Tastefully Trendy

A life and fashion blog by Sarah Beth

Author: Sarah_Beth (page 1 of 55)

EPL, Recap

Well, I’ve been back from my trip for a little over a week now, and my suitcases are still not fully unpacked…so in a way, it’s like I’m still on the road.

Although I’m still processing everything (and might be for a while), I thought I’d share some highlights of my 6.5 weeks and 8,000 miles (!!) on the road.

One of my favorite aspects of the trip, of course, was seeing all of my friends. In total, I visited over 20 friends and family (and their families), in addition to my own immediate family and a group of friends in Nashville whom I did not count individually. Some friends I’d seen as recently as a few months ago. Some it had been as long ago as two decades. But, all of the time spent with them was, to borrow a Christianese phrase that I don’t particularly like, “life-giving”. To pick up with people I hadn’t seen in 20 years and see how we’d grown and changed was incredibly fun. To reconnect with people who’ve known me at different stages of life and knew the “real” me was a boost to my self-esteem and to my spirit. Make new friends but keep the old has never been more relevant, and I’m so grateful for all of the old friends that made time for me.

I’m also grateful for all of my friends’ children and dogs who welcomed me with open arms and paws. I got a bracelet and handwritten calligraphy from two girls who were sad they didn’t get to see me, read super hero stories with another two very smart kiddos, and received a specific “goodnight, Sarah Beth” from the cutest curly-haired two-year-old who is very good with names. A dog with severe anxiety dropped his security toy as he lay his head in my lap, and several more refused to leave my side. The love of children and animals is so pure that their acceptance really did wonders for my soul. Not for my allergies…but definitely for my soul.

As I drove, I became more and more convinced that everyone must see the country by car. It’s the only way to truly take in all the scenery. Our country is absolutely gorgeous. Obviously I’m biased, and obviously I haven’t been to every country in the world, but I would venture to say there are few, if any, that are more beautiful just based on the variety of beauty that we have. I was in awe driving through the desert, but seeing mountains in the distance. I laughed when multiple people told me the East Coast was pretty, but there were too many trees (I’d never thought of too many trees as a problem). I never really knew what mesas were before this trip, but now I know the difference between a mesa and a butte (actually, that’s a lie. I just know that there IS a difference).

The Badlands of both North and South Dakota were breathtaking, and I could just imagine the cowboys and Native Americans of yore arriving at these impassable lands and giving them such an appropriate name. Palo Duro Canyon outside of Amarillo was probably the coolest thing I have ever seen, and the fact that there is a Grand(er) Canyon blew my mind.

I finally understand why people are outdoorsy.

I experienced my first adult blizzard (when you’re a kid, weather has no meaning). It was glorious, beautiful, relaxing – and ridiculous to try to dig out of. This was my car:

And these are my snow boots (lol…):

But, the plow guys did some of the work, and a very nice man with tattoos on his knuckles helped me with the rest. Also, I did have a snow shovel with me because I was exceptionally prepared for this trip.

I lost money – very quickly – on the slot machines in Deadwood, SD. Why people play the slots, I have ZERO idea. There’s no way to be good at it – it’s pure luck.

I ate at restaurants and bars that have been around since before women were allowed to be at restaurants and bars. Literally, one bar had an intentional crack down the tile as a line of demarcation – no single woman was allowed any closer to the bar than that line. I saw bullet holes and bison heads. I learned that we actually do not have buffalo in the US – they are native to Asia and Africa. Ours are bison, but they’re very big no matter what you call them.

I crossed the Oregon Trail and marveled at the bravery and hardiness of those who had gone before me. I traveled along the path of Lewis and Clark, while listening to Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose on audio book. I drank a lot of craft beer (which, incidentally, is only $4 a pint in Montana. FOUR DOLLARS!!!).

And I met a lot of really wonderful people from all different walks of life. I wish there were a way to require every US citizen to take a cross-country road trip. It’s so easy within our own bubbles to forget that this country is so big and full of such diverse people. Although we share a language and general culture, the interests, needs, and values of people living in rural Wyoming are very different from those of people living in metro Washington, DC – but they are equally valid. Sometimes we just need to be reminded – or exposed for the first time.

One of my goals post-trip is to write every day. I’m setting a timer for 15 minutes, because I read somewhere that you should set daily goals that are easily attained – “it’s only 15 minutes” – and just start writing. I probably won’t publish most of what I write. A lot of it will be unedited because I just want to get the creative juices flowing.

This writing idea is in great part thanks to a conversation I had with my friend Naomi in Denver. But, it’s really a composite of many conversations and thoughts along the way. I think that was one of the beautiful things about my trip. I didn’t have any “profound revelations”, per se. But through pieces of conversations, bits of experiences, and thinking time in between belting out country songs on the open road, some ideas began to take shape. I don’t know where all these ideas will lead, but most of all, they gave me hope – which might be the most valuable gift of all.

Thank you, everyone, for your support. And, for those of you who followed my trip on Instagram or Facebook, it was fun sharing it with you. Here’s to all of us taking more adventures!

<3,
SB

P.S. If you’re wondering if my trip did lead to a Hallmark movie encounter…well, stay tuned. 😉

EPL, FAQ

Yesterday, I told y’all about the Eat, Pray, Love trip I’m taking in a few weeks, but I thought there might be some questions. Here are a few that people have already asked (or that I’ve asked myself).

What is your itinerary?

While everything is subject to change, the current plan is DC to Asheville, NC. From there, I’ll head to Knoxville, then Nashville (obviously) for a few days. From Nashville, I’ll drive to Little Rock and then to Dallas/Fort Worth area. The next stop is Amarillo (by morning, of course), then Albuquerque/Santa Fe. From New Mexico, I’ll head up to Colorado, and probably bounce around between Pueblo/Colorado Springs/Denver/Fort Collins.

Then, the real adventure begins as I head off to Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota, although not necessarily in that order. I’m going to rely on locals’ advice for those states, and we’ll see where that gets me.

The route on the way back will be determined by Covid openings and how tired of being on the road I am. So, TBD…

How did you come up with that itinerary?

When I first got the idea for this trip, I mapped out the route between here and Denver (or Menver, as my friend who jokingly kicked off this trip calls it). Then, I made a list of friends I know who were loosely along the route and tried to see as many as possible along the way – a safer and more fun way to travel, in my opinion.

But, why the Dakotas?

I’ve always enjoyed the Fly-Over states, to be honest. But, I also really wanted to go to some places I’d never been. As a federal employee, I basically have to stay within the US if I’m teleworking, so that eliminated anywhere truly exotic. And the Plains States seemed to fit better with the Hallmarkian (I just created that word, I think, but I like it. Like, “Dickensian”, only way less sophisticated) vision I had for this trip.

This seems like a LOT of driving.

