20 Little Things About Me

I’m totally stealing this little list idea from The College Prepster, because I love lists (see #2 below). Little things might seem inconsequential, but they’re what truly forms you into a unique person. How’s that for a deep thought on Sunday morning?

1// I have a special affinity for twinkly lights and lanterns. They have to be present in any room I’m living in. Something about that soft, romantic glow…

2// I am an avid list maker. I have them for everything: grocery, to-do’s, goals…even lists for lists I need to make. It’s a problem.

3// My favorite season is autumn, especially when enjoyed outside with a good book and a latte.

4// I have a ridiculous inability to relax. I can’t seem to make my mind turn off. I’m trying to get over this with new hobbies like knitting!

5// Speaking of…I just learned how to knit this fall, and it’s my new favorite thing in the world. So soothing. 

6// I like to take long, long walks outside while listening to Pandora. Usually The Civil Wars or Mumford and Sons. It clears my head, and I do some of my best thinking out there.

7// I have the complete cast albums of several musicals memorized–like every note and every word of every character. Top 3: Les Miserables (extra points because it’s the complete symphonic recording), Phantom of the Opera, and Rent. That’s where my middle school years went, obviously.

8// I have recurring dreams about teeth and spiders. Not at the same time, of course. It’s a little weird because I’m not particularly afraid of either thing in every day life but put them in a dream and ugh!

9// Least favorite sound on earth: forks scraping against plates. Even thinking about it makes me shiver.

10// I have a little bit of an owl obsession. My room looks like an owl shrine at the moment because everyone who loves me gets me owl-themed presents. I suppose one can never have enough?

11// My favorite foods include apples and oatmeal. I have at least one of each pretty much every day.

12// I am not exactly a clean freak, and I don’t mind a little mess. But there reaches a certain point of no return in my living spaces where I go crazy if I don’t clean up instantly.

13// I really want to go on Jeopardy, so I can use my vast knowledge of useless things to gain a little profit. Well, more to just use some of that useless knowledge.

14// I have two best friends named Katie. Well, Katie and Katy. 

15// My basset hound Patterson and I like to sing operatic duets together. Her favorite aria is “Mein Herr Marquis,” though she’s more of a bass.

16// I want to own a little adorable puppy (preferably basset or corgi) named Khaleesi and a kitten named Drogo. Get the reference?

17// I love to write things down. I’m an avid journaler of random things.

18// I think I watched one total hour of regular TV over my winter break. I’d much rather read.

19// I can happily while away three hours in a bookstore, reading and sipping coffee or tea. Absolute nirvana.

20// I have no idea what I want to do with my life, besides that it involve writing and being artistic. I’m working on letting that make me more excited than scared.

 

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A Book Lover’s Blog…dreams do come true

I have a love/hate relationship with book recommendations. On the one hand, books are so personal to me that I find it difficult to imagine some online editor could really know what I would like, based off of my passing interest in “The Hunger Games.” So I’m always a little wary of any of those ‘If you loved…’ lists.

And on the other hand…I love books. And I am always on the hunt for new ones.

So I proceeded with trepidation when I heard about the website Go Book Yourself, which proffers “book recommendations by humans, because algorithms are so 1984.” Promising.

The site is beautifully done, with a lovely infographic and short n’ sweet descriptions of the book (too much detail is the death of literary recommendations). I decided to search for a match to one of my favorite reads of the past few months. And a miracle occurred! What should pop up in the first few book suggestions but my new favorite, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. I will be laying my little bibliophile hands on these other two soon, have no doubt.

I could spend hours trolling around this site. But now I shall return to homework. Sigh. The life of a busy book fiend.Image

Little Moments

I am discovering that I do not neccesarily do well when my due dates are not solid. Or, rather, the due dates themselves are solid, but the work I have to do to accomplish them? Not so much.

I don’t know exactly why I let that get to me.  I am a planner, a list maker, and a checker-offer of the to-do list extrordinaire.  But when it comes to big projects, I tend to get a little overwhelmed.  This is definitely something I need to work on, and I’ve been doing that by allowing myself time to NOT worry about it.

How’s that for a concept?

Instead of going crazy and scheduling out every instant of every day to get things done, I’ve been changing up my plans.  Last night, I took the time to make spaghetti squash and meatballs for my best friends and have them over for dinner.  While I need to spend tonight working on a poster, I just spontaneously agreed to go on a frozen yogurt adventure to try out the new fall flavors (snickerdoodle and oatmeal cookie, you guys. How could anyone possibly say no?)  

