Oct 28, 2012

this school year has been a killer so far, so i am on a hiatus of undetermined length. i hope to be back in 2013.

Sep 18, 2012

project 333

project 333

so... i already typed out this post once, and blogger froze, so i'm just going to go back and hit the highlights of what i wrote before:

  1. on monday, i began project 333, and project where for 3 months, you don't buy anything new and you limit your wardrobe to 33 pieces. 
  2. i'm still doing PROJECT simplification, but instead of writing down what i wear every day, i'm just sticking to my 33.
  3. i'm breaking the rules a little bit by selecting 33 pieces of clothing and allowing myself to wear whatever accessories and shoes i want. in the truest version of the project, accessories and shoes are included in the 33.
  4. i only found out about this on sunday, and the fall phase of the project started monday, so above is what i have selected so far (plus the clothes i'm currently wearing): an adorable, fair trade cotton dress from mata traders, and a cropped sweater i knitted a couple years ago.
  5. you can get more details about project 333 from their website or their facebook page.
what do you think about project 333? are you in? check back soon for more about my P333!

Sep 2, 2012

september knitting challenge: terra linda cardigan

image via ravelry

my ever-expanding yarn stash is the inspiration for a challenge to myself and to you, dear reader. i am going to attempt to complete at least one new knitting project every month, and i want you to try it with me. each month i'll start a new project; you can do the same one, or you can choose one of your liking. i like choosing a project that feels right for the month. september is when things start cooling down and nights might get a touch chilly in my part of the world, so it's an ideal time for a cozy-but-not-bulky cardigan. rosemary (romi) hill's terra linda cardigan from knitscene fall 2012 is the perfect september cardigan with its 3/4 sleeves (warm but not too warm) and lace yoke (rustic without being bulky). i'm knitting mine in stitch nation's washable ewe in zinnia (a bright pink), but you can use the malabrigo suggested (how luxurious!), or you could use a different worsted weight wool. i scored a ton of stitch nation yarn in a clearance at joann fabrics, so you'll probably see so many stitch nation projects in the coming months that you'll swear i must have a sponsorship.

to stay on track for an end-of-the-month finish, make sure you pick your project, buy your supplies, check that gauge, and cast on this week. 

want to take the september knitting challenge? leave a comment below with your project stats, and i'll link to any blog posts or ravelry posts you send me. send me pictures of your progress as we go, and i'll incorporate those into future blog posts.

introducing... PROJECT simplification

if you're anything like me, you have a lot of stuff. so much, in fact, that you have a hard time putting your hand on the things you need when you need them. maybe you are sometimes tempted to buy yet more stuff to deal with what you already own. are you sick of exerting so much effort for what is really just stuff? have you ever daydreamed about the calm, serene homes you see in lifestyle and decor magazines? well, my friends, the solution is not better organization. it's simplification.

it's time to lighten our loads.

maybe you're also a little bit like me in that you've gone on big decluttering kicks before only to 'relapse' only a few months later. i've been there, and it isn't cute. in fact, it's where i am right now. 'PROJECT simplification' is a system that i've devised for myself to make changes mindfully instead of manically. the goal is a little bit like a taoist paradox:

i want to feel like i have more by having less.

this isn't a weekend project. it's a month-long project that you could easily expand out to a season-long project. there won't be instant gratification, but the pay-off at the end will be huge. consider yourself officially invited to simply your life right alongside me.

are you onboard? ok, then, let's get this party started...

in the first month of 'PROJECT simplification,' we'll look at some of the biggest trouble areas for the average woman: clothes, accessories, and makeup. there are 3 easy steps for you to take to get started:

STEP ONE: don't buy anything new.
just don't. it defeats the purpose, and it just adds more 'noise' to an already-messy problem.

STEP TWO: write down what you wear every day.
make sure you note any accessories you wore, from jewelry to your choice of bag and shoes. much like you might track your expenses for a month before making a budget, we're going to track our clothing choices for a month to see how much of our wardrobes we're actually wearing. we'll then use this data to determine what should stay and what should go. stay on top of laundry. if you find yourself wearing things you don't even like because you forgot to do laundry, that's not reliable data.

