control of my reactions and am not the owner of other people's behaviors or perceptions. I have no control over how they react or make themselves look. It sounds simple, but I have really had to work on this throughout the last year. I'm not sure if it's because I've been spending more time meditating or being by myself this school year, but for some reason I've been struggling disconnecting myself from the feelings of others.

Having this experience today, considering how horrible it felt in the moment, ended up being pretty positive because it showed me that I was growing as a person and truly adapting a lot of the material I had been studying. I'll take that feeling of success over anyone's cruel behavior any day.

In other news, with this summer coming up, I feel like I have finally found a balance between keeping busy/working and thorough relaxation. I have a lot planned for the week between the end of school and graduation; meetings and planning sessions with other teachers. To be honest, I'm even already looking forward to next school year. Even though this year has had it's ups and downs, I'm feeling more and more comfortable in my new school and am really looking forward to a lot of the changes that will be in place come August. We're switching to a new daily schedule that I'm really looking forward to trying out. We're hiring at least 2 new English teachers, which will freshen the environment and the vibes of the school.

Either way, I have come to the realization that things are good. I'm pretty lucky to be looking forward to some awesome summer plans and am fortunate that my husband not only has a job, but has the same work schedule as I. I'm looking forward to waking up tomorrow and soaking in more of that warm sunshine.

May 14, 2012

Graduation Outfit

Graduation Outfit

Graduation Outfit 

I'm on the hunt for a cute graduation outfit to wear to graduation on June 8th. Dressing for graduation can be tricky. I will meet a lot of parents and siblings for the first time, plus give one last hug to all those special students who are going on to bigger and better things, so dressing on the conservative side is a must.  

I just opened an account over at and pretty much love it. It was really easy for me to play around with colors and textures, which is going to be key for any cute graduation outfit!

I have to admit, that tutu skirt is a little much for my everyday wear, but I would really love it to be my spring and summer go-to piece for fun occasions. 

Do you have an event coming up that requires a special outfit? 


May 11, 2012

Mad Men: Thoughts on Season 5 (spoilers)

I have an unabashed love affair every Monday when I get home from work. It's during those precious 10 minutes I watch iTunes download the newest episode of Mad Men for my viewing pleasure (reminder: we don't purchase any TV subscription, so we're forced to be creative).

When season 4 finished and we realized it would be nearly a year and a half until any glimpse of season 5 would hit our screens, I was nervous. Really nervous. How can a show with so much momentum take so much time off? Would they lose their spark? Lose their inspiration? Would the show pick up where it left off or fast forward in time to catch up to their audience? These are the things I truly lose sleep over when it comes down to things I love.

Season 5 hasn't disappointed me so far, but probably for a few unconventional reasons. Here we go.
**SPOILER WARNING: If you are waiting to watch season 5, please do not read below.

#1: Don's no longer a pig
Thank heavens! As much as Jon Hamm can pull off the sexy ad-man persona, I was getting a little sick of it. Seriously. Near the middle of season 4 when Don sleeps with his secretary (even though he's newly divorced), I had reached my moral limits. I just shouted at my television, "Okay! I get it! Don has mystical powers! He can attract ANY female on the planet!" I'm happy to see Don transform into more of a family man and less of macho miserable pig.

#2: Megan
I love her. She's such a strong, passionate character. There have been many moments, especially when she's working on the Heinz project where I just say, "Liz. That's who you want to be. Be her!" It's awesome and sad at the same time. I'm happy to see another strong female lead that we see both in the office and at home. There is no doubt that Peggy and Joan are strong female characters, but they're also not as developed since we don't see the inner nuances of many of their relationships.
#3: Lane FINALLY punching Pete Campbell
We've all been there. We want to punch Pete Campbell when he fulfills his class-A jerk role in the show, but we then realize that we can't punch our TVs on our computer screens. I have been building YEARS of angst regarding that character. I love how much I hate him. Seriously. Alas, Lane finally let him have it and everyone stood back to watch--amazing.

#4: Don's New Pad
I know I'm not the first person to claim affinity for mid-century mod furniture, but there is certainly something special when it all falls into line into a pitch-perfect design. I would probably do anything to take a tour and/or live in the new Draper residence. I mean, it is stunning.

#5: More Supporting Characters
I love the new characters. I love that the actress formerly known as Alex Mack is returning as Ken Cosgroves wife (or fiance?) and I really love how frequently we're seeing and hearing from these little guys.

#6: Peggy is FUNNY.
Elisabeth Moss has been on a roll this season and hasn't missed a beat. Peggy Olsen is now a funny lady who isn't afraid to talk back to Don Draper and let him know how she really feels. REJOICE! I have always loved Peggy, but I love her best in this season. She's really developing and I love every minute of it.

(All photos are from except for the apartment photos; those were found here.)

Want more to read about Mad Men Season 5?

This NY Times article is pretty stellar and is where I got the photos of the Draper apartment. You can also see photos of the apartment and read discussion here.

