A Little Rain, Some Polka Dots, and Hometown Pride

I knew I had a hectic weekend ahead of me, so I anticipated a one hour block of time to take photos for this post. Low and behold it rained only during that hour. I’m the kind of girl who would normally bolt back home at the first sight of rain, but I knew this was my only shot at taking these pictures. Surprisingly, these are some of my best photos yet, if I do say so myself.

My weekend started off by taking my mom to her monthly doctors appointments. She’s there for at least five hours getting blood tests, bone marrow extractions and receiving her medication. Her blood is analyzed for any returning signs of Leukemia, which is the part I fear the most, but so far, so good.

In addition to my mom staying with us, one of Anthony’s best friends was in town for his 30th birthday. So here I was, trying to balance playing host, helping my mom move into her new home, and throwing a surprise party for Anthony.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so efficient in my life.

Initially, my mom was told that the Pod housing all of her belongings would arrive on Saturday. We then received a phone call informing us that it was being delayed until Monday.

Now, here is my mom, sitting in my car in the Homegoods parking lot, still feeling the effects of the pain killers she received before her bone marrow extraction, yelling at the Pods representative about how she took additional days off from work to move into this house and how her daughter only has one day in which she can help.

Something to note about my mom and I: we have anxiety, and I don’t mean that we get easily nervous. I mean we have clinically diagnosed anxiety in which we automatically jump to the worst conclusion possible whenever something goes wrong. Needless to say, both of us becoming anxious was the last thing she needed.

Despite this hiccup, we drove out to Greenfield, which is about two hours from Boston, and were met with surprise by the Pod firmly planted in her snowy driveway. The path leading up to her garage was covered in ice and, of course, that is where we wanted most of her items to be stored. I’ve never had to chip at/scrape ice off of a driveway before, but let me tell you, it’s hard work. Within the first two minutes my heart rate was elevated.

As the day wore on, we gradually made it halfway through the Pod and decided it was time to head over to my cousins house for dinner. Fortunately, they and my mom are extremely close and live only 20 minutes away.

It’s never dull with my cousins. What could be boring about a gay couple from Brooklyn in their 70’s with the most incredible artistic and culinary skills I’ve ever encountered? We ended up heading home around 11:30, blew up our air mattresses, and slept for a good eight hours.

The next morning the movers came and emptied the remnants of the Pod within two hours. We headed to a local coffee shop, had breakfast, and parted ways as I began my trek back to Boston.

Being on a strict schedule always makes me nervous. As a classically trained singer I’ve had it drilled into my head that if you’re on time, you’re late. Anthony’s family was arriving at our apartment at 2:30 and I needed time to put up the decorations, put myself together, and finish preparing the food.

I arrived home at 1:00, mostly because I was going 80 mph the entire time (oops). Fortunately, the party was a complete success and Anthony had no idea his family was coming.

Ok, so now that you know what my weekend consisted of, can you see why I only had one hour to take these pictures? It was a very specific hour that I chose, too, due to it’s optimal temperature.

Regardless of the rain, I had a lot of fun during this shoot, and by some miracle my hair didn’t turn into Hermione Granger’s in The Sorcerer’s Stone.

All in all, last weekend was exhausting, but so rewarding. I’m looking forward to relaxing at least somewhat this weekend, but with the Patriots playing in the Superbowl, I can’t promise that I won’t be screaming at the television on Sunday.

Did I forget to mention that I’m a sports fan? It may not seem like it, but I love baseball and football. Going to Fenway Park is one of my favorite summer activities. I guess that’s what living in Boston will do to you.

In support of the Patriots, I chose to wear one of my favorite skirts from Modcloth, the Streak of Success Midi Skirt in Navy with one of my favorite polka dot tops: the Hosting for the Weekend Tunic in Merlot. What could be better than looking your best while representing your team?

Love Modcloth, but have yet to purchase anything? What are you waiting for? Here’s a special deal just for you: 20% your entire order for new customers. Happy shopping!

