Monday, November 30, 2015

November Budget

Happy Monday friends! I hope your weeks are off to a stellar start! 

Can you believe that November is basically over? My roommate made the comment that it seems like we just blinked and the month was gone! And it's so true! What is it that always makes November fly by so quickly?

With the end of the month comes Fran's Budget Link-Up which is always a ton of fun. I made a few more purchases this month than in the past few and I'm pretty happy with the pieces. 

1) Old Navy Light Weight V-Neck Sweater -  ($26.94) $7.54

Very comfortable, but also cut very large. Definitely consider going down a size.

2) Gap Factory Always Skinny Jeans - ($59.99) $17.99

Love the color and cut of these jeans. They have a lot of stretch as you wear them, so you may need a size smaller than you think.

3) Old Navy Fleece Cowl Neck Tunic - ($36.94) $26.23

This is the most comfortable sweatshirt ever! Okay, maybe not ever, but it's definitely top 10. I was drawn to it because it is such a unique take on a typical sweatshirt with the cowl neck and zippers and as soon as I tried it on I knew it was coming home with me. I've already worn it too many times to count.

4) Vince Camuto Off the Shoulder High-Low Blouse (Marshalls) - available in blue here, petite here, and plus size here - ($79) $10

I purchased this top in an olive green from the sales rack at Marshalls. The color is fantastic and the sleeves can be worn off-the-shoulder or not which allows it to be more versatile. I paired it with my brown Express motto jacket this weekend for a day of exploring with my mom and got so many compliments. If you run by it in stores, give it a try!

5) Rent the Runway - ($375) $35

I shared a bit about my experience with RtR earlier this month in this post. Technically, with shipping it cost more, but because I also shared a dress with a friend, I thought I could let that slide.

Caslon Sweater (Nordstrom Rack) - very similar here  - ($68) $10.48

Another great sales rack find! Plus, it combines my love for oversized sweaters, decorative zippers, and mustard yellow! I have a strong feeling I'll be sharing an outfit post with this guy at some point.

Earrings bought at local Tibetan boutique in Berkeley - $5 each x2 = $10
While shopping local this Saturday, I came across some beautiful earrings outside of a little shop on College Ave in Berkeley. I was only going to get the diamond-shaped ones for $8, but when they told me about the 2 for $10 deal, I obviously had to pick out another pair.

Not Pictured:

Gap Factory Favorite Cami - ($16.99) $5.99

Standard cami. Great sale. Enough said.

Total: ($ 332.86***) $123.23 
*** I kept the RtR dress as $35 in both tallies, had I added the actual cost of the dress, the totals would show an even bigger difference between what the items cost and what I spent on them!

All in all, not too bad. I'm very happy with this month's purchases and even more happy about the Christmas gifts I bought for friends and family this weekend. I would post them, but that would ruin some surprises ;)


My mom graciously purchased a few items for me while she was in town for Thanksgiving and I wanted to share them here because they're technically part of my style intake this month.

Plus they're adorable!

Old Yak Bazaar Tunic #fairtrade!

I'm obsessed with this monogram necklace. It's very simple and dainty which is just my style. I now have the "S" :)

I'm not a huge fan of Black Friday shopping - though I'm loving Small Business Saturday - so the majority of my items were actually bought prior to Thanksgiving weekend. For those of you who did brave the lines, did you get any good deals??

Thanks for reading!


*** Linking up with Fran over at Franish

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Let the Advent-ures Begin!

Happy first day of Advent, friends! I hope you all had a restful Thanksgiving weekend filled with joy!

For those of you who haven't heard of Advent, in the Catholic Church it marks a season of waiting - waiting for Christ to come. (It is also celebrated in other Christian traditions, but I am not sure if all of the symbolism matches across the board, so I will only directly be speaking to the Catholic tradition. I'd love to learn more if any of y'all care to share!)

Advent begins on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30) and lasts for four Sundays. During Advent, we prepare ourselves for the arrival of our Savior on Christmas.  

