Saturday, December 29, 2012

Did Helena's Character Shop at Anthro?

Hello Readers,

This week I had the opportunity to see Les Miserables with my dad. While I enjoyed the movie and the actors' performances, I couldn't help but notice something about Madame Thénardier's wardrobe, worn by Helena Bonham Carter.

photo taken from here
photo from (here)

Take a look at her outfit. If her character (or costume designer) were to buy that jacket, where do you think they would find something like that?

from guess where

you guessed it
Yes, anthropologie bears a striking resemblance to Madame Thenardier's wardrobe

Case in point.

You all know that I love Anthropologie. Some of my favorite items in my wardrobe are from that store. But. . . sometimes their offerings are a bit too theatrical and out there (for my taste, anyway). I have no conclusion on this matter, just a simple observation.

The end.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dreaming of Dresses. . .

Hello Readers,

I'm not sure how the weather is where you are, but here in Central Illinois it is foggy, rainy, and chilly. Not terrible weather (I actually enjoy it. . . most of the time), but not the best of conditions either. As much as I enjoy donning a trench coat and a scarf, there are times when I miss wearing a dress or a skirt without the threat of treacherous winds. This is one of those times.

To escape the chill and the bluster happening outside, I decided to browse the web for dresses to wear on days with more hospitable weather. Dresses to wear to work, weddings, special occasions, or any occasions.

I ventured onto the Sarah Seven website (have you been there? check it out!) and found these dreamy dresses from her Fall 2012 and Spring 2012 Ready to Wear Collection. Aren't they gorgeous?

I think I would wear this one to a work party. . . or maybe even to work with a cardigan or blazer.

I don't know where I would wear this one, but I know it would be to someplace fabulous!

Stunning! And, I'm in the market for a new LBD.

This would also be a great dress for work. I love the classic shape and feminine lace. So chic!

Again, I don't know where I would wear this. . . maybe I could invent an occasion!

Throw on a blazer and a pair of tights. . . work outfit?

This would be a great dress to wear to weddings. . . as a guest or a bridesmaid!

Friday, October 26, 2012

In the Midst of Inspiration

Hey Friends,

I haven't much felt like blogging lately- well, since Sophie's passing- but tonight I am sitting in a place very dear to my heart [Adam Brother's Cafe] on the eve of what I am sure will be a very lovely wedding. . .

And I feel inspired!

My life lately has been a miscellany [a favorite word of mine- also inspiring!] of teaching swimming lessons, filling out applications, and going to job interviews. I've either been in workout gear, pajamas, or my interview suits. A not so interesting, or inspiring, history of outfits. . . The good news, though, is my discovery that aerie carries work out pants, a.k.a. "slim gyms," in their online store.

But, as much as I love wearing work out pants, I didn't find very much motivation to photograph or write about my descent into ultra casual wear, or repeat my many [actually, not so many] iterations of an interview outfit over and over and over again.

But lately, even before I stepped into this cafe, my style has been more inspired.

Here is a sample of one of my latest inspirations:

blinking. . .

As many of you know, I have an Etsy shop, Eclectic And Elegant, that has remained dormant for the past few months- but it is back in business! I've been on the lookout for cool things to add to my store, and this burnt sienna (dark orange?) wool skirt is one of my favorite finds so far! I enjoyed it so much that I decided to take it for a spin before listing it in my store.

The skirt seems to be from the 60s- there's something very Mad Men about its shape, color, and construction. What I love most about the skirt, besides all of the compliments I received while wearing it, is its origin. I had to do a bit of linguistic research via Google Translate, but from the words on the tag I discovered that this darling skirt is far from home! The skirt was made in Bucharest, Romania and somehow made its way to Central Illinois! Woah! 

I think I may need to wear this burnt sienna stunner once or twice more before I list it in my shop. . . so irresistible!

Not blinking! Much better!
Retail Details:
White Cardigan: Abercrombie & Fitch
Floral Top: Anthropologie
Copper Beaded Belt: Anthropologie
Dark Orange Wool Skirt: Vintage (from Romania!)
Dark Purple Cabled Tights: Anthropologie
Raspberry Flats: Old Navy

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Absence and Loss

Hello Readers!

I haven't been on here for a while. Some of you may already know why, but for those of you who may have wondered what the cause of my absence has been, now you will know.

