January 26, 2017

before the snow melts

I wanted to test some things with my camera  (specifically to find out if I really need to always only take massive .raw pictures... the answer is no).  So I went out during the golden hour yesterday to mess around a little bit.  We had a nor'easter blow through this week, so it's pretty snowy and slushy, but it was sunny and kind of warm yesterday and everything is starting to melt, making for a really pretty evening.

My beautiful automobile.

I love how in the winter the mountains are visible in the distance, since there aren't leaves on the trees.

Pawprints... Pawprints everywhere.

Hello, sunshine.

When I came in, Mika was on the couch looking out the window.  She was probably watching me from inside.  :)

You can't tell by how angelic I made her look in these pictures, but she kept poking me with her nose and barking, nagging me to give her dinner.

she's beauty and she's grace

January 25, 2017

books i read this month || january 2017

I opened an account on Goodreads again and have been carefully keeping track of the books I'm reading this year.  This month I read only non-fiction.  Here are the three books I read in 2017, as well as a short synopsis and review of each...

"A former paramedic’s visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta’s mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe."

This was the first book I read this year - the cover caught my attention immediately when I saw it at the library.  I thought it was really good - lots of exciting stories from a former parameic; some humorous, some heartwarming, some chilling, some really really sad.  I'd recommend it for a book that you coul pick up and read without having to focus too much attention on a complicated plot/dense content.

Magic & Loss

by Virginia Heffernan

"Since its inception, the Internet has morphed from merely an extension of traditional media into its own full-fledged civilization. It is among mankind’s great masterpieces—a massive work of art. As an idea, it rivals monotheism. We all inhabit this fascinating place. But its deep logic, its cultural potential, and its societal impact often elude us. In this deep and thoughtful book, Virginia Heffernan presents an original and far-reaching analysis of what the Internet is and does."

I like to read perspectives on the culture of the Internet, and this relatively new book fits the bill.  I wouldn't recommend it for a casual/light read, but if you're interested in the study of the Internet and how it has shaped our culture, go for it.

"Mrs. Sherlock Holmes tells the true story of Grace Humiston, the detective and lawyer who turned her back on New York society life to become one of the nation’s greatest crimefighters during an era when women weren’t involved with murder investigations. After agreeing to take the sensational Cruger case, Grace and her partner, the hard-boiled detective Julius J. Kron, navigated a dangerous web of secret boyfriends, two-faced cops, underground tunnels, rumors of white slavery, and a mysterious pale man — in a desperate race against time."

When this brand-new book was delivered to the library (pre-published), I immediately added myself to the wait list!  The subjects are relevant to my interests: Sherlock Holmes, real-life crime investigations, early 20th century New York, women's rights back in the day, courtroom drama...  Yeah, I really liked this book.  It feels a stretched a little bit too long, to me; sometimes I skimmed for pages and pages at a time, but I don't think that took away from the story.  This story saved me from the disappointment I felt after the finale of Sherlock BBC was murdered before my very eyes...

“I am not a believer in deduction.  Common sense and persistence will always solve a mystery. You never need theatricals, nor Dr. Watson, if you stick to a case.” - Grace Humiston, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes

January 24, 2017

first day of school

I STILL get excited about the first day of school!  And this one is all-around maybe the most exciting, because I'm at a new school and I have a new major and it's been way too long since I exercised these educational muscles.  Essays, tests, assignments, discussions, quizzes, readings, textbooks; all so stressful, but I can't deny that the productivity gives me a buzz like nothing else.

I've just missed it so much.

Technically I got a head start on some of my classes, since I'm taking them online and everything was posted already.  But I don't think I could let myself believe that this semester was going to be a go until the Official First Day, and here it is, and it's so awesome.

All other schools closed in the area because of the bad weather last night into this morning.  Not me.  :)  It's like being homeschooled all over again.


I could have given myself a snow day, I guess.  But why get behind on the first day?

Here's my little set-up.  Computer, coffee, planner.  Really meta because this is what it looks like as I type up this post.  :)

I've taken online courses before, but I've never been a full-time distance learner.  I expect to apply a lot of the same principles of homeschooling.  Self-motivation, accountability, responsibility, diligence, organization, etc.  I'm confident heading into this new endeavor, more so than I've been before!