STEP THREE: cut the contents of your makeup bag down to the bare essentials.
don't throw anything away yet. just pick out your most basic essentials, put them in your makeup bag, and then put everything else out of sight. anything you end up pulling out of storage over the course of the month is a keeper. anything you didn't use all month is a goner. need some help determining your basic essentials? check out stylelist's beauty street style archives to see some ladies who look fabulous with just a few products.

are you joining in on the fun? 
please feel free to post the logo below on your blog (and please link it back to me!), then comment on this post that you've joined the project. i'll add your name and URL to my 'PROJECT simplication' page.

send me some feedback! are these 3 steps easier than you anticipated? harder? do you find yourself wearing more of your clothes just you can stop writing down 'jeans and t-shirt'? have you made any modifications to the 3 steps to make them work better for you? i would love to hear how things are going for you!

Aug 30, 2012

times, they are a-changin'

it's taken me months to actually sit down and write this post. i've edited it over and over again in my head. early drafts included an announcement that after years of kellymagelli i would be calling it quits. a different version involved an announcement that i would only be blogging about crafts from now on. after much deliberation, and some food for thought from 'ill seen, ill said,' i've settled on what you are reading now. i've been pretty disillusioned with many of the blogs that i used to devour every weekend. it seems like many of them fit into one of 3 categories: 'look at my amazing, creative, fulfilling and seemingly-perfect life,' 'look at pictures of things you can buy,' and 'look at the adorable outfit i wore today and will never wear again.' despite the fact that the comments on these blogs seem to go on and on about how inspiring they are, i find myself dubious. what exactly is so inspiring about a pair of no. 6 boots? are the other people reading these blogs looking at the boots and then going into a state of manic creativity, producing art and/or writing and/or design all thanks to the one picture of expensive boots? or are they actually just inspired to buy boots? does inspiration to shop count as inspiration at all?

anyway, the 'look at my amazing crafty life' blogs are, in my opinion, a more legitimate source of real inspiration, but i began to wonder, 'what if i took the time i spend reading about other people being creative and used it to actually do something creative? wouldn't actually having a creative life be better than dreaming about someone else's?' this past summer, i spent a lot of time knitting, drawing, cross-stitching, making art, and doing any other creative act i could think of, and it was, in fact, a lot more fulfilling than just reading blogs and daydreaming. this is why i was considering leaving blogging: it is just so much better to spend time on your own life than pining over someone else's, and it's nice to release yourself from the pressure to make everything you do publishable. i don't want to be part of a community that promotes comparing yourself with others, consumerism, a general lack of sustainability, and using what is essentially advertising as a stand-in for actual creation and inspiration, and that is a lot of what i saw around me in the blogosphere.

so what do you do when you are a blogger who is sick of bloggers? this is what i want to try: projects that anyone can do along with me. a general mood or theme each month that allows me to focus on a couple projects or ideas and allows readers to use the theme as a starting point for developing ideas for themselves. a book club for making the world a better place. the times, they are a-changin' around here.

what do you think? are you over blogs that fuel consumption? are you looking for a blog that invites you to join in on a project without paying for an e-course? i hope you'll join me as i head out in a new direction.


Jul 12, 2012

on returning to normalcy

click here for image source

the past school year was such a whirlwind of insanity that i have no idea what i did or did not divulge about it on this blog.

for the record, last school year was terrible. 

i'm not going to go into much detail about why or how it was so terrible, because, frankly, dear reader, i would never, ever stop typing. i want to be very clear that i do not now hate teaching or my students. quite the opposite. what i do hate, however, is when adults fail to behave like adults and when other people's extreme disorganization makes it nearly impossible for me to be a professional.

anyway, this post is supposed to be about returning to normalcy after 10 months of insanity. it's also supposed to be about why i haven't been blogging. when the school year ended, i was DONE. i wanted to sleep. i wanted to sit on my couch and stare into space. i wanted to try to forget the previous 10 months, and that's why i haven't been blogging. i have been in recovery from the worst school year i've ever had.

