Twelfth Light Rebranded

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I’m approaching my first birthday here on WordPress. It’s time I get a bit real here, especially since I’ve been absent since June.

Last November, I was in a different place mentally. At that point, I hadn’t been in a grad class for over a year and when I’m not studying, I feel very discontent. Moreover, I was facing some incredibly trying personal situations and I thought that blogging would be a wonderful distraction. So, as most 30-year-olds are wont to do, I started a blog.

Initially, my focus was interior decorating and DIY projects. That was fine. But about six months into posting, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of in-authenticity. This dread first settled in as I stood in front of a dilapidated Ferris wheel in the middle of a junkyard after road-tripping to Centralia, PA to walk the Graffiti Highway. As I photographed the wheel from the side of the road, it seemed like an incredible metaphor to me. My thought was interrupted by an old man who was mowing the tall grass in front of a trailer at the edge of the property. He killed the engine and I asked him about the wheel, pointing out to it in the distance. He said it was part of a traveling fair and, for whatever reason, the company stopped paying their rent on the land many years ago, abandoning all their trailers and rides; they just left them there to rot away. And then, out of nowhere, the man introduced himself by saying, “My name is Jim. Tomorrow is my 91st birthday.” I looked from 90-year-old Jim to the half-wheel and wondered, as most people do from time-to-time, what am I doing with my life?

If you don’t know, I earned my Master’s in English in 2013 (P.S. I barely graduated high school–but that’s a story for another time). So, I imagined my favorite professors reading my blog and shaking their heads, perhaps wondering how I went from studying the Greek hetaera and writing my hybrid genre memoir to sharing a step-by-step guide on how to make a wreath. To be fair: I’m sure they would all be supportive of my endeavors regardless of “scholarly” merit. The truth is, writing is hard work. I’m not trying to discredit home design or DIY blogs; I will still be an avid reader of those sources because I will always be redecorating and crafting as a hobby. What unites all bloggers, regardless of content, is the universal, nerve-wracking feeling before hitting that “Publish” button. What I’m trying to say is, after re-reading some of my posts I found myself missing my former rhetoric–the voice I spent years developing as a graduate student. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I enjoyed being creative, I met so many new people through the blogosphere (shout out to my Mitten girls!), and I loved inspiring others to try new projects themselves. But, I’ve been neglecting my true voice for so long, and I need to get back to that work. I imagined my voice as that Ferris wheel, rotting in a field–abandoned. (P.S.S. I tend to be a bit dramatic).

This notion to reinvent Twelfth Light became even more imperative to me after I was offered the opportunity to transfer teaching positions. I spent the first eight years of my career teaching seventh and eighth graders in a middle school.  In late August, two weeks before the first day of school, I was offered a high school English position within my same district. Yes, I’m a high school English teacher (I love saying that!). This transition has reinvigorated my passion for teaching and reminds me why I went into this profession in the first place. And, one of the best practices for an English teacher is to write with/for your students. I hope to connect with my students through this outlet and encourage them to find their voices (whatever they may be for them at this moment in their lives). To that end, Twelfth Light needs to catch up with me.

So, I will be transitioning this blog into a place for my prose and poetry, literary research, and perhaps a sprinkling of student work or teaching epiphanies here and there. We’ll see where she goes. If you’re already a follower, I do sincerely hope you’ll stay with me and if you’re a new reader, I invite you to follow along.

I often sign my posts with “Keep the quill moving,” so I better start taking my own advice!

KTQM,
-Destiny

Post Script:
“Write! And your self-seeking text will know itself better than flesh and blood.” -Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa

The Hoover-Mason Trestle

The Hoover-Mason Trestle, the newest attraction to the Bethlehem Steel site, opened to the public on Thursday, June 25, 2015. For anyone who might say, “been there, done that” about seeing the stacks–I must argue with you–because you’ve never seen them like this.