One thing I'm curious about is how much time will I spend "in class."  Will it be around the same as if I was not online?  Or will it be less, or more?  Will these courses be harder than others I've taken? What will it be like to work with other online students? I'll revisit these question at the end of the semester...

Getting my associate's degree in General Studies was great, but I'm PUMPED to finally have a specific major and some long-term goals!

"I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2 

January 22, 2017

2017 style philosophy || forever 21 mini haul

Yes, a ~haul~ post.  Why not.

Charcoal Varsity-Striped Tunic: $12.90
Dusty Pink Crew Neck Sweater: $10
Taupe Corduroy Baseball Cap: $9.90
Ruched-Front Seamless Bralettes (Charcoal & Mauve): $4.90/ea.

We had a "girl's day" at the mall yesterday; we window-shopped a lot and had a great time!  I didn't plan on a shopping spree, but I picked up a couple of things at Forever 21.

Every time I bring home a new item of clothing, I save the shopping bag and put a few things I don't wear anymore into it to give away.  If something new goes into my closet, something old comes out: by doing this I've pared down my wardrobe drastically!  It's one of my favorite tricks to managing my closet.

Another way I'm managing my closet is by choosing a sort of "palette" for 2017.  To save any item of clothing from being neglected because it "doesn't go" with anything, I have a loose criteria for clothes I buy: it's not a set of hard-and-fast rules, so I'm not going to outline them, but they exist in my mind.  Basically, I have to rationalize why I am purchasing the item in question.  It's definitely helped me round out my wardrobe and gravitate towards a very basic personal style (of sorts) without even trying.

I am not stylish, trendy, or particularly well-dressed, but my clothes fit me well, they're comfortable, they're all worn regularly, and I feel like myself in whatever I put on!  My philosophy on clothing is that clothes should complement my personality as well as my body.  It's a funny example, but I always think about TV shows, and how clothes are chosen carefully by costume designers to fit each character.  A lot of the time, we don't even notice what someone in a TV show is wearing, which I think attests to the talent of the costume designers.

Here's a picture of me today, wearing the hat and tunic that I bought yesterday:

So comfortable!  I've never worn a baseball cap as an accessory before, but I think it suits me.  :)

January 19, 2017

when & why i started this blog

I recently took a look at my oldest posts on this blog, just out of curiosity.  It's been around for about 2 years and 3 months.  If this blog was a child it would be able to walk and talk; thankfully this blog is not a child, since I neglect it for months at a time.

Anyway, I wanted to revisit my purpose for this blog, and maybe check out what's been going on in my life over that time, including some goofy selfies for illustrative purposes. ;)


This picture makes me miss my pixie cut...

So here's me around the time I started this blog on October 28, 2014.  If you've ever looked at my Blogger profile, you'll notice that I've been on Blogger much longer - since January 2008.  This blog is not my first rodeo, folks!  I began blogging when I was almost 13.  I'll never open that blog to the public, but a couple of years ago, I gave a peek into the kind of posts I wrote: "So I had a blog in middle school."  I was active on that blog (it boasts 379 posts, more than 2/3rds of them from 2008) until October 24, 2011.

Looking back, the time between October 24, 2011 and October 28, 2014 were the longest 3 years of my life!  It seems almost impossible that such a short amount of time was filled with so much change, growth, and teenage angst.  The years since have flown by.  Time is such a strange concept.


I don't remember what got me back into blogging.  In the fall of 2014, I was in my 3rd semester of college.  I recall stumbling upon some modest fashion blogs over the summer and getting hooked: here's a post I wrote about it in retrospect: "I built the Tower of Babel."  It wasn't the highest point in my spiritual life, but it did teach me some valuable lessons, and this combined with being low-key lonely mayyyyy be what got me blogging again.  But who knows?!  I'm not some kind of psychoanalyst.  :P  I'm proud of my first "real" post on my blog: "Hot fudge sundae, please.  Hold the lemon juice."  I like remembering working at an ice cream store, and the lessons I learned. Colossians 4:5 is still my "mission" when it comes to working: “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”


I love the sweater I'm wearing in the picture and I CAN'T FIND IT ANYWHERE.

