Au Revoir, 2014

This was one delightful year for me. Lots of time for reflection and self-discovery, some new challenges faced and mastered, many lessons learned and pondered over... Now I'm here in Oregon, relaxing with my boyfriend's family and looking back over the year as I clear out old pictures. I've archived some favorites below, for auld lang syne!

Happy 2015, everybody!


F2014 16: Cubicle Christmas

F14 - 18 (Cubicle Christmas)

If you work any sort of office job, this is probably the time of year when you start to go a little stir-crazy. Half the world is on holiday*, meaning one of two things:

-No one requires your services; you have next to no client-related responsibilities, and the work hours craaaaawwwwl by.
-EVERYONE requires your services; the phone rings off the hook all day, and you're ready for happy hour long before it's 5:00 anywhere.

The best you can do in either scenario is act like Don Draper and work it out with style. I suggest a well-structured blazer and trim, tailored pants. You'll want a comfortable undershirt, whether you're slumping or sweating, so nix the blouse today and opt for something simple. For a bit of festivity, add some plaid, or swipe on a coat of metallic nail polish. Or better yet, do both. You're going to need something to make merry about.

Eggnog, anyone?

*This being the lucky half whose holiday vacation starts the weekend before Christmas and somehow(how? HOW?!) extends through New Year's Day.


F2014: The Holiday Office Party

Ah, ye olde Holiday Office Party...

The stigmas which so often accompany this annual event (lawn-mower accidents, anyone?) are hardly worth mentioning, but whether you're anticipating an eggnog-driven revelry of questionable copy-machine antics or a basic evening of small-talk-endeavors which lend new meaning to "Silent Night," you're going to want to dress appropriately. You still have to face these folks in the new year, after all.

F14 - Holiday Office Party Outfits

(Disclaimer: As a 20-something who works for a small business, I'd consider any of the above capsule outfits perfect for a more casual holiday get-together. However, I can't speak to the etiquette of the corporate world. If your office has a defined dress code, I'd recommend sticking to those guidelines, even for after-hour occasions.)

Here are some general guidelines when approaching office party attire:

-When it comes to hemlines, follow the school rule. Remember that old dress code directive? That hemlines should rest no higher than the middle finger when your arms are at your side? As troublesome as I usually find dress codes to be, this is a good one to stand by if you (or your boss) is concerned with modesty. When in doubt, add a sheer pair of tights or opt for more leg coverage with a pair of knee boots.

-Focus sex appeal to one area. Appearing sexy might be the last thing you care about at an office party. If that's the case, good on you! Rock on with your bad self! For those who are interested in seizing the opportunity to show a little skin, however, do just that: show -- a little. The simplest way to do this is by choosing one area of your body to feature. If you love showing off your legs, slip on some strappy heels and nix the tights, but contrast with long sleeves or a higher neckline. If shoulders or decolletage is more your thing, consider pairing your sexy shirt with tailored trousers or a knee-length skirt.

-Nix the work clothes. Unless this event is happening during regular office hours, take the time to dress your best. You don't have to be overly formal, nor do you have to rework your usual fashion personality; just give yourself -- and your coworkers -- the opportunity to admire another side of you. Maybe it means pulling out that flashy blazer in your favorite color, maybe it's wearing a funny Hannukah tie. Maybe it just means you don a button-down shirt instead of your company polo. Whatever suits your style, this is the time to be a little more festive -- and therefore a little more you!

Happy Holidays!


F2014 15: Urban Elegance

Urban Elegance

Inspiration Image Source

This inspiration photo immediately caught my eye; it's such a great representation of my ultimate style. The pleated drapey skirt and button-down blouse are classically chic, while the tough leather jacket, buckle boots, and aviators give the outfit an edge. Classic-with-an-edge is just my cup of tea!

The chambray blouse, leather jacket, and brown heeled booties were pulled directly from the source, but I wasn't sure how to capture the look of the maxi skirt. Since the weather called for some slightly warmer additions, I incorporated the original army green color (which I just love against this shade of blue) in my winter accessories. Since my other two skirt options are on the short side, I used these cognac skinnies to mimic the long stretch of color on the bottom-half.

Swapping the skirt for pants took some of the elegance out of the outfit, so I upped the class factor with a dainty leather crossbody, Ray-Ban wayfarers, and stacked pearl bracelets. The effect was polished, yet comfy. Perhaps my favorite creation thus far!