The original Hoover-Mason Trestle (HMT) was originally used to transport raw materials (such as iron ore and coke) to the blast furnaces.  Today, however, the new HMT is now a pedestrian walkway that gives visitors incredible views of not only the stacks themselves, but even surrounding Bethlehem. “The [46 foot high, half-mile] walkway features benches, landscaping and a self-guided tour with plaques describing how steel was made and the significance of some of the large buildings still standing”(Radzievich). Standing on the trestle is so humbling and breathtaking. I’ve been there twice since the opening, and both times I noticed something surreal–complete strangers introduced themselves to one another and began sharing stories/memories of the stacks or asking questions. People wanted to know: Can you imagine how loud it must have been? Did the stacks glow? Were women working here?  We all seemed to stand transfixed, expressing our amazement. There seemed to be a magnetism drawing everyone together up there.

Cost: Free
Hours:
Sunday-Wednesday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Accessibility:
Three staircases and one elevator with ramps along the walkway
Special Tours: $15
Steelwalker tours along the HMT, led by former workers, will be held on July 11 & 18 and August 1 & 29 (11:00 a.m.)

These are the images I captured with my Nikon D3200. I must thank my friend and colleague, Mark, who encouraged me to shoot in manual for the first time. I still have a great deal of learning to do, but I was thrilled to learn more about this new hobby. Please check out some of his incredible HDR shots from the day (one of which won the #MyImpressionContest award from the Philadelphia Museum of Art!!).

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This statue at the entrance is called “Romeo and Juliet”
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The Grand Staircase
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Hours and rules
Hours and Rules
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I’m especially proud of these next few images since Mark taught me the term for this type of shot: bokeh (bow-ke),
a Japanese word meaning the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.

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Humbly,
Destiny

Post Script:
“I almost went down in fire. If it wouldn’t have been for my buddy standing right in back of me, he caught me. Otherwise I would have bought it, sure thing.” -Frank Furry (a coke and ore dumper)

Remembering the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs)

Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane,
Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane, “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” at the four-engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, during WASP ferry training B-17 Flying Fortress. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force)
Since it’s Memorial Day weekend, I thought it would be fitting to write a post to honor the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of WWII.

If you don’t know who they are–I’m (sadly) not surprised. This group isn’t typically mentioned in history books or many WWII documentaries. Their images aren’t iconic (like Rosie) and their names aren’t well-known (yet). And, some argue, the outcome of WWII may have been quite different if it hadn’t been for this group of under-recognized women. However, there are some, like film-maker Jill Bond, who are determined to help tell the story and spread the word of their heroism.

In 1941, two female pilots (Jacqueline Cochran & Nancy Harkness Love) sent inquiries to the U.S. Army Air Forces requesting that women be used for non-combat missions to pilot planes to bases throughout the United States. Their goal was to free male pilots for combat roles. The proposal was denied several times, but by the summer of 1942 (and after some major support from Mrs. Roosevelt), Cochran and Love’s idea was taken seriously.

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Avenger Field (Photo credit: waspmusem.org)

More than 25,000 women applied to be military pilots, but only about 1,100 were selected. The women traveled to Sweetwater, Texas to train at Avenger Field for four months and earned their wings and became the first women to fly American military aircraft. From Sweetwater, the WASPs were stationed at 120 different air bases across the country, logged over 60 million flight hours, and delivered over 12,000 aircraft of 78 different types from factories to bases.

However, after a nasty and aggressive campaign by male pilots who wanted the WASP jobs during World War II, they were the only wartime unit that was denied military status by Congress and were sent home before the war was over and their job was done. Because the women were denied military status, the WASP received no insurance or benefits during or after the war, and if a WASP died during training or while on a mission, their families were not allowed to put a service star in the window, nor could the WASP receive a military burial. (Bond)

It would take 30 years for the women to be granted military status and almost 70 years for the women to earn the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010. That being said, there are less than 200 WASPs still surviving, so time is of the essence to show these women how grateful we are for their service.  

