Monday, April 29, 2013

E.T. & The Sloppy Joes

Was anyone looking for a band name? Because... YOU'RE WELCOME. I know this might seem a tad strange and random, but what is a blog for if not letting people in on the things that make you you?
E.T. phone home! (x)
So something you may not know about me is that my whole life I have had an aversion to the following things:
  1. E.T.
  2. sloppy joes
The story goes a little something like this: My mom, bless her, wanted to have a fun girl's night in when we were elementary school kiddos. She was going to introduce is us to the magical world of these two things and be a super cool mom while doing it. I mean, I remember being really excited that we got to sit on the floor. As we ate dinner! In the family room! This may well have been my first taste of rebellion, even if it was my mom's idea. But the thing is, I was so terrified of E.T. that I've never been able to eat sloppy joes since. 

Well now that I'm in my mid-twenties and currently facing zero time to stir up well-crikey-I-should-have-my-own-cooking-show wonders, I found myself asking, "What can I make that will last me a whole week, but takes barely any preparation?" I almost cringed when I heard my cool mom say the dreaded words... "Sloppy joes." (enter slow-mo mode) No!!!!!!!!! 

Then I asked myself how a girl who has started watching the series Hannibal is letting herself be defeated by a little alien from the 80s. How ridiculous! So I broke down and made them. But I didn't stop there. Oh no! I couldn't stop there. I'd gone too far. I rented E.T. too... 
With this hardwood floor as my table and 2/10 on plate presentation, I have no current plans to go into food blogging.
At first, it seemed like elementary school me- in her infinite wisdom, bowl cut, and horse shirts- had a very good point. E.T.'s fingers are creepy and he waddle-runs in a way that still strikes fear in my heart and then there's the whole extendable neck business, which is the very definition of terrifying. I have the heebie jeebies just thinking about it! But then there was baby-faced Henry Thomas (you may have heard me coo over him before) with his bad pizza delivery skills and frog-saving heroism. There was also an epic score, a little girl named Gertie, and scenes that really tugged on my heart-strings. And I eventually warmed up to E.T., perhaps due to the weird purring noise he makes or maybe, quite honestly, having a sheet thrown over his head... So this qualifies me as 'not entirely heartless,' right? Anyway, having previously blocked everything about this film except Reese's Pieces from my mind, I now completely understand why this is a classic and am glad to have it under my belt. That being said... it's still a no on the extendable neck business. No. No. No. No. No.

E.T. Sloppy joes. Maybe not your typical recipe for fear. But it was certainly one of mine and I'm glad I gave it another go! 15+ years later and, it turns out, I have a taste for it after all! Do you have any "haunting" memories from your childhood that keep you from doing certain things? Try them again! They just might become a new go-to years and years and years later!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Picture Book Update

You may remember that when Hurricane Sandy hit last October, I spent my days in a blanket fort scribbling away at my notes for the upcoming NaNoWriMo and a picture book that came out of nowhere. This little story about a rather unique dragon tickled me pink, but it seemed drastically different from everything I'd workshopped in my writing classes. I'd always submitted middle grade or YA pieces. So I was really nervous when we pulled our desks together for a critique circle. But when we finally did, I was bowled over by overwhelming positive feedback as well as a note from my teacher saying I should edit it and send it out for publishing. I was stunned.

Well finally! Five months after getting that note, I've finally let it sit long enough and tightened it up to the point where I feel comfortable sending it out. This is, in a way, really scary; putting a beloved character of mine in the hands of a professional with the power to tear it up like... well, a professional! But ultimately I do think this story is meant to be shared and whether it's a yes or no, I am happy to get feedback to make it even stronger. 

Over the past few months, I've been making a list of dream agents. You don't pitch your story to a publishing house, you pitch to an agent. They pitch it to the publishing house. So this week I sent it out to my first wave of agents. I'm querying them first because I especially admire their work, think we'd get along well, and would love to have fighting them my corner. It's so bizarre to think my story is now in their slush pile. It's so crazy!! Anyway, I just wanted to give you all a wee update that actually concerns writing. Now the long wait for replies begins... But there you go! You know, no big... AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What's On My Nightstand

