June 30, 2018 – Calm Before The Storm (OOTD #317)

Here I am, my first full day in Nepal!

This was the day that most of the students attending the Madrasa Discourses conference were to be arriving, meaning I was finally not completely alone at the lodge! My two roommates arrived, one of whom is a Notre Dame student I was vaguely familiar with before Nepal, and one of whom is a Pakistani woman in a full niqab (who arrived at like, 1 AM in the morning, the poor thing).

In all, there are about 20ish Pakistani students, 20ish Indians, 7 South Africans, and 7 American students from Notre Dame. Since there was no programming today, those of us who arrived in the afternoon (or like me, the previous night), simply hung out, chatted, and took meals together to socialize and kill time.

An American student, a Pakistani-German student, and I were all feeling energetic enough to go for a short hike after lunch, so we decided to venture down the mountain of Dhulikel. We heard there was a village at the bottom, but little did we know, that village was probably a solid two miles away. Two miles isn’t bad when you’re jogging on flat terrain, but walking down a steep mountain is another thing. We didn’t even make it a quarter of the way before giving up and turning around, sweaty and exhausted. Meanwhile, several local Nepali people walked by, steady-footed and swift, to put us all to shame. At least we got a pretty view of the area as we went down.

I wanted to get some sleep after our walk, but I knew it would be best for me if I stayed up all day and didn’t sleep until the night. The jet lag was hitting me like a truck at that point, and even though I desperately wanted to take a nap, I resisted.

That night though, I of course had very little luck actually sleeping. I got about three hours before my Pakistani roommate showed up, and after that, I really wasn’t able to sleep anymore. My body kind of hates itself for the nine hours and forty-five minute time difference, so I guess I can’t blame it.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Abercrombie

Pants: Forever21

Scarf: My mother’s closet

June 29, 2018 – Welcome to Nepal (OOTD #316)

Here I am in Nepal, finally!

It took a little under 30 hours of total travel time, but I finally made it here to Dhulikel, Nepal, just outside of Kathmandu.

The majority of my travel story can be found here, in the Saturday Musings post published on that day, but allow me to fill you in on the rest of the journey.

So after running through the disgustingly poorly organized O’Hare airport in order to catch my flight to Abu Dhabi, I had 17 hours sitting in a tiny, cramped aisle seat thousands of feet above the ground. It was quite different from my experience flying first class all the way to London.  

On the way, I attempted to get some reading done for the conference I was to be attending, but I only made it about halfway through before I started nodding off, It’s not that the content wasn’t interesting — the articles were over feminism, theology, philosophy — but there was too much to try to get through in one sitting. 17 hours was definitely enough time to have gotten it done had I had the motivation but…I lacked the motivation.

After watching Moana and Beauty and the Beast (the mediocre live action version) on the entertainment system, slipping in and out of sleep for hours, and eating one of the most disgusting turkey sandwiches I’ve had in my entire life, I made it to Abu Dhabi.

I only had about two hours in Abu Dhabi before I had to fly the remaining five hours to Kathmandu, so sadly, I didn’t have the time to do anything but walk through the airport and wait for my plane. Had I had more time, perhaps I would have tried to see the city a little — it’s not like I expect to be in the UAE again any time soon.

Once I made it to Kathmandu, all that was left was to get my visa, make it through customs, exchange money, go through airport security for the 20th time, claim my baggage, and then find the taxi that was waiting for me to take me to the hotel. Simple, right?

Actually, I guess it was just about as simple as I could have asked for it to have been. The only hitch I really experienced before I made it to Dhulikel was way overtipping the cabbie, but if that’s the worst that happened to me, then I suppose I wasn’t in too bad a shape.

Driving though Kathmandu alone at night was perhaps the scariest thing of the entire trip — I’ve been bad traffic before in China, but it had been a long time and I was not at all prepared for Kathmandu driving. Are there lanes? Are there speed limits? Are there lights or laws or licenses?

When I finally arrived at the hotel, I didn’t have the energy for much more than eating a small meal and then crawling slowly to my room. 30 hours of travel I guess will do that to you.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Forever21

Pants: Abercrombie

June 28, 2018 – Departures (OOTD #315)

This is it, guys! I’m out of the country!

After months of anticipation, I’m finally headed off to Kathmandu, Nepal in order to attend an Islamic theology and interfaith dialogue conference.

I guess I haven’t ever fully given the story of how or why I’m going to Nepal, so let’s go back a little allow me to explain. I’m a part of the International Peace Studies program at Notre Dame, and a part of that is getting a listserv email every week of announcements that I mostly don’t care about. In fact, very rarely do I actually read the Peace Studies emails because I get so many emails from various departments and clubs at Notre Dame that it’s impossible to read them all.