As I mentioned in my recent post about Thankfulness, I am hoping to be more intentional about my personal preparation during this liturgical season this year. And in case any of you are interested in different ways to embrace a more intentional Advent this time around, I wanted to share some of the methods I am partaking in.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Small Business Saturday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the most known shopping days of the year, but there is another Thanksgiving weekend holiday that you may not have heard of:

Small Business Saturday.

There are so many reasons why it is a good idea to support small businesses in your neighborhood - and it can go beyond just buying food locally (though I do love me a good farmer's market)!

Here are just a few I can think of off the top of my head:

1) It boosts your local economy.

2) You often have a better idea of exactly where the money you are spending is going - especially if the store carries fair trade items.

3) It's a great way to build community. You'll often meet the owner of the establishment who may share with you the idea behind the store and why they began their journey in entrepreneurship.

4) Local stores can have more unique pieces that you won't have to worry about duplicating gifts.

This holiday season, why not make it an effort to shop locally where you can?

And just like any other shopping holiday around this time, many of your local businesses are offering great sales today!

For my Ohio/Cleveland friends, one of my favorite Fair Trade Stores, Revive, is offering 15% off of any purchase with the code:SHOPSMALL from now until Monday! I already have these beautiful earrings in my cart and this stunning dress might just have to come too.
If you're in the Berkeley area, there are tons of adorable boutiques and shops. My mom and I picked up a delicious smelling candle from The Old Yak Bazaar (another Fair Trade store!) on our walk around town yesterday. I'm already considering wandering back down the hill to snag this ring and this scarf.

Fourth Street in Berkeley is an adorable part of town with lots of local shops nestled amongst the bigger names. Mom treated me to a new calligraphy pen and ink from Castle in the Air. It's a shop you should venture into simply because of the marvelous decorations and amazing stationary pieces!

Not sure where to find a local business in your area? Try Yelp and Shift Your Shopping. And, as always, Google is a great help!

Think big. Shop Small.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and all of your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your days are filled with love and gratitude. (And lots of delicious food!)

Today I am grateful for family and friends - for the grace of God and endless mercy - for laughter, for joy, for lessons and for time. I'm grateful for the beauty of creation and the warmth of a kind hello - for all of those working for justice in our world and for the gift of inspiration.

I have been blessed with so many moments of love this year and it's such a treasure to be able to gather with those I hold dear and reflect on how we have grown this year and where we've noticed the unending love of God.

May we hold on to this grace of gratitude and share it as the year goes on.


**Linking up with Nikki on Thankful Thursday :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. There is something incredibly beautiful about gathering as friends and family to share moments of gratitude, big and small.

This year I am grateful to have my mom visiting me in California. I haven't celebrated a Thanksgiving with family since 2011, so her presence will be such a blessing. Our plans aren't completely sorted out yet (thank you giant research paper), but there will definitely be mass and dinner with friends.

If you read my blog somewhat regularly, you know that I like to start each week with a thankful heart by recording 5 Weekly Graces. Remembering to be grateful helps me to stay focused on the beauty in my life that might otherwise get pushed to the side with the hustle and bustle and stress of the everyday norm.

My new friend Nina (from Hugs and Lattes) has challenged me to be mindful of what I am grateful for this year by sharing a post with a #Thankful Heart. And since I have seen countless blogs that I follow participate in the Circle Link-Up of gratitude for November, I thought I would light two candles with one flame and link up with both!

Time - It is super easy to get bogged down and stressed in not having enough time to get from a-z or to do a certain task. I am definitely guilty of focusing on the time that I don't have to get something done instead of thinking about the time I do have and the wonderful ways that I use it. So, this year, I am thankful for time. Time with friends, time to learn, time to live.

Hospitality - This year I have been blessed with more opportunity to travel than I could ever dream! I am beyond grateful to visited incredible places like South Korea, Spain, Ecuador, Poland and Italy, but mostly I am thankful for the people who I visited and met along the way. The hospitality I have received not only from friends, but from perfect strangers gives me hope in our world and hope for the future.

