Tis The Season

The image above should illustrate quite clearly what last week represented for me. Trader Joe's has released their holiday snackery, including their addictive and elusive Candy Cane Joe-Joes (which are THE KING OF SWEETS, as far as I'm concerned.) And while waiting in line during a last minute Thanksgiving grocery run, I noticed an ice cream carton in the cart of the woman in front of me... Candy Cane. Joe-Joe. Ice Cream.


All my post-Thanksgiving intentions to temporarily lay off sweets (not to mention dairy) were quickly compromised -- as intentions are wont to do when your greatest fantasy comes dancing into the freezer.

These final November days after Thanksgiving never fail to fill me with delight. The thrill of what lies ahead -- Christmas music, snow, holiday shopping, time with family, cozy sweaters, and sweet sweet sweets... for me, this is truly the most wonderful time of the year. The very concept is itself like a snowflake: beautiful, magical, but too-soon fleeting. But like the greatest of romances, it's the very impermanence of the holiday season that makes it so marvelous.

As Tom Stoppard says: "Good things, when short, are twice as good."

Another scoop, then.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Feastings Greetings, everyone! I hope you are filling your tummies full and your hearts fuller.

I have so many opportunities to give thanks for since this time last year...

My previous holiday season included a thrilling run in Pride and Prejudice as Lydia Bennet.
Spring brought a three month adventure abroad with J (thanks, Work Away!)
This summer saw my whole family together again under the same roof.
In fall I moved to New York City: a childhood fantasy come true.
I have been blessed with time and inspiration for creative fulfillment, which is really my raison d'etre.

I'm also very grateful for you. If you've taken the time to read any part of this blog, you have given me hope, joy, and motivation to create.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Humanity of Change

It's hard to believe I took a nine day break without posting, but I guess the great irony of life is that sometimes when the most important things are happening to you, you have the least time to reflect on them

If there's one thing I've always felt self-conscious about, it's my relationship to change. I've explored it over and over again in my writing, and new material is constantly regenerating itself, so it's something I keep coming back to.

It's the nature of the world to change -- this very principle explains why we have daily newspapers, Facebook, and fashion magazines. We're always hungry for novelty, but when life throws real alternations at us, many of us feel the instinct to reject it -- or run from it.

A couple I've known for a long time welcomed a baby into the world this week. (Talk about a life-changing event!) Obviously this occurrence has nothing to do with me, but of course when you witness something like this in another person's life, you momentarily imagine life through their eyes. For these two, immediate changes will obviously center around sleep schedules, baby-proof architectural choices, and new general anxieties about protecting their loved one. But deeper changes -- like discovering how to live their lives for a third soul -- are of course in store as well, and they will require continual adjustments, albeit for a happy cause.

Comparing changes in my own life to something this monumental will likely sound trivial, but we all know life is relative. Whether we're planning a wedding, applying to college, or gearing up to go to space, this circumstance will take top priority in our own brain and become THE MOST IMPORTANT THING for the time being.

This week I received some difficult news, which I won't get any more specific about for the purpose of protecting those involved. It came in the midst of a frustrating day in at the end of an already trying week, and it reduced me to a fetal-bound, mascara-streaked, blanket-covered ball for the better half a Christmas playlist. (Really, there was no remedy at the end of a week like this but some fluffy, premature holiday music.) Worse, the uncertainty this news brought on spider-webbed itself into every other area of my life: Was I really cut out for the job I'd just started? Were J and I in a good place? Was I fooling myself with this acting thing? Would I ever learn to cook a balanced meal?

Up until then, I thought the grand changes of my new life in New York were settled -- jobs found, rent paid, subway learned, friends met -- but of course no finale (hell, no scene change) is ever quite so predictable. As Lena Dunham accurately summarizes, "The end never comes when you think it will. It's always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left." Even something as seemingly simple as being an adult requires constant reevaluation and fine-tuning.

And then of course the saddest and greatest change of all last week came across the news: 129 people killed across Paris at the madness of another terrorist agenda. As of today, the world is still in shock, and we're only just turning our attention to the other victims involved. There is no telling how the world is supposed to recover from something like this, because it is simply not how our world is supposed to function.

But here is what I've come to realize about change, as good as bringing babies into the world, as bad as bad news, or as globally tragic Friday's attacks: it is change that makes us human. Or, perhaps, it is change that reveals our humanity. If our world remained as predictable as we all sometimes wish it would, there would be no reason to look beyond ourselves and our day-to-day concerns. The homeless plea that interrupts our daily commute and causes us to question how much money we might actually spare, the new coworker who impels us to defend our ideas, the child who suddenly asks us "why"... these shifts give us permission to live outside our heads, to interact, to evolve, and to bring our hearts to the surface.

Welcome or not, change creates us.


Recipe: Gimmie-the-Green Smoothie

When you're unemployed, sometimes it's the little things in life that matter -- i.e. the free stuff. Since this is the only "green" I'm going to have at my disposal for a while, I decided to make the most of it. Focusing on my heart, health, and taste buds keeps life affordably interesting  until cash flows freely again.

Want to make your own Green Smoothie? If you're wary of putting veggies in anything that's supposed to taste sweet, this is a great place to start! Adding just a cup of kale or spinach to a breakfast smoothie will satisfy your daily Vitamin A (good for skin and vision) needs and more Vitamin K (blood and bone health) than you could possibly need -- and that's only the beginning!