  • Coco Before Chanel. It's very Twilight Zone using the English title... Anyway, I've been wanting to watch this exquisite film recently and yesterday I finally reached a point where I just need to calm a llama down. Maybe I fled to it because it has such an enchanting score (listen to it on a daily basis? moi?... oui!) or gorgeous scenery and costumes or the fact that the French language instantly puts me à l'aise or simply that I needed the kind of good yet devastating cry that only a period piece can deliver... But whatever it was, it did the trick. I'm just kidding. We all know it was Alessandro Nivola speaking French! I mean... bonjour!
  • Elastic Hair Thingamabobs. I may not know what they're called, but I have pledged my allegiance to them for over a year now! This is all I use for working out these days. No more bands busting on me in the middle of a run, no sir! Sadly they can be a bit expensive in my local boutiques. But just when I was going to crack and splurge on another one, my friend Jennifer sent me a boatload! I shrieked. I shrieked over elastic hair thingamabobs! You want thingamabobs? I've got twenty!
  • Macadamia Nut Hershey's Kisses. Did you know they had these? Did you? Did you?!?! Well I did. Just one of many perks of having a pilot for a dad! But I warn you-- a moment on the lips, forever in a daydreaming vortex of sunny days spent watching your exquisi-cute surfer boyfriend Kai out on the waves as you perfect impossible-to-shake-your-hips-that-fast hula dance moves on the beach.
  • Play Date Essie Nail Polish. After months and months of holding the must-have-all-the-colors monster at bay, I finally broke down in Dallas the other weekend and snatched this up. I've been eying it for ages and I've got to say, I don't feel guilty for caving at all! This is just a fun springy shade and I'm going to be using it non-stop.
  • Burt's Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil. I'd describe how wonderful this tinted balm is, but I'm too busy pursing my lips together... mmm...
Like I said, I've been in dire need of anything and everything that can get me to chill out this week. So I've been running with arms outstretched to my lullaby of the week, Needtobreathe's soulful "Washed By The Water." I'm talking on a constant loop. Whenever I start to FREAK OUT, I pull out this puppy like a good old-fashioned tranquilizer gun. Bam! Instant calm. I think I might need to have another listen right now, actually...

Sweet dreams, moonbeams!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

mardi muse: Daenerys Stormborn

Not to keep harping on about kick-ass females in Game of Thrones, but I caught up on the most recent episode last night and... KHALEESI!!!!!!!!!! I swear, I never knew true fist pumping before that final scene. And by fist pumping, I mean FIST PUMPING!!!!!!!!!!
"I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen of the blood of old Valyria. Valyrian is my mother tongue." (x)
There has never been a single moment where I have not been rooting for her. Daenerys is not a queen. She's a khaleesi! Daenerys is not a slave. She's a dragon! Daenerys is not an outcast. She's the rightful heir to the Iron Throne! Daenerys is not a doormat. But you are if you cross her! That's what I love most about her, really. She's the fairest of them all, looking so vulnerable and being all quiet. But what's often interpreted as a natural reserve is really strategy in disguise. And yet despite having proof of this for the past two seasons-- having her manipulative cad of a brother killed, eating a horse's heart, walking through fire to dragon eggs-- she still manages to surprise. We all know what she's capable of, but then she's suppressed long enough that she can still shock you even if you're mentally preparing yourself for her to do something wicked awesome. Like when she makes this deal with monsieur shady guy to trade one of her baby dragons for an army, you're thinking, 'There's no way she's really going to give this name-calling monster a dragon!' but wondering how she was going to get away with it. And then she goes and gives you the best scene in the entire series so far...
DRAKARIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BURN!!!!! *FIST-PUMP* KHALEESIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *FIST-PUMP* My friends and I immediately rewound it and watched it again, looking like Jorah with hearts in our eyes! Blood of my blood! Mother of dragons! I want to be just. like. her. The girl is on fire and the absolute coolest! On the one hand it's unsettling, but on the other I am so happy to see the Dany we all know and love come blazing back. This is not the same person we found mourning her husband as she lead her people through the desert last season. This girl will have her way, her vengeance, her birthright, her dragons, period. She's a character I simply can't get enough of and I hope to be seeing much more of her (and much less of Theon and Varys) the rest of this season!

