Staples: Closet Essentials x 15

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Is it possible to have staples that span every season? I live in a pretty well defined climate that boasts four robust seasons. We’re really in the thick of Spring right now which means that it snowed seven inches last weekend, and then slid into this beautiful lull of sunny and 60s. Now this weekend we’re back to Winter-like conditions with flying sleet and another warm spell in the coming week.

Weather aside, I think that there are staples– seasonless, classic, that stand the test of time– which every wardrobe can proudly boast. Plus, closet staples make it much easier to pull together a look in a flash. You simply add in the weather appropriate extras, or subtract the necessary layers and WAH-LAH! The perfect outfit.

 

Dark Skinny Jeans : Classic Striped Shirt : White Cotton Tee
Navy Buttoned Blazer : Cashmere Scarf : Cashmere Sweater
Leopard Flats : Silk Blouse : Silk Cami
White Pants : Leather Mules : Leather Shoulder Bag
Leather Jacket : Leather Pants : Denim Jacket

So if your weather calls for snow, an outfit combination might include a denim jacket, easy white cotton tee, leather pants, a thick wool overcoat, and scarf. Or if you find yourself in the middle of some uncharacteristically warm weather in December you might don a pair of dark skinny jeans, a striped tee, a leather jacket, and leopard flats for an easy take on these closet essentials.

On the No New Things Challenge front, I have really been grateful for the extra savings I have slowly been building. Our littlest had to have oral surgery this past week and I was able to pay for the procedure up front (which I realize may sound standard). It felt like a major win for me. I would have put the total on a credit card in the past and paid it off over a few months time.

I have wanted to do a more in-depth post about money mapping, but I am still learning about implementing these skills in my own life and move them into the every day. But this medical procedure being paid for was a huge step toward mapping my spending, and being sure to set funds aside each and every month for some of those expenses that are unexpected. We didn’t think that our little guy would have to have this surgery for a few more years.

So there’s my money take away this week. Savings rocks! I hope you have a beautiful Saturday. We’re house cleaning, catching up on favorite TV shows (my boys), and still looking forward to Spring Break (only two weeks away)! Have a happy weekend.

XX, Megan

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Turtleneck, Jeans, Boots, Bag, WatchLips, Earrings

Shopping Your Closet: Winter Boho

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I hope this post won’t come across as overly light. Especially as compared to the one that I wrote at the beginning of this week. It has been another hard week. There have been more hardships at school, but I am going to return to this topic when I have renewed energy and time to go about giving the topic of school safety the effort and investment it deserves.

The highlights of this week included beginning to read The Hobbit with my boys. Yes, I am a J.R.R. Tolkien geek. Just reading “An Unexpected Party” made me smile so many times, I couldn’t help but be transported to the house Under Hill with the round green door. We had some DELICIOUS family dinners including a Korean Rice Bowl with Kimchi and Cucumbers from The Scramble, and a warm, filling, creamy, clam chowder (I based mine off of these two recipes: Eating Well, and Food Network). My six-year-old requested, “Mom, will you write that recipe down for me so that I can make it when I’m in college?”

Warms my mama-heart to have him ask such things, and I readily agreed to do so. Both boys have been practicing their music daily, and it makes for another highlight. Though there are definitely moments of struggle, for the most part they are enjoying the piano and drum respectively.

My husband has been a champion beyond all others. This week alone he cleaned the house from top to bottom, covered dish duty multiple evenings in a row, made sure that the boys were ready for school with multiple costumes for my first grader whose class celebrated Dr. Seuss this week in anticipation of Seuss’ birthday today. Perry made sure that pajamas, blue hair, and a complete Sam I Am costume were in order. I simply could not be more grateful to him for how much he juggles both in terms of work, home-life, and still manages to take a few ski turns in the back country every weekend!

We have more new snow as of tonight, and I really have appreciated this second gasp that winter has gifted us. It simply felt so… wrong that winter had not yet really come to these mountains. To be honest, there is so much less snow than we have experienced since our move here almost seven years ago it has been a surprise.