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An Antique Trolley, Modern Florals, and Pin Curls

One of the reasons I love living in Boston is the history, but you don’t have to head downtown to experience it.

I recently posted this black and white photograph to my Instagram. It’s an image from 1955 of the trolley station across from my apartment building. This trolley is still running and I take it to and from work every day.

Milton Station originally opened in 1848 under the name Milton Mills. It was a subsidiary of the Old Colony Railroad and was placed on the border of Boston and Milton. The trolley only stops at seven stations, which makes up about three miles. It’s a short ride, but it’s filled with natural and man-made beauty.

The most breathtaking part of the ride is the “Healthy Heart Bike Trail,” part of which I used as backdrop in this post. As you pass over a bridge, you see a field filled with what appears to be wheat stretching over the horizon towards the Neponset River. On the other side, you can peer into Cedar Grove Cemetery, which was established just after the Civil War (pictured here).

I can’t help but love riding to work in one of the oldest streetcars in America, and because of it’s history I wanted to ensure that I captured an equally historic look in these photos.

This dress may look vintage, but it’s anything but. This Birdie Dress in Mustard and Purple Floral from Pinup Girl Clothing has been my dream dress for years. I originally saw it on the beautiful Modern June Cleaver from Junebugs and Georgia Peaches and instantly fell in love.

Years later, I finally have my unicorn. This Birdie Dress’s mid-century housewife cut mixed with outrageously gorgeous florals made it perfect for this historic to modern-day theme.

As for my hair, well that’s another story. I’ve been trying to achieve a more authentic look, but my locks are quite thick and heavy, so the brush out can be quite a handful (get it?).

I’ve been contemplating a Femme Fatal Middy cut (and a deep, natural red color), but it would all be such a drastic change and I doubt my complexion could sustain red hair.

What do you think? Go shorter? Take a risk and go red? Or leave it as is?

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1950’s Florals, a Touch of Yellow, and a Bit of Class

I’m a big proponent of mixing modern with vintage, especially since vintage tends to be on the pricier side. Fortunately, there’s a plethora of reproduction clothing companies out there and my latest discover was this 1950s Sleeveless Patchwork Vintage Dress by OUGES.

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of the color white. I find that it tends to wash me out while looking completely lackluster against my skin tone. That being said, I’m head over heels for this dress.

I spent a few days going back and forth between this colorway and another with a black top (but the same skirt) due to my initial aversion to white; however, I came to the conclusion that this combination was more adaptable, particularly with the many coats I want to wear over it.

The dress is made out of an incredibly silky material that provides just enough give to make it comfortable while standing, sitting, stretching, you name it. My only qualm with the dress is the sizing. My measurements (36″ bust, 28″ waist) warranted a size medium, which the size chart indicated would fit a 34-38″ bust and 28-31″ waist. Upon receiving the dress, I was only able to zip it up with the help of my boyfriend; however, it did loosen as the day wore on. So, if anything, I would recommend sizing up if you’re nearing the larger side of the measurements provided.

I paired this gorgeous gown with my Va Va Voluminous Petticoat from Modcloth to give it some extra oomph, and I couldn’t be happier that it still landed right at my knee. It’s all in the details when it comes to dresses and the back of this one has an elegant v-shape that give it a more refined look.

The finishing touch to this ensemble (aside from my bright yellow shoes, of course) was the vintage brooch. I had yet to find the right occasion for this floral beauty, but I loved the way the brass stood out against the blue of the coat and the white of the dress.

What I love most about this dress is the pattern, but that was also the hardest thing to decide on! This dress comes in 17 beautiful colorways, but I found this design to be the most reminiscent of the class and sophistication of 1950s clothing.

Not only is this dress beautiful, it’s versatile. I chose to pair this dress with my favorite vintage coat (also featured here), but it wasn’t an easy decision. I had several different pieces of outerwear lined up for this dress: some dressy, some casual, which proved that I could whip out this dress no matter the occasion.

