6 Bookish Tote Bags

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve had a fondness (read: weakness) for bags and purses. Typically my taste for purses/handbags falls into the classic with simple lines category, but when it comes to tote bags, the zanier the better. As I was going through my giant plastic bin (yes, I’m serious) of tote bags the other day, I discovered there was a bookish theme to several of them, which I thought would be fun to share!

1.) I’d Rather Be in Mitford


Purchased at Barnes & Noble in Springfield, MO, in the early 2000s, this is one I’ve had the longest. Jan Karon’s Mitford series is a longtime favorite, with quirky characters whose humanity and faith intertwine into a humorous and wholesome look at small town life.

Read more about Mitford and shop for similar bags via Etsy.

2.) Gryffindor

In 2011 my parents and I went to Florida on my spring break, which included a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where I bought this Gryffindor tote. My folks have never read the books, maybe saw The Sorcerer’s Stone movie once, but still took me to a librarian’s favorite theme park. They’re the best!

Similar merchandise can be found via Universal Studios, but other Hogwarts houses can be found from The Cursed Child web store and the official shop from King’s Cross Station in London.

3.) Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

I was fortunate to see the original cast of Mary Poppins the musical in London in 2005 and when The Optometrist and I knew it was on an American tour in 2012, we jumped at the chance to go much closer to home. As soon as I saw this at the merchandise table that evening, I knew it was going home with me.

Similar ones can be found via RedBubble.

4.) Library Card bag

When The Optometrist and I traveled to Seattle in 2015, lots of folks told me I would love visiting the Seattle Public Library. We both enjoyed spending the better part of the afternoon walking around this architecturally engaging hub of learning in downtown Seattle and just before closing time I picked up this little gem at their Friends of the Library gift shop.

This exact bag, and/or the companion socks, can be found via Amazon.

5.) Blue Q Shopper

Given to me as a birthday gift by a dear friend and former librarian colleague, I always receive complements when I carry this one around and if people don’t know me it’s a great segue to reply, “Thanks, I’m a librarian!” It’s sturdy enough to not tip over in the floorboard of the car, but accommodating for movement under a chair and can hold big and small items alike. The day this photo was taken it held my work tablet, a legal-sized zipper folio, a pashmina, my yearly planner, a book, and my Yeti water bottle. It’s a workhorse!

If you’re interested in this one, it’s currently on sale for $5.99!

6.) Booklahoma

It’s thrilling to live close to a vibrant, independent bookstore and Magic City Books in downtown Tulsa, OK, is doing some excellent work in promoting and encouraging literacy in our region. Of course I’m going to promote them by carrying around this lightweight canvas tote bag!

What’s your preferred method of carrying around your books, knitting, and more?


Fall Fun Fashion

I have had a lot of fun this week pulling together a couple of new-to-me outfits from my closet. I love when I’m able to piece together a look with items I’ve had for a long time, but just never realized their potential. It’s also helped me realize these are looks I love and feel confident wearing. If “classy with a tinge of vintage quirk” could be a style genre, sign me up to be the spokeswoman!

Since the weather has been accommodating over the past few days (i.e. still feels like summer), I’ve been able to wear short sleeved tops, flirty skirts, fun scarves, and shoes without stockings.

Look #1: Black & Fuchsia


Top: JC Penney?

Pleated Skirt: gift from friend

Striped Scarf: vintage

Jewelry: all from local jeweler

Handbag: Coach

(Shoes: Naturalizer)


Look #2: Grey & Blue



Top: The Gap

Skirt: navy blue pleated/bubble – Isaac Mizrahi for Target

Scarf: Oscar de la Renta

Jewelry: pearls

Shoes: American Eagle at Payless

Hurrah for fun fashion finds in the fall!

Tacky Tuesday

To break up the monotony of a slower summer work schedule, some of our ingenious Library staff recently decided to implement spirit days every Tuesday. I don’t think I’ve voluntarily participated in such frivolity since high school (Little Kid Day and Red & Gray Day – go Bulldogs!) and college (Overalls Day, when non-farmer overalls were still hip, and Sexy Sweater Day were favorites), so I was long overdue in being able to come to work with an excuse to look slightly ridiculous.

Last Tuesday kicked off the summer-long event with “Tacky Tourist Day.” Due to the fact that I had a meeting last Tuesday morning with someone from another department on campus, I decided I didn’t want to look quite so bedraggled. But yesterday, I had no obligations to look presentable to outside sources and heartily embraced the theme of “Let’s Go Retro.” Each person could decide which decade best suited them and then dress accordingly. Since I still possess quite a few items from my 1980s childhood, from head to toe my fun outfit came together.

First the hair: crimped, of course, with portions of it pulled back in side ponytails. These were tied back with colored hair baubles that I still keep in my mini Caboodle.


