Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A resolution for allies everywhere.

It goes without saying that New Year's Eve is a time for resolutions. For new beginnings. For starting over.

As this year draws to a close, I've found myself drawn to the story of Leelah Alcorn. Born Josh Alcorn, Leelah was a transgender teen in the Cincinnati area who took her own life on Sunday. She wanted only to be accepted for who she truly was -- a female born with male sex characteristics -- but was rejected by many people in her life, including her own parents. (The link above has more details on this, if you want a fuller background.)

My heart breaks for Leelah. As painful as it is to read her final words to the world, I think it's important for us as a society to share them. Maybe it will bring some understanding to other parents who are struggling with the idea of having a transgender child. Maybe it will help us as a society gain a greater understanding of the hardships and difficulties that transgender people face every. single. day.

I know that discussion of transgender issues can become heated. I know there is a severe divide in our society about whether or not transgender orientation is "real." I'm not trying to start a debate. I'm just trying to show my support. It may seem futile, but I want all transgender individuals out there to know: you might feel completely alone, but that is not true. You have at least one ally. In reality, you have hundreds, thousands even. But right here is one that you can give a face to. My name is Emma Frankart, and I support you.

If you are a transgender ally, I urge you to come forward as well. Make it your New Year's resolution to help spread the word. Post a Facebook status. Send a tweet. Write a blog post. Make a flier. It doesn't matter what you do. Just make it known. Maybe if Leelah had known how many people support her, she would have been able to hang on long enough to move out of her toxic home environment and start fresh.

I also want to take a moment to touch on the topic of depression as well. I've been pretty forthcoming here on the blog about my own struggles, past and present, with depression. Depression is the most isolating thing. When you're depressed, you feel as though you are stranded, completely alone on and island of yourself, unable to reach or be reached by anyone. This, too, is not true. Leelah's comments about friends who don't care about her really resonated with me, because I had those same feelings (albeit for different reasons). But if you're stuck on that island too, I promise you, those feelings are not reality. They are the lies that depression feeds you. Don't swallow them.

Please. If you are considering suicide, please know that it is NOT your only option, no matter how convinced you may be otherwise. It isn't. I'm not going to shove the "it gets better" stuff down your throat, because when you're depressed, there is no hope for better and the sentiment only comes off as trite and impersonal. An easy response. But if you are to the point where it seems things will never get better, just do one more thing before making a final, irreversible decision: Ask for help. If you don't have a trusted person close to you, call a hotline. It takes almost no effort; certainly less effort than any act that would end your life. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is just 10 digits long. You push more buttons when you're channel-surfing. (800) 273-8255. There will always be a person on the other end of the line who wants you to live.

I'm sorry to wrap up this year with such a sad post, but some things just need to be said. I've already started on the resolution I'm urging all allies to take. Now it's your turn.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday style

I've been pretty terrible about taking OOTD photos lately. That's about to change, thanks to some really cool photography-related Christmas gifts I received, but that's a topic for another post. Today's post is strictly about what I wore for the various and sundry holiday gatherings I attended this year (and every year, really, because big families rule).


sweater: H&M
short-sleeve oxford: New York & Company
skinnies: Forever 21
boots: Madden Girl via Famous Footwear
necklace: Express

If the background looks unfamiliar here, it's because these photos were taken by my sister at our parents' house. I literally dragged her away from the party and snuck into an empty room so we could snap these really quickly. I bet being a style blogger's relative is so much fun, haha. We celebrated Christmas with my dad's side of the family the Sunday before the holiday, so things got kicked off nice and early for us.


sweater: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse
jeans, flats: Target

This is easily one of my favorite sweaters, and I guess I must have good taste because I always get compliments on it. I swear, this thing no sooner comes out of the laundry before it's back on me. I don't know if it even ever gets put away on the shelf. Anyway, I wore this to a few gatherings on the unseasonably warm (like, 60s warm, it was magnificent) Christmas Eve. We started at my parents' house for our immediate family's celebration just west of Cleveland. It sounds like it'd be small, but even with one of my sisters in Hawaii with her husband and his family, we still were up to nearly 20 people. Between my parents, me and Matt, my two sisters and their fiancé and boyfriend, my two brothers and their girlfriends, and my youngest brother and sister who are way to young to have significant others, it was quite a party. From there, Matt and I popped over to Akron to hang out with his dad's side of the family for a few hours before driving back to Columbus and collapsing exhaustedly into bed.


sheer button-down: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse
red plaid tank top that you can barely see in the pic: Target
skinnies: H&M
boots: Target
necklace, bracelet: Etsy

Christmas Day dawned much colder (welcome to Ohio), but we roused ourselves and prepared for another long day. Fortunately, this year we were able to stay in Columbus the whole time, heading over to Matt's parents' house for a quiet present-opening sesh with them and Matt's sister and brother-in-law. Then Matt's mom's side of the family descended on the house and everything dissolved into chaos. I kid, it was a really nice gathering. My soon-to-be-in-laws are pretty rad. After that was over, we popped over to Matt's grandparents' retirement home for a quick visit, then over to his aunt and uncle's house (on the other side of the family) to greet the newest addition – an eight-day-old little girl who basically stole my heart. Matt got to hold her and, having never held a newborn in his life, he did pretty well! (Though if you ask him, he'll say it was the most tense 10 minutes of his whole life, haha.)