Advent(ures) - The liturgical season of Advent is one of my favorites and it begins on Sunday! This year, I am aiming to be more intentional in my preparation and prayer as we await the coming of Jesus. (There might be a post or two regarding this. I haven't decided yet :P )

Nature - Ever since I was little, I have always found the presence of God most easily while surrounded by nature. And though Berkeley doesn't really have a fall (and certainly has not winter), I still really enjoy walking around the neighborhood and admiring the ever-present flowers and other neat foliage (hello succulents!) that we do have.

Kairos - Woah, she's throwing in some Latin. Truth be told, I have never gone on a Kairos retreat (#publicschool) but I love the notion of there being a moment in which you choose to act. I am very grateful for all of those kairos moments in my life that have led me to a deeper relationship with God. It's beautiful to look back on those moments and see which choices of action led me to where I am and to witness how God was involved in all of those moments - whether I recognized it at the time or not.

Faith - As my faith grew in undergrad, so did my understanding of social justice and the connection between the two. This fusion of faith and social justice is intrinsic in my being. I cannot separate the two and I cannot separate myself from them. I'm incredibly grateful for a strong sense of faith and commitment to working for justice. It has filled me with joy and purpose and I cannot wait to see how the Creator uses me to help the world.

University - I am thankful for the privilege to have attended two beautiful universities. With only 1% of the world given the opportunity to go to college, I try to remind myself of this privilege regularly so that I don't take it for granted. Both undergrad and graduate school have surrounded me with incredible professors, role models and friends that have helped shape me into the woman I am today. I can't even begin to articulate the gratitude I hold for JCU and JST.

Liturgy - There's no E in Thankful, so I am going to tie in my love for the Eucharist in liturgy, which makes sense. Both the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist bring peace and comfort to my soul. I'm extremely grateful to have the constant opportunity to be filled with Christ and to be held by grace. For, "I can endure anything between two Eucharists." - Dorothy Day

And of course, I am incredibly thankful for YOU! Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to share in my life and ramblings. It means the world.


*** Also linking up with Simple Moments Stick for the Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop :)

Monday, November 23, 2015

5 Weekly Graces Vol. 5

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone!

I hope all of your weeks and weekends were filled with joy and love. Below are a few highlights from mine.

But before that, can we just talk about the gnome shoes that Facebook suggested I might like? While I am thoroughly amused by them (I mean they're hilarious), I am mildly concerned that these are what search engines think I will buy... Too funny.

Here are my graces from this past week (other than the smile brought by the shoe recommendation).

1) Beauty.

I'm fairly certain I won't stay in California after graduating, but sunsets like these definitely cause me to think otherwise... (#nofilter)

2) Laughter.

The main focus of my job is to prepare our student leaders to guide their groups of peers on the different immersion trips that our office runs throughout the school year. We have weekly meetings to help cultivate their ability to lead and talk about specific issues of social justice and how it applies to our immersions.

Normally, at the end of each quarter we take the group out for a dinner to promote group bonding. This time, my boss asked us to look into something a little more fun. And so, my coworker and I decided we would take the students to an indoor trampoline park! It was a ton of fun and the students loved it. There's nothing quite like a group of young adults playing a competitive game of trampoline dodge ball, or diving into a giant foam pit. If there is a trampoline park near you, go! You won't regret it.

Also, those foam blocks are the hardest thing to get out of. I think the majority of our workout that night came from the laughter while we watched one another struggle to clime out of the pit. Hilarious.

3) Song.

My roommate's birthday was on Thursday, so on Friday night we had dinner and another karaoke party at our apartment. I love the joy and friendship that shamelessly singing to songs can bring about. At one point in the night, Whitney Houston's Dance With Somebody came on and the whole room got up and danced together. So much fun.

4) Food and Friends.

Apparently I have a lot of friends with November birthdays, because after the birthday party for my roommate on Friday, Saturday I went to a birthday dinner for another friend. There was great food, meaningful conversation and lots of love poured out that night.

I'm just so grateful for the beautiful community I have found during my time in California. It's hard to believe that my time in grad school is coming to an end.

5) Prayer.

