video: what's in my emergency travel kit

I just posted a new video on my youtube channel! This one is all about what I pack in my emergency travel kit. It's a little pouch that holds everything I could possibly need (but often forget to pack) on vacation! Hopefully you'll get some ideas for making your own travel kit, too! :)

If you like the video please consider subscribing to my channel right here.

on brand

I didn't realize until I started typing up this post that I'm wearing my blog/website colors! lol! Orange and pink has slowly been taking over my bedroom too (well, mostly pink with some orange thrown in for good measure) I think it might be my favorite color combination at the moment.

I caught a cold or something last weekend that I'm trying to get over, but I'm going to attempt to record another video this afternoon anyway. I'll probably sound terrible with a stuffy nose and sore throat but I have this pattern of getting sick *every single time* I've decided to start recording videos on a regular basis, and I'm determined to power through it this time. I suspect my body might just be THAT anxious about being on camera that it's sabotaging my plans, but I'm not going to let it win this time. (Sidenote - does anyone else talk about their body like it's a separate entity? Maybe I should save that for another blog post or video, ha!)

wishlist wednesday

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

Style Idol - Francoise Hardy

I'm Irish but don't kiss me

Growing up, me and my brother always thought we were mostly Irish and Russian. It wasn't until my mom got really into genealogy and tracing our family tree several years ago that things started shifting.. now it seems like we're mostly British and Welsh on my mom's side, with an ever dwindling percentage of Irish (still almost entirely Russian on my dad's side, although Eastern European ancestry is way harder to trace online than Western.)

I grew up with certain traditions --colcannon and Irish soda bread every year on March 17, I got my first claddagh ring when I was like 10, my aunt made a pilgrimage to our ancestral home of County Cork, my brother has the Irish flag tattooed on his arm! -- and even though I'm not quite as Irish as I originally thought, I can't let those traditions go. I feel unlucky if I take off my claddagh (I wear one as a necklace now instead of a ring) for even a second. My mom still quotes Irish sayings that were passed down from her father. And I'm still celebrating the heck out of St. Patrick's Day each year! :)

shirt - threadless | skirt - topshop

my top five: books I've read recently

1. So Here's the Thing by Alyssa Mastromonaco - This is Alyssa Mastromonaco's follow up book to "Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?" which was one of my favorite reads in 2017. She's brilliant and hilarious and for someone who was a Deputy Chief of Staff in the Obama White House she is incredibly relatable. As someone who suffers from a bowel disorder, her anecdotes about her struggles with IBS are at once painful to read about (because, BEEN THERE!) and reassuring. It's weirdly comforting when you know that other people suffer the same problems that you have and manage to lead a productive, awesome life in spite of it. She is literally one of the most awesome people on this planet and I highly recommend both of her books (plus every appearance she makes on podcasts, plus her twitter, plus her book events. Anything and everything Alyssa.)

Sidenote: She's also a very dedicated cat lady. I went to her book event last Tuesday which happened to coincide with Arrietty's birthday. When I was having my book signed I shared that excessive Crazy Cat Lady factoid with her. Her reaction was "F*ck yes!!" She made the book out to me and Arrietty and wrote "happy bday!" and told me that she makes cupcakes for her own cats on their birthdays! *dies* I was so excited to meet her and she exceeded my expectations.  I think I awkwardly said "I love you" when I left but I REALLY DO LOVE HER.

2. Saved on Sunday, Dead on Monday by Andy Ross - This is a short mystery novella filled with intrigue and nods to classic television, set in the world of a pimento cheese spread empire. This was a super quick read but I enjoyed it so much that I've been pestering the author on twitter to try to get him to write a sequel!

3. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James - One of my favorite genres of fiction is "people stranded in space" and this is probably tied with The Martian as my favorite in the genre. It's about a young girl who is the last surviving member of a space mission. This is the very definition of a page-turner. I couldn't put it down! I also loved that it was science fiction set in a realistic world. When I read space fiction I don't actually like when there's too much world-building, so this was right up my alley.

4. The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes - I was trying not to make this list too Obama-memoir heavy, but looking over my 2019 reads so far, it really is mostly comprised of books by Obama staffers. I just love reading about behind the scenes and being transported back to an era that I honestly didn't appreciate enough while I was living in it. The World As It Is is the most policy-heavy memoir I've read thus far, but it was completely engrossing. I usually have this weird mental block when it comes to understanding foreign policy (specifically Middle East policy, it just seems so complicated to me) but Rhodes explained everything in such an accessible way that I suddenly found myself regaling my family with anecdotes about lifting the Cuban embargo over dinner. Rhodes book was also the first one that I've read that shows President Obama being frustrated sometimes, or moody. I am guilty of idolizing him and in a way it's almost a relief to know that he's only human.

