Monthly Archives

December 2014

On My Mind, #PSNewYears!

December 30, 2014

Hello! So sorry I went MIA there for a minute; my family and I trekked to Michigan for a whirlwind visit with family and there wasn’t much time to sleep let alone blogging! That being said, I’m back to ring in the New Year. To tell you the truth though, I’m not New Year’s biggest fan. Sure, its a perfect reason to dress to the nines, but we all know that’s not really my problem with the night. The issue lies in everybody’s grand expectations. Somehow, while as pleasant as the night can turn out, it somehow always falls a little short of the grandeur everyone was touting around. I’m more than happy to wear a flannel, drink some champagne and dance around in the Boy In the Polo Hat’s kitchen.

So, here’s what’s on my mind, both New Year’s related and unrelated:

new year’s eve, long island.

Last year, New Year’s Eve consisted of chipmunk cheeks, bruises on my face and letting spanakopita melt in my mouth. Yep, you guessed it, my wisdom teeth had just come out. Needless to say, it wasn’t one of my wilder nights: the cocktails were Tylenol and the dancing (for me) was nonexistent, but it was a blast anyways. So much so, I’m headed east again this year to relive (sans gaping mouth holes) the night with the Boy in the Polo Hat and his family. Its a #PSHoliday and #PSNewYears tradition!

the new nikon

Say goodbye to poorly taken iPhone pictures and say hello to my new cherry red Nikon D3200! Seriously, I couldn’t be happier with Santa’s decision to drop this under the tree this Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!). Now, there’s the issue of a name. Any ideas? Use #nametheP&Scamera and tweet it to @kell_brand! I’m looking forward to your suggestions!

peony prattle, on this blog.

Here’s an exciting P&S New Year Resolution! With the new look I’m afraid that some of my writing has gotten lost. I love what I’ve been putting out, but am missing some of my satire, some of my sarcasm, so I’ve carved out a space for it. PEONY PRATTLE, the newest menu tab is going to be where you find my random musings, a chunkier writing section for daily updates, and the trials and tribulations of being, well, me. The first Peony Prattle will accompany the new year, look out for it!

christmas, the second time.

Whenever my family goes to Michigan, we always come back to Jersey and do Christmas all over again! We gather together with our Jersey side of the family and keep Christmas going into the New Year! So, HO HO HO its not over until the fat man sings.



The Last Minute Gift-Giving Guide

December 19, 2014

This advice comes from the lips of the last minute gift-buyer. Because, seriously, when did it become December 19th? Am I so self-involved panicking about job-searching and finishing my 800 page book that I forgot what it was that I was home for? The answer is, of course, yes. Can I get a #PSHoliday anyone? This absent-mindedness mingled with the state of my bank account has made gift-giving a pretty ominous prospect this Christmas season. Since I know that’s not the mentality I should have, I’ve just had to remind myself how great it is to find the perfect gift for that special person. Although I didn’t understand it when I was younger, it sometimes feels better to give than receive (I said sometimes). 

Here are some guides for shaking that gift-giving pressure and remembering that a good gift can give you the warm and fuzzies. All of these can make it to your door by the night of the 24th if you order by the 21st or the 22nd! Check them out:

ps collage copy


styleboard MOM copy








Gifts for Boy



Happy shopping! And remember these little things make people BIG,



Homemade Holiday Cards (with a how-to)

December 16, 2014

Not many people write things down anymore. When was the last time you sat down with a pen and paper to write out a letter, a note, your thoughts? For many people, taking time to write things down is far and few between. As for me though, I relish in writing the old fashioned way. My mother instilled in me at an early age a love for notecards, holiday cards, thank you note’s; anything with a pretty design and room to write just what it is you’re thinking. So, this year Kitty and I decided we would craft our own holiday cards to spread our own holiday cheer (with a little help from Martha Stewart of course).

Holiday Card

Our family never sent around printed pictures of us at the beach or in front of the Eiffel Tower (although these cards are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season). My mother, instead, would pick an array of different holiday cards and pen a message in them, wishing people from New Hampshire to Michigan right down to Florida “Merry Christmas.” When I was young this bothered me. What about the pictures? Why didn’t people want to see that I was still 1/4 of an inch taller than Kitty? Didn’t they want to know that I would be graduating 8th grade in June?

Now though, I’m appreciative that my mother imparted to me her love of handwritten notes. They’re more cozy, more intimate, more you. I’m hoping that these notes will help spread the love, spread the cheer, and give a little of that P&S potential to all who receive them! The Christmas countdown is on, but its never too late to drop somebody a line.

How-to can be found below the photos!

Holiday Card





Now for a little how-to:

the buck silhouette

1. find a silhouette that you like and print it out! Mine came from Pinterest.



 2. on the back of the printed image, use a pencil to color where the lines are like so:

step 1 os

3. on a folded piece of kraft cardstock, use a pen to trace the outline of the buck

step 2 ps

 4. fill in the outlined space with a thin layer of Elmer’s glue

5. sprinkle glitter onto the glue

6. when dry, shake excess glitter off and stare in awe at the adorable holiday card you’ve just made. Then share it online using the hashtag, #psholiday. I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!



