Saturday, June 21, 2014

Solstice and other musings

Welcome summer! Thought it doesn't really feel like summer right now. Mainly because I'm inside enjoying the air conditioning and it's just a little bit cloudy overhead, made even darker by the lush green leaves from the forest of trees my little cabin in the woods is surrounded by.

I've been enjoying the warmer weather this week all the same. In fact, for most of this past week and the week before I was on a mini vacation around Maryland and West Virginia with my fiance who was visiting from Oklahoma.

I haven't really posted on here in awhile, mainly because I've been suffering from a lack of creative drive and also because I've just been too dang busy! For those of you out there working in jobs that might not really fuel your passions, I am sure you can relate to me when I tell you that even just working a regular 9-5 job can completely drain the life force right out of you if it's not something you're passionate about every day.

I started this blog in the hopes to escape all of that, to try and find a little piece of my own creative space here in the great, wide internets. I love to write, and I still write pretty much everyday but I just haven't found the time nor the motivation to share that with anyone else here for some months. I don't think there are very many people out there who read my musings anyway, so I suppose no one has really missed my ramblings. But I gotta say, it does feel good to see the words start to fill up the screen again. I hope that I can stick to a better posting schedule in the future, I have so many ideas for postings and stories and blogs to share, even if no one ever reads them. I want them out there.

That leads me to this post, about summer, this being the first day of summer and all. It feels like a day for new beginnings, regardless of whether or not it looks summery outside. And even if I definitely don't feel summery inside. My vacation was delightful, a refreshing reminder that it's so important to take time away from the things that drain us. To step outside into the sunlight, to cool off with a dip in calm waters, maybe even fly through the trees while harnessed to a cable. To remind ourselves that no matter how far down we might be weighed by that hefty weight called responsibility, there's still time and room for fun.

There's still space for creativity, for warmth. For spots of sunshine and summer.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Currently 4

Well, I have been horribly remiss with my blogging these past few weeks. Things have just been so busy around here with work, getting the house in order, my BIRTHDAY! and well...life. I haven't even really had time to schedule posts, I really need to get on that. Also, now that we are all done with winter (Yes, I said it, winter is OVER. In fact I refuse to acknowledge any freak storms that might happen in the next week. Today was 83 degrees, bring on the warmth!) so I shouldn't be making up any time for work either. Which means it's time to start preparing for vacations and holidays! I definitely don't have as much travel planned this year as I have in years past, but I am hoping to take some mini trips to anywhere over the next few months.

Now, onto what has been going on this week and this Sunday currently:

Reading: Kristen Britain's "Green Rider" series, it's good. High fantasy, definitely similar to what I usually read. Also reading the Untethered Soul (along the lines of Buddhist traditions, but I'm not sure I like it yet, or at all. I don't like the idea of trying to "get rid of part of myself" as the book suggests with the constantly "on voice" people usually hear in their heads.)
Writing: Homework assignments mostly, unfortunately.
Listening: I have really been in an Alternative Country mood the past few days. I think it's the heat and the sun, so I've been listening to Neko Case a lot. Probably also brought on by Lydia Loveless
(Alternative country for some reason always means double bass. And that's alright by me!)
Thinking: About redecorating the basement, and how I really need to plan out more blog posts. I have so many ideas and haven't really done a thing with them.
Smelling: Beef stew. nuff said.
Wishing: That weekends lasted longer than 48 hours.
Hoping: for the determination to actually go for a run tomorrow. And every day this week. I really need to get back in shape. Especially since summer is coming, and I have so many cute dresses.
Wearing: Shorts and a tshirt and a bandana.
Loving:The Baltimore Farmer's market! This was my second Sunday ever going to this market and it's wonderful! I picked up some mint, lemon balm and lavender as well as a huge pot of other assorted herbs, and a pot of mixed lettuces that I am very much looking forward to eating in the coming weeks. I also got some smoked peach jam and that will be part of my Monday morning breakfast. I am actually looking forward to Monday morning :)
Wanting: My fiance to come visit so that I can show him around the market. He's from here and has never been to the market before. Though Farmer's markets aren't usually his thing, but I think he'd enjoy this one. Especially once I take him by the fresh donut man. Yeah...mmmm
Needing: A stud finder. Need to hang curtains and some bars to hang my pans from.
Feeling:  Quite accomplished, yes it was a short week but I got quite a bit done. That's what happens when you have to wake up at 6am on Saturday AND Sunday. Soooo much time. I still want longer weekends. :D

I so love participating in Sidda Thornton's Sunday Currently posts. I really need to make sure I keep up with them each week!
siddathornton

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Currently 3

Well, this is my third edition of the Sunday Currently and I still enjoy the prompt. It really helps to kind of stop and take a moment to think about not just what has been going on throughout the day and week but also to reconnect with what I'm actually working on. You know, rather than going through the motions of just doing things, it's nice to be present with each item. Plus I love lists.

This weekend has been really busy, I decided to make a trip out to Ikea yesterday and note to self: Don't go to Ikea alone or with a small hatchback. Getting things into the car is hell. Getting things out of the car and into the house is hell. And according to Buzzfeed, and it really is true, putting Ikea furniture together is Satan's favorite hobby. Truly. I always jack something up when trying to put that damn cheap and still so addictive furniture together. When it's just a bookshelf or 4 piece table, no problem, I can usually work around the slightly wobbly shelves. But when it comes to the really nice kitchen cart I was actually looking forward to using...not so much. Think anyone will notice if I just glue it together? Also, going to Ikea in a dress, totally fine if you're just picking up a couple of plants, maybe some pots or prints. A dresser and a kitchen cart? Wear pants. Wear pants and bring a friend. Silver lining? I didn't regret the $1 frozen yogurt.

Today was great too. I went to my first bridal show in Baltimore and I LOVE free samples! Also, I think if bakeries are going to provide free tastings they should also give out gym coupons. Just saying. I'm still not sure on ANY of the particulars of the wedding yet, but I loved all of the venues and Rouge Catering's bacon sticks and s'mores on a stick? DELISH! 

Well, I guess it's time to get to the point of this post, without further ado here's what's going on currently:

Reading: I took a trip to the bookstore yesterday and picked up Sadie Jones' "The Uninvited Guests" and Helene Wecker's "The Golem and the Jinni." I started reading the Uninvited Guests last night, it's interesting. Very post-Victorian. I'm not sure if I like it yet, it's almost like the author is trying to hard to be one of the Bronte sisters, but the premise sounds intriguing. I love dinner party mysteries.
Writing: conference post responses for my non-profit marketing and design classes
Listening: I've got the Gilmore Girls on in the background.
Thinking: about all of the things I need to do to get the house in order.
Smelling: nothing at the moment
Wishing: still wishing for magical unpacking fairies.
Hoping: I have a couple of business ventures that I'm hoping come to fruition before the end of 2014, I don't want to jinx anything by sharing it too soon, but hopefully they will be shared on the blog in the coming months.
Wearing: t-shirt, jean capris, and my favorite comfy red cardigan. And my engagement ring that has been successfully resized and cleaned and looks perfect. As well as the "mod square" pink polish by Essie.
Loving: Free cake samples and bottomless mimosas!
Wanting: a new camera.
Needing: A bigger closet, or less clothes. Probably a bigger closet.
Feeling:  A blend of accomplished and overwhelmed. It's a weird feeling. I've gotten a lot done this week, but I still have so much to do! I need a personal assistant just to get through the day to day.

siddathornton

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Sunday Currently 2

Well this has been quite a hectic week for me. I just moved to a new house and I'm trying not to feel too overwhelmed by all of the boxes and clutter that are currently taking up space in all my rooms. I'm also doing my "anti-snow dance" while looking for the Elsa of the Northeast because I really don't want another snow day tomorrow. As nice as another day of unpacking would be, I can't afford that time off of work. First world problems I suppose. Though I'm stocked up on beer, tunes and some delicious fresh focaccia bread from the local bakery AND I've got a fabulous wraparound deck that is just begging for a warm mug of tea during an early morning snow.

