Thursday, November 28

Happy Thanksgiving!

My sister is cooking the turkey this year, so Shawn and I are headed over there later today. My contribution is dessert, of course! Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and key lime pie. I only wish I could have made the key lime pie look better, but it's hard to make meringue look good without a piping bag. Oh well- as long as it tastes good!

I hope everyone celebrating today has an awesome Thanksgiving filled with either tasty treats, close family, or hopefully both! Lets all be thankful to be where we are today, wherever that is and whatever it means to you.

Wednesday, November 27

A Little Lloyd for Your Wednesday

When I was working at the bakery I would wake up at 6am every morning and Lloyd would proceed to spend the next few hours bugging Shawn until he woke up. Shawn really enjoyed those morning wake-ups, since Lloyd would fall asleep on his chest and give him little kisses with his wet nose. Well, since I've been home the past few mornings Lloyd has taken to bugging me instead, because he knows I'll get out of bed sooner to feed him! Poor Shawn - no more morning kisses for him from Lloyd.

Monday, November 25

Autumn Afternoon in Lititz

Two weeks ago I had lunch with Katherine of Of Corgis & Cocktails in the quaint little town of Lititz, PA. We actually met while I was working at Anthropologie! We went to Tomato Pie Cafe for lunch and then wandered around for a bit. Found some ducks and bought some chocolate at the chocolate factory in town - the whole block smelled like chocolate! It was a beautiful autumn day, perfect for an afternoon stroll. I'm happy we ran into each other, considering I still don't know very many people in Philadelphia and I certainly don't know any other bloggers in the area! All of these photos were taken by Katherine, whose camera seems to be on the fritz but still takes better photos than my little point-and-shoot nonetheless.

coat: Modcloth / dress: vintage (When Decades Collide) / cardigan: Knitted & Knotted (Anthropologie) / boots: Dolce Vita (Anthropologie)

Friday, November 22

Fun Finds Friday #39

So many fun drawings using everyday items on cintascotch's instagram feed!

Writing with milk.

I love these satirical illustrations by Pawel Kuczynski.

Photographs of fallen Disney princesses; the real happily-ever-afters.

+ 13 more fun finds on Messy Nessy Chic.
+ Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky wrote a great post about self doubt and blogging.
+ Reflections on life lessons at 35.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 21

On Happiness & Doing What You Like

Preface: This is a long and wordy post, so if you're not up for a novel reading session then I totally won't hold it against you if you decide to just skip this post. But those of you who are interested, read on!

I don't often talk about work here, and when I do it's usually fairly positive stuff. But the truth is, what I do is a pretty big part of my life because it's how I spend 85% of my time when I'm not sleeping. (That percentage is a rough estimate, but you get the picture... I work a lot.) For those of you who are newer to this blog, let me give you a little background on what it is, exactly, that I do.

I'm a baker. At least that's what I've been responding for the past five years whenever someone asks me "What do you do for a living?". My passion for baking developed in college and in 2008 I was given an opportunity to be a pastry apprentice at a fine dining restaurant in New Jersey, so I took it. That position led to a pastry cook position (that's a fancy way of saying that I prepped ingredients and components and plated desserts for the restaurant) which after about a year and half led to me deciding that the restaurant industry just was not for me. What I realized was that I loved the production and I loved being in the kitchen, but I missed the customer interactions I had grown accustomed to with my previous jobs.

So in 2010 Shawn and I moved to Philadelphia and I worked as a barista at a specialty coffee shop; I also did all the baking for the shop part-time. That was awesome because I got to create my own recipes and make things I loved, along with being able to talk to customers and make things that they loved! In 2012 Shawn and I moved back to New Jersey to live in my parents' house after my dad accepted a temporary position abroad, and I got a job working in a local bakery. That was awesome too because I got to make things I was used to like cookies and muffins, but I also learned how to make all kinds of tarts and cakes and decorate them too.

It was really interesting for me to see the inner workings of a bakery compared to a restaurant, and it helped cement that faith in me that baking in a setting like that was more my speed. But there was only so far for me to move up in such a small company, so earlier this year when my old boss from the Philadelphia coffee shop offered me a full-time baking position, I jumped at the opportunity. So Shawn and I moved back to Philadelphia... and that's when the universe started testing me...