i would like to think that this post symbolizes a return-to-the-blog, but it's hard to say. i have some projects that i would like to share. i might even do a giveaway. but i would have to take and edit a bunch of pictures, write the posts, prep the giveaway, blah blah.

my major is focus right now is on doing things that will give me the best shot possible at having a better year next year. 

things like reducing the clutter in my apartment and organizing what i affectionately refer to as my 'teacher crap.' now, i might be wrong, but i suspect that posts about organizing student supplies into pencil boxes or the superiority of glue sticks over liquid glue would not be the most interesting reading.

i have about a month left until i have to go back to work. i hope to be a little more prolific here and with my other web-based endeavors, but we'll see. i'm particularly keen to work on systems or routines that would help with stress-reduction during the upcoming school year.

do you have any tips for holding onto your sanity when times are tough? do you have any 'safeguards' against complete and utter burnout?

i'd love to hear from anyone, but i would especially like to hear from fellow teachers.

Apr 11, 2012

bat appreciation week

made on polyvore
happy bat appreciation week! to celebrate, i launched my new science blog, 'science matters.' don't worry--i'll still be blogging here, but you should definitely head over to 'science matters' and check it out!

Apr 4, 2012

extreme couponing

i know i'm a little behind the curve by just now getting around to watching 'extreme couponing,' but i found myself glued to the tv for a few episodes the other afternoon. i knew about people who barely pay for their groceries thanks to diligent coupon clipping, but i guess it hadn't sunk in just how much you can save. most of my knowledge of couponing came from an episode of '2 broke girls,' so i didn't exactly have the full picture. watching 'extreme couponing,' at first i thought, "wow... i have to start doing this! it's almost too good to be true!" then after an hour or so of shots of burgeoning stock piles it turned into "ok, yes, she only spent a penny on this grocery haul, but why did she just buy 10 sticks of deodorant when they just showed a stock pile of 30 in her basement? who seriously needs 20 bottles of body wash on hand at all times? you say that you never let any of your items go to waste, but your entire house is a pantry, and you work full time. do you really expect me to believe that nothing has gone unused past its expiration date?"

am i really throwing my money away if i don't devote my free time to coupons?

times are legitimately hard for a lot of people, but, the more extreme couponing i saw, the more i realized that it's just another form of consumerism. it's about how little money you spent for the maximum amount of basic stuff rather than how much money you spent for the most luxurious stuff. extreme couponing is something beyond saving money. as an outsider looking in, extreme couponing seems to be about control (calculating and re-calculating totals before heading to the checkout, meticulously organized coupon books and stock piles, etc.) and surrounding yourself with products to make you feel safe. some women even confessed feelings of love for their stock piles. come on, ladies! it's stuff! your 10,000 bottles of vitamin water cannot love you back! most of these women seem to have started couponing after a traumatic event: divorce, losing a job, or near-failure of a self-owned business. coupons are not therapy. they will absolutely save you money, but you don't need to be preparing for armageddon. there are ways to feel better without giving yourself over to consumerism.

becoming obsessed with saving money is still an obsession with shopping. 

if you find yourself agitated or sweaty going through the checkout line, there is something wrong. let's go for a happy medium: clip coupons, use the ones you get at the checkout, or only buy what you need when you need it, and don't worry about waiting for a sale. do what works for you.

another example of coupons gone wrong:

extreme couponing is 'good.' buying what you need and only what you need is 'real.' choose real.

so what are my takeaways from an afternoon with 'extreme couponing'? first of all, the right coupons will save you money, especially if you pair them up with in-store sales. i think it's worth grabbing a paper from my apartment lobby every sunday and taking 10 minutes to check the coupons and the sale ads, so i will try to make this part of my weekend routine. however, i will definitely NOT be taking all of the papers so that i can get 20 of each coupon. i am not going to purchase things that i would never buy just because there's a coupon for it, and i am only going to clip coupons for things i actually use. a free lipgloss i never use is really not a bargain. it's clutter.

what are your thoughts on coupons? are my conclusions too hasty? chime in below.