P.S. Who else is going to start yelling, "DRAKARIS!" when they're angry? Surely it's not just me...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

When I Made This Playlist: gingers

When I made this playlist, I was 21 and interning in Edinburgh for the summer. I was trying to hold onto that version of myself who felt most comfortable in her own skin when living abroad. I was trying to be someone I wasn't i.e. someone who wanted to work in politics. I'd just let my best friend give me bangs. I'd just gotten my first Mac. I'd just bought Viva La Vida. I'd just kissed a Scotsman. 
At Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the Scottish Highlands.
I was prone to using my American accent to get free drinks at my favorite haunts. I always listened to "Four Kicks" by Kings of Leon on my walk to work, which unfortunately included a trek across the windy South Bridge where I had countless Marilyn Monroe moments. I lived in New Town before moving to Old Town behind a bright blue door by the Meadows. Rainy days were spent cozied up in The Elephant House by a window with a view of Edinburgh Castle, hoping some of J.K. Rowling's writing magic had seeped into the tables or maybe their famous shortbread, and sunny days meant Marks & Spencer picnics in the Princes Street Gardens with my roommate Anna. She and I were always on the lookout for gingers, hence the name of this playlist, and Scotland seemed happy to oblige us.
gingers by Sally Anderson on Grooveshark
Sadly, I could not find the acoustic version of McFly's "POV," which is infinitely better... :(

I've listened to this a lot this week and it's brought back so many happy, ridiculous, and embarrassing memories. This is why I'm always making playlists. Because music tells me better than anything else "where I was" at a certain point in my life. This mix is a bit all over the place, because I was too. But it's a bit unique to all my other playlists, because each and every song was actually collected with the rest in one specific place. And now if you care to meander down Memory Lane with me a little longer... When I made this playlist...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What's On My Nightstand

  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I have been slowwwwly chipping away at this since New Year's. I just have a very difficult time reading non-fiction and chapters on things like marriage and kiddos made it all too easy to leave it to the dust bunnies. But now I've gotten to topics like taking time to be silly, starting collections, and being generous to friends, so I've been reaching for it a lot more often this week. 
  • Maybelline Baby Lips Pink Wink Lip Balm. I got this on a whim the other day and ohmahgosh what did I ever do without it? It goes on like chapstick, but has enough of a sheer pink tint to make me feel like I'm making an effort. Ha. I might be in serious danger of running back and buying every single shade! But who am I kidding? I have foreseen it!
  • Red Enamel "Take A Bow" Kate Spade Ring. This is probably my happiest outlet purchase to date. Not only do I have fun memories of that day, but, hello, I'm a Kate Spade junkie and it was less than $20. I've taken to wearing this on my lefty middle finger recently as my righty ring finger is otherwise preoccupied with yet another Kate Spade ring... Oopsies! Anyway, I've gotten a lot of compliments on this one this week, so here it is!
  • Fresh Dates. You know what I buy in bulk at Costco? Dates. Weird, I know. But I suffer from chronic sweet tooth syndrome and they make for the perfect substitute to the bag of chocolates hidden away in my desk drawer. They're so sweet naturally, they kick the craving like it's nothing and I don't feel guilty after answering their siren call. That being said, I've been known to go out of control eating these in the past, so I do have to portion them out and throw the container back into the refrigerator before I take a little bowl upstairs.
  • Le Cupcake Graphique Stationery. My best friend Ali gifted this set to me a while ago and I still use it all the time. She and I daydream of opening our own bakery one day (complete with a music venue in the basement and a suite for guests upstairs, of course, because we're realists) and that thought always puts a smile on my face whenever I pull it out and see that cupcake with all the flavors listed in français. Anyway, I've been trying to make a conscious effort of being more proactive about sending little notes to friends and family lately. Because I love a lot of people and I dwell on that a lot on my own, but it's important to say these things!
Ever since NaNoWriMo, I've had a much harder time with songs with lyrics. That's how used to getting in the zone and writing with reckless abandon with a movie score in the background I was. It just became the norm. This week has seen me revert back into that a bit more again. So this week my lullaby has been Christophe Beck's "The Spigot" from Under the Tuscan Sun. Oh... oh the sun-kissed and sunflower-lined dreams this conjures up! Does anyone else fancy a trip to the Italian countryside right about now? I have a bottle opener, so I'd say we're all packed and ready to "buongiorno!"

