Friday, September 26, 2014

taking a break

Hey kids.  I know I've been absent for a week (at least now) and I apologize!  However, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the time being.  I just need to prioritize, you know?  Thanks for sticking with me!  In all likelihood, this blog will pick up again in a matter of weeks or months. So keep me bookmarked if you feel like it!


Saturday, September 13, 2014

photo project #1

So my friend Pip over at The Journey and the Joy and I are doing a little photography project to keep our shutter-buttons clicking this fall!  Here are a few of the snaps that have been my contribution!


(Morning Light)


Would anyone be interested in some tutorials about how I edit color curves in GIMP?  Comment below!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

good stuff #3

1. All the wonderful coffee I've been drinking lately.

2. Strangers who leave their newspaper in the coffeeshop when they're done with it.

3. Taking drawing requests and then feeling really happy with the results.

4. Reading a chapter of Out of the Silent Planet every night.  An old favorite for me but new experience for Michael.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

moka pot

I got a moka pot!  It's a (ridiculously cute) stove-top coffee maker, that reminds me of a camping percolator, and makes something fairly akin to espresso.  I love it!

Here's how I use it:  Fill the bottom compartment with water up to the indicator line.  Insert the filter middle compartment and put in two scoops of coffee.  You're supposed to fill it all the way up, but I don't need the equivalent of six shots in the morning, so I like mine diluted.  Then screw on the top compartment.  Place the moka pot on the stove on medium heat with the lid open. Stand by.  When the coffee starts bubbling out, close the lid and wait for a gurgling/hissing sound.  As soon as that starts, remove the pot from the heat.  Then just pour and enjoy!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

tips for feeling better

We all have bad days.  Maybe you're fighting off a bug--or sick as a dog.  Maybe you're sad or lonely or didn't get any sleep.  Maybe you're bored or stressed.  Maybe--and though I don't like to jump on bandwagons, I support the education of the public on mental health issues--you're struggling with anxiety or depression.  Whatever it is, I've seen patterns crop up in my life over the past three years; patterns that help me take care of myself and feel better at any given moment.  Here's a quick little inspiration list for those days when you need pick-me-up ideas.

When you're sick:

  • brush your teeth--it makes so much difference
  • take a hot shower or bath--ease aches, help your body regulate your temperature, clear sinuses and soothe sore throats
  • drink a mixture of 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp raw honey, and a cup of hot water--this cures my tendency to lose my voice for weeks at a time
  • employ peppermint essential oil--it settles stomachs, clears sinuses, and blocks pain receptors naturally
  • settle in with a rice bag heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer--I have this one

When you're sad:
  • if you have time, make a new cup of coffee, take a hot shower, and when you get out, treat your day like it's just starting--I "restart" bad days all the time in order to be more productive and structured
  • micro-manage a little bit--make a detailed list of things to do in the next few hours, and include rewards (like watching a funny TV show, baking cookies, reading a book)
  • do some drawing/sketching/doodling--the sound of pencil or marker scraping over paper consistently calms me down
  • drink a cup of black tea--this may be just me, but if caught fast enough, the slow-release caffeine can prevent my panic attacks
  • buy an old-fashioned mood ring--I like to put it on, check the color, and tell myself, "See?  Actually you're calm/happy/normal!"  
  • find a place (online, books, whatever) to look at pretty things--for me, this is collecting pictures of flowers and surfing tumblr and instagram
  • listen to cathartic music (which expresses how you're feeling) for a predetermined time and then stop and switch to more positive music--a little can be helpful, but don't let it encourage you to wallow
  • do that sinkful of dishes while singing loudly
  • go for a walk/skateboard ride/swim
  • put on some soothing noises via this website
  • if it's late enough, just call it and go to bed--I have the most trouble once the sun goes down, so don't make yourself stay up late when in reality, things will probably look better in the daylight
What do you do to take care of yourself and feel better?  Do you have any tips for pick-me-ups?

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Do you follow my Pinterest?  I finally got around to trying this recipe I've had pinned away for awhile.  It worked perfectly!  Almost no work at all, easy clean-up, great results.  Michael was super impressed, too, so bonus points!

What are you baking these days?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

the sunshine award

Dawwww!  The Journey and the Joy has nominated me for The Sunshine Award!  Thanks, Pip!

Here are her five questions:

1. What would your dream vacation be?  Well, lately I've been watching these travel vlogs so I've got Denmark on the mind!

2. Coffee or tea?  I'll just take that OR as the mathematical OR that allows you to have both. Ha!  But if I have to choose, I pick coffee. 

3. What's the last book your read?  The last book I read out of was Let Go by Fenelon.  But the last books I've been reading can be found here.