5. Come As You Are by Walker Gibson - It's been a long time since I read a book of poetry, but when I stumbled upon this one at the Princeton Library book sale I couldn't resist. Most of the poems are fun and light, about subjects like outer space or Monte Carlo casinos. But there was one poem (actually it's the last verse of a longer poem) that really grabbed me and I've been a little obsessed with it ever since I read it. I memorized it and keep reciting it to myself to make sure it's still being properly stored in my mind.

Some people feel alone and lonely
To think this world's perhaps the only
Possible place where mankind clings --
They yearn for more unworldly things,
But if in all the universe
We're quite alone we could do worse
Than claim our own miraculous birth
On this elysian planet, Earth,
Where woods are green and warm and wet
With trumpet vine and violet:
The dew shines on the grass at dawn,
A rabbit bounds across the lawn,
And we can thank that lucky star
That makes this heaven where we are."

ps. I don't usually post reviews on goodreads, but if you just want to see what I'm reading, I do keep a running list of current reads/books I've completed on my account, here.

Video: Disney tag!

I'm going to try really hard to get some more videos up on my youtube channel this year. I feel like I'm closer to feeling comfortable in front of the camera. It helps that I'm very excited about the topic of this video, which is DISNEY! I decided to do a tag that I found on one of my favorite youtubers' channels. I embedded my video below but if you like it be sure to hop over to my channel to like and subscribe! :)

If you want to do this tag too, here are the questions:

1. A scene in any Disney movie that you wish you could experience.
2. An unforgettable experience/moment you've had at the parks.
3. What non-Disney song(s) reminds you of Disney and/or the parks?
4. When was the first time you went to a Disney park?
5. If you could choose any Disney character to be your best friend, who would you choose?
6. Who are your favorite Disney princesses (or heroines)?
7. Name a scene or moment in a Disney movie that never fails to make you cry.
8. What is the first Disney movie you remember seeing?
9. What is your favorite Disney movie?
10. Who is your favorite Disney villain?
11. What is your least favorite Disney movie?
12. What is your favorite Disney song?
13. What Disney character has your personality or has your dream personality?
14. If you could change any scene in a Disney movie, what would it be and why?
15. If you had to get stuck on a ride in any Disney park for more than 30 minutes, what would you want it to be?

happy pi day!

It's one of my favorite days of the year - Pi Day! I'm going to celebrate by playing Yippi! and trying to make a vegan version of apple pie (I haven't attempted dairy-free crust yet so I hope it works out!) I'm also wearing one of my cutie pi pins, of course, and some items from Retrolicious' math themed line! They asked me to model some of the designs for their website and (as of the time I'm writing this -- it might change by the time I hit publish --) my images are on the homepage! That might make this my favorite Pi Day ever! :D

Also be sure to check out my mom's recipe for apple pie and my Pi Day playlist!

wishlist wednesday

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9

black and white and mint all over

One month from today I'll be in Disney World! I can't even put into words how much I'm looking forward to this trip. I feel like the past 18 months have just been one thing after another and I haven't had a *real* vacation since me and my mom went to Paris in 2017. I just want to totally disconnect from the world and immerse myself in Disney delights. I had to cancel my summer trip to France ($$ problems, what else) so this is probably going to be my last holiday for a while and I want to savor the heck out of it. I want to try to take more video footage this time so I can watch it when I get home and relive the vacation. Photos just don't have that same "take me back!" immersive feeling that home movies do, you know?

my top five: ways I treat myself

This has been a week (I never believed in astrology until I saw that Mercury is in retrograde and I was like, at least maybe there's a *reason* this week was so crummy!) and I thought I'd share some of the ways I treat myself when I need a pick-me-up!

1. Laying in bed and reading when I should be doing something else. Sometimes I just really need to get out of my head and relax and nothing does that for me as well as reading (especially Obama era White House staff memoirs) Bonus points if I'm also drinking a cup of maple tea.

2. Getting my nails done. I don't actually enjoy the act of getting a manicure (I'm so painfully introverted and not very touchy-feely so having someone sit in silence with me while they touch my hands is actually super uncomfortable for me) but I LOVE having a fresh manicure. I used to have the worst hangnails and cuticles but ever since I started getting my nails done that issue has gone away. Plus I love tapping the nails on hard surfaces and making clicking sounds.

3. Sumo oranges. If you haven't tried these oranges... actually don't, because they are so addictive that you'll probably end up like me and blow your whole grocery budget on like five overpriced oranges. They're so sweet, easy to peel, seedless, and not pulpy. I honestly reduced my dinner portions and have tried stretching one can of beans out into four meals just so I can work sumo oranges into my budget more often. They are SO good!