This gorgeous 1950s-style dress from OUGES and its various colorways ranges from $19.99-29.99, so if you’re in search of a wallet friendly vintage-inspired dress, then look no further.

Dress: 1950s Sleeveless Patchwork Vintage Dress c/o OUGES | Coat: Vintage, similar here | Brooch: Vintage, similar here and here | Shoes: Urban Outfitters, similar here

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The BBRBF Book Club: A Floral Blouse, Foreign Woods and a Bit of “Stardust”

“Have been unavoidably detained by the world. Expect us when you see us.”

Hello and welcome to another edition of The BBRBF Book Club! Our first book of the year is Stardust by Neil Gaiman, and boy is it magical.

Here is a plot overview from Goodreads:

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

Prior to Stardust the only book I had ever read by Gaiman was Coraline, which I’m borderline obsessed with, therefore I had high expectations; however, upon reading the first chapter I was immediately turned off.

I would not consider myself a fan of fantasy. I don’t care for stories involving faeries or knights or grandiose quests to please one’s true love, and I generally stay away from books with dragons on the cover. Because of this bias, it was hard for me to relate to the story at the onset of the plot. Had I not continued reading, I would have missed out on an incredibly intricate, and expertly tied-together, story filled with magic and wonder.

Tristran is no ordinary boy, he is the bastard son of Dunstan Thorn and a cat-eared, violet-eyed faerie girl named Una. His father had a brief love affair with Una during the Faerie market, held every nine years, in which the inhabitants of Wall and Faerie are free to socialize and exchange goods. Nine months later, the infant Tristran is left at the border of Wall to be kept under his father’s care.

18 years later, Tristran is on the verge of manhood, enamored by the prettiest girl in the village: Victoria Forester. During an evening stroll, he and Victoria witness a star fall from the sky and she promises Tristran whatever his heart desires should he bring her the star.

The daring young lad departs from his family to venture into this foreign land which, unbeknownst to him, is actually where he originates from. Tristran finds himself mysteriously able to navigate through the deadly forest, recall virtually every location within Faerie, and feel the presence of the star in relation to wherever he stood.

Through his travels, he comes across a small hairy man (who’s name is never shared) and receives from him a gold chain by which to ensnare the fallen star and a used candle, which allows Tristran to travel great distances within a matter of minutes, as long as the wick stays lit. As he begins his trek towards the star he is unaware that there are others attempting to locate it, as well.

Deep in the woods live three ancient sisters, known collectively as the Lillim, who once ruled a kingdom of witches. Inside their hut, they formulate a plan to rip out the heart of the star in order to restore their power and beauty. Meanwhile, the dying Lord of Stormhold gathers his three living sons, and the ghosts of his four dead sons (slain by their living counterparts), around his bedside to determine who will succeed the throne. Having hurled the Power of Stormhold, a topaz which marks the owner as ruler of the land, into the sky he inadvertently knocked the star down to earth. In order to gain the throne, his remaining three sons are to plot each other’s death, and the last one standing must find the topaz.

Once Tristran reaches the star, he discovers that it is actually a girl by the name of Yvaine. Her fall from the sky has rendered her a broken leg which, in addition to her blatant disgust for Tristran, stating that she will do everything in her power to make his journey difficult, causes his trek to be even more tumultuous.

In short, Yvaine runs away on the back of a unicorn and becomes ensnared by the Lillim. Tristran and the first born son of the Lord of Stormhold, called Primus, travel together to find what they are looking for (unaware that they both seek the star). Upon finding her, the Lillim murders both Primus and the unicorn, but Tristran and Yvaine escape, becoming stranded within the clouds.

One the ground once more, they encounter a witch by the name of Madam Semele who incidentally has enslaved Tristran’s birth mother, Una, and keeps her in the form of a bird. Tristran offers to barter the glass flower his father gave him (which, unbeknownst to him, is the flower Una gave to his father) for a ride to the Faerie market. Stunned by the flower, recognizing it as one of Una’s, Madam Semele accepts his offer. The most curious thing about their travels with this witch, aside from Tristran being turned into a dormouse, is that Madam Semele never acknowledges Yvaine.

