Fair July


As some of you have probably heard (if you follow me on social media) I just started a new job last week! It’s a great content/operations position at a tech company. I’m really enjoying it so far! I’m commuting to San Francisco now, which has actually been not as stressful as I thought it might be, since I get to commute by ferry. I spotted a dolphin on my way to work on Friday morning. Can’t beat a commute that involves cool wildlife sightings!

I ordered myself this Mata Traders dress as a reward for getting the job, and it arrived just in time for me to wear it on my first day. I love that it has a similar shape to some of the vintage 1950s dresses I own. I’ve always loved a good boat neck dress!

I also love this little chaquira bead bracelet from Mitla Moda, an up-and-coming fair trade company that sells gorgeous traditional Mexican handicrafts. Each item is purchased through fair, direct trade, and 100% of the profits are given back to the indigenous communities where these items come from.




Dog Days




Dress: Thrifted
Shoes: ModCloth
Necklace: Vintage, 1950s
Earrings: Saturn earrings from a vendor at Pike’s Place Market like 8 years ago.

A little-known fact: Sometimes I have Odo sit in front of the camera so I can focus and meter. I get these photos as a result:


What a handsome little chap!

Buck Moon

my friend spent her summer visiting
a deer’s carcass

the creek was shallow,
full of weeds,
water limping through its wounds

climbing down ancient knots
rooted into steep banks,
paying respects to blackberry brambles
and fallen tanoak,
she said

the skeleton is showing now
and what strength it has
still, even in bare bones and
fading flesh

Caribou Shed Their Antlers Annually; They Can Be Found Almost Anywhere on the North Slope, Or Here, in the Atigun Valley the Site of Pump Station #4 Appears on the Skyline of the Hill in the Background 08/1973

Thank you for reading the tenth poem I wrote for my Full Moon Poems series! I can’t believe I only have two more of these to write to finish this series. It feels like I just started it yesterday! Time flies when you’re writing dark nature poetry, right?




Last week I found out that I won a dress from my favorite fair trade clothing company, Mata Traders! I entered a giveaway for their Foreign Exchange Dress a few weeks ago, and I was totally floored to find out that I was one of the two winners!

This dress is really adorable. It has an alpine feel that I love, great fabric quality, a beautiful print…oh, and pockets of course! I can tell this will be a closet staple year-round, especially in the Fall when I can layer it with sweaters and blazers (or maybe even a cute collared shirt underneath). But for now, it’s the perfect Summer dress—bright, breezy, and beautiful.

It’s also red, white, and blue, if you’re into dressing festively for the Fourth of July. No doubt this would be a great dress to wear to a Summer barbecue. Or a trip to Austria. Salzburg sounds quite nice right about now…

Thank you for the beautiful dress, Mata Traders!

Let’s have a picnic


With the Fourth of July coming this week, people are making plans to host or attend picnics and barbecues. I have no idea what we’ll be doing on this holiday (aside from making sure Odo doesn’t get stressed out by fireworks), but I felt like putting together this little picnic-ready rockabilly outfit for the season.

It’s a bit of a throwback to how I dressed when I was 19 or 20 years old. My style was definitely more theatrical and flashy back then, mostly because I was listening to rockabilly in those days. I’ve actually had this red gingham crop top since my rockabilly era, and while it’s a little hard to style with my current wardrobe, I’m really glad I kept it, because I have a few plain black skirts (like this one) that it looks great with. Plus, it’s kind of nice to revisit some of my past styles and see how they look on me now!

Top: Heartbreaker
Skirt: ModCloth
Shoes: ModCloth

Summer Solstice



I hope you all had a good Summer Solstice. I’m not one for hot weather, but I do like the outfits I get to wear when the weather heats up. And I love giving Odo playdates with his buddy Boltzmann.



Top: H&M
Skirt: Anthropologie
Shoes: H&M
Necklace: Mata Traders

Strawberry Moon

sweet season,
sleep’s fear of heights

a canal’s cold morning
tangible in steam

your houses’ cranes
gently lifting tongues

for pears
and bitter citrus

green palms offering
citadel rose, moonlight blue

on the eve of the thunder moon

[Canal and Belfry, Bruges, Belgium] (LOC)

Thanks for reading the ninth poem I wrote for my Full Moon Poems series! The moon will be at it’s fullest around midnight tonight. Also, it just so happens that strawberries are in season in California right now, and they are really good, so go out to the farmers’ market and get a basket…or ten…

Basic T-Shirt Cutting, Punk Style


As some of you may know, I have ties to the punk and metal scenes. Of course the metal ties come from being with my husband, Arthur, for the past 8 years. But from my teens to very early twenties, I listened to mostly punk music…and dressed the part! As evidenced in photos of me from 2008:

Amber Nelson

Crazy to think I ever had hair that long!