F2014 14: Equestrian Cool

F14 - 14 (Equestrian Cool)

Inspiration Image Source

Back in November, when Annex Theater's Horse Girls was in full-swing, I was really feeling the equestrian style. Although it’s been nearly a month since the show’s closing, I’m still running with the vibe. There’s something so effortlessly chic about this look – and yet, when you think about it, it’s really only (fancy) sportswear!

This is a simple one to create. If you’re living in this decade, chances are you’ve probably already paired a blazer with skinny jeans before. You may even have made the tremendous discovery that knee boots pair incredibly well with these two items. (You Fashion Einstein, you!) All that’s left is to raise the neckline. Try a turtleneck, scarf, or high-collared blouse in a contrasting shade to your blazer. It will emphasize the tailored lines of the coat and ensure your shape isn’t lost in the mix!

Boots will, of course, finish off the outfit. And don’t forget your favorite bag! The representation you see above is Burberry, which means its costs your entire paycheck. In reality, I found my roomy, rectangular beauty for $1.00 (ONE DOLLAR!!) at a community rummage sale. In two years of everyday use, it hasn’t failed me once.
Be yourself and ride on.


F2014 13: Unexpected Pairings

F14 - 13 (Graveyard Secretary)

Inspiration Image Source

In living with a capsule wardrobe these past six months, I've discovered a strange paradox: creating unique outfits has only become easier. You would think that having less items would make wardrobe variety difficult, but in reality the decision process has become simpler with less choice.*

Last winter, before my wardrobe was streamlined, I probably would've scrolled right past this inspiration photo. It wouldn't have struck me as something I was capable of creating. But now that I'm in-tune to the color palette, silhouettes, and the individual pieces in my closet, an outfit like this doesn't seem nearly as challenging.

Silhouette: The photo shows a dress layered under a turtleneck, but I know the same bulky-on-top, form-fitting-on-bottom look can be achieved with my oversized cable knit sweater and pencil skirt.

Color: Choosing the items above changed the main palette -- eggplant and beige instead of black and olive. Another option would have been maintaining the color scheme with my black v-neck sweater and olive down vest, but in this case I was more interested in silhouette than color. Since my color palette was still on the cool side, I stuck with silver jewelry, rather than gold or bronze.

Individual Pieces: The items that struck me in this photo were the knee boots and long pendant necklace. "I have those things!" I thought excitedly. If you find yourself recognizing minor details like these, start small and work outward. Ask yourself what items might work with these accessories. Pinpoint why they were used in the original outfit. In this case, the long necklace lengthens out a bulky torso, while the knee boots provide balance to the lower half of the body. (Not to mention warmth!)

When in doubt, approach inspiration via one of these categories. Chances are, you'll find an outfit you never would have thought of otherwise!

*If you're interested in learning more about this strange reality, check out Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice.


F2014 12: Spicy Date

F14 - 12 (Spicy Date)

Inspiration Image Source

I wore this little getup last month for an anniversary dinner with my studmuffin. It paired oh-so-nicely with our champagne!  

If you've got a hot date of your own on the calendar tonight, why not make the most of autumn's wonderful spicy hues? Every year, winter brings icy metallics, cool jewel tones, and blues back on the scene, and we must bid our reds and golds farewell til' next year. Fall never seems to last quite long enough, does it? (I still blame the lack of snow... It's really the only thing that gives winter an edge over the other seasons.)

To keep this look on the subtle side, stick to two or three spice tones and mix them with warm neutrals, like the chocolate booties and beige trench shown above. I chose cumin (scarf), paprika (dress), and sumac (gloves), but you might also incorporate sage, saffron, tumeric, cinnamon, ginger... Just open your spice cabinet and get inspired!


F2014 11: Dress Over Blouse

F14 - 11 (First Snow)

Inspiration Image Source

Well, it's back to rainy days here in Seattle, and I'm thinking wistfully back to the Saturday after Thanksgiving -- this year's first snowfall! While it's nice not having to worry about ice on the street or wearing socks to bed, there's nothing like seeing that little snowflake in my weather app. It just doesn't seem like Christmas without snow...

That said, you don't need the white stuff to rock this outfit. In fact, wearing it on a temperate day will ensure it doesn't hide beneath your coat all day long!

In the past, I've been wary about layering blouses and dresses. For one thing, I associate this look with Catholic schoolgirls, which I'm probably beyond the age of imitating with dignity. Secondly, I just can't stand seeing wrinkles under outer fabrics. Like the VLP, that sort of thing can really spoil an outfit.