The job I moved back to Philly for unfortunately ended up not being financially sustainable for me (that's the best way I can phrase it without going into detail), and I had to look for other forms of income. So after applying to a multitude of different positions, I ended up with a part-time job at a nearby wholesale bakery working the front-end (helping customers, taking money, and making coffee - not baking in the kitchen like I was hoping), and a part-time job at Anthropologie as a sales associate. I would open the bakery at 6:30am six days a week and then work until about 10pm at Anthropologie five days a week. As you can imagine, this was not an easy schedule to keep, and I honestly applaud those of you who are able to work multiple jobs without falling asleep on the job. It took about two months before I finally decided to throw in the towel and do what's best for my sanity, though not necessarily for my wallet.

That finally brings me to the present situation at hand. Last week I gave my two weeks notice at the bakery. After making sure that I'd be able to pick up a full-time load of hours at Anthropologie, I made the decision to choose one over the other. My last day at the bakery is this Sunday and then I start a new period in my life, a period that contains absolutely no working with food whatsoever for the first time in well over five years. Actually, we'll say ten years, considering that I've been working in some sort of food establishment since I was 16 years old.

And I feel refreshed. I feel calm. I feel peaceful. How so, you ask? Because for the past four years, I've been telling myself "This is the last time I'm going to bake for someone else; when I leave here it's going to be to bake for myself and on my own terms." And yet, I've worked three different baking jobs in the past four years, moving on from each one to another. And while each experience has been worthwhile and educational, and I've cherished the people I've met and worked with, I can only go against my word so many times. I can only fight my heart for so long.

Baking used to make me so happy. I used to cherish coming home at the end of my workday and whipping something up, trying new recipes, experimenting in the kitchen. Then I started baking for a living, and I gradually stopped baking at home. The enjoyment wasn't gone, but the feeling of peace was. How could baking soothe my tired soul when I'd already spent all day baking at work? I just didn't have it in me to spend more time in the kitchen after having been in a kitchen for 8+ hours. I can't honestly remember the last time I came up with a new recipe. I can't remember the last time I had a day off and said "Hm, let me bake something new today! In fact, let me spend the afternoon baking all sorts of things!". Instead my days off are spent falling asleep on the couch while watching various episodes of whatever new show happens to be on Netflix.

So I chose Anthropologie. I chose positive energy over negative; you may not realize this, but there is so much negative energy in the world of food. Don't believe me? Read Anthony Bourdain's book. I simply could not be a part of that system any longer. It eventually wears you out and burns you down, and for the sake of my passion and my love for food, I chose to jump the ship before it started to sink. And you know what? It was certainly not a decision I made lightly, but I feel like I made the right decision.

Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness. It felt amazing to be able to do something I enjoy so passionately, and to be able to share it with people so that they could appreciate it too. But at the end of the day I was always worn out. It took a lot out of me to share so much of myself with everyone, and to put so much of myself into what I was doing. I'm exhausted. I'm looking forward to working nine hour days instead of fourteen. I'm looking forward to sleeping in past 6am. And I'm looking forward to being able to come home and step into the kitchen after a long day at work, to create something, for myself, on my own terms.

There is so much more I want to say about all of this. This is by no means an end of an era for me. I still intend to pursue food with a passion; but I need a break, a breather... some time to gather my thoughts. And I wanted to share this with you, so that you understand where I'm at right now. And so that you know that it's ok to take a break sometimes. It's ok to say "You know what? I'm fucking exhausted, and I can't do this right now." And that taking a step back from something you're familiar with allows you to reflect upon its familiarity. And that ultimately, your happiness is in your hands.

- image source -

Wednesday, November 20

Warm November Wear

shirt: Left of Center (Anthropologie) / pants: Lucky Brand / shoes: Merrell / scarf: Anthropologie

The weather was unseasonably warm here for a few days last week so I thoroughly enjoyed not having to wear a heavy coat and layers. And sandals! When was the last time we were able to wear sandals in November? (I guess I should specify: on the East coast...) I love this scarf - bought it as soon as it came in store. The other side of it is just the black and white pattern, if I'm not feeling colorful that day. But when am I not feeling colorful?!

Also, I feel as though I should point out Lloyd's new favorite spot. Yeah, that's a Christmas tree skirt around our chair. We're waiting another week or two before getting our tree. He loves laying on there though, which makes me think we probably shouldn't hang any low ornaments this year... (And yes, Mom, I borrowed one of your tree skirts. Shawn loves it though, and I know you haven't used that one in a very long time!)

And now, some fun! My camera is set to take multiple photos at a time, since I don't have a remote. I had a little fun with some of the photos in a gif maker....

Heh. You should see the outtakes...

