Thursday, December 18, 2014

More Love Letters: Sending Love and Holiday Cheer to Those in Need

Something about the holiday season tugs on the heartstrings of people everywhere, even more so than the other months of the year. Salvation Army bell ringers are stationed at the entrances of every store's front door, charitable organizations you've given to at some point in years past solicit donations in the mail, and giving trees can be found in any number of schools, companies, and churches. As much as I try to give back during the other eleven months of the year, the holidays call to me as well. I want to help. I want to make someone's Christmas, or Hanukkah, or New Year, or Wednesday, or week a little bit better.

Which is why when More Love Letters reached out to me last year with such a simple way to infuse some love and cheer into what would be an otherwise tough time in the lives of others, I was pulled in (and needless to say, impressed).

More Love Letters is at it again this year, sending letters to those in need during the 12 Days of Love Letter Writing. All I ask of you, reader, is to read the request below and take ten minutes out of your day (it's hectic, I know it is) to give your time and words of encouragement to someone who is in need of it.


Shan is a super mom of four, and a second mom to her daughter’s best friend! She greets everyone with a warm smile and a hug, and she bursts with a positive energy that most people can only strive for. This year, Shan was diagnosed with colon cancer, and subsequently underwent chemotherapy - which is a tiring, painful, and defeating process that most of us will never know what it means to endure. Despite this unimaginable challenge, Shan remained in high spirits for herself and her family. Unfortunately, when Shan’s chemo was done, the doctors found another growth in her neck. She is now set to undergo more chemotherapy in hopes to beat this cancer that was immune to her earlier treatment.

Let us send Shan a world of support that she so deserves, and remind her that she will never be alone in her battle!

Shan’s Bundle
c/o Olivia L.
17 Ballwood Road
Old Greenwich, CT 06870

A bit about More Love Letters: More Love Letters is a global organization using the power behind social media to write and mail love letters to strangers in need all over the world. The mission is simple: Love big. Love fast. Love hard. Get involved today.

The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing is MLL's biggest + brightest campaign. In a nutshell: 12 days of letter requests. Lots of hot cocoa. A lot of good done. And bundles of hundreds of love letters dropped at strangers' doorstep.
Share the love this December.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Yoga (and brunch) in the 'Burgh

With the cold weather finally settling in, it's taking everything in my power to not sit at home bundled in blankets and slip into hibernation. This is probably especially counterintuitive, when I'm planning on heading back to the gym come January. Then it hit me — I'm cold. Vinyasa yoga studios in the area are heated. I've wanted to do it forever and these chilly days will be all the more motivation to hurry from my car into the yoga studio and practice! I've been itching to take a yoga class for ages rather than just practice on my own and Marissa of The Modern Austen and I have been long overdue for a blog date, so we decided to make the most of some pre-hectic holiday time to head to Shadyside to catch up over vinyasa and brunch.

Yoga Flow has a quaint and cozy studio nestled above the shops on Walnut Street in the Shadyside neighborhood that Marissa and I both love. Walking the side streets is a joy in and of itself (which we did on our way to pig out on breakfast mac & cheese over at the Harris Grill post workout. Yes, you read that right, breakfast mac) but it felt great to spend almost a full two hours doing something physical, especially when it's much more alluring to spend on the day on the couch with Netflix and Richard Castle. If you look in the right neighborhoods, you can easily make a truly enjoyable day of being out and about in the city (sans feeling like a tourist and hitting up pricey attractions).

I've always worried that I'd slide right off the mat if I tried a vinyasa class — sweaty palms is my middle name —but I was pleasantly surprised at just how calming and easy it was to work in the heated studio. I may invest in something to minimize slippage if I make yoga class a habit, but even popping in for the occasional class is worth being present and alone with your own strength.

There are so many ways to enjoy the Pittsburgh winter, and as much as I make excuses for why I'd rather stay at home and polish off the last of those Christmas candies, I honestly feel much better when I'm out and about. Combine that with all of the things I want to do and accomplish and there are plenty of ways to make this winter fun, spend time with friends, and explore the city that I love.

