For the New Year

vintage muse modern viewshappy new yearhappy new yearhappy new yearhappy new yearhappy new yearhappy new yearhappy new yearIn Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Jo and Meg are invited to a New Year’s Eve party and with “the united exertions of the entire [March] family,” the girls finally look elegant enough to go “even though Meg’s high-heeled slippers were very tight and hurt her, though she would not own it, and Jo’s nineteen hairpins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable.” But of course, both girls are quick to remember that despite the tight shoes and the poky pins, they would “be elegant or die” before going to the party looking plain.

I took an unexpected hiatus this week from VMMV. I’ve been meaning to post these pictures since Monday, but a double butter-cream batch and three parties in just as many days means I haven’t had even a moment to get them up. My favorite little women had our annual Christmas party and it was, as usual, the most special of nights. Somehow we all grew up and got far, far too busy but right before a new year begins we all manage to get back together, dress up, and make another New Year’s resolution to be the most elegant little women we can be. It’s a resolution just vague enough to avoid certain failure and noble enough to be worthy of a fresh start. It’s a resolution for poise under any circumstance, for being simple yet graceful, and, according to Webster, being “pleasingly ingenious on any occasion.” So, in 2014, “let us be elegant or die!” The March sisters strived to be and that’s good enough a model for me.

– <3 A. 

Autumn Daisies

november happy birthdaygerbera daisiesgerbera daisiesgerbera daisiesMy mum’s birthday was last week but these birthday Gerberas just keep on saying “happy birthday” and I couldn’t help but share…I mean, honestly, Autumn daisies? They’re even more friendly than Spring daisies…even Kathleen Kelly would agree with that.

I had them delivered and I was rather disappointed when they first arrived because they came out of their box rather closed up and sad, with little crooked necks. One night spent in fresh water though and these guys have been straightening up and looking fresher and fresher for days and days and they were crying for a post just for them…them and three of my favorite birthday-mom faces of all time. Today is my camera’s first birthday and I just want to say, thanks Nikon D3200, for never failing on capturing the best birthday faces and the beauty of a few Autumn Daisies.

 – <3 A. 

October Highlights

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  1. Spooky 2. Sophisticated 3. Celebratory 4. Natural 5. Scrumptious 6. Black and White

October keeps bleeding into November which is something of a metaphor for what this year has been: one thing just melding into the next and being quite surprised the old thing has passed and the new thing has arrived. October was spooky yet sophisticated with Halloween and at last breaking out the scarves, boots, and Fall prints. It was also scrumptious and celebratory: celebrating the return of everything pumpkin and my one year anniversary in this space! I can’t even believe it!

Some DIY’s I share simply because I think the idea was a good one, and even though my execution may have fallen a little short, someone else might be able to take the idea and run with it so I share anyway. But this month’s Raven Wreath and Black and White Pumpkins I can say I couldn’t wait to share because I was so very proud of them. Fall is my season: the best things happen, the best ideas, and I’m so excited for November. This month has already been incredibly busy in its four days but also incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next twenty-six. I have some more things I can’t wait to share but I’m waiting to make sure they’re actually happening before I spill the bloggin’ beans!

image via vintage Vogue

– <3 A. 

Black and White Halloween

diy black and white halloweenblack and white halloweenblack and white halloweenblack and white halloweenI know, it’s November today but my tradition is decorating/carving pumpkins Halloween night and they turned out so well I had to do one more October post before I embrace a new month. Ironically, last Halloween I actually carved a silhouette of a random woman, but this year I used my very own blog logo as my inspiration. What a difference a year makes! Last Halloween I was about three weeks into my blog adventure and now I’ve got a whole year behind me, a blog makeover, some wonderful ladies I met along the way, and something super exciting just around the corner I can’t wait to share!

halloween
  • white pumpkin
  • thin sharpie + a very sharp pencil
  • black acrylic paint
  • silhouette
  • clear spray paint

Cut out the silhouette and trace the outline with a pencil then go back over the pencil line with the thin sharpie so you’re sure you get all the little details and a clean edge. My silhouette had very tiny lips and eyelashes and the paint wouldn’t have picked that up. Fill in the outline with black paint, allow to dry and then spray paint the whole pumpkin with a clear coat to protect the black from chipping and make it shiny!

halloween

  • white pumpkin
  • thin black sharpie + pencil
  • clear spray paint

I was too scared to attempt these letters free-hand with paint so I traced it on first with pencil and then back over it with the sharpie to get a clean line…and that’s it! Spray this one as well with the clear spray paint to make it shiny.

