Category Archives: Wearing

Loving lately: Backpack edition

Lately I’ve been carrying my favorite Eddie Bauer backpack from college and grad school to work. It holds everything I might possibly need during the day — wallet, phone, sunglasses, iPad, whatever book I’m currently reading, and my camera. Could I travel more lightly? Sure, and I want to do that more often, but until then … I carry a backpack.

My criteria for a backpack are pretty simple — must be large enough to carry everything listed above, but must not be too big so that it is bulky and unwieldy. It must also make me look like a hip adult going to work, not a teenager going to school on field trip day. Too much to ask? I think not.

I’ve been coveting a few nice backpacks lately. Here’s the rundown:


1. Timbuk2 Candybar – $85.00

I think this one is my favorite out of all of these. However, each time I look at them I seem to choose a new favorite. Fun colors, but still work-appropriate, and the reviews are great – it holds a lot but is not too bulky.

2. Mossimo Solid Backpack – $29.99

Easily the cheapest of the bunch. Target offers solid colors or prints, which can be fun. The drawstring seems secure, but the bag itself is still a little bulky.

3. Quick Trip Backpack – $59.99

I love these colors, although the eggshell fabric would probably dirty easily. The double latches are nice, and the shape is trendy.

4. Electra Commuter Backpack – $62

Gray and green work beautifully together, and the fact that this bag is made by the Electra bicycle company gives it bonus points. This one would stay secure even on my bike.

5. Ranger Small Laptop Backpack – $119.95

This is the priciest, but that mustard color is hard to resist. It comes with a rain cover (I can only hope that there would even be a reason to need that here in Kansas), and the reviews are fantastic — this is a bag that works well for petite frames.

6. Contrast Zip Backpack – $33

My favorite color combo for this bag is the red and blue, which of course is out of stock. If it were in stock, I probably would have already ordered this bag, in spite of the questionable reviews about the website itself. I love the shape, the double zip, and the size. *Sigh* … light blue isn’t bad, either, I suppose.

What kind of bag do you carry? Should an almost-30-year-old woman give up the idea that she is some sort of hipster academic and just ditch the backpack? 


DIY: Mod Podge Map Necklace


I’ve had a pair of round wooden earrings that have gotten quite a bit of wear. Lately, though, I’ve neglected them and I realized they could use a change.


Enter this tutorial from Happy Hour Projects. I love the dictionary page she used, but I had a stash of maps just crying out to be my new necklace.


My earrings were already darkly stained, so I didn’t do any prep work. I removed the earwire (tip when working with jumprings: rotate your wrist when opening the ring, rather than pulling the two ends apart), then positioned the wooden circle where I wanted it on the map.


I traced around the outside of the circle, then cut it out. A tip here: the paper will fit better on the circle if you trim it slightly smaller than the circle itself. I added Mod Podge to the back of the cut-out map as recommended in the tutorial, then applied it to the wooden circle.


Once it dried, I added another layer of Mod Podge, making sure to get the outside and inside edges. Then add a jumpring and a chain, and you have a new necklace! I was able to re-use the hole that was already there; a safety pin worked wonderfully to poke through the paper and Mod Podge.


I wore the necklace today with a white t-shirt and rust colored skinny jeans, to bring out the colors in the map.

Do you have any jewelry that needs a refresh?


I made a sewn scarf.

(And you can too!)

Mark your calendars, everyone — I actually made something that I saw on Pinterest (original source).

I have a lot of yarn in my stash, and sometimes I just want a quick project. I had some great bright blue yarn (Caron Simply Soft Quick in Blue Mint) that I love. It’s bulky, and I just could not figure out what crochet stitch would work for it — as well as keep the awesome look that the yarn has by itself.

Enter the sewn scarf.

To start with, I cut 50 million strands of yarn to the proper length for my scarf. Not really — just around 36. This made a skinny scarf of around 3″ wide, so if you want a wider scarf or if you are using skinnier yarn, then cut more strands. I found the right length by laying out a scarf I already had and measuring against that. Don’t worry if your strands aren’t all exactly the same length — you’ll trim them later.

Then to make the strands more manageable while sewing, I tied them all to a clothes hanger because that’s what I had handy. A pencil would have made a lot more sense and been easier to move. Oh well.

Start a few inches in from the clothes hanger (or whatever you use to secure your strands) so that you have tassels! Length of tassels is up to you — mine are 4-5″ long. Because my  yarn was so bulky, I didn’t lower the presser foot. This led to some finicky sewing in some places because the needle would sometimes push the yarn into the bobbin space (I don’t know technical sewing terms). So take it slow and be careful. That being said — it was really super easy.

One really awesome thing about this is that you can do all kinds of color combinations. You could do contrasting thread like I did (I had pink thread handy, so that’s what I used), or you could even use two colors of yarn and do stripes or alternate the colors of the strands before you sew … I could make a million of these.

When I sewed, I would sew “forward” — pushing the yarn away from me, which would make the thread come forward, if that makes any sense — and then I would sew “backward” — using the function of my machine that, well, makes the needle move backward as I bring the yarn toward me. In some places (not consistently, as the imperfection is what is so perfect about this scarf) I made sure to do an extra stitch on either side to properly secure the outermost strands of yarn to the rest of the scarf. It makes more sense when you are doing it, I think.

I ended up with what you can see here after a little bit of sewing. I tried to do the sewn parts a fair distance apart, but they ended up too far apart and it just looked like I had looped a whole skein of yarn around my neck. Maybe that look will be in next fall, but I haven’t seen it on the catwalks lately.

