Monday, August 31, 2015

Turning Thirty

You've seen books on it, probably jokes on Pinterest or Facebook- "Adult-ing," or rather that feeling  that no one has it quite as figured out as your ten-year old self thought grown-ups just naturally did. And yet- at, thirty, I feel like an adult, not just a person trying to fake it till I make it. And since I turn thirty today, it seemed like a good time to pause and consider what that really means. Because, well, maybe this is all obvious to every other person on the planet, but maybe its not, and if you are or have been here, know I'm thinking these thoughts too!

Life is no where near what I would have envisioned it to be when I was twenty- hardly a surprising because whose life is what they expected it to be a decade earlier? And there have been so many delightful surprises and journeys of growth that I have gotten to experience. I have travelled,  graduated school, fallen in love, fall out of it, changed majors, struggled to get a job, gotten married, watched others get married; caught a chronic disease, met people and lost people.

According to Erikson's Theory of Development, your twenties ask, "Can I love,"pitting intimacy against isolation. The next stage of development is the second to last, what we might commonly called "middle age." It stretches out the longest because it the question to resolve isn't something one action can answer- it asks "Can I make life count?" Lots of psycho -babble-speak, but I've felt my life sliding into this new stage, and based on some great blog posts (like this one here), think maybe some other bloggers are starting to feel that shift too.

I've got a job I love and find meaningful, and a home, and partner.  There's a sense of stability that one's twenties don't really have- with one's twenties, there's always these sweeping changes in friends' and your own life. And I know that, now that my thirties are here, it doesn't mean things will always be the same (and who would want that?) There's still big changes as families grow, and you can still move or change careers or taken on new commitments, learning something different- Oh my gosh there's so much I don't know! And yet, I don't feel like an impostor choosing an insurance plan or considering mortgages. I don't feel like I'm waiting, ever, for life to start- waiting to meet someone, or for a diploma, or to pay my dues, though all of these circumstances (or ones very similar to) are likely to happen again. This is my life happening right now, and there is no second I'll get back.

 I've enjoyed the adventures of my twenties, there's so much gratitude for that for all those who've seen me through, but there's also a feeling inside that says, "this next stage of the journey, be aware and invest in it all the time. Go through it with love."

Friday, August 28, 2015

What I Wore: To See Lady Liberty

What I Wore: Shorts (Banana Republic), Shirt (c/o Popbasic), Shoes (Old Navy), Purse (Parisien Boutique)

Things have been crazy-busy here, but I finally have a new outfit post- well, it is actually an outfit from July on our New York trip but still! At any rate, how could I have talked about going to New York and not have taken the time to see one of- if not the most iconic landmarks of all?

And the trip out to see The Statue of Liberty was actually very well run and the monument informative and uplifting!  I even tried the cheesy, costs-a-quarter binoculars on the island. We made a point to go out earlier- both to (try and fail) to avoid the heat and as much of the crush as is possible in New York in the summer. Sadly, we did not order tickets in far enough advance to get to go all the way up the statue, so just contented ourselves with looking across he grounds. There were free audio guides (Pro Tip: Always get the Audio Guide. Well, unless you are going to a museum of creepy barque Jesus statues, but that's another story for another time!).

Also included in the ticket was a ferry to Ellis Island, but we didn't get off. I'm kind of wishing we did now, as it is surely fascinating no matter what, but my family all came to the New World long before Ellis Island was built (my mom's scandinavian forefathers came in the 1870s, and at least some of them through Canada and my dad's family's been on this side of the Atlantic since before the country was a country so...) and The Boy didn't know any family history further back than a great-grandfather. We found out upon our return from an aunt that his family probably did go through Ellis Island, but- oh, well! Still interesting... What about you? Do you know (or are you even interested in) your family's history? I find it fascinating to know, but dull to research (not that it stopped my family from conscripting me into the job growing up!) I'd love to hear your story!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cinema Style: The Wizard of Oz

According to the Library of Congress, The Wizard of Oz is the most viewed film-ever. Everyone knows the tale of a girl's journey through a magical land, only to discover there really is no place like home. This American Fairytale enjoys an iconic status almost unrivaled, so it seems perfectly natural to take some fashion cues from it. Though Judy Garland has but a single costume throughout the film, both outfits are inspired by Dorothy because Dorothy is secretly my spirit animal (No. Really. That's why I chose the wedding attire I did.)  But Dorothy's a universal, so no matter your style, you can get inspired by her and those ruby slippers she has on. 

