How to: Only pack one bookbag for an entire weekend.

Once upon a time, I spent six days in London and Hamburg with only one backpack. I haughtily refused (read: could not afford) to pay the airline's checked bag rates so I toughened up and threw six days worth of supplies into a bookbag and set off. If I may say so myself, I looked rather fabulous for the entire jaunt, so I have no qualms over sharing with you my tips on packing a bag for the duration of just three days and avoiding checked bag fees.


1: Lay out your fantastic clothing. I don't care how you dress, it is all grand. I am huge on traveling a lot with only a little but still looking like a classical vixen..I mean...lady. I also loathe being burdened by heavy, cumbersome luggage when I travel. I am 5'4" on a good day, so you're dreaming if you think I want to arrive in a new location with a hardcase bag that rolls and goes up to my hip. I am all about mobility! 

So, grab a pair of jeans (jeans, unless you're rolling around in the dirt, are good for three wears), wear it on the train/plane/whatever on the way there, done a dress/short/cute top (girl clothes can roll up RIDICULOUSLY small) on Saturday, and drag those jeans out for your last day and return trip. Tights, leggings, and underwear can also all be compacted down into almost nothing! Grab a cardigan (trains and planes can get chilly, so can foreign cities!). Find 1 pair of shoes that will match everything and viola! Classy all weekend long. 

Ladies: don't forget your lady stuff. You know what I mean! Danger, surprises, and unexpected circumstances may strike at anytime. Be prepared! Men: you too. Be safe. It is your responsibility too.

2: Gank all of your tiny shampoos/conditioners, awful Bic razors, makeup removers, etc and stick them in a container (top). I have two of everything. One set stays at home and the second is almost always either in my purse or in that container, ready to grab and shove in a backpack for travel. I keep all of my shower-y needs in one zip container, and my makeup in another (middle container). My makeup is almost always very natural looking with minimal liner, so when I travel I only take mascara, chapstick, rosey lip color, and cover-up. I'm too busy exploring to be worried about messing up thick, black, eyeliner! However, you might not be able to live without your liquid liner, and that's fine! Whatever works for you, most makeup products are small enough to fit in a tiny container. Keep in mind that your skin might not be used to the climate you're entering, treat it nicely with moisturizer.

PRO-TIP: Any liquid (shampoo, remover, etc) that you're taking with you NEEDS to be in either a plastic ziploc or something that is pictured above. If something busts open due to a change in pressure or other wear and tear, the last thing you want is for your valuable, lovely clothes to be covered in sticky shower stuff. Ugh. Been there. Never, ever again.

Lastly, have a purse (or your wallet, guys) stowed in the bottom of the pack to take out when you arrive at your destination. Chances are you don't want to lug around your bookbag with your clothes in it. I have a leather crossbody that I snagged from the Goodwill for $2. Note: always carry a picture ID and your debit|credit card with you. Always have at least $40-$50 in cash; you never know: you may need a cab or where you eat lunch might not take card!

I also keep a tiny book in the front pocket of my crossbody for writing down places I've seen, where I want to go, directions, etc, so I can remember everything and look 110% less of a tourist. Sometimes I'll even print out and paste in a tiny little subway map. I'm sly, I know.

3: I always keep a folder with my eticket, directions my to hostel/couchsurfing host and a receipt for both. I also have a copy of my picture ID in there just in case I lose the actual ID or the backpack is lost/stolen. I carry around a baglillion business cards as well, because I am a shameless self-promoter. If I'm making pictures of someone|something and a bypasser or cop asks, I will hand them a business card and explain what I'm doing. If I have some left over, I'll leave them on tables, on bulletin boards. You never know who is going to see your work. The more, the better!

4: Most importantly-take care of yourself. You never know when you'll be hungover..I mean,  have a sinus headache, need cough drops, or take on a minor cut somewhere. It helps to keep these things handy in the front pocket of your pack. I also reccommend gum and snacks for the train/plane (if allowed). Make sure you pack any medications you're currently on and set an alarm to take them. I know how easy it is to be caught up in adventure and forget!

All of this should (and will) easily slip into your pack (I bought mine yesterday from the Goodwill as well, $2!!!!!). As you can see, there's still a little bit of room at the top for a book or a heat tool (such as a straightener or curling iron) for all your hair-styling needs! 

If you are a person who doesn't wear makeup or style their hair, more power to you! Tons of room and less hassle. It is all about figuring out your absolute essentials and then paring down from there. 


The leather bag is my camera bag, which if you don't make pictures/have 100 camera accessories like I do, is unnecessary. I'm taking a train to Boston this weekend and I'm more than excited to be on the rails again and to travel alone. It's a zen thing. :]

Safe travels,

Mel xx


Sacrificed screens and couches (with a hacksaw) for art.