Two-thousand and fifteen was a year of pretty consistent blogging for me!  I tried a lot of different things: I wrote devotional-style anecdotes, book reviews, life updates.  This kind of matches up with my outlook at the time: I was searching - desperately - for a purpose.  I felt a little bit like I was floundering for a while (yup, I wrote about it too: "To the Christian who is floundering.")  I was trying to see if something stuck; if my reason for existing would suddenly make sense.

I don't know if I can articulate the change in my mindset that happened over that year.  It's probably something you'd have to live out to understand.  I guess what's important is that the change did happen.  Rather than change my circumstances, God changed me.  My biggest battles have always taken place in my mind in one way or another, so it makes sense that this is where I had an overhaul.  Sure, I still struggle with a sense of purposelessness and anxiety, but it's a battle I'm better equipped to handle now.


I took a nice long break from blogging, and then I came back out of NOWHERE to talk about my favorite "beauty products" after a family vacation to Florida ("May Favorites | Summer Sun Essentials"), and again in June to have an existential crisis when literally ALL MY PLANS fell through and I was just like ???????????


So I vented and then came back over the fall to try my hand at... lifestyle blogging?  Listen, I gave it a shot, posted about how healthy and active I was being, wrote up goals for the month, etc., but honestly at the time I was devoting my time to Instagram and liked that better because of how quick it was.  (I even thought about deleting this blog.  I'm glad I didn't!)

I kind of liked it, though.  I liked the vague accountability I had when I posted my goals online.  I might do that a little more this year.



At this point, I've decided this blog doesn't have to be anything specific anymore.  I've always wanted it to have a purpose; that people would have a reason to come here, to stay, to read what I have to say.  But I've gotten over myself and realized that I'm better at just letting a blog be an extension of my brain.

All along, I was trying to write things that I thought people would want to read.  I put so much pressure on myself to write about relatable, inspirational topics and find a niche that fit, so that I could maybe possibly find an audience or community that cared about what I had to say.  I wanted to be disciplined, structured, professional; it was never like that when I was 13 and writing the randomest crap and I loved it so much more than trying so hard to be something I'm not!  I think this year might be a return to that.  Is it alright if I write the randomest crap?

Of course it is, because it's not about you anymore.  ;)  (No offense.)  It's about turning me and my life into pixels and sending them out to the Internet; a shout into the void.  For all I know, this blog will never be more than that, and I want to embrace it.  If my online presence is never anything more than me, alone, in this little corner of the Internet, I'll be happy.

January 17, 2017

defining moments of my college education

Since I begin classes in a week, at a whole new university, I've been thinking recently about my five semesters at community college: the courses I took, the professors I met there, the memories...  I'd like to share some of my most important moments college!

1. Existential Crisis During First Semester

I took Clinical Hematology (learning about blood) my first semester.  I thought I wanted to be a lab tech.  We had two lectures and one lab every week.  I did well on tests and enjoyed the lectures, but dreaded the incredibly tedious and mind-numbing lab portion, where we spent almost 2 hours every week counting red blood cells through a microscope.

This is basically what we were looking at.
One time as we were doing this, the professor said to all of us, "This is what you will be doing a lot of the time when you're employed as a lab tech!"  I had this moment of clarity where I thought to myself, "Okay, if THIS is what I'm going to be doing in two years, and I hate it NOW, I am in the totally wrong place."

So I noped out of there, dropped out of medical lab technology and became an art major.

2. Learning to Read

In Spring 2014 I was in my 3rd semester and was still kind of nervous about the choice I had made to be a visual arts major.  As much as I liked creating and drawing, I was missing any kind of interest in looking at and critiquing art.  I didn't know how to talk about qualities of art besides "I like that art!" or "I do not like that art!"  I just didn't know what I was looking for.

This changed when I took 3D Design.  The class itself was a huge growing experience for me, creatively, and I could write a lot about what I learned through building sculptures and stuff - but a sort of side-effect was what the professor (a young, female adjunct who was new to DCC) taught me about looking at art.

An example of the kind of projects we did in 3D Design - not mine.
Group critiques were important in that class: we set up our works of art and talked about each one.  At first, it was awkward.  None of us really knew what to say, other than "I like it." :P  But every week, with every project, she focused on teaching us a term for talking about art: things like color, form, line, balance, space...  And she guided our discussions, suggesting ways to look at the things we made.