While these little diversions should technically make me more nervous, they have the opposite effect. I think it’s because they remind me that there is life outside of the world of school and theatre.  That’s hard to remember when you’re at such an incredibly intensive program.  Sometimes you have to take the time to be a college kid.  Weird that we have to remind ourselves of that, isn’t it? True BFA problems. 

Other things I’ve been making little moments for this week…

  • Bubble baths with shea butter
  • Moments sitting and sipping an extra cup of coffee (I try to only have two a day, but…) while burning an amazing scented candle
  • Reading a few articles in my Vogue september issue
  • Planning out some dessert recipes I want to tackle in the near future
  • Writing on this blog!
  • Checking in with my favorite bloggers on Bloglovin
  • Pinterest. I’m obsessed. But I’m going to let that be okay.
  • Taking a moment to really invest in my devotional/Bible reading in the morning
  • Going for walks
  • Sitting out on my patio for a few minutes to just enjoy the weather
  • Curling up and watching a little bit of a Food Network show or TLC (I thank my stars whenever The Pioneer Woman or Say Yes to the Dress is on)
  • Running a little bit farther than I meant to (sometimes, devoting a little extra time to a work out can be the difference between an obligation and true enjoyment of the thing!)
  • Chatting instead of doing homework in the campus cafe with my best friends

Hopefully you’re finding ways to get a little calm into your day during this busy start to the fall!

Books to Fall For: September 2013

It’s been hard to find time to read as I ease into the business of school, but I’ve been loving the little moments of relaxation I pick up here and there.  Here are my book recommendations for September!

1) The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Euginedes

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Read It If You’re Craving: sweater-cuddled New England falls accompanied by a stack of Great Literature and a cinnamon dolce latte.

Why I Love It: Oh, this book.  I picked it up by happenstance at the bookstore, and have been able to put it down only reluctantly since.  It speaks to so many aspects of my little creative soul: the characters are all liberal arts students at Brown who discuss the greatest authors of British literature wittily; there are scenes of New England weather followed by beautiful descriptions of European travel; and, my favorite, the author goes deeply into the emotional development of his characters, delving into the weird little ways our mind works out relationships. I don’t want to go into the plot too much, but it’s a love story for the wacked out world we live in today.

2) The September Issue(s)

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Read It If You’re Craving: a high-fashion infusion without the $5,000 dollar price tag, or a front row seat at Fashion Week.
Why I Love It: As a fashion lover/college student, I’m constantly embattled in the struggle for high style at a low price. Not to mention the fact that I spend most of my days clothed in some assemblage of Lycra/Spandex composites.  I love the little luxury that fashion magazines provides: gorgeous spreads, plus well-written editorials about creative subjects? I’m always ready. With the September issue, there’s always more to love.  Like, 800 pages.  I was so excited to get my Vogue that I had my mom send it cross country. You know you’re in love when…(Note: my favorites are Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, but with the wealth of fashion tomes on the market, there’s something for every taste!)
3) Joy the Baker
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Read It If You’re Craving: tons of delicious recipes for comforting sweets, all with little twists to keep life interesting.
Why I Love It: This one’s on my wish list, but I had a chance to page through it at the bookstore and developed a deep love affair with the recipes in here. Joy has such a natural and friendly approach to baking, and injects humor into it–I love that in a cookbook!  Very reminiscent of The Pioneer Woman. Her pictures are also beautiful to look at.  I love getting a little photography style with my desserts. I get my daily treat from Joy’s blog, but I can’t wait to have this book on my shelf…and I’m sure my friends can’t wait for all the delicious treats in their future, either.

The Worrier’s Guide to Relaxation

I came to a startling realization this summer: I have forgotten how to relax.  At some point in the last three years, I have gone from someone who could sit for hours enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee, to a girl who gets anxious if I sit down for more than half an hour.  I’m conflicted about this personality trait. On the one hand, worriers get stuff done.  Very rarely do I panic about something that’s due tomorrow, because I’ve been working like a crazy person to get it done, and done well, for the past week. But on the other hand, I tend to work myself to the bone for something, and after I’ve accomplished it, thought to myself: “now, why did I freak out about that? That wasn’t bad at all.” Nothing like awesome hindsight skills. This semester has begun in an interesting way, and I’m already feeling a little out of sorts.  My past two years at school, I feel like I’ve known where I’m going and what the next goal is. Now that I’m beginning to steer a little more towards the English minor side of my degree, I’m beginning to feel a little bit out-to-sea.  How important is getting cast/called back? How important is it to be writing at least an hour a day?  How important is it to remain calm, cool and collected during the craziness? And, possibly the most problematic of all, how do I keep myself from sinking under the weight of all these questions? So I am making a commitment to becoming a better relaxer (I think that sentence says a lot about my personality: I can’t just relax. I have to COMMIT to it. Oi vey, y’all).  I’ve been brainstorming some ways to get my mind and body into that comfort zone…but I would love some suggestions! This is going to be a bit of an uphill battle for my little worry-wart self…good thing I love a challenge.