4. What's your favorite movie?  Oh dear, that's hard!  I'll go with The Fantastic Mr. Fox for now--because it's so pretty!

5. If you could live anywhere, where would that be?  Oh, Canada.  Prince Edward Island or really anywhere.  Just love Canada!

Okay, so I don't normally do these things, but I'll nominate Anna at Loquacious Wanderer (like that blog design?  Done by yours truly!).  Your questions are...
1. Tell me about a favorite memory!
2. What's something that was culture shock during your time in England?
3. Favorite food?
4. Favorite school subject?
5. Do you have any poems memorized?

a few writing tips

So a few thoughts have been solidifying in my mind lately related to writing...and improving your writing style. Of course, voice and style are going to be very unique for each writer, but if you're looking to get the wheels turning up in your style-evolver, here are a few tips that have influenced my fiction.
  1. Poetry.  I maintain that the best thing you can do for your prose is to write poetry.  I mean, think about it... As fiction writers, we can sometimes be big-picture conceptual folks.  We've got an image in our heads, an idea, and that's important.  But how that image is communicated is a wordsmithing thing.  It's all about the words.  Poetry--both reading and writing it--forces you to really focus on word choice, flow, and rhythm.  These are all the things that are going to make your prose enjoyable to read.  Poetry trains you in attention to detail.  
  2. Read writers who really have their wordcraft down.  I recommend some Vladimir Nabokov, as he has had a huge impact on my personal style.  Obviously, many of his works are on somewhat...sensitive subjects, but I can definitely recommend Pale Fire as a starting point.  One of the things I love about him is the way he really milks a word for all its worth.  He'll take a word that is normally a noun or a verb, perhaps, and use it as an adjective in a way that really gets his imagery across.  For this kind of unexpected detail in word choice, I also recommend reading Seamus Heaney's Beowulf translation.  Old English poetry is full of kennings, which is where the writer uses two words hyphenated to replace a boring word.  For example: "whale-path" instead of "ocean."  
  3. Read aloud.  Even if your audience is going to read in their heads, the best way to really get a feel for your narrating "voice" is to go ahead and read it yourself.  You'll catch flow issues faster with your ear than with your eye.  You'll notice times that your style becomes too sarcastic, too artsy, too inconsistent.  Consistency is key for a recognizable, "trademarkable" narrative voice.
What do you like to do to improve your writing?  Let me know your tips in the comments!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

currently listening: twenty one pilots

Oh man guys.  I'm loving this album from twenty one pilots.  I've heard the style described as "Schizoid pop" since they span so many styles, even within one song.  To me, they sound like Eminem crossed with The Glitch Mob crossed with fun.  I mean... winning combo in my book!  Although I can't necessarily say this is a kid-friendly album, so listen with discretion.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

teavana travel tumbler

Darn it, Greg!  Last time I was in Teavana, he completely sold me on this travel mug thing.  Granted, I haven't had a travel mug in many months... I've been carrying my coffee and tea to class in a normal ceramic mug!  And while I've gotten really good at not spilling and not tripping as I walk across campus...sometimes when it's 12 degrees it's practically iced tea by the time I arrive!  Not cool.  And guys...this tumbler is the coolest.  Check it.

Okay, so you just push that middle button to open it, and you can drink out of any side!  Maybe it's just me who gets excited about that...  But seriously, this thing doesn't leak when it's closed.

See that little basket inside?  You put your tea leaves in there, and pour the water over it.  When it's done steeping, you just take the basket out and it fits into the upside-down cap!  (see below picture)

Let me tell you, as someone who just moved across the country to school again, this thing is so convenient.  You know, for when you're trying to unpack and you have no tea kettle and you're boiling your water in a saucepan and you can hardly find your head, much less your tea mugs... Life saver.

All right, that's all the posts on tea (for now)!  Are you a tea drinker?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

perfecTEA tutorial

All right!  As promised, here is a quick tutorial on how to use the PerfecTEA maker.  In the photo above, you can see I have this mug, which my awesome brother gave me for my birthday.  It has a Monty Python quote on it, so the levels of coolness are just through the roof.  In these pictures, I'm making a blooming peach tea, because I love how it looked, and peach is amazing.  

Step 1: Put the kettle on and measure our your tea.  Blooming tea comes in little balls tied up with marigold flowers, so it's single-serving.  Put the tea in the tea maker (duh).

Step 2: When your water reaches the desired temperature (it'll be different for different kinds of tea), pour it over the tea leaves.  Pop the lid down and let it steep for the desired time.

Step 3: Ooh and ahh over how cool looseleaf and blooming tea looks as it steeps.

Step 4: All right time's up!  This is the fun part.  Place the tea maker over a mug.  The rim of the mug will push up the bottom of the tea maker, and the tea will flow out!  Super cool!

