I asked Nikaela Peters and Ashleigh Coleman if they would share photos of Advent here in December. I meant it as a ropey, generous, large theme: photos that make you think of Advent. They graciously agreed, and today I have Nikaela’s to share with you. Quietly personal but effusively in-love is how I think of Nikaela’s photography. (There are a few by her husband Thom here too.) The photography she shares on her blog often feature great blessing shafts of light, but these Advent photos are different, basking instead in the darkness, semi-darkness, and glowing dim that this season is for most of us in the North.
She shared these photos and then I wrote some thoughts to go alongside them, below. Thank you Nikaela! and I hope you all enjoy.
Our Thanksgiving was a lonely one and this time is terrible and I can’t wait, my children can’t wait, until we’re back to not having overflowing hospitals and exhausted nurses. I’m following the vaccine news a bit and I feel optimistic about April (my birthday month!).
And I’m including a photo of our graham cracker houses from last year but Joe built these, I did not. I made the royal icing, which was really fun to make with dangerous egg whites, but I did not cut graham crackers precisely, with an exacto knife. Just so you know.
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones was given to me when I was pregnant with our first daughter. I have read it aloud to all of the girls through the years, but perhaps more importantly, I’ve played the audiobook for on repeat over the years. The audiobook is wonderful. The cds are often included in the purchase of this illustrated Bible (look for “with CDs” in the listing). The storytelling approach and enthusiasm in this retelling is the best.
Finally the topic I have been waiting for Joanie to tackle: denim! And not just because almost all of my jeans have big knee holes right now (checks Joanie’s notes: I guess I’ve been washing them too much). Denim trends are mysterious and unexpected, but as a category they are one of my favorite types of clothing. I learned a lot reading her thoughts and dared to imagine wearing a few different cuts, I hope you enjoy!
The long awaited and hotly debated topic, denim!
Denim is a very personal style choice. So take all my picks with a grain of salt and try them for yourself. Denim trends can shift dramatically, high to low rise, skinny jeans to wide leg, cropped, flare, baggy, tight, etc but it’s my personal belief that if you find a pair of jeans you love, you should wear them forever regardless of style. That doesn’t mean you should not try other styles, I think you should push your limits!
But it does mean that you can feel free to wear what you like regardless of trend. I know a friend who has been wearing flares for the last 10 years because they look good on her and they fit her personal style, despite skinny jeans being the required denim for 6+ years.
I also want to encourage you to get your denim altered, and not just the hem. I bought a pair of vintage Levis’ five years ago for $95. I had them slightly tapered and taken in at the thigh by a half inch, it cost me about $50 and it’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve worn those jeans 1,000 x because they fit me like a glove. Denim is designed to last you for years, so take the time to get them altered exactly as you want them. If you’re getting them hemmed: I would highly suggest asking them to keep the original hem. It’s not always possible based on how much length you’re getting taken off, but it makes a big difference in how they look. The original hem has distressing and thread that is hard to duplicate.
A note on cropping, if you’re buying a pair of cropped jeans, more than likely you’ll need to get them altered because they are probably designed for someone 5’ 8” +. Cropped pants should hit above the ankle bone, showing that bone creates a very flattering line that you won’t be able to get if the pant covers your ankle. This small adjustment makes all the difference. You might try on a cropped pair of pants and they feel all wrong, tuck the hem in a couple of inches and the pant should look much chicer. And if you’re cropping them, you’ll also want to taper them slightly to maintain the original design.
I know denim with stretch is all the rage and I like it too. But, there is a case to be made for 100% cotton denim, they will feel stiff at first but once they’re broken in they will mold to your body and they will last forever. They also hold their shape beautifully. There is a reason that Levi’s from the 70’s still look great.
A note about washing, don’t over wash your denim! I rarely wash mine, especially darker colored ones, they wear much faster with lots of washing. Spot treat them and hang them up if they need to air out.
P.S. If you’re wanting that classic vintage Levi Mom jean look and you’re shopping vintage look for 501’s. Look at the color of the denim and make sure that’s what you want, the rest can be altered but the fading/color can’t be changed.
P.P.S. I link to Shopbop several times because they have fast and free shipping and very easy returns! If you’re a prime member they give you free two day shipping.
