Thursday, January 31, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

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It's starting. I'm slowly starting to get cabin fever and catch myself dreaming of spring every now and then. The 60-degree days this past week hasn't helped, especially when the temperatures are sure to drop again between now and spring and cause me to want to go back into hibernation. But for now, I'm dreaming of green grass, not needing a winter coat, fresh berries, and walks outside!

♥ Last Friday's snowstorm was TERRIBLE. It had started earlier than expected, and even though Pittsburgh is no stranger to snow, the roads were hellish and more or less left unplowed. Luckily, I got sent home from work early due to the weather, but the drive home was a nightmare. This was also my first time driving Mal in significant snow. He's an SUV, so no worries there, but not 4WD like my old car, so it was a matter of patience, prayer, and calm breathing so not to freak out. Spoiler alert: I made it home and didn't drive off into a ditch/semi/another car. I'm so proud of myself for keeping calm, not only in a stressful situation, but in a car-related one as well and kicking the snowy road's behind!

♥ I haven't talked too much about it on here, and perhaps I will, but over the past month, I've been working to change my eating and fitness habits. I just wasn't feeling my best, and was feeling rather lazy and bogged down with lots of pasta and desserts. I've put on some weight over the past few years, and while my ultimate goal isn't to hit a certain number, it feels good to have more energy and I've noticed that I've lost a belt size in the process! It hasn't been easy (I'm looking at you, bag of chocolate chips >.>) but just knowing that a new belt notch is seeing some action makes me smile.

little loves
♥ fresh berries to snack on ♥ kelly green cardigans ♥ chai + espresso and the cute barista that convinced me I should try it ♥ student discounts that are relevant (hello, J.crew! Help a college girl out!) ♥ when you go to check out and realize the shirt you bought was on sale, tremendously ♥ pops of colors where you least expect them ♥ 60 degree days in the middle of winter ♥ hot lemon water ♥

What are you loving lately?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Campbell's Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Last week I made a grilled cheese sandwich. 
And like any good blogger, I tweeted about it in a manner that I felt was as witty as a grilled cheese sandwich could possibly be.
I had no idea that sharing my love for a good, diagonally-cut cheese sandwich would prompt Campbell's Soup to chat me up. After some time discussing out mutual love of a good bowl of soup and triangular sandwiches on a chilly day, they sent me a lovely surprise in the mail! I came home last night to a big red box sitting on my doorstep, filled with the most decadent sounding partners for my next grilled cheese sandwiches: a red pepper soup with smoked gouda (And there are kittens on the nutritional information. I don't know why, but could soup get any better?), and a tomato roasted garlic bacon bisque. And a blanket. A freaking blanket. Campbell's - you rock!
Believe it or not, I never ate soup with my grilled cheese sandwiches growing up, not until I hit high school, at least. But then I discovered that tomato soup and the like is a perfect way to eat those pesky crust-bits that I used to push off to the corner of my plate. Now, a good soup to dunk my sandwich in is a must! Naturally, I couldn't wait to try the new flavors and have been looking forward to having some for lunch for the past 12 hours. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I dreamt about lunch.

Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese Sandwich

So I figured I'd try out the Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda soup and make a grilled cheese to tag along with it. Now, I've always thought everyone made grilled cheese the same way - after all, my grandma made it a certain way, so that was always the norm in my mind. Since, I've heard of people seasoning this, melting butter in the pan, etc. Who knew there were so many different ways to make a grilled cheese!? So I thought I'd share the grilled cheese recipe I grew up with, plus a few twists :)

Roasted Red Pepper & Gouda Soup
Also, how awesome is it that this particular soup is made to go? As a student who's constantly running from one place to the next, with only a microwave (if I'm lucky), this is a lifesaver. The only thing I could see happening is having waaaay too much soup for one person's lunch, but I guess I could be nice and share with my coworkers.
I don't put anything in the pan itself, but butter the bread directly. It doesn't take a lot of butter to get the job done, just enough to make sure the whole slice gets brown while it's in the pan.

Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Cover your sandwich with a lid to melt the cheese and keep the toasted sides from becoming burnt hunks of brick. And don't forget to heat up your soup!
Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
serves 1

2 slices whole wheat bread
1-2 slices of american cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat your skillet over medium heat
  2. Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread; sprinkle lightly with grated parmesan cheese
  3. Place one slice of bread, butter side down, in the pan. Top with cheese and the second piece of bread, butter side up
  4. Cover with a lid and let cook 2-3 minutes, or until crust is golden brown
  5. Flip!
  6. Cover and repeat until the other side is crispy and golden
  7. Plate that sandwich and cut in the direction of your choosing (diagonal all the way!)

The great thing about this sandwich is that despite how decadent it sounds, it's really simple to make, and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand, provided I haven't already eaten all the cheese. Speaking of cheese, I miiiight have topped off my soup with a little extra shredded parmesan. A little extra garnish never hurt anyone, right?

**note: Campbell's sent me soup out of the kindness of the soup-warmed hearts, and I'd like to thank them! However, all opinions are my own. I enjoyed lunch so much today that I wanted to spread the love!

How do you make grilled cheese sandwiches? What's your favorite flavor Campbell's soup to accompany it?

Monday, January 28, 2013

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.36

source )

rubicon n. [roo-bi-kon]point of no return; to commit oneself irrevocably to some course of action (via

“As any time trialist or cyclocross racer will tell you, once you've donned a full body suit you've officially crossed the rubicon of bike dorkitude.” - Spoils of Victory: Jousting with Legitimacy

For the Love of a Linguaphile is a weekly series where I share the joys of being an English major and language lover with a useful new vocabulary word or definition that keeps popping up lately. Hopefully you can incorporate a new word into your vocabulary, or even share one of your favorite words!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Featured Geek of the Week on Chocolate and Cream Cake


For the past month or so, I've been addicted to reading Mandy's blog, Chocolate & Cream Cake. I'm still wondering how I never found it sooner, but I've been head over heels for her blog ever since. From her Nerd News feature, which is the most exciting and comprehensive "nerd" news I've seen to her Haiku Revieu, which always provide a good dose of hilarity and honest opinions, Chocolate & Cream Cake is easily one of my new favorite blogs to read.

Chocolate & Cream Cake's Geek of the Week feature is also another favorite - I could wax poetically about the feature itself, but honestly, it's just really nice to hear about real people and their passions for everything from video games to striving to be the best that they can be. When I heard Mandy was looking for more geeks to feature, I jumped at the chance! There is so much I'm passionate about, and so excited to share with you all, so please, stop by Chocolate & Cream Cake to see My Life as a Teacup as the featured Geek of the Week (and also to get hooked on a pretty amazing blog while you're there :D)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

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I've been on a roll, guys! This week, I've worked out every single day, except for Tuesday. And it's been pretty much the same for the entire month on January - 5-6 days of hard work and a day or two off and I feel GREAT. As a little splurge meal the Boy and I are heading to our favorite Chinese place for dinner tonight, so that will be a nice treat.

My head is just filled with errands this week. From some running about today, to getting my hair cut (I really don't know what will come out of this, I just need someone to fix the nothing-nest that is on my head at the moment), to blowing through some things for school, my mind just seems to be on that one track. How has your week been?

♥ Hockey is back! Last night's Pens game might not have been so hot, but I'm just glad hockey is back. Yes, it's a sport, and an entertaining one at that, but I can't do justice to what hockey means to me and so many others. There's some strange feeling of belonging just backing a team, backing your city, and to see those boys, my boys, my team out there doing something that brings such pride to an entire city. I'll wrap this up before I shed a tear here, but LET'S GO PENS! (I'm trying really hard to not live-tweet the entire game, and also to keep it G-rated. Hah.)

