Eighteen Jobs in Fourteen Years

Frock Files | My Journey to Thirty

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know quite a bit about my life. But I haven’t talked a lot about how I came to be a full-time freelancer, and what it took for me to finally give myself the freedom to stop trying to fit into a regular nine-to-five. Let me tell ya, it took me a really long time.

That’s what I’m talking about today on My Thirty Spot. Editor Erin Kennedy graciously invited me to participate in her Love for Thirty series, since I’m turning thirty this year. While I always work hard to write honestly here, this piece is one of the most revealing things I’ve written in a long time. It took weeks of looking back into my twenties and facing a lot of difficult periods before I could sit down to write this. But in the end, I’m proud of how real it turned out to be, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to examine how all the pieces came together to get me to this happy period.

Here’s a snippet of the post. If you want to read the essay in its entirety, head on over to My Thirty Spot.

An Excerpt…

Up until rather recently, I changed jobs the way other people switch out their purses. Between my first job in high school and this, the last few months before my thirtieth birthday, I’ve had eighteen jobs. Nineteen if you count the day that I worked at Harrods. I quit when told me that, should the store undergo a terrorist attack, I would be among the last to be evacuated – and then they scheduled me for a sixty-hour week. I doubt anyone would count that.

Some of these jobs were pretty well aligned with my English degree: tutor, textbook editor, book designer, newspaper columnist, magazine writer. But I also worked as a salon manager, barista, and salesperson. I took positions at a chocolate shop, a baby boutique, and a Buddhist peace institute.

Soon after completing my graduate degree, I took on a full-time job at a detective agency. When I tell people about this period of my life, they immediately imagine a film noir-esque office; wooden doors with frosted glass windows and standalone racks perfect for dramatic fedora snatching. But the reality was all halogen lights and plastic cubicles, with only the buzz of the air conditioner…

Find the full post here.

Photography by the talented Meghann Street.

How To: Handmade Stationery & Washi Pencils

Is there anything better than getting a package full of handmade goodness with a handwritten note in the mail? It makes me think of Sark’s instructions for reading a letter from a friend: find a big tree outside, flop down beneath it, devour the words quickly, then once again, more slowly. This is truly the best way to truly appreciate a good piece of mail — unless it’s snowing. Then couch flopping works equally as well (or Christmas tree flopping).

If you head on over to You Are My Fave today, you’ll find a simple little mail-based tutorial that I whipped up. I’ll show you how to make handmade envelopes and washi wrapped pencils, either for yourself or to give away as a gift. This project (like all of my craft projects!) is really easy — and inexpensive. Just collect some magazines you have lying around, choose a sheet of washi paper, and purchase some #2 pencils.

Ready? I’ll meet you over at YAMF!

Five Simple Truths for a Happier Life

Janae is the founder of the health and lifestyle blog Bring Joy. There, she develops fabulous vegan and gluten-free recipes, exercise videos, and posts about her life as an Air Force wife and mother of four young children. She’s currently living in Washington State as a temporary single parent while her husband completes JAG training; the family will soon be moving to Texas.

Janae is one of those inspiring, deeply honest women who I know could run the world if she chose too. Here, she’s sharing five truths she’s discovered to live a simpler and more fulfilling life.

This summer my husband and I took our four kids on a road trip. It was a time of family, of being completely disconnected from our routines.  In three weeks, we traveled over 3,000 miles and passed through five states.  You could say it was our time to just be.

While my husband has been away on active duty military training, I have had time and space to think about what it means to live simply. For the past six months, I have had none of my personal belongings, other than a few sets of clothes and pairs of shoes.  My kids only have some of their books and clothing.  We’re living in my parent’s basement.  It’s odd, once you have separation from things, what that does to you.

On our road trip, one of our favorite places was the beach in southern Oregon.  We had come from the crowded beaches in California.  In Oregon, at least where we were, there was no one in sight.  It was just us, with the sand and water stretching into the horizon.  My boys could have spent the whole day there, playing tag with the waves, digging holes, running along the shore.

