In a Fashion Identity Crisis

Currently I'm in a bit of a fashion identity crisis.  These hit me every once in a while with a vengeance, so I'm figuring out how to work through this one, and you're going along with me for the ride!  I've also included photos of some of my worst, best, and most... unique style moments.  (I didn't even include my gangsta, basketball wannabe, duct tape, Rasta, or Altoid-tin-belt phases!  They could be worse!)  Some might be costumes, some not. I'm not going to incriminate myself by telling you which ones are which, haha!

But back to the subject of this post: I've been feeling frustrated with my wardrobe lately.  I look at my closet and it just seems like randomness. All. Over. The. Place.

I'm having trouble mixing and matching my wardrobe, and I feel like I'm constantly wishing I had something to make an outfit, like I'm making do with what I've got but never really having what I need.  I like all my clothes, but I'm not sure they really speak to me.  That's a total fashion-minded thing to say, but I'm sure you readers understand!

I'm also struggling with this idea that my clothing isn't fully communicating who I am to the world effectively.  I feel like it's missing something.

I have goals of joining the military soon, and my husband is as well.  I've also been given a position of leadership recently in my offline life, and I'm hoping to plug into my community and connect with the ethnic and cultural minority groups in my area.  I will probably be interacting with leaders soon because of this, and I feel like my image doesn't present as strong and powerful as I would like it to.  I'm also feeling a pull to modernize my look a bit to avoid looking old-fashioned, in a bad way.  Lastly, I've lately been feeling like others underestimate my capabilities often because I'm petite and look young.  I think my look needs to become a bit stronger and edgier to make up for this.

All of that being said... Now what do I do?!  Yesterday my emotional response was to sell all my vintage and buy a wardrobe that would look like the costume racks for "The 100," "I Am Legend," and "Divergent," but my rational self took over and said that might be a bad idea, so I've held off.  I feel like I'd lose a part of my by ditching vintage completely. Therefore, since I'm obviously confused, I'm starting a process of figuring out what I actually want in my wardrobe and discovering clothing that I will not only like but will also speak to me and communicate who I am more effectively.

Obvious identity confusion.
Today I'm starting work with the Coletterie's "Wardrobe Architect" series.  I've started an inspirational Pinterest board to help sort my thoughts and see if they work together, and I did an exploratory trip to the mall to see what's available these days.  (I wear vintage all the time... I haven't been to the mall in a LONG time.)

I'll be sharing my progress as I go, and I'm not sure where my style will end up!  It's definitely going to be a journey, so if you see my style changing a bit you'll know why.  Oftentimes the wardrobe experimentation needed for this sort of thing may result in some strange combos, but I'm hopeful I'll figure it out and have an amazing, me-ish wardrobe at the end!

Oh yes. Mandi Moore hair, braces, and a choker with an "E" on it.  Classic. Can't believe I'm sharing this on the interwebs.
Have any of you experienced a fashion identity crisis?  How did you work through it?  Are any of you currently in a crisis? What things have made you realize your wardrobe isn't working for you?

How to Make Southern Sweet Tea

As I've written about before, I've got a bit of American Southern heritage in my upbringing, and one of the main components of Southern culture is tea.

Not hot tea.
Not herbal tea.
Sweet ICED tea.

A few posts ago, someone asked about how to make Southern sweet tea, and I told her I'd be glad to oblige with a recipe!  You know what's even better?  You may notice that the photos below are when I had long hair... and it's sunny outside...

I've been anticipating this post for a long time!

The first thing you gotta know about Southern sweet tea is that it's basically diabetes in a glass, and also that it's delicious.  It may take a while to learn how to hold your tea like a Southerner, so don't feel bad if you go into a sugar coma the first time you try it.  That's how it's supposed to be.

That being said, you can adjust the sugar content as you like.  In America, the sugar levels in ice tea increase the further south you go in the country, so this beverage can still be authentically American no matter how much sugar you've got in it.  But if you want it to be Southern.... add the sugar.

So enough of the back story, here's how you make Southern sweet tea, via my husband's technique.  This recipe will make about a gallon.