Tuesday, November 19

Last Week's Adventures

Last week was a well-traveled week! I had more afternoons off than usual so I made the best of it by putting an extra 169 miles on my car. On Monday I drove to Lititz, PA to meet up with Katherine of Of Corgis and Cocktails for lunch. We actually met while I was at work at Anthropologie a few weeks ago; I said hello and introduced myself and after chatting for a bit we made plans to get lunch sometime. We ate at Tomato Pie Cafe and it was delicious! On Thursday I drove to New Jersey to have brunch with a friend, get my hairs cut, and to pick up our christmas decorations from my parents' house. (Side note: I can't wait until we get our tree!!) And on Friday Shawn and I went to Doylestown, PA and had an awesome lunch at Maxwell's on Main; I had fried green tomatoes for the first time ever!

The Anthropologie holiday meeting/potluck was last Sunday and I made three different types of cookies to share: chocolate chip, double chocolate, and oatmeal raisin.

There were so many ducks in Lititz!

So many ducks. They just added to the charm of the cute little town though.

I met my sister's new dog for the first time. He wanted me to play with him but I only know how to play with cats!

The view from our seats at the bar at M.O.M.'s; delicious food and I got to try a beer I'd been curious about.

Got Lloyd a new toy the other day and he absolutely loves it! I think he thinks it's an animal... he actually steals it from us and runs away with it.

Also, I totally meant to write a Fun Finds Friday post last week but my concept of time was entirely off... on Friday night I mentioned to Shawn that I had to prep my FFF post for tomorrow and he said "Uh... tomorrow is Saturday, today is Friday." Oops! I really thought it was Thursday. Oh well, more for this week!

Tuesday, November 12

Calling All Philly-area Folk!

One of my coworkers at the bakery is looking for a loving home for this 6-month old female cat named Mittens (yes, despite the lack of mittens). Mittens was a stray rescued from the streets of northern Philadelphia. She's super cuddly and playful and gets along really well with other animals and people. My coworker can't keep her because her living situation is too small for all the animals she currently has, but she would really love to find a good home for Mittens.

Please let me know if you'd be interested in taking in this beautiful cat. I'd love to take her in but Shawn and I are a little concerned about the size of our space and also how she and Lloyd would get along. I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask my blog readers though!

Sunday, November 10

Cat Nap

I love this little guy.

Friday, November 8

Fun Finds Friday #38

I only had fun article finds this week, so for the sake of having some images in this post too, here are a few of my recent Etsy finds:

Such an awesome sweatshirt by sewmoe!

Love this awkward thinking of you card by emilymcdowelldraws.

Fantastically realistic temporary tattoos by BurrowingHome.

These fat fat totems by leanimal are so cute!

+ The best time of day to drink coffee.
+ Being late is a new social norm.
+ Who are these people who say they don't like to read?
+ Advice on feeling like a failure.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 7

B.Read List: August - October 2013

Hm. Looks like I haven't really read much since July... I mostly read during my lunch breaks at Anthropologie now, which aren't frequent enough to get through a book quickly. Here's a look at what I've read the last three months though. Standing total for the year so far: 16 books read! (My goal was to read at least one book a month, so I've already surpassed it!)

Lets talk about Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way first. I was hesitant to keep reading past the first few chapters because there was initially a whole lot of mention of God and religion. (For the record, I am not religious, was not raised in a religious way, but I tolerate all religions despite being personally skeptical of the mention of anything associated with God; so this book was a first for me on that end.) But I decided to stick with it because I hate to put down a book, and I'm really happy that I kept reading. Religious beliefs aside, this book had a great philosophy and told relevant stories. We all go through certain hardships in life, and this book takes a look at how to get through the hard times. The author tells the story of a few hard consecutive years in her life and how she dealt with the cards life threw at her. I think it could teach us all a few things about the bittersweet taste of life.

The medical thriller Bliss was a first for me as well. I have access to my family's Kindle account and was looking for a book to read after Bittersweet, so I started reading Bliss randomly. I didn't know much about it until I got into it, and the genre was certainly new to me. Despite quite a few spelling errors throughout, it was actually an enjoyable read! The story and characters were engrossing, but I think I can say this was a one-time thing... I don't think I'll be reading any more books by that author any time soon.

Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? was hilarious. I love when comedians write books - you can hear their voice in your head as you read. I'm not even familiar with Mindy's tv work (I've never watched SNL and I'm not a fan of the American Office series), but I really enjoyed reading her book. Just like Tina Fey's book Bossypants, it's relatable and honest, and I wish she would come out with a second book already!

I love David Sedaris. So moving from Mindy's book to Sedaris' Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls was an easy decision, considering I've read almost every other book he has written. His comic essays are brilliant, funny, and accurate depictions of what goes on inside all of our heads, from the good to the bad. I'm actually still working my way through this one, but I know my opinion of it won't change. His books are always awesome!