It is, and I don’t love driving. However, flying was cost prohibitive because I would have to rent a car for the whole time. Besides just getting from state to state, I doubt I will be in a lot of walkable areas, and I’m not sure how prevalent Uber is in Small Town, USA. So, for the sake of needing to eat, and for the sake of taking a lot more with me, I’m going to drive (more below on what I’m taking with me).

I have, though, divided the driving up into 4-5 hour segments, so it should be manageable. On days that I have to work and drive, I may drive an hour on my lunch break (so I have less distance to cover later), and work the rest of the afternoon at Starbucks. We’ll see. Either way, I see myself plowing through some audio books – recommendations are welcome.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait until the summer?

Probably. But, I picked this time frame intentionally for several reasons:

  1. Summer is fun around here, and I didn’t want to miss it. I won’t miss much in February or March.
  2. I like snow, and because my itinerary is so flexible, snow won’t derail my plans. If snow is predicted, I’ll just leave where I am sooner or stay longer. However, I am starting my journey by heading south in late February in the hopes that by the time I hit the snowiest regions, I’ll have missed the worst of it.
  3. I needed the trip to be soon enough after my disappointing news that I could actually be excited about planning it, even while I was sad. The more removed from my funk, the less helpful the trip would be in getting me out of it.
  4. Hallmarkian. Magical things happen in small towns in the winter.

Won’t this trip be expensive?

In a word – yes. While teleworking from different locations has become a trend over the past year, a lot of people who do it give UP their apartments and use that money towards Airbnbs. I’m not doing that, so it’ll add up. I’m trying not to do too much math, in all honesty. But, I got those stimulus checks, so here’s to doing my civic duty to stimulate the economy.

What are you going to DO while you’re out there?

Well, I will still be working, so I’m not just going to have 6 weeks of free time. However, I envision a lot of time spent in local coffee shops and restaurants, getting a flavor for the culture of each town. I’m going to see Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands. And, I want to do some outdoor things, but in areas where I have friends. I don’t think hiking the Blue Ridge or Rockies by myself seems like a good idea – due both to my inexperience and gender. But, with friends, I’m game. Maybe I’ll become outdoorsy after all this – who knows.

Where will you be staying?

It really depends on the area, I think, and how long I’ll be there. I really like Airbnbs, but they are not always the most cost-effective option, especially for short stays. So, I think I’ll probably do hotels if I’m only somewhere for a night or two, and Airbnbs with a kitchen (and washer and dryer!) if I’ll be somewhere a little longer. I can’t eat out EVERY meal, so I will need some groceries and a place to prepare them.

Of course, if you’re along my route and want to give me a place to stay for a night, I won’t say no! (See the question about expense above.)

Are you actually going to date while you’re gone?

I don’t really know how this will work out. I mean, I’ve joked about it being a Hallmark movie, but in reality, I need to be safe and smart. Using the apps when you’re not a local can send the wrong impression about your intentions, and I don’t know how many strangers I will actually meet at coffee shops. So, who knows. Either way, don’t worry about me – the same principles of safety apply wherever I am: pick a public place, scope out the restaurant first, share your iPhone location with a friend…

But, seriously – how are YOU going to live out of a suitcase for 6 weeks?!

I am a little concerned about this one, TBH, for several reasons. One, I’m a terrible packer in the best of scenarios, as I never know what I’m going to be in the mood to wear or exactly what I’ll be doing/what the occasion will call for. Plus, I seldom repeat outfits, so I don’t have “go-tos”. Two, I’m going to be in a few different climates along the way. Three – it’s winter. Winter clothes take up a lot more space.

But, I have a plan. I’m going to pack my largest suitcase with the stuff I will wear most often. This is the one I will always take in with me, no matter where I’m staying.

My other suitcase will have some “you never know” stuff in it – like a swimsuit (maybe there will be a hot tub somewhere?), a dressier outfit (for the Hallmarkian ending), and hiking gear (I probably will use this several times, but I don’t need it every where I go). That way, I can just get out what I need, when I need it, and minimize how much I’m lugging in and out of hotels.

I also plan to have some basic kitchen supplies/groceries in a separate bag – again, so I can take it in when I need it and leave it in my car when I don’t. Same with my workout equipment. My goal is to have everything I will absolutely NEED, but not look like I’m moving in anytime I arrive somewhere.

***

So, as you can see, I’ve put a lot of thought into this trip. While the idea itself was spontaneous, I never really do anything actually spontaneous. The lack of a strict routine is stretching enough. But, I am eager to get on the road and to see what adventures await. Now, to download those audio books…

<3,

SB

Eat, Pray, Love

It started with a broken heart, the way all finding yourself journeys begin.

A man I’d been in love with for four years got engaged to someone else, and although I suspected it was coming, the news of its reality hit me very hard.

I took the day off, friends sent cupcakes and flowers, and others called to check on me. It was all very dramatic, but I think that the dramatics are justified the older you get. I read an article once about a Japanese company who gave “heartache leave” for people after a breakup – the number of days increased the older you got. It just gets harder to bounce back from disappointment.

But, bounce back you must, even if, as more than one of my friends has suggested to me, it seems that “the One” for me might not be in DC. I’ve not had any luck here, after all. You may recall that in the entire city of the District of Columbia, there are only 1,000 men who meet my MOST BASIC requirements – and that number is likely to decrease now that there is a Democratic administration.

Teasing me, one of my friends suggested I might need to go somewhere where the ratio of men to women is higher and the population swings more conservative. South Dakota might be the right fit for me, we joked.

But, then I started to think about it. Maybe South Dakota wouldn’t be so bad for a change? Not to find a man necessarily. But, my top bucket list item is to visit all 50 states, and I’ve never been to those Plains States – they’re not really on the way to anything. Plus, I’m teleworking now, anyway, and have no reasons I have to stay in DC.

And so, an idea was born. At first, it was just something fun to distract me from feeling sad; I love a good trip plan. But, the more I thought about it, the more my idea grew, until I decided finally to take about 6 weeks this late winter/early spring and set out across the country.

The only firm itinerary I have is for the first 9 days or so, as I make my way from DC down to Dallas, visiting friends (and Arkansas…might as well get that state out of the way now, too) along the way. From there, I will work my way north, through New Mexico, Colorado, the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana. Order and length of stay in each area TBD.

In each stop, I’ll ask recommendations for the next place, looking for that hole-in-the-wall Hallmark town to make all of my lumberjack dreams come true (I’d be lying if I said this trip wasn’t slightly Hallmark/Virgin River induced). But, more pragmatically, locals will know the most unique – and safest – places for me to go much better than my ill-experienced googling.

While this trip is hardly hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a la Wild, not having a to-the-minute, strictly-planned itinerary; spending that much time alone and on the road; and not having a routine will definitely be a challenge for me and push me outside of my comfort zone. As will living out of suitcases for a month and a half…! I expect to have lots of time to think, pray, listen to audio books, and sing angsty Taylor Swift songs.