In terms of the NNTC I have really enjoyed shopping my closet these past few months. One of the reasons that term has come to mean more to me is that I am trying to learn and to recognize that new does not determine any part of my worth. In other words, I don’t need new things to make me feel good about myself. My worth is not in what I wear. I can still fully enjoy the expression of style and fashion without constant closet updates.

Case in point, this outfit. Yes I realize this rig borders on Indian Jones, but this casual boho look really fit how I felt in this moment. Ripped jeans are a weekend favorite for me, as I try to look more polished and professional in my day job. The silk broderie top is over six years old. Wearing these pieces that have become classic, and timeless, at least for my closet feels like a win! Plus, most of them are still on point, in terms of current fashion.

Try this at home! Take a look at your closet. Are there pieces there that you maybe haven’t combined in the past. Lay out three outfits that you might not have worn (in terms of the specific combination) before. Pick your favorite. Put it on. Rock your day!

I hope that all of you have a wonderful and restful weekend. I’m going to eat my weight in sushi, read more of Bilbo Baggin’s adventures to my littles, and enjoy a date with my sweet man. Sending you love and good vibes wherever you are!

XX, Megan

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Jacket: Gap (similar), Shirt: J.Crew (similar), Jeans: Madewell, Boots: J.Crew (similar), Bag: Madewell, Hat: Brixton, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Scarf: Madewell

My Turn: Student Safety and Gun Safety

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Image: Ginger Williams Cook

I want to take you all with me on my journey last week. It is a road that I should have foreseen when I took a job as a teacher, when I turned my education into educating. But I have to be frank, and tell you that I did not clearly see that I would one day be communicating a classroom plan to each and every one of my students as to how we would “Run, Hide, Fight”– the mantra of school shooting safety.

I want you as fellow parents, and grandparents, and citizens, and teachers, and administrators, and police officers, and lobbyists, and politicians to know what it felt like to stand in front of a classroom of students and tell them that what I want most for them when they come to school is their safety and their continued ability to earn an education that will carry them into the world as thoughtful, hard-working, problem-solving, critical reasoning, readers, writers, thinkers, and speakers who are career and college ready.

I want you to know that I saw both depth of understanding and depth of fear, both depth of care and depth of concern, both the need to be loved and the need to show love, both the desire to be safe and the desire to ensure the safety of others in my students’ eyes as we spoke. If you were standing next to me in my classroom this week, your faith in humanity would have grown three sizes those days.

I hope it won’t surprise you that not one of my students rolled their eyes when we talked about our classroom safety plan. Not one of them asked why we had to engage in such a boring assignment, or if they could take a nap, or if we could talk about something else. None of the usual millennial stereotypes we place on this generation of youth. Yes, I get all of these non-plused reactions to the daily English concepts, learning assignments, creative activities, and formative assessments I give in my classroom. I’m not offended by this in the least. I teach high school English. It’s not everyone’s favorite subject, and six hours in a school desk could put anyone on the verge of a needing a nap. But not one mention of an out, an alternative, an apathetic reply shows you how important this topic is to our youth.

My students were keenly listening, hyper aware, compellingly conversational, profoundly questioning, solution creating, statistic gathering. I know one thing for sure– after this week-and-a-half spent discussing the ways we could best hide in silence, with cell-phones off, not a word uttered, backpacks filled with computers and books placed over our hearts as a best defense against bullets– my students want to live.

But listening to the rhetoric and the maligning of the essential questions about gun control, mental health, and school safety in our country I really have had to ask myself, “Do we want the same thing for them? Do we want my students to live?” Your faith in humanity may have shrunk a bit too at the apathetic responses from representatives, politicians, and spokespersons who upheld the status quo so unmoved by the honest expressions and questions of grief from our youth and their parents.

Why can my students see that the conversation does not logically need go to the extreme of revoking the Second Amendment, but that it would be reasonable for us to speak about universal background checks, and cooling-off periods, and training for the opportunity to buy a firearm? Why does the conversation become the fact that more people die in cars than by gun-shot wounds before we talk about banning assault weapons and making bump stocks illegal?

Why does the conversation become the idea that if guns are regulated they will no longer be available to citizens but only to criminals rather than discussing common sense methods of mental health screenings for those who want to purchase firearms? Why does the conversation become arming teachers and other militant policies that include more guns rather than examining societal support of those who struggle with conditions of mental illness? Do we worship the Second Amendment and its economic and political gains more than the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Because from my vantage point this week, we do.

