The Sun is Also A Star is the latest novel by NYT Bestselling Author Nicola Yoon. It is the first of her novels that I’ve read, and it’s one of the most exciting ones I’ve read recently. The story centers on two characters whose lives converge for one interesting day in New York City.
There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you know you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away but it’s inevitable that you will.
The story is similar to Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in many ways. It is an unexpected and vibrant love story about unlikely lovers amid a bustling city. The story centers on Natasha, a young Jamaican American whose undocumented family is being deported. It deals with themes of love, friendship, and fate, and is one of the most sparkling contemporary romances I’ve read in years. The characters are three-dimensional and realistic portrayals of what it’s like to be at a turning point in life at a young age.
I’ve decided that it’s about time for me to start a home decor series. I’ve been super into interior design & decoration lately, and I wanted to share some of the elements I’ve been researching. I have always loved wreaths and I thought I’d share some of my favorites.
Wreaths have a long and interesting history – some of the earliest wreaths were recorded in Ancient Greek and Roman societies. Laurel wreaths were popularized by the myth of Apollo – who essentially got a woman turned into a laurel tree as an escape from his aggressive come-ons. That’s Greek mythology for you. Many wreaths are associated with spiritual beliefs, celebrations, and festivals, and I think they add a beautiful, natural look to any space.
Boxwood Wreath by Smith & Hawken for Target
This wreath is made from preserved boxwood leaves. It’s a gorgeous pop of green that would look beautiful on any wall. This is the wreath that I have in my bedroom!
This is more of a full sized wreath, but I love how it’s made of fresh leaves. It would be a great seasonal piece, or party centerpiece. It’s not the most practical for people on a budget, but it’s a beautiful splurge piece.
Fresh Leucadendron & Tallowberry Wreath By Club Botanic
This is another fresh wreath from Club Botanic. This is a beautiful fresh wreath for anyone who loves a little bit of color but still wants to keep things subtle. This would be a beautiful door wreath.
This is a beautiful wreath for anyone who loves bright florals. It’s classic and natural and would look beautiful in a kitchen or even a bathroom. I love the idea of hanging wreaths near the bathtub, and this one would make a beautiful bath time centerpiece.
I love the way the muted shades of green in this wreath would complement any color scheme. This wreath would look beautiful in a kitchen or on a window, and the wreath is actually edible! You could use the bay leaves in a recipe straight from the wreath.
This wreath adds a beautiful light element to any room, and is an interesting alternative to a wreath of greenery. It would make a cozy addition to a laundry room or bedroom, and will definitely add texture to the space.
This is a simple, affordable green wreath. It’s similar to the Target boxwood wreath but not as densely packed. It would give an airy and natural feel to any room, and the classic and simple green would match most decor.
Have I gotten you aboard the wreath train yet? I’m absolutely loving the way my space looks with a wreath hanging. You could also semi-easily DIY your own wreaths using foam loops and craft store supplies.
Astrologically speaking, I have an absolutely disastrous combination of signs when it comes to organization. I have signs pointing in all different directions telling me to start projects but not finish them, and procrastinate when I should really be working. Though my inner self is not naturally talented at managing productivity and order, there must be a little Virgo fighting within me because man do I love to get organized. I thought I’d share my planning system with you all, because I’ve finally found something that really works for me.
I use the Erin Condren Vertical Life Planner to plan out my days. I had the horizontal edition last year, which I also loved, but I thought I’d try out the vertical one this year. I’ve also used and loved the Passion Planner, which is great if you have a super scheduled day with lots of meetings.
The main reason why I love this planner is that it’s SO customizable. You can choose everything from the coil color, to the color scheme of the inside pages, to the covers themselves (which snap on and off). I have the “in bloom rose gold metallic” cover with the rose gold coil and I love it. I found this one at Staples, though you can fully customize them when you order online.
I have always been a planner-holic, and I think I’ve finally met my perfect match. The planner also has a ton of handy features like a back pocket and laminated tabs. Overall, I love this guy.
As far as my planning process goes, I like to sit down once at the beginning of each month, and once at the beginning of each week. I generally write important dates on both the weekly and monthly spreads, like birthdays, travel, and school dates. When I remember, I like to set goals for my month, but let’s be honest that happens like once every two months.
