Monday, April 24, 2017

How to Beat Prom

prom, prom your way, simply scribbles

Hey, y'all. I'm back(ish).

If you're a junior or senior in high school, you have a lot to worry about. There's when to take the SAT and ACT, what college to choose, what career you're leaning towards devoting your life to, whether or not to get a job, bridging the gap between childhood and adulthood, and OMG IT'S PROM SEASON.

Yeah. As a junior, this is my first year attending my school's prom. A few weeks ago, the girls in my pre calc class started surfing the web for prom dresses, and that's when I started to realize the extent to which prom is hyped up in our society. It's now three weeks before our prom, and it seems everyone has already bought a dress from some expensive online retailer. There's even an entire Instagram page devoted to the dresses girls from our school will be wearing. It all just seems a little...much.

I used to love the idea of prom. Well, not prom specifically, but the idea of getting all fancy in a beautiful gown, to go to an elegant ball and have the time of my life. And then, a few months before my first prom, I started having doubts. First of all, prom is being held at the same venue that our winter dance is always held, aka at a hotel. They're hiring the same DJ to play the same mostly-crappy music. The only thing that's different is that the tickets cost twice as much, and so does your dress. Also you have to buy shoes. And jewelry. Oh, and if you're real fancy you get your hair and makeup done beforehand. And this whole thing about renting a limo. Do people, like, actually do that?

Basically, prom is a glorified dance injected with cash. You buy a dress and accessories you'll only wear once, and then rock out on a crowded, dark dance floor to music that is only halfway decent half of the time.

Then there's the whole romantic factor that our society has partnered this night with. You get asked to the prom by the person of your dreams, via an overly-extravagant prom-posal that probably involves confetti and a slew of photos and videos that will inevitably end up on Instagram. I'm not dissing prom-posals; just this week I helped by friend prom-pose to her date (We wrote on our stomachs so it spelled "PROM?" and then interrupted her date's lacrosse practice. She admitted to me that it was mostly for the photos. Cute? Sure. Unnecessary? Probably).

Once you've secured the date of your dreams, you match your outfits and buy a corsage, and then maybe you get photos of you together by the waterfront while the sun gleams on your perfectly clear, radiant skin. Later on in the ballroom, you slow dance to your song. Maybe you get crowned prom king and queen! Or maybe that's just in the movies. I mean, my school doesn't crown prom royalty. Actually, can someone let me know if anyone really does that?

After all my complaining, you're probably thinking, "Okay, Ella, we get it: you're not going to prom. In fact, you're probably going to picket in front of the venue with a cardboard sign and a megaphone." Well, you're wrong. I am going to prom. Mostly because my friends really want me to go and I love them too much to say no. But I'm doing it on my own terms.

My biggest issue with prom is the money part. Everything is just too expensive. Also, the dresses are all the same: floor-length, v-neck, sleeveless, in neutral colors like white or pink. So I challenged myself to find a cheap, unique dress at a thrift shop. And I did. It's a sort-of body con dress, coming to just above the knees, completely and utterly covered in sparkling silver sequins. I quite resemble a disco ball. It's different, fun, and cheap, and that's exactly what I want. How cheap, you may ask? $36.50. Hail thrift stores.

Prom isn't going to be like the movies, and it doesn't have to be a money-guzzling, you-better-get-this-right kinda deal. I don't have a date. I'd rather dance with my friends. I don't have an expensive, floor-length gown. I have a dress I like far better, for far cheaper. I've shed myself of all expectations that prom will be the pinnacle of my high school experience, because I know it won't be. Getting into college will be far more rewarding than prom. Working for months to be the lead in a one-act play this winter was more fulfilling. Going to art camp my freshman year was more life-changing than prom will ever be.

Despite the countless teen movies that end with the all-your-dreams-came-true prom moment, prom is not the climax of your teenage years. Life continues after those mere three hours, and it will take you places far greater than a sweaty, dark dance floor. You can and should have fun at prom. But it doesn't have to be a defining moment in your high school career. And it shouldn't cost hundreds of dollars. Like, seriously.