But for some reason, one day back in late February, I decided to actually read an email, and a particular headline caught my eye — “Spend two weeks in Nepal this summer!” Spend two weeks in a foreign country? Sounds like fun, I thought.

I wasn’t really clear on what on earth I’d actually be doing, to be honest — at first, all I was primarily interested in was the opportunity to travel. I figured if I also had the opportunity to learn something or contribute to a research project that would add to my peace studies experience, that would be great too.

So I submitted my application, got an interview (which, by the way, was low-key the best interview I’ve given in my life — you can check out the OOTD from it there), and was somehow actually accepted to the program.

Then it was time to actually figure out more clearly what I would be doing in Nepal, so I could more clearly explain to people who asked the purpose (beyond being a tourist) of my trip.

I guess that sounds bad — shouldn’t I have been more clear on what I was doing before I accepted the trip to Nepal? The truth was, I tried very hard to understand the project, but  even after reading the application several times, asking questions during my interview, and reading about Madrasa Discourses on their website, I still wasn’t clear.

What I’ve gathered at this point is that I’m to attend workshops alongside madrasa-educated South Asian and African grad students on topics like philosophy, theology, feminism, and peacebuilding. My purpose will be to contribute to these students’ discussions and offer the American perspective — not necessarily to assert that it is necessarily correct, but to offer it for them to mill over. Through these discussions, I believe the head professor, Dr. Ebrahim Moosa (a madrasa-educated man himself) hopes to contribute to these scholars’ understandings about Islam and modernity, helping to strike a balance between their traditional religious beliefs and the contemporary beliefs of 21st century society.

But anyway, that’s for me to see when I get to Nepal. Until then, my focus is getting from airport to airport without missing any flights. More travel updates to come!

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Banana Republic

Pants: Target

June 26, 2018 – Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street? (OOTD #314)

Okay, but you feel me, right? I definitely look like I’m a muppet from Sesame Street in this outfit.

There’s something about the lime green and yellow combo that reminds me of Big Bird or Bernie or one of the various characters — I guess it’s something of a childlike color scheme, and that’s why it’s calling to mind thoughts of Sesame Street. The fact that I’m wearing basically a jumper with tights and loafers as well…should’ve just put my hair in pigtails and I would’ve had the preschooler look down, huh?

This was my last day before I departed for Nepal, which meant basically that I spent the entire time packing.

I have friends who are excellent at that — they make a list of everything they need, they start packing things weeks in advance, and by the night before they travel, they’re all set to go. Then there’s me.

I’m not the worst, I have to say. I do begin my packing like…a day or two before I leave. Still, I usually wind up frantically putting outfits together and filling travel bottles of shampoo very late at night before I have to go, trying to keep my eyes open and just generally regretting my life choices.

When I had to leave for college, I actually didn’t begin packing until about three days before I had to go — big mistake. Packing for college was probably one of the most stressful experiences of my last few years, and mostly because I left it to the absolute last second. It was also stressful because I was you know, packing for my freshman year of college and that conceptually was scary.

Leaving for Nepal on my own is also conceptually kind of scary. I’ve only traveled on my own domestically before; any international travel has always been with a friend or family. I’m going from Lexington to Chicago to Abu Dhabi to Kathmandu over the course of about 30 hours, and while Kathmandu is very exciting, going through security repeatedly and navigating terminals is not.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Dress: Vintage (thrift)

Top: H&M

Leggings: AMIClubwear

June 26, 2018 – Sock Story (OOTD #313)

Check out these cool socks.

I actually got them against my mother’s wishes (what a rebel, I know) — she thought they were ugly and had no stylistic purpose, but I thoroughly disagreed. It was an impulse buy, one of those things that just sit in bins by the checkout counter in order to lure you into spending a few extra dollars. but as impulse buys go, I think it was a good one.

The couple of times I’ve worn these socks, they always manage to tie the outfit together in ways I would not expect. They’re really quite magical.

Imagine, if you can, this outfit without the red socks. Or don’t, and just take my word when I say that the outfit wasn’t really working without them.

So I was standing there in my room, skirt, top, and jacket already on, and I wasn’t feeling it. The proportions were off, the vibe wasn’t right, and I knew I needed to add something to tie everything together. After briefly considering a necklace, thigh-high socks, or tights, I thought I would try my red ankle socks.

And obviously, given the title of this blog and all of the photos you’ve seen thus far, it worked! The red socks turned an otherwise “off” outfit into something I believe is actually quite fashionable. Funny, sometimes, how something as small as some socks can really tie an entire outfit together.

