My Style Struggle

Hey There!

I skimmed over this topic a few times in recent posts, but I really need to update my wardrobe. Most of my pieces no longer fit after my weight gain last year, and the pieces I have are cheap and unflattering. This time around I am working to buy nice quality pieces that can be mixed and matched and will serve me for a longer time.

I’m looking for brands that I love that I can return to. It seems like every time I need a new pair of jeans I have to start the terrible struggle over again – finding something that fits my curves, finding a fabric l like and the color of denim I like, etc. It’s exhausting!

The more I think about it and browse, the more I find that I’m running into 3 problems:

1. I hate the idea of investing so much money into clothes that I’m hoping won’t fit soon as I’d like to lose weight.

2. I really hate trying on clothes (and online shopping is a complete nightmare!).

3. I’m struggling with my personal style.

Since we’re cozied up with our tea, chatting, I wondered if you’d give me your advice on style!

When it comes to fashion, I like pretty dresses, full skirts with pockets, and I love vintage fashion. Like . . . love it. If I could wear full out pin-up (corset and all) every day, I would.

I know. I know. Most of that isn’t practical for everyday wear; owning jeans is a necessity. As much as I love it, I struggle with buying vintage fashion as I’m worried about how it would be viewed.

Luckily, I work in a really accepting workplace. We have girls with purple hair and multiple nose piercings. The Fellow wears bowling shirts. Red lipstick days are my favorite because I get so many compliments, and everyone is supportive.

But we’re also on the first floor.

For me, the silhouettes of by-gone eras are captivating. I love the structured look of fitted dresses and the fun whimsical nature of a full skirt. I enjoy playing with pin curls and following pin-up dolls on social media, seeing their next outfit and how they accessorize. It’s everything I love.

Yet, I don’t know how to incorporate it into my life.

I feel like . . .

1. I really don’t want to open myself up to negative dialogue about my body or fashion. I know humans can be cruel, and I can just imagine what going out in full pin-up would look like.

2. I struggle with how that makes me look as a professional.

Since my dream of opening a tea shop is probably a thing of the future, I want to do well at work. I am already young, and I worry that wearing full skirts and frilly dresses draws attention to that fact and make me look unprofessional.

It may seem like such a trivial point, but as someone wiser than me once said, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” I spend a lot of time trying to improve myself, and I don’t want my clothing choices to undermine all that I’m doing.

But then again, I follow Reese Witherspoon on social media, and I love watching her pushing women everywhere to change the world, all while looking feminine and fabulous.

moonshine in a teacup

What are your thoughts? I need your advice!

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How to Host a Stress-Free Brunch

Hey There!

Since Mother’s Day just passed, and I hosted 13 people for brunch that day I thought I’d share with you my tips on how to make it as stress-free as possible.

1. Tidy up your house the prior week.

I had gotten really behind on housework the week leading up to the brunch and did not have everything as tidy as I would’ve liked. That meant I was scrambling to clean, along with cook right up to the first knock on the front door. The food portion was the easy part.

2. Make a plan.

Moonshine in a Teacup| Make a Plan

It’s far better to over plan and nix a few things than to have no plan at all and forget things. When I started planning brunch, I originally wanted to make those cute succulent cupcakes on Pinterest. That was quickly crossed off the list. I wrote down the guest list, what I wanted to serve, what things I could make ahead, and the grocery list. As the old adage says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

3. Cut a few corners.

Or in my case, most of the corners. Don’t be afraid of box mixes or pop-open biscuits. When you’re cooking for a group, sometimes quick and simple is better so you can just relax and enjoy the time of fellowship.

4. Make what you can in advance.

Moonshine in a Teacup| Bread

Breads and biscuits will hold for a day or more. You can also make things ahead and freeze them (like I have done with my most recent batch of scones). I cooked my bacon in the oven probably 3 days out and kept it refrigerated.

