Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Simple Mother's Day with Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods Bracelet
I'm terrible at gift-giving when it comes to certain people (family members, usually. Though friends, for some reason, I'm usually half-decent at buying gifts for). So when UncommonGoods contacted me about their Mother's Day gift options, I jumped at the chance. I needed help!

Now, not only am I terrible at coming up with gift ideas, I've got some fairly picky people to buy gifts for (love you, Mum!). I have some idea of what my mom and stepmom both like, but I find it best in these situations to stick with something simple, as both are classy ladies. Uncommon Goods has no shortage of jewelry and goods for around the home that are tastefully simple, yet fun (a stylishly modern row boat salad bowl? Please be at my next summer party!).

Part of what I loathe about shopping for gifts is the lack of unique selection; I feel like what I find in most stores is the same, somewhat kitschy, sentimental "Mom" gift. UncommonGoods, however, features modern, sleek products, over half of which are handmade, and their mission to support artists and designers means that there are far fewer cookie cutter Mother's Day gifts to choose from (plus, you can even vote on up and coming products from designers to become the next products!).

While I perused their catalog, making mental note of options for future Mother's Days and holidays in general, I stumbled across this dainty, simple bracelet, that I could easily envision my mom unwrapping on Mother's Day, and wearing year-round. The bracelet itself features two, interlocking gold and silver circle. While the artist's story behind the piece is a strong symbolic representation of a mother's love, I was struck by the bracelet's simplicity before even reading about the piece. So often I see big, statement pieces of jewelry that, in my mind, limit its wearability with certain outfits or other accessories. Not only is it a wear-with-anything kind of piece, it's versatile! No need to decide between silver or gold jewelry. That's a win in my book.

UncommonGoods is a gift-giving savior, as far as I'm concerned. I have a feeling I'll be frequenting their site when it comes time to show off my newfound gift-giving super powers. You can find more gifts for mom here.

What's your Mother's Day gift-giving style?

*I was provided with the above bracelet to review, and while this is a sponsored post, I think you'll enjoy the site as much as I did, and maybe even find some gift ideas yourself!

Monday, April 28, 2014

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.101

This week, I'd like to highlight a gorgeous Japanese word and accompanying graphic from Wordstuck, a blog that collects interesting words, often from other languages, that don't necessarily have a direct English translation. This word conjures up an especially beautiful image in my mind, and I hope it does in yours too!

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, April 27, 2014

link love

I woke up yesterday morning to a blank white screen on my laptop, and spent the subsequent hours driving all over creation to get my Macbook to the computer doctors. It's currently getting mailed out to be fixed (video card issues, apparently), so my responses to emails/comments/etc. might be slow coming, but I'll do my best!

This four word phrase might change your life
♥ Tough love time: 3 Reasons Why You Will Never Finish That Project
♥ Looking for even more uses for Evernote? Here are 12 surprising ways to use Evernote that you might not have considered!
Understanding Curves in Photoshop
♥ How cool would it be to live in a converted schoolhouse!?
Garbage in, garbage out - what are you filtering out of your life? I'm starting with baby steps and getting rid of some books on my "to read" list and clearing out things like my closet and my iTunes library
♥ This classic literature travel guide has me itching to visit the real-life scenery from some of my favorite novels!
The Mind Trick That Will Change the Way You Write Cover Letters Forever
♥ And while we're chatting about resumes, are you looking to make yours stand out from the crowd? Take these 5 Ways Your Resume Is Just Like Everyone Else's and make your resume make a statement instead!
In defense of deadlines
♥ I'm all for the advocating of happiness, but like to keep things realistic too - 5 Big Happiness Myths Debunked (and the power of negative thinking)
5 Reasons to Eat Dinner Alone
♥ What works to create action? Try the habit action list.
♥ I'm often called upon by my mother for tech support, and while being "on call" can sometimes be frustrating, I try to keep these things in mind when providing parental tech support

What fun links have you found this week?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Favorite Rainy Day Reads

Rainy day reads
It seems that everyone has a different definition of just what constitutes a "rainy day read"; some prefer a thick novel that they can spend the long, drizzly day sinking into, and others prefer a quick read that they can get lost in during a passing storm.

I suppose I fall somewhere in the middle, though I lean more towards the can-finish-within-the-day side when it comes to curling up with a book on a rainy day. More importantly, I prefer a book with slightly overcast tones that I can completely lose myself in for a few hours. Usually, a hint of magic helps to weather the oncoming downpour and infuse a bit of something special into a dreary day. Or even a dash of philosophy to get my mind turning as I contemplate a book's theme under the blankets.

Whatever your preference, here are some novels that are sure to engulf you during the next shower.
  • Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates
What are your favorite books to curl up with on a rainy day?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

A four-day weekend spoiled me! Can't we have long weekends all the time?

♥ Growing up, my family would always spend the Easter holiday traveling to Cincinnati to visit the other half of our family. All of the cousins would dye eggs together, and we'd spend the whole long weekend playing games, going on egg hunts, and staying up all night talking. Over the years, it's been harder for all of us to go out to Ohio, and as much as I enjoy it, it was nice to spend this year with Mum in a low-key way. We celebrated the holiday at our own pace, which meant going out for dinner (and thus not having to cook or clean), and eating a sinfully delicious quadruple-chocolate cake.

