Saturday, May 30, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend

Hello Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. This post is a little late, but I wanted to document all the fun that was had last week. I spent my weekend relaxing and drinking copious of Starbucks. On Friday afternoon my family, sans brother, drove down to Bloomington-Normal, IL for my cousin's graduation party. I love Normal because it has great record stores, lots of cute little shops, and my aunt and uncle have a pool we can never pass up.

We stopped in Grand Rapids on the way down to take advantage of the Memorial Day sales. I managed to find lots of pieces I loved at J. Crew (which I never go into because of the steep prices) and walked out with a couple shirts. I also went and ordered about four more items online the next day because I needed petites that weren't available in the store. I'm excited to finally have some new additions to my wardrobe. Now all I need are a pair of summer pants/capris for work and a good pair of sandals. While in Grand Rapids we also stopped into the Lush Cosmetics store. I've bought my mom a couple bath bombs, but she had never been in their actual store before. I think she was really impressed by the whole experience. Both my mom and I tried out their Mask of Magnaminty and I ended up buying a small pot of that for myself. I also got a sample of the Dark Angel face wash and the Vanishing Cream moisturizer. I love Lush products and was bummed we didn't have more time to spend in the store (we ended up taking a long time other places and my dad wanted to get back on the road). The rest of the night was spent driving, during which I got some reading done and started listening to More Than This by Patrick Ness once it got dark.

On Saturday my dad and I went to the record stores in Uptown where I found a used White Album from The Beatles. I've had my eye on one at our local record store in TC, but it was quite expensive. Luckily the stores down in IL tend to be more reasonably priced and this one was much more in line with my budget. I also grabbed a Diana Ross and the Supremes Anthology. Both are great records and I was excited to walk out of North Street Records with them in hand. If you're ever in the area I'd recommend a stop into North Street; they have a well rounded record selection that never disappoints.

After record shopping my dad and I had to make a stop at Starbucks for my cousins. I rarely drink Starbucks at home because I prefer the local coffee shops, but my cousins are HUGE Starbucks drinkers. When they suggest making a coffee run I am not one to turn down that opportunity, even if it's twice in one day. I don't even want to think about how much money was spent on coffee during that weekend alone. We also spent Saturday in the pool splashing around and playing volleyball games until we ripped a massive hole in the net and gave up.

The graduate and family

The graduate and Grandma

That evening the rest of the family went to Eric's graduation ceremony while I stayed home with the dogs. My grandma's dog gets anxious when she's alone and I didn't feel the need to sit through the ceremony, so things worked out quite well for the both of us.

Bailey (top), Jojo (left) and Me relaxing on the couch. 

Sunday was the day of the party. It's funny now thinking about my own high school graduation and party. Those events simultaneously feel like they happened yesterday and ten years ago (granted it has actually been seven years to be exact). Everyone getting together, seeing people you know but don't actually know, being asked the same questions over and over again. Little did I know that would be the beginning of a whole new part of life. People never stop asking you those questions, "what happens next, what's the plan, what do you want to do?" So much happens after high school but graduation and that whole time surrounding those events are equally significant. Take time to appreciate those friends that stopped by the party because that might be your final goodbye. Take time to think about those questions because even though you don't need to have all the answers at that very moment, they still need answers.

My uncle Dale, Eric, and my dad. I love this picture.

Despite a few patches of rain, Eric and his friend's party was a successful event and it's always nice to see family. There was lots of laughter and smiles to go around. Plus it's hard to beat a menu of fancy mini cupcakes and Moe's Southwest Grill. Congratulations again Eric and good luck in Utah!!

Monday was dedicated to the drive back to Michigan. Luckily for us we were heading in the opposite direction to most of the traffic. Sometimes it's difficult to remember why we celebrate Memorial Day. It's easy to think of the holiday as just another excuse for grilling out and drinking beer, but we wouldn't be able to have weekends like that without the sacrifice of so many service men, women, and families. One day out of the year just doesn't seem like enough. I am forever grateful to those individuals who serve and protect this country.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

More Books

Well hello there,

I bought a ridiculous number of books over the last few months that I thought I'd share with you all.

Please let me know if you find these videos interesting, if you've read any of the books that were mentioned, or if you plan on reading any of them!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bout of Books 13.0 Wrap-Up

Hey Guys!

