review: VienneMilano thigh highs

I’m very selective about PR that I’ll accept, but when VienneMilano reached out to me to try a pair of luxury thigh highs, I was intrigued. As a fan of tights in general, and thigh highs in particular, I was curious about the brand and selection. VienneMilano is an Italian, luxury hosiery brand headquartered in Boston. Their products are made with high quality materials and lace, and they look and feel like they will be well worth the investment. As they note, “Only love can last forever, but VienneMilano stockings will last quite a bit longer than ordinary hosiery.”

You can definitely feel the difference when you wear these. The knit feels like silk and the band reaches way up, high on the thigh and stays there. I wore these out on a humid afternoon and they stayed on without slip. Can’t wait to see how they wear over time. They come in two sizes, and their website offers an easy guide. I requested mine in large and they fit just right (I’m 5’6”, 150ish lbs, and all legs – as the boy would say)


I am loving my purple thigh highs, and am currently eyeing a couple of pairs in Mustard and Olive (I love brightly colored leggings with a black dress for work and play).

Watch the video for more of my thoughts and to see my awkward strut as I try to show them off.

I am wearing a limited edition, Claudia pair in purple, but these are pretty similar.

For more information on the brand, visit


Disclaimer: I received a pair of thigh highs in exchange for an honest review.


the view from Sunday: March declutter

I’ve managed to keep a fairly streamlined collection since my first round of KonMari de-cluttering, but times change and things that sparked joy no longer spark. Rather than hold on to every thing, I’ve learned to let go and edit on a regular basis.

Here are the results of my latest round:

A quick review of my closet revealed a few items that I failed to reach for this winter, or which no longer fit as I prefer. The two smaller bags are items from my makeup collection that I cannot donate or share, and a few bits of paper and miscellany clutter that needs to go.

March declutter

A review of my unmentionables revealed some items that no longer serve, whether because the fit is off or the fabric is too worn.

March declutter

I use a diffuser to scent my home on most nights, but sometimes I just like the look and feel of a candle. Because candles come with jars, I’ve amassed a fair number of them. I’m getting rid of these, but looking to rehome or recycle where possible.

March declutter

Decorative pillows and stuffed toys from the ikea bin. I have a weakness for cute pillows, but these serve no purpose beyond gathering dust. I traded them in favor of the toys and pillows that I do use (mostly to prop my arm up while I sleep).

March declutter

Not pictured: the freestanding mini elliptical machine I bought two years ago in an effort to move more during writing days and have an alternative to outdoor walks during the rainy season. I used it for a few weeks and found that I didn’t like it, but it was too late to return it. It’s too large for me to try to sell it, and I can’t stand seeing it gather dust. I set it on the curb and hope someone picks it up. It’s wasteful, but a lesson learned.

Monday Musings: Loves & Latest

monday musings



Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

Part of reducing my consumption and learning to live simply is my desire to live a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. I have a long way to go, but this book provides practical, tested advice from one of the top advocates of the Zero Waste Movement.

Beauty (aka. on my face)

Nothing new, but I am appreciating a nude pink lip now that the season is changing. Current rotation: MAC Mehr and Patisserie (obvs. not cruelty free or eco, but I’m not a purist), and Kosas Undone.



Between writing and life, I shoved recording to the side, so no videos for the moment. Instead, I give you the latest installment of The Bluestocking Circle Podcast — lady nerds on popular culture.

I got to play host for Episode 7: Howl’s Moving Castle, so if you love Howl as much as I do, give it a listen. Follow us on twitter and instagram for updates and plenty of fangirling.

project use it up: February empties + declutter



February 2018 empties

  • Nature’s Gate Revitalizing Jojoba + Sacred Lotus shampoo – I returned to Nature’s Gate after several failed forays into low poo options. NG works for my hair and doesn’t weigh it down.
  • ACURE pore clarifying facial scrub – this is a very mild, red clay scrub. I like alternating this one with the regular green scrub from the same brand.
  • alba acnedote astringent – my go-to acne treatment for hormonal (re: PMS) breakouts. Non-drying and just the right amount of salicylic for my sometimes sensitive skin.
  • Nature’s Gate whitening toothpaste – I meant to order the Kiss My Face but this one was just as good. Sometimes too minty for me.
  • Eden’s Garden Breathe Easier synergy blend – a blend of citrus and mint that really clears up a stuffy nose. This is my third bottle and I will be repurchasing.
  • Laneige water sleeping mask – not an empty, but I’ve noticed that I break out every time I use it. No noticeable difference in my skin. I’ve had a similar reaction to other K-skincare brands. I’m not sure what upsets my skin, but I’ll stick to my regular routine.
  • Solgar B Complex “50” – Just a good ol’ b complex blend. I like this particular line. Effective and affordable.