And last on my list of graces for the week is that I have found a new spiritual director who I will start meeting with next month. In the interest of continuing to grow in my faith and spirituality, I have found a desire to seek out a new director and am very excited that the woman I was interested in directing me has some availability this year- she's normally booked solid and much sought after. Spiritual direction is something that I am still trying to get more comfortable with and I greatly look forward to growing toward Christ with a little extra love and guidance.

How were you graced this past week?


***PS This week I am linking up with Emily from Ember Grey in her Grateful Heart series.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: Rent the Runway

On Friday I was given the opportunity to help table at a young alumni fundraiser for the office of the university that I work for. The theme was Great Gatsby, which I love, but I knew right off the bat that there wasn't really anything in my closet that fit the bill.

So, I began searching the internet... Google, Polyvore, Shopstyle, basically any search engine that I thought might lead me to a 20's-ish dress at a low price number. You know the drill.

When I told my roommate about the party, she instantly mentioned Rent the Runway. Why didn't I think of that?! I've known about the site and their beautiful selection of designer dresses for a while now, but have never had any occasion to try them out. Until now!

I ended up finding this great gold, Erin Fetherston sequin dress that even had review photos of other women wearing it at Gatsby themed weddings and parties.

My only hesitation was in the sizing. In dresses I range from wearing anything from a 0 to a 10 (I wish I was joking) so it's very hard for me to guess what size I should rent. Luckily, Rent the Runway sends you two sizes of the dress you want! And so I guestimated what sizing I would need in the gold dress and ordered.

Unfortunately for me, one of the sizes of the dress wasn't returned on time and RtR had to send me another dress for one of the sizes. They chose a silver sequin dress by Milly which was very beautiful, but even from the photos I knew it was not something I would have selected for my body type.

The dresses arrived and the gold was at least a size to big causing a bit of fabric bulging in the back and sides, but it was far better than the silver, which fit, but as I suspected, was not flattering on my hourglass figure. Such a bummer.

I ended up wearing the gold because at that point I really didn't have another option, but it also wasn't super noticeable that it was too big. I could feel it based on how the fabric hung and where the waist fell, but the sequins definitely helped to hide the issues.

Overall, I am pleased with my RtR experience. I do wish that they would have let me choose an alternative dress rather than just guessing what I might like, but I am thankful that they sent an alternative. A friend of mine who was going to the event ended up wearing the silver, so it all worked out.

If you ever have a need for a fancy dress and don't want to spend hundreds of dollars, they are a great option with quick and easy shipping and returns.


**linking up with PumpsandPushups, StyleElixir, ThePleatedPoppy, SydneyFashionHunter, CraftyCurlyMom, Mix&Match Fashion

Monday, November 16, 2015

5 Weekly Graces Vol. 4

1.) This weekend was our immersion retreat for those students going on a winter break immersion this year. I am constantly in awe with how insightful and profound my students can be and this weekend was no exception. They never cease to give me hope in the world when I begin to feel jaded and pessimistic. Words cannot express how grateful I am for each and every one of them.

2.) Great Gatsby! As I mentioned in the last 5 Graces, on Friday I was given the opportunity to attend a fundraiser for one of my offices programs. The party was a ton of fun and it was so neat to see everyone all dapper in their 1920's attire. At the very end of the night, the 6 of us who were volunteering snuck up to the roof of the building to look out onto the city. We were smack dab in the middle of San Francisco, so the view was pretty spectacular.

3.) I'm super grateful for the grace of new friends. Between the young adult retreat last weekend and some new blogging pals, I've definitely been recognizing the warmth of good companionship in my life lately. Feeling very loved and cared for. Y'all are the best!

4.) One of my old roommates came into town to defend his master's thesis at the end of last week. It was so great to see him and catch up - even if it was only for a moment because of the retreat...

5.) Today marks the 26th anniversary of the martyrdom of 6 Jesuits, their housekeeper Elba and her daughter Selena at the UCA in El Salvador (learn more here).

Today and everyday I am graced with their example of courage and commitment to fight for justice.

Today and always, I continue to pray for peace in our world especially in light of the recent events in Lebanon, Paris, Kenya, and any other community where tragedy has struck.

