How Do You Measure, Measure 7 Months and Then Another 2 Months?

I have the very real prospect of going to Scotland within the next year. 9 months specifically.

Let me tell you why this is a big deal. Because I’ll admit on the face of it, it may not seem like a big deal. It may not even seem like a deal. But trust me, this is at the very least a deal.

Fun fact, “this is at the very least a deal” is the opening line of my Shark Tank pitch for my company, Uber for cheese.

I’ve wanted to go to Scotland since Spring of 2012, but my interest started growing the year before. A friend of mine asked me to make her wedding dress, which in hindsight, feels like an insane thing to ask a twenty-three year old who couldn’t find an actual design job so was subsequently working retail in the gift shop of an historic home.

But when she and I went fabric shopping, the only fabric that grabbed our attention was a bolt of navy and green tartan taffeta that, as luck would have it, was on sale. It was practically waiting for us.

Illustration for Schiaparelli

If you’re not familiar with tartan, imagine plaid but with a much more interesting and complicated history. A history involving magic and romanticism! A history involving nationalism and war! All of that, while still looking very much like plaid.

(There’s also a history of  a plaid, coming from the Gaelic word “plaide,” being a specific garment worn by the Scottish in colder months. But I feel like that’s not necessarily a fact you’ll want to share at parties. For the purposes of this blog post, tartan is typically the name for plaid fabric in the UK. Plaid is what we use in America.)

But my friend, being incredibly proud of her family’s Scottish history, saw it for the tartan it was.

Lucille Ball. Not my friend in her wedding dress, though the two are interchangeable.

Over the next few months, we made a wholly unexpected dress. She looked like royalty. And it had pockets, so she was sensible royalty. And while we purchased the fabric in a “let’s just do it” moment, in the end, I couldn’t imagine her wearing anything else. And officially, tartan was on my mind.

So the next year, when my 19th century dress professor was helping me brainstorm topics for the semester research project, she looked at me and said, “what about tartan?”

Little did she know, I would not only say, “yes,” but I would not be cool about it at all. The next year and a half of graduate research would be devoted to tartan. Tartan and the 19th century. Tartan and punk culture. Tartan production and cultural enchantment.

  1. Tartan is fascinating, guys!
  2. I’ve been informed my definition of fascinating is not always spot on.

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Turning Almost-Thirty In a World of “Do This Before your Thirty…”


John Dominis, 1968. LIFE Picture Collection.


I turn 29 this week!

I’ve got one year till I turn 30- trust me. I’ve crunched the numbers– so I found myself googling those “things you must do/read/try/remember/see before you’re 30” lists just to see how well I’m doing.

Some notable items from these lists:

  • Run a marathon – I’m not doing that.
  • Forgive your parents – I’m more hoping my parents forgive me. I’ve been an expensive child.
  • Own a decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family – Where is the furniture decency rubric? Who do you think you are? The furniture police? Who gets to say what decent furniture is? FYI, I’m sitting on the floor, so it probably isn’t me.

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Sinister Citrus: Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake and Being a Grown-Up

I’ve spent a lot of time in my twenties wondering when a person becomes an adult.

Is there a magic age when you suddenly…

  • Drink enough water?
  • Remember your multivitamin, even if they’re the sour gummy kind?
  • Make the bed in the mornings?
  • Don’t spill pasta on your laptop’s keyboard? (That one just happened.)
  • Consistently wear socks that match?
  • Understand what a 401K is? (Current theory: Every month, I give away some of my money, and when it amounts to 401,000 dollars, someone gives me a burrito. But like, a good one. I don’t even have to pay extra for guacamole. And then they give me all my money back. And then they give me some extra money as an apology for taking all my money, and then another burrito.)
  • Generally just be better at things?

I usually always settle with the answer, “I am an adult, but I may just not be very good!”

Seeing as I just rage-quit filing my taxes because I hated it and the website was getting a little too cute with me and while I remember most of the lyrics to “Come Sail Away” by Styx, I don’t remember last year’s adjusted gross income, it’s pretty safe to say, I think the answer holds up.