I would’ve used a banana clip, but unfortunately got rid of those a long time ago. Also leaving my possession was my big Caboodle, which looked like this one. I think I must have given it away during one of my more recent moves.


Next the makeup and accessories: heavier blush and extra heavy blue eye shadow gave me just the right over the top touch. Though I didn’t have my ears pierced in the 80s, I donned my big gold hoop earrings that have since come into my possession. A couple of friendship bracelets that I faithfully wore in elementary school adorned my wrist.
I contemplated wearing my old Swatch watch, but its plastic strap cracked a long time ago, making it hard to hold a normal shape. And what outfit isn’t complete unless you have a rad pair of shades? My Back to the Future II sunglasses, purchased at Pizza Hut during the promotion for the movie (circa 1989), were the perfect touch to bring it all together. As I drove to work with New Kids on the Block songs coursing through my mind, I couldn’t help but notice I garnered a few strange stares along the way.


Other external accessories I brought to work with me included my California Raisins lunchbox and my Michael Jackson microphone. I still don’t know why, but always had bad luck with leaky thermoses that came with my lunchbox… Somewhere I still have a small collection of California Raisin action figurines, which I always hoped would come alive and start singing, like they did in this commercial. As for the Michael Jackson microphone, it was one of my most frequently used toys for a significant number of childhood and adolescent years. This would have been shortly after Thriller was released, a.k.a. when MJ was still really cool, still had a nose, and still had a uniform skin color. Most girls grow up singing and dancing around their room using a hairbrush. Thanks to my Michael Jackson microphone, not I.

As for the outfit itself: though I wasn’t aware of U2 in the 80s (hello? New Kids on the Block!), I’ve since become a fan of Bono & The Edge, thus wore my U2 t-shirt, tightrolled my jeans, donned a double pair of neon orange and blue socks, and paired these with my white Keds to complete the ensemble.


Once I arrived at work, I was pleased to see there were several others dressed from various decades. Monday, over lunch, my new friend Alyssa and I discussed ideas of how we were going to dress up. When I walked in the door yesterday morning I was so excited to see how she channeled Olivia Newton John in her “Physical” phase. Here we are, in all our 80s splendor.


Upon talking with my friend Joe last night on the phone I told him, “Today at work we were able to dress up in clothes from our favorite era.” His reply, “Oh, I thought you said ‘we were able to dress up like your favorite Arab.” Hmmm, maybe next time.

In less tacky news, last week was filled with some noteworthy moments. Sunday evening I was invited to partake in some 4th of July festivities with a family I met at a local Nazarene church. They made me feel very welcome and the fireworks they shot off were amazing. I always love taking pictures during firework celebrations, even when I know they probably aren’t going to turn out like I wish they would. Regardless, I had a lovely time eating, playing croquet, and celebrating our nation’s independence.


Last Monday evening I met my friends Aaron, Sarah, and Rebecca for a late dinner as they passed through the area. Since last seeing each other Aaron and Sarah have returned from deployments in the Middle East, so the four of us had a wonderful time catching up, telling fun stories, eating, and laughing together.


This past Saturday I took a little drive into the Arkansas Ozarks and celebrated with my childhood friend Kristin as she got married. It was a simple ceremony in a gorgeous location. This was the view from the reception site.


Throughout the summer, the downtown association sponsors a free movie in the park. Last night was the first one I attended, along with my friend Alyssa and her husband Brian. They are both new to the University, having moved here from out of state a few weeks ago. Their friendship helps me remember I’m not the only newcomer to Oklahoma. We had fun watching National Velvet, eating fruit and cheese, meeting new people, and enjoying the summer breeze.

As I begin my day, I give thanks for fun days and fun friends, and am already planning for how I can dress up next Tuesday for “Super Hero Day.”

Lenten Thoughts

Life continues to move forward, full-throttle, with spring break in late March/early April as the only reprieve in sight. Until then I continue to tweak my resume as I apply for jobs, prepare to be in Kansas City every other weekend for the next five weeks for class, and prepare for my comprehensive exams. This semester will be over before I know it! I know I shouldn’t wile away my hours, but how I look forward to the day when I will have a house of my own (without noisy neighbors who live above me), an income that allows me to save so I can once again travel abroad, and hopefully have a schedule that allows me to get caught up on all the books I haven’t had time to read whilst becoming a librarian.