♥ Seeing female friendship in the media warms my heart. Harley & Ivy, I'm looking at you. Did I say media? I meant cartoons. The friendship between these two can at me unexpectedly, as a new Batman-er, but it was just nice to see two girls having each others' backs (and having sleepovers!) as they plot to take over Gotham.

♥ It's Stanley Cup time! If you follow me on twitter, you've probably noticed that my feed is flooded with emotional hockey rants as I cheer on my Pittsburgh Penguins (especially on game nights; I promise, give it a month and all will be back to normal!). I can't really put my love of hockey into words. It's more than a family tradition, but there's just a sense of community in cheering on a team that takes on a life of its own.

little loves
♥ playing as a Little Sister in Bioshock 2 ♥ lazy days getting little things done ♥ sitting on the porch, enjoying the sunshine, with The Eagles/CCR/Tom Petty/Fleetwood Mac radio on ♥ having the most wonderful friends who have your back in things from life advice to making a playlist ♥ thoughtful text messages ♥ the good-sore feeling after an intense workout ♥ peach cobbler tea ♥ Simmons' nod to the TARDIS! ♥ discounted Easter candy ♥ morning runs
What are you loving this week?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Link Love: Sponsor Edition

I know how much you love my weekly collection of links, so I asked April's lovely sponsors to share their favorite blog posts for a special sponsor edition of Link Love! From how to tackle blogging ruts, to inspirational quotes, there's a little something for every taste.

Go ahead and get clicking!

blog | twitter | instagram | pinterest

Hi! I'm Danica and I blog over on Goodheart. I'm a 25 year old, Pinterest enthusiast, and obsessed with chai tea lattes. On my blog, I love to share lovely quotes, fashion, travel, and much more.

Winter Beach Trip
Check It Out!
Galentine's Day Ensemble
Rejection vs. Re-direction
Friday's Fancies

At the daily blog Lemon and Raspberry, Amy T Schubert helps you tell your storybuild your platform and find your GREAT WORK … and how those all combine to help you live your best creative life. She has been a writer, photographer and encourager for most of her life. If you're looking for a free guide to jumpstart your creativity or one-on-one blog-business coaching, head over to Lemon and Raspberry. For more day-to-day fun (including cat photos), follow Amy on Twitter and Instagram at @amytschubert.

Lessons From Writing a Third Novel
♥ 5 Easy Ways to Blog Better
♥ Are you on the list?
♥ The Benefit of Limits: Break through a creative block

blog | twitter | pinterest | instagram

PhD candidate and burlesque cabaret singer, Sam Bell, writes about living a productive, creative life. In-Aeternum features tips for creating the lifestyle you want; easy DIY projects and recipes along with a new series, The Photoshoot Diaries!

Big, new, exciting, shiny things, and letting it happen to you!
The Photoshoot Diaries
How To Succeed at Public Speaking
Three Daily Goals
♥ Freebie Friday: Fonts

Monday, April 21, 2014

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.100

( digitalink ) 

fete n. [ˈfāt, ˈfet]: a large party or celebration (via)

The entire city looked forward to the annual fete, which kicked off the summer festivities.

For the Love of a Linguaphile has been going strong for 100 weeks! It only felt proper to celebrate a little bit :)

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, April 20, 2014

link love

It's Easter! May you have a happy one, spent with friends and family (and some solid milk chocolate Sarris bars).

How the languages we speak can affect the way we think
♥ Everyone's opinions usually differ, and there are some gems of comments here, but in general, here is a look at the hardest languages to learn
Feng Shui for bookworms (simple, yet genius!)
♥ If you need me, I'll just be over here, turning my kitchen strainer into a Gipsy Danger cosplay...
How to look like a proper Victorian lady in 11 easy steps. I guess I should brush up on my glove etiquette.
30 Star Wars Facts You Didn't Know
♥ And while we're on the topic of sci-fi stories, here are 23 fun facts about Firefly
♥ Kirsten may have intended to write a guide about planning the perfect bridal shower, but it doubles as a great party-planning guide as well!
Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right? Because you can't always be both...
7 Things Star Wars Taught Me About Productivity
♥ Austin Kleon shares his 15-minute habit that will change your career
In defense of the 'impractical' English major
♥ Danica curates the best quotes found on the web, hands down
10 Ways to Do What You Don't Want to Do
♥ Whether you're a new blogger, rebranding your current blog, or just maintaining your online writing space, Your Little Blog Book sounds like a great way to keep your brand in mind as you blog.
5 Ways to Better Document Your Life Right Now
♥ Adorable, meet terrifying, when Jim Cummings reads Darth Vader's lines in Winnie the Pooh's voice
Thank you, Pittsburgh, for the greatest cake America has ever made. You're welcome. Or at least, that's what Prantl's would say, I'm sure (seeing as I am not Prantl's).
Dealing with negative comments on the Internet from a cosplay perspective
♥ A look at a 13-year old eagle huntress from Mongolia.
How to be a good sushi date. Take note, picky eaters.