Here's what's going on with me Currently:

siddathornton

Reading: blog posts and decorating books. I have so many ideas for the new place, I hope I can share a lot of the ideas I use here on the blog.
Writing: I'm not really writing at the moment, too busy unpacking. Where are all my pens?!
Listening: to an episode of the Gilmore Girls. Love that show! And my fiancé has the Clone Wars cartoon on on his side of the FaceTime connection.
Thinking: about the kinds of flowers and plants I want to grow first in my new garden!
Smelling: fresh paint and the shampoo my salon uses since I just got my haircut today
Wishing: no snow!
Hoping: to have everything unpacked and hopefully set up for a housewarming party by the end of the month. My new dining table is getting delivered on the 27th and I can't wait to share this custom piece with friends and family. It's beautiful, unique and just plain cool.
Wearing: jeans and my rocking Mickey Mouse tank top. Unpacking and moving is quite a workout.
Loving: the view from my windows. All trees and seclusion and the occasional deer.
Wanting: packing elves to help me get all my stuff unpacked and put away.
Needing: packing elves to help me get all my stuff unpacked and put away.
Feeling: a little frazzled by the move but still pretty happy.

Hope everyone else is having a fabulous weekend! And if you're in the Maryland/PA/VA area, snow or no? Are you all prepared for what is hopefully the last snow of the season?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

More blogging ideas

As many of you reading this blog can probably tell, I am by no means a blogging expert. In fact I've been blogging for a whole month and a half (consistently) at this point. So who am I to give out blog prompt advice?

Well, I'm just a girl who has always loved blogging. Since the very beginning I have loved reading what other people have to say about their lives, their interests, their passions, careers, homes, what have you. And I know that sometimes it can be a little bit difficult to constantly come up with unique and interesting posts that people might actually WANT to read. I know it's sure as hell hard for me!! And I've got the benefit of tapping into years of other people's experiences with blogging to help. Heh.

One thing that has really helped me this past month to be consistent with my blogging is something that almost every successful blogger uses and expounds at great length. Scheduled posts. Though what does that really mean to us newbie bloggers? I mean at first I thought, ok so they just go through a calendar and write a blog idea for each day? And then as I researched it more I realized that many bloggers pick a day or even a couple of days and plan out their upcoming posts. This is actually pretty easy to do if you have weekly themes to your posts like "Friday Favorites, Meditation Mondays, Tasty (or Travel Tuesdays)," so on and so forth. You kind of get into the habit of thinking about and specifically writing for these daily prompts.

But what if you don't have recurring themes like that? Or if you don't WANT to have a set theme for each day because maybe it will pigeon hole you into ALWAYS having to write the same kinds of posts every week, which can get a bit boring and redundant. Well, I have some posting ideas that might help. If you're interested in travel, you should take a look at my list of 13 Travel Writing prompts to start. And if you don't have a specific interest but are just a renaissance gal or guy, here is a list of 14 Random prompts for ya:

Are You Creative?

1. Write a post about sketching, provide prompts and ideas and sketching know-how
2. How to paint with <insert chosen medium here> 
3. List out some journal, collage, drawing or writing prompts. (Like this post! :D )
4. (Into decorating?) Providing a step-by-step guide for decorating any space

Crafty?

1. Write a how to on sewing your favorite item (skirt, pajama pants, bags, etc)
2. Write and/or show the process in creating a decorative item for your favorite holiday
3. Handy with re-purposing Ikea furniture? Tell us how!

Interested in Psychology?

1. Write about tips for dealing with anxiety (I know I'd read it!)
2. Time management tips and tricks for the chronic procrastinator!
3. Tips for better communication with your spouse or significant other

Talented Chef?

1. What are your top five easy-peasy, favorite recipes?
2. Meal planning for dummies (for reals yo, I still don't get it...)
3. Try a new recipe a day, or week or month!
4. Top ten kitchen must-haves!

Of course, you don't have to use these exact ideas, but maybe they will spark a creative fire in you and help to break through that blogging block if you find yourself stuck and in need of a good blog post! Happy Blogging!

Monday, March 10, 2014

March Mini Monthly Milestones

Prague, 2011
The image above is where I spent my spring three years ago. Traveling Europe has always been a dream of mine, kind of ongoing since I've already been to 5 European countries in less than 3 years...Yet, I've been daydreaming about Prague a lot lately, I wish I could add it to my travel itinerary for this year as well. Maybe...or maybe I'll just keep dreaming.

Until then I'll just focus on some more immediate dreams and milestones that I would like to reach. At the beginning of the year I set out to accomplish a number of different goals or milestones each month. January I wanted to write more, and I did. Though I didn't keep up with it as much in Feb. However, in February I wanted to work on loving myself more and while that is going to be a very long work in progress, I think I've come a long way in just over a month. I still have my moments, as so many of us do I'm sure. But it ain't nothin' a kick ass song like this one can't fix. (Ok seriously, that song is just the bees knees. And can we resurrect that phrase? I love it.)

So my March milestones are as follows:

1. Keep working on developing a solid morning and evening routine. I have been in desperate need for some routine in my life for quite awhile. I can't keep falling out of bed an hour and a half (*cough*2 hours*cough*) after my alarm goes off just to have barely enough time to brush my teeth, put on semi-decent clothing, feed and walk the dog and then rush off to work. That is seriously what my mornings consist of most days ya'll and it's just...well it's a giant pain in the rear! So...yeah time to work on that.

2. This month I am going to be working on blog and web design more. I have a couple of ideas for how I would like this blog to look and sure, I could work with a professional designer (and I just might at that in the future) but I would really like to try and figure some things out for myself as well, if I can. So that'll be fun.

On a side note, I realized yesterday that I had completely forgotten to update my Bloglovin button when I changed my name around after I first started blogging. (I went through a brainstorming process before landing on "Spotted Sunshine.") It's probably not a huge deal now since I'm so new and have like... 2 followers (I love you guys be tee dubs!) But I imagine it's probably confused and turned off some other would be followers...so yeah I am pretty sure/hope that's fixed now.

Also...I need to take more pictures. Because, I've heard, that pictures are good or something. 

3. I'm moving to a new place this Friday. YAY! so my third milestone is to pack, clean, unpack, clean and start DECORATING! I am beyond excited for the new place. It's just...I could gush. I will gush, in another post. It's amazing and I love it. Check out this post for some pictures!

4. More self-love and positivity. With the move and everything else that life throws around, I have been having quite a stress-filled and anxiety riddled time of it lately. So this month, I am going to work on just trying to be positive and calm as much as possible. Especially since next month is my birthday and I want to start the big 2-7 off right! Know what I mean? 

5. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise. (It's emboldened, italicized AND underlined, so you know I'm for serious) One of my fitness goals last year was to be able to dead-lift 300lbs by my 27th birthday. That is NOT going to happen unless I get bitten by a radio active spider in the near future unfortunately. So I plan to start working out a lot more this month. I don't plan on overdoing it (which is I think what burned me out before) but I definitely need to step it up. Plus I have a wedding and a super hunky fiance to prep for. Plus he's all Drill Sergeant, running all the time badass. And I'm just over here like "Man I could eat another Papa John's family sized cookie." womp womp womp. Time for this cookie monster to get back to the gym!!

That about wraps it up for March's goals. What about you guys? Got any milestones you're hoping to achieve this month/year/lifetime?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My Sunday Currently 1

So I'm totally procrastinating (slash also multitasking? yeah that's a little better..) on my programming final exam in order to join up with the "Sunday Currently" link up.

Here's a little bit of what I've got going on Currently:

Reading: Python and various other programming documents. And book-wise: "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself" an interesting read about changing your mindset to reduce stress and anxiety and you know, all that new-agey *being a better person* stuff. It was hard to get into at first but I'm enjoying it.
Writing: essay answers to my programming final & multiple drafts for various upcoming blogs I'd like to post.
Listening: Dance music. I am really LOVING the BPM station on my Sirius satellite radio. Particularly the song "Ten Feet Tall" by Afrojack. It is an AMAZINGLY uplifting song, and makes me think of Fiance every. single. time. *love*
Thinking: I should really be finishing my exam. And how much I'm looking forward to moving to my new house this week. And wondering if I'll finish packing in time...
Smelling: English Laundry No. 7 For Her. It was in the March Birchbox and holy MOLY does it smell wonderful! Just like spring/summer and all kinds of happiness.
Wishing: I could pull a Jeannie, cross my arms, nod my head and all of my stuff would be magically transported to my new home and unpacked....and for an A on my final exam.
Hoping: that spring has actually sprung and I can start gardening next week!
Wearing: comfy jeans and a tshirt
Loving: warmer weather
Wanting: Actually nothing at the moment...well maybe nachos.
Needing: to finish packing and this final exam...oy
Feeling: Surprisingly calm and ready to be in the new place.