And that's it! Hopefully I'll get through another two books before the end of the year. I'd say three, but I know that would be pushing it considering we're getting into holiday season and I work retail... so two is the goal! Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 5

Life Happens

I can't believe it's already November. The temperatures outside have dropped along with the leaves and the moon is fully out by 5:30pm. The holiday music has started playing in stores, and this morning at Anthropologie they were working on the holiday displays; there have been Christmas trees in the back room for a few days now. I actually really enjoy this time of year! A lot of people harp on the holidays, but once you get past the consumerism that masks the true nature of the season, you can see that most people are genuinely happier. There's something about being able to share moments with family and friends, and finding ways to keep the cold air at bay; the holidays bring us all just a little bit more together. I'm so excited to get another Christmas tree this year - our first Christmas with Lloyd! My apologies... lets make it to Thanksgiving at least before I start any more Christmas talk.

Watching: I've been having marathon couch sessions watching New Girl. I can't believe it took me so long to finally decide to watch it! Zooey is what drew me in, but now I'm captivated by all the other characters; her roommates are hilarious, and it's an incredibly silly show. I don't think I've laughed out loud this much at a show in a long time. Shawn and I have also been catching up on newer episodes of How I Met Your Mother, and I catch him watching Scrubs a lot, another favorite of mine. We've also watched a few episodes of My Cat From Hell... it makes us really thankful that Lloyd is such an awesome cat.

Listening: I've been watching/listening to TED talks as I come across them. There are so many brilliant people with ideas and philosophies that need to be heard! It gives me hope that good things can still happen in this crazy egotistical world that we live in, we just need to come together as people. There is so much hate and negativity and it's not doing anyone any good; I don't mean to sound like a 'hippie' but all the positive energy that does exist get soaked up in all the negativity... it's time for a change, man.

Reading: Haven't been doing as much reading lately; I'm so exhausted at night that I don't get more than a page or so in before I fall asleep. Most of my reading takes place during my lunch breaks at Anthropologie. I'm overdue for a B.Read List post though, so stay tuned for that tomorrow!

Offline: I've been trying to make the most of my free time. It's been about two months now that I've been on a schedule of working six days a week, 10-14 hours a day. Everyone told me it can only be done for so long and, well, they were right. The long days are starting to take their toll on me. Any time I do happen to have away from work, I'm usually exhausted, which puts me in a state of lethargy. I've been making a point of trying to do more than just sit around in front of the computer or tv though. There are plenty of projects to do, lots of new places to see! Don't get me wrong, I definitely relax as often as I can, and rightfully so, but I don't want to be beanbag all the time. So I'm working on that.

1. Shawn brought home some unlikely snacks from Trader Joe's. Tastes like Dunkaroos.
2. My boys relaxing together on a cold October afternoon :)
3. I bought some new boots last week and immediately thought, "Hm this is a Lloyd-sized box".
4. For my birthday Shawn stocked the fridge with some of my favorite beers. I love him.
5. I made homemade Twix using A Beautiful Mess' recipe.
6. The other day I rocked some pretty serious Bieber hair. It only took me a whole afternoon to realize it.

Monday, November 4

Camouflage Safari

shirt: Gap / pants: Sanctuary (Anthropologie) / boots: Blowfish / glasses: Firmoo / necklace: Love Culture

This outfit is from two weeks ago, when it was still semi-warm out. I never ever thought I'd be the sort of girl to rock camo-print in any form, but I absolutely love the way these pants fit. Plus, the print isn't obnoxious, so I've been getting a good amount of wear out of them. It's just tough to figure out what to wear on top without keeping it too simple or over-doing it with the prints. Working at Anthropologie has really allowed me to expand my wardrobe with pieces I wouldn't even have previously considered.

My sister was supposed to come visit me today for a fun afternoon in the city but she's having car trouble, so it looks like I'm going to spend my afternoon at home instead. That's not so bad though, considering I have a ton of things I've been putting off doing and Mondays are my only day off every week... so here's to being productive today. Although I will admit, I was really looking forward to getting a drink and some delicious food and walking around downtown today, oh well! I'll spend the day with Lloyd instead.

Friday, November 1

Fun Finds Friday #37

This series demonstrating forced perspective is really neat!

I love this travel etiquette series.

+ The real reason why we need sleep.
+ 9 reasons to boycott slutty costumes on Halloween. (It's a day late, but still.)
+ 12 strategies to create space in our daily lives.

Happy Friday!
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