- 2 family sized tea bags, or 4 individual ones
Orange pekoe tea tastes the best, but black tea works, too. Try to find a brand of tea that is "smooth" when brewed. Cain's and Tetley are good brands to use if you can find them!
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- medium pot

1. Fill the pot full of water and put it on the stove to heat.
2. Add in the tea bags and sugar and let it steep.
3. It's okay if the water boils; just make sure the sugar is dissolved and the water is pretty dark from the steeped tea.  This is your sweet tea concentrate.
4. Pour this mixture into a pitcher, and fill the rest of the container up with cold water, and add some ice cubes if you want to drink it immediately.

There you go!  Now you've got Southern sweet tea!  Grab a wine glass or giant mason jar and get to sipping!

African and 1930s Trends

I love traditional African clothing, and I especially love how Africans have adapted it for today in a way that is obviously modern yet still undeniably African.  I've talked about East African kanga prints on the blog before, but there are so many other fashions included on the giant continent of Africa!  Each country and cultural group brings their own unique tastes to the table, and these have been highlighted in recent years at events like Africa Fashion Week.

While the countries I lived in have a more conservative Islamic/Middle Eastern style of clothing like the Sudanese tobe, today I'll focus on other regions of Africa, especially the western and southern regions, that feature bright traditional prints in bold silhouettes.

I've been intrigued at the similarity between these African silhouettes and those found in the West in the 1930s. I don't know that I'd say Western 1930s styles have directly influenced African styles; I think they just happen to have some similarities.  This works out beautifully for someone that loves an intercultural-vintage fusion outfit like I do!

Of course, there is a lot more diversity in African styles than what I will highlight here, but check out some of the ways modern African clothing is like 1930s clothing:

Mermaid Cuts

Flashback Summer: African and 1930s Trends - Intercultural vintage

Flashback Summer: African and 1930s Trends - Nigerian Wedding

Puff Sleeves

Flashback Summer: African and 1930s Trends - Ghana Dress


Flashback Summer: African and 1930s Trends - Intercultural vintage

Odetta Peplum Skirt (for sale!)
Flashback Summer: African and 1930s Trends - peplum skirt

Flashback Summer: African and 1930s Trends - Ankara dress

Box Sleeves

40s Fashion Calendar: Flower Brooch

Flashback Summer: 40s Fashion Calendar - Vintage Flower Brooch

Have you seen Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage's new series, the "40s Fashion Calendar"?  I totally love it, and I've seen that lots of others in the vintage world are loving it, too!

For January, Brittany posted a tutorial for a pair of floral coat and purse pins, and I've finally gotten around to making one. I wasn't sure I would do it, but when I saw a bag of fake flowers in a thrift store for ridiculously cheap, I thought, what the heck, might as well make a flower pin!

I used some flannel scraps I had from a project and a piece of cardboard that came out of some curtain packaging as the base for my flower pins.  I sewed a safety pin on the back of each one.  I didn't have two of every kind of flower, so my brooches aren't exact matches... they just coordinate.  Make do and mend at it's finest, right?!

Flashback Summer: 40s Fashion Calendar - Vintage Flower Brooch, suit

Flashback Summer: 40s Fashion Calendar - Vintage Flower Brooch, suit

Flashback Summer: 40s Fashion Calendar - Vintage Flower Brooch, suit

I paired them with my brown suit I made for my wedding.  (You can find the SFV '14 sewing details on it here.)  I haven't worn this suit since then because it's been in storage.  It's long sleeved, and the poly-mystery thrifted fabric it's made of isn't entirely breathable. This makes it great for winter right now!  It actually has a sun dress underneath, but I find the fabric to be strangely thin and the shape of the bust (made by princess seams) also a bit weird.  It doesn't seem to fit right with a vintage bra, even though this is from a 40s pattern.  It works better with a modern rounded bra.  Weird huh?

Anyway, I love the bit of color the flowers bring to my otherwise neutral winter look!

Here are a couple other ladies that have made these flower brooches if you'd like some more inspiration:
Girl With the Star-Spangled Heart
Lovebirds Vintage
Lavender & Twill

Flashback Summer: 40s Fashion Calendar - Vintage Flower Brooch, suit

Flashback Summer: 40s Fashion Calendar - Vintage Flower Brooch, suit

My Valentine's Day Outfit & Theory of Classy Dressing

Flashback Summer: My Valentine's Day Outfit & Theory of Classy Dressing

My husband and I go to church on Saturday night (it's actually really great; no waking up early!), so we went out the night before Valentine's Day to celebrate.  We, as usual, celebrated by eating meat.  (Yes, steak and a sweet potato like I told you about in the Q&A video!)