Have you been watching season 5? What do you think of how the characters are evolving?

May 10, 2012

Weekend Project!

I know it's only Thursday, but I'm certainly getting ready for the weekend. I will be attending my school's prom, spending some time with our favorite mothers for Mother's Day, and trying to squeeze in as much reading and crocheting time as possible. It's going to be a balancing act, for sure. Maybe I'm at that stage in the school year where I'm truly working for the weekend.

I stumbled across this pattern over at Lionbrand and instantly fell in love with this adorable tote! I'm itchin' to get my hooks started on this project. I'm excited for a few reasons. This bag seems like the perfect roadtrip accessory. It can hold a lot of notebooks and pens (and yarn!), but still be light weight. I also love the color combination. Confession: I'm really into colorful bags right now. Must be a spring thing! ;)

It has been so long since I've crocheted, let alone since I've crocheted for fun. I'm ready to get back at it!

Will you join in on the fun?


May 9, 2012

The To-Read Pile that Turned into a Mountain.

I talked about my summer To Read pile a few weeks ago and was really happy that I documented all the titles that I wanted to make sure I read. But of course, I'm never just limited to those books. After realizing that the novels would/could be changing for a few of the classes I'll be teaching next year, I had to add two more books to my pile--both of which I am excited to read!

Have you ever read either of these? I started reading The Namesake earlier this week and find Lahiri's writing fairly exquisite. I'm excited to sit down with it for some one-on-one time this weekend!

Disclaimer: I love Steinbeck. It's true. I've taught his books and have made t-shirts about him for years. I think, however, without the right processes or teacher, it's really hard to understand his commentary on life as a high school student (mostly due to the lack of life experience). If you've read Steinbeck as an adult or college student, I would love your feedback about The Grapes of Wrath, too!

Happy reading!

May 8, 2012

Problems // Solutions

As you could probably tell, my last few posts were pretty down and full of emotion. It's been one heck of a spring around here; so many drastic and tragic events have occurred in my neck of the woods. Despite dealing with many roller coasters, I have been making grand attempts at carving more regular time out for me and for fun. What I did was take a good solid look at the elements in my life that I considered "problems." These aren't basic needs problems as I am extremely fortunate to be employed and have a husband that is also employed. These are "problems" (notice the quotes) that were really effecting my mood and outlook on life. Maybe you'll be able to relate?

Problem: Feeling Disconnected from Myself
Last year I began to study Buddhism on my own (with the help of Cory). Not necessarily practice Buddhism, but just study it. I was encouraged to read this book by my great friend Whitney and it really opened a door of wonder for me. Cory and I even went to a Buddhist festival and attended meditation training by a Buddhist monk! I really tried to embrace the idea of being in the moment and understanding the purpose and root behind what I was feeling and why I was feeling it. Although I wasn't very great at meditation and I didn't know much, I definitely wanted to keep learning. Unfortunately, as the school year began and my responsibilities caught up with me, I longingly stared at my meditation and practice books from behind the stacks of papers I needed to grade.

Solution: Making (and taking!) the Time to Study
I picked up a new text from my favorite Buddhist writer, Thic Nhat Hanh. He has written many, many books about meditation, Buddhism, and finding your spirit within. I knew he was the guy I was missing. So, I treated myself to a copy of You Are Here because it seemed like the perfect transition piece to get me back into myself. I need to focus more in the moment and less in the past and the future. I've been giving myself the last 20-45 minutes of my day to lay in bed and read this book by myself. No one to distract me (not even Ralphie) while I read.

Problem: Feeling Disconnected from Friends
I'll be the first to admit, I have less than a handful of close friends that live close to me (within a 45 min drive). Some of this is my fault--for letting previous friendships deteriorate, but some of it was also by choice--eliminating the stress of fake friendships. Either way, whenever I'm feeling low, I always somehow come back around to feeling like I don't have much of a social life. It bums me out BIG time. B.I.G. time!

Solution: Make Your Own Social Life
I had a sudden realization that I wasn't putting forth much effort. So, I decided to give effort a chance and meet up with a friend who was experiencing a bad breakup and bad week in general. We had dinner at Outback (the first time I had been there since 2010--no lie) and caught up with each other. It was nice being able to console her during this sad time, but also just be able to talk. I need to make weekly dates or bi-weekly dates with friends. Sometimes scheduling in advance is the only way it will work--but at least it will work! I also took the time to contact a few far-away friends and hold pretty lengthy phone calls with them. Not because I felt guilty, but because it felt nice. Some of my friends that live the farthest away are the ones that truly know me best. Also, when we had friends spontaneously crash at our place Saturday night (after I was overcome by a cold) I stuck it through and hung out until they went to sleep, instead of going to sleep to nurse my cold. I felt the rewards of just being a friend and hanging out instead of the next-day regret.

