Winter *is* Coming (whether you like it or not)

WINTERISCOMINGIf I could, I would like to rebrand this blog as your official guide for Learning to Love Winter™ as I am an outspoken advocate (because the season is short on those). I think a lot of people I know probably have no problem with winter; it’s the whiners I have a huge problem with. That’s what inspires me to write these. THE COLD IS YOUR FRIEND, PEOPLE. And like, in 50 years winters will be a thing of the past (probably. I mean, I’m not a climate scientist).

I want people to love winter because in Minnesota at least, it’s something you have to deal with, and people who live here? Complain about the weather so much it’s pathetic. It may be cold, but winter has a rare beauty that is not matched by any other season… People complain about the dark, but it’s pretty dark in the fall too.

Anyway. I hope you will indulge me in the coming months. Because I’m going to keep posting about this stuff until you all love winter. Or die trying.

For a successful winter, you need to be dressed properly. And luckily, there is no shortage of stylish digs that are also functional (people who don’t live in wintry places don’t know/understand this). I can personally vouch for ~all of these (the scarf: no. I haven’t received it yet. My guess is if you order this thing now, you’ll get it in January)WINTERISCOMING2

  1. North Hat by Askov Finlayson. These hats are super popular in this area. A real status symbol, if you will. Plus, with every purchase, Askov (owned by the Dayton brothers, our super great governor’s sons) donates to Climate Generation in an effort to Keep The North Cold.
  2. Big F, Little F at Cotton Bureau. Another popular design, this has been brought back a few times now. I have this design in black on gray heather (which is an older campaign, this new one is pretty dope too). I also can’t stress the quality of these sweatshirts. Cotton Bureau does great work. (Protip: You can get any design that speaks to you the most, though I of course will always recommend brandishing “Feminism” loud and proud).
  3. Winter Leggings by Lou & Gray. I was surprised when I got these, first of all, by how well they fit (always a risk when purchasing bottoms from a branch of Ann Taylor Loft), and how warm they are. Plus they have a reinforced waistband which is AWESOME as I have a problem with leggings sliding down my wide hips. Would be excellent for winter running or wearing to the office.
  4. Toasty Transit Coat from ModCloth. I bought this just recently during their week of sales, because it was cheap (<$100) and had great reviews. It fits super well, is nice and long (a commodity as a larger women) and the toggles and oversized fur hood are very charming. Plus it’s actually very warm. I have a couple Columbia down jackets (also a recommended brand), but this is a great everyday coat for wearing to work or like, the movies or something.
  5. The Pembroke Cowl by Yokoo. Yokoo has a NYT profile written about her, so you could say business is going well, and seems to have no sign of slowing down. After many years of wanting one of these, I finally ordered my scarf in the beginning of October and I don’t think it’s even been made yet. So, be prepared to wait.
  6. People Socks. These are THE BEST SOCKS. So cozy and warm. Plus, the dude on the website is super cute. I recommend buying several pairs and wearing them for days.
  7. 1460 Boots by Doc Martens. A classic boot. Not necessarily designed for winter, but they’re sturdy and keep weather off your feet (just make sure to keep the Wonder Balsam close by). Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to wear winter boots (just look out for ice, and wear tall, warm socks).

For more cozy fashions, I got a Pinterest board you may be interested into. For stunning photos of winter guaranteed to give you butterflies, I got a board for that too.

Happy Wintering.  snowflake

Joy to the world!

UNKNOWNSWEATER-1I received a little carrier pigeon with the message that this Joy Division sweater is available to purchase once again. One morning a year ago I received a mysterious email about this sweater, and within 10 minutes I had bought it. They found me because I bought a Smiths sweater from this shop (they’re the same person). They only become available in the holiday season. And while I love being the only person I know to own this, it would be wrong not to let the people know what must be known. It’s a cozy acrylic (read: vegan) garment and the CP-1919 graphic is amusingly huge. Perfect cold weather wearable for your favorite post-punk fan.