5. Borrow, don’t buy.

I have a ton of stuff for hosting meals from our SCA adventures and the wedding. Honestly, they are a bit of a pain to store. If you don’t have something, check with a friend! There were a few things I borrowed like my mother’s coffee pot. Yupp. I don’t own one. Well, I do own a pour over pot, but for this many people, it was not going to work. I also borrowed her 2-tier pie rack to serve plates of cinnamon rolls.

6. If you do buy, buy cheap.

Moonshine in a Teacup| Juice

 I love the Dollar Tree. I had this carafe that I bought a while back at TJ Maxx, and when I was at the Dollar Tree recently I found the exact same one. For $1 I snagged two and had a mini juice bar!

7. Presentation is key.

See number 5. I have a ton of hosting stuff. The majority of that though is rustic wooden trenchers and baskets. When we have company, I pull out our long wooden trencher and fill it with snacks like pretzels and Wheat Thins. Biscuits and baked goods go in baskets lined with flour sack tea towels. It’s quick, easy, simple, and I think it’s pretty.

7. Figure out seating in advance.

I didn’t bring up extra seats on some bad advice until after people had started getting food and finding seating. I wish I would’ve gone with my gut and brought up extra chairs earlier. I also wish that I just owned folding chairs. Our families are so large when they are together that seating is always a struggle.

8. Relax.

Moonshine in a Teacup| Relax

Don’t make it obvious that you’ve done a  ton of work. Be gracious and enjoy your time with your guests. Dishes will wait to be cleaned, and if something doesn’t turn out quite right, it’s ok. It’s the company and the feelings they had on that day they will remember!
What are your best easy hosting tips? Help a girl out and let me know in the comments below!

A Lord of the Rings Wedding

Hey There!

I am so excited to share today’s post with you!

I was blessed to be able to help out the daughter of one of my former managers on her wedding day!

“J” and “D” are the sweetest of souls. I remember the bride’s mother telling me – forever ago when we worked together – that her daughter had met someone online. I was a bit skeptical. After all, it was dangerous to date someone you had met online. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I helped with the couple’s engagement photos, and I got to know them and “D” is one of the safest (if sword-wielding) people I know. When you are around them, you can’t help but see how much he cares for her and the lengths he will go to make sure that she is safe and happy. They radiate such a beautiful, unselfish love, and it makes my romantic soul smile just being around them.

The Fellow has a fancy-schmancy camera I want to learn to use, and sometimes I offer it out to help capture some of life’s little moments. I am by no means a photographer, and I’m still shooting on auto, but I want to learn how to use it as it is meant to be used. I want to provide you lovely readers with better pictures here on MiaT, and so I can help my friends with their photo needs.

Outside of loving the couple, I was particularly excited about this wedding for two reasons:

  1. It was themed.
  2. The theme was Lord of the Rings.

Once upon a time, I was a LotR super nerd. There were entirely too many of my early teen years spent with my hair in Legolas braids wearing the One Ring as a necklace, so when she told me the theme I was ALL in.

I loved all of the thought that went into the ceremony site and the fellowship hall decorations. It was well thought out, beautiful, and simple. The bride opted for two long rows of tables, and it worked beautifully. She loves butterflies, and they were everywhere. Paired with the moss, it really brought Middle Earth to life.

For me, the clothes were my favorite part. “J” and “D” absolutely went all out. It was 84 degrees, and the bride had planned for it (yea for perfect planning!) and had a matching blue velvet icepack in her dress (from Etsy seller DressArtMystery whose work I love and follow) to keep her Elven cool. The groom looked absolutely regal in his split-front tunic. I really felt like I was a guest at the Gondor coronation!

Toward the end of the reception, the groom was challenged to a sword fight to prove his honor and worthiness of the bride, complete with epic background music!

Moonshine in a Teacup| LoTR Wedding

It was such a unique wedding, and I was so honored to be able to share all of the beautiful details from their big day. I cannot wait to see all of the wonderful next steps in this amazing couple’s life!