Anyway, back then, my wardrobe consisted of mostly band t-shirts. And as any woman who loves underground music knows, women often get short-changed in the merch department. Because printing companies charge bands more to print women’s shirts, a lot of bands just forgo printing women’s shirts altogether. That leaves us with having to buy men’s cut shirts, which aren’t always the most flattering. I think that’s why a lot of women take to cutting their shirts up.

I used to cut up most of my men’s-cut shirts, and recently I’ve taken to it again. For me, it’s a nostalgic practice. It reminds me of my punk years. And it always amazes me how just a few snips can completely change the way a shirt drapes.

I’d like to show you how I recently cut two band shirts. I don’t do fancy braids or elaborate cutouts, mostly because I want to stay true to a more gritty, punk-style t-shirt cutting method. And also because I don’t like having weird tanlines. Today I’ll show you how I made a boat neck tee out of a two-year-old Cormorant shirt and a tank top out of a brand-spankin’-new Rome shirt. No sewing skills necessary!

First Cut: Boat Neck Tee

This is the simpler of the two designs. No need to get it completely symmetrical. We’re talking punk t-shirt cutting here!

A word of advice before we start: Always cut off less than you think you need to. You can always cut off more as needed, but once the fabric is cut, you can’t add more fabric on. Also, make sure to wash your shirt before you cut it, especially if it’s brand-new. Fabrics change a little bit in the wash, so to preserve the shape you cut your shirt into, wash a new shirt before getting the scissors out.


First, lay your shirt flat and smooth on your work surface. Cut the sleeves (both sides of the shirt at once—the front and the back) about halfway between the hem and the armpit. Make sure to cut parallel to the existing hem. Try to keep the two sides of the sleeve flat as you cut. You may end up with a few jagged-looking, uneven edges from your cut. Not to worry! Just carefully cut those away for a smoother line.

Next, cut the neckline. For a manageable boat neck, cut about halfway (give or take) between the existing neckline and the shoulder seam. Unless you want your shirt to be off-the-shoulder on both sides, I don’t recommend cutting all the way to the shoulder seam. I usually prefer necklines that don’t fall off my shoulders, so I cut slightly over the mid-point for this one.

Also, if you’re cutting a band shirt, I’ve found that the placement of the band’s logo can be a helpful guide for how deep to make the neckline. I pretty much never cut into the logo, so I always cut a little bit above the top of the logo.

If you want the back of the neckline to have a different depth than the front (deeper or shallower), cut each side separately. If not, cut them both at the same time like you did with the sleeves.

Your cuts should look like this:


Now try it on! Alter it as needed. If you want to cut a little more off the sleeves or neckline, go ahead and do it now, but do it a little bit at a time. You can even cut the length if you want. Sometimes taking off the bottom hem helps give the shirt a nicer shape. I usually leave the bottom hem on, but feel free to lop it off if you don’t like how it looks. You can even make a crop top if you like!

Here’s what mine ended up looking like:



You may be wondering who the corgi on the right is. That’s my brother’s corgi, Boltzmann, also known as Odo’s cousin. He and Odo were playing while I was taking photos, and I invited them over for treats.

Second Cut: T-Shirt to Tank Top

With our 90-degree weather this weekend, this newly-cut shirt was a godsend. It’s breezy and open and really customizable. You can open the armholes really wide and wear a bandeau underneath, or you can cut it like I did and wear a matching bra or tank top underneath (or a contrasting one if you’re feeling festive).


As usual, lay the shirt out flat on your work surface. Then cut off the sleeves, making sure to cut off the sleeve seam in the process. Cut along the shape of the seam, like this:


This is your basic sleeve cut. Before you adjust strap thickness, you’ll want to cut the neckline. Cut both the front and the back at the same time, but don’t cut it quite as wide as you did with the boat neck shirt. After you cut the neckline, adjust the sleeves as shown. I tapered the cut so the armholes wouldn’t open too wide. The shirt does open a bit on the side, but it’s not muscle-shirt style.


