The Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine-blogger

Thanks Thistles and Whistles for the nomination! Y’all should check out her blog. She’s a lovely soul who’s always got a book in her hand and a positive thing to say. As part of the award, she posed the following questions for me:

  1. If you could learn one important skill in the next year, what would it be?  I’ve been working a lot on beefing up my graphic design skills now that I’ve got my own graphic design freelance business. I feel like I know Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop quite well, but there’s SO much you can do with those programs, there’s always a ton more to learn! I just discovered Creative Live and have been learning lots of great stuff on there for free!
  2. Describe yourself in 3 words.  Curious, introverted, reflective
  3. If you had to give up one thing, what would it be? It can be a trait, a habit, a food item or anything! Sleeping in. Can’t seem to knock the habit, especially now that I’m making my own work hours. Still working on it!
  4. What’s the number 1 thing on your wishlist right now?  A DSLR camera. If I’m reaaally good this year I might buy myself one for Christmas.
  5. What has recently inspired you?  This. So many pretty ideas.
  6. The three things you always carry around with you in your purse/wallet?  Water bottle because I’m perpetually afraid of dehydration, a mini moleskine notebook in case I have a brilliant idea I need to jot down while I’m out and about, and kleenex for snotty noses, dirty fingers, toilet paper when you pick the wrong bathroom stall, etc. etc.
  7. Your favorite corner/room at home?  Our big ol’ covered front porch. I love sitting out there with my laptop working while enjoying a beautiful day. Or snuggling up with a cup of coffee, watching a rain storm pass through. In fact, I’m sitting out there right now!
  8. The last thing you ate?  A whole wheat bagel sandwich with egg, cheese, spinach, avocado, Quorn sausage, and sriracha. It was deeelicious.
  9. Any one everyday tip/life hack that you swear by?  Todoist. If it’s not on my to-do list, it doesn’t get done. I’ve recently started categorizing items on my to-do list by how much time or effort they’ll take. Big tasks either take an hour or more and/or take a lot of brainpower to complete (like going to the grocery store or designing a newsletter). Medium tasks take between a half hour and an hour and/or take a moderate amount of brain effort (like pulling weeds in the yard or adding content to my website). Small tasks take under 30 minutes or very little brain power (like doing laundry or simple email responses). Once all items are categorized I try to make sure I only have 1-2 big tasks, 3-4 medium tasks, and a handful of small tasks (otherwise known as simple wins) to complete each day. That way I’m not setting myself up for failure by loading up way too many big tasks on my list each day, and when I’m feeling unmotivated I always have a couple small tasks I can do to get that nice sense of accomplishment to get me going again.
  10. Favourite go-to snack. Popcorn! I pop my own on the stove and add garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper (and obviously melted butter). I can’t stop myself from eating a whole bowl all by myself. It’s a problem.
  11. What are you currently watching/following on TV?  30 Rock — my boyfriend and I are watching the whole series on Netflix — we’re midway through season 5 right now. It’s just brilliant.

Now I nominate YOU. If you’re reading this, I want you to answer these questions too! Make it a blog post or just respond in the comments. I’d love to get to know you better!

xoxo

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Chaaangesss

Hey ya’ll. Is it just Michigan or is fall coming at us waaay too fast? I’m certainly not ready for summer to be over, but I have to admit this weather is making me itch to drink cider and buy fresh notebooks.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve gone through TONS of changes these past 8 months. How better to celebrate them than with a sneak preview of the photo project I’ve been working on? Since January I’ve taken a photo of the same place in my little city each month. The photos below came from my cell phone, but I’m actually using my film camera (a Canon AE-1 Program) to take all the photos (which is why I’m missing a couple of months — took them on the Canon but forgot to take a phone version as well…oops!)

Even though I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life, looking back on these photos it still strikes how different each month looks. And how just a few short months ago we were all anxiously awaiting the first sign of greenery and thinking we’d never be warm again. Now we’re nearing the end of summer and getting ready to welcome a brand new landscape. So it goes.