 

 

 

Tea on the Porch

Hey There!

As I mentioned in the last post, we’ve been working on our outdoor living space. So far, we have rearranged the vintage glider my folks gave us and the picnic table my father built for us. The Fellow got the new grill he’d been eyeing, and we hung bistro lights.

Moonshine in a Teacup| Glider

When I told the Fellow I wanted to put up lights, I pictured them zigzagging across the porch. Unfortunately, the ceiling is so low that it just doesn’t quite work. Instead, we hung them around the edge of the porch, and I think they look alright – even if it’s not quite what I had envisioned. I think I will like them even better when the porch is limewashed!

New Grill Moonshine in a Teacup
The two chairs will be moving and the buckets in the back are for our raised bed garden.

Our next step is to put up some curtains to keep the mosquitoes out. A little research told me that Lill curtains from IKEA work and are the right price, but the shipping cost is astronomical. We’re looking to phone a friend near an IKEA or go on a road trip to get them.

We had a few friends over the other night to break out the new grill, and I served a light cream tea out to the porch. It was wonderful – warm early summer air, good tea,  scones, and conversation with new friends. This is what summer is all about. Tea on the porch may just be my new favorite thing!

Moonshine in a Teacup | Cream Tea

What are your favorite porch activities? Tell me in the comments below!

Summer Projects Update

Hey There!

Today I just want to sit down and chat and get you caught up with what’s going on with the Fellow and me. You, me, and a cup of tea. Sound good?

May is our busiest month of the summer. It is completely booked and moving SO fast! I’m photographing what I am sure is a going to be a fantastic wedding (It’s themed; any guesses on what theme?), hosting a Mother’s Day brunch, the Fellow and I joined a kickball league (of all things! I’m sure some great stories are headed your way on that one!), and we are taking a long weekend for a SCA mini-event which my soul sorely needs.

Amid all of those things, we’re also working on our cottage, as I’ve decided to call our house. ( I am obsessed with old farmhouses and English cottages, so I figured, why not?)

As you may recall, two years ago, after the Fellow firmly shut down any dreams I had of living in a tiny house, we started house hunting (a process that took over 2 years and the world’s most patient real estate agent). We looked at every imaginable combination of houses and price points.

We soon realized we needed a reality check. We weren’t on a HGTV house-flipping show, and while I’m crafty, I’m really not the best with construction. We stopped looking at extreme fixer-uppers and started looking at move-in ready options with just cosmetic issues we could upgrade slowly.

The Fellow had his heart set on a brick rancher, and I wanted something cute with a porch and not red brick. (Yes, I was being particular, but I’d also lived in several depressing apartments and wanted to love where I lived.) See our dilemma?  After looking at well over 20 houses, he realized that he couldn’t get past his love of a good, solid, durable brick house.

I, on the other hand, could paint over my dislike of red brick. So we struck up a deal. He could have his brick rancher, and I could paint it.

We found our 1960s red brick rancher, and I fell in love with it while leaning over the pass-through kitchen window chatting to the real estate agent and my parents. I love the secluded backyard with a porch, and I could see myself baking and watching kids play through the window over the sink.

I’m pretty sure the Fellow was banking on me forgetting our brick deal (just like the deal where I wouldn’t get a pixie hair cut if he would never have only a mustache . . . Can I just remind you of our engagement photos?)

But I stuck to my guns. After a lot of Pinteresting and Googling, I decided I would limewash the house. I love the patchy-aged look it gives, and it covers that red. I  promise I will have a whole post dedicated to limewash along with a big reveal of what the house looks like once I get it all finished, but I wanted to give you this sneak peek in the mean time!

Limewash Sneakpeek Moonshine In A Teacup

Along with tackling painting the house by my lonesome (I knew it was a big job, but I admit that I underestimated just how big.), we are working on creating our outdoor living space. We built a fire pit and are revamping the porch.

