surrounding myself with beauty

“I love the way you make everything around you beautiful.”

A random comment from my housemate, Emma. One of the highest compliments.

I value beauty, and try to cultivate an eye for it, to surround myself with beautiful things, to bring loveliness to the mundane.

Speaking of mundane, here’s my collection of journals. I go through them at an irregular rate, anywhere from three to fifteen months. The most recent is on top, and I love seeing the progression – it’s almost like you can see the ways I’ve mellowed out in the past few years.

journal-7113

journal-7124

journal-7115

journal-7134

journal-7119

journal-7121

journal-7122

journal-7125

journal-7127

journal-7129

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journal-7133

HOW TO: clothing swap

I hosted my first clothing swap three or four years ago. Since I introduced the concept to many of my friends and now assist with a few swaps each year, I’ve become a bit of a local expert.

So, dear internet, I thought I’d share some of my incredible knowledge with you!

Step #1: Find someone to host.

Best-case-scenario, someone enjoys the last clothing swap so much that they volunteer to host one! I’ve found that they’re most successful every 4-6 months, or in transitional seasons.

Step #2: Invite people.

Keep it simple. Keep it light. Tell people what to bring.

Need an example?

swap

Step #3: Have wine. And other delicious snacks.

At a successful swap, people will spend as much – or more – time mingling than trying on clothes, so set up one area to encourage such behavior.

Step #4: Organize the room.

Before anyone arrives, it’s a good idea to designate the following areas:
-pants/shorts
-sweaters
-skirts/dresses
-coats
-shoes
-accessories
-tops (usually the largest section)
-Safe Zone, where people put their coats, shoes, and purses that are NOT up for swapping.

Step #5: Greet people and help them sort.

Once you’ve helped the first few guests through this process, they’ll often help new arrivals. Especially when they realize that sorting essentially gives them first dibs on new items!

Some of you might be wondering at this point whether we have any Rules For Swapping. I’ve heard of swaps that have an official starting time, that have an item limit, that tell you not to take more items than you brought, etc. You can make as many rules as you’d like, but remember that you’ll then spend the evening enforcing those rules. I prefer to have as few rules as possible.

Step #6: Encourage people to try things they wouldn’t usually try.

This is, in my opinion, one of the best reasons to swap – you usually take home items that you’d never have considered buying in the store, but which will expand the boundaries of your wardrobe. My first pair of skinny jeans came from a swap!

I also love when one item is passed around the room, from person to person, until we find someone who pulls it off the best. Usually this involves consulting the room on the best ways to layer and accessorize.

Step #7: Make new friends!

You might not believe this, but my strongest networking connections have come out of clothing swaps. Talking to someone about your shared love of sparkly cardigans is the best form of small talk.

Any questions?

I made this for you!

Who else is already mourning the loss of Google Reader Notes? I tried using the bookmarklet today, in hopes I could somehow trick the system, and instead I got this sad, “We’re sorry, this is no longer supported!” message that wouldn’t even leave the page. It was like an eternal flame on my browser, reminding me of what has been lost.

So, instead of doing what Google wants and switching over to G+ where they’re trying to somehow capture the awkwardness of casual conversations with people you haven’t seen in over a decade (thanks, but I already have Facebook for that)…I’m going to share the links on my blog! Which is just as public, but takes just a bit more effort to follow, meaning these random acquaintances won’t roll their eyes at me without first having CHOSEN to read my content.

(And yes, that is exactly what pisses me off about social media, their constant efforts to take away our ability to choose who we want to hear from – my Facebook news feed is, lately, like taking a long bus trip with a random assortment of people I know well enough to smile at but not necessarily well enough to talk to.)

Y’all, I promise this won’t turn into a social media rant blog! I’ve got a haircut scheduled for next week, and that’ll inevitably bring this back to the proper realm of frivolity.

BUT FIRST!
It's fancy! (It’s a collection of awesome things from the internet this week. You’re welcome!)

sahr dauda – This is from Gini, a friend of mine who travels around the world with Mercy Ships. She always has interesting stories about running a pop-up dental clinic, but this one is from the ship’s PR team and is about a boy who…you just need to read it. Keep a tissue handy.

Fierce Divergence – I’m feeling a bit ashamed about posting this along with my rant above about social media and my selifsh desire to be sheltered from anyone whose choices I might not understand or agree with…which is a common tension I find myself faced with whenever thinking about community. This is just a great quote – and the rest of that blog is full of greatness as well.

Whiteboard Accounting – File this under, “Dang, Maggie, you sure do read a lot about starting/running small businesses!” It’s true. I do. This is a brilliant method for visual non-numbers people to set financial goals. (HT Rachel Hadiashar)

How to Write an Artist Statement – My only note about this one? “Ugh. Growth.” I have a piece in a group show tomorrow – which is a HUGE deal! It’s a big step toward self-identifying as an artist in this community! – but I couldn’t get over the fear of writing an artist statement. Heck, I couldn’t even figure out if I wanted to title my piece! So, ahem, this a quiet, nagging reminder that I need to keep moving in this direction. Artist Statements don’t need to be pretentious – they are meant to be USEFUL!

Vito! Monique! Call me! – If I hadn’t met these two last year – when they played a show in Charlottesville and I was in their back-up choir – I probably wouldn’t have touched this article with a ten foot pole. But they are SO adorably authentic and sweet and every time I hear their names or one of their songs my heart grows three times in size. Make sure you read the last two paragraphs about hipsters and the church.

It’s Lonely in the Modern World – Since we’re already talking about hipsters, did you know the team behind Unhappy Hipster have made a book? They talk about it – and the shocking realization that hipsters actually have a sense of humor – in this article.

Bwahahahaha! – Y’all, this summarizes exactly what I suspect happens every time I go dancing.

Making it Work While You’re Mostly Working for Free – Because I can’t visit Pamie.com without spending some time poking around. And because it’s important to keep a realistic perspective while dreaming of working for yourself.

On the job – Test shots from a husband/wife photography team. I love shots like this, of photographers at work, and try to take at least one every time I second shoot. (Hey Meredith! I bet you could make a whole blog post of these!)

And that, my friends, is what I made for you this week. Enjoy!