Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Morning Pins: Capsule Wardrobe Inspiration

Awhile back, I talked about how I wanted to create a capsule wardrobe for work. And I did. Kinda. I used my made-up "start with a scarf" method, but had a hard time picking just one scarf. Right now, it's not so much a capsule wardrobe as a capsules wardrobe. It doesn't necessarily feel any easier to get dressed. In hopes of inspiring another round of paring down, this morning I am looking for spring capsule wardrobe ideas.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This Earth Day, Do Nothing

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! by happilyintended featuring a galaxy poster

One of my April goals is "spring greening," and, with Earth Day upon us, I've been putting some thought to what exactly I mean by that. Every April I like to reevaluate what I'm doing to be a good steward of the Earth, and, in a lot of ways, I'm pretty eco-friendly. I use biodegradable cleaning products. I recycle. I don't eat a lot of meat. There's room for improvement, but to make some of those improvements would require me to throw conventional products away. Dumping a half-used bottle of shampoo into the trash is really the opposite of green, so I'll make a few swaps when I'm actually in the market for replacements.

So while it seems like I'm ignoring my goal, in thinking about it, I think I might be doing one of the greenest things of all: nothing. Well, not exactly nothing, but what would look like nothing to the untrained eye. I'm not going to drive to another city to buy groceries at Whole Foods or obsessively search the internet for the Very Best and Greenest Products. I'm going to sit and stare out my window and watch for birds. (It's threatening to storm, so it's going to have to be indoor birding today.) I'm going to practice my song identification skills. I'm going to remember some of the things that I love about nature that sometimes get lost in the shuffle of modern life. And I encourage you to do the same. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Happy Belated Bat Appreciation Day!

B is for bats

B is for bats by happilyintended featuring a silk shawl

This quickly became a very long post, and I still have lots more to say. So this is Part 1, or Why You Shouldn't Fear Bats. Stay tuned for Part 2, or Why You Should Love (or At Least Tolerate) Bats.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a rather large soft spot in my heart for bats. This past Friday was Bat Appreciation Day, but I didn't get to do much to commemorate it. We are in the midst of test prep at school, so I couldn't take a day to talk about bats. (Don't worry--we do take a "bat break" to learn about them for Halloween!) As soon as school was over, I jumped in the car to drive to Virginia Beach to do an AP bio Saturday Study Session. So yeah, not a lot of time to acknowledge bats. But since I can do absolutely whatever I want with my blog, here are some bat facts:

Many people think that bats are ugly or scary or gross. I love their little faces, even the really wrinkly ones, but you think they're cute or you don't, and that's fine with me either way. If nocturnal animals in general freak you out, that's ok, too. I get that. 

Gratuitous bats-in-blankies picture! Adorableness via

But bats are not gross. For one thing, they groom themselves pretty obsessively, much like cats. And then there's the whole disease thing...

It is true that they are vectors for various diseases, but that's true for basically every living thing. Dogs and cats are both vectors for disease, so pet owners have to be aware of how to prevent their animals from either contracting diseases and/or spreading them. This is why you keep vaccines up to date, why pregnant ladies don't scoop litter boxes, etc. And of course, the most common disease vector for humans is... other humans, so eradicating certain animals won't exactly eradicate disease. While, yes, the source of the Ebola outbreak in west Africa is believed to be a bat, it was a bat that was consumed as part of the bush meat trade. It wasn't the result of a bat attack. Generally speaking, bats are curious creatures, but they aren't interested in messing with people. 

Like Ebola, most of the diseases that bats carry can only be transmitted through contact with their bodily fluids or wastes. Particularly for people in the United States, this makes avoidance pretty easy: don't eat a bat and don't eat unclean food. Also, don't touch a live bat. If a bat gets in your house or your place of work, it's probably really confused and scared. A giant possible-predator trying to grab it is probably going to make the bat go into self-defense mode and bite you. Call someone trained to remove bats. 

The odds that any bat with which you come into contact is carrying a disease are really very low. However, if you are bitten by a bat, you will need rabies shots. Rabies shots suck. This is why you call professionals to remove bats. Rabies shots are painful and expensive, but if the bat that bit you is caught, the situation is much worse for the bat. By law, a bat that has bitten someone must be tested for rabies. The only way to test the bat for rabies is to kill it and then perform a necropsy (an autopsy for non-humans). Since the odds that the bat is rabid are very low, this is often a needless loss of life. And, by the way, a clean bill of health for the now-dead bat doesn't get you out of rabies shots. In the event that you have come into contact with rabies, the vaccine will only help you if you get it immediately; you can't wait several days for the bat's lab work to come back. 

