Mismatched Mess

of life, love, fashion, & forgetting to update


3 Comments

Finding Ways to Keep Focused

Seinfeld | George Falling Asleep Under Desk

A couple weeks ago I described losing focus while working. I linked it to being uninspired with certain projects and blamed it on my personality type. (There’s always something else to blame, isn’t there?)

I really don’t like being unproductive when it comes to my job, but I can’t deny that I work best in bursts of energy. When I have those inspiring, energetic moments I soar. I absolutely love the feeling. I can multi-task like no other; creating, emailing, advertising…all at once. It’s amazing. But just like with the energy you can get from a sugar high, the crash is inevitable. And with crashes come lulls.

That’s what I need to learn to deal with. The lull. I need to learn to better manage myself during THOSE times.

I’ve been working on finding that balance and have learned a few things about myself along the way.

1. I’ve learned that waking up early is GOOD. It’s so good for me. I feel better through the whole day just by giving myself the proper amount of sleep and waking up at a decent hour.

2. Scheduling is my friend. I do tend to go off schedule when I’m having one of those bursts of creative energy, but on a daily basis it’s helpful to schedule my days.

3. When in doubt clean out the email! My mind is as organized as my email. I take time each week to open, read and file away emails. That way I can focus on the most important projects.

4. Change of scenery…occasionally. Once a month or less, I pack up my laptop and find a coffee shop in town to work in. I’m not going to deny the perks of working from home,but working alone all day everyday can get tedious, even for an introvert. Changing the scene every once in a while really helps me recharge.


Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Around the House – Painting


Our flat feels one part kid’s art on the fridge, and one part Pinterest Paradise. But making my own art and using washi tape to display it was a lovely solution to the ‘no nails’ rule in the lease. I quite enjoyed painting/drawing these.

I used my new colorful rug as inspiration to fill the pages with more color and abstract shapes. Painting is interesting. It’s relaxing and fun. And 9 times out of 10 I really dislike what I paint and end up casting it aside, but the process of painting will forever be my favorite part.


2 Comments

Postcard Collectors

Postcardwal

In Scotland we fell in love with several paintings at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Among many other artists, we were also able to see works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Monet. Not willing to spend too much money or sacrifice too much personal space on the train ride home, we decided to bring home post cards of our favorites as ‘souvenirs’. Then all of a sudden, we had a handful of postcards and a choice to stack them in a nice, neat pile on a shelf or display them somehow.  Display it is!

One of my very favorite wedding memorabilia were our RSVP postcards. We had our guests check yes or no (of course) and in turn write or draw messages of encouragement. I made all these into a cute book that I hope to always have with us.

427903_3741405863539_1404572106_nAnd I would love to add to our current postcard collection! If you have a hankering for snail mail, perhaps we could all be postcard pen pals? (Just let me know!) At any rate, I now have a fun wall of postcards with plans to expand as we continue to visit different places!

 


2 Comments

Our First Thanksgiving in the UK

Taylor and I just spent our first major U.S. holiday away from home. Thanksgiving is a holiday we usually spend over-indulging in delicious food, and enjoying time with all our families. This was the first Thanksgiving  we weren’t able to do that and we had no clue how to celebrate!

Early on we decided to just make a simple ‘Thanksgiving’ pizza then see how the rest of the day unfolded. No fuss or stress about it.

I spent a good part of the day being thankful for our last Thanksgiving, which our family put together for us in September right before we left the U.S. My dad and stepmom’s house was decked out in Thanksgiving (and Halloween) decor, and they didn’t hold back on making it seem like a real Thanksgiving with ham, tons of dressing, sweet potatoes, broccoli salad (who knows what I’m missing!), and tons of pie. Taylor and I made lemon and pumpkin pie and I tried my hand at a U.K. ‘banoffee’ pie, made with bananas, caramel and marscarpone cheese. (It was a shot in the dark, and too sweet for my liking, but turns out nearly every restaurant here serves banoffee pie, so my pre-UK research hit the nail on the head!) We were so grateful for the efforts put into giving us an early Thanksgiving!