Check it:

January in Ferndale

March in Ferndale

April in Ferndale

May in Ferndale

June in Ferndale

Back from my sabbatical!

Hey friends! It’s been too long! Too much has happened lately. Within the last month I moved to a new house, left my 9 to 5, and went on a 16 day road trip. Whew!

I got back into town one week ago, and it finally feels like the dust is settling. There were lots of hard moments and a few tears before we hit the road. After weeks of packing, stressing, and working non-stop, we let go of it all as we left town and had a seriously amazing time on our trip.

I still have a million things to do to get my freelance business going and finish getting this new house organized, but I’m feeling so good about the direction everything is going right now.

Here are some of my favorite snaps from the trip:

Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir, Colorado

Colorado
Driving through Colorado

Tent Rocks
Tent Rocks, New Mexico

Panda at San Diego Zoo
Panda at the San Diego Zoo

Nevada
Driving through Nevada

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

Utah
Driving through Utah

More soon!

The Liebster Award

liebster-award1

So this is super overdue, but back in March the wonderful Janice from The Simple Beginner nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thanks girl! You should all check her out, she posts about a little bit of everything and totally radiates good vibes.

Am I trying to avoid telling you all about how terribly I’m doing at waking up early? Maybe. But for an excellent distraction, here are my answers to her questions per the rules of this award:

1. If you could only choose from: sweet, savoury or sour foods. Which would you eat for a year?
Going a year without dessert sounds unfathomable, but I’m not sure I’d actually survive the year eating sweets for every meal, so I suppose I’d play it safe and go with savory.

2. If you visited (or live in) Australia, where would you like to go and why?
I’ve never been to Australia before so I’d probably like to see some of the major sites like the Sydney Opera House. I’d also want to hit the beach, check out some interesting restaurants, and do some hiking or camping. 

3. How many are there in your family? (Including your pet/s)
There are 6 of us — mom, dad, brother, sister, cat and me.

4. What is your all time favourite food?
Ooo tough one. I’m gonna go predictable and say either pizza or mac and cheese. 

5. What are you currently studying at school/college/university? If you’re not studying, what do you do for work?
I currently do communications for a nonprofit that works on engaging voters across the U.S. 

6. How did you come up with the name of your blog?
I wanted something that was pretty self explanatory about what my blog is about. 

7. What are you currently listening to?
Bob’s Burgers playing on TV. 

8. What TV show are you currently watching?
See above. 

9. What’s your favourite thing to do on Sundays?
Go out to brunch with my boyfriend, drink tons of coffee, and do something outside. 

10. Are you a morning or night time person?
Night person attempting a painful transition into morning person-hood. 

11. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Put the kettle on to make coffee. Most important action of the day. 

Now I officially nominate all y’all who are following me for this award. You earned it! Answer the same questions above so I can get to know you better!

April recap

I know you’re all anxiously awaiting an update on my progress toward becoming a morning person. Rest assured you’ll hear all about it next week. For now, let’s talk about last month.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t get nearly as much accomplished last month as I’d hoped. Full time work plus my attempts to inch myself into freelancing haven’t left too much time for other exciting pursuits. But here’s a few things I did last month:

Craft night

My roommates and I decided to host a craft party early last month. We needed a really good excuse to have people over and drink and paint things. This was the perfect opportunity! We bought some little flower pots and paints and I even busted out my centuries-old friendship bracelet making string (which ended up being a major hit – friendship bracelets are coming back y’all!). We had snacks and drinks — I made this Strawberry Basil Margarita which was crazy easy to make and widely agreed to be super tasty. We weren’t sure how the crafting would go over with everyone, especially since at least half of the attendees were guys — but everyone ended up crafting something and apparently had a great time if the above photo I took the following morning of the craftermath is any indication.