Sophie: 2011-2012
A few weeks ago, my sweet and energetic dog, Sophie (a 1 year old Alaskan Malamute) crossed her Invisible Fence line and ran into the path of a moving vehicle and was killed. The entire incident occurred in my front yard. I heard my poor puppy screaming, heard my mom run out and scream, and soon after I ran down the stairs to a sight I wish to forget but will always remember.

When I ran out, I could see Sophie struggling to stand up, and I reached out to try to stop her from moving (to prevent further injury) and in confusion she bit into my right hand and left arm. I won't go into all of the gory details of the morning- but there was blood everywhere. I didn't know how much of the blood on my arms was from Sophie or from the bites. After a neighbor with a heart of gold responded to the situation and drove my mom, Sophie, and I to the vet's office I had to go to a prompt  care center to have my wounds taken care of. When my brother (who drove me) and I returned home, Sophie was gone.

Sophie loved the snow!
Since that day, my wounds from the bites have been healing with the help of antibiotics, lots of Neosporin, many yards of gauze and bandages. But, my heart seems to be healing at a much slower rate. Even though the driver of the vehicle didn't mean to hit my dog, and even though eyewitnesses of the accident have told me that there was nothing the driver could do when Sophie ran out, it's been really difficult for me to forgive him. It's never been this hard for me to love my neighbor- even though this neighbor is a person who literally resides in a house down the street from my own.

Sophie's tongue always stuck out, just a little bit. 

Grief is a response that can turn into anger- and when it does we can be fooled (or at least I was fooled) into believing that anger is an easier burden to carry than forgiveness. This is a lie. Anger is a far heavier and taxing burden to carry than forgiveness. How did I realize this?

Last week, I started praying for the driver. Praying for wounds to heal (who was also bitten by Sophie while trying to help her) and praying for emotional healing helped me to see this person as a person who was also in pain. Praying for the strength for me to forgive him for this terrible accident, and praying for him to forgive me for yelling at him when I ran outside to the mess of that morning.

She always tried to lick my face! What a sweetheart!

Something else that has helped me move forward from this tangled mess, is a new puppy. After Sophie's death, I was not ready for another dog- but a few members of my family started searching online for Malamute puppies, and they discovered that Sophie's mom had a litter of puppies ready to go to new homes. We met the puppies, and chose one. Less than a week later, my house will the home of another black and white ball of fur and fury who we named Maya Lani. She is still very young, but she has quite a personality! While she will never replace Sophie or any other dog that's ever been a part of my life, she is turning out to be a wonderful blessing to me and to my family.

In the future I look forward to sharing more pictures of Maya, and maybe even a few outfits here and there :)

Thank you to my friends and family (and readers!) for your continued support and love during this difficult time!

We will miss you Sophie!

Monday, August 6, 2012

An Eensy Weensy Ounce of Bravery

Hello Readers!

This morning I did something brave. Something very brave that I haven't done in a v.e.r.y. l.o.n.g. t.i.m.e. I'm not even sure when I last did this. . . maybe the summer of 2009?

I woke up this morning to blue skies, warm (but not too warm!) weather, and a slight breeze. A wonderful setting for a brave endeavor. I decided to go to the pool wearing a bikini.

As a swimmer, wearing a swimsuit is no big deal. But usually I wear a one-piece, a garment that affords relief from a midsection of pale insecurities. When I'm feeling adventurous, I wear a tankini. But  every time I open my top dresser drawer and see the bandeaus and halters of nearly forgotten bikini tops, I am hit by a wave of guilt and fear. Today I realized that this wave was one I could conquer.

Getting ready for my swim/sun session this morning, I reached into my drawer and pulled out a white and red paisley halter top (purchased between my sophomore and junior year of high school!) and a brown pair of bottoms and resolved to conquer my fear and guilt associated with wearing bikinis.

I didn't look like my 16 year old self, which makes sense because I am no longer on the swim team or track team, but the bikini still fit. I didn't look perfect- but I looked good and I felt confident. And I think it was my confidence that convinced me that I looked good.

So. . . with that confidence and an eensy weensy ounce of bravery, I drove up to my neighborhood pool rocking my bikini! I swam a few laps and basked in the success of my Monday morning bikini adventure. A small but significant triumph over body image insecurities and a victory in self-confidence!

I think this is going to be a good week!