♥ Apparently Dozen Bake Shop's cupcakes are now the official cupcakes of the Pittsburgh Penguin and will now be sold in the concourse at games. As I told Kallie, it's like the universe loves us! Now I have no reason to ever leave the Consol Energy Center. Ever. You'll know where to find me.

♥ Really helpful salespeople at J.crew! Working retail, I know how menial it can sometimes feel, but a smile and genuine disposition help make everyone feel more cheery. I popped into J.crew between classes one day, and the saleswoman there was incredibly helpful, from putting items in a room for me, and even pulling some outfits she just thought I'd look nice in. Sales ploy, boredom, or otherwise, having someone go that extra mile for you really makes a girl feel good.

little loves 
♥ blueberry buckwheat pancakes ♥ spotting Iain Glen in Henry IV ♥ Twitch & Allison are engaged. My inner SYTYCD nerd is smiling. Also, thanks Mom ♥ hopefully, 7 degree days are behind us ♥ Lundqvist and the Swedish Chef ♥ warm & toasty sweatpants ♥ Rose Tea Cafe visits ♥ seeing Les Mis again ♥ making Valentine's plans

What are you loving lately?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fictional Best Friends

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I'm not huge on television, but there are a few series that I've gotten hooked on, usually by way of crazy Netflix marathons. This Netflix marathoning leads to a terrible attachment to characters and shows, which usually involves pouring over special features and the ever reliable cache of IMDB facts (totally legit). This realization typically hits me in the form of scrambling to my feet, flailing my arms around, and adamantly declaring that "WE WOULD TOTALLY BE BEST FRIENDS!".

Honestly. I'm guilty of declaring a state of best-friends-ness with people at an incredibly alarming rate. I've come to terms with this.

Now, these friendships probably wouldn't be the case in real life, (then again, will we truly ever know, hmm?) but I like to indulge myself in my own little world where, yes, I do lunch with Alan Rickman every Wednesday. Who else is on my list of people I would totally hang out with on a regular basis?

1. Ewan McGreg...

Oops, wrong list. Ahem:

1. Matthew Fox - I don't even remember how this started, I just know that at some point while watching LOST I stood up and declared that we would be best friends. We would be photography buddies and sit around listening the The Black Angels.

2. Lily Aldrin & Marshall Eriksen. As much as Ted and I are neurotically alike, there would be too much correcting going on, whereas Marshall and Lily would round out the more hilarious and down to earth side of our friendship. Supportive, singing-inclined, and a little bit crazy - who wouldn't love to have these two as friends?

3. Tom Hiddleston - I really just want to sit and have lunch and talk about Shakespeare. There are far too few people who I know that would be willing to do this and frankly, I'd be willing to talk about anything so long as I get to listen to the second most perfect voice of all time (behind Alan Rickman, of course). But really, we'd make ridiculous hand gestures at one another, dye our hair all too often, and he could join Kallie and I in our Jurassic Park quests.

4. Joss Whedon - Aside from the glory that is Firefly, Buffy, and The Avengers, that I can (and want) to sit through his commentary on DVDs is a testament to how awesome Joss Whedon is.

5. Kelly Ripa - I firmly believe that Kelly Ripa is my soul mate. Or just me, aged a few years. At first, I didn't realize it, but slowly I just started to see it - that magical, friendship-forming it. Inappropriate and ill-timed things would be said, we would infiltrate the NYC Ballet, and many margaritas would be had.

6. Amy Farrah Fowler & Bernadette Rostenkowski - Girlfriends are essential, and sometimes I feel like that is one aspect of my friendships that I've let slip over the years. Part of it comes down to not quite doing all of the "quintessential girlfriend-activities" that most do, but when I do, there's usually a twist. Amy Farrah Fowler and Bernadette would be the best partners in crime (plus, Bernadette and I could cardigan-swap). Toss Penny in there too, for wine-fueled snarkiness. It all comes down to this: "It's a TIAAAARAAAA!". I still have my Ariel tiara from my happy meal in my closet. I got it when I was 17. Coolest grad ever.

