an introvert's guide to activism

Ever since I started blogging here and running my own online business, I've tried to refrain from politics in any public online platforms. I've always felt that talking about religion or politics is a really easy way to end a friendship, and I applied that rule to the internet as well. Better to be quiet about the things I care about, or else people might not want to be "friends" anymore. I regret this. Immensely.

My senator, Cory Booker, wrote recently, "In the cause of justice: never stay silent just so that others can remain comfortable."

I don't know that my tiny voice could have made any difference in the years since I started blogging, but my silence spoke volumes. I am ready to change that now. And if you were/are in a similar state of mind, I hope you'll reconsider as well. This goes for liberals and conservatives. If we voice our opinions with a sense of consideration and respect, we can easily engage each other with the same level of admiration and camaraderie that we reserve for DIY posts and room tours. Politics doesn't have to be divisive. We can disagree about issues and still love each other.

With all that being said, I have a very heavy heart today. I'm worried about civil rights, health care, women's rights, and tweet-triggered nuclear warfare. I'm sad that we're replacing an intelligent, cultured, impossibly kind President with someone who doesn't read books, mocks the disabled, and sexually harasses women. I'm sad that my dreams of seeing a woman being sworn in today were shattered.

I've been wanting to do something more substantial than sitting home crying over Buzzfeed photo posts of President Obama playing with kids. I want to DO something. BUT... my introversion usually keeps me on the sidelines when it comes to any real organizing and activism. I'm sure a lot of other introverts (progressive or otherwise!) must have this same problem, so I put together a little list of things you can do that should hopefully fall within your comfort zone, while still making a difference.

1. Donate money. I feel like this goes without saying, but it's a great way to help out without being around other people. I didn't want to physically volunteer much last year, so every time I felt guilty about not doing phone banks or canvassing, I made a donation to Hillary. Even $5 here or there makes a difference in the long run!

2. If you're a maker, create a one of a kind item and auction it on ebay or instagram. Donate the entire amount (or entire profit) to charity. (A few organizations that could really use the help right now would be the ACLU, the NAACP, and Planned Parenthood.)

3. Create a challenge for yourself and set up a crowdrise fundraiser for charity. You can do literally anything. I raised over $200 for Random Acts a few years ago by chalking up my driveway for an entire day. It was just me and my brother, at our house, no socializing necessary. It can be an endurance test ("I'll pogo stick for five hours straight on periscope if you donate!") or a simple task ("I'll share a cooking video of my favorite apple pie recipe if I reach X amount of donations!") The sky's the limit.

4. If you're too short on funds to make donations *but* you do need some new t-shirts or tote bags, make a purchase from a charity shop. You'll be helping the organization, and every time you wear the item it's free advertising for them! Here are some shops to start with: Everytown (gun safety), The ACLU (civil liberties), Planned Parenthood (women's health), The Brady Campaign (gun safety), Greenpeace (environment), Organizing for Action (progressive activism), Human Rights Campaign (LGBTQ rights)

5. Volunteer to do phone calls with an extrovert friend or relative. My dad and I teamed up to do calls for Hillary last year, and we developed a system where he would dial the number first and pass the phone to me if he got an answering machine. Then he'd start dialing the next number. This way I wasn't uncomfortable talking to a (potentially hostile, unfortunately) stranger but I still got to help out. We knocked out a ton of phone calls very quickly with our system, so I like to think it might have been even more effective than if I was making calls separately! :)

6. Volunteer from home with micro-volunteering. There are a lot of websites that list tasks you can complete from home. Some match you up with the task based on your skills and interests, and some just list various tasks based on their time or difficulty. Some suggestions are Help From Home, UN Volunteers, and VocaliD, an organization that lets you record your voice (from home!) so that people who are unable to speak can have a unique, human voice instead of a mechanical one!

7. Support the institutions that are currently under threat. Have your breast exam done at Planned Parenthood. Borrow books from the local library. Visit art museums. Watch PBS and listen to NPR. Frequent immigrant-owned businesses. Go to National Parks.

8. Participate in marches and rallies. You don't have to talk to anyone. If you're uncomfortable standing in a large crowd, hang towards the back. If you're going to a rally alone, bring a book. If you're marching alone (and it's not a silent march) you can always slip in one earbud so music can keep you company. Bring a large sign and hold it up high so you can just peek out over it. It's do-able!

9. Write letters to your lawmakers. Phone calls are apparently the best barometer of public opinion for Congress, but letters are your next best bet if you're an introvert. E-mails and tweets go mostly unnoticed, so write it up or print it out, put a stamp on it and mail it!

