Chin Up Buttercup

Feb 26, 2014


SCARF: c/o Dottie Q
SHIRT: c/o Vintage Griffin
TURTLENECK: Banana Republic
SUEDE SKIRT: c/o Whhhttt Vintage

So I am- how you say- prone to mistakes. It's actually a little surprising for me to realize because I've never thought of myself as the impulsive, let the chips fall where they may type, but the proof is in the pudding people. I'm twenty-four and I've twice moved out and twice moved back home, the last one being from Seattle. Which is just about the farthest place you can get from Chicago, which my dad pointed out to me politely as I packed my boxes into the minivan. I definitely threw the chips willy-nilly on that one.

And every time I was holed up in my little cramped studio, sitting on my second-hand couches and eating mac-n-cheese while talking to my mom, she'd always try to convince me to come back home. Why spend your tiny money! she'd say in her Polish accent. Why eat hot dogs for dinner when I can cook you three-course masterpieces! she'd bribe. And then I'd hear stories of how quiet and orderly the house now was, and how she missed the chaos that always seemed to follow me. 

So fast-forward me coming back- you'd think the woman would be over the moon, right? Well...something like that, haha. She was always the number one person encouraging me to write a book, and now that I'm writing one it seems that she's gotten cold feet. She wants me to get an office job; something that would give a mid-twenties gal benefits and a 401(k). And since I'm flat out refusing to do that she's getting a bit...finicky. As in, hide the coffee from me and ask if I'm playing video games on the computer all day. I've never played a video game on here in my life, so I'm not quite sure where she got that conclusion, haha.  

But even though it's a little strange getting disapproving vibes shot at me every time I enter the kitchen, I have to say I don't mind it all that much. People that take the unconventional route usually have to deal with a lot of "helpful" opinions and suggestions that try to steer you back, but when you really believe in yourself those words don't touch you all that much. I understand it, but I don't believe it for a second. If anything, they kind of make the whole artist experience more fun; more dramatic. Kind of like "no one believed in me and now I have a Pulitzer!" And then I shimmy my shoulders all "haters gon' hate" type. The struggle is real ;)


And this has got to be my favorite layered outfit to date. I never knew how head-over-heels I was over blue and brown together- they make my eyes so happy. I saw this Vintage Griffin top hanging all lonesome in my closet the other day and knew I wanted to wear it, but seeing how Chicago is moonlighting as the Russian tundra this week there was no way I could get away with short sleeves. So I did what I do almost every day now: slap a turtleneck under it. And to my pleasure, the combo did not look "junior high angst" at all! I then paired it with my suede brown maxi and cinched it with a belt (I always find that my outfits look meehh without a belt) but felt like it still needed a little something more. It's always a little tricky adding jewelry to cozy looking outfits because it can break the mood, which is why this braided Dottie Q scarf was perfect. It's technically a scarf, but I like to think of it as more of a statement piece slash necklace. And I think it gives just the right touch to a casual look.

And here's how I wore the braided scarf last time, as seen in this post! So many possibilities.


And here are some pretty picks from Dottie Q- I love the middle chunky one especially! So chic. 



Follow Messages on a Napkin on:



  1. I love how you write. It paints such a picture for me. And, although families think that know whats best, when it comes down to it, you're the only one who knows whats best for you. You are a beautiful writer and your book is going to reflect that.

  2. I can completely relate in a totally different way. My entire life is one big "mistake" after another and though I'm married with kids NOW, I certainly have gone against the grain in getting to that point (and I don't necessarily feel that everyone is meant to or supposed to be at the point I am now). That's life. A learning process that is ongoing. But you keep believing in yourself. I'm sure your mom believes in you too, she's just being a mom. She wants you to be secure and protected. You do you boo boo. Keep your chin up and your writing pen wet. You got this.