Because if all I have in my tool-kit is to continue to train students to duck low and move swiftly to the back of the room. That I will look out into the hall to bring passing students into our classroom the way Scott Beigel did when he was shot. That I will lock and barricade the door with a tall wooden pallet that ironically bears a peace sign. That we will break the glass in the window, hurling desks at it if need be, and exit out as swiftly as we can toward the street. That they need to run as fast as they can to the road without stopping. It feels akin to telling students to “duck and cover” in the event of an atomic bomb, with the full knowledge that all that will be left is their nuclear shadow as a reminder of their existence.

I want you to know these details because I want you to know that I want each and every child in my classroom to live. We talked in specifics. But are we as a society going to work together to ensure that safety? Now is the time that will tell. “Would you carry a gun, Mrs. Dickson?” my students asked, his hazel eyes serious, his mouth poised in a firm straight line once the question exited his mouth. He wanted to know if I would carry a weapon at school, if I would get a concealed carry permit to bring a weapon into my classroom. He didn’t ask in rancor or in pleading. He simply wanted to know what I would do to save him and his classmates in the event of a mass shooting.

What would I do? I had already asked myself this question many, many, many times from the day that the massacre happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida to the day that a student threatened the school I teach in on social media. What would I do to keep my students safe?

It was one of those moments where time took on an eternal quality– still, gaping, telescoping toward my need to answer him. “I didn’t take this job to be in law enforcement, or to carry a gun,” I replied. “You have asked me a deep and philosophical question. I do not believe in guns for the taking of human life. You want to know if I would carry a gun to protect you, but I want to know why [a teacher] carrying a gun would be our first line of defense on your behalf?”

Perhaps it felt like a dodging, ducking, pivot, a non-answer like the many politicians and spokespersons we’ve heard from this week.  Maybe it felt to him like I fractured that student’s trust. My students, who will have to trust in my coping mechanisms in the event that a deleterious person plans our death, deserve answers. But I do know my answer to his question. “No.” No, I will not carry a weapon on a high school campus.

The words Alfonso Calderon, survivor of Parkland’s school shooting, rang in my ears, “That’s a terrible idea… As far as I am aware, teachers are meant to be educators. They are meant to teach young minds how to work in the real world. They are not meant to know how to carry AR 15s, they are not meant to know how to put on kevlar vests for other students or for themselves. This is not what we stand for. We stand for small policy changes, and possibly big ones in the future. Because right now I am pretty sick of talking about teachers being armed. That is not even a possibility in my mind. I would never want to see that and neither do they want to do that.”

I care about each and every one of my students deeply. Yet when an administrator asks me “How are your kids?” like Rebecca Berlin Field, I immediately jump into my role as mother to two young boys at an elementary school that seems impossibly far, and feels unpredictably vulnerable and reply, “I was so grateful for the Principal and over thirty staff and faculty who welcomed each and every student to school today. They were standing on the curb in six degree weather when my husband dropped my boys off.” Then realizing my mistake, I quickly say, “Oh, you mean my students. They are scared.” Because this question reaches further than the doors of my high school onto elementary campuses where tiny humans go to learn and to be safe, too.

How will we protect those young students like those in Sandy Hook? I realized this week that it is my turn. If I believe that laws should change, or that monies should be appropriated in a different or particular way, or that students should be protected it is my turn to step up and voice these opinions.

It is my turn to stand beside these brave students from my high school who are looking for real and actionable change to come from the debates surrounding the Parkland, FL shooting. Small changes in national policy can lead to big changes in the safety that exists (or doesn’t) in our schools. It is my turn to be part of solutions that keep my children safe every day at school. The debate doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive, citizens can and do have the right to bear arms, alongside more reasonable regulation of these weapons. We can allocate funds for more sustained support of the mentally ill. We don’t have to throw our hands up in defeat simply because we’ve been asked to do something difficult. If I tell my students every day that they can do hard things, then I should be able to do hard things too. I hope as a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, an administrator or a concerned citizen you’ll consider speaking out on these matters.