On My Mind

December 15, 2014

P&S is home for the holidays. While I love the District, its always nice to be a little further into the northeast during the Christmas season. The tree is up, the house is decorated and I’m half-way into an 800 page book. If that doesn’t scream Christmas break, I’m not sure what does. This week is full of Christmas prep, stay tuned…


homemade holiday cards

Kitty and I will be trying our hand in the holiday card business later today. We’re heading out to gather supplies in a bit and then we’ll be cutting and pasting our way to holly jolly Christmas greetings this afternoon. Check in tomorrow for a post!

cookie making, my aunt’s kitchen

Full disclosure: the cornmeal plum scones are the only things I’ve ever successfully baked. Cooking making in my house usually consists of my aunt my sister and my cousin doing most of the heavy lifting, while I alternate between eating dough and measuring sugar/flour/something that I can’t mess up. Although I’m not so naturally inclined to the baking part, cookie making is something I look forward to all year.

job searching, all over linkedin, all the time

Now that I have some downtime from all the international comm, ethics seminar, media law, etc that have been plaguing me this semester, my obsession with finding connections is out in full force. I have the inherent fear that this job search is going to come up empty for me, and as more people are employed, the more I feel unemployable. So, in my lack of agency over the process, I scour LinkedIn for anyone that may be able to help my resumé along. Connections anyone?

nyc birthday celebrations

The last of our friends is turning 21! To celebrate, the tri-staters are taking to the city for some festive fun. I’m looking forward to seeing GW kids out and about in another city that replaces jumbo slice for real pizza (ah, feels like home to me). Pictures to come, stories to follow!


via consitutionallymodernity

8 Ways Find Holiday Cheer Away From Home

December 11, 2014

Holidays are hard to get into when you’re not surrounded by tradition. My first year away from home I was surprised by the way Christmas crept up on me; finals and papers held me captive until well into the second week of December. Suddenly, the Christmas season was only two weeks long. What had once felt like an eternity from Thanksgiving to the 24th, slipped by without much notice.  This year though, I’m trying to tap into the holiday spirit even before I head home for break. Here are some ideas how:

1. Buy the cinnamon pine cones

Smell is attached to memory is attached to tradition is attached to that warm fuzzy feeling that everyone wants to feel. The scent of warm cinnamon always reminds me of a Sunday night at home, fire burning (cliche but its cold in the woods) as my family is piled on the couch. So don some plaid PJ’s and let the cinnamon fill your room with a little scent of home. They’re $5.99 at TJ’s. Abstain from one sweet green salad and let your nose get festive.


2. Decorate Resourcefully

This year, because I’m ballin’ on a budget, I decided to use good old fashioned tape, scissors and spray paint to make decorations out of a Trader Joe’s grocery bags.  The bags, to begin with, are adorably Americana holiday rustic, so why not use them? Here’ what I did:

1. Cut out individual ornaments, sprigs, birds from the bag


2. Spray paint what’s left of the bag GOLD


3. Paste cut-outs to spray painted bags, cut again to make a gold border


Wa-lá,  beautiful TJ’s inspired Christmas scene anywhere in your apartment


3. Get an Advent Calendar

Each year The Boy in the Polo Hat’s mother sends us back to the District from Thanksgiving with Advent Calendars. This is one of my favorite traditions at school. The Advent Calendar is something that links me back to my childhood tangibly; who doesn’t remember racing home from school to get the chocolate? Not only does it dispense candy, but its numbers are a built in reminder of  a countdown to the fat man. What more could you ask for?


4. Host/Attend an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

There is nothing like channeling your inner Aunt than wearing a sweater with a dancing penguin on it. I would feel like an impostor of my mother attempting to throw an actual Christmas party with hors d’oeuvres, so downgrade (or upgrade) by making it themed. There’s still an excuse to drink eggnog while staying true to your college roots: dressing in costume for a party (when does this end by the way?). Get in the Christmas cheer while having a good laugh.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 12.18.20 PM

5. Secret Santa with your Friends

No they’re not going to get you that Rebecca Minkoff purse you want, but they will make you laugh, and they will make you feel special. Plus, its fun strategizing how to dupe the people you know so well. Your friends at college are a little family unit anyways; don’t let finals distract you from sharing good Holiday memories with them too!

xmas tag

6. Listen to Michael Bublé Christmas on Spotify

There is a Christmas angel available to anyone who has WiFi. Light a candle and listen to this sweet man serenade you with ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You,’ and you won’t even need presents anymore. It may not be ‘Dominic the Donkey’ floating through the radio in your mom’s car, but Michael will surely get you singing the tunes of the season.

7.Eat the Holiday Goodies

Eat the gingerbread man. Eat it.