What fun links have you found this week?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Grammar Crash Course: Pronouns

In just a few days, I'll be teaching a unit on pronouns to a classroom full of middle schoolers. Big deal, right?


It's been years, years, since I've "studied" pronouns (I was probably in middle school, myself). While I've been an English major, education candidate, and active writer, I haven't had to know the mechanics of grammar well enough to articulate the rules (and exceptions) to others. Sure I can use pronouns correctly, but the question here is: can I teach those rules to other people?

Needless to say, I've had to do some brushing up on my pronoun rules. Many things I know and actively use, but don't necessarily know the technical terminology for. As I revisit pronouns for teaching purposes, I thought you might like to as well! Plus, it gives me a chance to see if I can explain the rules of correct pronoun use without muddling your brain!

Personal Pronouns
These are the ones that usually come to mind when you hear someone say 'pronoun'. Think: I, me, he, she, him, her, us, we, they, etc.

What you probably didn't realize is that while 'I' and 'me' both refer to you as the speaker, one occurs in the nominative case (a fancy shmancy name for the subject of your sentence) and the other in the objective case. If the noun you are replacing is the subject of the sentence, you use pronouns that fall in the subject category, and if the nouns occurs as the object of the sentence, you use the corresponding pronoun.

Now, this sounds complicated, but you likely already know which is which without having even realized it!

Example: "I saw the cat." - 'I' is doing the seeing, therefore it is the subject and thus the pronoun 'I' is used to replace the noun that is the speaker

Example: "The cat saw me." - 'Me' and 'I' are just two sides of the same coin; because the speaker is the object in this sentence, we use 'me' instead of 'I', even though both pronouns refer to the speaker of the sentence. You wouldn't say "The cat saw I."

Here's a list of which pronouns fall into which category for your brain to process...

Subjective: I, you, he, she, it, we, they,
Objective: me, you, him, her, it, us, them

Possessive Pronouns
Did you know that 'my' and 'his' are pronouns too? Pronouns such as these indicated possession, such as my book, their cheese fries, or his Batcave.

Just make sure you don't add an apostrophe to the possessive 'its' or else you have a whole different creature.

Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns
These are your pronouns with an added '-self' at the end, such as: myself, himself, itself, themselves, ourselves. etc. and are used for emphasis or indication that the same person/thing is involved.

Using Pronouns Correctly
Usually, using pronouns isn't too difficult, but then you get to the 'she and I', and 'my friend and me'. Is it 'I'? When do you use 'me'? Why is this so confusing!?

Here's my trick for using pronouns correctly in a sentence, when you have a compound pronoun ('[blank] and [blank] went to the store', for example):

Take out one of the people involved in the action. Does the sentence make sense? Now, remove the other person from the sentence. It, too, should make sense.

Example: 'Kam and I went to Comic Con.' - If you remove 'Kam', you are left with the sentence 'I went to Comic Con.', which makes grammatical sense (great!). Now remove 'I'. You're left with 'Kam went to Comic Con.' which also makes sense. Bravo.

Example: 'A dalek tried to exterminate her and I.' - Try the above trick; you get 'A dalek tried to exterminate her.' which makes sense ('tried to exterminate she' does not, however) and 'A dalek tried to exterminate I.' - Woah. Hold up. That doesn't make any sense. You would say 'A dalek tried to exterminate me.', therefore the correct sentence should read: 'A dalek tried to exterminate her and me.'

Tip: When you have a compound pronoun that involves yourself (me or I), be polite and put the other person first! Grammar always has good manners.

Interrogative Pronouns
These include the more difficult 'who' and 'whom' pronouns, so I'll tackle those another time. Just know that these ones exist, for now.

Was that mini-grammar lesson a bit more bearable than those you had in school? If so, share it with a friend who could use a little grammar elevation (in a nice way, of course)!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

I don't have words to describe this week, so I'm just going to let these little things do the talking...

♥ Lately, I've been doing a lot of catching up with old friends. It's nice to reconnect with some familiar faces, and I've done no shortage of that over the past week. Between hibachi with my best friend from elementary school (who is usually mistaken for my sister, and was again that night), chatting over tea with my good friend from high school, or making plans to see a college friend recently returned from Japan, it's nice to relax, talk, and reminisce.

♥ It sounds silly, but have you ever noticed how fantastic a good haircut can make you feel? I made the mistake of going to a run-of-the mill shop for a quick, $15 trim, and while it got the job done for something like trimming my fringe (me and hair don't mix!), for a hair cut - however simple - it was horrendous. If there's one thing I've learned, it's worth it to splurge on a salon and a stylist you trust! Which is why I usually head to Pure Salon and let Alyssa work her magic!

Steel City Con was last weekend and believe it or not, I had never gone before! Usually, my retail work schedule would interfere, but I finally got the chance to scope it out and as not disappointed. My wallet feels little lighter now, but the Mary Poppins/Doctor Who tee shirt I came home with is okay with that. Really, it was just nice to spend the day with friends, oogling all of the different items and art, Jayne hat included.
little loves
building LEGOs ♥ Easter egg hunts (one of the little cousins couldn't make it, so I was in charge of finding her eggs - it is never not fun!) ♥ visiting old teachers ♥ Reese's peanut butter cups, after they're refrigerated ♥ galaxy print anything ♥ nostalgic Strawberry Shortcake mugs ♥ performance poetry ♥ warm waffle, ice cream sandwiches ♥ ice cream, period! ♥ fresh, beach-smelling car scents ♥ a cafe devoted entirely to tea (and you even get your own set and timer!)