I am just over 200 lbs and 5’9″ and wearing a size M. j1_copyUNKNOWNSWEATER-3The M size is a tad snug for me (I dunno, I’m considering sizing up right now), but the good news is I can still dance in it.dancing


CWC2015-59In Northern Minnesota, the smell of pine is ubiquitous and comforting.

Winter is an extremely sacred time for me; Christmas in particular. One of the hallmarks of my childhood is the smell of fresh cut pine in the house in December. Now I have my own way of decorating for Christmas and I don’t have space for a real tree. So, I have to rely heavily on pine scented products to create the mood, and through the years I have found some pretty stellar products. In honor of the first truly cold day of the coming winter season, a few of my picks for pine scents that totally fit the bill. You’ll think you HAVE a tree in your house! PINE

Mrs. Meyer’s Iowa Pine, Smoke & Musk by Earl of East London (one of the best pine candles I’ve found), Christmas Fir Trail Soap by Juniper Ridge.

You do what you can to keep feeling bright and happy during the cold, dark months. I relish this time and look forward to it all year. Bringing the smell of pine trees indoors is the perfect way to feel cozy while the wind is howling outside.

Calendar Alert

cc56c15c5fb49a3c3040eae570dff7632016 is right around the corner, friends, and be advised – the time is now to snatch up a cool calendar. I feel like wall calendars are a bit like wristwatches: mostly obsolete. We can check the time and keep appointments on our phones now, but there’s still something cozy and precious about continuing to carry the time on me, or to decorate a space with the current month. I just went ahead and purchased out Stendig Calendar for the year 2016 (they sell out like crazy fast) and look forward to a whole ‘nother year of minimalist graphic goodness covering our kitchen wall. CALENDARS2

  1. We love the Stendig Calendar – as I mentioned, we had one this year filling a pretty substantial gap in our kitchen (you can see it peeping out in this post), and it’s become a ritual every month to get out the giant level to tear it off. I have all the giant pages still and plan to use them as Christmas wrapping. You can buy it here for a pretty good price, although they are moving FAST. This is an extremely popular calendar in the blogosphere.
  2. I had this Kikki K day planner, and I used it a lot until I stopped needing to plan covers ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I love that huge, simple type treatment on the front. They come in tons of sizes – and styles – too.
  3. Charley Harper was a dynamite illustrator from the mid century – you can almost certainly find his work in any modernist’s home. A calendar is a cheap effective way to get those super colorful and painstakingly geometric illos on your wall.
  4. A lot of calendars on Society 6 were kind of a toss up, but this one jumped out at me right away. It’s fun, colorful and has a very distinct Scandinavian influence. Would make a really cute art print on its own. I might get one for my cubicle even.
  5. Speaking of calendars I’m definitely going to get – how cute is this? And with the frame? We usually keep a calendar on the side of the fridge for date keeping (the Stendig is almost purely for decoration).
  6. Our calendar of choice on the fridge this year was this gorgeous Gem + Mineral calendar, which I waited over a year to use, and it sat in my office patiently throughout the last few months of 2014.
  7. Lastly, I’ve been a great admirer of Anna Bond for years and years, and she just can’t be stopped. This Folk calendar from Rifle Paper Co is really beautiful and would go anywhere. At the end of the year I would trim it down and boom! You have a bunch of little prints to hang about your dwelling.

Ride of the Valkyrie

VALKYRIE-2I got a pretty major tattoo on Friday afternoon. Not my first, but my first super huge one, custom designed by Mimi at Sea Wolf in South Minneapolis.

I didn’t have any tattoos until March of this year, and now I have 4. Once you get one, the fear of permanently altering your skin sort of goes away and you’re like “screw it.” Well, that’s me at least. And probably a lot of people. Anyway, here’s the newest one. The Valkyries are the handmaidens of Odin. They are the “chooser of the slain.” They pick who dies in battle and goes to Valhalla. I am deeply into Viking history and Norse mythology (likely explains my Skyrim obsession). I named her Brunhilde.

Interestingly, I’m not a fan of the Minnesota Vikings.

