To Embrace: A Warm Take On Cold Days

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an assortment of photos I’ve taken throughout this winter

This is what wool socks and fire places were made for. This is why alpacas are so damn adorably furry (and, as pictured, kittens, too). This is why hydrangeas and tomatoes and wildflowers grow so tall. This is the makings of the perfect excuse for not going to that thing that so-and-so insists you attend and be Instagrammed at. This is the reason the clocks fall back. This is what I would normally call a really shitty, endless winter that has literally and figuratively knocked me on my ass so many times that I would wait in the most painfully long bureaucratic office line to submit a formal complaint for. This won’t warm me up. This is a constraint. This is what makes me seek out warmth, happiness, love in new places. This prompts me to create more in compensation for nature’s break from making anything besides snow. And if it doesn’t come out right, this is when I can blame it on winter.

To Bundle: Cold Weather Outfit Inspiration

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Alice & Olivia dress; Madewell leggings; Nasty Gal boots; Rosebud Perfume Co. lip balm; ASOS satchel; Alpaca socks; J.Crew cardigan; ASOS hat; John Lewis moto jacket.

This is the only way I know to avoid looking like a hobo in this polar vortex. I start with a feminine piece, like a maxi-dress, and then hide layers everywhere I can. I’m partial to tights and then leggings, topped off with my heavy duty alpaca socks. Throw in a faux-fur Russian hat and a couple sweaters under a moto jacket and you have my winter weekend stand-by.

 

To Collect: Elephant Decor

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Luli Sanchez illustration; High Street Market elephant; PBteen hook; Case Cavern iPhone case; ChipmunkCheeks illustration; Jonathan Adler salt shakers.

I’m not the kind of woman to make a wager, but there are some sure bets in life. That eggshells will find their way into anything I bake, for instance. Or that I will smudge my manicure before I even recap the nail polish bottle. Or that my New Years’ resolutions will get buried and forgotten under the year’s first snowfall, which happened two days ago for Philly. There still is hope, however! This year I’ve decided to pick resolutions with more subjective points of success than years before. I am trying to be more optimistic about life, which means not only believing that things can get better but also knowing that the present is pretty darn good, too. Because my own resolve is shaky, I’m leaning on the elephant, which is regarded in many cultures as a symbol of good fortune and strength, to get my 2014 goals underway and to brighten up my home decor.

To Give: Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide

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1. Michael Roger Notebook; 2. Juniper Ridge Tea; 3. Peg and Awl Tote; 4. Art In The Age Spirit; 5. Woodwear Sunglasses; 6. Lallitara Wristlet; 7. Bario Neal Studs; 8. Studiopatro Tea Towel; 8. Rewined Candle.

The percentage of my post-grad savings that has gone to jukeboxes in dive bars and late night pizza is unforgivable. I’m trying to redeem myself with some eco-conscious gift-giving this holiday season. I get so giddy when I find a business that is reusing materials in a clever way, like Lallitara’s eclectic wristlets made from discarded saris or Peg and Awl’s rustic  bags that are so durable I assume they will likely surpass the age of their reclaimed parts (such as WWII gun slings). This list of last-minute goodies, all of which were manufactured in a way to reduce their environmental impact, is certainly something I can feel good about spending my last pennies on – and is a hell of a lot classier than swaying, gin and tonic in hand, to a Father John Misty song at 1 a.m.

To Wander: Becks’ Christmas Tree Farm, Slatington, PA

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I’ve had a tough history with Christmas trees. I really shouldn’t love them anymore. I’ve had trees that shed all their needles before December 10th in an act of childish defiance. I’ve had trees lose their balance unexpectedly and topple onto me, leaving twigs and broken ornaments in my hair. I’ve even had trees interrupt dinner and barge right through the living room and onto the floor, leaving more twigs and broken ornaments, plus sappy water. Normally, I’m one to hold grudges regarding this type of behavior, but I will never leave the whole love affair that begins with a snowy drive out to the farmlands and ends with me dragging my holiday partner down a muddy hill and onto the roof of a car. If only all courtships began so straightforwardly. So, despite our troubled past, I brought a Fraser home this year from the absolutely magical Becks’ Christmas Tree Farm in Slatington. As of right now, he’ still standing. Here are some photos from my trip.
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To Listen: Indie Christmas Playlist

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I work hard to ensure that every moment of my life is accompanied by a task-appropriate song. For some things, it’s easy. When I’m trimming my crooked bangs, it’s “Cut Your Hair” by Pavement. When I’m staring pensively out from a northbound Regional Rail train car but also trying not to induce motion sickness, Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” is on repeat. When I’m simply existing, “I’m Broke” by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears soothes (it’s my life’s theme song right now). When I’m preparing for Christmas, I need some seasonal lyrics but timeless melodies and this playlist does the trick. I worry that one summer day my headphones will pop off and the horrible, scarring truth will be revealed that I listen to the above songs ALL YEAR. Sparingly, of course. “It’s Christmas! Let’s Be Glad!” by Sufjan Stevens was the first song I learned on my banjo, so when I play it after winter, I’m really just studying.

To Collect: Vintage Thermoses

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The value of a good cup should not be underestimated. When one is pressed by financial, spacial and motivational constraints, the thick-rimmed, chipped mug at the back of the cupboard becomes the Swiss Army knife of life. It’s a wine glass when I’m broke, a pencil jar when I’m tight on space and a cereal bowl when I’m too lazy to scrub the mutated Cheerios off the bowls in the sink. What this all makes the classic thermos, I don’t quite know. I truthfully only bought the one pictured above for aesthetic reasons at a church yard sale a week ago. Made in 1974, its geometric blue pattern is typical of most Thermos brand thermoses of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s and like each one made since the brand’s launch in 1904, it holds the ability to maintain the temperatures of both cold and hot beverages for an extended length of time. Using magic, I think. Below are other thermoses that I don’t understand but want to possess so I can fill them with spiked apple cider or flowers or ramen noodles.

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retro red thermoses

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Images via designsponge.com, images.meredith.com, countryliving.com, cedarwoodweddings.com, likeasaturday.com and flickr.com/photos/mamalovespapa/5308735684/lightbox/.

To Wander: Klein Farms, Easton, PA

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As one might do with dentist appointments or oil checks, I make a point of visiting at least one petting zoo a year. An afternoon with barnyard animals always makes me less insecure about my own grooming routine – you think your hair is unmanageable until you run your hands over a donkey’s mane – but also, on a more idealistic note, makes me believe a little more in the potential for people to forget about surface-level differences and just get along already. Maybe it was the above-pictured sheep who first greeted me and smiled for my iPhone or  the cows who moo-ed in the most delighted tone I believe is possible for a mammal to achieve, but my Saturday at Easton’s Klein Farms with my parents took away a little of my post-grad cynicism. Continue reading

To Make: DIY Burgundy Lipstick

DIY Burgundy Lipstick

It is arguable that there is no more sophisticated lip color for autumn than the deep burgundy pucker that comes with every box of Franzia Sweet Red wine. I’ve yet to come across anything with as much staying power as a couple glasses of merlot, however, there are much more – ahem – mature means of achieving this hue than a tour de Franzia – and quite nearly as fun. As most lipsticks, both drugstore and department store varieties, tend to leave my lips spotted with saturated globs of pigment after several hours, I’ve decided to try a little d.i.y. and mix high and low to get the season’s most ubiquitous shade instead of buying a tube. Continue reading