10. Art. This has been my own refuge the last two months and it can be yours too. Paint rally signs for friends who are more outgoing and active than you are. Make buttons and t-shirts and patches and stickers. Knit for charity (this is a cool idea!) Act in and attend politically relevant plays. Watch and review and recommend politically relevant movies (ie: A Face in the Crowd, Born Yesterday, Meet John Doe, Citizen Kane, Duck Soup, American Madness) Art is a sanctuary for those of us who cherish making it and admiring it. It's also a very necessary part of any thriving culture, and it's one of the things that is being threatened right now. So create it, stand up for it, buy it, enjoy it, support it. Now more than ever.

HUGS, guys!  xo

starry night

Ok, so the painting on my skirt is actually "Wheat Field with Cypresses" but I think Starry Night makes a much better blog post title. Either way, it's still Van Gogh!

I've had this skirt for so long that I don't actually remember where it's from, but I don't think I've ever worn it! I bought it years ago with the intention of wearing it on my next trip to an art museum and ... I guess that means it has officially been years since I stepped in an art museum (I didn't even visit The Louvre when I was in Paris! WHAT?!) You guys, I was an art history major in college! This is unacceptable! Stumbling upon this skirt in my closet reminded me of this egregious error and now I'm planning on making 2017 the year of the museum. I'll probably start with Princeton since it's closest (and free!) but I have my sights set on the Met. I went once, years ago, but I only visited the Egyptian wing.

Unrelated (although related to the outfit) but remember my New Year's resolutions? I finished the book I wanted to read (loved the first half, not in love with the second half, but I'd definitely recommend it anyway!) and I have stuck to my commitment to only buy vintage and/or bell sleeve clothing. I know its only 13 days in, but it's something! This shirt was one of the bell sleeved additions to my closet. This particular type (fitted past the elbow and then a full-circle bell at the end) is my absolute favorite so I had to snatch it up!

shirt - forever 21 | brooches - vintage | skirt - idk | shoes - bait footwear

good things

I've been keeping a good things jar since 2012 (which SOMEHOW was 5 whole years ago already!) and it's one of my favorite traditions. If you're not familiar with the concept, you just find a jar (or bowl or cookie jar, whatever) and throughout the year, whenever something good happens, you scribble it down and put it in the jar. On New Year's Eve you open it up and read through all of the good things that happened that year!

My 2016 jar was busting at the seams (the lid wouldn't even stay on, it was so full!) Of course I include the big things, like Paris and Rome and seeing The Killers in concert, but my favorite ones to read on NYE are the smaller day-to-day things that you might forget by the end of the year. My mom made me soup when I wasn't feeling well. I got ice cream with my dad in the summer. I helped my brother fix up the backyard before a cookout. I spent a night binge-watching tv with one of my friends. I also include inside jokes which, by the end of the year, usually make NO sense. I wrote down that me and my mom went "galavanting to find feminine needs" I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS NOW. I also write down funny stories, like the things that cause side-splitting bursts of laughter (which inevitably seem less funny than the laugh attack at years end, lol!)

I also throw in mementos like ticket stubs, wristbands from concerts, metro cards, and a seashell from each visit to the beach (I write down the date with sharpie on the back of the shell before I add it to the jar!) In January I collect up all the good things and put them in an album along with corresponding photos from the previous year. It might seem hard to remember to write things down at first, but it really becomes second nature as time goes on. I'm so glad I stuck with it, because once I wrap up my 2016 album I'm going to have five whole years worth of scrapbooks filled with good things and happy memories :)

think pink

I wore this on New Year's Day. I tried on a couple things before this that didn't really click and I just feel like there's so much importance attached to "getting things right" on the first day of the year, so I kept on trying on until this happened. And I think it was a great way to kick off 2017. Pink and bell sleeves, is there any better combination? (Okay, maybe french fries and pizza.)


dress - forever 21 | blouse & brooch - vintage | shoes - bait footwear


I feel like coming up with New Years resolutions usually sets me up for failure (see this ambitious yet disastrous list from 2011) but I'm going to try my best to stick with a couple this year:

1 - Limit clothes spending to vintage and bell sleeves. My rationalization is that vintage is rare (especially when I find something I love in my size) and I might regret it if I let something special get away from me. Bell sleeves are my all-time favorite fashion trend (I even run a blog that's specifically dedicated to sleeves. I have a problem.) and I used to have such a hard time finding them. Now that they're in style again I want to snatch them up while I have a chance. So those are two spending categories that I'm allowing myself to feel guilt-free about, while I attempt to save up the rest of my money.