And a way we go!
a. I own these jeans and I really, really like them. I wasn’t sold at first but they have become a favorite. They have several great washes and even a couple with holes in them, if that’s your thing. I am personally not a fan of buying denim with holes in them. The holes end up landing in strange places and they don’t look natural. But that’s a personal preference. They will stretch, for sizing if you want them to be snug order your normal size, I ordered one size up for a relaxed fit and can wear them comfortably all day.
b. Hate the name but love the fit on these Levi Wedgie jeans. They’re high waisted, thick fabric and hold their shape really well. I would order your normal size and one size up. They will give slightly with wear.
c. AGOLDE denim deserves a mention for many of their styles. If you haven’t checked them out, I encourage you to do so. The have the Riley crop and they come in several colors, but the “Air Blue” gives you the most classic denim look. The Nico style is the one to pick if you want a classic skinny jean style.
e. B Sides
d. Here is a great wide leg option if you want to test the waters but don’t want anything too wide or dramatic. I like the idea of getting them in black and pairing them with a fun high shoe for going out (when we can do that again). I like the look of dark denim with a fancy cropped sweater of jacket for evening.
e. I’ve been a big fan of B Sides Jeans for years. They are a Brooklyn based company that makes one of a kind pairs with vintage denim and several years ago they launched their own line. The are going to be a bit on the trendy side but the quality of the denim is top notch. I find their jeans to run a bit small, so if you’re in-between, I’d order up. I like their Plein jean for a year-round white/cream denim option. Would be very chic in the winter with a black turtleneck and a big belt. Their jeans often say “sold out” but put your email down to be notified as they do restocks.
f. Order these before they sell out! I bough a pair of these last summer and they are a go-to for me and sell out quickly. They have a similar feeling to the wildly expensive Jesse Kamm pant. They are so comfortable and flattering and look great worn styled many ways. They are long but I took my kitchen scissors and cut them to the length I wanted, no need to pay to have them altered. They run slightly big. I ordered my true size, 4, which fits well but I could have done a 2 for a more fitted look.
g. Citizens of Humanity
i. Madewell skinny
g. The only time I’ve ever stopped a woman on the street to ask her what denim she was wearing was with the Citizen of Humanity Charlotte jean. These have a slight vintage look but feel very modern and incredibly chic. They are expensive but the quality is great and they should last you years of almost daily wear. I like the gray color as it’s unexpected but they come in a variety of washes and I also love this classic look.
h. A cute boyfriend jean option, Size down one or two sizes and if you’re on the shorter side expect to get them altered or wear them with a big cuff. Boyfriend jeans are supposed to be casual, oversized and relaxed so don’t stress over the fit too much. Pair them with a fitted top or a cropped sweater.
i. Rounding out this round up with a pair of can’t-go-wrong-skinny-jeans from Madewell. I personally love the 10” rise, it sits above the hip bone, which I like. I’ve owned these jeans for 5+ years and still wear them regularly. You won’t regret them! They come in three lengths which is very helpful.
Pictured above, a few Advent calendars I noticed this year. Number 6 is a link to Walmart, highly irregular! But it is a Spanish chocolatier and I was so taken with the illustration with brown-skinned people (unfortunately rare in American nativity illustrations). It’s hard to see clearly in the photo, but Walmart is the only online retailer I found carrying it in the United States. And yes, the Vosges one is $145 but yes they are one of American’s finest chocolatiers. And female-owned!
I have such affection for Advent Calendars. I love looking up all the options, in particular the ones with edible gifts, or useful ones like pencils or paperclips, or ones with just bits of paper.
(By the way, I’ve never seen the Present and Correct paperclip calendar available, it must sell out November 1st, but I take such joy from their web shop anyway.)
I mentioned in my homeschool newsletter last week that Wednesdays are peak-energy days for us. From the earliest crest of morning I am loading up the car with all sorts of things for the class I teach, reminding the girls not to forget their things, changing Esme into new, post-breakfast clothes and for once washing her face well, packing a group lunch and separate snacks, jumping into the car with my coffee half drank and chilled (but preciously, preciously saved for the drive). The day carries on in this way like a merry rattling wooden cart driving through a parade until we pull back in to our drive around 5pm and spill out, papers and crafts asunder, into Joe’s arms.
At which point I am ravenously hungry, tired, proud, and socially spent, already eager for 7am the next day when I won’t be getting out of bed.
In acknowledgment of the vortex of Wednesday, I’ve been treating myself (the cook) and us (the collective household) by making its dinner the night before. I make it alongside whatever I’m making Tuesday night. It’s twice the dishes, twice the sizzling pans on the stove, and often feels it, but then two dinners are done.
I’ve been making: Dorie Greenspan’s mediterranean shepherd’s pie.
My friend Rachel is the only person I know who has lived the capsule wardrobe philosophy for years. She wears simple colors in gorgeous trendy silhouettes and mixes them with one or two bottoms. She buys higher-end items and resells them while they are still in excellent condition for their next owner. Before I met her, I honestly didn’t believe that there were people who actually pulled that off.
She has also worked remotely for over eight years and is one of the few women that I know who does her work each day, and then logs off. No guilt, no second-guessing the day. I so admire this!