I also recently realized that my trip coincides neatly with Lent – starting a day after and culminating (probably) at Easter. I don’t always observe Lent, but that timing still seemed meaningful to me.

I don’t really have any expectations for what will come of this trip, beyond it just being an adventure to talk about later. Will I “find myself”? I don’t know really what that means. Will I work through the existential crises of faith, professional success, and our political world that I’m currently facing? Or the personal ones that seem to accompany recent birthdays when you’re not quite where you want to be in life?

Will I meet my Hallmark movie co-lead? Will I make interesting new friends? Will I live-blog what’s happening or post about it on social medias, or will I just savor all the experiences for myself – to tell, or not, at a later date?

I have no idea. All I know is that I’m going.

Eventually, I’m going to have a name for this trip that is uniquely mine. It might have to come after the fact, when I see what the trip really is. For now, I’m calling it my Eat, Pray, Love trip, because most people get that reference.

Tomorrow, I’ll address some frequently asked questions – like, why, for example, I’m doing this in winter. Today, though, let’s just celebrate that life is an adventure to be lived, and that’s what I’m going to do.

By the Numbers

Previously on Tastefully Trendy…

Hey, y’all, it’s been a minute! Or has it been just a week? Or a year? Or a decade? Covid time is meaningless.

The last time we talked, I teased a very awkward story and even promised to publish the story soon. Well, soon is a relative word and since I was still seeing the guy involved in the story, I felt like I had to wait. I am no longer seeing that guy, but the story is now anticlimactic so I’m going to skip it. But, don’t you worry – I’ve got a doozy for you up ahead.

I recently came off of what I’m calling a dating bender – I met 5 strangers in not that many more days. Honestly, it is not my preference to stack so many dates back to back, but I started a lot of conversations right before I went to Nashville for vacation, so when I returned it was time to pay the piper and actually meet these guys. Fortunately, while I was in Nashville, I bought a lot of new clothes (pictured below, of course), so I was excited to have excuses to wear them.

Dating in DC is hard, y’all. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll keep saying it because while everyone warned me that it would be, I didn’t believe them. I thought, how bad could it possibly be?

It’s bad.

I’ve spent lots of time developing theories about why dating here is so tough – for people in general, but for me specifically. In general, I think DC attracts very smart people – but sometimes those brilliant minds are lacking in other necessities. Like a personality.

For me specifically, it’s starting to become a little more clear post-election why I struggle in this area. DC voted 93% blue. Ninety-three.

I don’t think it’s a surprise to any of you that I’m conservative, and I get that this election was even more controversial than most and probably a lot of people chose to vote for Joe Biden who might otherwise have voted for a Republican candidate.

But still…Ninety-three percent.

So, I did a little math. I watched a Ted Talk once where a lady calculated the number of eligible men who fit her criteria in Philadelphia and realized there were 35. Total. I was curious what would happen if I did the same.

Let me preface this next section with a couple disclaimers. One, I am only considering the population of DC for this exercise. I personally live in Virginia, and the whole DC metro area is enormous – so those numbers in actuality could be very different. But, to calculate stats based on the broader region would involve researching individual county’s voting records, looking up their demographics, etc. So, we’re sticking with DC.

Two, I’m not very good at math.

So, I started with the population of DC – roughly 700,000 people.

Again noting that how people voted in this particular election might not be the most representative of their typical political beliefs, I’m still going with the data available to me which is that 5% voted Republican (the other two percentage points went to third party candidates). Since I’d like to find someone whose politics generally match mine, that narrows the pool down to 35,000 people.

DC’s population skews female at 53% women, which leaves 16,450 men.

Of course, I would like to find someone who also shares my religious faith. In DC, that’s 65% of the population, but making the assumption that the number might be higher among Republicans, I’m going to round up to 75%.

We’re now down to 12,338. But 30% of those males are either under 18 or over 65. So, that leaves 8,636.

The married population of DC is 32% – that leaves 5,873 single men between the ages of 18 and 65.

90% of those men are straight. Now we’re down to 5,285.

Really, though, I’d like to narrow that age range, and 32 percent of DC is within the ages of 30-49. 1,691 left. (I feel like I probably messed up the math here somehow, but we’re going with it).

I also value education and 40% of DC does not have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

We are now down to 1,015 eligible bachelors.

Of course, I’ve not considered any other factors so far but the absolute essentials. Additional limiting criteria include but are not limited to:

  • Gainful employment.
  • I would to think my future spouse is interesting.
  • He can’t have 10 cats because I’m allergic.
  • Preferably, I find him attractive.

Those last things are harder to quantify, as is how many man are not married but are in a committed relationship – no way to know.

All of that to say, there actually are not a lot of fish in the sea…

But, as my mother says all the time…it only takes one.

Which brings me back to this week when I made 5 attempts to find that one. Here is the synopsis:

Two dates were decent enough for a second date (progress! But don’t get excited yet. I don’t until about date 4 or 5).

One was boring but not bad.

One was boring and bad but my fault (I just was so tired of trying that I kind of gave up even pretending to be interested. Sorry, Buddy…)

But the fifth one was a magician.

Yes, you read that right. He did magic tricks as a profession.

You may be thinking that I must not have known beforehand his chosen career. But, oh no – I knew. I was just trying to be open minded (if you’re wondering why, re-read all that math I just did).

However, the date pretty much went as you would expect a date with a magician to go. If you’re a New Girl fan, you might remember the episode when Jess goes out with a magician. It was basically like that – complete with a trick performed at the table.

*Photo from IMDB

In addition to performing magic, though (I will say – his trick was eerily impressive), this guy and I clearly had NOTHING in common (in the words of one of my good friends, “Sarah Beth, I love you, but no one would ever think that a magician would be the right fit for you.”). I asked him his favorite types of books, and he listed one book – Watership Down. Apparently it’s about an army of rabbits or something. I stopped listening at rabbits. I then listed a few books that I had read, and he interrupted me and said that I didn’t have to list all of them.

He also had a background screen on his phone that was all white with just black letters that said, “You’ll Choose Me.” Conveniently, he had to show me something on his phone twice, and I couldn’t help wondering if he were trying to subliminally manipulate me into dating him (spoiler alert: it did not work).

Oh, and he said he was going to be married within the year.

Needless to say, I will not be seeing the magician again, but if he really wants to be married within the year, then I hope he is. Every man deserves to find the woman he will saw in half for the rest of their lives.

So, now you’re all caught up. Dating is hard but at least the stories are good. And at least I had excuses to wear my new clothes!