7. Nathan Fillion - Follow the man on Twitter. 'Nuff said.

Looking back at this list, I sound slightly crazy. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not?

Who are your fictional/dream best friends?

Monday, January 21, 2013

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.35

source )

caprice n. [kə-ˈprēs]: a sudden usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes (as in, "the caprices of the weather"); adj. - capricious (via

The capricious weather made it difficult to decide whether to bring an umbrella or wear snow boots.

For the Love of a Linguaphile is a weekly series where I share the joys of being an English major and language lover with a useful new vocabulary word or definition that keeps popping up lately. Hopefully you can incorporate a new word into your vocabulary, or even share one of your favorite words!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

link love

For whatever reason, I've been hoarding links in my file in Evernote for weeks now. I don't know how I let it get so huge. I feel like I've been keeping all of the good stuff for myself! It's about time I share it with you!

♥ GadChicks shares some Good Tech Habits to Start in 2013
♥ I want to go on the kotatsu train! I could add it on my list of awesome trains, like the Zoo Train
♥ Kyla Roma shares 2013 Planners to Start The Year Right (it's never too late to start a planner!)
♥ A friendly reminder to yourself: Accept nothing but the best
What Your Favorite Disney Princess Says About You (I had a good laugh with this one!)
♥ A Tardis bookcase? Yes please!
♥ A man and science attempt to save Firefly's Wash - Saving Lives in Serenity: Can a fanboy and physics change a movie?
How to become a morning person. Strangely enough, this is a problem I don't have. Bring it on, 6am!
5 Ways to Unleash Your Inner Bookworm in 2013, from Literary Inklings. Solid advice for avid readers and aspiring bookworms alike.
♥ Neil Gaiman's short story, The Price, is touching on its own, but have you seen the animation mockup of The Price? The production blog is equally interesting.
Mattias Adolfsson's Baroque Star Wars art is awesome!
♥ Zie Darling has got some great tips on simplified productivity
♥ The exclusionary drama of the "Fake Geek Girl" rants that are about at the moment can get tiresome (and enraging), but author Sarah Kuhn tackles it quite elegantly in All the Real (Geek) Girls
♥ These brilliant movie maps from Andrew DeGraff are mesmerizing!

This Lost RPG clip is my favorite thing EVER. It's like everything that you love and hate from the series rolled into one.

Too adorable little penguin!

Any links you're enjoying of late?

Friday, January 18, 2013


The first snow is always something special, but by the time winter gets into full swing, I've already had it with the slush and bitter cold. Yet every now and then, something just the right amount of warm and cozy hits me as being the perfect amount of winter. Like these photos of steamy coffees, warm knits, and powder fresh snow (none of which are mine; click through for the original source!):

Campus Couple
i feel at times like falling into the deepest sleep

Is there a particular scene that just encapsulates winter to you?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

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I know it's Thursday, technically (not that it matters, as TiLT is for the entire week!), but I had a really good Tuesday. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but just a solid, good day. It seems like a minute detail, but I feel like I've simultaneously started to establish a routine and go a bit out of my normal comfort zone lately. I woke up, had a smoothie for breakfast which wasn't nearly as cumbersome to make as I always make myself believe. I stretched, lifted some weights, and caught up on some blog reading and writing. I met Megan for lunch at the new-to-me Murray Avenue Grill in Squirrel Hill, ran into one of my best friend from high school Megan at Starbuck's in Shadyside, hit the gym for some cardio, and thought a bit*. It just feels great to get out and do stuff, even if that stuff seems everyday and not of note. It is for me, and that's something I've been struggling with lately. Here's to changing that. 