During this time Septimus, the seventh, and only living, son of the Lord of Stormhold  is bound to the revenge of his brother Primus’ death before he can find the topaz and claim the throne. Having found the Lillim, he sets her house ablaze but fails in his mission and instead is slain by the same hand that killed his older brother.

Tristran and Yvaine have safely reached the border of Wall, but are denied passage into the village and are forced to stay in Faerie another night. As Tristran sleeps, Yvaine is approached by Una who explains why Madam Semele couldn’t see her and the duty she must uphold regarding the topaz tied around the star’s waist.

The next morning, Tristran believes that Victoria Forester is waiting for him at the entrance to Wall, but it turns out to be his sister. She takes him to Victoria who explains that she was foolish in promising Tristran her hand in marriage and that she was in love with someone else. But she didn’t promise to marry him, she promised him anything his heart desires and he desired that she marry her true love. Besides, he had grown quite fond of Yvaine and during their travels had forgotten the color of Victoria’s eyes.

In the end, Tristran and Yvaine fall in love and Una is not only Tristran’s birth mother, but Lady Una the only daughter of the Lord of Stormhold, which makes Tristran the rightful heir to the throne. Tristran, craving adventure, travels the lands with his wife while his mother rules the kingdom in his absence. In time, Tristran comes to rule the land with Yvaine by his side.

After his passing, Yvaine takes Tristran’s place at the throne. She never seems to age. She maintains a glow about her that others do not understand. At night, when time permits, she retires to the open tower of the castle and “says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars.”

I saw the film adaptation some time ago and, admittedly, didn’t make the connection while reading this book. They come across as two completely different animals, each good in their own way, but I’d take the book over the film if given a choice. Gaiman has the ability to paint an entirely fictional world in a way that makes you feel as if it could possibly exist, and tie three separate plots into one harmonious story.

My inspiration for this outfit was Lady Una’s flowers. I wanted to pay homage to the single identifying piece of glass that brought Tristran and his mother together. I paired this gorgeous 1970’s blouse from Moon Revival Vintage with the Field Notable Midi Skirt from Modcloth to create this earthy look. Additionally, I chose a location with an ethereal feel to represent the abundant magic within Faerie.

Have you read Stardust by Neil Gaiman? What did you think? Check out what the other gals in The BBRBF Book Club thought of Stardust and get a glimpse of their inspired outfits: Kristina from The Eyre Effect, Sara from In a Nutshell, Noelle from The Classy Junk and Kat from The Miss Information Blog!

Tune in next month for our review of The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter!

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A Vintage Coat, Gingham Dress, and Looking Back

This time of year most bloggers post a recap of their outfits from the past 12 months, and I thought about doing the same, but I felt more inclined to write a recap of my experiences during this last year and my aspirations for the next (with some cute outfit pictures included, of course).

2016 was a tumultuous year filled with various ups and difficult downs. The beginning of the year was one of the most difficult times of my young life. I was faced with my mother’s mortality when she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and flown to Boston to begin treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. We’ve been fortunate thus far in that she’s been in remission for roughly eight months.

 

Even though I was 25 at the time (and technically an adult), I felt like I was being forced to grow up very quickly. I was responsible for handling all of her financial obligations while making medical decisions regarding her place of treatment and trying to stabilize my own mental state.

I look back and honestly don’t know how I did it. I must have lost at least five pounds in the ten days I was in Florida taking care of everything while my mom was in the hospital. I’ve lived with depression and anxiety for the past ten years and somehow I was able to quell my anxiety enough (partly through the medication that I was fortunately put on before any of this happened) to get my mom up to Boston.

She lived on our couch in our one bedroom apartment for months. She was confined to our apartment and couldn’t be exposed to people due to her non-existent immune system. If either Anthony or I got sick we had to wear masks. I flushed a port in her arm twice a day for about a month until they realized she wouldn’t be receiving chemotherapy.