There’s more to the story about this outfit, though — this was worn two days before I left for Nepal, and I really wanted to wear something distinctively fun, something that I couldn’t wear in the more conservative context of the Islamic theology conference I’ll be attending. There, I’ll be restricted to wearing loose-fitting and more professional clothes, which is fine and all, but I really wanted to wear something a little more exciting before I had to start wearing button-downs and culottes everyday.

I don’t know, but I feel like this carpetbag-pattered skirt, band tee, and velvet socks achieved that goal. Hopefully it’ll tide me over until I return to the US and I can be fun again.

Besides, these are my “rebel” socks, that I got despite what my mother advised. What could be more fun than that?

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Hot Topic

Jacket: thrifted

Skirt: Forever21

Socks: DSW

June 25, 2018 – Plants, Plants, Plants (OOTD #312)

Hey guys, have I told you I like plants?

You might have gotten a sense of it over time — the Saturday Musings + Plants posts, the frequent use of plants as a background, the incorporation of cut flowers into flatlays and even some OOTDs.

I’ll spare you the full story about how my plant obsession began, since I’ve already detailed it in blogs here before. The short version is that when I began college, I had one cactus. Now, I have probably 20 or 30 cacti, succulents, and leafy plants.

Anyway, now that I’m a plant person, I find that just seeing plants while I’m out is very exciting. I’ll look at plants in nurseries, plants in other people’s gardens. in florist shops, in malls — if there are plants, I’m probably checking them out and trying to figure out what kind it is and if it’s being cared for well.

If there are succulents, I’m also probably trying to see if there are any leaves that have fallen that I can try to propagate! Now, I never break leaves off of living plants — that would be like stealing — but if something has fallen already, I see no problem with taking them. They’d probably have just been thrown away anyway.

So pro tip: if you want some new succulents but don’t want to pay for them, take some leaves from a home and garden store and propagate them into baby plants!

That’s what I was doing here in these photos: checking to see if there were any leaves to steal. I have a little tray of propagating succulents sitting in my windowsill that I’ve gathered from Kroger and Home Depot, so I didn’t really need any more, but I love to look. It’s the same feeling I get as when I shop at Goodwill, like the joy of the hunt or whatever.

I also got some shots with the bright yellow door of the grocery store, simply because I liked the color. I’m afraid I don’t have an entire blog’s worth of a story for that though.

 

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Thrifted

Pants: The LOFT

June 24, 2018 – Writer’s Block (OOTD #311)

I’ve been sitting here for like, a half an hour trying to think of a good way to start this blog, but I’ve got nothing.

Usually, I find writing these blogs to be fairly easy — I begin with some sort of observation about my outfit, some pun that plays into the blog’s title, or a continuation of a thought begun in a previous blog. Sometimes, I’ll even just start into a discussion of what happened that day, especially if it was an exciting day with events worth discussing.

This day, however, had no particularly exciting events (Buying some new shoes! Running errands! Eating dinner!), and no easy puns to make.

As a kid in elementary school, we used to have to keep these writing journals. They were meant to help us practice our writing skills — you know, composition, grammar, etc. — and we were supposed to start each day when we arrived in the classroom by writing a paragraph or two. Sometimes, there was a prompt, but more often, you were expected to come up with something to write about on your own.

Yo have no idea how many of those journal entires for me began with something along the lines of “I don’t know what to write about.”

Back then, I used to think I was so clever by responding to the challenge of writing every day with such a rebellious statement — here my teacher was telling me to write, and my answer was that I had nothing to say. It was kind of meta, if you will.

At the same time though, it was kind of lazy. There’s only so much thought vomit about writer’s block that can be amusing before it just gets obnoxious and pretentious.

As you’ve probably noticed here though, that’s what I’m doing now! The 2018 Grown-Up Meilin version of those journal entries I made when I was a kid. I guess I’m just as obnoxious and pretentious as I was back then.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Free People

Skirt: Vintage (thrifted)

June 23, 2018 – Color Scheming (OOTD #310)

As those of you who follow my Instagram might know, I am very careful about maintaining a particular color order of my posts.

This is how it works — I post nine photos, usually three each day (or at least, the goal), that all have a very strong color story of a particular color. These nine photos form a square on my feed, allowing that entire block of pictures to be perceived as that color when someone scrolls through my profile. I go in rainbow order order, i.e, I post a block of nine bluish photos, followed by nine greenish photos, and so on.

Here’s what’s great: it makes my feed appear very colorful, and transitions from one color to another is fairly easy because I always know the order of what should come next. 

Here’s what’s not great:  certain colors are much harder than others to get nine photos that all work together. For example, green is a very easy color scheme — I just have to get photos that incorporate a lot of foliage or grass. On the other hand, pink or purple is very difficult, as there is not much in the natural world or the manmade that is predominantly pink and purple.