We’ve also got projects going inside the house. We are slowly finding furniture to upgrade the things we’ve been dragging around since college, and I am so excited to upgrade and decorate our space!

Lots of stuff going on and moving slowly but surely forward. That’s where we are at the moment. I am so excited to share it all with you!

What summer projects are you gearing up for?

Eating Naturally and Baking Bread

Hey There!

I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I know we did. Despite the rain, we went out with friends, worked on some projects around our cottage, and I got a little bit of baking done.

Now, about that baking – The Fellow has always been on board for living a more natural existence. I, on the other hand, have been eating diet foods as long as I can remember. I’ve used artificial sweetener in my coffee and tea my entire life. I think I went on my first diet around age 13. Well, no more. I’m joining The Fellow in his way of thinking and am making an intentional choice to eat more naturally.

While we’re embarking on that journey, I’m also not dieting or limiting my intake of foods. If I want ice cream, I’ll eat it, and I’m also putting some heavy focus on not acknowledging any sense of guilt associated with that bowl of frozen deliciousness.

My hope is that once I stop depriving myself of things that I won’t binge them when I “fall off the wagon.” If it’s not a forbidden fruit, I can just enjoy them when I want them. In reality, The Fellow and I’s meals are really not unhealthy. It’s my snacking that needs some fine-tuning. I’m excited to see what my body does on real foods when I truly listen to it.

We’re in our third week, and I’ve made some great steps. I went from 5+ beverages a day (most with 2 packs of Splenda) to using a tablespoon of real sugar. We swapped our lunch meat out for whole turkey breast without any preservatives, and I decided that I would try to make our own sandwich bread.

My first attempt at bread making was an overwhelming success. They had a beautifully even color and were perfectly sized loaves of honey-sweetened bread. The recipe made 2 loaves and lasted us about a week and a half. The Fellow said it made for the best French toast he’s ever had.

Moonshine in a teacup bread
My beautiful bread

Fast forward to Sunday night – I went to make the same bread for our next week’s lunches. I decided to experiment and see if I could squeeze by with regular all-purpose flour instead of bread flour. It was also a little bit warmer in our house. The dough went wild. I’m not sure if it was the flour, the temperature, or the amount of time I let it proof, but it exploded. The dough expanded over the edges of the bread pan dripping everywhere. It was a monster!

I trimmed the overflow off (which, of course, you should not do, as I was later advised by our friend who is in culinary school) and popped it in the oven. Half an hour later, I pulled the massive loaves out. After letting them cool, we managed to pry them out of the pans. The overflow had cemented the bread into the pans. I tasted some of the baked spillage, and it tasted nothing like the amazing loaves from the previous week. I double checked the recipe and there it was – salt. I was baking the bread amid dinner preparations and neglected to put in the salt!

The fellow says it tastes fine, just too sweet, but all I taste is disappointment. I didn’t even photograph it for on here.

(Update, if I spread it with butter and sprinkle some sea salt on it, it’s actually a nice snack.)

It was certainly a learning experience though, and I gained some valuable knowledge about bread. I am excited to try again next week.

What are your best recipe fail stories? Share them with me in the comments so I know that I’m not alone!

Baking through Literature

Hey There!

Do you remember BOOK IT! through Pizza Hut? Or summer reading programs at your local library? Every summer, I would sign up for these programs (OK, like 3 of these programs). I would go to the library and emerge with a tote bursting at the seams with new adventures. Looking back, I’m surprised our family vehicle made it to the beach. It was over the weight capacity from just my “beach books.”

For some reason now though, I don’t make as much time in my life to read. I have several old friends I need to revisit, and so many new friends I need to make. I’m embarrassed to share this with you, but there are several classics I haven’t read yet. I left Anna Karenina in the middle, and I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice. (I know. I know. We can still be friends, right?)