What are you loving this week?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If We Were Having Coffee...

Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner wrote a similar post a ways back, and I loved the idea, tucking it away in my brain ever since. There's been a lot going on in my life lately, and as a result, I've been feeling a bit detached from my blog. With so much to plan and do, I know I haven't been giving my writing and the blogging community the attention I usually do, and I feel like the more personal side of Kristin hasn't been all too present.

When I have lots of catching up to do with a dear friend - whether they've been out of town, or we just haven't seen each other in a while - there's no better way to do so than over coffee or tea.

Here's to taking a step back and reconnecting. And filling you in on all I've been up to lately!

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you about my new job! It's not permanent, but from now until the end of the school year, I'll be a long-term sub, which means a steady classroom every day and the chance to have an adopted classroom of my own, for a little while at least. Being a day-to-day sub has been nice, but this position is a little closer (read: less gas!) and gives me the chance to put all the things I learned while student teaching into play. Hopefully it lights the way for bigger things in the future!

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that I'm actually kind of surprised that I'm pursuing teaching right now. Grad school burnt me out pretty badly, and coupled with the rough time that I was going through, I wasn't sure if I could mentally devote myself to jumping into a job search right after graduation. Granted, I took the month of January off to collect myself, but I've decided to spend some time looking for jobs in the area; I'm not opposed to moving, but if I can stay in Pittsburgh, I'd like that best. I've got family and a lot of friends here that I enjoy spending time with!

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that I'm really excited to make this summer an epic one! Nothing is set in stone yet, but friends of mine and I have been toying around with ideas of a road trip, or just a weekend at a cabin by the lake. As much as I enjoy the outdoors, I wouldn't consider myself an outdoorsy person (I've never been camping in the slightest!). But I can't deny that I'm looking forward to at least going canoeing/kayaking more this summer.

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you about my awesome Mary Poppins/Doctor Who tee that I bought at Steel City Con last weekend. I always enjoy going to conventions to oogle the neat goods and talented artwork, but this is the first time I've been to the local Pittsburgh con! I almost bought a replica of the key from The Mummy...don't judge.

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you how proud I am of my old school community. Since the events of last Wednesday, the town (and area in general) has come together to raise money for the victims and their families, hold fundraisers, sign banners of support, and just be there for everyone affected as they heal.

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that I got my hair cut last night. I haven't done anything drastic to my 'do since 2010, when I chopped it all off into a pixie cut post-Japan, but it was still refreshing to have some chopped off, just a bit. I like my long hair, and have quite missed it. It's just so thick and needed a bit of a trim before summer goes into full swing.

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you about all of the simple things I've been enjoying! The past few years haven't brought much adventure my way, and while it was a lifestyle I by no means regret, I knew I needed something more, even just simple things like going out to catch up with old friends over tea (a high school buddy of mine and I went to a tea cafe in Squirrel Hill last week!), see friends who are coming back from teaching in Japan, go to a double screening of Captain America, visit the comic convention, grab burgers in the South Side, see new houses, and all sorts of things! It sounds silly, but it's something that always bothered me. I would make excuses for not making plans that I now find to be silly. Trust me - I still like to keep things relaxed (some days I just want to stay home and play video games!), but I need to get out now and then too.

If we were having coffee, what would you tell me? I want to know what's up in your life! We can chat over comments, or you can send me an email. I'd love to chat!

Monday, April 14, 2014

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.99

Ballet de Santiago - La Bella Durmiente del Bosque
( Tatuchi ) 

lithe adj. [ˈlīth]: thin, supple, graceful (via)

The lithe ballerina easily twirled and jumped across the stage.

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, April 13, 2014

link love

♥ Mia's got some great April activities planned, and I can't wait to do some of them myself!
♥ Paper vs. digital reading is an exhausted debate
♥ I've been drooling over all of the hanami picnics popping up across the internet lately. I would love to pack some food and spend an afternoon under the cherry blossoms!
A tour of accents across the British Isles
♥ I need a cake that looks like the planet Jupiter in my life, pronto
5 Easy Ways to Blog Better
♥ Kayla has started a new weekly series to bring some cheer to your Monday
♥ Mint + coral - my very favorite combination!
36 Things I Wish I Figured Out Sooner (serious or lighthearted, all are equally important)
♥ What book would you find on your favorite Game of Thrones character's bookshelf?
How to make soy teacup candles - aren't they adorable!?
♥ There comes a time when you must let go of your favorite TV show (Supernatural, I'm looking at you...)
♥ Top Tools for Setting (and Keeping) Goals
♥ Alexandra Franzen on why you should be a 'Daymaker'
When period films meet street fashion
♥ Another gorgeous, gold-hued photoshoot from In-Aeternum

What fun links have you found this week?