The place we went to was very casual, and while that doesn't usually stop me from donning a dress and heels, I just got some new jean capris from Modcloth that I hadn't debuted yet, and I figured it was time!  They were on sale recently, but if they happen to come up again at Modcloth I just wanted you guys to know that the sizing runs a bit big in the waist and strangely tight on the thigh area.  I don't have abnormally large thighs and these are pretty constricting on me.  Not enough that I won't wear them though, as you can all clearly see. :)

Flashback Summer: My Valentine's Day Outfit & Theory of Classy Dressing

Flashback Summer: My Valentine's Day Outfit & Theory of Classy Dressing

Since I was on a date with my husband and it was a special occasion, I went a little edgier than I normally would and showed a bit of midriff.  My theory on classy dressing is that it's okay to show a bit of leg, midriff, back, or cleavage, but never more than one at a time.  If you're going to show skin, pick one area to show off and cover the rest.  This seems to be a good formula for a look that balances sexiness with being classy and appropriate for most occasions.  This time I went with midriff, as you can see.

Flashback Summer: My Valentine's Day Outfit & Theory of Classy Dressing

Flashback Summer: My Valentine's Day Outfit & Theory of Classy Dressing

Flashback Summer: My Valentine's Day Outfit & Theory of Classy Dressing

Outfit Details
Shirt: Charlotte Ruesse (how the heck do you spell that?)
Jeans: Modcloth
Belt: ?
Shoes: Um.... Payless maybe?
Lipstick: Estee Lauder
Jacket: F21 several years ago

Even if you don't agree with my "theory of classy dressing," are there ever times when you dress a bit edgier than you normally would?  What does that look like for you?  Do you have a "theory of classy dressing" for yourself?

My Home Decor Goal - Valentine's Day Decor

Flashback Summer: My Home Decor Goal - Valentine's Day Decor

Since 2015 will be my first full year of living in my own home as an adult, I set a goal for myself.  And it's way more fun than most of my other goals!

This year I will work on building my home decor by getting a tablecloth, table centerpiece, and something to hang on my front door every month.  This way I can build my stash of holiday and seasonal decorations.  I was raised by a mother that excels in seasonal decor, and when we moved I found setting up these decorations each season or holiday to be an easy way to make a new place feel like home.  Since it looks like Jacob and I will be moving around a lot in our lives, I wanted to carry on this tradition in my own home.  Home decor can be expensive, though, so instead of trying to go all out every month, I'm starting with the decor "foundations" of a door hanger, tablecloth, and centerpiece.  I can build on it in the years to come.

Flashback Summer: My Home Decor Goal - Valentine's Day Decor

With that in mind, I didn't blog about January, though I did meet the goal.  Sorry about that.  However, I DO have February/Valentine's Day ready for all of you!

The tablecloth is actually a thin crocheted blanket, but I liked it for the heart-like pattern on it.  However, I didn't think about the nubbiness of the stitch being a problem when putting dishes on it... so this may go back to being a blanket and I may hit the after-holiday sales to find a new tablecloth.

Flashback Summer: My Home Decor Goal - Valentine's Day Decor

Flashback Summer: My Home Decor Goal - Valentine's Day Decor
Pardon the dirty door.  It's frigid out and I really don't want to think about holding a wet rag outside.
Flashback Summer: My Home Decor Goal - Valentine's Day Decor

I got the door hanger and several table items from Hobby Lobby, and I also pulled out my Royal Albert Polka Rose china and new jadeite cups Jacob gifted me with.  My jadeite collection has finally begun!

Do any of you get into seasonal or holiday decor?  What are some of your decor tricks, DIYs, etc. for February or Valentine's Day?  (Links to your own projects and pictures are welcome!)

P.S. It seems my normal camera lens needs repaired, so if my pictures look a little weird for a while... It's because I'm standing 20 feet away from them with my zoom lens.  I'm making it work for the time being!