Best friends are a magical thing. Megan and I, due to our last names, were geographically close since the eighth grade, and because of that were great friends growing up. Though we both went to universities here in Pittsburgh, schedules never really aligned, and we just never were able to hang out much with all of the classes, jobs, and other bits of life that started stacking up. But what's great about good friendships are their ability to transcend time and render you both giddy, picking up exactly where you left off. We haven't changed much in our friendship, her and I. We still creepily sit down next to each other when we see the other in public. We're loud. We say absurd things. And that's what great. Life happens. It's silly to think that it doesn't. But old friends picking up right where they left things really makes a friendship.

♥ Over Christmas break I started rereading Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things and if it's possible to love it even more, I do. However short the stories may be, or cryptic or desolate feeling, they remind me of the fragility of stories, how mutable they are and, as he puts, we as people are as fragile as the stories we tell. I'm not normally one for short story collections, but I can't recommend this enough. Or, at least read "The Day the Saucers Came".

♥ I bought a domain name! I'm still working out the details and getting things to run smoothly since this is new to me, but from now on, you can get to the blog simply by typing into your browser!

little loves 
♥ Of Monsters and Men's Little Talks ♥ patterns that remind me of impressionist paintings ♥ cauliflower mash ♥ watching the Golden Globes ♥ keeping up with all of the self-paced ♥ my undying love for the Blake Archive ♥ cleaning things out and reorganizing, getting rid of the things that I don't use on a regular basis ♥ vanilla rooibos tea ♥ bar graphs of pie and pie charts of bars ♥ hockey being back!
What are you loving lately?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Spring Term Class Breakdown

Start of a new term

Spring term is upon us (well, some of us), and that means all new classes, and surprisingly for such a small college, all new teachers. The class-size is still small, especially since it's a graduate program, so most of my classes are with the other students in my program, who I've already known a full term. I always look forward to a new term; it's a new start, something that doesn't happen quite so often once you leave school, be it high school or college. Having all new topics, new professors, is so exciting - it's invigorating and really helps me to refocus on whatever academic and even personal goals I have.

Independent Study (British Literature) - My adoration for literature, specifically British literature is no secret, so I anticipate really liking this "class". It's actually the impromptu result of not having a literature class that us two - yes, two - secondary English education majors could take/fit into our schedule/weren't repeats. So, it's me and one other girl taking Brit Lit as an independent study, where we basically have free reign. As enticing as the prospect of having such freedom may be, I can't help but miss the actual "class" format that I'm so accustomed to. I've had a lot of really great discussions with peers and professors during undergrad, enough that I loved going to my literature classes and wouldn't dare dream of skipping.

Feel free to continually shout out authors/works you think I'd enjoy! It always helps to have some focus and some personal recommendations :)

♥ Differentiated Reading & Writing - I'm still not really sure what's up with this class. It's currently scheduled for the same time-slot as my ELL class, and since the instructor's been sick, we haven't really "started" yet. She's got the online course supplements set up, so I'm fairly certain it's turning into an online class. Other than a few (somewhat vague) Powerpoints set up online though, I've got no idea what to expect from this one.

 Assessment & Adaptation - Ditto above, save for the double-booked class. The first class, our professor (the same for Differentiated) was sick, so I actually haven't had this class yet!

English Language Learners - This might be my favorite "class" class. Coming from studying foreign languages, I can really appreciate the difficulty and challenges of learning the English language. I'm excited to see what strategies I can learn to make the process easier! Holy irregular verbs and nonsensical pronunciations!

Do (or did) you look forward to the new term or a fresh start?

Monday, January 14, 2013

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.34

Doggie Walks
source )

halcyon adj. [ˈhal-sē-ən]: calm and peaceful, tranquil; prosperous (via

Sitting once more on those shores, I recalled the halcyon days of that summer, spent amongst beaches and mountains and friends.