Step 5: Add beet rock sugar if you want, and enjoy!

I also wanted to say--Teavana is totally not, like, sponsoring any of these posts, I'm just having a tea moment lately and I love their stuff.  It's probably because Greg who works there is so happy and a great salesperson, haha!  One more tea-themed post coming up this weekend to round out the series!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

teavana starter kit review

Back in July, I got this starter kit for my birthday.  I figured I'd do a little review for anyone who's looking to get into looseleaf teas.  This is a foolproof way to get started!  It all comes in a nice sturdy box, and it's not too tightly packed in there.

In the kit, you get a single-serving-size PerfecTEA tea maker, four sealed bags of tea, four sealed tins for tea, beet rock sugar, and a teaspoon scoop. 

The beet rock sugar will last you forever.  I use 1-2 pebbles in a cup of tea.

These teas will get you started, but I happened to have a bunch of samples from Teavana, which I put into the tins.  So I haven't tried these bagged ones yet, for the most part.  Still, I don't think I've ever met a tea I didn't like...yet anyway!

This is a tea tin, since Teavana teas have no preservatives, and the tea maker.  Using the PerfecTEA maker is a whole fun experience in itself, so stay tuned for a little tutorial later this week!  I love this kit, and have been getting a lot of use out of it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

new apartment

Just a few shots of little areas around our new apartment as I set up house here.  

Note: we should be getting back to our regular posting schedule now!  Next week will be special tea-focused week because TEA.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

quick reviews: e.l.f. and babylips

Since I'm, you know, getting married in less than a month (no big deal), I've been picking up a few things here and there to test out for the big day.  This e.l.f. concealer-highlighter is one of those items.  I normally don't conceal my undereye area at all, surprisingly.  For one, nothing could really eliminate my dark circles other than sleeping for a week straight, and for two, I might even like the haggard look?  Like it makes me look more interesting?  Anyways.  I figured I should look into that, and I remembered seeing this duo recommended on +Refinery29.  I normally use more stick-based concealer, so I was excited to try a more liquid form.

I've been super impressed with this product for the price.  It sure as heck isn't erasing my dark circles completely, but with fair skin and dark blood vessels, it would take a miracle to accomplish that anyway.  I think it does a great job reflecting light and brightening the area, since it's formulated specifically for undereye.  I've used the highlighter on my browbone, the high points of my cheekbones, and the middle of my eyelids, and it's nice and subtle.  Overall, I recommend it!

And I've talked about the Maybelline Baby Lips before, but I picked up the shade/flavor Grape Vine and it's my new favorite.  It smells amazing!  I alternate between this one and Peach Kiss depending on the day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

currently reading #5

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERB has been a favorite of mine ever since I read quite a few of the John Carter of Mars series (which I recommend by the way).  Beyond that, Tarzan in general was a story that made a huge impact on me as a kid.  I was definitely a treehugger back then and I'm still kinda a hippie.  This book is just a classic which everyone should read.  I picked up my copy in an adorable little used-bookstore in Omaha, and it's the best $12.50 I've spent in a long time.  It's not a first edition, but it is still the oldest book I own since it was probably printed around 1915-1920.  And I may or may not have watched the Disney Tarzan movie three times since it showed up on Netflix....

The Expanded Universe by Robert A. Heinlein
einlein is a genius.  The first thing I read of his was Starship Troopers, which I also recommend.  Expanded Universe is a collection of shortish stories written over most of his career, with commentary throughout.  I'm loving this for when I need a little sci-fi fix without too much time commitment.  He's also a really funny guy, so there's that.  One of my friends picked this up for me at McKay's in Nashville, so I'll love her forever.  You know who you are.

The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber
I'm borrowing this one from a friend here, who also got it at that bookstore in Omaha.  I just recently got around to watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which is a phenomenal movie and (very) loosely inspired by the short story of the same name by Thurber.  I read The Catbird Seat in high school and thoroughly enjoyed it.  In fact, I haven't read a single thing out of this collection of short stories that I haven't enjoyed.  Thurber has a nice, clean, sarcastic style and he draws his own little cartoon illustrations as well!

What are you reading these days?

Sunday, July 13, 2014


I'm sorry for the lack of posts recently!  What have I been doing in the meantime?

Well, I've been working a lot, but that's boring.

I went to the Omaha Zoo... which is not as good as the Kansas City Zoo, in my opinion, but still very nice!

I've been seeing a lot of movies this summer thanks to awesome student prices at a local theater!

I've got some posts in the works, so stay tuned for what I'm currently reading... and the tea I'm drinking.  I got something pretty sweet for my birthday this month, so I'll be putting together a review on that.

And of course, I've been drinking lots of coffee and beating all my friends at Battleship....

What have you been doing this summer?