I’m making an effort to use up my packaged tea before I try any new blends. These are the blends I used up in February.

February 2018 empties

  • Tea India Chai Moments Milk Tea – instant milk tea. picked these up at an Indian festival as a treat.
  • Traditional Medicinals Weightless blend – I have issues with water retention and this helps move things along. This is not a *weightloss* tea. It is an herbal blend to ease water retention and a sluggish liver (I don’t have a gallbladder, so it helps).
  • Traditional Medicinals EveryDay Detox Lemon blend – again, not a weightloss tea. Mostly dandelion to ease water retention and clear up a sluggish bile tract.
  • Bigelow benefits radiate beauty blend – a very nice berry blend with skin-loving herbs. I’m not sure it cleared up my skin, but I like the flavor.
  • Triple Leaf Chrysanthemum tea – just a classic tea. Sometimes helps when I have tummy trouble. My Chinese coworker says Chrysanthemum tea is used in Chinese medicine to balance an off system.
  • Noveltea Oliver Lemon Twist – a lemongrass scented tea. Lovely, mild taste and cute packaging (it comes in a book-shaped box).
  • Zhena gypsy tea sampler – Egyptian Mint (green and mint) and Italian Chamomile (chamomile and rose hip) – classic flavors, just a nice sampler set.



I konmaried the house nearly two years ago, but it’s time for a review. I’m not engaging in a full-blown konmari declutter, but I am looking to eliminate/donate items that no longer serve.

I started with a review of my kitchen storage (not my pantry). This picture was taken half-way through the process. There were a few more items added to the pile, but it’s a modest selection compared to my first konmari declutter.

February 2018 declutter

An unexpected addition was my microwave (not pictured, obvs). It started to burn out (I could smell the wires burning), so it was time to toss. I am not replacing it. I didn’t use it enough to justify a replacement, and I’m finding alternatives to meet my heating needs. I’m also loving the amount of counter space it freed up 🙂

writing: February update


If you’re new to the blog, Hi! If you’re not, you’ll know I’m in the middle of revising Draft 6 of my main writing project. My goal is to finish this draft by April, but my slightly more realistic goal is May…

In February, I revised Chapters 20-23, or 9,981 words. As usual, life has a way of getting in the way, but it didn’t stop me from meeting my goal 🙂 🙂 🙂

What I’ve learned so far:

This draft has shown me that I get as much work done if I schedule two solid, 4-5 hour weekend writing sessions, as when I squeeze in 30 minute to 1 hour sessions after during the weekdays. These shorter sessions also have a way of breaking up my thoughts and making me lose focus, resulting in the mess I made of the last two drafts (sigh). Adjusting my schedule has allowed me to focus on those weekend sessions, and use the weekdays to review chapters and consider revisions. This also grants me more head-space and allows me to enjoy my evenings after work, rather than strain my eyes for another hour. v. good.

Monday Musings: Loves & Latest

monday musings




Live Lagom: Balanced Living, the Swedish Way by Anna Brones

I admire the Swedes, almost as much as I admire the Japanese. There’s just something about a slow, simple lifestyle that resonates with me and this book does just that. I purchased this on a whim because it had a pretty cover, but what I found is an inspirational and incredibly smart ode to slowing down and living with just enough.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee

I review for Library Journal and my editor (shoutout to Stephanie!) has a knack for sending me just what I need when I need it. This is a prepub, and I’m still thinking how I’m going to review this, but the essays are excellent and Chee won me over when he revealed that we have the same tarot deck. *love*


I feel like I should title this “on my face”

RMS Lip2Cheek in Beloved (the Detox Market)

The website describes this color as a “true red with just a hint of poppy to suit all skin tones” and boy does it suit my skin tone. In the pot this is red but on my cheeks it is the perfect, natural flush. I bought a sample of this through the Detox Market website and will be upgrading to a full size as soon as it’s empty.




The Bluestocking Circle Podcast just celebrates it’s very merry half-birthday with Episode 6.5! If you love me, have a listen 🙂 We gush about all things geek with a theme every month.

Minisode 6.5: Feedback, Favorites, and First Impressions (with OTPs!)

Episode 6: Pushing Daisies

You can also find us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and follow us everywhere @bluesoxcircle


Monday Musings: Loves & Latest

monday musings



Howl’s Moving Castle

In preparation for the next episode of the Bluestocking Circle Podcast, I re-read and re-watched Howl’s Moving Castle and fell in love anew. It’s been some years since I consumed (hehe, Howl joke) either of these works and I adore them still.