Try the shirt on now. Adjust the neckline or sleeves as you like, taking off small bits at a time until you get it to how you like it. This is how mine turned out:


I might even hem the cuts I made on this shirt…we’ll see!

One thing to remember about cutting shirts without hemming is that the raw edges will roll a little bit after you wash them. This is all part of the charm! So if your edges roll a bit, don’t worry, it looks great, I promise.

I’ll close this post with a few outtakes. I wore my rad Yellowstone map bandana at one point.


Also, this picture I took while focusing. Odo is going turbo-derp right here. And Boltzmann is hiding behind flowers.


Travel Style


Since I recently got back from a trip abroad, I’ve had travel on my mind. Actually, I’d been planning this trip since October of last year, so I’ve had travel on my mind for a while now!

One thing a lot of Americans think about before traveling to Europe is what clothes to pack, so I thought I’d give a few tips for all you stylish ladies on what to cram into your suitcase before your European excursion.

And just to preface, it’s important to remember that Europe is an entire continent with a ton of different, distinct cultures, and therefore lots of variation in fashion. I refrain from making any claims that begin with “Europeans wear…” because not all Europeans dress the same. And within each country, people have varying aesthetics and tastes. The purpose of this post is to share some ideas for how to feel chic and comfortable on your trip, not to treat European style as a monolithic entity.

1. Dark neutrals: black, navy, gray, etc.
Black and navy are my go-to colors both at home and in travel. You can’t go wrong! Dark neutrals like these are extremely versatile. Plus, they don’t show stains and sweat as easily as whites and bright colors, which is great for all of us sweaty, dirty travelers out there.

If you want to get the most out of your travel wardrobe, pack items that will mix and match easily. And I feel the easiest way to do that is to pack a lot of dark neutrals. Of course, you can pack whites and ivories and pastels too, as long as they go with the other colors in your suitcase.

And of course every travel blog will go on and on about how Europeans wear a lot of black. I guess it’s true, but you’ll see people wearing clothes of all colors. And personally I always find it weird how people talk about wearing black like it’s some esoteric concept. Do Americans just not wear as much black as Europeans? I mean, I wear black all the time…

But if you’re not used to wearing black, it would be a good idea to bring along some black staples: a black dress, black tights, black jeans, a black skirt, a black top. Black goes with everything!

In travel and everyday life, I feel you can never go wrong with wearing black!


2. Pack light, and include a couple skirts.
Skirts are awesome for travel. You can get a lot of wear out of them before having to wash them (which keeps you from having to pack too many clothes), you can dress them up and down, and they’re just generally cute. Both the above outfit and the one at the beginning of this post are outfits I wore while in Europe. I always love a nipped waist and circle skirt, not only because it looks great, but because it’s also comfortable. Plus, packing a high-waisted black circle skirt like this one allows you to pack some crop tops (like the one pictured above), thus saving a little space in your suitcase!

When packing, I made sure to choose lightweight skirts and dresses that were a cotton/poly blend for easy washing and drying.

Just remember, if you’re going to visit any religious buildings, you’ll have to keep skirt length in mind, since some places will keep you from entering if your skirt is of a particular length. It’s usually easiest if you just wear pants if you know you’re going to visit a religious site on a particular day.

3. Limit your shoes.
I know some people like to bring many pairs of shoes with them on vacation. I’d suggest not doing that. If you bring a bunch of shoes, you’ll probably end up not wearing all of them, and you’ll still have to haul around the extra luggage. Bring a pair of flats that will go well with dresses and skirts and some type of shoe that looks good with pants. That’s really all you need.

I brought a pair of simple navy flats and a pair of brown mid-calf boots. Both looked great with dresses, skirts, and pants alike. Both were classic designs and didn’t hurt my feet. Though wish I put some gel insoles in the boots at least (my shins were on fire on our second day in Amsterdam).

And of course, there’s the cobblestone situation. Lots of European cities have cobblestone streets, so wearing heels above two inches (or shoes with a thin heel) is not a practical idea.


4. Scarves are nice but not necessary.
How many travel blogs have you read that say “omg Europeans wear scarves all the time you should totes bring a scarf”? Probably a lot. Yeah, I guess you see a good number of scarves in Europe, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t wear one out there. People aren’t going to point you out and be like “Look at that scarfless idiot. Did they not get the scarf memo upon arrival to the continent?”

