Saturday, December 31, 2016

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!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from me and my furry friend to you and yours! :)

Monday, December 19, 2016

DIY Christmas ornament box photo mat

When I was helping my Grandmom decorate her tree this year, I noticed one of her ornament boxes was on the verge of completely falling apart. My Grandmom is kind of quick to just throw things out, without regarding sentimental (or vintage) value so I asked if she ever decided to toss out the box if I could have dibs on it first. To which she replied, "Just take it now!"

It was too delicate to actually use to store ornaments anymore, but the design is such perfect vintage, and it's been around for so many family Christmases (this one has been in use since my mom was little!) that I couldn't bear to see it thrown away. I thought I'd share what I used the box for, just in case anyone else is in a similar situation, with all these beautiful boxes that land somewhere between "too fragile to use" and "too special to throw away."

I decided to use my box as a mat for a festive photo of Arrietty. The box was *almost* 8" x 10" so I just bought a piece of red polka dot scrapbook paper at the craft store to fill in the gaps. I carefully cut the sides away from the box and then taped any rips and tears to create a sturdy mat for my photo. I used repositionable glue dots to hold the photo in place and then mounted it in the frame.

I definitely could have stopped there (and tbh my frame would have looked a lot less DIY/crafty if I had) but I didn't want the illustrations on the sides of the box to go to waste, either. So I cut them out carefully (I used scissors but if you have a delicate box, learn from my mistake and use an x-acto knife instead) and hot-glued them to the base of the frame. Then I used a paint pen to add some embellishments that matched the design of the box.

I'm so happy that I was able to save a piece of our family's Christmas heritage and turn it into a decoration that I'll be putting up for years to come :)