If you saw my last post you'll know I participated in my first Booktube readathon last week. Since I didn't feel like making a wrap up video for just a couple of books I thought I'd mention it here on the blog. I honestly had no idea how many books I'd manage to finish within the seven days. I'm not the fastest reader and had other stuff going on all week long. I did however managed to finish two whole books and about 3/4th of a third. Like I said, not the greatest but also not a complete failure either.

The two books I completed were To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway and the graphic novel Boxers by Gene Luen Yang. The third almost completed book was One More Thing by B. J. Novak.

Honestly I couldn't make up my mind on To Have and Have Not. Since it was my first Hemingway, I didn't know what to expect and I never really came to a conclusion with my feelings about his writing. I will read more of his works and have to decide later. I don't know why, but I was surprised at the differences between the movie and the book. Overall the story was enjoyable but it was all the little characteristics that bugged me; his casual use of racial slurs and his use of female characters purely for their emotional response to the storyline of the male characters, among other things. I realize he wrote this in a different time period, but I don't think it's useful to always use that as an excuse not to bring it up.

As far as Boxers is concerned, I loved Gene Luen Yang's artistic style. His art managed to be simplistic but detailed at the same time and the colors he used were beautiful. The story was also well done, but I can't say too much because I don't know anything about that part of history. I'd love to hear people's ideas of the novel who have studied the Boxer Rebellion and Chinese history.

Lastly, I may not be done with One More Thing but I can already say this book is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. B.J. Novak is a brilliant writer who manages to create so many witty and thought provoking stories. This collection has a voice of its own and I've already recommended the book to both my parents. I'd really love to get my hands on the One More Thing audiobook because I have a feeling listening to Novak read these stories would make them even better.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

TBR For Bout of Books 13.0 and The Rest of May

May 11th through the 17th is the Bout of Books readathon, so I decided to join the fun and attempt to get some books read. I'm currently reading To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, which are the first books on the list.

Let me know if you are participating in Bout of Books or if you've read/want to read any of the books I mentioned!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

5 Things I Admire Most About My Mom

1. She's incredibly hard working- My mom works harder than most people I know. She's always staying late at work or answering questions at home. She is an important asset to any team and definitely an irreplaceable mother.

2. She's a great teacher- My mom is a patient person and always willing to help people learn. When my brother and I were in school we could count on her to look after our education. My mom was always involved in our school lives growing up. She fought for teachers and math programs, and when she realized I wasn't learning how to read she found me a better school with teachers who were more willing to help. Granted in second grade I thought the world was ending because I had to leave all my friends, but I'm incredibly thankful I have the ability to read now.

3. She's intelligent- She reads a lot and my earliest memories always include my mom sitting with a book in hand. All I wanted was to grow up and be able to read like her. She knows so much and I love having discussions with her about anything and everything. She has helped me out with writing papers, finishing math problems, understanding history lessons, remembering vocabulary words, and anything else I could have needed help with over the years.

4. She's supportive- My mom has been there for me through thick and thin. She has always been supportive of my ideas and ambitions. She was at practically every dance concert (which was a lot) and has always encouraged me to do what I love. No matter how crazy my ideas get, she always gives me faith in my ability to pursue those ideas. Even at 25 it's still nice to hear her words of encouragement. No matter how down I get about life she's always there to help pick me up.

5. She's super creative- I think she needs to be an interior decorator or an event planner. My mom is crazy organized, and she loves helping people with parties and weddings. She's incredibly detail oriented; everything has a place and a purpose. Friends and family members always go to her for advice on decorating or party planning. She can envision a space put together in her own original way.

My mom is my inspiration. She's everything I hope to be.

Love you!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Top Played Updated 2015

Well hello there,

Three years ago I shared a list of my top 25 most played songs in iTunes and I figured it was now time for an update. There are quite a few songs on this list that overlap with the previous list, but then again the two are surprisingly different. When I look at the 25 songs below I can still pin point when each one joined the group. All the songs have a different meaning or memory that I can connect to the different parts of my life. For that reason, this list seems more like a representation of myself than anything else I could create.