Just keep swimming! Photo taken by me at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in 2010

Friday, July 20, 2012

Writer, Rocker, Biker, Geek: Michael McFarland

Hello Readers!
The talented. . . Michael McFarland!
Last Wednesday I attended a concert held at my favorite coffee shop, Thirty-Thirty Coffee Co., featuring the very talented Michael McFarland. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a Boss Loop station, and a collection of thoughtful narratives set to music; Michael is currently on tour in support of his latest album: Waking Up Is A Letdown. ("Next Train South" is my favorite track from that album!)

Singing to the crowd
It looks like the bear is singing along
 After the concert, I had a chance to briefly chat with Michael and found that we shared an interest in storytelling and even fashion as a storytelling endeavor. As we talked, I realized that he would be a great person to interview for this blog! He graciously agreed to an interview and the next day I sent an itinerary of questions via email. Before I share the interview with you all, I wanted to share a video from Michael about his take on storytelling and anecdotal value:

And here is the interview:

Q: Tell me (and the readers) more about yourself. How did you get started as a musician? Where are you from? What inspires you?
A: First, Laura, I'd like to thank you for asking me to do this interview! 
I grew up in Kent, Ohio, my father was a professor at Kent State University. My start in music began at age 6, when I began studying piano, but I didn't really begin down my path as a songwriter until I picked up a guitar at age 14. I learned how to play every song on Third Eye Blind's debut album, but didn't have any conception of how to write songs. One day, while on the riding lawnmower going in circles, a melody popped into my head that I didn't recognize. It continued repeating in my mind and each pass I added a few words, and by the time I finished mowing our half acre I had my first completed song. 

As far as inspirations, musically I don't specifically look to other songwriters or bands for inspiration, but if I'm listening to something a lot a little of that has a tendency to bleed into the music. I definitely owe a debt to the 90s alternative rock that I was listening to when I first started writing songs, but there are also elements of modern pop/rock artists (think Mat Kearney, Matt Nathanson, The Fray) and of course the classics like Paul Simon and The Beatles.

Q: How would you describe your music? (ie; how it sounds, what you write about, etc)
A: The description I usually use for my music is "Rhythmic Alt-Pop". For my live shows it's just me, my acoustic guitar, and my Boss Loop Station. I beat on the body of my guitar to build backing rhythms, then play catchy acoustic pop songs over those backbeats.

All my songs are autobiographical - and I try to live my life in such a way that I'll always have new stories to tell. (Youtube video blog about that -

Q: I understand that you are on a tour, can you tell me more about it? What do you hope to achieve through this tour?
A:  Of course! I'm currently on a 6-week tour, ranging from Nashville to Chicago to Austin to San Diego to Portland to Denver. I'm traveling by myself, staying with friends in towns I have them, and complete strangers in towns where I don't. Most of the cities I'm playing in this tour I've never been to, much less played a show in, so I'm looking to make some new friends, share my music, and discover the country!

Q: During your concert you mentioned that you live in Asheville, NC. How would you describe the city's style? What makes it distinctive?
A: Asheville is an awesome city - sort of like a mini-Austin, Texas or a mini-Portland, Oregon, set in a mountain paradise. Amazing arts scene, incredible food, beautiful landscape. The music scene is an eclectic mix of americana, roots, indie, bluegrass, and the occasional wildcard artist like me that doesn't quite fit in. There's a lot of bohemian/hippie style you'll see around town, as well as healthy dose of hipsters & outdoorsy types. It's a very accepting city of whatever your personal style is, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have an impressive beard.

Q: Speaking of cities, what did you think of Peoria?
A: One of the things that's both a blessing and a curse about playing so many shows on this tour is that I don't get to stay in any one town for very long - I get into town in the afternoon, and leave the next morning. The parts of Peoria I did get to see were great. Thirty-Thirty Coffee where I played the show, my new friend Nate's awesome old house where I crashed for the night, and One World Cafe where we grabbed dinner - the food there was fantastic, and their Long Islands are not to be toyed with!

Q: How do you define your personal style? And does it change when you go onstage?
A: For several years I've been mostly unintentionally pursuing a style I'd describe as vaguely post-apocalyptic - distressed military jackets, henley shirts (I'm convinced they're the official shirt of low-tech wasteland freedom fighters), worn out jeans, and heavy motorcycle boots. If you catch me on a day I'm not playing a show, you'll find no difference in what I'm wearing from when I'm on stage.