2 - Start running in the morning and eat relatively healthy. I'm trying something new this time around and I'm going to let myself keep eating things like pizza once in a while. I feel like every time I start dieting I go too far, cutting out everything except cucumbers and spinach, and then I just make myself sick. This time I just want to be more conscientious about what goes in my mouth -- lay off mindless snacking, eat when I'm hungry, and make healthy (but still delicious!) choices.

3 - I recently bought this book for my first read of 2017. I haven't even started it yet, but a couple times that I've started getting myself worked up over something stupid I've just said the book title in my head, almost as a mantra or something, and the little panicking troll in my head shut up for a while, lol.

That's about it! I think those should be manageable. It'll be kind of depressing if "read one book, still buy clothes but limit them to two categories, and still eat bad food but try to be ever so slightly better about it" isn't do-able, but I'm definitely going to try...

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Yesterday my New Year's Eve dress came in the mail just in the knick of time! (talk about perfect/very last minute timing!) This is a vintage beauty from the 1970's, totally bedecked in sparkles, with dolman sleeves and a gorgeous light blue chiffon sash. It's like Elsa from Frozen meets Marlene Dietrich in Vegas. I love it. It is, however, totally unzipped in the back. I told you guys, I ate WAY too many Christmas cookies last month. I ended up having to wear something else when I went out to dinner last night but I wanted to take photos in it anyway :p

You might notice that my room looks very different now. Something unsettling was brought to my attention last month, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to bring it up here but, hey, I'm typing this so I guess I'm bringing it up! Someone on IG copied my exact room for their own outfit backdrop... and it kind of REALLY weirded me out. They bought the same rug as me, had the same bookcase layout, they posed in the same spot. If you were scrolling through your feed you could easily think it was my photo. I'm sure it was meant to be totally harmless and tbh I imagine I should be flattered, but it struck me as creepy and I felt very uncomfortable being in my own room once I saw her identical one. So I switched things up. I'd been meaning to rearrange and make my studio area a little more functional, anyway, so this was just the impetus I needed to get the ball rolling, I suppose!

I moved most of my books into the "bedroom" area of my living space, which makes more sense, and I'm using this unit mostly for work and crafty storage. I decided to make everything as pink as possible (think pink!) and I'm so happy with how it turned out! I've always loved all-pink decor (like Jayne Mansfield's home) I think it has the potential to be really elegant and kitschy at the same time (does that even make sense?)

I guess I'll have to do a whole new room tour soon! Although, I suppose now I need to add a little disclaimer, "please don't recreate my exact bedroom" haha ;)

Happy New Year!!

dress - vintage | shoes - amazon

Looking back on 2016

When I used to blog more regularly (something I'm hoping to get back to in 2017) I would do year-end round ups with my favorite outfits from each month. I didn't actually do enough this year to pick that many outfits (although I did fairly well in June during my 30 day challenge) so I'm just picking one. I love the outfit, but I especially love the photo. I feel like it's difficult to capture your real personality when you're posing for pictures in your bedroom, taking 50 shots and hoping you look semi-decent in at least one of them, but this one just feels very "me" to me :)

As far as the world goes, I'm definitely on the "2016 sucked" train. So much heartbreaking news, so many tragic passings (I still have my sealed Blackstar album and haven't been able to bring myself to listen yet, and it's almost been a year since Bowie died) and don't even get me started on the election. However, as painful as it was to watch the news each day, personally this was probably the best year of my entire life. I almost feel a little guilty about it, since it feels like the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but especially considering how much I was dreading turning 30 this year, and approached 2016 with some serious anxiety, I'm really happy with how it all turned out.

Let's start with this:

We could probably end there too because IT WAS THAT AWESOME. I went to Paris and Rome by myself. I still can't really believe it. That's me at The Lourve. In Paris.

And the night before I caught my flight to France I was out until 1am seeing The Killers live in Atlantic City. It was my first time going to a concert by myself and it rocked. I saw Jen Kirkman, Bill Maher, Peter Murphy, Charles Aznavour, and New Order live. I saw my favorite movie at a theater in Paris. I found the single best pizza I've ever tasted in my life (Seven Brothers' Mamma Mia pizza w/o cheese in Trenton, NJ. If you live even remotely within driving distance, try it!) I went to the TCM Film Festival with two of my best friends. I saw my first Broadway play. I saw Anna Karina and Isabelle Huppert in person! I attended a rally with Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton (despite the outcome I'll never forget how boundlessly optimistic I felt that night.) I took my Grandmom on a cruise to Alaska. My business had its best year of all time. I was able to pay off in full two really giant unexpected bills that came up this year. And (knock on wood) I started doing well enough to hire my brother full time! And probably most importantly, I'm super happy with where my life is at right now.