Carving is fun but if your tradition isn’t to decorate the night of Halloween, painting them will make them last so much longer. Also, after I did the letters and the silhouette and put them together, I thought how cute it would be to do everyone’s name and profile on pumpkins in your family and have a little, family tree pumpkin-farm. There’s always next year….

– <3 A. 

“A Cloud Departed from the Sky”

fall fall campingyosemiteautumn campingcampautumn
fall camp

-I imagine this tree is what Wallace Stevens saw when he penned that  “Death is the mother of Beauty” in “Sunday Morning.”

-A church in a meadow…you couldn’t be more peaceful if you tried. I tried. I couldn’t.

-A bird shedding his Halloween feathers.

-I’d never seen yellow before I saw that leaf.

-Reflections.

-I ate my lunch underneath that tree.

THAT cabin has THAT view and I’m planting THOSE seeds  to bring a little bit of heaven home.

 -You wouldn’t know it but there was a bobcat outside that window just moments before this shot. And just moments after, that bobcat seemed to not care for a certain unfortunate squirrel who, I have to tell you, tragically would never see brunch carry on inside that dining hall again.

– <3 A. 

In the Woods

vmmv in the woodscampyosemite campcamp yosemitecampcampI was going to title this post just “camp” but that would have been a little bit of an exaggeration mostly because nothing about my trip landed in that category. I did sleep in a sleeping bag, but I still had a lovely bed underneath me, a cabin, and actual meals that somehow taste way better when you’re surrounded in trees. Every moment of the trip was pretty fantastic. I tried to narrow down my pictures but I’ve got so many to share you probably will be seeing more of it so sorry if you aren’t a huge nature fan! I threw in some chipmunks and things though so something just has to hit your fancy.

This trip was a long time coming, my family hadn’t been to our fave spot in way, wayyy too long and to get everyone able to go the same week was something of a miracle. The four days were the perfect combination of hikes and fires, games and family dinners, cinnamon roll mornings and chance sightings of bobcats, chipmunks, coyotes, oh, and tight-rope-men: See that  picture of the crazy tight-rope-man? I’ve got about twenty pictures of him. We came across him at the top of Yosemite Valley, walking barefoot across a tiny rope strung between two rock overhangs with nothing but thousands and thousands of feet of empty air below him and one little strap hooked onto the tight-rope in case of a spill–which happened, actually, right in front of us. Apparently to the tight-ropers it was a fun adrenaline rush, to me just watching it was terror-inducing. The most adrenaline-rushing thing we did was trying to see how far the person pressing the delayed-camera-timer could run to join the group for a family photo before the shutter went off–across a bike trail and about 40 or so yards into a meadow I think was the final count before we risked getting a picture of someone’s fleeing back and everyone else’s posed faces.

Like I said earlier this week, unplugging for the weekend was so wonderful for my brain I think I’m going to try and repeat it once a month. I think it actually helps you notice smaller things like moss and caterpillar leaf-tracks, and appreciate bigger things like cliffs and meadows. When you’re just tunneling through life, you don’t notice those things and feeling frazzled and trying to charge through 100%, all the time, isn’t nearly as good I don’t think as scheduling “off” days/hours/moments and giving that time just as much importance. I’m very guilty of faking an “unplugging” externally, but keeping my brain going on what I have to do, probably should be doing, and could have done which ends up making me just as useless as if I had just kept working. My new goal? Letting my brain go be “in the woods” and being completely ok with it.

