July 28, 2018 – High on High Bridge (OOTD #337)

Look at me, back at it with the Kentucky adventures!

Today’s blog sees Amanda and me in another small Kentucky town, wandering around and trying to find something to do. We had had plans with another friend, but he canceled on us last second, and we had to go figure out what we would do without him. We had already gotten dressed and made ourselves look cute, so we had to actually go out.

We’d had some friends post some pictures at this park called High Bridge in Kentucky, so we decided to pop over there and give it a go. This is what we found.

The daredevil in me wanted to go out and climb onto the bridge and try to get cute pictures, but the practical human being in me who still fears death held me back. When I go, I want to go with flying colors, and I feel like “died while trying to get a good picture for the ‘Gram” would not look good on my death certificate.

Having exhausted the photography opportunities at High Bridge, we decided to drive back to Lexington — but not before happening upon another photography opportunity.

Honestly, I can’t even remember what prompted us to stop in this field. I think it was something about a sign that indicated there was a historical site somewhere down the gravel road. At any rate, we never made it far enough to find whatever historical site there was — we did find this field though, and this pretty sunset.

I’m a sucker for a good field, I don’t know — there’s just something alluring about a big open space under the sky. It’s the most stereotypically Kentucky sight out there, but I like it nonetheless. I complain about Kentucky a lot, but I think I complain about Indiana more. I’ll miss Lexington when I’m back in South Bend.

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 home in Kentucky. 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: H&M

Jacket: Thrifted

Jeans: American Eagle (thrifted)

July 20, 2018 – Stateside (OOTD #333)

Here I am, back in the USA!

Yep, after three weeks in Nepal, I’m back home stateside — good ol’ Lex Vegas.

After the 30+ hour trip back home, involving one traumatic experience trying to navigate the Kathmandu airport, one $15 smoothie accidentally purchased in Abu Dhabi because I didn’t check the exchange rates, and one day trip to Bucktown, Chicago, I finally got to crash in my own bed on Wednesday night. I took a few days off of work to recuperate, and then I went back to work on Friday.

So far, the only thing that has been an issue trying to get used to again are the pedestrian traffic laws. In Nepal, you just walk whenever it’s clear — there are no street lights or crosswalks to help you, you just go. And sometimes, you go even if it’s not clear, and you pray no one hits you. I have definitely walked in front of a few cars and jaywalked a few times since I’ve been home.

Otherwise, it’s not been so bad. I missed some of the amenities of Western society, that’s for sure — the outlets in public places, the air conditioning, the lack of mosquitos literally everywhere. I do rather miss getting to go for afternoon adventures into the city — I don’t get those here in Suburbia.

But you know what I do get? My dad to take ugly pictures of me! Like this.

July 11, 2018 – Monkeying Around (OOTD #328)

I’m back in Kathmandu again!

Yep, after about two straight weeks of intense classes and discussion, we’re finally off the hook. The last lecturer of the Madrasa Discourses summer intensive will be teaching exclusively in Urdu, which none of us Notre Dame students can understand, so we were allowed to go off on a little field trip on our own for the day.

The first stop for us (well, the second stop — we got pizza at a mall beforehand) was a design house where some other Notre Dame students were interning for the summer. They gave us a tour of the facilities, introduced us to the workers there, and showed us the prototypes they were working for for sale in fair trade shops.

It was neat, but a little slow. I’m totally here for the mission of fair trade — ensuring fair wages for workers, providing jobs for women who need them, etc. — but a tour of a factory is still just a tour of a factory.

Besides, I was pretty excited for what we’d be seeing next — the Swayambhunath Monkey Temple.

And yes, I did just have to Google the spelling of that.

Swayambhunath is arguably the most famous tourist site in Kathmandu, up there with Boudhanath, another Buddhist stupa. It’s 365 steps to the top (though we just drove up most of them), and along the way, as the name suggests, you get to meet some wild monkeys.

