This Beautiful Life

This Beautiful Life | www.eccentricowl.com This Beautiful Life | www.eccentricowl.com

I just recently came across a blog full of such beautiful word imagery — describing daily life, but in a whimsical, aching, enraptured way — that I have been rethinking the way I write this blog. As a child, I owned many, many journals, but I never wrote about my life in them. I always tried to imagine myself as someone else, as a damsel in distress with beautiful handwriting, meeting a charming wanderer who would sweep me off my feet and create a fairytale in my life. My journals are full of half-pages of these imaginings, in childish cursive, and very few entries are of real life.

It has always been difficult for me to write about my life. Perhaps because I have never found myself very interesting. I am just an ordinary girl, living through an ordinary life, doing ordinary things in an ordinary way. The things I experience have happened in ordinary ways, ways that I could have almost predicted.

This Beautiful Life | www.eccentricowl.com This Beautiful Life | www.eccentricowl.comI love the life I have, and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but most days I wonder… what do I have to write about? Nothing, I am not interesting. I am simply… me.

And then I see blogs wherein the author writes with such beauty about the simplest of things, and I am challenged to improve myself. I have always written the fantasy with such vigor; it’s time to write about my life, as mundane as it might be, in a new light. It’s time to expand my vocabulary, as I used to do; to see the everyday through rose-colored glasses, as I have done before; to write about life as the beautiful thing that it is. This Beautiful Life | www.eccentricowl.com  I may not be the most amazing person in the world, but what I have is precious to me. This life is my own kind of fairytale. I have always yearned for a beautiful life, an exciting life, a life full of travel and romance and grand adventure, simply because it would be more interesting to pen on a page… but why can’t this life be beautiful, too?This Beautiful Life | www.eccentricowl.com This Beautiful Life | www.eccentricowl.comSeptember is a month of new challenges for me, a month of renewal, rebirth as it were. I want to expand in so many ways, and now that I have begun to improve my images, I want to improve my word-imagery as well. Because this life, no matter how ordinary it might be, is a beautiful one. To me.

This Beautiful Life | www.eccentricowl.com

Scarf, skirt, shoes, belt, and brooch, Thrifted | tee, Target

It will probably take me a while to get used to writing about life in a renewed way, but it is a challenge I look forward to completing! I hope you enjoy the journey, too.


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The Nerdy Mom

The Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.comThe Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.com

Today, we are going to the drive-in movies on a date, without Asa — we usually take him with us and only stay for the first movie — and as I mentioned, we’re going to see E.T. and Back to the Future. So obviously, I have to wear this shirt, and I had to have my morning coffee out of this cup, which I painted for Mr. Owl, based on the image on my shirt. I’ve always wanted to do theme dressing, and this is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten. It’s nerdy, and I like it. The Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.comThe Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.com I’m so, so happy that it is finally Friday; I feel like this week has taken forEVER to pass! Asa has not been sleeping all the way through the night, and I’ve decided it’s time to train him to do so. Which will be hard. But he’s big enough and gaining weight well enough that he doesn’t need to wake up at 4am to eat, and I plan to hopefully get him to sleep until 6am, when I can just get up with my husband, feed Asa, and start the day.

It’s rough, though, because Asa still sleeps in our room — we live in my parents’ basement, and we don’t have a room for him — so letting him fuss and be noisy in the wee hours of the morning is just hard. It’s come to the point where I know he’s just fussing because he’s used to me getting him up to eat, though. This morning he woke up at 4:30, cried for two seconds, took his pacifier when I gave it to him, threw a fit, stopped to see if we would come get him, and then proceeded to just be loud. Not cry, but use his voice at the top of his loud-ness meter… stopping every minute or so to see if anyone would come. The Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.com The Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.comThe Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.com So I just let him be loud until 5am, when my husband sort of rolled over and said “It’s 5′o’clock” in a manner that suggested maybe I should just get the kid up and feed him to make him shush. Haha! That’s the other reason why it’s hard to just let him be fussy– my husband has to get up for work, and I really hate waking him up.

But this week, we’re just going to have at it. I am hoping that by comforting without picking him up, and making him wait until at least 5am to eat unless he actually begins to cry with distress/hunger instead of “I’m awake and bored and used to eating to go back to sleep” noises, I can get him to sleep longer. Plus, I have read and also been told that over-tired babies will wake up more often and not sleep as well at night, so I plan to work on his daily naptimes. My sister-in-law told me that with her son, who is a few months younger than Asa, once she got him to take good naps during the day, he started to sleep all night until 7am. The Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.comThe Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.com

So, it’s time to structure his naptimes more! No more sleeping upstairs; I’ll put him to bed in his crib, and he’ll have to stay in naptime (with a toy if he wakes up and gets noisy) until a certain time twice a day. I’ve been pretty relaxed about routine with him, other than feeding times (even then, if he’s hungry before he’s supposed to eat, I feed him. But he usually only eats every four hours), so I’ll have to work on putting him down routinely, and making a bedtime routine. The Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.com The Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.com And that’s this whole post about baby stuff.