4. McDonald's unsweetened iced tea. It's the same price-point and same feeling as indulging in a giant coke without all the sugar. I get some caffeine, I get a giant cup filled with ice cubes that I can sip on to get me through a nice chunk of my day, and I feel like I treated myself but really all I did was spend $1 on flavored water. It's such a simple and cheap way to feel indulgent.

5. Trying on clothes and dancing with my headphones in. I usually do this one super late at night, like 2am, if I had a bad day. I'll put on a dress that I know I look good in, and then hop around my bedroom dancing like nobody's watching (because nobody's watching.) Pretty much the only thing in the world that cheers me up this much is my cat. Otherwise, dancing alone tops the charts!

ribbons and bows

The hair bow is back! I used to love wearing my hair this way like (I was going to say a couple years ago and then I realized it's more like SEVERAL years ago??? Time is going too fast!!) six or seven years ago. It's the style I wore in my old license picture and I'm pretty sure it's the style I'm going to wear when I get it renewed in November. Yay for extensions and for having kind-of-long hair so I can do things like this with it again!!

It's so funny though, when I was editing this photo I had a flashback to a comment I got in 2011 that stuck in my head all these years. It said "for the love of god can you get another hair bow? another color? some variety? repetition is a form of torture." Obviously I got way too many comments like that one (usually much worse) and it's why this has sadly been a comment-free blog since 2014. That comment never actually got under my skin the way a lot of comments did, but I just remember being so bewildered by this person who was clearly so tormented by my hair accessories?! Like, just stop reading my blog then? lol! Anyway. I'm sure that reader left a long time ago (probably after they left that last exasperated comment) but I almost feel a defiant pride in bringing back the hair bow. Torturous repetition, be damned.

dress - modcloth (old) | sweater - amazon
shoes - bait footwear | brooch - stoic & pariah

recipe: my favorite snack

Earlier this year I got a free trial for one of those subscription snack boxes and I really loved it, but there was no way I could actually afford to keep getting it delivered. So I decided to come up with my own snack mix to have on hand whenever I get the munchies! Each week I just mix up a batch and store it in a tupperware container.

I don't know if this can even really be called a "recipe" since the instructions are so simple. I just take one bag of glazed walnuts (if you like the taste of plain walnuts definitely go that route since they're healthier!), one bag of dried cranberries, and one bar of dark chocolate broken up into small chunks. If you're looking for healthy dark chocolate, the higher the percentage of chocolate, the better. I got this one because it was on sale, but my favorite is the Theo 70% dark chocolate/sea salt bar.

I love this combination so much that I have to put a portion into a small bowl to snack on rather than dipping my hand into the container, or else I get "where did that whole bag of doritos go?!" syndrome. It disappears before I even realize it! It's just so good!

wishlist wednesday

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9

Style Idol - Faye Dunaway

what's it all about

I just rewatched Alfie yesterday (the Jude Law version) and honestly it's such a sad story but I enjoy it so much. It's the first movie I ever saw by myself in a theater. I was 17 and I was so nervous about going alone, but I can remember how excited I was when I finally got settled in my seat and the lights dimmed and it was just me and Jude Law breaking the 4th wall and speaking directly at the audience. He might be the only person that I've ever made eye contact with without reflexively, awkwardly looking away (that's either very funny or very pathetic or maybe both, ha!)

If you want to feel like Jude Law is talking to you, I highly recommend this movie. It's definitely not the best film ever made and Jude Law's character is actually a first class heel, but he's such a pretty first class heel! I went a little crazy making gifs from the movie yesterday (because I am a 32 year old teenager apparently) and you can check them out on my giphy page here.

shirt - forever 21 (old) | sweater - amazon
shoes - bait footwear | skirt - lazy oaf (old)

my top five: podcasts

1. My Favorite Murder - If you're interested in true crime and you like podcasts that feel like you're eavesdropping on two friends in the middle of a conversation, I highly recommend this. My week revolves around the two episodes that they drop each week - a miniature one where they read listeners' stories on Monday and a full episode where they tell the stories of two murders every Thursday. The hosts, Georgia and Karen, are funny (they don't make fun of murder, they just make fun of themselves) and I feel like they're my friends, which sounds super creepy but I'm pretty sure 99% of MFM listeners feel the same way. (PS. If you're already a murderino, look at this.)

2. Pod Save America - This is the podcast that got me into podcasts. I started listening the month they launched, when they released President Obama's last interview as president. It's hosted by Obama staffers, including two of his speechwriters, and it keeps me sane while America is going through the weirdest, scariest time in modern history. Every Monday and Tuesday they break down the news of the day and then end with an in-depth interview. They are insanely smart, super witty, and they remind me of Obama which is *always* welcome. I saw them live at Radio City Music Hall last year and it was AMAZING. If you like the show and they're touring near you, definitely try to see them!