1. Nicest Thing by Kate Nash - 143 plays
2. Re: Stacks by Bon Iver - 136 plays
3. Skinny Love by Bon Iver - 135 plays
4. Winter by Joshua Radin - 131 plays
5. What Sarah Said by Death Cab for Cutie - 122 plays
6. World Spins Madly On by The Weepies - 122 plays
7. Wrapped In Piano Strings by Radical Face - 117 plays
8. Laundry Room by The Avett Brothers - 116 plays *
9. The Outdoor Type by The Lemonheads- 116 plays
10. I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers - 113 plays
11. Grey Street by Dave Matthews Band - 112 plays
12. Sunday Kind of Love by Etta James - 109 plays
13. Sleeping Sickness by City and Colour - 108 plays
14. I'm In Need by Mike Hale - 108 plays
15. I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie - 107 plays
16. We Sing In Time by The Lonely Forest - 100 plays
17. This Town by Joe Purdy - 99 plays
18. Jesus Christ by Brand New - 95 plays
19. The Freshman by The Verve Pipe - 95 plays
20. Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran - 94 plays
21. Mae by The Gaslight Anthem - 92 plays
22. From Eden by Hozier - 91 plays
23. Ho Hey by The Lumineers - 91 plays**
24. I'll Be Seeing You by Billie Holiday - 90 plays
25. Dead Sea by The Lumineers - 90 plays

Honorable Mentions:
26. Above The Bones by Mishka - 90 plays
27. Set The Fire To The Third Bar by Snow Patrol - 90 plays
28. The Galway Girl by Steve Earle - 90 plays
29. I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston - 90 plays

It's fun to look back at the old list and see how my music tastes have changed, as I've discovered new musicians or gone through lulls in listening to certain bands. I think I'll always love these songs. Even if I go through times where I don't feel like listening to these bands at all, eventually I'll rediscover them and it'll feel like coming back home. Certainly this is only a small representation of the music that I listen to and greatly appreciate. It'd probably be more interesting to see a list of the top 50 or 100 played because I'm sure that would have varied much more over the years. Most of these have been near the top since the very beginning and I doubt some will ever really change that much.

What are your top played song? Do you think they represent your current music taste or a broader timeline?


*fun fact: I chose this video because that Bonnaroo live stream was where I first discovered The Avett Brothers. I like to rewatch that performance every now and then to get a sense of the magical energy I felt that day, even from hundreds of miles away through a computer screen. My love has only grown for these guys and the beautiful music they create.

**After searching the interwebs for a while I was saddened to discover they must have taken down the original video. That recording (which I obsessively watched for months before they even released the song for purchase) was another favorite of mine. I was instantly captivated by the raw joy you could see floating around the performance. It honestly looked like they were having a blast and although I understand why they might take it down to get people to watch the official music video instead, I'm sad it's no longer available. The one I linked to just isn't the same.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The One Where I Do It For Another Month

Hey Guys!

So last month I wrote a post telling you guys I was going to make my bed every day for the month of April. I'm happy to report that the aforementioned challenge was successfully completely. I even made my bed this morning out of habit, so I think the behavior has stuck.

I need some decorative pillows or something. Those are things I had as a child and completely rejected because I thought they were a hassle. Now I guess I see the point.

At first the practice of making the bed seemed like such a chore, but by the end of the month it became a normal part of my day. The only time I didn't officially make my "bed" was when I slept on the couch while we painted my bedroom. I did however make sure to clean up all the sheets and blankets I was using as a way to continue the exercise.

I like keeping myself on my toes, so for the month of May I've chosen to follow along with a yoga video every day. There's lots of options for yoga practices on Youtube and I'm not planning on following any particular person, but if I find someone I really love I might stick to them. I do already follow Yoga with Adriene and Fightmaster Yoga on Youtube so I'll most likely start there. I also found this list to help widen my search.

I have been really lagging in the fitness department lately. No running, no yoga, some sporadic at home crunches and jumping jacks but nothing long enough to really get my heart rate up or build muscle tone. I went for a bike ride with my dad two weeks ago and haven't ridden since (although this weekend is really nice and I'm hoping to get out). Hopefully this will help kick start a fitness routine again (along with the use of my new planner).

Since April went by so quickly I had to choose a habit for this month pretty last minute... as in yesterday. I did pick one off of the list I mentioned in the original post, but I think I'd like to be a little bit more prepared next time. I'm not gonna lie, I didn't do yoga yesterday so this month isn't off to a great start, but I'm hoping I can get back on track.