Tidbits from Aria: Powerful or Powerless?

Flashback Summer - Tidbits from Aria: Powerful or Powerless?

I love this tidbit from Aria on determining if you're a powerful or powerless person. Such good practical application, not to mention so many tweetable quotes in here!  Especially with Valentine's Day fast approaching, it can be easy to pawn off the responsibility for our happiness (or lack of) onto someone else. Aria's insight today shows that isn't the only option, though, and we can choose to be powerful people instead!


Being powerful is a critical part of maintaining healthy relationships. Not sure where you fall? Which statements tend to describe your life more accurately? 

A) I have to go to work today. I want to find another job, but I’ve tried and I just can’t.

Oh, it’s three o’ clock. It’s time to go to that book club again. I’m so worn out, but I don’t want to disappoint them. 

I’m so unhappy. If only he was more romantic, our relationship would be better. 

I hope today’s better than yesterday. My boss ruined it by criticizing me. 

or B) Oh, time for work. This job isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I’ll enjoy it today and keep working towards that other opportunity. 

You know, I went to that book club once and I didn’t enjoy it. This week, I’m going to try a yoga class instead. 

Something isn’t right in our relationship. I’m going to kindly discuss it with him after work so we can solve these problems. 

Today is going to be a good day. Whatever comes, I’ll make the most of it. 

The first three were the thoughts of a powerless person, and the last three were powerful. So are you POWERFUL or POWERLESS?

I was reading a book by a guy named Danny Silk called Keep Your Love On, and in it he talked about this concept. He summed up what it means to be powerful in relationships, “Powerful people take responsibility for their lives and choices. Powerful people choose who they want to be with, what they are going to pursue in life, and how they are going to go after it.” 

Flashback Summer - Tidbits from Aria: Powerful or Powerless?

Powerful people know that they can only control themselves, and do not seek to control others. They know that they are responsible for their own happiness and choices and do not place the burden on others to make them happy, powerful, or content. They are consistently themselves, allowing others the freedom to be themselves as well. 

Powerless people fall into three categories: the rescuer, who takes responsibility for someone else’s life,  the bad guy, who manipulates and intimidates to get their needs met, and the victim, who looks for a rescuer to make them happy. As Silk said, “Powerless people use various tactics, such as getting upset, withdrawing, nagging, ridiculing, pouting, crying, or getting angry, to pressure, manipulate, and punish one another into keeping this pact… Any sense of love and safety they feel by gaining or surrendering control is tenuous and fleeting.” Each of the three categories of powerless people use these tactics to get their needs met but usually end up only in more fear and anxiety. 
The truth is, as humans, we have very real emotional and relational needs that must be met. We long to know and to be known. Each one of us has had different experiences in all kinds of relationships, and some of those relationships have caused deep pain through betrayal, mistrust, neglect, and abuse. That pain can lead us to act out of fearful powerlessness instead of acting out of powerful love. I do not know what you have gone through, and I do not know the pain you have experienced, but I do know that that pain does not need to define your relationships today. Replacing the lying thoughts that cause you to act out of fear--such as thinking you are worthless, a mistake, or unlovable--and replacing them with truth can start you on the way to becoming powerful. You are valuable, purposeful, and dearly loved. I am sure of this because as a Jesus-follower, I know He believes that about you and me, no matter what. 

Being powerful in relationships is something I’m continuing to learn myself, but as we learn to take responsibility for our own lives without having to continually bend to the opinions and control of others, we can become free to be ourselves and let others do the same.  Safe, accepting, and healthy relationships cannot coexist with manipulation, fear, and control.  They only exist when two or more powerful people take responsibility for maintaining their connection by taking responsibility for their own actions. It takes effort and honesty, but is so worth it. 

Today’s going to be a great day, friend. And that is a powerful thought!

What do you think about being powerful/powerless in relationships?  If you're willing to share, how do you see this affecting your views of Valentine's Day this year and beyond?

My Blogging Story

In light of my last controversial post about starting a blog to make money, I wanted to tell my story about blogging and talk about the reasons why I continue to blog.  I think they're very different, my motivations for starting and the motivations I had for continuing it until now.  (It's kind of long, but the process has been kind of complex, so I wanted to explain it well.)