In the end, things have worked out for the best. She’s part of a clinical trial that requires her to take just two pills per day. She’s moving to Massachusetts, which is something she’s wanted for a long time, and I’ll be just a car ride away.

 

During this time I was working a job that I had been very disillusioned by for a while. Fortunately, it was a decent company that allowed me to go on paid leave in order to take care of my mom. But upon my return to work, I felt completely unappreciated and was told that they expected more of me despite their knowledge of my mother’s condition. I guess that’s retail for you.

Needless to say, I began searching for a new job the next day and was fortunate enough to be hired by Harvard University. With my new job, a raise, and the possibility of my mom receiving a stem cell transplant (which is the closest thing to a cure for AML), Anthony and I moved into a bigger apartment just two doors down from our old one.

We were half way through 2016 and it looked like we were on our way to having a good rest of the year, but that wasn’t the case. In June, Anthony and I lost one of the most loyal and genuine friends I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. It was one of those moments when your whole body goes into shock, you no longer hear what anyone around you is saying, and you refuse to believe what happened.

Within the next few months, Anthony’s mom suffered a massive heart attack. Thankfully, she was a nurse and recognized the signs right away. Since then, she’s been eating healthier and has lost a substantial amount of weight.

 

I began taking night classes at Harvard in pursuit of a Biology Master’s Degree. My first course in four years was Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology and, admittedly, it kicked my butt. Normally I would become discouraged, but I decided to sign up for another course with the same professor this coming semester.

But here’s where I’m at now: I want to become a veterinarian. I’ve had this dream since I was a little girl, but was never encouraged to pursue it. The reactions I would receive, especially as I got older, were along the lines of “it’s impossible to get into vet school,” or “it’s too expensive…”

I recognize that mental illnesses shouldn’t be used as an excuse, and sometimes I’m unclear on when I am using mine as an excuse, but discouraging someone with depression, who already has low hopes of achieving future endeavors and virtually no confidence, from something they are actually motivated towards (which is rare) is disparaging and counterproductive to their improvement.

I also recognize that my family means well. That they’re looking out for me and want me to be financially successful. That veterinary school is liable to put me in a lot of debt. But I’ve carried this dream for so long and convinced myself that it wasn’t a viable option. And now that I’ve established a life for myself, this dream has only gotten more difficult to achieve.

It’ll take me 7-10 years to obtain a DVM because I’ll have to work full time, go to school part time and volunteer on weekends at either a shelter or a vet office. The stress of that timeline bogs me down, the stress of being 26 and just starting this journey overwhelms me. Maybe it’s the brat in me, but I just want my dream job as soon as possible.

But someone once told me that 10 years is nothing if it means I’m doing what I love. So this is me saying goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017. This is me acknowledging that this year, and the next decade or so, is going to be extremely difficult. This is me convincing myself that I can do it. And this is me looking confident in a gorgeous dress and incredible vintage coat with the hope that these pictures will instill some faith in my abilities to achieve my dream.

What are your aspirations for the New Year?

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The BBRBF Book Club: A Puzzle Piece, The Underworld and “Swamplandia!”

Hello and welcome to another round of the BBRBF Book Club! This month we read Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. As always, be sure to check out the other gals’ inspired outfits and reviews: Sara from In a Nutshell, Kristina from The Eyre Effect, Kat from The Miss Information Blog and Noelle from The Classy Junk!

What initially peaked my interest in this book was its location: the swamplands of Florida. Having grown up in southern Florida, I’m all too familiar with the kinds of creatures that lurk through the Everglades (and eventually make their way into your backyard). For some reason I felt this would allow me to instantly connect with the story.

But to be honest, I’m not sure that I connected with anything (or anyone) aside from the craziest character of them all: Osceola Bigtree.

The Bigtree family specializes in alligator wrestling and has built an entire theme park based on this skill. After the death of their main star/wife/mother Hilola Bigtree, their lives, and livelihood, begin to deteriorate.