Bottom line: Do bats a solid this April, and leave them alone. They don't want to get in your hair, they don't want to suck your blood. They just want to live their little batty lives.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hit of Happiness

Get the tissues ready! You're going to need them, but only because your heart is about explode happiness.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Goal Check-In: Spring Cleaning

I completed the decluttering phase of spring cleaning this past weekend. That just leaves the cleaning part. I like to use Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products because they smell good. A whiff of basil won't actually make me forget I'm cleaning the bathroom, but it certainly makes me a little happier about it. If you need to replenish your cleaning supplies for spring, this charming video might convince you to go Team Meyer. If you're committed to your particular stash of product, then watch the video anyway, for a reminder that you can't let perfectionism run your world. In the words of Voltaire, "Perfect is the energy of good."

Image via Operation Organization by Heidi

Monday, April 6, 2015

Alphabetical by Author: Edward Abbey

Image via Amazon

When I was younger, I read voraciously. So much so that I actually got in trouble (in a very mild way) in elementary school for getting too absorbed in what I was reading. However, the transition from children's chapter books to adult fiction was hard for me. The adults around me recommended mystery novels and historical fiction, but that just didn't take. I briefly flirted with trying to read my way through all of the classics, but, frankly, some of those books are just a slog--more like the reading you do for an English class because you must, not the reading you do for fun.

Over time, I became more of a magazine reader than a book reader, and when I did pick up a paperback, it was almost certainly non-fiction. I still love my popular science books (looking at you, Mary Roach!), but I'd like to add more fiction to my repertoire. Unfortunately, I still have the same problem of not knowing where to start. Wandering through a bookstore last week, I had an idea--what if I worked my way through the fiction section alphabetically? Not reading every single book, of course, but grabbing something that catches my eye starting with the A's and working my way on down to the Z's. This lead me to my first selection, 'The Monkey Wrench Gang,' by Edward Abbey. Years ago, I was admonished at an animal behavior conference for never having read Edward Abbey. Luckily for me, it was neither part of the admissions requirements for my biology program nor a requirement for my Master's degree. At the time, feeling like a bad biologist, I tried to read one of his other books, and I just couldn't get into it. But 'The Monkey Wrench Gang' is apparently popular enough to be included in the Harper Perennial Olive Editions, so I am optimistic that this one will work out, and then I will finally have earned the right to be an obnoxious environmentalist.

Do you read fiction? Have any recommendations for me?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Saturday Morning Pins

Is there a better way to start a Saturday than curled up with a hot cup of coffee, still in your pajamas, spending some QT with the Interwebs? It used to be my Saturday morning ritual to make coffee and then check in with my favorite bloggers Over time, I got out of the habit of reading blogs, and I now get my internet fix by pinning obsessively. Here are this Saturday's favorite pins:

This pocket scarf with clever construction details.
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Some spring cleaning inspiration.
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This dress that feels like springtime.
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This tiger cub that can't even. Bring him some Starbucks, stat!
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And this reminder to get out into the natural world!
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If you liked these pins, please follow me on Pinterest for more like 'em!

(P.S. Are you also a blogger? I wouldn't mind getting back into the blog-reading groove, so leave me your URL in the comments. I'd love to check it out!)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Craft Project: Hand Made Modern Jewelry Boxes

As you guys know, I pretty much lost my mind when I found out that Todd Oldham launched a line of craft supplies for adults called Hand Made Modern. These two boxes are my first foray into this exciting new product line. Most everything I used (boxes, paint, and embroidery floss) for these projects is from Hand Made Modern.  The wooden letter stickers on the larger box and the felt lining in both boxes came from Michaels and Joann, respectively.

Check out those feet!

I like the look of natural wood, so I knew I didn't wanted to paint the entire box. I decided to go with my favorite color, green, and my favorite metallic, rose gold. I bought the 'K' wooden stickers at Michaels ages ago with a jewelry box in mind, but I had originally planned to apply the stickers and then paint the entire box. However, when paired with the embroidery box, I decided to leave them unpainted, making them kind of a 'negative' of the green K/natural wood background pairing on the embroidery box.