Eventually we got better at critiques and were able to give better input, like, "I like how balanced and light this side of your sculpture is, but I think it feels to heavy and dense on this side; maybe you could help it flow more by opening up this denser side."  Or whatever.  Later she brought us on a field trip to a local art museum/gallery, where we viewed and talked critically about all kinds of art, and all of a sudden I realized I could spend time in front of one work of art and see a million different things, where before I just thought, "I like it," or "I don't like it."

A Richard Serra piece from the gallery we visited!
It's hard to describe how much this meant to me.  It was like I was equipped with a whole new mental tool, like being taught to read.  In this case, I learned how to "read" art, I guess.  It was really a defining moment for me in my life, not even just as a student.

3. From Allied Health to Visual Arts to...?

In a weird turn of events, I decided to change my major after that 3D Design class.  I realized that it was moments like that - trying new things and learning amazing lessons from them - that kept me excited about education, and I wanted MORE.  I switched to "General Studies" for my 4th semester and took advantage of the freedom I had to take random classes!  Some highlights that semester:
  • History of Modern Art. I went from borderline apathy about history/struggling to understand the context of various historical world events, to having a true excitement and teachable attitude about history.  Now I LOVE looking at a work of art and learning about the circumstances surrounding it, the worldviews that influenced it, the artist's personal life, the context of when it was created... I still sweat when I look at a history timeline, but history comprehension "clicked" in my brain that semester; another mental tool I didn't have before.
  • Popular Culture.  This was actually an English class.  I thought it sounded interesting because I heard you got to watch a TV show for one module.  :)  It ended up being more than that!  We talked about the fast food industry, the clothing industry, music, education, the inner cities, YouTube, and a lot of other interesting things.  Since I've talked about mental tools twice now, I will say that this class added another tool to my mental toolbox: I think about the relationship between the creators of pop culture and me, the consumer.  I want to write about this in-depth later on, so I won't go into it now.
  • Spanish.  I took a Spanish course in college while I was in high school, but I honestly didn't learn a whole lot from it.  I didn't need another foreign language credit, but I was looking for a class to fit a particular time slot, and a Spanish class fit.  This was not the most demanding class I've ever taken, but imagine going from knowing how to introduce yourself in Spanish and basically nothing else, to having a teacher who refuses to speak English in his class!  It was SO CONFUSING, but I learned SO FAST that way.  You can imagine what this added to my mental toolbox.  Not only did I learn to stumble along in Spanish, I also learned how to learn a foreign language: immersion!  Textbooks are great, but it was speaking Spanish the entire time that did it for me.
The TV show we studied in Popular Culture.
I wasn't (and still am not) particularly proud about being a "General Studies" student.  I know it was the best choice, but I also struggled to admit that I really had no specific idea what I wanted to do in the future.  As other students narrowed down their goals and honed in on a path for them, I kept just taking classes.  Taking random classes.  But I accomplished what I was aiming for!  I got to try new things, and I learned a lot about myself and about the world around me.  Aaaaaand I was given a couple of opportunities that wouldn't have come about if I'd gone a different way...

4. An Extra Semester

There I was after finishing my 4th semester.  After switching  my major twice, you'd think I'd be waaayyy behind with graduating in 4 semesters, but actually, I only had one more class to take to graduate: a science class.  So I signed up to take a biology class over the summer.  I'd had a good run, but figured I had gotten as much as I could out of DCC (I even received an award - see the first picture in this post!) and wanted to graduate ASAP - no more full-time semesters for me!  I'd be finishing in just about the expected amount of time.

BUT NOPE there was more in store for me.

So I not only enjoyed the pop culture class: I also did really well in that class, and the professor was impressed by the papers I produced.  In fact, he recommended me to the director of our school's writing center, and I was offered the chance to take an advanced English/peer tutoring course.

I was flattered but didn't even consider taking it at first.  For one, it was for the following semester, and I planned to be graduated by then.  Besides that, the class is basically one part "Really Difficult English Class" and one part "A Job Helping Students Write Papers."  I like a challenging English class, but in my mind, I am the LAST person who should ever have been offered a job tutoring; nothing about my personality suggests that I would be a good tutor.

But at the last minute I was like, "Isn't this what I switched my major for?  For new experiences?  How can I turn this down, even if it means another semester?"  So of course I ended up accepting.  And while I was at it, I dropped the summer course, added it to the next semester's schedule, and also signed up for another Spanish class and a class about the Shaker religion... Because why not.