On the actual day of, we decided to go into the city centre and fulfill some ‘Thanksgiving wishes’, or rather– we had a determination to do some things we’d been putting off. I wanted to mail off some letters, so we stopped by the post office for the first time, and Taylor wanted to grab a latte from Pret a’ Mangier. The latte is called the Love Bar Latte, named after their Love Bar granola bar and is one of the most delicious smelling and tasting lattes you can get. This wouldn’t be a big deal if the only Pret coffee shop in our town didn’t close at 5:30, since we rarely visit the city centre during the day. While we were there we saw all their Christmas-themed sandwiches, and one fit our Thanksgiving-filled day perfectly, with turkey, cranberry and dressing.

Once we succeeded in our mission, we walked to Sainsbury’s grocery store to begin shopping for our Thanksgiving dinner. While we were shopping it was interesting to note how ‘irresponsible’ it was of us to shop for our Thanksgiving meal on the day of Thanksgiving. I have no doubt in America if we weren’t fighting the empty shelves of Thanksgiving ingredients long gone, then we’d be fighting the desperate crowd of people. And of course, here, the only thing we were fighting is actually finding the ingredients at all.

It took us a while, but we managed to find most of what we needed, even though they had no pumpkin pie filling or canned cranberries.

It was really fun cooking. In order to speed up the process we took several shortcuts, since all of this effort was just going to go on top of a pizza crust. However, it was really fun boiling our cranberries and creating cranberry sauce to our flavor preference. In lieu of pumpkin, I decided to chop up some apples and make homemade mini apple and orange zest pies. The pizza turned out delicious and we even had enough to make a second pizza for the day after (leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving!)

Taylor was in charge of the entertainment, and tuned us in to the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Thanksgiving marathon, which we watched late into the night since it was on U.S. time.

We really enjoyed our Thanksgiving. We missed our families, missed the great food, but I’m happy to see we made the most of it and had a great time!


1 Comment

Canterbury Festival

IMG_6619

Last Saturday marked the start of the annual Canterbury Festival and we decided to visit the city centre to discover how it would unfold.

Basically the festival seems to be a wonderful way to highlight and feature all the fun art events, plays and performances that will be going on from now until November 1st—and beyond. From plays, comedy, choirs, concerts, art galleries—it’s all featured all around the city and brings quite the crowd.

The festival began with the Espression Arts Parade, which was an adorable crafty ‘parade’ of children and families followed by a school band and people dressed in renaissance clothing. Before we moved, Taylor and I passed by the Espression Arts cafe everyday on our way to the city centre where we gathered it was a coffee shop and art studio for families. We could see mothers and children painting or reading through the windows.

IMG_6629

IMG_6640

We spent the rest of the day exploring the area more and finding a few more shops we knew we would frequent. We plan on heading to some of the many events featured by the festival, starting with a comedy act on Thursday.

However one reason we’ll be skipping out on some of the events is to make a day trip to London to visit a close high school friend and her husband!! They are enjoying the London sights as we speak and I’m so excited to take a short trip to visit some familiar faces!

A quick update: Our new flat is great! We’re slowly acquiring a few necessities, since the flat was essentially empty except for furniture. Taylor had to take a quick trip to a shop last night in the middle of cooking just to buy us a skillet! We’re still using paper plates and cups–early on I jumped at the opportunity to buy some cheap coffee cups and silverware, but haven’t found any plates, bowls and cups I like within our price range. Other than the bareness of our cupboards, we’re settling in quite comfortably. I (finally!) found an art store and bought some paints and large paper. My practical mind knows we can’t afford to outright buy every single thing we need (or want) for this flat immediately, so decoration comes last–(oh how our livingroom needs a rug and plant! That’s all I ask for!) But that won’t stop me from doing my best to make art on my own with which to decorate!

IMG_6654


4 Comments

We Got the New Flat!

I’m so excited that we were able to get this lovely flat! There have been quite a few hurdles, but we got the keys and had a look around today!