Wow. I'm getting exhausted again just thinking about all the festivities last week...and that's with us skipping out on a gathering! Yup, big families rule, but they also are crazy as hell. And I wouldn't have it any other way :)

Friday, December 26, 2014

One last holiday task...

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and/or Hanukkah. My holidays were jam-packed, as always, and I know I speak for many when I say I’m ready for some much-needed relaxation. But wait! There’s still one holiday-related task that needs to be checked off. I’m speaking, of course, about thank-you notes.

As a kid, I hated writing thank-yous. Every birthday and Christmas, my mom would set us down with a stack of cards and a list of who gave what. It was an odious task, and I swore that once I grew up, I’d never waste my time with it again.

To paraphrase E.T. Bell, time does indeed make fools of us all.

Yup. As an adult, I am adamant about sending thank-you notes. It’s partly because of my family and extended-family dynamic; for us, it’s just something you always do. But another part of me genuinely recognizes the importance of formally thanking someone for making the time and effort to pick out and purchase a gift. I know that when I receive thank-you notes, I always get a warm fuzzy feeling inside, and I want to spread that to the gift-givers in my life, too.

So today I thought I’d share some tips on putting together a thoughtful, heartfelt, personal thank-you note, along with links to some of my favorite styles.

I mostly buy my cards from Target; they have great packs of really cute cards that are perfect for post-holiday notes.

12-26-14 target
Top row: 1, 2, 3
Bottom row: 4, 5 (Fun fact: These are the cards I've been using for quite a while now. Aren't the envelopes adorable?)

Papyrus is my go-to for special occasion cards, and they have some fantastic individually sold cards if you just need one or two.

12-26-14 papyrus
1, 2, 3

And finally, you can’t go wrong with a truly personalized card. Treat, a greeting card website by Shutterfly, has some great options that include the name of the recipient right on the card for that added special touch. Of course, they have non-personalized options too, if you prefer to send everyone the same style.

12-26-14 treat
Top row: 1, 2
Bottom row: 3, 4

Now that you have your cards picked out, on to the actual writing! Some people really struggle with authenticity in a thank-you note, especially when they’re writing out many at once. But there’s a simple formula you can follow that streamlines the process without sucking the life out of your words!
  • Start with a greeting, a genuine expression of thanks, and a specific mention of the gift. If there’s a monetary component, use the phrase “your generosity” or “your kindness.” Never mention the specific amount, and try to specify how that money will help you.Dear Aunt Jane,Thank you so for the adorable sweater and the generous check that accompanied it! I plan to use the money on a great necklace to go with the sweater.

  • Describe how you will use the gift.The stand mixer is just what our kitchen was missing; I can’t wait to start baking up a storm!

  • Refer to the last and next times you will see the recipient. If the person hosted an event at which the gift was given, you can thank him/her for that as well.I’m so glad we got a chance to catch up this holiday season; it was so nice of you to open your home to us during this hectic time. I had a lot of fun at the party, and I’m really looking forward to your visit this summer.

  • Wrap it up with another statement of gratitude and a sign-off.Thanks again for the thoughtful gift!Love,Emma
Now, a few important dos and don’ts:
  • DO be timely! All holiday notes should be sent before New Year’s Eve. For birthdays or other gift-giving occasions, follow the two-week rule. For weddings, the time frame is extended to two months because honeymoon, obvs.
  • DON’T mention any dissatisfaction with the gift. Focus on the positive, even if it’s something you hate. For example, a note about those super dorky slippers that you’ll never wear could include a phrase like, “The slippers are so cozy, and they’re such a great shade of [color]!” Definitely don’t mention if you plan to return or exchange it.
  • DO be personal, not formal. Write as though you were having a conversation with the note recipient.
  • DO be enthusiastic (“Those earrings are stunning!”), but...
  • DON’T exaggerate. Nothing says insincere like a completely over-the-top statement. The earrings may be stunning, but they will not change your life, and no one will believe you for a second if you say they will.
  • DO keep it short and sweet. Four to seven sentences should do it.
And there you have it! Simple, painless thank-you note writing is just a few steps away. Do you have any tips/advice for writing your thank-you notes?