This trailer for Jill Bond’s documentary, We Served Too, solely dedicated to this group really captures their story:


Back in the fall I read an article with my students about these incredible women. Ever since, I had this idea to recreate some of the images of the WASPs in order to honor their service. My mother works at the Lehigh Valley International Airport, so I ran my idea by her and asked if the airport would let me do a shoot there in one of the hangars. After a few calls and e-mails, it turned out that the Aluminum Overcast B-17 Bomber from WWII was scheduled to come through for a tour. Knowing that this was an incredible opportunity, I began planning.

I knew immediately I wanted Alex from Alexandra Whitney Photography on board with my project. She brings such a fresh perspective to anything retro/vintage and her photos are always swoon-worthy. So, after a quick coffee-shop brainstorm session with her, the project was off the ground.

I cannot wait to show you the images from our shoot and tell you all about the other vendors and details  (so stay tuned), but for now I want to dedicate this post to the true WASPs. Their service and courageousness is nothing short of inspiring. If even one person remembers and cares enough to share their story with others, then my project will have been worth it.

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(Photo credit: Connellsville Canteen)
16 July 2009    From the left, Dorothy Dodd Eppstein, Hellen Skjersaa Hansen, Doris Burmester Nathan and Elizabeth Chadwick Dressler, walk in front of a B-25 plane, as they were Air Force engineering test pilots for the B-25 during World War II.     Shawano Cleary / Special to the Gazette
From the left, Dorothy Dodd Eppstein, Hellen Skjersaa Hansen, Doris Burmester Nathan and Elizabeth Chadwick Dressler, walk in front of a B-25 plane, as they were Air Force engineering test pilots for the B-25 during World War II.

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(Photo credit: waspmuseum.com)
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(Photo credit: aerotechnews.com)

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WASPS: Thank you for your service.
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Want to see more images? Check out this gallery.

Patriotically,
Destiny

Post Script:
“I have found adventure in flying, in world travel, in business, and even close at hand…Adventure is a state of mind–of spirit.” -Jacqueline Cochran (WASP founder)

If you’d like to learn more about the WASPS, visit:

  1. WASPS on the Web
  2. WASP Museum
  3. NPR: The Original Fly Girls
  4. Wings Across America
  5. Women of WWII
  6. We Served Too
  7. WASP Books

National Poetry Month

Happy National Poetry Month!

For me, being a teacher is never more enjoyable than the month of April because I get to read some of the world’s best poems with my students. This week, when I introduced the unit, I shared my favorite poem (Who Knows if the Moon’s by E. E. Cummings). I’m always enamored with how other (younger) sets of eyes react to my most treasured words.

When I collected all of the papers at the end of the day, I found this annotation scribbled at  the bottom of one:  “So, are the flowers suicidal?” How brilliant.  Who Knows if the Moon’s (1925) E. E. Cummings

who knows if the moon’s
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky–filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we’d go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody’s ever visited,where

always
it’s
Spring)and everyone’s
in love and flowers pick themselves

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I thought I’d share a Cummings-esque poem of mine and a collection of some more vintage airshow images from France (source).

Zeppelin Bend

We’re from a golden era, you and I.
The kind where people were found facing upwards
looking for Hindenburg and the flames.
We could almost hear the film reels and the loud flash bulbs.
Everyone is discussing the tragedy
at the party (the kind Gatsby would throw)
in their feathers and beads.
“And How!”

We’re vintage, you and I.
Strong as antiqued-canvas,
Our memories pulled taut
over an alloy structure—
and we’re inside, floating toward
an unknown destination.
The best part is that it will
take forever to get there,
because the engine is in
reverse.

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Head in the clouds,
Destiny

 

The Bloom Workshop

A few months ago I won a ticket to The Bloom Workshop based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I couldn’t believe it when my name was posted as the winner. I was running around my house excitedly and immediately called Lydia over at Let’s Dazzle Darlings to share the news because my win meant we would be road tripping 8 hours (10+ for me) to the mitten.

