Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 2014 in Review

With Halloween right around the corner, we tried to get into the spirit of things this October. How about you?

Spirited Outfits
Personal style, popbasic,
Striped Shirt  | Black Dress | Mustard Sweater

Spirited Movies
Getting into the holiday spirit of Halloween, we got our laughs with Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein and our fashion sense from Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle.

Spirited Mail
Who wouldn't love opening their mail box to this stationary For the Girls? Or what about any of these subscription boxes? Speaking of mail, would you write to a prisoner in the penal system?

Spirited Plans
I shared some ideas of things to do in October, and got into the spirit of the season with this month's Dog-Eared Page, Dracula. I also shared some extra great reads on the internet. But this month has been quiet on the blog, but busy in real life. I attended a local conference on Gifted Education and my classroom has been busy too- with robots, bridge building and more. You all know I don't talk about my job much because it involves others, such as students, whose privacy I value, but know this.  It has been a roller coaster this year, but always fun!

Spirited Finds

As a diabetic, this is the most amazing news to be hearing!

Made me laugh.

Good advice about always being ready; sillier, but fun advice about being Parisian 

Talking While Female

A moving post on overcoming struggles from fellow blogger Taylor of Nothing but Pigeons.

I've been wearing scarves more lately- would you wear this one? 

An inside look at North Korea

 How about a real werewolf story- and other history you've never heard of

Four autumn looks from:  Anna, Marlen, Katie and Hannah.

Is all reading reading good when it comes to kids?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What I Wore: The LBD

fur scarf and black dress
popbasic and black dress
What I Wore: Dress (Popbasic; Similar Here), Necklace (Similar Here), Sweater (Forever 21; Similar Here), Fur (Similar Here), Shoes (Old Navy)

You all know I'm a huge fan of the Popbasic clothing line, right? This dress is from their latest micro-collection. It actually sold out pretty much in under a day! For me the real draw had actually been the jewelry that came with the dress, but- everyone needs an LBD, right? I figured it would make an easy work outfit for the hectic mornings. Turns out it is a liiiiitttle (and by a little, I mean a lot) more clingy than I'm strictly comfortable with wearing in a professional setting, so it has been "decorating" my dresser as I try to figure out how to style it.

Layers- Layers and autumn style turn out to be the key. This worked for a morning of just reading and an afternoon facing the bracing temperatures of fall when we were out and about town. So, while the dress wasn't quite what was expected, it works. You ever have a piece of clothing that you had to rethink how to wear it?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The List (Updated)

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 8.43.42 AM
I always keep a running list of things I'm looking for when it comes to my closet. It keeps those impulsive purchases down and keeps things feeling cohesive in my closet- at least that's the aim! I shared my list back in July, but as I'm shifting into a new job, and new seasons are coming my list too is changing. Some of that is because I've made a number of purchases that crossed items off my list form July (most notably: patterned pants, a red striped shirt, and a polka dot shirt that will make it's NFD debut soon!); and some items in my closet have done to that that great dustbin in the sky and need replaced! So- here's what's on my radar right now:

1) Black Sweater- I have a short sleeved one and use it all the time, but as the colder months creep up, I know I'd use one with longer sleeves even more. This particular sweater also has a fun 60s mod neckline and oversized fit, which adds some variety rather than redundancy to the closet.

2) Grey Shirt- I've worn my grey shirt into the ground. Holes and unravelling hems was all that was left. But it was such a great layering piece, a replacement is in order. Something fitted, without too low a neckline, is just what the wardrobe-doctor ordered.

3) Mulberry Sweater- I'll admit, this choice was obviously influenced by the color. Most of my list is getting or replacing basics, but you need those pieces that will pop too.  A deep wine color fits that bill! Since it has the deeper colors I associate with earth tones,  it will mix well with items already in my closet. Plus, it would work well with my blonde hair dye but also with darker shades should I go back to my natural hair, and the color will be festive for winter holidays without being too on-the-nose.

4) Fedora- Okay- arguably the least versatile item on the list right now because, while I love hats, I don't wear them all the time. Between the Wyoming Wind and working to dress professionally, it just isn't always in the cards. But how perfect would this be for a weekend adventure? And black does with everything.

5) Ankle Boot- I live in my flats, but- and not to get all Game of Thrones on you- winter is coming. I need more coverage. Most boots though, swallow half your leg. These combine practicality and fashion. My favorite detail is the black leather paired with a brown sole and heel.

6) Skirts- I'm drifting away from skirts because I move around so much during the day, from sitting on the floor to jumping around to the typical small, tiny seats of a classroom. But- a midi skirt makes all of those movements possible too, and the dark green colors are very flattering. Which do you like more- the plaid or the shimmery emerald one?

7) Brown Cardigan- This is another item on the list because I used to own one, but, after an unfortunate dryer event where the whole thing got ripped to shreds, it needed replaced. Slouchy brown cardigans go with everything and are the perfect layer to throw on when cold.