If you missed why we’re so excited about this place, you can read about our experience with the first flat here.

apt1

The first flat was not what we saw online and about five times smaller than we thought it was going to be. It was just a small, narrow room with a bed in one corner, a couch in the other and a counter with all the necessary kitchen appliances, and a small bathroom with sliding door. I don’t want to complain about it–it’s a nice looking place and ideal for a student or single professional on a budget. However they advertise it for two people because the bed is a double bed, so technically large enough for two. We have been living decently here; only unpacking the essentials and limiting what we attempted to cook. But when it comes down to it, there would be no way we could each work full time out of it.

Admittedly we felt like true stereotypical Texans when we discussed the issues with the landlady. Of course the Texans would want everything bigger. But, for us to comfortably work, live and research, we needed space and made the decision to search for a larger place. We just got SUPER lucky to find a place as large as the new flat is in our price range.   

These first photos are horrible. Perhaps I was cold from walking in the mist, or maybe I was too excited to actually focus the camera!

This flat is a short and pleasant 9 minute walk to the city centre, compared to the 15 minute walk on a major road from the first flat. It is a nice 15 minute walk through a pedestrian-only walkway to the University of Kent, compared to the 30 minute walk uphill on a major road.

I feel like we’ve just moved up in the world because of this upgraded flat. Yes, we’ve had bigger apartments in America, but it’s really been like starting our lives over in the UK (relearning money, reading Universal time, learning which side of the road to be on—I mean, we haven’t had to think about these things since elementary school!) , so this flat is a giant step for us. This is why I’m so excited to share this little place! And we’ll be moved in tomorrow!


1 Comment

UK Update | Two Weeks Down

 

The remains of Canterbury Castle

The remains of Canterbury Castle

Our life in the UK has become much easier as we’ve settled into a semi-routine, discovered our favorite cafes and met a couple people. While we have become more comfortable, there are still quite a few issues we are working to sort out, so there is still a feeling of restlessness between us.

Canterbury is a gorgeous city with lovely parks and historical buildings at every turn. We are still in awe that we live here! Canterbury is actually a very tourist/university-driven location, so us being Americans don’t cause us to stick out at all. Taylor has met Canadian, French, German and Bohemian students and teachers. Go to any cafe and the possibility of hearing at least two or three different languages around you is quite high.

Of course living in a tourist and college town does have its downfalls we will need to acclimate ourselves to, such as having droves of people visit the city centre each weekend and the normally peaceful evenings turning into loud nights each Saturday due to students.

We are currently continuing to live in our tiny flat, however we reserved a flat that will hopefully be ours very soon. Waiting on hearing back from the realtor is making us even more restless, but the flat currently has people living in it that aren’t due to leave until the 16th of October so we just need to be patient.

Thankfully our money situation has improved, as well.  We were able to sign up for a UK bank and received a debit card recently, although we’re being sparse with our money as we  want to have as much as possible in the bank ready to be delivered to the new flat if we are able to obtain it.

We have slowed down on being ‘touristy’ to save money, although we did visit the Canterbury Castle recently. We plan on visiting the gorgeous Canterbury Cathedral that I love snagging photos of, we just haven’t been able to make time to visit.

The Fun Stuff:

We’ve started drinking A LOT more tea. At cafes you get an entire pot of tea for half the price of a coffee, and tea bags are much cheaper. I love tea!

Though some groceries offer an ‘American’ section, we’ve yet to find one, although Uncle Ben’s ready-made rice meals are very popular over here.

Eating at restaurants is very different. We have had several meals where our waiter wouldn’t come back to our table! We would sit there not eating for 5,10,15 minutes to no avail. At first it was surprising and confusing until we realized that, unlike in America, waiters are not supposed to bring the check (or bill) until they are waved over. We are quite used to being handed the bill without asking for it, but it is considered rude to do that over here.

Slang and Phrases
‘You’re having a laugh’ -meaning – ‘You must be joking’
‘That’s not bad’ -meaning- ‘That’s good’
‘Quite good’ -meaning- ‘A bit disappointing’
‘Takeaway’-meaning-‘Take out’, ‘to go’, or ‘delivered’
‘Go to hospital’ – a normal phrase used instead saying ‘go to THE hospital’
‘Watch the football’ – as opposed to ‘watch football’ (without ‘the’)–and of course football is soccer
‘Redneck’ – they think it means anyone from the South!


