Monday, May 1, 2017

Literary Looks

Yes, I have been swimming in amazing books, and it's gotten me thinking about the influence some of my favorite characters have had on parts of me, including my style. After thinking about that, I couldn't help but put together some looks based on my favorite characters. Because I basically do this everyday anyway, let's be honest. Classic books bring some of the most beautiful spirits and souls to life, and recreating that magic in our clothes lets us live in that world, if even for a few hours.

Alice in Wonderland
I have always been so drawn to the clean blue and white of Alice’s dress; it’s beyond classic. I updated the look for everyday with a tulle skirt, chambray, and suede boots in place of the classic white tights. I also repurposed her iconic black headband into an on-trend black choker.
I love that this look is one I would pick out anyway, but only I will know that my inspiration came from one of my favorite characters!

Harry Potter
Okay, this look is a little less easy to pull off without screaming to the world “I am a grown adult who may have an unhealthy obsession with a children’s book series” *shamefully raises hand*, but it’s so worth it. One of the beauties of the Harry Potter world is the richness of the house colors. There’s the gold, the scarlet, the emerald. I am a Gryffindor, so I snatched this gold and red skirt as soon as I saw it. While it already screams Harry Potter to fans who know their stuff, I embraced that vibe with a crisp white button-down and a long black cardigan, which could or could not feel like Hogwarts robes, depending on your willingness to believe that you are actually a witch.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka has always been one of my favorite characters. However, as an adult experiencing the the story again, I can now also appreciate how truly decadent the character of Willy Wonka is. My look inspired by this book is a bit of a looser interpretation; I traded the top hat for a more practical sun hat, but I wanted to keep the luxury. I combined fabrics like a velvet blazer, lace tank and suede boots. Also, one of my favorite parts of Willy Wonka’s look is his ruffled tuxedo shirt, so I translated that into my everyday with a huge textured scarf. This look was so perfect for wandering around Wash Park on a cool morning and I loved letting the luxury of Willy Wonka set in a little bit!
What do you think? Do you have any favorite characters that influence your style?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hello Good Friend



How ya been?

I've been.... away. 

Okay, here's the real story. I have been so. effing. busy. So busy, in fact, that I haven't even moved my old Denver Style posts over here for your blog love consumption. This has been one of my most transformative and productive years; I am teaching in a classroom that I lovvvvvve, in my second semester of grad school, contributing monthly to Denver Style Magazine, working with the Denver Writing Project, and plugging away at a lot of personal writing projects. It's a LOT, but its a lot of really amazing stuff. BUT, Freshly Sharpened has been really neglected. I'm sorry, blog reader. I'm also sorry, blog. You poor little website. I created you, purchased your URL, and then I left you in a gutter to rot! Okay, no. No I did, not; I love you, little website. And I love you if you are reading this. I'm sorry I ran away for a minute. 

Life gets away from us sometimes, but when we are working hard at work that we love, then that is OKAY. I have been swept up in education, both mine and that of my students. I have felt so fulfilled that a year or so of crippling work and despair has fallen off me like Forrest Gump's leg braces the first time he ran. Like, you guys, I almost tear up even thinking about my life a year ago today. I was sad, scared, and aimless. Even so, since I moved to Denver, I have set certain goals for myself, certain dreams to chase. And I'm IN IT, guys, I used that tough year to get myself really in it. I've been running for the past five months, coming back to myself with every step. And I have been so blissfully happy to drown in books and documents. But I'm ready to come up for some sun. I'm ready to share my life with you and Freshly Sharpened again. 

Hello good friend. Thanks for waiting for me. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Green Dream

I am quickly developing an obsession with trapeze tunics. They are perfect to dress up for work and dress down for play, which makes an item near perfect in my eyes. My favorite look lately is to pair one with black tights and OKT boots. It's a pretty risky look to wear one of these bad boys as a dress, so I always wear a small black skirt and opaque tights to bring it back to reality really quick.

I have been on the hunt for the best place to buy breezy layering pieces like these, and I am so glad I found It's essentially a marketplace for small boutiques (Think Etsy). Since it works like a marketlace, the inventory circulates out pretty quickly, but there is always cute new stuff available. I especially love all the tunics and layering pieces, so it has become my best friend this fall! PLUS, you are shopping small businesses. This is not a plug, or a paid post, I just really want to share one of my favorite little secrets!

