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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Currently Reading: The Maggie Hope Mysteries

A couple months ago I was browsing the International Spy Museum gift shop. A bookshelf by the back registers caught my eye. On the cover of one book was an art deco propaganda-worn graphic of a young woman with crayon-worthy red hair and the title "Mr. Churchill's Secretary" in a mod font. Without command, my hands snatched up the book. I started scanning the synopsis.

My time with Jane and her husband, Vincent, were coming to an end and I needed somewhere new to start. Light Googling had proven to me that there was nothing like the Glamourist Histories that I was willing to get into. (I don't think I'm ready for Sense & Sensibility & Seamonsters...) All seemed lost until this chance meeting in a museum gift shop. A book about London during World War II with smart women and espionage was sure to have me hooked. And it might be just the thing you were looking for as well.

**This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase goods or services through links contained in this post I may be compensated by the website, brand, or product. All the opinions in this post are my own. 

Currently Reading: The Maggie Hope Mysteries - a story of a young girl coming of age and espionage in WWII London

The Background

The Maggie Hope Mysteries is a New York Times Bestselling series written by the quirky and smart Susan Elia MacNeal. The story follows Maggie Hope, a once-aspiring mathematician who grew up in the United States, and her friends who are anxious to help Great Britain in its fight against Nazi Fascism. The journey from a band of patriotic flatmates to high clearance agents working for Churchill himself is one to obsess over. With diverse, independent characters and an offbeat perspective on the time period, each installment of The Maggie Hope Mysteries is worth the late, late nights and the last minute searches for the  next book in the series. I was crushed when I found out the next book in the series isn't even out yet! You should see the desperate email to my library in search of the next book. So "currently reading" might be better said "currently waiting" haha.

The five novels so far are highly entertaining. MacNeal does a fantastic job of making you feel like an insider to the Allied forces and their efforts in the early 1940s. I love that the books incorporate dual perspectives - British and American - on culture, strategy, and politics during the War. Thanks to the differing cultural expectations and the intrigue, readers have the chance to hear well-known events and characters retold in a new light. The historical notes are a great bonus offering extra detail and some basis for the more interesting conspiracies which MacNeal chooses to highlight. About 25% of my time with the books was spent online doing my own research. A book that is entertaining AND makes you curious is definitely on my list of must-reads.

The Best & The Bad

Admittedly I started out the series wondering why I kept reading. Then I found myself burning through them as fast as I could find the next title. The stories suck you in without your knowing it! That might have a little something to do with MacNeal's consistent nod to the cliff hanger. The book would end and I'd NEED to know what happened next. I tip my hat to you, good lady.

The best part of the series has to be the way MacNeal presents the imperfectness of decision-making during the War. As a teacher and fan of history I was impressed by the portrayal of life-and-death questions being answered with more than a simple "yes" or "no." Powerful people were making powerful moves, and that is evident throughout the text with intentional conversation between all levels of characters. The stories strive for balance in explaining the reasons behind going to war, etc. Sure there was hope for positive results, but these world leaders also contradicted themselves in these endeavors. Even a simple reference to this is important to a well-balanced story.

I also appreciate the seemingly tangent stories that are mixed in among the spying and warring. Susan Elia MacNeal often reminds readers that "there's a war going on." But she also reminds us that, despite the repeated mantra, there is more to the story. Social and economic questions were being debated on both sides of the pond both in the context of war and without. Race, homosexuality, propaganda, family, terrorism - they all have strong storylines throughout the novels. However, I do feel that the discussion was a little too open and relaxed. Many may have felt as open-minded and accepting as the characters in the series, but I would say that the majority opinion was much more rigid. For that opinion to not have a lasting effect on the characters is a bit unrealistic. Still the mention of these topics within the text adds to the perspective of the books which is what makes the series its own.

On a lesser note, I do wish the romance worked out differently in the books. At times the intimate relationships in the story seem *too* realistic and logical. Just once I would like for it to get messy enough to work out in the end. I've got my fingers crossed for Maggie in the upcoming release - #OTL.

More Books

I will be counting down the days until The Queen's Accomplice debuts on October 4, 2016. Until then I'll have to fill my time with something... First, I'm digging into a nonfiction reading challenge I'm hosting over the Summer (deets coming next week) and getting back to my roots with Harry Potter.

When I am done with that I might try The Maisie Dobbs Novels by Jaqueline Winspear, also a New York Times Bestselling series, or Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen which are set in Britain during World War II as well. That last one sounds like fun.