Thanks for reading! I'm going to stop being a slacker now and finish...something....the exam maybe? Hope you all have a lovely Sunday!
siddathornton


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Travel Writing Prompts

Hey there dear reader! How are you? If you're located here in the Northeast or anywhere north really, you're probably still "enjoying" the wonderful winter weather...(pure sarcasm there folks.) And if you're like me, then you're also probably already dreaming of all sorts of fantastical future vacations that you hope to someday take. Some day soon, and somewhere warm preferably.

So today I thought I would share with you all some of the travel topic ideas that I've been kicking around for the past couple of days.

First, a little bit about me. I grew up a military brat and we moved at least once every three years from the time I was, well 3. And I continued that trend as an adult, I've lived in... a lot of different places; from Texas to Florida, to as far as Japan and Washington State, California, Georgia and most recently Maryland. I've traveled to Europe, pretty much all over Japan, Korea, Canada, yeah...I love to travel. And there is still so much of the world left to see!

It's a big wide world out there!
And now, thanks to the Internet and so many amazing travel companies and bloggers, there are a bajillion different ways to travel on the cheap (or completely free in some cases) and quite a few different and out of the way places to see and explore as well. So I thought these prompts might help if you're an experienced or even aspiring travel writer to get those creative juices flowing and share with the world how you have seen the world:

13 Travel Writing Prompts:

1. List your top 5 Bucket List Destinations

2. Tell us about your most recent vacation, or even your most recent travel exploit!

3. Where do you want to go next?

4. If you won the lottery, where in the world would you run away to and why?

5. What is your favorite method of transportation?

6. Share a little bit about your favorite travel provider. What are the little touches that set them apart from others?

7. What's the best way to navigate local transport in (insert city here)?

8. What are your best/favorite travel ready snacks?

9. What to pack for a weekend away? (And what might be different if it's work or leisure travel?)

10. What are your favorite travel accessories? (Both high and low tech)

11. Share some little known local customs from your Hometown, or places that you've lived/visited.

12. Expatriated? Share the ins and outs of the process. What would you have done differently? Or what do you wish someone had told you about the process?

13. What are your top tips for travel on the cheap?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What I learned...February Edition

February was quite a busy month for me. This was most evident by my lack of blogging for pretty much the entire month! I was still trying to be engaged in other forms of social media, Twitter, Instagram and all of that. But I just didn't get around to blogging much. I think that might have something to do with my still not having mastered the "scheduled post" yet. 

Well thank goodness for Snow Days!! I've tried to write out at least a few posts for the coming week, just in case things get too hectic again and I find myself drained of all energy in the evenings to even read a blog, let alone write in one!

Today's post is part of a series that I've been wanting to try out, called "What I'm Learning." Every Tuesday I want to post a list of things that I've been learning, studying or just figuring out about anything and everything. And I would really love it if you guys joined in too! I always love hearing about what other people are reading and studying and learning about, so I think this might be a fun prompt/exercise. Especially if it might also lead to teaching someone something new!

So here's what I learned in February:

1. I signed up for a Skillshare membership, and started taking two classes in Hand Lettering and Calligraphy. Have you heard of Skillshare? It's pretty boss awesome and if you haven't checked it out yet, you totally should! I hope that I can eventually get my projects to a place where I feel comfortable sharing them, but for now my sketchbook is covered in the Alphabet and random words and phrases trying to figure out the best way to finish my projects.

2. I'm currently finishing up two college classes. One on Advanced Writing for Business which has been incredibly interesting and eye opening, particularly with regard to persuasive writing and with sending out memos, professional bad news messages and the like. It has definitely been a change of pace from my normal "free-flow" creative writing style. The other class is one that I had to retake (yeesh, yeah not proud of that one), on an introduction to Programming Basics, particularly the Python programming language. The class also covers information on databasing, scripting versus programming languages, user design, etc.

I never thought I'd be interested in programming, and I'm definitely not the next Bill Gates or Guido van Rossum (Python's creator), but I have to say that writing out seemingly silly lines of code and then seeing a WORKING calculator or program pop up in another window is mind-blowingly awesome! Though in all honesty, I actually learned more of the tips and tricks to coding from Youtube... :/

3. I roasted a chicken, for the first time. From scratch. And you guys...it's CRAZY EASY!! Seriously, do you have an oven? Do you have spices, oil (and/or butter), something to stuff the chicken with (apples, onions, garlic, orange...get creative!) and oh yeah, a chicken and a roasting pan? Then bam, you can roast a chicken too! Set the oven to 450, remember to remove the gizzards (if you have a good recipe for these, I'd love to hear it!), stuff the chicken. I used an apple and a red onion, quartered both and shoved 'em in. And then I didn't have any fresh herbs so I just combined some thyme, basil, paprika, ancho chile powder, garlic powder and whatever else I had in the cabinet that sounded yummy in a bowl with some olive oil. Stir. Toss some salt and pepper on the bird and then just kind of coat the bird in the oil mixture, and then roast at 450 for about 1.5 hours. I think I had to go a little longer than this, but the skin was this amazingly crispy and delicious golden brown and the bird was tender and juicy.

Check out the skin on this beauty!


Roasting a chicken on Sunday is also a good way to have a ton of yummy meat leftover throughout the week for sandwiches, soup, tacos and even chili.

4. I also learned that snow days are only fun if you don't have to make up the time later. Seriously, working 10-15 hour days (yeah that happened) for one extra day off is NO BUENO!! I love snow, but yeesh.

5. Lastly, I learned that I still really love learning, it all just depends on the topic and how much I'm willing to devote to the process. The knowledge and the skills are all there for the taking, it's just a matter of putting in the effort and a little bit of time. Life-long learning is a process and it takes, well a lifetime. So I'm also learning to try and slow it down, that I don't need to be an expert in a minute, and to just enjoy the process of practice and discovery.

So what have you been learning lately? I'd love for you to share in the comments below!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Weekly Wrap up: Ending February


Ameliorer la Vie

Ok seeing as I've decided to jump back into blogging full force this week, after taking an unplanned break from my whole month of blogging ever...I'd like to join up with the wonderful "Weekly Wrap Up" Link up put on by the lovely ladies Rachel and Lisa from @ therachelway and @ Ameliorer La Vie respectively.

Although this past week had been somewhat uneventful for me, my main highlight was making it an entire week only working my regular schedule rather than trying to cram 10+ hours into the workday! I even had a chance to take a much needed half day on Thursday while still maintaining all of my work. Super Awesome!

I had my second to last Advanced Business Writing class on Tuesday and I also went to the local Casino Friday night with one of my friends to try my hand at poker and blackjack. (Come ooon Mama's got a wedding to plan!) I went in with a set amount of money that I didn't want to go over and while I didn't come out a big winner, I at least left with SOME money still in my pocket! My friend tells me though, that MarylandLive Casino has some of the highest table prices she's ever seen, even higher than Vegas in some instances. So, if you're ever in the Baltimore, Maryland area and want to check out the casino at Arundel Mills, just keep that in mind.

This weekend I also got a chance to see some more progress on the new place I'm moving into (check back for a future post on that awesomeness!) The owners have been repainting everything and re-doing the entire basement, including adding a new door and walkway. Every time I think about this place and look at pictures I am beyond giddy about the prospect of a deck, a garden and the fact that I don't have to share a wall with my neighbors! (Seriously, that's a huge deal.) The downside is the kitchen is kind of so-so and I'm a little nervous about the dog getting up and down the spiral staircase into the basement but...oh yeah, it has a spiral staircase! I can't wait to start showing you guys how I plan to decorate the place!