Wild monkeys are kind of scary! I guess that should be kind of obvious, based on the “wild” bit. And it’s not that I was expecting them to act like puppies and be all cute and ask for petting, but I figured, you know, since they’re in a tourist area, they’d be pretty used to tourists walking up and taking photos.

I guess not.

There are no terrifying stories of monkeys that attempted to attack me or anything like that, but I did get hissed at a few times from a distance. Key here is “from a distance.” After my first experience getting hissed at, I decided to keep far away from the monkeys.

But what about the stupa at the top of the steps? How did that stack up?

Pretty well! You know how I’d been complaining a bit over the last few days that seeing all of the temples and shrines was beginning to grow old? Not this one. Swayambhunath was decidedly spectacular — a big gold pillar into the sky surrounded by billowing prayer flags and spinning prayer wheels. There’s nothing boring about that.

It also helps that I got some of the best views of Kathmandu that I had seen ever from the top of the Swayambhunath stupa. I know I’ve spoken extensively about all the spectacular mountain views I saw in Nepal, but this cityscape could give all of them a run for their money in the “best Nepal views” competition.

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: Pitaya

Skirt: vintage (thrifted)

July 10, 2018 – That Was Unexpected (OOTD #327)

Nepal is full of adventures. Sometimes, that adventure sees you getting an expected tour of a water treatment facility.

I’m not sure where even to begin this blog because I don’t really quite remember how I wound up here — I think it was just another one of those days when I went out for a walk with some friends and we saw where fate decided to take us. At times, that has been to a giant golden Buddha, down the side of a mountain, or to the edge of a cliff.

Today, it was to some septic tanks and a filtration system.

It was just about as exciting as it sounds — interesting, in that I hadn’t really expected to wind up at a water treatment plant, and boring, in that it was, well, a water treatment plant. There were some locals who were happy (I think?) to offer a tour, but they didn’t speak any English, so it was more of a tour to the Pakistanis I was with. I just sort of nodded my head and pretended to be engaged — much like I do when I’m in class at Notre Dame.

Here’s something cool about my Pakistani friends — they’re not shy at all about photos. They take photos of everything, they want photos taken of themselves all the time, and they’re not at all judgmental when you ask if they’ll take a photo of you. It’s fabulous. When I’m with my American friends, I could be somewhere spectacular like the Taj Mahal, and I’d still be self-conscious about asking them to take my picture. With the Pakistanis, I could literally want a picture with a cool rock, and they’d oblige.

That’s why I wound up with photos of myself at the water plant — I would not have otherwise done pictures here, but they all wanted pictures, so I joined in the photoshoot. I wonder what they’ll do with them. Post them to Facebook? Write a post on their fashion blogs about it?

After that, we stopped by a grocery store to pick up some snacks. Once again, I wasn’t really expecting to take any photos, figuring my high fashion septic tank editorial shoot would be enough, but once again, I was wrong. Turns out, there was another beautiful sunset (ugh, another one!) and we had another perfect view of it.

One of these days, I may get tired of Himalayan sunsets, but, as Aragorn says in Return of the King, “today is not that day.”

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: Some boutique in England

Pants: J. Crew (thrifted)

July 6, 2018 – Oh, The Things You Can Do In Kathmandu (OOTD #323)

I have way too many photos to put into this blog.

I’d rather not be that annoying coworker who bombards you with all of their vacation photos after they get back from a trip, but it’s hard — thank goodness for the storage limit on the WordPress Personal Plan, or else this page would take even the fastest Internet connection several minutes to load. I’ll try to limit myself to only the best photos for this blog, yeah?

So this was our big field trip to Kathmandu, or rather the first big field trip — there are a few more coming, don’t worry. It came at just the right time — I was beginning to get tired of Dhulikhel, and beginning to get even more tired of sitting around for six hours a day in classes, and so an outing was warmly welcomed.

Our first stop was a mosque, of which I have no photos. Doesn’t really seem like it’d be appropriate to start taking selfies while people are praying, you know?