Stay up to date on the release of the sixth novel starring Maggie Hope and company by following Susan Elia MacNeal online: Website/Facebook/Twitter.

Click to explore the books in The Maggie Hope Mysteries and pre-order The Queens Accomplice:



Use an eReader? Start reading now:


Saturday, May 14, 2016

8 Encouraging Quotes to Put on Your Favorite Bookmark

This Mother's Day all the main moms in my life were gifted homemade bookmarks complete with beaded tassels and a quote from the Bible about the value of women (Proverbs 31:10). The intent was to encourage these women to read and learn as well as just let them know how cool I think they are. Thoughtful gifts are kind of my specialty. 

The bookmarks were really easy and inexpensive to make. I designed the image using PicMonkey. Then I printed and laminated them at my local UPS store. A few hole punches, some embroidery floss, and a couple glass beads later and we were in business. Even after making 9 of them I spent less than $25! And there was still one to spare for myself. You can see the one I made for Mother's Day and more of my bookmark designs below.

8 Encouraging Quotes to Put on Your Favorite Bookmark - remind yourself how awesome you are and motivate yourself to read. It's win-win!

Well, Mother's Day passed and I got to thinking about all the possibilities with this bookmark idea. Homemade bookmarks with personalized quotes would be a hit for any special people in your life: mom or dad, old or young. After gathering up some Pinspiration, I came up with these 8 quotes worthy of motivating you and yours to keep reading, learning, and being cool too!
  1. "If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you."
  2. "A gentlemen is one who puts more into the world than he takes out." - George Bernard Shaw
  3. "It's not just a daydream if you decide to make it your life."
  4. "You don't have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  5. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step...so watch your step." - Jeffrey R. Holland
  6. "You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way." - Jennifer J. Freeman
  7. "Work hard & be nice to people."
  8. "The things you are passionate about aren't random, they're your calling." - Fabienne Fredrickson
I chose these quotes because they portray a sense of knowing right from wrong and acting on it. They encourage the reader to truly evaluate the goals they've set and consider what it takes to get there. Perfect for motivating don't you think!

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this list which I've turned into bookmarks for you already. Also check out the one I made for Mother's Day. I'm no graphic designer, but it's pretty fun! Save your fave to print later when you're ready to be reminded to keep being awesome. Or make your own! Which of the quotes from today's list would to want to see everyday? Tweet me your favorite or your bookmark creations so I can see: @love_kristyn




Saturday, May 7, 2016

Procrastination & the Breakdown of Creative Block

Waiting until (close to) the last minute is a ridiculously obvious pillar of my creativity. For the most part I'd say the experience has actually been positive, at least when it comes to results. My creativity tends to have super powers worthy of a comic book character when I'm down to the wire. I'm pretty good when put on the spot. For example, I remember staying up all night in high school creating a magazine with a theme of Macbeth. All of these interesting and fun possibilities started flooding in late on the night before the project was due. Perfume ad by Lady Macbeth? Travel piece about the Scottish highlands? Yeah. It. Was. Sick.

Still there are times when working up to a deadline is a terrible, gut twisting mistake. This is the version of Procrastination that adults warned us about when we were young. Procrastination shows its lack of compassion and leaves us tragically, and maybe symbolically, frozen in space and time. Then you're really beat because you can't get even get your mind to think of ways to get out of that anxious bind, let alone to offer ideas for the original task.

Procrastination can be a real pain as it piles up. More often we describe this intense waiting period as a result of some kind of "block" to our abilities. Looking back we assume some unknown obstacle has secretly been working at sabotage until we make an excuse for it. I say that Procrastination and Creative Block are the same thing, meaning that it was there all along. We simply don't have the capacity to recognize and then adapt to it.

Procrastination & the Breakdown of Creative Block - be prepared next time your lose your creative cool

Think about it: What are Creative Block's weapons of war? Time. Resources. Fear. Skill. Our minds wander as we make up excuses for not having new ideas or perspective. Time goes on, the project will eventually take care of itself. We brush it off with crossed fingers hoping our readiness to produce catches us on the way down. Then we're falling and falling and falling until... Deadline. And then we act as if we had no control over the process.

The danger of this experience is not in the habit. In fact, I'd say routine waiting is a good thing for creativity. There is also no danger in the lack of "new" ideas because we can keep track of those even when we aren't looking for them.