Bloom is owned by the gorgeous Michaela  of Michaela Noelle Designs and Ashley of Ashley Slater Photography. Their workshops are for anyone who loves to be creative and artsy and learn something new. My favorite part is that you don’t need to be a blogger or own a company to attend! If you love pretty things and learning, Bloom is for you!

The workshop I attended (La Petite Bloom) was a half-day crammed with tons of beautiful things and incredibly talented artists, such as Spring of Spring Sweet Florals and Jessica of Jessica Albers Studios.  We learned how to arrange pretty blooms and tried our hand at calligraphy (which, to my surprise, may be my new addiction)!

If you want to attend a future Bloom session (which I recommend), they might be coming to a city near you this year! The tickets get snatched up quickly, so here are their tour dates and you can register right here or just click the workshop of your choice below. Remember, if you see “La Petite Bloom” that means it’s a half-day workshop and the others are FULL days of heavenly beauty!

  1. Los Gatos, CA – April 10, 2015
  2. Grand Rapids, MI – May 5, 2015  
  3. Grand Rapids, MI – May 28, 2015
  4. Charlotte, NC (La Petite Bloom) – July 20, 2015
  5. Grand Rapids, MI (La Petite Bloom) – September 22, 2015 
  6. Seattle, WA – October 22-23, 2015 
  7. Chicago, IL  (La Petite Bloom) – December 2, 2015

{ Bloom }

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(c) Erin Leigh Design

{ Grand Rapids }

Here are some of my favorite shots from around the city.

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Thank you to all of the creative women who were part of this magical day. I feel so honored to have been a part of it. I also need to take a hot second to thank the very hospitable Erin (of Erin Leigh Design) & Amanda (of Bailey and James) for welcoming us to their beautiful city. #Instameets are my new favorite thing. I also need to thank Bob, Lydia’s hubby, for letting us put hundreds of miles of his car to get us there (and for leaving that Tupac CD in the 6-disc)!

Thinking spring,
Destiny

P.S.
“[The] Earth laughs in flowers…” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some photo credits and rights belong to Let’s Dazzle Darlings and Erin Leigh Design.

Book Paper Wreath DIY

Last week on Instragram my blogger pal Erin over at Erin Leigh Design and I ran a literary giveaway and the prizes included one of Erin’s darling pillows and one of my book paper wreaths.

I thought I’d outline the instructions for this wreath since it’s a fairly easy little DIY and it only cost about $16!!!

Wreath 1
Materials

  • Book pages (I used 50-60)
  • Hot glue gun & glue
  • Decorative add-on (optional)
  • Foam wreath (12″ or 16″)
  • Staple gun & staples
  • Ice pack for your hand after staple gunning (jk, but not really).

TL1
This foam wreath is 16″ but you can also use 12″

TL2
Start by taking the book pages and wrapping around the wreath and stapling. Don’t worry about wrinkles or imperfections here because most of this will be hidden. You’re just creating a cover, essentially, so you don’t see the foam from the side when the wreath is hanging.

TL3
When you’re done, the back should look like this.

TL4
Next, take a pile of book pages and fold them in half. Note that I folded them in different directions. Also, when I tore them I made sure to have some imperfect edges because I love how those pages look on the wreath. Basically what I’m telling you is that you can’t mess this up! 🙂

TL5
FRONT: I always choose a really unique page with a different look to it (like a “Chapter” or “Epilogue” page) and use that as my “top center” piece. Take your folded pieces and wrap them from the front around the back and put one staple on front and one on back. This part of the process will determine your overall diameter of the wreath when it’s complete.

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BACK: Here’s what the back looks like now as the folded pages start to wrap around.

TL7
Here’s row 1 finished. Now, all you do is start this process all over again, but off-set where you staple and wrap more of the page around the back to layer the pages. I use three layers. You also need to use the hot glue gun for layers 2 and 3 if you don’t want the staples to show on the front (which I don’t). Just put a blob of glue behind the pages to attach.