ways to relax

Books to Fall in Love With: August 2013

I am always in search of new soul mates. Usually the hunt takes me to Barnes and Noble, where I can sit for hours with a latte (or, more healthfully, a water bottle) and interview possible candidates, reading the first 20 pages or so of each in a stack of promising participants. The note on my iPhone of “Books I Need to Read” is beginning to get overwhelmingly long. As much as I love wandering onto the next love of my life, sometimes it’s nice to get a little recommendation and guidance!

That’s where this post comes in. Each month, I’ll suggest a couple new books for your reading pleasure.  My literature habits tend to be all over the board, so get ready for plenty of variety.

Note: I would love to hear about your latest great book finds!

1) Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Read if you’re craving…amazing contemporary writing, beautiful character development, and enough plot twists to make your brain explode. This is a great mystery novel for non-mystery readers!

Why I love it…I am a little late to hop onto this train, but I was absolutely engrossed in this book from the start. It’s been hard to put down! While the story line is intriguing, I’m a little more obsessed with the writing. The wordplay and skill with which Flynn crafts her characters is almost breathtaking, and something I find missing in a lot of contemporary work.  I will be rereading this one, I can tell you that!

2) Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell

Read if you’re craving…new characters to fall in love with, sunny summer Southern days, luxurious descriptions of a time gone by…and a heroine who deserves her spot in the top spitfires of literature.

Why I love it…for some reason, this has become my go-to for days spent outside laying in the grass. It’s a bit of a tome (kind of hard to drag around with my towel/sunglasses combo), but I have fallen for the charms of Scarlett O’Hara. Sometimes there’s nothing like a classic.  Even if you’ve seen the movie (I haven’t), I’d recommend checking this one out. Gotta love the conflict when your heroine is a total selfish brat.

3) Cooked, by Michael Pollan

Read if you’re craving…an inside look at how food has shaped our culture and the world today.  This book is good for anyone! I would especially recommend it to anyone interested in ANY aspect of food: cooking, nutrition, styling. Or, you know, eating.

Why I love it…Michael Pollan is one of the most arresting food authors of our time, in my opinion. In this book, he goes beyond recommendations for living your life, and into the complex nature of how food and the way we cook it shapes us.  The book is divided into sections of the elements.  My favorite is Air, in which he works with Chad Robertson, the baker of the best bread in America. Come on. A whole section about bakin

 

What I Want to Read…Anglophile Obsessions

I am constantly reading.  I somehow feel like I have even more time for it now that I’m in college…mostly because I make time for it.  Whether it’s five minutes before I’m off to class, or even a few snatched hours with a cup of coffee and a candle warmer on the weekends, I always seem to find a minute to fit in the new favorite book.  One of the reasons I’m looking forward to summer is continuing my ever growing reading list.  I am looking forward to applying for a Rhodes Scholarship in the next two years, and with that comes a pretty dramatic British literature reading list.  So needless to say, this summer will be spent soaking in some English gardens and countrysides.  Here are some of the British history books I’m crushing on that aren’t on any approved reading list, but will be filling up my bedside table nonetheless.

Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired

Below Stairs, by Margaret Powell

This is the book that inspired both Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey! I’ve been reading bits and pieces every time I’m at Barnes and Noble, and I’m obsessed.  It’s filled with delicious little tidbits about the lives of servants and the gentry in British manors at the turn of the century.  Both moving and hilarious (Margaret has quite the dry sense of humour), you’ll devour it in a few days.  And then go flip on netflix for a little time with the Crawleys.

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

I am obsessed with this book.  I read it at the start of the year…and lost my copy. Sigh.  But I love it so much that I believe I will be buying it again on my Nook.  It is just that good.  The book follows the life of Thomas Cromwell, a lowly peasant raised up to the nobility during the time of King Henry the Eighth.  Mantel follows his thorny path, twisting from regime to regime while trying to keep his head on his shoulders–literally.  This is an inspiring book for writers; I’ve never read anything quite like it!