LOL.  The tutoring job was as difficult and awkward as I expected it to be, but I definitely grew from it and if I had the choice to go back in time and change my mind, I wouldn't.  I stepped out of my comfort zone, and it was terrifying, but it was an enriching learning opportunity.  It was a crazy semester and I think I wrote about it here on my blog at the time - I was working multiple jobs while going to school full time - but again, if I had to go back and choose between one summer class and an entire extra semester of random classes, I'd make the same choice!

A picture of the peer tutors I worked with during that semester, taken from my school's website: that's me in the back left :P
I finished community college in December 2015 and planned on taking Spring 2016 off from school to apply to colleges and get set to go back to school full time in Fall 2016, but...

5. A Gap Year

This is weird, because it's not a "defining moment of my college education" - it was the opposite sort of, because everything went wrong and I ended up not going back to school for the entirety of 2016 lol. Two of my plans for school fell through.  That's not to say I didn't learn - I think I did, and you can go back a few posts to read about that in "Have you tried turning it on and off again?"

But I had negative college education for a year and it mattered in the long run, so it's a defining moment, I guess.

6. An Opportunity Arises

At the beginning of December 2016, when I had just accepted that maybe this was God saying to me that I wasn't going back to college and should do something different, a college, which I had applied to AGES ago and hadn't heard back from in forever, told me I had been accepted for the Spring 2017 semester and I was like ??????who even are you and where have you been??????

You know me and opportunities.  I always think "NO," but I always want to say "yes."  Anyway, I took it as an actual physical opportunity handed to me directly from God, because it was so easy compared to the frustration of trying with other schools over the past years: within a couple of days everything was all set for me to begin school again in the best circumstances that I can think of.

That's where I am now!  In six days I begin online classes and will hopefully graduate with my Bachelor's degree in four semesters.  It's so crazy to think that two months ago, I wouldn't have guessed what I would be doing.  Certainly not this.  But that's how it always is in my life...

January 16, 2017

has sherlock jumped the shark?

I had another post lined up for today, but I can't ignore what's been bothering me since last night, so I think I'm going to write about it.  You're going to see my nerdier side, because although I avoid fandoms, I do have a fangirl button and it has been PUSHED.

When it comes to any kind of book, movie, or TV show, I am extremely picky; but when I like something, I take it seriously; I can't get enough of it.  I frequent the website www.tvtropes.org to analyze every detail, cliche, trope, reference, etc.

So it was with BBC's Sherlock (here's the TVTropes page).  What a show.  It's a modern adaptation, of course, of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which I read (an abridged version lol) as a kid and enjoyed.

Each season is made up of three 90-minute episodes; between seasons is a hiatus of at least 2 years.  It's easy to fall in love with Sherlock, but it's tough to be a fan.  :)

I've been a fan of the show since the beginning, or at least since the first season was put on Netflix, whenever that was.  I fell in love with it because it was unlike any other show I'd watched before.

I have seen every episode from "A Study in Pink" to "The Abominable Bride" multiple times and have always been so impressed and amazed by each one.  Every one of those episodes from the first 3 seasons thrilled me, leaving me at the end feeling like I'd just watched something spectacular.  Like I had watched a well-written, multi-layered, carefully constructed work of art.  Like I hadn't wasted 90 minutes of my time.

Fast-forward to New Year's Day 2017: two years since season three; about a year since the interesting extra episode.  Season four of Sherlock is about to begin.  The three episodes were to air every Sunday night from January 1st to January 15th.  I was SO READY and made sure to watch them that same night they were aired to avoid being spoiled.  (There won't be any spoilers from here on; I'm not going to delve into the episodes this season in any detail, I just want to talk about how I feel, lol.)

So I watched the first episode of the fourth season, "The Six Thatchers," and found it slightly disappointing.  I wasn't enthralled like I was in past episodes; it felt off.  Something was missing; the magic, the charm, the wit, the emotion.  Or was it just me?  I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

The second episode, "The Lying Detective," renewed my hopes.  It gave me every feeling I remembered from watching older episodes for the first time.  It redeemed itself and brought back the depth that I expected in an episode of Sherlock.  I was so excited.

And then last night was the season finale, "The Final Problem."  I knew it could be something amazing.