Actually the danger is found in letting ourselves be defeated by Creative Block, turning a blind eye to  the possibility of obstruction until it's too late. In the moment we are useless. When the battle is over we start with our creative wells depleted. There is no real measure of our ability to overcome or to be successful because there is always something in the way which keeps us from viewing our full potential. Let me explain what I mean.

Full disclosure: This post was written two weeks after its posting date. 

What?! Oh! the blogging blasphemy! Yeah, whatever. At least I wrote it. And I can assure you this story is worth considering. The conclusion? Authenticity incarnate.

After sending the monthly blog recap email for ETLT, I sat down to schedule out upcoming posts. In the email I had shared some ideas for topics to look out for on the blog. At the time those post topics seemed like a great way to go. However when I looked back to consider the big picture, I hesitated because the post ideas seemed repetitive against previous posts. That meant I needed to come up with some newer ideas. The week rolled by but nothing seemed to stick. Plus the obligation to live up to the posts mentioned in the email made me feel like a liar for choosing something different.

I let the weekend pass. I'm not unrealistic about how many eyes get on this site and I let that justify a choice to not write at all. No one would notice if this day had been left empty or if I didn't stick to a consistent posting schedule or if I didn't have anything "native" to post on social media for a while. A couple more days went by. At first the decision meant nothing to me. Again, no one would notice. But over time I started to feel a bit sick from the hollowness. Not writing wasn't much of an example of self-improvement... One of the purposes of writing this blog is the *doing* part of becoming better. If I wasn't writing then I wasn't helping myself. The conclusion was I had to write something - ANYTHING! But what?

By now a thick wall, so high and so wide that I couldn't get over or around it, had centered itself in my mind.  All of the possible ways to move forward were on the other side. I was stuck and blind. Even with the will to move on, I didn't know which way to go! After wrestling for another week I realized that to overcome the Wall which kept my blog blank I had to actually attack it. I just couldn't leave this blog blank any longer.

Be Diplomatic

As I mentioned before, creating a routine of waiting is a special tool in a maker's bag. Waiting allows us time to think deeply, opens us up for true problem-solving. With free time we are willing to experiment or have the chance to make new connections. The end result isn't just topical, it has substance and meaning thanks to the extra effort in going beyond the surface.

When it comes to diplomacy and strategy, there are two options. In short, will you to let the enemy come to you or are you going to go to it. To approach the enemy means we get to control the situation by scheduling thinking time. You are in charge of how, when, and where to be thoughtful by using set aside time to experiment with topics and projects. Do research and let your brain reach out to the world around you, or review what you have already (see below) and attempt to take it to the next level.

But be wary. When a schedule is too rigid we might be exposing ourselves. In this case, let the enemy come to you. Sit and do nothing. I mean it. Nothing. Or if you must do something choose an irrelevant activity. Eventually the Wall has to come down. Then you can let the ideas touch you when the channels are open.

Bring Out the Big Guns

Okay, so it's not all out war on the front lines, but effective defense against Creative Block may require some ammunition. I like to think of it as brainstorming indefinitely. You'll never want for ideas if you have a method for getting them down and keeping those bursts of creativity when they happen. The job is easy too!

Open your handy notebook or note-taking app of choice and start a list. Every time you think of a new way to do what you do, a fresh perspective on a topic you've been wrestling with, an activity worth trying WRITE IT DOWN. Include details that would help you use the idea in the future, especially the source of inspiration so you can refer back to it or give credit. Keep track of what you would use the idea for. Maybe even include pictures or a step-by-step for what you see in your head. With a living list you'll always have a way out when Procrastination attacks.


During the time it took to finish this post, I kept reminding myself it needed to be written no matter what. Like building muscle, flexing your creativity no matter the effort is essential to keeping in shape. Otherwise you lose it. Sometimes I wonder if that's what happened to me and writing. I can't risk losing it again. Even if I hadn't come up with this confession/lesson I had thought to write a poem or share another round of personal photos. All I had to do was settle into my defense. The same thing can happen to any maker if he or she chooses to fight back when Creative Block or Procrastination arrive. And when that Wall hits, he or she will be equipped to defeat it.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Photo Tour: Waterford, VA

Today is my brother's birthday! We share an intense desire to be creative and to share that creativity with the world. He particularly loves music, film, and photography. In his honor I am finally publishing some pictures I took last Summer of a quaint historic town in my native Northern Virginia.