Mar 26, 2012

on a related note

i came across this poem in a teleclass with kimberly wilson of tranquil space yoga studio, the 'tranquility du jour' blog, and many other endeavors. having just posted about my mixed emotions in approaching change, it was especially applicable. if you are also going through a transitional period or maybe you need to be pushed into one, bookmark this post and keep these words in mind:

"our greatest fear" by marianne williamson

our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
we ask ourselves, "who am i to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?"
actually, who are you not to be?
you are a child of god.
your playing small does not serve the world.
there's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
we were born to manifest the glory of god that is within us.
it's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

from return to love, harper collins, 1992.

want to keep the inspiration train rolling? watch this:

poem text and apple commercial found here.

Mar 25, 2012

the problem with change

image via noor in islam

have you ever wanted to change, needed to change, and yet you can't quite get yourself to do it? has the prospect of real, lasting change ever been simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying to you? i'm writing to you today stuck in this exact place. i've been sandwiched between hope and fear for a week or two now, and i think i've decided that the only way to break free is to just power through my emotions and take action. specifically, i want to change my relationship with "stuff." i know that my life will be easier and better if i dramatically pare down my possessions, but it takes time and energy to do that, and it's much harder than doing what society seems to expect of us: accumulating more things. it's also hard to let go of things that symbolize old goals and dreams that never came to fruition. it can even be hard to let go of things with negative associations. furthermore, it can be hard to accept just how much time and money you wasted on acquiring things that you are now donating to the thrift store never or barely used. sometimes the sheer volume of my goodwill pile is enough to trigger feelings of guilt and shame, and those are hardly motivating feelings.

then there's the other problem with change: if you successfully get rid of the old stuff, ways, and habits, what do you replace them with? if you don't figure this out beforehand, you'll just fall right back into your old pattern. i think i see a clear vision for myself out of the stuff, but it's hard to know whether or not a new way of living will actually be sustainable.

change is hard.

change is surprisingly difficult, particularly when it drags up old issues and bad feelings, but i know it's worth it. i know i need to keep pushing ahead. have you ever been stuck like this? what did you do to free yourself? i'm all ears.

but it's worth the effort.

image via charles  stone

Feb 18, 2012

how to tell the difference between what's good and what's real

dove ad via i know this ads get mocked a lot, but i couldn't help myself.

being real is something that will be fundamentally different from person to person. i can't tell you what real is or what it looks like, but i can tell you a little something about what it feels like. real is free of guilt and second-guessing. or at least it is once you've been brave enough to try it.
with good, you can never keep up. 

there is always something you can be doing better, because, let's face it, you're a human being and there are only 24 hours in a day. anyone who's ever done academic research will relate to this one: when you're researching a topic, you start to feel like you've gone down the proverbial rabbit hole. you read a paper, and then find 20 citations at the end. if you read all of those cited papers, each will have another 20 citations. your exam or your thesis defense date rolls around, and you have not read every paper pertaining to your topic of study, because you've been stuck in cited-papers hell for weeks or even months. it just isn't possible to read everything, and you have to do the best you can and then let go. there is no choice but to be real on this one. real is about doing your best not doing it all, and doing your best is almost certainly going to be enough. if you're dedicated to something and you give it your all, people respect that. they aren't looking for perfect. they're looking for real effort.

when you embrace that you are never going to be perfect, reality will start to set in (in a good way).

these are some things that i have come to accept as reality: i will never have angelina jolie's lips. my hair always seems to be a bit frizzy no matter what i do, and i will have dark circles under my eyes for as long as i have allergies. (so forever.) there was a time when i tried to be good and fix those "problems." i spent time researching lip plumpers, hair products, and concealers, and then i spent more time buying and trying all of the products i was promised would change my life. y'know what came out it? less money in my checking account and a higher balance on my credit card. that's about it.

