T-Shirt Quilts: Staying Warm With Memories

Over the years, I’ve accumulated hundreds of t-shirts. Last year, I had the bright idea of turning them into t-shirt quilts. There are many quilters that focus on making t-shirt quilts — it turns out that it’s a big market, especially around graduation and winter holiday times.

After gathering all of my shirts together and separating them into categories, I researched about 10-15 t-shirt quilters online. I settled on T-Shirt-Quilts.com, which is owned by Blue Ribbon Quilt Co.

Co-owner Linda Lawson worked with me to choose quilt sizes, t-shirt order and material colors for the quilts. In the end, I settled on having four quilts made for distinct parts of my life: social media, travel, New York University and Paragould High School. Take a look at the quilts below and let me know what you think!

I put my social media swag to great use with this t-shirt quilt.

The largest quilt I ordered fits on a queen-sized bed and contains 36 t-shirts from my NYU days.

I used 30 of my high school t-shirts for this full-sized quilt.

While I’ve been to many more places than the ones represented on this quilt, I wanted to have a travel quilt made that focused on orange. Ta da!

Shecky’s Beauty Night Out in NYC

Above: Maria Kucinski, Erica Swallow, Jamall Oluokun and Kriti Bhandari
I recently attended my first Shecky’s Beauty Night Out with three lovely friends (pictured above). Shecky’s is most known for their Girls Night Out, an event that pulls together the best of fashion, cocktails, food and fun! They also have Holiday Night Out and Getaways! Beauty Night Out is all about beauty… makeup, face, hygiene and dietary products. Even more exciting, all of the events include a HUGE Goodie Bag! The giftbag is so well-known that they call it “Shecky’s Famous Goodie Bag”. haha. The goodie bag was simply wonderful, to say the least. It’s definitely the biggest goodie bag I’ve ever received at an event. Of course, there is a price to enter, but still!
If you’re curious about Shecky’s, I say go! It was definitely worth it! (Tip: Sign up for the Shecky’s Insiders program for discounts before purchasing tickets.)
For more information, check out the Shecky’s photo gallery!

Make a Dent in the World Water Crisis!

Dear Friends,

I’m trying to help put a dent in the world water crisis and I need your help. I’ve created three projects via charity:water, each with a goal of raising $5,000, enough funds to build a water well in a community in need of clean water. I’m asking that all of my friends and family find it in their hearts to donate, as there are millions of people without the basic need of water.

I’ve made three funds to match my friends’ interests:

1.) NYU Fund: For all of my NYU friends that want to make a difference. This fund goes towards helping bring water to schools in need of it. Have some school pride and donate today at http://new.charitywater.org/nyufund.

2.) NYC Fund: For the city known for its water towers, atop every building. This fund is for all the New Yorkers who care about delivering clean water to people in need. Donate now at http://new.charitywater.org/nyc.

3.) Erica & Weikai’s 2nd Anniversary: Today is the 2nd anniversary of dating for Weikai and me! In celebration, we’re asking all of our friends and family to find it in their hearts to donate to the millions without water. We’re lucky enough to have been born in societies with an overabundance of water. Let’s give back. Donate now at http://new.charitywater.org/EricaandWeikai.

With all of my love and best wishes for you and yours!

Why do we still wear academic regalia?

According to my favorite unofficial source, academic dress or academical dress is a traditional form of clothing for academic settings, primarily tertiary and sometimes secondary education, worn mainly by those that have been admitted to a university degree (or similar) or hold a status that entitles them to assume them (e.g. undergraduate students at certain old universities). It is also known as academicals and, in the United States, as academic regalia. I’d like to go with regalia, as I love sounding pretentious!

Above: The pickup area for NYU academic regalia.

I picked up my academic regalia a few days ago, and the matter left me wondering about how this whole tradition came about. Why are U.S. graduates still sporting gowns, caps and tassels at their commencement ceremonies? I had to get to the bottom of this.

First, let’s start with an overview of the main ingredients, compliments of academicapparel.com. I also found a great diagram. Click it to enlarge!

Robe or Gown: The three types of degrees each have a different style gown. Bachelor’s gowns have pointed sleeves, and are worn closed. Master’s gowns have oblong sleeve, open at the wrist, with the base hanging down, and rear part of the oblong cut square while the front arc cuts away. These robes have fasteners so they can be worn open or closed. Doctoral gowns have bell-shaped sleeves, also designed with fasteners so it is worn closed or opened. For the doctor’s robes also have trimmings including velvet panels down the front and three bars of velvet on the sleeves. All three gowns are usually black, though some colleges and universities use the color of the school.