Here are some of the pictures that I took while I was out there this past Saturday:

ZOMG you guys! A wood burning stove!!
So yeah, these are definitely some of the "before" pictures for the place. I'm still not exactly sure how I'm planning to utilize all of the space, and that yard people! It's wonderful! The landlord said I am totally free to put in a garden as well, as long as I maintain it. And those exposed beams! I'm squealing inside. Not a huge fan of the...fan...but that's ok. Maybe they will be ok with me changing out the light fixtures?

As soon as the snow clears I'll have to show an updated picture of the deck and the rest of the outside. I can't wait to see what it looks like in the spring!

Fun fact, that door and walkway did not even EXIST a month ago! 
I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's week! :)


Monday Meditation #4

Thoughts on procrastination....

Image Source
 I have been trying to write this post for two days now, funnily enough, it's not getting written not because of procrastination, but because I'm just not quite sure how to start. Which for me, isn't the same thing as just putting it off. Does that make sense? I know for many of you out there who might also struggle with procrastination, it's because there's no clear starting line. You know WHAT you need to do, but that first step getting you to the HOW of doing it, just eludes you. Right?

Sometimes that's why I procrastinate on little things, like doing my laundry (do I separate the clothes? do I want to do sheets or towels or clothing first? Who needs this many pairs of pants?!) or even paying my bills (I should send a check, I'll do it tomorrow, do I have checks? where are my stamps? what the bill's due today?!). But when it comes to the big things, I don't really procrastinate because I don't know where to start, I procrastinate because I'm not sure how it's going to end.

This blog post has fallen somewhere into that latter category, I thought it would be a simple post to write, you know one of those posts that just sort of writes itself? I mean: "Procrastination, it's bad, are you afraid of success or failure? Just get to it!" That sort of thing. Turns out, it's way more complicated than all of that. There are so many revolving factors that might drive someone to procrastinate, some of them I've already mentioned, and others are a bit more insidious, like the fear of not being good enough, or that no one is going to notice, care about or like what you've taken the time to create, so you might as well put it off until the last minute and rush the job.

But don't you always feel better when you get something done and out of the way as soon as possible, or when you actually put time, thought and effort into a project? So why do we choose the instant gratification of delay over the long term satisfaction of just getting the job done?

I really wish I knew. I mean I know that I love being lazy. I will almost choose being lazy over doing things. But I also know that I fear living my whole life without ever having accomplished any of my major goals just as much as I love doing nothing. Quite the conundrum, no?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. So I'll leave you with these 3 questions to ponder:

1. If you do procrastinate, what is the driving force behind putting things off? Is it fear, boredom or just plain laziness?

2. What are some of the tools you use to motivate yourself into action? Do you get pumped up by music, exercise, inspirational quotes or just a long stint of doing nothing that leaves you feeling "recharged" and maybe just a little bit restless?

3. What is one major project that you're currently putting off, and what is one thing you could do to get started and maybe create a snowball effect to actually get that project done?

Bonus question: If you were invited to a dinner party attended by the President, the Queen of England and any of your role models (Business, music, fashion, etc.) What is one project that you would be most proud to tell them about that you're either working on or have recently completed?

Meditate on these questions, comment if you want and I'll do the same! :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A desire for routine

Hello dear reader! (If you're still out there...who knew February would be a month filled with "radio silence?")

Lately, especially after the start of the new year and thinks to me renewed love of all things Pinterest, I have been craving routine. I know that might seem like a weird connection for some, but really have you typed "routine" or even "morning routine" into Pinterest? Good grief, so many great options!!

And I especially crave it in the mornings when I'm rushing to get out of the door in the mornings but I still want my morning coffee, some breakfast and maybe a little time to breathe and read before jumping into the hectic-ness that is my day-job. And oh yes, there's that. Work can be so stressful sometimes when I'm not sure what to do from one moment to the next and somehow it's lunchtime and then it's time to go and did I ever even start that big project that was my only real goal for today?!

I think that for all that I like to consider myself a creative free spirit, I need a good routine. And especially now that I'm getting older (closer to 30 than I am to 20 these days...) I should probably start taking better care of my skin, a good beauty routine is a must!

And seriously, with my planner obsession I should be way better at routine than I am!


The other reason I need routine is for this blog, I have so much going on in this little life of mine that I have been horribly inconsistent in posting this past month. As in, I haven't posted at all. And for a brand new blogger like me, that's a pretty big no-no. I mean readers want consistency, and heck if they actually enjoy what they're reading (which I hope happens here), then they want CONTENT! And often!

So how does one establish a good routine? Like I said, I've been thinking about this for some time and while I'm still no master at it, here are some tips that I think might help:

1. Figure out what you want in your routine. Make sure it's the important stuff, the things you want and are willing to stick with on a regular basis. Because remember, a good routine needs to be done pretty much every day.

2. Start in the evening. I know most people want "waking up earlier" to be part of their everyday routines, you definitely get more done when you have more hours available to you in the day...that you're awake for. However, sleep is still important too, so don't underestimate the importance of a good bedtime routine if you want a good morning routine as well! I'd suggest going to bed at or around the same time everyday, and make sure you're getting the right amount of sleep for you. I need at least 7.5 hours to function properly and look my best.

3. Be consistent, even on the weekends. This means if you're trying to wake up for work by 6am, you should be waking up at 6am on the weekends too. (I know for those of us that "get weekends" this seems like torture, but really it's necessary.) Waking up early on the weekends also gives you time to recharge and maybe add a few other things to your morning routine that you might feel too rushed to include when you're getting ready for work. I like to try and add a new workout or a new breakfast recipe on the weekends instead of trying it out and not knowing the timing during the week.

4. Have a calming, happy activity as part of your routine. Especially right before you jump into work and/or the busiest part of your day. For me, this is my coffee ritual. And I actually don't do this until I get to work during the week. I have a small French Press that I keep at my desk and then on Mondays I usually bring in enough freshly ground coffee for the week. I keep some coffee creamer in the communal fridge and take advantage of the office water heater. This gives me time to either meditate or do some yoga at home, since I try not to drink coffee too early. And since I use the French press method, it can be a bit more labor intensive. As an added bonus, this also gives me a few minutes when first getting into work to take some more of a breather before jumping into the email storm and all of the projects lined up for me for the day, also I love being able to enjoy an actual CUP of coffee out of a real mug even when I'm at work. And it's my coffee that I don't have to share with anyone else...(that's not rude is it?)

5. Finally, write it all down. If you're like me then you love lists. A lot. And will probably make multiple lists about the same thing until you find the exact perfect combo of things in list form. So I do this, in my planner and in my notebooks, I write out my ideal morning, day and evening. I even write out my ideal weekends and try and incorporate those routines into my life as much and as often as possible until they stick.



Well, those are the tips I've been using lately. I'd love to hear your thoughts about routine and what you do to keep everything scheduled and orderly in your life. Feel free to comment below. :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday Meditation #3

Happy Monday! Today started off the first full week of a new month and I rang it in just slightly hung over thanks to a pretty rocking Super Bowl party where my team won! Go Seahawks! WooH!!

Of course I didn't have a jersey to sport my team pride but I did try to make a creative go at the colors:
yeah...I dunno...that happened.


It was a really fun night.

So today it was quite nice to wake up to the quick buzz of an incoming text message letting me know that work would be delayed for a few hours due to...rain. I'm not complaining, I had already planned ahead for the possibility of "weather" last week so I was caught up enough with my hours that going in later this morning didn't cause me the normal anxiety that it usually does toward the end of a pay period.

It also gave me some time to think about today's meditation. Really, this is just more of a series where I share my own deep thoughts on life and whatever else. I thought about providing some actual meditations as well, maybe as I get better with calming my own mind I will start passing along the tricks that I'm still learning as well. Just like with exercise, it's incredibly important to take time out of the day to still your thoughts as well and to just be in the moment.

I've been reading so many incredibly inspiring monthly and weekly goals and aspirations from other bloggers over the past couple of days and it seriously just excites me to no end to hear about what others are trying to accomplish with their lives. Sometimes I get envious, especially of travel writers or those delightful Instagram and Pinterest posts of various yummy treats. But mostly I'm inspired. I feel a sense of wonder at what so many of my peers are dreaming and actually DOING with each day, week and month in this new year. It makes me want to dream bigger and do more in my own life.