You see, I love business.  I love making money.  Not to have money necessarily, but I enjoy the strategy, the creativity, the achievement of bringing an idea to fruition and making it work for me.  My father and grandfather are both entrepreneurs, so I've been raised with sayings like, "If you can't find a job, make one for yourself," "Learn how to make money doing what you love to do anyway," "Want something? Work for it," and "Making money requires creativity."

I love this heritage I've received from my family members, and it has resulted in quite a few business endeavors throughout my life.  It began with a briefcase of handmade items I sold to unsuspecting kids at church (with a 10 cent up charge for personalization), moved to making hundreds of origami flowers to sell, to my pet business in my neighborhood (called "Wag, Walk, 'n' Wash"), doing yard work, selling duct tape accessories for charities, and doing simple alterations and running an Etsy shop as a college student.  Obviously.... I think business is fun.

So when I discovered the world of vintage as a freshman in college and decided to integrate vintage into my wardrobe, I realized I had two huge obstacles to reaching that dream: I had no knowledge and I had no money.

I began to research to learn about vintage styles to overcome that obstacle.  I discovered vintage blogs and pored over them, learning from others who have started this journey long before I did and benefitting from their experience.  Since I had never seen a vintage wearer in real life, I felt like I was discovering kindred spirits.  It was the ladies of the blogosphere that encouraged me to wear gloves and rock the large hats, even if everyone in my town stared at me.  Seeing that vintage was normal to a lot of other people made me feel a lot less abnormal, in the sense that my unique style was good, not just freakish.

The second obstacle was still very real, however.  I didn't have a lot of money, being a college student and all, to spend on clothes.  I didn't have time in my schedule to pick up a "real" job, but I new I could make money other ways.  I started an Etsy shop.  My father always told me the best way to earn money was to figure out a way to earn it without me having to be there, and an online shop available to people 24/7 was a way for my investment to work for me while I was in class, versus trying to create a pop up shop or go to craft fairs or something.  I took the plunge.  

I learned very quickly that selling on Etsy is hard.  An aunt of mine suggested starting a blog to go along with it, with the idea that people have a reason to keep coming to a blog (good content), while they don't necessarily have a reason to keep coming back to my Etsy shop (until I built a loyal following).  Seemed like a good idea to me!  After a hiccup where I realized I couldn't try to be someone else on my blog, I started Flashback Summer.

Soon I discovered... Hey, I actually like blogging... for blogging's sake!  I saw how it helped me develop my style and figure out what my "niche" is in life.  It helped me, again, feel normal in my uniqueness from the encouragement of others in comments.  I did conclude, also, that blogging is actually a terrible way to try to make money!  It's so slow going, especially nowadays, and hard work doesn't necessarily equate to more success.  At all.  Mostly it's just hard work.

But I kept blogging!  I like how it has helped me develop and I like the people I have met.  I enjoy writing and having motivation to practice it often.  I relish the chance to share the things I've learned with others.  This motivated me when it was difficult, when my numbers weren't growing, when I stressed about getting posts out, when I was jealous of others' success, when comments were less than encouraging.  It wasn't the chance of money that kept me putting one cyber foot in front of the other, it was blogging itself.  I actually put my Etsy shop on the back burner and eventually closed it because I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as blogging.

Then after a while of developing my readership and figuring out who the heck I am as a blogger, I figured maybe I can make a bit of pocket change off of this.  Why not?  I could at least offset my coffee bills while I write!  That family advice of, "If you love something, make money of off it" came to mind.  Nowadays I make a little bit of money off of sponsorships and such, but it pretty much is still just coffee money and money I put back into improving the blog.  And I'm great with that!  If opportunities come my way, I'll take advantage of them.  If they don't, I'm quite contented with the benefits blogging provides.  It's a success in and of itself.

So what's your blogging story? What do you feel is your greatest motivation to keep blogging?

If you aren't a blogger, what made you decide to take the vintage plunge?  What encouraged you to keep on keepin' on when it got difficult? 

I'm Guest Posting Today!

This is a heads up to let you guys know that I have guest posted over on the Boyer Sisters' blog, Boyer Family Singers, today!  I've done a tutorial on how I shrink a sweater to fit.  Stop on by and let me know what you think of it!