I made a 30 before 30 list last year and while I didn't check off a lot of the items (I have yet to even pick up my balalaika) I feel like I accomplished the most important ones and I had so much [this feels gross to say but whatever] personal growth (yuck) that none of the other silly items on the list matter.

Number 25 had me flirting with the idea of trying online dating. I got really serious about that one for a time, and I was pretty determined to give it a go. But before I took the plunge I started to realize how much I love being single. In the past any adoration I had for my lifestyle came with an asterisk *would probably really prefer having a boyfriend though. I felt kind of loser-ish for being perpetually single. I felt like I was defective for never having any romantic prospects. But the more I really thought about it this year, the more I realized it's not actually what I want. I've known for my whole life that I didn't want to be a mother (I've been swatting down "you'll change your mind" remarks since I was seven years old) and I never felt like there was anything wrong with that. I never doubted that my path would be a childless one. I didn't feel defective or freakish for that. And it just took me a while to feel the same way about being single. And I'm looking at it this way -- if guys can be hip bachelors with cool jet-setting lifestyles, so can girls. I feel like single girls still live in the shadow of the antiquated concept of "old maids" while single guys are respected, even celebrated, for their independence.

Anyway, I'm really proud of this revelation and I wanted to share it in case anyone else is feeling similar. For years I've been watching as my friends and fellow bloggers follow the "normal" path in life -- getting hitched, having kids, buying houses, etc. So far I have yet to find a blog that reflects my own offbeat lifestyle, and sometimes that can seem scary and enforce the "I'm a freak!" thoughts (tbh I probably AM a freak but I really don't care.) So if you're nearing 30 and haven't dated or been interested in dating (or even if you're way younger -- I've been wrestling with this since I was around 18) you're not alone. And if you want to live the single life, GO FOR IT!

As long as I don't have Huffington Post open in my browser I'm usually a pretty happy camper. I can't think of any time in my life since I was a kid that I've felt this contended and pleased with my lot. There's still stuff I need to change and things I want to accomplish. I have long-term goals that'll take a few years to happen, some debt I still need to pay off, work I've wanted to finish but never got around to yet, places I want to go that aren't in the budget yet (China!) and I definitely, absolutely, 100% need to pledge the most cliche resolution of all -- eating healthy. My god, I'm surprised I haven't just turned into a giant Christmas cookie. I've eaten enough of them that I'm pretty sure my blood stream has chocolate chips floating around in it.

But I'm happy. I hope so much that you're happy too, and if you're not, I hope you find your happy in 2017 :) Happy New Year! See you on the flip side!

2017 photo a day challenge!

I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend! :)

New Year's Day is just around the corner which means it's time for me to start coming up with ambitious projects that I have a 65% chance of following through on! Woo hoo! The first of such projects is my photo a day challenge. I love instagram but I MAJORLY suck at trying to figure out what to post each day other than my cat, product pictures, and a random outfit once in a while (related: I really want to up my outfit post game in 2017.) So me and my brother came up with a 365 challenge for me to stick to, and I thought it would be fun to share our list in case anyone else wants to join in!

We tried to make the list all stuff that fits my general aesthetic/interests (lots of animals and books!) with some very broad prompts (like the color blue) and some that are more specific but, I think, really fun (like a book that has your name on it. I already have mine picked out!) I also made any seasonal prompts have alternate options if you live in the southern hemisphere, so you won't feel left out when the day calls for photos of snow! :)

I really hope at least a handful of people will join in. Even if not though, I'm happy to have some kind of schedule to stick to so I can crank out at least one photo a day in 2017. Me and Kyle already brainstormed all of the prompts for the ENTIRE YEAR so even if I fall off the wagon and stop posting every day (there is, after all a 35% chance) I'll still be posting the monthly prompts. I mean, unless like zero people participate and then I'll stop posting this stuff entirely out of complete and utter humiliation. Whatever.

Happy almost new year guys! :)

ps. I gave the blog a little facelift again, so if you're reading this in a blog reader be sure to click through and see the new design!