  3. Ah, your mother sounds like such a character! Big moves like that can be ultra scary, but it's great that you're settled and working on a book. I've had many aspirations to become a writer, but I'll live vicariously through you for now ;) Love that scarf! xo


  4. Parents can be so strange can't they? When I wanted to go away to do my PhD my mother was sooo resistant to it and tried really hard over many months to talk me out of it. Now, when I tell her I'm not super interested in pursuing academic jobs and am happy working with a non-profit I get a series of lectures on how I'm giving up on my dream. It's wacky!

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

  5. You look gorgeous. :) I love the lipstick.

    I have to say, I really have to give you props for moving back home. A lot of people have dreams and a lot of people have desires, but the desire to be seen as successful and independent can win out in the end, even to the detriment of actual success. I have a friend who moved half way across the country where she never made a single friend except for a guy, moved in with guy, broke up with guy, felt like she couldn't move home because it would be 'admitting defeat'. So not the truth.

    Anyway, I admire you for being able to admit you made a mistake and taking the steps to get back on course. Also, for refusing to take that office job. Haha. I studied creative writing for three years and have been working in an office writing technical scripts for an additional 3. When am I going to finish that book? Everyone has a book in their heart and it takes a lot of guts to take the time to write it.

    ANYWAY, your post was great. It gave me warm fuzzies.

  6. Parents are really funny that way huh? It's nice that they always seem to have our best interests at heart, but sometimes they do not express that in the best ways.
    This is my favourite of your layered looks too, the colours are all so gorgeous together!! And that scarf is perfection

  7. This is definitely one of my favorite outfits of yours!!

  8. I don't know why I never really realized that you're writing a book. I mean, I knew that, but it didn't process until I read this post. I really need to get back into writing on a daily basis; writing, and also reading. Those two things are things I haven't done for at least two years (which is crazy) and I miss them. And I wish we lived closer together, because there's another thing we have in common that I wish we could meet and get coffee and chat about! Ugh, why do the states have to be so far apart?
    I want to know what your book is about, though! Are you going to keep it secret till it's done, or share tidbits? It's awesome that you're pouring your time into writing!
    I love your lipstick. You should just always wear bright lipstick, it always looks fab on you!

  9. Sometimes in life you gotta take the big risks, because that's where the big reward comes from. My mom tried very hard (in a nice way of course) to convince my creative-minded sister to get an architect degree instead of going to art school. But she stuck to her guns and is now a pretty successful storyboard illustrator for a big TV show. I'm a tad jealous of her sometimes because I'm tend to pick the safe "business school" route. I think as long as you work hard and you have realistic expectations of the hardship you might encounter on your way to success, you'll be a-okay.
    Oh, and I love your scarf, btw :)

    Let's keep in touch with Bloglovin.


  10. Ooh... I feel ya, I've moved in and out of my parents place like too many times.. and yes it's humiliating in the most comforting ways.. nothing like waking up at your parents home and feeling like everything is going to be ok.. and taking that with a comment like "what time are you going to be home?" You can't have one without the other some times... I congratulate you for pursuing your dreams.. that's amazing... I love the first look! The layered turtleneck with the brown skirt!! Gorgeous..

  11. My mom is constantly trying to get me to look at classes. So I feel your pain.

  12. wow you look lovely darling ! i love your style ! its really refreshing :) keep doing the great job xoxo

  13. Oh, mothers. Always giving advice no matter what!

    You look great - love the layering. All those things make my eyes happy, too :)

  14. you keep on writing! if you have the chance to do something you want to, you should always make it happen:-) also, you make me want to grow my hair into a lil' bob.. xx

  15. I know how it is with the disapproval that parents can give. I am also 24 and I've never moved out. I lived on campus my first year of college, but that was it. I'm looking to move out this year, though. But my dad never seemed to fully approve of my decisions regarding college/education/boys/jobs. lol. He wanted me to be a teacher. I wanted to be a therapist, and when that didn't appeal to me anymore, I realized that what I truly want to be is a librarian...and now I'm going to be one! My dad didn't seem too thrilled when I told him I was going back to school for my master's to be a librarian. He thought that libraries would be obsolete and that books were on the way out. He just didn't get it. But now that I'm halfway through the program and I've finally landed a job in a library, he seems more accepting and happy for me. It just takes time. Just follow your heart and what's right for you because no one knows better than yourself! Do what makes you happy! :)