Photo Tour: Waterford VA - a tour of a historic town in Northern Virginia

Waterford, Virginia is a seemingly preserved picture of Loudoun County's past life. I had never seen the town before going on a day trip with my friend, Chelsea, who was visiting with her precious new Schnauzer puppy. We hitched up the pups and went for a day in the June heat and getting lost on a one-way hike... But it was worth seeing all the rustic stone and pasteled homes, the one cobblestone road that ran through the village, and the overgrown gardens that spilled over with magic.

stone steps Waterford VA

country cottage Waterford VA

yellow bike Waterford VA

historic cottage Waterford VA

The Old Mill Waterford VA

dog hike Waterford VA

shaded arbor Waterford VA

Catoctin Creek Waterford VA

cornerstone established 1886 Waterford VA

secret passageway Waterford Virginia

door knocker Waterford VA

town smithie Waterford VA

rustic cottage Waterford VA

garden Waterford VA

general store Waterford VA

front porch Waterford VA

birdhouses Waterford VA

The classic cottage with the orange scooter is my favorite snapshot from the day. A little ETLT trivia: That is the image that served as the inspiration for the new look and purpose of the site this year. And I've been trying to recreate that emotion in everything I do ever since. Do any of these images speak to you? Tell me about it in the comments. Or link to your image inspiration. Happy Saturday!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Top Found "Make It Again"-Worthy Recipes

The Food Network, a television channel dedicated to food culture and bringing culinary education to the masses, launched in 1991. I am 99% sure that I've been watching since day 1 at the very conscious age of 2. Early shows like Two Fat Ladies and chefs such as Sarah Moulton were part of my after-school and Saturday morning line up, right along with Power Rangers and Sailor Moon. Practically everything I know about cooking comes courtesy of the Food Network.

For a long time I aspired to be a famous chef and restaurant owner. When the Disney Channel Original Movie Eddie's Million Dollar Cook Off premiered with Bobby Flay I felt part of a special club because I knew who that was! You could find me in cooking clubs sponsored by my school and baking competitions at picnics. I almost opted for technical school to pursue culinary arts in high school. In the end I choose the business route, and that didn't fair well, but I have always been interested in everything food.

Lately though there hasn't been as much time or my own space to make in. Pinterest has become a significant part of my culinary experience allowing me to simultaneously research and hoard quick and approved recipes. Today I'm dishing out some of my favorite repeat recipes from the internet to share my adoration in a different way.

My Top Found "Make Again"-Worthy Recipes - a roundup of favorite Pinterest recipes that are definitely worth making again

Main Meals & Entrées

Man Pleasin' Chicken
The appropriately named Man Pleasin' Chicken has a unique sauce that is out of this world! If you don't have fresh rosemary, no worries. Add a little less than the recipe calls for of crushed up dried rosemary and you're good to go. From Witty In the City

Fish & Chips
Beer-battered Fish & Chips without the beer!? Yes! This recipe offers the insanely helpful option of using soda water instead. The batter is perfect leaving the fish crispy and oh-so-tasty. Now that I know I will never EVER look back. From RockRecipes.com
Take out that random pasta maker and put some effort into Homemade Spinach Pasta. This recipe requires some muscle but is totally worth it. Reward your hard work with double topping of your favorite store-bought red AND white sauces. You'll have Italy in the palm of your hand. From Hubpages

Thoroughly diggin' on Asian-inspired food right now. Bonus if it's quick and simple. Enter this P.F. Chang's copycat recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps which uses ground chicken. From Damn Delicious <<< P.S. She's AMAZING.

Hey this one is actually from Food Network haha! My mouth is watering right now just thinking about some Fried Chicken Salad. I prefer nuts (pecans, walnuts) to the veggies in this recipe, but to be honest all you really need is the fried chicken and cayenne. SO GOOD. From Damaris Phillips (Southern at Heart)

Breakfast

This recipe makes my life. It's cake in the microwave! I have it for breakfast about 3 times a month. Not an applesauce fan? Swap it out for equal amounts (2 Tablespoons each) of your favorite instant oatmeal and hot water. From Heather Likes Food

Dessert

Nothing like the perfect dessert: classy, simple, and still looks like you slaved all day. These Cranberry Tea Cookies fit the bill perfectly. They are a perfect potluck or new neighbor gift. Or eat the whole batch yourself. I won't judge. From Lisa Is Bossy