This is what happens when you’re a stay-at-home mom who works from home, doesn’t have a car, and never does anything exciting. Seriously. The most exciting thing I’ve done all week is that I finally, finally changed my name on my driver’s license to my married name.

*ahem* It’s only been a year and eight months. We’ve only had one kid. I might be a slight procrastinator, haha! It actually took my license expiring for me to go in and change my name, and even then I didn’t renew my license for 4 months. I mean, I don’t have a car, so I wasn’t actually driving anywhere…

The Nerdy Mom | www.eccentricowl.com

Cardigan and tee, Target | Jeans, motherhood maternity | JC Penney boots | gift handmade scarf

And yes, don’t judge, I am still wearing my maternity pants because they’re way more comfortable than non-pregnant jeans. I don’t actually need to wear maternity pants any more, but you guys… let me  tell you why everyone should just always wear them:

1. The high-waisted belly band, which means there’s no muffin-top inducing waistline, and also no huge gap in the waist for people like me who have a 15 inch difference between their hips and waist.
2. Perfect amount of stretch and support
3. They never fall down, because of the belly band
4. You can bend over and never worry about flashing anyone some underwear (or other things…)
5. No buttons or zippers to look weird and lumpy under tee shirt hemlines
6. They’re not yoga pants.

So, you know. I love my maternity jeans and I will probably always wear them even when I’m not pregnant and have lost all of my baby weight (like right now.)

I hope you all have a lovely weekend! Happy Friday!

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A New Way to Wear a Scarf

A New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.comA New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.com I just got five beautiful new silk scarves from a recent garage-sale-ing trip, and I have been wracking my brain for new ways to wear them, so that I can showcase the gorgeous prints on the scarves. I mean, wearing them as headscarves only goes so far, and only coordinates with so many outfits. Plus, as a headscarf, you can’t see the full prettiness of the scarf. So when I was playing with my outfit this morning, I felt pretty smart for realizing I could wear the scarf like this. I love the way it looks!

Especially with this skirt, which is my new favorite. It’s from Oasap, and it is even better than I had hoped. It’s the perfect length –which is generally a concern with Oasap skirts because they tend to run short — it’s got pockets, which wasn’t said online, and the buttons are snap buttons! Which makes it much easier to put on. Plus, it has elastic in the waist so it will shrink and grow a bit. And it’s fuller than I had expected it to be, too! So in love. A New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.comA New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.com I felt a bit French with the stripes and the scarf and the red shoes and lips.

We had a tea party today with my cousins, something we do a few times a year, so today had to be a quick hair day. Thank goodness for braids and hairpins with wet hair! I think I prefer my hair braided this way (Two side braids wrapped around the back of my head and pinned) rather than milkmaid braids. I think it’s more flattering to my face.  A New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.comA New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.com

I just recently discovered that Oasap has a TON of really cute iPhone cases. I’m not really picky about how hardy the cases are (I don’t need a big armored thing) because my current case (the one with the heart on it) is a cheap one that has been dropped MANY times and my phone is still just fine. So to discover so many cute cases for such good prices… yep. I had to get these floral ones. HAD to. And I’m quite happy with them! They’re plastic, and pretty lightweight, but they’ll do what I need them to do, and they’re so pretty!A New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.com

Well, today was really hot, which was disappointing after the last few days of cool mornings and mild afternoons. I’ve been hoping fall weather would come because I am dying to wear tights and cardigans and my wool skirts, but… nope. Summer is still hot on hand. I felt a little fall-ish though, with the colors of this scarf. A New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.com A New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.com And these poor shoes… I really need to renew my shoe closet. In the last week four pairs of shoes have fallen apart — these ones, there are cracks side-to-side all the way through the soles beneath the balls of my feet. My sandals that I always wear, the sole is ripping off, my black flats have holes through the sides… and my beloved t-strap heels died. So I have one pair of wedges from Modcloth that I’m waiting for, and then throughout the winter I plan to slowly rebuild my shoe wardrobe with shoes that are  a little more practical than my stiletto heels.  A New Way to Wear a Scarf | www.eccentricowl.com

Shirt and belt, thrifted | scarf, garage-sale | skirt and floral iPhone cases (black, white) c/o Oasap | Wedges, Modcloth | earrings (old) Target

I hope this week has been good so far for all of you! It has been feeling super slow to me, probably because it’s been hot and Asa hasn’t been wanting to sleep through the night (he has a tooth now, by the way!) OR nap during the day, which is tiring.