 – <3 A. 

September Highlights

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September was…stressful. Every week brought a tweak to my schedule and schedule-tweaking sort of gives me an eye-twitch. It bugs. I like weeks I can count on: good, steady days that every hour aligns wonderfully with my gold and white striped planner that I pre-wrote the weekend before. It sounds a little militaristic but it’s really not, it’s actually completely necessary and works beautifully unless, like September, throwing wrenches into my gold-and-white planned weeks is life’s newest, favorite game, Besides all of that eye-twitching though, September had some of my favorite new chocolate recipes, homemade frozen yogurt, the continued search for my elusive crossbody bag, and a few, fun daytrips. It also had a peek at this girl’s beautiful new adventure, and, of course, a few modern views from VMMV I just can’t help but share.

September was also unusually chilly and I’m so looking forward to the real beginning of sweater and pumpkin bread season, watching You’ve Got Mail, pretending to be Kathleen Kelly, and celebrating a few anniversaries you’ll hear a little more about if you stick around through one of my favorite months. In the end, then, September was pretty great because it got me to October and now the real fun can begin…

Happy new week everyone!

image cred: vintage vogue

– <3 A. 

Labor Day On Holiday

vmmv photographyvmmv photographyvmmv photographyvmmv photographyvmmv photographyvmmv photographyvmmv photographyvmmv photographyI always forget about the Labor Day holiday, but I won’t be forgetting after this year. I honestly think it was thrown in the vaca-mix for teachers completely shell-shocked by post-summer-traumatic-school-onslaught-syndrome. It really comes at precisely the right time: just a few weeks after the start of the school year, it’s sort of like a glorious little cat nap to refresh before the real Fall grind. I spent my cat-nap day re-visiting a few of my favorite spots from my undergrad years. It wasn’t nearly as chilly as I had hoped, but that didn’t make drinking coffee on the beach, lunch in the sun (btw blackberry, pomegranate, and ginger is NOT a good beverage combination), and dinner under twinkle lights any less wonderfully relaxing. That town is marked at every inch with memories good and bad and an annual trip never gets old reliving a few crazy years.

I sucked it up and paid my tuition a week early yesterday. I had to pick up my last textbook for the quarter and decided, hey, why not pay all the ridiculous overpriced fees all at once? (no of course not, I’m not harboring any kind of resentment.) School is getting way way more real now. My difficulty in accepting it I think is more astonishment at how I made this decision. I distinctly remember as an third year undergrad saying I would hate to be a teacher and be stuck in the school-year-schedule my whole life. What a nasty bubble apart from real life that life must be I thought. And here I am, going back to school to be a teacher and remain, forever more in one way or another, in school. But, I’ve got other plans up my sleeve that makes this step in no way a final one. I have aspirations that, once achieved, will let me continue my obsession with occupation roaming in a little bit more of a focused fashion. I think the need to explore is a creative’s biggest fail yet greatest success: being incapable of really settling into one path. There’s always new things to try, new interests to examine, and that ever present itch of being capable of much more. It’s dangerous if you let it distract you from a healthy sense of reality, but very powerful I think if you let it mix with your reality, pushing you to make real life better and when life isn’t all that great, letting you escape until perspective tells you sure, real life is, well, real, but it’s also not forever, most things aren’t that important, and even in the midst of the worst days, days like Labor Day…days that let you cat nap, daydream, and doze…will come again and THAT is worth going back to school for. 

 – <3 A. 

August Highlights

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I’ve been feeling a little silly sketching out Fall posts, pondering pumpkins, trying to firm up my schedule for the new season, and thinking wistfully of how many more cool weather outfits I have than summer-I’d-rather-be-naked-than-wear-clothes-in-this-heat sad outfits I settle on, but with this the last weekend of August, I’m starting to feel like the change is coming: August was giant vegetables and beach weekends, icy treats, back to school to learn new things, and transitioning from a brain on summer-sleep to thinking about real issues. It was hot and busy yet held some pretty fantastic moments and of course, it was the month this new space was launched so in the end August was truly a great month!