I wanted some nice photos of my fresh new tat so yesterday morning I took a few – very serious – portraits. VALKYRIE-5VALKYRIE-10Brunhilde goes nicely with my little Viking sword necklace as well.

Hey Dudes: Let’s Talk.

letstalkA couple weeks ago, I was out with friends. At the end of the night, a crack was made about my not drinking and one of my close friends threw the word “bitch” out towards me, totally nonchalantly, and when I asked him to clarify, he backtracked in an impish way, not owning up to what he said at all. It was the end of the night, we were all going home, so I didn’t push it. But know this: it deeply unsettled me. I drove home with a furrow in my brow. When I got home, Alan and I talked a little before bed, but I was totally distracted. I texted another friend who was out that night and told her I was furious. “He was just joking,” was the excuse, “he really didn’t mean it. Don’t let it bother you.”

This advice almost bothered me as much as the initial offense. How could I take something so lightly? Obviously he was joking. Yeah, I know that. Can’t I take a joke? Of course I can. But there’s a deeper issue here: that a man can call a woman a bitch, but not really mean it, and therefore, it’s OK.

Fuck. That.


Last week, Nora had a post on not telling women to smile go viral. The examples of misogyny in that post are horrifying at best. The response to this article was a lot of positive, with a lot of predictable negative. A lot of “What’s wrong with wanting to see a woman happy?” and “It’s really not sexist,” to “Stop trying to be offended by everything.” Of course, all written by men. On the surface, sure, it does sound pretty innocuous. “How could telling a woman to smile be a negative thing?” Right?


This week, it came to the surface that someone in the Mpls community is a serial creep who sends pictures of his penis to women who did not ask for them. Commonly these are known as “dick pics.” This was a person I knew, who I would usually have pleasant interactions with whenever I’d see him out. He’s been to my house. He gave me a guitar. He claims to be a Feminist. I was kind of stunned, but I accepted it was truth, because there was enough evidence and I heard people all around me corroborating it. Some men I know were in denial and assumed it must’ve been a different person.


Dudes. Let’s talk.

I want to start off by saying this: You are a victim of the patriarchy too. Now that you know that, the healing can begin. How can we fight this together?

First: Listen to women. Trust that we know what offends us. We know what makes us uncomfortable, hurts us and frightens us. We know. You do not. You won’t ever know the gut-punch it is to be called a cunt by an anonymous stranger on the internet (and then get laughed at for being mad about it).

Words like “bitch,” “cunt,” & “slut” are designed to degrade women and give men power. They are words, but they are extremely harmful. Similarly: Think about the next time you call someone a “pussy.” Just think about it. words

Don’t tell me to smile. It’s awkward. I’ll smile when I want to. Why do you give a shit. You don’t know what I’m thinking or feeling. So please: back the fuck up.

Making jokes about raping women is never ok. You kiss your mother with that mouth?

Don’t invade a woman’s personal space. This can be anywhere, like say, in a text. Don’t send a picture of your penis to a woman. That is an invasion of space and sexual harassment. No woman ever wants a dick in her texts.  It makes women uncomfortable and makes you a Grade A Piece of Shit.

If you hear someone use some iffy language in regards to gender, go ahead and call that shit out. Yes, it’s scary to do so. Sometimes it is just easier to let it go and not stir the pot, but more often than not, someone is using harmful language because they don’t understand why it’s wrong. It’s not your fault that it’s so commonplace to behave this way. But it’s your responsibility not to let it continue. 

Instead of policing women’s emotions and telling them not to be offended by gross men, tell those gross men that they’re gross.

We’re your friends, sisters, daughters, wives and mothers. We love and respect you and ask you do the same.


I did end up texting my male friend there in the middle of the night, those few weeks ago, saying that it wasn’t ok to call women bitches, especially your friends, and that I felt like total shit. His response: “You’re right. I apologize.”

Check it: ModCloth is having SALES!

I love ModCloth dearly. I don’t have a ton of stuff from there, but what I do have is significant: I bought the best swimsuit I’ve ever had from there (that I get tons of compliments on – it’s so flattering) and I bought my wedding dress from there! They have tons of styles for all body types, which I think is really important. They allow women of all personalities and sizes to express themselves the way they want to. And – they’re having flash sales every day this week! On Monday it was outwear, yesterday was shoes, and today it’s tops.