But it’s one day closer to Friday, when Mr. Owl and I are going to the drive-in movies to see E.T. and Back to the Future, and I cannot wait!

Happy Wednesday!

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6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own

6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.comA few days ago, one of my lovely long-time readers asked what my secrets are for taking good outfit pictures on my own. Most of you probably know that half the time I take my own photos, and the other half, my husband takes them. Secretly, I prefer taking my own outfit pictures — I have more artistic control, I know the shots I want, and to me it’s just fun. Plus then I’m not rushed.  However, taking outfit photos by yourself can be tricky, and I am still learning things after 10 years of taking my own photos. Here are my top 6 tips.6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.com

1. Buy a tripod!

Back in the day, pre-fashion-blog, I used to take pictures of myself just for fun. I have always been interested in photography, and I used to wander the farm we lived on, all gussied up in costumes, and take pictures of myself — as well as roping my friends into it. But back then I didn’t have a tripod. I used trees, fence posts, tractors, chairs, stools, books, and many other things to prop my mom’s camera precariously up so that I could take pictures.

And then, she got me a tripod. Oh, heaven. Tripods are the best thing ever; it doesn’t even have to be expensive. Mine was from Target for $15, and after that one broke my current favorite is one we found at Goodwill for $10 or something. Having a tripod completely opens up what you can do so far as the angle and composition of your photos, plus it provides stability where propping a camera in a tree means it might fall out. Not that that ever happened… (ahem.)1

2. Use natural, shaded light as much as possible.

You always hear them say that you should chase the “golden hour” of lighting during the day, but who really has time for that? While golden hour lighting is gorgeous, realistically it’s better to seek filtered light — aka, a shadow at the side of a building, the dappled light through leaves, or light coming through sheer curtains. Use as much natural light as you can, and please avoid taking indoor, artificially-lit photographs unless you’ve got an actual lighting setup! Indoor lighting usually looks pretty bad, but you also don’t want to be standing in full sunlight because it will completely blow out the whites in your pictures. 6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.com6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.com

3. Be mindful of where the light is.

Once you’ve found your spot of dappled, filtered light, you’ve got one more lighting thing to figure out: the optimum position for flattering shadows. Unless you’re catching golden hour or very early morning lighting, you usually don’t want to be facing the light. Instead, try to make sure that the sun is on the left or right of you, and face ground where the light hits, to create more flattering lighting overall. As an example, take these two photos:

6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.com

They are edited completely the same; I didn’t change the camera settings to be lighter or darker. The only difference is that on the left, we have a picture taken while I was facing the 10am filtered sunlight, and on the right, the sun was to my right. Because the sun was above me, by facing it I was creating shadows beneath my eyes and under the apples of my cheeks, making me look tired (I was, ha!) and detracting from the rest of my face. But by turning so that it was on my right, I was then facing a spot of ground that had sunlight on it, which acted as a reflector and threw light up into my face; as well, the sun on the right also lit up my face without creating shadow… and voila! Better lighting.

4

4. Change it up!

Don’t just stand there. Find a place to sit. Find a place to lay down. Twirl. Jump. Turn your back. Pose even if it feels funny. Make sure you’re breaking up your stance, moving your hands, and providing lots of variety in your photos. While you want to keep the scenery similar throughout the pictures, you don’t have to always stay in one place, or do one pose. (Notes: it’s more flattering to put your weight on your back leg while standing, and usually you’ll find you prefer your face from one side or the other. I think the left side of my face is more photogenic, ha!)