L8r sk8r,

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You Have the Power

Hey there. It's been a while since I've been active, but I'm not going to dwell on that. Instead, I'm going to reflect and offer my thoughts on recent national events. I don't usually do this on my blog, but I feel like the occasion calls for it. So here goes. 

First off, the inauguration of Donald Trump. Yikes. Only a few days into his term, and he's already signed anti-choice legislation, approved the Dakota and Keystone XL pipelines, and spent more than enough time blustering lies about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. 

I'm scared for the future of this country, but I'm also more determined than ever to raise my voice and demand positive change. One thing that lifted my spirits was the Women's March on Washington. If you don't know what I'm referring to...well, you do. Knowing that literally millions of women across the country--and even the world--rose up on January 21st to make their voices heard and march for what they believe in fills me with so much pride. I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be a feminist. I am proud of everyone who participated in the DC march, in a local march, urged others to attend a march, or spread the word. I was able to attend part of the rally in my state, and I was surprised at how huge the crowd was. The March completely overshadowed the inauguration, and signified that the women of America are prepared to stand up for their rights in the face of a President who threatens to strip us of every gain we've painstakingly made since this country was founded.

Now I urge you to action. Stand up. Speak out. Write. Write social media posts. Write blog posts. Write poetry. Write to your Congresspeople. Attend local marches. Donate money, if you're able. And whatever you do, do not become passive. The most dangerous thing you could do is become complacent. Understand reality, but do not accept it. Advocate for change. Force yourself to be shocked and outraged where others have become numb. This is not the new norm. 

If you want a simple, direct way to impact change, visit this link on the Women's March website. Every ten days, they will give you a new, specific challenge to complete to impact change in your country. Currently, it's to write a postcard to your Senator about an issue that matters to you. I will be writing about women's reproductive rights. Sign up on the link to stay updated when new challenges come out. 

In the meantime, remember that you can impact change. I wrote this poem today, and I'd like to share it here to remind you to stay strong and channel the power within you. 


There is power in you.

There is power in your actions.
There is power in the fists you raise,
in the marches you walk,
in the hands you hold 
and the promises you fulfill.

There is power in your words.
There is power in the letters you write,
in the poems you pen,
in the songs you sing to the world,
in the stories you weave
and the mantras you spread.

There is power in your ideas.
There is power in the light in your eyes
when you share your beliefs.
There is power in the hope you create
when you show others that they, too,
can contribute to the making of a better world. 

There is power in your connections.
There is power in the voices you acknowledge,
in the tears you wipe from the eyes of strangers,
in the sense of place you create
when you unite others through passion. 

There is power in your future.
There is power in the possibility
of what you can become,
in the promise of what you will achieve,
and in the strength of will it requires to bring you there. 

There is power in your past.
There is power in the courage it took 
to bring you where you are today,
in the slope you traversed to stand by your beliefs,
in the bonds you may have broken
and the ones you created along the way.

There is power in your aspirations.
There is power in your passion,
and power in your determination
to stand up for what is right.
There is power in your heart,
coursing through your veins,
running from the heels of your feet
to the tip of your tongue. 

There is power
in you.

L8r Sk8r,

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving in NYC

Hey there, one and all. Happy Thanksgiving! I'm not going to do a what-I'm-thankful-for post because...well, you can probably guess what kind of generic things would be on it. So instead I'll tell you about my time here in NYC with my family.

These past two days we've been out and about, exploring the city, visiting friends, and going to a show. We saw the musical Waitress, about a waitress who's a really good pie chef and has to negotiate having a baby and a crappy husband and trying to win a baking contest. The music was written by Sarah Borellis, and it was quite good. Obviously, I would have rather gone to Hamilton, but wouldn't we all have. ;)

I made a blog about our first day in the city, so watch away! And if you're not subscribed to my YouTube channel...what are you waiting for?

How is your Thanksgiving going?

L8r sk8r,

Friday, November 4, 2016

Life as of Late

Helloooooo, friends, colleagues, and small but devoted Martian readership (jk, but that would be super cool). Since I haven't done a "daily life" type post in a while, I thought I'd update you on life as of late. Let's plunge right in.