I know it seems counterintuitive to post about buying more clothes right after a long blog on Monday about how important it is to purge the closet every so often, but, heynong man, my life is constantly evolving. I cultivate, I prune, I blossom. This was hard, but I narrowed down to 9 tops I’d love to buy today if I had unlimited dollars. 20% on the site – head on over there! There’s something for everybody. 

(btw – ModCloth is NOT paying me to say any of this)MODCLOTHTOPS2

L to R: Simplicity on a Saturday Tunic, Combined to Unwind Sweater, Orchestra Circle Opulence Sweater in Noir
Pedigree All About It Tee, Magnum Corpus Top, Crepe Expectations Top in Stone (also comes in Goldenrod and Forest Green!)
Recipe Club Sweater in Salt, The Layer the Land Sweater in Pepper, Flurry Up and Fate Sweater.

Pair any of these with some super skinny black jeans and you’re set for life. You can never have too many cowl sweaters… You know?

The Purge | Cleaning out my Closet

afterlightI have this bad habit of buying a lot of clothes. I don’t consider myself like, a “shopaholic”, but I feel like I always see like, the perfect sweater, and I snatch it up impulsively. And then a few months later, I’ve moved on, or it’s not exactly what I wanted, or I found the actual perfect sweater. I also tout myself as a minimalist, which, let’s be honest, I’m so not a minimalist. I spend money like it’s my job. Not on junk necessarily, but like, gray t-shirts or cool baskets from Target, or candle holders. I usually find a way to justify it. Then, every fall I get the Urge to Purge™.

For most, Spring is a cleansing time. For me, it’s Fall. Right before winter I want to clean out my closet and re-stock with the very best in cold weather clothes. I take a look at what I barely wore (or in some cases, *never* wore) during the previous year and I cut that shit out. This also coincides neatly with the Bitch & Switch, which is an annual gathering of cool ladies at my friend’s house, and we bring all our clothes we don’t want, and with luck, pick up a few new items. I tend not to partake in the “swap” part of the clothes swap. I’m very particular. When I want new clothes. I know where to go to get new clothes. All the clothes that don’t get taken at the B&S are donated to a women’s shelter. Win/win! I really think people need to do this all the time. It’s the height of privilege to be able to buy clothing to excess. It’s only right we let those clothes live on with people who actually need it.

The empty hangers were not empty so long ago.

The empty hangers were not empty so long ago.

Another reason I love to purge is it gives me an opportunity to evaluate my closet and continue to cultivate my personal style (privilege is calling…). I’m really particular about what I wear, even though it’s generally pretty straight forward: I love a good pair of black jeans, with either black tennis shoes or boots, a billowy gray t-shirt. My uniform. It’s when I feel most powerful and at my peak coolest. Otherwise I like t-shirts that have interesting patterns, are neutrally colored, and leave some room in the mid-drift area. AND, sweaters. I looooove sweaters. afterlight(2)Alas, if only this were the extent of my entire wardrobe. I have two other small dressers full of workout clothes, pants I don’t quite fit into right now, socks and way too many t-shirts. A lovely goal I have is for this to be it. See also the poorly under-utilized shoe rack.

Yesterday while doing a last minute scramble to get rid of stuff before the big Bitch & Switch, I started quickly trying on clothes I either haven’t worn in a long time, or maybe only wore once. It was sort of a confidence boost! Some stuff I assumed I no longer could fit into. Some, I found a new way to wear it. It was a pleasant surprise to realize that my wardrobe could be way more diverse and stylin’ than ever before. Getting rid of the clothes you no longer want (which, for me, I have to turn my brain off while doing. I can’t get sentimental about clothes. I’m super determined to get rid of clothes and not try to think about how many dollars I’m literally giving away. Can’t think about that) allows you to better appreciate the clothes you still have and make more effort to rotate them back into your wardrobe. Since cleaning out my closet I feel like I’ve actually doubled my clothing arsenal. It’s super cool! And exciting!