Friday, April 11, 2014

My 5 Favorite Poems

Seeing how it's National Poetry Month, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share a bit of my history with poetry, and my very favorite poems. Surprisingly, I didn't care much for poetry once upon a time, and after teaching a mini-unit on it, I've come to realize that many of my students felt the same. If you fall into the "not a fan of poetry" camp, here's to hoping I can change your mind!

I ventured into poetry like most people do: Dr. Seuss. Brought up under the impression that all poetry needed to rhyme, and sounded much like a nursery rhyme as a result, I was quickly confused when first met with the idea of "free verse" in school - you mean I can write anything? And it doesn't even have to rhyme? And it's still poetry?

Needless to say, I hated it. Why have poetry if there aren't really any rules for what makes poetry poetry?

And then something changed. I'm not quite sure what, or how, but one day I had an epiphany. I was blessed with a professor who inadvertently taught me how to read poetry (because, believe it or not, it differs from reading prose), and a few good poems that inspired and stayed with me. I'm still no expert on rhyme schemes, or what truly constitutes a poem, but there is a beauty in a poem that I can appreciate, and the following are some of the poems that changed my mind entirely:

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot // Perhaps one of the most well-known poems of all time, it is so recognized and loved for a reason. Eliot owns the language in this poem, which, coupled with the rhythm and modernist sensibility, sounds chillingly musical when read aloud. Every time I read this, I find something new about which to ponder.

"The Day the Saucers Came" by Neil Gaiman // Are you surprised to see Neil Gaiman on this list? You shouldn't be; you know I can work him in anywhere! Like any of his works, you need to hear this one read aloud (the link goes to a clip of Neil himself reading the poem, and I had the fortune of hearing him read it aloud in Pittsburgh a few years ago too!). The only contemporary poem on my list, it is great fun. I love the lightheartedness of this poem, and yet the "twist" ending is simultaneously light and poignant at the same time.

"The Mower's Song" by Andrew Marvell // All of the poems in Marvell's Mower series tell a haunting story, and I recommend you read them all for the full narrative of the Mower and his love for the unreachable Julianna. However, if I had to pick just one from the set of four, The Mower's Song stands out with its chilling repetition. Each poem employs techniques that make each unique and beautiful in their own regard, but read as a whole gives the ending the most impact.

"The Tyger" by William Blake // I love William Blake almost as much as I love Neil Gaiman, and that's saying something. "The Tyger" is one of his most well-known poems, and while it is quite something on its own, you get the most out of it by reading it with it's partner poem "The Lamb" (two of his collections: Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience mirror each other and are quite interesting studies themselves). His accompanying illuminated prints are also stunning, and a Batman: The Animated Series episode even paid homage to the poem.

"As I Walked Out One Evening" by W.H. Auden // Another well-known and easily quotable poem not so much on love, but more importantly, on the passing of time. Bittersweet and haunting, Auden manages to highlight the haunting beauty of the unknown, and make you think on the ephemeral nature of time and life.

And as a bonus, have a clip of Tom Hiddleston reading a snippet from "The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock". You're welcome.

Are you a fan of poetry? What's your favorite poem?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

I awoke yesterday morning to a sight no one should have to witness, not at 7:30 in the morning, not today, not tomorrow, not anywhere, not ever: my high school was on the news; at least 6 people had been stabbed, more wounded (now, the number of injured tallies between 20-22). A queue of ambulances stretched up the campus drive, stretchers being wheeled down the access ramp, the blades of life-flight helicopters rippling the grass on the athletic fields. I spent the better part of three hours with my eyes glued to the television screen, paralyzed by a mixture of panic, shock, confusion.

I myself have been out of high school for quite some time now. I have no siblings in the district, and most of my friends and their brothers and sisters have long graduated as well. Sure, I expected to feel stunned by the horrific scene, but I did not anticipate the wrenching ache and sadness that settled in the pit of my stomach and set up camp.

Here was my school, my home for 720 days (not counting the weekends spent at art shows and performing as Lady Catherine de Bourgh on the auditorium stage), 5,040 hours, filled with teachers, and friends, dances, and rehearsals; to see it, the very stairs I walked up each day, roped off behind bright yellow police tape - something somberly wracked every part of me.

Updates poured in from Twitter. Friends and alumni shared what information they could on Facebook. Most powerfully, the entire community showed support for those involved, those injured, and those working to ensure that the rest of the students were safe and sound. From those of us still local, to those who had moved across the country - across the world, even - everyone joined in solidarity.

I've written a longer piece on the events of yesterday that rocked our small town, even made national news. But ultimately what it boils down to is this: schools should be a safe place. School violence needs to end.

To the police and emergency responders who handled the situation before it escalated further; to the doctors and surgeons who took care of the wounded; to the assistant principals and security guards who restrained the attacker; the student who pulled the fire alarm to evacuate the building; the quick-thinking student who applied pressure to treat a classmate's wound and might have saved their life; to the teachers, faculty, and staff who shepherded their students to safety; and everyone involved - I thank you. My prayers go out to the students, their families, the school, and community.