As well, try mixing up your composition — take portrait and landscape photos, photos of just your top half, just your bottom half, just your middle. Get details of your outfits and surroundings, and throw them into collages. My favorite blogs are those that mix up their shots and composition to create a visually interesting read. 6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.com6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.com

5. Interact with the camera!

One of the biggest things to look like you’re comfortable is to treat the camera like it’s just a friend. Be silly for it. Make eye contact. Tell a story with your poses– smile, yell, look away, tilt your head; have a visual conversation with your camera. Two great things to remember if you’re feeling awkward in front of the camera are to relax your hands — you can always tell if someone’s nervous by what their hands are doing — and relax your face. Don’t clench your fists or your jaw, but also, don’t go blank-eyed or limp-wristed. Play with your expressions and your hands, and you’ll start to look comfortable in your photos, even if you feel silly. 6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.com6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.com

6. And lastly, perfect the focus

This one is right up there with finding good light! When you’re setting your focus, be sure to set it on where your face will be. Try to focus on your eyes, if you can — usually, I have an object that I set where I plan to stand or sit (I don’t have a remote yet, so all of my photos are self-timed), and I try to make sure that my face is the part of me lined up with that spot. It drives me batty when I see pictures that are just out of focus, or focused on something other than the face. People will look to your face first, so make sure it’s clear! (And if you didn’t quite get it, you can always go into your photo editing program — I use picmonkey.com, and paint.net — and sharpen it as a little cheat way to make it look focused.)

6 Tips for Taking Good Outfit Photos On Your Own | www.eccentricowl.com

Kimono and necklace (sold out) c/o Oasap | camisole, Forever 21 | jeans and sandals, Target | vintage headscarf, garage-sale

Most of all, though, just have fun with it. While your lighting, focus, and posing are all really important things in having great blog photos, the most interesting blogs are those where you can tell that the person is enjoying herself (or himself) in the pictures. So don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t expect your first photos to be perfect. It’s taken me 10 years (or more!) to get where I am now, and I’m still learning new things! Jump in feet first, and enjoy the process as you learn!

Happy blogging!

(Bonus: one of my first “fashiony” photos from six years ago. Yep. I had no idea what I was doing.)

P.S. Isn’t this floral kimono gorgeous? I think Oasap is the best at creating garments that have a nice flow to them, and I’m SO happy with this beautiful piece! Plus, the fringe is the non-tangle kind, so no having to brush it out and deal with knots!

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The Power of Modesty

The Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.comThe Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.com

So today in the parking lot at the grocery store, as I was crossing the parking lot from returning a cart, the van coming at me stopped to let me go past and, as I always do, I waved my thanks and headed straight on. But as I passed the open passenger’s side window of the van, a man’s voice called out “have a nice day!” and I glanced over to see him smiling appreciatively at me.

I was wearing this outfit, minus the cardigan, with flat shoes. Just a regular girl. Oh, and glasses.

And being the person that I am (aka, not rude, and not confrontational), I simply smiled, uttered thanks, and went on my way. But it reminded me of a post on Clear The Way about how female bloggers deal with leering, and progressed to me thinking about how we are treated based on how we are dressed, and the ability we have to influence that.

The Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.com

To me, the guy in the van was maybe slightly creepy, but polite. That’s the worst I’ve ever gotten ever so far as “leering” or anything like that goes, with one exception on a construction site when I was 16 and the dude was high and whistling at me. But other than that? The worst or most invasive comments I’ve ever gotten have been like that — have a nice day, you look nice, your dress is nice, etc. Nothing rude or sexual or pushing in on my personal space.

But I know many women who have gotten worse. Women who are not overtly showy in the way they dress, women who aren’t what you would consider promiscuous or flirtatious. Normal, jeans-and-tee wearing, everyday girls, who get catcalled and eyeballed and groped and completely violated against their will. And then they are told “well, you shouldn’t have been wearing that shirt. Well, your skirt’s too short. Well, you shouldn’t have smiled that way.”

And I want to take a stand. The Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.comThe Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.com

I want to take a stand for women. I want to take a stand for “no means no.” I want to take a stand for good men. I want to take a stand for modesty. I want to take a stand for  misunderstood concepts, freedom of choice, unjustly labeled people, and sadly misused words.

When I was growing up, I was taught to be modest. From the time I was small, in very subtle ways, my mom made sure I knew that as a girl, my body was special. I wasn’t allowed to run around shirtless like my brothers, even as a toddler; I wasn’t allowed to wear ruffly little girl bikinis, or short little girl skirts, or low cut tops, and as I grew… I took these things for granted. I, as a girl, as a teenager, as a young lady, as a woman… what I had was to be protected. What I had was beautiful. It was meant for someone special. It should be kept for that one special person, because my body was a precious, lovely, wonderful thing. And perhaps my parents never said that so much in words, but I grew up knowing that as a woman, I was powerful. And the way I dressed was important.

The Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.com And I always took it for granted that every woman who grew up with Christian parents, as I did, must have grown up with the same view of modesty. (Edit: I don’t mean by this that I thought people who were not Christians could not also hold the same values, but much like you would assume people who took the same class learned the same thing, I assumed that people with my faith learned about modesty the same way I did.) Modesty was a wonderful thing. Why we dressed the way we did was for a good reason.