With that, here are those new clothes:

I’m a little bummed that you can’t tell that the camisole I’m wearing is velvet because that was really my favorite feature of the outfit. But, also worth noting is the booties which are TOMS (I genuinely did not know that TOMS made shoes I didn’t think were ugly) that I got BRAND new at my favorite consignment store in Nashville for $32. And, this jacket. I’ve finally decided to embrace that most sweaters just don’t look that great on me and I’m now making jackets my fall/winter staples.

Having just said that most sweaters don’t look good on me, here is one that I’m obsessed with. It has just the right amount of slouch, and the off-the-shoulder neckline keeps me from looking like I’m being swallowed up by wool. Also, this sweater reminds me of my friend Cam (shout out, Cam, if you happen to read this!) who always has impeccably trendy, pretty clothes. Peep the new boots, too.

In keeping with the jacket theme, here is another find that I love. I think these army green jackets are a season old (I remember seeing them EVERYWHERE on Instagram last year). But, I still really like it – cute but functional. And it’s very soft and comfortable. See again: the burgundy booties.

Um, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t think I’ve ever worn a blazer on a date before. But, I love the no-lapel look of this one, so I tried to dress it down as much as possible. I think I’m about to retire both these pants and the shoes, but I’m dragging my feet because they’ve both been favorites for so long.

Also, my dimple looks like a crater in this picture, and I don’t know if that means this was a real smile, or a really, really fake one.

Last but not least, I really liked this outfit. It’s been a while since I’ve worn a long jacket like this (yes, I did have the Cake song in my head all day), and I wasn’t totally sure if I could pull it off. But, I felt very cool and sophisticated, and I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it. (Also, let’s all mourn that this hair day was wasted on one of the bad dates!)

And the boots…I think I should have edited these pictures a little better for color of the boots (read: I should have edited them at all). But, they’re a rich burgundy that goes with almost anything. Yes, really – almost anything. I mean look at all the different colors I combined them with in just 5 days?

One of my favorite fashion tricks is to take a color and make it a neutral. I’ve done it with greens, blues, and even yellows. Now burgundy. It’s unexpected, and therefore seems daring – and that’s what makes interesting fashion rather than just copy-cat. Try it and let me know what you come up with!

Okay, that’s it for me. Thank you all for reading. I posted a meme on Insta the other day about people dating in their 30s: we don’t trust anyone and we’re tired. I think a few of my friends saw that as a cry for help. While I appreciate the encouragement, it really was just a relatable meme.

However, if you do know someone…please help. Jk. But seriously…

<3,
SB

Summer of ’69

There is a lot of chaos in our country right now and it can get overwhelming and occasionally even frightening. I sometimes (often?) would prefer to just be an ostrich and bury my head in the sand. Wake me up when Rome stops burning, and if it never stops, then at least I won’t have had to watch it go up in flames.

But, I’m also a student of history, and I have studied the late 1960s and 70s pretty extensively. I always say that if we survived the 70s, we can survive today because the parallels are uncanny, really.

In the 1960s and 70s, distrust of the government was at an all-time high, thanks to the Vietnam War and the Nixon/Watergate scandal. The era marked a shift in how Americans viewed the government, one which we definitely see on display in full-force now, and one which would still prevail, regardless of the party in power.

The time period was marked by race riots, some of which started over police brutality, some of which resulted in martial law and calling in the National Guard and federal troops. In one of those riots, 16 people were killed and nearly 500 were injured. 

In addition to the race riots, mass protests against a very unpopular war characterized the era. Soldiers dealing with the after effects of Agent Orange and yet-to-be-named PTSD from the guerrilla warfare conditions of Vietnam returned home only to discover they were often not welcome here, either. Visitors to the White House unleashed cockroaches and emptied vials of their own blood in the residence (source: The Residence by Kate Anderson Brower). Four students were killed at a rally at Kent State, leading to a student strike.

The foremost leader of the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. So was Bobby Kennedy. So had been John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X earlier in the decade.

Planes crashed. Hurricanes hit. A President resigned before he could be impeached.

The era of the Flower Child had a dark side, and it was wild.

Do you see the similarities? If it’s not yet abundantly clear, I’ll even make some pop culture references.

Protest music captured the airwaves, and songs such as War (“what is it good for, absolutely nothin'”) and What’s Going On (“picket lines and picket signs; don’t punish me with brutality”) dominated the charts.

Compare that to songs released just this summer by the Chicks (aka, the Artists formerly known as the Dixie Chicks) and Eric Church. The Chicks’ March, March includes lyrics such as  “March, march to my own drum, hey, hey, I’m an army of one…temperature’s are rising, cities are sinking…”. Eric Church’s “Stick that in your Country Song” begins with, ‘Take me on up to Detroit city; jails are full, the factories empty. Momma’s crying, young boys dying, under that red white and blue still flying.”

Even fashion has swung back around to the bell-bottom, rainbow platform days of the hippies. But, I’m not complaining about that part…scroll to the bottom of the post to see how I’ve fully embraced the retro trends.

My point in this history lesson is that history does repeat itself. And while not all of the repetitions are ones we would necessarily want to experience again, the coming out on the other side is something that we can look forward to. And that’s what I am hopeful about – yes, the 1960s and 70s were a rough time. 2020 is a rough time, and it has been a rough time for a few years now. But, we survived it 50 years ago…we can survive it again.

However, there is one difference between now and the 60s/70s, and I think it’s pretty crucial. I don’t think Americans hated each other as much then. Sure, there was a lot of anger and fear and hatred floating around, but I don’t think we took it out on our neighbors as much. Or if we did, social media wasn’t around to heighten the intensity and display it for all of those who might not otherwise hate each other to see.

So, I think it’s important to learn from our history so that even while it is repeating itself, we don’t make the same mistakes. Or, we don’t make a different mistake because we’re not taking the lessons it offers to heart. And the ultimate lesson that we need, I think, is the other message that the 60s and 70’s brought us: love. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now. All you need is love – love is all you need. We are family. 

With a little more love and compassion for each other, we can emerge stronger and better. But only if we work with each other – not against each other.

And now, for my favorite part of the post – the fashion. The last time bell-bottoms were in style was the 90s, actually. I was in middle school then, and I mostly stuck to the safer “flares”. But, I’m bolder in my old age, and I am in love with these full-on bells that I have. The outfit is made complete by a crop-top (only slightly cropped because I am in my 30s…), long straight hair, and rainbow platforms.

When I was a kid, my mom had some rainbow platform flipflops that she probably had owned for a decade or more by the time I showed up. But, I was obsessed with them. These shoes remind me of hers, which adds another dimension of fun to this whole look.

Thank you for reading. As a reward for having made it this far, I was going to tell you the most embarrassing thing that has happened to me lately (and you know, I asked out my chiropractor, so it’s a high bar). But, I’ve talked enough, so I’ll simply tease you with that headline for now and a promise to tell you the story soon.

Thanks for reading.