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Four Eyes, New Glasses

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Oh yes, friends, it’s Friday! I have really enjoyed publishing theses posts each week because it means that the weekend is always in sight! Speaking of sight, how do you like my new specs? I decided to go with Warby Parker’s Blair.

Simple, a little bit classic, a little bit funky, they are working for me. I’ve linked the glasses below, along with this outfit which is also working for me as we are finally experiencing a mini-winter. This week it actually snowed, twice!

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Glasses, Sweater, Hat, Jeans, Shoes (in the collage)Shoes (in my outfit)

On of my biggest triumphs in terms of my No New Things Challenge this week has been that I feel like I frequent online shopping sites a lot less. When I set out on this challenge, I unsubscribed from updates to these sites so that I wasn’t constantly barraged by email that would tempt me to buy, buy, buy.

I write that last line with an itch to hop over to one now and just peruse. But another goodness of this challenge is the fact that I have been able to really look at my closet and come up with wonderful remixes, repeats, and even some never-before worn combinations. I will have a post about this idea of shopping your closet at some point soon. It has been so worth it for me, thus far, and I expect that this will continue.

I’d also love to know if any of you have or are doing similar things with your spending? Have any of you done a shopping fast? What were your results? Have any of you begun shopping for more responsibly made items? What prompted your switch? In short, I’d love to hear about any of your experiences in this vein. I hope you all have a fantastic day, and that your weekend is filled with those you love most!

XX, Megan

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Hearts, Flex Spending, and Real Savings

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The day of hearts and love is upon us. I don’t really care whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, I hope you still take a moment for some self-reflection and self-love sometime this month. This top adds the perfect amount of be-hearted spice to my wardrobe. I actually bought it last year in anticipation of V-day before I began my No New Things Challenge. Bonus, it’s now on sale!

I’ve linked the details below, along with some other fun heart-celebrating wardrobe items. Note: you never have to wait until February to break out these cute little love extras in your wardrobe! My update to my No New Things Challenge continues below.

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Shirt, Jeans, Mules, Bag, Necklace

Sweatshirt, Shirt, Shoes, Sunglasses, Earrings, Striped Shirt

So I have some more exciting updates on my No New Things Challenge today. First up, the  Flexible Spending or Health Savings Account. I always have to smile at myself as I write these posts. I realize that for SO MANY of you this information is neither exciting or groundbreaking. Some of you have had FSA or HSA accounts for years!

That said, please note that I am really opening up these discussions for persons at every stage and every style of spending habit or money consciousness. I’m not even remotely an expert (nor do I intend to put myself out there as such). I am simply sharing some of my baby steps in my money journey as well as some of my experiences, emotions, struggles, and successes.

So this past week I checked in on my FSA. I had signed up at the beginning of last year, and I hadn’t even activated the card to my account. I was pleasantly surprised (read: enthusiastically stoked) to find that I had accrued a nice little nest egg in my account. In fact, I had great reason to celebrate this little savings because I was in dire need of new eye wear.

If you remember my post from two months back about Warby Parker’s eye glasses, I was seriously looking at some of their frames. Fast forward to this month, where I realized that I had some actual savings in my Flex Spending Account. The time was right, the savings was there, and I ordered a pair of Warby Parker glasses. I’ll show you the details of my frame choice next week.

I’ll say again that I realize these are not only baby-steps in money management, but they are steps that many have trod before me. One of the great things about a Flexible Spending Account is that your money is set aside pre-tax, so you have a little bit of savings on both ends of the spectrum— both the fact that you have set it aside, and the fact that it lowers the bottom line of your take-home pay. It also allows you to save for more expensive investments like braces (we haven’t crossed that bridge yet), or larger medical expenses that would otherwise really wreck your budget. I cannot tell you how happy I was to be able to purchase glasses, contact lenses, with enough left over as a cushion for unplanned for medical expenses.

What do you think of these combination posts? Should I have broken this one in half? One post about hearts and Valentine’s Day dressing and another post about the No New Things Challenge? I’m trying to get a feel for what you’d like to read! You can comment on this post, or leave your thoughts on Instagram or Facebook. I hope you have a fabulous Friday and a spectacular weekend!!

XX, Megan

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