But it wasn't.  At the end of the very first scene, I could already tell that this was going to be disappointing, and it just kept getting worse.  It had none little of the charm and magic and intrigue I knew it should have (I have to admit that Moriarty's entrance gave me CHILLS).

I was so let down, and in a strange way, I feel cheated...?  I mean, I didn't particularly expect something mind-blowing or earth-shattering to happen.  it wasn't so much that I had particular expectations to be met, but I, at the very least, expected things to "maintain" - even at the risk of being repetitive.  I wanted it to feel like Sherlock always has.

Instead, crazy things were thrown at me and the audience at large that we just had to take on blind faith; unrealistic situations, weird backstory that hadn't been foreshadowed, out of character moments, and cinematography that just didn't feel like Sherlock at all to me.

In my opinion, Sherlock may have "jumped the shark" - a common enough expression meaning, according to TVTropes, "the moment when an established long-running series changes in a significant manner in an attempt to stay fresh."  I don't know.  I think it has jumped the shark and I wonder if it could come back from this.

I'm just really bummed out that I hated this final episode so much, especially if a season 5 never happens.

Ugh it just seems to happen with every show I love!  Hahaha.  I just expected different from Sherlock.  For instance, Community NBC was a clever, hilarious sitcom until season 4, when I suddenly wondered if the writers even knew their characters.

I couldn't watch The Office as happily at some point - maybe as early as when Jim and Pam got married, or possibly not until Michael Scott left.

Arrested Development lost its direction in season 2, and was further ruined when it was brought back for more season YEARS later.

The only show that I can think of that I watched and thoroughly enjoyed to the very, very end - to the last episode ever - was House.  Yes, it has like a million episodes, and at times it's one of the most repetitive shows I've ever watched, but I never felt that the characters were misunderstood by the writers, and that's crucial to maintaining believability and interest in a show.

Sooo has Sherlock jumped the shark?  I think I want to hear from the people behind the show.  I want them to talk about what they want to do in the future.  I need to understand what their motives were and how they justify the horrible season finale and all the hype.  I guess time will tell?

For now, I'm going to go back and watch older episodes of Sherlock.  I need me some Moriarty to cleanse my palate...

January 12, 2017

i needed this

First haircut of the year.  I dread getting going to the hair salon; it's a stressful experience!  But I sucked it up today.

Before.  This is the longest my hair has been since the beginning of 2013 - so four years now!

After.  Just a trim, really.  In the spring I'll definitely go a lot shorter and maybe get highlights or something... If I'm feeling brave haha.  This is fine for now.  I didn't want it blow-dried or styled - trying to ease off the heat tools and have healthier hair. Plus I kind of like the natural wave and texture of my hair when I let it air dry.

Oh, and I got my undercut re-done.  I don't know why I keep up with it; it's not the most attractive hairstyle, and honestly if I let it catch up to the rest of my hair, I'd have a lot better volume!  But I like how fuzzy it is and it looks pretty cool when I put my hair up, and why not do something strange with your hair while you're young, right?  (Also, this picture made me realize I may have put on too much highlighter... Hahaha I'm glowing!)

I'm not sure why I'm on such a roll with blogging this year!  I know some people make resolutions to blog more, but I honestly had ZERO plans to ever come back to this blog!  Maybe one reason I gravitated towards it again is that one of my goals is to journal less and use social media less (maybe I'll explain why, sometime).

Blogging and making short videos is a more thought-out, intentional outlet for creative expression I guess, instead of doing a quick/mindless Instagram post or jotting random things down in my journal that no one reads, the way I usually do (not that I have a readership here either lol).  So maybe you can look forward to hearing more from me here soon...

back to school (again)

Exciting news: I'm going back to school.  I took a sort of "gap year" between getting my associate's degree and beginning my bachelor's degree, so I'm a little apprehensive of how it'll be to be back in college full time, even though I'll be a fully online student.

Anyway, as a distance learner, the biggest way I'm preparing for the first day of classes is by getting my work space ready.  Really all I need is a clean desk and good supplies/stationary.  Today I went out and purchased a couple of items as a kind of "back-to-school" mini haul, and I think it would be fun to share the things I got.  :)

Every season I've been going to the nifty section of Target where pretty much everything is under $5, because they always have cute, cheap, seasonal decorations and stuff.  So I like to change out little things in my room to make it feel more seasonally appropriate.  This season is kind of awkward.  It's way too early to think about Valentine's Day, but right now Target has mostly Valentine's Day decorations, as well as 2017 planners/calendars.