Highlights over the past few weeks:
– getting a free ride on campus from the rickshaw on wheels, operated by a local pizza parlor
– seeing a man at the library who looked like a cross between Dog the Bounty Hunter and Robert Plant. Oh public library, how I love thee.
– treating myself to a haircut and discovering my hair is still long enough (a good thing) that I can make this fun braid on the side
– I felt bad that this Betsey Johnson purse was lonely at Plato’s Closet, so I decided it needed a new home. Mine. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!
– traveling to St. Louis with teens from my church for a Bible quizzing meet and post-quiz field trip to the Laumeier Sculpture Park. I think we had more fun at the park than we did at the quiz…is that bad?
– in keeping with reading lots and lots of books for my Reader’s Advisory class, so far I’ve read the following books this month: Step on a Crack by James Patterson, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Brava Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (loved it!), Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers, and have almost finished Summer by the Sea by Susan Wiggs

As the Lenten season officially begins, I pause to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for us the last 40+ days he walked on the earth preceding his death. This website is from a Nazarene church in Arizona and has some terrific ideas for ways to observe Lent. Click on the Lent tab to access resources. “The Prayer Guide for Lent” includes PDFs of daily scripture meditations (I’m using these), and the last link under “Fasting During Lent” includes different ideas of things from which you can abstain as individuals or as a family.

Though never observing Lent as a child or teen, this will be my sixth year I’ve chosen to honor this holy season. While having many Catholic friends in high school who would typically give up chocolate for Lent, strangely enough it was my protestant friends from college who spoke of this choice in their walk with the Lord. Since incorporating this into my own personal faith tradition, I’ve found my walk with Christ strengthened and deepened when I reflect on how much He has done for me. Replacing my human comforts with focused dependence grows my awareness of His grace, making me humbly and eternally thankful.
The things I have felt compelled to “give up” this year are television, sweets, and meat on Fridays. Yesterday and today I have also chosen not to any play music while in my car. After hearing a series of short podcasts from Focus on the Family about teaching your children hymns, I hope to use my time in the car to lift my voice in proclaiming the truthful words of poetry set to music.

This evening I pause and reflect on the joys of being able to have an impromptu dinner and visit with my friends Mary-Ann and Heidi, who were instrumental in me joining a sister-church effort when a teen Bible quizzing was established my freshmen year of high school. It’s crazy that we’ve known each other that long. And this weekend I will be able to stay with my childhood friend Ginger, who has known me even longer and to whom I am connected by fond memories of church and imaginative fun we would create. God’s blessings of friendships do not go unnoticed in my life.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8

“Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more…and grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.” from What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey


While school, work, church, and LIFE remain hectic, God’s goodness and nearness continue to overwhelm all other concerns and this brings me unspeakable peace. I love this new leg of the journey I’m on with Jesus.

I also continue to seek out the simple and beautiful moments of life that are camera-worthy. Here are a few glimpses of things that have caught my eye over the past week or so.

Sunday, September 6 – after putting together such a fun and colorful outfit, I just had to take a picture of it.

Monday, September 7 – Labor Day found me breakfasting with Aarik & Brooke and then taking some photos downtown, which was ideal since none of the shops were open.

Tuesday, September 8 – there are so many beautifully landscaped areas around campus. Here is a plant that became more interesting the closer I looked at it.

Wednesday, September 9 – a pile of staplers and tape dispensers.

Thursday, September 10 – since I was house manager for the Brian Regan show, I used stealth and made my way to the wings to take some photos while he was performing his stand-up routine.

Friday, September 11 – sidewalk chalk advertising a rooftop dance party (i.e. very late night/early morning working at the Theatre).

Saturday, September 12 – a peaceful park, though which I walked to get some homework done on campus.

Sunday, September 13 – the teens and our Wednesday night youth praise band had a great time ushering in the Holy Spirit as we led the congregation in worship.

Monday, September 14 – I pass this tree every day as I go to campus for my assistantship. I love how the outer leaves are beginning to turn yellow, even though most of the rest of the tree is still green. It reminds me of lemons and limes.

On that note, I’m off to take my stuffed peppers out of the oven. Yum.

These are a few…

The resumption of a consistent schedule…hearing God’s voice speaking to me…eating good food…reading good books…not only are these just a few of my favorite things, but they have comprised my life over the past few weeks. Visual accountings follow.

August 23 – never underestimate the power of new shoes that are so comfortable, they already feel like they’ve been broken in.

August 24 – the first day of school! For dinner I made my own quick version of gumbo soup: okra, tomatoes, chicken, onion, green peppers, and rice, with a chicken broth and cream base (for good measure).

August 25 – the street near my new office is undergoing some major construction. This old gas pump behind the chain link fence caught my eye.

August 26 – lunch with Kyle, which included me eating almost all of this ginormous salad. Yes, that’s BBQ sauce on top, mixed with homemade ranch dressing. I don’t know how many calories it had in it, but it looked relatively healthy, and more importantly, tasted good.