8) Work Pants- Remember the whole moving-so-much-at-work thing? Well, then, the whys behind this list item needs no further explanation. I loved my patterned pants so much, these two choices both have a similar silhouette. Not sure if brown or gray would be more useful. They are't  the most exciting colors but the cut on both pairs give a sophisticated yet approachable vibe and adds some variety to the rotation of black trousers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Letter Writing: Letters to Prisoners

Getting mail is a ton of fun, but, in an increasingly digital world, writing it can sometimes be hard. This blog post series about Letter Writing aims to make it easier.

We've discussed writing to penpals and writing to people you don't know several times, but one way to get a penpal that has really intrigued me is writing to inmates in prisons. For obvious reasons this can be a very intimidating idea, and not for everyone (I'm still not decided if it is for me yet, even). However, research has shown that inmates who create and maintain positive relationships with people outside of the penitentiary are less likely to return to prison, to commit more crime, or have substance abuse. Those with these positive relationships are more likely to find employment and be reintegrated successfully into society. Because of the nature of creating a relationship of any sort with a felon can be risky and because they too need penpals who are willing to create a lasting friendship, writing to inmates should be done after one has decided to seriously commit to it, and follow certain tips.

"A" Block Cells
Photo by Ben Leto
Because, at least in the United States, inmates have very limited contact to the outside world and none to the internet, you will need to go through intermediaries to find a penpal. There are many websites where volunteers have posted up profiles of inmates who would like to correspond. Some of these do require a fee to access (most often, the money goes towards other programs to help inmates such as buying books for prison libraries). Most of these profiles include not only the name, age, and interests of a person, but their criminal record. Obviously, you will want to try to find a penpal with similar interests to yours, and you may choose to write to more than one. However, most sites recommend that if you write to more than one inmate, to make sure that they are not in the same penitentiary, as it could potentially cause rivalry.

Once you have found someone (or several someones) you would like to try writing to, you'll need to compose a short introductory letter. Write a little bit about yourself and your interests; you could include a photo if you are comfortable with that. Keep it short, and make sure to be upfront about what you want out of the relationship. If you are only looking for friendship, say so; most intermediary groups strongly recommend that you not look for a romantic relationship this way anyway. On a similar note, after exchanging a letter or two, if you do not feel a connection to the person, or that you cannot find things to write to them about, be upfront and tell them you will be discontinuing the writing. Prisoners need stable, and continued connections in order to help them.

When sending your mail, look up if the prison has any requirements on how to address the letter. You will need their Department of Corrections number, and you will need to address it exactly as they ask; otherwise your correspondence will not reach your penpal. Include your return address on both the envelope and on your letter. In case the inmate does not get the envelope, you still want them to be able to contact you! It is strongly recommended that you use a mailing address, such as a post office box, rather than a home address.

As your correspondence continues, be aware of several things. First, inmates in penitentiaries have no right or expectation to privacy. Someone may- and probably will- read your letters before they get to your penpal. Be aware of what you wish to write then. Secondly, mail is slow in the penal system; do no be discouraged if it takes a while to get a reply. Also, remember that there are pretty strict restrictions on what can and cannot be sent to inmates, and that these rules change depending on which prison you are writing to. A good rules of thumb though are:  no stickers, polaroids, cards with electronics or padded parts, cards of unusual dimension, or "non communicative" paper items such as tickets or lotto numbers. Photos, so long as they are not polaroids, regular sized cards, and handwritten letters are generally fine. Sending postage stamps is usually fine though it is worth checking the rules. Please be aware that inmates may be less than truthful. They may choose to lie about what landed them in prison, when they are getting out or, quite often, whether they need money. Regardless of this, it is important to treat your penpal with respect no matter what crimes were committed.

Though this is something that may be outside the arena of many people's experience, the rewards of helping someone while making a new friend could be very great indeed. Would you ever consider writing to an inmate, or have you before?

For Further Reading:

Tips for Writing to Inmates from
Meet an Inmate
Write a letter to a Prison Inmate from WikiHow


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What I Wore: Young At Heart


What I Wore: Sweater (Similar Here), Jeans (Gap), Shoes (Minnetonka), Hat (Similar Here), Jewelry (Popbasic; Similar Here, Here and Here)

So, you've heard this story before: just another blogger whining (let's get poetic and say "wondering." Makes me sound more...grown up), is her outfit Blog Worthy, capital letters and all?  Essentially, it is just this outfit in a more casual remix. But I love me some casual. I love lazy weekends and I love the way a hat makes everything more put together with zero more effort on your part. So there you have it. Style and laziness (wow. Along with the whining this is making me sound ever more fantastic) combine to make that perfect autumn style.

Seriously though- we've been running at full tilt here the past few weeks so taking it easy this weekend felt divine. I cleaned, drank tea, and binge-watched Leverage. Two parts grown up and one part Young at Heart, right?
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