I talked a little bit about my main goal for February the other day in my Mini Monthlies post. I really struggle with loving and accepting myself and of course, of the things in life that I cannot change. And then I am also quite harsh with critiques about those things that I CAN change....but don't. Particularly with my seeming inability to properly plan and accomplish school assignments in addition to working a full time job and keeping the fur-beast alive and well. Some days, I really just cannot keep it all together.

Though I have to wonder if those harsh words inside my head aren't holding me back in their own way. I've never really been one for encouragement. In fact when I was serving on Active Duty, routinely I would give up the minute someone complimented me while I was running. "Good pace" and "keep it up" were usually enough for my brain to just kind of shut off and for my body to rebel against any more movement. As though the simple fact that someone recognized and acknowledged my hard work meant that I was probably headed for failure anyway so I might as well just quit now. So I'm harder on myself than I know I should be, and it's still not achieving the results that I would have hoped for.

I think I'm scared of success. I'm afraid to do well for myself and by myself, I'm afraid of what might happen if I really start taking care of my body and watching what I eat. I'm terrified of the end result from a well-planned and productive day, content to stalk the blogs of others and ogle their posts of planner perfection and well cooked meals, reading tales of their runs and traveling adventures.

But really, why should I be afraid of that? Why shouldn't I have those things for myself? There's a beautiful and very moving quote that I have seen come up quite often in my life of late, in fact my fiance is incredibly fond of it and often uses it to motivate his subordinates in order to get them through really tough challenges.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
                                                             - Marianne Williamson

We are all of us, powerful beyond measure. And there is not a person in this world who has the right to tell you that you are less, or undeserving of your dreams. Least of all if that person is yourself. You're awesome dear reader! So go do awesome things!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February: A time for love and a new soundtrack

Happy First day of February!

Okay, So originally I had a plan all lined up about how I would review the month of January and go over how I achieved goals X, Y, and Z and then I would launch into the way that made me feel and how I really like this new plan of mine for mini monthly goals and turning some things into habits while accomplishing certain projects throughout the month.

Then I was going to tell you all about my plans for February. And let me just say, I have SOOOOOOO many goals for the shortest month of the year. Seriously, I don't know how I expect to accomplish it all in just 28 days. Granted, some of it could be lumped together like writing everyday along with creating an editorial calendar (which I actually already did so wooh!) and maybe cranking out a couple of short stories. Then there others that are just good habits I'd like to adopt forever not just for 28 days (I'm looking at you "wake up at 5am every morning, yes even on weekends, in order to get more out of the day" goal).

However after a number of things that happened over the last couple of months, conversations and epiphanies had and pondered over. I realized that I really only have one goal for this month.
It's kind of appropriate actually, given that this is the month of "love" and all that.

My Mini Monthly Milestone for February:
Change that track of negative self-talk in my head and love myself more.

You see, I'm pretty hard on myself. As I'm sure most everyone is at some point or another. In fact that seems to be a running theme around the internet these days, "don't be so hard on yourself" and "learn to love yourself." There was an article I was reading awhile back, which I unfortunately can't find to link for you now. (But I'll link it later if I do find it.) And it talked about how you should talk to yourself the same way you would to a friend or a sister, that a lot of women say things to themselves in the privacy of their own minds that they would NEVER say out loud to others, and that this is so damaging for living a healthy and fulfilled life.

I am a pretty terrible offender in this regard. In fact, I think there should be a hotline we can call to help with the emotional abuse we heap on ourselves sometimes.

So today I'm making a stand. I'm going to change that negative loop. I know it will be difficult, so ingrained in my mind is that track that it's almost a force of nature. Like screaming into the wind or trying to turn back the tide. I've had myself so convinced that I'm not even worthy of trying to build up better self esteem. That I deserve to feel this way all the time due to past mistakes and that if I try to start getting better, everyone else will see it for the farce that it truly is.

But that's a lie. I DO deserve to feel happy and complete. I DO have a pretty great life. Sure there are sucky parts, but isn't that true for everyone? It's all a matter of perspective and looking for those pockets of happiness, those spots of sunshine to brighten your day and get you through the rough patches.

I will no longer be ruled by negativity. Who's with me?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What scares you?

Today I put the eggs in the trunk...

Ok let me back up and say that first of all, today consisted mostly of me going through the wringer while taking a language proficiency test for my job (the outcome of which had the potential to make or break me)...This annual test along with my twice-a-year physical fitness test through the Navy Reserves has probably shaved at least a decade off my life span. Seriously, I had cold sweats the whole time and during one portion I swear I completely forgot both the language I was testing in and my own native English.

I was scared.

Thankfully, even after a year and a half of no formal training, I was able to pass the test. While I didn't get the scores I WANTED, the were still damn good scores.

So I decided to do something else that scares me today. Just a little thing, a break in the routine just to prove to my anxiety prone self that not everything will go up in flames at every turn.

I put the eggs in the trunk. Now, if any of you grew up with parents like mine, then you'll know that you NEVER put the eggs in the trunk. They always go on the belt last and either have their own separate bag, or go together with the bread. Because eggs are fragile, breakable, icky yolk filled orbs that might break if you look at them wrong. Or so I grew up thinking. Always check for cracks and always keep them in the front seat on the ride home.

Well, Fiance thinks this is a silly idea. He has never put the eggs up front and (so he claims) has never gotten home with a broken, yolk-y mess in his trunk either.

It was just a little thing, and might seem just as absurd to all of you as well. But it was just one of those things that I've always done, and even when Fiance and I go shopping together and he insists on putting the eggs in the trunk, a part of me gets nervous and spends the whole ride home with some portion of my mind focused on every bump and turn in the road wondering if I just heard an eggshell crack.

I spend a lot of my life like this. With these little anxieties that build, one on top of the other, and I think maybe that's where so much of my stress comes from. It's not one BIG thing, it's just a bunch of tiny absurd things that snowball into a writhing mass of stress and anxious starts at every bump in the proverbial road.

And you know what? All my eggshells are fine.
ignore the messy towel. k, thanks!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lessons from Living Alone

Lesson 1: Stress cleaning is an excellent and cheap source of therapy and an add fat-burning bonus workout!

I'd like some thoughts on this, if you have any to spare dear readers. For those of you living in apartments or rented homes, do you expect just a smidge of notice before the landlord comes bursting through your/their place that may or may not be a total disaster zone because cleaning is just so far down on your "things-you-really-should-get-around-to" list? Like...more than two hours notice in the form of a text that you don't see until 8 hours later anyway?

Yeah...I'd like that too. Even if it's midnight the night before. Then I can at least scramble to tidy up on my rushed way out the door in the morning. Is that too much to ask?

Lesson 2: Clean the kitchen everyday. Really, you never know who's going to stop by unexpectedly or when the Landlord will send his cabinet guy in at 10am on a Tuesday. You just never know. I'm trying to follow the "one soapy sponge" rule while jamming out to anything energetic on Pandora or 8tracks.

Lesson 3: If you're anything like me, make a dedicated day about once a month to really and truly and deeply organize your closet/office area. Though if you ARE anything like me, you won't ever follow through on this and you'll end up sifting through a mountain of clothes screaming "Why? Why are there so many pants?! Who needs this many pairs of pants? Dear god is that the garbage snake from Star Wars?" And then you'll eventually just say "F*ck it." throw on a pair of sweats and type out all of your blog posts at the kitchen table while Fur-beast sleeps on unaffected. (And really who needs pants anyway? oh wait...)

Lesson 4: Don't wait until the very end of your lease to bring up problems in the apartment. Seriously, if you're missing sections of ceiling due to a hurricane OVER A YEAR AGO...say something. Because when the Polar Vortex hits, you don't want your loved ones to find your frozen corpse wrapped up nicely in your own bed.

Lesson 5: The best part about living alone is that there's no one around to judge your t-shirt wearing, pants-mountain climbing, bad-ass self when you're drinking a honey whiskey and hot chocolate straight out of the pot...because you forgot to clean the kitchen.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weekends are too short

Especially when following a short (yet ridiculous week! Snow days and Polar Vortex anyone?)

