Presenting in my grad class

There are only two weeks left this semester at Umass Lowell. Then I will have a break where my weeknights are returned back to me before my last semester begins in January. I am certified to teach both biology & biotechnology in the commonwealth, and while I got my Master’s in Education back in 2009, I just can’t stay out of school! I started my Master’s in Science for Biological Sciences back in 2012 and have just been plugging away. I love the courses, I have loved all my professors in many different ways, and I will be sad to see it end in May. I’m getting a non thesis master’s, just coursework. It’s sort of a neutered degree, I know, but I am not getting it to do research! I enjoy taking classes, and saw I could get a degree from it, and figured why not? I’m a huge nerd, I love reading journal articles, I love googling all the words I don’t know, jumping around latin roots and comparing graphs…..judging images of fluorescence and bands in Western blots…..oh no, I’m losing you huh?

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My favorite building at Umass Lowell, the old alumni memorial hall

Anyway, this week was my turn to present in my class. It was a little nerve-racking because this is only grade in the class really. I guess he is going to count our attendance & class participation, but most of the grade is on this presentation. My paper was fabulous. An amazing new gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Did you know that the reason why its so hard to just come up with a gene therapy already is because the dysfunctional protein, dystrophin, is one of the largest proteins in the body so it has tons of opportunities for mutations!? Fascinating.

Powerpoint was done three weeks ago. Over the weeks I edited, added, deleted, and nurtured my little powerpoint like it was a finicky plant. I secured one of those little remotes with the USB thing that lets you click through your slides without having to walk over to the computer and has a laser pointer so you don’t have to stand IN the projector light to point at stuff on the screen all the while being covered in your own powerpoint. Then came the outfit. I like the dress nicer than usual for a presentation. Whatever I normally wear, I like to go a step up. Not everyone in my class feels this way. I think its nice to get up in front of your classmates and professor and acknowledge in your appearance that you are honored to present for them.

I wore an old tartan skirt from J. Crew Factory, navy tights, my cognac Seychelles riding boots that I got from Rue La La last year, light blue knockoff Ralph Lauren oxford when I lived in Thailand that I got for 199 baht (5 bucks folks haha), Daniel Wellington watch, KJP bracelet, AND a navy wool cardigan from Polo Ralph Lauren, vintage, that I got for $27.99.

The cardigan is comfortable, so warm, and I am just a little in love with it? Hunting for vintage Ralph Lauren is a fun little hobby of mine- I try to find sweaters from the past for under $40. Etsy & Ebay are the best places online to look, and then of course upscale consignment shops.

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My coteacher took this pic in my lovely classroom ūüôā

I love putting together an outfit for something specific that makes me feel confident for that occasion without breaking the bank. Finding this cardigan came from a search for a navy blazer, and I think I lucked out because the cardigan is a little more casual and I will be able to wear it more I think. I like to imagine that the woman who owned this cardigan before me was a fabulous professor with a closet full of wool and tweed who gave away all her winter clothes when she bought a small horse farm on her last sabbatical someplace warm like Brazil, fell in love, and decided to stay.

I have today off which is so nice before Thanksgiving. I have some errands to run and then obviously a trail run this afternoon with the sweetest spotted pup who is currently curled up in the sun next to me. Happy Wednesday! I hope many of you are off and heading to see family and friends or at least you are getting out early today!!!

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Prep Craze: The Fair Isle Sweater

It has been very warm in Massachusetts this week, but the cold will come. My winter uniform is a sweater over a button down….I wear all the combinations I own until the weather warms up. There is so much variety in sweaters….cable knit, crew neck, fisherman, v-neck, honeycomb, aran, argyle, intarsia, wool, cotton, merino, cashmere……I could go on and on. Today though, we talk about the fair isle sweater.

Fair isle is actually a knitting technique from the Fair Isle of Scotland. The designs that we know as being fair isle are supposed to be in rows that go around the sweater circularly, no more than two colors per row, and really no more than five colors per sweater. There are rules about how many stitches the patterned rows can be too. All that being said, we can probably assume that not all sweaters that we call fair isle are actually fair isle. Popularity of this knitting technique started back in the 1920s when the Prince of Wales, later to be Edward VIII, wore fair isle tank tops.

Here he is in a fair isle v-neck. I love it, this was actually a portrait of him with his dog that was used for this advertisement….the media…even then.

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Anyway, I have jumped on the bandwagon as affordably as I could. Here are my two sweaters from Old Navy, both older…..the navy one on the right is probably not a true fair isle because the stitching is more just around the neck, like a yoke design I guess.

Fair Isle Style Sweaters from Old Navy
Fair Isle Style Sweaters from Old Navy

Currently, I can’t recommend any fair isle sweaters from Old Navy. What they have right now under fair isle looks more like just geometric shapes…..not the classic fair isle. And then here are my two fair isle sweaters from J. Crew factory. The one of the left is old, the one on the right is current. Its on sale too, $34.50. Its very soft, we will see how it holds up.

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So where else can we find deals on fair isle? There are always a few from Vineyard Vines. I remember the photos of Sarah Vickers, Macy Medema, and Devon Mackenzie from the KJP crew all wearing c/o Vineyard Vines fair isle sweaters a few years ago. It was lovely, but those sweaters are hitting you at ~$140 and upwards? The sweaters are really nice looking, but a little pricey for me.

Here it is, I think its from a couple years ago…its kinda preppy perfection with the scenery, vest, Barbour, bean boots, and Hunters. ¬†Fair isle has always been a winter trend, but I remember around this time it became a really hot trend for the preppy crowd.

Devon, Sarah, and Macy in their beautiful fair isle sweaters, C/O

Woolrich has some nice looking ones¬†Mohair Fair Isle Sweaters¬†at $99. I am concerned though because reviews for some of their other motif sweaters have been negative, and there are no reviews on these yet…

Woolovers has a nice crew neck sweater in lambswool, all different colors, and I can speak to the excellent quality of these sweaters: Fair Isle Sweater and these ring in at $48 plus shipping from England haha. The only thing that stinks is returning sweaters to England is expensive, so pay attention to reviews and sizing info. Here is my favorite.

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Talbots always has some nice fair isle options…although they too have some that they are labeling as fair isle even though its just some zig zags and diamonds….here’s my two faves together actually! The one on the left I know is actually a dress but its¬†here¬†for $119 and the sweater on the right is¬†here¬†for $89. Great thing about Talbots though is they have awesome end of the season sales, so get one their email list and wait if those prices are still too high.

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Here is one from Brooks Brothers. The color combination is not for me, but $88 is not a terrible price for a sweater from them. Its kinda a weird one though because the pattern is only on the front and the elbow patches? They have another one for $148….which puts it in the same category as the Vineyard Vines sweaters…..beautiful, but not realistic for me…and probably many of us right now.

And lastly, LLBean….this sweater from the LLBean Signature collection is on my Christmas/birthday list. I love the colors, and I am sure that the merino is very soft. Its $94…..which is out of my price range, but…its a wish list item, something I wouldn’t buy for myself. We can dream right?

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Another amazing place to check out would be Etsy. There are sooooo many vintage sweaters on there from LLBean, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, and others. You have to be careful because some of the Etsy stores don’t accept refunds and sizing has changed over the years but there are some real gems if you have the time to look. Then when people ask where you got it….you can say, oh, its vintage.

My fianc√© and I are doing an engagement photo shoot this weekend….which of those J Crew sweaters should I wear? Looking for opinions! Its an outdoor shoot….so there’s either the cream sweater with navy and orange stitching OR the gray with navy, mint, and white stitching….lemme know what you think!!

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