Lightning Bolt show

I used to listen to this band a whole bunch back when I was an angsty teenager in high school. I never really kept up with their newer releases and hadn’t ever seen them live until last month. It was a pretty good show — they sound just like I remember them — loud and aggressive. And when I say loud I mean, REALLY loud. Like my hearing was legitimately muffled for the whole day after. The best part is that the drummer/singer wears this crazy looking mask the whole time they play (you can see him putting it on in the photo above) which makes his yelling/singing totally incomprehensible and muffled. Never seen or heard anything else like it.

Protein pancakes

I’ve been fascinated by the concept of protein pancakes for a while, but this was my very first foray into making them. I love pancakes but can’t usually rationalize basically eating dessert for breakfast most days. So when I stumbled across this recipe I was thrilled — pancakes with only 5 healthy ingredients that I pretty much always have stocked in my kitchen? Perfect!

Well these weren’t exactly perfect, but they turned out pretty good. I definitely want to try them again with a couple adjustments. For starters, as you can see they don’t exactly look like pancakes (and they definitely don’t look anything like the photo on the linked recipe, so don’t get your hopes up). They were more the consistency of no-bake cookies. The recipes calls for whole rolled oats, but next time I’m going to try blending the ingredients to get a smoother texture. They also weren’t super sweet (well at least before I doused mine in maple syrup). My bananas were only just ripe, so next time I’m going to try using a super ripe banana to add a little extra sweetness. Pretty good for starters but definitely worth a re-do.

And lastly, here’s a new band I discovered last month (letter M – check!). Check ’em out.

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How to become a morning person

road trip sunset

Damn I’ve been busy. In addition to working my butt off on some exciting projects that will hopefully help me be my own boss in the near future, I was out of town most of last week. I spent 4 days in Virginia for a work meeting, came home for less than 24 hours, and then skipped off for a road trip to the other side of Michigan to spend a long weekend full of sun and beer in Grand Rapids.

All this running around has got me thinking that I really need to scoop up a few extra hours in my day. Since time turners only exist in Harry Potter’s world for now, my next best option is to commit to goal #72: Wake up at 7am every day for a week. Waking up early is a particular kind of torture for me. If I’m not about to be late for something REALLY important, I’m totally unable to get out of bed without snoozing my alarm 1 million times. Day after day I do this, regardless of how committed I become to experiencing a morning during my waking hours.

So here’s the deal, internet people. I’m counting on y’all for some social pressure to actually do this thing. Next week is go time. I’m gonna knock this goal out and while I’m at it, build a new lasting habit that’ll extend beyond this trial week. There, I said it on the internet so now I have to deliver!

Here are my strategies for waking up early:

  1. Go to bed on time – You’re nothing without those 7-8 hours!
  2. Stop snoozing! – Real talk. I have been known to snooze my alarm (which goes off at 10 minute intervals) for up to 2 hours before actually getting out of bed. This is terrible and I know it. During those 2 hours all I’m doing is being annoyed, annoying my boyfriend (bless his heart he never complains), and getting the absolute worst sleep (can you even call that sleep?). Time to end the cycle! Wake up on the FIRST alarm!
  3. Wake up slow – My body is incapable of bounding out of bed at the first sound of an alarm. So instead I’ll focus on waking up slow, staying in bed for a little while (no snoozing allowed!), checking Instagram or reading a couple pages in a book to ease into wakefulness.
  4. Drink water – This is one of the easiest things you can do to wake up in the morning. You’re dehydrated when you wake up and being dehydrated makes you feel slothy and yucky. Drinking water first thing will help get that energy going. Bonus: nothing works better for getting me out of bed than a full bladder.
  5. Make mornings fun – Listen to music, get outside for some fresh air, treat myself to donuts. Burn into my memory that waking up early = good.