For such a dark time, it's more important than ever to reflect and be thankful. Some of these things seemed so trivial to write out today, but I want to leave you with a personal story that warmed my heart this week, in particular:

♥ You might have seen our Captain America cupcakes on Instagram last week. To celebrate the premiere, my friend ordered a dozen cupcakes with Steve Rogers' shield decorating the tops in fondant and buttercream (well, it should've all been fondant, but that's a story for another day). As we were leaving the theater, we spied two boys and their mom ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the leftover cupcakes we were carrying out. Really, what were we going to do with all of those leftover cupcakes? After explaining to their mom that we just wanted to give them cupcakes, and weren't creepers, we gave them to the boys and their faces lit up even more than when they glimpsed us carrying Captain America cupcakes in the first place. Smiles all around. Day made. 

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Digital Detox: Organizing Your Documents & Files

Ah, documents. The most serious part of your computer set up. They may not be the most fun type of file, but they certainly are important and constant maintenance is a necessity to keep outdated files from piling up. Organizing your files as you go can help you maintain a clean desktop, clean hard drive, and your sanity.

Desktop and Folder Organization
Everyone has their own system for organizing files. Here are some of my general guidelines and what works for me, but you may not find them optimal for your own set up. Take these ideas and run with them!

Naming systems // Most of my folders have been given a no-brainer name; I don't want to waste time trying to decipher what the contents of a folder are. There's really no trick to this process, but if you get into folders that need to be organized sequentially like photographs, or blog posts, you might benefit from coming up with a naming formula. For instance, you might choose to organize your photos by date, to have a chronological record of pictures. I'm more likely to remember what year something happened in, versus what month, so I start my folder name with '2014.03', the year first, so that I can easily find what I'm looking for. Alphabetize, put things in numerical order - whatever floats your boat!

Tags // The latest OSX update gave Mac users perhaps the most helpful feature, in my opinion: the ability to tag your files. Just like I would color code my Filofax or daily planner, I've broken my documents down into main categories (e.g. 'blog', 'career', 'writing', 'teaching', etc.) which allows me to categorize and search for specific files much more efficiently.

Hierarchy // Just like with my tags, my 'My Documents' folder is broken down into smaller sub-folders: 'Blog', 'Personal', and 'Professional'. I find that all of my documents fit into one of these categories, and each main folder is subsequently broken down even further. File your documents into their respective folders in a way that makes sense to you. Step back and think about what folder you would look for 'post drafts' in 8 months down the line - it should be logical!

Easy access folders // I keep my most used folders right on my desktop for easy access. This requires that I be a little bit picky; I don't want to deem every folder important and clutter up my desktop, but I find it easiest to keep folders for projects I'm in the middle of, or those I need frequent quick access to within reach. Things like a folder for weekly Things I Love Thursday pictures lives on my desktop, as does my resume when I'm in the middle of revising it. During the months of March and September, I keep my #30Lists pdf on my desktop too, so that I have all of my log on information at my fingertips.

Security and personal documents // As wonderful as the cloud is, I prefer to keep my super-important personal information on my hard drive only. Things like archived taxes, scans of my identification, clearances, etc. are documents that I keep close tabs on. As nice as it would be to have access to these files from anywhere, I'd rather take the extra step of having to boot up my laptop than risk my security.

Cloud Services
There are so many cloud services nowadays that you more or less have your pick. I'm a fan of Google Docs' simple layout, and its ability to integrate with my Google account. While nothing in this section is necessarily Google Docs-specific, the basic principles should easily transfer to another cloud service.

I love that I can save documents in the cloud, which frees up space on my computer for maximum running efficiency. I don't know if I'll ever be completely reliant on the cloud (see 'security' above), but I've been moving most of my documents to the cloud lately.

Sync your files // Most cloud services allow you to access your files offline, which comes in handy if you're out and about. How I work has changed over the past year or so, which means I don't always have my laptop on me to access all of my files. The cloud works with my changing work habits to ensure that I have access to the documents I need, be it on my phone or my iPad. I'm still not the best at making sure I don't have duplicate files saved on Google Docs and on my desktop, but I'm working on it.

Desktop organization applies // Organizing my files in Google Docs isn't much different from how I organize them on my desktop. The added bonus is that I can actually see the drop down hierarchy in Google Docs, which is sometimes just what my brain needs. Another bonus? Being able to quickly view your most recently opened/updated files.

Migrate working files to Evernote // I've come to use Evernote almost as a replacement for bookmarks. If there's a file that I'm constantly updating, I need access to on the go, or is only temporary, I keep it in Evernote. Blog drafts, for instance, I find easier to work on in Evernote; the Blogger app isn't my favorite, and I don't have much of a need to keep a permanent Word document on my hard drive (once it's written, it gets uploaded, and I don't have much use for the working draft any longer).

Create a schedule for maintaining your documents. It doesn't have to be frequent if that doesn't suit your computing style, but it should be consistent.

I do one major clean out a year, where I go through old files and delete what is no longer relevant. The more you stay on top of things as you go, however, the less pile up you'll have down the line.

Archiving // If you have files that you know you want to hang on to long-term, but don't require frequent access to (old tax returns, I'm looking at you), you might consider buying a dedicated thumb drive to organize your archived files.

As with any system of organization, not everything here will work for everyone. Even my methods of organization change and transform as I enter new stages in my life. Play around with the tips here to come up with an organization system that suits your needs. Tweet me your tips, or leave a comment below!