I’ll finish them. I promise. Talking to you, IRS! (I’m sure they’re big fans.)

So yeah, I’m working on this adult thing. Being better about vegetables, posture, bills, showers (JUST KIDDING!), and while it’s hard to keep all the bases covered all the time, one small thing I’ve found that starts the day on the right foot is always making sure you have breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

I just made that up. Just now. That was me.

This week’s recipe is curtesy of Smitten Kitchen‘s Instagram. I then immediately googled how to save things on Instagram. Because I wanted to save that recipe, and also, I am bad at being a millennial.

Being-a-Grown-Up Breakfast: Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake (with some edits)

I’m a sucker for a blood orange. If you’ve never had them, they’re a little bit tangier than an orange, and they have a deep crimson color.

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Being an Adult: Mastering the Art of Guessing?

How I feel every Sunday.

I’ve been 27 for just shy of two months. And while you live your life thinking, “Well, being X years old doesn’t feel any different than being X-1 years old,” for me, 27 is the first year that has felt even slightly different. That could be because 27 is the year that follows the end of the development of your brain’s critical thinking centers (26 is the year, for those who don’t know).* It could be because at the age of 27, you are hopefully past your “who am I!?” phase of life. For now at least. It could be because as a woman, my body has most likely stopped producing its own calcium, and my brain is saying, “if you love me, stop drinking that diet coke!” It could also be attributed to the fact I currently have a stable job that allows me to stop, and cook, and think, and read. All things that let a person prioritize the things floating around in her life. Previously I adopted the policy, “I bet my parents sure will make a noise if I am doing something wrong!” Now, while my parents are always willing to help me and advise, the decision making falls to me. And that’s terrifying.

It’s terrifying because I’m not very good at it.

By Tuesday: “I will eat every donut!”

Being an adult: Having a 401K.
Being a bad adult: Not really knowing what to do with a 401K. (Do I watch it? Do I just assume it’s fine? Do I talk about it at parties?)

Being an adult: Buying fish at the meat counter at the grocery store.
Being a bad adult: Not really knowing what fish I need, so picking one based on price and name-familiarity. (Man at meat counter: “What can I get you?”; Me: “TILAPIA! ALL OF THE TILAPIA!”; Man at meat counter: “Wait…what?”; Me: “Maybe just four of the tilapia.”)

Being an adult: Being in charge of car maintenance.
Being a bad adult: Googling, “what is that thing my car is dripping?”

I don’t think men’s degree counts,

Concerned that I’m alone in my flailing, I discussed the act of adulting with actual adults who do adult things, and it seems that the consensus is, “the rest of your life is spent guessing and hoping you guess right.” Sweet.**

I am slowly coming around to the inevitability of this accountability. My actions will come back to me, guys, and I don’t like it. At work, when I send an email that might elicit opinions (heaven forbid!), I hit send and immediately sprint out of the office, avoiding the phone calls that usually come in its wake for at least as long as it takes me to get my seventh cup of coffee. I post on the blog, and immediately shut my laptop for the next hour telling myself, “I am a good writer, right? Right…Maybe.” And, I’m already over a year into the monthly lesson in accountability- paying my students loans. Maybe if I just wrote my loan provider and said, “yes! I get it! My decisions come with consequences!” they’ll forgive the rest? That definitely seems like something they would do.

Yes, 27 feels different, but 26 hasn’t really gone anywhere. 25 tends to have opinions about where I should be, and 24 through around 18 tend to rattle around when I walk at a brisk pace. I’m still trying to get 13 to stop telling me what I’m doing wrong. For being so quiet at the time, she sure has a lot of feelings about what I’m doing now. And I’m desperate for 9 to stop singing show tunes. 27 may feel different, but maybe being a real adult is getting all those other years to sit nicely while you carry on. Instead of remembering all the times you messed up, getting the years to join forces to make educated guesses.

Currently 9 is singing “Mr. Mistoffelees” from Cats. Maybe she can sit out of the decision making.


*If my mother is reading this, see, I listen! If my mother is reading this and I have my facts wrong, I blame Wikipedia! **Do adults say “sweet”? I’m guessing yes.