But I was heartbroken to learn that so many girls are taught horrible things about modesty by churches. They were taught modesty out of shame. A girl has to cover up because she could cause a boy to think bad thoughts about her. A girl has to cover up because she should be ashamed of her body and what it can do. A girl has to cover up because she’s in charge of men’s thoughts, and if she dresses indecently she will cause them to sin. Girls are being taught that they are the sole person in charge of what a man thinks about their body. That it’s their fault if a man lusts after them. That it’s their duty to make sure men don’t stumble.

Oh, my heart. These girls grow up ashamed, afraid, sad, rebellious, damaged, hurt, and utterly, utterly weighed down by the modesty they are forced to uphold. They grow up with the world on their shoulders. My heart breaks for them.

The Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.com

You see… modesty is not for the man. But then again, it is for the man.

As a woman, I very strongly believe three things:

1. I cannot change the way a man thinks about me, no matter what is on my body. If he is going to lust after me, there is no coverup covered-up enough to deter his thoughts. He is in charge of his thoughts. He is in charge of the respect he gives me. He is in charge of his thoughts, his lust, his sin. His mind, in his body, is something I have no control over.

2. There are good men in the world. Men get thrown into the dirt more often than they should, sadly, and I believe in the goodness of men. I have a good husband. I have good brothers. I have good brothers-in-law, good fathers (father in law…), good guy friends. I know men are not all as lustful and uncontrolled and piggish as most of the world paints them, jokes about, snarks about.

3. Conversely to the first point, it would seem, as a woman, I believe I have the power to influence a man. I have the power to influence what he thinks of me, how he sees me, how he treats me, how he speaks to me. What I wear can directly affect what he does. My body, a woman’s body, was created to be the most beautiful thing to a man’s eye, and the way I dress it can either positively or negatively affect how I will be treated. I have the power.  The Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.comThe Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.com

And with that power in mind, I choose modesty. Not to prevent men from thinking about my body, no. I can influence that with what I wear, but I cannot control it. No, I choose modesty because modesty is my power. Modesty is a reflection of my faith. It is to honor God, and to honor my husband. Modesty is a silent declaration that I am taken, that my body is for the pleasure of one man and one man only, that I am to be respected, that I respect myself.

I choose modesty because it is my way of saying that I value what I have. That it is privileged information what lies beneath, that not everyone gets access every time I walk down the street. I dress modestly not because I am ashamed of how someone might think of my body, nor afraid that I might cause someone to sin because of my body, or because I feel I might be a stumbling block for a man who sees my body; I choose to dress modestly because I know that I am beautiful, and I am protecting that beauty to be cherished and admired by the man I chose to share it with.

The Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.com The Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.comAnd I’m not trying to convince you that you should dress modestly. You can wear whatever you want to wear; your body is your own. Your life is your own. I would love to convince you to agree with my faith and my choices, but your life isn’t my business.

But I am trying to tell the girl who grew up in a church told that she’s responsible for another man’s thoughts: you are not responsible for any man’s sins. I am trying to tell you, the boy who was brought up thinking girls should dress modestly for men: you are in charge of your thoughts and actions. I am trying to tell you, the person who doesn’t understand why I won’t flash cleavage or wear mini skirts: I choose to take charge of my body this way because I know it is beautiful.

The Power of Modesty | www.eccentricowl.com

Shirt and skirt, Thrifted | Cardigan and heels, Target

I, as a woman, have power in what I wear. I have power in my choice to be modest. You, as a man, have power in controlling your thoughts. You have power in treating a woman with respect. You, as a person, have power in choosing to say yes or to say no. You have power in what you wear and how you act.

So, I choose modesty because I was taught that I am beautiful, and that my choices will affect me positively or negatively, and because they will affect others positively or negatively. I will take charge of what others think of me, in so much as I can, by what I put on my body.* Because I have the power to do so.

And I’m only wearing this cardigan because I thought the outfit looked better with it.

(obviously, I had a different post entirely in mind when I was taking these pictures — I’m sort of channeling a little bit of a Mary Margaret from Once Upon A Time vibe with the cardigan and retro shoes and flowery skirt, and I was totally going to talk about Snow White. But uh… changed my mind!)

;)

Happy Monday!

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*I feel like I should really clarify: just because a girl is dressed provocatively does not mean in any way that she was “asking for it.” I am not in any way saying that if a girl dresses in a low cut top or a short skirt, it’s her fault that a man takes advantage of her sexually. No means no means no means no. Always. No matter what.

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