I’m a little nervous about what the Fall will hold. I can’t wait for the weather to turn and the holidays to come, (how oh how are we already here!!) but with my schedule getting more tight, I’m trying to work out in my head how to squeeze everything in and I will have to admit that some things just might not fit. Forgive me in advance if it’s occasionally rather quiet here, I think once I have a few weeks behind me, the muddle in my brain will work itself out into a well-oiled machine—but I’m not there yet, it’s still pretty fuzzy and crowded and my brain minions are working some serious overtime to get everything back to a more organized state. I promised myself I wouldn’t print one single syllabus, mark one single deadline in my planner, or give one second of thought to my own looming back-to-school date until after this long weekend is over. I think that’s the difference between undergrad and post-grad. You finally learn where to draw the line between academics and life…but then, school hasn’t started yet so I may be speaking too soon.

Happy three-day weekend everyone! This week also marked the third full week I’ve been at this new space. I honestly haven’t had much time to explore, learn, and tweak a few things, but I’m ok with it. This next year is going to be about juggling and if I have to throw one ball up higher and let it float a bit before catching it again, well, that’s just how it’s going to be. I’m a list-crosser-offer. Seeing strong black lines striking through all my to-do’s is a thing of beauty and when a to-do gets carried over to the next week instead of struck down in the last week *gahhhh!*  it’s truly rather painful. Adaptation I think will be September’s word of the month. I’ve got a whole week of chocolate recipes waiting in the wings and the cutest DIY I’ve done yet so wait and see!

– <3 A. 

Last Day of Summer

last day of summervmmv photographylast day of summeredited3editedvmmv photographyvmmv photographylast day of summerSweet, sweet summer, why did you run away so suddenly? Any last remains of lazy freedom from this past weekend at the beach house with my ladies, definitely evaporated instantaneously Monday: there’s nothing like a 108 degree first day of school and a fourth grade room full to capacity to smash those moments.

Those moments really were so very glorious though: cinnamon rolls every morning, the most girly of girly movies and a little terrifying Cillian Murphy thrown in with four ladies smushed together under blankets on the most comfortable couch in the world; **How do couches get so much more deliciously soft on vacation?** A nap on the beach; Having nothing to do at any certain hour, and doing anything a heart could desire at every hour; Laughing until we cried over spritzers and too much coffee, and a slightly completely horrible decision to rent a four-person bike and utterly terrorize the tiniest of tiny beach towns with our screams. They didn’t really deserve that…

…just as a tip, if there’s four ladies, four sets of pedals, and four seats but only one steering wheel and one brake, any way you add or subtract those numbers, they create a really, really bad solution: We squealed our way up and down that town, argued over how close we were to parked cars and how we would survive through a busy intersection. We apologized to the people we nearly ran over, gave pleading, pitiful glances to the cars we cut off, and, to appease irritated, strolling vacationers by appearing as if we were as annoyed with ourselves as they were with us, we feigned anger and disgust at our brake that began, about half-way through our rental hour, to screech at a pitch I didn’t know could be reached. At last, we returned our four-seated machine of terror twenty minutes early, slightly wet with the sweat of nerves, and fear, and with aching quads unprepared to propel four girls up streets that threw off their disguise of being flat while we had walked them on foot and suddenly reared up to San-Fran-like street angles as soon as we were strapped to a bike. Whew. Lemony Snicket has nothing on that ride, we were a series of unfortunate events…but on wheels.

Perhaps the tension mixed with laughter, the terror mixed with joy, and the feeling of being out of one’s element while simultaneously feeling completely natural on our bike ride was preparing me for the new school year. It’s a very similar mix of emotions that come with entering a classroom, and while I at times want to get off the bike/run out of the room, and at other times I feel like I could ride forever/feel so at home with the students, it’s always a new adventure, a new challenge, and I’m very excited to see what a new year brings. My last day of summer came and went this year but guess what? Biggest teacher bonus in the world: endless summers to come in the future.

 – <3 A.