On My Mind

December 8, 2014

Last week, I can’t say that I was in the highest of spirits. On My Mind this week is a lot less panicky and a lot more forward looking to the holiday season and some much needed down time. For all of those readers taking finals, good luck. For all of those readers going home in the coming days: enjoy your bed, your dog and your family. Here’s what’s spinning around my mind the week before I depart the District for a month. And here’s to winter break- cheers!

madewell 2014 gift guide

If you ever need to gift me well, gift from Madewell. You’ve seen it before in an On My Mind post and I won’t make false promises and say this will be its last appearance either. This gift guide includes pewter coffee mugs, cashmere turtle necks, high top vans  and leather trays. When a store lets me be J. Crew and grungy at the same time, its captured me. Check out the gift guide. If not for gift ideas for your favorite friends, but because its so aesthetically pleasing.

Plain and Simple Ceramic Candle The Always Turtleneck SweaterThe Zip Transport Tote


Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.44.05 AM

cultural exchange through the visual arts

Being a creative writing minor makes sure that my email inbox is full of writing competitions, projects, submission dates, literary magazines and open readings. Its a great thing, being tapped into the world of culture and art, a subculture thats swelling in the District as we speak. My current project is the newest US Department of State’s Art in Embassies callout. They’re calling for a short piece of work that connect the UK and US as allies or as nations under duress, to be carved into stone in the new US embassy in England. Let’s just say this one’s hitting close to home. With my US-UK relation being my mother, I couldn’t pass this one up. We’ll see how it goes!

Cultural Exchange Through the Visual Arts






do it yourself (myself)

There’s a pretty blank space (ehem T-Swift) above my bed in my apartment. Its been eating at me since the summer, but some other project seemed to always edge their way in front of filling the space. With winter break arriving for me on Thursday I’m going to finally have some free time to focus on putting something together to bring back in January. Not to mention, I’ll have access to all of my crafting needs courtesy of my basement and my sister as my partner, who’s actually majoring in painting coolers instead of biological sciences like she tells my parents. Right now I’m thinking a white canvas with a gilded gold quote on it, but we’ll see where the creativity (and pinterest) take us! Look out for the finished project on Lifestyle later this month & follow me on Pinterest for you own inspiration! (to follow or just peruse click on the photos)

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.55.07 AM Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.55.16 AM Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.55.22 AM


time, flashing by

I know, I know I ended my last On My Mind with the introduction to my feelings on THE LAST ONE. But I needed to say one more thing preceding the absolute freak out that’s going to come upon my arrival back to this fair city as a second-semester senior. Time is fast. I know people always tell you this, but I’m learning and thinking about how time pulls a fast one on us. Days are long and full of work and reading and things we don’t want to do, so in the moment, the days and weeks feel almost interminable. They’re not though, that’s just an illusion. They are retrospectively a blink of an eye, and I’m thinking that time is sometimes a bit of a party pooper. This isn’t groundbreaking of course. Just something that’s been on my mind.



On My Mind

December 1, 2014

First week back from Thanksgiving Break: bloated, bogged down and usually just BAD. This week should be a doozy for me. Here’s hoping you get to enjoy the first week of the holiday season!

cyber monday, everywhere you look.

Usually I’m not attuned to the whole ‘Black Friday/Cyber Monday’ show. In fact, last night when I was scribbling out what was on my mind this week, I crossed Cyber Monday off because I had never actually cared about it before. And it’s not like I care about it this time around, it’s more like Cyber Monday is the most inopportunely timed distraction for a girl who’s knees go weak at the sight of any Bloomies sale. With my work coming down to the wire and an interminable amount Word Documents in front of me, Cyber Monday is basically a drug. Shoes on sale, sure. The mini shift? Don’t mind if I do. I’ve already been swallowed twice by the black hole that is Happy Shopping!

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 9.30.02 AM

school work, everywhere you look.

Look people, for those of you who say Senioritis is just laziness, you are absolutely correct. I’m tired. GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs hasn’t exactly taken the last three years lightly on me, and its no different this time around. Where’s the senior privilege? Isn’t someone supposed to write my papers for me or something? No? Well, that explains how I got here: swamped and stressed. I’m getting panicky just spending time writing this (usually my catharsis). For the next four days I will be writing and not sleeping. Not to say I have it any different than the rest of GW: Good luck on the start of finals, and enjoy your reading days!

FRIDAY, the end of hell week.

Every Friday is good. This Friday though will be extra sweet; my school work will be over (for the most part), I’m getting my hair blown out with my pledge class and that night is our last semi-formal. There’s nothing like someone else putting a round brush through your hair and sliding into a cute dress to make you feel better about the week you’ve just had!


Throwback to Semi #1

the countdown to the ‘LAST ONE’

While I sit here and complain about the amount of work piled in front of me, the complaints are a bit bittersweet. Time is absolutely snowballing and here we are the first week of December in our last scholastic year as undergrads. By the time the whirlwind of finals are done, we’ll have just enough time to sit at home for a month and contemplate or unemployable status, before us seniors are back to GW for THE LAST ONE. (I will be referring to our final semester as THE LAST ONE from hereon out for dramatic purposes). So, seniors reading this, while I doubt that you can, try to enjoy these next few weeks!