For the Love of a Linguaphile is a weekly series where I share the joys of being an English major and language lover with a useful new vocabulary word or definition that keeps popping up lately. Hopefully you can incorporate a new word into your vocabulary, or even share one of your favorite words!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

My 'Books' tab (side2)
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Isn't the Filofax about gorgeous? I'm in love with the book cover dividers, and really should jot down my own library list to make sure that I have it with me at all times (scrolling through GoodReads can turn into a long endeavor with how many things I have saved to read, then I can't make up my mind!)

This week marked the first of the term, which surprisingly got off to a slow start. Monday's class was cancelled due to the instructor having the flu, and the rest of the week felt more like a gradual start rather than the BAM of work that usually hits at the beginning of the term. I like new beginnings - turning to the first page in a fresh notebook, waking up to anticipation, and uncapping your pen for the first round of notes is always invigorating and motivates me to refocus. Which I feel is going to be especially hard this term because...

♥ HOCKEY IS BACK! The second lockout in the past eight years was something I didn't see coming. It almost seemed unreal over the summer, and when I heard the news that hockey would be on hold, it didn't look good. I didn't expect even a 50-game season. To see my captain and my boys at practice (though I sadly didn't get a chance to go to Southpointe yet D,:) is so exciting and the players look as giddy as their fans! And yes, while the politics and reputation of the league is up in the air right now, all I really want is to watch some hockey. Bring it.

♥ Working out and the "good" kind of burning. I've been doing so good here for the first few weeks of 2013. Less of a new year's resolution, and more of a "I need to get my butt up and moving" - being busy with class isn't an excuse to take shortcuts with meals and snacks (plus, I haven't been feeling my best physically either), I've been trying to get in better shape. No more late night snacks, no overindulgent pastas all of the time, and it's time to get up and move! I'm proud of myself for working out just about every day and ditching the pasta in favor of very delicious red peppers and squash : )

♥ One of my "classes" this term has turned into an independent study, which means that I have almost total literary freedom in choosing what authors and books I focus on. I won't lie, I'm finding it a bit daunting, here, just because there's so much to choose from in the realm of British literature from Blake forward. It is nice, however, to be able to pinpoint what I want to read for a change, especially with so many possibilities! If you've got any favorite British authors/works from about the 1700's onwards, lemme know - I'd love to take a look!

little loves
♥ seeing Gram for her birthday ♥ cake from Moio's ♥ how talented my coworker is at tying bows and scarves ♥ classes cancelled by surprise ♥ Dishonored - which might be one of my favorite games yet! ♥ long underwear - no shame, I like being warm ♥ good hair days ♥ rereading Fragile Things ♥ my new favorite dinner of spaghetti squash and peppers (which you can find here) ♥ the best General Tso's Tofu in Oakland -- yum! ♥

What are you loving this week?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Recipe: Homemade Pierogies

I'm trying out something new today: Snapguide!

I stumbled across this app after hearing of it from someone or somewhere, and figured I would give it a try when making my next recipe, hopefully with much more ease. And I'm glad I did! It's much easier to tote my phone around my kitchen instead of a full-body DSLR camera, and much easier to operate with one hand covered in dough. You add in the details, such as materials and captions, and ordering your steps is as easy as dragging into place. I'd highly recommend giving it a try if you do a lot of how to guides.

Now on to the really good stuff!

Being Polish, golumpki and pierogi are commonplace at nearly every holiday dinner or family meal with my Dad's side. I've made golumpki from a family recipe with my Dad, and it's one of my very favorite things, but I've never ventured to make my own pierogies before -- it always seems so difficult! But I worked up the nerve a few weeks ago to give some homemade a try. My only complaint is that the fillings were a little lacking in flavor - just a bit more pepper or herbs would've amped them up a bit, but the fillings can really be anything you want them to! I encourage you to have fun with that part! I just made some mashed potatoes (and mixed one concoction with cheddar cheese and another with ricotta) for one filling, and used ricotta with lemon and thyme for another. Again, I just need to use more seasonings next time around. Otherwise, I was quite pleased with how they turned out! All you need is a little counter space, organization, and patience - they're not as difficult to make as I thought.