Stay tuned next month for a guide on tackling your social media!

Digital Detox is a monthly guide to organizing your digital life and keeping your technology in tip-top shape! You can view past installments here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.98

( Allen Hsu ) 

plethora n. [ˈple-thə-rə]: a very large amount or number; excess (via)

A plethora of lavender sprigs dotted the landscape, covering the hillside in purple buds.

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!

(it's all in) My Details: How My Brain Works

When Kristin and Megan (of ruKristin and The Nerd Nest, respectively), asked me to join them for their latest My Details memory keeping class, I couldn't refuse. The class couldn't come at a better time - coming off of the daily list documenting class 30 Days of Lists, and diving back into Project Life (not so much diving as dipping my toes into the shallow end of the pool...), I've been looking for ways to hold myself accountable for documenting life's little details and discover new ways to record my memories.

My Details is a class full of prompts and inspiration for documenting none other than YOU! Whether past or present, you are full of little details that help tell your story. Before the prompts begin on April 14th, the class's lovely teachers organized a blog hop that's meant to get your creativity going. The prompt? Thinking.

I may be the odd one out here in that I don't currently really have a system of memory keeping set in place, aside from my blog (which I don't necessarily count in that category) and my up and coming Project Life endeavor. My plan with this class is to not worry so much about the format so much as playing around with different mediums to find a memory keeping system that works for my lifestyle and what I want to create.

Megan's spin was documenting how her brain works, and while I easily could've talked about the things I've been thinking about lately (which are pretty interesting and telling, if I do say), I loved her take on the prompt. How my brain works doesn't make sense to everyone, and it's a fun little detail to step back and take note of.
  1. I can remember numbers & details, like a sponge
  2. I have to weigh all of my options, which makes me seem indecisive at first glance.
  3. I think in lists and checkboxes 
  4. I often worry about things that are out of my control. I'm working at this, changing what I can & accepting what I can't.
  5. I'm simultaneously optimistic and realistic. What a combo.
You can join in on the documenting fun! Use the code TEACUPDETAILS for $2 off of your registration, or enter below to win a spot in the My Details class (complete with access to the class, pre-class blog posts, a private Facebook community, and more! Plus, if you register by tonight, you'll have a chance to enter the Freckled Fawn subscription giveaway on the class page as well!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you win the giveaway and have already registered, never fear! The lovely ladies behind My Details will reimburse you the registration fee.

Don't forget to stop by the other blogs for today's blog hop to see their take on 'thinking'.
And I have to ask: how would you translate this prompt?

*I've got to get the boring legal stuff out of the way here: I am an affiliate for this class. But honestly, I think you'll enjoy the heck out of this class too! 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

link love

You're never too old to do something amazing
♥ I wasn't in Japan in the springtime, so I never got to see sakura season firsthand, but hello sandwich's photos of the Nakameguro and Daizawa Nature Walk sakura are simply breathtaking!
The Real Life Inspiration Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains - who knew you could create a mastermind villain by eating an ice cream sundae!
♥ 26 Types of English Majors (I was quite a few of these at various stages in my college career)
♥ Twenty-something list posts rule the web right now, and while most are subjective and whimsically condense life into a series of bullet points, Jess's personal list of 25 lessons she's learned on her journey to 25 is touching, and really resonates in a genuine way
The easiest, most oddly effective content you can create
♥ If you loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier too, or are looking for an entry point into the comics, check out Like this/Read that - Captain America: The Winter Soldier edition
How poetry can help your fiction
♥ There are plenty of goal-setting strategies out there, but how about the 9 Stages of Goal Setting?
Paying off $80K of student loans on a $30K salary. Please grant me this diligence.
♥ April Fool's may be past, but these 10 of Fiction's Finest Tricksters are still probably working mischief.
♥ There are plenty of controversies, contentions, and opinions about YA, what makes it popular, and it's literary (and cultural) merit these days. Here's Michelle Dean on YA: A Response
♥ Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan are BFFs and took amazing photos together in NYC. Can I please be your best friend too?

What fun links have you found this week?

Friday, April 4, 2014

On My Bookshelf: April

Between Divergent coming out last month, and random Amazon deals I've managed to snag, I've been on a Young Adult literature kick. Part of me wants to explore more titles to be able to recommend to my students, who have a range of reading interests, and part of me appreciates a good story, no matter what "age" it's written for.

This month, I'm focusing on books to build up my own YA recommendation list (some of which I've already read and loved, some I'm hoping to read and love just as much as I've heard good things about!)

The Archived* by Victoria Schwab - After hearing of Schwab's novel from a Forever Young Adult shoutout about it a) being amazing and b) being on sale on Amazon for pretty cheap, I couldn't help but be intrigued by a book that got such stellar reviews. Let's just say, I rarely give a book a 5-star rating on Goodreads, but this one earned it.