4 Comments

Our Life in Canterbury | The First Four Days

planeride

We finally made it! It feels like we’ve been waiting forever to begin this part of our life.
Over a year ago I wrote this post regarding the realization of the possibility of moving far away for Taylor’s PHD.
Little did I know then that we would end up in the UK!

plane1

Day 1 | Tuesday
Our trip to Canterbury, Kent, England was actually really easy and pleasant. We spent the day at the airport with my mom, sister and father in law.
We had lunch at the Hyatt dining room then said our final goodbyes.

Once we got on the plane our last meal in America was flying over one of the great lakes nearest Canada. We then watched a movie, slept and tried to make the most of our 9 hour trip.

plane3

Day 2 | Wednesday
Arriving in London Heathrow airport was a smooth process. Thankfully we found a cart to carry our 150ish pounds of luggage. Taylor bought a simple cell phone to contact our landlady, withdrew a little more money from an ATM, then we headed out to grab a taxi.
The trip in the taxi was really nice. We didn’t get to go through London, because the traffic was too bad, so we took the road around it. It took about an hour and half to travel to Canterbury in which time we enjoyed joking with the taxi driver about American and British stereotypes and learned a lot about England history. The driver was so nice and interesting. He actually lived in Kent as well (our address is Canterbury, Kent, UK) and talked about his children. His son has his own business putting together massive (15-20,000 people) techno dance events and his daughter was a model who was actually in Toni and Guy’s London Fashion Week’s runway show that same day.

So, this is where the first day in England loses its…charm. The taxi driver brings us to the flat we put a deposit on online. After waiting 30 minutes the landlady pulls up and was in complete shock there were two of us. We walk up to the place and it’s not what we were told at all! We knew it was going to be small, but it was way smaller than we thought it was. But it wasn’t just our error–the online realtor told us this place was for two people when it clearly is not, not to mention the fact the landlady didn’t even read the agreement and Taylor’s numerous emails stating there were two people.
I won’t go into the details, but we haven’t signed the lease yet and we are looking at other flats in the area already. Hopefully we will be out of here soon.

Because of the shock of the flat, jet lag and the time difference, we just collapsed on the bed and slept for several hours. Once we woke up we walked downtown and found a Pizza Hut that offered Wifi and contacted our family.
We then went to a nearby store owned by Wal-Mart for some basic necessities.

Look how exhausted we were!

Look how exhausted we were!

Day 3 | Thursday
The third day brought a couple more issues, but we felt a little better. We found a coffee shop for the wifi–it’s very nerve-wracking being totally reliant on Wifi to contact people! We then decided to take out more money from an ATM and…it stole our card! Fear ensued when we realized there were issues with our cards and only had a little cash with us. We bought some very cheap items to make sandwiches and splurged on a portable Wifi card so that we could sort out all these issues in the apartment instead of at a restaurant.

bus1

Day 4 | Friday
Friday Taylor and his dad worked on sorting out our bank issues in America. It took most of the day, but it was finally fixed, though we still don’t feel 100% comfortable using the debit card we still have. As that was happening we walked up to the University of Kent where Taylor will be attending. The walk was not what we expected as the traffic was horribly busy and the trip was uphill. Once we got to the school we walked around for about an hour, but couldn’t accomplish anything until the following day. We didn’t want to walk back so we decided to try out a doubledecker bus for the first time. It was so simple and took us to the city centre right near our flat.

Day 5 | Saturday
Taylor walked back to the school and registered Saturday morning. We then spent the rest of the day finally fully relaxing and enjoying the fact that we were in England! We ate tacos and window shopped all around the city centre.

We’ve had so many issues, but now that we are more comfortable it’s really exciting being here! We will be tourists in our own city for a long time. The city centre is so busy with so much history. Once we get UK cell phones (smart phones) we will be much more connected. Our wifi is very limited and we’re trying to save our money until we get a UK bank and hopefully a new flat! Then we’ll be able to do much more exploring! We still can’t believe this is our life now and are so blessed to be here. The issues we are facing are annoying and stressful, but we know it will be settled soon!