How to Make: Pierogies

Have you attempted homemade pierogies before? What's your favorite filling? Tried Snapguide? I'd love to see!

Monday, January 7, 2013

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.33

christmas cookies
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'lo folks! It's the first For the Love of a Linguaphile of 2013 and I thought I might add a little something to this series from here on out. As this series has grown over the weeks, I've often felt that something was missing, and I wasn't alone! Some of you felt the same way, that For the Love of a Linguaphile could pack a little more punch, and I'm completely on board! I'm adding a sentence to each definition so you can get a sense of how the word is used, and hopefully, they're helpful and entertaining!

torpor adj. [ˈtȯr-pər]: a state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility; apathy (via

The smell of baking cookies roused her from her torpor.

For the Love of a Linguaphile is a weekly series where I share the joys of being an English major and language lover with a useful new vocabulary word or definition that keeps popping up lately. Hopefully you can incorporate a new word into your vocabulary, or even share one of your favorite words!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Link Love

♥ Here's a recap of the Worst Words of 2012, just in case you haven't gotten your fill of "YOLO" or "literally"
The Everygirl: Are You Afraid of Becoming Wealthy? A great read.
♥ Yeah, it's a bit old, but still makes me laugh. Breaking Bad, as performed by Downton Abbey
Sexism in Historical Fantasy. Word. An argument I've encountered as an English major all throughout undergrad.
♥ On that note, THIS. Why Talking About Character Gender Still Matters, Even Though it Shouldn't
Nerdache Cakes (who makes amazing looking sweets!) made a Weasley sweater Christmas cookie. I still want to know where my family sweater is, Mrs. Weasley. It's getting a little late to have gotten lost in the mail.
♥ Back in December, Sir Ian McKellen took over the Hobbit Twitter feed and here is what resulted
10 of the Most Beautiful School Libraries
Why Your Kindle is an Open Book to the Government
5 Reasons to Read More Indie Books in 2013, from Literary Inklings
♥ 50 Things to Stop Doing Forever
Minori's styled "Her Memories of a Dream" Photoshoot is gorgeous!
♥ The University of Chicago received a mysterious Indiana Jones package. But then the mystery was solved, which is equally cool.

Also, amidst all of the Hobbit hype, here's Flight of the Conchords' Frodo video, an oldie but goodie:

And finally, Erin of EEF Etc. shared this a few weeks ago and had me rolling!

What fun things have you seen lately?

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Classic Reads Blog Hop: Personal Collection of Classics

I opened Google Reader this morning to an incredibly thoughtful post from Literary Inklings on the topic of "what makes a book a classic?" - a question that is constantly nagging at my English-major self. Authors Molly Green, Terri Giuliano Long, Christine Nolfi, and Rachel Thompson have designed a blog hop from January 3rd-7th to address just that! Head over to the Classic Reads Blog Hop page or follow the #NewClassicReads conversation to hear other bloggers' and authors' responses to the question of "what makes a classic?" (and even win some cool prizes!).


One morning during my field placement at a local high school, we English teachers had a lengthy and nostalgia-ridden conversation about our favorite literary classics from when we were in school. I could count all of the different titles that graced the conversation on one hand - To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby. A few of these books I love, and I few of these books I detest, but if you passed me in the hall and asked if I would consider these works "classics", I would instinctively say yes. Which books are considered "classics" is somehow innate, like a time-sensitive trigger that goes off sometime in middle school that uploads a Wikipedia list of "classic literature" into our brains. But, a moment of honesty: if you asked me what criteria constitutes a "classic" book, I would stare at you, dumbfounded. They never taught us that in school. 