3. This Podcast Will Kill You - I found this one because Georgia from My Favorite Murder recommended it, actually! It's a podcast about epidemics and diseases in much the same style as My Favorite Murder, with two friends talking to each other (although it's definitely more thoroughly researched.) If you know me, you know that I'm obsessed with plague and pandemic history. I was shocked when I found this podcast because I thought I was a solitary weirdo for being so interested in this kind of thing. I guess that's one of the fun things about podcasts, even the most obscure topic will find an audience. They seem to post about one episode every two weeks or so.

4. Hysteria - This podcast is on the same network as Pod Save America, and it's entirely made by women (including my favorite Obama staffer, Alyssa Mastromonaco! I'm going to her book signing next week and I am SUPER excited about it!) These women are so sharp, and incredibly hilarious. They are also very insightful and thoughtful and often make me rethink where I stand on issues. Lately my twitter mentions have been making me feel very "mute all men" so I especially appreciate this weekly (Thursdays!) hour of exclusively female voices. Plus they are just very, very cool girls and (like MFM) I just want to be friends with them.

5. Why Won't You Date Me? - Each week (Fridays!) Nicole Byer talks about her love life and tries to figure out why she's still single. Even though this podcast is totally outside my area of interests (I have never dated anyone and I don't want to) I just love Nicole Byer so much and I think she is absolutely hilarious. Her energy and upbeat personality are so infectious, I always feel happier after listening to her.

the sunny side of the street

Last Friday I got one of those daylight lamps that's supposed to help improve your mood, energy level, and sleep if you use it during the day. I don't know if it's a placebo effect or if it's actually working but I have legitimately been in a much better mood this week, I've been sleeping better, and this was one of the most productive weeks I've had in a long time. I still can't wait until spring when I can just recharge my body with *actual* sunlight but this seems to be doing the trick for the time being.

Isn't it nice, though, that spring finally feels like it's on the horizon? The first day of March is always such a breath of fresh air (even if that air is still technically bitter and frigidly cold.) And I can officially say that "next month" I'll be in Disney World! In Florida! In the sun! I cannot wait! :)

dress - dangerfield | shirt - vintage | shoes - bait footwear

DIY wicker accent sunglasses

I am a huge fan of the wicker/rattan trend going on right now. It's just so retro! My local Target has a whole area set up with their '70s inspired wicker on display and I feel like I've stepped into the department store where my Grandmom bought all her furniture 40 years ago. I love it!!

I thought "surely someone must have wicker sunglasses" since it's so popular right now, but when I couldn't find a single pair I decided to make them myself! These are pretty easy but a little time consuming, so put on your headphones and breeze through a few podcast episodes while you fashion yourself a pair of pretty wicker-accented sunglasses!

Materials you'll need:

Round plastic sunglasses (I used these)
Natural colored twine (I used this one from IKEA)

I used Gorilla Glue hot glue sticks, which are supposed to be resistant to seasonal temperatures (so I'm hoping that includes hot summer sunshine!)

Start by popping out the lenses from your glasses, and then put them aside. I worked with about 12" of twine at a time, gluing one end to the back of the frames and just wrapping it around. Every so often I'd put a little bit of glue on the back again for added stability. Once you get to the end, cut the twine so that your end piece is in the back of the glasses and glue it down. I let the end piece totally dry down before adding a little more glue for my new piece of twine.

Work all the way around the lenses, except for the part where the arms meet the frames. I deliberately picked tortoiseshell frames because I thought that would look nice against the twine, but this would also look really nice with black frames too. Or hot pink! (I want everything to be pink, lol!)

When I reached the bridge of the frames I decided to add some more pattern to make this more like a real piece of wicker and not just "wrapped" frames. I made an X between the edge of the bridge and the frame, and then I started wrapping over that across the bridge. I think it would also look cool to just leave this part with the tortoiseshell showing through to match the edges, as well. (That would also be a lot easier, ha!)

Finally, the lenses! Obviously they won't fit back into the ridge where they used to be since that is now covered with the twine. So just put a little glue on the back of the frames where the bridge meets the frames, and where the arms meet the frames, and then pop the lenses back in! Make sure you get the lenses in nice and snug so you can still fold the glasses open and closed. And if you do use a glue gun, just be sure to go over the glasses once you're finished and pick off any little glue strands that are left on the glasses.

And that's it! It's a fun project to do at the end of February when spring and floppy hats and pretty dresses (and summery sunglasses!) are just around the corner :)