With Thanksgiving coming up, believe me honey, I am going to live in nothing but these tunics. They are basically a 2016 version of Joey Tribbiani's Thanksgiving pants.

Boots: DSW (similar)

Photography by Eric J Photography. Check out his work on instagram @erictography and at

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Soft Hearts in a Hard World

I’ll admit it. I have one of the softest hearts I have ever encountered. Seriously, I don’t even know if it could hold it’s shape outside of my body. It would melt into a pile of glitter putty. I cry daily. DAILY. What I will not admit is that I am in any way embarrassed by it. Because I’m not. I’m happy with my sensitivity. I love feeling the world as deeply as I do. It makes happiness SO happy. But it makes sadness and disappointment so much harder. When I experience something TRULY sad or disheartening, it throws me. I struggle to function normally. I look around wondering how the world is going on with no one noticing. It’s hard, and it takes me longer to recover. But I do recover.

I recover and rebound because I believe so deeply in the power of love and kindness. I believe that there is more good in the world than bad. I believe that people care about each other and will stand up for one another. These beliefs are not just my heart; they are my eyes, my skin, my guts. They are what I am made of. They give me faith and confidence in the power of humans.

However, people can suck, and they test that confidence. They make me feel like no one else cares about these things. In fact, they call me a bleeding heart for caring so much, because in this world, compassion is something you can be teased for. They can be selfish and accusatory. They attack people who are not like them or who pose some sort of threat to their notion of superiority. They choose a whisper of a promise of their own prosperity over standing up for the basic human rights of millions and standing up to bullies. They are bystanders. And then they tell the people who are are not bystanders and bullies to get over it. Call them special snowflakes and crybabies and offer them a participation trophy. They show me that this world can be very hard and harsh. I get angry, I get furious, I get sanctimonious.

I often feel like an outsider, like I don’t belong here. This world is not built for soft hearts; it is built for the hard and the angry. It is built to break and beat the people who seek to connect and to feel. It wants us to fall in line.

Sensitivity and compassion are viewed as signs of weakness, but I'm tough as hell. I work hard, I get things done, and I push through. This is why I am able to choose kindness, to choose softness. I’m tough enough to take in all the hate around me without needing to rebound it back, and I think that makes me way stronger than most people. I can listen, read, absorb, hurt, and try to radiate even more love. It can be so tough sometimes. But my heart is soft enough to know that love is what this world needs, not anger.

I refuse to let this world become cold. I refuse to let people feel marginalized, attacked, and alone.
So I push on, hug on, love on. My heart is bruised, but the thing about soft hearts is that the bounceback can be epic, and it usually involves dancing. You’re welcome. If you have a soft heart, never, ever, ever let the world turn it to stone. Drink some tea (or wine), write, draw, run, and recover when you need to. Then get back up and work to build everyone else to your level of love. After all, we could all use a little more glitter putty in our lives.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fall Book Favorites

It comes as a surprise to about, no one, that I love to read, and I read a lot. Sadly, though, fall is always my most insane time of year as a teacher, and now that I have added grad school to the mix, I have even less time to curl up with the simpler joys like these. Still, fall break is around the corner, and I plan to tear through my reading list like no one’s business. That, and write like fifty papers.

But, before I do that, I wanted to share with y’all some of my favorite books, in the hopes that you are carving out time to enjoy a glass of wine and an awesome book. Enjoy, and let me know what you think of them!

Classics Revisited
Fall is when all the great classics come back for the winter, and I always just want to sit near the fireplace with a PSL and an old friend of a book. If you somehow missed reading these two titles so far in life, take advantage of the cozy months and read them now!

You have either read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald or at the very least slogged through a junior-year English project thanks to SparkNotes. No matter how you encountered Gatsby in your education, it is worth one or a million revisits as an adult. You will now be able to appreciate the desperation of prohibition life, unrequited love, and the desire to fit in. Characters you thought you loved will show their true colors, and you will ache for the hearts of others. And then you can re-watch the Baz Lurhmann movie, because sparkles.