A few weeks ago, I finally set up that home studio I mentioned before! My brother and his burly pal came over with a saw and destroyed my couch to make room for the seamless paper. I suppose we could have carried it out, but it was a second rate couch. I like to watch the world burn.

When people come over, we sit on my porch or in my kitchen and have a drink. They laugh at the fact that I don't have a sofa or a television. In a perfect world, I'd have enough room for all of it. I don't miss it. I find myself so busy that I can barely keep up with my favorite tv shows as it is. 

It took me awhile to get the lighting ratio/best time of day down pat, but I think I have finally figured it out..


There are many more black and white portraits from constantly forcing anyone who steps into my abode in front of my camera. I didn't want to overwhelm you, so here are three of my favorites. 

An exciting update will be coming later this week. I am finally beginning to travel again, so I am, of course, a very happy girl.


Sacrificing Screens and Entertainment for Creation. 

      My apartment is about to become one of the lamest places to hang out.

      One of the reasons I settled on the apartment I am in now is because of the natural light. I live in a one bedroom space on my own, so the living room isn't really used unless I have people over. It is splendid, but I was spending some time in it this morning, reading, when I looked around and noticed the light. Perfect, diffused, jaw-dropping natural light that wraps around objects like they're being glorified for sale. I had this moment (I have a lot of these moments, lately) where I chastised myself for being silly, wasting valuable resources, and reassessing the objects I own.

      I do not care about tv (I have Netflix on my tablet-), video games take up too much of my time these days, and the couch is rarely used and constantly in the way. Why are these objects here? So I can waste valuable light on a couch and a tv from the 70's? No.

      I am ditching the telelvision, and the couch, relocating the frames on the wall, and turning my entire living room into a natural light studio. I literally have an abundance of reflectors (all sizes!), a tripod, a fan, etc. just laying in one of my cedar closets! The only thing that is going to stay are my bookshelves and my coffee table, right in the corner. I'm going to hang a mood board on the wall opposite to image-making. I am really invigorated by this idea, and I hope by the end of this weekend I'll be in "business." This space will give me a chance to create and change environments at my will.

Yes, it will be sad to see my couch go along with my television and 360, but there are so many screens in this apartment, not to mention my brand new landscape of a bed, I will be happy, and with a quick fix of a blow-up mattress, my guests can be, as well. I am doing this because I care more about creation and making images this summer than sitting around, watching every episode of Lost for the nth time, or getting my headshot count up in Left 4 Dead. Shouldn't you?

Keep you posted,


fellow art students-

just some food for thought for all of you.

while this is diction unlike my own, i believe it gives me something to think about, and perhaps you as well?


Italian Language in American-English Akron

New decorating.

Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 have finally passed with their ups and downs, and summer is in full swing! That means staying in bed all day (on my days off), not leaving my apartment until the sun is setting or already down, reading mountains of books, marathoning my favorite tv shows, and drinking sangria like it is my job. With this foreign concept of "free time," I also have slots to practice and buff up on my Italian.

During fall semester and especially spring, I became more frustrated each day as I woke up and discovered that I had displaced my Italian command. Forgetting my practiced and learned language skills that I learned from native speakers was like being consistently hit over my head with a stupefying stick; very, very annoying. Being in college full time while working thirty hours a week made it extremely difficult to find patience, energy, or time to expand on my skill or even put to practice what I already knew.

HOWEVER, that is behind me now and I am pleased to report that each day this week I've practiced my language in one way or another. I am trying to find the best way to learn more and utilize what I already know, so I've attempted watching a movie in Italian, reading in Italian and translating it (slow and arduous...), speaking to friends from Florence, or simply writing my thoughts down in Italian. All of these methods have a varying degree of effectiveness. I decided to really immerse myself (as much as I can) this morning, and began papering my apartment with post-its of singular and plural nouns stuck on their respective object.

I have found that the easiest words (then, again, though, etc) and nouns (chair, oven, window, door) are the things that slip my mind the quickest. I can't say why concretely, but I am going to take a shot in the dark here and guess that it is due to the fact that I learned through conversation, and topics like chairs, ovens, windows, or doors weren't often brought people even talk about those things?

Wall clock(s).

This way, when I am lounging around my space all day, I am constantly being confronted with Italian nouns. I don't know how many of you know another language, but sometimes just being put in that frame of mind each day really makes all of the difference.


Wine Glass(es)I hid some of them. ;]I am hoping that this helps me out! If anyone out there (I don't think anyone is reading this and I'm yelling into cyberspace...or rather, whispering quietly) has any tips or methodologies on learning a new language, toss them my way! I'd love to hear about your experience.

-Mel xx

Even the simple words.