This September we were in Maine together and she had already started wearing turtlenecks (whilst remote working on the porch, with a glass of lunch wine). I realized this might be my window into the clean lines of the capsule mind. She agreed to share her favorites! Here they are…
Turtlenecks have sustained the test of time. My mom recently sent me my kindergarten school picture. Guess what I was wearing? A turtleneck! Guess what I am wearing right now? A turtleneck! Between the months of October through April, you will find me in a turtleneck. Now that I think of it I wear mock-neck tanks in the summer. Something about the cut feels sophisticated, chic, and slimming (because I can easily cover my double chin!)
Growing up in Southern California, I would seize every opportunity I could to wear a turtleneck during “winter” (78 degrees in the dead of January), but when I moved to New York City turtlenecks became a necessity. 7 years later I’m writing blog posts about them. What is life!
This post will mostly be a highlight reel of my favorite turtlenecks, places to find quality turtlenecks and the best material to look for when purchasing your own sacred turtleneck. I also want to highlight how available some of these more expensive pieces are secondhand. I have bought the majority of my higher quality cashmere and wool winter staples from Poshmark + Noihsaf Bazaar. The beauty of buying high quality pieces is that you can resell them listed as “worn once” when really they were worn 150 times… but who could ever tell! I have a capsule wardrobe so I cycle through 15 pieces of clothing per season, so buying quality fabrics is important to me and my closet that is only 2 feet wide.
The last thing that I think is very important to note is that turtlenecks can also double as a mask. Two birds, one turtleneck!
I’ve been checking travel guides out of the library. I love the thorough, encyclopedic nature of them. I love the way you can flip around, end up in a new Arizona city, and to read it about for a paragraph. I love the way I can read a concise page when I catch a few moments on the couch by myself.
I love the bright blue boxes offset from the rest of the text, summarizing a deeper topic. I love the way guidebooks feel parental, like shepherds. Concerned, but chipper.
Today’s post is going to be a little bit different. We’re going to talk about shopping secondhand and vintage, specially on eBay. I could spend an embarrassing amount of time pursuing eBay and Etsy for vintage. It’s thrilling for me and since I can’t add much more to my own closet I end up sending links to people I know telling them to buy this sweater/coat/boots, etc. Part of me is hesitant to give away my shopping secrets but the truer, purer part of me loves knowing someone found something great that they love and will wear, at a fraction of a new retail price. Shopping secondhand is good for the earth, your wallet, and once you get into it, you get a real high from it! Or at least I do. 🙂
I’m going to narrow today’s conversation to sweaters because they are one of my favorite things to buy secondhand. The sizing and fit is flexible which makes it a great starting point to buying vintage–there is not a lot of loss or risk involved. Referring to our sizing conversation from post #1: Don’t be afraid to buy two or three sizes up from your normal size! Knitwear is great oversized.
Some items might have small imperfections, I say: embrace them. I’m not looking for 100% perfect condition when I’m shopping secondhand, it has a history!
Everything we’ve linked is one of a kind, they are currently all available when this post went live but things move quickly!
Sam McFadden and I met when our oldest children were in the same kindergarten class at a fabulous Boston Public school. We both showed up with their younger siblings at pick-up, splitting snacks between the two and managing to watch both the playground-play and the fountain-play at the same time. Our kindergarteners became fast friends, built on a shared love of Minecraft, drawing, Star Wars and imagination.
In quick succession Sam and I both began showing up looking fatigued, queasy, and then subsequently announced/explained: pregnant.
Right around when we finished our lease on our North End apartment and moved to Vermont, Sam and her husband Aaron made the decision to follow a lifelong daydream and move their family onto a sailboat. They have been living and homeschooling on their 42′ boat since last year. After watching them spend this past summer sailing around Maine’s harbors, I had to follow up with her and ask a few questions about life these days!
Dear readers, a few dated elements of my old theme broke last week. So I am reconstructing and reimagining this blog space. It’s not perfect yet. But seasonal footwear goes on, and we have a few favorites from my sister Joanie this week. Thank you Joanie!
Okay, let’s do fall/winter footwear! Yes, I live in Los Angeles but I take several cold/snow trips every year to Michigan, New York and Colorado so I’m well versed in the subject. I have to keep my shoe lineup tight as I’m generally packing things in a suitcase and don’t have a ton of room. When I’m traveling, I like to bring one boot with a stacked heel that I can wear with pants or a dress with tights, one all weather boot that’s waterproof and a boot that’s weather appropriate but maybe a bit more stylish for when it’s cold but not sleeting or snowing.
Something that took me way too many years to learn is that when you’re investing in a boot or a shoe, take it to a cobbler and get the sole and heel re-enforced before wearing them. It will add a lot of life to your boots and also prevent you from having to do damage control down the line when you wear a hole in the sole. Many fall/winter shoes are expensive and should last you for years. Properly caring for them from the minute you buy them will help. This doesn’t apply to rubber soles, but ones like the Madewell or Everlane pairs below.