First off, last Saturday my friend Marika and I threw a Halloween party / fall food fest and invited all our closest friends. We spent all afternoon cooking creamy garlic spaghetti squash and making soup, and then all our friends showed up bearing gifts of delicious, autumnal meals. There was pumpkin bread, pesto mac and cheese, and delicious little meringues, decorated to look like ghosts.

We pressed homemade cider, played tag in the dark, and watched Stranger Things. It was a wonderful night with wonderful people, and I'm so glad we were able to pull it off.

Monday, of course, was Halloween! Marika and I coordinated costumes; I was the Moon, and she was the Stars. I wore all black and cut out a sparkly moon, which I stuck to my chest. Marika bedazzled herself with gold and silver stars. The crowning jewels of our outfits were battery powered strings of lights, which we wrapped around ourselves (I had blue ones, and she had gold ones). We walked around school all day, all dressed up in our awesome costumes, and got plenty of compliments. Later that night, we handed out candy and even went trick-or-treating briefly, because hey, if you have a good costume you deserve a little candy, no matter your age. Halloween = success.

And now, bear with me while I discuss the same topic every other blogger has been talking about all this month: National Novel Writing Month. Marika and I decided that, as this is our third year accepting the challenge, that we wanted to start a NaNoWriMo Support Group at our school. We now have a devoted little group of 4 or 5 freshmen who we meet with every day in the school library, to write intensely for a half hour. If you've ever done NaNo, you know that it's easier to reach the goal if you have a support system, and we wanted to provide that for others. I'm so proud of my little NaNo apprentices. It warms my heart to refresh my Writing Buddies page on the website and see their word counts climb.

The last thing that's been sucking up my time lately is the school musical. I'm only in the ensemble, but opening night is just two weeks away, and I have practice nearly every day. It's fun, of course, but on some level I just want it to be over so I finally have time to myself again.

November is definitely one of the busiest months of the school year, at least for the first half. Between desperately trying to hit my word goal for NaNo and managing play practice six days a week, not to mention all the homework that junior year provides, there's a lot going on. I just try to close my eyes and ride the roller coaster without crashing and burning.

L8r sk8r,

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

OTD: Vintage shorts + graphic tee + LL Bean Boots

It's official: I've become my mother.

The other day I was rooting around in my mom's old clothing, and I discovered a treasure-trove of soft, faded tee shirts she wore back in the eighties. Baggy, vintage, and just my style. Along with them, I uncovered an awesome pair of high waisted jeans, frayed and ripped from years of use, complete with patches on the back. Tee shirt + vintage shorts + mom's old LL Bean Boots = perfect outfit.

This outfit kind of makes me look like a through hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail; there's definitely a just-wandered-out-of-the-wilderness-after-two-months vibe going on here. And I'm not going to lie: I'm into it.

The shirt is from when my mom went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California many years ago. I actually went there once when I was six; I don't remember it of course. But it has otters on it and it's super cute, so I decided it was perfect for this look.

As you can see, these shorts have taken quite a beating. The right hem is torn and hanging at my thigh, and both hems are frayed beyond belief. My favorite part is the patches my mom sewed onto them many years ago. That whale one? Adorable! They're super high-waisted, and--you're not going to believe this--the pockets are over six inches deep. After spending most of my life with itty-bitty pockets (thanks, whoever decided women don't need pockets!) this felt like a real treat. I could fit my whole phone in there! Heck, I could hide a small child!

They're a little big for me, so I looped a belt through them and that did the trick.

For shoes, I slipped on my mom's old LL Bean Boots. These were all the rage a couple years ago, before I had the same size feet as my mom, of course. I love how worn in they are; if you can't tell, the theme of this outfit is "used". 

Not much accessorizing going on here. I'm wearing my usual glasses, along with a pair of swirly, multicolored earrings to add a little flash. I've also got a black and yellow ribbon pinned to my belt loop; last week, five kids my age who go to a high school in my state were involved in a fatal car crash, and today they passed out these ribbons for students to wear in commemoration. 

That's all, folks! Obviously, considering this look is almost 100% vintage, it's impossible to recreate completely; if you're interested in an OTD involving clothes you can actually buy, let me know. And if you, too, are all about the Vintage Mom/Through Hiker aesthetic, I want to hear about it! 