Given all the loose ends from the cross-stitching on the embroidery box, I knew I needed to do something on the inside to clean that up a bit and better stabilize the thread. I decided to go with a felt covering to add a pop of color. To further tie the two boxes together, I also added a felt liner to the bottom of each. I don't plan to add any little compartments, so the felt will be a little softer on my jewelry than the original bare wood.

Since painting was involved, I worked on these in short bursts over the course of a day. All told, I think it was about 3-4 hours for both boxes, and most of that was cross-stitching time. I am very pleased with these little boxes, and they're great motivation to actually organize all of my thrift-store costume jewelry!

What do you think? Are you excited to check out Hand Made Modern? What craft projects are you working on right now?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Personal Hero: Todd Oldham

Personal Hero: Todd Oldham

Today I'm taking a moment to spotlight a man who has been an inspiration to me since I was in high school: Todd Oldham. I first "met" Oldham towards the end of his tenure as a fashion designer. I loved hunting down pieces from his bridge line, and I wore a pair of Todd Oldham jeans into the ground. I also frequented his website to make delightfully weird e-cards for friends while simultaneously supporting, if I'm not mistaken, gorilla conservation. Like the e-cards, his designs were the perfect mash-up of color, texture, pattern, and shine (often all 4 at once!), but they looked more like wearable works of art than something an insane person would wear. This was the work of someone who took his work very seriously but not overly so--while Kate Moss was working the runway for Calvin Klein, Oldham occasionally sent a drag queen or two down the catwalk. He wasn't necessarily playing by the same rules as the other fashion designers at the time, but he was still respected and successful because his work spoke for itself.

As is commonplace for people who march to the beat of their drum, Oldham has bounced from one creative endeavor to the next. When I went to college, so did he. Sort of. He designed a line for Target of dorm room furnishings and school supplies. I actually still use some of folders I picked up for sophomore year. Oldham has designed hotels, done tons of photography, and written books. Several of his books focus on modernist design, and reintroduced the American public to some of the great designers and artists of the 20th century.

One of those artists? Charley Harper. If you love all things Charley Harper, you very directly have Todd Oldham to thank. Oldham fell in love with Harper's work after stumbling upon it in consignment stores/flea markets and wanted to bring it back into the public eye. Fast-forward a handful of years, and Charley Harper is everywhere--for example, wandering through the National Gallery of Art's gift shop a year or so ago, I nearly smacked into a display of Harper items.

Todd Oldham, rocking an urban woodsman look. Image via

If you have ever noticed the Kid Made Modern collection and art and craft supplies at Target, you have seen one of Oldham's most recent endeavors. He was frustrated by the lack of quality art supplies for children, so, in true T.O. fashion, he developed his own. Newly-available in stores is a sister line, Hand Made Modern, targeted (pardon the pun) towards creative adults. Expect some Hand Made Modern projects in the near future! (Spoiler alert: I'm going to love everything.)

Todd Oldham's aesthetic has the kind of quirk and hint of modernism that goes straight to my heart, but what I love about him most is that he doesn't let anything hold him back. This is a man who got his start in the fashion industry doing alterations at Ralph Lauren. It takes innate talent to decide to become a fashion designer and then just go do it, of course, but it also takes a strong drive. Many pathways in life have an unwritten road map, and it takes guts to say, 'Screw that noise! I have what it takes, this is what I want to do, and I'm going to do it!' For my money, it doesn't get much more inspirational than that.

Learn more about Todd Oldham:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Goals

April Goals

As you can see above, I have four major goals for this month:
  • I have a crochet project that is in progress that I want to finish. It's for a friend, so no details yet :) 
  • I also have a knitting project on the needles that I would like to finish--an aviator-style white scarf requested by my boyfriend. 
  • My third goal is one that I'm sure many of us have in mind for April: spring cleaning. Isn't it funny how the world just feels so much better when the inside of your microwave isn't covered in weird, unidentifiable gunk? 
  • My final goal is perhaps on fewer lists: spring greening. I feel like I have crept slowly-but-surely away from an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, and I want to recalibrate. 
I didn't make this an official goal, because I've heard that this allergy season is going to be brutal, but I'd also like to get outdoors as much as possible. I live in an area rich with state parks, and I want to explore them while the world seems all fresh and new with binoculars in tow of course.