Notes from a Small Island

Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson

I had been meaning to read this book for ages, and finally got around to it this year.  Bill Bryson is one of the funniest authors you will ever have the pleasure to read, and this book is both charming and realistic.  It goes past our view of Hogwarts and Beatrix Potter England into the realities of industrialization and commercialization, but still leaves you wanting to hop on the next flight to Heathrow.  A great ride through the British countryside for those of us stuck on a North American couch.

Where Are You Summer?

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I don’t know if I have ever felt the need for summer quite as bad as this year.  In high school, summer was a time of long days filled with not much to do–a couple of low key summer jobs, doing a huge list of chores with my brother, reading books, swimming with friends…

Now I’m looking forward to working full time at a theatre lighting company, and hopefully teaching some theatre classes.  Which is to say: I am going to be one busy girl.

I was a little nervous about this at first.  Everyone (it seems) is planning amazing vacations to Guatemala or going hiking for three months or working on Broadway…and I will be working my butt off to save up money in order to study abroad next summer.  Sigh.

But then I realized how incredible this is going to be.  I am going to have no anxiety for three months.  No homework assignments due, no huge projects on the way (besides preparing for those classes…which barely even counts as work).  I will have time to read, to write (yay!), to work out, to cook in a real kitchen.  I can appreciate the time spent relaxing with my family and some of my best friends.  This will also be the last summer I get to spend in my childhood home before my family moves and downsizes.  So really, I should be thanking my lucky stars. So much to be thankful for!

Plus the fact that in two weeks I will be on my way to Disneyworld for a four day vacation.  So, there’s that.

Basically, I need this year to be over.  It’s been a long and stressful one, and I’m ready to move on to new adventures! But don’t worry–I am going to try and live in the moments of joy that these last two weeks will bring.  Hope you all are getting as pumped up as I am, even if it’s just for warm weather!

La Vie en Paris

I’ve been needing some escape these past few weeks.  And since I am currently still finishing up my sophomore year in a landlocked state, the opportunities for gorgeous escape destinations are rather few and far between.  So I’ve been using my favorite (and least expensive!) travel option: reading a book.

Cue that reading rainbow song.  I’m every kindergarten English teacher’s dream.

Seriously, though.  There is nothing better than finishing up a long day, running a bubble bath, and just soaking while reading a good book.  It’s my time to destress, forget about the worries that I’ve been carrying with me, and finally breathe a sigh of relief.

This therapy, plus some hard core running workouts while watching Say Yes to the Dress, have been protecting my sanity for the past two weeks, and will probably continue to do so up until I get into my car and drive back home.

Currently, my reading list has been filled with trips to far away lands.  More specifically, to Paris.  The list of “one year in Paris” memoirs is surprisingly long, and they all provide a sweet and decadent trip across the Pond, without the thousand dollar price tag.  Here are my current favorites!

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Find it here

This sweet little memoir details a year spent in Paris searching for the best sweets, en francaise.  Amy Thomas details her adventures as a reporter searching for the perfect macarons and chocolats while also giving a glimpse into a life of a 20-something expat in a new country.  It’s an absolute dream job, and I can’t help but read the book and wish I was living it! Paris plus sweets.  My two favorite things.

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Find it here

Eloisa James is the best romance novel author there is (yes, I’ve read a few. Sue me).  But she branches out into her real life in this wonderful memoir.  As a Shakespeare professor (hello, dream job!), Eloisa is allowed to take sabbatical.  And after a bout with breast cancer leaves her searching for meaning, she decides to take a year abroad in Paris…with her teenager, tween, and husband in tow.  This book is a collection of her Facebook and email entries, edited and fleshed out.  They’re beautiful little nougats of Parisian goodness, with all the history, personality, and yes, food, that you could wish for.  This was the greatest spring break read ever!

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Find it here

This memoir is the stuff of a romantic comedy: Elizabeth Bard, witty and pithy classic American beauty, falls head over heels for a debonair French PhD student.  And they continue talking. And emailing. And visiting.  And finally, she decides to move to Paris to be with him…and great soul searching and hilarity ensues.  What really makes this memoir special, however, are the recipes interspersed and tied in with her stories.  Whether it’s a hearty noodle dish made for a late dinner after a morning spent in bed, or a delicious dessert straight out of a French picnic, reading these recipes of love makes my mouth water.  And makes me wish The Boyfriend (aka Navy Boy) had a secret flat in the 10th Arrondissement.

If you need a vacation, head to your nearest Barnes and Noble and pick one of these up! You will not be disappointed, je promets.

Bonne journee!