The other day I was watching the movie adaptation of Anne of Green Gables (the Megan Follows adaptation, as if there were anything else), and I began to yearn for Anne in her later years. Anne of Green Gables is a character that you grow with, and every few years I go back to her to see what lessons she can teach me. And then we came to it. The tea scene. If you haven’t read or watched Anne of Green Gables, you cannot understand the heartbreak that comes with Diana Berry’s accidental intoxication over afternoon tea.

Anne-Green-Gables

Then it hit me. Why don’t I use MiaT as my reason to do two things I love: read and bake?

Baking through Literature. Starting this month, at least one post each month will bring you recipes for food/baked goods from the books that I read. My goal is to bake items as I come to them the book. That being said, if something is seasonal (like Marilla Cuthbert’s crab apple preserves), it may need to wait a bit.

I am so excited to get back my reading time, share my favorite characters with you, and bake some delicious treats!

What are your favorite books? What should I put on my reading list? Let me know in the comments below!

WV: Ramps & Rails Festival

Hey There!

This past weekend I got to head back to my dear West Virginia for a festival. WV has a ton of festivals, and I’ve made it a goal of mine to try to go to more of them. From small festivals to large ones like the Mountain State Forest Festival, there is always something to be celebrated.

This particular adventure was to the Ramps & Rails festival in Elkins, WV. It made the top of my list because my dear friend “A” (my maid of honor) and her fellow “C” were assisting at a tie dye booth, so I was able to hit the festival and spend the weekend with her.

Now, you may be asking – what’s a ramp? I’ve always heard them described as a wild onion, perhaps a better description is a wild leek. Ramps have a bulb, flat leaves, and a sharp garlicky taste. They are also rather, well, pungent.

The festival was held at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. There was live music, about 50 different vendors, and lots and lots of ramp-inspired foods.

Everyone knows the best part of a carnival is the food – kettle corn, cotton candy, and other classic favorites. Festivals are no different. There’s just something about food from a festival vendor that tastes twice as good. “A” laughed at me as I  hopped completely on board for all of the ramp food offerings.

moonshine in a teacup

We had a deep-fried ramp wantons (which were sinfully good), a pulled pork sandwich with slaw and a mild ramp BBQ sauce, a chocolate ramp-infused cupcake with ramp buttercream icing (Yup, you read that right.), and just when I thought I’d tried everything – I saw it. There, scribbled in dry erase on the window of a food truck, was – rampperoni rolls!

ramperroni roll moonshine in a teacup

Now y’all, I am a pepperoni roll purist. Nothing belongs in my pepperoni rolls, but well, pepperoni, but you don’t get much more Appalachian than a rampperoni roll. The ramps made the whole flavor change. Honestly, it had a green pepper vibe to it, and it was like eating a supreme pizza roll.

The Fellow was super bummed he couldn’t make it to the festival, so I brought him home a Rampperoni roll (They were originally made to be carried in coal miners’ lunches, so they travel well and don’t need refrigerated.), and he loved it.

We hung out with some old friends, listened to the live music, and watched a little square dancing. It was absolutely the WV fix I needed.

What is your favorite festival (or your favorite part of a festival)? Let me know in the comments!

 

Fitting Room Confessional

Hey There,

I went out last night to an awards dinner for work. I’m weird in that I love watching other people get awards. They’re excited and proud, and their family and friends are proud of their achievements. The whole thing makes me smile like an idiot. Even if I don’t know them, I’m happy for them.

This is a fairly fancy event, and I love an excuse to dress up. I am slowly re-vamping my wardrobe into better quality pieces that fit, make me feel fabulous, and can be worn several different ways.

I don’t have any nice dresses at the moment, so I took this opportunity to go shopping. Shopping is great – trying on clothes – not so much. I think we’ve discussed it here, but in the last few years I lost a lot of weight and got down to a size 10 dress. While not a healthy transition, I felt better about my body than I ever had. Then I had a rough year and gained it all back. (Honestly, probably plus some. I don’t get on the scale anymore.)