Sweet dreams, moonbeams!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

mardi muse: Wicked

98% of the time, I know exactly what I'll be listening to on the drive to work before I get to my car. But today I was in rare form and inspiration didn't strike until my seat belt clicked into place. "Aha! Wicked!" Whether it's because it feels like it's been five years since I've actually listened to the soundtrack or because I associate Tuesdays with New Girl and there's that great bit with Winston singing along to it when he thinks he's alone in the car (side note: this is me whenever I listen to Wicked (and by me I guess I really mean everybody!)), I was definitely belting this on the highway.
I still consider this to be the best poster on Broadway. (x)
Now I know fairy tale retellings are the "in thing" right now (don't get me wrong, I love this!), but Wicked is kind of the hipster that did it before it was cool. Like I said, I've not listened to it in ages, but it was still so fresh. From the opening "No One Mourns The Wicked" that manages to immediately immerse you in this strange and wonderful world of Oz, to "Dancing Through Life" that still makes me want to wear sparkly things and dance around with a wand, and of course "Defying Gravity," the story is so solid and so strong. I can't think of a single weak point. The character development is just flawless. Flawless! Or should I say magical? I just love that even though I'm so familiar with the story that since I had a bit of distance from it, songs like "The Wizard And I" still managed to make me cry before I fully emerged from my pre-coffee zombie state. I was battling a serious case of Claire Danes-esque wobbly chin! But I am not ashamed! No. Because it's important to surround yourself with stories that affect you and have a positive impact. And the fact that this one's in musical format, well, that's just a bonus! 

So why is this masterpiece my mardi muse? Well not only was it a great start to the day, but it got the wheels turning for one of the stories I've got on the back burner. The more I let this story sizzle in the background, the more I feel like it might just work as a kind of fairy tale retelling... I'm starting to think this might be the right direction for it... Hmm...

P.S. Did anyone else burst out crying when they saw "Defying Gravity" live? OHMYCREYES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

With A Little Help From My Friends

Sometimes you spend so much time with yourself that you kind of lose sight of yourself. Do you know that feeling? You get sucked up in this strange world, fighting the good fight to make way for the person you want to be, but there's something missing. Whether you acknowledge it or not, it's there in and outside of you; this space just longing to be filled. 

This past weekend I flew out to Dallas for my friend Alex's wedding and was reunited with the group of girls who were with me from the very first day of college to the last and beyond. And suddenly that space was full again. I'd hardly taken the time to notice before or maybe I was just in denial over that one little adjective that makes such a big impact. Lonely. I've missed the community of this phenomenal group of friends that's now spread all over the states more than I can possibly say recently. Life's gotten tough and I've had to get tough right along with it. So to finally relax and be with my favorites was the best thing that could have happened to me. 
My lovelies!
There's just something about friends who know you inside and out. The ones who have been with you before you learned to pluck your eyebrows, who've ridden with you in cop cars across Arkansas after road-tripping car accidents, who cried over P.S. I Love You in bed with you and a lap full of pancakes on your 21st birthday, and who humored you by starring in your silly music videos. They know to whip around and look at you whenever a harmonica's playing, that certain names still and will likely continue to make you squawk for another eight (eight?!) years, that there's no such thing as sharing too much, and that Firefly and cuddling are always on the agenda. But above all the memories, quirks, and adventures that you make you a well-oiled unit, the best thing is that assurance that they are always there to support you and make you laugh no matter what. They take you seriously, but not too seriously, and generally just leave you feeling ALL THE FEELINGS. I am so blessed and ob-freaking-sessed with this tight-knit group of friends. I love you all so much! You blew me away this weekend and I owe you my sanity and leis strung with oreos and happy feels.

So now I'm going to do what I always do when I'm missing them terribly... Eat chocolate and cry a little over this video I gave them all at the end of senior year... Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!

Six weeks till reunion #2!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mooning About Out Here

I'm long overdue for a bit of a fan flail around here, so... The period piece trailer. It's the most be-au-ti-ful traiiiiiiiiiiiler of allllllllll!!!!!!!!!! Can I get an 'amen'? Because hallelujah, we've got a newbie with stunning costumes, sweeping scenery, familiar British faces, and drama, drama, drama! I saw a picture from Summer in February months and months (and months) ago and the trailer is finally here! Grab your smelling salts!
Are you still breathing? *rapid-fire fanning*