<3,
SB

Cancel Culture

Last week marked 6 months of my living in DC, y’all – can you believe it?! Even more shocking perhaps than how much time has passed is that, global pandemic notwithstanding, I actually really like it here. Some might wonder why I moved to a place I wasn’t sure I’d like, but since I did, let’s all just celebrate that I am happy with my decision.

One of the primary reasons I love living in this area are the friends I’ve already made. With a few notable exceptions, I never really felt like I found my “people” in Nashville. I had a lot of people who cared about me, and I about them. But, having a group of friends where you’re automatically included in weekend plans is harder to find, and something I haven’t had since I left Virginia Beach almost 7 (!!) years ago. To find it so quickly here is an answer to prayer, one I’m not even sure I fully articulated.

Perhaps living in the political capital of the world, though, has made me want to get more political. Or maybe it’s just that everyone else has suddenly decided to get political, so I feel compelled to keep up with the Joneses.

Either way, I have a few thoughts. I took a break from social media (mostly) for the better part of the past month, and it was so refreshing. Everything is heavy right now – every issue is political, from whether or not you like Hamilton, to whether or not you have extra toilet paper in your house. You can’t scroll through any social media platform without being subjected to one-sided arguments shouted at you – from both sides.

I had a really great Fourth of July this year, full of oohs and ahhs over the gorgeous fireworks surrounding the monuments to our national heroes. Imagine my surprise, then, when I came home from the spectacular display to discover that, according to social media, I wasn’t supposed to have celebrated America this year at all. Or at least not without a giant side of vocalized shame.

Imagine my even greater surprise when I learned that Hamilton, a show written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, darling of the liberal artistic community, and whose producers famously refused to cast white actors in its lead roles was now facing criticism for being tone deaf and insensitive because it featured historical figures who had owned slaves. Never mind that a recurring theme with one of the characters was his mission to free the slaves.

Lest there be any confusion, slavery was wrong, and we are still dealing with the repercussions of white America’s horrible treatment of black people 150 years after the slaves were liberated. For more on my thoughts about race, please feel free to read my previous post.

But we can’t just “cancel” every historical figure that did things that were wrong. For one thing, canceling does not accomplish anything. It does not change the past, nor does it promote critical conversations in the present. For another, if you cancel someone altogether, that gets rid of the good they did, as well as the bad.

So, we can cancel Washington because he owned slaves, but then we literally have no country at all, and we drink a lot more tea. (And we still have slaves.) We can cancel Lincoln because he was more concerned with preserving the Union than with ending slavery – but, then slaves still aren’t free. We can cancel Teddy Roosevelt for his racist ideology against Native Americans (and a lot of other non-whites, honestly), but then we have none of our modern environmental protections. We can cancel FDR because of the horrible Japanese internments during WWII, but then we do not have the New Deal and the social programs which became the backbone of the Democratic party. We can cancel LBJ for starting the “War on Drugs” which has unfairly targeted black people, but then we do not have a Civil Rights Act ending segregation and racial discrimination…and I could go on.

We cannot cancel everyone who had inconsistencies with our modern sensibilities because we’ll never be able to stop. Soon, we’ll have nothing left of our history or our nation. A nation which, despite its sins both past and present, has actually done a whole lot of good for a whole lot of people, at home and abroad.

Society is supposed to evolve and grow and become better. Every generation since the beginning of time has thought itself more progressive and enlightened than the one before it, and generations from now will probably look back at us and criticize our attitudes and behaviors, as well. But let’s hope that when they do, they will also see the good that we’ve tried to accomplish and they will have a rational conversation about our positive and negative decisions, rather than a conversation that discards us altogether if we do not achieve moral perfection by their modern standards.

So, take down the Confederate statues – they were also traitors to the country and do not deserve to be honored. But rather than destroying them, let’s put them in a museum so that we can still remember our history, learn from it, and become better. And for everyone else, let’s talk about their contributions both good AND bad instead of just pretending they never existed.

I have more to say, but I’ll save the second half of my history lesson for another post. For now, I’ll just pick back up with where I started this post – with a description of my life in DC, and the part that I think everyone really cares about: my dating life.

Y’all, dating here is not awesome. Everyone said that would be the case, but for a while, I thought they might have been overstating it. All of my dates have had super fascinating jobs and I’ve enjoyed learning about them. But, most of their personalities…have not been as fascinating. And, as I’ve complained before, Nashville is just a prettier town than DC. So far, I know about 2 good looking men in this whole city, and I’ve already dated both of them. But, as has always been the case in my life, hope springs eternal, and maybe now that things are starting to normalize, my fortunes will turn around.

And just so I don’t completely abandon my original purpose for this blog, here is a photo of an outfit that I had posted on Instagram. For the record, I did not, in fact, meet my soul mate that night.

Thanks for reading everyone – much love to you all. And to America; she still deserves it.

<3,
SB

2020

Well, y’all – it’s been a year, hasn’t it? We’re not even half way through, and I think everyone is exhausted.

You may find this hard to believe, but I’ve already been in DC for over 5 months. It doesn’t seem like it, in large part because I moved here just in time for winter and quarantine. In many ways, the time has flown by; in others, it has seemed to drag. But, overall, I’m glad to be here.

I have some thoughts on current events that I want to share. Literally no one has asked for these, but that’s never stopped me before. So, brace yourselves for my opinions, and remember that they are just that – opinions.

Corona
From the beginning of this crisis, I thought we should protect the vulnerable populations in isolation and let the rest of us go about our lives. I’m no scientist (literally, I took Ornamental Horticulture for my science credit in college), but that path seemed to make the most sense to me. I also GROSSLY underestimated how long everything would be shut down. I had 6 rolls of toilet paper on March 13 and thought that would be adequate to ride this out.

Now, however, as more information comes out from the CDC/WHO (such as the virus does not live on surfaces after all; it may not actually be easily transmitted by asymptomatic carriers, etc.), it seems like I might have been right and we could have (should have) avoided the economic damage done to so many individuals.

But, hindsight is 20/20. I remember the memes in March that said if we do this right, it will look like an overreaction. So, maybe the overreaction was necessary, even though it doesn’t seem like it. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe we’ll never know.

I do not, however, think it was a giant conspiracy by our government. Could China have intentionally released the disease? I 100% would not put that past them. Could political leaders have used the crisis to their advantage – overselling it or underselling it as better suited their cause? Definitely. Is it a little startling how quickly we just laid down all of our rights because the government told us to? Yes. But, I don’t think the virus was fake. I want that to be very clear for posterity.

Joe Biden
Are we still believing women? That’s really my only question. I’m not saying that Biden should not be the Democratic candidate; I’m not a Democrat, so my opinion on that doesn’t really matter.