Shirt, Pants, Shoes, Purse, Book

Dorothy Gale of Kanas is a simple farm girl in the thirties' Dust Bowl, and costume designer Adrain chose to show that by placing her in blue gingham. Today, you can keep the retro vibe and still make the look a bit more grown up by replacing a pinafore with capri pants and a white shirt. Every girl should have a pair of red shoes, her own "ruby slippers;" I use a simple pair of red ballet slippers, both for this outfit and real life. And, because not only should you watch classic films, but be well-read too, why not add a copy of The Wizard of Oz into your wicker purse to read on a picnic? 

Shirt, Sweater, Skirt, Glasses, Fedora, Clutch, Shoes

Maybe your style is a little less preppy, a little less retro. Dorothy's still got you covered! The blue gingham in this outfit is more subtle with a shirt in that pattern. Only the collar and perhaps cuffs will be on display as a cheeky sweater gets popped on over the shirt. "Ask me about my dog" is a fun nod to the loyal Toto (and any dog you may own too, of course!) The red skirt echoes those ruby slipper colors, but the short hem that falls above one's knee keeps things casual. A fedora and pair of glasses adds a bit of a hipster vibe, aided by the cheeky clutch that pays tribute to the fact Wizard of Oz author, L. Frank Baum, referred to the story as an American Fairytale. Lastly, because Dorothy just isn't Dorothy without some actual ruby slippers, these suede smoking slippers become the finishing touch. A more updated look still leaves you ready to traverse the Yellow Brick Road- or whatever path will lead you to your dreams fulfilled.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Subscription Boxes: The Nerdy Edition

We all have things we can geek out about, whether its a comic book, a TV show, science or the latest in the hardware store. So here are some boxes that will aid in making your (or your Boy's. You know. Whatever) obsessions even cooler, even better, and still very affordable.

The Handy Box
The minute I saw this box, I could instantly think of twelve people who would love this. This is the box for anybody good with their hands, for anybody who loves tools and, well, it is a good box for anyone who had their own home because we all need tools to be able to take care of things. The Handy Box is a monthly subscription box that sends 4-6 different tools or gadgets in each box. The retail value of the box will always be the equivalent of forty or more dollars, but the price you pay each month is only twenty-five dollars if you buy month-to-month, or about seventeen dollars a box if you get a three or six month subscription. It should be noted that unless you cancel a subscription, it automatically renews and your credit card will be charged; subscriptions purchased through gift cards are not automatically renewed. Currently, this box only ships to the United States, but keep an eye out because the company will soon be able to help the DIY-er worldwide!

Nerd Block
We all have shows or stories or franchises we like and for those who really like to nerd out about it (okay, bad pun), there's Nerd Block. Nerd Block provides monthly boxes that will have merchandise about different, popular franchises. They currently provide a choice of six different boxes; four boxes are aimed at adult audiences and two at children. All adult boxes cost nineteen ninety-five, and will always include a T-Shirt whose size and fit you specify upon subscribing. The possible box themes include "Horrorblock" which sends things with Horror film/book/video themed; "ArcadeBlock" which celebrates all things video games, especially from older games like Mario; "ComicBlock" which sends things related to Marvel and DC comics and the "Classic NerdBlock" which is likely to send things that are a mixture of all the above plus items relating to "nerdy" TV shows and franchises such as Doctor Who or Star Trek.  All of these may contain items that are aimed at adult humor and interests. As stated earlier, two of the possible box types are aimed at children- NerdBlock Jr. for boys, and NerdBlock Jr. for girls. Now, possibly, like I was, you are a bit skeptical about why there are separate boxes based on gender, but truthfully, when looking at past boxes, I can see that the items chosen really are likely to only appeal to one gender or the other in most cases. Girls are likely to get Hello Kitty, My Little Pony and Disney Princess items, though in at least one previous box Wonder Woman was featured. Boys are likely to get things superhero related. Perhaps this reinforces gender stereotypes but my female students would definitely like the Girls NerdBlock more and my male students would adore the NerdBlock Jr. for boys, so... they clearly know their audiences. Because the boxes aimed at kids do not come with a t-shirt, they are cheaper, costing only thirteen ninety-five a box, and, for that price, the boxes seem to contain great value.  Plus, no matter what theme or themes of box(es) you choose, hen purchasing multiple subscriptions you receive an additional 10% discount off the total subscription cost automatically during checkout.