L8r sk8r,

Saturday, October 15, 2016

DIY Choker Necklaces

choker ribbon
ribbon wrapped twice around the neck, tied at the back
Chokers are my favorite kind of necklace. They're stylish, versatile, and--best of all--easy to make! Chokers are hot right now, which means that they can be unreasonably pricey. Fifteen bucks for a ten inch piece of rope? No thank you! Fortunately, chokers are the most DIY-able necklace. If you learn to use the materials around you, you'll never have to buy one again. Without further ado, here is some inspiration and how-to to get you started.

ideas for materials
First, gather your materials. The list for what can make a choker is endless. Shoelaces, ribbon, old/broken necklaces, leather, name it. My friend even made me a choker by braiding old pieces of jeans!
Second, figure out how much material you need, and how you're going to fasten it around your neck. If it's something like ribbon or string, you'll need enough to tie a bow around your neck. The braided jean choker on the above left clasps together via a safety pin on either end. If you're using an old necklace or chain, you might need to find a pair of needle nose pliers and an old necklace or bracelet clasp and fasten it on.

jean braided choker
braided jeans! 
The last step is deciding how you want to wear your new choker. If you're using twine or ribbon, consider wrapping it twice around your neck, and experiment with putting the bow in both the front or back (you might need someone else to tie it for you, it you have slippery fingers like me). Also consider wrapping it tight around your neck, and then having the second loop hang down at your chest, with a heavy pendant at the end. Experiment with pendants of all kinds; take them off other necklaces or make your own out of wire and household objects.

That's it! Making your own, stylish choker is seriously that easy. Now when you see a must-have choker in a store window, stop and think for a moment: Can I make that? The answer is almost always yes. Now go forth and create!

leather, weighted down with a bottle of seashells
an old necklace, revamped

L8r sk8r,

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fashion and the Power of Self Expression

self expression fashion blog

There was a time in my life when my favorite outfit combination was brown capris with white polka dots, paired with a brown shirt with white polka dots. I believed outfits made up of the same pattern in (almost) the same shade was the epitome of fashion, which lead to many years of stars-on-stars, stripes-on-stripes, and polka-dots-on-polka-dots. While I didn't really care about what I wore, I had fun and took pride in picking out my carefully-matched clothing. Life was good and clothing wasn't a big deal.

I've gone through countless style transformations in my 16 years on this earth, whether I was nine and literally just pulling random clothing out of my drawers, ten and wearing a cape to school picture day, or eleven and rocking hot pink, zebra patterned, velvety bell-bottoms. Now I can laugh at the clothes I wore as a child, and while my first instinct is to proclaim that I had "no fashion sense," when I stop to think about it, I realize that, although my clothes weren't "trendy," I was actually embodying what fashion is truly about: self expression. 

Nine and wearing baggy, tie-dye tees and floral shorts, I was portraying the free-spiritedness of my youth, and the carelessness I put into my outfit is a reflection of that. Ten and sporting my wizardly-attire (see above re: cape), I was showing the world a picture of a naive, fun-loving child whose quirkiness was spilling out the edges. I was different, proud, and unconcerned with the world's view of me. Eleven and donning my snazzy matching ensembles and vibrant prints, I projected the image of a bold, slightly clueless pre-teen, unafraid to stand out and be herself.

When I hit the ages of 13 and 14, some of that boldness fell away, revealing the insecurities and lagging confidence that comes with being a teenager. I wasn't sure who I was or how I wanted to present myself to the world, and that showed in my clothes. The opinions and actions of those around me began to influence me, and suddenly I wasn't sure how to express myself. Occasionally I found clothing I felt truly good in: my first pair of skinny jeans, my favorite striped shirt, a thrifted pair of black boots that I originally bought purely for a play and ended up wearing often. But most of the time my style meandered, settling on generic pieces that fell flat or that didn't boost my confidence, like a good outfit should. I just didn't know how to express myself through clothes.