However, I do like the idea of going from Christmas-y winter decor (fairy lights, red and gold, dark-colored candles) to pastel-y winter decor.  Light colors feel right for the beginning of a new year, and it's sort of like a transition towards spring... A very long transition...

Here we go!

Hanging Wall Calendar - Target's Dollar Deal Area - $3 
I like to have a small calendar near my desk.  I don't use it to write on, it's just for quick reference.  Since it's almost entirely for aesthetic purposes, it's important to me that it's cute.

And it really is so cute - every month has a different watercolor design on it.  I particularly approve of April's raindrop design!  I really like the fonts used.  :)

Just the right size!

 2017 Weekly/Monthly Planner - Target Dollar Deal Area - $1
I already have a planner - a really pretty, high-quality one that I use for everything - but I wanted a tiny one for course assignments so that my nice one doesn't get cluttered.  This is perfect, and I like the minimalist design.

It's really small and thin!  I could easily tuck it into my other planner.  Overkill?  Sorry.  I just really, really love planners.

Ceramic Valentine's Day jar - Target Dollar Deal Area - $3
I am really impressed by this item!  It kind of reminds me of something you'd see in Anthropologie.  It's an excellent little candy jar and improves the visual appeal of my desk.  :)

Mmm... Those are cupcake-flavored Valentine's Day kisses.  They're mad good and they look adorable in this jar.  They were also the most expensive thing I bought - $3.69 for a package of them.  :P

30 ct. white note cards - Target Dollar Deal Area - $3
 I am a massive stationary hoarder.  I LOVE cute notebooks, paper, cards, stickers, everything.  There were a lot of choices at Target today, but I went with this set of 30 blank white cards with envelopes.  I usually hand-make birthday cards, so it's good to have a whole stack of plain cards that I can decorate however I want!

These could easily be decorated with a message or picture stamped right on the middle, but I will probably do a little more.  :)

The perfect size!  You can also see how the paper has a nice texture and is made of sturdy paper.

Anyway, that's all the things I picked up today; altogether it cost me under $15.  I'm very happy with my haul - I'm all set for the upcoming semester!

January 11, 2017

have you tried turning it off and on again?

Let's get philosophical and talk about all of 2016 as if it had any kind of discernible pattern!

The IT Crowd
I'm about to get real deep, and suggest that for the past year or so I've been metaphorically living in that time right after you shut your computer down, and you're counting to 30 before you turn it back on.  Like it's a weird way to picture it, but it's honestly the best way I can describe it.

Every year on New Years' Eve we go around describing our year in one word.  At the end of 2015 I said "Change," because it really was a year where I personally stayed the same, but my circumstances around me were in a changing and growing process.  For instance, I got a new job (a "grown up" job in my mind, mostly because it's a job that relates to my plans for the future and I get paid vacations haha), I bought my first car (and began paying insurance....... nice), I graduated community college, etc...

I have to say this year was the exact opposite of "Change!"  Instead I took 2 semesters off from college (really I guess it was a gap year between finishing my associate's degree and beginning my bachelor's degree), I worked consistently, I learned how to enjoy a daily routine, I cultivated good habits, like eating right, exercising, budgeting, organizing, etc... It was good for me.  Mentally I was spent at the end of 2015 from stress about school, anxiety, fear of the future and felt really stuck.  I thought the way out of that was plowing on ahead, going back to school immediately, piling more things on my plate, but obviously God knew better.

So at the end of 2016 my word to describe the year was "Reset."  Because that's what it took to get my head in the game again.  I was "stuck" (the way a computer sometimes freezes, to keep with the metaphor), and I had to be shut down (forcefully haha) to start moving again.  As frustrating as it was, sometimes, to live in that "in-between" phase for a while even as I tried DESPERATELY to change things up, I'm looking back now and seeing the mental healing and spiritual growth that happened.  So that's cool.

And now here's 2017.  I'm about to dive head-first back into college and kick-start a few more semesters of school and see what that's like.  I don't know what the end of the year's word is going to be, but from here, at the beginning, I know the "Reset" period is over.