  16. our moms are so alike :) I don't know if I am going to be the same way, hope I won't because I had always felt that she tended to limit my freedom with her over indulging care. I wouldn't like my son to feel the same way like I used to feel.
    your outfits are so so eye catchy, loved your printed blouse and a very interesting snood. <3 Zhanna,

  17. i just quit my job and am pursuing some big dreams so i feel you :) my parents are so supportive but love offering those little bits of 'advice' they are so wonderful and thoughtful :) So excited to hear more about the book...i saw yesterday you had posted about it before but couldn't find the original post about writing it! (it must have been back aways i have not been up to date on my blogs in awhile ;))

  18. I love this look, and that braided scarf is adorable! It's great to hear that you're writing a book now--best wishes on that! And there is at least one good thing to say about making mistakes--once you've made them you can learn from them, which is why, as my mom just said to me last week, I've got to allow myself to make mistakes every now and then. :)

    decked out in ruffles

  19. Keep your chin up, I can't wait to read your masterpiece : ) and you totally got it right, they do make your eyes look so happy. Yay!
    Sarah x

  20. Ooh, I love these colors! That scarf is lovely :)

    Sorry to hear that your mom's been kinda goofy about you writing your book! I think it's great! Good luck!

    Becca | Ladyface Blog

  21. Sounds like they want you to be free, but also want you to suceed. I agree with the above comment--they are just looking out for you, but I'm sure you already know that. I'm just impressed that you were able to make it on your own while living away from home. That's a success in itself, dude. You'll make it. :) You're a pretty awesome lady and fantastic writer, and I know you'll do something with it!

    Mm, that scarf looks so good with your top! I love these bold colors you're wearing lately.

  22. Haha parents. My mother used to discourage me from studying politics because when she was growing up in Korea, politics was quite corrupt and she was afraid I would become one of those power-hungry types. They have our best interests at heart but it's a little hard to deal with at times. Love your gung-ho attitude about it though!

    And I sooo love this outfit! The colors are so lovely together! You are truly a layering master :]

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

  23. Finding the balance of parent and adult child living under the same roof is hard, even when you've been at it awhile.

    I like the color combo too.

  24. your life is a sitcom. and one of those really good sitcoms that are totally worth watching the re-runs cause every episode is great.

    But seriously, I'm so stoked that your feel like IMMA DO ME, MA and not letting anything get in your way CAUSE YOU SHOULDN'T.

  25. First of all you look lovely. I honestly love your hair at that length so much, it suits you so well. Also the lipstick you're wearing look great on you.

    My parents are feeling the same way as your mom. In the Mexican culture it's is normal to live with your parents until you get married so I've never felt odd about being in my mid-20's and living at home. Every once in a while I do wish I could move out but it would be such a bad mistake if I did since I'm not financially ready for everything that comes with moving out. At the moment I'm applying to so many jobs and getting turned left and right, it's a stressful process but both of my parents think I'm just watching YouTube videos all day. Its frustrating but I'm sure you'll make it and so will I. :-)


  26. I can see why your mother would make comments like that, as a lot of parents are eager to see their kids establishing success of some kind, even if it's a desk job that pays you well. Whenever I think about this path that I am on with my art, I remember that J.K. Rowling was once just a working single mom writing the first Harry Potter book, and then I don't feel so hopeless. It's not my goal to be a multi-millionaire, but just a little bit of success feels good when it's from your craft.

    We can do this, Marlen! Just keep working hard and believe in what you do. We are all rooting for you!

    P.S. - There is an upcoming guest post on my blog (written by my fiance), about writing. (He is writing a book, too)

  27. Ahhh, the joys of parents. Love them, and we know they only want the best for us, but sometimes they worry too much. Aha, hopefully your mom remembers those words she told you before. And sheesh, what a bribe! I swear, the biggest thing that bribes me to come back home is my mom's cooking. Sigh. Can't get that here in apartment life -_-
    Anyway, lovely layered look Marlen! The blue and brown together is definitely pleasing to the eye!