In terms of my week, I fill in my appointments, work, meetings, and class schedule so that I can see where my free time is. I usually write my homework in my planner, and my general to-do list of errands for the week.
Alongside my planner I actually use a separate journal to keep track of my smaller tasks.
This Daily Journal is from Oh Deer, and it’s essentially an undated book of to-do lists. It comes in a ton of awesome colors/prints and each page has sections for notes, to-do, objectives, projects, and doodles. There’s also a small timetable that runs down the right hand side of the page so you can manage your time directly from the book.
The reason why I use this is because planners can get super crowded especially if you’re managing multiple projects or jobs (class, writing, blogging, YouTube, work, etc). Usually when I sit down to start working for the day, I’ll pull out my planner and the journal and transfer over any big to-dos for the day. Then, I’ll break those down into smaller steps (i.e. write post, take photos, edit post, schedule). This allows me to 1. have the satisfaction of checking things off and 2. make sure I get everything done. I don’t use the journal every day, but since it’s undated I can just pop in and out of it as I need to!
The final component to my whole planning setup is the digital element. I don’t use any apps for productivity but I do use and love Google Calendar. I generally use it to plug in my exact class times & locations, as well as to plan meetings with groups. I like to keep my GCal as my permanent schedule if you will – things that happen at the same time every month or week. It’s nice to be able to check your phone on the go to make sure you’re heading to the right class – you’d be surprised how much I do this.
Let me know if you guys enjoyed this peek into my planning system, and if you’d like more posts like this about productivity and managing time/projects! Stay tuned for next week’s post on my tips for getting and staying productive! I also frequently update this Pinterest board with my favorite stationery picks if you’re an avid pinner.
Thrifting is something I have an intense (and possibly unhealthy) passion for. My mom used to take my sister and I to flea markets, antique stores, and thrift shops all the time in my hometown in Georgia which is where I developed my love for a good bargain, and the whole “one man’s trash” thing started to truly become my way of life. Since moving to New York, I’ve had to do a lot of searching by foot and online to find the best thrift stores the city has to offer. I thought I’d put together a list of my personal favorite places to look, so you can find yourself a gem the next time you’re here. I’ve also included my favorite stores in NYC, generally speaking, in case thrifting isn’t your scene – because NYC is home to some truly unique shops & businesses. I thought I’d take some of the guesswork out of exploration, and give you a handy syllabus of stops to make along your way.
Last night, your candidate, Mr. Donald Trump, won the United States presidential election. Regardless of Secretary Clinton winning the popular vote, the electoral votes gave Trump the victory. That’s how this democracy works, and how it has always worked. The losing team has had their qualms about this every four years – claiming that the system is rigged, unfair, not reflective of the people. Maybe it is, but that’s what we’re working with, and according to that system your candidate won fair and square.
I think the reason why I, and the half of America who cast their votes for Clinton are feeling so upset, is we believe a Trump presidency has serious implications on the everyday lives of Americans. I am not the most left-wing Democrat out there, though I am incredibly vocal about my progressive social beliefs. I do see a lot of flaws in the Obamacare system – flaws that put a lot of Americans at a financial disadvantage. I’m one of them. I do see the mistakes Clinton has made throughout her thirty years in politics, and I do see the reasons why government programs do not always work, and that the federal government’s involvement in our lives is not always for the best. But when I look at Donald Trump, I see a manifestation all of the negative experiences I have ever had in this country. I see someone who is careless with their words, using them to hurt others and marginalize huge groups of Americans. I see someone who is okay with using rude, derogatory rhetoric that diminishes sexual assault and disrespects women. I see someone who treats minorities, people of color, and immigrants as concepts, rather than people.
I think many of you would agree that, on the social issues, Trump is out of line. What he says is usually racist, sexist, and elitist. The way he discusses these issues becomes the example for young men and women across the country, and the world. But somehow I think this is where we diverged. I couldn’t get past those things, and you could. I’ve heard from a few of you that you’re not concerned because of how difficult it would be for Trump to actually overturn Roe v. Wade, or to take back gay marriage. I hear you. I would hope those things would be difficult to undo. But the problem for me, is that Trump is spreading the message that those things are wrong. That my ability to take control over my reproductive rights is wrong. That gay marriage is wrong. That a girl in a hijab is dangerous. That stop and frisk is okay. That anyone who doesn’t look white is a threat because of their possible immigrant status, religion, or class.