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's On My Nightstand

  • Fat Spike Lavender. My mom and I dote on the South of France like crazy. We've made such great memories there and some of our favorite stories like A Good Year take place there as well. So when we saw a little stand at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market packed with "lavande! lavande!" she was very quick to snap one up for me. I've still got to re-pot it and figure out how to take care of it, but it already smells lovely. Here's hoping one day soon we'll return to Provence and finally get to see the lavender in bloom!
  • Coral Ambition Color Whisper Maybelline Gel. It was only last week that I dared to branch out on the lip color bandwagon. Truth be told, I still feel a bit shy about it, but this is a nice just-a-hint color that I'm liking. It's more translucent that I anticipated, but still a keeper.
  • Neutrogena Hand Cream. While it seems we've abruptly shifted into summer weather here in Baltimore, my poor hands are still recovering from winter. This is a definite must and you really only need just a dab, just like the bottle says.
  • Dove Dark Chocolate Promise. Presented without commentary.
  • Kindle Keyboard and Fabric Cover. I never thought I'd invest in one of these, absolutely never. But you see... whenever I travel, half of my library magically winds up packed away in my suitcase because, "I don't know what mood I'll be in!" For the indecisive, choosing books for travel is like choosing between fictional boyfriends; you hate to play favorites and create even more drama by failing to do so. So I broke down and got a Kindle last summer and went straight to Etsy for a non-generic case to keep it cozy. Right now I'm reading and seriously loving The Secret Garden! Confession: to date, I've only read free books on my Kindle... Oopsies!
And why is my lullaby du semaine "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" by Ella Fitzgerald, you ask? It's rather sad and not at all spring-y. Well, the closest I can come up with is that a not-as-good version of it plays in the newer version of The Parent Trap and my ultimate dream in life is to spend rainy days holed up in the ivy-covered château on my someday vineyard with my plaid-wearing scraggle muffin lover man. And I've been daydreaming a whole lot recently... mmm... I don't know! The connection sure makes sense to me! Which songs have you daydreaming lately?

Sweet dreams, moonbeams!

P.S. I'm not blazing through a book a week, just so you know! I'm a slow reader and, unfortunately, very recently a book juggler... New habits die hard!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

mardi muse: Arya Stark

Is there anything I love more than a spunky heroine? Ha. Right. In Game of Thrones, Arya Stark has been my favorite female character from the very beginning. She just barely ousts Daenerys for that top spot. Most of the time it looks like they're dead even, but ultimately I pledge allegiance to House Stark. And yes, it's very important that I make decisions like this! Such is my personal stake in fictional worlds. So I was, shall we say, OUTRAGED when Arya failed to make an appearance in last week's season three premiere. But this week the she-wolf returned! There was fist pumping, bouncing up and down, and a whole lot of, "Aryaaaaaaaadjflsfjslkfjskjl!!!!!!!!!!!!" I was just so gosh darn excited to see her again!
I like her even better with her short hair, don't you? (x)
Arya is the business. Arya is not a little lady. Arya is a warrior. She's exactly the kind of heroine I hope to bring to life one day. She blazes through life, fiercely sticking up for her beliefs and her loved ones, speaking her mind, and fighting for her right to be herself. Society doesn't like her preference of sword-fighting over dance lessons? Tough beans, Lannister swine! The girl is just so unapologetic about who she is, you can't help gravitating towards her. You're in her corner right from the start. Separated from her family and running for her life, it's that staunch practice of sticking up for herself that carves out her path to survival on the war-torn road back home.

What I love about her is the balancing act between her relentless nature and her soft side. Her softer side is often masked by almost territorial instincts when it comes to friends and family, but it's always there in a look or gesture. Last season we saw her go through hell and yet she still came out kicking and screaming on the other side. She never gives up. Never! Even when she's been captured and chained outside in the mud and rain, she's still whispering of the names of her enemies over and over every night until she can have her revenge. Experience has made her more callous, but she's as brave and loyal as ever. 

And bonus! She's only entrusted her true identity to Gendry. GENDRY!!! *swoon* As an illegitimate son of the king who's just died, he's on the run too. From the moment they meet, these two share an unspoken bond that you can often catch in a sidelong glance. I realize there's a bit of an age difference, but I can't help it... I ship it so hard, y'all! I ship it so hard!!! Maybe the Baratheon and Stark houses will be united after all!
Of course, I have a horrible tendency to fall madly in love with characters who get the axe. And with a show like Game of Thrones where no one is indespensable (Ned!!! *ugly cries*), I live in constant fear for Arya and Gendry. And now that *spoiler alert* the Hound has publicly revealed Arya's identity... OH-MY-GOSH-WATCH-OUT-ARYA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM HERE FOR YOU! BUT I WANT TO BE THERE FOR YOU! ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TV SCREEN! DOING LIKE YOU DO AND STICKING 'EM WITH THE POINTY END! BECAUSE I NEVER KNEW SITTING HELPLESSLY ON THE COUCH WATCHING THIS CLIFFHANGER NIGHTMARE UNFOLD WOULD BE! THIS! STRESSFUL! *deep breath* But I believe in you. I do. You got it, girl. You do. You are a fearless she-wolf! Swift as a deer! Quiet as a shadow! Fear cuts deeper than swords.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Climb Every Mountain

If you had told me a year ago what I would have accomplished by 9:30AM yesterday morning, I never would have believed you. Run 10 miles? In a race? Without stopping? You might as well have told me I was going to discover a time portal to Regency England. It would have been that unfathomable to me. That fictional. You'll notice that on my list of 101 things in 1,001 days, I put a 5K and 10K. I never imagined a desire to run any farther, much less the ability to do so. When I put my name in the lottery for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, I thought my chances of getting drawn were pretty slim. But I soon found myself staring slack-jawed at an e-mail saying I was in. Congratulations! Now run 10 miles.