Q: What is a "typical" concert outfit? Do you have any lucky or favorite items or clothing or accessories?
A: When I'm touring, I pack really light - aside from workout and sleeping clothes, I bring with me 5 shirts, 3 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of boots. What you're likely to catch me wearing is:
A short-sleeved Mossimo henley tee from target, slightly modified to let my great uncle's dog tag sit a little better.
 -A beat up pair of Express jeans.
 -A belt from Bare Tree Apparel ( - the day you saw me it was the Black Bird on Cranberry (
 -A pair of motorcycle boots.
 -My great-uncle's dog tag, a cross necklace, and a big bulky Fossil watch facing inwards so I can tell how long I've left to play without conspicuously staring at my wrist - I forgot to wear that when you met me in Peoria!

Q: You tell stories through your music... do you think that what you wear is a storytelling endeavor? If yes, how so? (I tried to remember what you said about wearing anecdotes but I couldn't remember the term you used).
A: I much prefer to wear things that have their own stories, to carry a bit of my history with me. For example, the jeans I wore on the day you met me have the right knee ripped from catching on the rifle mount on my motorcycle the first day I got to ride it (It's a swiss military bike, with rifle mounts on both sides - 
I wear my great-uncle George's dog tag to honor him - he was a musician before the United States joined World War II. (more on that - 
I'm not wearing them on this tour, but my other pair of motorcycle boots was given to me on my last tour (which I undertook on my motorcycle, guitar strapped to my back) by a woman who saw me sitting next to the bike in a grocery store parking lot and handed them to me saying, "These were my Father's. He passed away two months ago. You look like you're on an adventure, and I'd like you to have them."

Q: What has been your favorite experience or story from this tour so far? 
A: Nothing so far to match the story about the motorcycle boots, but the tour is still young! So far my favorite moment has been on my day off from touring in St. Paul, Minnesota. I stayed with my brother Phil and his family, and in the evening I got to skip stones with my 10-year-old nephew Joe on the Mississippi river. It was a perfect moment of serenity in the midst of a hectic schedule.

Q: Is there anything else that you want to add or share?
Just that it was wonderful meeting you, and I can't wait to come back to Peoria to play again, and see all my new friends again!

Thank you, again, Michael, for being a part of my blog with this interview! I wish you the very best in all of your endeavors!

To learn more about Michael, to hear his music, or to see if he will be playing near you, check out his website:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

So Fresh So Floral: Rent The Runway Free Dress Rental

Hello Readers!

Last Friday, I received something very exciting in the mail. But before I tell you what that was, I should tell you a bit more of the story.

Last spring (March 2011) I needed to find a dress to wear to my cousin's (Joe) wedding. I had dresses in my wardrobe, but nothing to wear (so to say). All of the dresses I owned were dresses I had already worn to previous events, but I wanted something new. After a random Google search, I found a website named Rent The Runway, where customers could rent designer gowns (way beyond my price range) to wear to events like weddings for a fraction of the dress' actual cost. A perfect solution for my dilemma.

Since then, I've told friends and family members about Rent The Runway (RTR), but I haven't used their services (although I do check their website on a weekly basis to see what's new). A month or so ago I completed a survey about RTR with the incentive of receiving a FREE surprise dress rental on a weekend TBA. I chose 2 possible weekends and 5 dresses for each weekend, and waited for the email to inform me that my dress (a surprise until I opened the box) was in the mail.

My surprise dress was AMAZING! The RTR stylists did a tremendous job choosing a dress that I loved wearing and a dress that was long enough for long legs! Ready to find out which dress it was?

The So Fresh So Floral Maxi by Shoshanna (Rental, $100; Retail $615)
There really is so much to love about this dress, but the colors are probably my favorite. Shoshanna makes dresses with impeccable patterns and oh-so-alluring colors, patterns and colors I've only admired from afar until this free surprise dress rental from RTR (thank you, stylists!)

I would have loved to wear this dress to a wedding, but since I had no weddings that weekend (or other "special" events) I decided to make a special event of the dress by wearing it to church on Sunday as well as Sunday dinner at my grandparents' house. And I LOVED wearing it! At church I paired it with a cardigan from Zara and a sparkly belt from Anthropologie. My experience with this dress (thanks to RTR) was thoroughly splendid. In the midst of an arduous search for a job, this lovely blue and purple dress showed up on my doorstep to lift my spirits and boost my confidence.

Here are a few pictures of me in this lovely dress! Enjoy!