Ilia tinted lip conditioner in Pink Moon (Sephora)

I had some Sephora credit and decided to give this a try… it was well worth the impulse. The color is just the right amount of bright berry lip and it’s not too heavy or dramatic for a daytime/work look.



The Bluestocking Circle Podcast Episode 6: Pushing Daisies

In which we discuss the right balance between fantasy and realism in romance, the rise and fall of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and the legal and ethical ramifications of drugged pies. All this and more as the Bluestockings discuss the TV series Pushing Daisies.

You can also listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Podomatic. Or follow us everywhere @bluesoxcircle


(so I like making weird faces…)


I made a board for the podcast and it is a thing of beauty 🙂

project use it up: January empties

project use it up-2


2018 empties #1

  • Renew Life Extra Care Ultimate Flora probiotics – these are easy to find when I need something extra
  • Gaia Herbs – Back Elderberry Syrup – takes delicious and really helps boost my immune system when I’m surrounded by sick students
  • Gaia Herbs Quick Defense – this is a super dose of elderberry and echinacea (among other hers) that makes a huge difference when I feel a cold coming on (I’ve used it in the past when fighting a really nasty cold and last year’s flu)

Toiletries & Skincare

2018 empties #1

  • Andalou Naturals Un-tinted Benefit Balm – I use this for the SPF 30. It leaves a mild white cast but it almost acts as a primer for my makeup. It’s not my favorite, but it works for every day sun protection.
  • Acure Facial Cleansing Creme – I prefer the regular cleanser, but my skin was feeling a little dry and sensitive, so I decided to give this one a try. It feels like a balm cleanser and works best as a second cleanse after removing makeup.
  • NOW Hyauluronic Acid Firming Serum – I love this and started a new bottle as soon as I ran out. It’s very light and acts as a moisturizing serum beneath my oil and sunscreen steps.
  • Botanical Beauty Organic Japanese Camellia Seed Oil – there is some debate as to whether the purity of this oil (amazon comments controversy, as per usual), but I credit this with helping my hair grow and become more smooth and manageable. It is my only form of conditioner and I use it on my ends and the lower half of my scalp where I tend to have some mild psoriasis. I love it and I already opened a larger bottle.
  • Johnson’s Head-to-toe extra moisturizing bath – I needed some moisture and I like baths.
  • The Beauty Shelf green tea Konjac sponge – I really like Konjac sponges and this one comes in a three heart set 🙂

Scents & Candles

2018 empties #1

  • Nature’s Alchemy orange essential oil
  • AuraCacia Lemon essential oil
    • I like citrus scents. These are from my office oil collection.

2018 empties #1

  • Frostbeard Book Lovers’ Soy Candle sample in Pumpkin Juice – this was milder than I expected. It has a nice spicy scent and does not linger.
  • Wilfred Wax Steamed & Frothed – one of my favorites. It’s soooo sweet though, a little goes a long way. I will replace this when I run out of my other candles.

writing: a few things I know for sure

I’ve been thinking about writing lately (the act, not the manuscript) and reading a lot of posts with lots of opinions. I too have opinions, but I also know that for every writer who gets up two hours early to shell out 3000 words before breakfast, there is a writer like me: slow, who has to balance a day job and a drive, the split-mind persona of scholar and creator, and the drain of being an introvert in an extroverted world.

Here are some truths I’ve learned about (my) writing:

  1. I can write fast, but I must edit slow.
    • Rushing the process only leads to more revision and poor development. I am coming to terms with this, but it is hard. It requires a lot of humility and learning to set aside lofty goals and expectations. The process takes long but it is a process.
  2. I can let go of writer jealousy.
    • I do not need to follow in another writer’s footsteps. I can make my own path, take my own journey. I can only write as I know how to write.
  3. The story is mine.
    • Writing is personal. I am willing and open to critique. I seek improvement and welcome feedback. But, ultimately, it’s my book and it’s my voice.
  4. Every book is different.
    • The process changes every time. I am currently a weekend warrior. It’s a slow draft and a slow process, but it’s the best process that I’ve found for this particular draft. The next one will be its own beast.
  5. I need to take care of my physical and mental health.
    • I don’t believe in sacrificing my body for my art. I need sleep. I need exercise. I need food. And I need to work to pay the bills. These things have to come first or my writing will and does suffer.

There are many more truths. Every writer has their own. These are mine.