We’ve had fun comparing the shops and TV stations. Everything is similar just with different names:

Stores:
ASDA – owned by Wal-Mart and looks like Wal-Mart
Big Box – Big Lots
TK Maxx – TJ Maxx

TV Shows:
Funniest Ever – You’ve Been Framed! – America’s Funniest Home Videos

Food:
Walkers Crisps – Lays Chips

Slang:
Tea (or tea time) – Lunch time
Quid – Cash
One off – One-time (example: one-time fee)


Leave a comment

Vacation 2014

My husband and I just got back from a really fun two week vacation! It feels good to be home but that two week break to see family and do whatever was so appreciated. Now that we’re back in the swing of things it’s full on PREPARE mode.

Friday we opened a new bank account that will make the transition to international banking easier. Today my husband will be putting the deposit down on our hopefully future flat in England and tomorrow we’ll be traveling to Dallas to have our fingerprints and other biometrics taken as the final step of the Visa application.

We also just bought suitcases! They’re the largest suitcases either of us have ever bought in our lives, yet in comparison with all the possessions I was thinking of bringing for a 3+ year stay, they are small!

I’m excited where all this heading! Tentative kick off date is September 10th…ish…

I will continue updating the blog on the process. Until then, here’s what we did on vacation!

Vacation Day 1 – I ended up working half a day to finish as much as I could on my giant to-do list, but after that we headed to Deep Ellum (Dallas) to see Antemasque and Le Butcherettes in concert. It was amazing! Antemasque’s energy was totally thrilling and Le Butcherettes—a girl vocalist/guitarist and a girl drummer? Yes please!

After the show we were stopped on the street by a man who showed us magic tricks and sold us a couple of t-shirts out of his backpack for $5. Totally legit. We then couch-surfed on our good friend’s couch.

IMG_20140806_141943_676

Vacation Day 2 – We watched Guardians of the Galaxy with our friend then began the travel to Texarkana, TX to visit another friend. Taylor and he caught up and had deep philosophical discussions over Starbucks for several hours before we headed out for a late night trek to Hot Springs, AK.

Vacation Day 3 – Waking up in Hot Springs at the old Angels in the Park hotel, we walked downtown for late morning breakfast before we visited our favorite spots in downtown Hot Springs. Lunch was a flight of locally brewed beers and hummus and dinner was our favorite German restaurant.

IMG_20140807_124822_047

Vacation Day 4 – We packed up early and headed to a Starbucks–the problem with taking a vacation in the middle of searching for overseas apartments and applying for visas is that there was always an email that needed to be responded to immediately so we took frequent Starbucks (aka wifi) breaks. We then mailed our parents some postcards then began a long trip all the way to South Carolina where we stopped at 1:30 am for a few short hours of sleep. For a late night snack I couldn’t resist buying the Lays Cappuccino Chips and a Starbucks frappuccino at a gas staion. The chips were not all that people made them out to be and the drink tasted like a bad batch of barbeque! Gas stations are hard to trust.

Vacation Day 5 – Four hours of sleep at a hotel and McDonald’s breakfast later, we were on the road again a few hours from our destination in North Carolina. When we arrived I met Taylor’s grandmother, great-aunt, uncle, aunt and cousin for the very first time. We also hadn’t seen his mom in 4-5 years. That night we stayed in a beach house, looking at old photos and catching up.

Vacation Day 6 – We spent the day with Taylor’s mom, aunt and cousin at the beach then the evening with his grandmother and uncle. Afterwards we headed to Raleigh, NC where we met with Taylor’s step dad. They bought us a room in a downtown hotel, which led to a lot of walking through the beautiful downtown area the next day.

IMG_20140810_134329_069

Vacation Day 7 – Waking up with room service coffee (just because we could), we ventured onto the streets of downtown and ended up at the North Carolina Natural History Museum. We explored downtown (found a coffee shop, of course) and then met back up with Taylor’s family for dinner out and the a trip to Krispy Kreme donuts.

