I don't remember Halloween ever being a big deal when I was younger; I've been trick-or-treating a handful of times and we generally get a pumpkin, but I don't have many strong memories attached to it or anything.
I can feel it changing though, as every year there seem to be more sugar paper bats stuck in shop windows and more pumpkins piled onto market stalls. In town today, we were spooked by a bowl of chocolate eyeballs that had a moving skeleton buried inside. The girls down the road that I babysit made pipe cleaner spiders at school, something that I don't remember doing.
In barely ten years, traditions have been shifting. I think this year's Halloween, for those of us 'celebrating' it, might just be the spookiest yet.




An autumn suggestion: replace your bed coverings with white on white on white. A white pillow, sheets, and coverlet are a welcome spot of contrast against the dark gray and russets of the season.



tips & tricks | motivation

This month, we're talking motivation. As the fun of a new school year wears off and the hard work really starts, it gets harder than ever to keep motivated. Add gloomy weather and an awkward limbo between true autumn and sparkling Christmas, and it's clear that we all need a little help to keep going sometimes.

Hannah says
I've recently embarked on a journey to a healthier lifestyle -- one that involves eating food that is not only tasty, but good for me, exercising regularly, and staying active and drinking more water. I love mornings but hate waking up at 5:45 to get going on my workout -- yet, I know that after I finish, I'll feel so much better. As soon as I start hemming and hawing and griping about how I don't want to workout or eat healthier, I stop and tell myself how I AM going to do that workout (even if it kicks my butt!) and I AM going to eat what's better for me and avoid temptation to eat another helping (because I really don't need it). Part of it is just changing my thoughts. If I'm telling myself that I don't want to do it, I don't like it, etc.  ..., then I'm less apt to actually accomplish it if instead I change my mindset. I've actually begun to love running in the mornings, choosing meals that are healthy (and totally delicious), and foregoing pop and fruit drinks. My favourite tip for motivation is Nike's -- just do it! I can't tell you how many times I've had to tell myself that and how much it helps me to get up and get going.

Katie says

When Libby emailed us about this month's Tips & Tricks topic, I laughed as I turned on an episode of The Office that I've seen at least twice. Never mind about the two midterms I had to study for. 
I'm awful about procrastinating. Lately, I've been putting everything off until the weekend, then locking myself in my room until Sunday night when I finally finish. I would recommend turning off the Internet. A few weeks ago I had a paper due Tuesday night. It was Tuesday, 6pm-ish, and I hadn't even started it. I got on a plane from DC to Denver, pulled out my laptop and textbook, and pounded out a paper in an hour. Remove distractions. It works.

Carlotta says
When I lack motivation, which lately seems to be happening quite a bit, I set small deadlines and rewards for myself. This may sound silly, but it really does work. For example, if I know that I have a paper due by the end of the week, I break the work off into small chunks for each day. If I've completed the day's work, then maybe I'll reward myself with reading a good book or baking a batch of cookies. Bit by bit, I get things done, until I've arrived at Friday with nothing but a weekend to enjoy.

Libby says
It might seem easier to put things off and leave them until the morning. But trust me--it isn't. I'm left with broken sleeps, stressed mornings and an eternal sense of worry when I procrastinate. The most important thing I do to deal with this is to plan ahead. Arrange short study sessions in the weeks leading up to exams instead of cramming the night before. Put away laundry as soon as it is ironed rather than letting it pile up on the dresser. Do your homework the day that it's set, not the day before it's due. Take control of your time!


staff picks.


This is an old video, but Marcel the Shell is just as cute as always.

The Daily Chicken.

A guide to autumn from Anthro.

The Plug is a discontinued online zine that's well worth perusing the back issues. ( Bonus: MURDER KROGER. *profanity warning*)

True & Brave.

Ming Makes Cupcakes has so many varieties, and the sour cream raspberry cupcakes look particularly delicious. (Apple cupcakes with caramel look wonderful for fall.)

Gorgeous street style photos.

Lucy Chadwick.

Beautiful fuzzy slippers.

Emma and Elsie have a tutorial for simple, homemade photo filters.

(photo via True & Brave.)


the greenhouse

Today, we have a guest post from the lovely Lillian. You can read her blog here, with more of her great photography and writing.


a letter to stephen.

A few weeks ago, I sent this to Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Along with it, a note explaining that I didn't write it for him, but I wanted him to read it. And a letter. Tonight I got an email from a woman who works for him saying he was so impressed by my talent as a writer that he wants to call my parents & I. So here is something for you to read, that I didn't write for you or Stephen or anyone but myself.

"So I looked up, and we were in this giant dome like a glass snowball, and Mark said that the amazing white stars were really only holes in the black glass of the dome, and when you went to heaven, the glass broke away, and there was nothing but a whole sheet of star white, which is brighter than anything else but doesn't hurt your eyes. It was vast and open and thinly quiet, and I felt so small." (from Perks.)

I haven't been out on my roof since the night in early summer where he and I stayed up until the sunrise and I almost fell asleep out there, blinking my heavy eyes quickly just to stay awake. Since it's one of my last nights here until I leave forever, I grabbed a blanket and a flashlight and Perks. Crawled out onto the roof. And read until I couldn't feel my fingers.

It's hard to see the stars tonight. The moon is too bright and washes them out. It's better than it has been though, where the fog and clouds smudge up the sky until there aren't any visible stars at all. It's a trade-off, I guess, because I love the rain and I love the stars and it's hard to choose which I love more.