Fortunately, the printed dress I chose for this capsule wardrobe is made of a thick material -- perfect for concealing pesky fabric folds and buttons! (It also keeps me wonderfully warm, for a dress.) To make this outfit more seasonal, I added some layered tights & knee socks under my favorite boots, a funky Victorian-looking brooch, and a belt with a smart little bow. BAM! I'm a Christmas present.


F2014 10: Black, White, and Not Boring

F14 - 10 (Monotone)

Inspiration Image Source

Even with a streamlined wardrobe, the question of "what to wear today?" still arises. Part of me hopes that's because I'm still curating and that one day I'll be able to reach into my closet, pull something out, and think "Voila!" Perfect outfit. Another part of me knows that's not likely to happen for me ever. (That's also the part of me that changes her favorite color week to week...)

But wait a minute -- this outfit HAS no color! Yep, welcome to black and white and gray all over. While the monochrome fashion hack isn't exactly anything new, I've only just learned how to make it work for the side of me that craves color, pizazz, and general variety (in other words, the alive side of me.)

Here's the secret: texture. It doesn't have to be something as blatant as corduroy on tweed on velvet,
but mix things up a bit with a patterned sweater, statement jewelry, and sleek boots. Mix and match something you may not have tried before. It's hard to go wrong with black and white!

Happy Weekend, Everybody!


Christmas Playlist 2014

Another year, another Christmas playlist.

I'm a total sucker for holiday music. As soon as the continuous-Christmas radio starts, it's like having a replenishing pile of brownies before me. I'll try to avoid them, attempt to reason with myself ("I'll tire of them if I overindulge too early...") and then sooner or later I'm clicking the station for "just one more" !

If you feel like you've heard it all, give the playlist below a listen, or check out last year's version. Perhaps you'll fall in love with a new tune. Don't forget to share your own holiday favorites in the comment section below!


F2014 9: Her Majesty

F14 - 9 (Jewel Tones)

Inspiration Image Source

Perhaps it was seeing Blood Countess at Annex Theater last week, but for some reason I've got medieval queens on the brain! There's such an eerie quality to portraiture from this era -- like everyone was plotting murder or something. (And, as several plays & historical anecdotes suggest, they were!)

While my own thoughts are far from vengeful, I love the sense of power brought on by this royal inspiration. To match it, I tried to choose capsule pieces that give me a similar sense of confidence and richness. Jewel tones are an obvious addition here; the blazer, necklace, and camisole* stand out from one another like rubies, amethysts, and gold framing on a crown. Deep chocolate has always felt luxurious yet comfortable to me, so I used that to ground the palette.

I'm having a hard time staying away from these gray knee boots, which have found their way onto my feet almost every day this week. Their muted tone complements just about anything, yet they always seem to become a statement piece in their own right. To complete the outfit, I added an extra-long scarf. This works double duty to keep me toasty and to mimic the quality of a trailing royal robe.

What will you conquer today, your majesty?

*It's worth noting that the color of this camisole is deeper in reality -- more tumeric than the bright tone you see here.


F2014 8: Good As Gold

F14 - 8 (Good as Gold)

Inspiration Image Source

Everyone reaches a point in their life where they see themselves for what they are. For me, that meant coming to terms with the fact that I'm basically a goody-goody. Straight-edge, prim & proper, well-meaning, with a tendency to adhere to the rules... I'm like Hermione Granger without the asset of a brilliant memory. (Though I won't go so far to devalue my own intelligence.)

Perhaps this inherent quality of mine is why I'm so drawn to preppy clothes. A large majority of my younger years were spent wishing I got to wear a uniform to school; I was positively charmed by tartan skirts, saddle shoes, and knee-high socks.

These days, I'm glad to have had the freedom to experiment with as many styles as I pleased. Still, on days when I'm feeling particularly diligent, I love dressing the part. Argyle patterns, tailored lines, a smart collared blouse, and -- my favorite accessory for the good-girl look -- gold accents pull together this look quite nicely. I can't imagine my capsule wardrobe without a healthy dose of this academic style!


F2014 7: Monochrome vs. Color

F14 - 7 (Black, Mint, & Silver)

Do you remember the 1998 film Pleasantville? The one that starts in black & white and gradually reveals color as characters gain knowledge? That's what came to mind when I came across today's inspiration photo. Featuring a decidedly strong color against an otherwise monochromatic palette almost always looks stunning, and chances are you already have the necessary components in your closet.

Here are three tricks I've found most useful when creating this look:

1) Go for the scarf. I have yet to see someone look the worser for wearing a scarf. Provided you choose one that reflects your personal style (i.e. one that you LOVE!), it's hard to go wrong here.