Plus, I got to use my Pittsburgh tote from West Elm, which I 100% adore.

UnitedHealthcare reached out to me regarding the WestPA Pride campaign, however I was not compensated to share my thoughts. I just happen to really love Pittsburgh and staying active! All opinions are my own.

If you're also in Western PA (sorry, the contest isn't open to those of you outside of the area! But that doesn't mean you can go out and explore your city while getting active, too!) show off your active #selfie and your hometown on the UnitedHealthcare website, where you'll also have a chance to win one of several great prizes.

How do you plan to stay active in your city this winter?

Monday, December 15, 2014

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.134

( via Theen Moy ) 

gossamer adj.: light or delicate (via)

The baby chick's gossamer wings were soft to the touch.

For the Love of a Linguaphile is a weekly series celebrating the snazzy words we encounter, from those found in great literary works, to those pesky words that keep popping up in everyday life. Hopefully you can incorporate a new word into your vocabulary, or even share one of your favorite words!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

link love

Rainbow Rowell is writing 'Carry On'! (Yes, that 'Carry On'!). NovelTea readers rejoice!
♥  'My Library', a cartoon on the truth behind book collections
♥ Here is what happens when you reply with Jane Austen quotes on Tinder (caution: don't read while eating or drinking anything. You will laugh and spew food everywhere)
New Harry Potter stories for Christmas! New Harry Potter stories for Christmas!
♥ See the stats of the Best of 2014, YA Literature category
♥ I use Buffer to schedule my posts on Twitter, and if they weren't awesome enough already they've provided a free social media marketing resource kit for you to use!
15 Silly Old-Timey Words You Need To Start Using Again — I love that most of these mean 'nonsense'.
♥ The Justice League may be my favorite superhero team because of all of their snark. Seriously, go watch Justice League Unlimited right now (it's on Netflix). Still don't believe me? Here are 22 times the Justice League proved their superpower is sass.
Some of the best pictures to ever be taken on Splash Mountain. Behold, The Rock.
♥ And finally, a map of the introvert's heart. Accurate.

What links are you loving this week?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Planning A Real-Life Tea Party with Yellow Pinwheels

The Blogcademy
Blogger friends of mine and I often joke about all moving onto the same street in the same town so we can get together whenever we please. Every blogger's dream, right? Luckily, there are a few Pittsburgh-based bloggers like Marissa and Jess who I can actually get together with for a local swing dance class or trip to Gaby et Jules for macarons, but with out-of-town blog friends, getting together in person is a bit tricky.

Sure, we dream of a meetup in some way, shape, or form (and every now and then we are able to do just that — like when Sara and I had tea in NYC last summer!), but it's not always that easy. With the month of December a bit of a change up for NovelTea, I've had a lot of time to muse on how cool it would be to take the NovelTea Book Club offline someday. Can you imagine discussing our latest read (or, better yet, gush over our mutual love for Harry Potter during #HPDec!) in person!?
Full of Bokeh
I know, I know, it would be hard to orchestrate a meeting of over 150+ members who all live in different states, even different countries, but a bookworm can dream!

Who knows, maybe one day we can make this happen. But for now, I'm perfectly content planning a tea party shindig from afar (what kind of party would suit NovelTea better, of course!) with a little help from the ever lovely Yellow Pinwheels.
The Blogcademy
Can't you picture it — discussing Jane Austen over petite tea sandwiches served on vintage trays (can you tell I'm pining for some Jane Austen lately)? Books and pages dangling from the ceiling amidst daintily-colored pom poms? Yellow Pinwheels' Tea Party with a Twist package would be the perfect way to kick off the party. Now just to find some Regency gowns for everyone...
Yellow Pinwheels is offering free shipping on all orders through the holiday season with the code FREESHIPYPPKG. Keep your eyes glued to Yellow Pinwheels' social media accounts for some holiday deals for the '5 Days of Holiday Savings'!

(Snag the aforementioned Tea Party or Tea Party with a Twist package here!)

And now I'm off to plan 200 more book-themed parties for possible NovelTea gatherings!

What kind of book party would you want to attend?