I love this dress!
The church-appropriate version of the dress (with cardigan)

So Fresh!
The weather was (finally) perfect for a breezy maxi dress!
I look like I'm swimming the butterfly! Subconscious tribute to the Summer Olympics? 
I couldn't stop smiling! 
"The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind. . . "
Thank you, Leslie, for taking these pictures!
Retail Details:
Blue and Purple So Fresh So Floral Maxi Dress: Shoshanna (free surprise dress rental)
Grey and Rhinestone Belt: Anthropologie
Dark Silver 'Chirp' Pumps: Seychelles via Nordstrom Rack

Friday, July 13, 2012

Crazy Hair!

Hello Readers,

The other night, while watching River Monsters, I came up with this crazy hair style:

It's a bit sloppy (it was created without a mirror), but I kind of like it. I think this Heidi-esque style is worth recreating. . .

If you are interested in trying this style (or something similar), here is how I made it happen:

-first divide hair into two equal (or somewhat equal) parts and braid into pigtails. For this style it is important that you have long hair in order to achieve the next step.

-then, take the pigtails and tie (or pin) them together... and voila!

If you try it, let me know how it goes! If this crazy style catches on, maybe it could be called the Laura! Here are a few more pictures of this zany style!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Preparation: What to Bring to a Job Interview

When you learn that a company or organization wants to interview you, on the phone or over skype or even in person, you may experience moments of excitement followed by moments of nervousness and even self-doubt.

That's ok. It's ok to do your "I have a job interview" victory dance and it's even ok to feel so nervous that you want to lock yourself away from the world to research and practice until the interview. Wherever your reaction may fall on this spectrum, it is crucial that you PREPARE for the actual interview. Here are a few helpful tips:

-Review the job description: one of the best ways to know if you are qualified for a job is to, well, read what the qualifications are that a company desires in a person who would fill this position.

-Review the company or organization: this is your chance to figure out how you would fit into the organization. Carefully read through the mission and vision statements, look at their portfolio, read about them in the news.

-Review your resume and portfolio: remind yourself who you are and how you fit into this company. What skills, interests or experiences do you have that would make you a great fit for the job?

-Practice answering "typical" interview questions: while it is virtually impossible to know exactly what an interviewer will ask, it's important to do your homework. If the company is passionate about helping the community or caring for the environment, there is a great possibility that an interviewer might ask you questions about those topics. And be prepared to answer those typical interview questions: strengths, weaknesses, where do you see yourself in 5 years, tell me about a time when you..., how did you find out about this company/opening.

-Figure out how to get there, on time!: arriving at your interview location on time (or a bit early) requires careful planning. The person who contacted you about the interview might tell you how to get to the interview location, and sometimes even where to park, but they also might not give you this information. You may have to ask for these details- and you should! If you are traveling to a different city or state, make sure that you give yourself time for construction, getting lost, and other unpredictable  time-gobbling situations. If you are close to the location, I recommend a drive by. Sometimes maps and directions can be confusing and even inaccurate, and you don't want that to be your excuse for being late to an interview. You don't want to start your interview with a need to apologize!

-Select your interview outfit: it may seem odd to pick out an outfit ahead of time, but (believe me!) this is a helpful step to take before the big day. You don't want to be late to an interview because you couldn't decide on a color of shirt or choose between pants or a skirt. Choosing an outfit, ahead of time, will not only save you time- it will also provide a great boost of confidence!

Preparation is a key step in the interview process- but it's not everything! It is, however, an important thing to bring into a job interview. Gaining knowledge about the job, the organization, yourself, the interview, how to get to the interview, and even what you will wear to the interview will help you be (or at least seem) a confident and knowledgeable candidate for the job!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Preview: What to Wear [and Bring] to a Job Interview

Hello Readers!

As many of you know, I am back on the job market! So far, this journey of applying for jobs has been a journey of self discovery. Filling out applications, writing essays, completing aptitude tests, and spending a lot of time on LinkedIn. In many ways, searching for a job is a lot like online dating- creating a profile, answering and asking questions, and looking for the right match for your passions, interests, personality, etc., etc.

Last week, something exciting happened to me. On Thursday, I had an interview! I was so excited- so excited that I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I read and re-read the job description (I even wrote it out by hand to commit it to memory), highlighted the skills I possessed that the job seemed to demand, imagined answers to questions the interviewer might ask me, researched the organization, and even came up with a few questions of my own. I was almost ready. Almost.