2) Choose one of your best colors. Black, gray, and white are neutralizing but not necessarily flattering on all skin tones. Opting for a color that matches your eyes, contrasts your hair, and/or evens your skin tone will bring the outfit together best. Teal, purple, periwinkle, and medium navy are considered flattering to most skin tones, so if you're feeling uncertain, try one of these!

3) Up the contrast. Once you've chosen a color, consider what neutral (black, white, or gray) will provide the most contrast. In the example above, I used a black palette to make the lighter mint shade stand out. As the inspiration photo shows, gray would accomplish this as well, but in a subtler way. If you were to choose eggplant or indigo, white or gray would clearly highlight these colors better than black.

What color do you love against a monochrome palette?


F2014 6: Fancy This, Fancy That

F14 - 6 (Fancy That)

 Inspiration Image Source

Why is the Edwardian period so classy? Is it the lace? The pearls? The puffed sleeves? Though some may call it grannyish, I return to this time again and again for a fashion pick-me-up -- especially when it comes to gettin' fancy.

Fanciness doesn't have to be limited to once-in-a-blue-moon formal events. Fancy up a dinner date. Fancy-up to go to the movies. You can even fancy up your work attire, as I've done here.

I know, I know -- some of you are already rolling your eyes at the notion of wearing pearls & skirts to work. Quel demurrrrre. Didn't women like the one in the photo above work to make this very practice noncompulsory? I would argue that these delicate details simply make the stronger pieces (i.e. the oxford shoes and black leather jacket) stand out all the more! In fact, when set against the antique palette and streamlined tailoring, there's no denying this modern jacket is star of the show.

So wear your pearls and heels proudly, but don't be afraid to up the edge factor. Like you, style is multidimensional: at once brave and bold, humble and simple.


F2014 5: Make It Uniform

F14 - 5 (Deep Blue Sea)
Inspiration Image Source 1 2

While seeking justification for today's inspiration photos, I discovered that November 10th is National Marines Day. How's that for going with your instinct?

Truth be told, this outfit is old hat for me: Form-fitting a-line dress? Check. Knee high boots? Check. Funky stocking choices? Check, check. In college, I gravitated toward this combination again and again. Occasionally I'd swap the dress out for a skirt-and-tee combo, but mainly I stuck to these three elements. It became my uniform, and to this day I return to it whenever my creative juices are running low.

To create your own uniform look, ask yourself what styles and silhouettes you find yourself drawn to while dressing, shopping, or people-watching. Maybe you feel right at home in skinny jeans and combat boots. Maybe you've always admired the high-waists and broad shoulders of the 1930s and 80s. Perhaps, like me, your body always feels right at home in the classic hourglass silhouette. Whatever your preference, make sure you have a lot of these uniform pieces on hand. For a personal iconic look, you might even decide to compose your capsule of uniform pieces entirely. Suit up and sail on.


F2014 4: Learn How to Be You in Time

F14 - 4 (The Fab Four)

Inspiration Image Source

Lest you've forgotten my long-time obsession with The Beatles the grandest band of all time, here's a healthy dose of the Fab Four for the 4th outfit in my fall capsule.

The minimalist, urban look of this outfit is something I've only recently come to embrace. By nature, I've always had a knack for pairing the ridiculous with the ridiculous-er -- be it a Peugeot cap with Big Bird slippers or a hospital scrub top with an ankle length paisley skirt.* As absurd as they sound, I regret none of my greenhorn fashion decisions, because I know they came from a place of honest expression. An Aquarius at heart, I've always been particularly fond of going against the grain!

So you may understand why outfits like this once seemed uninspiring to me. A sharp shirt and coat, streamlined pants and boots, shades and sleek silver accessories... it's cool, sure, but where's the personality? But then I got to thinking: while wearing simple suits served to merge John, Paul, George, and Ringo as a unified band, their individual characters were nevertheless unmistakable. Who could confuse McCartney's gigglish charm for the loony wit of Lennon? If anything, the matching outfits only served to better backdrop their unique charismas.

Throw caution to the wind today and be more boring! You might just become more fascinating.

*Seriously. I can't make this stuff up.


F2014 3: The Character Approach

F14 - 2 (Down the Rabbit Hole)

Inspiration Image Source

I have always loved Alice in Wonderland. I don't suppose this is a very unique fascination, but something about the story has always resonated with me. You've heard me wax poetic before about the little blue dress, and Alice could probably be considered the instigator of that trend.