Got any other brilliant wake up early strategies? I’d love to hear them! (I’m gonna need all the help I can get)

March in Review

I know, I know, I’ve left you hanging again. I promise to be better going forward. These past few weeks have been full of learning new things, work (the fun kind and the doing-this-to-live kind), making plans, and a nervous breakdown, just for good measure. I’m forging ahead, trying to make some decisions, crossing things off my list, and feeling a little crazy, but in a good way (for the most part). Anyway, here’s a few things I checked off my list last month:

dream-journal-header

Looking back on what I recorded, I ended up dreaming about weddings a few times last month. According to the internet:

To see or attend a wedding in your dream symbolizes a new beginning or transition in your current life. A wedding reflects your issues about commitment and independence. Alternatively, your wedding dream refers to feelings of bitterness, sorrow, or death. Such dreams are often negative and highlight some anxiety or fear. If you dream that the wedding goes wrong or ends in disaster, then it suggests that you need to address some negativity immediately.

Yep, that sounds about right.

movie-header

I almost never go to the movies, even in the company of other people, because they’re just so darn expensive and most of the time I have no idea what’s out anyway. I think the last movie I saw in theaters was Lincoln…which came out in 2012…. So naturally I went to the $2 theater where they show movies that have already left the regular theaters and saw Mockingjay Part 1. I snuck in my own beverage but splurged on a bag of buttery, salty movie theater popcorn that I was delighted to have all to myself. The movie was good, the popcorn was good, and I didn’t even have to spend that much money. I’m putting in my official vote for solo movie theater adventures.

coffee-cake-header

My new recipe for March was a Vegan Super Fruit Coffee Cake which came from the cookbook Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (yes I own several of her cookbooks — she’s amazing). This coffee cake was pretty different from the kind of coffee cake I’m used to. It was a lot less sweet and definitely more cakey, but still really tasty and incredibly easy to make. Success!

Tycho-header

At my boyfriend’s request, we went to see Tycho last month. I’d never really listened to much of his music before, but the show was really great, and I’ve been listening to a lot of his stuff since then. We even ran into a couple of our friends there and ended up getting drinks with them afterward. Super fun night!

Goal #50: Have a Pen Pal

Letter from my pen pal

I officially have a pen pal! I got my first letter from my lovely pen pal Thistles and Whistles over the weekend. After realizing that we both have 101 things to do in 1001 days lists AND that both our lists contained the goal “have a pen pal,” a great idea was instantly born and we quickly exchanged contact info. Isn’t the internet an amazing thing? I don’t think we stop frequently enough to marvel at the potential connections and information always and instantly available. Never thought making a new pen pal friend from the UAE would be so easy!

It’s such a lovely experience to sit down in front of a blank piece of paper, scribble down some thoughts and opinions, telling someone halfway across the world about your life, then wrap it all up with an envelope and stamp and send it out on its long journey across the ocean. It’s almost like journaling, but you actually have a person reading and responding on the other end.

But what I really love about letter writing is the lack of instant response that we’ve all gotten so used to. Those different shades of pings, dings, and beeps regularly drawing us away from the present moment and uncontrollably pulling our gaze toward our phones and computers. With letter writing, you sit down with your cup of coffee, your most attractive stationary, your best inky black pen, and you use as much paper as feels necessary to tell another human what’s going on in your life. You don’t want or expect an instant reply. You want to wait. You want that other person to open your letter and leisurely read it over their cup of coffee. You want them to mull over what you told them for several minutes to several days before they pull out their best stationary and favorite inky black pen and give a thorough and well thought out response. You want to have forgotten about the letter you sent until several days or weeks later when you open your mailbox, surprised and delighted when you finally hold their response in your hands.

Speaking of which…time for me to compose my response! Hope you all get something good in the mail today.

Feel Better Thursday

I’ve been sick, y’all, and it’s bumming me out. Sure, being sick seems like the perfect excuse to curl up with my laptop and do some productive internet-ing, but that’s not quite how it goes for me. My brain goes fuzzy and the most it can handle is turning on Netflix and slouching over to the kitchen to make some tea. A perfect recipe for doing absolutely nothing productive for a week. Great.