What I couldn't seem to prepare was my interview outfit. As I stood in front of my wardrobe, a sea of advice filled my head :

-"don't wear anything too quirky"
-"wear something professional, but not boring"
-"don't wear any colors that will wash out your complexion"
-"don't wear anything too tight"
-"don't forget to wear hose with a skirt!"

As well as a few questions:

-"am I a winter or a spring?"
-"if I wear pink will I seem to girly?"
-"which necklace will make me look creative, hard-working, and smart?"

Selecting items of clothing for an outfit may seem like an insignificant task to complete before an interview- but it really is an important part of the preparation process. What you wear to an interview communicates a lot about who you are, or at least the self you choose to present.

First impressions matter, especially in an interview situation. A lot is on the line, for you as well as the organization interviewing you. The interview is their time to decide whether or not you- as a whole package of personality and skill- are the right fit for the job and for that particular workplace culture.

In the next few blog posts, I am going to share important information about what to wear, and even what to bring, to a job interview. The tools you need to narrate your story as a capable and confident job candidate.

Join me on this journey!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Wedding Wardrobe Malfunction: Always Bring an Extra Dress!

Me in the dress, before it became a disaster
The dress was perfect. It survived the hour-long drive into St. Louis without falling off the hanger or getting wrinkled. My toenails were freshly painted to match the midnight purple of the dress. Unzipping the dress, before stepping into it, the zipper seemed to snag on (what I now understand as) a faulty tooth, but I persisted with a tug and stepped into the dress.

The soft silk and rich hues made me feel like I was preparing to step onto the red carpet- even though the dress was purchased final sale at a cool 75 dollars. My hair was set, my makeup was even red-carpet ready- and then something terrible happened.

As I pulled the zipper up, it became stuck on the same place as before. "I'll just tug it a bit harder," I thought as I performed the task, anticipating the zipper to properly catch on the teeth... but alas- it did not. Instead of properly catching track, the entire zipper and track became even more untracked. I was stuck. And then the zipper split. And I was still stuck. With less than 45 minutes to go until I had to be at the church.

I began to sweat and fret- undoubtedly a combination that exhausted the confidence, bounce, and height of my hair. No more bouncy curls- just beachy waves. Would I have to sew myself into the dress? I didn't bring and needles or thread- could I find a tailor to fix my dilemma within my dwindling timeline?

Panicked- I called Banana Republic, and described the situation I found myself in. The agreed to pull their most formal dresses in sizes 4 and 6 off of their sales floor for me to try on between the ceremony and the reception. Even though the dress was final sale, the agreed to take back the dress.

Miraculously,  I was able to yoga-move my way out of the dress (and I found out that my shoulder is perhaps double-jointed?) and change into a dress I brought for a graduation on Sunday. A much shorter dress, that I had worn many times- but a dress without a gaping hole on its side. Much better.

With friends from grad school in the replacement dress from White House | Black Market
The ceremony was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The bride was one of my best friends from graduate school, the groom was a close friend from Bible study (I was the first to introduce them, during a visit to the church- our friend Jenny was the first to ignite the spark between the bride and groom), and the pastor was my pastor. It was a ceremony full of meaning- for everyone there! My stress I felt during dress malfunction seemed quite silly when I sat down in my seat and remembered the reason I was in the church that day.

Between the ceremony's end and the reception's beginning, I stopped at the mall (which was in between the ceremony and reception sites) to find a replacement dress. The search was unfruitful- there was nothing I could find that I liked as much as the original, or even as much as my replacement dress. But I'm glad that I brought an extra dress with me. So glad. Moral of the story: bring an extra so you won't have to sweat the small stuff (literally and figuratively).

So, I continued on my trek to the reception in my improvised outfit and enjoyed a wonderful night with my friends. We hit the dance floor, ate cake, and had a blast.

And, most importantly- the bride and the groom had a great time celebrating the start of their journey together as husband and wife.

With the beautiful bride and more friends from grad school. Thankfully, the bride's dress was flawless!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

April Adventures: Dinner with Lauren Winner

Hello Readers!

Lauren Winner- image from

Last month, just over two weeks ago, one of my favorite authors, Lauren Winner, came to my college to speak in chapel and to give a colloquium. You may recognize her from her books, like Girl Meets God, Real Sex, Mudhouse Sabbath, or her latest book Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis. In addition to being a successful author, she also teaches at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina.