Bill Nye Quarterly Co. Subscription Box

Who didn't love the day in class when you got to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy? No one. That's who. Because he's so cool, and science is so cool.  With the audiences that originally watched the show now established in adulthood, this subscription box from Quarterly Co. reflects that by showcasing things that project a sleek, hipster-y sense of cool and a sense of humor.  Costing fifty dollars a box, and shipped quarterly (hence the name of the company!), Nye's boxes will always be loosely themed around a science idea, and feature items that not only help you learn about science, but are aesthetically pleasing and neatly designed. And make no mistake, these are the fun but definitely for adults and definitely intelligent. Each box's contents are kept a surprise, which is part of its appeal.

Mark Fruenfelder Quarterly Co. Subscription Box

The name may not sound familar, but a geek might recognize many of things Mark Freudenfleder has founded or created. He was the founding editor-in-cheif for both MAKE magazine and and the founder of Boing Boing. Just like these publications, his subscription boxes might reflect a huge range of interests, but will always intrigue. Past boxes have been themed around magic, key chain accessories, quirky cooking tools, fungi and more. Every box is different and you're never quite sure what you'll get until the box is at your door!  He states that, "My interest is in small objects that delight the senses or extend the range of their limits of perception." Each box costs fifty dollars and is released quarterly. All of his boxes, and all of Bill Nye's, will come with hashtags, so you can see sneak-peeks of what is being chosen, track shipments and see others' reactions to the surprise items.

Collectible Geek
Consider this box like NerdBlock, but for the more hardcore fans. They sell monthly "caches," which are themed boxes. Each month has a different theme, which is usually based on the franchise or franchises they are highlighting; for example, August 2015's theme is "Wholock" and will feature items from the BBC shows Doctor Who and Sherlock. Each box will include 5 items such as T-shirts, toys and other collectibles. They will NOT contain candies or toys as they aim to please serious collectors, not children or casual TV watchers; instead they choose with an eye that the items may increase in value of the years. Their basic, monthly box is twenty-five dollars, though purchasing a T-Shirt in size X-L-1 or larger may result in a slight increase in price. You also have the option of upgrading your box; they will add two more Funko POP figurines (a popular collectible item) for another seven fifty each. A Deluxe Cache is also available for about fifty to sixty dollars and will have the same sort of products as the monthly  caches, just in great amounts.

Marvel Collector Corps
While Marvel's been a geeky favorite since its inception in the sixties, the smashing success of the
Marvel Movies of late have practically begged to have a subscription box devoted just to the franchise's universe. Marvel Collector Corps is a monthly subscription box that costs twenty-five dollars a month and will deliver goods such as T-shirts, comics, toys, and memorabilia with a retail value of fifty dollars or more. What makes Marvel Collector Corps so special though isn't just that it is devoted only to Marvel Comics, but that all items in the box are exclusives. You cannot get them anywhere else. Among other brands that work with this subscription box is the  popular Funko, who also creates exclusives just for them. Each month also will loosely be based on a theme- often a certain character, movie, or comic book run.  For example, past boxes have had an Ant-Man theme to celebrate that film's opening, and August's theme is about a major comic book arc called "Secret Wars." Each month's theme is even decorated on the box, so that the box itself is unique (and possibly collectable?) from month to month. They also provide a lot of opportunities to interact with a 'community" of fellow Marvel fans and subscription box buyers and have special rewards for those who buy subscription boxes, such as extra gifts on anniversary days etc.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dogeared Page: The Patchwork Girl of Oz

"Patchwork Girl has come to life;
No one's sweetheart, no one's wife;
Lacking sense and loving fun,
She'll be snubbed by everyone."

"Quite a compliment! Quite a compliment, I declare," exclaimed the donkey, turning to look at Scraps. "You are certainly a wonder, my dear, and I fancy you'd make a splendid pincushion. If you belonged to me, I'd wear smoked glasses when I looked at you."

"Why?" asked the Patchwork Girl.

"Because you are so gay and gaudy."

"It is my beauty that dazzles you," she asserted.

- The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum
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