Fangirl* by Rainbow Rowell - I first picked this book up due to it's beautiful teal cover, quirky illustrated cover, and the fact that it was Tumblr's first book club pick. While I enjoyed Eleanor & Park, I was more excited for this book's storyline and more of Rowell's winning prose.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - It's no surprise that John Green is a hot author right now, with The Fault in Our Stars being a much anticipated movie adaptation coming out this summer. I read that book, and quite enjoyed it, but knew of John Green from his Youtube channel and "Crash Course Literature" series first (I admit, it took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to connect the dots and realize the two were the same John Green). One of my students had been reading this novel of his, and said it wasn't as good as TFIOS, but I still want to dive into more of his novels.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund - What's a YA bookshelf without a little dystopian literature? And an adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion to boot? Consider me curious...

And now I realize that I really need to find some less chick-geared YA lit to add to my reading list. I think that's an adventure for another day...

*This post does contain some affiliate links, and while I am compensated if you buy one of these books through my link, I'm only recommending books I've truly enjoyed and think you will too!

What YA books are on your radar?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

Tonight is the premier of Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the local theater, and I'm headed there straight after work for a back-to-back, Captain America-filled double feature. So excuse my excitable, one-track mind today! Between the nice weather all of a sudden and plenty events coming up (even as simple as a movie premier), I'm enjoying taking things each day at a time.

I know I touched on it last week, but I really feeling better not being so reliant on my to-do list, and taking life as it comes. Some days, I do need to buckle down and get some stuff done, and other times, my plans just don't happen and you know what? That's okay. It's not the end of the world.

Being appreciated is one of the best feelings in the universe, hands down. And it doesn't need to be a grand gesture of thanks, but rather I find the simple actions the most rewarding. When people think of you, to include you, in something optional. When you're accepted as part of a team even though you're not "technically" a part of that group. When you're the go-to person because your reputation for getting the job done, and being personable, and being kind speak for themselves. It's a good feeling, and ranks up there with trust on my most important qualities list.

♥ I can't believe 30 Days of Lists is over! As glad as I am to be out of the chaos that is the month of March (does anyone even like March? I have yet to find a largely redeeming factor about it), I'm left wondering where the whole month went! I kept up with my lists this round, though remembering to photograph them was another story. You can peruse the whole #30Lists tag for inspiration (and it's still not too late to join!*)

♥ Guys, I'm an adult. I had this realization the other day. There is no more school for me, no semesters, no papers that will be due, no Christmas vacations or spring breaks. This is simultaneously terrifying and exciting. I won't lie: I still kind of feel like I'm just on summer break, for a really long time. Realizing this isn't the case feels like the first step towards going "Oh yeah, I'm not a student anymore".

little loves
lilac-scented candles ♥ sundresses ♥ hazelnut macchiatos (I can't get enough!) ♥♥ sleeping with the windows open ♥ having a 'regular' waitress ♥ time to read ♥ good friends and good laughs ♥ enduring craziness to realize what you do appreciate ♥ doing things that make ME happy ♥ travel-size pop-up hairbrushes ♥ Compliments and not being afraid of them anymore ♥ Jazz music ♥ John Green ♥ ordering pictures to finish up January's #ProjectLife spread, and finishing my cover page ♥ celebratory dinners with Mum ♥ 

What are you loving this week?

*I am an ambassador, but I just really love lists. Honest! And I think you will too :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Favorite Spring Beauty Products

Spring Beauty
My claim to fame is that it takes me only ten minutes to get ready in the morning (not counting my 5-minute hair routine). Not to mention that I own more pajamas than I do shoes.

So it should come as no surprise that makeup and beauty products aren't typically up my alley.

Over the past few months, though, I've really ironed out my beauty routine and discovered that, while I don't swoon over the makeup aisle in the drugstore, I appreciate quality products and tend to stick with those that work best for me. I may not be the most adventurous when it comes to makeup, preferring an easy and fresh, natural look, but I rock what I know how to do.

Spring Beauty
This spring I've ventured out of my comfort zone and splurged on some new products, which I've fallen in love with! Combined with my tried and true beauty staples, I feel like I have a whole new look that's perfectly cheery for spring while still being me.

Bite lipstick in 'Quinta' // A creamy, moisturizing lip color that's bright, but not over the top. I've been oogling Bite Beauty's products ever since I heard about their custom lip color pop up shop in NYC. While this color isn't a custom concoction, I'm in love with the coral color and impressed nonetheless.

Say Yes to Cucumber facial towelettes // Perfect for when I don't feel like washing my face at night (read: I can't go to bed without washing my makeup off, but sometimes I'm feeling lazy).

Garnier BB cream // A nice, light coverage that still evenly covers without feeling like you've got foundation caked on your face.

Benefit blush in 'Dandelion' // Light ballerina pink blush that complements the Quinta lipstick quite well. I wear this year round, but it feels especially appropriate for spring.

Dior Show mascara // My go-to mascara, and it's totally worth the price, in my opinion. I've yet to find a mascara that goes on smoothly and lasts all day, without making my lashes feel brittle and clumpy by the end of the day. On the rare occasion that I do fall asleep with my makeup on, I don't feel like my eyelashes are going to break off when I wake up.

Maybelline mineral powder // Nice to de-shine and add provide a little extra coverage overtop of the BB cream.

Smith's rosebud salve // Smells like roses, smells like spring. Great for making chapped winter lips ready for the warmer months.

What are your spring beauty must-haves?