Disclaimer: I was not paid or perked for writing this post. Just sharing some thoughtful tips and some items I genuinely like and in some cases use.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dear neighbors,

Dear girls-who-live-in-the-other-half-of-our-duplex,

I hope I didn't disturb you with my frantic vacuuming late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning. I know how rude it is to perform loud chores in the wee hours, when normal people are trying to sleep. But you see, little Spazzy (our cat) was at the emergency vet with a serious case of stupid/hey-let's-see-what-happens-when-I-eat-Christmas-decorations, and I had to rid the house of tinsel remnants prior to rushing back out the door to pick her up before the on-call doctor's shift ended at 2 a.m. I was already overtired and a little panicky at that point, and it only got worse when we brought Spazzy home and realized the sedative she'd been given--ketamine, known on the street as a rave drug called "special K"--hadn't worn off. Did you know cats can cry? Like, actual tears coming out their eyes? I didn't, until the other night, when I found out that ketamine's side effects include reduced blinking and crazy-dilated eyes, which in turn causes intense watering. It also causes cats (and people, I suppose) to completely lose their grip on reality. Spazzy couldn't figure out how to put her feet under her when she accidentally rolled onto her back. But I digress.

You have a cat, too, so this seems like a great time to mention that tinsel in any form, even an unassuming short garland, is dangerous for pets. Even if your cat doesn't usually eat stuff she's not supposed to. Even if you had the tinsel up last year and she didn't so much as sniff at it.

The good news is, Spazzy will be fine. She's had a few invasive butt-checking procedures this week, and Matt's and my wallets are a little worse for the wear after all the vet trips, but overall we really lucked out. Because you are cat owners too, I'm sure you can relate to the reckless sense of panic you're stricken with when something bad happens to a beloved pet. And so, I hope you'll forgive me for my loud vacuuming and borderline hysteria in the wee hours of Tuesday night.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Deck those halls

Most of the time, I just can't get into seasonal decorating. I can't help but feel like it's a little pointless to put up decorations that you're just going to take down again in a few weeks. So getting around to putting up our Christmas usually takes a while. But once I do get started, I tend to actually have a lot of fun setting up the tree, decorating the mantle and throwing garlands on everything.

This year, I snagged an unlit six-foot tree at Target for $15...a vast improvement over the tree we've used the last few years. (We used it last year too, I promise, I just didn't post a pic apparently.) Anyway, now our house feels more like a real grown-up home, I think.




So the way our place is set up, there's two living rooms. The front door opens right into the front living room, and the middle living room separates the front one from the kitchen and also leads to upstairs. Those shots above are taken from the stairs; here's a shot of them from right next to the tree:


I also tackled our mantle!



My sweet friend Ally sends me the sweetest ornaments. The photo above is of one she sent last year; it's heavy and I like to display it safely. This year, she sent a lovely replica faberge egg from the gift shop at the Met. She lives outside Manhattan and I love how her ornaments always have a tie to the city.





I had fun playing around to shoot and edit these photos; it's amazing how much faster/better I've gotten at adjusting my settings to fit the scene. (If anyone's wondering, I got that faded VSCOcam effect using part of this tutorial.)

Do you decorate for each season, or just the holidays, or not at all? Do you dread it until you get started like me, or are you one of the "It's November 1st let's put up the tree!!!" types a la this mom?

Monday, December 8, 2014

'Tis the season

For constantly being sick, apparently. Or at least, that seems to be the case for me lately.



t-shirt: Old Navy
cardigan: thrifted
skinnies: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
boots: Target
necklace: Express via DFWh

I wound up leaving work after just a couple of hours today; I developed a nasty cold at the end of last week that left me with what feels like a face full of cotton. Congestion and stopped-up ears, hurrah! I thought an ear infection was settling in too, but apparently it's not quite that bad yet. Just in case, I've been wrapped up on my couch all day with Star Trek and some wedding crafts to keep me company.

I always feel like my posts have too much blabbering about random stuff and not enough about the actual outfits I'm posting. This outfit was an unusual choice for me; I don't usually like to layer like colors, like I did with this top and cardigan. But I think I like it here; it's hard to see, but the darker stripes in the t-shirt almost perfectly match the cardi, without being too overt.

Welp, I'm also using today to catch up on start my Christmas shopping. Usually I'm pretty on top of it, but this year I've gotten an unfortunately late start. All I can say is, thank god for Amazon Prime, amiright?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Four Thanksgivings

Remember how I said that trying to return to blogging the week of Thanksgiving was a terrible idea? Well, that's because I went to a grand total of four Thanksgiving celebrations this year: two on the Sunday before Turkey Day, and two on T-day itself. This year, I decided to post some highlights! I'm kicking myself for not grabbing my DSLR on Sunday, but I had it Thursday and got some really nice shots.