Should I have a child at some point in my life, I want to name him Phineas, after one of the main characters in A Separate Peace. This is a book that somehow gets skipped throughout the years of high school for most classes, and it is just so so beautiful. The story follows Gene and Phineas as they are assigned as roommates at Devon, a New England prep school during WWII. We watch this unlikely duo grow together as teenagers, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Experience the confusing angst of teen life right alongside the characters. Author John Knowles perfectly conveys the pain of coming of age in any time, especially war time. It’s been 12 years since I first read it, and I feel it as deeply as I did the day I finished it the first time. It sticks.

Mystery is my favorite genre right now, hands down. The novel I am working on writing is a mystery, and I have been consuming these like they are Pop Tarts on a cheat day. For me, that’s like, really, really, really fast.

Dark Places is written by one of my personal queens, Gillian Flynn. She wrote Gone Girl. You have experienced Gone Girl in some capacity. I know you have. You may have read it for a book club like 90% of the female American population or just YouTubed the Ben Affleck shower scene from the movie adaptation (I see you. You can’t hide). I have read all of Flynn’s books, and Dark Places is my definite favorite. Libby Day somehow survived a horrific mysterious tragedy that killed most of her family when she was a child, leaving her only living relative, her brother, in prison for murder. She is now an adult, trying to put behind her a past that never lets itself be forgotten. When a strange club of sorts contacts her because they have been digging into her case, she is forced to return to the world that took everything from her. It’s also a movie starring Charlize Theron, but promise me you’ll read before you watch, mmkay?

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll is being touted at the new Girl on the Train, which two years ago was the new Gone Girl, so jump into this one before it gets made into a questionably cast movie as well (It’s in development, so seriously, go fast!). Ani is a publishing professional working for the hottest women’s magazine in the country and engaged to a member of New York’s elite ruling class. I know, right, you’ve NEVER heard this premise before. Stick with me though. She truly seems like The Luckiest Girl Alive. But she has not just a few, but an entire childhood of secrets and tragedies that unfold as you tear through the pages. The pace of the novel is quickened even further by the narration switching from current days to a flashback to her teen years at a prestigious high school on Philadelphia’s snooty Main Line. Be prepared to have a couple of late nights reading because you have. to. know. what. happens.

Beach Reads
I know, I know, summer is WAY over. But I feel like every fall I bust out at least one more low-emotion, high-drama, girl’s book to hang on to the lazy summer days just a LITTLE longer. These ones have all the fun combined with some real depth.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams takes place in Seaview, Rhode Island over the summer of 1938. Lily Dane has come here for the summer with her family, as she has every summer. However, her former friend Budgie and old flame Nick arrive and throw a curveball at her quiet summer plans. Follow pre-war New York socialites as they navigate a hot and stormy summer. This is a quick, fun, and emotional read. Perfect for a long weekend away!

The Vacationers by Emma Straub follows the extended arms of the Post family as they vacation on the island of Mallorca. Each member has come on the trip with a separate personal agenda, and shenanigans ensue. One great thing about Straub’s writing in this book is that she tells the story from each member's personal perspective. Think Modern Family with more repressed issues bubbling up like a hot spring in a tropical destination.

I could spend of my days lost in the clouds of beautiful prose fiction, but at some point I need something to talk to my friend’s dog about at parties. Non-fiction books bring us back into the world of real-life and give us a fresh perspective from the view of an expert.

We the People: The Modern-Day Figures Who Have Reshaped and Affirmed the Founding Fathers’ Vision of America is the history buff’s required 2016 reading, or at least it should be. Author Juan Williams explores the world our Founding Fathers helped to create and presents a new group of fathers that are shaping modern America right before our eyes. He profiles people like Thurgood Marshall, Ronald Reagan, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Also, it was released in only April of this year, so you’ll probably be the first of your friends to read it. You’re welcome.
Watch Juan Williams discussing the book on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah here:

Bird by Bird is basically the bible to writer types like me. And yes, it is technically about writing and written by a master writer and teacher, Anne Lamott. However, hear me out. There is a not single human heart on this planet that won’t be warmed by the poetry that is Lamott’s writing and not a soul who will not be fed  by her musings on life. If that doesn’t do it for you, it makes not one but TWO appearances in season 4 of Orange is the New Black. Re-watch the season (I know you’re already done) to see if you can catch them, and if you read one nonfiction thing this year, read Bird by Bird.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stretching Summer