After that, we took lunch in a cute little park. It was an unexciting lunch and an unexciting park, but I got some cute photos under a trellis of pink flowers that I’m quite proud of. I’d have to be; I spun around like an idiot repeatedly under that trellis trying to get the perfect Instagram photo. I paid my debt in mild embarrassment trying to ignore the confused onlookers for it.

Then, it was on to Patan Durbar Square, one of the most famous tourist spots in Kathmandu. That was indeed something rather spectacular. There are temples and idols and palaces all about — not something you ever really see in the West, and definitely not something you see in Lexington, Kentucky or South Bend, Indiana.

I got a lot of good photos there, but after a while, the novelty of palaces and ornate architecture and sparkling gold statues wore off. I mentioned this in a previous blog, but you can only take in so many beautiful buildings before it becomes just another ancient architectural marvel. It’s almost a shame all the buildings of Patan Durbar Square are in the same area; it makes them all feel a little less special because they’re in each others’ midst.

It was still cool though, don’t let my faint tone of disenchantment fool you. It was really cool, and I’m so glad I got to see it with my own eyes. If you’re in Kathmandu, I would 100% recommend you check it out.

We spent the rest of the day in Thamel, the shopping district. Did I get any deals, or was I just taken as another hapless tourist with too much money? I have no idea. I got some cute gifts though, and for less than I would have paid in the US, so that’s what mattered to me.

Kathmandu as a city is, to put it kindly, terrifying. The pollution hangs thick and pungent in the air, swelling in your lungs and nostrils, and the car horns ring like church bells on Easter; it’s sensory overload, even for a person who’s seen their fair share of cities. I’m certain I was almost hit by a car multiple times, and almost hit by a scooter even more than that.

My snot has been black for the last several days, I flinch like one of Pavlov’s dogs whenever I hear a car horn, and the sunburn on my back has yet to fully heal, but that’s part of the experience of Kathmandu. If you’re not thoroughly dazed, potentially carrying an infection from the poor water quality, and culture shocked from here to kingdom come, did you even go?

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

Skirt (actually a dress layered underneath the top): Thrifted

July 3, 2018 – Dichotomous (OOTD #320)

There are two distinct outfits in this blog post, so allow me to tackle them one by one.

Outfit #1, the main outfit for today, was actually not one I had intended to pack. I was afraid the leather pants would be too warm for monsoon season Nepal — and I was kind of right. Even sitting around in an air conditioned resort, I found it to be a little uncomfortable.

Why did I pack it, then? Well, it’s a really cute outfit. It was so cute I even got a living, breathing male who was not my father to compliment it — not like, the way I looked in it, or anything of that nature, but the outfit itself. How often does that happen? I don’t think many guys outside of the fashion industry ever notice the composition of outfits.

The second reason why I brought it was because I needed to bring more clean clothes. I didn’t really have the ability to do much laundry while at the resort, so I decided to simply bring enough clothes to do me for the 21 days I’d be away. In other words, there will be a lot of laundry to do when I finally do get home.

It was just another normal day of sitting around and chatting about Islamic theology and modernity, so there’s not a lot to report on that front. What there is to report about is what I did after the session was over for the day, and that is where outfit #2 comes in.

Outfit #2 is basically just a rehash of an outfit from a few days back. In fact, it literally is just the same outfit, but minus the jacket. I knew I’d be going out and possibly getting sweaty and/or dirty, so rather than go out in the cute outfit I’d been wearing the majority of the day, I went digging in my dirty clothes pile and threw these together. If it’s already dirty, there’s no harm in getting it dirtier, right?