The truest words I've ever heard about running are "the hardest part is getting out the door." That first step out into the cold, that Joker-esque mind game, can be the absolute worst. I hate running on treadmills, so I essentially signed on to a running tour of Baltimore's ugliest weather. As soon as my name was drawn, I started following Hal Higdon's 15K/10-Mile Run novice training program rain or shine, but mostly just bitter cold. 102 miles logged into my beloved Brooks PureCadence later...
My training also revealed a hardcore obsession with purple I can't explain...
And I did it! I did it! I discovered a time portal to Regency England aka crossed the finish line in 1:41:04. What? What?! 10:06 miles? Is this a joke? Am I on candid camera? No! I did that! I did that! Y'all. I can't help it. I'm so ridiculously sore proud. I've always been a Mia Thermopolis. "More of a horseback-riding, wall-climbing, yoga-doing type of girl." But never an athletic girl. And when my friends dragged me kicking and screaming into the freezing night air for a measly two mile run last January, I thought I was going to pass out at the one mile mark. First comes the first step, then comes diligence, then comes the next day where you get yourself out of bed and do it all over again. And before you know it, you're celebrating your ten mile run over brunch with your sweet family and running buddy!
I realize I'm a bit obsessed with the concept at the moment, but... that first step. It's the hardest. And the most important. It'd be so easy to look up at whatever mountain you're facing and lie down at gawk at it instead of taking that first step. But once you take it, you're that much closer to getting acclimated. So take it! Take that step! Lasso the moon! Am I being cheesy enough for you right now? I'm not saying you won't feel like you're going to cry sometime around mile nine. I'm saying you have what it takes to cross the finish line. 
Major thanks to everyone who helped me do just that. To my roommate Erin for helping me train, to my sister Katy for dropping me off at the Washington Monument, to Sarah for running the race with me and cheering me on at that pesky ninth mile, to One Direction for serenading me all over DC, to my sister Emily who couldn't be there but helped motivate me from afar with a just-visualize-Louis-Tomlinson-at-the-finish-line exercise, to my aunt and uncle for driving down from New Jersey with homemade medals for Sarah and me, and to my parents for flying up from Georgia to help me carbo load the night before and give me a hug as soon as I'd burned it all off. You all made this experience a great one; one I'll never forget. So thank you! 

P.S. As for the title, of course I will use any and all opportunities to reference The Sound of Music! Don't you know me at all?!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What's On My Nightstand

  • Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole. Look what the Easter Bunny brought me! By the way- plot twist!- in this scenario, I am the Easter Bunny. I only recently discovered Mary Kole's blog and am wondering what on earth I did with all my time before. So I've just started chipping away at this and am completely nerding out over every little detail.
  • Feelin' Hot-Hot-Hot! OPI nail polish. Ok, perhaps the cheesiest nail polish name ever (seriously, where do I apply for that job?), but I always like to go with something loud and obnoxious when I have a race coming up. And how could I not go with pink for the cherry blossoms?
  • iPod Shuffle. I can't stand arm bands for my iPhone or main iPod, so this tiny gizmo is a huge life saver! I'm jamming this little sucker full of One Direction to pump me up for my first-ever 10 mile run this weekend. I'm thinking I'm going to have "One Way Or Another" play every ten minutes to help pace myself. Hey, whatever works! Also... eeeeee!!!
  • 100 Calorie Jolly Time Popcorn. I don't know what it is, y'all... But I have this weird thing where I've got to have a certain snack with a certain TV show. I've started watching Parenthood (side note: ZOMG CRYING!!!) and this has inexplicably become the go-to snack for it.
  • San Antonio Starbucks Mug. Everyone in my family collects the 'you are here' mugs from Starbucks, but we have this rule where you can't get the mug unless you've actually visited the place. My roommate just got back from a trip to Texas and I love Texas and I love these mugs and she just surprised me with this! It's so cute and not the typical city design, so I'm not going to confess the decibel at which I squealed when she pulled this out. Too cute to drink from? Howdy ho, I think so! For tonight at least...
As for lullabies, this week Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors have been singing me to sleep with "Live Forever." I first heard this song when they opened for Needtobreathe at Ram's Head Live last fall and it made quite the impression, I must say!