*This post originally appears on

I’m a girl who lives in Colorado, a place where we actually have all four season. And, yes, I’m a girl who loves all things fall: Layers, boots, football, curling up with a PSL and a good book. I’m cool with it! I’ve embraced the more basic things about myself. However, every year at the first chill in the morning, I throw away my sundresses and sandals with abandon, opting to sweat it out in knee-high boots and pea coats while the weather is still in the 80’s by noon. And without fail, I regret that decision every late winter, when my pea coat is in desperate need of a dry cleaning and I no longer view my boots as warm and cozy, choosing instead to refer to them as “foot prison”. It’s on those days that I would give all the pumpkin spice lattes in the galaxy for a warm, dry day when I can start to bust out my spring clothes yet again, just to repeat the same cycle.
This year is going to be different. This year I pledge to ease into my fall wardrobe a couple pieces at a time instead of plunging face first into them like a puppy wearing a Halloween party hat and truly give my summer favorites a proper adieu in the process.

Fall is all about layering, just like every instagram meme about the wonders of fall will tell you, and this notion is the crux of why a smooth transition into fall is so easy. Instead of stepping out in the shorts and tanks that ruled your summer days, try that same look with a long-line sweater over the top to add warmth for cold mornings and a little more visual interest. The beauty of transitioning from summer into fall is that so many of the looks we toss to the back of the closet on September 22 would actually still be perfect with a jacket or sweater tossed over the top.

To add even more warmth and texture, add in a blanket scarf with a color palette that combines both seasons. Bonus points on the blanket scarf: it can act as an actual blanket on chilly rooftop patios if needed.

As far as shoes go, repeat after me: “Step away from the riding boots!” However, the tough thing about fall is that the temperatures do fluctuate so much, so sandals are sometimes not the best option either for people like me whose feet seem to always run at a temperature nearing zero kelvin. I combat that by keeping my favorite sneakers at the front of the pack. I love channeling my middle-school self with some Adidas, which are (thank all the is good in the world) making a huge comeback this fall.
As soon as the temperature drops, it is so tempting to break out every cute cold-weather item we own. However, with some creative styling, we can make our summer staples stretch just a little bit further.

Favorite T-Shirt Forever

*This post was originally published at
In most parts of my life, I’m not one to play favorites. If you ask me about my favorite movie, I will clam up faster than I can say “Up” (Actually, my favorite movie might be Up.), and if you ask me about my favorite place to visit, you are in store for a half hour lecture complete with bar graphs showing the pros and cons of my top 10. However, ask me about my favorite clothing item and I will tell you “THIS GRAY T SHIRT”.

Most girls have a favorite white t shirts, but they have never been my thing, so my Plain White T has been replaced by a Plain Gray T. It meets all favorite t-shirt standards: comfortable, soft, and fits like it was sewn just for my body. In fact, this shirt fits so well and is so soft that I sometimes put it on after a bad day just to be wearing it. It really is the best to spill ice cream on while watching my 1000th episode of Vanderpump Rules. Because I love it so much, I have also tried to wear it out of the house as much as humanly possible. However, we all know that a gray t shirt can sometimes tell them world “I didn’t want to get out of bed today”, which is most definitely not my goal (no matter what my mood in the morning may imply), so I have tried come up with some varied ways to style it and show the world that a soft charcoal gray tee is actually glorious.
Tied up at the waist, a simple t shirt can dress down a full high-waisted skirt.

There are also times that jeans just really need to happen for the night, and you also  just really want to wear your favorite t shirt, because life is exhausting. One of my all-time favorite looks is to dress up destroyed denim and a t shirt with an ankle strap heel and some jewels.

These are my two go-to’s right now, but here are some other favorite t shirt options I plan to try soon:
  • As the perfect base layer for early fall layering
  • With a lacy halter bralette peeking out if the neckline
  • Under a jewel-toned pantsuit for an unexpected work outfit
  • With a flannel button down and cut-off denim
  • Tucked into a pencil skirt with a statement necklace.
  • With skinny jeans, a wide sun hat, and lace-up flats


Our favorites are our favorites for a reason, and not just to give us crippling anxiety every time they almost snag on something. They make us feel comfortable and content. Don’t get hung up on feeling like your favorite tee needs to stay in the sweats drawer. Get creative, and bring it out of hiding as much as you can. Your soul will thank you!