Two of my favorite styling approaches are at play here: (1) mimicking the style details in the character's outfit by selecting similar items from your own wardrobe; and (2) using the colors you associate with that character to build a mini palette.

With the first approach, I might start with the characteristic light blue of Alice's dress as my main color, incorporate the idea of exposed stockings and buckle details, and add the watch necklace as a subtle homage to Mr. Rabbit.

The second approach is less deliberate. Perhaps I'm really feeling a chambray blouse today. The blue immediately reminds me of Alice... Then I remember the scene where she's descending down the rabbit hole and recall the chocolate and gray tones from the background... Gray boots! And -- chocolate shorts? Hmm, can't wear those in this weather without tights. Chocolate tights, it is. Again, the watch necklace is the cherry on top.

Whichever approach works best for you, don't shy away from characters that inspire you. Taking fashion cues from a cartoon may seem silly, but it's a fun way to embrace different styles. After all, as Mr. Carroll says, If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.


F2014 2: Happy Halloween!

F14 - 3 (Happy Halloween)

Happy Halloween, everybody! This is one of my most favorite holidays, and I'm eagerly looking forward to embracing a variety of characters -- in rehearsal and beyond! Not to mention admiring the parade of cute kids, lighting jack-o-lanterns, and eating candy like it's going out of style.

As for costumes, Carrie and Miranda present a good point (above): I can't count the amount of times I've not-so-creatively fallen back on the old witch and kitten classics (read: female stereotypes.) Still, there's something great about these steadfast standbys. So, instead of going for a witchy costume this year, I'm decided to send the inspiration toward my daytime outfit!

Even though it's essentially my job to pretend I'm someone else, I still feel silly donning an actual Halloween costume to work. To keep in the spirit, I focused on subtler witchy details, as you see above. Black heeled boots + black stockings + a classic dress + blood red nails = Insta-Witch! If kitten's more your style, try a black sheath dress + leopard print heels + bold cat-eye liner. Trick-or-treat!

For more Halloween tips & tricks, check out these posts: 1 2 3 4


F2014 1: Making Accents Pop

F14 - 1 (Leopard Luxe)

Inspiration Image Source

Here's an approximation of the first outfit I created from my fall capsule. As mentioned in my last post, the items here are not identical to my own peices (The ring above is worth about $5000, and I only wish I owned a pair of Frye boots.) However, they do reflect the styles and/or colors of the actual items in my wardrobe this season, and therefore serve as adequate representation.

While this adorable inspiration photo was discovered after the fact, the outfit relation seems obvious now. My own polka dot dress is cream with black spots instead of beige, so I looked even more leopard-like in person!

What I love about this look is the colorful pop of the tights against an otherwise neutral outfit. Bottom-half accessories like tights and socks are a great way to incorporate your accent tones -- especially those which threaten to overwhelm your complexion. Wine is actually quite a nice color on me, but if I ever decide to play with neons or pastels, you can bet they'll be introduced this way first!

A final note on how to bring it all together: match your jacket to your shoes! Book-ending your outfit in this way provides a frame for your prominent tones (beige and burgundy, in this case), and lends a polished air to even the most casual look.


Fall Capsule Wardrobe 2014

Fall 2014 Capsule Wardrobe

Today I'm very pleased to present my Fall Capsule Wardrobe!

While it's technically been in cycle since late September, I've been fine-tuning and adding final touches over the past month or so. As I have neither the time nor the camera skills to photograph my actual clothing, I used Polyvore to create an approximation of the full wardrobe. What you see above is more or less what I’ll be working with through November.

Recalling the lessons learned from my summer capsule project, I tried to be more particular during the planning process, especially with my color scheme. Like most sensible shoppers, I recognize the value of neutrals and tend to shy away from color. Sooner or later, though, a more whimsical side of me takes hold, and I wind up impulse-buying a Skittles-rainbow of colorful items that won't work with each other -- and sometimes not with the neutrals either!

Here, I’ve broken down my wardrobe by color type: mains on the left, then neutrals, and accents on the right. Since I'm always in the midst of a love affair with the color black, I invited that shade into my main color category, but I also added some grays for a casual, less severe alternative. Wine and chocolate, two of my favorite shades (and indulgences!), round out the main color category. For neutrals, I chose three trusty favorites: navy, cream, and cognac. The sophisticated academic vibe of this color trio perfectly complements my professorial inspirsessions. The creams and cognacs also serve to contrast the darker mains. Finally, my accent tones are still a bit of a rainbow, but their tones are in harmony enough to mix and match.