Well, there you have it! Sweet dreams, moonbeams!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

mardi muse: secret boards on Pinterest

This week I'm going to cheat a bit and give you a sneaky peek at one of my secret boards on Pinterest. Unbeknownst to the rest of the pinning world, I've been on a major pinning spree lately. I so wish you could keep more than three secret boards at a time! I'm using all three on different story ideas and could definitely use some more. It seems I've always got a dozen stories knocking their way into each other in my brain and it'd be a nice tool to help organize them a bit more in an easy-access way. Below is a "spoiler free" portion of one of the boards for a story that's been brewing in the back of my mind for two years now:
As you can see, it's somewhat devolved evolved into an elaborate excuse to excessively pin Louis Tomlinson's darling face! Despite not knowing who he was (the horror!) when F's character was first molding together, he's slowly infiltrated his way into much of F's personality and, obviously, looks. I can't imagine how this happened... *cough*

Anyway, these secret boards on Pinterest have been a life saver ever since they were introduced at the end of last year. Whenever I see something that reminds me of this story... Pin! It's wonderful. Plus, as an added bonus, I don't have to publicly acknowledge how often I'm drowning in a sudden tidal wave made entirely of my favorite pixie tyrant prince (always). But the best part of it is that by the time I finally sit down to drag that first draft of the first chapter out of my desk and tackle this story for real, I'm going to have a much clearer picture of everything from what my characters wear to where they hang out and what inspires them, which is pretty darn cool if you ask me. I've got lists of these kind of things in notebooks, sure, but it's nice to have a visual to go along with it. It just makes the whole process a bit more lively, engaging, and fun!

If you have any, what sort of things do you use your secret boards for?

P.S. You can follow me on Pinterest here! And I can always use more inspiration, so do share your own if you have one!

Monday, April 1, 2013

101 things in 1,001 days

Now that it's April, I've got my fingers crossed that this months-long creative funk will finally pass. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and my ratty running gloves are tucked away in the back of the drawer where they are to stay until further notice. One thing I'm hoping will help battle this funk is my list of 101 things in 1,001 days. I posted the list on my tumblr in February of last year after reading my friend Whitney's list. I was so inspired! I have until November 22, 2014 to cross everything off and so far I've crossed off 33. Some things are daunting, others are a bit silly, a few I've done before and want to hold myself accountable for doing again, and a handful are downright ridiculous. But what can I do?! I'm stuck with it now!

The best part of making such a personal list so public has been the support. I never would have foreseen that and yet here I am over a year later with relationships that are a bit stronger thanks, in part, to the list. You'd be amazed how excited people are to help you with your mini dreams if you simply voice what they are! Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. That's one of my favorite facts of life and definitely my favorite side effect of sharing this list.