What I am saying is that women’s voices should hold equal weight, regardless of whether or not you side with the accused. If you believed the women accusing Trump, believe the women accusing Biden. If you didn’t believe the women accusing Trump, don’t believe the women accusing Biden. Or, at least look at each accusation as an individual case and decide what you believe. But to dismiss or accept someone’s story based on the political merits (or lack thereof) of who they are accusing is hypocritical.

With that said, if Democrats are choosing Biden despite his past because they believe him to be the lesser of two evils or the only candidate who can beat his opponent, I understand that – many Republicans made that very same choice in 2016. Let’s just be honest about it.

I think if more people were honest about candidates, recognizing the candidate’s flaws and articulating where they do or do not agree with the politician, the parties would not be so polarized and we’d have a lot less vitriol and division. I see this happen on a micro level in private conversations; let’s make it happen on a macro level.

Which brings me to my next point:

Racism
President Trump has handled the events since George Floyd’s death very poorly. One of the President’s responsibilities, in my opinion, is to be what I’ve termed a Conciliator-in-Chief. When FDR became President during the Great Depression, he took to the radio and hosted his Fireside Chats and CALMED EVERYONE DOWN. The chats did not end the Depression. Arguably, FDR didn’t even end it – World War II did.

But, FDR helped people to feel like someone was working on their behalf and things were under control. FDR brought comfort in a time of great fear. He helped to bring unity, rather than to increase division. I think everyone can acknowledge that this is not one of President Trump’s strengths.

I say all of that as a segue between my last point about acknowledging flaws. But, I’m not going to dwell on it as it is not the focus here.

Racism is alive and well in the United States. The first time I realized this, I was 18 and working at a Shoney’s in South Carolina. I worked on the breakfast bar and was restocking food from the kitchen when I overheard an old man call one of my coworkers, a black teenager, “Boy.” (This incident happened just a few years after the controversial removing of the Confederate flag from the top of the South Carolina State House).

Having read a lot of my friends’ social media posts over the past two weeks, I realize it is a luxury (I’m intentionally not using the word “privilege” as it has become so politically charged as to no longer carry its original weight) to not realize racism still exists until you are 18 years old – and even then for it not to be directed at you. Most of my black friends learned much, much younger than that.

Since then, I studied racism at college from a (white) history professor who adamantly insisted that the Civil War was fought over slavery, and you’ll never be able to convince me otherwise. I did a summer study of the South and saw where Martin Luther King, Jr. marched – and was assassinated. I learned about racist symbolism such as blackface actors, stock black characters like Mammies and aggressively sexual black men, and even watermelon. My perspective was changed by that professor, and I’m grateful.

I’ve also lived in Georgia, where otherwise good people gave me directions using landmarks such as the “BBK” – the Black Burger King. Friends told me of a girl who was shacking up with some guy who had knocked her up and refused to work. The parents of the girl were very upset – because the guy was black. That was the part of this scenario that concerned everyone.

Several years ago, I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, and my eyes were opened even wider to how pervasive racism still is. I HIGHLY recommend that book to everyone; it is always at the top of my list of most influential books I’ve ever read. I also recommend The Sun Does Shines by Anthony Ray Hinton, one of Stevenson’s clients.

With all of that said, my heart has been heavy the past couple of weeks because I don’t know the answer. I have so many conflicting thoughts. Of course, violent riots and looting are not the answer – I think the majority of people on both sides of the issue agree with that. But it also should not be an “issue” at all. Being against racism should not be a political stance, and yet somehow, in our disunified state where everything has to have a left or a right side, it has become political.

I hear the points people have made that “we” don’t like riots, but “we” also didn’t like the peaceful protests of kneeling for the anthem. And, I was definitely one of those people uncomfortable with kneeling for the anthem – y’all know my patriotism and love for the military run deep. But, I hear the argument. There may be some hyperbole in it, but the point is well-taken and worth discussing – what is the “appropriate” way to protest?

Hopefully I am not the pot calling the kettle black here, but virtue signaling REALLY bugs me, and I’ve seen a lot of that from my white friends lately. If you have something unique to contribute, by all means go for it. But, I get annoyed at posting for the sake of posting.

However…without the thousands of social media posts over the past weeks, would any conversations be happening at all? Yes, the riots take away from the main focus here – America needs to deal with our racist attitudes. The national conversations are focusing on the wrong things. But, at the individual level, I’ve had lots of conversations about racism this past week. I’ve had even more reflection on it. So, while the virtue signaling bugs me, maybe it is an important part of facilitating discussions that would not otherwise be top of mind.

Stream of consciousness thoughts – that’s all I have to give. I’m troubled by the state of our country. I hate that we divide on EVERY. SINGLE. ISSUE. I don’t even know how to put a positive spin on it, other than to say we should pray. And yes, we definitely need to pray, but sometimes things are so overwhelming it’s hard to pray.

So, we’re back to where we started – my opinions. Thank you for indulging them. I thought about wrapping up with some personal anecdotes and a picture or two of my clothes to swing things back to a lighter note, but I’ll save that for another post.

Much love to everyone, and may God bless the United States of America.

<3,
SB

SB Goes to Washington

Hey, y’all! It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been in DC for about 6 weeks now, so I thought it was time to give the people what they want – an update on my life.

To be clear, probably the only people who really want an update already have one, but nevertheless, it’ll be good for my soul to pause for a little reflection. As a reflection piece, though, this post may be a bit more stream of consciousness than some of my other writings. I don’t have a format, but just a collection of thoughts on my time thus far: the good, the bad, and the ugly (and maybe the beautiful, too, but that messes up the expression).

First things first, DC is big and I never know where I am. I ordinarily have a good sense of direction, but I don’t drive very much here, and when I do, it’s in Northern Virginia, rather than “the District.” You can’t get much of a sense of geography when you’re underground in a metro car with 100 of your closest strangers. Also, the roads are confusing, something I remember from the days I used to travel here for work. It’s really easy to turn left only to discover it was the wrong left.

On a related note, I’ve already gotten a ticket. In hindsight, I remember the cops being particularly aggressive when I lived in Virginia Beach, too. The last time I got a speeding ticket was the last time I lived in Virginia. But, I was on a road that I thought was a highway (you know, since there were giant green signs overhead and other signs that said things like, “No merge area”), so I was going a highway speed. It was not a highway, and the officer did not care that I’d lived here for 3 weeks and didn’t know better.

However, driving does sometimes lead to some very beautiful surprises. The other night, I took some road I’d never been on, and came into full view of both the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument all lit up. It did my little patriotic heart some good to be reminded of the reasons that I came in the first place.

And, I’m actually really enjoying walking everywhere. I thought the commute would be one of the toughest adjustments for me, but it’s not been an issue in any way. Other than my well-documented fear of escalators and the one time (so far) that I got on going in the wrong direction, I’m pretty much a metro pro at this point, and I enjoy the walk. I also like stopping in the grocery store or at Target on my way home, or just walking up the street to get some dinner. There are 2 different Gold’s Gyms within walking distance of me – and three more within a ten minute drive. So, I just pick my gym based on what else I have to do that night.

