A Caffeinated Tour of Ann Arbor: Lab Cafe

When I am exploring new places, I almost always gravitate toward coffee shops. There is something about being in a space with a lot of people working, conversing, and sharing a love for coffee (and other beverages, I suppose) that is extremely stimulating. Throughout my first two months here, I've probably spent a bit too much money on the Ann Arbor cafe experience. However, I am entirely  unashamed. Over the next year, I will be highlighting some of my favorite locations in the city I now call home starting with Lab Cafe

One of the best things about Lab is the atmosphere. The comforting feeling I got when walking in the door may be partially attributed to the fact that it is a relatively small space. There are only a few tables placed somewhat close together and several chairs around a coffee table, but there is beauty in feeding off the energy of those around you. 

As a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, I find it important to note that Lab sells Madcap Coffee (as noted in the first photo). Seeing a few bags of Oktoberfest on the shelf made me feel at home. 

I recommend trying the Honey Lavender Latte when you visit, it just might change your world. 

In Movement: Autumn Tunes

Adjusting to the University of Michigan's academic standard and life in the "city" of Ann Arbor has left me with little time to sit down and write any meaningful blog posts. My life has been in constant change, in constant movement - something I enjoy about the season of fall, but am experiencing even more in this context. Several songs have accompanied me throughout that experience and included below are a few of picks off of my autumn playlists.

Simplistic August Afternoons

As summer winds down, I've started to really appreciate the simple attire of a warm-weather wardrobe. I've been pairing a lot of different shirts and tees with these shorts/boots to create a simple outfit that is both cute and comfortable. As much as I love wearing outfits like this, I can't wait until fall and scarves/sweaters.

What I'm Wearing: Lace Up Brami: Free People, Shorts: Vintage

Photos: Emily Maltman

A Myth-Crushing Dream

Nothing excites me more than discovering new publications - it often sends me spiraling into a cycle of rejuvenated passion for my future creative pursuits/career. Telling people here in West Michigan that I want to go into the publishing field and eventually become an editor/creative director often results in a lot of confused looks and comments. "But I thought printed matter was dead?" "You're not going to be able to get anywhere in that field." - All of these statements and more have been directed at me throughout my life due to the growing belief that palpable literature is a thing of the past. However, when I come across a new magazine/collection/publication I am instantly reminded of the power and strong presence of printed matter. It is far from dead - it is thriving thanks to the many creative beings who refuse to stop chasing their dreams and living their passions. I am happy to be one of these individuals and cannot wait until I can begin contributing to the inspiring wildfire that is printed matter. 

Farewell to the Fairground

As I begin cleaning out my room and packing up my possessions in preparation for my move to Ann Arbor, it's hard for me not to reflect on the last four years of my life. Although I live in an extremely small town and went to high school in one only slightly bigger, I was still fortunate enough to live close to the city of Grand Rapids and have a variety of stimulating experiences. Some of my strongest memories come from exploring and interacting with GR, whether that be browsing through handmade goods at Have Company, dancing/singing along to Radiator Hospital at The Bunker, or drinking coffee at Lyon Street Cafe. The experiences I have had here are something I will definitely miss as I begin the next chapter in my life.

I chose to attend the University of Michigan (and turned down a full-tuition scholarship to another school) because I wanted to challenge myself - because I wanted to provide myself with extensive opportunities to help me become the best that I can be. I am confident that attending UofM will offer me all of the above and I can't wait to begin pursuing my dreams in Ann Arbor.

Midsummer Musical Musings

My summers often feel characterized by the music I choose to listen to within them. If a tune I looped  day after day on a mix cd in my car during the summer comes on in the middle of the stark and frigid winter, I'm immediately filled with nostalgia for those few months of warm weather and carefree attitudes. In the past, my soundtrack has included quite a bit of Mac DeMarco and this year his musical stylings appear again, this time joining the creative endeavors of Alex Calder and The Growlers on the majority of my playlists (all three bands/artists of which I will be seeing this coming Autumn in Ann Arbor and the surrounding areas).

I listened to Alex Calder for the first time this summer as I drove through downtown Grand Rapids with my friends Chris and Marc after completing my very last day of high school. Chris had been lucky enough to see Alex and his band at the The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor the night before and had a tape of his newest LP Strange Dreams. The morning after, I woke up with the lyrics to "Someone" repeating endlessly in my brain and spent the rest of the day listening to every one of his songs I could find. That borderline obsessive listening has continued throughout the summer and I am completely unashamed. Some of my favorite tracks include: "Light Leave Your Eyes," "Lola," and "Disease Freak" (the last track, "Disease Freak," is no longer available to listen to on Soundcloud so I linked it to a short film including the song that someone out there somewhere made utilizing a beautiful thing known as freedom of expression). I'm super excited to see Alex and his band open up for Mac DeMarco in November.

I don't have a story/experience to link to my interest in The Growlers, but although I have listened to them in the past, this summer has especially proliferated my listening. I am seeing them perform at The Blind Pig in October about a month after I move in to attend the University of Michigan. I love every single song, but some of my favorites lately include: "Black Memories," "In Between," and "Acid Rain."

Mac DeMarco greatly improved my summer experience this year by releasing his EP Another One. The last track "My House by the Water" had me adding yet another reason to the already lengthy mental list of why I wish I lived in the Brooklyn/New York area for a while. Who wouldn't want to stop by Mac's house for a cup of coffee and conversation? Some of my favorites off the new EP include: "Without Me," "Just to Put Me Down," and "No Other Heart." (All of these can be found on Spotify). However, I am still enamored with his earlier albums and tunes such as "European Vegas," "Robson Girl," and "Goodbye Weekend."

Seeing all of these artists perform in October/November adds to my increasing anticipation for the fall season and my move to Ann Arbor.

Photo Credit: Captured Tracks

Dreamin' Slow

When I bought these boots a few years ago the salesperson mentioned that they were "great boots for all seasons, especially summer." I smiled (unsure if he was joking), but inwardly laughed at the thought of wearing them and walking around in 90 degree heat. Several summers later, here I am. I've actually found that boots like these can be a great addition to any summer wardrobe, especially one like this that effectively channels my inner 90s mom. 

What I'm Wearing: Shirt: Express, Shorts: Vintage

Photos: Emily Maltman

The Beginning of a Creative Journey

Whenever I tell people I'm an English major and express my ardent passion for literature and the written word, one of the most common questions asked is "do you have any of your writing online?" For years, I've rattled off excuses as to why I've kept my thoughts and creative endeavors confined to the pages of a variety of Moleskine notebooks in different sizes and colors. Beneath my flimsy justifications was a very common fear of criticism and ridicule that I blatantly refused to overcome. However, as I pack up my things and depart for the University of Michigan and the somewhat foreign world that is Ann Arbor at the close of the summer, I will thrusting myself head first into an ocean of challenges. As I do so, I have decided to take yet another leap of faith and do just the thing that I have refused to for many years. By starting this lifestyle/fashion blog, I plan to share my style, inspiration, and experiences in a way that projects my voice. It's about time I stop making excuses and start following my creative instincts.