Since my mental and physical energy are finally starting to come back, I thought I’d remind you all that I’m not dead and give you a peek at some things that have been keeping me feeling positive over the past week:

Passion-planner2

I ordered a Passion Planner a while back and it recently showed up in my mailbox. It’s a mega useful planner slash life coach all packed inside a pretty faux leather binding. I haven’t gotten too deep into planning with it yet as a result of the sickness, but I’m pretty stoked to get down to business with this baby very soon.

yes

I recently said yes to something I wouldn’t normally do (goal #83) and hired a career coach to help me figure out what I should be doing with my life and how to get there. Asking for help from other people is not my strong suit, especially when it costs me money. But this guy came highly recommended, and I’ve been struggling a lot with this career question lately, so I figured I’d just take the plunge. We’ve only met once so far, but I’m excited to keep working with him. He started me off by having me take the Myers Briggs personality test to see what types of work my personality is best suited for. Apparently I’m an INFJ. Has anyone else every taken this test? What did you think of it? I thought the description of my personality type fit me shockingly well.

And finally, cats on roombas to make us all feel better:

kittens-roomba

Cat-shark-roomba

cat-roomba

Cat-On-Roomba-Going-In-Circles

Be well, friends!

February in retrospect

Goodbye, February, you sly minx. You’re here and then you’re gone before we really get a chance to know you. I’m over you anyway — too much snow, ice, and blustery-ness. I’m ready for March and the promise of an imminent thaw.

Due to said blustery-ness, I spent a good deal of this month indoors. Cooking, reading (closing in on the end of Infinite Jest! Damn this book just keeps getting better), moving-watching, making plans for the spring, and spastically checking the weather forecast (will we break 40 degrees this week???).

Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to.

My new recipe to try in February (goal #28) was spicy tempeh nori rolls. This recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks — Veganomicon by the famed Isa Chandra Moskowitz — the genius behind Post Punk Kitchen. I’ve never made sushi before and we didn’t bother with acquiring a bamboo rolling mat, so these rolls have some character (read: are kind of ugly). Regardless, the whole process was a lot less intimidating than I had imagined and we ended up with a seriously delicious dinner. Definitely going to make these again.

Sushi

For such a short month, I managed to squeeze in a pretty hefty amount of movie watching (goal #49). I guess I was on a strong-female-lead kick this month (or always?) — here’s what I’ve been Netflixing:

The Duchess was beautiful and heartbreaking and made me so thankful that I live where I do, when I do. Kiera Knightly was lovely and Ralph Fiennes was very Voldemorty. Evita was okay, definitely an interesting story but it was hard to stay interested with over two hours straight of fairly cheesy songs and very little dialogue. Frances Ha was great — Frances is a painfully relatable character. I loved that it was set all in black and white, drawing your attention more fully into the story than the scenery and how to the narrative sort of flips the traditional roles that best friend and romantic interest generally play in movies. Frances is way more centrally focused on her best friend, at times obsessing over her like a jealous lover, while the potential romantic interest in the story sort of just comes and goes, providing cute supporting scenes but not being entirely central to the plot. In a World was an interesting view into the world of voice acting and the serious lack of female all-stars in the arena. It featured a cameo by Geena Davis and ended with a total girl power moment. What more could you ask for? Obvious Child was my favorite movie I watched in February. The story is so honest and Jenny Slate is hilarious. It was a really fresh take on the rom com, featuring relationships that actually seem real and relatable. Plus I totally love Gaby Hoffman and I wish she was my best friend.

I started working on goal #8 — fill a sketchbook with drawings. I used to be a lot more into drawing and painting waaaay back in high school, but I haven’t done much arty stuff since then. Very excited to change that. Here’s a sketch I did recently that I like. Also pictured: scotch on the rocks to help get those creative juices flowing.

hand-sketch

Happy March y’all!