The negative about walking, though, is that no one is friendly. Like, no one. I’ve lived in the North before, so I thought I was prepared for less sunny dispositions. But, New England is way friendlier than DC. Here, no one makes eye contact with you at all, and if they do, they don’t smile, so you think something might be wrong with you and start smoothing your hair or checking your teeth. When I first moved, I was determined to make everyone be friendly to me and I’d imagine walking around in the morning greeting everyone like I was Belle in Beauty and the Beast singing “Bonjour”. But, no one would look at me so that I could greet them, so I gave up.

Every day on my commute, I can’t help but get the lyrics to the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” in my head: All the lonely people, where do they all come from?, as we all put in our earbuds, squish next to each other without speaking, and never, ever smile.

This disillusionment might be compounded by the fact that Nashville was recently voted the Friendliest City in America- so the contrast is startling. I miss the idle small talk I’d make with baristas or people behind me in line or really just anyone at all.

Yet, the people I’ve met so far have been really wonderful. I’ve plugged in with some old friends and already made some new ones, and I’m still optimistic about the social aspect of my life here. It’s been a little slow getting out and doing things because I’ve been so preoccupied with getting my house in order, but I’m starting to venture out more and that’s been fun.

I really like my apartment and my neighborhood. I’ll like my apartment even more once I finally find a couch (apparently my vision and my budget are not as compatible as I would like – surprise, surprise) and can then buy the remaining coffee table/accessories and hang my final pictures. But, the parts that are put together are very nice, and there’s plenty of room for all of my shoes.

And now for the topic everyone has been waiting for me to address…no, I haven’t been dating yet. I’ve heard the dating scene in DC is terrible, but I think that’s probably said by single people in whatever city they live in, so I’m not too worried about that. I am a little disappointed at how few military men I’ve met in the city I was told would be crawling with them, though…

I’m not intentionally NOT dating, and I’d be glad to get out and explore the city some more. I just didn’t want to use the apps for the first few months here to give myself some time to develop friendships and also to see if anything happened organically.

The city is not exactly chock full of hotties, either. I’ve met one or two very good looking people, but for the most part, everyone looks “smart”. Because they are. Nashville, on the other hand, in addition to being very friendly, is an extremely attractive city. It’s an entertainment city, and everyone looks the part. Everyone looks the part here, too, it’s just the part of a congressional staffer, not a country star.

Things are more expensive here, of course, but I’ve found a Target hack. The prices on the app are cheaper than in stores – sometimes by several dollars. My assumption is that the app uses the national average for prices, whereas the store is going by the local market rates. So now, I buy everything on the app and just go pick it up. It’s a great system.

I haven’t found a church yet, but I’ve tried quite a few, and hope is still springing eternal. I’ve just found that I’m a little more picky in my old age than I thought I was.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the fashion. It’s not good, y’all. So many drab colors, so little imagination. I’m doing my part to spruce it up, though, and I consider wearing bright colors part of my civic duty.

I will say, the men’s sock game is on point. At both the office and on the metro, I’ve seen lots of bright polka dots, animal prints, and other fun things that make me think all hope is not lost.

In that vein, here are a few of the outfits I’ve worn so far. You may also notice the progression of unpacking my bathroom/closet in these pictures. I think I’m finally done with that section. Hopefully.

Real life: commuter look. I am obsessed with my rose gold Kate Spade Keds commuter shoes, though, which I got for $35.
Honestly, my hair was looking REALLY good for the first month I lived here – it must like the water. But now it’s time to find a stylist and I’m scared. Please help.
I actually wear suits less than I anticipated, hallelujah. But, at least I have a couple cute ones now for when I do have to wear them.
If you look very closely in this skirt, there is a blue line running through the plaid, so that’s the color I chose to pull out for my shoes. Naturally.
Is it even my birthday if I’m not wearing sequins?
I love these earmuffs and I’m excited to have an excuse to wear them. In Nashville, at least 5 people would have complimented me on them. In DC, at least 5 people gave me weird looks when I wore them.

And last but not least, to prove that I am officially a government employee…

Thank you all for reading, and for being my friends – wherever you may be located. I don’t have a couch yet, but I do have an air mattress, and I’d love for you to visit. The cherry blossoms are right around the corner…

With love and ALL THE FRIENDLINESS,

SB

Major Announcement

If you’re familiar with the Enneagram (i.e., you are immersed in Christian culture and/or you live in Nashville), then my penchant for making big, dramatic announcements should not surprise you since I am a 3 wing 4. If you’re not familiar with the Enneagram but you’ve ever met me, then it probably shouldn’t surprise you, either. I enjoy making a splash.

So, with that as an introduction, allow me to make the biggest announcement I’ve made in about 4 years – since I announced I was moving to Nashville…

I am, once again, moving!

I’ve accepted a position with the Department of Education, Federal Student Aid office, and I’ll be heading to DC in a few weeks.

When I told my current boss about my new job, he said, “well, that sounds boring.” Which made me laugh. But, I agree – if I were packaging individual loans for students, it would be pretty boring (no offense to any student loan officers out there; you’ve got a tough job). But, I’ll be on more of the big picture side, working with the people who are trying to resolve the student loan crisis, provide the public with good information, and affect policy. It’s a really incredible opportunity, and I’m grateful for it.

Most people who I’ve told about my move have had similar reactions and asked the same questions, so I thought I’d go ahead and address them now to save us all some time.

Q: But, I thought you loved Nashville!

A: I do love Nashville. Nashville is the best city I’ve ever lived in, and I will miss it, my friends, my church (especially my church), the music, and so much more. Of all my many moves, this one is the most bittersweet. But, it is time, and this opportunity opens up a whole new avenue for my career. I couldn’t pass it up.

Q: But, I thought you hated DC!

A: Hate is such a strong word… DC has never been my favorite city, that is true. However, I’ve also always thought I’d end up there at some point. I’ve been interested in government work for most of my adult life, and when I first graduated with my master’s, I moved to Virginia Beach with the plan to use it as a launching pad to DC. And I guess I did – just with two states and a lot of years in between.

Q: Why do you move so much, anyway?

A: I’ve wrestled with this one myself. To be fair, the majority of my moves were as a child, and I think growing up that way gave me a bit of a free spirit. I enjoy change and new opportunities and adventures. However, I’m also in my 30s now so I think about change and all its ramifications more seriously. At the end of the day, though, while I sometimes feel old, I’m not actually and life is long. There is plenty of time left to try new things and if I don’t like them, I can try something else. On the other hand, time does go by quickly and I don’t want to waste a moment by being afraid to take risks and seize opportunities.

Q: Are they paying you enough to live there?