Friday night I went to the Casino...it was weird. I hate the idea of throwing away money, even on the off chance I could win big. But I still had fun watching my friends gamble, and people watching at Casinos is pretty stupendous.

Before I left for the Casino I had to try out this recipe that had been kicking around in my head for ages. At one of the wine bars near my house they have this Ahhhh-mazing Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and chorizo dish. So mouth-wateringly delicious! The Brussels sprouts and squash take on the flavor of the chorizo in the most delightful way. I didn't have chorizo nor squash though, and had actually been wondering if I could switch it up with different meats and "starch" type things anyway. So I went with Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and BACON!

And let me tell you...it came out just as divine! I also added some extra spices and seasonings to the sweet potatoes and sprouts because...that's just how I cook. I throw spices onto everything. Not a fan of spicY but definitely love spice.

Then yesterday I spent the weekend by the fire and reading the Art of Eating In. I've already been working on cooking and eating at home more but this book definitely inspired me to keep going at it in the kitchen! I loved the way Cathy Erway really brings you into her life during those two years of "Not Eating Out in New York" and her writing style just flowed really well. It did make me a tad jealous that I don't live in an amazing hotbed of restaurants and foodies alike, though.

I do live in between some pretty thriving cities, but I still feel somewhat disconnected from it all. I would also love to cook for people more. Cathy's stories about supper clubs and "friendsgivings" just made me want to invite everyone I know over for food all the time.

...of course then I'd have to clean all the time...yikes.

Anyway here's my recipe for Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes and Bacon: (serves 1-2 depending on your preference for sprouts)

6-8 Brussels sprouts, sliced lengthwise (you could quarter them too and you can always cut up more)
1 cup diced sweet potato
3-4 pieces of bacon (save the grease in the pan to cook up the sprouts and potato)
1/2 tsp ground Ancho Chile pepper
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
a dash of ground ginger

[Note: I don't usually measure when adding spices for dishes like this so these are all just kind of guesstimates...start from here and just kind of work your way up till it's seasoned the way you like it!]

Cook bacon as normal in a large pan, set aside. Keep bacon grease in pan and ready too cook with!
Dice up sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts to whatever size you're comfy with. Throw them together in a bowl and toss in the spices, again add or subtract whatever you like for this and then mix it all together.
(also instead of garlic powder you could also try adding a 1/2-1 tsp minced garlic to the bacon fat to mix with the veggies)
Add the potatoes and sprouts to the pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until they potatoes start to get tender. About halfway through I also like to put a lid on the pan to sort of steam the mix, makes the sweet potatoes a bit softer.
Dice up the bacon, throw it back in the pan to mix with all the other yummy goodness.
And bam! Delicious side for any time of day!
Had this with breakfast yesterday actually, goes quite well with scrambled eggs and cheese.

Catch ya later!



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stellar mornings

My non-negotiables to starting the day off right.

First and foremost: hitting snooze at least 80 times before finally deciding that I should probably go to work before the day ends...

Second: stumbling through a dark and booby-trapped house (Seriously who puts a chair in the MIDDLE of the living room, where there is clearly PLENTY OF SPACE around it?! This jackass apparently) to then trip over a bowl of water and curse loudly at no one in particularly while trying to feed the dog.

Third: Coffee. To be more specific: Fresh ground and brewed in a French press; coffee. There is just something about being terrified awake first thing in the morning as the coffee grinder blares to life and shreds those beans down to a course blend followed by the soft bubbling of hot water and the oh-so-thrilling game of "Can Jess keep from getting a scalding three degree burn as she tries to pour the water into the French Press without spilling any on her hand" (One of Hasbro's lesser known gems)


Fourth: (Though at this point, do we really need anything else after coffee?) The best way to shake those last little bits of sleep haze from your brain? Let an excitable and energetic fur-beast drag you down the stairs and out the door so he can do his "business." (This is even more fun when it's 2 degrees outside and he doesn't actually want to go to the bathroom but isn't ready to come back inside yet either.)



Some day I'll wake up on time and spend 20-30 minutes exercising, doing some Yoga stretches or deep meditation to start my day truly "zen"...yeah who am I kidding, that'll probably never happen.

(I think maybe I will challenge myself as part of one of February's mini monthlies to actually wake up and get up with my alarm though...)

How do ya'll make it through the morning?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lessons from being in [Long-Distance] Love

Hey Beautiful People!

In today's post I thought I'd talk a little bit about love, specifically LONG-distance Love. As in, you're here and the soul-mate, significant other, sorta whatever is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy over there.

Fiance and I have been in a long distance relationship for a little over a year and a half now. WOW how time flies! I won't lie, it has been incredibly difficult. I wouldn't give him up for anything and I totally mushy gushy cherish all of the little moments that we actually have gotten to spend together over the last 18 months, more than pretty much anything. (Seriously I love this guy) But lemme tell you, trying to date from different time zones is no walk in the park.

No really, you literally can't even walk in the park together. So unless you like lonely walks...or you have blue-tooth or something...

This symbolizes loneliness right?
 However, it IS doable, and there are fun things you and the love-muffin can do to make the distance seem less...daunting.

One thing that Fiance and I like to do are "Dinner and a Movie" dates. We both have iPads so we just hop on Face time at a predetermined time during the week whenever we're both free, and one of us has picked out a movie to watch for the night. We try to get them on DVDs but sometimes I have to download them onto the computer, which is fine just kind of a pain. (Also, you can do this with Skype or Oovoo or one of the many other video chat services, Face time is just most convenient for us). Then we cook, sometimes we'll try out the same recipe (it's like we're having dinner TOGETHER you guys!) and other times it's whatever is leftover in the fridge that just really needs to be cooked. (How long has this chicken been here?)

That's our big night to just kind of relax, unwind and pretend that the other one isn't just compressed to a small tablet screen while the reality is miles away. This scheduling is especially helpful since Fiance's schedule is pretty um...how shall we say...crappy? Working 15-18 hour shifts molding the hearts and minds of America's next generation of Soldiers...good stuff. No.

Another thing we do is talk constantly. Either through texts, phone calls or chat. And the occasional weird psychic message (don't ask. It's freaky). I think this is crucial for every relationship though, whether they're near, far...oh I'm having Titanic flash backs.

Right, so communication = key.

Also, it's nice if you can try to have something interesting to talk about. Sure there's the daily recap and once you've exhausted all of the little "Had to Be There" stories from your day it's probably time for bed anyway. But every once in awhile, try to mix it up...you know, discuss your ideas on how to solve that whole world hunger problem or play the "if I had a million dollars" game. Great fun. Usually Fiance gets to listen to me go on and on and on about my latest life plan. (It changes at least every other day. This week it's UX Design YAY!)

The last and most important lesson that I've learned from this wacky experiment in love though, is almost counter-intuitive, but oh-so-important! You gotta remember to take time for yourself and the things that you enjoy doing and the friends that are you know...around. Whether that's taking time off from the Internet to just unwind with a good book, or going out for drinks with the bestie. Definitely just make sure that you remember that special "you time."

One of the main things I love about Fiance is that he understands when I need to just do stuff, he's not pushy or needy and I try not to be that way with him either. Even though there are miles and miles and states between us. We still need "space" for ourselves.

I'd love to hear any of your unique takes on long-distance dating too!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Guaranteed Way to an A" tips for Higher Learning as an "Adult"

Happy Tuesday! If you're on the East Coast like me, you're probably enjoying the snow right now, and maybe even another day off from work! (Four day weekend what!?) Either way, this post isn't about work. It's about school! Again, if you're like me then in addition to working full-time (With maybe a part time gig on the side...more on that later) then you're also trying to finish your degree. Online. And in face to face classes.

Because not having a social life is way more fun than having one right?? Right? Guys...?

Run Away!