Last year I began to truly find my voice in fashion. I started to find outfits that made me feel confident and happy, and that I felt were truly a reflection of myself as a person. One "milestone" I particularly remember is a day last year when I wore a skirt, flowy shirt, and jean jacket, and the girl in my grade who I considered my fashion "inspiration" commented that she liked my outfit. My fashion icon approved of my clothing choices! Mark the day! Even though a good outfit should make you feel awesome without the validation of others, it's always nice to get a compliment, especially from someone whose opinion you value.

This year I feel I've truly found a style I love, which works for me on every level. It's casual but edgy, a mix of street style, grunge, and hipster. It reflects the artistic and creative side of me, which is such an integral part of who I am. When I'm wearing an outfit I love, I feel the most true to myself. I feel confident. I feel unbreakable. And that's how clothes are supposed to make you feel.

Fashion is not about "flattering your figure". It's not about following arbitrary rules. It's not about wearing what everyone around you is wearing just because you feel like you should. It's about being true to yourself and letting your clothes speak for you. Fashion is about simply being yourself.

L8r sk8r, and don't forget to stay true to yourself.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

OTD: Mom Jeans + Graphic Tee

It's been a hot minute since I did an OTD (and yes, if you're wondering, I have figured out that the correct acronym is OOTD, but, well...I like my way better). So I thought I'd share with you today's outfit, which is one of my favorite looks at the moment: a generic graphic tee tucked into mom jeans, plus a flannel and, of course, my mustard yellow Converse.

fashion mom jeans fall flannel ootd

I started with a base: cropped mom jeans from Pacsun and a vintage graphic tee that I dug out of my mom's closet. It's actually one of my favorite shirts; I cut the neckline and the sleeves, as well as the hemline to make it sit better on my body. Here, though, I tucked it into the jeans. I've been really into tucking shirts into high-waisted jeans lately. It adds some shape and feels kind of retro.

To pull the look together, I donned my staple Converse, and tied an Abercrombie and Fitch flannel around my waist. A button up at the waist can do wonders to tie an outfit together, and it's great for school days when the heat in every classroom fluctuates randomly; just untie it and slip it on for an added layer. I've definitely been overusing this flannel lately, but hey! It's autumn--flannels are unavoidable.

I got a new pair of glasses last week, pictured here, from Glasses USA, a super cheap online retailer. I was looking for some larger, rounder frames, and these do the trick. In my ears I've got some cool, dangly silver fish, another piece picked up from my mom.

And last but not least, I slung my trusty succulent terrarium necklace around my neck. It goes with so many of my outfits, and I love just picking it up to peer in at the adorable little succulent all throughout the day.

Let me know what you thought of this outfit, and if we're perhaps style twins!

L8r sk8r,

PS. After over two years, I got my braces off last week! Now Retainer Life starts, however. If you have any sage wisdom for me, feel free to give it.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Sweet Start to October

grinding the apples
apples galore!
Yesterday, I welcomed October by dressing in my fall getup, purchasing an autumnal eyeshadow palette, and pressing apple cider and cooking pumpkin pasta with my best friend.

It was a cool day, the perfect temperature for fall: cold enough that you can wear a few layers of thin jackets, but warm enough that you don't have to zip them up. I started off the day by heading to my local CVS to pick out a NYX eyeshadow palette filled with golds and browns to match the changing leaves. I need to stop spending so much money on makeup, but I just can't help myself.

After glitzing up my eyes, I headed to Marika's house, where we laboriously assembled her apple cider press, hosing off all the wooden pieces and scrubbing them down with soap and bleach. When we had finally put it all together, we fed the apples in, crushing them to pulp and then pressing them until the juices ran free, trickling into the silver pot.

We collected about a gallon of cider, which we carried into the kitchen to taste. It was delicious; so sweet and thick, with a heavenly aroma. For all the labor we put into making it, it was certainly worth it.

What to do next? It was a few hours from dinner, so Marika and I conspired to follow up our autumn drink with an autumn meal. After a few minutes browsing online, we came up with a recipe for pumpkin pasta. It looked delicious and relatively easy. We were just missing two ingredients: parmesan cheese and a pie pumpkin.