    The Dragonfruit Diaries

  28. I love this skirt!!! Its gorgeous.

    I loved reading this, I am a somewhat similar position, finish my politics degree in May and graduate in June, I have been accepted for a postgraduate Masters degree in Criminal Justice and the more I think about it the more I cannot stand the thought of doing it.

    I have decided to take a year out, work part time, work on my blog, design interiors and travel - in the hope I will get somewhere and they will believe in me.

    My dad is not so supportive but what can you expect.

    Thanks for sharing Its lovely to hear others stories.
    Have a great day,
    Lucy xxx
    Florals & Corals

  29. I wanted to wish you good luck with your book. By the way, parents can be a little bit pushy and kind of annoying, and mostly moms, but I always think about they're just doing it for our good. But if you're fine where you are, then don't let that bother you!
    I'm loving the first skirt, by the way. It's truly beautiful! xx

  30. My boyfriend and I both got degrees in music and after graduation I immediately got an office job and he waited out the storm for a year and ended up going on a world tour and now works for a famous venue. So yeah... now I totally believe that if you really want something, you can make it happen. Good for you for not letting other people's opinions distract you from your goal :) And I absolutely love your top. It looks great with that skirt and yellow scarf.

  31. Oh Marlen- I love this story and your adventurous spirit! Also, I can't wait to read this book because your writing is A+. I was never one for the conventional route and although sometimes I wished I could've just settled into a "regular" job, the thought of it gave me the shakes :) Go for it, girl!! Oh, and have dinners made for you is making me reallllly jealous!

  32. so beautiful! I love these photos! I live with may parents again after moving back from NYC and it's.......... interesting. I know parents can be a pain and I know they want the best but there's no doubt that heads clash sometimes. I am glad that my parents and I are forgiving!

    love, polly

  33. Love the floral top and I'm sure you arent prone to mistakes at all you're only human

    A little bit Unique Blog/Bloglovin/Instagram/Facebook


  34. Ah yes, this is a dilemma I'm familiar with! Though I do have an office monkey job (which I despise), my dream has always been to work from home and write. I fought the good fight for about three years after graduating from college and ultimately gave in to the man (only part time though! which is nice) because my parents drove me nuts and because student loans are the bane of my existence. I'm still working on it, though. Anyway, good on you for sticking to it!!

    I love that skirt! And the overall 70s feeling of this outfit. The brown and blue do look lovely together!

  35. I really loved reading this post. Living on my own realllly makes me miss the comforts of home sometimes! It would be difficult to live with my parents again, sure, but I do wonder what it would be like! That is so cute to me that she misses "all the chaos that follows you." I'm sure she does :) I'm wearing a turtleneck today too, yayyy!

    Also- idk if I commented on that other post with the scarf- but it may be my favorite outfit of yours, ever!

    ♥ perfectly PRIYA

  36. Haha, this post was wonderful to read. You nailed the mother-daughter relationship. It can be hard sometimes to take the path less traveled, as they say. Paul and I are against the idea of marriage and boy do never hear the end of that! Our lives our own though. And besides, I see you more of the artsy type that engages in deep philosophical conversations rather the cooped-up office type!

    And you look great as per usual! That top is so vibrant and I love that skirt!

  37. Love the colors here, and LOVE that you're in a flow with your writing! That mother story is a delight, although it can be genuinely challenging to work out the child-in-her-twenties-living-with-the-'rents dynamic! I'm noveling as well, and I'm working on being the person who believes in my work the most. After all, my parents might be my biggest fans, but they don't know how much I write, or what I'm writing about, or if I'm going to get the work done - that's all up to me!

    Anyway, I've been slacking on commenting lately, but just wanted to drop by and say I RELATE SO SO MUCH!

    All the best :)


Talk, talk, talk!

f16bf93391' type='text/javascript'/>