here's what knocked me back to reality on this one: i tend to put in all this effort only during the school year, because i want to look professional. magazines and shows like 'what not to wear' have told me that frizz and under-eye circles are NOT PROFESSIONAL and unacceptable. over the summer, i get lazy, and i generally air-dry my hair and skip the makeup. that stuff just isn't that important to me on a daily basis. i do it because i think i'm supposed to and not because i genuinely want to. the only person who notices my descent into aesthetic apathy is my boyfriend, and he probably only notices because he is pretty anti-makeup, so he's glad to see it go away. no one is rude to me, people don't avoid me, and i'm still taken just as seriously as ever. and do you know how that makes me feel? awesome. free. it makes me feel like i've stumbled upon a great secret that all of those suckers applying two kinds of concealer, foundation, and powder haven't gotten in on yet:


to be clear, this is just an example of a couple times when i have gotten real with myself. if choosing and applying makeup makes your heart sing, you shouldn't give it up unless it's taking over your day or your finances. sleeping 15 minutes later makes me happier than getting up 15 minutes earlier to do a blow-out and full makeup. it's not for everyone, but it works for me.

good can make you feel good, but it is ultimately about appearances and pleasing or impressing others, not about you. real makes you happy from the inside out. which one would you prefer?

what "realisms" have you found in your life? have you ever been forced into getting real? i'd love to hear from you! food for thought: some words from audrey hepburn, who always seems to nail it right on the head.

via young turk

Feb 17, 2012

good vs. real

my last post has been rattling around in my head long enough that i think it's time to put some thoughts on electronic paper. are you interested in being less good and more real? here are some ideas to mull over and get you started on the path to reality.

good vs. real

the perfect blowout vs. natural hair texture with a touch of frizz
a spotless home vs. a space that looks lived-in
reading the books chosen by the new york times vs. reading whatever you want
airbrushed foundation vs. tinted moisturizer
a wardrobe dictated by a fashion editor vs. buying pieces you love and making them work
meticulous calorie counting vs. eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're satisfied
giving your life completely to your kids vs. taking good care of yourself and your family

Jan 30, 2012


i just finished reading "poser" by claire dederer this weekend. i'm not going to do a full-on book review, but what i am going to share is what i think is the take-home message: stop trying to be good, and start trying to be real.

dederer writes a lot about being a mom in seattle, surrounded by 'attachment parenting' parents and obsessed with doing everything right. it's the kind of obsession where perfection is the goal and anything less becomes a major source of guilt. i am not a mom, but i get this. i get trying to be what everyone wants from you and expects from you, and i get what eventually happens in "poser." it becomes too much. dederer finds herself resentful, exhausted, and wanting to get away from it all. helloooooo grad school.

at the beginning of this year, i decided that i would do a project that involved using all the magazines i consume on a monthly basis as fodder for writing and following a resolution every day. i liked this idea a lot--until i read "poser." a resolution a day is all about Good. it isn't about Real. it's a project that sets myself up to fall short, especially when my resolutions are coming from what someone who writes for a magazine says that i should be doing. it also creates an image of a blogger who is good with a capital G, but that's not reality. i didn't even get to half of my resolutions in january. i'm too busy to be Good.

this year, i want to be less good and more real. am i going to stop reading magazines and stop setting goals? no. am i going to continue with a year of resolutions? no. what i am going to do is stop and question when i think i need to add or subtract something from my life. "whole living" may say that i need a nook for reflection, but do i really? i do all of my journal writing in my bed. i wouldn't use a nook if i had one. 

let's make this the year of being real. who's with me?

Jan 29, 2012

image via the daily beast
29. finish reading "spontaneous happiness" by dr. andrew weil.

Jan 25, 2012

25. try a flower mediation: focus on the color, texture, smell of a flower, and let my troubles float away.

Jan 24, 2012

image via
24. let go of things (behaviors, things, etc.) that i've outgrown.

Jan 23, 2012

image via
23. write a letter to my most positive qualities and to my most negative qualities.

Jan 22, 2012

image via europe world

22. look for calendars of landscapes to put up in my classroom.

Jan 18, 2012

Jan 17, 2012

Jan 16, 2012

Jan 13, 2012

Jan 9, 2012

buy your own from karma bunny designs
9. make a "wish" bracelet.

Jan 8, 2012

Jan 3, 2012

Jan 1, 2012

image via

1. write and follow a resolution every day in 2012.