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." - Mother Teresa

Much love for all of you.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Grace of Remembrance

I have a brief activity for you. I invite you to close your eyes and think of a specific moment from your past that you remember feeling very happy and very loved. As you're thinking of this moment, try to remember what you were sensing at that time...

What do you see?

What noises do you hear?

What do you smell?

Try to soak in the environment around you...

What is the space like?

Who is there with you?

What are you doing?

How do you feel?

Sweater Weather

 Happy Wednesday friends! I hope your weeks are off to a great start. We're at that rough halfway point, but I know we can push right through to the weekend!

One of my favorite ways to dress in cooler weather is to toss a sweater over thick leggings with riding boots. It's incredibly simple, and depending on the sweater and boots you choose, also very chic.

These Old Navy ponte-knit leggings are the first thing I wear in the fall time. They are very thick which means they are very warm and there is no undergarments showing through - it's a win-win. I splurged on the boots at the end of last year (inspired by Fran) and couldn't be happier with the purchase. They're by far the most worn fall/winter shoe in my closet.

Do you ever have a color that you have to keep yourself from buying because it's all you've purchased lately? Wine/burgundy/oxblood, whatever you want to call it, is that color for me right now. It's my favorite color and since it's only really warn this time of year, I'm definitely getting my wear out of it.

 Sweater: Gap (similar)
Leggings: Old Navy (this year's)
Boots: Vince Camuto (very similar)
Purse: From Florence (similar)
Watch: Michael Kors (similar)
Bracelet: Alex and Ani (very similar)
Ring: Gorjana (exact)
Earrings: Anthropologie (another option)

As much as I miss the beautiful leaves in Ohio, I do have to admit that all of the sunshine we have here for fall is pretty nice.

What's your favorite easy, cosy fall outfit?


**linking up with SydneyFashion Hunter, Pleated Poppy, Style Elixir, Pumps and Push Ups, CraftyCurlyMom , Mix & Match Fashion

Monday, November 9, 2015

5 Weekly Graces Vol. 3

Well y'all, it's already Monday, which means it's time for another volume of 5 Weekly Graces.

During one of my student meetings we shared "highs and lows" of the week and I couldn't think of any lows! I don't know that that has ever happened to me before! My week was jam packed with joy and blessing and I can't wait to share some of them with you!

1. Rain! Not nearly enough, but Sunday night through a good chunk of Monday we had rain in Berkeley! Not only is rain my favorite, but I also got to wear my bright red Hunter Boots for the first time (you can read my post about it here)!

2. On Monday, my house hosted the Berkeley Jesuit Volunteers over for a delicious soup dinner full of good conversation and laughter.

For those who are unfamiliar, JV's are young adults who decide to spend a year of service working with marginalized populations both in the US and abroad. It's similar to the Peace Corp, except that these volunteers also commit to living in a house together while striving to live out the pillars of simplicity, social justice, spirituality and community. The Washington Post wrote a pretty good article about the program if you're interested in learning a little more.

I was a JV in Alaska for my first year out of undergrad and cannot put into words how formative that time was for me.

Friday, November 6, 2015

#26 Visit Yosemite

Last week was reading week at my school, which loosely translates to fall break. The past two years I have gone home to Ohio to be with friends and family, but this year I decided to stay, not make any specific plans, and just see what happened.

So when my roommate asked if I would want to go with her and two other friends to Yosemite, the answer was clear: YES!!! I have been wanting to visit this beautiful park since moving out to California and was so happy to have someone to go with me.

Half Dome is the mountain Yosemite is most famous for. If you've ever seen the logo for North Face jackets, it's based on this mountain. Climbing to the top of it is definitely on my to-do list. I'll just need to train a lot more to get there.

We decided to hike the Upper Falls trail, but because we were off to a later start, we made it around 3/4 of the way up and then turned back so we wouldn't loose the daylight. The views were breathtaking on the part of the trail we did finish, so I can't wait to head back sometime and do the rest.

Yosemite Falls was spectacular. We were super fortunate that there had been rain the previous weekend because this time of year they aren't always running (especially in the drought).

It's the tallest waterfall I have ever been to so I was super excited the whole time. There may or may not have been some singing of TLC involved...