August 27 – I saw this beautiful monarch butterfly flitting around, which made me go on somewhat of a wild butterfly chase to take a picture of it before it flew away. A guy walking by asked me, “Did you get it?” How kind of him to encourage my spontaneous picture taking. 🙂

August 28 – my new office space! This was the first day that a.) my computer was hooked up with the proper cords, and b.) I had access to log on to the database I need to use. Note my sunlit, window view of campus. Yay! I’ve since brought a few desk sit-arounds to make it feel more like mine, including some little scripture note cards given to me in college, a fun magnetic musical sculpture, and my “Beware of attack musician” sign.

August 29 – what a wonderful opportunity I had to attend a Beth Moore simulcast over Friday night and Saturday morning with ladies from my church! After getting past the feeling that I was watching her on TV, the Lord spoke through the music and her message to bring me into a new, deeper understanding of my relationship with Him.

August 30 – our praise team lead worship for a Nazarene zone missions service. Here I am singing and playing my tambourine!

August 31 – It wasn’t a bad moon rising, for sure. Rather, it was a beautifully cool evening to grab a bite to eat with friends after class.

September 1 – there’s a thick patch of black-eyed susans at one of the entrances to my apartment complex. This, I decided, would be the perfect spot to capture my photo of the day.

September 2 – a simple chair in a simple space.

September 3 – the Thursday book review in the USA Today is one of my favorite things in the world. Especially this week when they had their fall book preview. Yay!

September 4 – I began the celebration of my holiday weekend by (finally) going to see a matinee of Julie & Julia. Despite the mixed reviews of the critics (they are critics, after all), I heartily enjoyed this movie! So much so, in fact, that I just might buy it when it comes out on DVD so I can watch it again and again…and walk away hungry for food and Paris again and again.

September 5 – since the J&J DVD is not yet out, I broke down and bought the next best thing…the Julia child memoir/autobiography My Life in France. I actually bought it last night (with a 10% off coupon at Barnes & Noble) and promptly came home to begin reading it in bed with a cup of tea. It made me feel very continental and luxurious. 🙂 Lately my brain processes non-fiction a bit better than fiction, it could be because of all the thick academic library stuff I’m reading. And yet, this is fun reading, which without, I am lost. Plus, I can also say that this is probably the first time I expressly went to buy a particular book, and then came home to read it.

I’m now off to finish all of my procrastinated weekend homework and will then treat myself to a bit more of Julia’s life in France. Ahh. Thus my laborless holiday weekend has begun.

Up ’til now

So, I’m on spring break. Wonderful, joyous spring break, so well executed that I have the week off of work and school alike, which I have found quite accommodating. Leading up to this relaxing week off, I ended the first half of my semester with renewed hope for what is to come, which is always a good thing. There are times when I think, “Oh, I just don’t see how I can make it another x amount of weeks!,” but the anticipation of a break always helps alleviate those overwhelming feelings.

Considering I’ve been on a little break, this post will serve as an update prior to the beginning of my holiday. The next post will encompass this past week. Thusly, here is the mid-March photo update, courtesy of yours truly.

March 12 – My own little homemade La Fiesta Mexicana (also known as a lovely piece for bands by H. Owen Reed)

March 13 – springtime braids and bubbles

March 14 – my sweet friend Stephanie and her baby girl Brenna visited me and we fashioned our evening to include dinner and origami making. Both the soup I fixed and the origami we made need a little bit more practice. 🙂

March 15 – I’ve been feeling like a bona fide librarian for a while, but now that I can whip up my hair into a bun, I’m staring to look the part.

March 16 – It saddens me that I don’t get to sing as much as I used to. Well, organized singing, that is. So, I take much delight in our weekly Easter cantata rehearsals.

March 17 – There’s a skeleton that resides in the computer lab server room, which I presume is used for health classes, though I have yet to see it leave its little home. At the beginning of the year, the kindergartners were quite frightened that someone’s bones were on display for all the world to see. When searching for headphones for kids to use on the computers, I saw that the skeleton had been moved to the back of the closet. Its head and skull are now unhinged from one another and someone had stuck an American flag through its rib cage. A little creepy, but it makes for great composition.

March 18 – Trying to sing, play the piano, and simultaneously take pictures is a tough job. Good thing I gave up the camera to focus on practicing with the other Wednesday night praise band members before church started.

March 19 – This little portly statue sits on the patio of a local bakery and if had been a wee bit warmer, our group would have probably joined him on said patio. He happily reminds me of a character from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

March 20 – Friday night game night with the teens at church. And what would game night be without Apples to Apples? Not much of a game night, that’s what.

March 21 – While most people skipped town on Friday afternoon, due to class on Saturday morning, and helping lead worship at early church on Sunday, I wasn’t able to leave until late Sunday morning. During this in-between time, I kicked off my break by enjoying some of the finer things of life, like having dinner with Brooke, Aarik, & Kyle on Saturday night at a new restaurant in town.

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ~ Mark Twain