Marika has her drivers license already, but she couldn't drive down to the grocery store because her foot is currently in a boot (long story). The store isn't too far from her house, however, so I volunteered to whiz down on my bike and pick up the ingredients. I hopped on my bike, headed to the store, and was back in twenty minutes with pumpkin and cheese in hand.

sweet, fresh cider
From there, we commenced making our fall meal: roasting the pumpkin, boiling the pasta, sizzling up the garlic and chopped pecans. Then we set the table, put out the food, and got to eating. It was delicious, of course. Whenever I go over to Marika's I end up cooking a meal (not that I'm complaining--I've got to start learning to cook for myself).

Needless to say, my October started off on a good foot. As I write, I'm snuggled under flannel sheets while rain sprinkles outside my window. I hope your autumn is going just as well as mine.

L8r sk8r,

Monday, September 26, 2016

Teen Lingo as Explained by an Actual Teen™

texting teen lingo

Hi. It's me, Ella, a 16-year-old and Certified Teenager™.

You may have heard about teens these days participating in "texting," "group chats," "g-chats", and other internet-or-cellular-based communication. And even more confusingly, they communicate using  cryptic acronyms and internet lingo!

How many times have you peeked over the shoulder of a texting teen and witnessed them type a befuddling phrase that you just couldn't decode? Well, worry no more. I'm here to share with you my patented Teen Lingo Decoder™, which comes equipped with a complete list of youth slang, so that next time you secretly search your teen's online conversations, you won't find yourself "IDK"-ing at your teen's IKRs and LOLs.

☞ ☞ ☞

Sorry, not sorry, y'all, I just really felt like trolling you today. ;)

This post was inspired by an Instagram post I saw, "explaining" a list of acronyms and slang that teens apparently use on the daily. Except they were all completely ridiculous and I had never used one in my life.

So I dug through my bookshelf and found some "girl guides" my mom gave me when I was a middle schooler, and sure enough there was a page on "Lingo for Online Chats." And, as I suspected, most of the "lingo" was pretty laughable, or just outdated. 

For example, have you ever typed DTRT? Or even know what it means? Neither did I, until this book informed me that it's short for, Do The Right Thing. This strikes me as funny because, a) the fact that it's an acronym implies that it's so commonly used that it's gotten to the point where it's easier just to shorten it, and b) the phrase is so much less motivational as an acronym. Imagine if you texted your friend, "I'm afraid to tell someone that Amanda is being bullied. What should I do?", and they just texted back, "DTRT." Like, excuse me, I need a little more advice than that, friend. Also, I'm obviously hurting here and you don't even have the decency to write out the whole phrase?

Okay, here's another for you to guess: G2GP. I'll give you three seconds to mull it over. 3...2..1.... And the answer is: Gotta Go Pee! Yup. For that moment when you're chatting with your friend and are suddenly struck with the sudden urge to tinkle. But your friend is waiting expectantly for a response! You can't leave her hanging. There's no time to type out a full three words--your bladder can't wait that long! Frantically, your fingers fly across the keyboard. Click, clack, clank, cluck. SEND. A message pops up on your friend's computer, all the way across town. By the time she's read those four fateful numerals, you're already relieving yourself in the water closet. 

I'll leave you with one last apparently common piece of lingo: BTDT. Baked That Danish Today? Nope. Bought Ten Dried Tangerines? Guess again. The correct answer is: Been There Done That. I am almost positive that I have never even said that phrase out loud, much less typed it in abbreviated form. How many text conversations does this apply to? Friend: Ugh, I just ate like ten funnel cakes at the fair and threw up behind the House of Mirrors. Me: BTDT. Yikes.

And now for the final challenge: Can I use all three of these ridiculous terms in one sentence? 

Okay, gimme a minute.... I think I've got one. Ahem. 

You know that moment when you're in the community pool and you've G2GP but you're wearing a one piece and the bathroom is just so far away, and even though you know you should DTRT, you're just like, eh, BTDT, when you G2G you G2G, amiright? 

I even slipped an extra piece of snazzy text lingo in there. You're welcome. 

L8r sk8r,

PS. Is it ironic that my sign-off signature is dorkily abbreviated, or is that the incorrect use of irony?