I am writing this from a place of privilege – my relatively calm response is due in part to the lack of real threat I face as a white woman. I may face cat-calling and gender bias, but I’m not facing hate crimes, deportation, bullying, or the double take on the subway because of how I look. I know that my response is coming out of that privilege.
Where I think we can come together is through a discussion. I do not believe all Trump supporters are evil. I don’t think you all hate gay people and are racist. But it’s hard for me to justify voting for Trump in the same way it is for me to justify a third-party vote in a race that was this close. My friends are terrified, and they have been for a while. My friends in the LGBTQA+ community, my immigrant friends and family, the people of color in my life, the women, are all scared. I believed that a vote for anyone but Clinton was a vote against those people, and I still do.
But I do know that people choose their candidates for very real reasons. Maybe you’re facing financial threats under Obamacare, and for the safety of your family, you had to look out for yourself. Maybe your job is being threatened and Trump’s promise of jobs was what you needed to follow in order to keep your family afloat. Many democrats voted Trump. Many republicans voted Clinton. I had the privilege to vote for Clinton on the social issues and the rest of the Democratic platform, because I wasn’t experiencing a direct threat to my security. Some people don’t have that privilege and they have to look out for their family, and I understand that. But many voters had to make a harder choice between potential financial stability under Trump, and social safety under Clinton.
My olive branch to the half of America who voted for Trump is this: we need to get on the same page on these social issues. We need to discuss our backgrounds, our points of view, our families, our friends. We don’t have to agree on everything, but we need to see each other more clearly. I’m willing to open the dialogue, and I do so from a place of privilege, because I would like to hear what you have to say. The Republican party may have complete government control now, but my hope is that you’ll open your minds to my thoughts, and I’ll do the same for you. I hope that you don’t see Trump’s language as an example. I hope you remain critical of the government, just as I will. I’m mad, and maybe you’re mad about the Democratic response, but fighting fire with fire is not what this country needs. I hope we can come together and make the next president someone who won by a landslide – across class, race, and gender lines, and not just a couple hundred thousand votes.
My October links post included a variety of things I’d been looking into at the start of the month that I recommended to you all for viewing & reading pleasure. I thought I’d do a full fledged update to share some of my favorite things to watch and read in the fall season (don’t worry: no spoilers).
PS: Happy full moon everyone! Full moons always play with my emotions & life decisions. Hope you survived!
Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010)
This movie is an emotional rollercoaster in the best way. Based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro (which is incredible by the way), the film follows three friends who attend the same boarding school in rural England, and discover a disturbing truth during their time there. A conversation with a good friend prompted me to revisit this gem, and as usual, I sobbed for a solid twenty minutes after the film finished. It’s best not to know what you’re getting into if you haven’t read the book, so don’t do any googling. The cinematography is beautiful as is the acting done by leading youngsters Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Kiera Knightley. The score is another of the film’s highlights, and the devastating “We All Complete” will take on even more (horribly devastating) meaning once you finish the film.
Breathe In (Drake Doremus, 2014)
Drake Doremus is one of my favorite contemporary directors, if not my favorite. His storytelling is subtle but powerful, and the details are really what bring his films together. You may have seen Like Crazy, which took the Internet by storm after being available on Netflix a few years back, but here’s another one to tickle your dramatic fancy. The story follows young pianist Sophie (Felicity Jones), a British exchange student living with an American family in suburban New York. The family’s patriarch, played by Guy Pearce, becomes disillusioned with his life as a suburban music teacher, and starts to long for something more. The film also has an amazing score (maybe I’m just into that), by Dustin O’Halloran, who scores all of Doremus’ films and is wonderful.
The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2015)
This is a really interesting new thriller from Japanese director Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body, Aeon Flux). When a man is invited to a dinner party at his former home in Los Angeles by his ex-wife, he starts to think that the awkward reunion might have darker intentions. I won’t say any more about it, as it’s best seen with little plot knowledge, but it’s a chilling play on the awkwardness of relationships and our deepest human fears.