I’ve thought about that place often.  How that simplicity brought us so much joy, and how nature has a way of smoothing out the roughness of life.  And how I have filled my day to day life with things that only add clutter and chaos, when what I desire is simplicity.

I guess you could say I’ve been forced to scale back.  Without a home to care for and classes to teach (I used to teach a dozen fitness classes a week), my world has become open and rather simple.  I’ll admit that it’s taken a few months to get my bearings.  I’m a bit like a fish out of water, learning, discovering the answers to these questions: what do I really want out of life?  What is most important?

Here are five of things I’m discovering:

1.  Time is a finite commodity & my most precious resource.  Can I do something in a more efficient way?  If yes, will it be at the expense of my relationships?  If no, I know I need to do it.  I love social media (Twitter is my fave) and blogs.  But I’ve realized that the people and blogs that are important to me — the stuff I really care about — will rise to the top.  The other, non-essential stuff I’m not really all that passionate about will fall by the wayside.  Spending time online, unlike most other forms of media, have no end.  There is no end on the internet.  If you are an adult, there are no parental controls or limits on how much time you can spend blog hopping, tweeting, and facebooking.

2.  Real face time trumps all.  Eye connection, a person’s warmth, a handshake, or hug —  these things are far more valuable than a text, email, or tweet.  I strive to get as much face time as much as possible with the people who matter most.  That physical contact is a key component to happiness and security, which is missing in our modern lives.

3.  Free is free is free.  Did you know there are so many free, good things?  My faves:  the library, Pandora, parks, going for a walk, cuddling with my kids, doing my personal yoga practice at home.  And breathing deeply.  That’s free too, and that fresh air is good stuff.

4.  It’s much easier to reduce expenses than it is to earn more.  Readers of my blog know of my journey towards a debt-free life.  I’m realizing, in a very real, acute way, just how true this principle is.  I’m squeezing the life out of every penny that crosses my path.  And by golly, it’s making a huge difference.

5.  Ockham’s Razor just may be the answer.  Ockham was a mathematician who theorized:  “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.”  In other words, when applied to science or math, if two competing theories make the same exact predictions, the simpler one is better.  I see these bizarre, complicated fad diets; ways to get rich quick; detailed and complicated parenting books — it seems as if we want to believe that the more complicated a process is, the more likely it is to work.  But experience has shown me, whether it be with weight loss, finances, or relationships, things are very simple.  It’s the simplicity of principles, not rigid, complicated rules, that set us free.

See more of Janae’s thoughts over at Bring Joy

More posts to love by Janae:
Pumpkin Caramel Blondie Bars
Workout Video: 5 Minute Abs
Get on the Debt Free Boat

You can also find Bring Joy on Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest.  You can read more about Janae, here, & more about her family, here.

Simple Recipe: Secret Sloppy Joes

Stephanie is the proprietress of Pretty and Delectable, where she documents her favorite simple pleasures: food, fashion, and spending time with her husband and twin girls. On top of her roles as mom, wife, and blogger, Stephanie works as a physician — and she’s also has the most generous spirit. Today she’s sharing a quick, easy, and healthy weeknight dinner recipe with a secret ingredient.

As a working mom of four-year-old twin girls, I am always on the hunt for recipes that will allow me to prepare satisfying, flavorful meals without a lot of fuss. I recently discovered this wonderful recipe for turkey sloppy joes which fulfills all of these criteria. It’s a great casual dinner and only gets one pan dirty which makes clean up equally easy.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 medium white onion, diced small
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground dark-meat turkey
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 large potato hamburger buns

The special ingredient in this recipe is sweet potato… one of my favorite fall veggies.

Saute the onion and sweet potato to create those delicious browned edges.

Add salt, pepper, garlic, ground turkey, diced tomatoes, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce to complete the filling.

Simple and delicious!

Parsnip fries are a nice side for this meal… just peel and chop the parsnips, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake in the oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Enjoy!

Stephanie’s posts that you’re sure to love:

Herbed Ricotta Pasta with Vegetables
Toasted Marshmallow Topped Chocolate Cupcakes
DIY Knotted Quatrefoil Bracelet

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