What I consider a classics certainly differs from what is considered a classic, and the various criteria I've seen thrown about, while valid, doesn't quite seem to sum up my own personal criteria. Contemporary relevance, sure, but what of those books written in the 1700's, that may or may not be applicable now? Readability? Perhaps, but no matter how many times I read Dangerous Angels probably won't put it on a literary pedestal next to Dickens and Austen. And no matter how much I love Gail Carriger's spunky heroine in Souless, my enjoyment and approval doesn't immediately elevate a novel to classic status.

"Favorite" is not synonymous with "classic" on my bookshelf either (Why do I make this so hard on myself? I feel like I have more not criteria than actual guidelines!). For instance, Murakami Haruki's The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is my favorite of his, yet Norwegian Wood would take a place amongst my own personal library of "classics" before the former would. 

Confused yet? So am I. What actually is my criteria for deeming a book a "classic", then? First off, an easy one, I must enjoy it in some way, from the plot to the prose, to identifying with a particular character, some part of the book must grab me. On that note, there is usually some degree of re-readability. This doesn't mean that I absolutely must have read the book more than three times, but (given the time) feel drawn to it. There are a great many books on myself begging to be reread, and in fact, I stare at them longingly every time I'm in search of a new book to read but guiltily turn my gaze to a new-to-me book instead. Here's where it gets complicated: there is some kind of magical draw that makes my thoughts churn and my heart well up. Some longing or heartbreak is usually involved, whether the book's message is one I take to heart quite strongly, or fall madly in love with a character or world. It's hard to explain, but there's just some thing that emerges that is completely emotionally captivating. A book need not be sad to have this quality, it just needs to be one I can connect to. It's not concrete criteria by any means, but these features are what have allowed these books to earn spots on my personal classics imaginary bookshelf:

Personal Classics Library

What do you think makes a book a "classic"? Are they the same as what you would consider your personal "classics"?

And don't forget to enter below for a chance to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card!
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And if you haven't already, make sure to stop by the other participating blogs to hear what "classic" means to them! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

Brakebrook Farm
( source )

I wish I had more to report on, regarding what I've been up to over the past few weeks, let alone this one. I've mainly been taking it easy before school starts up again, visiting family and friends, and thinking about a lot of things. Not to be mysterious and harken back to the bygone era of LiveJournal, but I've had a lot on my mind. Physically, a lot needs to get done (I do have something I'm super excited to share with you guys, just waiting for some things to get finalized!), and mentally, there's a lot of things to stew over.

♥ On that note, it's a new year, and that means a new start. I've been thinking forward to all of the exciting things that are to come, and even those that I don't yet know about that will take me by surprise! Granted, it's not a new anything unless I take some initiative, and I think this year might be the year I make some big decisions, and even some excitingly risky ones!

♥ Les Mis. That is all. No really, I went to see it the other day (and am planning another trip with my cousin, who miiiight have called it "less miserables" xD I do love her -- shhh - don't tell her I told you!) and all of the emotions in the world punched me right in the gut. I loved it when I saw it on stage and all of the actors did an amazing job that I could barely hold myself together. Go see it! Many times! Chaaarge!

♥ Not to jump on the first-of-the-year fitness bandwagon, but clearing my fridge of leftovers just happened to coincide with the first few days of January. Curbing my snacking, not having absurd amounts of cake and cookies in the fridge to nibble on, and -- gasp! -- exercising again feels great! I was starting to feel physically ill with my routine over the past month or so, and knew a change needed to happen. I got myself into this not-feeling-great mess, I can get myself out!

View of Pittsburgh from Schenley Park after a day of ice skating :)Photo
Lunch with Stevie B! And Randi! And a boss grilled cheese.Photo

little loves
♥ ice skating outdoors ♥ the Union Grille ♥ the view of the city from Schenley Park ♥ the World's Fair exhibit at the history museum ♥ swinging in the snow ♥ super duper grilled cheese sandwiches ♥ some of the deleted scenes from Thor had me reeling, Namely, the one with Thor and Selvig ♥ chocolate covered raisins ♥ trips to Shadyside with the family

What are you loving lately?