Black Mirror (Charlie Brooker, 2011)
If you haven’t seen Black Mirror, it’s one of the greatest series’ out today. Described as a Twilight Zone for the modern age, the show’s episodes often tell satirical and suspenseful stories of technological terror. The episodes are are not correlated, but the common themes of the paranoia-ridden tales are perfect for lovers of moderately creepy, incredibly amusing thrills. Charlie Brooker, the show’s creator, writes most of the episodes, and guest directors infuse each story with a unique flavor.
Gilmore Girls (2000)
This is certainly my most lighthearted suggestion, but it’s one I didn’t want to forget. The series, which I think literally everyone but me has seen, follows feisty mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory in the small Connecticut town, Stars Hollow. The show is funny, charming, and surprisingly good. The show isn’t at all what I expected to be, and with every episode I fall more in love with the amazing, well-rounded characters. Plus, who doesn’t love the New England small town aesthetic…
What are the things you can’t stop watching right now?
Pretty much since the beginning of cinematic history, movies have been trying to recreate and capture magic. Some of the greatest magical cinematography came out of the 1990s – we have intricate and often goofy portrayals of witchcraft, covens, and all of the awesome girl power of the magickal/Pagan myth. Witches and witchy culture are often in the details but there are a handful of movies/tv shows/people who have captured the witchy spirit for me.
Spoiler alert/disclaimer: this is just a post of a bunch of random things I like to look at there’s not much here in terms of wordz.
Practical Magic | 1998
Particular focus on familial magic, curses. Cinematic motifs of hands, candles, light and dark. It’s a silly movie but it’s heartwarming and thoroughly entertaining. Plus, late 90s Sandra Bullock is a stunner. The cinematography was done by Andrew Dunn, who’s also contributed his magical visions to Ever After and The Crucible, starring Winona Ryder.
Good old New England magic. Practical Magic is, like, really good. You should definitely watch it.
Charmed | 1998-2006
“There is always magic to be summoned at any point. I love to live in a world of magic, but not a fake world of magic. We all really basically have a lot of magic….it’s only those of us that choose to accept it, that really understand it. It’s there for everyone. That’s the only thing that I feel that I am able to give to people and that’s why I know that they respond to me because I try to give them only their own magic…not mine, but theirs. ” Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks might be the High Priestess of Music. Just a thought.
The Craft | 1996
Also I feel like it’s worth acknowledging the way that we see girl magic in movies – which is usually in their bedrooms? Girl bedrooms always have all sorts of magic in them.
Frenchy’s bedroom in Grease – the ultimate girl hideout. The pennant and the pink wallpaper and the unfinished yet framed paint-by-number. Iconic.
Mia Thermopolis’ bedroom in The Princess Diaries. Actually her whole house.
Samantha’s bedroom in Sixteen Candles.
And finally I’ll close this weird image ramble out with some mystical teen girl witch quotes.
So what the heck is going on here then? Well you could think of it as a reversion to old ways – old habits and styles. You could think of it as coming full circle, maybe, or some divine joke about how things always end up where they once were, or where you least expect them to be.
Over the past six years, High Voltage has been my home. It’s been through countless renovations and revisions. I’ve come in and out of touch with it, but I’ve always been perfecting. Trying to make it the best possible place it could be.
I think, after our big rebranding earlier this year, I lost touch with what this place was supposed to be. Somewhere for me to connect with you. High Voltage went in a new direction, bringing on amazing writers and expanding to focus on new and exciting things. We had some amazing opportunities because of High Voltage’s big expansion, and I wouldn’t trade any of it.
Part of this whole “put yourself out on the Internet” thing is about evolution and embracing that. I’ve been tending the grass here for so long, I’d begun to feel that things were getting a little stale. I wasn’t refreshed, our readership was going down, and I didn’t feel the community I’d felt when we’d first begun.
This new evolution is bringing things back to the personal place where it all began. I want to share what I’m loving, experiencing, and seeing with you. I want the content here to really bring something to the table, whether it’s a great recommendation, a reflection on life, or just the best meme of the month.
High Voltage was a name I dreamt up six years ago on a whim, whilst creating this very space. It will always mean a great deal to me (you have no idea how many blogs I’d started before this one which went absolutely nowhere). So, we have a new name, Miranda/Fen, which is really just a fancy looking version of my name, but it’s the same me we started with all those years ago.