Each member of the family deals with this loss in their own way. Chief Bigtree looses the ability to perform remedial tasks and abandons his children in order to get funding for the park. Kiwi, the oldest child and only son, runs away to the mainland in order to obtain a job, attend school and become the “hero” of Swamplandia!. Osceola, or Ossie, the middle daughter, claims that she can speak to ghosts and decides to elope with the spirit of a boy her age. Then there’s poor little Ava, the youngest child, who is determined to save her home with a red alligator that she’s raising, stop her sister from eloping to the Underworld, and eventually gets raped by a man she trusted to help her find Ossie.

I wasn’t able to finish this book due to it being finals season. The half of the book that I did read was enjoyable yet strange. I couldn’t help but feel that if I had lost my mother, which nearly happened last year due to Leukemia, I would lose touch with reality in the same way Ossie did. Don’t be mistaken, I don’t believe in ghost. The only thing that’s ever somewhat swayed my position on that subject is Ghost Adventures (yes, I watch that show, don’t judge). But losing a parent, especially at a young age, changes everything.

Ossie begins her journey towards the Underworld through a book called The Spiritist’s Telegraph, which is essentially a guide to channeling ghosts. She applies her otherworldly knowledge in the form of Ouija boards and spells. Eventually she makes contact with a young man named Louis Thanksgiving whose story, although sad, did not warrant an entire chapter. Ossie runs off, leaving Ava alone after the Chief and Kiwi have left for the mainland, to elope with Louis to the Underworld.

Having never finished the story, I was under the impression that Ossie would need to die in order to elope with Louis, but I was mistaken. Nonetheless, I drew my outfit inspiration from Ossie’s story and decided to present my interpretation of her as “The Swamp Queen of the Underworld.” I even attempted my first suicide roll in honor of, what I thought would be, Ossie’s demise. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Beetlejuice…

For this look I paired my Cropped Cardigan in Olive Sage with my Pinup Couture Jenny Skirt in Black from Pinup Girl Clothing. In fact, even my belt is from PUG. My brooch, which fit perfectly into this outfit if I do say so myself, is a vintage puzzle piece from Tinsel Town Accessories.

All in all, I’m not sure if I will finish this book. I had every intention to until I peaked through a full synopsis of the plot and discovered that Ava gets taken advantage of physically. I honestly don’t think I can stomach reading about a 13 year old being raped. For those of you who have read the whole book, is it worth pushing through to the end?

Tune in next time for our review of Stardust by Neil Gaiman!

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A Vintage Dress, Dying Flowers, and an Antique Fur

It’s officially December, so the fact remains: it’s almost winter. There’s no denying it, and this Floridian is not a happy camper. We experienced some snow fall this week and, admittedly, the light dusting on the ground was rather beautiful. But the second that snow impedes upon my commute to work I turn into the Grinch.

Either because I grew up in the Sunshine State, or because of my low blood pressure and poor circulation, I can’t seem to stay warm and be the vintage goddess I long to be. In previous years this wasn’t an issue because I lacked the confidence in myself necessary to dress the way I wanted. Now that I’m comfortable enough in my own skin, I’m doing everything to cover that skin (and not in a way that would make my grandmother proud).

I own fleeced-lined tights and fur-cuffed boots, but my coats are less than satisfactory in the vintage fashion sense. So, in the meantime, I’ve taken to this vintage fur stole. Surprisingly, or not since it’s real fur, this stole keeps me incredibly warm, and on top of that it’s beyond gorgeous! But initially I had some reservations about owning real fur.

My philosophy has always been if you’re going to kill an animal then you sure as hell better use every last bit of it. I’m adamantly opposed to hunting for pure sport, so naturally I’ve avoided real fur. But then I came across this stole and have taken on a slightly different attitude.

It  was made roughly 60 years ago. What’s done is done. It shouldn’t go to waste. And at least, half a century later, it’s still being used.

So here’s my message to you: if you like fur, stick with vintage. We should be recycling the fur that still exists, instead of creating more.

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