I don’t recommend packing a scarf. If you want to wear a scarf in Europe, I recommend buying one there. That way you have a pretty souvenir that you can wear both during your trip and after you come home.

Also, don’t feel like you have to wear a scarf if you’re in some warm Mediterranean city in the middle of the summer. Which brings me to my next point:

5. Dress for the weather. 
On our recent trip, we went to the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Switzerland. In four out of five of those countries, we got on-and-off crazy downpours. It’s why the region we traveled in is so lush and green and totally beautiful. But because everyone stateside kept telling me how nice the weather is in Europe in May, I didn’t think to bring a raincoat. In fact, I don’t even own a raincoat because California is in the middle of a drought, and when it has rained in the past I just kind of put on a trenchcoat and go with it.

Since I love the rain, the downpours didn’t bother me, but I felt totally silly walking in the rain in my black denim jacket. Not dressing for the weather makes you stick out as a tourist (like whenever I see people wearing shorts on the Golden Gate Bridge). In the future, I will bring a raincoat. I saw people wearing some nice ones out there, so next time I’ll invest in something cute and functional.

Do some research on what the weather is like in each city you’re visiting. You have the whole internet at your disposal. Be more prepared than I was!

But please never pack one of those plastic rain ponchos. For the love of god.

6. Be yourself!
I feel like this tip gets neglected when Americans talk about how to dress in Europe. Americans often get so wrapped up in trying to nail down some concept of “dressing European” that they forget that European fashion is varied, complex, regional, and personal, and it’s silly to try to essentialize it. When you pack for a trip to Europe, sure, think about packing some stuff that will make you feel chic and romantic while you’re skipping through the streets of Paris and Berlin, but don’t pack things just for the sake of blending in.

And while you’re there, observe what other people are wearing. Notice both the similarities and differences between fashion in Europe and the US. And if you see some style element you like that you don’t see often in the states, be inspired by that and add it to your own fabulous, international aesthetic!

And of course, I must finish the blog post with an Odo outfit photo outtake.




And to end our trip, we left the EU and spent a few days in Zürich, Switzerland. Which, as you can see above, happens to be the final resting place of James Joyce and Nora Barnacle. Obviously when we found that out, we knew we had to make the trek a little outside the city center to visit the gravesite. It was in the lovely Fluntern Cemetery on the outer edges of the city. It was a very peaceful place. I’m pretty sure we were the only visitors in there at the time.


Switzerland was nuts. I don’t know if I have any other adjectives for it. Yeah, I could say “gorgeous” or “magical” or something, but it’s more than that, and right now I can only describe that as “nuts” because I don’t know if there is a word to describe the mindblowing beauty that is Switzerland. We entered the country by train and were greeted with crystal clear rivers and dramatic waterfalls among rolling green hills, backed by dramatic snow-capped alps out on the horizon. The entire country is a fairytale land, I swear.

Arthur and I got a bit of sticker shock in Zürich, since everything in Switzerland is really expensive. But we just made sure to pick and choose what we wanted to do and see to avoid spending too much. And it worked out. We had a great time. One night we spent a little extra on dinner, and the second night we actually found some really good, (relatively) inexpensive currywurst to balance it out.

photo 1

photo 2

I caught a cold on our first afternoon there, but that didn’t keep us from doing some fun stuff. We got some absinthe at Cabaret Voltaire, the birthplace of Dadaism, and walked around the lake before getting dinner.

The next day we checked out the Swiss National Museum, got some Teuscher chocolates, visited James Joyce’s grave, and went to the Zürich zoo, which is supposed to be one of the best in Europe. Of course I was mostly excited about the capybaras, because as my long-time readers may know, I love capybaras.

photo (24)


I loved these old ceramic stoves in the Swiss National Museum. They were massive and ornate. Really gorgeous. I had never seen anything like them before.



And of course, what trip to Switzerland would be complete without a glorious pot of fondue? This was an all-you-can-eat affair too, so we just kept asking for more cheese and bread and potatoes until we were full.


The night before we flew home, I drank the absinthe I bought in Heidelberg, and I swear it helped me get better. Nothing is worse than being sick on an airplane, and somehow I felt okay on the way back. Thanks, absinthe? Question mark?

This trip was so much fun and I’m really glad we got to do it. Arthur and I hardly ever go on vacation, so this was really special for us. We can’t wait to return one day and visit some new cities!