Thanksgiving 1: My mom's side of the family

My brothers. This was pre-food, mind you. What goofballs.

My cousin's husband. "Did you take half a pie?" "No." *pushes pieces together* "Yes."

Post-meal couch time.

My sister, aunts and I all thought it'd be hilarious to put all our engagement/wedding rings on my little cousin's fingers. Actually, I still find it pretty funny.

Thanksgiving 2: Friendsgiving

Obligatory creepy Pilgrim table décor.

Dat vest doe.


Friendsgiving = squeezing 30-some people into one house for one fantastic meal.

And then shit got weird.

Thanksgiving 3: My dad's side of the family

My sisters and brother-in-law. We laugh a lot.

You know what's not easy? Trying to take a selfie with a DSLR and a 35mm lens.

I made dis: Crostini with brie, apple, pecans and honey. *drool*

Fact: It's not Thanksgiving without a nice lil bar. Matt and I shared our newfound love for Manhattans with my family.

"What do you mean, dogs can't have booze??"

So I didn't notice Matt's awesome pose until I edited these pics. I busted out laughing at work, on my lunch break.

My sister and parents.

My dad and sister, aka the sweetest photo ever.

We also did a family photo, with my parents, all seven of my siblings, my brother-in-law and Matt. (My other sister's fiancé spent T-giving in the Bahamas. Can you say jealous?) Anyway, I shot these to test lighting composition and apparently forgetting to use the two-second delay on my camera's remote. For some reason, I love these shots just as much or more than the "real" shot:


Thanksgiving 4: Matt's dad's side of the family

By the time we got to this shindig, it was dark out. I didn't want to be a total nerd and bust out my flash, so these photos aren't quite as good as some of the others. This is the kids' table, if by "kid" you mean "individual under the age of 30 but over 21."

Matt, telling his dad (right) and uncle (left) a story.

Matt's grandparents. I love them like they were my own.

Hysterical, raucous laughter from the kids' table.

Phew! It was insane and hectic and a little stressful, but in all I was (and am) so thankful to have so many amazing people in my life.

How did you celebrate Thanksgiving last week (or, if you're among my friends way up north, last month)?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: November

Hey guys! Kind of got completely distracted this weekend and totally failed on posting this during the actual month of November. But between two Thanksgiving celebrations, two car crashes in my immediate family (everyone's fine!!), a "family fun day" with my parents/siblings, a KILLER football game between OSU/Michigan (GO BUCKS!) and a whole day of much-needed house-cleaning, I just could not squeeze this in.

Anyway, another comparatively frugal month because life = expensive in every other way. I kept it to just the essentials in November:


1. Khombu boots via Macy's. I needed a good pair of warm, waterproof boots like WOAH. My days of frozen toes at the bus stop are over! | on sale for $58.04 w/ tax {exact, full price $75}
2. Target beanie. When you have super-short hair, there is NOTHING you can do when you have a bad hair day except rewash it or throw on a hat. Obviously, this hat's keep-me-warm capabilities pale in comparison to its hide-a-bad-hair-day capabilities. | $8.60 w/ tax {exact}

Aaaand...that's it! In all, I came in a whopping $33.36 under budget this month. Not bad! I'm thinking I'll probably put the clothes shopping on hold for December to help finance Christmas, but we'll see how that holds up...haha.

How did you do on your November budget?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


So I've come to realize that trying to get back into the blogging habit just before Thanksgiving craziness was, in itself, pretty crazy. What was I thinking? Oops.

I'm still here and still have plans to keep blogging; I just can't quite seem to get back into a rhythm. Le sigh. However, I do have a little mini-post to share today: An update on the photo-a-day project I started as part of my 26 in 26 list. Newsflash: I haven't been perfect with this. I had literally no idea how hard it would actually be to just take a photo every day. I'm not even restricting myself to DSLR-only photos; probably 95% of my daily shots are taken with my iPhone. There have been a few times were I went multiple days without taking a single postable photo. Some days, I don't take any photos at all. I'm almost halfway through the project, and I really want the second half to be more successful than the first.

You can view the entire album--141 photos as of this morning--here, view some older favorites in a blog post here, or keep scrolling for some of my more recent favorites.

August 21

August 27

September 1

September 2

September 23

September 25

October 3

October 9

October 18

October 19

October 19 pt. 2

October 30

November 4

Have you ever done a photo-a-day project? Any tips for remembering to actually shoot daily? (I have a reminder on my phone that goes off every night at 9, telling me to post a picture, but if I don't have any shots by then it usually doesn't happen.) What about tips for inspiration and picking varied subjects? (I find a lot of repeat shots--stuff from my office window, my cat, sunrises and sunsets, clouds, etc.)