Another perfect dessert recipe that meets my criteria is this one for Mini Cheesecake Cupcakes. I like to go the semi-homemade route (if you couldn't tell) by making the cheesecakes from a box recipe then topping with homemade caramel and, of course, sea salt. Or switch it up with homemade cheesecake and pre-made sauce. Either way they'll always be a hit. From Cooking Classy

Well, if I were clever there would have been pictures of me having actually made these. I was too busy eating them. Sorry not sorry. I guess you'll just have to go make them for yourself. Eat hearty, my friends!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

For Those Who Struggle With Alone Time

I am terribly uncomfortable with being alone. The worrier and control freak inside waste all kinds of time wondering what everyone else is doing, and sometimes assuming they are all doing things without me on purpose. Most of the time I attempt to remedy this by filling my schedule and staying busy with random to do lists and projects. However, the fake escape can have an opposite effect because having all the extra demands on my time can heighten my unofficial anxiety. Trying to manage all those thoughts can leave me feeling helpless and useless since I've never truly required myself to just sit and relax.

Basically the thought of having to deal with myself and my thoughts incites panic. Quite literally I'd rather hide. When we are alone with our thoughts we have a greater chance of criticizing ourselves. Being preoccupied, even artificially, influences our thinking away from the tough stuff. We don't have to think about it if we are worried about other people or situations. Thus if we dislike spending time alone we give ourselves two options: get up and distract yourself or stay under the covers for as long as humanly possible.

For Those Who Struggle With Alone Time - for some of us being alone can be scary, but it doesn't have to be

While I wish staying in bed weren't a problem, there is a solid bit of commentary on emotional, physical, and interpersonal concerns. I've spoken before about how humanity thrives because of community. The biggest issue that sticks out to me is if we never come to terms with who we are, both good and bad, we can never improve. Defeating shortcomings begins with personally accepting them. Constant distraction from real life allows our defense mechanisms against negativity to become part of our personalities. In short, we really do become useless. Alone time, on the other hand, provides a chance to work it all out and let's us learn more about ourselves. In turn we are better equipped to deal with the world around us.

A secret about alone time that I've recently discovered is finding activities that work in already established interests, skills, and talents without pressure to perform. The reason we don't like to be alone is because we are afraid of what we think of ourselves. Afraid we don't meet our own standards. The time might be spent in critique of our latest experiences, charging us to do better in the future. A better use of that time might be in the creation of something that doesn't demand anything from us, where the results of what we make are just happy to have been made. No comparisons or competition. Just making for making's sake.

Over time we can see how much we've accomplished on our own. Eventually spending time alone won't devolve into self-deprecation but instead lead us to self-actualization. We are capable of being alone because we can honor those parts of us that simply are - you know, the ones we were afraid of in the first place.

Activities for When You'd Rather Not Be Alone (But Have To)
Through experience, I've come to understand when I need these breaks and what to do with the time. Before I was scared of choosing to go off on my own, for all the reasons listed above and more, and I overwhelmed myself to the point of being paralyzed. Now I am learning to understand my needs better since I spend more time with myself. The activities you choose to structure your time alone should be simple, preferably you can completely zone out. You may compare this to mindfulness or inner thinking. The point is to experience yourself in places that are purely your own. Some suggestions from my favorite alone time activities are...
  • Brainstorming, Mindmapping, or Brain Dumping - Sometimes it's good to just let it all out with no boundaries. It's okay to use upcoming projects for this because you aren't trying to finalize anything. You are just to come up with as many ideas as possible. The process can ease tension, provide perspective, or just plain clear your mind. Color and scribbling required.
  • Watching TV - Documentaries, catch up on shows you've missed. Learn something or don't. As long as you are vegging out, as television is so beautifully designed to do, it works.
  • Reading - Series are especially good here because you can stick to a set of books that keeps you going for a while. Extended reading opens you up to new ideas, and helps drive your interests and creativity. Not to mention it can be addictive when you find the right books. I've read six books in the last 3 months, finishing off a series that I couldn't recommend more emphatically and starting a new one that I also enjoy. And I'm already looking forward to my next one.
  • Writing - Working "serially" is perfect here too. Journaling, scrapbooking, and even light (no pressure) blogging are outlets that help you learn to express your feelings in words. Better communication and understanding is always a good thing.
  • Walking - Grab your loyal buddy, either a pet or a camera, and head out for a walk around the neighborhood. Appreciate the world around you and get healthy. Bonus points if you are walking for charity!
  • Coloring - Adult coloring books are extremely popular these days. I myself have about 4! And since I have no drawing skill whatsoever, it's nice to have the images already created for me. The focus required for coloring can be very calming and colors can affect your mood.
  • Cooking - As long as you are alone in this one it can be a perfect way to spend your time. Cooking uses a grouping of different skills and the results can be amazing! Take what you make to the local homeless shelter or hand over some baked goods to the neighbors.
  • Music - Put on your favorite tunes for some bedroom karaoke or a personal dance party. Or learn a song on your favorite instrument. Again this uses your brain a few different ways so you'll be spending time and energy. Plus you can go all out because no one is watching.
Examples of things I wouldn't do...
  • Group Exercising
  • Phone calls/Checking email
  • Cleaning or Organizing
  • Social Media
  • Work
These activities require other people or they just aren't fun. Remember to choose an activity or two that you actually want to do for which you can find a secluded spot to accomplish. And no cheating with group classes at the gym or heading to the dog park. That's a habit for another time when maybe meeting people is the point. For now, enjoy you because YOU are awesome!