So back on the machine it went. This time, I stitched in between all the previously-stitched parts so that the whole scarf is stitched. I threw in some diagonal stitches here and there, which you can kind of see in the picture. The all-over stitching gives the scarf a woven look, like it was created on a loom. I thought it would end up being stiff, but it’s still quite soft and extra cozy.

Now I am planning to go through my stash and find random combinations of yarn to stitch together. These would be perfect for gifts (if I hadn’t already given everybody a scarf already) or for charity. A couple of years ago I crocheted a bunch of simple scarves for the local nursing home residents so that they could all have a Christmas gift. I think I will churn out some of these babies — much less time consuming than crocheting, although not nearly as easy to do in front of the TV.

Let me know if you make one — I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

I joined Pinterest.

I actually did this a few days ago, but I think I’m hooked – even though I’m a little late to the Pinterest game. I’m pretty sure everyone is on Pinterest – two days after I had actually registered, the lady who cuts my hair asked me if I knew about it!
(I am so making those apple rings in the screenshot this weekend.)

Basically you create boards for any particular interest you have – I have ones for craft ideas, home decor, photography, food, and a few other different things. Then you go through the pages and pages (just keep scrolling – things will keep coming!) of ideas “pinned” onto other people’s boards and repin the things you like to your own boards. You can comment and like things that people have posted too, which makes it a little social if that’s what you like.

You can also add a button to your web browser so that if you are out surfing the Internet and you find something you want to keep on your Pinterest boards, you can pin it from that site directly. This is handy so you don’t just sink hours of your time into Pinterest all the time (which I confess to doing this past weekend).

Are you on Pinterest? I’d love to follow you! I am mjaugustine there, if you want to look me up and follow me.

North vs South

Shirt – JC Penney // Gray Skinnies – Vanity // Necklace – thrifted // Earrings – made by me // Shoes – Blowfish, from Famous Footwear // Dog – not for sale!

Forgive my Civil War-titled post; it’s just that the first thing I think of with this color combination is the color of the uniforms worn by the soldiers who fought. Nerdy? Yeah, probably.

This is my first foray into the world of skinny jeans or similar pants, and I’m still not convinced that it’s a flattering cut for me. But when I find a pair of pants that fits me (and in a smaller size than usual!) on clearance for $10, I am going to take full advantage of them. I actually can’t wait until fall because I want to wear them with my boots.

What’s the verdict? I think I’m getting confident enough to wear things even if I’m “not supposed to”. So tell me, do skinnies work for you?

Back to Basics

Pants from Stage // Tee from Vanity // Vest and Shoes from Maurices
“I Read Banned Books” Bracelet from ALA Store

I have a lot of solid color tees that I wear to work with my khakis, and recently I felt the need to dress them up. So I headed to the trusty Mall, and I picked up a couple of these lightweight flowy vests.

I like how it adds a little bit more visual interest, but it doesn’t take away from the colors involved in the outfit already. Plus, they go with all different colors, so I think these will be versatile additions to my closet.

This is one of my favorite accessories to pull out of my jewelry box to dress up my solid colors. I picked this up at the American Library Conference this past June, and it was worth every penny. Naturally, I look for excuses to advertise my love for great books, and this is a fun way to do it.

You’ll be seeing a lot more of this vest and the other that I purchased here soon, I’m sure. What are some of your favorite ways to dress up your basics?

Catching Up

Hello again!

It’s been quite the busy summer here at Chez Marleah. I’ll save you the 20 or so posts that I had planned for the past couple of months by giving you a brief recap.

In May my sister graduated from the University of Kansas with bachelor degrees in Math and French …

Then my sister and I had to find her a new place to live, so we road tripped it out to Columbus, Ohio – with a few detours on the way back to Waukegan, IL (hometown of Ray Bradbury) and Joliet, IL (visiting famous prisons that have been filming locations for things such as The Blues Brothers and Prison Break are vacation destinations for everyone, right?) …

I traveled to New Orleans for the American Library Association’s annual conference, which was a blast (especially when you get to meet famous authors like Orson Scott Card [pictured] and Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket!) …

I did some baking (green tea cupcakes, among other things) and had a party at my house – oh, and I turned 27 …

Ryan (and me, here and there, but mostly Ryan) has been working on starting his own business in a building downtown that we bought.  The shop name is Spielen, which is German for “to play”. Accordingly, he had some games at the Ellis Riverfest this summer that built a lot of interest …

Ellis Riverfest

Oh, and I wore a few outfits. These aren’t even the best ones … but they are the ones that I photographed! Or that Ryan photographed while I gave him poor direction …


Shirt – maybe JC Penney // Skirt and belt – Maurices // Shoes – Payless // Necklace – thrifted in Columbus

I liked dressing this skirt down a little bit with the turquoise touches.


Shirt and Pants – JC Penney //Scarf – thrifted in Lawrence // Shoes – Toms (bought in Lawrence at Shark’s Surf Shop)

I’ve since gotten rid of these pants because they just didn’t fit quite right. I love the Arizona brand shirts, but Arizona jeans and pants just do not fit me at all. I’m a sucker for the cheap prices though.

Another exciting thing I did this summer was run the Warrior Dash. The 3.5 mile course included obstacles of varying difficulty … So! Much! Fun! I am planning to have the photos off my camera and on this blog in a few days. What gives with my newfound/re-found dedication? I finished school! Like, completely finished! I have officially finished all the work for my master’s in library science and am now just waiting to receive my degree.

I hope all of your summers have been treating you wonderfully! I’ve greatly enjoyed mine.