-1 heaping handful of kale (or spinach, if you prefer)
-1 large frozen banana
-1/2 c. soy milk (or other milk of choice)
-1-2 tbs. peanut butter
-1 tsp. honey
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-1 tbs. coffee grounds (optional, if you like texture or need a little kick!)

Instructions: Add greens and milk to a strong blender. Mix on high speed until the greens are fully incorporated and no leafy bits remain (you might need to "pulse" the blender to achieve this.) Add the remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly until well combined. Pour into a glass and enjoy!


7 Savvy Tips for the On-Trend Shopper

While it's true in recent years that I've made an effort to focus on my own definitions of style, once in a while I like to sit down and review what's actually going on in the world of fashion. Sometimes that means window shopping or surveying the latest magazine spreads. Other times it's admiring Pantone's carefully selected palettes in their seasonal color reports. Here in the city, it's lately meant plopping my unemployed self down on a Washington Square or Upper East Side bench, drooling into a cheap cup of chai over outfits I can't currently (and may never) afford.

Maybe it's my empty wallet talking, or maybe I'm just a snob at heart, but overall I am of the opinion that too much trend-following is tasteless, wasteful, and a sure sign of an under-exercised imagination. I rarely see the point in renouncing one's own fashion impulses for the next fad item. Does that mean I never fall victim to advertisements and "must have" editorials myself? Of course not; I'm as human as the rest of you. But making a mindful effort to avoid these triggers has certainly made me less inclined to do so. In the past year I have shopped less, wanted less, and been more content with what I already own than ever before.

If you, like me, are striving to limit mindless spending and "stuff" accumulation, it's important to arm yourself with a few tactics before so much as eyeing a copy of Vogue.

Using this fall's current crazes in example, here are some approaches you can use to tune out the trends and tune in to you!

1) Board It Up 
Inspiration and "mood" boards used to seem ridiculous to me, but the more I've worked with them, the more readily I've been able to identify my own style preferences. This season, for example, it's reminded me that mini skirts have no place in my "blue collar bohemian" weekend wardrobe. So whether it's clipping magazine pics, snapping photos of mannequins, noting an outfit you saw on the street, or pinning your favorite blog posts, find a way to reference and define your personal style parameters -- then be sure to work within them.

2) Know Your Body
I've always been a proponent of dressing for your shape, but recently I've started wondering whether this kind of proscribed advice isn't just another symptom of our media's obsession with the male gaze. Rather than determining if you're a pear, hourglass, or what-not, decide for yourself what proportions (hemlines, cuts, and shapes) make you feel most comfortable. If dresses get in the way of the work you need to do, embrace pants. If heels make you want to scream, nix 'em! This self-love has given me liberty to send fall's over-the-knee boots my very best "talk to the hand."

3) Shop Your Closet
Few of us can name every item in our possession at any given moment. Chances are, you have a few of the latest trends lurking in the recesses of your wardrobe right now! Plaid is a trend that seems to resurface every autumn, and if you live in the PNW you're probably already in possession of some serious flannel. Give these items extra attention this season. By the time they're worn out, the trend will be over, and you can usher in something new, guilt-free.

4) Study Your Classics
"Classic" items are typically great pieces to invest in because they're less likely to go out of style before you wear them out. These pieces have been in circulation for centuries: The crisp white blouse. The black trouser. The tailored jacket. You can rest assured they're not going anywhere fast, even if they happen to be on-trend now. A gray suit, for example, is sure to serve you well for many years, making it one of the most lucrative 2015 trends.

5) Play The Memory Game
Trends are recycled and resuscitated all the time. (One visit to your local H&M right now will have you believing you walked into a Brady Brunch special.) This gives you good cause for looking back on your own history and asking yourself, "Have I tried this before?" and if so, "What came of it?" While researching trends for this post, I noticed the return of oversized, glitzy jewelry. Immediately I started thinking about purchasing one of those absurd, brightly-colored cocktail rings for dressing up my evening wear. Then it occurred to me: I just got rid of three similar rings last summer. Not because they were out of style, but because I never wore them! They snagged, they pinched, they made me feel on-display. Learn the difference between liking the way an item feels on you versus liking the way it looks on a model or in a magazine. Make note of what drives you crazy. It will serve as a valuable filter for seasons to come.

6) Eliminate The Stupid
I sometimes wonder whether magazines showcase these trends in an effort to make fools of us all when we follow them. Who, in the love of all that's holy, will be walking around this winter with sleeves too long for their arms? The sad answer is: probably many, after seeing it proscribed in Elle. Learn to ascend the bullshit here. Even fashion experts make bad calls.

7) When You Must, Go For Accessories
Maybe you've employed all the steps above and you still really want that present-on-your-Pinterest, perfect-on-your-body, totally-not-stupid, classic plaid print that's missing from your closet. For years I wanted to dress just like John Bender from The Breakfast Club -- everything from his plaid flannel, to his leather moto gloves, to his thermal undershirt. Almost five years after seeing the film (and many failed outfit-mimicry attempts later) I finally decided to spring for his wayfarer sunglasses. To this day, my Ray-Bans are one of my most cherished possessions. For you, it might be this season's driving gloves or funky tights. Accessories tend to be less expensive and easier to store, so you can be more experimental without sacrificing money or space.

How do you avoid or embrace trends? Share below!