Problem: Not Getting Quality Time with Cory
I had to face it: Cory and I are busy people. We both have 4 preps this semester, we both are Yearbook advisers, and we're both pretty high maintenance when it comes to what we expect from ourselves at work. While my work day ends at 4, I'm often at school until 4:30, if not later. Cory's work day doesn't even end until 4:30, so he's often at school much later than that. We try to carpool to and from work, but sometimes it doesn't provide that good, old fashioned quality time I'm lusting after.

Solution: Weekend Morning Dates
On one of our very first dates, Cory took me to this amazing hole-in-the-wall pretzel shop that makes homemade bagels for breakfast sandwiches. That one experience pretty much changed my life and my standard for a delicious breakfast. Now, if we were to eat these breakfast sandwiches every weekend, we might become rotund, but every once in a while doesn't hurt at all. Two weekends ago I woke up on Sunday and decided it was the perfect day to grab breakfast at our favorite downtown spot. We had a nice, leasurely breakfast and enjoyed spending the extra face time with one another. This past weekend, knowing Cory was going to have to go into school for a few hours to work on his yearbook, I volunteered to go along with him to help. Even though we were working, it was nice to be in a creative environment where we could bounce ideas off one another. It seems like we're both fresh and focused in the morning, which means we have better conversations and more energy for one another. I hope we keep up this record of weekend morning dates, because I really enjoy them!

Problem: Not Getting Out There
A lot of times I feel like I'm stuck in the same exact schedule. Wake up, go to work, work, come home, cook dinner, do chores, sleep. It's boring! I need more evening activities to keep me feeling fresh and focused. I have been taking a weekly class for Differentiated Instruction (offered by the Maryland Department of Education) and have been really enjoying it, but I became worried about how monotonous my weeks would begin to look as soon as I finish the class.

Solution: Make Plans to Get Out of the House!
This past weekend we made plans to attend Cory's school's production of Beauty and the Beast (which was over-the-top and amazing as one might expect from an arts school). We had made plans in advance to go with both sets of our parents and Cory's sister. I'm so glad we made these plans because I had the best time attending dinner with them and also seeing this incredible show. I've been pushing Cory to go get froyo with me on a more regular basis, or run errands after work. Anything to get us off the couch and around people. Sometimes the smallest of things can really change your mood. Also, like I mentioned in this post, I bought us season passes to a concert series in Richmond, VA that I am extremely excited about.

As you can tell, I'm working on it. Slowly, but surely, I'm trying to take hold of what is bothering me and fix it the best way I know how. I'm always trying to better myself and my quality of life, so I'm hoping if I keep looking at my current situation as small problems that have solutions, then I can really focus on bettering myself one day at a time.

How do you problem solve various elements in your life that are causing dissatisfaction? Is your technique similar? I'd love to talk about it in the comments!

Happy Tuesday to you!

May 1, 2012

Am I All Work and No Play?

(photo by Jason Smitherman via flickr)

There's been a lot of introspective thought on my end over the last few weeks. The school year is winding down (I don't think I can manage one post w/o mentioning it... have you noticed?) and I want to have fun, but...

I feel like I never have any fun. uh oh. The first time I thought this I immediately wanted to swallow the words in efforts to hide them and make them disappear. If I say it aloud, it has to be true, right? Do I really want to be the person that's not having any fun? Well, it certainly doesn't make me feel good, but I think I need to own it.

This post had been rumbling in my mind for a few weeks now, and truthfully, there has been a lot happening in this ol' brain of mine recently. Lots of thoughts pertaining to where I am, where I want to be, and how gosh-darn overwhelming it all is. I really just want to wake up and life to be a'ok and 100% balanced between work and play.

But let's be real, that's not going to happen. The majority of my friends in this area have kids, which limits how often I can see them and how much future planning we need to do in order to hang out. I really love those people, but there is a side of me who wishes I had friends who could still meet up on a whim or be a little more flexible in making plans. As a result, it's pretty much just me and Cory most of the time, making our own fun.

Since Cory and I are both teachers, both incredibly involved in our schools, work is a priority these days. I like to be at work early (usually around 7:30 a.m.) to ensure I'm ready to go for the day, and Cory can't usually leave his school until 5 at the earliest. Since it's performance season (and he teaches at an art school), he didn't make it home before 9:30 p.m. last night. It's been pretty tough getting used to our new work schedules this school year. Unfortunately, I think I've hit the mark where I am absolutely working too much and not having enough fun.

Have you ever been there? What do you do once you hit that wall? Do you instantly plan a vacation or run outside and scream "SAVE ME!", because I think I'm on my way to doing one or both of those options!

I know I'm mostly documenting this moment for myself in efforts to give myself a pep talk. It's okay to feel like you're working too much, but as soon as you get there, you have to make some fun for yourself. You have to or the work won't be as meaningful in the long run.

And since it's only Tuesday evening, I have 3 more work days to daydream about what kind of fun I would like to get into this weekend. ;)

Thank you for reading my ramblings!