Earlier this semester, when I found out that Lauren Winner was coming to campus, I mentioned to a colleague and friend that I was a fan of her writing and I hoped to meet her during her visit to campus. He recommended that I ask the powers that be (my now friend and former professor of Ethics) if I could meet  Lauren Winner. I did (thank you Kent!) and I was even invited to dinner with her, Winner, and another colleague from the college (thank you Christina!). Amazing! How many people get to eat dinner with one of their favorite authors?

As the time approached, I read and re-read some of her books to prepare for her visit. As I did my "research" I came to an interesting realization about authors, like Winner, who write autobiographies: they reveal so much of their stories to readers. It must be strange, then as an author, to meet people who already know so much about you, or at least the portion of you project in your writing. With this possibility of a realization in mind, I was determined not to be one of those creepy "I feel like I know you" fans when I met Lauren. I would be cool, or at least as cool I could be.

Finally, on April 25th, the day arrived of Lauren's visit. I had a lot of grading to finish, so I listened to her chapel address on the college radio station. In the afternoon I attended the colloquium, which was wonderful, and before I knew it it was time to jump in the car and drive to St. Louis for dinner. Lauren Winner, Christina, Brian, and me.

The drive from campus to our restaurant, Mangia, on South Grand was nearly an hour. On our way there we talked about almost everything: politics, religion, literacy, education- it was great! We arrived at the restaurant in time for half price appetizers (hooray!) and ordered duck potstickers (delicious!) and tomato bruschetta (yum!).

During dinner, our conversation continued over delicious food. At one point, Lauren asked each of us what our favorite book was that we read in the past year. Woah! One of my favorite authors asked me what I was reading? Cool! All of the books shared around the table were interesting, and I wish that I would have written them down. The rest of the dinner went well: delicious food, a bit of laughter, and more great conversation.

Looking back on the whole experience, I am so grateful for how it went. I've heard of people meeting authors and being disappointed, but Lauren was no disappointment! Meeting a woman with a powerful voice, an accomplished career as a writer and academic, and thoughtful Christian was an inspiration. I must admit that I wasn't very talkative during my dinner with Winner, but that was because I had so many interesting things to listen to and learn about from her and my colleagues from the college. This adventure may be my favorite one from this semester.

What a wonderful opportunity! Have you ever met an author? Or, if you could- who would it be?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

As of Lately. . .

Hello Readers!

My dusty car hit 100,000 miles! Crazy!

This is perhaps the start of the craziest part of each semester for students and educators. Last May, I experienced that craziness in both roles- and I am thankful to only be a educator this time around! But even this time around is still a bit hectic.

A lot has happened since my last post. Would you like to know what some of those things have been?

OK. . . bend my arm!

1) I went to a Jars of Clay concert with friends

2) I met with a former professor (one of my favorites!) and a former student (one of my favorites!) to catch up on life

3) I went to my first professional baseball game

4) I met one of my favorite authors

5) Helped plan and throw a surprise birthday for a friend

6) I applied to a bazillion or so jobs


Now you know that I am still alive! No worries folks, no worries! Hopefully you will hear more from me this weekend. . .

Have a very wonderful night!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Windy City Rendevous- Bethany's Bridal Shower

Hello Readers,

I took a hiatus from blogging (as you may have noticed) and this afternoon I was browsing through posts that I never published- either because of lost inspiration or timing. I stumbled across this post, that I meant to publish right before my hiatus, but never did!

So. . . without further adieu, here are the belated details of my visit to Chicago a few weeks ago!

Last Saturday A few Saturdays ago, was one of the best days of the year. I woke up early and drove 2.5 hours from my parents' house to a bridal shower in Chicago for my friend Bethany (the Bethany from my last post). This was followed by a trip to Woodfield Mall, dinner with my cousin and her husband at Potbelly's, and even a brief stop at Jamba Juice for the drive home.

I didn't take any pictures of the mall trip, Potbelly's, or Jamba Huice- so I will focus on the bridal shower for this post because it is the reason for my Windy City visit and because I took somewhere around 200 photos of this event. (But don't worry... I won't share all 200 with you). Here are a few of the highlights:

Me, Bethany, and Charlotte (SLU Grad School friends!)

Katherine, Bethany, and Meghan (Bethany's friends from high school)

And so begins the present-opening!

The hostess had such beautiful windows!



The bride and groom to be!

The groom-to-be