But since I've been subject to that agonizing creative lull recently, I thought I'd share my list here too. Who knows... Maybe you'll have a suggestion as to what I should tackle next!
  1. Finish a work of fiction
  2. Submit it for publishing
  3. Take an art class
  4. Go camping for the very first time (better late than never)
  5. Learn how to make macarons with Emily and Will 12/28/12
  6. Witness the Chincoteague Pony Swim
  7. Sing karaoke
  8. Run a 5K The Color Run with Katy, Will, Emily, and Sarah in DC 9/9/12
  9. Run a 10K
  10. Learn how to knit 9/5/12
  11. See a musical on Broadway Mamma Mia with Aunt Val, Uncle Bill, and Sarah 2/2/13
  12. Host a meal at my house once a month for three months (0/3)
  13. Successfully make a soufflé
  14. Make 5 things for 5 friends (1/5) for Ali 3/1/13
  15. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  16. Attend Baltimore’s French Language Meet Up
  17. Plant and maintain a planter box garden
  18. Donate blood
  19. Read 15 classics (5/15) - Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen 4/12/12, A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs 7/6/12, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde 7/15/12, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson 9/21/12, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 12/20/12
  20. Go to a music festival
  21. Complete the 365 photo-a-day challenge
  22. Go rock-climbing
  23. Use my passport to visit a country I’ve never been to before
  24. Make an inspirational banner
  25. Learn basic Spanish
  26. Solidify a writing routine
  27. See a movie in the theater by myself The Artist at The Charles Theater 3/5/12
  28. Participate in National Novel Writing Month 11/1/12-11/30/12
  29. Build a blanket fort on a rainy day 10/30/12
  30. Visit 10 museums I've never been to before (3/10) - National Geographic Museum 3/31/12, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History 3/31/12, American Visionary Arts Museum 4/8/12
  31. Urban Pirate cruise on the harbor
  32. Write a letter or e-mail to an author I admire
  33. See Les Mis on stage at the Fox Theatre with Mom 4/28/12
  34. Grab a friend and go to Zumba with Sarah 6/26/12
  35. Open an Etsy store
  36. Make a storyboard for a playlist
  37. Buy a flapper dress
  38. Knit or crochet a circle scarf 12/14/12
  39. Host a tea party
  40. Attend a horse race and place a bet
  41. Go to a Navy football game with my dad 9/29/12
  42. Explore a lighthouse on the coast of Maryland with my mom 8/12/12
  43. Go on a trip with my sisters
  44. Get a fancy cooking lesson from Chef… I mean Will! 12/30/12
  45. Double the length of my quiet time each morning
  46. Go tubing
  47. Drink a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity in NYC with Sarah and Alison 10/6/12
  48. Visit the observation deck of the Empire State Building (and look for Cary Grant)
  49. Get a French press thank you Aunt Val and Uncle Bill! 12/25/12
  50. Make Aunt Val’s tomato pie without supervision 9/25/12
  51. Visit M et Mme Chauchat in Versailles 5/27/12
  52. Stand at Point Zéro in Paris and take a picture 5/25/12
  53. Have a picnic
  54. Give up chocolate for a month
  55. Finally buy a pair of boots 9/22/12
  56. Kiss in the rain(!)
  57. Learn how to poach an egg 11/18/12
  58. Try brunch at 10 different restaurants (2/10) - Teavolve 3/18/12, The Hamilton 9/16/12
  59. Obtain and wreck a Wreck This Journal (thanks for the gift, cousin Allie!)
  60. See a classic film in a theater
  61. Paint outside
  62. Paint something on canvas
  63. Bake croissants from scratch
  64. Successfully perform a shoulder stand in yoga class 2/29/12
  65. Go to the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar right when it opens at 7AM with Amy 7/29/12
  66. Make a meal only using food bought at a farmer’s market
  67. Take an archery lesson (Legolas/Robin Hood complex? Ok yes…)
  68. Attend a book festival Baltimore Book Festival 9/28/12
  69. Make a dear friend
  70. Pay for someone else’s coffee in a drive-thru
  71. Watch 1 French film a week for 6 weeks straight (6/6)Les Émotifs Anonymes 9/12/12, Joueuse 9/17/12, Le Papillon 9/26/12, Potiche 10/4/12, Une femme est une femme 10/11/12, Elle s’appelait Sarah 10/17/12
  72. Go to bed by 10PM every night for a week 8/23/12 - 8/30/12
  73. Make a donation to a cause I believe in Blood Water Mission 1/1/2013
  74. Make a donation to my alma mater 5/20/12
  75. Watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day
  76. Visit Lancaster, PA
  77. Join or start a book club
  78. Cook a meal with my grandma 5/12/12
  79. Send handwritten notes to friends and family (33/50)
  80. Go apple picking
  81. Enter a writing competition The Mysterious Undertakings of Mara Dew 8/30/12
  82. Send a care package to a soldier I don’t know personally
  83. Go to a red carpet premiere (on the sidelines - I’m not that delusional!)
  84. Make breakfast al fresco with Uncle Bill 8/5/12
  85. Spend a weekend at the beach 8/31/12 - 9/3/12
  86. Write a bucket list
  87. Make a lamp out of an old-fashioned fire extinguisher (like my mom’s)
  88. Go vegetarian for a month
  89. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up (ha!)
  90. Tour the White House
  91. Throw a themed party
  92. Eat in an Ethiopian restaurant
  93. Try to recreate the scones au nature I had at BAPZ in Toulouse
  94. Play paintball
  95. Introduce someone to the Dutch market with Sarah 3/2/13
  96. Spend the entire day at Boordy Vineyards
  97. Go horseback riding
  98. Get paid for my writing
  99. Sponsor a child
  100. Inspire someone else to create their own 101 in 1001 3/6/12 - good luck, Libby!
  101. Celebrate completing my 101 in 1001 list!
I've got a long way to go, but I'm looking forward to it! How about you? Are you keeping a list of some kind? If not... do!