Anyway, after finishing up classes, a group of us decided to go out for a walk into town. Town? Is that the right word? We’re in Dhulikhel, which is about an hour outside of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Dhulikhel could perhaps best be described in American terms as a suburb of Kathmandu, as it’s a primarily residential area outside of a major city with some of its own shops and businesses, and yet, it’s so far from what I typically imagine a suburb to be like. Village seems to be best word to describe the collection homes that dot the side of the mountain (which I saw yesterday), town seems to be the best word to describe the feeling of the ‘’downtown’’ shopping district, and suburb seems to be the best word to describe the location of Dhulikhel in relation to Kathmandu. The point is, I don’t really know what Dhulikhel is, other than a relatively small place where I’ll be staying for the next to weeks.

There were six of us who decided to go out for this adventure: three Notre Dame students (including myself), and three Pakistani students. And thank goodness those three Pakistani guys were there, otherwise we probably would not have made it very far away from the hotel. None of the six of us could speak any Nepali, but the Pakistani guys could speak Urdu, which I guess is similar to Nepali, or otherwise the Nepali people could understand Urdu. Anyway, they were able to walk into shops and ask for directions around town, which was fabulous, because I doubt Citymapper would do me much good in Dhulikhel.

The instructions we were given by the locals was to head to the ‘’1000 steps temple,’’ which was about a 30 minute stroll away from the hotel. As the name suggests, it involved walking a lot of steps up to the top.

Was it actually 1000 steps? I’m not sure. We only made it up a couple hundred of them before we reached the giant golden Buddha. Giant gold Buddha was not the temple we had in mind to go to, but when you reach a giant gold Buddha in the forest, you’ve got to stop and see him. 

Only problem was, the gate was locked.

Apparently, the gates to gold Buddha closed at 5:30, and we arrived at 6. At this point, we split into two camps: those of us who wanted to try to get in, and those who wanted to go home. As the photos suggest, the first camp — the one I was a part of — won.

One of the guys with us managed to climb over the gate and unlock it from the inside, allowing us all to get in. And I’m sure glad he did, because when else am I going to get to see a giant gold Buddha statue in my life?

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!

Outfit #1

Top: H&M

Outfit #2

Top: Vintage (thrifted)

Pants: Thrifted

July 1, 2018 – Jet Lagged (OOTD #318)

Oh dear, it looks like the jet lag has hit me like a…well, a jet.

My first night in Nepal, I had no trouble sleeping. After the long, stressful journey of 30 hours, I was ready to crash. The second night though, apparently, not so much.

It’s interesting because I remember having no trouble justing to the time difference in London — perhaps that was because I stayed up the entire plane ride, so that by the time I made it to Heathrow in the morning, and I was forced to stay up for another 8 hours, I was more than ready to sleep at night.

Here, though, I slept pretty easily throughout the plane ride, making it more difficult trying to adjust to the 9 hours and 45 minutes difference. Why 9 hours and 45 minutes? Apparently Nepal wanted to distinguish itself from India, so their clocks are 15 minutes off from India’s time. There’s your fun fact for the day.

Anyway, after a night of barely sleeping at all, I decided to get up at about 5 AM and just start my day. No point in just laying there in bed and feeling badly for myself for not being able to sleep, right?

That’s when these photos were taken, actually — in the wee hours of the morning before anyone else was up. Since I had nothing to do, I figured I’d prop up my phone and take some simple photos in the lounge area of the hotel. No one but a few housekeepers was around to judge me, so it made it pretty easy.

The rest of the day was spent in the conference. The first half was a lecture by a professor from Duke on feminism in Islamic texts and law, and the second half was  a guided discussion amongst the students on our thoughts about the lecture.

Not being a scholar of Islam or even a Muslim, it was a little difficult to think of things to stay during the discussion. The people at my table seemed interested to hear my perspective as a Christian American woman, but I’m not positive that what I ended up saying was really all that helpful. My purpose here is not to say anything wildly controversial or profound though, but just to add more dimension to the conversation, to provide another facet of the human experience. I hope I did that.

But even if I didn’t, there’s plenty more time to do so! I have 13 more days before the conference ends, so even if I was useless today, maybe tomorrow, I won’t be.

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!

Jacket: H&M

Top: Vintaged (thrifted)

Pants: Thrifted

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)