I moved into this house five and a half years ago, and countless times, I've stood outside in the middle of the road with a cat, just staring at the sky. Once in the middle of winter I went to the middle of the field across the street, camera in tow, and took a few hundred pictures. I think the book that night was L'Engle, A Ring of Endless Light, maybe. It was cold then too and I didn't come back inside until I couldn't feel my fingers.

One of the hardest part about living in the city is the absence of visible stars. I know that soon I'll move up to the mountains and if I want I can drive up and down the Greenhorn Park in the middle of the night until I get tired of the stars. For now though, I feel cheated out of another fall spent staring at the sky.

...It's weird to read Perks again. I was 15-almost-16 the first time I opened it, on an airplane seated next to a woman who smiled at me without saying anything. Now I'm 6-months-past-17 and it's dizzying to think about how much has changed since the first time I met Charlie. And it's dizzying to think about what hasn't changed and should have. Like on page 93 I underlined these words, "maybe I'm being sentimental, but I like to think that when I'm old, I will be able to look at all these tapes and remember those drives." In the margins of the page I wrote in my handwriting that loops in the same direction even after thousands of words written on journal pages, "music gets tangled up in memories." I don't remember writing those words. I do remember opening up a document on my computer later that night after my plane landed in Indianapolis and writing this, "sometimes I wake up and my iPod is tangled in my hair. I like to think that the music tangles through my hair and into my mind while I sleep, dictating my dreams."

And it's funny to think of how the person who wrote both those words inside the book and those words on a computer screen isn't the same person who's writing these words now. That other girl is still there, and she's still a part of me, but I've had a year and a half of tears&laughter&loss that 15-almost-16 me didn't have and that's changed me in good and bad ways.

I can laugh now at what I said about the music dictating my dreams because, while it's a nice thought, frankly it's ridiculous and not to mention badly written. The other one though- what was I thinking when I wrote that?  And what pencil did I use? And was it one I pulled from the jar on my desk? And I can't remember, did I even have that jar then? And if it was from the jar, did it have chew marks on the eraser or was it one of the really tiny ones I have a bad habit of stealing from libraries? Or was it the purple pencil Dylan-nicknamed-Katie's-Dylan-because-we-were-best-friends gave to me for Christmas in 8th grade? And after I wrote it, did I stop and sigh because of the heavy truthfulness of it all? Or did I cry because there wasn't any music to mark that moment?

And I wonder what Charlie would think of all this.




I love to go back and reread old things I've written. I was going through my old documents today during class and I found some writings from over a year ago. I've been busy lately & I haven't had a lot of time for writing and such, so I thought I'd share something old. It's quick flashback to last summer.

“I should have been born in the 1920s,” she said, her hands deftly weaving the daisies together in a chain.

She often said things like this, out of the blue. It was like she had a whole closet of unusual statements and each day she picked one to wear. Before, she had proclaimed, innocently, in her way, that she should have been an astronaut, or that she should have been the daughter of gypsies.

I never knew how to respond to these. Once I tried to say that it was good she wasn’t, because then she wouldn’t be my friend. She had glared at me. Her glares weren’t something you ever wanted to see; she would flip her hair and lock her jaw and stare at you like you were the stupidest person on the planet.

Today, I just murmured in agreement and laid my head back down in the grass. I looked up at the sky, a light, airy blue, and at the clouds that dotted it. It was a warm day in June, the start of summer. We weren’t doing much of anything, just laying in the shade and waiting for something to happen, I suppose. She threaded flowers into crowns to keep her hands busy, occasionally offering a few words to break the drowsy silence. And I, I just lay there watching the clouds, looking for shapes and letting my mind wander.

making my own sun.

Around here, we like a cup of something good in the morning. We also like apple season. On Thanksgiving weekend, Patti (my sweet aunt) sent me home with two big jars of her homemade apple juice. It's nice to start these whirlwinds we call weekdays with something sweet. Not the processed, saccharine kind of sweet. The just enough flavour to wake you up kind of sweet. 

It's not uncommon for us prairie kids to go a day or so without a single glimpse of the sun. It rises during first period, and sets during last. On these days, I make my own sun. Today it was Patti's apple juice and I'm quite okay with that.



an october desktop

The monthly desktops are back! I'm so excited to reintroduce this feature and apologize for my absence the past few months. Slipping into school just as summer fell into fall took a bit of readjusting, but I'm glad to have finally found a routine that is natural. I'm beyond excited to be back in this space and site that I love so much, and can't wait to share all sorts of wonderful fall-ish things this month. For the desktop, I wanted to celebrate the beauty of this wild month of October, and because it's a little late in the month, I made a sort of bucket-list instead of weekly to-do. Enjoy! xo, h



a drink with jam and bread

Lately, I've taken to brewing a cup of hot black tea in the mornings. Though I'm much more of a coffee girl, I've grown accustomed to the taste and even like it now. I may not always drink it with jam and bread, but I like to wrap my hands around the warm mug and watch the sun rise outside the cold windowpane. At the end of my sacred morning time, there are only a few stray tea leaves at the bottom of my mug and deep within my stomach, there's a warm feeling. The coming winter will not be so bad if it means I can brew and drink a few more cups of tea than may be socially acceptable. All hail cold mornings and hot tea.



apple season

(photo | hannah nicole)
Here's to a season of all the best things. Apple picking and apple crumble and baked apples. And apples drizzled with caramel and apples eaten during early morning sunrise and apples tucked in baskets for autumn picnics.
Apple season is the best.
this article | this photo | this recipe