In the coming weeks, I'll show you a variety of outfits that can be created from this capsule, in addition to styling tips and tricks acquired along the way. I hope you find them useful as you learn to mix and match your own pieces!


All Ears

Guys, I've put myself in the proverbial doghouse today. I had high hopes for blogging this month, but rehearsals for Horse Girls have completely (and gloriously) taken over my life! While I'm overjoyed to be channeling my energy into such an amazing project, I'm sorry that my writing, styling, and general inspirsessing has taken a backseat lately.

As I was allowing myself to stress over this fact, however, it occurred to me that posting photos and blurbs for the mere sake of consistency and viewership is not really what I want to be doing here. It isn't the reason I started this blog, nor is the kind of writer I want to be.

With so much information flow in our day-to-day, do we really more daily updates, even from our friends? More descriptions of our hectic days? More pictures of our perfect outfit or the perfect meal we just ate? More "look at me" moments? In the past week I skimmed approximately 35 posts from the various fashion & lifestyle blogs I follow, and maybe four of them stood out to me as inspirational, unique, or applicable to my life.

There's an obvious solution here: follow less. Unplug. Get out of the kitchen, as it were. But there's also a less obvious, secondary solution: generate less. While I'll readily admit to envying the creativity, self-motivation, and energy of the blogging world in general, sometimes I wish everyone would take a step back to think, reflect, and listen.

I'm not trying to let myself off the hook here -- I really would like to get back on board with my outfit posts, especially now that fall is (sort of?) finally upon us. But this silence has given me time to ponder several things...

    1) In denim world, where is the sweet spot on the axis of cost vs. quality? (I'm looking at you, designer jeans...)

    2) How can you be sure your style matches your true self?

    3) Might friendship bracelets single-handedly be brought back by this one zealous actress?

    4) Could psychoanalysis and fashion blend in a helix of perfect harmony -- one that does *not* involve so-called "retail therapy"?

    5) WHAT am I going to be for Halloween?

And so on.

My point is, there are still blog-related thoughts swirling in my head. In the quickly-diminishing spare moments of my day, I am thinking constantly about fashion and identity and my own sense of self & purpose. I'm realizing that, like theater, writing and fashion can't reach their full potential until they're experienced by someone beyond their creator. But I'm also realizing that, like a wardrobe, information worth sharing with the world takes time to cull.

If you're reading this now, whether you come here often or this is your first experience of Inspirsession, I welcome your voice/thoughts/opinions. What questions are you asking yourself about style, identity, or life in general? What problems can we work together to solve? What inspires you on a daily basis, and what turns you off? Let me know in the comment section or in a personal message or in person.

I'm listening.


Pumpkin Hunt

This weekend sparked the first stirrings of Halloween spirit in me. Saturday evening was spent kicking back with a few friends, lots of candy corn, House on Haunted Hill, and Evil Dead II. We carved pumpkins as we screamed and laughed through the films, and the next morning I roasted pumpkin seeds and made tissue ghosts to hang in our doorway.

I'm getting my spooks and chills on while I can, since these upcoming months promise a life of semi-permanent theatre vampiredom.

While it's been ages since I've visited a proper pumpkin patch, I must admit that our daytime journey to Dr. Maze's Farm in Redmond failed to live up to my childhood memories. In eastern Washington, farms are abound with endless orchards; apple and peach-picking goes hand-in-hand with choosing out your pumpkin. There are hayrides through the hills and enormous corn mazes. There is livestock and live music, homemade pies and wheat fields for days.

The Puget Sound, on the other hand, decided to grace us with the hottest weather we've had all week, bathing this randomly rural patch in blinding late-afternoon sunlight. My comrades and I, who'd donned sweaters, fleeces, and boots in (perhaps overly optimistic) autumn spirit, found ourselves boiling in the heat. By the time we broke for kettle corn, I'd shed down to my camisole and J had turned his pullover into something like a turban. A bit of a motley crew for harvest season.

Speaking of motley, the farm itself was... curious. The pumpkin patch, while fairly sizable, sat just a few yards from the parking lot. The corn/sunflower maze looked patchy and droopy in the hot sun. My hay ride reveries were quickly obscured by the suburban reality: a tractor which pulled a large covered trailer behind it on a loop around the patch and surrounding area, only to return about 10 minutes later. Not exactly a romantic adventure through the countryside.

Expectations aside, the day served its purpose: we had some good, old-fashioned harvest time fun and procured some beautiful pumpkins. Happy October, everybody!