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I always like to add a little somethin’ to the bottom to add some texture. In this case, since it was a giveaway item, I added removable fabric flowers (attached with alligator clips). I always suggest removable accessories because then you can swap them out to go with a any season or holiday. Not to mention, you can make changes as your style or trends change.
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Xoxo,
Destiny

Post Script:
Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been. ~Alan Alda



Giveaway Scams

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Hi, guys!

Today is my first serious post about an issue other than home decor, DIYS, or crafts. I am writing this post hoping that other bloggers will read it and avoid the up-and-coming Instagram “Loop Giveaway” scams that seem to permeating the app. If you’re on Instagram (as a blogger or personal user) you will undoubtedly have noticed your feed filling up with these massive prize giveaways ($700 Victoria’s Secret, $1,000 Nordstrom, etc.). To enter, users have to tap the giveaway image and another username appears. They click the username and tap their giveaway image and follow the next person, etc. Eventually the user loops back around to where they started, hence the name.

These giveaways are so tempting to both the blogger and the average Insta user. First, new bloggers love them because they can pay a small amount (say, $10-20) and everyone who is included in the loop usually receives hundreds of followers as a result. They are enticing to the average user, because, well, hey…they could win a ton of cash!

However, I have learned a hard lesson. I have discovered that some very savvy (albeit evil) bloggers collect all this money from people, host the loop, and then the “winner” that is selected is either a friend and they split the cash, or, even worse, they create a fake Instagram account as the “winner”–essentially, the host is the winner. Some of  these hosts could potentially be making thousands of dollars a month off of innocent bloggers.

Now, there are legitimate giveaways to participate in if you’re a blogger looking to attract followers. However, you need to be smart about it. Here are some tips to hopefully prevent you from falling prey to one of these scams.

LOOP GIVEAWAY TIPS

  1. Participate in smaller giveaways with bloggers you actually know. The truth is, your followers don’t want to overload their feed by following 30+ people they don’t know just to enter your giveaway. Your followers deserve better. I am guilty of subjecting my followers to that in the past and I won’t do it again! (Please accept my apology now for that).
  2. Avoid paying large amounts of money (this seems obvious). If you send $10 to a scammer, you won’t feel as horrible as sending, say, $50.
  3. Before you send any money to a giveaway host, be sure they communicate well. If they are legit, they will send you something in writing that is very clear which details exactly how the giveaway will be run. Hosts should explain to you the following things:
    -What the prize will be
    -How your payment will be collected
    -When the giveaway will go live and how long it will run
    -How the winner will be selected
    -How the winner will be confirmed
    -How the host will confirm the prize was actually sent to the winner (i.e. proof of communication between the host and the winner, a tracking number, or a digital receipt)

The reality is, though, that if these hosts are really good scammers, they’ll know how to photoshop a fake receipt. Not to mention, the person they supposedly send this money to could be a fake e-mail that THEY own and they still pocket a TON of cash.

Basically, I can’t stress this enough–work with bloggers you know and can trust. In all honesty, if you get yourself involved in these large group giveaways, you’ll find that many people just unfollow you after it ends, anyway. I have learned along the way that I want to attract long-time followers who are interested in the work that I do, not just a temporary follower who solely wants a prize.

Here’s the good news: I have found that most giveaway hosts are sincere and professional people who only want the best for their followers and want to create a strong network of bloggers and form friendships along the way. If you’re a new blogger, keep your wits about you out there in the blogosphere and you’ll meet some incredibly wonderful people who will guide you in the right direction.

If you are a real professional and would like some tips on how to host a giveaway, Lauren over at Honeybee Boutique has a great post on this topic. Thanks, Lauren!

Always lookin’ out,
Destiny

P.S.
“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”
-Anne Frank

D+D Wedding II

❤ Happy Valentine’s Day ❤ I’m elated that this week’s wedding post falls on Valentine’s Day since today’s image gallery is of our ceremony (the most important part of the big day, right??). Well, besides the cake. Haha. If you missed last week’s slideshow and want to start from the beginning, you can check it […]