Controversial Post: I Want My Blog to Make Money. There. I Said It.

(This is my blogging desk, btw.)
As a blogger, I often get asked the questions, "Why do you blog?" and "Why did you start a blog in the first place?"

I've sugar coated my answer for fear of coming off as a heartless money-grabber.  But I'm going to be straight-up real in this post.  I've come to find out that there are only a few "acceptable" reasons for blogging:

"I blog to meet people and interact with the community."
"I write for myself and to express who I am."
"I enjoy the process, the journey, the discovery of blogging itself."

These things are usually paired with comments like:

"I don't care how many views I get; I'm just blogging for myself."
"I haven't been posting much recently, but I only blog for fun, so it's okay."
"I write posts I want to write.  Stats don't make much difference to my content."

If you have said any of these things before, it's totally okay.  They aren't wrong things to say about blogging.  All I'm saying is... Those don't describe me.

Do you know why I started a blog?  I wanted to drive sales to my Etsy shop.  I wanted to monetize it and make money.  I wanted a way to support my vintage habit.  I kinda wanted to meet the community, but I could do that on Facebook or by following other blogs.  The thing about being a blogger is that I could meet the community and make money.  Eventually, that is.  (Very eventually, all my fellow bloggers say!  Ha.)

Do you know why I continued to blog?  I actually enjoy "the journey" and the community quite a lot (more than I realized I would at the beginning).  But I am intentional about my blog now because I'm building a platform.  I want it to thrive and grow.  I plan, spend money, research, and work toward a goal of generating income that will help me blog more and afford the vintage lifestyle, to help me legitimize all the hours I put into it.  I enjoy seeing my views go up and figuring out ways to adapt when they go down.  I notice which posts get the most shares and comment-conversations and that affects what I write.  I enjoy taking a stand on things and sharing the knowledge I have, and I enjoy the idea that every day I work on my blog I'm developing my platform a little more.  While I am by no means raking in the dough, having a blog has earned me some freelance writing opportunities, and I like seeing the fruits of a lot of labor!

We don't fault bakers that start bakeries for wanting to earn money.  We understand that they probably love baking bread, but they can't live or justify all the time they spend doing it without being paid, even if they do just love "the craft itself."  We don't write off entrepreneurs for going in with a business plan and long-term goals of making revenue, but a blogger that starts out treating her blog as a business is often seen as materialistic.

After reading this, what is your first response?  Does it come off as greedy or realistic to you?  Do you identify?  Why or why not?

If you are a part of the blogging community, does it seem to you that people are less likely to state their desire to make money off a blog?  Why do you think that is?

If you are not a blogger, what are your thoughts on bloggers that make money off their blogs?  How does that affect you as a reader, if it does at all?

Compact of Character: Live Out Love

Ah, February.  The month of Valentine's Day, roses, and chocolate.  It's a wonderful thing.

February can be a difficult month, too, I've found.  I didn't date anyone until college, and I remember my best friend and I watching movies on Valentine's Day every year and eating cookie dough by the spoonful, each putting on our brave "I'm-a-powerful-single-lady-and-I-don't-need-no-man" faces and making each other amazing friend valentines.  While those were truly fun times, there was always a small pang of "I wish..." that went along with them.

Even those of us who are in relationships can still experience that "I wish" feeling during this month.  "I wish my husband would do nice things like that for me."  "I wish my love and I could be together today."  "I wish I didn't have to work on Valentine's Day."

While these wishes may be valid, we can quickly get sucked into a state of pity or discontentment during this time.  What a terrible way to celebrate a month about love!  You know what is one of the best ways to fight this self pity and have an amazing February?

Don't think about yourself.

It seems too easy, yet all at once too difficult to do, but I promise it works!  This month, take time to think of someone you love and show how much you care about him or her.  Bake cookies for your roommate, bring your friend coffee at work, pay for a game of paintball with your brother, write your grandmother a note.  Take some time to cherish someone this month and just see how it affects your outlook on and contentment with life!

I'd love to hear about the ways you cherish others this month!  Take a moment to tweet or Instagram about it and use the hashtag #compactofcharacter and/or tag me in it.  Throughout the month I'll post, regram, and retweet about the creative ways you guys find to appreciate others!