On a quick little scheduling note, I’ll be bringing you something new at 11am EST every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday (including a brand new video over on my good old, trusty YouTube channel). I’m excited and also slightly horrified of this change. HV will always be an amazing chapter in our history, you and me, but I think you’ll find things around here will feel just like home. So – new name, new look, let’s get this done!
It’s a struggle many women face: finding a bag that looks good but is also practical enough to hold the stuff that the different phases of our lives require. Sometimes we need to bring our gym clothes to the office, or we have a nice dinner plan but no time to change out from our school clothes – that’s where Alles Bags comes in.
The brand is the brainchild of mother/daughter duo Antje and Steffie Price. Steffie has been modeling since age thirteen, and she realized that the perfect bag didn’t really exist – one that could hold her shoes, portfolio, and everyday stuff! After a strangely coincidental run-in on a cross-country flight, she got in touch with me about these bags and I told her I’d love to see one in action, and as you can imagine, they’re wonderful. Many of their bags are ultra-convertible, featuring detachable structured shoe boxes, adjustable straps and handles, and easy backpack conversion. I have been using one for almost a month now, and I’m obsessed, as you’ll know if you follow me on Instagram.
Steffie was lovely enough to chat with me a little about the brand itself, and what she thinks makes the bags so unique.
HV: What inspired you to create Alles Bags?
Co-founder, Steffie Price: My lifestyle as a traveling model. Having sometimes up to 15 appointments in one day, my handbag basically had to hold my life – that being my heels, portfolio, makeup, tablet, snacks, and more. I could never find a bag that could hold everything I needed in a stylish and functional way so I sought out to create my own.
What’s it working on the brand with your mom?
It’s perfect because I trust her more than anyone! When I first had the idea for the bags I didn’t want to tell anyone for fear that they might steal the concept – so I went to my mom and we worked on it in secret for four years – only our closest family and friends knew about it until we launched. My mom also has several years of experience running her own business so it’s great to have her to show me the ropes.
What’s your favorite bag you’ve designed?
My favorite is the Jessica bag. It’s funny because it was one of my least favorite bags initially – I thought it turned out way too big! But after using it myself I fell in love – I use it for castings, to pack picnics, and as a carry on when I’m traveling.
Who were some of your artistic inspirations during the design process?
We were inspired by Picasso and Piet Mondrian for their focus on geometric shapes. We also focused a lot on color theory and minimalism.
These bags are a busy girl’s dream.
I had the chance to test out a couple of the bags, thanks to the wonderful ladies at Alles Bags, and I found them to be such great quality, and truly utilitarian. All of their bags are made of vegan leather, and they come with adjustable straps in a variety of styles, shapes, and colors.
My personal favorite was the Annika. It’s a roomy tote with two large pockets on either side which can fit a pair of shoes each. My 13″ MacBook Air also fits in the bag. it has two side handles, and an adjustable strap that makes for super easy carrying.
I also got to try out a couple of their signature convertible bags. The Jessica, pictured up at the top, is a gorgeous bag with a structured detachable shoe compartment – one of the brand’s signature features. The Reneé is a larger bag with a zippered top (rather than the Jessica’s hard frame), and I got to check it out in two gorgeous shades.
Its trendy bowler style is super cute while also being totally functional.
Usually I don’t cover products on the site in this way, but I think this brand is doing something awesome. Their bags are ethically produced, meaning the factories in which they are produced provide their employees with fair wages and pleasant working conditions.
The bags retail around the $100 mark, so they’re comparable to a mid-range designer bag. I think that fast fashion is something we as consumers need to start being more conscious of – buying from smaller businesses who really care about the way their products are made ensures us that we can feel good about the things we’re investing in. The bags are all made using vegan leather as well, so no animals were harmed in the process, which is great.
These bags are so useful for women and men on the go. They are practical, good quality, durable, and so stylish. There are colors and styles to fit a variety of tastes, and I haven’t put mine down since I’ve started using it. I think these could be great for new moms to use as diaper bags, for athletes to store sneakers & gym gear, for working girls to keep their heels and laptop, for artists, MUAs, or anyone who needs a little more room and durability than the average bag provides. Plus, they’re absolutely adorable!