A: Yes, and I’m sensitive about this question because I feel like it implies that I’m naive and don’t know that DC is expensive, and/or that I wasn’t smart enough to consider cost of living in my decision. So, if you ask this, and I snap at you, I’m sorry; I know you are just trying to be helpful. But, at least now you know why I’m touchy about it. Also, thank you for paying your taxes so that I can pay my bills.

Q: Can you get my student loans forgiven?

A: No.

Q: Are you excited?

A: Yes, I am excited. Like I said earlier, it’s definitely bittersweet. But, I miss the East Coast. I spent almost all of my 20s along the coast, and many of my close friends are still scattered up and down the shoreline. I have a few friends from different points in my life in DC, too, including my middle school bestie and a friend who I have accidentally followed to college, Nashville, and now DC.

Plus, the beach is closer – a significant factor that can’t be ignored.

But, I realize that my life is about to be dramatically different. Nashville is the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, and DC is literally 4 times its size. I’ll be taking public transportation every day and walking a few blocks from my home to the metro stop and from the metro stop to work – in all kinds of weather. I have to get “walking” shoes. It snows in DC, and I haven’t lived in a place where it snowed regularly in over 12 years. I’m going to have to wear suits. Maybe not every day. But more than the average of two times a year that I currently wear them.

So, yes, I am excited. But, I’m also nervous. I know I’ll adjust, and I think I’ll end up really liking it. I guess it would be a little ridiculous to do it if I didn’t expect to like it. But, I’m realistic enough to realize that the transition might be a little tough.

Q: This seems so sudden!

A: It’s really not. While I’d let my government ambitions subside for a while, a little over a year ago, I began to think about DC seriously. This was a big thing for me, because as we’ve already discussed, I’ve never loved DC and have actually been quite vocal about that in the past… But, the more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed, and it stuck with me, too. I get whims all the time, and most go away within a few days. It’s the ones that stick with me that I start to really pray about and pursue.

I applied for a few things last fall but took a little break when those didn’t pan out. Then, this summer, I started putting out feelers again and setting up alerts on USA Jobs. I went up for an interview with FSA in September, and I didn’t receive a final offer until November. So, really, none of it has been sudden at all. But, it all has been remarkably smooth and easy – something I also couldn’t ignore in my decision making process.

In fact, the process was so easy, I can’t help but think of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde getting into Harvard:

via GIPHY

I hesitate to even make that joke because I do know that the typical process of getting a federal job can be very difficult, and I’ve had several friends be incredibly frustrated in their search. So, I don’t want to make light of anyone’s disappointment. However, I can’t help but marvel at the way God has thrown open doors for me, and as Proverbs 3:6 says, “made my paths straight.”

Q: Can we come visit you like we did in Nashville?

A: Of course! The accommodations will likely be a little more snug…and you might have to sleep on an air mattress or the couch. But, I’m always happy to have guests!

And there you have it – the major announcement! I’ve already begun altering my wardrobe to include Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, and some sensible pumps. But, honestly, I think DC fashion is a little lacking, so even within the confines of my professional wardrobe, I’m excited to bring a little Tastefully Trendy flair to the big city.

And in the meantime, if you have any boxes or newspaper, I will gladly take all of it off of your hands.

To cap off this post, I don’t have any great outfit collages. I do, however, have a picture of me examining a closet at a potential DC apartment (I deemed the closet inadequate, as you might be able to guess from my face). And a couple of my favorite selfies from the magical mirror in my church bathroom. Dear Magic Mirror, I think I’ll miss you most of all.

Thank you for reading, and much love to you all.

<3,
SB

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Happy Halloween, y’all! I think we’ve discussed my love for Halloween before, but ever since college, I’ve been pretty into the holiday.

I wasn’t allowed to celebrate it growing up, so maybe I just have a lot of pent up Halloween spirit. Or maybe it’s simply that who doesn’t like costume parties? You get to flex your creative muscles, be whomever you want to be, and have an automatic conversation starter with literally every person. It’s the best.

I’ve also become a huge DIY-snob over the years. But just at Halloween. Every other time of the year, I’d much rather pay a professional then to get crafty. But, come October 1, I get the urge to scour Pinterest, buy fabric, and use a glue gun. And I firmly believe that if you don’t make your costume, it doesn’t really count…

But, sometimes, my vision isn’t QUITE achieved. This year was one of those years. I thought I could convert my well-loved, perennially-useful tutu into a skirt for Dorothy, and technically I did. But, I still kinda felt like I was the love child of Dorothy and Cherry Merry Muffin. (Side note: I referenced Cherry Merry Muffin to someone younger than me the other day, and they did not know what I meant. If you are in that category, please enlighten yourself here. And please do not tell me, because it makes me feel very old, even though I can still distinctly smell the doll in my head.)

Anyway…a friend asked me if I had sewn my costume myself, and I was very flattered by that question because I actually used staples, fabric glue, and velcro. But, it held together for the evening, and I did get a few compliments on the look.

My philosophy on costumes is always to give them a bit of a SB spin…I’m not a purist. So, the cropped, off-the-shoulder top achieved that goal for me.

My favorite parts of the costume, though, were tied between my shoes (obviously. These were red pumps I already had, and I bought the bows from Etsy and glued them to binder clips (my mom’s creative idea)); my hair – it turned out perfectly Dorothy; and my lipstick. I had seen some glitter lipstick on Pinterest that I was obsessed with, and while mine wasn’t QUITE as glittery as I’d envisioned, I think the results were still pretty

So there you have it. Whenever I make a project like this, it gives me hope for my future children. With a little hot glue and Google, Mommy might actually be of some help to them in their school projects.

As is my custom, let’s also take a quick walk through some costumes of yesteryear – because I like reliving them, and if any of you are new (or even if you’re not), maybe you’ll enjoy them, too. Specifically, let’s look at all the ways my hand-made tulle tutu has served me well.

Cinderella – my first use of the tutu. At my party last week, I saw another girl who was a tutu-d Cinderella. She looked cute, but, I wanted to give her some pointers, as she wasn’t wearing gloves or a headband. It’s all in the details.

A couple years later, I resurrected my tutu for what is probably my favorite costume of all time – the Tooth Fairy. Again, the details are what get me on this one – peep my toothbrush crown, the wings, my tooth wand, and even a little pouch for the teeth. It was the most fun to create, and lots of moms of little children asked to take my picture.

Three times might be the max on my blue tutu, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever wear a costume that doesn’t involve tulle in someway. I’m already thinking ahead to next year, and some options include Glinda (keeping with the Wizard of Oz theme); Little Red Riding Hood; and Tinkerbell. All of which could – and likely would – include a tutu, as well.

What about you? Did you/will you dress up this year? What was your favorite costume of all time? Do you feel as obligated to use tulle as I do? I’d love to hear from you!

<3,
SB

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