So when I do come across a pink wall or a big purple bush, I get excited because it means I have good content for my Instagram feed. That’s where today’s outfit comes in.

I had worn this outfit to my internship in Frankfort, not really putting any thought into it beyond the fact that I wanted something nice to wear because I had a naturalization ceremony to attend. Actually, I felt a little underdressed for the ceremony, like I should have worn something a little nicer than a cardigan and trousers — but that’s not important to the story.

The point is, the outfit I chose to wear had nothing to do really with my whole Instagram color scheme strategy. I hadn’t even been sure I would do outfit photography that day, since it’s not like it was a special outfit or a special occasion. 

My mind was changed though, when my parents and I decided to go to Red Robin for dinner that night, and i came across this pinkish-purple wall. My otherwise uninteresting outfit then became the perfect subject for the background, as the colors worked well together. 

But actually, I’m beginning now to question whether I ought to continue with this color scheme Instagram plan. It’s a lot of work to organize, and results in me doing things like I did with this outfit where I am forced to restrict myself to particular colors and backgrounds. I feel like there has to be a better way to create a coherent, visually appealing feed without limiting my creativity in this way, you know? 

If you have any suggestions, please let me know! I know a lot of my readers are bloggers themselves, so I’d love it if you could share your Instagram organization strategies with me in the comments. 

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Sweater: The LOFT

Top: Forever21

Pants: J Crew

June 22, 2018 – Uncomfortable But Cute, I Guess (OOTD #309)

After wearing distinctively blue outfits for a week, it was time for a change.

I don’t often have a lot of time while I’m getting ready for work in the mornings, meaning that outfits are often picked out as I’m running out the door. Usually, they turn out fine.

And this one did too! Mostly…there is the part where my entire midriff is showing, which is pretty inappropriate for work.

See, because I was leaving in a hurry, I didn’t have time to check and see if the jeans were high-waisted enough to cover up stomach to where my top cut off. They weren’t. In fact, they were rather low rise, meaning a lot of my stomach was on display.

Mostly, I just left my jacket buttoned all day (thank goodness I had that) in order to show less skin, but I was still a little self conscious.

Ideally, a crop top should only reveal the top half of your ribs, above your belly button. That’s no concrete rule — wear whatever you want — but generally I believe that’s what’s most flattering. I mean, if you have rock solid abs, that’s a different story, but for me, I’m only comfortable with crop tops if I have high waisted bottoms on.

I made it all day though without getting fired and without dying of discomfort, though, so I guess that’s a win. You probably won’t catch me wearing this top and these pants together again, even though I don’t think they looked bad. Just too uncomfortable.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: Zara

Top: Zara

Jeans: Hollister

June 21, 2018 – Second Chances (OOTD #308)

This was almost the last time I wore this dress.

I’ve had it for a few years, and I was just starting to feel tired of it. You know that feeling? When it’s like you’ve worn a certain piece in all the ways it can be worn, and even if it’s not horribly out of style or ill-fitting, you’re just not interested in keeping it around any more? 

Maybe you haven’t had that experience. I do have a lot an obscene amount of clothes, which means I’m privileged enough to be in a place where I am able to give away clothes simply when I don’t like them any more. I’m spoiled that way; I don’t have to keep clothes out of necessity. I have enough that I’m able to discard things without feeling any detrimental consequences — which I’m very grateful for.

Anyway, this dress is a few years old, and I’ve just never loved it. It comes from the children’s section of J. Crew (what? I’m petite and I can fit into some of the bigger kids’ clothes, and they’re so much cheaper than their adult counterparts!), so the fit is a little more “juvenile.” I thought the pattern and the style were appropriate for an adult woman like myself, though, so I went ahead and bought it.

Still, I just never really managed to get the dress to live up to my expectations of what it should be or how it should look, and even when I was getting dressed the morning of June 21, I just wasn’t feeling it. I resolved to make it the last time I wore the dress, and then I would give up and just get rid of it. 

But then, when I wore this outfit, the craziest thing happened — strangers started complimenting me on my dress! This dress, which I was literally about to give away to Goodwill, was a huge hit. 

Despite the nice things people said to me, I still don’t see what they saw. I don’t hate this dress at all, in fact, I think it’s perfectly fine, but I’m still not sure it’s something I want to keep  in my wardrobe, especially with all of the clothes I already own that I like better. The compliments I got were nice, to the point that I’ve been deterred, at least temporarily, from giving the dress away. 

I don’t know, what do you guys think? Do you like the dress? Should I keep it? Let me know in the comments below!

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Dress: J. Crew

Top: Altar’d State