When I shop, I spend a lot of time in my decision-making process standing in the fitting room. I check the piece out from every angle and debate how it makes me feel. This dress made me feel fantastic. It’s a Calvin Klein black sheath dress with a geometric neckline and a gold zipper down the back.

little black dress moonshine in a teacup
I’m on the right, belly, smile, and all.

While I was in the fitting room deciding if I really could pull off a fitted dress with my extra weight, I decided something. I’m buying the damn dress. My little bit of stomach roll was going to be no worse than any other woman’s at the event and no one was going to be judging me or looking that closely. The next day no one would be talking about how much weight I gained. They’d be talking about the people who received awards. And if they were talking about my belly, who cared? It doesn’t impact how I do my job or love my family and friends. It would just let me know who those friends really are.

I’m thinking all of these things, staring into a ROSS dimly-lit fitting room mirror, when I heard it. Two rooms over, a mother and her adult daughter were trying on clothes for some type of beach wedding they were invited to.

The daughter would try on clothes, and they would discuss it. For a while it was the typical critique: “I don’t like the cut of this. I wish it was navy. I’m not a fan of where it hits. You’ll need to have that hemmed, and so on.” Then the daughter must’ve tried on something the mother really didn’t like, and the conversation changed. Not about the design of the clothes, or the choice of the designer, but the inadequacies of the daughter. “If you want to wear that, you need to really work out. I keep telling you to work out to get rid of that fat. Or invest in some good Spanx because that highlights your fat. And fat isn’t attractive.” My heart broke when I heard the daughter agree. I walked out of the fitting room as they were standing in the aisle. They were both thin, blonde women. The daughter was tall, lean, and beautiful.

I know we’re harsh on ourselves, but I’m working to love my body as it is. I want to work out and eat better from a place of health and nutrition, not a goal number. We need to shift the narrative. We need to change how we speak about ourselves, to ourselves, and to the women around us. I pray I will be the type of mother who doesn’t teach her child she isn’t enough just as she is.

5 Ways to Manage Work Frustrations

Hey There,

Have you ever had a really rough time at work? I have. As a matter of fact, I let it get to me just last week. Things just build up and when something or someone upsets you, it’s easy to let it drag you down, to get defensive, and start a downward spiral of anger, frustration, and resentment.

When this happens at work, your day can go from great to awful and kill any desire you had to be productive. Add a bit of anxiety to the mix, and you can be two steps away from becoming overwhelmed and shutting down – or worse having an anxiety or panic attack.

Here are 5 ways to avoid that negative path before it gets out of control:

5 ways to manage work stress

1. Assume the best.

Just because you heard one message doesn’t mean that was the message the speaker was intending to send. That’s why communication is such a common struggle. There are so many nuances involved that can create confusion.

2. Flip it.

When someone asks you to add yet another thing to your already overwhelming task list, think, “They know that I am reliable and trust me to get everything done” instead of thinking, “As if I don’t have enough to do.” Actively look for ways to spin negative encounters. (As a note, if you truly are too busy for any other tasks try the “Yes, and . . .” trick – “Yes, I can do that, and in order to complete that to the level we need, I will need assistance or an extension on this other task.)

3. Take a deep breath.

Get up from your desk, walk outside or to a break room, empty conference room, or even the bathroom. Stand or sit up straight and take 3 deep breaths. Then repeat. The neurons in your brain send signals to relax when you breathe deeply.

4. Listen to music.

If your work allows it, pop your headphones in and jam out. Your favorite tunes should drown out anything negative around you and put you in a much better mood. You could even try calming meditation music!

5. Talk to someone.

Try not to linger on it, but sometimes a rant really makes you feel better. Try setting a timer and only being allowed to be negative for 1 min. If you are in a toxic work environment, you may need to speak with your manager or HR. Talking with a therapist is also an option. Therapists are trained professionals who can help you learn valuable tools for communication or coping mechanisms for stressful situations or anxiety.

What are your favorite tips for dealing with work stress? Let me know so I can try them!