IMG_20140811_094424_606

Vacation Day 8 – We began the day by walking to a cupcake shop for coffee and cupcakes! It was accidental thanks to wrong GPS directions, but it was a good stop nonetheless. Afterward, we traveled to Durham to meet with theologian Dr. Stanley Hauerwaus. Taylor and I (more so Taylor) love his work and forward thinking methods. We met him at Duke University in his office where they chatted about the future. He encouraged us on our journey to England and took a photo with us! The rest of the day, not gonna lie, was spent at a mall. Taylor found several outfits at H&M and some shoes, which he needed. We ended the day driving back to our hotel in pouring rain and had pizza delivered to our room.

IMG_20140812_152913_026

Vacation Day 9 – We traveled to Benson, NC after waking up at 6 am where Taylor’s mom showed us every home and landmark that had anything to do with Taylor’s childhood. It was interesting seeing a part of Taylor’s past. After breakfast we were introduced to Taylor’s old baby sitter then carted off with tons of drinks and ice. We then began what end up being 24 hours straight of being up.

IMG_20140811_165325_034

Vacation Day 10 – 6 am after driving 15 hours home, we made our way to our beds where we didn’t wake up until 12:30 in the afternoon and it was devine.

 


1 Comment

Happy Blog-iversary!

Today is my ‘8 year’ blog-iversary. I wish I could say I had 8 years of riveting posts, but I can’t say that I do.

I’ve used this blog (under two different names) as a means to journal and share creativity. I haven’t always needed that outward form of expressing myself, so there are many empty moments through the archives. However, I thought I’d share some interesting times in my life as I go through college, marriage and career changes in the span of 8 (more like 5-6) years.

2009: One year into college, 2009 is the year I really start blogging!

I discover my love of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s fashion and get my first non-restaurant job. 

I am faced with the horrible choice of being forced to get my first touch screen and data-mandatory phone! (Back when phones were phones)

I realize I want graphic design to be my career.

I made many, many t-shirt d.i.y.’s. This one is a dress from a 4XL t-shirt. 

I get engaged in a surprise photoshoot.

2010: The year I decided to link my Tumblr and Twitter to my blog and almost all my posts have NO TITLE. What an archiving nightmare.

c4

I realize what a hoarder I am

I get super into Photoshop (some more)

I made my brother this adorable Max from Where the Wild Things Are costume

I get into photography.

I get obsessed with fashion photography and move to Chictopia for. a. while.

2011: I graduated college (mid-2010) and move somewhere with no Internet until I got married so I

IMG_6622

Post about my bridal portraits

Self-designed wedding invitations

Getting Ready

My awesome wedding party

A beautiful ceremony

And the reception (that I starved at)

2012: Working at an exhausting daycare job and feeling so creatively unfulfilled, I began blogging again!

luis

I opened an etsy store selling vintage purses. This later turned into designing flyers

I tried blogging something more meaningful for the first time on the blog. (I’m still struggling with this, but I have so much to say these days that the hard topics must be given a voice!)

I got a job as a secretary which quickly moved into managing websites! 

I started noticing some sad realities in my life. Mainly the gradual decline of friendships and relationships. 

I tried my hand at d.i.y. journals!

2013: The year I blog fairly consistently! 

IMG_20130206_085020

I start (and fail to finish) and 365 day Photo Challenge

I tried (and fail to succeed) to organize my blog

I hint at all the friendship struggles I was having (but still try to remain positive and not get too deep)

I try my hand at recipes! Yum! & Coffee

I “win” a fun blogging award and answer questions about myself!

My husband graduates with his Master’s degree and I realize what that means for us

I finally get promoted from managing websites to managing and designing websites! Finally using that college degree to the fullest extent! Except, my creativity for blogging leaves me. 

I learn the hard way about friendships. And, of course, give a vague nondescript version of the story.

2014: After a short lull (only like 6 months, no big deal!) I decide to start blogging again! 

b3

I’m trying to find my focus for 2014. I love d.i.y. and photography projects, but I really want to try my hand at writing more serious posts. I’m a quiet person and have let that affect my opinions on topics, so as not to offend or hurt feelings, but I don’t think that’s a good reason to keep quiet anymore. I hope I can find my path as I begin this blogging thing over again. Every year seems like I’m starting over, because I’m just trying to find my way. Here’s the beginning: 1, 2, 3