And today, I’m wearing a shirt I’m sure I’ve only worn like, once ever, because I never realized how good a fit (both literally and figuratively) it was for me. It’s empowering to make these rediscoveries. afterlight 2

In The Bedroom

While going through my laptop recently I opened a forgotten folder titled “bedroom makeover” that I’d created back in the winter. Our bedroom (not pictured) was the first room in our house that we attempted to gussy up, and it didn’t work out super well. There is molding around the center of the wall, and we decided as a team that the walls should be two-toned. Alan originally suggested white on top and dark blue on bottom. I wish we’d gone that route. Instead our room is two shades of stormy blue, which sounds nice, but it’s very dark and dour much of the time. It’s also a small room with a large bed, and four tiny Ikea dressers. Ugh. It depresses me. So I made some moodboards – still following the blue theme, because not every room can be black and white, but brighter! And fancier! I did a few variations, all with a few of the same objects — kind of like the “Making it Yours” feature on Making It Lovely. Moodboards are such fun: BEDROOM1

It’s got some brass fixtures which isn’t really my thing, but I like the look. Plus, it would be a good opportunity to match up the master bathroom as well. Lamp, Ocean Print, Leaf Poster, Pillow, Curtains, Drawer, Knobs, Deer Hook, Bed, Duvet CoverHumidifier, Rug.

It’s bright, nature-y and a touch whimsical. Also, I have not found a better place for cooler hooks and knobs. BEDROOM_3

A slightly different version: Just a different lamp and hook, and with the addition of this charming candleBEDROOM_2And then, boom! Blue dresser, which I think would be really lovely and dramatic. Blue is the most calming color, and it makes sense that you’d want your bedroom to be outfitted in it. Grays, neutrals and blues for a grown up bedroom.

Breakfast of Champs


Since starting my big lifestyle-altering regimen wherein I stop engaging in my vices and instead count calories, exercise and lose weight, I’ve started to go balls out on weekend brunch. Not as a means of rewarding myself, per se, but I think because I basically cut my calorie consumption in half and now pancakes sound awesome, in addition to bacon, eggs and hashbrowns.

And I was really beating myself up about this, too, until I discovered something magical on my trip to Colorado: My first full day there. I had a tiny breakfast. Like, a half cup of frosted flakes and a mini V8. I then hiked for about 2.5 hours and felt pretty ok. I was sort of disappointed though that the fitbit didn’t show me burning more calories. I felt like I’d busted my ass (to be fair though, I get disappointed these days if I don’t burn 2000 calories before noon. The price of being a perfectionist lol not really) only to put what seemed like a regular day’s worth of activities in, rather than strenuous activities. The next day, I wanted a big breakfast, so I went to a restaurant and got bacon, eggs, hashbrowns AND a short stack on the side. I hadn’t really planned on doing any crazy exercise that day, but after that breakfast I figured I should at least try to take a low key walk to burn some of those calories off.

The walk I took was more brief and half of it was completely downhill, but I burned either as many or more than the calories I’d burned the day before. And I thought huh, that’s interesting. Here’s my guess: the huge breakfast loaded me up with carbohydrates which my body went into overdrive to convert to energy and thus, burn more calories. So while my workout was slightly shorter and less strenuous, overall it was more effective at burning fat. So now, every weekend Alan and I get a BIG OLE BREAKFAST at whatever place, and then immediately follow it up with a walk. Above is hashbrowns, eggs and bacon and a belgian waffle (with butter and syrup) on the side from Longfellow Grill, right on the Mississippi River. I refuse to feel guilty about stuffing my face full of breakfast-y goodness because afterwards we took a 2 hour walk. Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.05.24Good way to not let Halloween ruin you.

Conversely last Sunday I ate a sort of big breakfast with friends, and then sat around for an hour afterwards while we socialized. I took a walk 3-4 hours after that and burning calories was a s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e.

Moral of the story: Eat food. Convert that food to energy. Burn calories.