However, my class tonight was cancelled thanks to Snowmageddenacolypse Revenge of the Snowman Part 3, so I thought I'd share my Guaranteed Way to An A tips for Higher Learning as an "Adult:"

 Guaranteed "A" School Tip #1: Whatever you do, absolutely do NOT download your syllabus until at least the second week of class. Seriously, you might be under the mistaken assumption that knowing your assignments ahead of time is the way to go...DON'T BE FOOLED! Waiting until classes have already started means you'll be hit with that adrenaline rush of being just slightly behind the curve which as any Straight A student can tell you, last minute deadlines are a delicious motivator for cramming on all assignments. #thewaytoanA

Guaranteed "A" School Tip #2: When taking online classes, avoid logging into class like it's your JOB. Listen, don't worry about it. They probably aren't discussing anything important anyway. You'll most likely only have like...2 (maybe 20) posts to read, tops. Your time is much better spent on Twitter and Buzzfeed. (@Jess_Emers, hit me up!)

Guaranteed "A" School Tip #3: Remember the best time to start your assignment (including research) is about an hour before it's due. Nothing like the prospect of a rushed 10-page paper at 11PM on a Sunday night before a full week of work to really get those creative juices flowing!

Guaranteed "A" School Tip #4: Burn your Calendar. That gut wrenching feeling of "I've forgotten something monumentally important" will wake up up just seconds before that big project is due, don't you worry.

Guaranteed "A" School Tip #5: Assigned reading and mountains of research? Get on the Google!!

And finally my Ultimate "Way to a Guaranteed A" School Tip #6: When all else fails: get drunk and mash your fingers against the keyboard until words come out! (20% of the time it works, every time.)

If you'd like to hear more of my awesome advice or have some stellar school tips of your own, hit me up in the comments section or on my Twitter. Happy Studying!

Oh! And here's a cocktail recipe, you know...just in case:
"Apple Jacks" (Cuz, you know...I'm creative)
1 cup Apple Cider (warm)
1 shot Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey
1/2 shot o' Dark Rum (your choice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
and a dash of pumpkin pie spice (or whatever spices strike your fancy!)
Drink up me hearties yo ho!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Meditation #3: What's standing in your way?

What would you do if there was nothing standing in your way? Nothing holding you back?

Why is it that sometimes when we have dreams, big plans for life, we never actually take the proper steps to follow through on them? Why do these dreams stay dreams, hidden in the secret places of our hearts? Perhaps written hopefully in a journal, to serve as a constant reminder of what might be, the could be of that dream life.

There are a number of excuses that we tell ourselves day in and day out that make us believe that these dreams are unattainable; that they're too grand, to "out there" or just impractical. Unfortunately, that's sometimes true (like my childhood dream of being a wizard...though I guess if some girls can become mermaids...) But for the most part, many of these dreams ARE achievable, it's just a matter of shifting your thinking, of looking past the obstacles standing in your way.

But what if there were no obstacles? What if there was nothing blocking your path to that dream life?

Would you be doing things differently?

Would you wake up earlier? Start your mornings off with yoga, thoughtful meditation and a cup of tea instead of a hulk-sized mug of coffee and a frantic rush out the door? Would you make time for art and creativity and allow yourself to feel whole and fulfilled, knowing that you're spending each day doing a little something to reach that dream, to make it real?

Thanks to the Internet, there's almost no excuse to keep those dreams hidden. And if you fail? That's okay too. We need to start embracing failure just as much as success. Failure is just another chance to learn and grow, and still a step towards that dream. At least you're trying.

True failure is not even making that first move.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Feed the Fire

Happy Sunday everyone!

Yesterday was definitely an exercise of wills and patience and of allowing myself to just relax. This was actually a bit more challenging than I expected it to be. Actively forcing gently nudging myself to relax. I kept worrying and thinking about all of the things I could and should be doing with my weekend instead of taking this time to just be in the moment and relish the calm that comes from doing nothing because really, there's nothing that important to do.

I knew and continuously reminded myself that even if I did accomplish some things yesterday, it was just a bonus, and if I didn't get anything done? That's okay too because I had intentionally set aside this day to be lazy. Yesterday wasn't about getting things done, it was mindful laziness, being attentive to the moment and to myself. I think even my creativity needed a break. I wrote a little, mostly journaling, and I thought up a few new story ideas though I didn't try to force anything beyond making note of the plots and character names and vague story paths that came my way.

Though, I think the only time I truly felt the complete calm and stillness I was hoping for yesterday was while building up a fire in the afternoon. There was a moment of just getting lost in the crackling, popping warmth and light of the fire and watching as the flames danced and licked and ate away at the logs. That moment made me think of the character Calcifer from Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle (If you haven't seen it, go forth and watch it, it's beautiful)

The fire really did look like the flames were wrapped around the log as it chewed its way through the wood. This also got me thinking about how fires need to be "fed" to keep them going. Which then got me thinking about how our creative fires also need to be fed. I had been burning through my creativity, all of my ideas, without taking the time to build back up my fire with inspiration. And then I was berating myself for not being as creative as the next person. For not having nor achieving the same goals.

Yet not taking the time to feed that creative fire was causing it to die down and leave me with a feeling of...lost. No spark, no idea.

Recently I noticed I wasn't reading or taking in other forms of art as much as when I was younger, there was no more looking outward, I was expecting everything to come from within.

Maybe that's how artists go mad, what leads them to burnout? They stopped feeding their creative fires, thinking the fires will burn on, never ceasing.

So yesterday's "laziness" was another way to build my fire back up. There is so much talent and beauty in the world and so many of us are fortunate to live in a time when that talent is so easily shared with everyone and anyone, anywhere.

Remember beautiful readers, whoever you may be. Remember to feed and fuel your creative fires once in awhile, they need tending too.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Meditation 2

Today's post was originally going to be about recovering from setbacks, facing life's challenges and realizing that you so too can get back up and keep moving forward when the universe seems to just push you back down.

I still want to talk about all of that. I just feel like my thoughts are all over the place right now.

I experienced a pretty decent setback last week that will potentially have a ripple effect on all of my plans over the next year. (I'm so glad it happened at the start of 2014...) Some of the changes will be good, some are as yet to be determined whether good or bad.

It was upsetting, devastating even. But now I've chosen to look at it not so much as a setback but rather a course correction. Rather than allowing this to bring me down like it might have in the past, I'm choosing to look for the positives and see where this new direction fits with the rest of my life.

We could all stand to benefit from such a simple shift in thinking every now and again. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My week #1

Hey all!

So I've actually been using a planner for awhile now. This style of planner in particular. It's spiral bound, not the typical "binder" type that most other #Plannerds use...but it is a set up that has been working quite well for me over the last few months.

Plus it's all contained within a folio type folder that enables me to carry around extra papers and stickers, etc. when I need to. Which keeps me organized, so I like that.



I actually did get a nice Saffiano Filofax for Christmas, but I haven't switched over yet because I'm kind of hesitant to leave my current system behind. However I really wanted to start taking part in Paperlovestory's most excellent weekly look at people's planner pagers.

So here's a peek at my week so far for 13-19 January 2014.

I'm trying out a new color coding system this week as well;

Yellow - Personal (including shopping trips)
Black - Meal planning (all the other colors had been used at this point, and it was easier for me to read/see)
Dark Purple - Writing class (that starts on Tuesday)
Light Purple - Blog posts (I might change this color...we'll see)
Red - Programming class
Light blue - Gym!
Pink - anything work related
and Green - payday reminder


Anyone else out there on the spiral-bound train?


Saturday, January 11, 2014

What I'm drinking this morning...

Happy Saturday coffee drinkers!!



I wanted to tell you a little bit about the coffees I'm drinking this week/month/New Year.

I actually started drinking this coffee a few weeks into December after an absolutely fantastic trip to Philadelphia and the magical Reading Terminal Market. (If you haven't been, you should go! The Pennsylvania Dutch work absolute MAGIC with baked goods!)

There's also a delightful coffee stand in the market: Old City Coffee.



They have a pretty great supply of beans and seasonal coffees, I originally got 1/4lb bags of each of these types of brews:


















&

 And let me tell you, that was NOT enough! We actually ended up going back a week later (yes, we took a 2 hour drive for breakfast...so worth it!) to get more. A straight pound of each this time...still not enough in my opinion, especially since Egg Nog is only around for the holidays.