Hood: Academic Hoods are black, made from the same fabric as the gown. They vary in length depending on the degree from three feet to four feet, and the doctoral hood is wider. Lined with college or university colors, they typically have one field color and one chevron color, though sometimes there are school specific variations. The edge of hoods are velvet in the color of the degree subject.

Cowl: Cowls are typically made from velveteen rather than velvet, and are used for Associate Degrees. They do not display a degree or discipline color, just the institutional colors on the lining. The outside is generally black.

Tam: Tams are typically used for Doctoral degrees, though some Master’s programs do use them. Tams are made from velvet, and usually have a ribbon over the fabric, and in black. Color variations do occur with some colleges. The number of sides vary, and can be four, six, or eight sided. eight, six, or four sides. Four sided is usually only used for Master’s degrees, while six and eight sided are used for Doctor’s degrees depending on which the University prefers. Tams are “poofed” at the top instead of flat, and come with a tassel usually in gold, with one or two buttons and sometimes in a gold bullion color.

Mortarboard or Cap: Mortarboards are flat rather than “poofy” at the top, are not made from velvet, and are also usually black but come in a variety of colors and variations are more frequent than with tams. Mortarboards have only four sides, and typically have a tassel with a single button at the top, usually in the color of the degree-granting institution.


Ok, so let’s get down to the good stuff! Why are we still wearing these garbs? Where did it all begin?

Think of the two schools in the world where you might expect such habits to have originated… If you’re thinking Oxford and Cambridge, you got it! This crazy practice all begin during the formation of Medieval universities in the late 11th and 12th centuries. These very traditional universities even have prescriptions for what students wear under the gowns. Uptight, right?

Let’s dig a little further now. How did this all come to the United States? I mean, do we always have to copy Europe?

Apparently, its history in the U.S. all begins in Colonial American days, when the first colleges were formed. The time period is coined the Colonial Colleges period and refers to the time before the American Revolution in which nine college institutions were formed. They include the present day Harvard University, The College of William and Mary, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Columbia University, Brown University, Rutgers, and Dartmouth College. Students of most colonial colleges were required to wear the “college habit” at most times – a practice that lasted until the eve of the American Civil War in many institutions of higher learning. The academic attire was highly influenced by European practices and styles.

After the civil war, academic regalia was generally worn at ceremonies or when representing the institution. There was not, however, any standardization among the meanings behind the various costumes. In 1893, an Intercollegiate Commission made up of representatives from leading institutions was created, to establish an acceptable system of academic dress. The Commission met at Columbia University in 1895 and adopted a code of academic regalia, which prescribed the cut and style and materials of the gowns, as well as determined the colors which were to represent the different fields of learning.

Random Fact: The color of purple, as seen in the NYU gowns, is actually the color code for the Law discipline. Interesting…

Now, of course, academic attire is rarely worn outside of commencement ceremonies, and that’s what makes us so balla on that special day! Happy graduation to all my NYU Class of 2009 peeps!!! Can’t wait to look awesome in academic regalia with you on May 13th at Yankee Stadium! WHAT?!!??!! Oh, yeah! That’s how we roll. CHEERS!

No Snow Day at NYU

Today is March 2, 2009. New York City is in the midst of a winter snow storm. Let’s take a look out of my dorm windows. I’m located at NYU Palladium, on East 14th Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues. It’s definitely a winter wonderland…

NYU, my university of choice, has issued a Winter Storm Alert, saying that we could experience up to 8-12 inches of snowfall, yet all classes are scheduled to open today.

Meanwhile, there are 480 school closings in New York City on NBC New York’s website. Among some of the other closed universities in NYC today are FIT, The New School, and Pace University. Wow. And what’s the National Weather Service saying? Let’s hear a quote:


Sounds like a promising day! A bit chilly, though, so go find your honey bunny and cuddle!

Polaroids & NYU Violet Ball XX

Wow, I can’t believe the organizers of the NYU Violet Ball, our annual university-wide dance, still have a Polaroid picture booth (as evidenced above). While Polaroids do add a vintage feel to any dance, I feel that students would really love to have higher quality photos that they can easily access and tag online, possibly via Facebook. Perhaps our future Violet Ball committees will realize that we live in the 21st century and start using digital photography at some future point. Until then, I guess students will continue to be amazed by the wonders of low-quality, slow-developing Polaroids. Yeah for the past!