P.S. I'd like to invite your awesome self to my Facebook group Writers Without Limits. My fellow wordsmiths and I share all kinds of writing and creativity ideas and you should be there! Receive your official ticket in by signing up for the ETLT email list.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

How To Think About Clothes the Right Way

If you have cynical or defeatist thoughts about clothing, please leave them at the end of this sentence. Today I'm talking about why what we wear is important to defining how we represent ourselves. Sure clothes can be materialistic, mocking, gender-specific, or annoying, depending on who you talk to. But in the end we all make judgments based on appearance and that should be acknowledged.

How To Think About Clothes the Right Way - your clothes say a lot about you so dress like it

As part of this wanderlust I call becoming a way cooler version of myself, I have been paying special attention to my closet and the settings in which I might be found on a daily basis. I wouldn't be surprised if I earn the phrase "The clothes made the woman" as my epitaph someday. The effort and time that goes into my clothing choices says a lot about me without me even opening my mouth. An outfit has the ability to give away attitude and mood, professionalism, self-perception, status, relationships... and so on and so forth. In a world of first impressions we shouldn't take this for granted. 

Communication is a large piece of the Life pie. To ignore that would be rude and wrong. You see, we can be as selfish as we want, expecting others to take us seriously just because, but that isn't a thing (as I have to re-learn often). Like it or not, relationships are important to the human identity. Thus they should be treated as precious. We want people to care about what we think so we have to be willing to care about what they think, at least a little bit. If we deny what our appearance says to other people while still demanding they get over the stigma we might represent, then we are being unreasonable.

We can improve the message we send by playing the part. Last week I told you my plan to become "an independent, successful, and resourceful creative." Before I require others to believe that about me without any basis, I should be presenting myself as savvy and worthy of respect. I do my job to meticulously word emails and such, try my absolute hardest to be on time to meetings and events (which doesn't always work out), treat others with respect, and take time to select outfits that say what I value, i.e. comfort and confidence.

You can establish the image you want before anyone has the chance to think otherwise. Your image reflects your thoughts and it is your responsibility. Just like a sports jersey or school uniform, an outfit promotes what you want the world to know about your associations. Take your wardrobe as a banner, or testament if you will, to everything that makes up who you are. Don't sell yourself short. And certainly don't get cocky, kid.

Just something to think about.

In My Closet
If you're into this sort of thing, I've tried to keep track of some of my favorite outfits for the past few months. A few things to keep in mind when browsing these photos: 1. All of these photos were taken with my Galaxy S6 2. These are my first OOTD selfies so go easy on me 3. Flats are my best friends as I am teaching a lot these days and 4. Suddenly I've taken to wearing a lot of black... Ultimate Conclusion: My clothes need to get a little more feisty if I'm going to get the "creative" part about me done right.

OOTD Blazer and Cargo Pants

OOTD Boyfriend Cardigan and Pencil Skirt

OOTD Dressed Up Top and Flared Jeans

OOTD Midi Dress and Military Jacket

OOTD T Shirt and Slacks

OOTD Heavy Layers and Colored Jeans
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Kristyn here. I'm really good at Googling, dreaming, and thinking outside the box. Someday I'm going to save all the puppies and perform on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

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