You can actually order the coffees online as well, but I haven't checked to see if Egg Nog is available to order all year round...unfortunately, I don't think it is (Oh well, like the ever-delicious pumpkin spice and peppermint flavors, it just gives me something to look forward to for the next 10 months!)

So, a little bit about my coffee routine if you're curious. It's a bit...tedious but definitely yields great results! I actually grind my beans fresh every morning. Yes. Every. Morning.

And not only that but I usually combine one "specialty" flavor with a regular coffee flavor, something like Peet's Major Dickason Blend or the like. Though this month I've been combining the Egg Nog and the Viennese together. YUM!

I don't have exact measurements, maybe 1 and 1/2 scoops of each flavor (or 2 scoops on a hectic morning, maybe more if you're brewing for more than one person) of each flavor, so about 3-4 scoops total and grind them together. That's important.

Then boil water. Combine in French press. Stir, sit, press. Then drop some agave syrup right into the travel, or regular mug, and then Belgian chocolate toffee creamer (I know, so many flavors!! but so good!) pour the coffee over and enjoy!!



And yes, I'm still using a holiday mug. It just makes me smile.

So what are you drinking this Saturday morning? Comment below!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The simple things...

What I really want to share with you all tonight is that sometimes it's okay to just relax with a glass of good wine paired with a bowl of exceptionally fine (or even store brand) shells and cheese.

Seriously...that is one delightful Thursday night.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pants... Or Superpower?

So, in response to yesterday's post as seen here, this is why my fifth January Mini Monthly goal is to wear pants on the weekends:

The power of pants, such a simple thing, and yet it is awesome. I have discovered in pants the power to kick laziness' big slothful but and run full steam into productive overdrive.

Note: it doesn't actually have to be pants per se, skirts and dresses work just fine too. So long as it is real people clothes in order to go out and be a part of the real people world on the weekends. Otherwise the laze-monster wins! And no one wants that.

However, there will be times that I will make exception to the pants rule, on pre-determined "lazy days" and of course, on sick days.

But Jessica, why are you SCHEDULING time to be lazy? Shouldn't that just happen magically and organically? Sure. The same way being productive and actually completing that massive weekend to-do list just happens "magically."

I have a confession dear reader, something that I have long-harbored but know that I must impart it unto you if we are truly going to have the kind of long-lasting friendship I hope we'll have...you see...much like Bruce Banner holding back the hulk...my burden, my curse...I'm always lazy.

And so, in order to keep that monster in check, I've gotta feed it once in awhile. With frequent naps and books. It really likes books. However, I can't just let the monster have free reign all the time, otherwise I'd never be able to hold down a successful job...or two, and a full-time course load, take care of a dog, and cook and clean for myself...whew I'm winded just typing that. So I've discovered that the only way to keep this lazy beast relatively contained and satiated, is by scheduling regular breaks and down time throughout my month. Do you do this dear reader? I bet you do, if not. You should.

Now what does this all have to do with pants? Super-powered pants. Well, on those non-lazy days, the days when I hope to be productive and a functioning and contributing member of humanity, I need to do something that will cage the monster and bend it to my will.

I figured this out after talking with Fiance one day about the importance of habits and routine. You see, Fiance is very good at being productive on his off days, he cooks and cleans and is pretty much perfect. But HOW?! How does he achieve this feat?

He wears contacts. That's his "hero mask" if you will. (Go ahead, imagine Clark Kent taking off the glasses to become Superman. I'll wait.)
Ok so let me explain. During the course of his normal morning routine; you know the brushing, washing, what have you. He always finishes with the contacts last. And he says that once the contacts go in, it's like a switch flips in his brain and he knows that it's time to start the day. Otherwise, on his lazy days, when he leaves the glasses on he never fully wakes up or "charges" and so he just kind of bums around all day. (Note: this doesn't happen often as he doesn't get much down time with his current job.)

Weird. But true.

Well, here's my conundrum. I don't wear contacts, nor do I wear glasses. Yay vision! But I still needed something to serve as my own catalyst into productivity. I searched for that special thing, that perfect cap to the morning routine. But I don't really have a routine. Not like Fiance. When I wake up things just kind of happen in whatever order they end up happening in. Teeth, bathroom, face, feed/walk dog, coffee. And even coffee, my beloved sweet nectar from the heavens doesn't save me. Mainly because I can still be lazy and drink coffee...laze-monster also loves coffee.

Anywho, so what could it be? Well I just recently figured it out you guys. (Buried lead NOW!)

PANTS!!

I know crazy right? Well I figured since I normally wear pants to work, it's one of the last things I do before leaving and is definitely a symbol to Get. SH*T. Done. So maybe pants? Because, I'll tell ya some weekends who cares right? But not anymore, pants are going on Saturday morning and not coming off until...well probably Saturday night but anyway...

I know this works too because I tested my theory last Sunday. The one right before going back to work after the holidays, when I didn't want to do ANYTHING but I still had stuff I could kinda get done...if I were so inclined. And here's what happened thanks to the power of pants:

- Cleaned the kitchen
- made coffee (a must)
- walked the dog
- rearranged the living room! (Yes, by myself too)
- swept and mopped the floors
- started THIS blog!
- took out the trash
- ordered prints
- went shopping and bought everything and only things on my list
- made dinner for myself and a friend
- cleaned the kitchen AGAIN (for those that know me, this is a feat)

 Quite the list right? Pants are magical. I think that's why men stopped wearing togas and kept women in dresses for so long...maybe...

So readers, do you have a catalyst that jumpstarts your morning? I'd love to hear what it is!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mini Monthly Milestones

I love the New Year, I realize that we're 7 days into the new year at this point... but still new years are like shiny new toys. They're great.

(And can we not just take a moment to enjoy the simple beauty that is "1/7/14")

Anyway, I love this time of year. Everyone is eager for fresh starts, new beginnings. New calendars and planners...yeah. (New notebooks? I'm totally there).

This is the time of year that everyone has such lofty goals and aspirations. Those...whatchamecallums: "RESOLUTIONS."

The problem is though, it's tough to plan something out to last you a WHOLE year. Especially if you're like me and you're not even sure how the next few hours of your life are gonna go. (Not that things are that exciting around here, but it can get dicey.) But seriously, even if you don't stick to a resolution for a full year, you're still not going to be the same person in December that you were the previous January. Heck you might not even be the same person from October!

Rather than lay out an entire grand master plan for the whole new year (other than "make small monthly goals") I've decided to lay out an entirely new grand master plan EVERY MONTH! Which means having 12 grand master plans, technically 13 in total if you count the one for the year instead of just one...wait, wasn't this supposed to be a good idea? I suppose it doesn't matter since, as with most resolutions, it will probably only last a month, week, day...ok I already want to scrap it...

Oh well, since you're here I might as well tell you what my goals for January are anyway:
Here I am, jumping on the smaller, shorter term goal train. (Is that a thing? It is now) I was thinking of calling it my "Mini Monthly Milestones." That would make a catchy hashtag right? #minimonthlies or something like that. Anyhoodle, Here are my goals for January:
Jan Mini Monthly 1. Write a little bit everyday. This isn't hard to do because I'm always writing in my notebook. But, I also want to write more here, on this blog. For you, dear reader, if you're out there. I'm thinking at least one post a day. I have some ideas, oh don't you fret. I've got ideas.

Jan Mini Monthly 2. Create, maintain and stick to a weekly meal plan and food budget each week. 
I eat out way too much; whether it's grabbing something at work or on the way home from work or wandering into my super cute town for dinner...it's gotta stop. I need to save money.

Jan Mini Monthly 3. Experiment in the kitchen more, trying at least 2 new dishes a week.
I know that sounds ambitious, but really it stems from mini monthly number 2 and I think it's doable as long as I pick foods I like...and with the gajillions of food blogs out there, I'm bound to find something.

Jan Mini Monthly 4. Set aside at least $50 dollars each week for savings.
You know, from all the cash that will be rolling in from not eating out all the time. In fact, $50 might be aiming low...but what can I say, I know myself too well....

and finally...

Jan Mini Monthly 5. Wear Pants. (...on the weekends)

Tune in next time to learn why pants are like Superman's cape!