And look! There was a rainbow in the falls as we hiked. It was too perfect!

There wasn't a lot of "fall" in the park, but if you look closely, there are a couple of trees with changing leaves. Sure they're all brown, but it's a start.

When we cam back from the Upper Falls trail, there was just enough time to go see the Lower Falls. If you aren't a hiker and want to get fairly close to the falls, this is the path for you. Just don't do what we did and climb the boulders to get right to the base of the falls. That was not so easy and my roommate lost a pair of pants in the process...

More often than I would like to admit I am moved to tears just by taking in the magnificence of creation. It is when I am in nature that I feel the deepest connection to God.

What's your favorite place to hike? Does anyone in the Bay Area have suggestions of places to go?


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility."

"God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them..." Genesis 1:27

You are created in the "image and likeness of God." How special is that? You are made to emulate the great Creator. In you, others may encounter the Divine. You are the Crown of Creation.

What a beautiful grace! What a powerful gift!

And yet, we must always remember that "with great power, comes great responsibility." It is not enough to simply be created in the image of God. Humanity has been endowed with the responsibility to care for all of Creation.

This is what Pope Francis is insisting upon in his latest encyclical, Laudato Si. We share in a deep responsibility to take care of creation and allow it to flourish.

The first creation story in Genesis illustrates, in spectacular poetry, the love and care poured out by God in each moment of creation. Where other creation stories during that time contained gods of violence and vengeance, the god of the Hebrew Bible, our God, invited the universe into being. "Let there be," and it was good.

This creation story ends with the formation of a new being. Different from those before, this one was made to be an "image" of God.

In ancient times, specifically those during which the Bible was written, while a king was away from his people, a plaster cast was placed at the head of the town. This replica of the king signified that the people of the place were to be governed and cared for in the same manner that would be done had the ruler been present. In a way, it demonstrated continued care for those the ruler had dominion over. They were not forgotten.

The Book of Genesis, written in Hebrew, has the word for plaster cast found where in English we read image.


Not only were we created to resemble God, but according to the Hebrew, we were made to be replicas of the Divine and share in dominion over the rest of creation. But we must remember that this dominion must also replicate the Divine. We are to care for creation with the same compassion and love poured out for us by Christ.

If we are to truly be the Crown of Creation, we must be willing to pour out our love and compassion as well. Not only to our neighbor, but to all of God's magnificent and holy creation.


*** Linking up with Blessed Is She and #BISsisterhood and Faith and Fellowship

Rain, Rain, Keep On Coming!

As you may have seen on my Instagram, this week we finally got some rain in Berkeley!

I am pretty much always a fan of rain, and living in the terrible Californian drought has only increased my love for this cozy, cuddle-up-with-a-blanket weather.

To top it all off, I even got to wear the beautiful, Red Hunter Rain Boots! After I bought them last year there weren't any weather appropriate days to wear them (sorry, not going to wear rain boots if there's no rain), so they've just been sitting in my closet waiting... until now!

I bought the boots when they were on super sale just before Piper Lime closed. They marked them down from $150 to $88 and luckily had one pair left in my size! $80 credit card rewards plus free shipping meant that I bought brand new Hunter Boots in the bright red I had spent years admiring for under $10! Needless to say, I was am pretty jazzed.

I love the pop of red and the cheer it brings to an otherwise neutral outfit.

Because the boots are so bold, I chose to wear some simpler, gold accessories and my favorite seed earrings. Their little pop of red went beautifully with the boots, and to top it off, they're Fair Trade!

Hunter Rain Boots (exact)
Jeans: Old Navy (exact)
Sweater: Old Navy (similar)
Chambray: Pac Sun (similar)
Tote: From Florence (similar)
Watch: Michael Kors (similar)
Bracelet: Alex and Ani (very similar)
Ring: Gift (simlar)
Earrings: Fair Trade Expo (other awesome Fair Trade options here)

The rain did eventually end and the boots had to come off, but I have high hopes that it won't be another year before I get a chance to wear them again.


**linking up with StyleElixir, PleatedPoppy, SydneyFashionHunter, CurlyCraftyMom, MixandMatchFashion